Church and Ministry
Let's Not Forget to Invite God to Church
By John Bevere
I think one of the great advances the Christian church has made in recent decades is creating better atmospheres in our services. Let's be honest. It used to be that when you entered a typical church, you were likely to encounter a substandard building, outdated décor, and a wearisome service. Our music was repulsive, our messages quirky and irrelevant. Frankly, we appeared completely inept to anyone watching from the outside. There were exceptions of course, but this was the norm.
I have the honor of ministering in churches all over the world, and I can gladly say we've changed this paradigm. Thanks to wise leadership, we now play remarkable music. We've designed comfortable buildings with state of the art sound and lighting. Our services are tight and relevant, and we've built great areas for our children and teens.
I believe God is pleased with this. But there's a question weighing on my heart. Have we started substituting atmosphere for God's presence?
Atmospheres are good—for introducing people to what's truly important: God's presence. Remember, the apostle Paul says we're transformed when we behold the glory of the Lord (see 2 Corinthians 3:18 NKJV). That's what we're after in this Christian life. It's not about great experiences or exciting stories. It's about becoming more like Jesus. And that doesn't happen unless we encounter Him.
This isn't a suggestion to undo the progress we've made. It isn't an either/or matter. We can have both atmosphere and presence!
I'm not writing about this to inspire criticism, so here's what I'm hoping you'll do. If you're not in a position of influence in your church, start with yourself. Why do you go to services? To have your emotions stirred or to meet with God? Invite God to reveal the truth and correct your motives as needed.
Church leaders, I encourage you—don't gloss over this. I know your heart is to connect people to God. How are you cultivating the atmosphere of your church as an introduction to His presence? Is there anything you want to change?
I believe the church can and should be known both for creative excellence and for the presence of God. When we get this right, we compel our cities to take note of what God is doing. We connect people with the opportunity to experience their Creator so their lives can be transformed. Isn't that our goal?
Excerpt from John's new book Good or God?: Why Good Without God Isn't Enough. Available wherever books are sold and via www.goodorgod.com.
Copyright © 2015, Messenger International Inc. Used by permission.
John Bevere and his wife Lisa are the founders of Messenger International. A minister and best-selling author, John delivers messages of uncompromising truth with boldness and passion. His desire is to support the local church and resource leaders regardless of location, language, or financial position. To this end, his resources have been translated into over 90 languages, and millions of copies have been given away to pastors and leaders worldwide. Some of his greatest works include The Bait of Satan, Drawing Near and Driven by Eternity. When he's home, John tries to convince Lisa to take up golf and spends time with his four sons, daughter-in-law, and grandbabies.
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