THE HOLY SPIRIT & THE CHURCH | Encouragement For Pastors
As a pastor for the last decade plus I am passionate about seeing the Church grow and take ground on earth; like you, I’m praying for God to give us the cities that he’s placed us in. But, there is an alarming deficit in many churches that hinders the ability for that local church to be effective. It’s been something that God has really challenged me to encourage The Church to focus on; I’m talking about The Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is and always will be the #1 Church Growth Strategy that we have. This is not my theological soapbox-opinion, it’s a simple truth in God’s word. 100% of the growth of the kingdom comes from people turning from their way to follow Jesus. That process of conversion is a combination of the Holy Spirit drawing them and followers of Jesus empowered to be a witness of what Jesus has done for them. Acts 1:8 gives us insight into how important the Holy Spirit is, and why he told the disciples to not do anything until they had received the power of the Holy Spirit:
you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. —Acts 1:8
I believe one of the greatest accomplishments of the devil in this era of The Church has been to get the leaders of the Church to back off of the most incredible resource and power that Jesus gave to us to build the Church. If our enemy can get us to avoid our number one weapon then he doesn’t have to work as hard to stop us.
One of my passions is to come along side pastors and church leaders to help educate and facilitate opportunities for God’s people to experience a genuine encounter and baptism in The Holy Spirit. The irony of this topic is that many of the pastors that are nervous about The Holy Spirit are powerfully filled with the Holy Spirit themselves, but because of past circumstances, aren’t passing it along to their broader church family. Let’s not keep the intimacy and power of The Holy Spirit all to ourselves. Pastor, I don’t want you to feel condemned, I pray this encourages you to embrace The Holy Spirit in your Church.
Why are churches often afraid to embrace the Holy Spirit?
Can we embrace the Holy Spirit without being weird?
To answer those two questions, here are 4 reasons we avoid and 3 ways we can embrace the Holy Spirit:
4 REASONS THAT WE AVOID THE HOLY SPIRIT:
// WE HAVEN’T EXPERIENCED THE HOLY SPIRIT
This would be a key reason obviously, if you’re a pastor and haven’t been baptized in the Holy Spirit then you wouldn’t be inclined to pass it along to your church. This isn’t the space to fully explain the Holy Spirit, but I strongly encourage you to look into an introductory book on the Holy Spirit by John Bevere.
// WE HAD A WEIRD EXPERIENCE WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT
Just to clarify, you had a weird experience with people, not the holy spirit. God’s Spirit is powerful, and often overwhelming, but he’s not weird, that’s people and movements that can get weird. This is often the category that many pastors fall into, but I want to challenge you not to let a negative past experience cause you to avoid the truth of God’s word. We all preach this in different settings, but we must apply it and live it out in this area as well. I love a good latte or flat white, but I’ve been to coffee shops that didn’t know how to make them which left me with a bad experience, but that doesn’t mean that I’m never going to have a latte again. In the same way, you may have had a negative experience in a pentecostal or charismatic circle in the past, but be encouraged that there are great churches all over the world that are moving in the power of the Holy Spirit without it being weird.
// THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL SCARE UNSAVED PEOPLE
This is another common misconception. Just simply think about the fact that Jesus didn’t want The Church to begin until the power of the Holy Spirit came on the disciples. And when He came, there was noise, and what appeared to be fire, speaking in tongues, and it drew a crowd of people who were confused, and interested in what was going on. The kind of movies that are constantly being made should be a clue enough that people are often intrigued by what they can’t understand. There is a draw towards the supernatural in this generation. The Apostle Paul gives some great instruction to the Churches that speaking in tongues in a general Church services will be confusing to people, but encouraged us to focus more on prophecy because that would be a sign to un-believers of the reality of God. Like the above section, I’d say that the Holy Spirit doesn’t repel unsaved people, it’s weird people who do that. God’s Spirit is a powerful resource individually and corporately to edify and build the Church.
Prophesy is one of the greatest church building gifts a pastor can operate in.—Jurgen Matthesius,
// WE DON’T HAVE AN EXAMPLE OF HOW TO DO IT RIGHT
This is often a struggle for pastors, because your only example of the gifts of the Spirit or the power of the Holy Spirit operating in a Church service setting was weird, so it’s hard to know how it can be done correctly. First off, I understand the struggle, but don’t let that stop you from pursing partnership with the Holy Spirit in your own life and for the people God has given you. I’ve really loved the way our church [C3 Church], here in San Diego, CA is modeling this well. What Pastors Jurgen and Leanne have built is an incredibly fresh, relevant church culture that also has the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit operating in all aspects of the Church experience, BUT IT’S NOT WEIRD!! Come for a visit or join us at our annual conferences: http://c3sandiego.com
3 WAYS TO ENGAGE THE HOLY SPIRIT IN OUR CHURCHES:
// ENCOUNTER NIGHTS
This an approach that I highly recommend. An Encounter night, or awakening night, or whatever you’d like to call it, is designed to create an atmosphere for people to connect with the presence of God. Churches normally create a night with more worship than a normal Sunday, and then sometimes they’ll bring in a guest speaker that can minister on the topic of the Holy Spirit and facilitate people encountering the presence and power of God in a way that isn’t weird. This is definitely a great approach if you are beginning to lean more into the Holy Spirit as a Church. Because these nights are intentionally not during one of your regular services, the people who show up, really want to be there and are ready to grow and receive from the God.
// GROWTH TRACKS
If your church has a new members class or a discipleship track, have a session that teaches people about the Holy Spirit. At C3 Church, we teach on the empowered life in different ways throughout the 4 different tracks: Connect, Grow, Serve, and Lead. But then in the final class, we teach on the Holy Spirit, and end with a time of prayer where we invite people forward who want to receive the Holy Spirit. Again, in a normal, non-weird approach. No one is doing laps, screaming, or waving banners, it’s just people who have been taught the word of God responding to be filled with the Holy Spirit.
// CHURCH SERVICES
You mean that the gifts of the Holy Spirit can operate in Church without it being weird? Yes! First, if it’s going to be genuine than it can’t be forced. You don’t want to force two prophetic words and a healing every service, yet we do want to stir a “desire” for it like Paul encourages us to do. As we’re sensitive to it, we can respond and move as the Spirit leads us. We create flow of service, we have a plan but create space to hear from God. A great example was a couple Sunday’s ago, before one of our campus pastors started his message, he paused and said, “before I get into my message, I believe that God wants to speak to this lady for a moment.” Then he gently gets the attention of the women a few rows back on the left side, and while she’s in her seat just begins to share a prophetic word with her. (He didn’t use any of the “thees or thous”) She begins to cry because the word is right on for her season. After the word had been given to her, we applauded what God was doing and then he moved into his message. Incredibly powerful, but amazingly natural. There’s something powerful that takes place in the room after we all experience a word from The Holy Spirit; people are encouraged and faith is built. We’ll also frequently bring forward to respond for ministry at the altar.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. —2 Corinthians 13:14
GO FOR IT!
Pastor, I’m praying for you and believing for an incredible year full of the fruit of people coming to Jesus as your church family is empowered by the Holy Spirit to be his witnesses!
Note: Pastor, if you’d like to connect more on the this topic or about hosting an Encounter Night at your church, feel free to email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org