Welcome and thanks for participating in day 12 of the ARISE fast and devotional blog. If you haven’t read the previous days, please go back and read them before reading todays, as these thoughts will build off of one another

 If the presence of God is in the church, the church will draw the world in. If the presence of God is not in the church, the world will draw the church out. – Charles Finney

 On your mark… get set… GO!

 Three… two… one… blastoff! 

 Down… set… HIKE!

 In most settings there is some type of tradition or saying that commences the movement. In football the ball is snapped. In baseball the pitch is thrown. In track the gun is fired. In the courtroom a bailiff says “all rise.” On the movie set the director says “action!” In the schoolhouse a bell rings. At the workplace you punch a clock. On the road the light turns green… 

 In most churches around the world, the worship experience begins with either an opening greeting or an opening song. A generation ago it began with church bells. This is often referred to as the “call to worship.”

 But what really signals the beginning of church? 

 Does the call to worship really begin the service? Or is the call to worship just a call to order? A call for the meeting to begin?

 Consider this… In Acts 2, the apostles were waiting obediently for the gift promised by Jesus. I assume they were probably doing the same thing that many of us do before the worship experience begins. Peter, Andrew and Philip were probably fellowshipping… which is code for eating humus and talking about their favorite football team. James, Thaddeus and Thomas were more spiritual, they made up the pre-service prayer team, so they were holding hands and praying in the corner. Bartholomew and Andrew were probably whispering about what Judas Iscariot had done, and if the new guy, Mattias, would be able to fill his shoes. John was tuning his harp in preparation for some music….

 You get the picture… they were waiting. Just as Jesus had commanded them.

 But the Church didn’t start when Peter called the group to order, or when John started the music, or when Thomas rang the church bell…

 The Church started when the Spirit of Jesus showed up. Then and only then was the Church birthed. The coming of the Holy Spirit announced the birth of the Church.

 In other words, they weren’t having church until Jesus showed up…

 Our modern worship services often have lights, haze, sound systems, talented musicians, and passionate preaching. These are good things, but you can have all of them without having church. People who have become institutionalized are satisfied with talent driven services.

 People who are part of the movement recognize that church does not begin until Jesus shows up. The greatest effects, musicians, and orators, cannot replace the Holy Spirit. These things are good, but they should not replace the Holy Spirit. 

 He is the only ingredient necessary to have church. And if He is missing, we are not having church. We may be pandering to our institutions, but church has not started.

 Just like Acts 2, Church starts when the Holy Spirit shows up. We may have a song before… we may have an offering before… we may even have a sermon before… But church has not really started till Jesus shows up. If you can’t tell the difference, you’ve become institutionalized.

 Institutionalized Christians settle for a talented show of religious practice, and often don’t even seem to realize anything is missing.

 People of the movement are presence driven. Because they know the Holy Spirit is everything to the church. Therefore, they seek God’s presence above a talented band or a passionate preacher. They know that ability without anointing is ineffective.

 JOIN THE MOVEMENT by making God’s presence the only priority in church again. 

 Esse Quam Videri,

 Pastor Brent

 Meditate and reflect on this verse and questions: 

 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth. John 4:24

1. What is the purpose of the different elements of church?

2. Are you sensitive to the Holy Spirit? Can you tell when the Spirit is present in a place? How can you tell the difference?

3. What does it mean to worship in Spirit and in truth?

 Pray:  

 – Pray that God’s presence becomes the most important element in how you judge church services. 

 – Pray that God’s presence would always be active at ARISE and that His power would be displayed. 

 – Pray that God’s presence would define your life.