Church as Usual Is Coming to an End (and Revelation-Driven Churches Must Emerge to Fill the Void)
Around the world the Church, as we know it, is in trouble
Most church leaders are unaware that they are in trouble or have chosen to simply ignore the issues that the Church is facing
In some places it is seriously dying – growing smaller every year
20% decline a year due to deaths, moves, and people leaving
So to remain steady at the same number of people annually need to grow 20%
In some places there is decreasing ‘life’ and a focus on format and ritual, tradition and religion
2 Timothy 3:5 “… having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.”
In some places the Church has fallen into heresy – teachings that are not biblical. The church grows but it is sliding away from biblical Christian doctrine and becoming a cult / sect
2 Timothy 3:7 “always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth.”
In some places there are what we call “man-made moves of God” where the churches are growing but it is by programs and hype, charismatic leaders who tickle ears. Then the main charismatic leader dies and the church eventually dies as well.
2 Timothy 4:3-4 “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”
In some places the Church is growing quickly and attracting young people but these young people soon recognize that the structures and traditions are, in many ways, hampering and hindering the flow of the Holy Spirit
And so they don’t stay – they look elsewhere or plant a new expression of the Church
My point: To continue to be a life-giving church we need to recognized that we are entering a season of change and we need to respond to the direction and moving of the Spirit
Everywhere I go, I hear people desperately crying out for the end of church as we know it.
Leaders who are sensitive to the moving of God’s Spirit and the seasons in the Kingdom understand that the Spirit of God is creating a disturbance, a dissatisfactionand a yearning for brand new wine.
New wine (a fresh move of the Holy Spirit) requires new wineskins
Matthew 9:17 “Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.”
I call this “feeling” Divine Discontent
We are in a season of massive change and adjustment – Much divine discontent
The Church needs to respond to the prompting of the Holy Spirit – Obedience
God’s people need to refocus and put the Kingdom first in their lives (Matthew 6:33)
Not everyone will respond to the moving of the Spirit
Not every church will recognize the prompting of the Spirit
Many false teachers, prophets, and apostles will arise and deceive many (Matthew 24:24)
Apostles and prophets believe…
That there will be major changes and adjustments needed as we come to the end of Covid restrictions and learn to live in a post-Covid reality
That many who have not attended a live worship service during Covid will realize that not attending has not changed anything in their lives and so will not return
That there will be a Spirit-driven remnant that will recognize the nudging of the Spirit
That God is uniquely awakening a remnant to have a role in this move of the Spirit
That this remnant will function both in the church and from the church in the world simply following the leading of the Spirit. They will no longer be interested in religious activities for the sake of activities.
I have people write me from all around the world, pleading for assistance in finding this type of church where they live.
They have been aggressively searching for vibrant churches marked by supernatural revelation.
They are disappointed and deeply disturbed by what they see and experience in the Church today
They are looking for the Church that Jesus is building (Matthew 16:18)
These churches are hard to find but they are rising out of the graveyard of religion, tradition and denominationalism
It is good to remember that all of these churches were originally birthed in a revival, a move of the Spirit, and had vision and momentum, moving in the power of the Spirit
It just takes 2 generations for a church to move from life to death as the second generation hears the stories of the founding group. But., by the time the third generation comes on scene the stories are just a memory and no one attending has ever experienced and encountered God in a life-changing way.
The church is born in the fires of revival and is now living in the ashes.
“Church as Usual Is Coming to an End” and apostolic-prophetic churches must emerge to fill the void
These churches will be known as “revelation-driven” churches (Matthew 16:18)
Also known as:
- “Apostolic-prophetic” churches
- “Holy Spirit sensitive” churches
- “Life-giving” churches
- “God-welcoming” churches
Marks of Revelation-Driven Churches
1> Fellowshipping with the Holy Spirit
Leaders will be given to insane amounts of fellowship with the Holy Spirit throughout the week, and they will be supernaturally alert night and day.
2 Corinthians 13:14 “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all” (13:13 in Russian Bible)
The result will be leadership that’s marked by a powerful move of the Holy Spirit when they minister
Every decision, every service and every message will be branded by the active, rhema revelation of the Spirit of God.
Rhema – a now word of the Lord for the people
Dreams and visions will be normal among the leaders and members alike (Acts 2:17-18)
The entire culture of the church will be driven by this critical fellowship with the Holy Spirit where revelation is received and acted upon directing the life of the local church
2> Fuelled by Prayer (Intercession)
The only way to develop and sustain a revelation-driven church is to first develop and sustain a a serious focus on prayer
A large portion of the teaching must be devoted to supernatural, prophetic prayer.
There will be two emphasis:
- Tongues – Praying in the Spirit
- Prophetic prayer – listening and then responding
In this way the church will be praying in line with with Word of God (Bible) and the will of God (revelation)
1 John 5:14-15 “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”
The Church will be teaching continually on prayer and especially prophetic prayer and praying in tongues.
