We all know what it's like to stumble across a telephone or ATM machine marked with a sign reading "Out of Order." Because such items are so important to modern-day living, we are careful to service them and keep them running. If this is true in how we handle things of only temporal value, how much more should it be true in how we handle things of eternal value?
Pastors and Christian leaders must perform routine maintenance in their churches and ministries lest spiritual disorder in the flock renders them "Out of Order"--ineffective and unproductive in fulfilling God's kingdom purposes.
As pastors, we often spend time catering to the needs of our congregants and visitors while overlooking the need to conduct minor repairs on the "building crew." If we avoid doing this, our churches will suffer a ministry breakdown. While serving the critical mass, we must take the time to "service" those people who keep the ministry flourishing.
Gifts without grooming can't be tolerated among lay leaders. Through our God-ordained call to ministry, we have a responsibility to establish foundation and government in the church. When this discipline exists, lay leaders receive God's grace to perform certain tasks. But the lack of discipline prompts these leaders to move beyond their "measure of grace," which in turn causes the favor of the Lord to depart.
The Bible refers to a person who has been given the oversight of a church as a watchman. There are several things a watchman must watch for if he is to keep the church from becoming out of order:
Watch the flock. The Bible says to take heed to ourselves and the flock of God over which we have been made overseers (see Acts 20:28). Shepherds often use dogs to help keep watch over their flocks. Similarly, we must have "alarm stewards" in our churches. The shepherd needs people in his inner circle who can help spot the deception of the enemy.
Watch for wolves. The body of Christ is laced with wolves cloaked as prophets, pseudo-leaders and cunning intercessors with hidden agendas. When there's a potential leader in the flock, the pastor must groom that person to be a warrior. If not, that person can easily become a wolf. A warrior must be given a strategic assignment that will automatically keep him or her in the spotlight before the Lord and the people so the person's faithfulness can be proven or a deceptive heart revealed.
Watch for growth. Acts 6 indicates that when the number of disciples multiplied, murmuring arose. The apostles asked the question, "Do we leave prayer to wait tables?" The answer: "No, let's look out among us and find seven men full of the Holy Ghost and honest report."
During periods of growth, you'll experience discomfort and some possible disorder. The original method of operation is interrupted by an accelerated pace as the congregation fulfills its destiny. So for every level, there must be an expansion of leaders to manage the growth.
As leaders, if we interpret the sound of God's prophetic trumpet correctly, we will hear a clarion call urging us to return to order, protocol and integrity, both in our homes and in the church. The Lord is calling for excellence in character and behavior. We have embarked on what I believe is the world's greatest revival. And God is strategically training, grooming and admonishing us to return to order so there will be proper management when the onslaught of souls comes rushing through our church doors.
Let's yield to the breaking and shifting of our spirits. When those who are hungry, thirsty and parched from sin come to our churches, they should find a perpetual flow of the Holy Spirit. We are the body of Christ, and we must be as solid as a rock. We cannot risk being out of order.
Michael Johnson is senior pastor of Rhema Christian Center in Jacksonville, Florida.