Transcendence is the best single word I have found to describe the attributes of God that are only found in Him and what is missing too often from our churches. We are facilitators of transcendence. Our main job is to usher in the Almighty—God forgive us when we have settled for less. When transcendence is welcomed and unveiled, no one even notices the program, the preacher, or other people. Anything resembling performance seems out of place. Because all that is visible is eclipsed by what is not: God Himself moving through the church in power and meeting with His people in manifest ways.
When did we decide that relevant need-meeting was superior to awesome God-meeting? We have settled for the horizontal and become comfortable leading and attending churches that God does not. Sailing is only delightful when the wind blows, and church without the transcendent leaves us dead in the water. Does your heart hunger for the miraculous in church where God’s power is manifested in measureable ways?
May I ask some honest questions? Whether you attend a megachurch, a large church, a medium or small or microchurch—when was the last time God took you to the mat and pinned you with a fresh awareness of His size compared to yours? How have we come to be content with so little of God’s obvious presence? I believe there are reasons why good, dedicated people serving the Lord settle for so much less than what church was created to be. Often it’s because a rational antisupernaturalism is all we have ever known. …
In a society where rationality has ruled so long, the church frequently fails to see that in forsaking the weekly pursuit of the transcendent, we have given up the only ground that was uniquely ours in this world. In attempting to make the church something that can attract and add value to secular mind-sets, we have turned our backs on our one true value proposition—transcendence.
The entity God created to traffic His transcendence has fallen far from its mission when it chooses instead to traffic what can be found on any street corner or at the local mall. You may ask, “But how has the church done that?”
- By offering secularists what they find mildly interesting and calling it church.
- By submitting to self-help sermons where encounter with God is not even on the agenda.
- By letting the horizontal excellence of the show stand in for Vertical impact.
- By substituting the surprise or shock of superficial entertainment for the supernatural.
Church was designed to deliver what we were created to long for. Church must again be about a Vertical encounter that interrupts and alters everything. If it isn’t Vertical, is it really church at all? What do we really have to offer this horizontal world so burdened with its own happiness this moment? When we settle for a festival of felt needs at church, we fail to offer what God has charged us exclusively to give; we fail to facilitate what God has created people to need, and that is eternity—transcendence—the rare air of something totally beyond ourselves. Vertical is what God made us to long for and what the church is designed to facilitate.
Excerpted from Vertical Church.