by Wayne Barber
To have a Spirit-led church, you are going to have to have a church made up of Spirit-led individuals, particularly in leadership. Paul, in the book of Romans says "For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God" (8:14).
The word used for "sons" is "huiós" which means "mature sons." So I believe that Paul is saying is that the mature child of God is the one being led by the Spirit of God. He is among those who are living under grace, Romans 6:14, not depending upon their flesh but depending upon the Spirit of God in and through their lives. In the context, these would be contrasted with those being "driven by the law." Oh what a difference of being driven by the law and being led by the Spirit!
Paul, of course, has just come out of chapter seven where he has shown the frustration of trying to live under the law, or to put it another way, to go about our Christianity our own way. He has shown the tendency of our flesh to respond to law. All believers have the potential to respond to law in one of two ways: either rebelliously or religiously. Back in Romans 1:18-32 he showed the rebellious side and in 2:1-3:20 he showed us the religious side. Either way one chooses to go with the law, that person has just denied the "leading of God's Spirit" because they do what they do in their own power.
People who choose to "do it their way" are those who measure everything by what they do. They cannot truly give glory to Christ because of their own self-sufficiency. But those who choose not to live under law, but live under grace, know what their flesh cannot do and "put no confidence in their flesh" (Phil. 3:3), instead depending upon Christ and His Word and what He can do through them.
When you have leaders in a church who are enamored with themselves and their own ability, then you are immediately cast into the current of "what a man can do for God." But, when you have leaders who realize daily what they cannot do, and who know without question how little they amount to apart from God, then you have those who will be "led by the Spirit of God." With this attitude, Christ is free to build His church through those surrendered lives. Ministry becomes "received" rather than "achieved."
Tragically, we all have the tendency to attempt to clone what God is doing somewhere else, as if it is what He wants to do with us in our churches. Church growth conferences become nothing more than marketing schemes of other's ideas that have worked, instead of us allowing God to do uniquely what He wants to do through us where we are.
The arrogance of flesh is astounding. My son and I were talking recently about the fact that it is so amazing that God can use any of us. When I think of all I know but do not live, and then how often I so proudly think I have something to offer God other than my abandonment to Him, it is overwhelming that God puts up with me for a single second. Imagine how all this flesh appears to the world that does not understand God and how He works. They see us parade and reward our flesh and hear us give God token credit.
The bottom line of all that has been on my heart in these articles concerning the "church" and its "growth" is that we must come back to square one-which is simply being overwhelmed with the fact that God even loves us; and to the fact that He allows us to be a part of what He is doing. It is His design and it is His power and it is His creativity, and it all should give glory to Him for what He does in and through His people. It should never in any way point to man and his ability.