A good read by Steve Hill I thought was worth sharing…
Many churches today are growing because the leaders give the people what they want. They are not leading them where they need to go! In general, Christians and non-Christians are looking for someone to tell them that the way they have chosen to live is acceptable or okay to God even when it is not. They are not looking to be confronted by the truth. They are not looking to be stretched in what they believe. They are not wanting to adjust their life style because of the teachings of Christ. They are wanting to feel safe, secure, and comfortable. Thus, leaders who want to grow a large church, will often give the people what they want and not lead them where they need to go.
However, there is a new breed of leaders arising around the world in nation after nation. They are not pastoral in the least. They could be considered apostolic however. This means that they understand the plan and purpose of God for His people. They have a Kingdom perspective and want to see that “kingdom come and God’s will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” They will not speak what people want to hear. They do not put a seal of approval on a lifestyle that is compromised and simply a sub-culture of the secular cultural in which they live. Unlike the pastoral church which does not want to rock the boat for fear of losing people and their tithe… the new breed wants to equip the people and release them into ministry outside the four walls of the church. In other words, “everyone out of the boat.”
This shift from a pastoral approach to ministry to an apostolic approach could be seen as a “church quake.” It will literally shake the local church to its very foundation. Hebrews 12:25-27 in part reads, “So don’t turn a deaf ear to these gracious words … one last shaking, from top to bottom, stem to stern. The phrase, ‘one last shaking’ means a thorough housecleaning, getting rid of all the historical and religious junk so that the unshakable essentials stand clear and uncluttered.”
The leaders will no longer meet the needs of the people. They will be occupied with equipping the saints for the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12). The people will need to build solid and accountable relationships with one another (there are 59 one another verses in the New Testament). Through these relationships they will find the care and concern that they need. Instead of looking to the leader for pastoral care they will look to one another as the body ministers to the body as 1 Corinthians 12 states.
The saints will no longer simply sit and be fed. They will be expected to grow and mature through applying the Word to their lives. The assembly will no longer simply teach the Word and then dismiss the people. The people will hear the teaching and then apply the message to their lives even before leaving their time together. They will no longer just be taught – they will be transformed not only informed. They will be equipped and released to do the ministry. In fact, there will be an immediate expectation that the Word will be applied and the people released to minister to others.
The assembly will no longer be a place where ministry takes place. It is where equipping takes place. Ministry will happen in the daily meeting of saints for coffee, fellowship, and prayer. The whole concept of ministry will change drastically as ministry becomes something that the people of God are involved in and that is done outside of the weekly assembly and the four walls of the church. Services will no longer be about the saints having their needs met – which should happen mainly through their personal relationship with Jesus and His people – but will be a place where people are trained and released to minister to the unsaved. The focus is no longer inward and personal but outward towards the lost.
These churches will grow numerically but because of the Kingdom emphasis they will be “seeding people” into new churches as the Kingdom continues to expand and Christ’s rulership is extended to the four corners of the world. So, they will never be overly large but they will be spiritual strong and Kingdom focused.
The way we measure success in the Kingdom and in the Church is about to change. It is not in how many people we can gather but how many are equipped to minister and released to scatter and become incarnation communities where they live, work, and play. Then the Church is truly being the Body of Christ and will be reaching the lost. They will no longer be giving the people what they want as they will be leading them where they need to go!
God has Ten Commandments that are our moral compass in the world today. We, the followers of Jesus, must incorporate both the actual, literal meaning of the commandments as well as the practical application of these commands. In other words, we must not just know them and agree that they form a good moral compass and foundation for life; we must apply them daily to our lives.
These Ten Commandments are found in Exodus 20. These were originally given to God’s people when they were under the Law. But, they are still applicable today even though we walk in grace through the covenant of the New Testament. Jesus said that He did not come to do away with the Law but to fulfil it (Matthew 5:17). And He took the Ten Commandments to a higher level.
