Perhaps I have done a disservice to SixEight Church. Hopefully we have time to fix it.
As you may know, I have a deep longing and desire to see God move in a powerful way in the hearts of our church and through the lives of our church in everyone’s 8 to 15. That has been evident from my first Sunday here. From the very beginning, we have sought to see God move in a way we can’t take credit for. I believe that’s the point of our existence as a church.
But, have we focused enough on God and seeking His face for that to even be a possibility?
My book shelves are lined with books on leadership and church growth. They are full of tactics and strategies to build your church. Some focus on small groups, others focus on preaching. Some focus on leadership and others focus on discipleship. None of those are bad things, in fact, I think they are all great things. We need small groups, discipleship, preaching and leadership. We can’t exist without them.
But, at the end of the day, they all really boil down to human strategies. Yes, they’re biblical. Yes, I’m sure God inspired those ideas. But, what is the most important thing we ought to be doing as a church if we really want to see God move?
It’s like I said when we started this prayer focus last week. If we’re not looking for God, there’s a good chance He’ll move and we’ll miss it. “Do you really think you could miss God moving?” you might ask. It seemed like the majority of the Pharisees and teachers of the law missed Jesus, the promised Messiah walking in their midst. How could they have missed that? Except that they weren’t looking for Him. I don’t want to miss God.
Charles H. Spurgeon said:
“The condition of the church may be very accurately gauged by its prayer meetings. So is the prayer meeting a grace-ometer, and from it we may judge of the amount of divine working among a people. If God be near a church, it must pray. And if he be not there, one of the first tokens of his absence will be a slothfulness in prayer.”
Don’t tune me out just yet. I’m not saying we need to start an old fashioned prayer meeting. God hasn’t led me in that way just yet. In fact, that way of thinking could be a very dangerous. For my desire is not to have us pray once a week as a community, but for prayer to be an integral part of our daily lives.
I love our church. But, I don’t want to spend the rest of my life doing church the way every other church has done church. It would be better for us all if pastors who DO want to do church that way would just retire. It would be better for SixEight that I retire too, if that was how I felt. Luckily (or unluckily, depending on how you feel about me), I don’t feel that. Never have, and I pray I never will.
If not a prayer meeting, then what?
Then we devote ourselves to prayer. That’s what we read about the early church, that “they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” (Acts 2:42) We don’t just pray when we want something from God, we pray because we want to see God. We pray because we want to know God. And we don’t just always talk while we pray, but we learn to stop and listen so we can learn to hear from God. How will we know what God wants us to do if we’re too busy telling Him what we need him to do for us?
I’m not talking about praying once a week, but that we as a church develop a lifestyle of prayer. I want us to develop a habitual pattern in our lives of constantly seeking God in our day to day, hour by hour, minute by minute life. Not only when we need something from God. But, in the good the bad and the ugly. I want us to pray continuously like Paul told the Thessalonians (1 Thes. 5:17). I want us to pray without ceasing. To be constantly seeking God in every moment of life.
This is the kind of church we must be.
God, show us what we need to be doing now, to be ready for what you have for us next.
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Eph. 3:14-21)