Pastor, no doubt you are waist-deep in developing a strategy for re-gathering as a church body. Let’s be equally as diligent about preparing our people spiritually for this moment as we are about preparing our buildings and schedules for it. Scripture is replete with examples of spiritual preparedness for significant moments.
Whether it is Joshua’s army consecrating themselves before possessing the land of Canaan, Esther fasting for three days before making her appeal to the king, the Lord Jesus on a forty day spiritual journey in the wilderness before beginning his public ministry, or Paul receiving years of biblical training from trusted faith leaders before being commissioned as a missionary, there is something convincingly biblical about making spiritual preparation for significant moments in one’s life.
“There is something convincingly biblical about making spiritual preparation for significant moments in one’s life.”Tweet
Make no mistake about it: the impending physical re-gathering of God’s people as a covenant community of faith is a monumental moment on your church’s timeline… perhaps its most significant, as a local congregation, since the day of its inauguration.
As you strategize for re-gathering, attend to the physical preparation of the facilities but do not neglect the spiritual preparation of the people.
“As you strategize for re-gathering, attend to the physical preparation of the facilities but do not neglect the spiritual preparation of the people.”Tweet
Here are some ideas:
ONE: Take your people through a guided, time-specific devotional journey on their way to re-gathering. I spoke with a pastor this morning—Joshua Crutchfield of FBC Madisonville TX—who will be guiding his people on a 15 day devotional journey through the Psalms of Ascent, ending with their long-anticipated re-assembly on the 16th day. Perhaps you choose another section of Scripture or a more topical approach, but intentional devotion guided by the pastoral staff and ending with the anticipated re-gathering may create a sense of timely spiritual focus. It also may unify the spirits of your people to prepare them for a great rejoicing.
TWO: Lead your people to fast and pray. There is something special, and intensely spiritual, about corporate fasting and prayer. Regulating our most basic longings, to redirect the focus of our desire completely on God, increases the spiritual awareness of both the individual and the group. Give your congregation specific parameters such as 10 days fasting from food and drink during the lunch hour and using that 30 minutes to read Scripture and pray. When your people end the fast together, the satisfaction of their awaited gathering will be multiplied exponentially. Like a deer panting for water, their souls will have been trained to thirst for God. And on the great re-gathering day, they will drink together from the cup of His glory and grace.
THREE: Plan and promote an in-gathering of sacrificial giving. Few expressions of worship generate more personal commitment and more collective celebration than an overwhelming outpour of financial sacrifice. Paul championed the Macedonian churches because through unprecedented affliction, they begged him for the grace to give sacrificially from the overflow of their poverty. Lead church members to set aside financial gifts every day (challenge them to set aside $10 per day or $20 per day) from now until the day of re-gathering. Decide where the offering will go; choose a local benevolence ministry, or catch up on the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for the North American Mission Board. On that long awaited day, organize a big moment of collection and celebrate the church’s act of sacrificial worship as they have overflowed with the grace of giving.
FOUR: Organize a social media video campaign from church members anticipating re-gathering and inviting friends to join them. Have them answer one simple question such as, “What are you looking forward to most when we re-gather?” or “what good things has God shown you through the season of social distancing?” Have them end their video with “We are the Wolfes and we’d love for you to join us on (date) when the church gathers in the building again.” Codify the language with a specific phrase for them to use in their videos, such as “Together Again,” “The Church is Back in the Building,” or “Welcome Home.” This may intensify the sense of collective expectation toward the spiritual-family reunion of a face-to-face re-gathering.
FIVE: Organize a 7-day drive-around prayer initiative. Have church members drive around the church building for seven days straight, on their own time, while praying over the facilities, the staff, the leadership, and the volunteers in anticipation of re-gathering. I don’t recommend blowing trumpets or shouting loudly on the seventh day, but the organized effort of prayerful expectation around the church facilities may unify the hearts of your people toward a spiritual conquest like they’ve never seen before.
You may not like any of these ideas, and you may have some of your own. The point is not in the activity itself, but in the spiritual preparation behind it. While you are strategizing for the physical re-gathering of your church, find a way to help your people be spiritual prepared. It is true even today that “you have never travelled this way before.” Spiritual leaders after God’s heart will lead the people to consecrate themselves today in expectation of tomorrow’s victory.
“Spiritual leaders after God’s heart will lead the people to consecrate themselves today in expectation of tomorrow’s victory.”Tweet
Grace and Peace,