July 1, 2008 Matthew

Man-Led or Spirit-Led?

Let the Spirit Lead

The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” John 3:8

It is more true than ever that many are turned off and disheartened by the institutionalized or politicized scene so prevalent in mainline churches. They are all too often cut and dry, over-organized, or just plain dead because it is man himself that is leading on in the first place. He has become so bound to a multitude of pressures, that he leads…and prays to God that the Spirit would follow. This is a very typical picture of the contemporary mainline church where, sadly, many people are burning out and finding themselves disillusioned. Their faith is undercut, and their tongues are parched, and they wander like sheep without a shepherd.

The present “reformation” around the world however is seeing a reversal; a turning of what has long been upside down back to right side up. The church must rediscover it’s roots in the individual and the household, rather than in a theater or faceless crowd. The age of mass media is radically isolating people from one another and therefore things need to change:

According to him [Theo Sorg, former bishop of Württemberg], the church of the future can no longer afford to be a large administrative institution primarily providing social services and performing baptisms, weddings, and funerals. “We need to become a church of small house churches, of involved, committed groups, a church with attractive worship services and missional events and activities, a church in which spiritually sensitive individuals make themselves available to others, a church in which opportunities for connecting, personal conversations, and dialogue are being offered, a church in which the gospel of Jesus Christ can manifest its invitational character.” -Roger Gehring, House Church and Mission

The church that follows the leading of the Spirit is one that is essentially unpredictable. It’s members are self-initiating. It thrives not just survives. It is one that begins with individuals and families, not with crowds. No longer does man set the stage, but the Spirit does. He says, we do. He goes, we follow. He works, we receive.

Christ said, “I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” (Mat. 16:18) We are hard pressed to find these words true of many of the institutionalized church organizations. We need to rediscover the real church–where the gates of hell are powerless.

This is not radical. This is obedience. It is not hard nor burdensome. It’s God’s own work: Christ will build his church and make it grow too. (1 Cor. 3:7)