It has been over a month since we launched RiversEnd Community Church. There have been some pretty amazing things happening but not much that would be considered typical with a start of a church. My expectations for Sunday mornings have been reshaped as God impresses upon us His purpose and leading through the Holy Spirit. Our Sunday mornings are not entirely predictable or structured in a way that you will know exactly what is going to happen at specific times. There is no strict schedule that says we worship first, stop abruptly at a certain time, receive the message, altar time and dismissal before noon to beat the lunch crowds. We decided early on that we would all step out in faith and hold our agenda’s for a Sunday morning, very loosely.
Sometimes we receive first from our Pastor and other times we worship first. One thing we try to always be faithful in, is to offer a communion time somewhere in the middle of the service. At times as we have closed for worship, the Lord used that time to bring healing to broken hearts and has shared an encouraging word to individuals. You can never really set your watch by what happens in a Sunday morning service. It is almost as if we are intentionally unorganized so we can be organized in waiting on the Holy Spirit. To say it better, is that we are simply in a posture of actively waiting.
God tells us in Psalm 34:18, “The lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” So it shouldn’t be a surprise that what we have mostly accomplished since we started the church, is to minister love to those who have been suffering. We have celebrated Easter and Mothers day so far and during that time we have been able to minister to several people who have experienced the loss of a wife, a mother, a grandmother all just before the holiday. While it was a day of celebrating “Moms” it was more a time of ministering healing through the suffering of loss and the biggest challenge was yet to come.
Two weeks ago our pastor’s son become deathly ill. His intestines and stomach shut down for no apparent medical reason. The doctors were completely baffled and these are some of the best in the nation, here at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. Josiah is only 9 years old and loves to run and play basketball. As a parent of a 9 yr old and two other children my families heart wept for our Pastor’s family. So did hundreds of others! It was amazing the amount of prayer that went out and up to heaven for their family. God used, what our pastor calls a “stewardship of suffering” and increased our faith ten-fold. We learned to get on our face before a loving, patient and all-knowing God; bringing our requests to Him day and night. When we began to fear and become anxious in the silence, it was then that God spoke the loudest and said not to give in to doubt but to believe and trust. Well, little Josiah was completely healed Friday last week and the doctors have no medical explanation of why. They remain baffled at the miracle of Josiah’s healing.
This is what God is showing me. These are the things He has called me into and I share all of this today because these things are not often talked about when planting a church. The “American Church” today would ask you how many people are coming so far?”, “Are you a seeker friendly church?” and “Do you have a coffee bar set up and a book/merchandise table?” I have been exposed to the paradox of, “Lets fix our eyes on Jesus” as they throw the appearance of perfection and performance in front of your eyes to the point where you feel entertained and have no need to participate with what God may want to do in the corporate gathering. Even when God performs a miracle like physical healing, that person who received the miracle is put on display in the church as a trophy. I don’t say these things to divide Gods people but rather to unite them! If we could all stop and seriously look inwardly- are our corporate gatherings truly reflective of a posture that patiently waits on the God of the Universe?! We can not be deceived in thinking that we have church “figured out.” There is a big difference in going to church and being the church.
I personally dont have a problem with Christian book stores or Christian coffee bars. I do take issue of those things being in a place where the Saints gather to worship God. There is tension to all that I am saying; a holy balance(to borrow my pastors phrase) if you will. When new idea’s and new ways of ordering a morning corporate gathering get introduced to the church they must be led by the Holy Spirit. All that we do should be led by God whether it is our missions, our corporate gatherings, our prayers- our lives in general. All that we do, God must be the focus of our affection and adoration. We must walk in love holding our expectations and agenda’s very loosely. A missionary to the middle east by the name of Dan Baumann said, “Everything you do for God, will come from intimacy with God.” We should be prepared to lay ourselves down at any moment before the altar of the Cross and lift our heads high to the one who bore the greatest stewardship of suffering ever known to man. We must walk in a posture of expectantly and actively waiting on the Lord.
I am more than ever expectantly waiting to see what the Lord will do on a Sunday morning and everyday of my life as He leads me to more and more broken people who desperately need to know of the love of Christ. I hope this update and message is encouraging. May the King of Glory bless your soul today!