Rick Warren opens his best seller, The Purpose Driven Church, with a comparison between waves of the sea and movements of God. He says, “Surfing is the art of riding waves that God builds. God makes the waves; surfers just ride them. No surfer tries to create waves. If the waves aren’t there, you just don’t surf that day! On the other hand, when surfers see a good wave, they make the most of it, even if that means surfing in the middle of a storm.” He continues, “Our job as church leaders, like experienced surfers, is to recognize a wave of God’s Spirit and ride it. It is not our responsibility to make waves, but to recognize how God is working in the world and join Him in the endeavor.” Warren is echoing the message of Henry Blackaby (Experiencing God) when he taught us to “find where God is working and join Him.”
King David preceded Rick Warren and Henry Blackaby by three millenniums, but he understood what it meant to capture Divine moments when God was moving. Second Samuel 5 relates the story of God’s instructions to David concerning an upcoming battle with the Philistines. “And it shall be, when you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the mulberry trees, then you shall advance quickly. For then the Lord will go out before you to strike the camp of the Philistines” (2 Sam. 5:24).
There are signs of the Lord’s moving which should move us. The Spirit of God blows where it wishes and we hear the sound of it (read John 3:8). Then is the time for us to be more than ever alert. We must seize the golden opportunity, and make the most we can of it. It is our lot to fight the Philistines at all times; but, when the Lord Himself goes out before us, then we should be especially ready to go to war and carry out our Sovereign’s wishes.
Today, God is creating wave after wave of people receptive to the Gospel. He may be so working because of the uncertain times in which we live. It may be that the end of the world is near and thus we are close to the return of Christ. You and I don’t know and that doesn’t need to be our major concern when we remember it is God’s business to create Divine moments, and our responsibility is to join God in these activities only He could arrange.
GPS (God’s Plan for Sharing) Across Missouri, March and April, has unveiled remarkable instances of God’s moving in our midst. God stories are abounding. One pastor emailed me saying, “We did the prayer walking and Gospel distributions before Easter. Our normal attendance is around 110-120 on a Sunday. We had a special Saturday service, as well as our scheduled Easter Sunday morning, and had a combined total of close to 350 this year.” Another pastor writes, “We wanted you to know that a family with seven children visited our church last Sunday as the result of GPS. The children are lost and have never been in Sunday School. The children also came back on Wednesday evening for the youth program.” A director of missions reports, “This association of Missouri Baptist Convention churches placed the Gospel on 7,000 doors. A sister church reported almost three times the average worship attendance on Easter. Other churches reported stunning numbers of new people in church on Easter Sunday, setting high attendance records. One of our churches reported that people who have never participated in an evangelistic effort gladly and joyfully went door to door, distributing the Gospel.” An excited pastor called to relate, “Our church only seats 144, and has been running 140. Easter morning, 203 attended and two made professions of faith.” A bi-vocational pastor, who serves as evangelism chairman for his association related, “Our church normally runs in the mid-twenties. But, on Easter 57 attended, after the church had distributed 250 Gospel bags to as many doors. I also know of 20 who received the Gospel bags and attended other churches.” One of the most astounding reports comes from a church that was considering closing their doors a year ago when they were running five to seven in attendance. Last fall, they asked a pastor to supply preach for them as they contemplated what to do. He led them to begin praying for their church and their community. They began to hear about GPS and decided to prayer walk 2,000 homes in their community. Instead of leaving the Gospel at every door, they decided to send a first class letter to each of the 2,000 homes, inviting them to Easter worship. Forty attended and four made professions of faith. The pastor (who has now been called as their bi-vocational pastor) announced he would baptize April 25. The church had not baptized in three years. Others made professions of faith after Easter and he baptized six the last Sunday of April, and their attendance was 55!
In my opinion, we live in the most exciting time in history for the church. God is opening doors no man can shut (Rev. 3:8). Unparalleled opportunities are available to our congregations. Most importantly, we are experiencing an unprecedented movement of God’s Spirit in our day.
Missouri Baptists, join me with this prayer at the start of each day. “Father, I know you’re going to do some incredible things in Missouri today. Please give me the privilege of getting in on some of what you’re doing.” (Gary Taylor is the Missouri Baptist Convention’s director of evangelism.)