Teach your church to wonder at God’s providence, His working in their life through the everyday, mundane means and laws of our world. Look for miracles and you will struggle to see God. He seldom goes outside the current laws of the universe to accomplish His work. Rocks into bread – water into wine. Ponder on the Father’s providence, or forsight, and your church will uncover God’s hidden hand everyday. You don’t know what providence looks like?
It is the encouragement of a phone call. It is the timely gift of a friend. It is the right song at the right time on your radio. It is a gift card from a church member, a message from a teacher, a smile from your child, a nuzzle from your pet, a nod from your boss, a verse in your Bible, a kiss from your spouse. It is God seeing your needs ahead of time and sending care your way. It is God’s supernatural provision using natural means and methods. Teach them about providence and inside they will see God provide. Help them look back on their time to see what God saw ahead of time. They will wonder more and worship deeper.
Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. – Genesis 22:13
For more examples of providence read about the orphanages of George Meuller.
Beware incongruence, spending great wealth on that of little worth. There is a Dutch proverb, “What is heaviest must weigh heaviest.” So, what is heaviest? What should weigh most? What should take the most energy and time and money? As you have poured over the Bible and thought about the work of the church, where should she spend most of her time? What gives her the greatest return on investment? According to Jesus the list is very short and demands very simple.
Audit your faith, how you spend your wealth of time and do the same for your church. Compare that list with what you know God has said is worth the most. See, there it is, in-congruence. And, you aren’t surprised to find it I bet. So, to re-align…
- Decide you are only going to work for Jesus.
- Say “No” more and “yes” less.
- Let go of your obsession with feeling needed.
- Delegate lesser tasks even when you can do them better.
- Repeat 1-4 often!
“You are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Choose what is better, and it will not be taken away from you.” – Jesus speaking to Martha, you, and me. (Luke 10:38-42)
“[reading]…is itself a practice in which the presence or absence of the fruits of the Spirit may be clearly manifest.” (p. 7) – David I. Smith, John Shortt and John Sullivan, Teaching Spiritually Engaged Reading
Do your people approach reading the Bible with a spirit of understanding or “overstanding”? Do they stand over the text or do they put themselves under it? And when they do read the Bible is it for information of transformation?
- Giving financially to a church +416%
- Memorizing scripture +407%
- Discipling others +231%
- Sharing their faith with others +228%
- Giving financially to causes other than their church +218%
Also, we (CBE) find that if a person who engages the Bible four or more times a week their odds of giving in to these temptations decreases:
- Drinking to excess -62%
- Viewing pornography -59%
- Having sex outside marriage -59%
- Gambling -45%
- Lashing out in anger -31%
- Gossiping – 28%
- Lying -28%
- Neglecting family -26%
- Overeating or mishandling food -20%
- Overeating or mishandling money -20%
They all own one. Can you help them get into one?
How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! – Psalm 119:103
Be desperate for the mystery of our faith, God’s glory dwelling among his people, the splendor and majesty of heaven putting on the backwater, pauper covering of humanity and living day to day with us and in us. Lead your church to recapture the wonder and awe that comes from beholding the glory of God. It is the only medicine for mediocrity. Only awe for the holy mystery neutralizes the numbness and normative faith rampant in our people.
How? Create holy space and ask God to fill it. Like the tabernacle tent in the middle of Israel’s camp, like the temple in the middle of Jerusalem, like Jesus in the middle of flocking and yearning and crying people- make space in your gatherings and messages and songs and prayers. Marginalize your agendas and orders and create room. Don’t use prayer as a transition between courses but the actual platter for the main event. Bring your people to the mountain and watch what God does.
The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes… John 1:14
Below are my thoughts on the new waters God has set me towards. It is longer than most posts so I composed it as a separate pdf. Share and quote as you like. Fair seas to you!
PDF – Captain to Captain
Who do you open your doors for? Who do you close them to? John 3 and 4, Jesus did church for Man and Woman, respectable and outcast, religious and “worldly”, night-walkers and day-dwellers, named and unnamed, seeking and sought out, Jew and Samaritan, the wondering and the wandering. Jesus’ only standard was human brokenness. Who can’t clear that bar?
If you want to know who your church welcomes than look who has stayed inside.
Can you guide your church where they know God is listening when they sing? Know God is actually speaking back when they pray? Protecting as they sleep? Giving before they ask? Can you lead your church to recognize that God is really a Father, Counselor, Shepherd, and Friend? No, you can’t. All you can do is enjoy God yourself; feast on His love, walk in His instruction,drink in His grace. The more you reflect your satisfaction in God the more they will want to receive that same relationship themselves. The more you feed on God the more hungry they will become. And then the words change;
Wanting from God becomes waiting with God. Talking at God becomes listening for God. Singing about God becomes singing to God. Your church will grow when you grow. You cannot lead sheep to greener pastures you have not been to yourself.
The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear Him – Psalm 25:14
To experience God’s healing you first must be sick. To see God’s leading you must first be lost. To know God’s warmth you must first feel cold. To receive God’s provision you must first be in want. To get God’s protection you must first be in war.
God is not one to waste His promises on the off chance they might be overlooked, mistaken, or misappropriated. God gives His promises only when the receiver is sure to have them as God’s promises and not happenstance, luck, coincidence, or self-ingenuity. At the end of despair and doubt and depression God comes as a shining light of hope and healing. Yet, before He pulls you out you must find yourself with no way out. When the last hour has struck and your last card has been played, when you have nothing left to do but wait on God…watch!
He said not ‘Thou shalt not be tempested, thou shalt not be travailed, thou shalt not be dis-eased’; but he said, ‘Thou shalt not be overcome.’ – Julian of Norwich
A thousand may fall at your side…but it will not come near you. – Psalm 91:7
Protect your church from over commitment. Respect her rhythm. Give her rest. She is a Body just like you have a body. She has ups and downs like you. And, as a church leader, a disregard for the pace of ministry will most likely be reflected in your church being driven into the ground. The Body (church) does what the mind (leaders/pastors) instructs.
God wants you to balance this tension; pace vs. place. Or, what the church is doing vs. who the church is becoming. Overemphasizing mission at the expense of spiritual formation will result in over committed members and exhaustion. Remember, the whole purpose of our participation in Christ’s work is to produce Christ’s image in us. We are as much the mission as the world is.
I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. – II Corinthians 11:2