Back from German-speaking Europe


It was an amazing experience being in Europe with Paul and Mechthild Clark. We were in the German-speaking part. I taught at two, one-day  forums Paul hosts, to encourage and teach pastors. One was in Grandstadt,  Germany and one in  Schaffhausen, Switzerland. I also spoke at a pastors meeting in Innsbruck,  Austria on the following day with Paul and Mike. We had great fellowship on the 4 hour round trip drive. What an It was busy traveling, and speaking the first week that is for sure, but we loved it!

Wendy was able to share in Innsbruck, the foster-care ministry as they have similar challenges with foster-care in Europe also.  My translator was moved has he and his wife are foster-parents. His name was Marcel. He is a great guy and we became instant friends. I will miss him.

On Saturday the new Church Plant the Clark’s are pastoring in Bregenz, Austria hosted a ladies breakfast.  Mechthild worked hard and Wendy spoke. Saturday night was fun as we traveled to Salem, Germany for a community Outreach. I played bass and Mike Clark, played keys, and Paul led worship from the guitar. We talked about getting more gigs and hitting the road.  The community center was full, and the host Pastor, a Romanian, man David and his wife were so kind!

Wendy’s cousin, Pauline and Manfred, came to Grandstadt, on our first day of ministry. They took Wendy to lunch and then we were able to visit after the forum They were so kind to take us to the train station in Mannheim.  We rode a few hours then to Switzerland.

Sunday I taught on Philippians 1.6 at the Bregenz church and helped with worship. Paul was my translator.   We visited and enjoyed a great new body of Christ that the Lord is building there.  This is Paul’s 8th church plant.  He planted a church in Michigan before going to Germany and planting 7 more. Absolutely incredible.  He has always been one of my encouragers andd he calls often to see how I am doing. Before we came here, we took a team of students to Germany, and he encouraged me to church plant. I am thankful for priceless friends.

Wendy and I stayed a couple more days.  We were guests at Mike and Laura Clark’s for dinner. What an amazing family they are. We have known them for years and love what God has, and is, doing through their lives.  of course did some shopping, drank some great coffee and also saw a couple of castles. Our time together was well spent and needed after such a busy schedule of ministry.

On the way to the airport in Zurich, Switzerland, we stopped in the historic and beautiful St. Gallen.  We had lunch with Paul’s daughter and son-in-law, Stephenie, and Peter. We had not seen Stephanie in 20 years.  What a great couple. We were able to see the St. Abbey Cathedral and Library. I must be honest and say I will miss the coffee/expresso there. While I write this I am  drinking coffee from my drip-coffee maker, is a disappointed experience after the delicious coffee I have had the last few days. An epresso machine is in my future.

So What are our “take-aways” or  things I know the Lord show us from this trip?

  • We are called to reach the world, to help people find, know, and trust God with their lives.  Church cannot be just a bunch activity without purpose.
  • The people of God are wonderful, wherever you meet them. There is the bond of Christ and I sensed that, even when I could not speak the language.
  • The power of relationships can never be underextimated.
  • Compelled must continue to be missional, sending, praying, and going, at home, across the street and around the world.
  • Christian faith and growth are intentional.  One does not grow in Christ

    accidentally or just because you believe.  You must be intentional in your faith.

  • Some ancient traditions of faith, may not be pointless and dead, if they lead you to the life of Jesus and the fullness of God’s Spirit.
  • German-speaking Europe is not a 3rd world country. We did not pass out food, or do a medical clinic, that is greatly needed and a way to share Christ in other contexts.  We just poured into leaders.  We loved them, encouraged them, as the mission there is greatly needed and for many reasons, the work is harder than many places.
  • We must not forget Europe. Europe needs more churches, church planters, and people reaching out.
  • I was humbled to get to participate in the Ministry of the Clark’s. They are heroes to me.  Paul,  Mechthild, and Mike and Laura, continue to chip away at the darkness one life, and one family at a time.
  • Prayer must overcome the hardness of people’s hearts.  Whether in German-speaking Europe, Bedford, Toledo, or Holland, Ohio, people are softened through prayer and calling on God, the Holy Spirit to draw them to truth.

Eleven Reasons Why It’s Easier Being a Pastor Today


Pastodawsonring has it’s challenges. Without a doubt, it can be overwhelming at times, but also filled with joy and fulfillment, most times. While I agree with Thom S. Rainer’s recent post, “Ten Reasons It is more Difficult to be a Pastor Today”  (Click here to read it), I offer another perspective. Although these ten reasons are true and many a reality, some, not so much in healthy situations. Leaving it on that note (a little negative and discouraging), does not do the wonderful work of pastoring justice.  I have given my own thoughts on why it rocks to be a pastor today.

