Posts Tagged ‘apostle’

Prophetic Dream: Fish, Fruit and Wayward Apostles

Self-absorbed apostles are compromising the government of the church.

Last night I had a dream.

I'll begin by clearly affirming the value of apostles, prophets, pastors and the entire five-fold ministry, not to mention every person who functions in any capacity God has assigned them to. In fact, this is all the more reason the dream I had is significant. God's ordained leaders in the church must align themselves with God's order and character more intentionally and soberly in these last days. We need anointed, surrendered, humble and powerful church leaders in position and ready to serve.

49  Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ Luke 11:49 (ESV)

THE DREAM

I found myself among many other Christians, leaders and people who were serving at a special church meeting. Specifically, this event was a gathering of apostles. It's important to understand that all of these people were clearly called of God. They were reputable, legitimate and most of us would agree that they are great, godly leaders. Unfortunately, after beginning their ministry years prior humble and pure, somewhere along their journey, they veered off course.

As I watched the interactions between the apostles, it was evident they were exhibiting some concerning characteristics as well. While they were connecting and enjoying conversation with others in the room, it was easy to discern they were focused primarily on promoting their viewpoints and agendas, eager to be recognized as special. They were obsessed with their rank.

Additionally, these convening apostles were entirely dismissive of the others who were not, as some would say, at their level. The individuals at this event who were not apostles at all were looked down on as inferior. Other apostles who didn't rise up with strong, charismatic personalities were ignored. Their focus was on mingling only with those leaders they felt could offer them something, or who they could target as an opponent to be analyzed and defeated. While they might seek to align with others who might have something to offer them, their end game was to dominate, gain influence and out play the other apostles.

Then, as dreams often go, there was an interesting twist. The focus of the event turned toward four young, star quarterbacks who were moving up the ranks from college to pro. These were sharp, impressive young men who were rightfully invited to this special meeting. Predictably, the apostles ignored these emerging team leaders as insignificant, though, in reality, they were resisting them as a threat. It was clear these young men were validated and positioned among the next generation of leaders. The quarterbacks were all skilled yet humble, excited to learn from the apostles, yet they were not well received. Not at all.

I then went to a store looking for a football to buy so I could play catch with them. My intent was to connect with the young quarterbacks and to encourage them. However, I could only find a small, junior sized football. I knew they had been promoted well beyond that level, and I didn't want to risk offending them by communicating that they were amateurs.ALIEN-0000000 4-23-2019 11.06.16 PM

The dream shifted once more. As I continued to survey everything that was happening at that gathering of apostles and the young, emerging quarterbacks, I was fully unmotivated to join in the fray. I had no desire to play politics or to jocky for position. Instead, I stepped outside and dove into the ocean. I swam away from the shore and then deep under the water. I saw and then caught a beautiful, massive, shiny silver fish. It shined like a chrome bumper on an old, restored car from yesteryear. After wrangling the fish to the beach, I brought it inside, but none of the apostles were interested. I was surprised that such an brilliant fish provoked nobody's attention. I broke open the fish and there was absolutely nothing inside except for, remarkably, some incredibly delicious fruit. It tasted and looked very much like an orange. I pulled apart the fruit and ate it. It was amazing. Still, nobody cared, even though a legitimate miracle had occurred before their very eyes. The fruit and the fish wasn't their focus. Power and position was.

Again, these were all people we'd agree had been reputable leaders. But, as they advanced in ministry, their motives were compromised.

THE INTERPRETATION

Before I reveal what the Lord showed me, I want to take a moment to share something important regarding spiritual dreams.

It's extremely common for people who study the dreams of God to jump to conclusions about other people's dreams. I've seen this happen multiple times over the years, and while their intention is usually pure, they can bring confusion into the mix by attempting to over-analyze, redefine or incorrectly interpret what has already been revealed.

The person most able to interpret a dream, in most cases, is the one who had the dream. Only they know the tone, the mood, the revelation and just what the Holy Spirit has interpreted for them. While a dream interpreter may be convinced they know the meaning of a horse or rain or sleep or vehicles or any number of other symbols, they need to be careful as not to taint the actual meaning of the dream that is, at times, revealed to only one individual–the dreamer. Often times the dreamer interprets the dream quite differently than even the most seasoned dream interpreter. Of course, there are times the dreamer doesn't have the interpretation, and they may very well need to consult with others. But, we must use caution. Dreams of God can get confused quite easily.

I believe the meaning of most of my dream is fairly obvious. While some may want to read too much into some of the symbolism, I believe the takeaway is simple.

First, I want to emphasize again that the apostles were truly people of God. They led anointed ministries and had a track record of righteousness. However, something happened along the way that resulted in compromise.

Frankly, there are many Christian leaders who are addicted to ministry because of the supposed fame and adoration it brings.

Too many pastors and ministers are absolutely duped into believing they have arrived and that their “call” to ministry is highly valued by most. The reality? Few care. I'm not saying this to devalue their call. If they are called, they won't care how valued they are.

However, many who are addicted to ministry are idolizing it, and they can't imagine life without it. Trust me, if this is you, and if you ever decided to step down from full-time ministry, there wouldn't be a collective gasp by a stunned and disappointed society. People will go on with their lives. You are valued, but you aren't that important. None of us are.

