I’m a fan of the Church. Just like some men like to research the newest and best hunting equipment or cars, I enjoy researching and studying churches and pastors. All of my heroes growing up were preachers. It’s a hobby, I appreciate men and women of God that do great things in service of the Lord. I don’t make the mistake of diving deep into what people say about them or their personal lives because I understand that they are simply human. I appreciate without trying to depreciate what others have done. So with that being said, I feel like I’ve been hit my a freight train because for the past 7 years I’ve been following, listening and learning from a guy named Perry Noble. He was the Pastor of one of the largest churches in North America for 16 years. I didn’t agree with a lot of what he did or said but I learned and appreciated his ministry. I hadn’t seen or heard anything from him for a while so I googled his name. He and Newspring had parted ways. I won’t go into why but I was crushed, it grieved my heart.
Pastor Pete and Perry’s departure from their churches have gathered headlines because they were leading thousands but their situations are not unlike the masses of lesser known Pastors that are separated from churches each year. These are men and women that have decided to give their lives to build the kingdom of God and they are dropping like flies. What are we doing wrong? Have we forgotten that we are in a war?
Pastoring and living for God is not for the weak or faint of heart but it’s for the warrior. Please understand my heart, I love trends and being relevant. I’m not traditional in the way I pastor and interact with culture, but I think we’ve gone a little too far. We’ve made the ministry into a fashion show, we’ve made the church our runway. I wear a suit because my wife likes me in a suit but I don’t see anything wrong with casual dress at church. I think many of the traditional ways we do church are getting in the way of reaching unchurched people. I don’t do “beat em up” church, I don’t pastor from the posture of fear. I’m a hope dealer, I pastor through the message of hope, faith and love. In my opinion those are issues that we have to navigate with regard to our own convictions. But I pray that our liberty hasn’t made us dull to the fact that we are meant to be warriors.
I feel as though my fellow ministers and I are at a crossroads. I believe that each prior generation had a similar battle. Not sure any generation has passed for some time and that is what has lead us to this place. Peter, James and John along with the Apostles had a similar battle arise. The church was growing, their popularity and effectiveness had made demands on their time. The “church” needed more of their time.
Acts 6 Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists,[a] because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution. 2 Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. 3 Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; 4 but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
My contemporaries and I are not confronting an different enemy today than every generation of ministers before us. When the enemy finds a tactic that works, he sticks with it. The enemy wants to distract us from what really matters and what we are called to do. We are called to be warriors, we are called to the Word and to Prayer. Peter and the Apostles appointed people to take care of the work of the church, so they could give themselves to what they were called into.
The elders of the First Church didn’t have access to all the tools I have now but they were effective because they knew they had an enemy. They knew their enemy was deceptive, ruthless, and evil. They knew their enemy took on the form of an angel at times, sheep at other times. They knew their enemy would never stop until forced to back down by a Stronger one. They knew their enemy couldn’t be converted or played with. They knew their enemy loved to make one feel proud, strong, and wise. They knew their enemy if allowed a foothold in their life would not stop until he had established a stronghold. They knew that their enemy had to be beat back and that these things only happen by prayer and fasting.
I understand this is not a popular take. I understand better than most the allure of finding a easier way to Pastor. Going the easy route works over the short term, but the issue is that it’s not sustainable. The only way to survive as a Spiritual Leader is to be spiritual. We have to invade the enemies camp, we only have the power to do that if we are men and women of prayer and the Word.
Our world is different than the world of the First Church, but our God, mission, mandate and enemy is the same. Don’t disregard the “work” of the Church but make sure it’s in it’s proper place. Raise up leaders to serve the Church so you can give yourself continually to prayer and the ministry of the Word.