We launched 12two on the 27th April this year, and up until about a month ago the journey had been one of uncertainty, of unknowing, of living in a a place where we are forced to trust God. About a month ago things found a rhythm, a pace that meant we knew how 12two worked, we knew what to expect at the service, we had the security of belonging to a small group, we were happy with how things were. In short we became *connoisseurs of worship and the things God had for us, rather than participants in it.
Looking back at 12two, on many occasions and in many instances our worship of God has not been an expression of our love for God through every aspect of our lives: our service of others; the way we share our faith; the time we spend in prayer; the concern and care we have and show for others; our desire to connect with and love people, which we bring to God as an offering. Instead we have boiled worship down to how 'good' the product is that we were offering. How good was Sunday night? Did it meet my needs? Was the music right? Did the speaker move me? Are small groups giving me what I need? Are they lead well enough? Am I being challenged enough through what is taught about the Bible? Should I go to small group or is their a better offer? Are service opportunities at a time I can make it? Is this gathering going to benefit me? Do I really want to hang out with that group of people?
We have reduced this incredible gift of life that God has given us down to response that we exude: 'what can I get out of it?' Somewhere along the way we each, in our own way, bought into making sure we had the best product possible, and have made it so good that there is no room for God. On Monday as I was journaling I felt God challenge me, us 'If I (God) didn't show up, would you even notice?' That scares me, because I wonder if at times it's true. How easy it is to do Church, rather than be the Church. We've reduced Church to a system that we have, to cater to our needs, but we're realising that being involved in this leaves us with a shallow and empty experience of God, and the conclusion we arrive at is: It's me, or it's parts of the system that needs to be addressed.
However on the Tuesday night, just gone, as we (12two) gathered together God surprised us all. We came to realise together that the way we've come to be comfortable with 12two, has excluded God turning up and meeting us in powerful and significant ways. But still, relentlessly in each of us there is a hunger for this.
So we decided on Tuesday night that we needed to strip away all of the trimmings, all of the distractions, all of the performance, all of the consumerism and meet together on Sunday night bringing the worship of our lives to God to honour him and ask him to meet with us. For this to be authentic it means that we each need to begin to seek after God now! We cannot expect to just show up at Church and have God or whoever or whatever do these amazing things for us. For us to honour what God is showing us, means we each have to say to God now, 'I'm yours, use my life now to honour you'. We each have to prayerfully surrender who we are, with the reassurance that if we do this God will be free to create something new in and with us as a community.
The seriousness that we approach this situation with, I truly believe will be reflected in God's response to us. So in light of this I'm going to fast (and be praying) on Friday, and I'd love to invite you to consider doing the same.
One final thing I'd like to say is that if we take this seriously, and if we begin to take back this ground (for God) that has been lost in our lives and in the life of this community, we will upset those forces that don't want us to know God. Even on Tuesday night, after our conversations, there was a sense that we were venturing into dangerous territory, where those spiritual forces who oppose God, will begin to make things difficult for us. It may occur through a range of things including: feelings of doubt; unexpected conflict in relationships; easily triggered frustrations; opportunities to speak against or tear down this 12two vision; criticism from others; misunderstanding; increased personal insecurity and a whole massive variety of other things. Let me respond to this by saying there is no need to be fearful, but do be alert and if/when these things occur draw your thoughts to God and what he has called us to do, repair any damage caused, and go forward knowing that God is for us, this vision is worth it, and God will and is sustaining us.
* I'm defining connoisseur as someone who has expensive and fancy taste for things, because they feel it is important to be fussy and only consume the best. Ie. An expert consumer. A theme that represents the opposite of what worship is meant to be.
P.S. If you want to help out a friend of mine doing some awesoem ministry in Peru, check out the vid on this link and Vote it Up. http://current.com/items/89303483_down_to_dribble