As I travel and talk to folks in congregations across the United States (and other countries) I am sensing a growing holy discontent with business as usual in the church. The discontent is not coming primarily from pastors and staff but from congregants. There are several themes that I am hearing.

"My pastor is not unpacking the Word of God and often substitutes self help preaching to God's word and its impact on my life." We who are in ministry don't like to hear this but it is a significant issue among those we minister to. I can read any number of thousands of self help books on the market today but our souls long for the living word of the living God that has "the power to penetrate even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12).

There are many parched hearts and souls among our people who long for a better understanding of what God has and wants for them. If those of us in ministry doubt that all we need to do is to ask.

"I am relegated to the B team of ministry because I don't have formal theological education." Those of us in ministry have severely underestimated the pain among many of our leaders, women, and gifted folks in the church who are not empowered for real ministry. This is a direct violation of the responsibilities of church leaders to unleash their people in meaningful ministry (Ephesians 4:12). 

I am constantly amazed and saddened when qualified leaders are marginalized, not listened to or even sidelined because of the agendas of paid staff. There are churches who release exceedingly well but there are equally many who do not. Too many pastors are threatened by strong lay leaders.

We will never impact our communities until we help all of our people understand that they are on God's A team (He has only one team) and that they are the called ones in their community, neighborhood, workplace and circle of influence. In the early church it was the new converts who were God's workers and staff. In the majority world it is the same today. They cannot afford to hire staff to do it for them or staff that have formal degrees. We need to train, equip and deploy (Ephesians 4:12) so that all are engaged in the good works (Ephesians 2:10) that God created them for.

We have so professionalized ministry and equated ministry qualifications with education and degrees that we have lost the concept of raising up ministry leaders from within our own churches. Perhaps those of us who have the degrees are guilty of guarding our status in ministry but not allowing others in easily. After all, we are qualified, we have the education and we have the degree.

"I am tired of ministry without the power of the Holy Spirit. I long for the day when His spirit is alive and well in our midst and not just a theoretical entity." I hear this theme over and over. Truth without power is not alive. In the New Testament Paul often ties the word and power together, it is not one or the other or one without the other. While many people cannot put their finger on it, they know something is missing that they need for living out the Christian life in their own lives. I am watching groups of ordinary people start prayer ministries in their congregations and among people from other congregations who are also looking for greater power and presence of the Holy Spirit.

I would not just call this discontent but a holy discontent. It is discontent that God's spirit is raising up to create a healthier church and a more biblical church. Those of us in ministry need to hear, listen and consider the holy discontent that is emerging in the church today.
  • Apr 02, 2013
  • Category: News
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