(This is a continuation of Mission before Church??? Part1
Risks of Misalignment
When you separate yourself from worship and prayer with believers as your first priority, when you place Mission before the practices of doing Church, you place yourself in peril of rebelling against the order of God. In the Book of Revelation, God spoke to gathered Churches. That’s right, God spoke to those congregating church people. Some of it wasn’t good, some of it was. What stands out to me is that God speaks to Churches. He told the Church at Ephesus that He appreciated their good works but that they had left their first love…They had things out of order. Worship unto God had been replaced with doing works. Preaching unto men without the priority of loving worship unto God first is disconnected. I Cor 13 calls it “sounding brass”.
When you enter the mindset of placing Mission before Church, you risk compromising the worship of the Church. You place the needs of men before the Worship of God. Jesus never called any of us to place the souls of men before the corporate worship of God. Nor does He want us to cool down or scale-back on our corporate worship of Him. You end up quenching the Spirit. You end up disregarding the scripture Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. You focus more on the following verse that says to examine everything carefully to the point that you examine it into non-existence. You end up despising people uttering prophecies. You control and ignore the passage which says Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. You may not come out against these things, but you sure don’t encourage it either. You get antsy when the “worship unto God” goes a little bit too long and interferes with your “sermon unto men”. Who are you serving in a “worship” service, God or man? You complain how the Country wants to stop prayer and ignore God, while you squeeze out the Spirit and won’t encourage His gifts or more of His presence! You wonder why the Church isn’t affecting the culture, when you won’t allow the Spirit to affect you. You have taught that the gifts of the Spirit have ceased, and you wonder why the Church seems so powerless. You keep saying, “Go, Go, Go”, while God is saying, “Get right, Get right, Get right”. That is happening in too many churches.
Let me interrupt this train to insert one thing: Does a believer have to go to Church before witnessing. No way! The day after I got saved, I got up for show-and-tell and told the whole class about Jesus. Before Sunday came, I told everyone around me about Jesus. I went to Church that Sunday, and the preacher gave me tracts and I witnessed to my friend, he got saved, and we got on our bikes and delivered tracts around the neighborhood. I got involved in Church as soon as I could and still did “mission”. Church emboldened me to do mission. As I learned to pray and worship, my witness became more effective. Without Church, the desire to do mission would have withered. Unfortunately, many churches stifle mission. I went to a worshiping, praying Church that resulted in mission. I was fortunate. Now, back to the discussion.
Who is the gathering to worship directed towards? God or Men?
Are there problems with doing “Church” today? You bet. We have scheduled and organized the Bride to the point that she is hindered from dancing. Worship and prayer in accordance with scripture have taken a back seat to “preaching to men” in our worship services. Show me the passage that spells out “preaching sermons to men” as the primary expression of worship unto God, and I will show you the passage where pulpits are lined around the throne of God throughout eternity. We won’t be evangelizing or teaching “biblical secrets to a better marriage” around the throne. Some may yell, “Obedience is better than sacrifice, and we are obeying God!” You can do all the right things, but if you don’t place worship and prayer first with the source of Agape Love, your work is in vain. You have to do it His way, and He has made it clear that we must worship Him together. Proper worship and prayer reveals God’s word to us. Today, our worship services are focused more on Men, than on God. We are more excited about hearing a speaker, then we are about meeting God. Let Worship be Worship, and let Mission be Mission. And let Mission flow from Worship. Teaching has its place. “God is Love” and Jesus was a Lover/Worshiper at His core first and foremost. Secondly, He was a Teacher. Last, He was a Missionary. God was Love before man existed. God had a message before man ever existed. Should we then put Mission before Church? No, we need to repent from that mindset and re-examine our way of doing Church so that the mission can be accomplished under the power of the Holy Spirit. We must re-establish fervent worship and prayer to its proper place. Are we controlling church, or are we fervently inviting the Holy Ghost? Were the believers wearing a watch? Did they have a scripted hard-programmed order of service, were they waiting for the sermon, or were they stripped down to living the sermon by loving Him and loving each other? I believe that Loving Him and loving others as we gather leads to “they all joined constantly in prayer (Acts 1) and they were praying in one accord (Acts 2)”.
Is Church dry, old and stale for you. Are you disillusioned with “doing church”? Do you have a hard time simply being with Him in worship and prayer? Are you antsy? Then let me ask, are you resisting the Spirit? Are you actively seeking for more of the Holy Spirit? (Lk 11:11-13). If you are resisting the Spirit, then repent and graciously seek Him. Come out from under the Law and works mentality and receive the grace of God for your restless soul. That makes a huge difference both in Church and Mission. The lack of the Spirit is often the reason why so many are disillusioned and have an “itch that they cannot scratch”. The disciples originally received the Holy Ghost in John 20, but they needed the Acts 2 experience also! Some of these same believers gathered, prayed before going out again, and got re-filled with the same Holy Spirit again later in Acts 4! That’s 3 times! Why do so many churches deny the clear biblical pattern of being re-filled with the Spirit more than once? Why do the Charismatic churches deny that their other brothers and sisters have the Holy Spirit? If we are born again, we are all carriers of His Spirit and we all need to be re-filled. Do you need a refill? Unfortunately, you are not going to get a re-fill in some churches today. In that case, It may be time to re-do Church.