When I was a young boy, my father took our family to visit the ghost town of Bodie, California. Bodie, like many towns in the Old West of America, sprung up quickly and thrived until the ore vein that justified their existence played out. When that depletion took place, the town shut down, people left and the once thriving community became only a ghostly shell of its past glory.
Ghost towns remind me of what is taking place within the Church. Some of our models of ministry thrived under conditions that no longer exist. Those expressions are becoming like abandoned ghost towns. This is not meant to be interpreted as something negative. It is a reality of life in the Spirit. Models of ministry come and go but the essence of that model – the life of the Spirit – will live on, just in a different form. To remain in a ghostly model of something that no longer works is like continuing to live in a ghost town like Bodie long after the purpose of the town is no longer present to support its continuance.
The Lord is building something new over yet to be discovered deposits of His Spirit. These new settlements may not look familiar when they are constructed. They will produce new expressions of God’s Kingdom that will be filled with the Spirit in a different context. These communities of faith will not be another failed attempt to keep alive a ghost town-like example of what worked in the past, but no longer serves the purpose of the Great Commission. They will be something new filled with the refreshing presence of God’s Spirit uniquely revealed in this moment of history.