Will They Return?

I see increasing numbers of the unsaved, who have had friends praying for them and witnessing to them faithfully, suddenly and unexpectedly, accept an invitation and come to church. Those that are responding come from all walks of life but they all share one important, common desire. They come seeking something. And, although they may not know what it is, we know that they’re seeking God.

As Christians, we are encouraged by the fact that these unsaved people are coming to church, but our joy is tempered by the fact that most of them will not return a second time. We often ask ourselves why. Pastors and Deacon boards agonize over this issue but I personally believe that the reason they don’t return is that they simply didn’t find what they were seeking. They walked out the door the same way they walked in – never having experienced God’s presence. Churches of all denominations have reached a critical point where two truths must be acknowledged. First, they are operating in a vacuum, largely devoid of God’s anointing, power and presence and, second, they have become complacent or even comfortable with His absence.

Their pastors don’t speak with any anointing of the Holy Ghost, authority or power but have instead turned into the Christian equivalent of a game show host. After the service people say ‘wasn’t the music great’ not ‘I felt God’s presence.’ Many of these churches are like a large field of standing stones. They can attest to what God has done in the past but the word ‘doing’ is rarely, if at all, used.

Blessed are the churches that don’t fit that description. The ones that know the difference between omnipresence and manifest presence, and seek the latter. Because it is the latter that draws first time visitors, brings them back again and again and convicts, heals and delivers. Once you experience His awesome purifying power and presence you can’t stay away. I think that’s why some Christians have become ‘Church-hoppers.’ I often think that we could make it a lot easier for people who are looking for God by writing ‘Chabod’ (God is here) or ‘Ichabod’ (God has departed – 1 Sam 4:21) on the roofs of all the churches.

Thankfully, the responsibility to ‘fix’ the problem is ours alone. The Lord’s work is finished. If we are going to have visitors, and they are to return, we must invite the God they’re seeking to come into our presence. But first, we, ourselves must be prepared and able to confront His awesome power and glory. The religious and denominational spirits in our churches must die and we must again revitalize the Acts Chapter 2 church by seeking the supernatural things that are its very essence.

Are you ready? Are you personally seeking Him and using the power of the Holy Spirit to lead a holy life – or are you hiding in the darkness, living in rebellion and sin? Are you, like Isaiah, prepared to have the angel press the hot coal to your lips? Or are you, like the Israelites, drawing back from God and asking someone else, like Moses, to intercede for you?

Even if you’ve already done the things in this prayer, please pray it again with me now.

Oh Father, I come to you in repentance, asking for your forgiveness and direction. Please wash and purify me in the blood of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Deliver me from the grip of worldly ideas and materialism and provide me with the ability to practice discipline in my life. I seek your face and ask you to show me your favor. Lord, I acknowledge that your way is the right way and that when I make my own path I’m living in rebellion. So, Lord, I turn everything over to you. My life, my career, my possessions, my problems and my relationships. In Jesus’ precious and holy name I pray. Amen.