Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Transitioning to a Presence-Driven Church: Step One

Times Square, New York City
Linda and I are back from a beautiful weekend at the 23inMe conference in New Jersey, and Hollis Presbyterian Church in Queens, New York City.

We've now got many new friends, and saw God do amazing things over the weekend. Linda and I are so thankful to have been with all of you!

I preached on "The Presence-Driven Church" at Hollis, and taught on the same at the conference. Some people at the conference asked me the question, "What do we do now?" Here is how I see this.

Step One in transitioning to a Presence-Driven Church is this: the pastors must engage in the ongoing abiding life. 

Pastors, do not view these teachings as tools for ministry. Rather, see yourself as instruments of righteousness being formed by the Father's hands. This is all about relationship with God, not programming the church. You need to spend time alone with God, otherwise you will not really understand and you will not be credible.

Seek God, spend much time with God, for the sake of your own restoration and transformation. Begin to live in constant, abiding renewal.

In my experience most pastors do not do this. And, among those pastors who attend my classes and seminars, most do not continue in this. They fall back into the rut of, "I don't have enough time to pray."

For many pastors the praying life will be a revolutionary change. There will be resistance. Therefore begin today, not tomorrow, to carve out relational time with God. This step is to continue and grow and increase until the day you stand fully in his presence.

Remember how God spoke to you at the conference? Remember how restoring and renewing your solitary times with God were? It can be the same today. God did not remain at the conference center. He, Immanuel, is with you, presently. Trust and abide in him.

Don't force the issue with your people. Do not try to make things happen. Of course you want to share your experience with your people. But I suggest deepening the experience in yourself first. Pray, today, like you did at the conference. Do not bypass this step. (Refer to my book Praying about this.)

Slow-cook in God's presence, for weeks. Re-familiarize yourself with your God. "Forget about yourself, concentrate on Him, and worship Him." Tend the fire within.

With greater, growing familiarity, comes increasing discernment. Discernment is in direct proportion to familiarity. God will show you what to do, and when to do it.

Lead by being led. The Lord is your shepherd. You will not be wanting. And you will bear much fruit.

I'm now writing my book Leading the Presence-Driven Church.

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