On the night of 14th December 2020 I had a dream. In the dream I was leading a church service from the stage, with many in attendance. As I was about to announce the guest speaker, hundreds began to leave the service from the rear of the hall. Rapidly, they streamed out in droves, leaving the building virtually empty!
“What’s going on?!” I turned and asked another leader on the platform, exasperated and confused.
“They want to go out now and preach the Gospel on the streets!” came the reply.
In the dream my heart filled with a mix of frustration regarding our redundant plans for the service, including our now pointless guest speaker! But I also felt genuine joy that something of an uprising of desperation to share the gospel was driving the church in multitudes out of “my service” and onto the streets to share the Gospel!
As I woke the words “The Church Has Left The Building” filled my mind, at the vivid scene of hundreds of church goers exiting the service.
I believe God has been using the unusual events of 2020 and beyond to cause the Church to “Leave the Building.” He has been releasing us from our old ways of building-centred programmes and our propensity to place the value of “gathering” above the value of “going” in our western, consumerist, modern church cultures. He is prising the fingers of many leaders from old ways and methods with a violent grace!
Multitudes no longer content to attend a good church, listen to sermons and enjoy sing-a-longs, are going to rise up with a desperation for the “Real Thing” found in the Book of Acts – a longing to share the Gospel with signs following, to fight for justice, to feed the poor and visit the prisoner, to bind up the broken hearted and set free the captives. To live vibrantly in a pioneering adventure with the Holy Spirit. The Church is leaving the building to build the Kingdom!
New innovative ideas from heaven for outreaches, businesses, influential forums and new church projects will flood the ranks of the Church. For some it will almost seem like a rebellion against the religious norms of the last 50 years, as it will be uprising from the congregation, but not always from the normal platforms of leadership. In fact, there will be places where the leadership are doing all they can to return to normal church life, post-Coronavirus, yet the people will want to rise to a faith that is more radical, more original, more like the early Church, with its escapades, energy, fruitfulness and dangerous passion.
In some places the people will ignore the leaders (as the crowd ignored me on stage in the dream!), and head off with God, such will be the “fire shut up in their bones” to shift up a gear in God’s purposes. A “Righteous Rebellion” against religious form will drive many from the meeting place to the market-place, finding new, innovative, fresh ways to infiltrate the world with the Word, and usher in the Kingdom.
Church leaders must be willing in this time to give up the frustration that all is not as it was, and even that our attempts to return to normal are continually thwarted. Instead, we must give way to the smile in our hearts of the uprising of God’s people!
Successful, godly leaders will be the ones who give way to the new longings for a deeper prayer-life & God-encounter among us. Sunday services alone won’t do – we must go deeper.
They would also be wise to give way to a new spirit of unity and collaboration that will almost seem so extremely selfless, it threatens the very concept of the success of your “own” church, in preference for loving, serving and working with others. This will deeply challenge the egos of many leaders.
Finally, leaders must also give way to the drive to the harvest field that will rise up in church members. “We must do more for the poor, for justice, to speak out, to reach the lost, to heal the hurting,” will be the heart cry of many in the pews. “Less playing at church, much more Kingdom Come!”
Leader, give way to the shifting purposes of heaven. Give way to an uprising of passion for the lost. Give way to the call for collaboration. Smile as your own plans are thwarted by an uprising from heaven stealing the agenda. If you do, you will find the favour of God and the joy of a true shepherd will fill your heart.
While there will always be a godly place for gathering as the Church, may the era ahead be the time the Church left the entrapment of our building centred programmes, to “Go into all the world” as our Master commanded!
An extract from Jarrod’s 2021 book “The Divine Reset” available here
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