By Gillian Knight - NNSW NCD Coordinator
What is a church without Spirituality?
We have talked about relationships and small groups and in reality these things are accessible in any organised club or even in the workplace. What sets a church apart from any other social get-together is the level of Spirituality in that group or relationship.
So, is it possible to have a church without Passionate Spirituality?
All churches have varying degrees of Spirituality. A church may be exciting and entertaining, the people are loving and happy, a dynamic pastor and a growing membership, however, this doesn’t always mean there is a deep spirituality in that place.
If this area is low in your church, it is the hardest to change. We can have the biggest most exciting church in the nation and yes people will be attracted and come, but spirituality is something that we cannot ‘produce’, it must be ‘experienced’ by individuals. It is about your personal relationship with your Creator and Saviour!
The questions in the survey related to Passionate Spirituality are defined as “the degree to which faith is actually lived out with commitment, passion and enthusiasm”. It is important not to equate being passionate with a particular style of worship. The higher the question’s result, the greater its contribution to the spirituality of the church being passionate.
As we look at the questions related to Passionate Spirituality in the survey, seven of the ten questions can only be changed or influenced by the individual and their personal experience. These questions can be grouped into 5 categories and we will look at the first two this month.
1. “God with us”
Q 71 – I experience God’s work in my life
Q 42 – I experience the transforming influences faith has in the different areas of my life (profession, family, spare time, etc)
Q 41 – I often tell other Christians when I have experienced something from God
These questions progress from general experience to a transformational faith and onto sharing that with others in the church. Experiencing God in ways which are seen as relevant to our daily life and help to transform the believer is the bedrock of testimony. If this is not happening, then there is nothing to share.
It is possible that people are experiencing God at work in their lives in transformational ways but then the culture of the church doesn’t allow the sharing of that experience, let alone encourage it. If people are not hearing regularly about God being among them, don’t be surprised if they think that He isn’t there.
The key element of our identity as Christians is that we believe in God, are transformed by the love and grace given to us through Jesus, which in turn should fill us with His Spirit, making us compelled or on fire to tell others of our experience. If this is not happening, can we really call ourselves “Christians”?
Q 77 – Times of prayer are an inspiring experience for me
Q 29 – I know that other church members pray for me regularly
This is asking more than just the mechanics of spiritual discipline, to the need for churches to encourage a vibrant, relevant and engaging prayer life. It is saying that prayer is the essential ingredient to the spiritual growth of individuals and from that the healthy growth of a church.
It also implies that I am not just aware that people are praying for me regularly, but that I recognise the difference that prayer has made in my life. That relationships are such that issues are being prayed for; and people are checking with each other regarding answers to prayer.
I love the saying “Too busy not to pray”.
Our lives are busy and we often use prayer as a last resort when things go wrong. My prayer life has changed and evolved over time. As a child being taught there is only one way to pray made it a long and arduous daily task. As I have grown in my understanding of God over the years I now know it is far more enjoyable and rewarding. “Pray without ceasing” is no longer seen as an impossible task but a promise of connection and availability 24/7, 7 days a week, 366 days a year (this year is a leap year)!
Let me encourage you to use 2020 as a year to reconnect with your God and truly experience His transforming power in your life – and when you do, share that experience with your fellow believers.
Ephesians 6:18 – “and pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”