Leader, have you lost your first love?

This morning I'm reading Revelation chapter 2... not because I'm preaching on it or that I have to for school... but because my best bud told me how much it impacted him last week... so I want some of that as well :-)

Over the last few weeks I've been chatting with different pastors and church leaders who are struggling. Really struggling. It seems like here in this part of the world (can't speak for anywhere else) there is a huge push from people in the church to get our churches to return to a much more conservative, exclusive type of ministry. This push is a hard, judging, right-or-wrong fight for their way to do ministry. I cried like a child Saturday night as I prayed for the churches who just seem to want to do ministry for themselves... who seem to have no love or grace in their hearts for the hurting and the struggling and the lost.

Church leaders who are dealing with this appear (again, just in my limited opinion) to have drifted from their role as leaders and have become People Pleasers and Policy Protectors.

People Pleaser leaders get stuck in the struggle because they are trying to keep everyone in their church happy. They get stuck and begin to burn out because they spend the greater amount of their time and energy putting out fires and trying to keep peace among everyone. They don't have time to dream and move ministry forward. They don't have time to invest in leaders and train them up.

Policy Protector leaders spend most of their time dealing with the complaints from the congregation and have to spend hour upon hour of going over every single line in church ministry policy and by-laws and all that other stuff. Every complaint means going back to past policies and rewriting and clarifying positions. Instead of leading, they get stuck in having to defend why they do things. They get stuck because meetings become a burden and never seem to go anywhere.

Jesus says this in Revelation 2:

You don't love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen from your first love! Turn back to me again and work as you did at first. If you don't, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches.
I'm becoming convinced as I talk to leaders in the area that more and more people in our churches appear to be losing their first love! We are not loving Christ with all our hearts. We are not loving each other as ourselves. We are not loving the lost like Jesus does; if we love our way of doing church more then Jesus; if we love our theological view point more then Jesus; if we love our style of worship more then Jesus... well... Jesus said that he will remove our lampstand from among the churches! That means a lot of people in the church will be very surprised when they stand before the throne of the Judge of all the earth!

THAT'S HARSH!!! But that's what he said!!

WE NEED TO LOVE JESUS! PERIOD!

Leader, if you are stuck being a people pleaser or a policy protector pray that you will first and foremost fall back in love with Jesus! Let your first love so empower you to fulfill your call that you will not care about the complaints of the loud minority in your church. Let your first love empower you to throw old, outdated policy out the window and dream of new vision and ministry for your church. Let your first love empower you to see more and more people come into the kingdom of God by putting their faith in Jesus!

Every day for the past two months I've been praying that God will break my heart for what breaks his. And my heart is REALLY breaking for churches that are struggling and appear to be ineffective at loving their communities. It keeps me up at night. It makes me miserable. But I love it and wouldn't have it any other way!

Do not lose your first love!

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