The title line is admittedly stolen from one of my favorite books of all time: Why Revival Tarries by Leonard Ravenhill. If you haven’t read it- stop reading this post, click over to Amazon and order it. It’s that good.
In the ever brewing conversations about Emerging methodologies, practices, and new ways to do church, we can’t lose sight of reality in our present situation.
No matter whether you have people sitting at tables, in pews, or on the floor. No Matter if you have church in small groups, houses, small buildings, or mega church sites. No matter if you have a more open mind and heart toward people of different walks of life, or if you choose to exclude people of different walks of life. No Matter if you have a old church organ singing hymns, are a kick’n worship band with rock’n worship originals. No Matter if your sermons are relevant to the current culture, or are completely out of touch: Unless Christ is preached with love and conviction it’s vanity.
For the last month I’ve been researching and in conversations with people in the Emergent/ Emerging church. I have ripped through about 15 books, talked to some of the authors of those books, and conversed with many peeps here on the net waves, and pulled from my “post-modern” background. As “sexy” as the emerging ideas are, at the end of the day they are trite.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the ideas of intellectual ways to have church. I have enjoyed on many occasions melding and contrasting existentialism with common Theology; finding where things fit and don’t. I greatly enjoy artistic expression in the church, poetry, art, good music. I think a few Godly poetry readings could indeed help loosen up the dull culture of the church.
However the problem with the church isn’t that it’s dull and boring. It isn’t that 18-30 year olds can’t relate, and feel like puking at the sight of the avocado green drapes still hanging in some churches almost as a reminder that the Jesus Movement was in the 70’s and they are awaiting a new movement to change the decor. The problem isn’t that the pastor doesn’t listen to Coldplay, or socialize with congregants at the local pub. The problem is unction.
Christ is relevant. He is upholding all thing by the word of his power.(Heb. 1) He lives to forever make intercession for us. (Heb 7:25) He is the expressed image of the invisable God (col.1) and He is returning to the Earth to restore all things. The problem in the church is that it has waivered from Christocentric, and adopted a humanistic diesm that puts the onus on the church to be inviting, instead of Christ to be impacting.
Yo Z, We know the problem, what’s the solution?
Luke 18:1-9, Col. 3:1-4, Matt 5, 6, & 7. When the Son of Man returns, will He find faith on the Earth? Not if we are found putting more faith in our intellect, schemes, and ministry models. The answer is knee wrecking, ear straining, eye squinting, heart wretching prayer. The answer is a people with faces set like flint, stumbling in a dark world with only the light of His face to guide them. (Is. 50:7-11) In our misunderstanding of prayer we have cheapened our primary tool to seeing God’s power break in when we preach.
Prayer is not us reminding God of things that need to change as if He forgot. Prayer is not telling God what to do, or how to act. Prayer is our answer to the crisis in the church. Pastors, teachers, saints, and stay at home moms; people who claim the name of Christ who value their prayer lives before anything else will have an ability to articulate the Heart of God in a way that changes lives, becase prayer is the truest seminary.
As Jesus, our Great High Priest, makes intercession for us (Heb. 7:25) before the throne of God we join him in His heavenly petition. When we pray we are not presenting things that he hasn’t already thought to pray, instead our prayers are an agreement with what he is asking the Father. When we cry out for mercy on the poor in Sudan, His cry before the Father has already been thus. When we ask for healing or power He is faithful to give it. He often waits for us to join Him before he answers the prayer. This way when the prayers are answered, the greater praise His name receives.
Prayer then teaches us about God. It reveals scripture in a way that intellectual reasoning is found wanting. Prayer ailigns our hearts with His. Yes the Church lacks in humanitarian aid. But the solution is not just potlucks with poor people in the nighborhood. We touch the heart of God and the fruits of the spirit (Gal 5), the mercy and grace that we have been given are then recipicated through us to everyone around us. Mankind is then transformed internally through a revival of the soul that can in turn effect thier communities. The hungry get more than a full belly, they get the power of God to change a generation to the truth of Christ.
Their is indeed a new Christianity Emerging. But it isn’t a change to something new, but a returning to something old. It’s not a changing of church methodology, but of surrender to a plan already in progress. Jesus Christ is returning to the Earth. Relevancy belongs to him, not the church. When we begin to proclaim the message of Christ with divine unction and not just human sentiment, then the culture changes to the only thing that was ever truly relevant; Jesus Christ.