Organizing the Church against the Gates of Hell?

Posted: August 27, 2008 in Church Strategy, Power of God, Power of Holy Spirit
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I went to one of those Pastor’s training sessions on how to M.A.P. (Methods and Procedures) a more effective strategy for growing an effective and discipled church. The presenter’s strategy was based on ‘A Simple Church’ and the follow-up ‘The Essential Church’. What most of these sessions boiled down to is a more simplified strategy of accomplishing the Great Commission. Most begin with laying the proper foundation of an agreed mission statement and vision statement. Then you implement that vision throughout your church program. Most of these presentations feature neat charts and well-thought our acronyms and outlines for accomplishing these goals.

Just past the halfway mark of the two hour presentation, a young Hispanic man, not even a pastor, asked to say a few words. His speech was heavily accented, and at times he was difficult to understand, but my spirit leapt within me, for this man had a Spirit that was clearly impassioned for the Work of God. In his five minute halting speech, he said more to my spirit than the seasoned speaker said all night. He plainly stated what the church was to do here on earth.

He first read from Matthew 16:

16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 16:16-19 (ESV)

The Gates of Hell

He said the purpose of the church is to go against the gates of hell in power. The church has a duty to rescue the perishing from hell. Then he read from Isaiah 42:

1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. 2 He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; 3 a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. 4 He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coast lands wait for his law. 5 Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it: 6 “I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, 7 to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. Isaiah 42:1-7 (ESV)

The church is to preach the light of Jesus, to open the eyes of the blind, and to free the prisoners from the dungeon, bringing them the light of the gospel.

Finally he quoted Jesus’ own declaration as to why he came:

16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Luke 4:16-19 (ESV)

Once again he said the church is to preach the good news to the poor, to free the captives, give sight to the blind and set at liberty the oppressed. He brought home his point, pastors and preachers are not preaching the power of the Gospel to the churches. Our people are weak and ineffective because we don’t know first-hand the power of the gospel to transform our lives. He was politely interrupted by the presenter, who quickly brought us back to point of the session-how to have an effective strategy for church growth.

Transformation, not Organization

My heart burned within me from the young man’s words. If we want to see the explosive growth of Acts, we must know the transforming power of Jesus Christ. The church needs transformation, not organization. There is too much flesh in the church today. Pastors are walking in the flesh. They strategize and organize just like any fleshly business owner would. Believe me, I was a business owner. The apostles only developed strategies at the throne of God. When there was a complaint about something (care of widows, etc) they went to the Holy Spirit for His directives. The church should be about power, about the Holy Spirit, about shaking the gates of Hell! Instead we are worrying about declining Sunday School enrollment and baptisms.

Praying for the Power of the Holy Spirit

Praying for the Power of the Holy Spirit

If the church gets back to pleading for the filling of the Holy Spirit, and focusing on transforming lives in the Name of Christ, Christ will continue to build His church, and the gates of Hell will not prevail against it. We must change our focus from strategies and organization to a true ministry of the Word, armed with the Power of the Holy Spirit. We must pray and fast and devote ourselves to the transforming power of Christ, just as the apostles did.

Strategy Replaces Power

Perhaps we are adopting all these strategies to make up for the loss of an intimate knowledge of the transforming power of Jesus. Perhaps we have grown too rich, too self-sufficient, too business-like.

Jesus Crying over the Powerless ChurchDoes Christ see us as lukewarm? Is he ready to spew us out?

Any Idiot can build a church

Any idiot with hard work and people skills can build a big church. Any idiot can do great things that appear to be for Jesus. If those churches, if those things are not done in the power of the Holy Spirit, they will be burnt up as works of the flesh. And in the day of judgment, Jesus will say “depart from me, I never knew you!”

I loved what this young man said to all us ‘seasoned’ pastors.

We need to let Jesus back into our churches

We need to let Jesus back into our churches

We need to preach with the power of the Holy Spirit. We need to see the Power of Christ in our churches, transforming lives, restoring marriages, releasing captives from the bondage of addictions and sin. Instead of more strategies and better organization, we need to let Jesus back into His church, and have faith in His power to go against the gates of Hell.

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