A Newbie’s View of “Church Work”

I’ve discovered something recently that I find to be rather alarming: the church as an institution is enemy territory. Before I completely offend many of you (especially those in my local congregation), let me clarify that I don’t mean any particular church as a specific group of people, and certainly not my own. But it seems to me that church work has great potential to bring about spiritual illness, apathy, and even death. Perhaps it is enemy territory not because of the Christians within it, but because it is the front line in our spiritual battles — the place where our greatest spiritual aspirations come face to face with our own selfishness and opportunistic voices from the other side.

Why do I say this? What does it mean? Where is this all coming from? Over the last six months I’ve had the honor and responsibility of coordinating our annual ladies retreat, which finally took place last weekend with a record number of women in attendance. While I have been involved in my church for many years in children’s ministry and small group leadership, this was my first exposure to what I would call “church work.” We formed a committee, had regular meetings, followed-up with each other through email and phone regularly, handled money, copied forms, and so on. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so corporate.

And while I could go in several directions with this post, I want to focus on one person: me.

I’ve never had to fight so hard to keep my eyes on Jesus, as when doing church work. I would wake up early to pray, only to be distracted by all the things that had to be done. Then I would finally get myself recentered, only to be derailed by interpersonal drama on the committee. After a few days I could feel my spiritual focus slipping away. It was beginning to seem so fuzzy, the Reason lost in all the details. As the lead coordinator I needed to have a rock-solid grip on the big-picture, but I couldn’t even pray effectively. I began to feel defeated by an unseen enemy.

One night I stayed up until 2 a.m, journaling and praying. I read Bible passages out loud because the clamor in my head prevented me from focusing on the words silently. God brought passages to me that directly pertained to specific situations, that gave me spiritual discernment in certain matters. When I finally went to bed, I felt refocused and my enthusiasm for the retreat had returned.

Miraculously, I wasn’t tired the next day. But struggles within the committee became worse and that night I was back in the same fog. So I called a dear prayer warrior. As she prayed with me over the phone, I could feel my spirit draw under God’s protection once again. My focus began to return and remained strong through the rest of the week and throughout the weekend. And the whole retreat went really well — it was truly a Spirit-filled weekend.

So here’s my question: why was it so difficult for me to stay focused on Christ while planning a Christian retreat? Has anybody else out there experienced something similar with church work?

5 thoughts on “A Newbie’s View of “Church Work”

  1. very well said Anna! Satan attacks what is the most threatening to him. Spiritual warfare only exists when satan feels attacked. I have been in similar situations with previous attempts to volunteer. I think satan would enjoy nothing more than for us to give in to the worldly gossip, negativity, clicks and self glory. He succeeds when women stop listening offering their hearts being supportive and we start competing, comparing and pointing fingers.

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  2. Yes, I have experienced the same thing. I agree with Lori, once you are doing God’s work, the devil and his legion of demons begin to tug at you and distract you. He brings in worldliness and tries to break up the corporate fellowship of believers.

    I belonged to a church once where the attacks were so great on the church that the church eventually broke up— and it had been a WONDERFUL congregation full of warriors and soldiers in the kingdom. Thank God that most of the former congregants have reunited and God has again uplifted the Pastor.

    But Satan never sleeps when he sees believers gathering to do something for the Lord. Been there, seen that… Oh, but what Joy when God shows himself. What victory, what a great thing to experience.

    Blessings to you and all who seek his faces. May the blessings ever be! Amen.

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  3. I would say seek the Spirit’s wisdom on this one. It can be attacks of Satan, but what I have also encountered is that the work and doing starting dominating the being. I think we “overwork” in the churchs for God of course, when we should spend more time being. People can easily get caught up in doing work and think that is what God desires instead of sitting at His feet like Mary did. Which did Jesus desire? Mary or Martha? It isn’t that you do nothing but all work should be born out of that time with Him – a natural outflow of being in His presence. That way we know what we do is inline with His will and not what we think is good or best. I think much of our work has gotten in the way of the relationship and that is why there are many starving souls in the church community.

    I have felt this flip-flop in priorities in other’s lives when I have worked with them – and it is unsettling to my spirit – because it isn’t where were are suppose to be spiritually. I hope this makes sense.

    Rachel

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  4. I applaud you for your persistent pressing-in to God! The task you describe could so easily have taken you over, but it did not. That task had you on the front lines. You fought hard. You persevered. You are a warrior.

    Satan hates Christian unity. We need to expect opposition…and plan for it. Perhaps even expose it through discussion at the beginning of any group project so no one will be taken unaware.

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