Monday, August 12, 2013

The "Electrifying" Congregation

     What makes an "electrifying" congregation? Dynamic preaching? Uplifting music? State-of-the-art facilities? Multimedia ministry?  While all these things may be valuable in developing an "electrifying" ministry, there are two electrical devices that may best describe what an "electrifying" church might look like.  These devices are the extension cord and the surge protector and they can teach us much about what it takes to be the church that God desires.

     Extension cords are necessary in a home especially where the outlet is nowhere near where you want to utilize a light fixture or an appliance.  We all know the feeling when we want to place our favorite lamp in the corner of the living room only to find the outlet is 15 feet away.  Without the extension cord, the lamp can still be plugged into the outlet but its light may be of little use to anyone.
     Extension cords are plugged into the source of electricity and can extend the lamp outwardly to different parts of the room or house.  When it comes to power tools, they are useful in being able to go on rooftops and places far away from the source.  By their very nature, they are plugged into the source and extend an electrical device beyond where it would normally be able to function.
     The extension cord teaches us some important truths about the church.  First of all, the church must be plugged into the source-the Lord Himself.  In John 15, Jesus uses the picture of the vine and the branches and the importance of abiding and staying connected to the Lord.  Like an extension cord, the church will be of no use if it is not connected to the source.
     Secondly, it is God's will that the church extends itself and illuminates places that are dark even if those places seem far from the source.  Frequently, the Lord commands the church to extend itself (Matthew 28:16-20, for example).  Too many churches want to stay close to God but are shedding its light on places that are already light and not in the dark places of this world.  Staying connected to God does not mean that the church forms a holy huddle in which light hangs out together.  All that produces is a lot of spiritual glare and does not take God's light into a darkened world. Like the extension cord, the church must go beyond the source and develop its ministry in places beyond its comfort zone if it is truly to become an "electrifying" church.

     Surge protectors have two primary functions- to prevent overload and to utilize different electronic devices.  Occasionally, there are power surges that can destroy highly sensitive electronic equipment.  Some surge protectors can even protect electronic objects from the surge caused by lightning strikes and other electrical phenomena.  Surge protectors also are designed to share a number of electronic devices.  I happen to love electronic stuff (I suffer from "techno-lust!") and I have a number of "toys" hooked to my surge protector including a video, projector, DVD player, surround sound, TV, I-pod charger, computer and a few other items.  Each of these items have a role and work together to form a rather extensive media center in my "man cave." Like the extension cord, they are plugged into the source but they allow or a number of electronic functions without creating an overload.
     In many churches today, leadership often suffers from overload which is caused by a few people trying to do all the work of the ministry.  In smaller churches, the overload can often be placed totally on the pastor's shoulders although some larger congregations can experience this as well.  In Exodus 18, Jethro, Moses' father-in-law warns Moses of his overload and his trying to do everything himself.  In Acts 6, when conflict arose, the apostles appointed seven leaders to address the issue while the apostles devoted themselves to the ministry of the word and prayer.  In I Corinthians 12, Paul describes the many functions of the body-the church while in Ephesians 4, he outlines role of the leadership gifts which are to equip the entire church for works of ministry and service.
    To be an "electrifying" church means that people are utilizing their gifts and that leaders are not getting overloaded.  Leaders, too, must get over the "easier to do it myself" syndrome and equip and turn people loose for the work of God's kingdom.  Until that happens, it will not be an "electrifying" church.
     As we consider the extension cord and the surge protector, would our congregation be defined as an "electrifying" church or has the plug been pulled or have we put the switch in the "off" position?  If we, as followers of Jesus Christ, want an electrifying church, it must start with us by plugging ourselves to the source and being open to where God wants to extend us (See Isaiah 6).  In addition to this, it means using our gifts that God has given us to share the burden of kingdom work so that the entire body may be strengthened to do God's work in a dark world.  It is time for the "charge" to begin.

     So far I have laid the premise for what it means to become an "electrifying" church.  What are some practical ways that you would go about in your church of seeing this happen? You comments and thoughts are welcome.  Feel free to respond.

1 comment:

  1. Enjoyed hearing this message LIVE! My only regret is that I can't steal any of it since it was at my church!!