Is Warfare Needed?

By Jonathan Graf

It was an odd thing. As I preached that Sunday morning, every time I stepped into the area immediately behind the pulpit I struggled to collect my thoughts. When I wandered to either side, my mind was clear and I could speak with ease. I thought my mind was playing tricks on me; that I was giving into suggestion. You see, the pastor told me how difficult it was for him to preach from behind the pulpit. Now I was experiencing this phenomenon myself.

Today, in the United States, there is almost no plus church growth occurring anywhere. Most churches that are growing, are doing so by pulling sheep from other less-exciting churches in their communities—not by people coming to Christ. Most denominational church leaders will tell you their churches are full of infighting, lack of commitment. Many—if not most—churches are either status quo or in decline.

With this reality, why do we not think to look for spiritual strongholds or bondages in churches as a possible cause? Very few churches—including charismatic/Pentecostal churches—are thinking of the issue of church cleansing. Yet tens of thousands of churches have suffered serious, “Satan’s won a victory” situations in their past. Church splits, or new church starts led by a disgruntled person who left a former church staff, sexual misconduct of clergy and leaders, power control issues of leading families who want to run things, are all circumstances that give Satan strong footholds into a church. And in our “avoid conflict” way of operating, we want to simply overlook these.

Many of us struggle to see things through spiritual eyes. I have a pastor friend, who when his church was faced with a situation where a person on his worship team was obviously struggling with some demonic things in his life, the pastor was very apathetic to do anything. Get him into counseling (something he had been in for years) was his approach. The thought of bringing in someone to teach leaders on spiritual warfare was distasteful to this pastor. He looked back to one experience in seminary where he had watched a deliverance session prove fruitless. That one experience had put a wall to this dimension in him.

It is time to open our eyes, pastors and prayer leaders. Virtually every church that has been around for any length of time potentially has serious spiritual bondage issues. Satan wants to make the church ineffective—and he has succeeded in many places. If your church is stagnant, it is time to seek God for the cause. 

If this is new to you, I highly recommend getting help. Some basic resources on the topic are The Devil Goes to Church, The Beginners Guide to Spiritual Warfare by Tom White, and Bondage Breakers by Neil Anderson. Perhaps look for people and ministries who can help you.

When Jesus was challenging Peter about his leadership in the soon-to-be-formed church, He said, “on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of [hell] will not overcome it” (Mt. 16:18-19). Many of us miss something unique in this verse. Jesus talks about the gates of hell. We often think of spiritual warfare as defensive. But this verse is talking about taking the offensive where Satan and hell are concerned. You see, gates of a city do not move. They are not an offensive weapon; they are a defensive measure. We are to attack the gates of hell. If we would go on the offensive and attack our church bondages and strongholds, we would see a vastly different church. A victorious church.

Where do we begin? Pray! Seek God for direction. Ask Him to reveal if there are issues that have never been dealt with in the life of your church. 

RestoredPower.jpg--Jonathan Graf is the president of the Church Prayer Leaders Network and the Publisher of Prayer Connect magazine. This article is from his book Restored Power: Becoming a Praying Church One Tweak at a Time.

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