Here is a re-write of a post I wrote eight years ago. I think it's still a great challenge when it comes to our times of gathering together.
This theme keeps coming up in more than one church I have been involved in this week: "Bring the fire with you."
In other words, don't "come to church" in order to experience God and rely on whatever takes place during the time of the gathering to create the fire. Recognize that when we gather, it's the bringing together of embers that are already lit and hot that allows the gathering to become something truly mystical, dynamic, and powerful.
Another way to say it is this: Solitude and Mission Precedes Community.
In other words, it's the experience of God in us, individually, that we experience alone with Him, that allows us to gather with others in a way that produces community that is alive and vibrant. If we come empty, then we are looking to others to bring something of God that will fill us. If a room full of people gather in this condition then what do we have: one empty, dry gathering.
On the other hand, as was expressed in one church this week, if we will each ask God to fill us during the week, hear from Him, walk with Him, go into the world with Him on mission, and then gather with others doing the same, we will experience a super-charged synergism. How powerful it is when several people get together who are living the "with-Jesus" life!
"Bring the fire with you." The result will be a gathering in which there is more being poured out than anyone can receive.
"Bring the fire with you." We will stop showing up at gatherings like beggars, hoping that someone else will have the food that will sustain us. We will begin to learn that each of us has the ability to look to God (not special people or events) for the spiritual life that we need and want. We discover that each of truly has the Holy Spirit in us and that He is the ONLY ONE who can lead us into the deep intimacy with Christ that we long for. We go to Him for the fire to be stoked. We gather with others to encourage what's already there.
"Bring the fire with you." The result will be a community bonfire that will prepare us even more to GO OUT. We will be equipped like never before to go into a dark and needy world with even greater love and generosity of spirit, greater confidence in our calling and spiritual gifts, and a clearer story to tell.
"Bring the fire with you." This may be the one key that could transform the church from a hidden way-station that people "go" to, to becoming the fully-alive, go-everywhere, people-filled-with God movement that literally fills the earth with God's glory and light.
"Bring the fire with you."