When we hear the word church the image of a building readily comes to mind; a definite architectural structure with a roof, windows and doors. Some of us go a step further to think of the church as less of a building and more about the people who congregate in the said building at various times. However, it is very rare that we consciously think of church leaders as an integral part of the church, especially with respect to my home country, Nigeria. We hear statements such as the church needs this, the church has to pray for this, God has need of this, God requires this. Lessons, messages and instructions are passed down to the church, but I find that these same messages are not depicted by the church as a body, its leaders inclusive.
For example: a common and true message of the scripture is God desires for us to walk and mature in patience. We are taught from a young age to believe that when God says NO in one area it might mean He has another plan, we are taught to patiently wait and discover that plan. The bible passage Ecclesiastes 3 is a very strong passage that buttresses this point. Now when it comes to the needs of the ‘church and it’s leaders’ I find the message of patience and dependence on God’s timing quickly brushed away.
The sense of urgency, the level of demand and cautionary tales of disobedience aimed at the congregation is often mind staggering. It paints the picture of an impatient God or impatient church leaders dependent on their followers to advance their course. Two factors make me certain that it is the latter, one God doesn’t need us to do anything for him, he is an all sufficient God, thus He does not depend solely on us to bring his plans to pass. He however, desires that we are a part of His plan, which is more for our benefit than His. Secondly, God’s plan will definitely come to pass regardless of time or individual availability.
10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: 11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. Isaiah 55 vs 10-11
34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. Matthew 24 vs 34-35
This brings me back to our church leaders, are they truly advancing God’s course or their personal agendas? When we task members to give while ignoring their personal needs, is that really an act of faith or religious blackmail? Since, I can’t see your hearts I only ask that we do not make a mockery of the things we teach by living out a different life. Our sufficiency should be of God; this includes individuals, the general congregation, and church leaders.
The body of Christ i.e.the church is also encouraged to take His message, His lifestyle everywhere we go regardless of status or age. A very challenging task, as life can be brutal in its demand, and keeping God’s will at the center of your actions can seem daunting, thankfully His grace is there to help. Having said that, we must not forget that He desires we speak the truth at all times, to be the voice of honesty and this is the part I find our church leaders lacking. With the present economic crisis engulfing Nigeria, I know without a doubt that offerings, tithes and other special demands are still levied at the congregation. Is this wrong? Not really but it is wrong that our church leaders do not speak up against the high handedness of our leaders.
In your silence you have robbed the church, you have acted in ignorance to their plight. I know some will excuse their silence by saying ‘perhaps God has not directed/lead them to speak,’ to them I pose this question; is God always behind all the demands placed on the congregation? Are some of them not logical reasoning’s of a committee? Are some of them not strategic advancements of someone’s vision as he reaps the rewards of one endeavour to grow the fields of another. Is that not an example of faith and works bringing forth fruit? Would those schools, businesses and private acquisitions have come if membership hadn’t blossomed? So why should the congregation be encouraged to pray, but nothing is done to bring the change they need? At this point the problem becomes solely the responsibility of the congregation. Why?
We are encouraged to speak the truth at board meetings to peacefully confront the erring boss and colleague, but aren’t our church leaders closer to these political leaders, shouldn’t they be the one’s to speak? When are we going to take our ‘leadership outside the four walls of our church’ with the same tenacity and verve we declare God’s word and message to the congregation.
Elijah spoke to Ahab.
Samuel spoke to Saul.
Yes God directed them, yes God gave them the go ahead. My fear however is that our leaders might have closed the channel of communication when it comes to certain issues.
We need leaders who will show us their works and not just words in the daily spheres of life.
We need leaders who will champion His kingdom in every sector.
We need leaders who have not entombed Christ in the confines of their personal ambitions.
All images courtesy Pixabay free images except where indicated.