Six Ways Bureaucrats are Delaying the Next Movement of God
A special word for Churches, Ministries and Mission Organizations
The first-century disciples turned the world upside down precisely because of their boldness and willingness to pay any price to see the kingdom expand. These things are still happening in many developing countries around the world, but it seems the western church has come to a dead standstill, and there are no signs that it will change anytime soon. Have you ever wondered why?
Churches, Ministries, and Missionary organizations that were once powerhouses for gospel proclamation and kingdom expansion are now overrun by bureaucrats, managers, and consultants. Social fear now steers the ship and has foundationally changed their decision-making. They lose sleep thinking about what might happen if we send someone into a dangerous situation and they die? or What if one of our employees is offended and they sue?
But Christian endeavors should never be directed by a sense of fear or an inflated value of safety. The Apostle Paul is an excellent example of this early Christian principle. He repeatedly walked into dangerous situations for the sake of the gospel. It was Paul who said, “For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.” (2 Timothy 1:7 HCSB)
The safety police have been in charge for long enough! If we want to see God moving again, we must put away fear and trust God, no matter the consequences. Our gospel endeavors should be led by apostolic visionaries who push the gospel out to the edge. But there are some steps we must take before we get to that place.
Here are a few things that keep the church from seeing radical growth and expansion. These things must change if we desire to see a mighty movement of God in our generation.
Misuse of funds
One of the reasons for the lack of spiritual movement in the west is our misuse of funds. We have become wealthy people, and we have forgotten that with wealth comes great responsibility. When our ministries become driven by salaries and building maintenance, they quickly lose sight of their original purpose.
We must never forget that our resources are intended for kingdom expansion. We have wasted 70% of our offerings on buildings and staff, and still, our churches are not growing. Maybe it’s time we pull that investment.
The first-century church did not use its funds on salaries and buildings. They spent it to care for those in need and to send missionaries. This would be a major paradigm shift for today’s church, but it must happen if we want to see the nations hear the gospel.
In the same way, if there are funds to be used, USE THEM! Don’t hoard them or save them for a rainy day. People are slipping into eternity while you wait. Sometimes mission organizations that have million-dollar budgets make the process of obtaining funds so tricky that the missionaries just give up. We must loosen the purse strings and let God provide for immediate needs.
Another global issue that has hampered God’s work is artificially replicating the vision and tools that were successful in one place but are not guaranteed to succeed elsewhere. The western church tends to do this a lot, and it has caused us to become stagnant. We see this in the way churches model themselves after successful pastors instead of the vision of Christ Himself.
We also see it in our missionary approach. We often try to replicate the ministry strategies that were successful in one place, but they don’t work in other cultures. We have to be willing to let go of our prefab answers, get down on our knees, and allow God to lead us in a new direction with a unique vision for the people/place God has called us to. Don’t borrow what God called someone else to do. Ask Him what He wants you to do.
Lack of apostolic leadership
One of the main reasons we are seeing stagnation in kingdom expansion is a lack of apostolic leadership. There are very few apostolic visionaries leading the charge because the church prefers safer leaders. They seek out leaders who maintain the status quo and don’t stir up too much change.
The apostle Paul is an excellent example of an apostolic visionary. When the infant church was in desperate need of a bold vision, God sent Paul. People were weary and confused because of false teaching and a fear of change. They needed someone to lead them back into truth with authority. Without this leadership, we will continue to see the people of God becoming more and more spiritually weak and immobile.
But make no mistake, Paul paid a heavy price for going against the grain. His reputation was constantly under attack, and established Christian leaders challenged him at every turn. Let us pray that the apostolic leaders that God rises up have thick skin and a deep desire to please God rather than men because it is a hard road.
Most churches, ministries, and mission organizations promote people because of seniority, not success. So a unique problem arises. The ones who outlast the rest get to lead, even if they have never seen success themselves. Anyone can teach the theory behind church planting. Still, there is very little authority or insight unless the trainer has actually planted a church! My experience has been that the most skilled and experienced church planters (the ones who are fit to train others) are usually in the harvest field, not sitting behind a desk.
False Trainers perpetuate poor practices. They compound the problem when they train according to book knowledge rather than training up God’s workers by modeling and sharing experiences in real life. False trainers are part of the reason why so many churches and mission organizations need reform and have become ineffective. When someone who has never won anyone to Christ is chosen to train evangelists, it is a failure waiting to happen. What do we expect the outcome to be? Yet, this is how things often work.
Avoiding Healthy Conflict
Our churches and organizations have grown so big that any minor conflict can bring financial or legal danger. So in the matter of interpersonal relations, we have chosen a corporate model instead of a biblical one. Rather than dealing with interpersonal conflict in a biblical manner (Matthew 18), we hide behind confidentiality, and lawyers try to keep things from getting too dangerous (and costly).
Jordan Peterson said, “Conflict delayed is conflict multiplied.” God’s people must learn how to do conflict promptly and in a biblical way that provides accountability while still seeking repentance & reconciliation. When mercy and forgiveness are no longer part of our conflict resolution, we can not be successful because, like the Pharisees, we do not practice what we preach.
Healthy conflict builds strong bonds and helps the church resist persecution and disunity. It is absolutely necessary for a movement of God.
Disciples need to be trained and mentored well, but once they have learned the basics, set them free and let them use what God has given them. Do not hover over them and do everything for them. This is a sure way to stunt spiritual growth. It also creates an unhealthy dependency on the leader rather than leadership from within.
The church has to come to a place where it freely gives away what God has entrusted. Leaders need to trust their disciples and let them go out and be the light in the darkest of places. Otherwise, frustration and distrust will grow among frontline workers, which will stifle growth.
Gospel ministry is dangerous work. Jesus prepared his disciples to be hated and persecuted. Paul taught early Christians how to deal with persecutions. Tertullian said, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” Yet, today’s Christian does everything possible to insulate themselves from persecution and suffering. Though we should never pursue suffering and hardship unwisely, we should not hide from it either.
Church, it is time for us to break free from the chains of fear and step forward in faith.
It is the most dangerous places that need good news so desperately. So let’s start sending people into harm’s way again because his Glory deserves to be proclaimed in every place and among every people.
So the true question for modern Christians today is: Do we want to see God move, or do we prefer the comfort of how it has always been?
It is interesting to note that some of the same things holding back the next move of God are also the same things that temporarily held back the first move. But when the Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost, God replaced their fear with boldness and passion. May it be so for us as well.