Throughout my years in ministry I’ve had the opportunity to tweak, develop, and implement structures and systems to assist churches to assimilate, disciple and empower their people at greater levels.
Generally leaders are cautious and even hesitant when it comes to creating structure and developing systems, yet leaders must understand it is critical for facilitating and releasing life within their church. Therefore it is important to understand structures and systems (or the lack of) can either choke the life out of a church or release a fresh breath of life into a church.
In America, lifeless church structures dot the landscapes of our cities. I believe this is the result of leaders choosing bones over breath. Buildings that were once full of vibrancy and life are now vacant valleys of dry bones. Likewise there are also many churches that God is breathing on but because they lack the bones of structures and systems their people cannot move forward in mission.
I am reminded of what asked God the prophet Ezekiel, “Can these bones live?” I believe with all my heart that the answer is a resounding YES! The key is having both the breath of God and the bones for God to breathe on.
Here are three things that happens when God breathes on bones:
1. People are empowered. The breath of God represents the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of people that make up our church.
Ezekiel 37:10 – So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army.
God desires for the people we lead to be empowered with life with a cause that will get them back on their feet again. You don’t need an army if you are not fighting for something. However, as it is depicted in this verse of scripture, when God breathes He brings together a people born for battle. A people willing to fight for the future life of their church.
2. People move forward. If you’ve ever experienced a gust of wind blowing behind you, you know that it helped you moved forward faster.
Ezekiel 37:12 – Therefore prophesy and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.
When God breathes on bones it assists in moving people forward and brings them into their destiny. Structures and systems are necessary if you are going to bring people into a place of purpose and promise.
3. People are confident. A lot of times I think leaders are afraid of structures and systems because we think they are purely structural and not spiritual. I would argue that they are not only spiritual they are scriptural. I felt like the Lord spoke to my heart as I was studying this passage. I heard the phrase, “God doesn’t waste His breath.” God is looking for bones to breathe on so He can restore people’s confidence in the work He is doing.
Ezekiel 37:14 – I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the Lord, have spoken it and performed it,” says the Lord.’”
When God breathes on bones, when the Holy Spirit brings life to our structures and systems, we will begin to see confident people trust God with their lives, knowing He will perform every promise He has spoken.