Spiritual Priorities for a Significant Church
- Monday, July 12, 2004
Why do you think America and other nations are having such a hard time destroying the Al-Queda terrorist network? It’s because they function in cells all over the world. You will never find them all in the same place at the same time. Cells are very hard to destroy. This is especially important in cultures where the church is persecuted. As long as there are cells alive and functioning, the church will go forward with evangelism and church planting. A year ago our denomination adopted a vision we call “Harvest 5,000 by 2010.” It is a complete paradigm shift for us where we plan to start many churches through cell groups. The reason is because cell groups have unlimited potential. They keep dividing and dividing and growing exponentially. In fact, we view the church as nothing more than a huge collection of cell groups. Because there is nothing to keep cells from multiplying there is nothing to keep churches from growing. Cell groups are multiplying in churches all over the world: Korea, Singapore, South America, and Africa. Cell groups will flourish in every culture because relationship building is a basic human need. The picture painted in Acts 2:42-47 is the original cell group. It is a concept that significant churches everywhere are using to expand their ministry.
Manifest His Presence
Those from a Pentecostal background such as myself may find themselves identifying with this next priority more readily than others. But I am discovering in churches throughout the spectrum of God’s people that there is a new emphasis on the presence of God in worship. We have stopped viewing church services as a place no different than a meeting of a civic or secular organization. We are learning that church is a place where the saints gather to meet with God! We are re-discovering what Moses learned in the wilderness: “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” (Exodus 33:14-16) The Lord had proposed sending an angel with the Israelites but Moses would accept no substitute. If the Lord wasn’t with them, he wasn’t going.
I recall attending a big event once where the main person, a performer, didn’t show up. A substitute showed up instead, and his performance was lacking. People began to get up in the middle of the show and leave; some began to “boo” the man. No concert is the same when the main performer doesn’t make an appearance. I have to ask myself all the time this question: “Whose show is our meeting on Sunday morning?” Between 10:00 and 12:00 a.m., all over the world, is God’s prime time hour. That is God’s hour, not ours. If we want our churches to be significant we have to make room for God to make an appearance. And this is not something we have to beg God to do. He wants to meet with His people. He wants to reveal Himself in ways that we haven’t even imagined (Ephesians 3:20).
If you will allow me, I want to suggest that we have defined too strictly the ways in which it is appropriate for God to make an appearance in our churches. And that can work both ways. We can have expectations on both ends of the scale and expect God to conform Himself to our desires. But if Sunday morning really is God’s show we must let Him have the stage to do as much, or as little, as He desires to do on any given Sunday. I believe, throughout Christendom, that we expect too little of God rather than too much. We have defined a very narrow theological box within which we insist He work. But often God will show up outside “our theological or denominational box”, and then we face a dilemma. What do we do?
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