Why is there such a disconnect between the church as we know and experience in America, and the church that’s written about in the New Testament? We can try and fool ourselves into thinking that we’re doing just fine, but what benefit is that? Just think about the way church is “done” in your context. Can you honestly say that your church experience lines up with what God intended? It’s not that anything we do is wrong, or bad, or immoral. It just doesn’t seem like God’s plan when He ascended into heaven and sent the Holy Spirit to empower us to be His witnesses on the Earth.
In the book of Acts, the church grew largely and exponentially because of supernatural works done in His name. Real, legitimate acts of God – not like “miracle meetings” where people with headaches get miraculously healed. The Holy Spirit enabled the believers to speak the gospel with boldness and to work wonders in Jesus’ Name, thus confirming the gospel they were preaching. Think about what it would have been like to witness the Apostle Peter grab a guy’s hand who was crippled from birth and say, “get up in Jesus’ Name”! When stuff like that happened in the book of Acts, it grabbed people’s attention, and it attracted them to the church. Today, it seems like since there’s a lack of that same boldness and a lack of that same supernatural overflow, we are content to find alternative ways of growing the church.
Many of our “outreaches” seem more like marketing strategies and gimmicks to lure people into our church buildings. Once they’re in our building, we have ways of trying to keep them there. Polished smiles, superficial small-talk, keynote speakers, live music, free childcare and self-help programs, just to name a few. We have to ask ourselves – is this how God told us to expand the church?
Did He not tell us to “go into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation”? Or to “heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give”? Didn’t Jesus promise that “these signs will accompany those who believe”?
Mark 16:15, Matthew 10:7-9, Mark 16:17
So if those signs aren’t following us, we have to ask ourselves – do we believe? I’m not talking about a matter of salvation here. I’m just wondering, do we believe that the same Spirit that was working miracles through the believers in the book of Acts is alive and well, and willing and able to work the same miracles through us today? We can get excited and say, “yes!” as loud as we want, but it doesn’t mean a thing if we’re not going to step out and be bold enough to believe God.
Sometimes we can be so hungry to experience a genuine move of God that we’re willing to settle with a cheap replica of the real thing. However, I’m no longer content with a replica – I want the real. I’m tired of pretending that everything is okay when it’s not. I want to experience all God has for me. Leonard Ravenhill once asked the question, “do you know why we don’t experience revival?”. His answer was profound. He said, “because we’re willing to live without it”. I’m no longer willing. Are you?