I often times think about Jeremiah and how he must have felt so alone so often. I know that feeling. For some eight years now I have been fervently listening to the Holy Spirit in regard to His frequent direction that He gives me for what the church should be today. So why me? I guess because He sees the HOLY discontentment in my heart and knows I will listen.
But maybe I am not alone. A week ago a new book arrived that I was asked to read and possibly endorse. I have not been able to put it down. It is called JOY STARTS HERE and will be available soon to everyone. It has many nuances that steal our joy and conversely are the source of our joy. In all aspects of these nuances it looks within the home the school and the church.
When I began reading the assessment of the church in relation to joy and how that joy can be restored I instantly shed all my feelings of aloneness in this regard. These authors get it! Not only do they get it they practice it as their day in and day out life and work. Alleluia!
Basically it all revolves around cultivating the PRESENCE OF GOD in all of LIFE. They call it Immanuel Moments and say it should be pervasive in all of life as a joy restorer and joy giver. Now when it comes to the church the means they employ for Immanuel moments is story telling.
In the chapter on A Joyful Church Identity they write:
“Yet to propagate shalom (PEACE) to other people in church and community they (US) need to know what happens when we experience God is with us in painful places. This requires learning to tell the story of what changed when we experienced Immanuel and returned to joy. TELLING THESE STORIES NEEDS TO BE A NORMAL PART OF CHURCH LIFE.”
Where is this happening today? Sunday morning cannot continue to be a place that indulges your dull habit and gives you a false sense of happiness. It must become a place of TRANSFORMATION, of knowing the presence of God in your midst through these Immanuel moments. Sadly the AMERICAN CHURCH WE demand today needs OUR help. It needs to be told to STOP what is presently taking place and to START helping us be in the Presence of God through Immanuel Moments- The source of our Peace and our Joy.
Now if you attend a large church your only hope of this ever happening is to go small. Gather together 10-15 individuals who are DYING to LIVE. Those who have a HOLY discontent and begin intentionally cultivating the presence of God through Spiritual practices leading to Immanuel moments. Then come together and tell of His greatness in your life, worship, pray and serve others as HE leads. Alleluia, that will be a TRANSFORMATIVE community!
Want to get started? Know of a few others who are DYING to LIVE? Come together give it a shot! You do not need to be impulsive and march out of your church but you could start up a small community and begin to experience transformation then let the Holy Spirit show you the way forward.
We can encourage you in any way you would like online or in person.
We also posted a few weeks ago a general outline on these communities who are immersed in His presence:
So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.