This post is a follow-up to last week’s article “Who is the Difference Maker in Your Church?” It was in response to AW Tozer’s statement he made in responding to the question, “What difference does the Holy Spirit make?” His answer:
“If the Holy Spirit was withdrawn from the church today, 95 percent of what we do would go on and no one would know the difference. If the Holy spirit had been withdrawn from the New Testament church, 95 percent of what they did would stop, and everybody would know the difference.”
First, I want to thank all those who read my post, commented or tweeted their thoughts. There was a common thread of truth in the replies that I agree with; and that is, it would be impossible for the Holy Spirit to withdraw since we are all filled with the Holy Spirit. The Church defined is a gathering of Spirit filled people and not a building where God’s Spirit dwells. However, I do believe there is also proof that that the Holy Spirit not only fills believers but also fuels them. So in essence every church is Spirit filled, yet Tozer’s response indicates that churches also need to be Spirit fueled. Scripture supports both an indwelling of the Holy Spirit and an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. We our most comfortable with the indwelling, but here are a few scriptures that support an outpouring:
- 1 Corinthian 12:7 – But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all…
- Acts 1:8 – But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…
- Acts 10:44 – While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word.
- Acts 11:15 – And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning.
- Acts 19:6 – And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.
An outpouring as we see in the scriptures above imply that the Holy Spirit arrived, came upon, overtook and descended on groups of people. Clearly the church in Acts was Spirit filled and Spirit fueled. Therefore another tough question arises. Is it possible for a group of Spirit Filled people to become reliant on methods, strategies, growth principles, service schedules that are not fueled by the Holy Spirit today?
Last week I attempted to assess the church that I’m a part of, knowing that there are several components that without the leading and guiding of the Holy Spirit, I could not even begin to fathom how our efforts would compare with the workings I know have been ignited and empowered by the Holy Spirit. The tougher and even scarier question this week is, “What would keep on happening if the Holy Spirit withdrew from the church?” This week I’m not just assessing my church but looking at three things I think would continue to happen in most if we were honest.
- Programs would continue - I think the most difficult thing for Spirit filled people to do is to stop doing what God is not fueling. As a youth pastor for 10+ years my methods were always changing not because I wanted to, but because they had to. It seemed like every four years I would have to do a major overhaul in my approach based on the kids our ministry was reaching and the families they represented. I remember trying to replicate a successful program I had at while on staff at another church. Yes, I was filled, but my efforts were not fueled. I canned the approach and started asking the question, “God what are you wanting to do?”
- Preaching would continue - This is not a negative observation, but most Spirit filled people want to be fed instead of feeding themselves. Our reliance on our pastors “feeding program” limits us to one good meal a week and therefore leaves no room for God to fuel us to do something else as the church. A great example of how one church in the community where I live allowed God to do something else is that they cancelled their Sunday services to go out and serve the community. I know what you’re thinking,”what about the offering?” I’m sure you get my point.
- Operations would continue - One of the most important things I’ve learned the last few years as an Executive Pastor is that handling the business of the church God’s way matters. God blesses business that is done right! If the business of the church is not handled by Spirit Fueled men, decisions will be based only on facts without factoring in faith. I think this is the easiest area to conform to the patterns of this world if we are not careful. Are we looking to loans instead of the Lord? Are we looking at our savings instead of our Savior? Do we have a plan to be debt free or asking God to forgive us our debts?
I know I’ve missed some things in order to keep this post short, so help me out! What would keep happening in your church if the Holy Spirit didn’t fuel your efforts?