The other night I got a message from one of the older couples in our church. They had called to say that when they had stopped by the church to drop off some stuff for an upcoming youth rally they saw a snake in the church vestibule. Yes, a real live green slimy snake! The husband attempted to kill the snake with an umbrella, the only “weapon” he had on hand at the time, but it slithered away into a fountain that we have set up among plants in the entryway.
So the next morning a brave deacon and I decided to do battle with the beast and cleanse the church of the evil serpent that had invaded our peaceful domain. It took us several minutes of moving plants around before we finally were able to open up the back of the fountain. Sure enough, there he was, living a happy life in the water tank of the church’s lovely fountain. Being two brave men, we plunged into battle mode and drew the monster out. Then the deacon, in a display of raw courage, picked up a large rock that was used for decoration beside the fountain and smashed the serpent’s head. We then threw the lifeless body out of the church and a great sense of peace and calm prevailed in the building (especially for my kind hearted secretary who is terrified of snakes!). The two of us, brave men working as a team, pastor and deacon, were able to cleanse the building of such a terrifying intruder.
I could not help but see some biblical applications to our experience. Satan is the great serpent who is happily living in far too many churches. He makes his home in the lovely church building and seeks to influence all the innocent people who pass by. Often older people see him first and try to warn others to the danger Satan poses, but seldom does anyone listen, so the Devil’s work continues unabated. But when the leaders of the church decide to work together as a team, they can expose the Great Deceiver and draw him out. Then as the Bible promises, Satan’s head will be crushed and he will be thrown into outer darkness.
Perhaps the reason so many of our churches in America are in decline and have no young people left is because too few church leaders were willing to do battle with Satan. Instead we battle each other. We live in an evil world. The only way to combat evil is with the spiritual forces of Light. That Light comes from Jesus. All our programs and organizational structure and professionally trained clergymen can accomplish nothing apart from Jesus. And seldom does Jesus work alone. We see Him most often using a team to accomplish His work. If you want to get your church growing again, and if you want to start reaching young people again, gather a team together and battle the Serpent. Crush his head and toss him out! Then watch what God does!