Notes to some friends on Spirit-led gatherings:
“If we will learn to hear and follow His promptings, we will never have a boring meeting (Felicity Dale).”
I believe we all want to see our gatherings fueled by the Holy Spirit’s leading and empowerment. It is good to remind ourselves some of the ways that we can help facilitate this.
1. Relax. This is not a performance-oriented event. In our past church-life we gauged the value of our gatherings by how “good” the church-event was. We have grown past that. Our church-life, now, is about being the church everyday, living a 24/7 lifestyle, and about being part of a community of people whom we love and share life with. We don’t look to the gathering to be the “big event” that will make up for our own lack of relationship with God. So, we can relax and enjoy whatever God does in our midst.
2. Come to give as well as receive. This is not meant to pressure anyone, but just a reminder that when we gather we are not “consumers” looking to someone else to mediate our God-experience or “bring the goods.” Instead, we are part of an interactive community. We come prepared, whenever possible, to share our current story and use our spiritual gifts to bless and encourage others.
3. Pause. Take time in the gathering to just sit and wait on the Holy Spirit. This teaches the entire group to practice listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit:
“The New Testament church was not only the dwelling place for the presence of God, it was also a learning center for the language of the Holy Spirit. People not only worshipped God in church, but they were equipped to hear him, and after hearing God, they were able to give something to someone that would build them up (Jack Deere).”
This takes time to develop. Pausing, listening, allowing people to express what they believe the Holy Spirit is saying, this allows our gatherings to become more and more receptive to the Spirit’s promptings.
4. Pay attention to the flow. “God wants everything to be done peacefully and in order… (1 Cor. 14:33).” This verse is speaking to believers who are gathering together and simply indicates that there is a natural, orderly flow to His leading. In other words, if the Spirit is leading in one direction, pay attention to that direction and don’t interrupt with something that does not fit in. Perhaps later in the gathering it will!
5. Prepare. Many times the Spirit will lead some or all of the participants to prepare ahead of time. This may be something to talk about at the end of a gathering: “What does God want to do the next time we are together?” “Are there some pieces that we know God wants us to prepare to bring?” The Holy Spirit works through structure as well as spontaneity. We want to make room for both.
6. Be adventurous. We are learning to dance with a creative, adventurous God. We can step out and try new things. We are in a safe place to make mistakes, experiment, learn, and try again. And as we do, as we learn to gather in Spirit-led groups, we will be part of a great harvest of people who will be prepared to take simple church—and God’s powerful presence—into homes, neighborhoods, marketplaces, and villages any time and everywhere.