Sometimes I need a reminder that God really doesn’t need all of our creative strategies, technologies, tactics and ideas to help build His church. Don’t get me wrong, I deeply respect the amazing people I often work with who use their best skills, talents and abilities throughout the best hours of their days to introduce people to the love of the Most High God. After all…God absolutely deserves our very best. It’s the least that we can do for Him. Still, with all the high tech, high level, super strategic thinking out there telling us how to do church, perhaps sometimes we can lose God’s simple “life by life” plan in our brilliant strategic marketing innovations. It’s at those forgetful moments that I am so thankful that God brings me back to the basics and reminds me that He alone is enough.
On the first Saturday of every month, my family, my friend Tony, and I drive to a Community Center located on 3847 S. Giles in the Bronzeville neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. The purpose of our monthly journey is to attend The Bronzeville Bible Study, lead by my great friend, The Reverend Mike Neal and his family. Tony and I have the privilege of leading worship there. After worship Mike comes up and leads us in an interactive bible lesson.
God usually shows up when we go…but today…WOW…All I can say is that there is no plan, no strategic market identity seeking mission that can account for today. It was just a, “I can’t expain it, once I was blind, but now I see Holy Spirit thing.”
Here’s the scene…
I didn’t actually count, but I think about 20 people attended the study today. We lead worship with no mics and no tech. Just 3 simple songs and the first few verses of Psalm 66. We even taught a new song to the group. All I can say is worship was intense. Even as I write this…I am overwhelmed with emotion thinking about all of us in the room today. We were clapping, cheering and singing our hearts out…hungry…reaching out to our God and our friend. As we worshiped, the Spirit of God was so thick in the room, you could almost physically see it and feel it. It was as if the very deep and complex concept of the Spirit of the Most High God filled the Gaps in our simple worship meeting us physically, right then and there. After worship we all applauded and cheered for God. It was one of those extended rounds of adoration usually reserved for a huge gathering; except this was our little Bible Study. All said…there was nothing little about the hearts in that room today. Everyone was moved deeply.
After worship, Pastor Neal came up. He is such a faithful, genuin and effective teacher. He taught us from the Bible how the very Christian Culture we live in can clog the flow of the Holy Spirit. We so often confuse political issues and worship styles with our true relationship to Christ. He then opened up the time for prayer. There were numerous health issues in our little group today…serious ones. It was also amazing to hear some of the amazing faith Journeys that some people went through as God healed them from cancer. The people who experienced these serious heath issues really tried to be an encouragement to the folks in pain today. One of our members had 2 strokes in the past 6 months. At the end we all circled up and prayed for the people in need in our group.
As dramatic as it all sounds, I write all of this tonight as a testimony to the power of our God. Today wasn’t weird. There were no weird God stories, gestures or prophesies. It was real people sharing real life. Today wasn’t out of the ordinary. It was an ordinary day with ordinary people who live in an ordinary community, attending an ordinary neighborhood bible study. Ordinary People who stepped into and acknowledged the extraordinary flow of the Holy Spirit.
Today was amazing…and I am so thankful for the reminder in the midst of all God’s extraordinary gifts of Strategic Planning, Branding, Technology and Skill. When it all breaks down, there is nothing that comes close to what can happen when you take God’s love and God’s word and you mix it with people who are crazy in love with Him; and crazy in love with people who cross their paths. I know the leaders around me remember this. As for me…I am afraid that I forget about this all too often.