This week I’m going for one day to the AoG conference in Bradford. Held at the church facilities owned by Life Church where Ana is at.
As I was looking at booking in there was a link to one of last year’s messages by Glynn Barret from Audacious Church in Manchester. Glynn has a church of around 4,000 in Manchester and they are seeing 25 first time decisions for Christ every week. I’m not impressed by people having big churches but I am impressed when God is doing something. I started listening and it was good. If you want to hear it first hand go to aog.org.uk. If not you’re going to get a cut down Nick Reynolds shaped version today. Because I thought it was really encouraging for us.
What he shared was one of the really important things for a church to be fruitful and grow. Just one of the things.
What he talked about was atmosphere. Having the right atmosphere for God to do something. Atmosphere is important.
When God created the world he had a plan and as Bill Johnson said it was for Adam and Eve to rule over creation. He made the world first, he made the perfect environment, the perfect atmosphere for Adam and Eve to be successful, for multiplication, for growth and fruitfulness. In the beginning it was formless and empty and dark. God didn’t make Adam and say there – do something with that. Nor did he plonk Adam and Eve in the desert and say “now try and scratch out a living there”. No he put them in a garden – a perfect place a perfect environment to fulfil what he had called them to.
Adam and eve were not this last minute add on. The whole thing was designed for them. They were the pinnacle of creation. We see nature/creation and we think wow that’s awe inspiring. But that shouldn’t belittle us. On the other hand we should think amazing he made it as the place for us and he made it as the perfect place for humankind to exist and be fruitful.
So God was busy creating the right environment and the right atmosphere for what he wanted to happen. If you don’t have the right environment things don’t grow.
If you want to grow tomatoes from seed – you need to create the right environment for germination. Good compost with nutrients, damp, cover, in the dark so that it doesn’t dry out. Warm in the airing cupboard. Several seedlings – you choose the best. But after germination change the environment, increase the pot size, sunlight. Then harden off. But don’t stick it out in 8 degrees of frost. All the time you are creating the perfect atmosphere, the perfect environment for the tomato to grow and be fruitful.
Sure God can do anything with the most unpromising of environments but the picture of creation is the that God made the perfect environment. God wasn’t out to make it hard for them. He didn’t say – here’s a desert – now grow some fruit. We can have that view of God.
So God created the atmosphere. We use the word to describe what a situation feels like. And what a situation feels like can be a good or bad atmosphere. Ever walked into a room and wanted to walk straight out because of the atmosphere?
I think – we have a good atmosphere here. Love, mercy, grace. I think when people come in, by and large they get the feeling that this is a good place to be. And that’s how it should be.
One of the reasons we have coffee first is to provide a welcoming atmosphere. This place when we are here should exude life, mercy, love, joy, peace, of faith for the impossible … all those fruits of the spirit should pervade the atmosphere.
The atmosphere is important. A bad atmosphere can kill what God wants to do. A bad atmosphere will get in the way of people encountering God.
There were time when Jesus had to deal with the atmosphere.
Mark 5 – jairus daughter. Its in the bit of the bible called the new testament, – everything to do with the life of jesus and beyond.
When jesus came into this situation what was the atmosphere? what he found was an atmosphere of death. Everything was caught up in that word “dead”. Everything that was happening was to do with death. There was no hope. What did he do? He got rid of the mourners. Well Jesus that’s not very pastorally sensitive! Did you consult your pastoral care handbook? Don’t you realise these people have feelings? Sometime we can be so “pastoral” we lose sight of the bigger prize.
So Jesus throws out the mourners and just keeps his disciples and mum and dad there. The disciples are there for two reasons – to learn from Jesus but also because they will bring an atmosphere of hope and faith and expectation that maybe something’s going to happen here.. They’ve seen what Jesus has just done – a miracle on the journey. He changes the atmosphere from “she is dead” “there’s no hope” “don’t trouble yourself” “don’t beat yourself up” “professional mourners” “religiousness”, to faith and hope. Jesus might just do something here.
There are people in life who are professional wailers. Some calamity in the world that they have to be wailing over, woe is me woe is me. Such people are bringing an atmosphere of death not life.
An atmosphere of life is an atmosphere of possibilities.
I’ve mentioned the atmosphere here in this building.
We want to change the atmosphere of our town. We can pray about that. But we can do something…
Everywhere we go, we have the potential to bring the atmosphere of life. Your family, your workplace. I believe you can change the atmosphere in your work place. You can bring the atmosphere of heaven. Let me tell a story. Driving test centre.
Everywhere we go we can set the atmosphere – and sometimes that may prove to be the setting to pray for someone, to talk about Jesus. See how they love one another…
Pray that we become atmosphere changers – the Holy Spirit will help us.