There is a concept out there called Corporate entropy which is simply defined as energy waste. Energy waste occurs through such things as the endless red tape of organization, team inefficiency and the surrendering to constant distractions. It is simply "energy lost to waste!" Waste of time, money and human resources. If corporate entropy is not recognized and addressed by leaders it will bring on inertia, complacency, denial, missed opportunity, vulnerability to paradigm shifts, competitive attacks and permanent loss of vitality. Does this describe your church or organization when it comes to outreach?
In the first part of this article we examined the causes of entropy that can rob leaders of their energy for evangelism such as burnout and the imbalance of priorities. Over the next couple of weeks we will take a look at corporate aspects of evangelistic entropy and provide some advice how leaders are to address it.
The first cause we will address on the corporate side is called "Sin in the Camp."
Have you ever wondered why some churches and organizations strangely lose their evangelistic edge and effectiveness? After being involved in denominational ministry for over nine years I have discovered that the spiritual principle from Joshua 6-7 is applicable today. Unfortunately there is a dark side of the church that is rarely seen except by those who are in charge of their care and over-site. In my limited experience I have seen churches derailed by sexual misconduct, financial scandals and timid leadership. Leadership that is fearful to confront sin, to take a hard look at themselves and to make the needed changes to keep the church on mission.
Yet all too often these hidden and debilitating sins go undetected because leaders don't recognize or embrace this principle. In Joshua 6 we see God's people on the move, fully engaged in the mission that God had charged them with; securing the Promise-land. In the midst of that great victory, one of the victorious violated God's specific command (Josh. 6:18). The result of that sin was the only reason they experienced a humiliating defeat over a weaker enemy. Jericho, a city of over a million people, was conquered by a small band of believers trusting in the hand of God and, Ai, a city of 12,000, defeated the people of God because of one man's selfish act and rebellion against a Holy God. This reminds us that a spiritual mission is only completed by spiritual means. Read God's response to Joshua's lament in Joshua 7:10-12:
"The LORD said to Joshua, 'Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.'"
Not a lot of sympathy here. Pretty simple message: Get up, deal with it and move on! The LORD continues and instructs Joshua on how to deal with it. "Go, consecrate the people. Tell them, 'Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow; for this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: That which is devoted is among you, O Israel. You cannot stand against your enemies until you remove it.'" (Josh. 7:13)
I liken "consecration" to doing a rigorous spiritual inventory. As individuals there are seasons in our lives where we need to allow scripture to search our hearts and penetrate our lives. Martin Luther made it a regular practice to pray through the 'Ten Commandments' and 'The Fruit of the Spirit' asking God to expose those hidden areas of his that made him spiritually weak.
How to does one lead a church to consecrate themselves? Here are a couple of "quick hits" to ponder:
- Make personal consecration a regular practice in the life of your people. Ask individuals to assess their spiritual life through a rigorous spiritual inventory. When was the last time you taught on the subject within your congregation? Example: Pray through I Corinthians 13.
- Make corporate consecration a regular practice. As a leadership team submit yourselves to internal and external assessments. What type of internal and external assessments has your church participated in? Example: Pray through Revelation 2 & 3 as a leadership team.
- Restore the act of corporate confession. Agreeing with God corporately that as a church we are stuck, complacent, crippled by disunity, etc. When is the last time you led your congregation in a time of public confession?
- Promoting prayers of resolution or commitment. Leading your church through defining moments of commitment to glorify God and to missional engagement. Can you remember the last time you asked your congregation to drive a "stake in the ground" symbolizing their commitment? Read Joshua 24 to glean some principles on leading your church through a time of resolution and commitment.
Any thoughts? Do you feel like there is something strangely crippling your evangelistic effectiveness? Are there times where you sense that something beyond you is holding you back? Ask God to search you and your church. Courageously ask God to reveal the source of your trouble.
"Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you." Joshua 3:5