Christian Fellowship

Jesus is currently building His Church

Matthew 16:18 “On this rock (revelation) I will build My Church…”

He is doing this through planting new expressions of the Gospel in every nation

A major move in most nations towards house churches

He is also revamping any existing church – regardless of their size, shape, or tradition – through shaking it so that only the essentials remain Read more

Rome – Penetrating World Structures

God is bringing us back to the biblical pattern for the Church. He is preparing a new wineskin for a new move of His Spirit which will bring many into the Kingdom. Some say, we are being prepared for the end-times harvest of souls for the Kingdom.

The Church has tried following man’s ideas, but man’s ways have not produced results and has resulted in a lot being done in the flesh. We have been faithful but somewhat fruitless. God is bring us into a new season when there was will be a return on His investment and much fruit will be seen. Following God’s plan the Early Church moved in a continuous time of harvest that reached the known world in one generation. We can learn from their example.

A key element in the success of the Early Church, as we have seen, was the establishment of apostolic regional centers. They were placed strategically by the Holy Spirit so they could have the greatest impact in spreading the Gospel of the Kingdom and in training, equipping, and releasing the saints to expand the Kingdom to the end of the then known world. Apostolic centers were not randomly placed. God planted them where they would have the greatest impact to penetrate the world for His Kingdom. Read more

Corinth – Reaching the Hard-Core Lost

We have been looking at biblical regional centers or apostolic centers as found in the New Testament…

We have looked at Jerusalem, Antioch, and Ephesus… The forth one of five is found in the city of Corinth

Today – the Lord is stirring something in the harvest fields. He is placing a hunger in people’s hearts for a reality – a spiritual reality leading to a new physical reality – beyond anything they have previously seen or experienced.

  • He is preparing His Church for a great end-times harvest that will soon be upon us.
  • He is preparing us to receive that harvest as well as be labourers in the harvest field bringing the harvest into the Kingdom and the Church
  • He is planting “new wineskin” churches in nations around the world
  • He is renewing existing churches that are willing to move into a new future

And, I believe, He is walking away from churches who determined to continue to hold to their lifeless traditions and religious rules that hold people in bondage and control them. Read more

SHIFTING THE PRIORITIES OF CHURCH LEADERS

 Jesus defined “success” in three key words

1> Faithfulness

Matthew 25:21 “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’”

Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”

2> Fruitfulness

John 15:8 “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples”

3> Finishing well

Hebrews 12:1 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…”

2 Timothy 4:6-7 “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God,
which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”

If these are the three things Jesus is looking for to determine our success as leaders in the Church that He is building

Then our PRIORITIES should reflect them

And, these three signs of success in the Church and in our ministry are all directly related to relationships that we form and develop.

Yes, we have placed so much emphasis on tasks – in fact, an overemphasis – often at the expense of relationships

I believe it is our relationships that ultimately reveal our success or lack of success in the eyes of our Heavenly Father if not in the eyes of the Church world

Christian LEADERS fell obligated to fill a vast number of roles – a tremendous variety of roles in the Church and thus in their ministry

Diagram of the ministry of Jesus as it related to His priorities, His relationships, and His impact At the top of the chart are the roles that He fulfilled

Read more

The Priesthood of All Believers – “The Church of My Dreams” Part 11

We have a spectator model of the Church here in North America and in many others nations of the world. People come to the service on Sunday and watch the experts fulfill their calling as they lead worship, teach, minister, and pray. Then they go home having fulfilled their Christian obligation for the week. Most denominational churches and many Charismatic and Spirit-filled churches function in this manner.

It is an Old Testament model of the priesthood where those select few are ordained and anointed to do the ministry – celebrate the Lord’s Supper, bless the people, minister God’s Word. The New Testament Church did not continue that model of ministry after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ who is the head of the Church. Instead it taught that every member is a minister because every born again Christian belongs to the priesthood of all believers. (1 Peter 2:9)

In the New Testament there was no such thing as the clergy and the laity – simply believers. Yes, there were some specific tasks certain people were called to fulfill – five-fold ministry roles, deacons, helps, administration… but fulfilling one of these roles did not make you “clergy” and if you didn’t have one of these callings then you were “laity.” That is a man-made system and not a God-given structure.

