Today, the children of crowded churches of the 80’ and 90’s are largely staying away from the churches, we are moving into a post church era, and the enemy is delighted.
‘You don’t need those hypocrites! You’re just fine, what else could you possibly learn anyway? Here, have an apple.’
Keep the passion, renew the passion
When I first tasted true freedom in Christ I had a real passion that everyone should hear the good news. How can you resist the love of God, surely if everyone just heard the truth they will surrender also and find the joy that I have. I had considered myself a Christian for many years but I was always holding out, ‘my life is mine to do as I please and as long as I’m a good person, Lord, you just need to be fine with it.’ Well, that arrangement wasn’t working out so well for me. It just made me a slave to sin, anxiety and loneliness.
So when I finally, in desperation, surrendered completely to him saying ‘Lord, my life is yours, my heart is yours, I’m ready trust you completely and do your will, I’m tired of the pain, the partying that no longer satisfies and the pointless relationships and head games’—at that point I was indeed set free and experienced real life, real joy, real peace and real love from a God who turned out to be very real and very near.
I surrendered to his will and I couldn’t get enough. I loved going to church, bible studies, prayer groups, assembling together with the saints to be exhorted and to stir one another up. And I was indeed always stirred up in these gatherings.
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10
I got baptized in water and experienced a supernatural work of the Lord as a result when and set my mind free from the torment of my past, even becoming the Lord of my troubled dreams.
And I loved the worship, It seemed like I was stepping right into the very presence of God when I worshiped with the saints, singing the now familiar songs for the first time, coming boldly before the throne of grace, feeling his presence, hearing his voice, receiving direction and encouragement. Honestly, I have a hard time getting there anymore because I am usually too focused on what I am doing next as the preacher preparing to speak on the Lord’s behalf, but he always gives me something for you and that is what I am anointed in this season to do, so I’m okay with that.
But, I wonder if I have lost some of the zeal and passion to do God’s will. I think it is a symptom of following the Lord through so many valley’s, so many battle fields, that we get a little gun shy and just plain discouraged.
We must remember that God’s primary will for this earth is that all should hear and know that Jesus Christ is Lord and that by no other name may we be saved—That all may know his love. Period.
That is why Jesus walked willingly where his Father led him, walked right into the hands of the enemy willingly, went to his sham trials, flogging and crucifixion, willingly—because his passion was for the lost. That was his passion because it was his Father’s will. Jesus lay down his life both figuratively and literally to accomplish his Father’s will for his life. “Father, if it is possible, take this cup from before me, nevertheless, not my will but thine be done.”
Jesus surrendered his will, even his instinct to survive, in favor of the Father’s and he suffered mightily for it, but it was his victory, and ours.
35 Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise. Heb 10
We cannot give up just because it’s hard. We must not lose our passion and desire to accomplish God’s will and purpose for his church, for us.
Where’s the church?
Like I said, when I first surrendered to Jesus I wanted nothing more than to tell the world of his love. One day I hand printed a bunch of flyers full of verses proclaiming the Lordship of Jesus and went to the Jehovah Witnesses convention at the biggest arena in Billings. No other Christians were there that I saw, and, long story short, I ended up being escorted out by the elders, whom I witnessed to as I was being walked out to my car.
Where is the church? Was my biggest question. A couple of years later I was interviewed by a local Christian TV station about the jail ministry I was involved in. I was afraid to give out my phone number during the interview because I was sure once people heard of this opportunity we would be flooded with people who wanted to get involved. We needed more volunteers—surely people just need to know. But I didn’t want my phone ringing off the hook.
The station agreed to field the phone calls for me so we gave them their number. Not a single person called. My primary question was, where is the church?
I got very busy for many years going where the fields were ripe for the harvest, on the wrong side of the tracks, and noticed that it was always the same few people who were doing the same— where is the rest of the church?
The church was mostly staying where the music was polished and so was the preaching. ‘We don’t want to get dirty, those places are full of scary nasty things and people.’ Well, you know what? The fields with the most manure in them are the most fertile ones and they produce the best fruit.
There again, I haven’t gone down to tackle an arena full of Jehovah witnesses lately either. I haven’t been in the jails, prisons, shelters and youth detention centers for a few years now. Yes, as a pastor, I have a new assignment that keeps me busy, and that assignment is to urge the church, to urge you, and to equip you, to follow Gods will. And his will, again, is that all would be saved. But for anyone to be saved they must hear and to hear someone must be speaking the message and “blessed are the feet of those who bring good news.”
Are your feet blessed? It’s more than reposting every cheesy Christian meme on Facebook. You have to get dirty.
We have to get together to encourage one another and then we must get out and share what we have—preferably together. The fields that are ripe for the harvest should be crowded with workers reaping the harvest for Jesus.
Much of my experience with going into the places where angels fear to tread, as me and one of my old ministry partners used to joke, took place during the 80’s and 90’s when many churches were busting at the seams, all the pretty people gathering together to see how many more people they could attract into their ever larger buildings.
Today, the children of those crowds are largely staying away from the churches, they are neglecting the gathering of themselves together and we are moving into a post church era, and the enemy is delighted. You can see it in our culture as the Bible and God’s ways—his will—is being spurned, mocked and even outlawed.
There are many reasons for this church exodus and I have talked to you many times about it, but they are all excuses that the Lord will surely not overlook as his word clearly says—Do not neglect the gathering of yourselves together, be sprinkled with the blood and washed with the water, come boldly before the throne. Hebrews 10
The fact that someone in a church somewhere let you down, that things got phony and powerless, that there might have been more programs then missions, things were contrived instead of inspired, the Spirit seemed to have been replaced by the script and the Pastor’s will took precedence over the Lord’s—all detrimental things to be sure—are not excuses the Lord will accept; the enemy will however. In fact he’ll help you come up with even more excuses.
‘You don’t need those hypocrites! Your just fine, what else could you possibly learn anyway? Here, have an apple.’
‘Oooh look, healing crystals and yoga classes.’
Who needs the church…well, maybe the church needs you. We need each other. “Wherever two or more are gathered, there I am in the midst of them”— we need Jesus and together we are strong.
Let’s keep it real, let’s make sure the Holy Spirit is always welcome and let’s realize that it is up to us to take his word to the street, to the world, because the enemy is having a heyday there without us.
Go out there and kick the devils but all over the pavement, and the gravel. You have the power.
Is it easy? No, but battles never are. But they have to be fought to win and the best equipped and most passionate army always wins, that is us—it you are willing.
We are in a battle for the very soul of this nation–of this world–we need you–be the church.