It has been a wonderful extended stay in Hawaii this year. A stay much needed with the pace of life back in GA. Over the past year and half in addition to guiding this para-church ministry the Lord has opened doors at a local church where as a volunteer I am helping as a lead worker with a couple ministries. So I have used this time to get away from the midst of the trees and see the complete forest. Though being used greatly by the Lord this time away has also been a source of discouraging reality. Discouraging reality not necessarily in regard to my local church but to the “church” in general. I’m tired of being a spectator instead of a participant. I should also tell you that during this time I have also read Barna Group’s latest offering- YOU LOST ME-Why Young Christians Are Leaving Church…. And Rethinking Faith by Barna president David Kinnaman.
I tell you all this for perspective on what I am about to say, as this is not a review of the Kinnaman book.
So about four days ago I am watching this barge come into the harbor at Ko Olina on Oahu and I think my grandson would really love a video of this and I could get really close if I get hoppin’ and run down to the end point of the harbor. So I take off and get there in time and get a great video in a 30 mph gale (BEAR WITH ME) .
So I begin walking back pretty excited in my heart about the video I just got. But quickly realized my thoughts had been taken over by the Holy Spirit. As I heard “”George I want you to tell the leaders of the church let my people participate not spectate”. Here I also tell you that for the past three weeks I had been part of three separate worship services that were made up of people from the congregation telling their story from a contemplative perspective of time in the Word and Prayer. A time so powerful that my wife & I were in tears and clearly through story were brought into the presence of God.
After those services I continued to speak to friends and others about how meaningful church has been for us here in Hawaii. I thought about my local church service and countless others where it is three songs, a message and see you next week. Then the Holy Spirit encounter in regard to what I had experienced. By the way the last service on Sunday 16-25 year olds provided the worship then gave three short messages on how God had been speaking to them. The Pastor stood up afterwards and shared that the elders and others pour into their young to bear fruit and not play games at youth group. Right in line with what I had been reading in YOU LOST ME.
So people…. What if on Sunday you participated not spectated. You say the past three weeks we have really just spectated as my wife and I just sat and listened. NO WAY! Here’s the deal friends no one just spectates when they are brought into the presence of God. Through these peoples stories we were interacting with the Holy Spirit about our condition. We were not passively letting someone sing to us or preach to us, we were being engaged through the story by the Holy Spirit and we were transformed in our hearts in regard to what we heard about ourselves through the story.
And being brought into the presence of God and hearing God during worship is the key to the transformation.
It is very difficult to hear God with a large degree of decibels banging against the sanctuary walls and it is difficult to sense God near within a 40 minute pragmatic message from the pulpit recounting what God has DONE as if He is done DOING. God is not DONE DOING and when the people here what God is doing in their congregations lives from them being with HIM the service and the lives in the service become a raging fire of transformation and church no longer is a dull habit.
It would be easy for me now to say something here about what the church should do but this word from the Holy Spirit is clear.
I have done what He asked me to do, relay it to you.
I do and will continue to pray that as a church leader you catch the vision and conviction to move your entire church in all generations and ages from one of spectator to participant on Sundays and beyond.