As we contend for revival, we must be keenly aware that tomorrow’s church will be, well, unusual.
Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
People don’t want to go to church in America. Of course, there are many exceptions, but the general consensus is that the appeal of church is limited. The unsaved refuse to trade one man made system for another. I believe the great harvest is waiting for the great outpouring of otherworldly fire.
When revival hits—I mean really hits—the definition of church today will be replaced by something barely capable of being put into human language.
Right now, people are starving for a brand new realm of supernatural shock and awe, and the church that satisfied mom and dad won’t suffice.
I refuse to be insane by trying to build a church based on an old paradigm. The times are urgent and the Earth needs people who have the guts to break the mold, tear down religious altars and invite our fearful and glorious God to take over.
FIVE MARKS OF THE COMING CHURCH
ONE. It will stand out like a sore thumb against the prevailing church landscape. People will talk and many will mock. Do you recall the scene in Acts chapter 2? It was religious life as usual, and God violated what was normal with something that couldn’t be denied.
Acts 2:5-6 (ESV) 5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language.
Acts 2:12-13 (ESV) 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”
The coming church will offensively violate standard church protocols while at the same time re-establishing and affirming pure, biblical standards.
I heard it said that the greatest threat to the Word of God is the traditions of man. They make the Word of God of no effect! Wow! That’s scary power!
Mark 7:5-8 (ESV) 5 And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” 6 And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “ ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; 7 in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ 8 You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”
Mark 7:13 (ESV) 13 thus making void the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And many such things you do.”
I understand this point can be troublesome. The truth is that there is a lot of amazing things going on in churches today. But, if we don’t understand that where we are now is the greatest threat to where we must go, we’ll live church life as usual while traditions slowly overwhelm the plans of God for fresh fire. Pastors and leaders must prepare the body now for the assault against the prevailing religious system that will threaten everything from personal security, financial stability and our reputations.
TWO. Gideons will start arising all over the Earth. This is a very important point to understand. You may have noticed that there’s a very strong and extremely unbiblical movement away from governmental authority. I agree that we are moving away from self-serving, hedonistic leaders. We’re leaving Pharaoh and his selfish projects of personal gain. What’s coming are bold leaders who have embraced a life of surrender up to and including martyrdom.
These leaders will have dramatic encounters with God and will be chosen to lead with authority that will surprise everybody. These prophetic juggernauts will focus on three key activities:
a. Tearing down religious altars regardless of how close to home those altars have been built
Judges 6:28-29 (ESV) 28 When the men of the town rose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was broken down, and the Asherah beside it was cut down, and the second bull was offered on the altar that had been built. 29 And they said to one another, “Who has done this thing?” And after they had searched and inquired, they said, “Gideon the son of Joash has done this thing.”
b. Gathering and positioning an army
Judges 7:7 (ESV) 7 And the LORD said to Gideon, “With the 300 men who lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hand, and let all the others go every man to his home.”
c. Taking cities via unusual, Holy Spirit methods that result in restored prosperity and taking ground for God’s people
Judges 7:22 (ESV) 22 When they blew the 300 trumpets, the LORD set every man’s sword against his comrade and against all the army. And the army fled as far as Beth-shittah toward Zererah, as far as the border of Abel-meholah, by Tabbath.
Accusation flew as others were indignant that Gideon seemed to self-appoint himself as leader and didn’t include them in the process.
Judges 8:1 (ESV) 1 Then the men of Ephraim said to him, “What is this that you have done to us, not to call us when you went to fight against Midian?” And they accused him fiercely.
Matthew Henry said regarding this verse: Those who will not attempt or venture any thing in the cause of God, will be the most ready to censure and quarrel with such as are of a more zealous and enterprising spirit.
THREE. A very heavy spirit of prophecy will be constant. This will be one of the most critical changes that’s coming to the church. I do believe the church will find itself in such a weighty place that the thought of not embracing the extreme prophetic manifestation of the Holy Spirit won’t be an option. What is coming to the church will crush it if we don’t function fully in all consuming spiritual power.
1 Thessalonians 5:19-20 (ESV) 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies,
The thought of having a service where you crave the presence of God, but limit prophecy is biblically nonsensical. First, we see that quenching the Spirit and despising prophecies are linked. You do one, the other happens. Additionally, if God’s presence is in a place (his manifest presence), then prophecy is in the place.
Jesus is always communicating. He is the Word. He is Rhema. He is the spirit of prophecy.
Revelation 19:10 (ESV) 10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
If you want God’s presence, it’s a package deal. Prophecy is there too.
Leaders of the coming church will embrace the biblical mandate for everybody to seek after the gift of prophecy. This means, they have a responsibility to train and release people into that gifting. Prophetic activation will be a constant in these churches.
1 Corinthians 14:1 (ESV) 1 Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.
FOUR. Signs, wonders and miracles will be happening all over the place, all the time. Continually throughout the New Testament we see salvation and healing linked. The apostles went everywhere healing the sick and preaching the Kingdom.
In fact, I believe mass repentance will start to hit pastors and leaders for having ministries that are void of miracles. We’ll see a Mark 16:17,18 repentance movement that will result in healings and wonders that will draw the attention of the world. The secular media will be following these miracle movements and will market revival to the nations much like the newspapers did for the Azusa revival.
Mark 16:17-18 (ESV) 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents with their hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
Kris Vallotton said, “If we can't do any more than mere men, then let us not tell others we are part of the church of a living God.”
It’s time to go after Jesus, to grab the hem of his garment and to receive the healing impartation that will mark the coming church with power.
FIVE. The church will drive culture instead of being driven by culture. The 24/7 church is coming and it will violate the prevailing culture of busyness and distraction.
Gone will be the days of formatting our churches to fit within the schedules and expectations of society. The seeker movement will fade away and the urgent call to the wall will overpower even the most demanding of personal and social pressures.
Acts 17:6 (ESV) 6 And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also,
ESV Study Bible: These hostile opponents spoke better than they knew, for the spread of the gospel throughout the Roman Empire was the beginning of a movement that would change the course of history forever.
The coming church will be marked by its boldness and culture will be threatened for the good.
There will be many more marks that will distinguish the coming church, and we must be ready for the extreme change that’s coming. Church as we know it is just about over.