A Culture of Devotion (Prayer & Study of The Word)
Prayer is often one of the most neglected aspects of Christian living within the church. We must be intentional about prayer as a culture. To do that we must give ourselves to hosting corporate prayer meetings multiple times a day so that everyone involved can engage.
Prayer is not something that can just be talked about from the “pulpit,” but is something that must be modeled and participated in by leadership.
Our scriptural basis for the great emphasis in prayer is based mainly upon Acts 6 and Luke 18. In Acts 6, the apostles determine that nothing else can ever be as important to them than prayer and study of the Word. In Luke 18, Jesus says those with faith will “pray without losing heart”–those that make prayer a lifestyle and pray until the Lord answers, “day and night.”
When it comes to the Word, a true honor of the Word of God means that leaders cannot only study scripture for the content of a message or a series of messages, but for their own devotional lives as well. A devotional life in the Word must be modeled by leaders in their speech and action.
The Word of God must always be held in high esteem in public and private conversations.
There is no scripture that isn’t spoken of God and must be held in such honor before people.
A Culture of Humility & Honor
We must make every effort to live in humility before one another. The church gets sidetracked and derailed when leadership becomes a badge of honor for people. Paul says in 1 Timothy 5:17 that leaders are “worthy of double honor.” Jesus says in Matthew 20:25-28 tells His disciples that they cannot lord their leadership over one another. So, any leader worthy of the calling of Jesus is in fact worthy of double honor, but can never seek it on his or her own behalf.
We must emphasize a culture of mutual honor and respect. Leadership is not something earned in the kingdom of heaven; it is ordained. No one has earned their position over anyone else, so neither can we exact control over people. Leaders, as well as non-leaders, must be mutually submitted one to another.
Leadership must be exercised with diligence as Romans 12:8 commands us. Leaders are chosen by God and not man, so careful consideration must be taken into how one leads. Humility and obedience must flow hand in hand in godly leadership.
A Culture of Evangelism
Sharing the gospel with the lost is one of the most important things we can do in our Christian life. We were called by Jesus, in His final words on earth, to go to all the earth and make disciples. The last thing Jesus told men to do is of no small importance.
Evangelism and outreach must be viewed in its proper place for it to honor the Lord, however. If evangelism (loving others) ever takes the place of loving God, we’ve disobeyed the greatest commandment–to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, soul, mind and strength.
Only when we engage in lives of devotion to the Lord can our evangelism and discipleship truly be effective before the Lord. But when we do, we have the ability to offer up to God the fruits of our labor in the gospel and we increase our ability to enjoy that labor.
A Culture of Holiness
We must offer ourselves as holy before the Lord. Paul tells us in Romans 12:1 to offer ourselves “as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship.” (NIV) We often think of our worship before the Lord as singing, which is truly worship, but the foundation of all our worship is our holy living.
There is nothing so defiling to the human spirit as sin. When we sin, we come into agreement with darkness which is the very thing that Jesus died to free us from. We will certainly struggle with sin the entirety of our lives so it is important how we deal with those failings. Will we gloss over them and try to overlook our sinful acts and thoughts, or will we make war with them and willingly confess them before God and people?
We must voluntarily choose a lifestyle of holiness grounded in intimacy with Jesus. Unless we understand and believe that there is a God who loves us extravagantly, it’s impossible to say no to sin consistently.
The story of the gospel is that Jesus so loved us that He died for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). We must understand that God is very pleased with us when we say “yes” to Him. If we believe that Jesus actually likes us instead of being mostly mad or disappointed in us, sin will make us uncomfortable as we run back to Jesus instead of sin being our shelter as we flee from a mean, mad God.
A Culture of Prophecy
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 14 that there’s no spiritual gift so beneficial to the church as prophecy. As we endeavor to establish a church that does the will of the Lord, there’s nothing so important as hearing the voice of God so as to actually know His will for our church. The contemporary, subjective word of the Lord can never replace or even stand on the same ground as the written Word of God. Also, the will and activities set forth in scripture account for 90% or better of the things that we should be about. But having clear vision and understanding of what God is saying to our generation and our city now is of utmost importance in keeping us on the path of godliness.
Joel 2 prophesies that in the “last days all (redeemed) flesh” would prophesy.” (parentheses mine). Peter tells us in Acts that from the day of Pentecost until now, we are in “the last days” so there is no reason we shouldn’t seek God’s voice for prophecy.
1 Corinthians 14: Paul tells us that prophecy is more useful for the life of the church than any other spiritual gift. This is what joins Old and New Testament together: hearing the voice of God. He longs to speak to us and give us direction, because a “where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint.” (Proverbs 29:18 ESV)