Making Your Church’s Path Straight

June 10, 2014

In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.  Proverbs 3:6

My GPS and I have a tense relationship. I often don’t understand her directions. I can be traveling 70 mph down the highway, and she will tell me “in a quarter mile, stay straight on.” What does that even mean? And why does she say “In 200 feet, bear left…” when what she means is that I should take the turnaround under the next intersection and head back the opposite direction? Sometimes, I just would rather have my old, folded map! I just want to get to my destination with as few mistakes as possible!

So, God has my full attention when he makes promises in scripture about “making my path straight”. With promises like that, who needs maps or GPS? The promise in Proverbs 3:5-6 is not only true for the individual but for the church as well. It actually resolves quite a few problems for the local body of believers. Not all problems. But quite a few.

straight pathHere are some thoughts about what the promise of “straight paths” means for us as church leaders as we lead our churches forward:

Be willing to go beyond what you can understand. If you think trusting in the Lord and NOT on our own understanding is scary as an individual, you just try it as a church! With all the added pressures of “worldly wisdom” and fear-based group think, finding our way forward as a church body can be daunting. Learning as a church body to trust in the Lord’s direction, even when we cannot see all the dots connect ahead of time requires a huge cultural shift for most churches.

Acknowledge him in all your ways. Part of “doing church together” is the learned corporate skill of discerning between that which is God and that which is flesh. Too often, I think, we celebrate human achievement by calling it an act of God…and on other occasions we take credit for something God actually did among us. Both set a dangerous precedent and make for a rough and winding path rather than a straight one.

The path may be straight, but it still requires a journey. It seems that, in this “instant gratification” culture, even the churches (who are supposed to be distributors of wisdom and perspective) grow impatient with the journey. We want it all and we want it now. Our preferred reading of Proverbs 3:6 is In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will transport you directly to your destination without any journey at all. In the body of Christ, it is really not about the destination at all…it is all about the journey. The real joy is in the journey.

Moreover, the journey will take effort on our part. It will be hard work. That effort, in fact, is part of what makes the journey so worthwhile. Having a “straight path” does not mean everything about is easy and is handed to us. Not by any means.

The way forward is clear enough. Isn’t that the point of “making the path straight”? It is removing the forks in the road along the way, and making it easy to see next steps. It is taking away the guesswork of turning right or turning left and helping us know–really know–the way forward. For the church who truly trusts the Lord even more than it trusts its own understanding, and works to rightly discern the work of the Spirit in its midst, and is willing to patiently stay on the journey God has for it, the way forward will be clear enough. Always.

You know what churches really need? A spiritual GPS! They need a voice that knows the way and will communicate spiritual wisdom and God’s perspective to them all along their journey, so that they really can learn to trust in the Lord and not on their own understanding. And all that wisdom should be written down, maybe into a book form…or maybe even an app on our smartphones. And it should be translated into every language and put into the hands of all our people and studied together! Oh, wait…

© Blake Coffee
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