Our Spiritual GPS

GPS

One of the features that I use most often on my Smartphone is the GPS.

When I click the GoogleMaps application on my Smartphone, satellites that are flying far overhead can connect with my cellphone and provide my current location. I can choose my destination by typing an address onto the screen, or I can simply type the name of a distant city. And then, through the “magic” of technology, GoogleMaps plots my journey; provides an approximate arrival time; directs me around traffic jams; and even provides a picture of my destination, so that I don’t knock on the door of the wrong house.

Many pastors and congregational leaders are searching for the church’s path forward in quickly changing times. We realize that our society is moving through a time of dramatic change and transition. We can sense that dramatic shifts are occurring in people’s lives as we hear more and more about the “Nones” and the “Dones.” And we wish we could find the magic pill. We wish that we could somehow re-create an idealized past; but, deep inside, we all know that that’s not going to work. And so, we need to look forward. And, we need to listen to God’s voice because the Church has been built upon the life-giving message of Christ crucified and risen for 2,000 years, and because the Risen Christ has promised to both sustain the Church and lead it into the future.

And so, how can our life of worship and prayer be our spiritual GPS?

  • First, a GPS reminds us that we can never travel from “where we are right now” to “where we need to be” until we know “where we are right now.” Many churches begin their worship services, each week, by inviting worshipers to join in a time of confession and forgiveness – because we need to remember “where we are right now.” Times of confession call us to look deep inside; and, sometimes, call us to look at parts of our lives that we don’t like to see. Times of confession call us to gaze into a mirror, and to see ourselves both honestly and authentically. And that’s important because some of the things that we see in the mirror can stand in the way when we want to serve God as individuals and even as a church. And the pronouncement of God’s forgiveness frees us and liberates us, so that we can move in a new direction. Worship and prayer open our eyes to “where we are right now” – and that’s where every journey begins.
  • Second, a GPS reminds us that we can never travel from “where we are right now” to “where we need to be” until we know “where we need to be.” And worship and prayer can help us to see that, too. God opens our eyes and speaks to our hearts in worship and prayer – helping us to see the “gap” between what things are right now and what God wants them to be. As we “dream and dreams of God” in our worship and prayer, God gives us visions of the future that God wants to create for our lives, our ministries, and our world. God points us toward “where we need to be.” We might think that we can simply decide “where we need to be” by sitting at a table and by creating long-term strategies without God’s help. But, no matter how creative our strategies become, they’ll never lead us to “where we need to be” until we gather around God’s Word, spend time in worship and prayer, and ask God to lead us and help us to do what He wants us to do.
  • Third, a GPS reminds us that, as we’re traveling from “where we are right now” to “where we need to be,” there are many different paths – and some of them may be far better than others. The book of Acts contains a wonderful story where the Holy Spirit opens and closes doors as St. Paul was traveling (Acts 16:6-10). We need to understand that God does the same thing today. When we spend time in worship and prayer, God works. God inspires. God leads. God opens door that we can’t open by ourselves with His mighty hands. And God shows us the best route forward. When we know “where we are right now” and “where we need to be,” we must remain in worship and in prayer – trusting that God will open doors and even close doors that will lead us down paths filled with unnecessary obstacles.
  • Lastly, a GPS reminds us that, as we’re traveling from “where we are right now” to “where we need to be,” God will provide pictures of our destination. The Bible tells us: “Where there is no vision the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18). As we worship and pray, God paints pictures for us. Can we see our congregations as vibrant places that are both multi-generational and multi-cultural? Can we picture our churches as places where people use the first five minutes after each worship services to engage and to speak with visitors, instead of just flying toward the doors? Can we picture our churches as places that are devoted to listening to people and to building entire ministries around what God has told us to do to meet the needs of people who are living just beyond the walls of our buildings? Can we picture our churches as places that continues to lift-up the fact that ALL of God’s people are created to be ministers – and that one of the most important things that we can do as a church is to help people to fulfill their own ministry by equipping and empowering them by helping them to find the tools and training and connections that they need to find to be more effective?

When I click the GoogleMaps application on my Smartphone, satellites that are flying far overhead can connect with my cellphone and provide my current location. I can choose my destination by typing an address onto the screen, or I can simply type the name of a distant city. And then, through the “magic” of technology, GoogleMaps plots my journey; provides an approximate arrival time; directs me around traffic jams; and even provides a picture of my destination, so that I don’t knock on the door of the wrong house.

Can we look at our life of worship and prayer as something that does the same thing in our lives of faith?

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s