Pastors, there’s a big difference between giving lip service to the Holy Spirit’s ministry in our churches – saying we value it, even preaching it – and making it a priority, making space to do it in your church services. In my years of pastoring I found that one of the most difficult discipleship responsibilities to perform consistently year-in and year-out wasn’t preaching on tithing, it was keeping my foot on the Holy Spirit ministry pedal.
There were reasons for my slacking off: I couldn’t control Holy Spirit ministry like our other programs; it was messy at times; it attracted weirdoes; it wasn’t visitor-friendly; and often it didn’t get the results I saw at the conferences. On top of that, facilitating Holy Spirit ministry always seemed to me to be part art, part gifting, and part daredeviltry that always took me out of my comfort zone, at times to the brink of disaster before the Spirit showed up. So it was easy to let up. But before long ministry time would fade and become little more than a passing invitation to receive prayer at the close of the service at the end of my sermon.
Holy Spirit ministry is hard. It requires on-going attention, training and practice. It’s easy to allow disuse and neglect to put out the Spirit’s fire in a congregation. We have good excuses: We have pastors that are trying to manage growing churches, often requiring multiple services, taxing the congregation’s time, space, manpower and logistics, often squeezing out ministry time. Then there are those other pastors who have been exposed to unhealthy and unhelpful Holy Spirit ministry. Poor modeling, bad teaching, excess and hype has turned them off so they’ve thrown the baby out with the bath water.
But I think the biggest reason pastors ease-up on the Holy Spirit pedal is that many of them haven’t experienced the empowering of the Spirit themselves. They can’t do to others what hasn’t been done to them. In other words they can’t give away what they don’t have themselves. They haven’t received impartation or if they have, they haven’t had adequate modeling and coaching in how to release the ministry of the Spirit to others.
Have you eased-up on the Holy Spirit ministry pedal? What can you do about it?
For those of you who have never experienced the empowering work of the Holy Spirit yourself, be intentional, “seek earnestly the spiritual things” (1Cor. 14:1). Visit churches or attend conferences where healthy and helpful Holy Spirit ministry is being modeled and practiced. Hang around leaders who are actively exercising the gifts of the Spirit and releasing ministry in their congregations. Go out to lunch with them. Ask them questions. Ask them to lay hands on you and pray to receive the empowering of the Holy Spirit. Ask him or her to coach you in the things of the Spirit. Become the “lead learner” in your own church. Start with a small group of your leaders and encourage them to follow you as you learn to follow the Spirit.
And to those of you who have allowed neglect to extinguish the Spirit’s fire in your congregation, ask Jesus to give you a heart strong enough to endure the risk and thrill of living a Spirit-led and empowered life. I’ve discovered that by far the number one reason pastors ease up on the Spirit ministry-pedal is the fear of losing control. If this fear is holding you back, confess it and let Jesus replace it with faith so you can step out of the boat and begin walking on the water of supernatural Holy Spirit ministry again.
The ministry of the Main & Plain is here to help you develop healthy and helpful Holy Spirit ministry in your church. We coach pastors in these skills as well as conduct equipping events for you, your leaders and your whole church. You can inquire about this by visiting our website at: www.mainandplain.com and checking out our resources or writing to: [email protected].