People need to personally experience – let’s use a stronger word – encounter the living God. Only then will Church and the events of the Sunday worship assembly have meaning and life. Only then will worship and fellowship come alive and become dynamic and powerful.
Often we come to celebrate the “God of the past” – the things that He use to do. We hear testimonies about what God was doing a number of years ago. It is as if God is some historical figure from the distant past and He is no longer active and alive among His people today. It leaves people with the impression that apparently He use to do great things and transform lives but recently He has been somewhat inactive.
Isaiah the prophet had God locked into the past. This allowed him to preach God’s truth and judgment without taking stock of his own life. That is until God clearly revealed Himself in Isaiah 6… Suddenly, he was personally standing in God’s presence. His attitude changed. Rather than pointing his fingers at others while remaining unaffected, he fell on his face before God. His personal experience with God changed his life and ministry.
The same thing happened in Saul’s life – the Saul who became Paul the apostle. He was living for and worshipping a God who lived in history. He knew nothing of a personal or living relationship with God. His love for God was a love for the academic. He loved God as a person loves the beauty of a museum piece. Then God showed up.
When Paul personally experienced the reality of God in his own life, it changed everything. God wasn’t something to talk about. He was someone to know. God wasn’t about routine and tradition. He was about singing a new song and present-day truth. He transformed Paul’s life and ministry.
This is what needs to happen in the Church today. People need to be personally encountering God during the worship, teaching and fellowship. People need to be having “now” experiences with God – biblically solid and not flakey, solidly scriptural but an encounter with God nonetheless – a touch from the Father that changes their heart and their lives forever.
This will change the Church service. No Sunday will be like and oher Sunday. Each week will be different. People will want to be there and will come early. Testimonies will be fresh and vibrant – about changed lives and renewed hope. Celebration will be the main emphasis. Touching and being touched by God the goal as this honors Him and brings glory to His Name. Life change will become a weekly occurance but always exciting. There will be a new dynamic to the worship as God will be so much more real, alive, a present reality, vibrant and “here for us.”
And, as lives begin changing, people start talking. It creates a buzz around the church and throughout the community (regardless of the size of the church or the community). As a result, people start coming to check out what all the talk is about. Along the way, many of them experience God and their lives change. In no time, the church is working as it should and providing genuine hope in a hopeless world.
But first the leaders need to recognize that God can only be experienced in the present. They need to begin to think about worship as a now encounter with the living God and make this weekly touch from the father the goal of the service and the time the saints spend together on a Sunday. Everything that does not encourage an encounter – remove it. Anything that would enable and release the Holy Spirit to move in a dynamic way – focus on it. And then watch God transform His Church by changing lives as only God can do.