I have the privilege of being the Spiritual Director at the Men’s Emmaus Walk this weekend. I have served on dozens of Emmaus Walks over the years and have served as the Spiritual Director of our Community for over a decade. It is a tremendous honor and every Walk produces tremendous Kingdom fruit.
I get to share with the men about the Means of Grace—those Biblically defined moments when we can count on the Grace of God manifesting in life changing ways. These moments or experiences of grace are absolutely reliable—but never to be taken for granted nor treated as common.
As a congregation, we seek and long for every Means of Grace, because every experience of grace transforms us. Of course, there is a flip side—every means of grace challenges our fallen flesh, which prefers thinking about God more than it does experiencing Him. Tragically, most American churches have streamlined their services, eliminating or marginalizing most of the Means of Grace in order to keep people happy. The result is chronically under-graced church goers, who talk about grace far more than they actually experience Grace…!
Here are a few of the Means of Grace:
Baptism. We expect to experience more of this Means of Grace as we go forward into God’s vision for us.
The Lord’s Supper – Years ago, the Lord told us to do this weekly. Rich fruit has been bourn of that simple obedience.
Prayer—This Means of Grace is so critical to healthy families and a healthy congregation. We are enjoying more times of congregational prayer than at any time in at least 18 years.
Worship—we are a community that loves to worship, and experiences often the manifest presence of God in worship.
Word—By reading the same chapters of Scripture together as a family, we hear the Lord collectively, not just individually.
Life Groups—Small groups have been a Means of Grace from the very beginning of the Church.
The laying on of hands and anointing with oil—We have seen the Lord transform multitudes of lives as we have participated with Him in these simple acts of Biblical obedience.
Our Sunday Service is longer than many in the US (although short, by world standards), because we choose to incorporate as many Means of Grace into the service as possible. The Word preached… The Lord’s Supper… Altar prayer… Prayer circles… an Exhortation… Worship in music… The greeting time—all these are Biblical Means of Grace. It is almost impossible to come to a First Church Service without encountering the Living Lord at one time or another—and usually multiple times. It seems to me that this should be true everywhere. But Altar calls make some people uncomfortable. Communion is a flesh irritant. Worship that is relational and interactive interferes with our flesh’s love of a good performance. The draw to shorter and shallower is strong, dominating much of American Christianity .
I do not apologize for pastoring a church that is serious about enjoying together the very Means that the Lord chooses to Grace us…!