At our first church staff meeting in early February this year, I shared 7 Random Thoughts relevant to our ministry this year. I think that we are in a significant season of change. Transition and shifts are taking place at every level of our world, our church and our personal lives. There is a growing degree of uncertainty emerging and we have to be change-ready. Here is my first thought ...
1. Presence over Programs
There is nothing wrong with programs, ministries, meetings and activities (every church will have lots of them this year) ... BUT they only serve as a ‘means’ to an ‘end.’ We must be careful that they don’t get in the way of what God wants to do OR that we focus on the mechanics of ministry and miss the Spirit.
Moses once said to God, “If you don't personally go with us, don't make us leave this place (Ex.33:14-15).” Without God’s presence we end up with Icabod – the glory has departed and we are left with only the shell of a religious system.
Here are a few other important related Scriptures:
Psa. 127:1. Unless the LORD builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. Unless the LORD protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good. NLT
Zech. 4:6. Then (the angel) said to me, “This is what the LORD says to Zerubbabel: It is not by force nor by strength, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies."
John 15:4-5. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.
This adjustment requires us to pause, to pray, to wait and to be sensitive to what the Spirit is doing. It involves a shift from ‘rowing’ to ‘sailing.’ It is about getting out of ‘auto pilot’ and ‘cruise control’ and into an ‘alert mode’ as to what the Father is doing. Jesus only did and said what He saw the Father doing and saying. This involves a shift from independence (“God, bless what I am doing”) to inter-dependence (“Father, what are you doing?”).
This year - let's focus on PRESENCE over PROGRAMS.