A couple days ago Denise and I took the kids to an indoor water park.
Relaxing? Not on your life.
Because I am a student of people, I had a blast just observing folks. I love watching how they interact, play, talk and fight. I especially enjoyed engaging in conversation with the young adult workers that were at each of the tubes and wading pools. I made note of the ones that really loved what they were doing, in contrast to those that just did it for a few bucks and the opportunity to wear shorts to work. Many of them were pretty lifeless and uninspired, but there were a few that really had a spark in their eyes and a bounce to their step. They made it fun. Their energy was contagious.
I think servants of the Most High Lord Jesus ought to be like that. Church ought to be the best place in the world to be (having a wave pool in the lobby may help that some!).
For the next handful of weeks I would like to use this space to communicate what I think makes West Salem Foursquare Church an energetic and contagious place.
The following is Part 1 of a 4-part series.
HOW I THINK ABOUT AND APPROACH
OUR CHURCH SERVICES
@ WEST SALEM FOURSQUARE
It has been said that 90% of life is just showing up. I know that it’s an overly simplistic way to approach church services, however, I have found it to be predominately true! For me to just ‘show up’ is a step in the right direction and provides a vessel that the Holy Spirit could choose to work through. It goes without saying that God works through willing and available instruments. 2 Chronicles 16 tells us that, “The eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”
That, however, takes ‘showing up’ to another level. God is looking for full commitment. Our church services require that and the people that gather for services deserve that. We can show up physically and really not be there emotionally, mentally and/or spiritually. Because of this value, I have determined in my heart to approach each weekend service with the purpose of truly ‘showing up’ and I am blessed by servant volunteers that do as well! This does not ignore low points or uninspired moments. It is, however, about making certain adjustments prior to stepping into the pulpit (or any place of service) so that the instrument of God is properly cleaned and ready – so that the vessel of God has been purified and useful to the Lord.
For this reason, church for me begins the moment I get into my truck on a Saturday night or a Sunday morning and drive the short distance to our facility. I use that time to emotionally “ready” my heart. I ask for cleansing of sin and rightness of relationship with God. I discern misalignment that perhaps exists between me and God and I seek forgiveness. The goal is not to merely “deal with it” so that God blesses, but rather, to open myself up to the finger of God in identifying areas of sin, because I want to be in right relationship with my Maker regardless of my pastoral position and forthcoming duty. It’s not a matter of role, but a matter of relationship. When I pull into the church parking lot I will transition from “emotionally readying my heart” to the second phase of my preparation: prayerfully “rallying” the people. I will often park my car in the farthest point of our parking area not only to leave closer spots available for others but also to “make a sweep” prayerfully as I walk the distance to the front doors. I boldly ask God to draw his people. Shortly thereafter I will intercede as I walk in and through the seating, hallways, classrooms and meeting spaces. This not only for the preparation of the peoples hearts but to prepare my heart for how I may be used to minister to specific people or situations. I will often sense prophetic words or points of direction for a particular service as I intercede throughout the facility.
This has all been prior to the actual start of the church service. But like a good foundation on a home, I believe this time is valuable and necessary to the establishment of a strong framework of Kingdom dynamics within the service. It paves the way for the Holy Spirit to accomplish his work in and through his people and for God’s purposes to be realized.
I truly believe God has a purpose for our church services. While each and every service may have a different focus or flavor I have discovered a consistent, biblical pattern for our gatherings. It is a template of sorts. Throughout the Word I find three primary values with corresponding exercises. The source of these understandings is from Paul’s purpose statement in Colossians 2.
“My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Colossians 2:2,3
Part 2 continues next week.