Overflow. That’s what Mondays are all about. The Overflow blog series is a platform for content I couldn’t fully explore when I preached on Sunday. You can catch the other 11 Overflow blogs HERE.
Watch or listen to the Unruined series in the Awaken teaching archive.
By the time we get to Nehemiah 8, the walls are up. If Nehemiah were a book about masonry and wall-building, it would’ve ended a couple chapters ago. But Nehemiah isn’t about people building walls; it’s about God building people. Although revival is His work, He uses people to set it up. In other words, God does the supernatural, but our hands are all over the natural.
Nehemiah 8 is a perfect visual of this truth…
Vs. 1 says, “all the people gathered together as one man…”
There had to have been some sort of announcement and promotion for this event.
Vs. 1 goes on to say that they gathered “into the square before the Water Gate” so Ezra the scribe could read the Law to them.
They found a gathering place large enough for everyone to fit in.
Vs. 3 says “he read from it (the scroll of the Law) facing the square before the Water Gate,” probably so the acoustics were at their best.
They made sure the acoustics were right so that as many people as possible could hear.
Vs. 4 says, “Ezra the scribe stood on a wooden platform that they had made for the purpose.”
Before the gathering started, they built a structure that demonstrated authority and ensured Ezra could be seen and heard by all.
Vs. 4 goes on to say, “beside him stood [13 leaders].” 6 on his right side and 7 on his left.
They planned out who would stand where on the stage as Ezra read from the scroll.
Vs. 7 gives the names of a group of 13 Levites (different from those on the stage) who walked through the crowd and “gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading.” (vs. 8)
Not only did they plan who would be on stage, but also who would be in the crowd, explaining what was being read.
All of this and more communicates strategy, planning, promotion, and plenty of forethought that went into this event. They wanted to see God move in a powerful way, and trusted the power of God’s Word to transform people’s lives. If we expect God to move, we need to prepare for it. Expectation necessitates preparation. (tweet this) There are lots of practical ways for you to personally apply that principle, but let’s discuss what this means on a corporate level within the church…
I think there’s a reason that the word “supernatural” contains the word “natural.” Just because revival is a supernatural work of God, that doesn’t remove our responsibilities in the natural realm. He gifted us with natural and spiritual gifts and talents so He can partner with us to do His work!
So what does this mean for the local church?
Lots of things…
Promotion, staging, staffing (paid and volunteer), acoustics, visual elements, post-event follow-up matters. We can’t just expect God to do something, then sit back and do nothing ourselves.
Some people insist that the modern-day church needs to go back to its New Testament roots.
If you want to go completely Biblical, turn off the electricity, put on a robe, go outside, and stand for hours while a scroll is read in Hebrew.
I’m not saying that billboards, computer-synced lighting systems, hazers, and well-rehearsed music saves people or are even prerequisites to God moving in a powerful way. All I’m getting at is using whatever we have at our disposal to get the gospel out as far as possible.
I think if an audio tech would have handed Ezra a microphone, he would have gladly used that instead of stressing his vocal cords!
At Awaken, before anyone ever sits in a chair where they will hear God’s Word and (prayerfully) be supernaturally transformed, lots of natural things have taken place:
- they’ve met a smiling member of our Parking Team in the parking lot (and been led to a VIP parking space if it’s their first time)
- dropped off their kids with our awesome Awaken Kids team
- walked into one of our venues where cold water and hot coffee (prepared by our Social Specialists) await them
- wandered into one of our sanctuaries, where music is playing and slides are rolling on screen
All of that and more happens before they even sit down. That doesn’t even include the band that has practiced for hours already, the message I’ve spent hours preparing, our Next Step team that is ready to meet with those who make faith decisions, our Photography Team documenting what God is doing, and so much more!
All of that to say this: you and your God-given gifts and talents matter.