Monday, December 10, 2018

More on Presence-Driven Churches and Multiple, Stacked Services

I've received a few comments on my post on stacking worship services together, like pancakes, one on top of the other. One person asked, "Are you saying the Holy Spirit cannot show up in multiple, stacked services?"

Here are a few thoughts. (And thank you for the question!)

First, I spell this out more in my book Leading the Presence-Driven Church

“Presence-driven” means: following the leading of the Holy Spirit. How can we place a time limit on that? God’s ways are not our ways. God is all-knowing, and all-loving. How could we finite creatures anticipate and program that? How could we anticipate what God is going to do when he directs our paths?

“Presence-driven” is more than the Holy Spirit “showing up.” This is the Holy Spirit directing and orchestrating things, telling us what to do. (That is, we hear from God. On this see Dallas Willard, Hearing God.) 

This is the Holy Spirit "manifesting." (See 1 Corinthians 14) We, the people, follow the Spirit as he directs our paths. The Spirit shepherds us. He leadeth us, even on Sunday mornings. 

With the manifestations, time will be needed. Manifestations of the Spirit are more than people having feelings. Yay for Spirit-given feelings! But the manifestations of the Spirit demand time, since they are about strengthening, comforting, and encouraging the gathered body of Christ (1 Cor. 14:1-3).

By “multiple, stacked services” I mean time-limited events. Service #1 needs to begin at 9 and end, say, at 10. This is so the 10:30 service can begin on time. The 10:30 service ends at 11:30. We need to get people out and in so the noon service can begin “on time.” This sort of thing. This is a chronos-orientation that conforms to the chronos-culture we live in.

Yes, the Holy Spirit desires to “show up” whenever Jesus-followers gather. This “showing up” means the Spirit is leading. How can we think we could click-track that? When the early church gathered, the people had no concern for chronos, right? American culture, to the contrary, runs and feeds off it. Timed services cater to the people.

Here's a possibility, though I doubt American Christians would go for it. When I was teaching in Singapore I preached at a church on a Sunday morning. They had two morning services, back to back. The first service was to end at 10. I was preaching at the 10:30 service. We arrived close to 10:30. Many people were standing in the lobby, outside the sanctuary. My host told me, "The first service is still going on. God is doing some very good things!" 

The second service didn't begin until after 11. That's how good service #1 was! I was glad the leaders were being led by our out-of-the-chronos-box Holy Spirit. 

If this happened all the time, and leaders were free from the pressure of time, great! I could see Sunday mornings where service #2 didn't even happen, or people at service #2 were invited into what the Spirit was still doing in service #1. Still, if this was common, if it was normal for the Holy Spirit to lead the services, I suspect the stacked-service method would either be in trouble, or leaders would succumb to the time pieces of the masses.