Isaiah 29 – Judgments against Jerusalem because they were honoring God with their lips, but their hearts were far from Him (v13-14). Jesus also later used this against the Jews.

We need to consciously avoid spiritual ruts. Doing and saying the same thing all the time is not conducive to spiritual growth. I think church services should bend over backward to make each service different somehow. Pastors need to allow the Holy Spirit freedom to move among the people and trust that the Spirit will do this if allowed. Unfortunately, humans like to control things (even God’s Spirit) because it somehow gives the feeling of security and safety. I recall my boyhood church always singing 3 hymns and the sermon always lasted 20 minutes. I prided myself being ready for the next agenda item in the bulletin. My eyes and attention was on that bulletin schedule, longing for its end. Little did I know at that time that I was falling into the category of Isaiah 29:13!

Now I’ll go out on a limb – even what I would deem as “spirit-filled churches” have dulled their spiritual senses by having the same routine every Sunday. Let us not put God in a box. I remember one Sunday my pastor preached a great sermon, and at the end he said that at the last minute, the Spirit told him to not preach from his prepared notes, but rather wing it! Now there is faith and freedom! Why not let worship continue “past the ordained time” sometimes? Why should worship always contain songs? We should do what the Holy Spirit wants us to do when we gather in Jesus’ name. Maybe that means to stimulate a discussion among the congregation about some Biblical topic, rather than a traditional sermon. Maybe people could get up and share testimonies for an entire or part of a service. Maybe we could put down the musical instruments once in a great while, etc., etc. C.S.Lewis maintained via his Chronicles of Narnia books that Jesus is not a tame lion, but He is good.

Church structure today, perhaps unwittingly in many cases, has played “lion tamer” all too often. At first, few notice. But over time, the Spirit fades from the service, or it isn’t quite as strong as it could be. If services were more free, more people would come with higher anticipation. High anticipation is faith within the heart of the believer that God will speak to them and that they will also be used by God to touch someone else. That attitude is being gradually lost, even in some good churches…ouch!

I am not advocating pastors allowing people to go crazy in the church. There are parameters of common sense and decency. What I am saying is let us not fall into a routine that will become dull over time, or not what it could be. Many churches start out great but lose something over time. The Holy Spirit is the best One that can “think outside the box.” People’s needs will be met if we truly allow that Spirit free reign.

Feedback so far:

NF – Excellent—-so very true!

GR – Continued great work. AMEN. Church services from time to time can indeed become mundane. At FBBC there is DEFINITELY a routine every Sunday. Our WED services are much more open and unstructured. In any event, I agree, we need to vary things and NOT get in that rut. Audience participation is always fun. We do that Wednesday nights.

Mickey L (4/20/13) – Amen Amen Amen.