Our services this past weekend didn’t seem very “normal”, especially Saturday night’s service. When our weekend service host, Peace, got up to pray in the middle of the service, she was actually overwhelmed by the nearly tangible presence of the Holy Spirit and ended up falling on her knees, crying, unable to articulate much in the way of prayer. But the Holy Spirit had already raised up another woman in the congregation to pray, and pray she did! The room was full of faith and we were all captivated and ministered to by her impassioned prayers of praise and thanksgiving. She was not selected by the prayer team. She was not a member of the pastoral team. I don’t even know who she is. But God does. After this – and most people don’t know this – Pastor James and I quickly conferred and we both felt like the Holy Spirit was leading us to adjust the order of service “on the fly” and we did. Nope – this wasn’t “normal” church.
Many at FAC (including our weekend music teams) have recently been working through the book, River Dwellers. It’s an excellent book by Dr. Rob Reimer about cultivating a life that continually pursues a dynamic, intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit. Reimer writes on page 40, “When we live during un-revived times, we develop theologies which fit our lack of experience and call it normal.” Wow! That totally describes the church world in which I was raised. Church was regular, safe, and predictable. We saw very little evidence of the supernatural work of the Spirit, and I don’t remember there being much of an expectation for it. (I bet there’s a correlation there … just sayin’ …) And that was “normal.”
And, to be honest, most of the time, I still think that’s my fundamental concept of “normal” church experience and everyday Kingdom living – regular, safe, and predictable. But I’m increasingly convinced that’s not what God intended for “normal” to look like in the gatherings of Christ-followers.
One of the earliest indicators of this in the New Testament is in Acts 3, when God heals a blind man through the faith and obedience of Peter, a true River dweller. This was not “normal.” Read how the people responded, and how Peter challenges their paradigms:
While the man held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade. When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus … By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through Him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.” (Acts 3:11-13a, 16)
So I echo Peter’s question regarding this past weekend here at church. “Fellow worshippers, why does this surprise you?”
I believe we need to pursue a “new normal” if we want to see our church move forward into a deeper experience with God in corporate worship. What if supernatural healing (physical, emotional, spiritual) was “normal” in our church? What if it was “normal” for our planned worship sets to get “thrown out the window” as the Spirit gives leadership to the flow and feel of a service in real time? What if it was “normal” for us at FAC to earnestly engage in all forms of corporate worship (with freedom), as an indication of our great love for God and others? What if “normal” was marked by an ever-deepening spiritual hunger and an expectant heart for a great move of God – every time we gathered?
But how do we get to the place where we’ve reframed our whole concept of “normal church”?
On page 42, Reimer writes:
Can we possibly change the church today with mere human leadership? Do we really only need better methods and better programs? I am convinced the great need of this hour in history is for the people of God to be filled with the Spirit of God once again, and to live in the fullness of the Spirit. No other solution will do.
The fullness of the Spirit. That’s what we need. And it’s available to all who seek and to all who ask. That’s what will “set the stage” for the next great move of the Spirit in our lives and in our church. So, let’s jump into the River. Let’s come to every service expecting to see God do incredible things in our midst. Let’s pursue a “new normal” together.
See you on the weekend!
Written by Pastor David Klob