Frustrated But…

I work with a large number of churches and a variety of ages in many different countries. And, of course, every church is unique and faces its own unique challenges. And the believers are all at a different place on their faith journey. This is what makes Church and ministering interesting and dynamic. Everything is fluid and everyone is, or should be, in motion. 

I noticed one constant in the midst of this every changing and fluid environment. And it both bothers me and even frustrates me somewhat. The people regardless of age tend to have a fair understanding of the basics but certainly are not encountering God in any real sense. They are not experiencing His presence, His peace, or His power. They are not relating to the Holy Spirit who has been sent by Jesus to be our guide and counsellor. And, the supernatural – especially the gifts of the Spirit – are certainly not in operation within the church assemblies or out in the world among the lost where we have been empowered to be witnesses (see Acts 1:5, 8)

From a recent on-line chat I received the following from a leader in a Central Asian country….

“I will tell you briefly what is happening now in our church with teenagers from my point of view. I studied for four years at the theological university. And against this background, if I lead and teach teenagers, then it is all connected with mental knowledge. The university teaches history, archeology, apologetics, and so on, but does not teach how to listen to the Voice of God. Among adolescents and young people, we have very little room for the Holy Spirit to lead us, because a lot of importance was given to ordinary knowledge. Knowing a lot is not bad. But as if we began to rely only on ourselves and on our knowledge. We do not have people among youth and adolescents who prophesy or manifest the miracles of the Lord through themselves. And even the point is not in prophecy, but in the general understanding of the Holy Spirit and understanding where God directs. As a church, we wish we could spend more time with the Lord. Young people also have a similar situation.”

Not to be critical, but it causes me to wonder what it is that the main leaders on the weekend gatherings are teaching. Not just in this one church but in all churches as her words could have been spoken by leaders in most churches in most nations. Are we experiencing teachers “who are simply tickling our ears” as Paul warned Timothy. Are leaders simply comforting their people without also challenging them? Are we teaching rather than equipping? (See Ephesians 4:11-13) 

It leads me to so many questions…

      • Do people understand that the Christian faith is not a set of rules and regulations (not a religion) but a relationship with the living God? (See Romans 6:23 and John 17:3)
      • How can a person have a relationship with God if they are not aware of what His voice sounds like and thus think they are not hearing God on a regular basis? (See John 10:3, 4, 16)
      • We are called to fellowship with the Holy Spirit and yet most believers don’t relate to Him at all and, if they do, they see Him as a power and not as a person. Are we not teaching people how to fellowship with the Spirit and what that really means? (See 2 Corinthians 13:14)
      • We are called to seek and save the lost as Jesus did (see Luke 19:10). We are sent out to the nations to make disciples (see Matthew 28:18-20). Yet believers are self-focused and not burdened for the lost. Why?
      • The gifts of the Spirit that are released with the experience the Bible calls the Baptism in the Holy Spirit (see Luke 24:49 and Acts 1:5) are not seen in the lives and ministries of most Spirit-filled believers. I wonder why. What is missing in the local church that even Spirit-filled churches are not flowing in the gifts?
      • Why is it that information – informing believers about their bibles so they are knowledgable – is the emphasis and the focus? Why do we aim at the head and not the heart? Why do we focus on information when what the faith is all about is transformation (a heart encounter)?

I have so many questions …

It seems that the born again churches are becoming more of a religion that a relationship with God and with each other. And, really the same could be said of the born again, Spirit-filled churches. 

It seems that we are missing the mark and are no longer the true Church that Jesus said He would build (Matthew 1618).

It seems that we have focused on the ‘teacher’ and ‘pastor’ and ignored the ‘evangelist, ‘prophet,’ and ‘apostle.’ Thus we have become unbalanced, focused on self and not on the lost; doing things in the flesh and not in the Spirit.

I believe it is time to take a look at what we are doing and to make a number of radical and deep changes in the life of the church. But that is a topic for another blog…