November 24, 2017 by J.A. Hardgrave
One Tough Question Every Church Should Ask
Growing up in church, my Dad was the piano player on our worship team and I played drums. Because I was in leadership, I got a behind-the-scenes look at what went on after praise and worship was over. I’ll never forget the gut-wrenching conversations on the way home. My Dad, a mighty man of God, would often express his frustration with being part of a church that claimed God still encountered people today, yet saw very little activity that communicated it. Our church was positioned just up the road from the Baptist church. Being an Assembly of God church, we often would point out how dry they were and how “Those religious Baptists” just don’t get what it’s like to “truly” encounter God. The only problem is if you attended either service, neither church seemed to communicate God was moving on any measurable scale. I’ll never forget the day my Dad made a statement that still grips me. “If someone came into our church and didn’t know we claimed God still encountered people today, would they be able to tell by attending our services?” Ouch. This reminds me of yet another tough statement made by the well-known author A.W. Tozer:
“If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy Spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference.”
If we look at the book of Acts, they lived a life full of consistent encounters with the Holy Spirit. Without God’s immediate involvement, their operation would have come to a complete halt. I believe every church that believes God still wants to show up with His presence and power should continually ask themselves this question: “If the Holy Spirit wasn’t present, would we even notice?”. Of course, the church is not a building, but a people. We should mainly be focused on demonstrating the Kingdom in our day-to-day lives in whatever sphere of influence God has given us. However, our local gatherings together should demonstrate the power of the Holy Spirit and be a river that anyone can receive from and be transformed. Without the power of the Holy Spirit, people won’t be changed from the inside, but will only embrace religious motions that can exist with or without the Holy Spirit’s power. To me, that’s dangerous territory. If we can have a service that can go on just the same with or without the involvement of the Holy Spirit, I believe we have major opportunities to shift some things around until our heart cry becomes, “Without your presence, we can’t go on”. The book of Acts doesn’t reflect a perfect church, in fact, the church was just being born. However, one aspect that was present then that I believe should also be present now is the continued involvement of the Holy Spirit in every aspect of ministry.
Do you think most churches today would still go on as normal if the Holy Spirit left completely? If so, what do you think will change that. Let me know in the comments below or on Facebook.
Written By J.A. Hardgrave
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