The word ‘laity’ means amature. When I go to the doctor for a medical issue I am going to someone who is the expert and I am certainly a bit of an amature having never even taken high school biology. So, I am expecting him to be the knowledgable one as I am certainly not well informed. But, this was never meant to be the way the Church functioned. Jesus wants everyone in His Church to have a ministry and fulfill the call on the Church to “go into all the world…” (Matthew 28:18).

In the Church Jesus called certain people to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. The task of these five-fold ministers (Ephesians 4:11-16) is to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. It is not their task to do the ministry. Rather it is their job to teach the believers how to minister supernaturally and touch others with the love of God. They are the coaches and believers are the players on the field. However, in most churches it is the coaching staff playing the game on the field while the team sits in the stands and watches. And, we wonder why so many (1,500 a month in North America) are leaving the ministry.

Every believer is called into the ministry and is called to touch lives with the love of God. Every believer has a call and an anointing from God. Every believer has a specific task that they were created and called to fulfill (Ephesians 2:10). Every believer is to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and do what He did. He told His followers just this. “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. (John 14:12)

Now, when you look around and see the people in your world – the needs and the pain in people’s lives can be overwhelming. Don’t look at the big picture. Focus on the one person the Lord has placed in front of you and minister to them. Touch their life with the love of God as found only in Jesus Christ. Malcolm Bane once said, “If you wait until you can do everything for everybody, instead of something for somebody, you’ll end up not doing anything for anybody.” So each day find that one person and touch their lives as a minister of the Gospel and as an ambassador for Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20) and help them to cross the line of faith and be reconciled to God because that is YOUR calling (2 Corinthians 5:17-18).

Each One – Reach One and we will soon see multitudes coming into the Kingdom of God.

Radical Biblical Prayer – “The Church of My Dreams” Part 10

The church of my dreams will be one that is founded upon prayer. Not religious praying but a deep seeking after and crying out to God. This begins with me as the one helping to plant the Gospel in a new area. Nothing can be done until I have first prayed. And then only what the Lord has revealed would then be done. This is how Jesus worked when He came to plant the Gospel. He did what He saw the Father doing and spoke what He heard the Father saying to Him. This is basic. Foundational! Essential. Non-negotiable.

I believe that this means the first part of every day will be spent in prayer with God. Not in the office. Not on the streets evangelizing. Not working my contacts and contacting my network of people. Simply sitting quietly before God waiting on Him and listening for His voice. He will initiate. He will speak first. I need simply respond to what He says. It will be His agenda each morning because it is His Gospel being planted and He is the One building His Church. I will need to pray as if everything depended upon God – because it does!

In the church of my dreams – all those won to Lord will also be taught, right from the beginning of their walk with the Lord, to “be still and know God.” Foundational! Essential. Non-negotiable. All activities of the church will be centered on, grounded upon, surrounded by, covered with prayer. Long before the activity becomes public and takes place many hours of prayer will have soaked the gathering in the power and presence of God. Every detail dictated by the Holy Spirit. Not asking God to bless what we are doing but finding out right from get-go what it is He is doing (or wanting to do) and getting involved because it is already anointed, empowered and blessed by Him.

In the church of my dreams – before any decision is made it have received considerable prayer so that we will know that “it seems good to the Holy Spirit and to us…” (Acts 15). We will be in agreement with one another before moving forward because God blesses when there is unity and oneness of heart (Psalm 133). But, we will first make sure that what we are in unity about is in line with the will of God and the purposes of the Holy Spirit.

Prayer meetings will be daily. But they will be real prayer meetings. Not times of fellowship -but simply times of seeking the Lord together. If we want to fellowship we do so after the time with the Lord. These meetings will be led by God, empowered by God, He will speak and we will respond. Until He speaks we are simply quiet and being still in His presence. These are not times of intercession, prophetic intercession, petitioning, praise and worship – these are times to “seek the Lord” and hear what He has to say. This may give us fuel and focus for another “type” of prayer meeting later in the day or week, maybe even with different people present. But, these daily times of prayer will be singularly focused.

Prayer will be essential, foundational and revolutionary for those who want to be a part of the church of my dreams (hey! it’s my dream) and certainly for those who are called at a later time into leadership as this church grows. But, radical biblical prayer and not religious prayer as seen so often in so many churches.

Gathered and Scattered – “The Church of My Dreams” Part 9

The church of my dreams will walk in power because all of those who call this church their spiritual family will truly believe in the baptism in the Holy Spirit and walk in the attributes of the baptism.

