Saturday, February 22, 2014

The One Thing That Hinders My Mission Is The Church!

Recently a missionary friend confided to me that the only thing that was keeping him and his wife from reaching the lost and doing what they felt God had called them to do was the church!  This couple had recently retired and moved across the ocean to minister in an area of the world where the Gospel had once been vibrant but now had become dark and spiritually void. 

They had partnered with a small evangelical church which had invited them to be missionaries in their community to reach the lost. They didn't come with a plan or agenda, they were coming with open hands curious to see what God had in store for them.  Within a few days, God had flung the doors wide open and given them wonderful opportunities.  They were meeting people, building relationships with the lost. God had provided a place to live that included a ministry downtown and several great opportunities to make an impact for Christ in this community. 
However, the one stumbling block to their ministry seemed to be the church in which they had partnered.  Instead of helping, the church began to control and say "no" to almost every idea they had for ministry.  They either could not do something because of "doctrinal" issues or "methods" that were contrary to the church's teaching or tradition.
In the mist of God's miracles and this incredible energy and excitement for sharing the Gospel, there was this wet blanket being thrown over them by the church.  It was taking the wind out of their sails and discouraging them at every turn. Here in this incredibly dark region of the world with so many people living without Christ, the leaders of this small church were debating doctrine and arguing over what method they should be using to reach the lost.  It's like a group in a life boat in a sea of drowning people arguing over which type of life-saving device they should use.  

It breaks my heart to hear anyone say that the one thing that stands in the way of being the church is the church itself!  And yet unfortunately many churches that desire to be salt and light to their neighbors morph into institutions that impede the efforts to reach the lost.  They are extinguishers of the gospel fire, instead of the lighter fluid. 

Liz Wiseman writes in her wonderful book Multipliers that many leaders can become accidental diminishers.  Here is a link to the chart of the different types of leaders who unintentionally shutdown the productivity of those they lead. view chart.  Similarly, pastors and leaders of the churches become diminishers also when they get caught up in doctrinal squabbles.  They can also shut down creativity by limiting the ways they do ministry.  

These are just two of the ways the church acts as a deterrent rather than a catalyst for ministry. What might be some other ways you can think of that the church may be accidental diminishers, deterring what they are trying to accomplish?

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