“Where’s the Power?”

Tuesday Re-mix – This is a popular post from last year, updated and resubmitted for your consideration and comments.

Remember this commercial from Wendy’s?

Pretty brilliant advertising, really. I’m convinced it is what started the current trend by restaurants and burger joints to sell us embarrassingly HUGE portions of food. Remember back when you could actually finish a plate of food you ordered at a restaurant? So, Wendy’s pokes a little fun at burger joints for giving us smallish burgers and look what we’ve got now…massive amounts of beef everywhere. Score, Wendy’s.

Since it worked so well for Wendy’s, I’d like to propose a communications campaign for the church in America. It will be called the “Where’s the Power?” campaign. We’ll run adds of “man on the street” interviews asking people why they are so repelled by the church, to which each of them (in some fun, unique way) will respond, “Where’s the power?” And you know what? They’ll be right.

In Matthew 18, when Jesus described his “church” and how it would function and what it would be like (remember, none of the disciples had ever seen anything like “eklesia” before, so it required some vision-casting by Jesus), he brought his entire lesson to a climax when He described the supernatural power with which His church would be equipped:

“I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:18-20

Powerful stuff, right? Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that? I would like to find this church and join it. The problem, of course, is finding it. This is NOT the church in America. I’ve heard accounts from South America and from Africa and from South Korea that it IS the church in other places around the world, but I don’t think any of us can make a colorable argument that these words describe the church in America, with the possible exception of some small pockets of believers here and there.

What is clearly missing so often in the western church is an actual empowering of the Holy Spirit toward God-sized things that simply cannot be explained in human terms. That is the God of the Bible. When He moved, there was never any doubt about whether this was the accomplishment of man or of something much bigger than us. It was always clear.

I believe there is an entire lost and broken world looking for God. I do not believe, however, that we are really showing Him to them in many cases. We’re showing them how great WE are at singing and preaching and building facilities and being creative and relevant. But most of what the world can see can easily be explained in human terms; nothing really God-sized about it.

I believe that, when the church in America falls under this conviction: that there is truly NOTHING meaningful we can accomplish apart from the work of the Holy Spirit, that we don’t need bigger buildings or better programs or more relevant music unless we first get a healthy dose of the Holy Spirit and His power…I believe then we will find answers to so many of the questions we have been asking about cultural relevance and missional worldviews and doctrinal purity. I believe our answers to these (and other) burning questions will come much easier when we start asking the first and foremost question:

“Where’s the Power?” And how do we get it?

© Blake Coffee

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2 responses to ““Where’s the Power?””

  1. Amen Blake!!! I don’t remember when, but I had blogged something similar with, I think the same title a little bit back on my blog too! I have gotten so tired of “wounded Christians” walking around on Sunday mornings at church, stuck in their emotions, problems, ect… and can’t seem to break free. I know we all have peeks and valley’s in our lives but it seems for many I encounter I see more valley’s than the over-comming power of Christ in their lives. Again, like I mentioned yesterday, I can’t judge on a once a week basis, but I also see many of their updates on Facebook that are just bla, bla, bla.. Ya know. Our churches really need an powerful saturation from the Holy Spirit.

  2. OK, first off we need to not blame the “laity”, because so few of them understand what church, that is εκκλησια is. Now if few of us think we should be responsible for our own spiritual well-being and seek the Lord ourselves, how do you suppose that came about?
    As a matter of fact a mildly intelligent non-churchy individual could sit down with a bible and have the answer in less than a week.

    * in this country we are not humble, pride is like a road block to what God is doing in your life. It’s as if we tell Jesus, step aside and let a real man do this job. Well when this attitude is the in the hearts of men God will have little or nothing to do with them.

    * There is very little understanding of the idea of belief, πιστευω can be and often is translated as trust. Can we say that we really trust God? When I ask a faithful church goer about something and he tacks on that he “hopes he is faithful enough” then I begin to wonder about how much we are trusting, and how much trust is encouraged.

    *There is the situation of ministers teaching that they have special giftings or annointings or responsibilities or whatever and the effect is that people think that it is the job of their professional clergy to be spiritual, and that they don’t have to worry about knowing Jesus intimately, that is the preacher’s job.

    *There is a small matter of priorities. Many of the churches I have visited have all kinds of emphasis on salvation, but couldn’t tell you squat about how to become mature in the faith. They think their job is to get people in the doors. And if they teach people anything they hand them a booklet about the denomination. Well you need to have something to share once they get in the door, and the tired and dusty denominational arguments just won’t cut it.

    *It doesn’t help that most of our clergy have been steeped in some form of “higher criticism”. That is they take scripture and say things like well the beginning of John 8 isn’t in the earliest manuscripts so we don’t have to take it seriously as scripture. How do we know that? It could be that every other ancient ms that we don’t have had that passage, and don’t even get me started on the three Isaiahs idea. These guys are often more confused after their ordination than they were before they entered seminary. Many schools and many professors are teaching doubt. They are not reinforcing faith, they are tearing it down.

    *Concentrating on the splinters in everyone else’s eyes has been encouraged and if we are not examining ourselves and listening to the Spirit and are instead intent on finding fault with everyone else then we are walking away from the Lord and not toward Him (see above comment about pride).

    So there you have it, now I know that there really aren’t many people who want to go deeper with the Lord. I see quite a few of them each Sunday, but don’t blame people for not being interested if they haven’t heard the whole message. And a “church” like so many that we have, is not likely to teach it if they don’t know it. There really aren’t many folks who teach the deep walk with the Lord now days. It might interfere with their other priorities. Like fund raising, or building projects, or membership drives.

    The “power” is in Christ and His Spirit will set your life on fire to purify it, and to empower you. But to have this power in your life you must humbly seek Him and get to know Him first, and you must trust Him without reservation.

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