The 21st Century Retooling of the Church – Part XXV
When in a “spirit-led” Church service, one always expects the unexpected. Who would have thought those meeting in an upper room would speak in tongues of fire that night, who would then witness at the Temple speaking in tongues that foreigners understood? Who would have thought that Ananias and Sapphira would be struck dead because of “playing with the Holy Spirit” rather than being “obedient to the Holy Spirit”? Who would have thought Peter, in prison, would walk out his cell, past the guards, and knock at the door of a prayer meeting, shocking not only the guards confronted with missing prisoners but also believers who just witness their prayers being answered? The unexpected always happens with the arrival of the Holy Spirit. Soon you begin to “anticipate” it as being the “new normal” because the Holy Spirit’s Presence always produces “life”.
Order and freedom in the Spirit always oppose one another, producing friction in the Church. Order brings predictability; freedom in the Spirit brings the unexpected. Order brings control; freedom brings spontaneity. Order brings a feeling of safety through familiarity, tradition; freedom in the Spirit to brings safety but in very different unfamiliar ways. Order asks, “Can we trust the Holy Spirit?” Freedom in the Spirit proclaims, “We can not help but trust the Holy Spirit?”
Where is the 21st Century Church placing its “trust”? Of course they would say, “in Jesus”, the logical, correct answer, but what does that logically mean? Jesus, currently, is not on earth in human form, but resurrected and seated at the right hand of the Father interceding for His saints, but the “Spirit of Jesus Christ”, his Holy Spirit, is on earth, seated within each believer to be activated, brought alive through each believer’s faith journey. The “trust” of the 21st Century Church has to be in the Holy Spirit if it wishes to produce spiritual life.
As an advocate of the five fold, I feel it is the Church’s duty to birth that Spirit through an evangelist, develop that Spirit in each believer in Jesus Christ, make sure that Spirit is grounded in the written Logos Word, the Bible, so it can be activated as the Rhema or Living Word in each believer, and that Spirit nurtured, developed, and equipped to be released on the world and into the Church. The Spirit of Jesus Christ, His Holy Spirit, is the key to unlocking the power of the 21st Century Church. The Word is the foundation; the releasing of Spirit is the key. Jesus prophesied that would be a day when true worshipers would worship in Spirit and in Truth: grounded on the Word, released in the Spirit. The two that seemed to be in discord will be the very cord of unity.
Today’s churches thrive on reproducing “programs” that were other church’s successes rather than relying on the Holy Spirit to reveal what is best for that congregation. Revelation always out-performs replication. The church runs to conventions and conferences to see what the latest “trends” are that have worked for other congregations, returning with the effort of reproducing and instituting them in their local congregation.
The 21st Century Church needs to allow the “Creator” of the heavens and the earth to “create”, not “replicate”. The United States use to be known for its “creativity”, “ingenuity”, and “entrepreneur” spirit. Japan and Korea would come and reproduce items the U.S. had created cheaper. Items “Made In Japan” or “Made In Korea” where known as cheap replicas. These products never match the “creator’s products in quality, just surpassing them in quantity. The Church has fallen into the same trap. Mega-churches have produced quantity, large amount of believers, often through reproduction of “programs” tried by other churches, at the expense of the quality of its individual believers. Because of its size and staff, the creative spirit of its common believers, the pew sitters, is diminished. Even though they will not admit it, quantity of believers over rides the quality of each believer.
How do we develop “quality” in a believer? By allowing the Holy Spirit to teach the believer, nurture that believer, develop that believer, then be released in that believer usually through unconventional means, because that is usually how the Holy Spirit works. Much of the meaningful “spiritual life” that has had a direct impact on my nurturing and developing as a believer in a spiritual journey has come through those unconventional means lead by the Holy Spirit, not through the organized, controlled instruction under the banner of the institutional Church.
The Holy Spirit led Jesus to the wilderness to teach him the “power of the Word” and how to use it against Satan. He did not lead Jesus to a Rabbinical seminary, or the local Mega-synagogue to be “taught” intellectually how to use, analyze, critique, and theologize the Word through an exegesis. Jesus “experienced” the power of the Word while being the Living Word. We, as 21st Century believers, need to “experience” the “power” of the Word while being the “living” Word today. We need to “expect” the “unexpected”.