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February 12, 2014

Engaging The Spirit at Microchurch

by Matt Ulrich

Holy SpiritThe Holy Spirit. It’s the gift that most leaders would rather not open… but in neglecting, these leaders also miss some of the most powerful moments in the life of a microchurch.  This post gives an overview of the Holy Spirit and asks some practical questions of how to incorporate Him into your microchurch. 

Greenhouse leaders are expected to be both Biblically grounded and practically-experienced in the things of the Spirit.

The prophets said the sign of the end times was legitimate but widespread Holy Spirit activity (Joel 2). Jesus promised His ongoing work would be through the Person of the Spirit. The early church made decisions with statements like, “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us…” (Acts 15:28) Seemed? How could they make such a claim? Because, as Paul would say, they “kept in step” with the Spirit (Galatians 5:25). Paul would go so far as to say we “live by the Spirit.” While most Christians functionally minimize this to mean “living biblically”, the book of Acts presents a much richer experience.

And herein lies the fluency challenge: experience. Most cessationists (those who believe that the miraculous gifts and manifestations of the Spirit have ceased) argue that Spirit-filled believers base their theology on experience. While many do, the reality is that many cessationists base their theology on lack of experience. Thus, we begin with the Bible. We conclude that the gifts and power and presence and guidance of the Spirit is abundantly available in our day, and we draw this conclusion from Scripture. Not subjective and unbiblical mysticism. Every leader must be ready to teach and lead people in things of the Spirit. This will often mean asking good questions.

“Did you receive the Spirit when you believed?” (Acts 19:2) These were Paul’s opening words upon meeting a new group of disciples in the city of Ephesus. If the gospel of grace was his first priority, one could make a strong case for the reality of the Spirit as his second. Why was this so? Because, if you read the first 18 chapters of the book, you find a church that seemed obsessed with a very direct and constant relationship with God the Holy Spirit.

Positionally, we know that every believer has the Spirit living in them. Yet every believer is not always “filled” with and encountering the Spirit. There truly are experiences with God subsequent to salvation. It’s not that Jesus is not enough; it’s that we need to go all the way with the Jesus who is enough. We agree with Martin Lloyd Jones: “There is nothing, I am convinced, that so ‘quenches’ the Spirit as the teaching which identifies the baptism of the Holy Ghost with regeneration …  Got it all? Well, if you have ‘got it all’, I simply ask in the Name of God, why are you as you are? If you have ‘got it all’, why are you so unlike the Apostles, why are you so unlike the New Testament Christians?”

Thus, we call our people to both understand the blessed reality of being eternally sealed with the Spirit, while being called to continually be filled with the Spirit. In practical terms we “ask for the Spirit” in prayer, “earnestly desire” spiritual gifts in our gatherings, and make room for such a reality. We then “test the spirits” (1 John 4:1) and “weigh what is said.” (1 Cor 14:29) 1 Corinthians 14 is a gold mine for biblical order.

– Excerpt from the “Spirit Fluency” in the Greenhouse Church Core Documents

Questions to ask yourself as a microchurch leader:

– How are you allowing the Spirit to move in your microchurch?  Do you have structured (or unstructured) time for the Spirit to move?  If so, when?

– How are you teaching and addressing the Spirit Biblically, theologically, and also practically in the context of your microchurch?

– What are some good ways to engage with the Spirit at your microchurch when there are those who attend who have no knowledge of the things of the Spirit?

– What are some ways to flow in the gifts of the Spirit during your microchurch?

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