What difference does God envision the Church making in the world?

Church makes a differenceThere’s an old song I learned in Sunday School. Maybe you learned it too. It goes like this:

I am the Church. You are the Church. We are the Church together
All who follow Jesus, all around the world
Yes, we’re the Church together.

Martin Luther said that the Church is a community of people who are in Christ by faith and in whom the Holy Spirit is at work to make them holy. 

Both Luther and that Sunday School song remind us that when we ask the question “What difference does God envision the Church making in the world” we’re not talking about an institution or just the ordained pastors and paid staff. We’re talking about a people who are called, gathered, gifted and empowered by the Holy Spirit to love God, one another and our neighbor.

There’s something profoundly empowering about the notion that we are a people whom God has created for a purpose in the world. We’re not here by accident. We aren’t just here to go through the religious motions, biding our time until we die and go to heaven. We were made for so much more than that. The apostle Paul put it this way in his letter to the Ephesians, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

How cool is that? God has a purpose for us. God envisions the Church making a difference in the world. And God’s vision, God’s dream for the Church, should inform our vision for our future together.

As we enter the second week of Lent I urge you to continue to sit in silence, seeking God’s heart and Gods’ dreams for your church. And I also encourage you to engage with family and friends around this week’s question: What difference does God envision the Church making in the world? What do you think? What scripture passages inform your answer? Leave a comment so that others can learn from your perspective.

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  • Ken Walter

    A Prayer Meeting That Lasted 100 Years 
by Leslie K. Tarr
    FACT: The Moravian community of Herrnhut, Saxony, in 1727, commenced an around-the-clock “prayer watch” that continued non-stop for over a hundred years.
    FACT: By 1792, 65 years after
    commencement of that prayer vigil, the small Moravian community had sent 300 missionaries to the ends of the earth!

    Could it be that there is some relationship between those two facts? Is fervent intercession a basic component in world evangelization? The answer to both questions is surely an unqualified “yes.”

    The heroic eighteenth century evangelization thrust of the Moravians has not received the attention it deserves. But even less heralded than their missionary exploits is that one-hundred year prayer meeting that sustained the fires of evangelism!

    During its first five years of existence, the Herrnhut settlement showed few signs of spiritual power. By the beginning of 1727, the community of about three hundred people was wracked by dissension and bickering, an unlikely site for revival!

    Zinzendorf and others, however, covenanted to pray and labor for revival. On May 12, revival came. Christians were aglow with new life and power, dissension vanished and unbelievers were converted.

    Looking back to that day and the four glorious months that followed, Count Zinzendorf later recalled: “The whole place represented truly a visible habitation of God among men.” A spirit of prayer was immediately evident in the fellowship and continued throughout that “golden summer of 1727,” as the Moravians came to designate that period. On August 27 of that year, twenty-four men and twenty-four women covenanted to spend one hour each day in scheduled prayer. Some others also enlisted in the “hourly intercession.”

    “For over 100 years, the members of the Moravian Church all shared in the ‘hourly intercession.’ At home and abroad, on land and sea, this prayer watch ascended unceasingly to the Lord,” stated historian A. J. Lewis.

    The Memorial Days of the Renewed Church of the Brethren, published in 1822, ninety-five years after the decision to initiate the prayer watch, quaintly describes the move in one sentence: “The thought struck some brethren and sisters that it might be well to set apart certain hours for the purpose of prayer, at which seasons all might be reminded of its excellency and be induced by the promises
    annexed to fervent, persevering prayer to pour out their hearts before the Lord.”

    The journal further cites Old Testament typology as warrant for the prayer watch: “The sacred fire was never permitted to go out on the altar (Leviticus 6:13); so in a congregation is a temple of the loving God, wherein He has His altar and fire, the intercession of His saints should incessantly rise up to Him.”

    That prayer watch was instituted by a community of Believers whose average age was probably thirty. Zinzendorf himself was twenty-seven. The prayer vigil by Zinzendorf and the Moravian Community sensitized them to attempt the unheard-of-mission to reach others for Christ. Six months after the beginning of the prayer watch, the count suggested to his fellow Moravians the challenge of a bold evangelism aimed at the West Indies, Greenland, Turkey, and Lapland. Some were skeptical, but Zinzendorf persisted. Twenty-six Moravians
    stepped forward for world missions wherever the Lord led.

    The exploits that followed are surely to be numbered among the high moments of Christian history. Nothing daunted Zinzendorf or his fellow heralds of Jesus Christ – prison, shipwreck, persecution, ridicule, plague, abject poverty, and threats of death. His hymn reflected his conviction:
    Ambassador of Christ,
Know ye the way we go?
    
It leads into the jaws of death,
    
Is strewn with thorns and woe.
    Church historians look to the eighteenth century and marvel at the Great Awakening in England and America, which swept hundreds of thousands into God’s Kingdom. John Wesley figured largely in that mighty movement and much attention has centered on him. Is it not possible that we have overlooked the place, which that round-the-clock prayer watch had in reaching Wesley and, through him and his
    associates, in altering the course of history?

    One wonders what would flow from a commitment on the part of twentieth century Christians to institute a “prayer watch” for world evangelization, specifically to reach those, in Zinzendorf’s words, “For whom no one cared.”

    Blessings to you in Christ Jesus!