Recently, I came across startling results from research done on church leadership in North America. It confirmed what so many of us were already observing.
The one piece of information I want to share with you is the one that was most startling to me. Here it is: Only 39% of American pastors have a biblical worldview with regards to truth and morality.
Canada’s reality is likely very close to this number. My response is simply this: God’s people must cry out to God for his intervention.
A growing number of churches and church leaders need a profound renewal of devotion to the Lord, his Word and his mission.
In God’s perfect timing, I was reviewing this research the same weeks I was pondering the letters of Peter, the apostle. He writes to Christians living in incredibly oppressive times. Their lives, values and faith are under attack, and he instructs them on how to respond.
It is striking to note how Peter who was once so quick to battle with this world now has a very different approach. He is not rolling up his sleeves to engage his enemies; he is dropping to his knees to call out to God.
Reading Peter’s letters, we realize that the world is a broken place and that self-serving evil agendas are an old strategy. A battle rages against this world and against the church. The battle against truth in particular, has huge consequences for people, in the church as well as in the world.
However, God is greater than the adversarial forces arrayed against him and his kingdom.
Peter is very clear: “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” So, what shall we do? “Resist him,” says Peter, “standing firm in the faith…” (1 Peter 5:8-9)
When everything around us is shifting in the wrong direction, when oppressive regimes devastate, when leaders seek to please themselves or the masses at any cost, we can do one of two things. Either we let the dark realities sweep over us and hold our thoughts and emotions or we follow Peter’s instruction.
To a people living under the oppressive regime of the Roman emperor, Nero, Peter writes these words. Trust in God’s mercy; remember that you were given a new birth and now belong to another kingdom; prepare your minds for action (according to the faith in which you are standing firm); be self-controlled; set your hope fully on God’s grace; submit yourselves to authorities for the Lord’s sake; live as servants of God; show proper respect to everyone… The list goes on and on with encouragement that we can take to heart today, whatever the circumstances.
One instruction struck me as the best possible response for today: “…be clear minded and self-controlled, so that you can pray.” (1 Peter 4:7)
Arguments and debates abound, but prayer must over abound.
Some time ago we produced A Guide to Prayer for Church Leaders: A Supplement to the Prayer Map of Canada. We are enclosing a copy with this issue of Harvest Partner and invite you to make it a regular prayer focus. Take it with you, keep it by your bed or by your favorite chair. Let’s not lose sight of the need to pray for church leaders.
The influence of the world is rolling over the church, its leaders and people. The battle is subtle and gradual. Yet, Peter shows us a way to live and serve as God’s fellow workers in this context.
In July we celebrate Canada Day. More than anything, our nation needs a praying church.
Peter wrote in 4:7 that the end of all things is near, but it is not over yet. Let’s be faithfully in prayer, standing firm in the faith.