Is Our Church Order God’s Order?
I have been in church ministry for almost 30 years. I was trained to lead a church service decently and in order (1 Corinthians 14:40).
I just read the book When the Fire Fell by George T. B. Davis written in 1945. It is a history of the Wales revival. There is a section of the book that gives first hand accounts from a great man of God named G. Campbell Morgan of Westminster Chapel in London. Dr. Morgan traveled from London to South Wales to attend several of the meetings led by the revival leader Evan Roberts. Here is a direct quote from him about one of the meetings he attended (I added the bold type).
“It was a meeting characterized by a perpetual series of interruptions in this orderliness.
It was a meeting characterized by great continuity and an absolute order. You say, “how do you reconcile these things? “I do not reconcile them. They are both there. I’ll leave you to reconcile them. … While a man praying is disturbed by the breaking out of solving, there is no sense of disorder, and the prayer merges into song, and back into testimony, and back again into song for hour after hour, without guidance. There are three occupations – singing, prayer, testimony.
This explanation of what happened is not how I have been taught a church service should go. Most church services I attend are highly planned. Both the leaders and the people dare not deviate from the plan or risk being asked to leave. I have been taught if you want to be excellent you have a highly planned service. This revival service in Wales doesn’t fit my definition of excellence.
I need to learn how to lead if revival comes. I pray for revival but I ask myself, “would I shut it down if revival came trying to keep things in order?” I hope not.
I am realizing my order is not God’s order. He does have an order, but what happens when His order is different from mine? Can I trust the Holy Spirit to do His job or will I help him out? I know He uses men to do his work so how do I reconcile these two? Am I sensitive enough to the Holy Spirit to follow him when it goes against my training? Am I sensitive enough to the Holy Spirit to follow Him instead of expecting Him to follow me?
I think my answer is to be found in the end of this quote by Dr. Morgan:
“It is a Divine visitation which God – let me say this reverently – in which God is saying to us: see what I can do about the things you were depending on; see what I can do in answer to a praying people; see what I can do through the simplest, who are ready to fall in line, and depend wholly and absolutely on Me.”
May our ability to hear His voice and follow grow.
I’ve always struggled with the word “Revival”. The meaning of the word seems to pale in comparison to the events documented in Wales, Azusa Street, etc. In my walk with Jesus, I have to state this simply and honestly: I’m not dead. Now, is my perspective about the church REALLY skewed because of my limited vision? Probably. I’ve had my low points and difficult times. and maybe I need to die spiritually even more…
But if we are really desiring revival, then it might indicate that something is wrong and God is missing from His Church, or worse: the church is missing from their God. I don’t know really. I think every day that I wake up and take another step towards being like Jesus, that I’m experiencing a constant renewal, becoming more and more aware and living in the Kingdom instead of straining under the weight of this world.
I’m fascinated about your willingness to constantly re evaluate church.