The Presence of God
People need to experience the presence of God – Almost thirty years ago now, I had an experience that totally changed how I viewed my life, God and everything else. After years of disappointment, frustration, and hunger to find purpose in my life, I was encouraged by friends to visit their church. What I discovered that night changed everything. I had a very real encounter with the presence of God.
That experience set me on a course of discovery that continues even today. I discovered that God was real, that he loved me, and that he wanted to reveal himself to me. His presence touched my heart and washed me clean from the inside out. I didn’t understand how this could be, but I liked it. A lady from the church mentored me through this time and helped me process the multiple experiences I had with God over the next few months and years. I believe that this is a valid ministry model that needs to become much more mainstream if the church wants to make a difference in today’s society.
Unlike many who begin seminary studies to find more of God, I began my higher education because I wanted to see if what I had learned about God was true. I was most relieved to find out that it was… that, and so much more! I discovered that all through history God has been trying to reveal himself to people, that the whole Bible is about reconciling humankind back into his presence.
I have discovered that God wants to reveal himself to people, and that people need to experience more of God. What could be simpler? It should be a match made in…heaven…right?
Unfortunately, research is showing that the many of our churches are not equipped to give people what they are really hungering for, an intimate and personal encounter with the living God. We need to teach them how to become”self-feeders,” to learn how to get what they need from God directly, and then come to the church community ready to contribute instead of as a consumer. Research is showing that the “seeker sensitive” ministry model, while very effective in attracting numbers of people to church, is not effective at making mature disciples of Christ. (See Reveal: Where are you? by Hawkins, Parkinson, and Arnson).
So, what options do we have? I am suggesting a Presence Based Ministry Model. The presence of God and the power of God come together. When the presence of God is allowed to be the focus of the gathering, the Holy Spirit is free to meet the needs of those in attendance.
People need to experience more of God in order to comprehend the reality of the hope they have in Christ Jesus. How can we expect people to pursue Christ if they do not understand what the benefits are for doing so?
I am encouraging pastors to continue to create safe ministry environments where people can regularly come into and experience the presence of God! Presence Based Ministry – Isn’t that what we really want?