The Distinctive Church Design
The book of Acts describes the birth of the Church of God in detail. The life-giving force that birthed the Church was the power of the Holy Ghost. Act 2:1, 2 says, “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting”. This life-giving force came as the sound of a mighty wind. Almost 2,000 years later this is still the life-giving force of the Church and the greatest need of the Church.
A pastor in California who also had a national television program polled his listeners seeking to find their deepest needs and questions. A large number of responses had to do with a lack of enthusiasm and excitement in their lives and their Churches. The word “dull” was used frequently in describing numerous Churches across America. The need revealed in this national survey is the same for Churches today. We need the Spirit of God transforming us, and giving us life and vitality.
The second Chapter of Acts describes three ways in which the energy of the Holy Spirit transformed those early disciples from a group of fearful followers into a group of fearless, exuberant followers of Jesus.
The manifestation of the Spirit is described as a rushing wind.
How surprised the people must have been to hear this rushing wind. Even more so would Christians be surprised today to hear this sound during a worship service. But this is just what we, in the Church, need today. We need the wind to blow, giving us power.
The wind can be destructive or constructive. We have all known experiences with destructive winds. Maybe you have been in the middle of a tornado or hurricane and witnessed the immense destruction these winds can bring. Winds can destroy the things we own, they can physically harm us or even kill us. They can cause us to have accidents when driving our automobiles. They can hurt us financially when we have to pay for the cost of the damages they cause to our possessions.
The wind can also be constructive. The wind can drive large boats equipped with sails. The wind can bring us warm air after a prolonged time of extreme cold. The wind can turn a windmill to generate power for our homes. The wind can give us a joyful time with our children sailing a kite. The warm winds of the Spirit blowing in our hearts is the greatest constructive wind for the Church. It is this wind that empowers the Church of God to truly be the Church that was brought to life at Pentecost.
The distinctive design of the Church Christ builds is a Church where the wind of the Spirit blows. It is not the building, the fine furniture, or other physical properties of the church, but it is the wind of the Spirit blowing through the building among the believers that energizes us to be His Church. If everything else is perfect; the building, the people, the organizational structure, etc., and the wind of the Spirit does not blow, then we are nothing more than dull, lifeless Christians.
The second dynamic of the Spirit was fire.
Acts 2:3 says, “And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them”. Fire is a metaphor used in the Bible in various ways. It is used to describe the judging, purging power of God. John the Baptist spoke of the characteristic of fire when he said, “His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into his granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire”, (Luke 3:17). The Church needs the purging fire of the Holy Spirit. We need the Spirit to burn away anything that would cripple us in His service. The fire of the Spirit burns away the dross and leaves that which was burned pure. The fire of the Spirit rekindles enthusiasm, warmth, and loving relationships in the Church. We need the fire of the Spirit to purge us, judge us, refine us, and inspire us for service!
The third dynamic of the Spirit was a filling.
Acts 2:4 says, “and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost”. Notice when the Scripture mentioned the wind coming, the wind filled the place. Now it says the Spirit filled the people. As we come to worship we need the Spirit to fill both the place and us. The Spirit filling the lives of Christians is as important as the breath of life. The Spirit is the life-giving force to the Church. If the Spirit does not come to us we are empty, dull,and without enthusiasm.
Three things happened in the early Church when the place and the people were filled with the Holy Spirit. The disciples experienced the miracle of communication, the boldness to witness, and a new way of relating to each other in generosity and openness.
The miracle of Pentecost can happen again. As we enter our worship centers we enter with individual needs. Our greatest need is not that we have a beautiful place to worship, nor to fill the place with people, or to fill the offering plates with money. Our greatest need is for the people to be filled to the top with the Holy Spirit.
Stephen Stillman, owner of www.amazingchristianproducts.com a website that offers great Christian articles and a variety of Christian products.