For some reason I am thinking about Church leaders who are seeking to humbly lead congregations into renewal. I am not prioritising such ventures above pioneering ventures, it is just that I have no experience in starting something from scratch and my ministry has always been in already existing congregations. In that setting I have always sought to listen and to follow the Holy Spirit and tried to encourage as many as possible on that journey. For me that has meant being willing to not rush ahead with those who “get it” fastest. Do that, and you get an enthusiastic fringe and a dissatisfied and Fire resistant congregation when with patience it could have been otherwise.
When I say all this I am not talking about hampering the Holy Spirit at all. I am rather thinking about times when the Holy Spirit has moved in fresh ways in my experience within the mix that makes up a typical Church of Scotland congregation. Such times required explanation. I have never felt the need to defend God even when there are unusual manifestations of His activity and presence. However, I have often felt the need to explain. Peter did something like that on the day of Pentecost. He explained what was happening by reference to the Scriptures. That explanation was part of a day that saw thousands coming to faith and being baptised.
How does this work in practice? Well, some examples. Often over the years I have felt there comes a moment when God wants to give a prophetic word. It does not offend the Holy Spirit to give an explanation of what is happening when there are people there who may not be familiar with that sort of thing. Hopefully will enable more people to benefit from what is happening rather than being confused by what is happening. Sometimes when I knew the Holy Spirit was resting upon a song or a silence or whatever, I would just give an explanation as to why we were pausing at that moment, altering the order of service or whatever. On another occasion I invited someone to minister through whose hands the most beautiful fragrant oil would flow. Explanation meant such an unusual manifestation of the Holy Spirit was well received and a blessing. When we keep knowledge of what is happening to ourselves or the fringe supporters who get it, well knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. Mind you, I don’t want to give to rosy a picture. There have been people who opposed what I felt was God and continued to do so all the time I knew them. It will be the same for you, whoever you are, however skilful and loving a leader you may seek to learn to be.
I have made mistakes over the years in my pastoring and leadership, of course I have. I am not blowing my own trumpet here by any means. I just have the feeling that a few people reading this who are involved in ministry or leadership of one sort or another need to hear what I am trying to say from my heart in a stumbling way: be humble enough to give explanation; it will not dampen the Holy Spirit or quench His fire; it may help more people to make moves along a path of renewal who otherwise would just have left confused and uninvolved. Get rid of needless mystification that people might encounter the true mysteries and wonders of God.
So, don’t take lack of involvement or response as always indicating resistance to you or to the Holy Spirit. Never apologise for or defend the action of God but be humble enough to explain in as far as explanation can be given. Oh it can mean at times the path can be a bit frustratingly slow, but it is Christ like to seek to take many with you into the good things of God. It is a sort of tiny reflection of Jesus will one day get all of his flock into His Father’s house, saying with joy, “Well here I am Father. And look, here are all the children you have given me. Not one of them is missing!” Some of those He gets there will be at this moment among those we have perhaps classified as dead wood.
Anyway, just some thoughts I wished I had thought earlier on in my ministry and with greater conviction than I did.