How would you like that to be your call to ministry? I've known some pastors who are in churches that seem absolutely impossible to flourish ever again. After years of labor and faithful declaration of the Word of God, nothing changes, no growth, no revival, no reconciliation of relationships, no hearts are stirred, no hearts grow soft, no apparent blessing from God seems to attend the ministry. As a pastor, what do you do if this is your situation? How do you deal with the despair that this brings?
1. Evaluate Yourself - This is the hardest thing to come to terms with: "Am I the reason this church is not being blessed? Am I even called? Am I faithfully preaching the Word of God, the whole counsel of God and doing so with my whole heart? Am I walking with God intimately? Is there a character flaw in my life that is hindering my effectiveness that I need to seriously work on? Am I a coward who doesn't want to tackle some hard issues that is killing this church? Are there reforms that I need to make and haven't attempted because of fear?
2. Evaluate your Motives - Why are you in pastoral ministry in the first place? I know, I know...we all have the right answers: "for the glory of God, for the sake of the gospel, to win souls to Christ, etc. etc.." But really... Why do you really want your church to mature, grow and succeed? Is there any shred of self-affirmation involved in it? Is there any lust for respect among your peers? Is there any vain glory at all? Don't tell me there isn't. The evangelical church in America is so worldly that we pastors measure success like corporate America does and we expect God to change His definition of success to fit ours. If He doesn't grant our wishes, we get "called" to another ministry.
This brings me to the question on the title: "Are you willing to accept Isaiah's ministry of guaranteed "failure"? By "failure", I mean that is how it will look to others whose affirmation and respect you desperately covet. If God assigned you to this post as the last nail to seal its coffin, would you gladly accept your mission and preach to the hard-hearted until God removes the candle stick for His glory? Is that unthinkable and totally unacceptable to you? If it is, go ahead and do whatever makes you feel good about yourself and then when you have built the work of your own hands, go ahead and give God the credit for something He didn't do so you can feel good about yourself. Go ahead and turn the church into a three-ring circus so that you can at least feel like there's life and blessing because you have activity and warm bodies coming through the door to enjoy the show you are putting on.
Or if you are willing to accept that God may have given you the ministry of Isaiah, then you may be surprised what God has in store for you that is a work of His hands. After studying 2 Chronicles for the past few weeks, I realized that after years of laboring amongst hard-hearted people and stubborn kings of Judah, Isaiah was able to witness the Revival under Hezekiah's reign and together they prayed and saw God do some miraculous works for the people of Judah (2 Chronicles 32:20-23).
From this I learned that I would rather labor in a church where I have done all that I am supposed to do and still see no "success", than to compromise and turn to the worldly seeker sensitive model of evangelicalism or the phony revivalism of fundamentalism so I can delude myself into thinking that the ministry has been successful. I want to see a genuine God-sent revival that can only be explained by saying "God did it". If I can explain it by methods, systems, techniques, stylistics and machinery then I'd rather go into business and make money using those methods than to call it God's work.
~ Originally posted at Reforming Baptist