Can you plan out the Holy Spirit?

December 11, 2008

 2 teams of average talent level take the floor at the start of the basketball game.  1 team has practiced, prepared, discussed a game plan, gone over scenarios, and trained hard for these next moments.   The other team has never discussed a thing, don’t know each other, but are wearing the uniforms and they are going to give it their all.   Which team are you betting on?


2 sets of parents are raising their children.  1 couple just takes life as it comes, handles each situation in the moment, and they never discuss beforehand what they value, what is important, and what they hope to impart to their children.  The other couple seeks to be on the same page, to be preventive in their approach as best as possible, and to be united in their messaging to their children to maximize their efforts.  Which parents would you like to have?


Two couples come to the end of their working days, and retire.  One couple has planned out their stocks, bonds, 403b’s, 401ks etc.  They have developed a plan to handle what comes next.  Another couple had lived paycheck to paycheck their whole life, and never discussed any sort of financial plan.  Which couple would you like to be when you retire?


These situations may seem black and white to you.  In most cases in life, planning is looked at as prudent and generally a great idea.  Being a worship leader for four years now, I have been in many conversations where the feeling is that planning a worship gathering is somehow unspiritual and limits the Holy Spirit’s ability to work in people’s hearts.


I understand the conversation, but whole heartedly disagree with its basic premise.  The Holy Spirit in my opinion is not limited by good planning.   Far more important than how long a song or announcements or a talk takes or doesn’t take,  is the heart of you and I, our desire to honor God, to seek His presence, and to love Him and one another.


There are realities that churches face that are just a fact of life. Parking, Sunday school, people’s attention spans etc.   These things take planning to some extent to coordinate, but does that make it somehow unspiritual?  Is Sunday morning the only time the Spirit desires to work and move?  Can He also do it during a basketball game, in your parenting, or how you handle your finances?

So what do you think?  Can you plan out the Holy Spirit?




  1. welcome to wordpress, mckizzle!!!

  2. I love the snow! Can you make it do the same outside now???

  3. The HS is not limited by anything, but I believe we need the planning as humans. Life works much better on organized management. God gave us a plan and good habits so we function in “His plan.”

  4. The Holy Spirit can lead you in preparation just as much as leading you in the moment of a service. God knows who will be in the service and what the needs will be ahead of time. Therefore, we value the Spirit’s leading and you can say “the Spirit led today.” I think that spontaneity often is appreciated because it feels less scripted and fresh but is often misunderstood as always being Spirit led. I think that we can limit the Holy Spirit by being unprepared but are often the most able to be spontaneous and move in the moment (as the Spirit leads) when we are prepared. Are Pastors wrong to prepare for their messages? But when a Pastor is prepared, there is the most freedom to deviate should the Spirit lead. Pray, prepare your heart, plan well (eepecially if more than a few people are involved, the more the number of people involved the more prep needed) and let the Spirit be in control!

    On another note…I want to say that I appreciate your blog, especially your transparency and honesty. You are an excellent writer, thanks for sharing your life and gift with others.

    As far as the new blog…the white letters on dark background seems harder to read and the font could be a little bigger for the early 40 somethings that are reading 🙂

  5. Thanks for your comments! Sam thanks for the encouragement! I changed my blog to try and make it more readable. I couldn’t change the font size BUT I think you can if you go to page up on the top of your browser and select text size and make it larger, as well as zoom has some options too!

  6. I kept waiting for the background to load…maybe it’s just Firefox, but there’s not much contrast between the white background and your text. But I’ll wait until you’ve settled in to get critical…

    And I’m hoping the playlist thing got lost in the move…not that I have an opinion of those infernal things one way or the other…

    To your topic, I’d say there’s balance between leaving everything unplanned and just assuming the Holy Spirit will show up and make everything work and planning out where the Spirit fits into things.

  7. i doubt the playlist thing will work….wordpress will not recognize javascript code and even some html code.

  8. Jay, first let me say thank you for all that you do to create our time of worship.

    As for your question, I believe the answer is definitely NO, you cannot plan out the Holy Spirit. He will always move when and where He wants, regardless of how much you do or don’t plan. He doesn’t NEED any of us to accomplish what He wants.

    On the other hand, I recently wrote the following to a similar question Jill asked in her blog a while ago: bottom line, don’t worry about what the congregation does or doesn’t get out of it…that’s really not your responsibility. that’s the Holy Spirit’s job. Your job always has been and always will be to seek Him when preparing, be real, give what you can and leave the rest in His Hands. Our job as a congregation is to come with an open heart to commune with God and be open to what He has for us.

    Jill always says, “even the rocks are praising Him”. No matter how you feel about the worship service, God can and will use it in the lives of the people He has brought to worship Him on any given day. Remember, sometimes the miracle is in the ear of the hearer, not the mouth of the speaker…

    You and the rest of team always do a really great job and it really IS obvious that you LOVE God and love serving Him by leading worship. I’m sorry that you get beat up sometimes. Someone wrote a book a long time ago called, “how to follow the Shepherd when you’re being pushed around by the other sheep”…unfortunately some people will always be critical and will complain. Remember what James 1 says; “consider it pure joy…” Satan would love nothing more than to discourage and defeat you because you are making a difference in the Kingdom of Heaven.

    I do have to say one of my favorite moments in the worship times happened last Sunday when you looked at Jill and she looked at you and then you turned to the congregation and said, “This is the part where we don’t know what’s happening next…” I loved the transparency and the fact that everything WASN’T perAfect. “This is a ball, this is me dropping the ball.” It made me laugh, and we all know that laughter is great medicine…

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