Oct 6, 2021.
Our brains play tricks on us. The modernist era taught us to process everything though the lens of logic, reason, and scientific explanations. So when we see evil at work, we try to make sense of it in left-brain terms. This cultural default leaves Christian leaders under-practiced in dealing with the uprising kingdom of darkness.
#JesusStories: Our Lord dealt head-on with evil quite often; he faced it personally and in his ministry. Marks gospel begins with Jesus’ encounter with the devil in the wilderness, and then just a few verses later, during Jesus’ inaugural sermon at a Jewish gathering, a demoniac walks into the room and confronts him. Think of it, on Jesus’ first official day of ministry he encounters visible evil. The uprising kingdom of darkness wasted no time in showing up to make its intentions known. We too have had evil resistances at work in our ministries, only we have probably not called it out as such. In this day where ‘reason’ rules, anyone who dares to suggest that they are squaring off with evil will be branded a “super-spiritualist” and be dismissed from many ministerial circles. I admit there are those who turn every difficulty into a spiritual attack. However, I am concerned that the greater risk is Christian leaders being unprepared to face evil interference when it actually shows up.
Many read quickly through the demon stories in the gospels because they don’t know how to handle them. It is helpful for us to recognize the presence of evil rather than trying to use demon-talk. In Jesus’ day, they saw evil and spoke of it in terms of ‘demons’ – that was their cultural voice. In our day, we can all see the work of evil destroying the drug addicts life or the evil involved in those who are kidnapping children for prostitution rings, etc. I don’t know about you, but when I walk through my city, I can see evil at work destroying one life after another, and it makes me angry. When destructive things show up, we as Christian leaders can call it out for what it is – EVIL! And when we see evil, we can learn to respond in the likeness of our Lord. Jesus understood his authority to simply told evil to shut up and go (Mark 1:25). His authority is our authority; the Great Commission teaches us that. We too can bluntly resist evil; James 4:7 teaches us that. While we submit to the plans of the inbreaking Kingdom of Heaven, we never submit to the uprising kingdom of darkness. That is what ‘Men of God’ and ‘Women of God’ do – we face down evil and in our prayers we say NO! If not us, then who?
#DinnerChurchQuotes: “Jesus rebuked evil spirits, he rebuked the wind and the waves, he rebuked fig trees. What kind of guy is this? A guy who knows how things should be and has the authority to bring that state of affairs about.” -Conrad Gempf
#PracticalStuff: The stories about Jesus are a powerful antiseptic against the reasonings of evil in human hearts. How ready is your core team and volunteers to share a Jesus Story? This is what I believe the verse “instant in season and out” is actually talking about – having Jesus Stories ‘at the ready’. From time-to-time I ask our leaders during a core-team meeting, “What Jesus Story has been burning in your heart lately?” And I might even go around the circle and ask several leaders to share their Story. They all know that at any given moment I might call on them. I do this to get them ready, because the Spirit might ask them to tell a Jesus Story the next time they are eating at a Jesus Table. If they can be instant for me, they can be instant for the Spirits urging – and that makes them a powerful voice in the room. Would you consider warning your core-team that you might ask them to tell a Jesus Story at a moments notice? And then make it an ongoing part of your leadership huddles?
Blessings & Boldness,
Dr. Verlon and Melodee Fosner have led a multi-site Assemblies of God Dinner Church in Seattle, Washington since 1999 (www.CommunityDinners.com). In this decade when more churches in the U.S. are declining than thriving, and when ninety-six churches a week are closing, Verlon and Melodee sensed that a different way of doing church was needed for their 97-year old Seattle congregation. It soon became obvious that they were not the only ones in need of a different path. They joined the FX team in 2016 and founded the Dinner Church Collective. And then in 2019 founded the Dinner Church School of Leadership. There is a lot to be gained when church leaders begin to see open doors in the American landscape that they had previously overlooked. Therein lies the journey for those who will forge a new future for the American Church.