This second experience after salvation (see Acts 8:14-17) means that the believer has been empowered by the Holy Spirit. The believer walks in the same power that raised Jesus from death and the grave. This power came upon them when they were baptized in the Spirit and along with it came one or more of the nine gifts of the same Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:4-11). This power was given so that believers could and would walk supernaturally in a natural world. Afterall, when you were born again you received the gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23b) and this is a relationship with a supernautral God (John 17:3). To enable this relationship to be maximized, God, in His grace, then sent the Holy Spirit to come upon us, empowering us to walk in the supernatural along with Him.

You may, as a Charismatic, say, “I know all that – tell me something I don’t know.” My answer to your comment: If you know it why are you not walking in it on a daily basis? Where is the evidence of your supernatural walk other than you have a private prayer language (not one of the 9 gifts of the Holy Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12 as that tongues is public tongues used in public worship assemblies). If you know it – walk in it. Show me! Demonstrate that you have more than a limited head knowledge of this truth but that you are actually walking in the power of God.

Jesus said,On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within him.” (John 7:37-38). In the church of my dreams every believer will know the truth and the truth will have set them free to walk in the power and thus see miracles, signs and wonders as they influence their neighborhood towards the gospel of salvation. More than knowledge – experience. They will truly and deeply believe what the Bible states and be walking in it. Every believer.

And, as they walk in it, that power will increase and touch more and more lives. In Ezekiel’s vision of the river of God flowing from the throne – the river deepen as it left the temple and entered the streets of Jerusalem. As the rivers of living waters are released from your inner spirit – where God is enthroned because you are the new temple of the Holy Spirit – the river will grow more powerful (deeper) the further into the society and world they go. The stronger the power of the Spirit will be. This will be actual, daily truth for every believer in the church of my dreams.

Jesus said,you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you shall be My witnesses...” There’s the key – the power is to be used as we witness to those who do not have a relationship with the living God. Believe it! Do it!

My dream church – people gathered to God and scattered to do His work in the world – sent to seek and save the lost with power. Ah! such a dream!

Faith Focus – “The Church of My Dreams” Part 8

Question: God, what would bring You to the edge of Your seat and make you say, “Wow! I like their faith?”

That is a question I have been asking recently as I think about the church of my dreams. What kind of church would bring God to the edge of Heaven rejoicing and excited about the assembly of His children called the Church?

It would be a collection of Christians who would be attempting the impossible and thus walking by faith and not by sight. They would be believing (applying their faith) for things so great and wonderful that, should they happen, they would be declared to be “miracles” by everyone who witnesses them. It would be a church that believed (had enough faith in) God’s Word to apply it – ALL of it – to their daily lives – ALL of it – ALL of the time.

It would be a group of disciples that believed (had faith) that even the worse sinner could and would repent if loved, accepted, forgiven and given the Turth as found only in Jesus. An assembly that was focused on the lost and not on themselves – believing that God had called them to impact the whole world and not just their neighborhood – and were taking steps of faith to do just that (it is called risk). They would truly believe (have faith) that “Thy will be done of Earth” and “Thy Kingdom come” would become reality in their own lifetime. Their faith focus would be the Kingdom and not their local church.

Because of their faith they would live very committed lives – committed to the Kingdom and the King as found in the expression of their local church. Because of their faith they would invest their money, time, effort and emotion in the plans and purposes of God as expressed in and through their local church. Because they believe (have faith) they would be willing to uproot and move if the Lord would ask them to and help establish another Kingdom outpost on the frontiers of spiritual darkness. Their faith would draw them away from focusing on themselves, their comfort, and their own agenda. They would be “fluid” and not “settled.”

The Bible says that by faith we please God (Hebrews 11:6). Jesus asked the question, “will He find such faith when He returns?” (Luke 18:8). Faith can move mountains (Matthew 17:20). Jesus said, “It will be done to you according to your faith!” (Matthew 9:29). Must I go on? You are believers and know all these faith verses…and the many others in the Bible – your Bible!

Question: God, what would bring You to the edge of Your seat and make you say, “Wow! I like their faith?”
Answer: Seeing His people actually believing what He said and acting upon it, walking by faith and taking the world for the Kingdom one person at a time.

The dream church would do just that in every aspect of its life.

