Leaving Room for the Holy Spirit in a Church Service

We have a saying that ‘Alpha is perfectly designed to fail unless God shows up’. We want to be completely dependent on the Holy Spirit in our work, in Alpha courses, and in churches across this world. We asked John Mark Comer, pastor at Bridgetown Church in Portland, Oregon, to talk about what this looks like practically in a weekend church service.


“We’re still new to the journey. A Sunday gathering, we usually have a pre-gathering for prayer about an hour before where we wait on God. It’s a time or worship, but also a time of just waiting, and listening, and seeing what the Holy Spirit brings to mind, to imagination, to heart. Are there any prophetic words? Is there any sense of what God wants to do in this gathering? Is there a word of wisdom? Is there a word of knowledge? Just taking time to pray around each thing.

Then of course, through the gathering, as always, we’re like doing two things at once. We’re making an announcement, or giving our teaching, or leading a song and listening to the Holy Spirit. “Is there anything else you want to do in this moment? Is there anything else?” Then at the end of the teaching, we’ll usually create more space for waiting on God and just listening. Usually at the end of the teaching, there’s a few minutes of quiet. That’s just an open space for the Holy Spirit to do something. There are times when we feel like we just have this download from God and God wants to do this or whatever, and other times there’s nothing, crickets.

But then normally we just open up kind of the space in front of the stage and invite people forward for prayer and have a prayer team that has been through, kind of been on the journey with the Holy Spirit that knows how to just listen before you pray and see what God is doing in that person’s life and see if there’s a way to partner. I think that’s kind of in the Sunday gathering. Just beginning to pray for healing, and beginning to give prophesy, and beginning to just create space for moments like that.” -John Mark Comer