“And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:1-5
As I survey the church landscape, I see a couple of interesting trends.
One: I see a new breed of church rising out of the roots of what is arguably the most biblically based denomination in America. The leadership of this new breed is educated by the denomination but, at the same time seems to prefer to maintain distance when it comes to the “name” of the denomination. The new breed is worshiping in a way that is much more “charismatic” than its denominational foundation. The new breed also talks much more about the presence of spiritual gifts than its denominational roots. Yet, there is a definite distinction between the new breed and what you might call the traditional charismatic church. The new breed does not believe in the practice of the gifts of prophecy and tongues which are most often associated with the traditional charismatic church.
Second: I see a new breed of church rising out of the roots of the traditional charismatic church. The leadership of this new breed emphatically embraces the gifts of the Spirit, including the gifts of tongues and prophecy yet they insist that they not be practiced in the main corporate gatherings because these gifts are misunderstood or rejected by those who don’t understand them. Finding that the management and proper usage of spiritual gifts is “messy” in a corporate setting, the new breed has decided that it is easier and more “prospective member friendly” to move the usage of these gifts to a service or a setting that is not in “prime time.”
If you were to attend services during “prime time” at both “new breed one” and “new breed two” churches, you would probably find that, in essence there is little difference between the two. One may be a “tad” bit more demonstrative in worship than the other, but at heart, they are pretty much the same.
The new breed churches are very popular with people and I am very thankful for everyone who preaches Jesus Christ. These churches are my brothers in the Lord.
Recently, I was reading the verses that I listed at the beginning of this blog. Suddenly, I felt a massive amount of conviction regarding the “message” we send to people who attend our services.
I need to add one more verse to what I’ve included from 1 Corinthians to make this clear.
“For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom…” 1 Corinthians 1:22
Verse twenty-two details for us the differences in how people approach God. Some people approach God as the Jews did – they are looking for a spiritual sign to teach them the way of truth. Others are like the Greeks; they seek the way of truth through wisdom.
Here’s what I’m saying:
Western culture has been influenced greatly by Greek and Roman culture. Paul states that the Greeks of his day sought to know the truth AND be transformed by it through the knowing of enlightened facts. I don’t know how great of a preacher Paul was – many of his day stated that he was not a charismatic speaker (2 Corinthians 10:10). Yet, I know he believed in the power of the spoken word of God. But, Paul was careful to tell us that our goal as leaders must be to have the people in church have a faith that rests in the power of God and not the wisdom of man. I was convicted by the Lord that while a preached or taught word and music should be included in our corporate gatherings, I must be careful not to train the people to approach God from a merely intellectual level.
You see, if all we do is preach to people, they get dependent upon the one who is speaking. If all we do is preach to people, then we can reinforce the “Greek” way of approaching God – God works through my intellect outward.
God works in our lives by faith, even when we don’t understand what He is doing or why.
God is telling me that we must pray for His presence in our gatherings and provide a place for His spiritual moving or our people will move to a certain point in spiritual growth and no further. I believe that this is why we have such large churches and yet have so little affect upon our society. To win the lost of this nation, we must have more than an intellectual discussion with them. To win the lost of this world, well, that goes without saying………….the power of God is going to be necessary or we’re out of luck.
What are we going to do with the Holy Spirit?
I believe that Jesus didn’t leave behind instructions on how to have a church service because that is not what we are supposed to have!
True worshipers worship God in Spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24). I believe that is more than just “hopping” and raising my hands while I sing.
The Holy Spirit is the only portion of the Godhead present in this earth. If He’s not included in what I do, I have no other “God” options.
God, make us into a church in which the faith of the people rests in the power of God! I’m responsible to carry on the legacy of what I see in the Scripture. If we had nothing but the Bible to teach us – no one else to tell us how we ought to do things – would we have church the way we are now?
“According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it.” 1 Corinthians 3:10 ESV
God, help me to fulfill this trust with faithfulness and joy!