The greatest missing element we witness today within the local church is the lack of actual biblical conversions. We have committed flesh, rock star leaders, motivational speakers, talented musicians, dedicated workers, religious skits and plays. In all of this we seem to lack the first and foremost part of a New Testament Church…men and women who are actually changed by the gospel through the regeneration of the Holy Spirit.
The modern church measures success by the numbers sitting in the seats. This is foolish and is based upon the wisdom and pragmatism of secular society. Success in the church is first measured by biblical conversions; not activity, small groups, outreach or any other effort. These efforts must come out of the heart of those who are born of the Spirit or they are nothing more than dead works. We see a lot of things being accomplished by the arm of the flesh these days and yet revival is not happening. We see very little happening out of prayer and the power of the Spirit, and this reveals that our techniques are motivating the flesh instead of pointing to the cross. God help us!
What are some of the signs that suggest that many we lead may be lacking a biblical conversion? There are several which demonstrate that we are preaching and spending our time prompting and petting the flesh rather than encouraging genuine believers. All of these are not innately wrong. They become a problem when used to coddle unbelievers instead of equipping genuine believers!
- We have to use props to make the message interesting
- We have to tell stories to make it applicable
- We have to produce plays and skits to entertain people
- We have to use jokes to make the message happy
- We have to use gimmicks to get people involved
- We have to constantly applaud people to make them feel special
- We have to provide verses on the wall because they don’t have a Bible in their hand
- We have to beg people to get committed to our activities
- We have to provide a ‘concert worship’ experience to make them feel alive
- Etc, etc, etc…
And yet, when we look in the NT, all the accomplishments by the early believers were done without any of these. They had something else…they experienced biblical conversion and then, out of that new life, they immediately moved out into reproducing disciples and evangelism. No gimmicks, hype or fleshly promptings. In fact, it was hard to prompt someone to get busy for a work which may lead to their martyrdom. Think about it.
The early believers had the new birth in Christ and then, the Holy Spirit had them. He was their energy, effort, strength, impetus and guide. Pastors burn out because they are attempting to do the job that only the Holy Spirit can do. Brothers….please, for the sake of your spiritual health and for the sake of the sheep, stop attempting to do a job which is not yours! Instead, preach and teach the gospel….stop entertaining. We are producing Ishmaels rather than Isaacs.
When a person genuinely comes to Christ in full repentance and surrender to Him as their Lord and Savior, you will not have to motivate them anymore. You will be able to spend quality time teaching and instructing, equipping and sending, instead of cheering and pleading, begging and hoping. Give your time to prayer and study of the Word. Then when you get up to share the Word, you’ll have manna from heaven and a hot coal from the altar of God. The message of clear biblical content and the power of the Holy Spirit is sufficient for those who have experienced biblical conversion.
When we lay down all our fleshly attempts to get fleshly men motivated to do the things of God we will discover the ones truly born of the Spirit. After this we can begin to teach them about ‘doing’ out of ‘being.’ Genuine believers do not need us as their cheerleaders, they need us as their instructors and spiritual fathers. Let us focus on biblical conversions and detox ourselves from the modern image of pastoral care and ministry.
I’m helping to train church planters in India and some of these men and their wives walk 10-20 miles to come to training conferences. Many in our churches will not walk across the street unless it is not raining and they have nothing else to do. Our people get excited about a useless and meaningless college football game, while these in India only get excited about taking the gospel to unreached villages. What’s the difference? Biblical conversion!
There is no way around this conclusion: this problem of the lack of biblical conversions lays at the feet of us who are in leadership, for we have substituted entertainment for gospel content. We have bought into the lie that numbers make us important, successful and spiritual. We have sown the wind….and we are reaping the whirlwind. (Hosea 8:7)
Let us repent and see the tide turn. A tidal wave always begins as a small wave….let’s do it! Pray for me as I promise to pray for you…
Because of Christ,
ReThinking Church Series