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Establishing a Beach Head

 

It has been said that if you desire community, you will destroy community. But if you desire to love the brethren, you will build up and establish community.

Every group has a culture about it. There are ways that we tend to be. We tend to have a certain heart posture as a group. There is certain vocabulary that each group tends to use.

Whatever is the easiest and the most natural for us to step into reveals the culture of the group. The conversations that are easiest for us to have indicate the culture of the group. The activities that are easiest for us to do together are an indicator of the culture of the group. On the contrary, the conversations and activities which tend to be more difficult for us to have and do, also indicate what the culture is not.

The culture or climate of any group is dictated by the foundation that it has. A group of people may know and believe that their sins are forgiven and that Jesus is the Christ, and therefore may be Christians. But how easy is it for that group to pray together? How easy is it for the group to share and talk together in an intimate and vulnerable way? Are they being knit together on a heart level?

Or, on the other hand, is it easier for us as a group to talk about fishing? Is it easier for us to just go shopping together and hang out? Is it easier for us to just talk about theology? Is it easier for us to engage in intellectual and philosophical topics? If you were riding in the car with another person of your group, would it be awkward to pray together about intimate things?

Occasionally, we may know how to do things like help someone move their furniture. We know how to serve one another with things like mowing their grass, letting them borrow our car, or visiting someone in the hospital when they’re sick. But as a culture we are totally unfamiliar with how to meet one another in a deep way and on a daily basis. Things like engaging one another in tenderness through conversation. We tend to not be very good at being sensitive to one another’s needs by listening to the Spirit’s promptings for one another – even when we are not with one another. We are unfamiliar with and typically have little desire to want to minister to the Lord corporately through prayer (Acts 13:2).

As a culture, we are very familiar with the outward and the shallow. But we don’t know much at all about the inward and about the nuisances of the heart. We don’t know about it for ourselves, let alone for others or in a group setting. Phrases like “being transparent’, “vulnerability,” “intimacy”, “the heart” – can all be elusive. The culture of the West has infected the church. We’ve not had much example. We’ve not been taught. Yet we all crave the very things we don’t know much about.

In military terms, when an army wants to take over another country that is not their own, they can establish what is called a beach head. The invading army has to take a very small, but fortified area of territory, usually on the beach of the country being invaded. Once the invading army has landed on the beach and fortified the area, they can slowly advance and take over the country. A beach head is for taking new territory. It must be strong and it must advance slowly, otherwise it will be scattered.

In the same way, if a group of Christians are wanting to take new territory, specifically unfamiliar territory, a beach head must be established. A beach head is the easiest and most effective way of taking new ground and changing the culture of a group. If you just try to “all start praying together more” – it will be hard to make such a change.

Let’s take one example. We will use this example in this chapter because this is very common. Suppose we have a group of believers for whom it happens to be very easy for them to just hang out together, but there really isn’t much vulnerability or things of the Spirit going on. They long for more intimacy with God and with one another, but aren’t sure exactly how to get there. Talking more about vulnerability won’t help. Doing more teaching on it won’t really help. Reading a book about it won’t do much either. You need to do it. But you need to do it in a way that brings life and in a way that builds and takes territory in the spirit realm.
 
 
Well Digging Groups Establish A Beach Head in the Spirit

If you have multiple families together, to establish a beach head for any area you must start very small. This very small group will be like digging a well. It is hard to dig a well. You must take dirt and soil out of the ground in order for water to fill it. This is a picture in the Spirit. This very small group will be doing a very hard work of going against the grain. They will be going against the natural culture of what they are used to. They will be removing natural things (soil and dirt) and allowing the water of the life of God fill the new capacity they have forged out.

Let’s start with two or the most, three people. If you want to establish a beach head of intimacy in the Spirit, these two or three need to learn how to minister to the Lord in prayer.

When most people think of praying together, they think of praying through a list of needs. Although the well digging group may ask God for needs, this is not the primary purpose of the group or for the time they’ve set aside. You must learn to see Jesus. Give thanks. Enjoy who He is. Worship Him together in song (without a CD player). Read a short prayerful verse in scripture, then rejoice and give thanks to God in prayer again. Be caught up together with the goodness and character of God. Be filled with the Spirit – together. Learn the discipline of staying in this place for a long time. It will go against everything in your flesh. Everything of flesh must die off during this time.

