Do Churches Really Need the Holy Spirit?

For some reason, we don’t think we need the Holy Spirit.  We don’t expect the Holy Spirit to act.  Or if we do, our expectations are often misguided or self-serving.  Given our talent set, experience, and education, many of us are fairly capable of living rather successfully (according to the world’s standards) without any strength from the Holy Spirit.

Even our church growth can happen without Him.  Let’s be honest: If you combine a charismatic speaker, a talented worship band, and some hip, creative events, people will attend your church.  Yet this does not mean that the Holy Spirit of God is actively working and moving in the lives of the people who are coming.  It simply means that you have created a space that is appealing enough to draw people in for an hour or two on Sunday.

It certainly does not mean that people walk out the doors moved to worship and in awe of God.  People are more likely to describe the quality of the music or the appeal of the sermon than the One who is the reason people gather for “church” in the first place. I think the worst part is when you get outside the church’s walls and interact with believers and nonbelievers in the same sphere.  Can you really tell a difference?  If you didn’t recognize their faces from church, would you know from their actions and lifestyle that they were followers of Jesus?  Honestly, sometimes I am embarrassed by some of my “Christian” neighbors because my unbelieving neighbors seem more joyful, welcoming, and at peace.  Why does this happen?  And how is this even possible?

(Francis Chan, Forgotten God: Reversing our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit, ch. 1)

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