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Five “Ministries” That Kill Real Ministry

(I use the word “ministry” in this post tongue in cheek.)

It seems that some leaders and Christians have appointed themselves to unhealthy “ministries.” These are “ministries” that stifle the gospel, oppose growth in grace, quench the moving of the Holy Spirit, and kill the body life of a healthy local church. These are “blinding” qualities—those born in arrogance that cause me to be blind to my own weaknesses and lifted up as the judge of others.

As a spiritual leader or Christian—here are five “ministries” I desperately want to avoid:

The Ministry of Anxiety—Causing those around you to live in anxiety of pleasing you, fitting your standard, or adhering to your expectations or preferences. Lording leaders tend to do this. If your presence incites anxiety in others, something is wrong. Don’t Lord—lead. Lead by example, and love the ones who follow AND the one’s who don’t!

1 Peter 5:3 “3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.”

The Ministry of Fear—Causing those around you to fear your rejection or response if they don’t please you or agree with you. Fear of man is a snare. The desire to be feared is also a snare. If your presence incites fear in others, something’s wrong. Only God is deserving of fear—let’s leave it with Him. Sheep shouldn’t fear the shepherd—they should be accepted, cared for, and comforted by him.

Proverbs 29:25 “25 The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.”

The Ministry of Cynicism—Causing those around you to experience continual suspicion of their heart. (eg: “They must have skipped church..” rather than, “I hope everything is ok…”) Cynicism is the tendency to believe that others are solely motivated by self-interest. For the record—biblical love is not cynical. If your spirit towards others is cynical—something is wrong. Wise people RUN from cynical hearts. Cynicism is contagious.

1 Corinthians 13:7 “Charity… Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”

The Ministry of Judgmentalism—Causing those around you to filter through your personal standard of acceptability. “Who are thou that judgest another man’s servant?” (Rom. 14:4) A judgmental mind lifts itself up as “judge” (Again, God’s position, not ours) and then forces it’s opinion or preference upon everyone else as though it were absolute. If your spirit is judgmental, you are wasting your life. You have assumed God’s office and left yours vacant. God calls you to show mercy (See James 2). There is no local church office of “judge” in the New Testament.

Romans 14:4 “4 Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.”

The Ministry of Elitism—Causing those around you to feel “less than you” somehow. This can be done through the use of wealth, the use of political connection (within the church), the use of office, or the use of personal standards. It’s an attitude that “I’m better than you…” for any reason whatsoever. Israel had this problem. Christians have this problem. Let’s get it straight—JESUS is great. No one else. All the rest of us are pretty much just messed up, and only God’s grace makes any difference.

James 2:1 “1 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.”

Christian—stay in the ministry of grace and mercy. Engage with your church family in the ministry of grace and mercy. And when these unhealthy “ministries” rear their ugly heads—prepare for local church life to become in-focused, arrogant, and very unhealthy.

(At EBC, we have been studying James verse by verse, and asking God to make us a healthy church. I have been amazed and refreshed by James chapter two! It’s all about the assembly, and how to avoid elitism, politics, judgmentalism, and hypocrisy in the body. The study has helped me and our church family hit the reset button on the five areas listed above.)

You can listen to the recent James studies here:

When a Church Becomes Proud

When a Church Becomes Elitist

When a Church Becomes Political

When a Church Becomes Judgmental

When a Church Becomes Hypocritical—this Wednesday!

 

 

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10 Comments

  • Thank you for the biblical post. Your family is a blessing.

  • You are a blessing to all, God Bless…

  • This is a great post. I would have liked to read more “real life” examples that would help me know if I am guilty of this …as I fear that I am. I guess the Holy Spirit can show that to me though… I would also wonder where you put those with the spiritual gift of prophecy or discernment in the church. It is clear that the people belong in the local church but it seems that no-one wants them there or wants to hear from them …even if a warning is given with prayer, counsel and love. I am grateful for grace and mercy but it seems that lately everyone wants the grace and mercy without the firmness of truth. Maybe these have been hurt by harshness in the past but does that mean we keep our mouth shut in an effort to “minister” grace? Just some thoughts rumbling around in my head after reading your post.