This is all very hard for most people to do, and their capacity for such an activity is usually very small. Most want to hurry up and start praying for various needs. As your mind thinks of various needs you could pray for, let them go, especially early on in the session. If it was the Holy Spirit leading you to pray for such a need, He will give it back to you later in the time to pray for it. Learn to be still. Quiet your souls corporately. Learn to be comfortable together in silence as you are waiting on the Lord and still being full of faith.

As this small group is caught up with Jesus and Jesus alone, then trust the Holy Spirit to lead your prayers. He will probably lead you to confess faults and sins while in prayer, with the others present. I am reminded of a song that goes like this:
 

“Nothing hidden, no reason to be ashamed.
Nothing hidden, no reason to be ashamed.
Exposed to your loving eyes.
No reason for words to join us.
We just are together for all time.
We just are together for all time.
With nothing hidden, no reason to be ashamed.”

 

Learn to have a very peaceful, intimate, vulnerable time in the Holy Spirit and with one another.

Now here is a real key. Add people to your well digging group very slowly. Start with two or three, but then add one brother or sister at a time and over a period of weeks. It’s just like a fire. If you add too many logs at one time it will put the fire out. Too many people, at one time, who are not leavened with the heart of what you’ve been doing, will water it down. Let the new people who come to the meeting get in on the culture you’ve already established. Let them learn how to participate by catching a taste of it themselves.

This is how leavening works. It slowly takes over the lump. Pretty soon, and if you stick with it, you will begin to see some wonderful results. Eventually, whoever is willing, will be attending this ministering to the Lord in prayer meeting. More than likely it will not be a popular activity. The purer the activity is, the fewer people you will see attend it. The more opportunity there is for flesh, the more popular the activity will be. If it does get too big, multiply it. But you will begin to see a change in the culture of the entire group. Because you are having a focused time in the Spirit together, it will be easier for such a time to bleed over into everyday life. The entire climate of the group will begin to change. It takes months. And it takes tremendous perseverance to dig a well.

You can use well digging groups to establish a beach head in any area – prayer, worship, scripture reading, anything. But the keys are to start small, add slowly, and maintain the quality. You also have to eliminate every activity that is not the sole purpose of the group’s existence. For example, if you are trying to establish a beach head of intimacy in the Spirit, don’t discuss the latest football game at the well digging time. Don’t hash through church problems or issues. I’ve been in groups where, once we’ve entered the room we were praying in, we had to leave every thing of earth at the door. In other words, we only allowed ourselves to speak things that were from the finished work of Christ, and from faith. This is a good discipline.

After a group has been establishing a beach head of intimacy in the Spirit, there are some practical things people can do to cooperate with intimacy and vulnerability together as a group.

We must learn to see others.

So many times we just don’t notice one another. We are busy with our own stuff. Even when we encounter one another at a meeting time or a meal time, we are still consumed with ourselves. We must learn to look outside of ourselves and literally see one another. Learn to forget about yourself and your needs and completely focus on the others around you. Don’t worry. God will take care of you and continually meet your needs, even when you are not watching out for yourself.

Learn to value those you see.

As you learn to look outside of yourself, seeing others is still not enough. You must also value them, treasure them, and embrace them in your heart and in deed. Everyone has tremendous value. Jesus loved the unlovable. He is kind to evil and ungrateful men. Genuinely see how important people are around you.

Communicate value to others.

Love and value has to be expressed in some way for people to get it. What speaks love to one person may not speak love to someone else. You might be trying to love others by doing and saying things that would bless you, yet no one is getting it. Find out how to love those around you. Ask them what speaks love to them. Universal expressions of love are always things like smiling when you see them, looking at them in their eyes, listening to them, offering to pray for them, and helping them out in practical ways.

Carry people in prayer.

When we carry one another in prayer, it knits us together in the Spirit. Carrying one another in prayer is praying for others on an ongoing basis. This is a tremendous work. It not only helps the person derive the benefit of the prayer, but it establishes them inside of you. In other words, when you carry someone in prayer, they get in you. When a group is doing this for one another, it makes for tremendous connectivity.

Follow through.

We must learn to have endurance for one another. This is accomplished by what I call re-engaging. Whether we are in a time of worship, a time of prayer, or if it is in the context of a relationship, we must learn to re-engage. As distractions come (they will come) simply jump back in. It is not sin to be distracted, as long as we re-engage. As we develop this discipline in our lives, we will develop endurance and be able to run marathons in relationships and in church life.

Complete the circuit.

 
Open your heart wide and receive any love that comes your way. Relationships should never be a one-way street. Share your needs with others as well. Some will receive you on a deep level – most will not. That’s OK. But at least be transparent with others and provide for the opportunity for the circuit to be completed.

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