In my estimation, one of the greatest traps of ministry can be the false assumption that activity is synonymous with productivity. As a result we can easily find ourselves involved in far too many causes and pursuits that may actually dull us to the reality that what we are doing is robbing us of true kingdom purposes. (Psalm 127:1 NKJV) Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain.
While I am sure that this is true of pastors and leaders in nearly any country, it is especially true in the United States. Where the culture has become a whirlwind of seemingly endless activity. This whirlwind of activity creates a challenge for the modern minister of the gospel, simply due to the very fact that we are inundated with so many possible choices. “This is the most invasive culture in history.” Oz Guinness
Before I go any further, let me first of all assure you that I have not arrived, nor have I mastered this problem in my own life and ministry. I am a bit ADD by nature, and can find myself easily distracted from what I really need to be pursuing. “The kingdom of darkness could best be described as distractions” Oswald Chambers Man isn’t that the truth!
This brings me to the primary focus of this issue. If we are not careful to step back from what we are doing, and really take a good look at the fruitfulness of our ministry and the activities we are involved in, we can easily fall prey to the mistaken notion that if we just keep working hard at what we are doing we will eventually see it pay off in the long run. However, nothing could be further from the truth.
“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten” Anthony Robbins
I have witnessed this first hand in the lives of many pastors, and their churches. Is a matter of fact, there are entire denominations that are completely trapped in this delusion. Because they have failed to take a good hard look at their methods, and fruitfulness, they are actually trapped in a mode of ministry that is perpetuating this very problem. Many of these churches do not even realize that their traditions, and methods of ministry are completely out of touch with the world around them. When you walk into some of these churches it’s almost like stepping into a room where time has been suspended. Their preaching, and ministry methods simply do not relate to where people are at in the modern world.
On the other hand, we have the Emerging Church camp that seeks to be relevant. Unfortunately, many in this camp also have fallen prey to the very thing they are attempting to avoid. They have diluted the power of the word of God, and the moving of the Holy Spirit, in an attempt to relate to modern culture. We dare not compromise the integrity of the Scriptures, or we have just another man focused structure, with no life of God.
So just exactly how do we take a good hard look at what we are doing, and bring about the needed transformation that is necessary to see God’s will accomplished in the ministry that God has called us to?
First of all we need to seek the face of the Lord, and ask Him just exactly what and how He wants to build His church? Believe me, He really does want to reveal His will to us.
In addition to seeking the Lord in prayer, I believe we really need to consider the actual fruitfulness of what we are doing. We need to evaluate everything by this standard. Out of everything our ministry may be involved in, which are those things that are actually bearing measurable worthwhile results? In other words, are people being saved, healed or transformed as a result of this activity, or is it just another of the many activities that waste our time, resources and energies?
I have witnessed churches that do events year after year, spend thousands of dollars, and yet by all practical purposes see very few if any people saved, or transformed as a result. Yet they continue to carry on with these events just because someone came up with the idea, and doesn’t want to admit that it is not really worth the time and energy to continue it. There is an old saying that could readily apply to this situation. “Don’t try to ride a dead horse.” You see many ministries are trying to ride some activity that will never take them to where they ultimately are attempting to arrive. This is “doing what doesn’t work, where it doesn’t matter.” Unfortunately churches, and other ministries are rife with this sort of activity.
“Fighting with no stated goal can also lead to a war of attrition—a slow defeat in which you actually seem to be winning. What you are busy doing looks right, and brings results, but you can’t see the long-range damage your results are masking. You can’t see that what you are doing cannot take you where you really want to go. Eventually your army will atrophy.’’ Mario Murillo—Fresh Impact
I am of the opinion, that if what we have been doing is not reaching our cities, transforming communities, and impacting our society as a whole then it is time to reevaluate our priorities, and objectives. It is time to make God’s priorities our priorities. Namely the great commission. Winning souls is at the top of God’s agenda, and yet we are often so encumbered with feeding the fed, and reaching the reached, that we have little time or energy left in our tanks to carry out the great commission. You will notice that we don’t call it the great suggestion do we?
‘If people are lost outside of Christ, and if faith in Jesus Christ is the only avenue of redemption, what could possibly be a higher priority than spreading the gospel as far as we can as fast as we can?’ David Shibley