As a local church evangelist, I have the privilege and and opportunity to be in many churches. Over the years, my heart has become increasingly burdened regarding the overall state of affairs among pastor and people in our churches. I have witnessed in many churches a condition that I call "maintenance ministry" rather than "moving forward ministry" among many pastors and their people. I offer this assessment not as a criticism but rather as a concern that must be addressed or else this dangerous and unscriptural pattern will become the norm and accepted in our local churches. From my observations, this "maintenance ministry" rut has befallen many a pastor in our local churches today, and therefore, many a church member has been infected with the same virus. As a former pastor of three churches over a twenty year period, I know the temptation is real to grow comfortable, complacent, and even cold regarding the vision of what Almighty God can do through my life and ministry.
I describe this "maintenance ministry" as a view on the part of many a pastor to minister the Word, maintain the programs, and manage the problems in their local churches to the neglect of instigating and instilling a vision in both themselves and their people to reach their communities for Christ and to experience lost souls added to the kingdom of God. I don't believe we are commanded to perform the Great Commission, but rather, we are called to accomplish it! Matthew 28:18-20 starts with Jesus saying to His disciples, "All power is given unto me in heaven and earth" and ends with Him saying, "and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." To me, the words of our Lord in this passage negate our unwillingness to perform the Great Commission and challenge us to accomplish it with passion and vision.
In Malachi 1:1 we find, "The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi." To me, true pastoral ministry must start and end with "the burden of the word of the LORD." From my viewpoint, this burden of the Word of the Lord consists of the call to preach, a compelling desire, and the command to obey. We preachers readily yield to the call to preach and the command to obey. But we often fail to fan the flame of compelling desire in our hearts to reach the lost and disciple new believers. Didn't the Apostle Paul emphasize his compelling desire in the ministry of the Word when testifying in II Corinthians 5:13-15 with the following words, "For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause. For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but him which died for them, and rose again?" The burden of the Word of the Lord should create a compelling desire in both pastor and people to not live unto themselves, but unto Christ with a passion and vision to reach lost souls.
Duncan Campbell, in his book, The Price and Power of Revival, makes the following assertion, "There is a place beyond consecration, there is a place beyond sanctification, and that is the place of implicit confidence in God." Dear pastor and people, could it not be that we have reached a plateau in our own sanctification and settle for a "maintenance ministry" in our local churches and failed to "move forward" for the cause of Christ in our community? Let's allow the promises as recorded in Ephesians 3:20-21 to cause us to repent and "move forward" in the reaching of lost souls. "Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen"
The Watchman's cry