Eleven Reasons Why it’s Easier Being a Pastor Today

  1. The Advent of Social media. It has become an arm of communication never matched by the old church’s monthly newsletter. Used with wisdom, we can encourage and influence more people toward Christ. Harness and use it and train your people to use it as an arsenal of communication and Christ-like encouragement.
  2. The Culture. While there are more “nones,” or people with no affiliation to any religion, this creates an amazing opportunity for evangelism.
  3. Podcast Pastors. I used to relish the thought of going to conferences and hearing my favorite authors. Now I can listen to podcasts.  I can learn at a breath-taking pace from some of the best teachers and leaders in the world.
  4. We have more business savvy.  Being forced to have an understanding of business, budgets, and banks is a good thing to a point, but this helps us surround ourselves with people and leaders that we can delegate these things to.
  5. Print is amazing. No longer do we have to depend on the local printer for marketing or any graphics. Most churches and pastors with a laptop can produce professional looking graphics to enhance ministry.
  6. Generational Blending.  Any leader knows that generational blending in the church is so healthy and positive. If leaders see the generational diversity as a gift and as the Bible teaches, then conflict among generations will be non-existent or minimal.
  7. More paid pastors. There are more pastors being paid now, even part-time, than ever before in the American context. That is a plus and does makes things easier. I recognize the tension of bi-vocational ministry. When planting here in Temperance, MI, I was bi-vocational for 3 years, I then became full-time. Although not really full-time salary, I knew that for the Kingdom, sacrifice would be made, and if the church grew, my leaders would increase my salary.
  8. Pastors are staying longer.  Because communities and churches are diverse, when a pastor has a good “match,” they stay longer.  I never remember pastors being places 20-25 years. Now that is still not the norm, but more common than it used to be.
  9. Churches are more pastor-driven.  The old model of churches being board-driven is becoming more rare. If you are at a pastor-driven church with a board’s trust and respect, there is great liberty for so many things God can do. A board is a gift and will love and support their pastor, and govern with effectiveness. We can really do things that God has called us to, set our schedule, be flexible, and run with the calling the Lord has given us.
  10. Support.  We have more support.  There is no long-distance calls anymore. We all have unlimited talking and text and can connect with our colleagues for encouragement and resourcing like never before.  No pastor should live in loneliness. We have the tools, and we can sculpt our schedules to reach out to others for prayer, meeting, encouragement and resource sharing.
  11. We don’t have to wear suits!

What are your thoughts?

Nate Elarton

The Lord is MY Leader


We are being led. Someone is speaking and influencing our life.  Sometimes in America we are like lemmings.  We allow the media, advertisers, and movies to shape who we are, our world view, the way we think, and yes, the way we believe.  How can the voice of Christ break through the noise and prominence of so many other “leaders” in our life.

Psalm 23 is a classic Psalm and probably one of the most known.  It is the “funeral” psalm, printed on the little funeral cards and recited at gravesites and memorials by countless clergy across the land.  But I contend that it is not a psalm for the dead but for the living. The very first line gripped my spirit this morning as David declares who is the leader of his life.

“The Lord is my Shepherd.”  Say it like this, “the Lord is MY Shepherd.”  (emphasis on “my).  He is declaring who is the leader of his life.  Let me fine tune that better.  He is the leader of our day, our hour, our moment.  The Shepherd leads, we follow.  David declares without shame and without embarrassment, “The Lord is MY Shepherd”.  He does the leading, the providing, the guiding, the loving. We do the faithful following.

If you were to declare who your leader was this hour, moment, what would be in this blank?  “The  ____________ is my shepherd (leader), for this day.”  Would you, could you be honest? We know the  correct answer is the Lord, but is that the true answer?  I must confess a lot of the time “I” am my shepherd, or “outlook” is my shepherd (LOL).

Immerse yourself in being led by the Lord.  His Word will guide, His Spirit will lead, His voice will direct us on the paths of life, for this day, this moment that we need to walk.  He will lead us in peace, even in valleys.  H restores our soul, and helps us live “right”. He takes away fear, with His presence, he leads us to a greater understanding, and friendship,  of our relationship with him, by knowing him more and trusting his leading.

