Thursday, August 13, 2009

Churches We Can't Help

I heard a sermon on "People You Can't Help" several months back. Over the months the "Churches We Can't Help" has been stirring in my spirit. Being in ministry for 26 years, you see a lot of things. You see churches who are struggling, pastors who are struggling, and both are wondering why. Could it be that both are a little "closed minded" to how God desires to use them?

If we aren't careful we lose our edge because we become so comfortable in our ways. When God brings people across our path we don't recognize what God is doing because we are "set". When concrete sets it is not going to move unless someone uses a sledge hammer or a power tool to break it up. God help me to be a little more flexible than that!

As you read on I hope this speaks to you and challenges you to ask God if you are in one of these categories. My intent is not to condemn anyone, it is simply to try to stir our thinking up a little so we do not become "set" and comfortable in our ways.

We can't help a church who refuses to believe or accept they have a problem. When we look in the first chapters of Revelation we see churches that were doing what they thought best, but God had issues with them.

We can look around the United States and see many churches who were once powerful forces in God's Kingdom. They were alive and helping people get to know Christ and start relationships with Him. If we talk to people who were around during that time, they become excited just talking about all God did; but saddended because it is not happening today.

It is awesome how God moved upon men and women. He is so ready and willing to do that now...but we, the church, put too many guidelines on how we are to reach out to people searching for what we have to offer. What happened to God's grace? Until the church accepts that God's grace looks at the heart of an individual and not the outward appearance; until the church acknowledges that the methods of reaching generations has changed (not the message); until the church realizes and acknowledges it has a problem, the church cannot be helped.

Now, this next point may cause some readers to not read my blog anymore; but this point is so very important for the health of the church. Here it goes...

You can't help a churh that believes the pastor is the problem. Why? Because God gave that pastor to them as a GIFT. Ephesians 4:11 in the Message says, "He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher." God loves the church so much He gives them their leaders. When we give gifts to people we normally don't take the gift back. AND, if the person receiving the gift shows any hint of not liking and appreciating the gift, we get hurt and upset. Let that sink into our spirit for a moment.

God gave these leaders to the church to help the church grow and develop into mature Christians. We read on in Ephesians 4:12 of the Message, "...to train Christians in skilled servant work, working within Christ's body, the church, until we're all moving rhythmically and easily with each other..."

Now bear with me while I use my imagination. Imagine God looking down at His church here on earth. He sees congregations in North America, South Africa, Europe, Asia, Canada; wherever you live, and say, 'This is the man or woman I want to place in such and such city, town, or village." If God cares for us that much, who are we to try and undermine the pastor? Who are we to think we hear from God more than our pastor? If each church would allow their pastor's to implement the task God is showing he/she, our congregations would be overflowing with people hungry for more of God.

Didn't verse 12 tell us the reason for these leaders was to help the church move rhythmically and easily with each other? I don't know about you; but there are far too many churches not moving rhythmically and easily together. Now, please hear me out. This is not condemning anyone, please do not feel as if I am. I am trying to help us take a good, hard look at ourselves to see if we fit this categary. If we don't that's awesome. If we do and we recognize it, then that is awesome as well; because, that is the first step in change.

When we take a look at our church there could be a couple of reasons why we are not living these verses out. The first may be that the pastor may just be worn out and exhausted from his/her task; and the second could be the church is not trusting and following their pastor's lead. Sure, there have been pastor's who have taken advantage of churches; but they are few and far between.

If you are a member of a church in which that has happened, please remember that not everyone that way. God has a desire for you to forgive, forget and move on in your spiritual development. If you can't do that, then maybe God could use you better somewhere else. That is something to seriously consider and pray about. God may want to use you more elsewhere. Allow Him to grow you in that way.

This has become rather lengthy. I will post the other two points tomorrow. Have an awesome day!

6 comments:

Nancy said...

Excellent!!

JodiB said...

You're hitting the bullseye & can't wait to read the rest. I agree that until generations realize and accept that each need to be reached and taught by different methods we will not by in sync. I found an excellent book and taught this to our senior adults during our transitional phase and it certainly helped them understand this point!

Debbie said...

Very interesting observations, Cheryl. I think the most important thing is to keep the Gospel the Gospel. Whether a church sings contemporary songs or hymns shouldn't become the main issues. I'm concerned that the next generation become firm in the foundation of God's Word.

I look forward to hearing the continuation of this post.

Ann Lynn said...

WHOO HOO!!! Sister, you're writing as if you're reading my mind! Thank you for writing and following the Holy Spirit's lead. As a Pastor's wife and church administrator, I walk in agreement (Amos 3:3) with my husband through joyful mountaintops and challenging valleys with our church leaders. We recently faced a bumpy road about two weeks ago. I prayed and decided to be proactive for the Lord by setting up a weekly phone call with five female leaders. It takes a tremendous amount of strength, patience and LOVE to talk with them individually @ 6 AM five times a week before our children wake up. It has been only 2 weeks, but I've seen more sincere hearts talk openly and honestly in such a short time than the years we've been with this church. Also, I tell them that I John 3:16-19 very important and they understand now. It's not easy because many Deaf churches like ours all over the globe are dwindling in numbers and losing its members. Nevertheless, we must remain to outshine the evil forces of this world by walking in the Word and in Truth. You're right, God specifically chose pastors like you, my husband and others to lead and take care of His sheep. If they do not listen, obey and work FOR THE LORD (Col. 3:22-24), then God will surely judge them and HIS church will be out of sync. That was never (and will be) His intention to have His church all messed up because of disobedience and foolish talk. Can't wait to read Pt. 2!!! Write on, sister!

Hugs,
Ann Lynn

Anonymous said...

sooooooooooooooooooo true! we are blessed to have awesome pastor's-so often the membership does not want to be submissive to the authority of the pastor's

Anonymous said...

Our society has produced a generation that wants everything "my way" and lacking accountability and responsibility...and that obviously spills over into the church. Many don't want to follow if they "don't feel it". It's not about feelings - it's about obedience to God's Word. Our generations need to learn to work together and WORK to relate to each other and unify as a body. We also have to be open to new ways of sharing the gospel: today's culture isn't locked into formats the way we {who have been in the church for some time} often are - we all need flexibility! Thanks for your insight and for sharing with us...for throwing out a challenge to us all!!