Sunday, July 21, 2024
Sunday, July 21, 2024
HomeAll The NewsHEALTHY CHURCHES: Removing Barriers And Obstructions

HEALTHY CHURCHES: Removing Barriers And Obstructions

Mobilizing believers and mobilizing your church sounds simple, but it is not easy. There are always obstacles in the way that separate us from the task and even sin that creates a barrier in our relationship with the Lord. Psalm 66:18 says, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” Step one in mobilization is removing any barriers in your own heart and life. It requires a willingness to turn loose of any desires or interests that might keep you at arm’s length from Him. Proverbs 28:13 (NKJV) makes it quite clear, “He that covers his sins will not prosper: but whoso confesses and forsakes them shall have mercy.”

Isaiah 40:3 says, “…Make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” Because of sin in both Israel and Judah, they now lived in exile. The land between them and the land God had promised them was a virtual wasteland. The prophet told them to prepare a road that would make quick and easy access for God to return to the promised land in order to restore His people. The wilderness is a difficult place to cross so they were to build a pathway to make it easier to travel. The immediate fulfillment of this declaration was the Jewish people returning from 70 years of exile and the ultimate fulfillment is the work of Jesus Christ.

John the Baptist in Mark 1:3 (NKJV) declared, “Prepare the way of the Lord; make His paths straight.” The next step to building this pathway is repentance. He was saying, “God is going to visit you. Remove every obstacle. Prepare a clear and unobstructed highway for God!” What are you doing to make sure there is a clear pathway for God’s presence and power in your life and in your church? Is your life and your church characterized by the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit? Are you crying out in desperation for the extraordinary work of the Holy Spirit? What would it look like to earnestly seek the manifest presence of God?

Moving the church forward requires building a highway to encounter God. Is there anything in your way of advancing His kingdom work? How would you describe the spiritual condition in your church right now? Consider meeting with leaders in your church to honestly evaluate the spiritual health of your congregation. Get them together in groups of three or four, making sure you receive and listen to every group that is represented in your congregation. Listen to young and old, male and female, seasoned believers and new believers. Have them answer and discuss the following:

• Describe the spiritual condition of the leaders of your church.

• Describe the spiritual condition of the followers of your church.

• Is your church’s leadership leading the church in a positive spiritual direction? Have them explain their answer.

• Is your church’s congregation following its leadership in a positive spiritual direction? Again, have them explain their answer.

• Does the leadership of your church have a clearly defined vision for the church’s future?

• Can they state clearly and easily what that vision is? Have them write out what they believe is the vision for your church.

Now you as a leader, with others, can begin going even farther in building a pathway for God’s presence and purpose to be fulfilled in your church. Have them use the Great Commission, the Great Commandment and Acts 1:8 as their guide to describe what ways your church is fulfilling its biblical purpose. It will be an eye-opening exercise when you compare notes in your smaller groups and when you bring two or three other groups together. It may be a little uncomfortable, but it can be a very healthy experience. Have them also answer:

• How is God blessing this church?

• What have we seen Him do in the last 6-12 months? 

If you are ready to dig even deeper, and if you truly want to be spiritually healthy and build a pathway that makes quick and easy access for God to move in your midst, ask the following questions:

• Are there any unresolved sins (such as a bitter spirit or a prejudicial attitude toward the community) in the history of your church?

• Is there any unresolved sin on the part of pastoral staff, key lay leaders or the congregation? If there are then write out what they are and what the steps to correcting them might be. This is a great time for them to list what they believe are the three primary strengths and the three primary weaknesses of your church’s ministry.

This can be a challenging process, but it is very worthwhile. Scripture reminds us several times to consider our ways, evaluate and examine our spiritual condition. When the Lord’s house was being neglected, the prophet Haggai challenged the people with these very words, “Consider your ways” (Hag. 1:7). Even in the observance of communion, a believer is told to examine himself because you are not to partake of the Lord’s supper in an unworthy manner. The purpose of the examination is not so you can talk about how unworthy you are but rather how you can remove the obstacles from your life so you can partake.

In building a pathway for God to move powerfully in your midst, what motivation does your church need to embrace significant change to be who God desires you to be? What biblical goals would become so important to the people in your congregation that they would be willing to do things differently, to sacrifice? In Acts 5, the early church found out that Ananias and Sapphira would not be allowed to abort the manifest presence of God because too much was at stake. The same is true today, and if you do not believe it, you might want to check out Rev. 3:16.

If you would like the worksheets referred to in this article, to lead your church through this spiritual health process, email me at larry@bmaam.com or Heidi Sorrells at heidi@bmaam.com.

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