What is wrong with the local church?
Jesus choose four businessmen to be His frontline disciples and future leaders of the Church, the Bride of Christ. These men were the brothers Peter and Andrew and brothers James and John. He choose them immediately following the torments of a very challenging forty days in the wilderness, and post a full onslaught from the Son of Perdition, the most devious sinister instrument of evil the world has ever known.
Our Lord responded to this satanic onslaught with a plan. A focused plan of attack to rebuild the world according the Plan of His Father. A plan that had to include certain critical members of the human race. These Divinely chosen men were not academic scholars, most likely they would have not passed the early stages of an entrance application to an Ivy League school.
Their resume would not have qualified them for the MBA program at the Harvard Business School or Carnegie Mellon University, yet these fishermen were the first disciples to enter into a three year extensive leadership training session with the Lord of the Universe.
Jesus had a master plan to overthrow the Kingdom of Darkness, break the curse of sin and death, and at the same time fulfill His Heavenly Mandate to recapture the sons of men by introducing them to the wonderful reality of inheriting eternal life and immortality.
Today the modern day evangelical community forms a church or carries on the mission of a local church ideally from a list of academically trained seminarians or with competent teachers from other successful churches arming them with an underpaid staff and with a good number of volunteers. In the end the criteria would seem to involve leaders who are typically good motivators and that have a great plan for adding numbers to the flock.
I'm not sure that academia offered what Jesus was looking
for when He chose these four businessmen/fishermen, not that it disqualifies a person that is academically trained.
I would never claim to have a full understanding of the mind of God but I’m confident that His plan to change the entire landscape of the religious world was not based on human intelligence or religious scholarship, all of which was available to Him.
Notice with me the account of the selection of these men:
Four Fishermen Called as Disciples
And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They immediately left nets and followed Him.
Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.
I have written in the past on the type of call that Jesus offered these four unpretentious men. Today I want to simply point out the fact that they were chosen to be the first line of the eventual 12 trainees in His Kingdom building plan.
I want to note what each set of brothers were doing when they were summoned to follow Jesus:
1. Peter and Andrew were fishing in the sea of Galilee
2. James and John were mending their nets preparing to fish with their father.
What did they do upon receiving the invitation from Jesus?
“They immediately left the boat, and their father and followed Jesus”.
These men did not have any time to run an overview of the business plan, as they were naturally wired to care about. They did expect a detailed outline of challenges of following someone of which they had no prior knowledge. What was it about these men that made Jesus pick them?
Dealing with the items that are on the surface we can see that in the first place they were brothers. In the second place He chose them in twos. And in the third place they were professional fishermen busy with their work.
What can we glean from this account to understand the kind of folks that Jesus is looking for in church leadership?
We can immediately gather that their education was not the primary reason, nor their religious affiliation, also we can see that their current title or position in society had no impact on the choice of Jesus. We learn from our history books that God’s best leaders are taught in the some of the most difficult and strangest of places.
From biblical history we can gather that great leaders can be found in the fields’ isolated, working as shepherds or farmers, as in the case of Moses, David, and Jacob. While other great men in the Bible had their character developed in a prison as was the case of Joseph and Jeremiah, and one famous prophet spent time in the belly of fish.
God sees our heart like no one can. His choice is based on many factors most of which are not visible to us, this is true since a man’s true character is typically developed outside the limelight of human observation.
So what is missing from the local churches we try to piece together today?
Having visited many different kinds of churches I have observed that the first thing that is missing is a true and godly leadership team that has been molded and put together by the Hand of the Living God. Leaders who have had their character developed in the recesses of broken dreams and huge setbacks.
The second problem is the issue of listening to the Holy Spirit and responding without fear. Most men and women have this natural inclination of self-protection, a mechanism that hinders them from making positive and quick decisions. The hardest being stepping away from a higher position to a lower one in public perception.
An example would be a pastor who struggles with preaching to the lost, one who lacks the gifting of an evangelist, who has all around him potential evangelists but because of his pride and insecurities he maintains control of the pulpit and or microphone.
Another example would be responding to God’s move in a particular geography and season.
Sometimes the Holy Spirit wants to move fast, so what are you to do when that happens? Hang back and try to slow the process down? That would be a big mistake.
What if the early church took this approach?
Think of Peter’s call to Joppa, or Paul’s dream that led him to Philippi and a jailhouse. How often did we see the church in Jerusalem coming together and asking the Holy Spirit to help them make a decision on who to send and where.
I know the key to answering the difficulties of this kind of challenge we face today in the American church. The answer to this call is simple, faith, a brand of faith that seeks to “learn” the Voice of the Spirit of God and the process of waiting on God’s timing.
But here is the basic issue.
If you don’t know what the house looks like after it’s completed how then you will build it?
Jesus spent His early days watching and learning. His ministry was launched on top of the foundation of a wilderness experience that none of us could endure without the supernatural Hand of God holding us all the way through. Jesus had to go through each arduous step in order to properly connect with the next step.
The launch of His earthly Kingdom started with the selection of His leadership team. The first four were not seminarians but businessmen. That thought and reality forces me to take a step back, and I believe all of us should be taken back by this Divine order.
If we learned how to wait on the Lord (this personally has been my toughest challenge) and if we honestly studied His leadership training methods, and the kind of people He selected, we would have better local congregations.
The biggest challenge we face is the issue of loyalty to faithful members and leaders. Listening to the board of deacons or elders, the establishment, drives decision making in most local churches. So you can learn from observation that the hardest thing to change in any season of human history is leadership.
But this is where God has to step in and shake things up. He does so by taking a few men and women aside and in a place of isolation He walks them through a tediously slow process of development. Each lesson is taught in a manner that enforces each important lesson. Human pride is dealt with in full way so that after God’s leadership team is installed they know who is qualified to be sent to minister to a lost and dying world, and most importantly, when their time is complete.
Posted by Jonathan Keener. Posted In : Restoration