A Paradigm Shift

I believe we need a paradigm shift in the church in North America today. A paradigm is the way we see and interpret the world according to a built-in pattern or worldview.

I believe we need to have a biblical worldview which would be a serious shift from a “Christian” worldview – a world view formed by traditional Christianity. It would also be a shift from the secular worldview that many Christians see things through today. So, many who proclaim they are born again and thus saved are looking at the world in a way that is different from the way that God view’s it. So, a need for a drastic paradigm shift.

If we want to see practical changes in the Church and in our own lives, our paradigm must change first so that we begin to see things the way that the God we worship and serve sees them. Be prepared for a rude of awakening.

A paradigm shift typically has four stages:

1> Search for it

False contentedness is the biggest enemy of change. Unless we ask pertinent and pointed questions, and unless we have a burning desire to search for new answers, we won’t have room to accept a new insight, let alone a new paradigm. But typically a paradigm shift starts with a crisis, an occurrence that causes our safe and sound world – our traditional way of explaining things – to simply fall to pieces. This crisis can be caused by an accident or a revelation, a negative or a positive experience with something that simply does not fit into our worldview. Fortunately, crisis tends to give birth to creativity.

2> Preach it / Share it

When we find what we have been searching for, we also experience this overwhelming thrill and excitement of finally “finding it.” For this reason, this can be called ‘the eureka phase.’ We may be so excited that we want to tell everyone about our discovery – in an almost evangelistic or apologetic fashion. It may be, however, that we have found only a piece of the truth – a fragment of a larger piece – but we have been thirsty for so long that all we want to do is drink, drink, drink. This phase is the most dangerous, because our excitement may drive us to immature and naive statements or actions that are difficult to redeem later.

3> Live it

In this third phase we symbolically sit down, wipe the emotional foam off our lips, and start to become an integral part of our new found paradigm. We stop preaching and defending our discovery, and we begin to live it.

4> Teach it

This last phase turns us into an agent of change, as we begin helping others to discover the paradigm we have found ourselves and assist them in making the necessary changes themselves.

I believe that what we see as the Church in North America is, in general, no longer working. It has not been built upon a biblical pattern and thus is not capable of fulfilling the biblical mandate given to the Church by her Head, Jesus. Thus we need to start asking questions, sharing our discoveries as we seek answers to our questions. Then as we live out our lives embracing this new paradigm we share it with others and then teach them to live within this radically charged and changed worldview.

Form Without Force, Programs Without Presence

Current Christian News

Mega-church pastor of a Florida church resigns due to indiscretion; Benny Hinn and Liberty University are not connected in spite of a comment made by Hinn; prophetic warnings about praying for the nation (Duh! You think…); Pope Paul II and John Paul XXIII to become saints on Sunday (really now!)… Ex-Firefox CEO demonized (get a life); Why healings don’t happen in North America (you wonder why?)…

How about – the youth of today are hungry for the real thing? I have met with numerous youth in the past three days and there is a serious hunger for substantial, supernatural Christianity. How about – a report on the number of Muslims coming to faith in Christ on a daily basis in Central Asia and Eastern Europe.? How about the increasing impact and spread of House Churches as they push back spiritual darkness and help the Kingdom expand by planting new churches? How about The Chinese House Church Movement that is sending 100,000 believers with the task of establishing churches all along the Silk Road between China and Israel? How about local church leaders who have dedicated their lives to the work of seeking and saving the lost and are living explarary lives of Christian love and holiness? You know, they actually far outnumber those that fall into immorality.

Today I received a lengthy email from one of my young disciples in Armenia – he is preparing to enter university and is still as excited about Jesus as when I first met him three years ago. He is currently translating for a young team of American and Norwegian Christians (young people) who are going on the streets of Yerevan (the capital city) praying for the sick and seeing miracles, signs, and wonders not to mention crowds gathering and waiting their turn to be prayed for and to hear the gospel. How came this isn’t being reported in the news? (see today’s picture).

A friend of mine from a city in the north of my province is currently in Peru as he works with the government and local churches in building the facilities to train thousands of youth in leadership skills … and there are four of us from Canada who will be going there to train the initial 500 who will then spread out and train 50,000. And the training will be biblical. See that report in the news recently?

There are some great things happening in the Church that Jesus is building. Both overseas and here in North America. But, the Christian News simply shows what the secular news does – reports on all the negatives and tragedies. Totally ignoring the good stuff that is happening through everyday people every day. maybe it is time to unsubscribe from the regular enews sources and begin to “go into all the world” and thus help to bring about more positive news about what Jesus is doing today. Remember, He is alive! And, He is still doing what only He can do (through us) – the supernatural miracles, signs, and wonders the world is longing to see and embrace.

