Accessing God’s Presence

Jim Burns

What’s the purpose of church? Accessing God’s Presence


The little picture on the left talks about today’s church.  It refers to when ministry becomes performance, the sanctuary becomes a theater, the congregation becomes an audience, when worship become entertainment, and man gets the glory and applause – stage full of flashing lights, loud music, performers, worshipping their own selves, no holiness, no pulpit, no gospel, just a man-made, feel-good experience going home feeling we have done something that felt good.

This little picture primarily tells the story of many churches today.  All the things we do – like the Hollywood type light shows, concert-type loud music, the feel-good motivational-type performances – all to attract more people to the church, so that we can increase our average numbers, get better financial increases, to fill our church building every Sunday so we will take notice from the news and religious magazines that we are a successful church.

We have chosen the ways of the world to attract people, for the sake of seeking people and making money.  It seems that many churches today have gone the way of the world to reach others to their churches. But have we forgotten the motivation of all our doing?  What is the business of the church anyway?   Are we to just fill pews, and increase the size of the offering plate?  Or are we changing lives? 

The latest surveys seem to indicate that we are NOT doing what we were commissioned to do. Surveys by the Barna Group[1] reveal that among those claiming to be Evangelical Christians today are more and more like the world:

19% are living with a partner outside of marriage, disregarding biblical principles.

37% do not believe the Bible to be totally accurate, having lost inerrancy of Word.

45% do not believe Jesus was sinless, totally disregarding biblical accounts.

52% do not believe Satan is real, disregarding the validity of Satan throughout.

57% do not believe Jesus is the only way to eternal life, disregarding His word.

57% believe that good works play a part in gaining eternal life, disregarding the simple truth that eternal life is by grace not of works.

David Reagan says, “As you can see from the survey results, the term Evangelical Christian has lost its meaning.”[2]  Evangelicals have fallen into the fallacy of liberal theology, interpreting the Scripture that fits our own practices of Christianity (which is a misnomer) because Christian means to “be like Christ.” We are trying to bring Christ down to our level instead of trying to bring ourselves up to His level. 

And we have totally disregarded the negative force in the world that brings humanity down to the level of evil and Satan.  It seems our religion fits our own practices, and we call it Christianity, which is totally untrue.

Many churches are in the business of having a weekly performance for an audience who wants to be entertained. When the church should be turning a building into a sanctuary for a congregation to worship a Holy God by glorifying Him, and a place where the whole counsel of God – the gospel – is preached from a pulpit and brings people to an encounter with God where the Spirit moves to a reconciliation to Him, and leading people to receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit, which empowers them to go out and act like Jesus – touching the lives of hurting, lonely, lost people and bringing those lost and lonely soul to the saving faith of Christ Jesus.

Reagan goes on to say in another quote, “The same is true of the raging apostasy within the Church. The term, Evangelical, has lost its meaning, as some who claim to be an Evangelical Christian proclaiming that there are many roads to Heaven and there is no Hell.”[3]

Many churches are defending their way-out worship styles – we are doing the kinds of music and worship that attracts young people to Jesus.  “Everything we do,” they say is, “we do these worship styles are to bring them closer to Jesus, is it happening?  No, it brings us closer to the worldly ways of the world that we can identify with. Not, to bring people closer to what Jesus did.

We are to be often reminded that even if we are “in the world, we should not be of the world.”[4]  That we are about abstaining from the pattern of this present time but being converted by the renewing of our minds through the word of God, and acting according to His will which is good and perfect.[5]  We are not to be drawn into the mind of the world, but to be a renewing of our minds through the Word of God into acting more like Jesus.

Reagan also says, “A Second Reformation is going on in the Church today, but unlike the first, which was based on a call to return to the Bible, this new reformation is calling people to use the Bible on behalf of their own feelings and beliefs. As the Church grows increasingly weak from its internal rot, society continues to plunge into darkness.”[6]  The church is to bring light to darkness, not to bring more darkness by distinguishing the light, as we see the decreasing influence of the church today.  In a recent survey from Pew Research Center says that a mass exodus from Christianity is taking place in the United States today. It seems that Christianity has merged into the prevailing culture of today.

The more heresy and apostasy grow in the church, the more and more evil prevails, bringing us down to an all-time level of becoming barbarians, influenced, and dominated by vices and the savage nature of the evil one.  Our claim to be Christian is simply one of idolatry, nothing like the Christ of the Son of God.

I recently came across these words of N.T. Wright that I believe points out the fallacy of “big tent” unity: “If we are to come together as Christians it will not be by watering down everything until there is so little left that we can all agree on it;

tt is to become the all-powerful body of Christl, it will be by all of us learning more and more of Christ, and of the truth about him, so that we can grow closer to each other because we are closer to him.” 

So, what then is the business of the church?   

The business of the church is accessing the Presence of God!

The business of the church is NOT to be filled with people in the church building; it is not to have good statistics, to have more baptisms, more church membership increases, more attendance on a given Sunday, or a good prosperous offering every Sunday.

