Yesterday I watched a video of a motocross bike jumping over a pastor on stage. Now, I'm not saying that church or its pastor don't have the Holy Spirit, but I am saying that setting up a dirtbike track in your sanctuary is profoundly stupid.
What is profoundly stupid is the sheer amount of innovation, creativity, energy, ambition, and astounding levels of human wherewithal that go into crafting the most amazing worship experiences Americans have ever seen inside churches where the gospel isn't preached. I can say this because there's only one thing we hold that the New Testament calls "power," and that's the gospel.
In Ezekiel 37 we find that well-known prophetic vision of the valley of dry bones. I find verse 8 curious:
And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them.
Looks alive. Still: it isn't.
Is this what we've crafted with many of our ecclesiastic enterprises? Have we only set loose an army of shiny, platitude-dispensing golems?
Is this also true of even churches with "sound doctrine," where human ingenuity and personality and tradition reign?
What's the prescription for the awesomeness-driven church?
Then he said to me, "Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord GOD: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live." So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.The prescription is life-giving proclamation that pleads for the Holy Spirit and his reviving wind. And the result is a church alive, fired with gospel militancy and mobilized for kingdom mission.
Holy Spirit, come.