As Pastor, I can only give you a brief snapshot of who we are. And since we’re a living entity, change seems to be constant. I am committed to the hard stuff – prayer, daily cross carrying, and the narrow path. Christianity in America is sometimes confused with the American Dream. But true Christianity is an ancient path, filled with difficulty and death as well as blessing and grace.
“What is a religion worth that costs us nothing? What is a sense of God worth which would be at your disposal, capable of being comfortably elicited whenever and wherever you please?”Evelyn Underhill
“Our obligation as His ministers is not only to invite and encourage souls but to oblige them to enter into the great banquet of the Nuptials of the Lamb. If we act otherwise we are traitors or at least disloyal servants, depriving Him of the delights He finds in dwelling with the sons of men.”
Juan Gonzalez Arintero – June 24, 1860 – Feb. 20, 1928 – A Spanish priest and theologian
- We are a church that engages in prayer. As a pastor, I know prayer is essential to each believer’s individual relationship with Jesus. I’ve had to admit it is not possible to pastor people who do not pray. I believe fruitful ministry, if it is to glorify God, MUST be born of prayer. And before we can pray “everywhere, all the time, we must pray somewhere, some of the time.” I don’t think transformation or victory over the fleshly stuff we all struggle with can happen without it.
- We are a church that requires commitment. When my wife and I moved here, the very act of relocation was a commitment. We left what was familiar, took our kids out of the schools they were in and planted ourselves in Central Illinois. We felt God had called us here and we would do what was required of us to serve Him well. That’s our expectation for any of those who want to join us. We want people committed to our common purpose, willing to work through the joys and difficulties that come as a result of being a spiritual community.
- We are a church that has common values. These are core to any who would consider joining us:
- Spending one hour a day with God in some form of prayer – silence, solitude, holy reading, meditation on Scripture, etc.
- Being a servant and cultivating a servant heart
- Demonstrating servanthood by being in some form of ministry here or elsewhere in the Springfield community
- Loving the unity of the brethren and seeking unity in our midst by curtailing rebellion, grumbling, complaining and murmuring
- We are not a mega-church. We aren’t as concerned about growing in number as we are about growing into a local holy temple. Since every local church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Jesus Himself the Chief Cornerstone, we desire to build slow and build well.
“The apostasy of the early Church came as a result of a greater desire to see the spread of its power and rule than to see new natures given to its individual members. The moment we covet a large following and rejoice in the crowd that is attracted by our presentation of what we consider truth, and have not a greater desire to see the natures of individuals changed according to the divine plan, we start to travel a road of apostasy…” Author Unknown
SOME THOUGHTS ON PRAYER FROM THE PASTOR
As a pastor for 30 years, I have come to know that a prayerless religion is a treadmill requiring constant activity with no progress. The narrow gate and the hard way of prayer are how we each come to an intimacy with Jesus, how we find the peace that surpasses understanding, and how we keep ourselves in the love of God with hearts burning. For me to deny this would make me a traitor to Him and His calling on my life. He deserves and requires more of me, thus as a pastor I must require more of the people I serve in order to lead them to Him. I am also under obligation, to Him, to lead people where they may not want to go.
What the average American calls prayer is not really prayer. Prayer isn’t something we tack on to our Christianity. We must, each one of us, have a prayer life. It is the most exciting, wonderful, transforming, frustrating, difficult, weighty work a Christian will ever do. That’s probably why we don’t do it. Prayer is where we discover the real enemy – us, the old man, the natural mind, the flesh. This is the first enemy our spiritual warfare should target. Prayer is where we are purified, where we stay in His Presence to examine ourselves and allow Him to search our hearts. We learn in prayer to carry our cross daily. It takes more than five minutes or fifteen or thirty to walk up Golgotha. We keep falling under the weight of the cross, or stopping for rest, or throwing it down. A daily consistent prayer life keeps us on the path, the path our Savior described as narrow with few finding it. His words not mine.