You cannot advance an army beyond its supply lines. But us church leaders, we can be more focused on sending people out than we are on filling their tank.
It can feel like a stiff wind resists our dream for people to be evangelising and planting churches.
Generally speaking, Australian Christians feel somewhat breathless – reluctant to speak lest they are rejected, ridiculed or even vilified for being intolerant or absolutist.
When we add this to the spiritual and emotional tiredness in the wake of COVID, it seems that just when we most need to be accelerating our efforts to spread the gospel, we find ourselves running on empty.
The bad news is actually good news!
To admit that our churches and their people lack the strength in themselves to bring any real sense of revival is a great place for real revival to start.
It was never supposed to be about us being clever, well-resourced or “feeling ready”.
The same disciples who fled when Jesus was arrested were also those who later saw thousands saved in a day, evangelized cities, and died heroically. It wasn’t that they suddenly became ready or that society made it easy – it was a powerful and contagious experience of God filling their heart and empowering their message.
Only full hearts can fuel mission.
They were disciples BEFORE they were effective. But only after they were filled with the Spirit and dedicated to their mission did they begin making a difference.
Perhaps we need to include in our definition of disciples that they are full of God’s presence, not just full of good teaching and habits. Our discipleship-making framework too may need more environments where people are encouraged to hunger for God, surrender their hearts, and invite His presence & power.
We made that change at our church some years ago. The result was that we went from a handful of people committed to mission to seeing hundreds.
What is a full heart?
A full heart is one that is more influenced by God than by self.
Paul’s definition of a mature believer is “pneumatikos” – the spiritual person (1 Corinthians 3:1). He contrasts that to the “sarkikos”, or worldly believer who lives from their own flesh.
The Pneumatikos is one who lives predominantly FROM God more than FOR God – the Holy Spirit making possible what human strength or discipline ever could.
The Pneumatikos adds freedom to their experience of faith. More on that here. These two combined represent the fullness of heart that overflows to increased following and fruitfulness.
Whilst an ongoing experience of being filled with God’s Spirit is an issue between each person and God, in a discipleship sense there are certain factors which can be addressed which help facilitate the journey to increasing freedom.
Equipping in the process of repentance & belief (Mark 1:15) – see the re:FORM course.
Dealing with historical issues.
Finding freedom from addictions.
Engaging in Spiritual Practices such as surrendering of heart and regular thankfulness.
Stretching/filling experiences such as Spiritual Retreats.
Importantly, a full heart is not a set-and-forget thing. You aren’t just filled once. As the original grammar of Ephesians 5:18 infers – we need to “Keep on being filled with the Spirit”.
And as we have also seen – there is a breadth element to our maturity that only grows seasonally. You can be hitting the heights of fruitfulness in one area of life, yet still need to grow faith and freedom to become mature in another.
Embedding a "filling hearts" culture.
Any change to existing church culture is going to take time and effort. However, tools and ideas are available that enable you to get a strong start and a growing church-wide testimony of genuine transformation.
Many churches and thousands of people have already commenced this journey and see regular examples of breakthrough into freedom. Freedom that overflows to mission.
Contact us at ConneXa for support on how to make a start in your context.