Saturday, February 18, 2006

FUEL! (2006.02.19)

This was our first gathering since dissovling the weekly Sunday worship services. We had to hold it at Metropolis Star Mall, Muntinlupa (on the other side of SLEX across from Festival Supermall).

On February 5, 2006, we did something that very few churches have ever tried to do...Instead of meeting as a congregation every week for worship and teaching, we began meeting in simple churches all over Metro Manila. This is what happened on that Sunday:

148 adults...
26 children...
14 new people...met as
10 different simple churches in Laguna, Cavite, Muntinlupa, Paranaque, and Quezon City.

This represented NOT people who sat quietly and passively by as they watched a worship leader and a pastor conduct a “church service.” Rather, this represented a higher than average number of people who were actively engaged in activities which promoted fellowship, participation, learning, and sharing.

I led our congregation down this path because I believe that we must begin to BE the church and not just DO church. A congregation-based church experience does not promote the kind of environment that produces New Testament disciples of Jesus Christ. That’s because New Testament churches are meant to be small, participatory, and connective. These dynamics just don’t exist in a larger worship service.

Our vision is to help disconnected people become fully devoted followers of Christ. We want to see a vast network of simple churches in homes, offices, factories, schools, classrooms, coffee shops, call centers, parking lots, malls and wherever else a small group of people can meet to passionately pursue the mission of Jesus Christ.

This way of being the church is as old as the New Testament. It’s really a return to a more apostolic and ancient way of life. And yet, we must realize that no matter how promising our church structures and way of organizing are, there will never be a substitute for the life found in the passion of loving our Lord Jesus.

We read in Revelation 3:14-20...
 14"To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
      These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation. 15I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. 19Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. 20Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me."

The church in Laodicea was full of notable deeds. These good things did not escape God’s notice. They were functioning the way a church should by serving society, meeting needs, performing good works. But there was something missing. Jesus says to this well organized and performing church, “I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

What was it that was so repulsive to God? Lukewarmness. This was evident not in their actions but in their attitude. What attitude? It was the thinking that, “ [They] do not need a thing.” When you feel self-sufficient, you don’t need anything...including God. And it was this condition that sent Jesus gagging in spasms. What did the church lack? Passion. In the end, Jesus was pushed outside of the church knocking and waiting to get back inside.

A lack of passion is evidence of the absence of Jesus.

Why is passion so important for us?

Passion energizes. Whether you meet in a cathedral, home, or mall, church can become quite routine. Routine is the archenemy of passion. When we feel that church is routine, it becomes predictable, lifeless, and dull. A passion for Jesus and his mission is our life force.

Passion infects. All it takes is one person in a simple church to share his passion for Jesus and the rest of the group feels the life. If we’re going to make an impact on society, we must become passionately contagious. There are no methods or techniques that can ever compensate for a lack of passion.

Passion attracts. There is something attractive about a woman in love or a man on purpose. They know what they’re about. Their passion makes them transcend the here and now and live on a different level; a level where most people only dream of living.

Without passion, church becomes a lifeless corpse. When the church has lost its passion, it needs artificial life support systems like rules, laws, traditions, and political mechanisms to give it a semblance of life. We become civil but not loving. We may do what’s required of us but we have no joy. In this case, the church may exist but it isn’t alive!

As we move into a new era for our spiritual family, I urge you to keep your passion for Jesus alive. If you find yourself cooling off, here are a few things you can do:

1. Ask God to renew your passion for Him. God wants you to be excited about life. You can turn to Him to get your heart on fire for God again.

2. Search the Bible for fresh revelations that excite your soul. We get excited about things that we discover. Let God speak to you through His Word.

3. Put yourself in an environment of passion. Ignite! Fuel. Aldersgate Conferences. These are all events that create an environment of passion. Don’t miss any of these. Joining these experiences will raise your passion level.

4. Spend time with passionate people. Because passion is contagious, you should spend lots of time hanging around people who are passionate for the Lord. These spiritual friends will make a big impact on you. And who knows, you’ll be surprised that you make a difference in their lives too!

5. Feed on what inspires you. What excites your soul? A certain movie? Song? Show? Art? Book? Whatever it may be, make sure to plug into it regularly. God does not limit His presence to only religious settings. You can find God in that which is noble, beautiful, excellent, and inspiring.

Friends, being passionate is a choice. It is a choice of reckless surrender to Jesus. It is a choice to hunger and thirst and reach out for him. It is a choice to lay aside everything else in pursuit of his presence and his power in the now. It is a choice to realize that you need him more than anything. Choose passion.

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