The business of the church is accessing God’s presence; see people reconciled to God and to see people filled with the Holy Spirit of God and following Jesus – to be like Jesus.  We need to keep our eyes on Jesus.  Jesus gave us a gift within us to do the work He wants us to do – the Holy Spirit will convict the world of guilt, regarding sin and righteousness, and judgment in regard to sin.  He will guide you into all truth.[7]

When we access God’s presence in worship, worshipping God with all our might, all our heart, all our mind, all our soul, and all our spirit to God, we will not need light shows, rock music and all the hype of the world.  This is evident with all the spontaneous, unplanned outpouring of the Spirit of God on college campuses in places like Asbury University, Samford University, Lee University, Texas A&M University, and others.

When we open our hearts and lives to the Lord Jesus, welcoming Him to come in, the Holy Spirit will come upon us, and we will be His witnesses – when the Holy Spirit comes, He will out-rank, and outsmart any light shows and rock music, and motivational speeches. Jesus is the Son of the Living God, He will upstage all the rest.

When we are open to the Holy Spirit, the sound of rushing winds descending from heaven, with wings like as doves to saturate us with the Holy Spirit, our tongues will be opened and start going everywhere sharing the gospel with people we know and people we don’t know, and we will touch the lives of people who need help and some pretty awesome things will begin to happen as we go.[8] 

People will devote themselves to the teaching of the whole counsel of God, their eyes will be opened, their tongues will be loosened, prayer meeting will break out, and awe will be filled throughout the community. People back in my younger days, folk used to talk about when a church began doing business, they called it a revival breaking out. An administrator at Asbury said of the spiritual outpouring in their campus, as an “authentic encounter with Jesus.” A personal talk, a personal praise, a personal repentance, a personal change in his life with an encounter with Jesus.

Last week in a senior Sunday school class, I saw a young lady, a Junior in high school, to share her testimony to an old folk class, who was so on fire for Jesus I could hardly stay in my seat.  This young lady had found the real business of the church, she had opened her life up to access God’s presence in her life.

She had a glow about her, you could tell she had been with Jesus. Her first period teacher delayed the roll call because this Butterfly was always five minutes late for class because she was greeting teachers and other students in the hallway toward class, often praying for people in the hall. She holds a Bible study in her school, she prays in the middle of the class when people need prayer. This young lady gave her testimony with a class of senior adults in her teacher’s church.  It was evident she had been digging into the Word, quoting passages like a seasoned clergyperson, and it was evident she was filled with the Spirit, and following Jesus.  Someone in the class asked her where she wanted to do after school, and her quick reply was, “something in ministry. I’m just waiting on Jesus to tell me what or when, but for now I just do what he gives the opportunity to do every day, share Jesus.”  That’s a good look at doing the business of the church – sharing Jesus with every opportunity we have.

The teacher of this young lady, who had invited her to his class gave a testimony with a power-packed word of encouragement to the class.  “You know people ask me why I’m still teaching at my age (he is 77)?”  His reply was, “You now know why!  This young lady energizes me to keep teaching because she is so full of Jesus and it spills over to me while she walks into my classroom.”   Wow!  What two testimonies I witnessed las Sunday morning. Two people, an elderly man, and young lady who found out, and were living out, the business of the church.  What an encouraging experience for me.  With all the bad statistics of the declining church in the world today, there is still a shinning remnant of God’s true church.

I want to share another word of encouragement from my friend and Christian brother, Phillip Smith.  “Jesus ripped the veil of the temple in two from the top to the bottom. Now, we as high priests, can enter the holy of holy’s boldly by the blood of Jesus. Once we have pierced the veil, we can see into the spiritual heavenly realm where God dwells.

 In this realm are angels, seraphim, cherubim, chariots of fire, and a whole host of saints who have departed from this earth. In this realm is where God does the miraculous for us, but it is the natural for him. The spiritual transcends all the natural. For a while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. So next time you are praying, close your eyes and investigate the mysterious kingdom of God.” 

Even though we are in the world, we should not be of the world.  We should look into the things that are eternal in the mysterious kingdom of God. 

So, what is the business of the church? Primarily, to access God’s presence in worship.  Doing the kind of things that results in a revival breaking out.  Doing things in junior high school classes, doing things in senior adult Sunday school classes, doing things down on skid row, doing things in the mansions and palaces of the rich and famous.  It takes only one spark to get a fire burning, from a junior in high school student, a 77-year-old high school teacher, a handful of students in a college chapel, to one 82-year-old in a classroom.  That’s the business of the church, accessing God’s presence, and He will do the rest.    


[1] George Barna, Barna Cultural Research Center

[2] David Reagan, Prophetic Manifesto

[3] David Reagan, Increasing Spiritual Error

[4] John 17:11, 14-15;

[5] Romans 12:2

[6] David Reagan, Christ in the End Times: Coping with Anarchy and Apostasy

[7] John 16:5-16

[8] Acts 2

Leave a Comment