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Holy Desperation

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     “Holy Desperation” has been defined as when a congregation humbles themselves before God and realizes they can no longer keep doing ministry the same way and expecting a different result.  Holy desperation describes a church that is honest about its critical condition and need for a fresh vision and strategy.  Holy desperation means that a church is no longer satisfied with preservation over productivity.  Holy desperation characterizes a mentality where it is no longer acceptable to go through the motions without truly living on mission!

     “Doing” church on Sunday can lead to becoming an incredibly well-oiled machine that chugs along and gives us a false sense of accomplishment.  Steve Ogne says this about Holy Desperation, “Desperation becomes holy when we humble ourselves, release control and desperately seek God for a new future (not a restoration of the past).”  It is when a church desires a fresh wind from God, a new beginning, and is eager to do whatever God asks of them.  It is a willingness to focus on what needs to be done not on what has been done in the past.

     First, we must humble ourselves!  We must stop making excuses and rationalizing away our ineffectiveness in reaching our communities for Christ.  Humility is about self-abandonment and demands self-denial in acknowledging that Christ is above all and greater than all, especially ourselves.  When we see God for who He is we then can see who we are not; in charge!  John 12:24 describes the humility necessary, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.”  A church must be willing to die to some of the old ways of doing things before they will be able to embrace a new vision and fresh start!   

     Second, we must release our control!  Churches have members who are more interested in their own personal preferences, desires, and in being served.  Releasing control gives rightful ownership of the church back to God and makes our pursuits secondary to His will.  One example of this is in the area of traditions.  There are good and bad traditions.  Good traditions are never equal to the scriptures and are always subservient to the Bible.  Bad tradition becomes equal to the word of God and in some churches even above the scriptures.  We must stop reading the Bible through the lens of our own personal preferences, desires, and traditions.  The form or structure of our church must bow to the functions of the church.  Are we obeying Christ’s commands and are we fulfilling the Great Commission in our Jerusalem?

     Third, we must seek God for a new future!  All too often we are so absorbed with facilitating the people we do have that we forget about those we are striving to reach.  Jesus commanded us to leave the ninety-nine and pursue the one lost sheep.  We must be willing to make decisions based on the next one hundred people we haven’t reached rather than the strong opinions and personal preferences of those already there.  We must dream and imagine what kind of new things God might want us to do in our community and city.  Seeking God on this is the key as we begin to pray and prepare for a new beginning with a multiplication DNA.  Many do not like any kind of change but we must ask ourselves if we like being unfruitful any better?

      Holy desperation is when a church realizes it is on the downside of the lifecycle, some are on life-support, and is in desperate need of a fresh vision and recommitment to the Great Commission.  Your churches willingness to make some changes will determine its ability to survive.   Holy desperation comes about because of a lack of vision, lack of effectiveness, and the reality that disciples are not being reproduced.  How can we not have a holy desperation when we cannot remember the last time someone in our ministry gave their heart to Christ and was gloriously transformed by the gospel?  How long will it take for us to finally admit that something has to be done in our church or it will not survive?

     In order to get healthy a church must first have a holy desperation!