As surely as God is faithful, our word to you does not waver between "Yes" and "No." For Jesus Christ, the Son of God, does not waver between "Yes" and "No." He is the one whom Silas, Timothy, and I preached to you, and as God's ultimate "Yes," he always does what he says. For all of God's promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding "Yes!" And through Christ, our "Amen" (which means "Yes") ascends to God for his glory (2 Corinthians 1:18-20 NLT).
Hope you've been to one! Even more, hope you are part of one. Unfortunately, some folks have never even seen one!
I'm talking about a "Yes! Church."
When you are with a "Yes! Church" you know it because of the feel of the people and the place. You find a sense of excitement and joy. You experience an almost universal realization that God is up to something in this group of Jesus' folks and they can't wait to see what is next. They know that Jesus is the ultimate "Yes!" of God and they want others to experience this sense of purpose and promise in their lives.
The hard thing is that it is easy to slide from being a "Yes! Church" into being a "Maybe? Church" or "Not so Much Church." The sense of joy, the feeling of welcome, and the conviction of living out God's purpose has slipped away.
This slip-sliding away of joy, welcome, and purpose occurs for many different reasons. We go through hurt, division, or loss. We have a time of grief when we say goodbye to beloved friends, members, or leaders through relocation or even death. Sin rips apart key families and wounds key leaders. We grow tired and weary of the same ol' thing and begin to slide toward mediocrity. The status quo "good enough" pervades everything. The "Yes!" is gone.
Yet no matter why the "Yes!" slips from us, the issue is that one day we recognize it's gone or maybe even realize that we have never been part of the environment of "Yes!" We become convicted that what we are looking for is not so much a new preacher or youth minister or even a fresh perspective in our leadership or a less burdensome membership. What we are looking for is more "Yes!"
We yearn to be part of a people that know Jesus is present and they are about His work and are advancing by His power. And we want everyone who visits and walks through our doors and shares our pews and classrooms to experience this "Yes!" We want our community to know they can be part of living out the "Yes!" of Jesus as God fulfills His promises in us through our Lord Jesus!
So can it happen in us? Can we really be a "Yes! Church"?
Well, over the next several months, we* want to share a post each week talking about ways for us to become a "Yes! Church." So to quiet the Yabbotts — that group of unwelcome demons in our heads and in our foyers that say, "Yeah, but that can't really happen today, with me, or with our folks!" — I want to encourage you to grab a couple of brothers and sisters in Christ and do something each day.
I'm not talking about normal prayers or personal prayers or "God 'gimmie' and fix me and help me" kind of prayers. I'm talking about proven, Spirit-inspired prayers that have blessed others and opened the door for God's Spirit to transform them. So join me and commit to pray each day for the next month, or more, for you and your family and your church family these prayers given to us in the book of Ephesians and release the "Yes!" into your life and your church family:
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure. So we praise God for the glorious grace he has poured out on us who belong to his dear Son. He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding (Ephesians 1:3-8 NLT).I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God's power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God's right hand in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 1:16-20 NLT).When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God's love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen (Ephesians 3:14-21 NLT).Peace be with you, dear brothers and sisters, and may God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you love with faithfulness. May God's grace be eternally upon all who love our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 6:23-24).
Oh, and one final thing. I know some of you are going, "Yeah, and we are supposed to become a "Yes! Church" just by praying?
So let me answer that question quite clearly: "Nope!"
You see, prayer doesn't change things. God changes things in response to our prayers and in response to our expectation of His working in us!
Prayer opens the window to heaven's grace, but we have to expect the fresh wind of God's grace to fill us with new hope and we have to be willing to breath in that wonderful fresh air! To put it in plain ol' cornbread English, we have to:
- Expect God to act in response to our prayers.
- Begin to act in ways that anticipate God's power at work in His people.
So pray, expecting God's power and we will be back to visit with you each week about some ways to act in anticipation of God's release of power!
In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation (Psalm 5:3 NIV94).
Blessings and grace in Jesus' name!
* Who is the "we"?
I'm talking about my buddies at Interim Ministry Partners, Greg, Mark, and Tim. Hope you'll come find out a little more about us and let us know how we can be helpful to you. Our focus is to help churches move through periods of transition and experience God's transformation!
For more on Interim Ministry Partners, check out the website and follow along the next several weeks with the partners as they share insight into becoming a "Yes! Church" and what it takes to become one.
- A Yes! Church — Phil Ware
- A "No! Church" and How to Avoid Being One — Mark Frost.
- Customer Service? — Greg Anderson.
- Giving Guests a Place at Our Table — Tim Woodroof. (Coming Soon!)