Reverend Otis T. McMillan, D.Min.
“Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour.” 1 Peter 5:8
There is nothing quite like rubbing elbows with pastors and church leaders. I recently spent a few days with the Church leaders of Eastern North Carolina Episcopal District. Listening to pastors share their challenges and victories, I became more aware of the relentless attacks of Satan against the Church of Jesus Christ. I’m not a leader who is constantly looking for Satan behind everything that goes wrong. I concentrate my attention on Jesus and encouraging others to follow Jesus and not to focus on the defeated one. Yet, I’m fully aware that Satan loves to hamper…or attempt to hinder a church’s ministry. Obviously Satan is a limited being and God’s church is secure. The gates of hell shall never overcome what God started, but Satan certainly loves to disrupt what God’s church is doing.
From my observation, here are several ways Satan tries to hinder a church. First and foremost I believe Satan hinders the church through internal conflict. Satan loves business meetings that get out of hand or when two church members have disagreements outside of church. He loves when church members argue about trivial things, such as colors of the carpet or big things, such as whether to add another service. No; it doesn’t matter to him. Show him a good argument potential and he’s willing to stir the fire. Conflict resolution is an important healing balm.
Secondly, another way Satan attempts to hinder the church is through leadership burnout. When burnout occurs, the thrill is gone! Satan loves to cause church volunteers, staff members, or pastors to feel burnt out. If he can make them feel they are no longer needed, their work is not appreciated, or that they no longer have anything to offer…he feels he’s winning part of the battle. After listening to several pastor’s testimonies, I felt compelled to share this article. It’s wonderful that God has an oasis for each of us. Mt 11:28 “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” If God offers this gracious invitation to those who are toiling under the heavy burden of sin and conviction, how much more will He give rest to His faithful children?
Thirdly, one of Satan’s most effective tools in hindering the church is through rumors, lies, and scandals. Satan is the stirrer of dissension. He likes to plant little seeds of a juicy story, about someone in the church or community…sometimes even the pastor or staff…and watch them quickly spread through a church congregation or community. The version, of course, usually grows to a larger portion than reality. Satan likes that too! Eph 4:29 “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.”We must always pay close attention of how we entertain rumors, because rumors will infect and contaminate the church. Many rumors commonly heard are very far from edifying!
Satan attempts to interject what I call half-truths; just a hint of false doctrine and then watch it disrupt or divide a church. Of course, we all know that half-truths are really just a cleaned up version of a bold face lie, but Satan is clever enough to disguise a lie in a way where that falsehood gains entry and does damage before being discovered.He will use any available carrier. Satan loves a good, juicy, gossipy news headline in the local paper and on local TV news. If it will split, divide, or destroy a church body…even better. If it will destroy someone’s Kingdom calling or work…he’ll take that too. If it will destroy the pastor’s reputation, Satan loves that more! Christians are instructed to speak good things and use words that will edify, build up, and minister grace to the hearers.
Forth, one of Satan’s more subtle tools used to hinder the church is busyness. Satan loves to distract church members and leaders with a plethora of activities that produce little results in Kingdombuilding. Most conscientious Christians are familiar with the mission of the Church and have a desire to fulfill that mission. Yet busy-work, as Dr. Eric Leake calls it, hinders the church from doing its work. Sometimes we can accomplish more by doing less. One pastor commented, “Sometimes I feel like all I do is raise money!” Busy-work will not build the Kingdom.
Finally, Satan has mounted a relentless attack on marriages and family disruptions. Satan loves to destroy any relationship, but he also goes after key leader’s marriages; even the pastor’s marriage. He likes to encourage prodigal children. He wants to cause families to fight within the church and fight with the church. Satan knows if he can destroy a home, he has a better chance of destroying a church.Thankfully, there is good news:“You are from God, little children, and you have conquered them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4
Acts 12:5 reads, “Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.”I know you are familiar with this text.That day, fervent and importunate prayer was put up to God by the church on Peter’s behalf; with the united strength, the church stormed heaven with prayer, and took Peter by force out of Herod’s hand.
Although Satan loves to hinder the church, when the church is plunged into deep perplexities, the only help she can hope for must come unto her in the way of prayer. When God allows any of the ministers of the church to fall under the rage of persecutors, it is the church’s duty to wrestle with God by prayer in an extraordinary manner on their behalf; “prayer was made without ceasing of the church.” Finally, when God intends to bestow any unimaginable mercy upon His church, He stirs up the hearts of His people to pray for it in a very extraordinary manner. Join me in praying for our Zion!