The Death of Our Church

"For nine months God moved. It was nine years later before we realized we had missed God."


"In the Welsh, Azusa Street and Hebrides Revivals, the people sang and worshipped God for hours. Then the Word of the Lord was delivered with power"

In 1983-84 we began attending a church where the Holy Spirit had begun a fresh move. Regardless of the different tenures of leadership through the years, it was a church with a consistent history of anointed worship. And during this season God moved powerfully there yet again. You could feel God's presence within the sanctuary. I will never forget one church lady, Ms. Nan, who recently passed a few years ago. The first time we met was when I heard her voice weeping behind me at the altar.  Her dear heart was moved at all the young people at the altar praying. We made regular visits to that altar. Every time there was an altar call, the kids were down there just crying and praying. Ms. Nan was always there too, laying hands on shoulders, praying heart-felt prayers and hugging the kids. And many adults joined us there too. The youth leader would close the church late at night because we'd sing and pray till 3 am in the morning for loved ones; And then go to school the next day. We'd pray after school and witness the best we knew how to others. The youth group quickly grew to over 100 kids.

"Every time there was an altar call, the kids were down there just crying and praying. Many adults joined us there. The youth leader would close the church late at night because we'd sing and pray till 3 am in the morning for loved ones; And then go to school the next day."

It wasn't just the youth. Many more adults came to worship. The Holy Spirit moved upon people and the church quickly grew from a couple hundred to over 1200 within a year. Quite a number of those were people who had been saved, not just Christians who came from elsewhere. Objectively in retrospect, there was much to be desired when it came to being better grounded in the Word and developing real leaders - meaning prayer leaders. We lacked for much in those departments. But for nine months the presence of God moved. It was nine years later when we realized we had missed God. Over time His presence was felt less and less, even though the crowds were still coming. We built a building, formed a vision and watched people come and go. But now the budget took precedent. The church was dying in spirit, but we didn't notice because of the pride of comparison.

It is a hard thing to not compare and be puffed up; To not be taken with the numbers of service attendees rather than those consistently in prayer meetings. I remember the pastor heralding the season by declaring that "There's no place like this place any where near this place. This must be the place!" Had it been a one time, light-hearted statement with deference to God's presence, it would have been harmless. But he'd say it every Sunday for months as our proud congregation joined in. It became our haughty motto and unwitting death knell. We were already dead and didn't know it.  We were riding a wave already passed and the pulpit, took precedence over the Throne of Grace. We were producing proud Christian activists, not people of prayer. Ichabod, the Laodicean, had come to rule. We focused way too much on the subject of the power of God and His deliverance capability rather than the Heart behind the power; Nor on His reason for wanting to deliver: His deep love of people and even more, the deep love the Father has for the Son and the Son the Father.

"In retrospect, what is most grievous is the loss of real friendships, which rather than being founded on the Cross and bathed in His love continually, were instead sacrificed on the altar of 'ministry'".

"Seeking" prayer meetings became a thing of the past. Business meetings increased. Like Tolkien's ring of power, we had a growing "ministry" to protect, market and manage; A machine. The machine drove us and became the point of reference for all things though we claimed it was the Word of God. The heart of Christ and the fellowship of love dwindled. We socialized rather than fellowshipped. Our excitement moved from the Heart of Calvary to the prideful and prayerless civic organization we dared to call a church. We were gradually moving from worshipping God towards worshipping the idea that we worshipped God.

We developed niche "ministries" and gained other congregation's members; But few new people were being saved. There were some very anointed services during those nine years, but their impact was limited by our complacency. We were busy consuming data, but not seeking corporately. Like scientists, we studied Biblical principle and process at the expense of purpose and passion. (The purpose is to know Him and the passion is to please Him by making Him known. And He is best known at the foot of the Cross; A place we must strive to stay)

"...we studied Biblical principle and process at the expense of purpose and passion."

It's Time For Families to Worship Him Together

With prayer meetings on the back burner, we took control of things and prayed God would bless our efforts. Under the longterm weight of OUR corporate prayerlessness, the pastor eventually succumbed, caved to weaknesses within and soon the party was over. The machine had claimed victims from the top on down. There were no winners and we were all to blame. Oversimplified narrative? Probably, but still accurate. We got carried away with ourselves and new leadership was needed to clean the mess; A teachable moment for sure.

In retrospect, what is most grievous is the loss of real friendships, which rather than being founded on the Cross and bathed in His love continually, were instead being sacrificed on the altar of so-called "ministry". Large and small splits forced people to choose between friends. Many of them have gone to join other churches. Yes, God's faithfulness transcends the fragmentation of our lives and His sovereignty brings chaos into order, but one has to wonder if we are living more in God's permissive will than His perfect; That God moves despite us. We regard the spirit of Darwinism more than God's Spirit. We too readily accept conflict as a way of life while pretending to know the Prince of Peace. Look at our country. Look at our families! Look at the lost. We have got to quit lying to ourselves and begin seeking God - together!

But there is still hope. His Heart has not gone away. He still knocks on the door of our hearts.

More and more I long to worship Him. Worship is not in the dna of a personality, but in viewing Someone Sincere Who both haunts and inspires. A Heart like no other. No longer do I want His power; I want his company. He unbelievably wants mine! Yet power is going to come. Unity, the passion and power to reach both the lost and the poor will come. One cannot look at Him and not want others to know Him. The greatest evangelism in this final hour will come from the hearts of worshippers.

