I’ve been a Christian for almost thirty years. In that time, one of the trends in the Church in America—even in what is considered the age of the Spirit—is a diminishing of seeking the Spirit of God for direction and power in ministry. The ascendancy of “models” and “programs” has trumped the very Spirit of the Lord, and we are impoverished in the Church because of it.
There’s something perverse about praying over pre-decided programming decisions. There’s a mania in our storming ahead in ministry opportunities without acting like our Lord, who said:
Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.
—John 5:19b ESV
With that verse in mind, why do so many churches fall in line with what seems to be the hot Christian fad of the month? We wonder why we get tepid results in our ministries; well, this is why.
You cannot substitute for the Spirit of God, but we certainly try. Part of this is because the Spirit is so absent in our assemblies, yet we don’t seem to notice. Have we become that mechanical, so reliant on man-powered solutions that we no longer expect to go out into the world clothed in the power from on high? I go back to this verse time and again as the standard:
When [Peter and John] were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit,
‘Why did the Gentiles rage,
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers were gathered together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed’—
for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
Pay particular attention to that last verse. When was your church assembly last shaken? Do we leave our meetings filled with the Spirit and speaking the word of God with boldness. If not, why not?
We who love the Body of Christ must start asking these kinds of questions and settle for no answers save but a return to living out the life of the Church as embodied by our 1st century brethren. If we are not ministering out of the power of the Holy Spirit, being led by Him and Him alone, then we are wasting everyone’s time when there is no time to waste.