Disturbed: An open letter to the church of the Detroit region
It's time we stop looking for God to resolve issues, to revive economies, to fix society… and just start looking for God.
Living here only 3 1/2 years, I’m the new kid on the block in the Detroit region, but it’s not my first time around the block.
In my 22+ years of ministry I’ve experienced some great moves of God. Unfortunately, I’ve also had front row seats to an often sleeping church.
The only reason I uprooted my family, sold our house and moved to Detroit, with no promise of an income or position of any kind, no guarantee that anybody would welcome us with open arms, was for the sake of revival. Full blown regional transformation.
I have no reason to be here. I had no connections in Detroit. I have only visited a couple of times in my life prior to my six destiny filled ministry trips here in 2008. We were not even thinking of moving here—until God spoke. We are here on assignment—a mission for revival.
Enough is enough.
I am disturbed in my spirit beyond description. If I were to state it most honestly, I would have to describe it as sickening. I don’t want to use a dramatic word to grab your attention, but I can’t deny the sick and disturbing grief that I’ve been sensing in the spirit in this region lately. Something is going on.
Before I continue with that thought, it’s very important that you tap into the depths of my heart. First, there is a good measure of very important and effective work for the Kingdom occurring. I am humbled by having the privilege of knowing some of the most faithful men and women of God here in Detroit. There is a small remnant of revival minded people that includes pastors, intercessors and servants of the Most High God. You all have blessed me and I honor you! I know God sees you and is moving on behalf of you. You have done more than I could ever hope to do. It’s been amazing running with you!
In spite of some potent relationships with these anointed men and women of God, I can’t shake the disturbance.
Since I’ve been in Detroit I’ve heard a lot about revival. It seems the whole region is crying out for it. However, this is where the root of the disturbance in my spirit exists.
Most every time revival is mentioned, the intent of that desire is to experience some sort of breakthrough, blessing or restitution.
I believe the disturbance in my spirit is linked with the rapidly increasing jealousy of God. He is jealous, and he refuses to be replaced by material satisfaction.
Let me make this very clear:
It’s time we STOP crying out for God to revive the economy, for resolved issues, for racial tensions to subside, for a fixed city… and START crying out for God and God alone!
God is jealous and he won’t allow Detroit to be satisfied by money, security or anything else until we are satisfied in Him and no one or nothing else!
DO NOT expect revival until we return to our first love. It WILL NOT COME! In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if the situation in this region got dramatically worse. The choice is ours, however.
I STRONGLY recommend you read my recent article The Spirit of Abortion…in the Church? The spirit of selfish ambition that drives mothers to kill their babies is the same spirit that convinces Christians to abort their costly missions if they don’t get out of it what they want. If they don’t believe their participation will result in personal breakthrough, a greater personal experience, they abort mission and it has deadly impact on the cause of revival.
It’s absolutely shocking to me that so much emphasis is placed on the pursuit of breakthrough yet the call to breakthrough into a pursuit of God falls on deaf ears.
Will we only gather and pray if we have a hope of personal blessing? So far, generally speaking, the answer in Detroit is yes. Where are all of the hungry people in Detroit? The stadiums should be filled with zealous, praying people every night of the week! Have the cares of life and entertainment so bewitched us that we have become convinced that being with God is not worth it?
I propose starting a movement of encounter which only has one goal—to be fully satisfied in enjoying and responding to the Lover of our souls. Nothing else matters. If we all have to live in a cardboard box on the streets of Detroit to encounter God, so be it! Our goal is not financial! It’s not selfish! It’s to be with God! That is all!
Have you noticed that the majority of conferences emphasize the personal blessing we’ll receive if we attend? Church offering sermonettes all too often focus solely on the breakthrough we’ll get if we give. What if we show up to bless others? What if we gave with no expectation of return?
Listen church! It’s time to die! Instead of reading a book about “how to become a better you,” I believe God wants us to discover how to become a “deader you!” Revival at all costs! We die so that we can live and be fully satisfied in God alone!
I must again state my humbled admiration of a segment of extremely unified, love driven pastors and leaders in this region. You amaze me.
That being said, the fear driven competition between so many churches in Detroit is an embarrassment to this city. And we think revival is near? Not until repentance is deep and unity is strong.