The time to serenade the Lord has come. It is not the music, but rather, He is our Song. In the Welsh, Azusa Street and Hebrides Revivals, the people sang and worshipped God for hours; Then the Word of the Lord was delivered with power; No post-modern conveniences of overhead screens or professional performers neccesary. What was essential was a view of the Heart of One Living Man. He was enough. Charles and John Wesley, were joined many times by good friends George Whitfield and Moravian Peter Bohler to sing hymns of worship and praise; For hours! Three friends of mine, when we were in elementary and middle school, would sing hymns together into the early morning hours when staying over one another's homes. We were either in Paul's backyard tent, my grandfather's upstairs or Billy's father's camper - singing to Him. The wonder of God amazed us. It felt good. It felt pure. It felt real. And it was real, because He is real and the Gospel is true.

"In the Welsh, Azusa Street and Hebrides Revivals, the people sang and worshipped God for hours!"

In the coming year, we're focusing on extended family gatherings where in our homes we will worship and pray. In 2000-2003 our extended family experienced a move of the Spirit in which quite a number of family members and neighbors came to Christ. As we held our mini "Gaither Homecoming-like" gatherings, we grew in number and found different church homes for new believers. Recently, the Lord has been moving and dealing. A few weeks ago, my 18 year old nephew called to say lets get other family members and ride around in Aunt T's SUV and worship the Lord with good music. That night was amazing.

"How hard can that be? Jesus walks up a hill with a Cross on his back and all you have to do is throw on the right cd." 

In recent months it has begun again. You can just feel it in the air. But we will also invite new friends to sing with us. They will include pastors, neighbors, local worship leaders and lay leaders, not for the sake of building an organization, the pride of a movement or for some sense that we are doing something, but for the purpose of being with Him and being together. We will get to sing to Him, feel His love, pray out of that love and do so together - as a family within a community. The presence of God will come to houses within our family and this community. And if you have a proud and critical heart, please don't listen to the Accuser as you read this declaration. I am not bragging, but truly prophecying in Jesus' Name.

God will move. People will surrender to Jesus; Because Nobody has a heart like His.


This kind of Heart pleads your case as you mock and crucify Him.  

Join us in this call in this coming year and turn off the ministry of Hollywood. As for your house and cars - welcome Him! Plug in a praise and worship CD or even invite a local worship leader to lead your family in worship; Take up a love offering for your guests. Throw down that foolish pride, even if you cannot sing a lick, but be sure to call attention to the Humble Heart on the Cross; A Heart that lives. How hard can that be? Jesus walks up a hill with a Cross on his back and all you have to do is throw on the right cd. If you worship, you will pray and study Scripture to get to know this Best Friend better. Worship spawns discipline. It's no coincidence that the Old Testament Tabernacle model puts petitioning AFTER worship, for when we see this Heart, we can pray with His power for those who do not know Him. And He rides the prayers inspired within us into the lives of those being lifted up. He is legally & literally loosed to confront them - one on one! And He saves them.

Lift up the Lord. He will change the air. He is real. He is freedom; Freedom from Hell, this world and best of all - from ourselves.  Come let us worship the Lord! For the Lord is worth the attention. And the benefits - beyond compare!

...know them that labour among you... 1 Thessalonians 5:12 * ...pray for one another... James 5:6 * ...the eye cannot say to the hand I have no need of thee... 1 Corinthians 12:21 * ...there is one Body and one Spirit... Ephesians 4:4 * ...the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth... Ephesians 4:16 * ...I pray that they may be one with us so that the world will believe...John 17:21 * pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity...Psalm 133:1 "The purpose of life is companionship." *** "Worship is that form of companionship where we love on Him in response to His great love for us." *** "The most powerful drive in the human heart is the desire for companionship." *** "We inherited this drive from the One we were patterned after." *** "The difference between manipulation and leadership is motive." *** "Motive is purified and guided in the presence of God: Prayer." *** "Pride is a lifestyle of self-sufficiency, an attitude of self-entitlement and a motive for self-glorification." *** "Pride starts subtly and then turns into the aggressive enemy of real companionship" *** "The Cross and the presence of God brings fellowship (heart to heart), but the world offers only socializing (facade to facade)." *** "Every relationship has a foundation. The pride of public ministry has been a foundation for too many. At some point it consumes" *** "There is a difference between worshipping the idea that we worship God and actually worshipping God." *** "Why do we want to see prayer back in the schools, when it is no longer in our homes or churches?" *** "Corporate prayer around the Throne must return the center of church life if there is to be any hope for the masses." *** "Corporate prayer produces effective preaching, not preaching produces corporate prayer." *** "If we are so in the know, why do we no longer gather together to seek God, navigate through our haughty hearts to get a glimpse of God's heart and then pray in the lost?" *** "Christianity is not an enterprise, venture for self-discovery or political or civic organization. It is a Blood-bought fellowship of prayer focused on One." *** "Prayer-based friendships are the only ones that last." *** "Prayer-bathed friendships are not incidental to ministry, they are foundational." *** "Prayer is not a ministry of the Holy Spirit. It is the ministry" *** "It's one thing to tell somebody what we believe about Jesus, it's quite another to be able to introduce someone to our Best Friend." *** "We are more like Martha than Mary; More like Christian activists, than people of prayer." *** "We need unity in humility found at the foot of the Cross, not prideful uniformity that says: 'Look at us doing God's work'" "There has got to be a practical, excecutable strategy in place for us to dethrone the ministry of Hollywood in our homes and bring families and communities together via corporate prayer inspired by the Spirit. Technology is not the enemy; Our disobedient laziness is the enemy." ***