Friday, March 09, 2007

Take it to the next level


So often in church circles, especially "Pentecostal" ones, you'll hear phrases like this,

  • We need God to pour out His anointing
  • We need the Holy Spirit to move
  • Our worship service needs to go to the next level
  • Our church needs to go to the next level
There are more but I think the point is understood. I want to say first of all, I'm not against any of these things. Actually I think they're all needed in every local church. But, what I don't get is why many people saying these things act as if it's the "churches" responsibility that these things are taken to the next level. I think God will pour out His anointing. I think the Holy Spirit will move. I think worship service can go to the next level. I think churches can go to the next level. I also think we miss it many times when we stand on the outside peering in without any change or advancement in ourselves.

Here's what I think needs to happen. I think people need to go to the next level. Not the "church". Let's not forget WE are the church so if the church is lacking, that can only be indicitive of our own lack. If we want the church or worship to go to the next level, then we first must go to the next level. Quit playing church and get serious about God's work; that is reaching the lost. Not maintaining what we have only. God will pour out His anointing, the Holy Spirit will move, worship will go to the next level and our church will go to the next level when WE go to the next level in God.

When we get out of our comfort zones and advance the kingdom of God like never before, God will be there like never before. I'm concerned that many I know have this fixed mentality of how church and God are and they're waiting on them to go to the next level but they do not understand that God is waiting on them....not them waiting on God!

We must come to the place where God is all we want. Nothing else. Just God. He is the most important need of my life!

14 comments:

Jared White said...

Great post Shannon. Those phrases you listed interestingly enough are the exact sentiments we're feeling in our church right now, including the worship leader. As you say, it'll only happen when we press into God and allow him more control over our lives and seek the heart of the Father that gives us the ability to go out into the world and be the apostolic church we were meant to be.

God only gives us a portion, then He expects us to USE IT! Only then can we look forward to receiving a greater portion.

Jared

Shannon said...

Hey Jared,

Thanks for stopping in. I love what you said, "God only gives us a portion, then He expects us to USE IT!" So often we attempt to "stockpile" God's anointing as if it's exhaustible. It's not and whatever it is we're using for God's purposes, He has an inexhaustible supply of it! :)

jozlin said...

Very true Pastor. People don't like taking responsibility for their own actions. I think people are afraid. It's what it all comes down to. They aren't sure what to expect and what will be expected of them so they resist the change that God has put in their hearts or they don't listen at all. Jessie Duplantis wrote a book about an amazing experience he had where he was taken into heaven. In the book, he said there was a warehouse that he insisted on going in and he found boxes with people's names on them. He found his box and when he asked what it was he was told that those were his lost blessings. So many people put emphasis on the "fun" they think they will miss out on but they never realize all the blessings they miss by taking their own lives to the next level.

Shannon said...

Hey Jozlin,

Wow, I wonder how big my box of lost blessings is? Sobering thought...thanks.

Colin A. Lamm said...

Amen!! Your thoughts here resonate very clearly with my heart. I've been working, for over a week on a post that addresses some of what you refer to here. Hopefully one day I'll be able to complete it. Thank you for clearly speaking out on these things. "We" indeed, are the Church, otherwise collectively known as the Bride of Christ, and the temple of the Holy Spirit (It's funny, I used to think that the latter title only referred to the individual). We are all in this together.

Come Holy Spirit as we endeavour to walk in the way of Jesus!

Shannon said...

Colin,

You said, "I used to think that the latter title only referred to the individual). We are all in this together."

I think that is the misconception of many today. We must recognize the kingdom of God is not about individuality but rather community. It's an all inclusive community that Christ wants to work through to accomplish his work.

John Lunt said...

Shannon, Amen...

I get so tired about hearing what needs to happen in the church. We need revival...we need God to... while we sit and don't do anthing ourselves. Great post.

Shannon said...

John,

I know you're one of those that aren't sitting around waiting on God to "do" something and for that I commend you and thank God for all you do for His Kingdom!

The Happy Phanthom said...

Hey Shannon...
I do want to continue the conversation we started but I like to keep it public instead of e-mail.

So I figured I'd comment at your "house" instead of Glenn's like you suggested. If that's alright by you.

To clarify terms, I pretty much agree with you about the emerging movement... More talk than action.

Now if the talk causes people to think about the issues (your words) that plague the church and that, is defined by the movement as "deconstruction", as long as there are "constructive" solutions, I am all for that!

As far as your comment that "I know nothing about Living Springs heart and yadda yadda etc... Don't pretend that you do".

I really have to sincerly ask...
Is your church's website and your blog for that matter,
full of B.S. ?

I read the whole church website and am reading all of your blog posts.

So I "know" I am right, you are just a "hip" Assemblies of God.

You are not alone being that, either a "novelty" or a "pain in the ass" of the denomination.
Now I'm sure you imagine yourself as a pioneer or a rebel and those sort of people will gravitate to Living Springs in the hope "taking it to the next level".

Now if you're preaching the same ole religion to a younger audience I can assure you, I have Ass.of God pastor friends that did the same thing and they either got very successful or they got kicked out of town/church. Sounds like for now, you are the former.
Good for you!

