Some years ago, I remember John Bisagno speaking at one of the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Evangelism Conferences. He was describing the beginning of his years of ministry at First Baptist Church Houston, Texas. Sunday after Sunday, he would drive home after the worship services and lament to his wife, “It wasn’t there today.” He was pastor for almost a year when he excitedly declared “It happened today!” “IT” began to show up and happen Sunday after Sunday for the next several years of his shepherd-leadership there. I left that Evangelism Conference very puzzled and quite confused. What was IT? It’s taken me many years, but now I am beginning to understand.
Some churches have it, some don’t.
Most churches want it. Few have it.
When a church has it, everyone can tell. And when one doesn’t … everyone can tell.
The same is true with leaders. Some leaders have it. Some don’t. And it or it-lessness is obvious.
It is always unique. It is always powerful. It is always life changing.
By now you’re probably asking, What is it? My answer is: I don’t fully know. I really don’t. Perhaps it’s best explained as a good news/bad news paradigm. The good news: If you don’t have It, you can get it. The bad news: If you have it, you can lose it.
Here’s what I do know: If you have ever been part of a ministry that had it, you knew you were part of something special. In other words, you knew it when you saw it. And it was an awesome work of God that couldn’t be contained, couldn’t be harnessed, and couldn’t be explained.
The first-century church in Jerusalem clearly had it. Since they didn’t have buildings, a building isn’t it. They didn’t have stained-glass windows, so stained-glass windows aren’t it. They didn’t have carpeted aisles, so carpeted aisles must not be it. They didn’t have pews or theatre seats, so pews or theatre seats must not be it. They didn’t have hymnals, so hymnals must not be it. They didn’t have power point, so power point must not be it. Since they didn’t have radio or television, being on radio or TV wasn’t it.
Now we are getting close to what it is. It is not external factors, nor the result of external factors. It is a supernatural work of God in and through His people, so surrendered to Him and devoted to His will and work, that He can show up and show off, and He alone will get the glory!
As I read and study the book of Acts, I find four constants in the first century church that had it.
PRAYING – The first century church was a praying church.
EQUIPPING – The first century church was a church continuously engaged in training its members.
SOWING – The first century church was a church that was unceasingly scattering the seed of the Gospel.
HARVESTING – The first century church was regularly seeing a harvest of souls.
As you make plans in your church for next year, include the prayer that your church will have it in 2011! (Gary Taylor is the Missouri Baptist Convention’s director of evangelism.)