The Law states that we shall not commit murder – Jesus, under grace, tells us that to even think evil thoughts about a person means we have already committed murder in our hearts. The Law states that a person should not commit adultery. Jesus states that if we lust in our hearts after a person we have committed adultery. A higher level is applied under grace than under the Law. They were not removed, they were fulfilled and then the bar was raised as the standards increased revealing the full meaning of God’s plan for His people (Matthew 5).
One of the Ten Commandments deals with bearing false witness. Today we might call that gossip. After all, when we gossip we are not sharing the whole truth of any given situation – just the small bit we are aware of and, even then, often our opinion about the small portion of the story that we are aware of. In the Old Testament this was called an “evil report.” The spies came back from the Promised Land and reported exactly what they saw. But, it led to a conclusion that was opposite to the will of God for them at that time. In spite of them speaking the truth about what they say, it was only part of the story and thus an “evil report.”
Today we speak about people when they are not there. We call it a ‘prayer request.’ We talk about people when they are absent and call it seeking advice and wisdom. However, most times it is simply thinly disguised gossip and we are bearing a “false witness” about the person. Thus, we are breaking one of the Ten Commandments and thus we are sinning.
In the movie Bambi Thumper, that cute and wise rabbit, thumps his back leg to get the attention of the other animals and says, “If you can’t say something nice about the person, don’t say nothing at all.” Poor English but good advice. A simply definition of gossip is talking to someone who is not involved in the problem or the solution…
Bear that in mind the next time you go to speak about someone in a negative light.
Paul was a Master Builder (Apostle) and He always built with “Christ as the foundation.” Too often we are building with something or Someone other than Christ. For example, our foundation is:
- Some major Christian personality or preacher like Bill Johnson
- A church system like Bethel
- A new church program like “Living in Freedom Everyday”
- A new style of music like Hillsong
- A new approach to ministry – multi-campuses
- A new approach to evangelism – relational and not crusades
- A fresh revelation – the Kingdom
- A restoration of an old truth – Ministry of the apostle
- The prosperity gospel
Paul writes, “For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11). And yet we keep trying to build on so many other foundations. We continue to preach and teach so many other truths and principles – most of them good, I suspect – but do so at the neglect of the foundational message, Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 corinthians 1:23).
I work with a young apostolic leader in Southern Manitoba (Western Canada) who is passionate about returning his house church to the proper foundation. He talks about Jesus all the time. He shares Jesus, teaches about Jesus, and installs a love and passion for Jesus in his people. As we chatted the other week after a lunch of home made soup with his wonderful family he again mentioned the need to lay this correct foundation. He was deeply concerned that we lose Christ or miss Him all together in the midst of the hectic life of a regular local Church with all of its programs and various ministries. And, that we often short-circuit what God is wanting to do by helping people in the natural instead of pointing them to Christ.
Then here in Ohio where I am while writing this blog I just had lunch with a local pastor. He spent almost the whole two hour lunch talking about the ministry he and his people are accomplishing. He mentioned how busy and active they all were as if it were a badge of honour. There was a quick reference to Jesus and the rest was activities, programs, events, people, places, and plans. In the midst of this one of his people sent me a quote from a new version I had not heard of until yesterday. It reads, “Surrender your anxiety! Be silent and stop your striving. And you will see that I am God” (Psalm 46:10 TPT). We can quickly lose God in the midst of all this religious activity. Ministry can kill intimacy.
So, you don’t have to ask TPT is The Passion Translation… Yup! New to me too.
My point is that Jesus is God and often our busy activity for God prevents us from sensing His presence, walking in His power, and knowing deep inside His peace that passes all human understanding. We settle for religion and not a relationship because we have laid the wrong foundation (performance religion) and thus are building on another foundation other than Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”
Just a thought but maybe a game changer for some.
“Great moments for the Kingdom sometimes grow out of our restlessness and discontent!”
I have been having coffees with a number of young people during my time here in Ohio. A number of them mentioned that they were not happy with what they are experiencing in their spiritual lives, in their ministries, and in the churches that they attend. They were concerned. I am not. I have learned over the years that there is a gift from God called “divine discontent” and it is a great motivator to encourage change and forward movement in a person’s spiritual life and ministry.