Returning To My Thoughts On Accountability


If you hope to have accountability as a disciple of Jesus – and really it is a must in our lives to be healthy spiritually – you will need to go and find a person or persons to whom you can be accountable. In this my last blog of four on being accountable I want to finish up my thoughts on this sensitive subject.

If you want to be accountable then you will have to continue to drive the relationship. Often in my life and ministry people ask me to mentor them (this includes the aspect of being accountable). Then they tell me their story – the things that have happened to them up to this point, the sins they are currently dealing with, their hopes and dreams, their strengths and weaknesses. Then I never hear from them again. So, don’t expect that you can ask once, share your story, and the other person will magically follow up with you exactly when you need it. You are the one asking for accountability. You need to be the one who is initiating contact and driving the relationship. (this is #7 if you have been following the blogs daily).

#8 You need to ask for grace. Since accountability is not a cure-all there is a good chance that you will mess up again. Maybe even in a big way. Even as I write this I just read that a pastor of a mega-church in Florida (a Calvary Chapel with 20,000 people has been removed for messing things up). And this is where many accountability agreements or arrangements fall apart. If you mess up, you think, “I can’t possibly be honest about this with him now.” And the person you are accountable to will think, “I guess I have failed at holding him accountable.” What needs to happen is both of the accountability partners need to realize that this covenant is based solely on grace. So, right from the beginning we need to stress: If failure happens, grace is offered immediately.

So, you need someone to spur you on. Hebrews 10:24 states: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds.” You are too weak on your own to fight sin, insecurities, and the battles that rage against you doing hat God’s calling you to do. You need someone who’s got your back. You need someone who is going to encourage you on the good days and the bad. You need someone who won’t give up on you, who knows where you are headed, and is willing to walk through the dark and the light to help you get there.

They are hard to find but worth the hunt.

Even More Thoughts On Accountability


I believe that the Lord is emphasizing “accountability” today in the Church that He is building. There will be many churches, even large churches, where accountability will not be important and people can hide their rebellion and disobedience “in the crowd” so to speak. I have seen that with a number of people recently – people I ministers to for a long period of time. When asked to actually obey Scripture and become openly committed they simply left without a word of thanks. They now hide well in the crowd at the church where they really belonged and we were welcomed warmly. Birds of a feather flock together, I guess.

To be accountable as a believer and disciple of the Lord one needs to take a risk. [This would be #4 if you are reading the “accountability blogs” in order….)

To be accountable means taking a risk. You will never really know if the person you are being accountable to, who has agreed to be your “accountable to” person is 100% trustworthy. Hopefully, before asking, you have examined their character and their faithfulness as well as their fruitfulness … But, regardless, it is always a step of faith when you invite someone into your life and allow them to ask you the tough questions. A step of faith and not a step of pre-knowledge. You simply cannot ever be guaranteed that this relationship will actually work out and succeed long term. But, in my mind, the risk is worth it.

#5 Remember that accountability is a two-way street. This is not a cure-all situation where the person you are accountable to will become Mr. Fix-it and solve all of the issues you are currently having in your life. You have also got to do the difficult task of working on yourself, examining your heart and life, and admitting to and working on your own shortcomings. Having someone “hold you accountable” does not assure you are accountable. You have got to continue to actively pursue that relationship, and be open and honest with where you are at all along the way. Working hard to see where improvements are needed and then making the effort to improve.

#6 When asking someone to be an ‘accountability partner” for you, give the other person the room to say “no.” This is a big responsibility you are asking someone to pick up. Give them the freedom to pray about the offer, to ask you questions, and to even say no. Afterall, they too have a life, their life has seasons, and this may simply be the wrong season for them to say “yes.” Forced accountability (emotionally manipulating someone into an accountability relationship) rarely works. Both parties have to be willing to step in and do the hard work.

No matter how hard it might be to find someone you trust and would consider asking to be your accountability partner – it is worth the effort and the risk. it’s biblical!

More Thoughts on Accountability

If you want accountability in your life – and you should as a disciple of the Lord Jesus, you have got to take responsibility to establish it. Now, I know I am talking to a smaller group of believers because, as I mentioned yesterday, most Christians don’t want to be accountable. And, will leave a church if told they have to be accountable. They are following the way of the culture and not the words of the Bible.

To be accountable – you have to take the responsibility to see this established in your life. Nobody will do that for you. Others can pour into you, teach you, model for you, and share resources with you. But if you want accountability, you have got to take that responsibility on yourself. So, some suggestions:

1> Ask for it … If you don’t ask, no one will volunteer. You need to look at your current relationships and see if there is someone whom you really trust that you could ask to hold you accountable. This will need to be someone with whom you have a decent, in-depth relationship. Someone you trust. Someone who is not your best fan and so will be brutally honest with you if need be. For some people this will mean a long journey and much hard work because they do not have someone in their life with whom they have formed such a relationship.

