Last night after I posted, I went to bed on the verge of a panic attack, realising that I could be easily misunderstood – this is one of my unbearable feelings – this, together with blogging is a terrible mix for someone like me. A friend once told me that if you know the heart of a person, then you know that it isn’t usually their intention to hurt anyone. So moving forward, please know that my intention is to start open conversations around these things, not to criticize or to cause division. Just to share my journey…
Several years ago our family hit a time of church burn out. For those that don’t know, my husband has been in ministry work since well before we were married.
Work was particularly full on at the time, the pressures were high and Sunday morning had become very routine for us. We didn’t feel like we were connecting or fitting in. We had been going for years but longed for something more.
We really felt that God was calling us to step away from Sunday mornings for a while to learn about what being church really was. In obedience, we did.
Around this time, we were challenged quite seriously by some people around us. Luke was told that if we did this, our family would lose our faith. They were afraid that we would back-slide. It was quite hurtful to say the least. It showed us how religious we can get about missing a Sunday gathering.
We loved the church and all it could be, but our faith couldn’t soley rely on a sunday morning service, could it? We needed to work this out now, for all of us. Especially our kids.
It was during this time that we began learning what it really meant to be church.
We took time off from attending Sunday morning services and instead prayed more than we ever have before about the things that we were wrestling with. We had family worship times in our home as we sort God for answers to our deepest questions. We had never done that before. And it changed everything.
It was during this time that our children began learning to hear from God through prayer and a lot of amazingly precious things happened. God faithfully spoke and revealed things to us that we hadn’t known before.
I look back on that time as a real turning point in our lives and in our ministry.
We strongly felt led to start something. ‘Simple’ was the word we kept coming back to. Church stripped down to the basics so we could see what truly mattered, while learning about community and worshiping him wholeheartedly together.
Luke and I prayed about it a lot. We had many coffee catch ups together in cafes, where we sat dreaming about what could be. We prayed about it at home. It was never far from our thoughts. We planned for the longest time and eventually a small gathering called The Ambient was born.
We rejoined our church family on Sunday morning with a renewed sense of purpose and energy.
On a Sunday evening in the back hall of our church, we held our first gathering with friends and band mates. Even if we were the only ones that showed up, we prayed that we would continue to worship with all of our heart.
I remember those very first evenings being alive and exciting. God spoke mightily as we worshipped together with everything we had. It was what dreamed it could be. A group of people came together and were church.
We opened the bible, spoke words of prophetic encouragement, and prayed for each other. It was an open space for me and others to learn how to step into our giftings. I even had prophetic words for others there that lined up exactly with words other people had for them. It was so new to me, so encouraging.
I left that evening buzzing with energy, full to overflowing. I couldn’t believe there was such a great crowd straight away. I went home and wrote down the words that God had spoken, so I could remember them.
It didn’t stay this way for long though. I turns out our gathering wasn’t for everyone. There were concerns that it was too spiritual, and that we needed a 20 minute sermon. Of all the comments that I have heard over the years, being called too spiritual as a Christian has been the most baffling to me. God is spirit. He asks us to worship in spirit and in truth, and we get to do both.
The most profound realisation for me was that speaking words from bible in the gathering, on their own, was incredibly powerful. Don’t get me wrong, I love hearing spirit filled sermons, I know some incredibly encouraging ministers who speak words of life, but sometimes it’s okay to hear God’s words straight from the source, and rest in them as they fill the room around us. There is something quite profound in that.
A few months in, we were suddenly down to just a few of us, trying to be faithful to that call to worship anyway, no matter what the circumstances. It was hard, but we felt his presence strongly in those times. Each gathering was something precious.
We wondered what God was up to and worked on staying faithful. We knew there was something in this.
To be continued….