THE SUBTLE STUFF IN ANY CHURCH
The simple belief building events that do occur in
the traditional areas of the greater Church.
so-called Born Again/ Charismatic path, which is the subject of the previous article, is far from mandatory for a Christian. It is there for those people who it just plain suits. And
if the palpable yet unworldly events of ‘the Charismatic movement’ just aren’t
for you, then
to the plain old traditional/ mainline Protestant, evangelical Protestant and Catholic
church services. Sure, they lack
the action of the movement but
make up for it in other ways. You should still build faith and belief there. In this article, I have
explained the kinds of belief building events that can happen in these
types of fellowships. And I have provided related examples from my own experiences to help guide you.
too, no one has to continually stay in any one community of faith. I believe that
it is good to move churches occasionally, especially in the earlier
years of our faith journey. In any case, the Lord may well play a part
in directing and redirecting you in this regard. I am sure that he did that for me.
Under the following headings I provide examples of God’s presence that can be recognised in churches outside the movement.
2. 'LIGHT BULB MOMENTS'
when attending these churches, try to recognise God there; open yourself to his presence.
Newcomers, hoping to
build belief, often come expectantly to
church. As long as they have an
open mind on the matter, God will do the rest. He can gently reach you
in any service at
any church you might attend.
Particular advice or reassurance from God
for instance, shine out from a single line in a church leader’s sermon (talk), a hymn (song) or
effect, it initiates an exaggerated kind of “Ahaaaaaa!” in
your mind that provides
a way forward on a life or faith issue that you have been unsure about. One of
my earlier church leaders referred to it as the “Christian light
Watch out for them, they’re
A friend springs to mind as a major example. I had invited him to
attend my Protestant church because, although not strictly a believer, he was
open to God’s
existence. As background, his two greatest interests in life were his
bank balance and
his vegetable garden. I ask you, what subjects of everyday
did our church leader include within his sermon that same
morning? You guessed it: love of money and vegetable gardening. Not the
two subjects you’d
expect to find in the same sermon at all. The high odds, of
two topics coming together on his first attendance, were not lost on my
friend. Not surprisingly, he jumped to the conclusion that I must have
had something to do with it and he challenged my sense of
confidentiality, i.e. he believed that I must have spoken about him before his arrival there. I
don’t think that I have ever seen my friend as
astonished as when I insisted that I hadn’t
said anything about him at all. The sermon on the danger of
loving money, in particular, should have been a real light bulb moment for him!
Sometimes God orchestrates a ‘light
for the entire congregation, i.e. he broadcasts his advice. I have
encountered that on many occasions, so it is worth watching
for. I know enough of
the organisation and
planning for our church services to recognise the
Lord’s presence there, in and through these ‘broadcasts’.
What happens is that a humanly unplanned, yet
(an important message on faith/ life) emerges within a service
through its sermon, intercessory prayers and even choices of
hymns. What I mean is that a secondary issue, not intended by those
presenting it as being a focal point, is raised continuously by
different presenters during the service. And I mean that they do not
mention to each other that they individually intend to mention the
particular issue. So, to presenters, it is
just an incidental point raised individually by them, but as the
moves along it becomes an overall focal point because of the repetition. To my thinking, God places the thought in each of their minds beforehand.
Another church leader from the past admitted to me
that the number of times that this happened gave him a buzz as well, so
again it is not just my idle
imagination at work. This is all just small scale evidence of course,
but it is just as demonstrative of God’s presence in the Church none-the-less.
3. STUFF JUST KEEPS HAPPENING
with any congregation of genuine Christians and you may even
come to witness some larger wonders. As my best example, our fellowship had
two members of our congregation over a period of time, one younger and one older, from different
families, suffering with terminal illnesses. Everyone in our church
knew of them and cared about them deeply at the time of their
respective illnesses. Of course we always pray for all our sick ‘brothers and sisters in Christ’, but
these two had both struck a special chord with everyone because of
their dire circumstances and their closeness to us all.
powerfully as individuals, in
church services and in various ministry groups whenever we came
together, for these two. Neither of them should have survived.
Their recoveries certainly amazed their doctors. They both had
secondary cancer (metastasis) for example. Neither had the right to
accept that they would recover, but they did. To
church, these events have been just as edifying as a manifestation of a
gift of the Holy Spirit would be to a so called Born Again/ Charismatic congregation, e.g. when my wife
was cured of her stroke damage through a healing miracle (and yes miracles do happen ... please read that article).
could go on and on, but I hope that you are getting the picture. Stuff
just keeps happening in our church, and it never stops surprising and
It indicates that when faithful Christians come together, no
what the setting – traditional/ mainline and evangelical Protestant, Catholic, Pentecostal, Charismatic movement or not –
presence becomes evident amongst us. I will add a proviso though. The
congregation needs to contain a good proportion of people who place
their faith at the top of their priorities. I would not
you join a church where that was not the case! It provides the best
environment for you to grow as a Christian; to be nurtured.
Also note that many churches outside the movement have
actual healing ministries on offer. Clergy will lay on hands, anoint the sick
with oil etc when requested. Results of such practises may not be as
spectacular, as is possible to witness within the Born Again/ Charismatic movement,
but positive outcomes of
some degree absolutely
do flow from them! The Lord can still prove he is present there in a gentler manner and yet still edify his church.
Remember too, that faith and belief building should also be happening within our lives
as a direct result of our walk with the Lord. Results there compound
with the events that we experience within the Church, and vice versa.
Continue to the next article, “Involvement in ministry”.