For those who have been following my progress on the book, “Hurdling the Barriers, Overcoming the 12 largest barriers to church health and growth.” upon which I have been working, I am pleased to announce that I have completed the first draft. The manuscript is 282 pages long and 97,835 words. I hope to complete the second draft and publish it soon.
The following is an introduction to the chapter on the barrier of the flesh.
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16, ESV)
Years ago, when I was serving a church planter/pastor of a small church on the campus of Armstrong Atlantic State University, I noticed something that was all the rage in the church community. It was called “The Purpose Driven Church.” Now, do not take me wrong. I see nothing wrong with what Pastor Rick Warren did in Saddleback. However, I think it was being a bit overdone in Savannah. It seemed like every church I passed had a banner stating they were doing “The 40 Days of Purpose.” When I went into some of these churches it was like they took every point from Rick’s book, “The Purpose Driven Church,” and implemented it in their congregations. The Problem is that churches can begin to place an unholy dependence upon a method rather than The Lord who is over all.
In Savannah, I also came to know the pastor of the Korean Baptist Church. He was a very godly man. His congregation had grown significantly and the passion his parishioners had for the Lord stood out above other congregations I had seen. This was a healthy church. His congregation had just built a new building and I believe they finished the work without any debt. I met with the pastor to discuss possibly moving our congregation into their former meeting place for we were asked to leave our current meeting place on the college campus.
When I met the Korean pastor at his new building, he showed me around the facility and then began to speak about ministry philosophy. It was then that he told me something that I have not forgotten. He said to me, “Steve, we are not purpose driven church. We are Spirit driven church.” Wow! This put everything in perspective. This pastor and his congregation were not going to be strapped to a method of ministry, they were going to be led by the Spirit of God. And it showed in their growing and healthy congregation.
I have titled this chapter, “Hurdling the Barrier of the Flesh.” The problem is that many churches trust in methods written in books, buildings and facilities, music styles, lighting, media, advertising, and many other things to produce a fruitful ministry. It is not that these things are wrong. However, when a church puts their trust in these things to make the difference, they miss the mark and establish these things as idols. In this case, their efforts are doomed.
In this chapter I will cover how a church turns from being led by human initiatives and begins following the leading of the Spirit.