People need to understand…
How to pray
How to hear the voice of God (John 10:3-4, 16)
Why we need to pray
How to yield to the Holy Spirit in prayer and life in general (Ephesians 5:17-18)
How to receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5,8; 2:1-5)
The power of praying in tongues
How to receive and manage prophetic revelation
How to pray the Scriptures
How to develop intimacy with Jesus (real foundation of all prayer)
How to fellowship with the Holy Spirit
Then, a culture of raging, expressive, authoritative night and day prayer must overtake the whole of the church.
People who don’t pray as a primary call must be challenged and given continual opportunities to jump on board – joining with the Church in serious prayer
Then we will truly wage war against the spirit of the age as well as the spirit of religion and the spirit of tradition
Then we will walk in extremely powerful authority
Understand, this culture of prayer must form the foundation of every aspect of the life of the Church so that it is then life-giving in all aspects of her corporate life
Example: See separate page on the 100 Year Prayer Movement of the Moravian Church in the 1700-1800’s
3> Unpredictable and Spontaneous
The days of predictable, scheduled, ordered church services must come to an end.
We have become so enamoured with human order in the church that the Holy Spirit, and biblical order is completely rejected or, at least, neglected
The Church that Jesus is building will be unpredictable and spontaneous
It will look like it is out of order but it is not in God’s eyes as He is a God of order
1 Corinthians 14:40 “But all things should be done decently and in order.”
Revelation-driven church services will have some of the elements that we now see in a regular gathering
Worship… mostly praying and singing in the Spirit.
Worship will bring revelation – revelation takes us into intercession or prayer
From this time of worship and intercession, leadership will give prophetic messages that will be right in step with what the Holy Spirit is doing in that moment.
This will release life because Jesus said His Words were “spirit and they are life” (John 6:63)
And, as a result, lives with be transformed
The Holy Spirit will move in the assembly and there will be…
Worship, prophetic direction and declarations, prophetic prayer, instruction, healing, deliverance
Prophetic revelation will fill the room and the time of the saints coming together will be directed by the Spirit
If the leaders and people are not fellowshipping with the Spirit and keeping in step with the Spirit (see points 1 and 2) …
The tendency will be for them to begin to take control and, as they do so in the flesh, they with quench the move of the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19-21)
4> Regionally/Nationally/Internationally Focused
There is a deep grieving in the spirit-realm when churches become focused on and driven to grow the church numerically.
Focusing only on growing the church that they are attending
We need to understand, numeric growth, when done right, can be healthy – and God wants the Church to grow
We see in Scripture that God added to the church daily (Acts 2:47)
Not programs – God added – and He may use programs but it is God who adds to our numbers and places each person where He needs them within the local church and the ministry of the Body of Christ
1 Corinthians 12:18 “But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.”
However, the compromise that has overtaken the church in order to see this type of growth is truly grieving to the Spirit
The compromise being that the truth is not taught in its fullness and sin is not dealt with in individual lives and in the corporate life of the Body of Christ – the local church
Instead of focusing on the growth of their local church, those who are embracing the revelation driven church – apostolic-prophetic church – will be mostly interested in what God is doing regionally and nationally.
They will be Kingdom focused and not “me-focused” or “church-focused”
They will be focused on saving the lost and expanding the Kingdom
They will be focused on what the Holy Spirit is doing and getting involved with Him
They will be focused on the “new wineskins” that Jesus is creating / birthing for the new wine (see: Matthew 9:17)
This will mean dealing with regional, national, and international issues in an intelligent manner
The abortion issue – now coming back into the news
The environmental issues
The whole area of DNA manipulation
The awareness of LGBTQ
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer
The addictions – alcohol, drugs, pornography
Leaders will train the people and equip them to minister within this rapidly-changing world and all that is confronting the Christian faith and our beliefs
It is a battle against the deadly, raging spirit of the age that’s destroying nations
Jude 3 “Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.”
5> Everybody Participating (not just attending)
Church as usual will be a thing of the past
Where there is a team up-front leading worship and picking a song list
Where the paid professional does the preaching
Where only the elders can pray for people and minister
Where women are not allowed to lead or to teach
Leaders will no longer ask for volunteers to fill positions
Leaders will not try to “find jobs” for everybody, hoping that keeping them busy and engaged is the answer to keeping them interested in the church.
While everybody isn’t ready for leadership in the church, most everyone should be given opportunities to pray, prophesy, evangelize, and minister
1 Corinthians 12:18 “But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.”
The Church has muzzled people for too long – time for the “movement of the saints”
Prophet Bill Hamon spoke of this in the late 1990’s
6> Prophetic Assignments
When you successfully lead a deeply prophetic culture in the church, God will be talking—a lot.
