“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations,”
I attended a men’s conference this weekend. What a joy it was to get away for three days with men of like minds to worship Jesus and be challenged by the gospel. I am also so encouraged by our small home church. ALL the men attended. ALL the women prayed for us before, during, and after. What’s also cool is that the roles will be reversed. The women will attend while the men pray for them! And…ALL of us are attending two marriage events. One is an evening program in just a few weeks. The other is Weekend to Remember by Family Life which is coming up just a couple weeks after that. All of us are attending!
During the weekend, I heard lots of people saying how much they were getting out of the conference. I also heard lots of pastors talking about how big of a struggle it is to get their congregation to “wake up” and change their lives. I heard one guy talk about how there simply aren’t enough men manning the ropes – in reference to the men who lowered the paralytic to Jesus through a hole they chopped in the roof. These guys had to love their paralyzed friend. They also had to have incredible faith to do what they did. In general, there are very few men like this in our churches.
Is it any wonder our pastors are worn out? Here’s a list of spiritual disciplines that promise INCREDIBLE blessings, if only we do them. You tell me, is your church fully engaged in all these? Do the individuals of the congregation practice these regularly? Have these principles become the fabric of their faith life?
Wait and Watch for Jesus to Return. “Blessed is that servant whom his master will find doing so when he comes.” Matthew 24:46
Make Disciples/Reconcile to God. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” Matthew 28:19
Study Scripture. “Blessed is the one…whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on the law day and night.” Psalm 1:1-2
Tithe. “Bring the full tithe…and put me to the test…if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.” Malachi 3:10
Sabbath Rest. “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” Exodus 20:11
Break Bondages. “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36
Prayer. “Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power to prevail.” James 5:16
Lord’s Supper. “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” 1 Corinthians 11:26
Love One Another. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35
Our pastors mean well, but are they convincing the congregation about any of this stuff? Sure, there are a few people, but, honestly folks, these are no-brainers. Pastors are teaching this stuff, but it’s falling on deaf ears.
This should get us to thinking and thinking hard. Why AREN’T these basic principles taking root and flourishing in the lives of the congregation? It isn’t from lack of trying from the pastor and a handful within the congregation. Sadly, after enough discouragement, pastors all too often burn out and quit or simply lose their passion.
Could it be that the vast majority of church attendees don’t want to change? Could it be that the gospel isn’t getting through their ears and into their hearts? I think we really have to ask ourselves this because something is clearly wrong. I believe that there are two good reasons that we don’t see the gospel impacting our congregations:
They Aren’t Believers. “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:3-4
They Are Stubborn Beyond Human Instruction. “Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with a bit and bridle or it will not stay near you.” Psalm 32:9
It’s almost hard to comprehend the resources that these two categories of people consume. Let’s just say that 10% of the congregation actively practices these basic principles and responds eagerly to the gospel. That means that 90% are simply going through the motions. Week after week these people come to church, over and over, and nothing spiritual happens! We are wasting our time, folks! Think about the size of our churches and the tremendous amount of overhead spent on these people – who refuse to pay for their fair share of cost!
I think it’s time to seriously reconsider how we do church. Why are we burdening ourselves like this? Do you really think God is yoking us together with non-believers or people who are, through their refusal to respond, corrupting our churches with sin?
2 Corinthians 6:14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will be a father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”
1 Corinthians 5:3-5 For though absent in the body, I am present in spirit; and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment on the one who did such a thing. When you are assembled in the name of the Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.
The first is in regard to non-believers. The second to believers who refuse to heed the gospel. You tell me, are we doing this?
Folks, two men this weekend confessed to the entire group their secret sin of pornography. They had been carrying this burden for YEARS and finally found relief. Where? At a men’s conference. Not church. The men gathered around and prayed over these men. Lots of tears. It was powerful.
This doesn’t happen in church as usual, but it should. If it doesn’t, we must truly examine the problem. Friends, the sad truth is you might not be able to redeem your church. Then you will be faced with something I bet you haven’t yet considered: leaving your church.
That was my conclusion, and I’m happy to report that I’m not looking back. Now, this message may be particularly troubling for pastors because your very livelihood depends on a paycheck from the congregation. Let me ask you this. Is money so important that you won’t leave a congregation that can’t hear the gospel or refuses to listen? Are you afraid of losing a following? Could you possibly be satisfied leading a flock of ten people, ten who are on fire for Jesus? Of course, you could. Imagine if your congregation lived out the principles we discussed above. You couldn’t hold them back from going into the world to tell people about Jesus.
Pastor, your role might be to feed the twelve, like Jesus. You may need to find another way to make a living, like Paul, and pastor around that. Think about these things.
Father, let these thoughts find fertile soil. Amen.
Copyright © 2020 Scott Powers