The Church of the Living Dead

by | May 23, 2005 | Church, Sin

In 1990 I ministered at a “full gospel” church. The people thought they were alive and moving with God. As I preached Sunday morning, I felt as if my words were being hurled back in my face. It was like preaching face-to-face with a brick wall. The atmosphere was thick with rebellion.

I couldn’t figure it out. The pastor and his wife were two of the sweetest people I’d ever met. Their son led praise and worship and was precious. I was baffled until I went to lunch with them after the service.

The pastor said, “John, I have a question for you. There is a couple in my church who got divorced. They both continued to come, sitting on opposite sides of the church. Then the man, who is my head usher, met a younger woman in my church and began to date her. After a while she moved in with him. Now they’re living together. What do I do?”

I couldn’t believe he even needed to ask me this. Stunned, I asked, “Do you mean you haven’t removed him from the church?”

“No,” he answered, “but I have asked him to step down from being head usher.”

I proceeded to preach to the pastor and his wife for an hour. I told them how Paul dealt with the elders at the Corinthian church. A man was living in immorality there as well. Paul rebuked them: “And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you” (1 Cor. 5:2). Paul said the man should be removed from the church and explained why: “Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?” (1 Cor. 5:6). Leaven is worked into dough and spreads throughout the batch, causing the entire loaf to take on the ability to rise. Paul compares unchecked, blatant, willful sin in our churches to leaven in bread.

I warned this pastor, “You are allowing sin to spread unchecked throughout your church. God will hold you accountable for the effect on the other sheep!” I went on, “A shepherd not only feeds the sheep but protects them as well. You like feeding them, but you are afraid of protecting them because you don’t like confrontation. But both are important! You need to confront this man in a firm and loving way, and if he does not repent immediately, remove him from the church.” If we don’t feed sheep they will starve, but if we don’t protect them they will be devoured.

He and his wife turned white. She said, “I don’t know if I want to be in ministry anymore. All I want to do is love people.”

I answered, “It is convenient love, not true love, if you do not protect those people.”

They admitted they were intimidated by some of the people in their church. They opened up and told me other problems. On the praise and worship team some of the musicians were disrespectful. I told them how frustrated I had been during the service, and now I knew why.

That night in the middle of my preaching a man interrupted to give a message in tongues. I asked him to stop, explaining that God does not interrupt Himself. The man understood and ceased speaking, but as he did the guitar player jumped up, shouting at me, “I’m not putting up with any more preaching from somebody who doesn’t allow the Holy Spirit to move. I’m getting out of here!” He grabbed his wife and shouted to the bass player to come with him. The bass player, his wife and one other person stormed out. The atmosphere was thick with unrest; the congregation was bewildered.

I immediately asked the Holy Spirit what to do. He said, “Teach them about authority.” As I taught, the peace of God came into the church as His order was established.

When I was finished, the Lord instructed me, “Tell the man you stopped to give the tongue and interpretation now.”

A bit hesitant, I told the man I had corrected, “Sir, if you’re able, I believe God wants you to give that message now.”

He gave the message in tongues, and he also gave the interpretation.

It began, “Thus says the Lord, I have seen the infestation of the sin in this church. I have only shown my servant a part of it. Heed his words, for they are My words.”

I began to weep over the sin and rebellion permeating that church. The pastor was overwhelmed. Sin was rampant because the leaders were intimidated by the very ones God wanted them to care for.

I rejoiced to learn later that the pastor confronted the man and young woman who were living together. They both repented and made immediate plans to separate.

Used with Permission. Bevere, John. Breaking Intidimation. Lake Mary: Charisma House, 1995, p. 74-77.


The Church of the Living Dead