Being the Solution and Not the Problem

By Glenn Wagner, Ph.D.

Ever feel like spiritual terrorists are ambushing your church? Jesus told us that the work of authentic ministry would be resisted. He said “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matthew 16:18). The implication is that, although the gates of Hades will not ultimately prevail, they will always be trying to overcome.

But the longer I’m involved in the “church world”, the more I’m beginning to think that “the gates of Hades” aren’t our biggest problem. After all, Jesus said they would fail. To be honest, I see more resistance coming from within the church than from without. This wouldn’t be the first time God’s people resisted him. Stephen made it clear that Israel, God’s Old Testament people, “always resisted the Holy Spirit” (Acts 7:50). God’s chosen people we’re actually obstacles to him. They were the gates against whom God had to prevail. The church can be the same thing, if we’re not careful.    

I’m beginning to think that if Jesus was teaching today, he might say something like,

  • “I will build my church, and the gates of the church will not prevail against.” Or,
  • “I will build my church, and the gates of the clergy will not prevail against it.” Or,
  • “I will build my church, and the gates of the church board will not prevail against it.”  Or,
  • “I will build my church, and the gates of the congregation will not prevail against it.”

Maybe we’ve been giving hades too much credit for resisting the work of the church. Maybe, just maybe, the gates that are currently prevailing are us!

Through our refusal to change, adapt, live by faith and risk.  Through our fear, reluctance, lack of strategic and courageous leadership we could be God’s greatest obstacles in building his church.

Leaders, we need to be sure that we’re not resisting God’s direction for our church.  We need to be certain that we’ve not allowed Hades to go on vacation by doing its job of resisting.

How you might ask?  By doing the following:

  • Define your Purpose
  • Pursue your Passion
  • Present your Vision
  • Clarify your Strategy

In short, lead effectively and courageously.

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