For the last several seasons, we’ve taken a weekend away in the mountains as a church (cypress in Denver). Most of the time that’s been just Friday night to Saturday afternoon. This fall our Servant Leadership Team decided it would be wise to spend both Friday and Saturday nights together at the lodge to get more teaching and encouragement time together.
From my perspective, this was an exceptionally fruitful time for our church.
We didn’t do a bunch of teaching. I shared a few things I had been learning, and then we had a couple of blocks of time for the church just to be the church in the New Testament sense. Read how Paul described a healthy church gathering in 1 Corinthians 14:
What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret. But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God. Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.1 Corinthians 14:26-33
When I read about this early church, I see an experiential, participatory, engaged, Spirit-driven gathering. Don’t get caught up on the tongues or prophecy issues that cause some to miss the point. As I read this, the point is that the congregation is meeting with the Lord together. Everyone has gifts, and those gifts are being employed to see the body grow up to maturity.
Now, you should know that most of our congregation doesn’t come from a pentecostal or charismatic background. Both my wife and I are more comfortable with a little “ghosty-ness” in the church, but this was a time when we came in with no expectations.
And God met with us.
Two Themes from our Prayer and Worship Times
What struck me most in these times is that there were two consistent themes in prayer or scripture passages. One was an outreach-focused impulse. The other an internal care impulse. Here are a few of the notes I took:
- Isaiah 49:6 “I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
- An encouragement to believe in the power of prayer like the Moravian prayer movement
- Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and courageous”
- Zechariah 9:9-11 “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem. Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall speak peace to the nations; his rule shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit.”
- Be confident & step into boldness
- Ephesians 2:8-10 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
- Luke 10:2 — if the harvest is plentiful and the laborers are still few, how much fruit is dying on the vine?
- Have grace for those dealing with substance abuse and addiction, and know that personal holiness offers hope to them.
- Psalm 143 “Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord! I have fled to you for refuge. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground! For your name’s sake, O Lord, preserve my life! In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble!”
- Psalm 55:22 “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.”
- Specific prayers were answered in the moment of people feeling a heavy burden, discouragement, depression and then feeling like that burden was removed as we prayed.
- Additionally, one girl’s knee was healed during the prayer time.
What we’re doing with it: Caring Like Jesus
This Saturday evening gathering fascinated me. We were reading the Bible, praying, and had a number of encouragements and passages shared — all seeing to point to two facts.
First, God wanted to care for people in the room. Second, he wanted to care for people outside the room. Those were my big takeaways from the evening.
While everyone stayed up playing games, and I went back to my family’s cabin to let our kids sleep. I did some writing and thinking on the experience we’d just had. After two hours of prayer it seemed to me that God had a clear message for us. He cared, and if we prioritized showing that to others, we’d get to join him in an amazing experience this spring.
That’s how we arrived at Caring Like Jesus for spring 2020. We’re going to focus on deeply believing that Jesus cares for us. Then, from that place of deep belief, we’re going to try to see Jesus care for others through us.
And we’ll tell the stories.
You can get started today by sharing this campaign below, or share a story of being used by God to show his care for others.