Friday, December 02, 2016

Presence-Driven Churches Cannot Have Multiple Stacked Services

Linda, at Weko Beach, Michigan

You couldn't have a Presence-Driven Church that had multiple services stacked like pancakes one after the other, timed and choreographed to begin and end on time, so as to shuttle people in and out.

This is because the Presence-Driven Church is kairos-driven rather than chronos-driven. The Greek word chronos refers to clock time (as in, "The service begins at eleven and ends at noon"). Kairos is event-time. Kairos is the word used biblically to refer to God's timing (as in, "At the appointed time God sent his Son").

Those first church gatherings in the upper room in Jerusalem were kairos happenings in an a-chronos culture. Thank God Acts chapter 2 doesn't read like this:

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. Unfortunately, it was noon and time for the service to be over.

I experienced kairos culture while teaching in India. I was to preach in an isolated village located on the Deccan Plateau. I was being driven in an all-terrain vehicle on deeply rutted dirt roads, and we were late. I looked at my watch. My host told me, "Don't worry. Even if we are hours late the people will still be there. They are waiting for you to come." How different, I thought, from American culture! In an event-oriented culture it is the event that is important, not the time.

The presence of God, in the person of the Holy Spirit, is unpredictable and nonprogrammable. The Holy Spirit cannot be choreographed and orchestrated. God's presence operates by kairos time. Thus, it will not be contained by pre-set temporal parameters. We are digitized fools to box God into sixty-minute containers.

This is why multiple, stacked services cannot work in a church family that wants to encounter God's presence. God is a God who loves relationship, and who likes to hang around doing what God does. God is a dwelling being. God-events are slow-cookers. What kind of Christian would really be looking at their clocks if the living God was in their midst? Unfortunately, many American Christians are more concerned about what chronos it is, than absorbed in the timeless kairotic experiences when God manifests his nonprogrammable presence.

***
I am currently writing Leading the Presence-Driven Church.

My new book is: Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God.