I have to ask...
Are you new wine in old wineskins or old wine in new wineskins ?

Grace and Peace... t.f.

Shannon said...

thp,

You said, "Now if the talk causes people to think about the issues (your words) that plague the church and that, is defined by the movement as "deconstruction", as long as there are "constructive" solutions, I am all for that!"

Me too. I understand that without serious discussion about things, progress and change can not be made.

You said, "really have to sincerly ask...
Is your church's website and your blog for that matter,
full of B.S. ?

I read the whole church website and am reading all of your blog posts.

So I "know" I am right, you are just a "hip" Assemblies of God."

No, you don't truly understand the heart of Living Springs...you're not that skilled. Quit flattering yourself. :)

Yes, if your "hip" stands for "Heavily In Pursuit" of God, then you've got us nailed...we are just another "hip" A/G church. Thanks for noticing ;)

You said, "You are not alone being that, either a "novelty" or a "pain in the ass" of the denomination.

Now I'm sure you imagine yourself as a pioneer or a rebel and those sort of people will gravitate to Living Springs in the hope "taking it to the next level".

I'm not sure which of your 2 options I'll go with...is there a door 3? Novelty or pain in the ass...hmmm...I would really like to hear what others are saying in regards to that. I wouldn't mind being either one so long as I'm heading in the direction God is leading.

You said, Now if you're preaching the same ole religion to a younger audience I can assure you, I have Ass.of God pastor friends that did the same thing and they either got very successful or they got kicked out of town/church. Sounds like for now, you are the former.
Good for you!"

Thanks! Living Springs is not a "younger" audience...our church is pretty well diverse in ages. We're not preaching the same ole religion as I would define it...but, obviously you likely define "same ole religion" different than I might.

You said, "I have to ask...
Are you new wine in old wineskins or old wine in new wineskins?"

I have to ask...which are you and is there a difference? ;-) New wine in old bottles are worthless as the old bottles will bust...old wine in new bottles is worthless because it's a waste of a new bottle.

Based on the above observations, I'll go with, "What is new wine in new wineskins, Alex."

paul said...

great thoughts shannon, individually and collectively we need to spin the wheel and put back into play everything God has given us, for me i often think the next level is being more of a blessing rather than getting more blessed...

Shannon said...

Paul,

Good of you to stop by :)

Being a blessing rather than getting more blessed is a great next level that I too find very needed in my own journey!

The Happy Phanthom said...

"Ah... Ya Mutha Trebek"...
I loves that SNL skit...
Loved your "wineskin" answer too!

So we agree on the emerging conversation leading to action, what else can we fight about?

Ah yes, the skill needed to understand the heart of Living Springs... I got enuff and if I don't flatter myself, who will? ;>)

Seriously though, I've read everything you've written so far including the sermons. Your brief but honest history was a breath of fresh air. Your exposure to the emerging books have affected you to move in a positive direction,
But and again a real big but...

My comments at Glenn's home were about "living the life" that leads to the Unity of the Body of Christ!

You are truly a young, gifted preacher/teacher and you're one of many using a blend of styles that have been proven effective.
I just can't help but to see you as
clone of four of my former AoG pastor friends that looked and felt out of place in their own church.
Sadly, they left and are finding it hard to fit anywhere.

What's great about you is that you started with twenty five people and even though it took nine years to get to where you are (seeing the big picture) you've assembled a fine group! Even though I don't know much about your demographic, the hard part you face as my friends found out is, unchurched people and people burned by the church, Are Not looking to be a part of the Assemblies of God.
They are hungering for Love and genuine relationships. I pray they will find that at Living Springs.

You and yours are in my prayers and I look forward to watching your journey...

Grace and Peace... t.f.

Shannon said...

thp,

Thanks for the kind remarks :)

Just a couple of things to note. Exposure to the emerging books have in now way affected me to move in a positive direction. You see, God began changing my heart and vision just over a year ago now in Feb. of 06 while in Reyanosa, Mexico. I'd never even heard of the word "emergent" or "missional" until November of 2006. I'm glad of that too because that tells me what God is doing in my heart/life/ministry is sovereign and not because of a book/s I've read.

You know, since God has been effectuating this change in me, I have wondered how it would impact living springs and those I pastor. I can tell you this...thus far, everyone has been very acceptant and eager to move in this new direction. That isn't a testament to me but rather it is a testament to God and the unique unity we have as a body of believers. I hope this will last as God continues to work in my life/ministry. We will see.

The demographics of our town are quite small. We're 35 miles from the big city (San Antonio) with a city population of only 957 with a total county population of 22,500...We're in one of the fastest growing counties in Texas because of where we are situated in the Texas Hill Country it's highly desirable to those trying to "escape" the big city. With a great deal of indigent families, single mothers and the such, our work is cut out for us but we're eager to reach out to people.

We're not promoting the Assemblies of God at living springs. lol if you could hear most of my sermons, that would be clear. I'm not impressed with a denominational title whatsoever. What living springs seeks to give our community is the love of Jesus in real and tangible ways. Not the Assemblies of God.

Peace