I find myself often preaching from the life and ministry of Moses. There are so many lessons to be found in Moses that are applicable to both individuals and to churches. When we think of Moses we often think of him leading the Israelites through the wilderness for 40 years, but not many people realize that the actual trip should have taken no more than just a few days. The reason for the longer journey was due to their refusal to enter the land God had promised to them. God had brought them out of slavery to a land he had prepared for them, but they trusted the negative report of the spies more than they trusted God. As a result of their disobedience none of that generation was allowed to enter the Promise Land but were forced to wander in the wilderness.
This story has many applications to churches today. Just as God had a purpose for the people of Israel, he has a purpose for churches today. Unfortunately, many churches will not even seek to know that purpose much less fulfill it. Much like the spies did, there are people in these churches who loudly insist that the church cannot achieve the purpose God has for it. They describe all the giants the church will face if they attempt to live out God's purpose for their church and the huge walls that stand between them and their dreams. When churches decide to trust the negative reports more than they trust God they soon find themselves wandering in the wilderness while God seeks others who will follow him.
Many of these churches have been wandering in a wilderness of their own making for decades. They cry out to God, they complain about their wilderness experience while watching other churches being used of God, they insist they want to have a positive impact on their communities, but they repeatedly refuse to be obedient to the vision God has for them. I've seen some of these churches approach the Promised Land time and again only each time to turn away because of the perceived giants that live there.
Because of their refusal to obey God he is raising up new churches to do the work existing churches will not do. Established churches often complain about their denominations providing resources to start new churches while their churches struggle. "Give us that money and we'll be able to do more," they claim, but it's not a matter of resources. It's a matter of faith. Your church already has all the resources it needs to fulfill God's purpose for your church. Do you really believe that God would have a vision for your church that you did not have the resources to achieve? God will achieve his purposes, and your church can either be a part of that or continue to wander in the wilderness.
Tough words, but this is the decision the early Israelites made and it's the decision that many of our churches are making today. Are you content to live in the wilderness or are you ready to be a part of what God is doing in the world today? It really is your choice.