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!