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Spiritual Warfare and Ministry

Church ministry is hard because people are complicated. But there’s more to it than just that.

Over the years, my wife and I hosted a number of pastors/leaders, their families, and ministry teams at our house...and for some reason, particularly from the U.K. and Germany/Switzerland.

At one point, a German pastor on sabbatical with his family stayed with us when the euro was very strong against the dollar. They were happy campers at the mall!

Around the same time, the vast emerging market in China was radically shifting everything as well. It got me thinking about how convoluted, interdependent, and intricate the global economy was; how inflation in one part of the world could create a rift in the economy of the whole planet.

And then I compared that to people...with all our idiosyncrasies—emotional versus stoic, logical versus irrational, estranged versus enmeshed, proud versus downtrodden, and all our fallenness, wounds, dysfunctions, sins, and genetically-whacked out systems. Global currency—a non-living, material thing—was nowhere as complex as our interdependent, broken humanity.

How much more complicated are people? But it gets crazier.

You don’t need a devil to make it more problematic, but let’s throw one in (play with Revelation 12:9 for fun...), and it gets even more squirrelly. Some of us Christians need an apologetic for personified evil; I admit that’s a tough one.

But for the Church, the best apologetic is simply the way Jesus talked about Satan. Jesus was either terrifically confused, or not really who He thought He was, or the writers just slipped this cosmic conflict stuff in when no one was looking.

According to the record, the idea of a rebellious war being waged by enemy spiritual forces was a part of Jesus’ vocabulary. His followers picked this up as well. The apostle John, who was in Jesus’ inner circle since he was in his twenties, wrote in his old age that: The Son of God came for this purpose: to destroy the devil’s work. 1 JOHN 3:8b NCV In other words, it was still a foundational piece of Christianity that Satan, and therefore spiritual conflict, was a factor in the confusion, pain, and suffering of this planet. That doesn’t solve the philosophical quandary; as a matter of fact, it makes it somewhat more sticky. But of all the proposed solutions for the problem of pain, this may be the best I’ve heard.

Especially when I consider the Messenger. And that means leaders ignore spiritual conflict at their own peril.

3 Big Leadership Questions:
  1. When was the last time you identified any adversarial spiritual conflict in your ministry?

  2. Have you identified the real root cause?

  3. Do you have a strategy for confronting it?


Our fight is not against people on earth but against the rulers and authorities and the powers of this world’s darkness, against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly world. EPHESIANS 6:12 NCV

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