I don’t know when I learned that song but I was humming it as I walked home from church yesterday. It had been a good morning in worship, with an emphasis on prayer that pervaded the entire service and made me want to say, “Amen!”
And speaking of prayer…
Since I started talking about the missional church at First Baptist five years ago there has been some discussion about where that mission takes place—inside or outside the building. Sometimes the people who are on mission inside the building—teaching Sunday school, working with children’s choirs, serving Wednesday night supper—complain that all the attention is being focused on the mission outside the building—helping the homeless, building Habitat houses, and tutoring in the elementary schools.
Well of course it’s not either/or, it’s both/and, but in an effort to get us thinking outside the walls of the church and get us working in the community I have necessarily drawn attention to that part of our mission, and the church has responded enthusiastically, so enthusiastically that in my less faithful moments I begin to wonder if there will be anybody left inside the building to sing the hymns or teach Sunday school.
So, here’s the prayer I’m praying these days:
Lord, I want you to fill up the pews of this church until they are overflowing with people who love you and love to sing your praises.
I want you to fill up the offering plates until they are overflowing with gifts given back to you in tearful gratitude.
I want you to fill up the classrooms with disciples who are eager to learn, leaning forward in their seats, open Bibles on their laps.
I want you to fill up the hallways with people who greet each other with hugs and laughter, where every Sunday feels like a family reunion.
I want you to fill their hearts with love, fill their souls with faith, fill their minds with truth, and fill their lives with every good thing you have to give until it overflows this building and spills out onto the streets of this city and into every surrounding suburb.
I want you to pour yourself out through your people until your Kingdom comes, and your will is done, in Richmond as it is in heaven.
Now, that’s the kind of prayer that gets at the “both/and” problem, and gets at it in a Kingdom way. There is no lack of abundance in God’s kingdom. We don’t have to choose between being on mission inside the building or outside.
We can do both.