When the community of Jesus-followers gather, might the Holy Spirit “show up?” Not if “show up” means “is in attendance.” I “show up” for Sunday morning worship “services.” (I put quotes around “services,” since it is not altogether clear who or what gets “serviced” at these gatherings.)
Why is the Holy Spirit present when the church gathers? For reasons such as these.
- To lead and guide us, according to God’s purposes for us.
- To strengthen, comfort, and encourage us, via manifesting himself.
- To draw our worship towards Christ.
How will the Holy Spirit do this? What’s up with the Spirit when the Spirit comes?
1) The Spirit leads, rather than attends. The Lord is our Shepherd, not vice versa.
2) The Spirit uses all the people, or at least various people, and not just the pastor. One person is given a song, another is given a word of encouragement, others manifest the Spirit for the building up of the community. Everyone is, potentially, a leader (= one who is led by the Spirit).
3) The Spirit is supremely confident in leading Sunday morning worship events. After all, the Spirit is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent. Compared to the Spirit, we are blind, deaf, and ignorant.
Therefore, it seems to me…
1* - We follow the Spirit, and not vice versa. This assumes the followers of Jesus can hear from God. (See Dallas Willard’s Hearing God for the prevalence of this throughout Scripture.)
2* - We equip the people for works of ministry, not just a few.
3* - The Spirit’s capabilities are so beyond-us that we should not expect to program Sunday mornings.
Because the activity of the Spirit is relational love and power, we cannot put a time limit on what the Spirit desires to do. We should not say, “Lord, have your way, but we’re only giving you an hour.” Or, "I'll follow You, but not if you go over an hour."
For this reason I see large churches with multiple stacked-and-timed services as being at a disadvantage when it comes to being presence-driven. Further, following the discernment of the likes of Eugene Peterson and A. W. Tozer (and many others), this is where American churches have catered to consumers, rather than allowing the Holy Spirit to consume people which, as this happens, removes the clocks from the sanctuary.
My new book is Leading the Presence-Driven Church (out, it now appears, in January 2018).