Posted by: pastortomvabeach | March 12, 2013

Thought for the Week March 17, 2013

Today, I attended the bi-annual business meeting that is held for the Tidewater South Section of the Potomac Ministry Network. What does all that mean? The Assemblies of God in the United States is divided into districts, sometimes by state, sometimes by region. In our area we are part of the Potomac Ministry Network. This includes all of Virginia, Maryland, Washington, DC, and a large part of West Virginia. Granted that is a big territory. The Potomac Network is further divided into Sections and our area falls under the Tidewater South Section which includes all of the Assembly of God churches located on the Southside of Hampton Roads.

Every two years we hold a business meeting in which all of the ministers of the section gather and chose the local pastor that we want to be our Presbyter. The Presbyter is essentially the pastor of the pastors – yes, I need a pastor, too! In addition we choose other pastors to serve alongside the presbyter in the section. In May the entire Potomac Ministry Network will gather to ratify these decisions, choose other leaders, and conduct other business for the entire region.

The great thing about these meetings is that we not only conduct business but we, local pastors, get to receive ministry from the pastors that God has placed over us. At the May meeting we will have four separate services to draw near to the Lord, hear His voice, and be energized by His Holy Spirit. I truly look forward to receiving from the Lord in these services.

Now everything I said so far is only setting the stage for the real “thought” for this week. Today at the meeting our Superintendent, Ken Burtram, a man of deep spirituality, conducted a forum for about one hour on the topic of pastoring a Pentecostal church in a changing culture. The purpose was to hear from seasoned leaders who have seen many of the changes occurring in church dynamics on how to be relevant in today’s culture without leaving behind our distinctive as people who believe in the presence and power of the Holy Spirit in our lives and churches. This is a very relevant topic since so much of the church growth teaching today revolves around somehow making the church more like the world in order to attract the world to the church and the manifestation of the Spirit is often seen as working against church growth. So how do we continue live in His power with that kind of thinking?

One of the best things said by the gathered experts was this, “We think we can grow the church without the moving of the Holy Spirit but if you look in the book of Acts the ONLY way to grow the church is by the moving of the Holy Spirit.” You know that book is titled, The Acts of the Apostles, but it would be more correct to call it The Acts of the Holy Spirit. If there had been no outpouring of the Spirit and no manifestation of His power in every situation the early church faced you can bet there would be no church today!

The other thing I think was stirring to me was one pastor who said that the earlier generations of Pentecostals passed on to those who followed “experiences”. They had first hand experience of the Holy Spirit’s moving in their lives. They had been baptized in the Holy Spirit, spoke in tongues, had seen healings and miracles, could tell of spectacular salvation experiences only possible if the Holy Spirit moved, heard real words of knowledge and prophecy that could only have come from God, and many other real supernatural experiences. They witnessed these things and passed them on encouraging others to step into the power of the Holy Spirit and experience His presence themselves.

The speaker went on to say that, in many cases today, we are only passing on “stories”. We have heard of all these things but we have not experienced them so that they are so real to us that we want others to know and experience them.

Friends, I don’t want stories only, I want experience. I don’t mean to say that I have not had the experiences I’ve described above. I have been baptized in the Holy Spirit and regularly speak to the Lord in tongues. I’ve seen what I consider to be real miracles and have heard “words” come from the Lord that I am certain the speaker could not have said without the direct action of the Holy Spirit. I know what these things are like and I know that when the Holy Spirit shows up it is exciting and amazing. I think where I’ve missed it is not anticipating the presence of the Spirit as I should, maybe leaning too much on my abilities, skill, training, and, perhaps, I’ve not passed on the experiences I’ve had enough so that others are encouraged to want them.

When I was a new Christian, I remember Randy Altona, in a Bible study showing me all of the Scriptures in Acts and through the New Testament that related to the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. Then he began to tell me about how that really worked in people’s lives today, about Spirit-led praise and worship, about people giving messages in tongues and someone interpreting, about people getting healed, etc. The result of his shared experience was that I began to want to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit was given to make us witnesses of Jesus Christ. That was necessary in the first century and remains so today. Those of us who have experienced the overflow of the Spirit and His supernatural help ought to be sharing our experience one on one with other Christians so that we all together have more power to witness for Jesus. That will bring church growth! Will you begin to think about all of the things the Spirit has done in your life and tell someone else? The two things we need as a church to succeed are prayer and power of the Holy Spirit. We have begun, in earnest, to ask the Lord to make us a church with a real culture of prayer. That culture is fueled by the overflow of the Holy Spirit in all of us. Chew on that for a while and let me know what you think!

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