2> Help define what it needs to look like for you. You are a unique individual with unique gifts, calling, and needs. Your current situation in life is also unique, of course. So, you will need to think through the kind of help you are wanting at this time and this place in your life. Don’t just assume that if you ask someone, they will instantly know what accountability needs to look like for you. You have to help set the parameters. Things such as: How often? What will you talk about? What questions should they ask you?

3> Be open, honest, and vulnerable. This really narrows the playing field as, again, most Christians will no be this real with another person. But, to be a true disciple of the Lord you need to find someone you can be this real with. Otherwise, how can someone help you? If they don’t know who you really are, where you have been in life, and the current weak sots in your life – they will have no idea how to help you to grow and in which areas they need to hold you accountable. This will require that you know yourself fairly well (another real issue for many believers) and are secure enough to share the real you with others – a willingness to risk … because sometimes this accountability relationship will work and sometimes it won’t.

Further thoughts on this tomorrow …

Many people in many nations have asked me to mentor them and hold them accountable. They take me aside and share the details of their life being open and vulnerable, honest and transparent. They ask for my help in growing as a disciple and as pastors or leaders. But then, after I agree to do so and to be involved, they don’t connect with me or even contact me. And, believe me, I don’t connect with them. If they want my help and want me to hold them accountable and teach (mentor) them then they need to initiate the contacts and I simply respond. Finding someone to hold you accountable does not then place the obligation on their shoulders – it is still your responsibility to then connect with them on a regular basis. They should not have to chase you and most likely never will. So, there are many who ask me to be involved in their lives and few that actually do anything to make this a reality.

Accountability

There seems to be little of it these days in the Church – accountability, that is! People today apparently don’t want to be accountable. But, Christians need to learn to submit (there is that awful word) and be accountable to others, especially to their spiritual leaders. It’s biblical. The book of Hebrews speaks about submitting to those who are in spiritual authority over you (remembering that Romans 13 tells us all those in authority have been placed there by God). Hebrews speaks of submitting to those who teach you and lead you. This would imply submitting to the Word of God as well, I am sure.

Recently I have met one-on-one with some people who say they are believers. It was past time to cal them on their behaviour, their long-term track record, their lifestyle, and their obedience regarding finances – especially tithing to the local church. It was an interesting month to say the least. Some simply refused to meet with me and commented to other leaders that they did not tithe (we knew this) and didn’t plan to do so. Because this was their “big issue” they refused to meet with me. So, the opportunity to speak into their lives and help them be “accountable” simply was not there. Lesson learned: You can’t make someone accountable if hey don’t want to be.

Others I met with were open to some input into their lives, they listened, agreed about some of the issues the church leaders had observed, said that they would think about the other issues raised, and agreed to clear up their financial situation and tithe. Lesson learned: You have to choose whom you will serve God or Mammon (the god of the market place – money). If God – then you will humble yourself, be correctable, and even accountable.

Still others came to discuss (nice word for “argue”) about tithing and, of course, had researched the topic on the internet … It was never discussed! I refuse to play that game. Tithing is not open for discussion and what is out there on the internet is not near as important as what the Bible states. The Bible states that the purpose of tithing is to put God first in your life. People who don’t tithe simply have never made Jesus Lord of their lives. They are living in disobedience. They love money more than God. They do not really grasp the idea of “redemption” which means ‘purchased back.’ This means that if you are born again and thus redeemed then Jesus has purchased you with His death on the cross and thus He owns you – and everything that you have – including your money (all of it). So, you are robbing God (Malachi 3) when you don’t give to Him the tithe that He requires of us that shows Him and other that we fear God and honour Him. Lessons learned: Some people don’t want to be accountable and will leave your local church when you ask them to be as a requirement for attending and for membership.

You cannot make people accountable. However, you can set biblical standards and then ask them to live up to them. Failure to do so should have consequences as is true in any and every family. And, in my experience, the local church is stronger (although smaller for a short time) as a result of asking for commitment to biblical truths and standards … and God honours this with His presence at our gatherings.
As committed and obedient true disciples gather to be equipped and then sent out the mission of the Church will be accomplished and many will come to know Jesus.

We pray for those who could not or would not make this commitment and our hearts are sad as the “rich young rulers” walk away from the relationships they said they valued and the family of God they once belonged to. The love of money is, afterall, the root of all evil.

