We’re in the very first stages of a transition. New Life Fellowship of Concord, NH was a traditional church that transitioned to a cell church. After ten years as a cell church, we just sold our building in town and are moving and morphing into a house church. We are not doing this intentionally. We’re simply following the Lord. The way we’re meeting has changed as much as the venue is now changing. We’re informal and relational.
Actually, the transition began with the way we worshiped. We added a period of silent waiting upon the Lord immediately following our music worship. And from there, we felt that the Lord wanted us to be less ordered and open up for more involvement by the people. As we invited folks to share what they sensed the Lord doing, we began to see that He was changing our focus.
Now we are hoping that we don’t just fall back on our earlier worship format. We don’t want to become–as one author wrote–“a church service captured by a living room.” We want to explore more fully anything that will draw us closer to our Father and to one another without compromising the Gospel or abandoning worship. But we sense our worship will change. And so will our outreach.
I’m not sure how we will meet without a plan, but the Lord knows; and we’re willing to let Him lead. He is the Head of the church.
We all agree that we’re teetering on the brink of the ministry of Jesus. People who need healing and deliverance are coming to us. We have always desired to have them see Jesus– “To Know Him and To Make Him Known.” We also know that in our age and culture, the only way to lead people to Jesus by demonstrating that He cares about their needs, their hurts, and pains.
I had a seminary professor, J. Christy Wilson. He had been a missionary to the Muslims in Afghanistan for fifteen years. He said once in answer to a question I posed: “You will never win a Muslim with an argument. You will lose every time. But the way they come to Christ is when they see Him heal their children or loved ones. They are won through the manifest compassion of God. Allah cannot heal. Allah does not heal.” Only a power encounter or revelation of Christ will bring Muslims to Christ. I believe that’s true of not only that group but of many modern people groups who have abandoned what they consider dead religion. Unfortunately, they threw out the baby with the bathwater.
Anyhow, I look forward to our first house church meeting this coming Sunday. Yes, we still meet every other Sunday and on off weeks, we meet on Saturday at barbecues to which we invite our friends and family who do not yet know Jesus. One week of outreach followed by one week of worship and prayer for those we love. That seems to be the pattern.
We do not feel that we have the exclusive corner on how to do church right and everyone else is doing it wrong. We feel that every church has a ministry if they want one. They fulfill a purpose that is specifically theirs. We simply believe that this is where God is leading us. And because we love Jesus, we can do nothing better than to follow. Unless of course, we’d rather be a museum than a ministry. Not us. We’re in this for life . . . all the way.
QUESTION: Wonder what God has for us as we abandon our old wineskin for a new one?
Have you ever felt like you’re stuck? You just can’t seem to get unstuck from where you find yourself at this point in your life. No matter what self-talk or how much you pray, nothing seems to move you ahead toward your final destination?
In sailing, this condition is know as “becalmed.” Some times this can be because the wind simply stops. There’s nothing we can do about that. Sailing depends upon the wind. As every sailor of small craft knows, without an engine a becalmed sailboat has no other option but to wait out the calm and pray for a breeze.
Marcy and I love sailing. We’ve owned two sail boats. First a small Sunfish, then a larger 18 footer. We LOVED our time on board. There’s nothing like a well-equipped, nicely appointed, sea-worthy boat (may be a hold-over from my Navy days). Any chance or invitation we get, we jump on board. Yet we’ve found ourselves becalmed many times.
Sometimes our slower headway was because we “fell off”–meaning we turned away from the direction wind. Or directly into the wind and allowed the main sail to luff. Sometimes we did it on purpose to stop the forward movement so we could fix something.
On another occasion, we “broached.” A broach is when a sailing vessel looses control and suddenly turns sharply away from its intended direction of travel. A broach usually involves heavy heeling over to one side and we’ve almost capsized on the Sunfish when we broached.
In my life, I have “fallen off” and “broached” as a result of discouragement or disappointment or over-commitment. In any case, these conditions prevent forward movement toward our destination because we turn from the direction of the Spirit’s movement.
The wind we need for navigating life’s seasons is the wind of the Spirit of God. Interesting that the Greek word for spirit is pneuma, meaning literally “wind.” Without the wind of God in our lives we can founder and simply drift, with no seeming purpose or direction.
Sometimes the wind just seems to disappear (it never really does) but it’s so gentle that it can’t fill our sails enough to overcome our inertia. At those times Marcy and I have had to just sit and wait. We watched the colored tell-tale on the top of the mast and at the end of the sheet, waiting for something more serious than mild waving. We filled our waiting with prayer and talked to each other, making the most of our time. Those times of quiet have been rich for us. Soon enough, the wind returned and we were once again speeding over the water.
If you’re becalmed right now in your life, if you find yourself unable to move ahead, don’t despair. Don’t be discouraged. This can be a season for you to enjoy a closer fellowship with the lover of your soul. The Lord will move you on soon enough. Right now though you may have need to WAIT. Waiting upon the Lord is not easy for busy, working people; but it is needful.
Soon enough the wind of the Spirit will fill you and move you to the desired port or safe harbor.
If you’ve broached, finding yourself off balance, just prayerfully turn back into the wind and set sail again. Put it behind you and learn from it. You can sail the next season that much more experienced.
If you know someone whose life is becalmed right now, or if she has fallen off course, why not be a friend and send her a link to this post. Taking the moment to act kindly may be just the encouragement that she needs right now and your kindness will build her up.
©2011, David C Alves
Photo used by permission. ©2011, Chad Dutson, Daily Capture