The Yelp Review Every Church Should Covet

In a previous post, “The Power of Prophetic Communities,” I looked at how God uses prophetic communities, not just prophetic individuals, to bring “outsiders” into encounters with Him.   We can see examples of this in both the Old Testament (1 Samuel 10 & 19) and the New (Acts 2).

To whet our appetites even further, let’s look at a passage where the Apostle Paul writes to the Corinthian church about the impact a prophetic community can have on an unbeliever.

In the fourteenth chapter of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, he gives them some practical instruction regarding their gatherings.  Specifically, he instructs them on how best to cultivate and operate within a prophetic environment.

Following the bulk of his instructions, Paul introduces a hypothetical scenario in verse 24 in which the community is assembled, worshiping and prophesying, and an outsider, or unbeliever, enters.  Being familiar with King Saul’s encounters with Samuel’s company of prophets (1 Samuel 10 & 19), and what occurred on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), it shouldn’t surprise us what happens next.

In the midst of Paul’s hypothetical prophetic environment, he describes the unbeliever as being, similar to Saul’s experience in 1 Samuel 10 & 19, ambushed by the Holy Spirit.  Responding to the revelation of their sin from the Holy Spirit they end up on their face worshipping and giving one of their very first prophetic words, “God is really among you!”

Do you realize that the day you turned to follow Jesus you gave your first prophetic word?  All prophecy is, is speaking to others what God has shown you by His Spirit (i.e. revelation).  For most of us, our first revelation was the Holy Spirit showing us our sin and our need for forgiveness.  Our first prophetic word was probably something like, “Jesus, You are Lord.”

Back to “God is really among you.”  Can you imagine better feedback from an unbelieving guest regarding your church or small group?  I simply cannot.

May your church’s comment cards and Yelp page be filled with such statements.  May your church be known by believers and unbelievers alike as “a place where God dwells.”

God’s people are a prophetic community.  When we function in the way He created us to function we create prophetic environments.  This doesn’t just happen at “church.”  These anointed atmospheres can be created in the corner of a Starbucks, on a dormitory floor, in an office break room, and any other place where two or more friends come together to share what God is doing in their lives and give Him glory.

Are we willing to expect this whenever we come together?  I say yes!

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The Absolute Single Most Important Skill of a Worship Leader

In a previous post, “If Worship Is About Him, Why Does He Make It About Us?” we considered the heart behind God’s desire for our gatherings to build up His people.  This understanding  should have an impact on what we do as worship leaders. 

Worship leaders, what builds up God’s people?  Musical skill?  Well crafted lyrics?  Soaring melodies?  “Phat” synth sounds?  Winning personalities?  Deep knowledge of Scripture?  I’m not going to tell you these don’t matter because, honestly, I believe they do.  However, there’s one “thing” that is more effective at building up God’s people than these things (and more) combined.  I’m referring to the presence of God.

There is absolutely nothing that will or can build up God’s people like His presence. And I’m not referring to that awesome reality that we call His omnipresence (i.e. His “everywhere-ness”).  I am referring to the “where two or three are gathered in my name-book of Acts-experienceable (yes that’s a word)” presence of God.  I am talking about His discernible presence or as it’s commonly called, the “manifest” presence of God.

Every “tool” employed in worship leadership, including those “phat” synth sounds, is deemed precious or worthless by the answer to one question: “Does it help others encounter His presence?”

As true as this idea may sound or feel, if it’s not Scriptural we need to move on in our search of what’s most effective at building up His people.  Does Scripture bear witness to this?

Yes, and it does so loudly!  From cover to cover there are examples of the effect that God’s manifest presence has on us but since we’ve already settled nicely into 1 Corinthians in previous posts, we’ll stay here.

In 1 Corinthians 12-14 the apostle Paul writes about different spiritual gifts.  He says these gifts are given to individuals “for the common good” (12:7) or, as he puts it later, “for building up” (14:26).  These gifts are essential to building up the church.

What do spiritual gifts have to do with God’s presence?  Everything.  They have so much to do with God’s presence that in two places Paul equates them with it.  He does so once in chapter 12, “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit (i.e. spiritual gifts) for the common good” (v.7).  The second is in chapter 14, “Since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit (i.e. spiritual gifts), strive to excel in building up the church” (v. 12).  Paul uses the phrase “the manifestation of the Spirit” as a synonym for “spiritual gifts.”  A “manifestation of the Spirit” (i.e. the manifest presence of God) is anything that God does, often through a human, that brings His presence within the realm of human experience.

God’s manifest presence was His plan for building up His church in the first century and it still is today.  God intends for His spiritual gifts (i.e. manifestations of the Spirit) to be active in our gatherings today.  They are essential to our being built up.

As worship leaders, we must be aware of this and to the extent that we are able, make room for them in our worship.  How it looks exactly will be different in every church and context.

Worship leaders, let us take to heart Paul’s admonition in chapter 14 verse 12, and strive for these manifestations of God’s presence so that His church might be built up.

The ability to create worship environments that are conducive to people encountering God’s presence, is the absolute single most important skill of a worship leader.