Can once great ministries recover from historical sin?

Over the past couple of years our ministry worked with several once-large churches that had significant ministries in days gone by. Unfortunately, we’ve learned that such “flagship” churches can become damaged, take on water, and go down just like the Titanic! When our ministry gets called in, only a remnant of survivors usually remain in a lifeboat of the once vibrant ministry.

However, earlier this summer, I witnessed a beautiful scene unfold when leaders from two such churches met over dinner. As I sat there listening to them describe their experiences to each other, I thought of the idiom “Two ships passing in the night.” Here were two “flagship” ministries; one church, in its heyday, significantly impacted the city of Birmingham, AL. The other church ministered far and wide from Orlando, FL. At the dinner table that night, one church successfully navigated the Healing the Heart of Your Church process, while the other struggled toward the finish line.

During our meal, the church which had finished encouraged the other with stories of what they had seen God do since they repented of their historical sins and sought forgiveness from God, each other, and those wounded through the years. I watched this church strengthen the struggling one. I didn’t have to say a word. The ministry took on a life of its own and was beautiful to behold.

Encouraged, the second church went home and finished their process, holding a Solemn Assembly and repenting of their painful history. The pastor reported: “The altars filled with broken hearts seeking God’s ways;” and “There was a sense of God’s acceptance and a cleansing of the past. We now are walking in humility and joy, anticipating God’s blessings.”

No doubt this church has much to overcome, and tests will come.  However, we know that what happened could only occur if God was in it! God’s Spirit worked together to fill the sails of these two “flagships” which drifted in the Doldrums for far too long.

It humbles us every time our Sovereign Lord steps into the life of a church, revealing their historic sins which require repentance and healing. Do you know the history of your church? Could it be that the inexplicable road blocks and ministry frustration you encounter stem from corporate sins in the history of your ministry which Jesus is unwilling to overlook?

If so, let me to refer you to the book Healing the Heart of Your Church by Dr. Kenneth Quick. If the book resonates with you, email us. We exist to help churches address unhealed corporate pain in a way that God can bless.

Rev. Mark Barnard serves as President of Blessing Point Ministries. Blessing Point works to heal churches with painful histories. For more information visit blessingpoint.org or contact mark@blessingpoint.org.

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