This prophetic leading must be rightly responded to.
Prophetic assignments will emerge and people will be released for ministry and into ministry
- New church plants
- Reviving dead churches (religion)
- Destroying spiritual strongholds
- Market-place ministries
New ministries will be birthed as the saints move out in the power of the Spirit and continue to learn, grow, and mature
We will see the body dynamically moving from season to season, assignment to assignment.
Everybody will have a part to play as we advance as a unified army into the darkness and see people come into the light
7> Holy Spirit Meetings (once called “Believers Meetings”)
Church services will be Holy Spirit “sensitive” with the manifest presence of the Spirit experienced and encountered
The New Testament church is a movement of believers who are praying continually and ministering with great authority in the region – seeing the Lord add daily those who are being saved (Acts 2:47)
Of course, the lost can and will come in, but the focus of the meeting will not change. (See: 1 Corinthians 14:24-25)
The focus of the meeting is to hear what the Spirit is saying and to respond and thus glorify God!
The extreme activity of the Holy Spirit will be maintained and people will encounter and experience the life-giving and life-changing Spirit
- His presence
- His power
- His peace
- His provision
These believers meetings will be white-hot, supernatural and other-worldly producing believers who are on fire, equipped, and released to walk in and minister in the power of the Spirit
8> Focused on Spiritual Growth
The goal of each individual believer and the Church is obedience, impact and responding rightly to the instructions of the Holy Spirit, not numeric growth.
Growth can and will happen, but it’s not an automatic indicator of health or success.
In fact, most churches that respond to this new spiritual reality will be pruned as they develop into a revelation driven church … so they will grow smaller first
Those who want to just sit and receive will become uncomfortable and leave
It’s a rare person who will sign up to be part of this new wine, revelation driven church, so small numbers should be expected.
The goal is to go deep, grow spiritually, and impact their community…
- To go into all the world (Matthew 28:19)
- To minister the life-changing Gospel of the Kingdom (Matthew 24:14)
- To reach the lost (Luke 19:10)
- To welcome the lost into the Church
There will be no compromise
Many programs will simply come to an end
Things will become somewhat uncomfortable for those who are not serious
Believers will not be able to just sit and absorb – they will be asked to become involved
The Church will become a powerful place where people are challenged to grow and become ministers of reconciliation and ambassadors of the Kingdom (2 Corinthians 5:17-21)
9> Deep, Challenging Teaching
Teaching will be by revelation – prophetic revelation
The teacher will have already been pierced and changed by the message he or she is preaching
No longer just presenting information for the sake of information that few act on or apply
The messages will absolutely rock everyone who hears them.
Many will reject such an anointing as it demands a costly response, but those who respond will become sharp, full of fire and mighty ministers in the hands of God.
The Moravian Movement
Sometimes small steps of faith reverberate for centuries.
At the beginning of the 1700’s, in the small village of Ženklava in the Moravian part of the Czech Republic, a young carpenter named Christian David came to faith in Christ. The Catholic Hapsburgs ruled the land at the time, Bibles were outlawed for the common man, and becoming a protestant believer was punishable by death.
Somehow Christian David was still able to get his hands on a copy of Scripture and came to understand justification by faith in Jesus Christ.
Fired up by his newfound faith, and risking his very life, he began to preach the gospel in surrounding towns and villages. In the small village of Suchdol nad Odrou revival broke out, and over 300 of the town’s 700 inhabitants came to faith in Christ.
Most of these new believers spent the next year in prison, paying with forced labor for their crime of belief. But still Christian David didn’t give up.
Finding that a young German count named Zinzendorf, living in Saxony, north of Prague, was offering space on his land for religious refugees, Christian led 280 “exiles” from Suchdol, and many others from the surrounding villages to form a new community on the count’s estate. They named it “Herrnhut”, meaning “under the Lord’s watch”.
Another revival a few years later (August 27, 1727) took this community even deeper in their faith, generating a 24-hour prayer watch and daily small groups to study the Scripture.
From this fervour grew a burden for the lost who had never heard, and in 1732 they sent the first missionaries to the West Indies, and then to Greenland. Soon almost twenty percent of the community was serving as missionaries.
In the next 20 years, Moravian missionaries took the gospel to Labrador, Estonia, Latvia, Finland, parts of Russia, South Africa, Ceylon, Tibet and even to America. They founded Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and evangelized a number of the American Indian tribes. This small community did more mission work in 20 years than the entire protestant church had accomplished in the 200 years preceding them.
It was at a Moravian Bible study in London that John Wesley came to faith in Christ. His preaching was used by God to launch the Great Awakening. Some would say that the evangelical movement in America is actually an extension of the Moravian revival.
And what became of the 24-hour prayer chain that began in August 1727? It lasted an unprecedented hundred years before it was broken!