Sometimes what should be so simple and obvious is tragically missed. By way of example, consider this sentence: “Church should be all about God.” Simple, right? Well…somehow, the church in America has gotten far away from this truth. In fact, most churches today care much more about what man thinks about church than they do about what God thinks. This is why I’m so excited about Pastor James MacDonald’s new book, “The Vertical Church.” It’s a call to the church to return to what church should be all about…GOD: His glory, His power at work in people’s lives, the WORSHIP of Jesus above all else…vertical…God-focused.
This morning I was talking to someone who is considering joining our Launch Team. His story is similar to ones I’ve heard again and again since we started planting Harvest Fort Wayne. Speaking of his current church he told me; ”We are losing the battle. The services are so shallow. People will come in and get saved, but when they really want to grow, they move on to another church.”
“What happened?” I asked.
“Well, several years back, we went ‘Seeker Sensitive.’”
What does that mean? Really think about the phrase and it’s implications. In my opinion, “Seeker Sensitive” is evidence that we really don’t understand some simple truths…truths Pastor James does a great job of pointing out in his book.
People are desperate for a fresh, real, life-changing encounter with God. They don’t need watered down messages, entertainment driven worship, and self-help teaching to attract them to church. They were created with “eternity in their hearts” (Eccl. 3:11) and they long for what only GOD can bring to them. When we change our focus from putting God’s GLORY on display to attracting men, we’ve taken a huge step away from being what God intended the church to be.
It’s not just “Seeker church.” As Pastor James says…
Ritual church, tradition church, felt-need church, emotional-hype church, rules church, Bible-boredom church, relevant church, and many other iterations are all horizontal substitutes for God come down, we all get rocked and radically altered, Vertical Church.
MacDonald, James (2012-08-01). Vertical Church: What Every Heart Longs for. What Every Church Can Be. (Kindle Locations 100-102). David C Cook. Kindle Edition.
For me, this message of a “Vertical” emphasis was what drew me to Harvest the most. I desperately wanted that for my church, but needed some help in figuring out how to make that happen in effective ways. My training at Harvest Bible Fellowship gave me the tools I needed to plant a church that shared this same passion…God glorified FIRST and His manifest presence felt in deep, meaningful ways. Since I have been training our team, this has been emphasized over and over again. I’m excited that the wonderful group of people God has given me really understand what “vertical” means and they are giving themselves to help plant a Vertical Church. Our desire? God at work in amazing ways…His WORD preached without apology…His SON worshipped passionately…His NAME called upon for power…and His GOSPEL proclaimed BOLDLY. These things, we believe, will bring the glory down. And we can’t wait to see how our efforts will glorify HIM!
Be sure to check out Launch Team Member Jill’s thoughts as she reads the book! And don’t be afraid to leave comments so we can talk this through! Pastor James calls this book, “the passionate, biblical articulation” of what Harvest Churches hold dear…and in common! It’s important…and should FIRE YOU UP for the Church!