By Thomas Yerman
Recently, I attended a regional gathering of pastors where we were to discuss how to “replenish” the Church. I shared my thoughts prior to the meeting with the host pastor who said, “You need to share this.” What I write here includes a few more thoughts than what I shared with the gathering that day.
We are living in a culture in which many are turning away from the Church—away from a belief in God. We’re in the midst of a war against truth. The reality of this war reminds us of the importance of God’s call to persevere.
Sound doctrine affects people in different ways. Some respond to solid biblical teaching by feeling encouraged and strengthened in their faith. The same teaching, however, puts others off, impacting them in negative says. Timothy was warned of a coming time when people would not put up with sound doctrine. They resist it, some even to the point of leaving a church.
Whatever the Holy Spirit does through the teaching of God’s Word, our part as ministers is to preach and teach it correctly. This is so important in fulfilling our call.
Paul encourages us through the words he spoke to Timothy: “But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:3, 5). Days of hardship or lost attendance should not distract us from how we are to teach God’s Word.
Even when we’re feeling weak, we have promises encouraging us to keep God’s Word and not deny his Name. God’s promises admonish us to endure until Christ’s return. “By your endurance you will gain your lives” (Luke 21:19).
The promise Christ spoke to the church in Philadelphia, he speaks to all his Church: “Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on earth” (Revelation 3:10). If we hold on, we will escape the Great Tribulation and gain the imperishable crown of life. That is a big deal!
Whatever we plan to do to replenish our local assembly, we must continue to build the Church upon the biblical foundation God has given us. That ensures us of the help of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the Church must hold steady in being a “house of prayer” (Luke 19:46) even as pastors hold firm in teaching the Word of God without compromise as absolute truth. The healthy function of the Church depends on it (Matthew 4:4).
As you know, the Holy Spirit moves in conjunction with the Word of God through the enabling of people with lifestyles of prayer and biblical devotion. It doesn’t get much simpler or more powerful than that.
We must not fear people. We must not confuse their feelings of conviction by the Holy Spirit with their feelings of being offended. The Holy Spirit inspired and authored the Scripture (2 Peter 1:20-21; 2 Timothy 3:16). So we must speak it clearly and correctly, allowing him to do the work he wants to do in the lives of people (Hebrews 4:12-13). We must speak the Word boldly and correctly with love, courage, and application for our day.
The Church needs to learn how to handle what we are facing today in America. We are being threatened with persecution and the loss of our God-given freedom, not to forget our security and prosperity. The goal of the enemy is to stop its opponent from resisting him. The enemy will do everything in his power to wear people out and discourage them—with the ultimate goal of causing people to lose hope, be silent and afraid, and walk away from God and his Word.
If pastors are not careful, we can begin to accommodate fear, water down God’s Word, or become overly distracted with finding a plan to “feed” the people in a way that will grow our congregation for the sake of increasing numbers or paying the bills. This can lead to other problems and adverse consequences. We must be alert to any wrong, misleading influences. God is not so concerned about impressive appearances. His concern is about the glory—the glory of his harvest. He is concerned that people are fed the truth so they can mature and be discipled to be more like his Son. That is why, when distractions and disputes arose in the early church, the apostles determined to keep their attention focused on the ministry of the Word and prayer (Acts 6:4).
To replenish God’s Church, we must continue to build on the biblical principle of persevering in preaching the Word and prayer at all costs—even in the face of death. We are running to the finish line! There is yet one more hill to climb, one more vista to encounter. This is not a time for timidity or compromise!
God has called us to see the growth and maturity of his Church. Pastors are not called to feed the world, but to feed God’s Church. The Church needs God’s truth, God’s strength, and God’s leading in order to stand, resist, and persevere against its opposing forces. As we do our part and fulfill our call, Christ will build his Church (Matthew 16:18). Slip your name into that verse and hold your head up high!
“If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:7–8).
Thomas Yerman is an FCA pastor ministering at Living Hope Church in Elk Grove Village.