I heard a very good sermon today. But while passively sitting and listening to the sermon, I began to think my own thoughts instead.
I pondered to myself: Which is more effective in changing lives — studied and prepared sermons or Spirit-prompted, living words?
The best sermons are informative, instructive, attention holding, inspirational, and challenging. But the “worst” Spirit inspired words are gripping, life-changing, empowering, convicting, and transforming.
Spiritual life is not taught through sermons that people prepare and deliver. It is caught through the working of the Holy Spirit. It emerges when people hear the Spirit speak to them living words. It spreads when people share Spirit-prompted, living words with one another.
So perhaps the church is trying to instruct people how to swim without letting them get wet. Maybe we are using the wrong tool for the job of spreading spirituality — trying to talk people into it rather than letting them experience an environment where the Holy Spirit freely flows from one person to another releasing Spirit-ignited words.
An early Salvation Army leader, Samuel Logan Brengle, put it this way: “Ask to become a channel for the power of the Holy Spirit who is now in you. Believe God and do not obstruct the way of the Holy Spirit so that He may work through you. Ask Him to teach you, that you may not prevent His work. Try to think His thoughts, to speak His words, to feel His love, and exercise His faith. Ask Him to help you pray when He wants you to pray, speak when He wants you to speak, and be silent when He wants you to be silent. ‘Keep in step with the Spirit.'”
Why not try this practical advice and quit looking for a person to teach you and/or preach to you. Instead follow this advice from Brengle: “You want your leaders to feed you. But that is not what you need. You need to feed yourself.”
If you would like to experience a group where people are learning to speak when the Spirit wants them to speak and be silent when He wants them to be silent, you need to visit The Salvation Army Berry Street on Sunday mornings at 10:45, where everyday people show and tell what God has done. — 225 Berry St., Nashville, Tennessee, 37207.