Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Presence-Driven Church Is Minimalist

Image result for john piippo minimalism
Dixon Road, Monroe County

I pay a monthly fee to be able to access and listen to every music cd that exists. I listen to multiple genres of music. One of them is minimalism. I listen to Steve Reich and Philip Glass and Brian Eno and their like.

I like minimalist repetition. I like the breathing room it gives me. Mostly, I do not care for over-production. I have a musical suspicion of over-production, and tend to see it as a cover-up for poor musicianship.

I see the apostle Paul as a minimalist. As Paul travels from church to church across the first-century Roman Empire, he is not dragging a production team with him. In 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 Paul says that he did not come to visit the Jesus-followers in Corinth with fog machines, black lights, powerful preaching, great intellectual arguments, stacks of Marshall amps, perfectly timed studio production quality music, a fair trade coffee bar, wearing tight jeans, stage lighting, creative videos, clocks, and full color glossy programs.

Instead, Paul came minimally, so that God might be worshiped maximally. He writes:

When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.

Paul came with just two things:
  1. Proclamation
  2. Demonstration
Paul showed up with 1) his testimony about God; and 2) a demonstration of the Spirit's power. And nothing else. Because crowd-pleasing techniques would compete with Christ and him crucified. People might rest their faith on the coffee bar and the jeans and the fog and the volume rather than on God's power.

In a Presence-Driven Church there is no need to "put on our best" for the visitors, because God always brings his best whenever two or more are gathered. If God leads you to bring out the special drama, or the kids choir, or the pancake breakfast, then do it out of obedience. Otherwise, God's earth-shattering presence will be more than enough.

Do church as usual. Worship, preach, and pray. On Easter Sunday at Redeemer I preached about knowing Christ and the power of his resurrection. Then we prayed for sick people who were there. As far as I can tell, the man who came with the hip out of his socket, which caused him a lot of pain, experienced a healing. As someone told me afterward, "Did you see the smile on his face as the pain had left him? Did you see him walking afterward carrying his cane but not using it?"

Presence-driven churches are minimalist in these ways:
  • They worship
  • They experience God
  • The gifts of the Spirit are manifested
  • God demonstrates his power
  • Everyone gets to participate
  • Every Sunday is Easter
Beyond that, what more could there be?