How The Church Can Adjust To An Artesian Well Flow
The Holy Spirit is in the Church because it dwells in the “temples”, the bodies, of believers in Jesus Christ. But how is the church as an institution to react when the Holy Spirit surfaces as a flow out of the believers in their structure? History shows that most of the time, the institutional church tries to “cap” it rather than let it flow. By “capping” it, one “controls” it. The question always falls on “who is in control” and “can you trust the Holy Spirit” to be in “control”?
Almost every church Sunday Morning Worship Service is a very controlled environment. I joke that it is a morning “controlled” by the pastor, worship leader/choir director, and a scripted program. In most churches there is given very little room, if any, for the flow of the Holy Spirit to surface from the average pew sitter in the church, except at offering time when the institutional church hopes for a large flow of money to support its institutional system.
This past weekend I attended my nephew’s confirmation celebration in a traditional Lutheran church. Given a bulletin, every part of the service was preplanned. Prayers were written and read by the pastor, congregation knew how to respond in unison verbally or in song, when to stand or sit, when to sing, when to be quiet, when to turn during the processional and recessional, when to participate in communion, etc. Several scriptures were read, all liturgy was ecclesiastically correct, all passages theologically sound. It was Pentecost Sunday, the celebration of when the Holy Spirit was released on the Church, yet in this service there were no cracks in the preplanned service for the artesian well to surface, to flow out of the “participants” at the service. The service was all about receiving, even receiving communion, but not about giving nor allowing the flow of the Holy Spirit from its so called “participants”. Church members are allowed to be acolytes, altar boys, carrier of the Bible or cross in processions, lay reader of scripture, and ushers, all pre-orchestrated planned positions, but the pastor controlled the flow of the service. The Holy Spirit can flow out of him through his sermon, comments, the laying on of hands, etc., but not the “congregates”, thus an established the dreaded line between clergy and laity and what each can and can not do.
I am not just picking on the Lutherans, for last night I attended a "worship/prayer" service in the I.H.O.P. style where almost the entire service was scripted. Each participant received the script when entering. Confession, repenting, and intercessory prayers were all read by participants. When the mic was open for "spontaneous" prayer, no one responded because the scripted prayers and the pre-chosen scriptures had covered every point. Music was fantastic; program went smooth, but the artesian well was never tapped nor flowed. The preplanned, well scripted, well thought out program capped the well.
It is a little different at the present church that I attend though the services aren’t as scripted through a bulletin, but the pastor and the worship leader drive 95% of the service. The congregation is allowed to give their monetary offering, greet one another through hand shakes, hugs, and informal chit chat, and even allow if someone flows prophetically through giving a prophetic word, which is starting to become more of a rarity and only being done by some of the “old timers”. In a church rich in Pentecostal, Word, Prophetic, and Apostolic history, spiritual gifts flowing in the Sunday morning service is getting scarcer and scarcer.
How is the institutional church to respond to an artesian flow of the Spirit of Jesus Christ arising from the tombs of inactivity in believers? What happens if a “pew sitter” gets a prophetic message arising from with in? Can he give that message instead of the sermon? Probably not! Everyone knows the pulpit is a guarded commodity of its pastor. Even when absent on vacation, illness, etc., it is filled by guest speakers, other pastors, and very seldom from those with in their own local spiritual family. Most churches don’t equip, prepare, or train any of their members to “replace” the pastor and the sermon if needed. What if a “pew sitter” gets a “new song”, an original scripture based song arising from within? Where in the service could that song come forth? Would it have to be first approved by the worship leader, then written down so the worship team could play it? That is not spontaneous! What if a “pew sitter” has an original poem flow out of himself/herself? Where can they spontaneously give it? Oh, they are to write it down, give it to the pastor, have it submitted to and approved by the worship committee, and printed in the bulletin several weeks later! An artist? Forget it, for there is no outlet to paint a picture, sketch a drawing, allow a flow of visual artistic creativity to spontaneously flow during a Sunday morning worship service in most churches!
I remember the beauty of hearing an entire congregation “singing in the spirit” in the ‘70’s & early 80’s! The harmonies were angelic, never to be repeated, powerful with passion and compassion. Where is there an avenue for “corporate” spontaneous flow of the Spirit in today’s church services?
If we truly want the flow of the Holy Spirit to arise from the tombs of inactivity, tombs of doubt and disbelief, tombs of complacency, tombs that lacked spiritual self discipline, then we need to give permission to allow the Holy Spirit to dig deep into the wells of every believer in our congregations, into my life and yours, to expose the silt of sin laying dormant on the bottom, and allow the Holy Spirit to erupt from with in, clean up the silt of sin, then rise and flow out of each believer to overflow onto others who are spiritually dry. If this be the case, then we will have to reexamine how we “do” church, how we “do” worship, how we “relate” to one another in the body of Christ, how we “serve” one another, and how we “lay down our lives” for our brethren. This simple flow of the Holy Spirit from with in will force the Church to face dramatic changes. Hey, this sounds like revival!