The senior pastor of Abundant Life Church, UK, abandoned the message he prepared when the Holy Spirit gave him a word in season for City Harvest Church.
By Venessa Thor
A new season is beginning for City Harvest Church. So declared Paul Scanlon, senior pastor of Abundant Life Church in Bradford, England, during the Apr. 21 service at City Harvest Church. It was a service filled with prophetic encouragement.
Abundant Life Church, one of the fastest growing churches in the United Kingdom. Headquartered in the city of Bradford, the church shares CHC’s vision of building a relevant 21st century church that reaches out to the lost in the community.
Prior to Scanlon’s message, the CHC congregation had an electrifying time of praise and worship led by ALM:uk. Their music is familiar to the church; songs like “Be Glorified” and “My God Reigns” are regularly sung during praise and worship at CHC. The presence of God was so overwhelming that Tan Ye Peng, deputy pastor of CHC, took the stage to thank God for the 10th anniversary of the Crossover Project—a call from the Lord for the church to bring the gospel message beyond the church walls to the whole world.
The congregation was privy to a moving rendition of a song titled “How Love Wins” by Mark Stevens, the lead singer of ALM:uk. Stevens explained that the song was from the perspective of the thief hanging on a cross next to Jesus on Calvary, and how the love of God can erase every past mistake.
Springtime Is Here
Taking the stage, Scanlon announced that something was taking place in the atmosphere, and he would not share from the notes he prepared, but give a message he felt led to by the Holy Spirit.
He shared from Song of Solomon, chapter 2, in which the king declared that winter had past, and springtime had arrived. For CHC, this marked the 10 years of God’s faithfulness throughout the Crossover Project, and Scanlon prophesied that a new season had arrived for the church.
“There are times in your life when you sense more than you can articulate,” said Scanlon. He explained that sometimes we know that God is doing something in our lives, but we may not be able to capture in tangible form what it is. However, He will always give us enough light, inspiration and encouragement for us to take that first step to move out of the winter season. Every journey, no matter long or short, begins with a single step.
Scanlon likened our spiritual wintertime to a wrestling match. When a wrestler is pinned down by his opponent, the referee has to count to 10 before he is considered out of the match. However, if he simply lifts one shoulder off the ground at the count of nine, the referee has to start all over again. This is just like our struggle with the devil. “I think you have been giving him endless counts to nine,” quipped the preacher.
Next, Scanlon called out for new leaders in the church. He expounded that God is looking for people to rise up—that’s how He found Noah. Spring will always come, but it is only a matter of whether we take advantage of Springtime and start sowing. Like Peter being set free from prison in Acts, God has already called forth Springtime. When Peter knocked at the door of Mary, the people inside praying did not believe that it was he, assuming that it was his angel. Like the people in the house, sometimes we might be praying for Spring to come, not realising that it’s already at our doorstep.
Eugene Teh, 20, a School of Theology student, said, “Hearing Pastor Paul speak a word in season for our church gave me greater faith. As long as we keep on keeping on, we’re still undefeated; we can have victory.”
On Sunday, Scanlon preached that God’s people need to get out of their depth and starting taking on responsibility.
Sharing from the story in the book of Mark where Jesus gathered His 12 disciples, Scanlon explained that Jesus deliberately created an uncomfortable and inconvenient growth environment for the disciples. This environment creates a kind of healthy tension that forces us to grow. In the same way, in this new season, God will take His people out of their comfort zone.
Scanlon called out for all members to be “cup picker-uppers”. He shared an anecdote of his children refusing to pick up a cup lying in the house and arguing over whose cup it was. Arguing about the cup is a mark of immaturity. The mark of maturity is when we walk past something that we feel needs to change, and we do something about it instead of leaving it to someone else.
God is calling out to His people in CHC, and Scanlon exhorted members to not miss that call, to not give God a busy signal. In this season of Spring, it is an open season, a level playing field for people who are willing to be used by God.
It was a call to action that resonated with many in the congregation, stirring hearts to get ready to take action this “Springtime”.