    • First, it’s all about the spirit in the matter. When one elevates themselves with a prideful and condemning spirit of judgmentalism it’s a violation of biblical principle. See Romans 14 and James 2.

      There’s a very big difference between judging, condemning, Lording over one another in pride—as opposed to admonishing, reproving, and encouraging one another in mutual love and humility. I’ve seen a lot of the first and less of the second.

      In matters of doctrine we are to contend for the truth. In matters of personality and relationships, we are to prefer one another in love and honor—and forgive as well as seek forgiveness. In matters of preference where the Bible is unclear or allows individual conscience and accountability to God, we are to extend grace and liberty to one another. Problems happen when we get these areas confused—”teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (As Jesus said.)

      So often we try to reprove one another not in a clear doctrinal or relational matter from scripture… but in a preference that we have pridefully elevated to be equal to doctrine and crystal clear biblical principle. For instance—it’s a clear biblical principle to reprove somebody for the sin of fornication or adultery. It’s not a clear biblical principle to reprove somebody over a personal preference that isn’t clearly defined in scripture.

      I hope this helps.

      • Thank you for this reply. I just read it today….but the Holy Spirit knew I would need it more today. I have found that due to so many failing to speak the truth in love that too many cry “judging” when a person is trying to speak the truth in love. It seems our flesh would rather just not “deal with it” rather than confront. Speaking the truth because one is compelled by their love of Christ, the church and the individual is castigated as “judging.” ….And Satan claps…..another mouth is shut and sin is allowed to continue unabated and un-confronted. Knowing the “how” and “when” to confront is hard and fear grips me often but if I don’t I feel I have let Jesus down and not exercised a very necessary gift in the church. I don’t like it and I don’t want it. I would rather hug someone and tell them it will be ok…and have them love me back. But truth is truth and to lie to someone or to leave them in their sin is not to truly love. I think this is why Scripture says to “despise not prophesying”…(I believe speaking of the spiritual gift of discernment…not actual ‘prophets’). It is so easy in our flesh to despise being told the truth when we are in sin. Thank you for your good words of instruction and delineation.

  • Excellent! Spot on, brother! All of what you mentioned was commonplace in the churches I grew up in. I believe it was typical of the legalistic mindset. I thank The Lord that I am able preach with grace.

  • Thank you Pastor Schmidt. And, thank you Susan for being brave enough to leave your comment/questions. I certainly believe I have work to do in some of the areas mentioned. However, my first thought was: What about those with the gift of discernment?
    Additionally, I have encountered situations with individuals (both teens and adults) where my standards are used against my family as though we think we are superior. We tend to think our standards, though more “strict” than some of our brethren, may show that we are weak and God has graciously provided these standards to keep us from falling.

    • Thanks Rebecca for your encouraging words. It is hard to know how to respond/be at times. I try to remember “love is the more excellent way” …and “a gracious woman retains honor.”

  • Great article! My desire for my church is that people learn to love God, delight in Him, and to live in His grace. To love God more than their standards, ministry, even themselves…I have seen too many parents ruin their relationship with their kids and then lose then totally over a hard line about preferences and standards that are not clearly detailed in the word. Extreme homeschoolers (I do homeschool my kids by the way), ATIA Gothard movement, legalistic churches tha emphasize adherence to church rules rather than biblical doctrines and morality, have all served to destroy many a families unity and discourage young Christians.

    The danger is teaching that holiness is derived from external rule keeping when holiness is loving God with every part of you and then showing love to others. My desire is to see kids grow up on our church with Christ alone being preimenent in their hearts. Where they delight in the God of their salvation. That they are saved by Grace and then continue to live in grace daily knowing that they will never be any more or less loved and accepted by God than the moment when they were saved. That they have a biblical view of God that He loves them, accepts them, and even chastens them in love and tenderness.

  • This article has been refreshing to read. It is so easy to get discouraged when I look around and see so many leaders who fall into these “scary” categories. But there are some who still desire to do it God’s way. May God give us a heart of compassion and help us to see through the eyes of Jesus…GRACE! I appreciate your ministry.


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