I believe its time that we are willing to lose our people, lose our salaries, lose our reputations, lose it all for the sake of blessing other churches and ministries in Detroit.
It’s time to celebrate every new church and ministry that launches in this region! Encourage them! Support them! Even if they start on the same block as your church! Even if all of your people leave your church to join theirs!
I firmly propose an open hands policy in Detroit. This is our policy at Revival Church. Any leader, any person, can come to Revival Church and openly, without fear or guilt, recruit any person in our church, including any of my staff or leaders, to leave Revival Church and join their church. Our hands are wide open. You can’t steal my sheep if I don’t own my sheep. We don’t own people, we are there to serve and bless them and encourage them into their destinies, even if that’s in another place.
We must stop building our own kingdoms. Brian Ming wrote a chilling worship song that included these words: God forgive us for building kingdoms of man on doctrines of demons in your name.
I included that in my book Pharaoh in the Church, and I sent that book to 200 pastors in the Detroit region a couple of years ago. It is a bold call to self-less unity. I was saddened that I only received a few responses.
As someone who has led my amazing team into over 60 churches in the Detroit region, both urban and suburban, over the last year and a half to pray and unite with pastors, both black and white, I do feel I have a right to say what I’m about to say:
When I pray with people of any color I feel absolutely no racial issue in the church of Detroit. Many, many have agreed with my perspective as Spirit-filled people of all colors have smiled ear to ear in the joy of the Lord as we have prayed in power together.
If you do battle with the race issue, you don’t have a racial problem, you have a humility problem. You have a prayer problem.
When I was one of the leaders of a remarkable prayer movement in Colorado Springs several years back, we prayed in fire with pastors and hungry people every Friday night—in over 100 churches. Pray! Magazine interviewed me and asked, “How do you handle the issue of competition between pastors as you are gathering them together in this movement?” I simply answered, “It’s not possible to hate someone you are fervently praying for. If I’m praying for another pastor to have more success than me, a bigger church than me, more money than me, more influence than me, I simply can’t at the same time be divided against him.”
I don’t care if revival breaks out downtown Detroit, down in Toledo, over in Windsor or in a wealthy suburb. If we really understood what revival was, we’d shut down our lives and run hard and fast anywhere it broke out!
I have no patience with the absolutely ridiculous racial distractions in the church that are keeping us from serving and praying in fire together. Yes, I’m the new kid on the block with a different perspective. I humbly pray you check out the view from my perspective. It’s much happier here.
A CASUAL APPROACH
This issue is directed to Christians in general—where are you?
Are you so sleepy that you aren’t active and vibrant enough in the spirit to hear the alarms? Wake up! Wake up!
Never again treat the call to battle casually. Never again participate in your local church casually. It’s time to awaken and advance with an alert and ready spirit! If you don’t know how to connect, ask! Ask again! Show up! Be a warrior! Serve!
Pastors aren’t there to entertain you! They are their to gather you, to equip you, to assign you and to ensure you fulfill your mission.
Show up early. Stay late. Be at every prayer meeting. Cancel date night. Cancel Little League. Bring the kids into the streets of Detroit. Evangelize. Pray. Serve. Work!
The 24/7 church is coming…yes, we will be in church every day of the week in the not too distant future. The question is, will it take a terrifying calamity to convince us to gather together in God’s presence, or will it result from a simple desire to be with God continually?
I’ve been to some regional revival events in Detroit, and the venue is often nearly empty! Are you serious? Muslims can show up in mass, on time, without any excuse or conflicting activity standing in the way…to pray…at inconvenient times…yet, Christians, who serve the Living God, can’t show up to contend for revival? Pastors, it’s time to lead your people out of your own church and into other churches for the sake of an outpouring! Be the example that Detroit needs!
It has been prophesied that if the church of Detroit doesn’t come into agreement with revival, God will bypass this city and give Chicago the next chance.
I’m beginning to believe that that may just happen.
So, what’s my response? To give up? No. Quite the opposite.
My family just bought a house here. We planted roots. We are starting a second church. We are helping three others launch home churches out of Revival Church this year. We are planting 50 churches in this region over the next few years.
And, we are ready to lock arms with anybody who is sold out, zealous, available and committed to extreme unity, hard work and a lot of time invested in this city that is very much worth it.