Only Unreasonable People Need Apply – “The Church of My Dreams” Part 7

My dream church would have but one focus – the winning of the lost. Everything it would do would include an element of influencing non-believers for the King and the Kingdom. The people would be equipped on a weekly basis to win the lost. Every service or assembly would have a presentation of the Gospel and an opportunity to respond. The Great Commission would be the driving force behind the life of this dream church.

We would keep the mission of the church front and center all of the time. We would let pople walk away from the church who desired more of an inward focus. In fact, I would be willing to lose people in order to reach people. I would openly encourage people to leave if they were not intertested in winning the lost. In other words, if you do not like that hyper-focus on evangelism, then there are better churches for you. The mission would be very focused on people who are far from God and as long as one non-believer lived in the city this would continue.

One of the great reformers, Francis Xavier, charged the apathetic European students of his day to “Give up your small ambitions and come and preach the gospel of Christ.” Those would be my words to any believer who wanted to attend this dream church.

George Bernard Shaw is quoted as saying, “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends upon the unreasonable man.” As Sean Smith states, “Reasonable people try to fit in; unreasonable people try to get other people to fit into God’s plan.” So, all progress will depend upon the unreasonable people of the Kingdom. I think others call them fanatics.

Fanatics are people who love Jesus so much and are so committed to His mandate and cause to win the lost that they won’t give up, let up, or shut up, until they get up, rise up, and take up the call upon their life to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). The mission of this dream church would be very focused on people who are far from God.

Need inner healing – good, let’s get you healed so you can “go into all your world and win the lost…” Need to learn how to handle finaces biblically – good, we’ll help so that you can release more of your funds to help train soul winners and hold events for the lost. Need to be free of an addiction – we can help. In fact, we will give you something else to be ‘addicted’ to – letting others know of the love of God as found in Jesus. We will pray and work with you until you are free of your bondage so you can go and preach and release others from their bondage. Only one focus…

Those who become part of the life-flow of this dream church would not settle for nominal Christianity. They would want and go for a Christianity that is phenomenal. They would settle for nothing less. There would be great passion expressed for the Lord and for His cause. There would be a radicalness about those who belong to this expression of the life of Jesus – they would not be afraid to be different and would not be concerned with being rejected when sharing the gospel nor would they fear man., just God. They would, when compared to nominal Christians, appear revolutionary. This is good and as it should be.

Only unreasonable people need apply to be a part of the church of my dreams.

Supernatural Words and Actions – “The Church of My Dreams” Part 6

The church of my dreams would be one built upon the five-fold ministry of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor and teacher (Ephesians 4:11). The key leaders would be the apostles and prophets (Ephesians 2:20). It would be a living organism and not an organization. Because a local church is a group of believers meeting together it will, of course, have some organization. However, structure must support life for it to be a part of this local church and the structure is removed as soon as it is no longer doing that.

The leaders of this church of my dreams would equip the believers to do the work of the ministry. This is their job description according to Ephesians 4. The believers would be ministers of the Gospel and every believer would be released into the ministry they are best gifted to accomplish. Again, this is according to Ephesians 4:12-16. This ministry would be in the world and not in the church. This would be supernatural ministry to unsaved people who have yet to hear about and accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. Obviously this would be a team approach to ministry with every part of the local church fulfilling its calling and purpose. It would be a church in the world and for the world but not of the world.

This church of my dreams would be one that is not program centered but whatever activities did exit would have only one purpose – to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. The ministry is reaching the lost at any cost. It is going into all the world … each one-reaching one. The time the saints spend encouraging or comforting one another is maintenance and not ministry; it is not growing the church but simply maintaining what is already there.

This church of my dreams would be supernatural. Anything less and it would simply be another cultural group, social or community club. The church would walk in the power of God at all times.

The apostle Paul stated:
When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power. (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)The church of my dreams would walk in “the Spirit’s power” at all times. And the message proclaimed would not be some self-help message disguised as Bible truth but the basic gospel of “Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”

The church of my dreams would be able to declare, like Paul, that:
I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done — by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ. (Romans 15:18-19)

And, it would not just be the apostles and prophets who would be involved in these “signs and wonders” but the whole church actively winning the lost by ministering supernaturally on the streets and in the marketplace.

We would truly have “rivers of living waters” (John 7) flowing out to the surrounding community.