When you find the essence of something you find what it’s made of. Essence is its core—its heart and soul—its spirit—the life blood of what makes it tick. Without essence all you have is a façade.
God’s people were created to be a prophetic people. That is our essence in Christ. We are to hear what God is speaking and then speak it to the world in which we live. Being prophetic is not something we do, rather it is the essence of our being—it is our nature.
Well…if that’s the case what should a prophetic church composed of prophetic people look like?
First, a prophetic church reveals God’s heart. “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10). Jesus came to reveal the heart of God, and in doing so, he demonstrated the infinite love of God. Our job has not changed.
Does your relationship with God stir up your own passions? Does it cause others to stop and wish that they had that kind of relationship with God? If it doesn’t—something is wrong. It is impossible to lead others into a place we ourselves have never been.
Secondly, a prophetic church fulfills biblical prophecy. Every Christians is the living fulfillment of biblical prophecy (or at least we are supposed to be) spoken thousands of years ago. Our existence, in spite of the devil’s attempt to exterminate us, is God’s promise fulfilled—his word vindicated. We are both living testimony and a prophetic voice crying out.
A prophetic church also provides a biblical standard from the Scriptures. We are the guardians of God’s word and our instructions are to pass it on to the next generation. Our job is to bring it alive as we teach, preach, and instruct. The Bible is not a Sunday school series of lessons or a curriculum for study. The New Testament epistles were written as letters to real people with real problems in real places. If we read them that way, it is easier to connect and understand the conflicts they faced. We are no different from them and the times we live in are eerily similar. We are connected and we must learn to appreciate that important connection as we preserve and accurately proclaim the Word of God.
Finally, a prophetic church moves when the presence of God (the cloud of his Spirit) moves. We are not a monument or a museum to the past activities of God. We are his body right now in the present. We must discern what God is doing…now! The message of his word never changes, but our methods and ministries must. Otherwise we will not reach the next generation.
The Spirit of God uses different means and methods to communicate the infallible message of God. We must join him in doing that. What worked ten or twenty years ago will not work now. The culture we must reach speaks a new language and employs different technology. Also, what works in one area of the country may not work in your area. Just because one church is successful with a methodology in their area does not automatically mean it will work in ours. We must tune into what the Spirit of God wants to do through us in our own community.
We must move out of the past and into the future with God. We carry the lessons of our history, wisdom, experience, and maturity with us, but we must trust the Holy Spirit to lead us or we will fail. God has moved, but most of the church is stuck in the ruts of the past where God once rested. Ruts are nothing more than graves with the ends kicked out. A prophetic church leaves no ruts because they are constantly moving in concert with the Spirit.
(In the next blog we will consider the final four components of a prophetic church.)