Paradoxically one of the ways we’ve learned at Grace Church to be prepared for the Spirit spontaneously directing our meetings is by first getting clear on what an average meeting looks like. Not a boring meeting but one where the gospel is preached, the sheep are fed, God is glorified, the afflicted comforted, the comfortable afflicted and so on. Like it or not, most meetings will fall into this category. Once we’re clear on what the plan is we’re more confident to depart from the plan.
This is counter-intuitive for a lot of Church leaders though. What I’ve often seen in leaders hungry for the Spirit’s presence is artificially produced chaos. Sermons remain unpreached, setlists are torn up, finish times ignored, all because we sense the Spirit waiting in the wings. It’s as if preaching the Bible, and singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs is what we do only when God isn’t in the building! It is as if we think the Spirit enjoys a chaotic atmosphere and feels at home there, so perhaps “if we build it he will come.” Where did we get this idea?
It’s true that chaos sometimes ensues when the ‘irresistible force’ of the Spirit meets the ‘immovable object’ of our plans but in scripture we always see him bringing order (even if he has to disrupt everything to do it). Not to mention the fact that if all your worship times are unpredictable, that’s SO predictable!
If ever there was a meeting full of chaos it was the meeting between God and creation in Genesis 1. The Hebrew in verse 2 say the earth was “Chaotic and desolate” and there is the Spirit hovering above! Maybe this is his kind of party! But no, God is there to bring form and order out of chaos. If he’s attracted to chaos it’s only like a paramedic is attracted to traffic collisions, wanting to fix something.
When Paul & Barnabas were sent out on mission by the Holy Spirit and the Antioch Church they did not throw their map away so that they might be better led by the Spirit, they followed the road to the next logical place. They kept doing this till God stepped in and stopped them. So they tried the next place. God stopped ‘em again. Then God gave them a vision. It wasn’t that God was only directing them when they had the vision, God had been leading them all along. He’d just been leading them by mundane common sense ways first. Then a crazy supernatural way.
SO what can we do to be ready for the Spirit’s leading? Here’s a few off the top of my head, but what would you add? What do you do that’s most helpful? What do you not do that causes the biggest hindrances? Leave me a comment.
- Decide on what your normal start and end times are.
- Be clear who will make the call to lengthen/shorten/interrupt the worship time.
- Have clear avenues of communication between all who need it – Elders & worship leaders especially. Have agreed hand signals. And keep your eyes open when you lead.
- Have a vocalist ready to step in and continue leading the song if the worship leader is talking to an elder.
- Have all your music ready and to hand in a form that is easily searchable (and the best way is to memorise it).
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