“My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, hey have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their resting place,” Jeremiah 50:6.
This warning from Jeremiah is just as valid today as it was when he gave it. One of the primary ways that God’s people are led astray is in this same way: They are taken “from mountain to hill,” or one high experience to another, and not to their true resting place — union with the Lord of the Sabbath Himself.
It is easy to mobilize people around projects, especially spiritual projects and outreaches. Modern advertising has conditioned most people to respond to hype and self-promotion. Unfortunately, many ministries have learned to use these techniques very well to draw people to their projects. They work. However, when the dust clears the people are left even emptier than before. One of the primary reasons for the spiritual lukewarmness that so many Christians are now trapped in is they are simply worn out going from one project to the next.
The greatest responsibility on earth is to lead, direct, and care for God’s own people. The pastoral ministry is deserving of far more respect, honor, and support than we could ever give it. Presently it is possibly the most difficult, yet thankless job on earth. However, the modern form that this ministry has taken is so seriously flawed that it is not only leading many of the Lord’s sheep astray, it is destroying the shepherds as well.
A while ago, Bob Jones, a prophetic friend, was visited by one of the largest angels that he had ever seen. This angel said that his name was “The Winds of Change,” and that great changes were coming to the church. He said that until now we have known mostly the winds of adversity, but the winds of change that were coming would “fill our sails” as the church is about to move forward again.
Bob was also given a vision of a bridge collapsing in North Carolina. A few days later it happened. As people were walking over a bridge to the Charlotte Motor Speedway it collapsed, injuring more than one hundred people. When the Lord shows us something like this, it is not just to impress us prophetically — it is because there is a message in it.
In dreams and visions cars often represent ministries, which are vehicles for carrying people. NASCAR is now the number one spectator sport in America. I too love racing, but if you think about it, it is nothing more than watching cars exert a lot of energy going nowhere fast. Is that not the state that many modern ministries are in today? They are putting out a lot of power, and are moving really fast, but in circles! What is really being accomplished by them? For many it has become nothing but a mad attempt to find the next thing that will keep the people hyped and moving. Why are so many people drawn to this type of spectacle, or this type of ministry?
I would love to drive a racecar. When I went to a NASCAR race I was very surprised by how exciting it was to just watch. I am also amazed at how genuinely entertaining some ministries are. You can become mesmerized watching them, but what are they really saying? Where are they leading us? If we build our churches or ministries on entertainment it is on the shakiest of foundations. If you build this way it will only take a few meetings that are less than “mountain top” experiences before you will not have many people left. The greatest enemy of these churches is not sin, or the devil, but boredom.
I have watched many ministries go faster and faster in their little circle. Like racecars they bump and push other ministries out of the way in their drive to stay in front. Modern ministry is actually a bigger spectator sport than NASCAR. Week after week millions fill the pews to watch a few run around up front. It may be entertaining, but is this what New Testament church life was intended to be? No, and the winds of change are coming.
If you are a pastor or leader trapped in this mad cycle of ministry that must go ever faster, but is all of the time really just going in circles, you are going to need more than a pit stop. You can make a few stops for more fuel and tires, but there is a point when your engine will not be able to take it any more. One insurance executive told me that they are now starting to rate pastors as high risk, claiming that a thirty-year-old pastor can have a sixty-year-old heart. You must get off of this racetrack and get on to the highway. You must stop pursuing ministry and start pursuing the Lord. It may sound too simple, but it is the only way out. As the apostle wrote:
“For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ,” 2 Corinthians 11:2-3.
As we discussed earlier, craftiness is using human wisdom to bend the rules to try and get an edge. The first thing that was said about the serpent in the Garden was that he was more crafty than the other beasts. A lot of modern ministries have been built on this, but like the serpent, it only leads to the curse of eating dust. It is time to return to the Tree of Life, the Lord Jesus Himself.
~ Pastor Rick Joyner
|Pastor Rick Joyner is the founder and executive director of MorningStar Ministries and Heritage International Ministries and is the Senior Pastor of MorningStar Fellowship Church.|