Here are a couple of honest questions that need to be answered by everyone working in any arena of ministry. Is there room in our ministry for the spontaneity of the Spirit, or, to use the King James vernacular, “and suddenly”? Have we become so polished and programmed that the Holy Spirit has to fight to interrupt our agenda for an opportunity to speak or change our overly-prepared schedule?
Years ago, I heard a joke about a group of preachers discussing their sermon preparation. The Baptist minister stated that because of preaching three sermons a week, he would immediately begin working on the sermon for the next service after concluding the current sermon. The Methodist minister stated that his sermon preparation was derived from the current book that he was reading. The Presbyterian minister said that he had few problems in preparing sermons because they were sent from the denominational headquarters at the beginning of the year. The Pentecostal minister looked at his fellow ministers and asked, “What do y’all do during the song service?”
In asking my original questions, I’m not suggesting that we go into a service unprepared and just wing it. Paul wrote Timothy and told the young man to study to show himself approved unto God. In other words, be prepared. But, have we become so programmed and down-to-the-minute regimented in our service that we would push aside the spontaneous prompting of the Holy Spirit in order to complete the order of service check list?
When I entered into children’s ministry, we were taught to put 90 minutes of material into a 60 minute service so that we wouldn’t lose children’s attention. And, we were determined to get through each and every item on the list. Today, it’s not much better in the church as a whole. There have been times in services where as a person in the congregation I’ve sensed the wooing of the Spirit to stay longer where we were and not move on. But, sadly, it appeared that the well-oiled machine leading the service had, to quote my television hero Larry the Cable Guy, to “git-r-done” and blazed on in the service. My spirit felt grieved.
This might be a good time to talk to the Holy Spirit. For some, it might be a time to repent for allowing the program to override His leading. For others, it might be a time to recommit to follow His leading and prompting. Selah.