Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part XXXV
In the 1980’s and ‘90’s, my family was active in Lay Witness Missions through the United Methodist Church, a powerful lay ministry composed of pot-luck dinners, small group activities, while staying overnight in local parishioner’s homes. A lay coordinator would be assigned to invite a team of visiting missioners to come share their faith journeys. He would also help establish committees to involve the local parishioners in participating in the weekend.
The weekend featured several covered dish dinners, adult small group sessions, Youth activities, and a Children’s Ministry. In Friday night’s small group adult session, only three questions were posed: 1) What do you expect for your church this weekend? 2) What do want for yourself this weekend? and 3) Why did you come tonight? Some came for the food and fellowship. Some confessed they came because their spouses made them. The answers to these three questions were quite insightful.
Some wished to get closer to God, to grow in their faith, or to hear how the Lord was working in other’s lives. One wanted to see others get saved while another hoped for more Bible studies, prayer groups, and small groups to be established in the future. The need for the five fold was prevalent in all these groups: to win the lost, to nurture the saints, to study the Logos Word and transform it into the Rhema Word, to get closer to God, and to see the church as a whole unite and come alive.
Even though the weekend had a formal schedule, it still remained fluid. The Lay Witness Coordinator functioned as an apostle: he did not “control” the weekend, but counted on the Holy Spirit to lead it, monitoring the Holy Spirit’s activities through visiting missioners and in local parishioner’s lives. Flexibility was a key to the weekend’s success.
My wife and I were part of a 23 member team of Americans to participate in Lay Witness Mission in Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Capetown, South Africa in 1993, while under the watchful eye of local South Africans. They wrote to us what they learned about the experience, “There is safety in following the Holy Spirit.” Wow! They got it! The Holy Spirit was in charge, we are only vessels of service and obedience to His voice.
In every Lay Witness Weekend that I have participated, I have met a local believer with an evangelistic zeal. “You must be born again” was understood in every local church. There were believers with pastoral, shepherding hearts who wanted to see spiritual growth among their members. The desire for simplistic biblical truth was prevalent. Yearning for more intimate worship and drawing closer to the Lord was evident individually and corporately. The voices of the five fold were all present. The five fold was already embedded among members in a local church. Believers just needed to be equipped, encouraged, and released in them. As a local church yields to the leading of the Holy Spirit and to the building up of peer relationships in Jesus, the release of the five fold will become more evident. Often the holdback to releasing the five fold through the Priesthood of Believers is the structure. If structure prevents continual revival, then the church must face a metamorphosis, a transitional rebuilding of relationships while being open to new forms or structures.