I love meeting other pastors.
It’s always great to see how God is working in other churches, to see how God is expressing Himself.
It’s especially exciting to me to meet other house church leaders, being that I am one.
But once we start talking about our churches, it’s inevitable. Pastors get into competitive or defensive mode. In front of another pastor, you have to make your church sound as awesome as possible. I noticed this a long time ago and wrote about it in one of my most awesomely suggestive posts ever. It’s always like pastors are checking each other out like guys in a locker room. Bigger church = bigger man.
But lately, I’ve noticed something new.
Sometimes, a guy I’ve just met will be talking about his church. I’ll be asking questions about what the worship or the people are like. He may start to fidget, thinking he has to impress me. Then he’ll throw this down:
“We’re a very Spirit led church.”
Now, to a guy who came from a Methodist-Baptist-Episcopal background where everyone keeps their hands firmly clasped in their laps during church, this description baffles me. It’s totally foreign to me.
The whole “Spirit led” thing always puts me on the defensive because it makes it sound like my church is not so Spirit led, if only because I don’t call it “Spirit led.” If you asked two pastors to describe their worship service, and one guy said they were “Spirit led,” and the other guy handed you a church bulletin, who would you think was holier? You can’t get any better than invoking the Holy Spirit. Suddenly, the Holy Spirit is being used like the teenage swimsuit girl every youth group lets hold the sign to advertise the carwash.
Here’s the thing. I’ve got no problem with churches that like to call themselves “Spirit led.” I just think many churches don’t know what it means. It’s just a super holy sounding throwdown trump card.
I don’t think God cares about what happens on Sundays nearly as much as we do. Of course we care about Sunday worship. We put all our money and effort into it. We want it to be awesome, and if we can say that the Holy Spirit showed up, you’d better believe we’re going to point that out.
It would sure make us look Spirit led if that quiet guy in my church suddenly stood up and read us a Psalm or said a prayer. It would be awesome if that really reserved lady started clapping her hands during the music. If people started sharing their hearts and I could just sit back and do nothing, no one would doubt we were a Spirit led church. I honestly wish that would happen. But I have a church full of quiet people, and I’m not going to make them read or pray or clap unless the Spirit actually leads them to do that. And since the Spirit has not led them to do that, my guess is God doesn’t care if they do any of those things.
Here’s my question for all the Spirit led churches. How does the Spirit lead your church Monday through Saturday? Sure, it’s great to leave church feeling like God was there. But maybe that’s not the whole picture of what “Spirit led” truly means.
What do you think? Is your church described as “Spirit led?” Do you wish your church had more Holy Spirit? (Whatever that means.) What does it mean to be a truly Spirit led church? Does a free-wheeling church energize you, or make you nervous?
Oh, and the title to this post makes me think of Beyonce’s “All the Single Ladies.” So if you’re a composer who can come up with lyrics to “All the Spirit Churches,” send them my way. Now put your hands up…