Recently, I had to reflect on the question: What is the pulse of my day? This question pushed me beyond the Christ is the center of my life answer to determine what person or activity marks off the hours of my day. In other words, what activity or person causes me routinely to change my activity?
The answer for my Benedictine teachers is prayer, while for me the answer is currently fatherhood/my daughter. While I work on the personal ramifications of that realization of my life, I also began to wonder: What is the pulse of my church? I think small groups, local congregations, and denominations/Christian movements all have pulses.
I have attended churches with the pulse of preaching. Like fatherhood, I can’t easily fault that pulse. The danger I saw with the pulse of preaching was the heartbeat generally came from one person, the gifted preacher. The congregation risked a cult of personality or one person’s vision not necessarily guided by the Spirit of wisdom also in others. In the worst cases, a pulse of preaching may even lack the specificity of being preaching of God’s love and truth.
I have attended churches with the pulse of music, and what a lovely beat it has. The people on stage share this pulse, and like the preacher, hopefully invite the congregation to participate. But when the key talent(s) leave, so may the pulse.
I am sure there are other options out there. Deliverance, service, and missions come quickly to mind, but what of prayer? Prayer puts the rhythm of our hearts in tune with God, the One we converse with in prayer. Prayer is a sustainable pulse because every person can and should participate equally in it. And the Bible frequently cites prayer as the linchpin for other activity: forgiveness, politics, peace, maturity, the filling of the Holy Spirit, deliverance, understanding, favor, the spreading of the good news of salvation through Jesus (James 5:16, 1 Timothy 2:2, Matthew 5:44, Genesis 20:7, 1 Samuel 12:19, 1 Kings 13:6, 2 Corinthians 13:9, Colossians 1:9, 2 Thessalonians 3:1, Daniel 9:3, Nehemiah 2:4 . . .)
Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, (Ephesians 6:18 RSV)
The pulse of prayer. Listening above lectures. Time with God above talent. The whole of God’s people above personality. Conversation above capability.
What do you think is the pulse of your small group, congregation, denomination or movement?
What is your pulse? And what will you do if you discover it is work, sex, eating, exercise, study, or something else?