Unconfessed Sin Distracts from the Mission

ID-10053881When a church has to focus the majority of its time and attention on cleaning up the mess left by a Pastor who has fallen into sin, it will be distracted away from it’s primary mission of preaching the gospel.  When I was first starting out in the ministry, I had the opportunity to see from a distance the effects that occur when a Pastor falls into sin.  In this instance, the issue was not adultery but rather the mishandling of church funds.  A routine audit of the church books revealed that the Pastor had been using thousands of church dollars for his own personal use. Prior to the scandal being discovered this church had been one of the great missionary churches in that area of the country.  Over twenty Southern Baptist Churches had been planted from this one congregation over the years and they had a reputation of being one of the most missionary churches in our denomination.  But after the scandal things changed drastically.  While they continued to try to be involved in planting new congregations, the missionary zeal of the church slowly diminished as more and more of the ministry was aimed at healing the wounds left by the scandal involving their Pastor.  Today they are on the verge of closing their doors.  I cannot help but to wonder what kind of work they could have accomplished in the Kingdom had it not been for this one sad incident.

This same story has been repeated across the evangelical world. Once vibrant churches have been rendered ineffective due to the sin of their Pastors.  When the church has to spend more and more of its time and resources trying to mend the broken hearts and lives left in the wake of a Pastors moral failure, there is little time or energy left for the mission.  In one of the strangest paradoxes that you will ever witness,  churches that goes into this kind of “survival mode” all but guarantee their own slow but inevitable death.  Being on mission with God gives life and vitality to a church, so when the mission is replaced with merely trying to survive the present crisis churches end up trapped in a slow churning spiral of death.

Mobilizing People to Go On Mission

The_Earth_seen_from_Apollo_17Yesterday, I shared with you about a change that has started to take place in the way I think about motivating people to go on mission.  In the past, I have always started laying out our missions plan with projects in our local area or state.  My thinking was that if I could get people to go on mission in their own community it would help them to develop a passion for going on mission in other places.  The idea was to start local and then go global.  But over the past years, I have started to rethink this strategy.  Not as the result of any strategic planning on my part, but rather by simply observing what has happened in our church.

At First Baptist Metropolis, we have seen a marked increase in the passion for our local missions as a direct result of people who have come back from  foreign trips.  In other words, we have seen the exact opposite of what I expected to happen. When our people have come back from trips to Haiti, West Africa and other places, they have returned with a new passion for the mission in all parts of the world, including their own back yard.  My theory is that by taking people out of their comfort zone they have become more sensitive to what God is doing and how desperate people right in our backyard are for the gospel.

Has anyone else seen this pattern in their church?