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!