Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Next Time You Pray For Your Congregation...

“The challenge for today’s church,” writes Presbyterian Kent Ira Groff in The Soul of Tomorrow’s Church (Nashville: Upper Room, 31), “is how not to focus on new structures but rather on infusing passion into current structures.” This is the problem for both the Protestant mainline and the evangelical megachurches.

. . . A classic nineteenth century book by E. M. Bounds, Power Through Prayer, the need quite well. Bounds wrote:

What the church needs today is not more machinery or better, not new organizations or more novel methods, but men whom the Holy Spirit can use-men of prayer. . . . The Holy Spirit does not flow through methods, but through men . . . and does not come on machinery, but on men . . . and does not anoint plans, but men-men of prayer (10).

I will begin to take heart when I see Christians gathering to talk and pray about bearing faithful witness to Jesus as a minority people in a strange land. I will be overjoyed when I hear more discussion about how our church people can be brought face-to-face with ultimate things, things that truly address deep meaning in their lives. I long for intimacy and communion with God, and love between his people. The church that feeds this hunger will attract me, even if the congregation could fit in my living room. I care not a fig for the religion of church structures. I want the basic ecclesial simplicity that Kierkegaard called “the singleness of heart.” I am cheered by the fact that I meet more and more people of like mind, both in the pulpit and the pews. There is the making of real Holy Spirit-given renewal in this holy dissatisfaction. I am persuaded that much of this will have to come from younger Christians. I have not, however, written off everyone in my own age group since God got my attention more than two decades after I had experienced a prolonged sojourn in the world of “better structures make better churches.”

---}Click the headline for the complete article by John Armstrong

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