Saturday, August 11, 2012

Vertical Church: Chapter 1

In high school, while at a Christian youth conference, I sat in an auditorium surrounded by kids my age.  Most of us in that room had heard of Christ before.  Most of us knew what salvation was and I would imagine, most of us had accepted Christ as a young child.  So there I sat, a teenager secure in her salvation - going on about 10 years as a "Christian".  We sang songs together, listened to a message... some of us took notes.  At the end of that night, the speaker prayed the "sinner's prayer".  You know the one...

If you are tired of living a life apart from God... 
If you realize that you are a sinner in need of Divine grace...  
If you want to accept Christ's free gift and follow Him...
 pray this prayer with me...

It was a prayer I heard so often as a young Christian who went to church every week with my family.  I knew the prayer.  I knew the Gospel.

But something happened at that moment.  While the speaker was asking us to accept Christ, my world shifted.  In that moment, my soul yearned for something greater - greater than my mediocre, lazy Christian life.  I knew of Him, but I didn't know Him.  I loved Him, but my love for Him was shallow.  The life that I lead as a Christian girl was dull.

At that moment my heart hurt.  I wanted more.  I wanted more of Him.  I wanted to know Him better.  To serve Him better.  To love Him with all that I had.

A few minutes later, I found myself sitting between my sister and my youth group leader, weeping.  I  was literally crying out to God.  I wanted the God of the universe, the Almighty, to fall on me, take over my life and rule my heart.

My life was forever changed at that moment.  Although I had many times of falling back into a lazy Christian life - when I became content in the knowledge of God and not His heart - when I was satisfied with living half for Him...  But God always took a hold of me.  Whether it was during times witnessing to Joel before he got saved, or when an initial positive result for cancer came back negative the next day... or the moment I held my daughters for the first time, or even last spring, when God started peeling away the layers of my heart.  I yearn for God's transcendence, for eternity.  You do, too.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that "he has put eternity into man's heart".  It's in all of us - we long for a God that cannot be measured.

James MacDonald discusses this further in chapter one, and perfectly sums up where my struggles have been with my relationship with God:
The dilemma of the human race is not that we are unaware of God but that when push comes to shove, we value ourselves more highly than we value God.  The core of humanity's sin problem is not a horizontal behavior to be corrected, but a Vertical relationship to be restored... All are aware of a God, but most do not acknowledge His rightful place.  (pg. 56)

When I struggle with how I see God, my relationship with Him shifts.  And always for the worse.

A Longing in Our Church
The thing I'm most excited for with our new church is seeing lives changed.  I can't wait to see what happens when our Eternal God changes the hearts of men, women and children in our church.

When God shows up, lives are changed.


Mateus said...


Hi, I'm Mateus. I was searching for something different to set in my church next sunday, since the worship will be youths's responsability that day. So, at Google images search, I saw your logo, and the name "Vertical Church". It got me curious. I started reading this first post and it was exactaly what I was wondering to bring to my church on sunday. And, by the end, you explained what the vertical church is. It is a wonderful concept. Congratulations to your church, that is totally what every single church needs. Oh, and here in Brazil we also have tons of different denominations of churchs. But this is a simple concept that each one needs to follow. The relationship with God first. Thanks for writing this, it was amazing to know about this concept. Keep on it ^^.


Jill said...


Thanks so much for your comment... It was so encouraging to read! Please keep reading along as I blog my way through this book... There are 7 more chapters to go.
And if you're interested, please read the Vertical Church blog, written by the author of this book, James MacDonald. You can find more posts here:

God's blessings to you & your church!

Emmy said...

Yes people can become too complacent and though they believe in God they forget about Him in the everyday. I think we all have a point in our lives, even when we grown up in church, where we become truly converted.