Going to the Upper Room

Going to the Upper Room August 12, 2011

For the past few years I’ve been completely engulfed in ministry… Ministry has been my life. I’ve literally shed blood, sweat, and tears pouring so much of myself into ministry (work with middle schoolers for more then a year it’ll happen to you too). It’s been my passion, my job. my calling. I went to conference after conference, I read book after book, attended festival after festival, I even went to school for it, I completely engulfed my self in ministry… I became very impressed in the big, flashy, overtly celebritized sect of ministry… studying programs, structures of churches, following the “big name” pastors learning what “works” and how I can implement pieces of what they’re doing into what we’re doing… 

The more I studied it, and engulfed myself and my ministry in it, the more skeptical I became of it… for instance my buddy and I started a ministry called “Stand”, geared mainly towards youth, we went quickly from 70 students to having over 500 students in a small northern California town… we looked at the situation and thought, “look what God did!” but I can’t help but question, carefully, how much did God really have to do with this? I mean we knew even at the age of 21 that there was a formula to follow that would draw students… we knew that if we brought in a dynamic worship band, paid for lighting, and hired a high energy speaker, with decent marketing we would be able to attract students… this was situation in which could have attracted anyone. This was a situation in which we did not need the power of the Holy Spirit to make this a “success” to get hundreds of students to fill a venue… it took a formula and hard work to see this event played out…

Simply put, what I’m saying is, I look at all the top conferences now, I look at many of the “large” churches… it’s a lot of smoke and mirrors. I mean literally smoke and mirrors, they bring out the fog machines, and use mirrors for lighting and ambience. And it works. It’s almost as if we’ve pushed the Spirit of God aside and said, “we got this”…  with good intentions, we’ve shoved God out of the picture. Why do we need the movement of the Holy Spirit when we can create a movement of our own? When we can hire a dynamic worship leader and amp up that kick mic, dim the lights, and show a picture of a starving child on the screen… we’ve prided ourselves on our ability to manipulate emotions rather then our ability to simply rely on the Spirit of God…

What I’m saying is we can spend so much more time on the small details and lose site of the big picture… We can go through entire events and spend hours setting up the stage and rehearsing the music, but only seconds in prayer… Would Jesus be as concerned about the programmatic rundown, the ambiance of the room, or the quality of sound as we are? 

When Jesus left the disciples he told them to do what? Go to the upper room and pray and wait for the holy spirit… imagine these men trying to do the work of God without the power of the Holy Spirit. Ridiculous. That’s exactly what we can find ourselves doing… many times we’re trying to accomplish the impossible without the power of the Spirit. And it’s ridiculous… it’s done in vain. For many of us its done to satisfy our own ego’s, to appease men, not God… We can easily make someone cry or create amazing ambiance that draws hundreds, but we can’t make someone fall in love with Jesus… that is, without the power of God.

Lights, good sound, and a smooth programmatic rundown in and of itself are not bad, but when we put those things ahead of God and/or rely more so on the ability to “move” through ambiance, then we do through the power of the spirit it becomes dangerous… So with that, I am not against big churches, large conferences, or dynamic speakers… but I am against us putting our dependance more so on these things then on the power of God… So again, we can so easily pride ourselves on our ability to manipulate emotions, but anyone can make a teenager cry, none of us can permanently turn a students heart towards God… So I say this mainly to myself, hoping you guys can take something out of this, the next time you do an event, ask yourself what’s more important, going to the “upper room” or stressing over the programmatic rundown?

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