This “divine discontent” is often associated with and connected to a “grace shift” for those who are in leadership and ministry within the local church. A grace shift is when one feels incomplete and unfulfilled within the current ministry they are doing. Yes, good things are happening; people are being touched by God; they are good at what they do and appear successful in their current ministry. But, the life is gone out of it for them. There is an inner discontent and restlessness. This means the call on their life and the resulting ministry that they do for Jesus is changing as they continue to walk with Jesus and mature in their faith and in their calling. So, they are, in a sense, leaving their current situation emotionally and spiritually but have yet to enter into the next phase of their walk with and ministry for Jesus.
This is a grace shift that is felt as discontent, frustration, and disillusionment at times. But although we often seen this as negative it is really a positive sign that we are entering a deeper level of our walk with Jesus and that our ministry is changing as we move forward in our call. Having been faithful in little we are receiving more. Having been faithful in the natural we find ourselves deeper into the supernatural.
But, all this starts with that feeling of “divine discontent” as the “grace shift” begins motivating us to move forward and upward with Jesus. And, I am seriously excited for the young men that I mentor here in Ohio as they experience this “divine discontent” and move into their tremendously powerful future with Jesus and His Kingdom.
“Great moments for the Kingdom sometimes grow out of our restlessness and discontent!”
There is too much “huff, puff, and fluff” in the church world today. I believe the Lord spoke that to my heart recently. And, I have been mulling the thought over and over again during the last few weeks as I travelled into the United States to minister.
His people don’t need more surface level teaching that tickle their ears. They don’t need more “smoke and mirrors” that sound good, look good, and are polished and professional. They don’t need more self-help teachings that arise more out of pop-psychology than from the Bible.
The Church needs to be taught God’s Word – the fullness of God’s Word, the depth of His Word. To teach for life change and transformation the leaders – preachers and teachers – need to be actively engaged in the ministry of the Word on a daily basis. In the early church the leaders found themselves being drawn away from their main ministry of the Word and prayer by the valid and often serious needs of the people. So they made a quality decision to not allow the pressures of ministry and the rapid growth of the church to derail their primary mission and calling. Acts 6:2 states, “And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables….”
Leaders today need to return to their first calling…to know the word of God and teach the Word of God to the people of God. And, the people of God need a renewed hunger and thirst for the Word of God in its fullness no longer tolerating badly thought out and prepared teachings that are blamed on the Holy Spirit. In the early church there was a serious hunger for God’s Word among His people … Acts 2:42 states, “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”
When Paul began planting the Gospel of the Kingdom in the city of Berea it states that the non-believers there “…were entirely ready and accepted and welcomed the message [ concerning the attainment through Christ of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God] with inclination of mind and eagerness, searching and examining the Scriptures daily.” That’s a powerful statement and one that believers should take to heart.
I believe that God’s people would be hungry for the Word if it was actually taught under the guidance of the Holy Spirit who inspired it. I believe that deep down inside God’s people want the unadulterated truth and don’t want a watered down, tickle-the-ear version of the truth. I believe that God’s people honour and respect God’s Word. In fact, as the Bible states, His people are standing in awe of His Word! Psalm 119:161b “… my heart stands in awe of your words.”
The Bible also states that His people are to have an actual fear of God’s Word, trembling when it is spoken to them. – Isaiah 66:5 “Hear the word of the Lord, you who tremble at his word.” It appears that this is lost in the Church today. However, I believe this is because the leaders, the teachers and preachers, are not preaching the Word but instead they are sharing their thoughts and opinions, their huff, fluff and puff.
God’s Word when it is honoured and taught correctly brings freedom and life to His people. This is what they need; this is what they are seeking; this is what is available IF the leaders will devote themselves to studying, understanding, and teaching God’s Word and teach it by revelation (Ephesians 1:17).
I encourage all leaders to set aside a number of hours every day to be in God’s Word for their own personal edification and growth and so that, saturated in His Word, they will know what God wants to speak to His people and will then teach a now word of the Lord each and every time they stand before God’s people. I believe that the people are ready – that it is a basic leadership problem.