I was recently asked a very good question: “If you had an opportunity to address 100 pastors, what would you say to them?” It caught me a little off guard, I must admit. As I considered my response, I was further asked if I had intentions of offering consultancy services to churches. Interestingly, this follow-up question helped clarify my thoughts and provided the answer to the original one.
Let’s tackle the “church consultancy” question first. The answer is a simple ‘no’. I think it would be totally presumptuous of me to position myself (or Archippus Awakening) as a church consultant. That is not the mission of Archippus Awakening at all. We are not here to troubleshoot processes, provide another church growth strategy model or tell pastors how to run their churches. Our objective remains very clear: To awaken the saints to know and fulfil their God-given kingdom assignments.
To fully understand and embrace this statement, deeper processing is required. This is because church growth and performance indicators can at times be very different from and even run contrary to kingdom markers. For example, in my ongoing interaction with leaders, it is a given that the awakening of believers is a desired outcome. From the leader’s point of view, this is so that more can be channelled into service for the various activities of the church. However, this may not necessarily be the result of one who is awakened and rightly aligned with the Lord and His kingdom’s purposes. This very one could discover his or her assignment outside the ministry offerings of the church! And that may not be exactly what pastors want to hear. For this, I covet your prayers as I often find myself in this rather uncomfortable position – haha! Although we do not regard ourselves as church consultants, Archippus Awakening, in pointing out certain key concerns the Lord has shown us, can provide guide points for the pastor’s and leadership’s consideration. To this end, I suppose feedback can and will be given. That is insofar as counsel is to be offered.
Now, back to the original question: If I had an opportunity to address 100 pastors, what would I say to them? Whether I get to address 100 or 1,000 pastors, I must not be distracted from what the Lord has called Archippus Awakening to do: To awaken Archippus and to encourage him to be faithful to fulfil his assignment. This message may be declared corporately but it is to be applied personally. In other words, I would treat every pastor and leader as an Archippus, just as I would any member of the congregation.
Yes, every pastor, elder and leader is an Archippus too. What this means is that I do not presume that each is necessarily aware of his assignment or is faithfully fulfilling what he has been assigned to. Just because one holds a title or position called “pastor” doesn’t automatically mean he is clear of what the Lord has assigned to him. And present definitions and demands of what church is, or is not, only serve to complicate and confuse even more. Sure, these can learn from the experience of other leaders, other churches, or from books and resources, but a kingdom assignment is to be received directly from the Lord Himself. And I have learnt that there are no shortcuts around this … and especially not for pastors.
I know this well because for a while, I too struggled with my own position and clarity of assignment. I was a pastor with things to do, but these were not necessarily kingdom assignments. I ran services and organised events to keep people active and engaged, and then promptly reported its success based on participation and numbers. It didn’t matter that it was largely inwardly focussed or that what was preached was seldom put into practice. Everyone is on a journey, I was told, so it’s ok. In the end, everything will work out because God is in control. My own awakening came when God started to get my attention again through a certain discontent that grew in my heart and refused to go away. I had sacrificed much for the work of the ministry but found myself stuck in the rut of a job. What happened along the way? I believe I got institutionalised. That realisation or awakening pushed me to seek the Lord afresh for a realignment back to what being on assignment with and for Him is all about. I am so thankful that we have a God who hears, answers and saves!
So what would I say to Pastor Archippus? Simply, I’d encourage him with the same words found in Colossians 4:17 – “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord that you may fulfil it.” For starters, dear Pastor Archippus, don’t presume that it is only your members that need the awakening, that you are alright just because you are in a position of leadership. Don’t presume that what you are doing is what you have been tasked by the Lord to do. You may have started out with good intentions and grand ambitions. Yet, along the way, it is so easy to be side-tracked, distracted and yes, institutionalised. You could even be stuck in a comfort zone without even realising it! For sure, God doesn’t want you to merely do church, to replicate another successful programme or to offer the same services as the other church down the road for fear of losing your members if you don’t give them what they want. God wants you to align yourself with Him and the purposes of His kingdom that you may fulfil your assignment with the right perspective. For that, it will take some time out and a lot of deep soul searching.
This may sound straightforward but it will require courage and conviction to actually carry it out! For some, you will struggle with the system and structure that have become encrusted over time and tradition, as well as the busyness of schedule. If the institution does not stifle or constraint you, you will face the consumeristic demands of members who expect the regular activities and offerings to keep them interested in staying as members. For others, you will wrestle with the loss of position, title and financial security if or when the Lord challenges you to launch into the unknown to found new initiatives. And for those who truly understand the heartbeat of Archippus Awakening, you will have to deal with having to raise and release members as Archippuses, for a greater and broader kingdom agenda than simply holding them in cell groups and other church-based positions. You will quickly realise that it is not easy swimming against the current and how tempting it is to simply embrace the status quo, to go with the flow. Indeed, I was posed a very good question albeit a very challenging one. I hope it is made clear that I am not here to suggest best practices for churches nor do I mean to offend or criticise. God forbid, I must also not be regarded or positioned as one who is better or more qualified. I am only an Archippus who desires to know and fulfil my kingdom assignments faithfully entirely by His grace. Yes, and it is in this capacity that I will humbly but boldly declare the same message to fellow Archippuses – pastors, leaders and members alike – that these too may be awakened, aligned and assigned for the Lord and His kingdom.