Say it, and live it like David.  “The Lord is MY  shepherd.” Now, follow your leader “all the days of your life.” I will for my life, but I must start with today, right now.
The LORD is MY shepherd;
I have all that I need.
2 He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams.
3 He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths,
bringing honor to his name.
4 Even when I walk
through the darkest valley,*
I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff
protect and comfort me.
5 You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the LORD
forever.
Tyndale House Publishers. (2013). Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Ps 23:1–6). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

 

Compelled Pastors Bible Reading Plan


biblecronThe pastors at Compelled Church are going to be reading the Chronological Bible Daily this year.  We will talk about what the Lord is showing us in our Wednesday staff meetings after prayer.  I also journal, and encourage everyone to do that a few times a week. Write what you learn, what you pray, what the Lord is speaking to you.

Do you have a plan to stay in the Word of God this year?

Do you have some spiritual goals?

I have determined in my heart that 2017 is going to be one of the greatest years of growth for me.  I am going to grow in prayer, the Word, in passion, mission, learning and reading, and in boldness for the Lord.  So I can glorify Him more in my life and I can diminish.

May we all keep growing in Christ…nate

 

Calling Men to Fight


Sometimes we might get the idea through the church-culture world or the imbalanced view of Jesus that he is just a loving dude. We might view our savior as passive, detached and unengaged.  Sometimes we can also feel this way about our faith. That it should all just fall into our lap. All the victory, the faith and blessings just, “plop” into our laps and we have little to do with them. We don’t have to put any effort in at all.  I am here to tell you:  the things of God, the presence of Jesus, the power of the Spirit, it takes a little fight.

Men of God it is not time to be passive about our faith or unengaged about the devil. It is not time to be detached to pursuing the power of God.  Many men walk in a mediocre relationship with God. They don’t decide to fight. They don’t decide to engage and pursue their God. Their decisions do not result in a closer and deeper walk of victory and godly masculinity. We need men of God. These men are gentle enough to worship on their knees. They pray through tears in their eyes and act humble and gentle even when it does not go with the culture we are living in. Yet these God-chasing men are not afraid to war with the Enemy. They face their flesh and the pressure of the world around them. They understand that being a sissy for God is not a dent in their manly exterior, but seeds they are sewing into their eternal reward. 

                Let’s be like David; full of faith and courageous enough to face Goliath. Trusting in God and bringing the giant down, then to cut off his head so he would never have a chance to breath again. We need humble warriors.

                Let’s be like Paul; boldly proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus before Felix and Caesar without worry of his reputation. Never caring what these other men thought of him or his life. We need fearless proclaimers.

                Let’s be like Peter; who failed Christ and then denied him, but instead of living in his failure took the second chance of God. He boldly proclaimed Jesus, being filled with the Spirit, resulting in thousands of new followers. We need forgiven sinners.

                Let’s be like Thomas, who was not afraid to go and die with Christ. We need faithful givers.

                Let’s be like Stephen, who told the authorities the truth, and died because of it. Jesus stood in honor in the heavens to Stephen. We need fearless martyrs.

                Don’t be like Demas, who did not have the guts to stay strong. He loved the things of the world more than his faith, and walked away. Men, let’s walk to Christ, not away.  Our family will follow us to him, if we lead.  Don’t be a chicken about it.  Man up and lead for God.  Like a gutless, wimp, he walked away.  Don’t be like him. 

                 Feed your Spirit men. Read the Bible and pray.  Pray with your family. Get them to worship.  Master your flesh through the Spirit and make a great difference in this world.  Let’s engage in the things of God, and let’s not be passive about the Devil who wants to Kill, steal, and destroy. Let’s defeat Him in our lives, our families, and our church. Walk in Jesus’ power and His victory.  I encourage us to fight.

                 Fight against being spiritually passive.

                Fight against contentment with mediocrity.

                Fight the enemy that is always lurking in our midst.

                Fight against your flesh that is prone to wander.

                Fight the urge to live without self-control.

                Fight spiritual laziness that results into spiritual weakness.

  If you think Jesus called men to be passive little wimpy disciples then read this verse from Matthew 11:12:

“From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.”  (NASB)

Men Let’s take it by force, let’s fight!


Pastoral Leadership Think Lab Coming up April 10th @Brighton A/G

All pastors, missionaries, staff pastors, come on out April 10 to a day of encouragement. Let me know if you have any questions. RSVP to Nate@compelledchurch.tv. This event is free.

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