God has used being a youth leader to open my eyes to some things, the most important one being that those in ministry are fighting for souls.
This is a fight for souls. Ministry is not a fight for church attendance. It's not a fight for getting people to sing along in worship. It's not a fight to get people to show up to events. It's not a fight to get the kids to pay attention to teaching. It's not a fight to convince people to pray out loud.
People can show up, sing loud, pay attention and know how to pray "well" and still have a soul far from the Lord.
I've had the chance to help lead in ministry. I've seen youth kids - and full grown adults - show up every week to church, pay attention, sing along and then leave and make the worst decisions of their lives. More than once. Quite frankly, I've BEEN that person before.
The church needs to refocus. And it's not about doing more - it's about connecting to the Holy Spirit. This is not just a youth problem. This is not just a New Jersey church problem. This happens in churches everywhere, with people of all ages.
We need to remember that this is fight for the souls of man - not that WE save them, but we can be a vessel the Holy Spirit uses.
Look at the letters that Paul wrote to Timothy. There are three things he repeats that the church would benefit from circling back to:
1. Guard what's been entrusted to you (I Tim. 1:18, 6:20). The church and its leadership has a responsibility to lead the church in a way that brings the Word of God to life for those they get to minister to. We let too much get in the way of that, letting our guard down to the enemy.
2. Be devoted to the teaching of sound doctrine (I Tim. 1, II Tim. 4:7). Many churches have compromised God's Word for acceptance from the world. This gets people in seats, yet saves no souls.
3. Fight the good fight (I Timothy 6:12). Paul tells Timothy this several times in I and II Timothy. Why? Because we're in battle. You don't have to be a Pastor or ministry leader to be in the position of fighting for souls. If you're His, you're in the fight.
There needs to be an intensity about this. There needs to be commitment on our ends to the cause of Christ. There needs to be an urgency as Christ could return at any moment.
We need to refocus our eyes on Christ, and the fact that so many still do not know Him.
We need to remember that just because we are in church every Sunday doesn't mean we're living surrendered and committed to Jesus. It is more than possible to lose sight of God in the midst of ministry. It's our personal walks that tell us where we stand with the Lord, not our attendance in church.
There is great and mighty power that comes with the Holy Spirit, and we need to remember the importance of living according to the Word, as a vessel of the Spirit.
The enemy fights for souls, but we have the choice to fight back in the power of Holy Spirit.
It's time to fight, church. It's time.
It will cost us something, it will not be easy, but it's time.