Make Way for the Spirit!

How to Have More Spiritual Church Worship

As described in 1 Corinthians 14, there are few worship activities that are as edifying and energizing as the verbal gifts of the Spirit.  However, in circulating amongst various full-gospel churches in recent years, I have noticed an absence of verbal manifestations (messages in tongues, interpretation, prophecy) in most services.  Some churches apparently go for weeks or months without hearing a fresh “word” from the Lord.

While prophecy in particular might be abused or over-emphasized in some circles, a church is ill-advised to react by trying to limit or control manifestations.

Sometimes pastors ask me what they can do to make their services more spiritual.  I offer the following suggestions:

1. Pray Up

In order to be sensitive to the moving of the Spirit, the pastor or worship leader must be spiritually sensitive. Moves of God do not always come through the leader–make sure you are on the cutting edge, not the tail! Fast and pray before each service, and engage prayer warriors to bolster that intercession.  Be sure you are cleaned up, prayed up, and “fessed up.”  Set aside all unnecessary activities and distractions, and go into the service with your mind centered on the Lord.

2. Let Go

No one can quench the Spirit like the “man in charge.”  Do not let yourself be preoccupied with the order of the service.  Never change the order when the Spirit is trying to move.  Wait!  Be secure in your spiritual authority, unafraid that you might lose control of the service.  (If you do not have spiritual authority, GET SOME!)  Do not give in to the conceit that the move of the Spirit always comes through the leader.  Avoid trying to manipulate the people, dictating their actions, or trying to stir up the Spirit by human means.

IMPORTANT:  Do not limit the opportunity to speak to a few chosen leaders.  The moving of the Spirit in Acts and Corinthians is corporate and “upon all flesh,” not limited.  (As Paul wrote, “you may all prophesy one by one,” and “let one speak, and let the others judge.”)

3. Pipe Down

The Spirit does not always move in an atmosphere of noise and frenetic activity (which is prevalent these days).  Moves are more likely genuine when they are spontaneous.  Often, the Spirit settles on the congregation with a warm, sweet heaviness.  Do not be afraid of “quiet times” or “dead air”–avoid the temptation to fill every moment with words or activity.  Do not keep the music volume so loud that someone speaking in the Spirit in the congregation cannot be heard!  (In a large church, place microphones in strategic areas, and instruct the congregation on their proper use.)

4. Slow Down

I have often felt moved by the Spirit to speak, but had no opportunity that would not interrupt the order of service.  Since I do not seem to receive an entire message until I have begun to speak, the moment was quickly past.  Again, do not let yourself be preoccupied with advancing the order of service.  Do not hurry through the worship time–if it or any other activity were a mere “preliminary,” it could be eliminated!  Do not treat the Spirit as such. A true word from the Lord is probably more important than your sermon!

5. Teach and Preach the Gifts

Give proper emphasis to the spiritual gifts in the church, teach their appropriate use, and encourage members to seek them.  (Even the best teaching will be voided if you do not then give the people adequate opportunity to exercise the gifts.)  Allow people to make honest mistakes.  Correct mistakes gently and respectfully from the pulpit when necessary, in private when possible–keeping in mind the potential for public embarrassment.  Realize that the gifts are for lay people, too!

If the above suggestions are followed, I cannot guarantee that a move of the Spirit will take place, but hopefully a lot of human barriers will have been removed, in order to encourage and make room for the gifts in the service.  Is that not what is truly important?

©1999 Paul A. Hughes


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