Living things die. No one likes to acknowledge that, or deal with it, unless forced to. It’s painful and disheartening, but it’s the truth. This holds significant application when considering the church and it’s various ministries.
All life has cycles. This is true for the living body of Christ as well. So… just as the human body needs a physician, the church needs a diagnostic tool to gage it’s health and what stage of life it’s in. In the previous four posts we covered the concept behind the HOKEY-POKEY evaluation model, the idea that living things grow up, that living things grow in and how living things grow out. Now, it’s time to deal with our final cycle… what happens when living things go down?
Everything dies (said the cheery pastor man). Death is the result of sin in the world and we will not know an end to it until we are blessed with eternity.
So why then do we cling to dying things instead of letting them go?
YOU PROBABLY DON’T WANT TO READ THE FOLLOWING
When it comes to people, especially our loved ones, I would suggest that it’s selfishness and personal comfort. I would rather my father not have died for purely self-serving reasons. Oh yes, I love him and I miss him . . . but I love me more. How else could I explain wanting to keep him here with me in this sin sick world. How else could I explain wanting to keep him from the wonderful presence of the Triune God.
When it comes to the church and to ministry might I suggest (with fear and trepidation) we tend to cling to dying things because of pride, laziness, fear and personal comfort. I won’t elaborate here because I tend to be overly passionate and unguarded concerning church politics and I would not want to say something here, in an already difficult truth, that might turn people away from the possibility of Holy Spirit teaching/conviction.
I will say, however, that the death of a church or ministry is not always an ultimate defeat. It’s not always because of sin or because of failure. One day my ministry years will come to an end. My leadership role will fade to a following role, my preaching responsibility will diminish to a small bible study here and there. My hope is that these things will take place because there is someone younger, more energetic, better equipped, with more formal or informal training who has come along to carry on the work of God’s Kingdom.
This might happen when I’m 70 or 80, it might happen when I hit 35 and the church and God’s ministry outgrows my equipping. I don’t own, nor do I have any claim to, the role of head pastor. I do not deserve this position, it’s simply been entrusted to my care until the Lord sees fit to take it away from me. When that happens, praise be to God for His infinite wisdom and ultimate control.
A FINAL NOTE
As hard as it is to hear, we desperately need people in our life who will bravely and honestly tell us when something is not working. This is how we get better at what we do. If we choose to immerse ourselves in a comfortable, non-confrontational ministry cocoon, we will likely create ministry that is much less than it could be for Christ. We need people—hopefully but not necessarily loving people—who provide an objective, informed perspective of what we are attempting for Christ.
Living things go down and must be put to rest to make room for new and/or other growing things… who knows… maybe, like the death of a seed, your ministry will die and give birth to something beautiful and vibrant. After all… isn’t that truly what we want?