Meant To be Sent

We were “meant to be sent.” And if we don’t go in obedience to Christ’s command to “go into all the world” then we are disobedient. Not only that, but then we really don’t love Him because He said “If you love Me, you will obey me.” And, on top of that, people will not hear the Gospel and thus not have opportunity to receive forgiveness and eternal life through Jesus Christ and His death and resurrection. Not going and not telling shows that we really have little to no compassion for or care about the lost. So, we are not really on the same page as Jesus who came to “seek and save the lost.”

On top of all of this – and all of the above is seriously important and we will be accountable to Him on Judgment Day – we are really not living life as a Christian. And, our faith in Christ will never mature and grow. Our faith needs to be challenged and stretched for us to grow as believers. And, staying safe at home, secure in our own salvation, and comfortable in and with our lifestyle will never develop faith and cause us to become all that God intends for us to be. In fact, we become like the Dead Sea which takes in fresh water in the north but because it does not have a way to release water on the south end it is “dead.” Nothing lives within the waters of the Dead Sea. It takes in but does not release. And, that is how most Christians live – taking in new information and inspiration on a daily basis in their devotional times and on Sunday at the assembly of the saints … but not releasing any of that life during the week as they fail to ‘go into all their world.’

Thus, for many their faith is less than challenging, somewhat boring and even pointless. And, they are deceiving themselves thinking things are “good to go” between them and God when it is not. Failing to tell others about Jesus is outright disobedience, a sign that “the love of many is growing cold,” as well as being self-centered and plain selfish. Oh, I know there are a lot of reasons we give for not telling others about Jesus. I have heard them all I am sure. I have used a number of them myself in the past. But they are simply excuses. If we really believe that the Bible is the Word of God and that we are to build “our house upon the rock” then we would be a great deal more concerned about what the Word, which is spirit and life to those who believe it, is actually telling us to do. Again, Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will obey Me.”

I admit – I sound like a broken record and those that know me well know that encouraging others to win the lost is always foremost in my mind. And, on a regular daily basis, I go into my world and make opportunities to share Jesus. I don’t wait for open doors as I discovered long ago that very few will open the door. I simply ask the Holy Spirit to point out to me those who are ready to hear and then I go up to them and open a conversation with that person in obedience. Maybe I am too simple but I believe if God said it, I believe it, that settles it. Thus, I do what He commands of us as His people, the Church.

The Reinvention of Church

In a research project in Amsterdam in the early 1990’s, young people were asked if they were interested in God. One hundred percent of them answered yes. Then they were asked whether they were interested in church: one percent said yes, 99 percent said no. Most pastors who heard this story assumed that something must be seriously wrong with the youth of Amsterdam since everything is right with the church. Today we would reluctantly have to admit that it is probably the other way around. Maybe the youth of Amsterdam have some lessons to teach the church that we have been unwilling to learn. maybe we have fallen so in love with our own traditions that we are almost unable to truly hear and feel the world from our safe and “holy” distance.

Imagine a young boy unwrapping a new puzzle and immediately trying to put the pieces together. Out of the puzzle box he pulls a picture of a red race car. (He loves red race cars!) Excited, he tries to assemble the pieces according to the picture. But somehow the pieces do not seem to fit as they should. He tries to make them fit better be bending them or tearing off an edge here and there, but something is still not right. Finally his father comes to the rescue. Dad takes the picture of the red race car and turns it over. Lo and behold, on the other side is a picture of a beautiful tree, the “original” picture depicted in the puzzle. The race car is only an advertisement for another puzzle made by the same company! The boy sighs with relief and starts to put the pieces together according to the new original; within minutes it was done. What was wrong before? He had all the right pieces, but the wrong original. He had unquestionable and honest motives, but quite simply the wrong blueprint.

Is this the situation of a large part of Christendom today? We have all the right pieces: the Word of God, pieces, buildings, prayer, motivation, money. But could it be that we are putting them all together according to the wrong original – our very own beloved red race car? Has the unthinkable happened? Has someone cunningly slipped us an impractical blueprint? Do we stand transfixed in front of our spiritual photocopiers (Bible colleges, publishing houses, seminaries, or leadership programs), continuing to hit that green button in an effort to make copies of what we are convinced is a biblical, canonized, unquestionable, firsthand original? We can imagine that Satan, the enemy of the Church, has no problem with even the most fervent evangelistic mission activities or programs, as long as they are all about making copies of red race cars – our traditional pattern of church that makes no serious threat to his claims on humankind.

Maybe the time has come for us to stop bending pieces and tearing them apart in an effort to make them match our picture of what the church should be and, instead, allow God to recreate church in all of us. It might start with us reexamining our blueprints and turning over our originals.