I have nothing against consultants.
How’s that for an opening statement?
The issue I have is with church leadership that finds itself in crisis and, as their first response, calls in a consultant because they don’t know what to do.
So, the consultant arrives with their bag of tricks, tools for analysis, underlying philosophies of what the church is supposed to be, and it’s off to the races.
A spiritual problem in a spiritual ministry analyzed and diagnosed with earthly wisdom.
It reminds me of a situation in Israel, in the days of the kings, that is alarmingly similar to what the Church in North America is facing today.
The scene is the City of God… in this case, Jerusalem.
The City is surrounded and besieged by a vast Assyrian army.
Israel’s leaders are fleeing, many taken captive without a fight.
The righteous remnant is inconsolable.
Instead of a heavenly vision, there is confusion and a lot of noise in the city.
The surrounding fertile valleys that used to supply the city with food are now occupied and trodden down under enemy encampments.
And even back then, at first there was a consultant’s solution…
• Gather the weapons from the armory.
• Identify and analyze the breaches in the wall.
• Re-direct the waters to the protected reservoir.
• Inventory the houses to be demolished.
• Use the dismantled building materials to repair the City walls.
Nothing intrinsically evil in the plan.
Must have felt good to have a plan in the middle of chaos.
But God says of it all…”you did not look to Him who did it, or see Him who planned it long ago” (Isaiah 22:1-11).
Not only were the people ignorant of the fact that God had sent the Assyrians to get the attention of His people, the people inside the City of God were oblivious to the severity of the dangers they faced, even nonchalant.
Instead of weeping, mourning, fasting and wearing sackcloth… they were feasting.
In stark contrast, and concerning the same threats against Jerusalem, at exactly the same time, 2 Kings records the response of King Hezekiah to the impending demise of the City of God…
• He tore his clothes and in deep humility covered himself with sackcloth.
• He went directly to the house of the Lord.
• He sent his trusted advisors, also wearing sackcloth, to get a word from the Lord about their situation from the prophet Isaiah and was encouraged by what God had to say.
• And when the enemy was antagonized by the king’s actions, and sent a threatening letter, Hezekiah went straight back to the house of the Lord and spread the letter before the Lord and called on the Lord.
And God answered Hezekiah with a promise of deliverance and a sign to encourage his faith that the enemy he faced right then would be gone by morning (2 Kings 19).
“And that night the angel of the Lord went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians” (2 Kings 19:35).
So, to pastors and church leaders I would say, why are we responding to life-threatening crises in the church with the well-intentioned wisdom and strategies of men, when the One who has allowed the crisis to turn us back to Him, is waiting to be approached with humility, repentance, prayer and fasting?
That should be our first response, not a last resort.
And out of that time seeking Him, He may direct us to bring in a godly, praying consultant who relies on the Holy Spirit.
But until we have heard from Him, we keep seeking Him and don’t make a move!
Isaiah 22, to Kings 19, to Acts 29… God’s wisdom never changes.