August 29, 2016

Jeremiah 10:21 The shepherds are senseless
and do not inquire of the Lord;
so they do not prosper
and all their flock is scattered.

Statistical analysis shows that an amazing number of “church leaders” have no real devotional life. That certainly fits them into this verse! Churches are approached as businesses, for which an MBA would be more appropriate than an MDIV, or even a DMIN. (Master of Business Administration, Master of Divinity, and Doctor of Ministry, for those who aren’t up on academic alphabet soup.) Such churches might seem to prosper for a time, but they do not fit the Biblical descriptions of the Body of Christ. For a church to prosper as a church, there must be humility and a focus on Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church. (Colossians 1:18 and more) Every believer should be seeking the Lord and making fellowship with Him their first priority, but church leaders even more so. The irony is that we can get so busy serving Him (or so we think) that we lose sight of Him completely. Church programs and events, organizations and even liturgy, are not bad in themselves, but if they take our focus off of the One whom we say we serve, we are foolish indeed. The devil has no fear of programs and structures, but he is terrified of people who are intimately connected to the Lord in obedient fellowship. (James 4:7)

This is a very pointed verse for me, because this church is certainly not what the world would call successful. The “flock” is literally scattered around the world, not just across Japan but in several other countries, and current attendance is so low that I found out just the other day that our non-Christian neighbors are worried about whether we’ll be able to continue! Frankly, offerings this month have been the lowest they’ve been in many years. On the other hand, there has recently been an outpouring of affection in the community, particularly toward my wife, and in three weeks we will be ordaining and installing a brother as my assistant pastor, and he is fully committed to a “tent making” ministry. We have the potential for building a care house for seniors, which would open all sorts of doors for evangelism as well as be financially self-supporting. All of that makes it absolutely imperative that I seek the Lord, not relying on my own understanding, just as our Verse for the Year states. (Proverbs 3:5-6) I am not worried about success in the world’s eyes, but I desperately want to be faithfully obedient to my Lord.

Father, thank You for this reminder. It grieves me that not all of the scattering from this church has been from job transfers and the like. I desire to feed Your sheep, but I can’t do much about the ones who don’t want to eat. I ask for more love, for You and for Your children, so that the sins on all sides may be covered over (1 Peter 4:8) and people be set free to follow You in truth, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!


About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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