Saturday, June 6, 2009

Transformation Opportunity - 6/6/2009

Today's Mental Image:

3 Great Dangers Facing Today’s Church


Q: As our church begins to embrace change, focus on outreach and look forward to growth, what cautions would you give us based on your previous experience transitioning a church?

A: The best counsel I can give you is this scripture: “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour”(1 Peter 5:8).

Unfortunately, many believers and spiritual leaders are oblivious to this reality. As a result, they fall prey to predictable deceptions that can and will significantly hurt their churches’ ability to be “light” in the world. I want to pinpoint three great dangers I see quietly infiltrating today’s churches.

Compromise. It’s one of the great perils facing spiritual leaders in this generation. In our attempt to reach out to people, we’re often tempted to tweak the truth, specifically in the areas of sex, salvation and Scripture. God clearly defines sex as being only for one man and one woman committed to oneness through marriage; Scripture says that salvation is only through Jesus; and Scripture is our only source for faith and practice. Yet these absolute truths are being challenged by sincere believers as they attempt to relevantly reach out to a world that rejects God because of these tenets.

The lesson here is that even when we’re committed to speaking the truth, compromise becomes a very real possibility when we put too much value on being relevant. We need to stay faithful to the truth as we adapt how we communicate it.

Carnality. I believe this is the primary reason so many of our churches aren’t reaching new people for Christ. Instead of reflecting God’s nature, many believers, including church leaders, continue to reflect the world’s spirit of selfishness, rejection and mutual condemnation.

Once again, Peter’s admonition comes to mind. We need to stay alert and guard ourselves from the dangers that could undermine our potential for positive impact. God is not using just one kind of leader or one ministry philosophy. He doesn’t love the megachurch, small church, traditional church or emerging church more or less than He loves the others. God loves the church that faithfully keeps its doors open to Him and those He loves (Rev. 3:20; Luke 15:7). And we would do well to love what God loves.

Character. I’m referring to the foundation of the truly successful spiritual leader: the heart. In rejecting Saul for David, God made it clear that the person He uses must have the right heart. These two men had both sinned against God in significant ways, but Saul followed his own heart; David followed God’s.

Admittedly, this danger constantly lurks at my door. I love leading, learning, teaching. I love seeing lives impacted. But, none of these things matter if my love for God doesn’t supersede my love for them. It’s not hard to find ourselves loving the work we do for God more than the God we work for. When this happens, no matter how successful our ministry may appear to be, we’re failures.

So let me encourage you with another prudent scripture:
“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Prov. 4:23).

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