Robert Wurtz II
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:23–25 NKJV)
The title of this entry runs a bit contrary to my thinking in terms of the subject I wish to address, but because so many today associate the word “church” with the assembling of ourselves together I went forward with “Preparing for Church.” I realize that some people prefer “church service” or “meeting” but I think I have elucidated enough to draw our attention to the gathering together of saints that today is commonly called “church.”
I don’t intend in this entry to explore styles of meetings, although the way in which meeting rooms are set up is often a giveaway as to how a meeting will generally play out. If all the chairs face forward towards the platform there will be a different expectation than if they were situated in a circle so as to look at each other in the meeting. Again, I don’t intend to examine the setup. I want to consider the people of the assembly and the state that they are in when they arrive.
Whether it’s a traditional church, house church, fellowship type church, tent revival, street meeting, open-air meeting, brush arbor meeting, or nursing home meeting, there is a common thread that needs to be present in each of them. As Saints, we who are coming to the gathering need to be prepared and ready for that gathering. It’s been said that the spirituality of the meeting will reflect the sum total of the spirituality of the individuals attending. In other words, the meeting will not be more “spiritual” than the people themselves.
G.W. North once said that we bring a week’s worth of living into a meeting. I have pondered that statement over the years and found it to be utterly and profoundly true. Keep in mind that as a young Christian I thought it was normal to come to the meeting in a state that the old timers used to call “prayed up” and “stoking my own fire.” It was their way of saying that our relationship with God was up-to-date and we are full of the Holy Spirit. In their words, we were “ready to have church.”
In modern times, it’s not uncommon to have meetings where the leaders in the front work hard to get the people to worship God. I understand that sometimes we go to special meetings where the music and meeting style is different than we are used to and it can be hard to “get in the service” as it’s sometimes called. If we are stoking our own fire, we will still be able to worship God in most cases. However, that’s not what I’m referring to. Sometimes it’s hard to even get the home folks within a church to engage in the service. It’s like the people come but their mind is someplace else.
I’m sometimes challenged when I read of the Apostles who around 3:00 in the afternoon were on their way to a meeting to pray and met a man at the Gate Beautiful who was lame in his feet. “Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” (Acts 3:3–4 ESV) The man believed he might receive money from them. “Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.” (Acts 3:6 KJV) These men didn’t just come from a revival meeting… they were on their way to a prayer meeting. What happened? They were already prayed up and full of faith before they got to the meeting.
Luke recounts a time in Acts 16:16 that “As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling (…) This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, ‘These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.’ And this she did for many days.” (Acts 16:16–18) Many days? How often did Luke and Paul go to prayer? Obviously, it was regularly. What happened? While on his way to a prayer meeting Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour.” (Acts 16:18 NKJV)
These men didn’t wait to get to church to try and get spiritual all the sudden. They lived ready. They lived full of the Holy Spirit. They were a revival looking for a place to happen. No wonder the lame were healed and the demon-possessed were set free! As Mr. North has said, we bring a week’s worth of living into a meeting. Let’s get prayed up and ready to have church! Let’s not rely on someone else to bring the fire… let’s come to the meeting on fire!