What I'm saying is that the collection of pride-driven apostles in the dream was both sad and laughable. There is great value in apostolic ministry, but the value is not in the position, it's in the function, in the call to humbly serve. The deception in the room was extreme, and the scheming and parading around as if they were royalty was honestly quite embarrasing.

The quarterbacks repesented the next generation of team leaders. Quarterbacks are the defacto leaders of the football team. Their leadership directly determines whether the team advances or not. These emerging leaders did no wrong. They were humble and simply responding to an invitation to the gathering of apostles. They were wronged, however, by a suspicious and threatened apostolic council.

The dream culminated with the fish and the fruit. The clear, obvious truth is that we are called to be fishers of men and to bear fruit. It's that simple. Instead of diving into the depths of humanity and focusing on shining the light of Jesus in the world, the apostles were climbing over one another. Instead of fishing and bearing fruit, they were seeking power and position.

If this dream spoke to you as a leader, simply repent and allow God to give you a glorious and refreshing reset. You are valuable, you are called and what God has for you to do on the earth is exceptionally critical. In order to fulfill that calling, all pretense, all jealousy, all selfish ambition and all pride must die. You and many others will experience phenomenal abundant life as a result–including the emerging young leaders who are waiting for you to raise them up.

 

 

Seven ways the local church can be a catalyst for revival

Are you among the remnant people who will embrace the firestorm from Heaven that will bring revolution to the church?

We need a reformation in the church of the Western culture—and fast. I’m not talking about a tweak or adjustment, but rather a costly, troubling, invasive, offensive and radical change to what we know as the church. A firestorm from Heaven is coming, and only those who are ignited in that fire will embrace the coming shift. Religious traditionalists and those who are resistant to the deeper call will sadly reject this transition. This is why we must prepare the people under our care now! The Holy Spirit wants his church to be ready!

This great end-time verse has universal application:

Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; Revelation 19:7 (ESV)

Sunday go to meeting church was great for previous generations, but it’s gotten us as far as can go. A revolution must come. That revolution will come from within the local church, however, not in spite of it.

I can’t imagine not attending a local church with a faithful, passionate pastor leading the way. I am an unapologetic, determined supporter of the church in its current form, and I am excited about seeing reform emerge from my view in the pew on the inside. Sadly, too many are disconnecting from their local church, presuming an advance into culture without its restraints is somehow more spiritual. They are hurting, not helping, the cause of revival.

I was talking with my pastor and good friend today about this issue. He affirmed the importance of being a champion of the local church, and I fully agree. More than ever I want to go above and beyond in my communication to ensure everybody understands my heart regarding the local church. Talk of reformation can easily give fuel to the anti-church crowd, and we must avoid that at all costs. Without the local church, we will have little hope of seeing the revival that we so desire last more than a year or two—if it even sparks at all.

Often, my quick, 140 character, social media quips may give the impression that I’m anti-church. Please forgive me if I have done this! That grieves me deeply! That couldn’t be more opposite of my actual belief system and heart! I am contending for powerful local church explosion and the strength and honor of pastors here in Branson, Missouri and in every city around the world! The anti-local church/anti-pastor crowd is doing great damage to the Kingdom and I can’t afford to be counted among them.

So, to clearly communicate my position so there is no misunderstanding whatsoever:

I fully embrace and support the local church, and I endeavor to honor pastors and leaders unreservedly. From that place, with a healthy and pure heart, I also embrace reform.

As we prepare for the coming revolution, we all must be connected in a local church that’s led by anointed, Spirit-driven leaders. That’s non-negotiable. The coming reformation requires we are zealously submitted and devoted as the shift draws near.

That being said, I need to write a raw, unrehearsed message about the growing threat that the current local church wine skin can be to revival. Instead of being a strategic support to city-wide revival, it’s at risk of hindering the cause. As we proceed toward a reformed model and a new wine skin that can hold the new move of the Holy Spirit, the resulting shock will be a catalyst for an immeasurable move of God that has yet to be imagined.

What I’m going to share will certainly require a full blown reformation in the church if we are going to see revival come. Church as we know it must come to an end. God isn’t planning on enhancing the church systems that are already in place—he’s planning on eradicating many of them for the sake of something so otherworldly that few will even recognize it as the church—and many will resist with religious fervor.

The cost will be great and most will reject it, yet God is raising up a hidden remnant that will be a clear and present danger to the religious systems that refuse to bend.

From my book The Coming Church:

We soon won’t be able to define going to church the way we do now. God is coming to reform, to crush structures of old for what is to be introduced very soon. Our call isn’t to stand strong until the shift comes, it’s to prophetically sound the alarm and awaken those at risk! God is coming!

20-Elements-of-Revival-PaperbackFrom my book 20 Elements of Revival:

There are over 19,000 cities in America, and not one of them is experiencing revival. Some have pockets of Holy Spirit activity, and certainly there are true moves of God dotted all across the land—but there are no cities that are fully engulfed in revival. No cities have been taken—yet.

In order for us to experience revival in the church, we have to understand that it’s going to occur at the city level, not the local level. Why? The church is Scripture is identified by the city, not by the street corner. For example, we have the church at Ephesus, the church at Corinth, etc.

Instead of hundreds of churches in a city, John identified a total of seven church in all of Asia at the time. They were designated by cities. Certainly there were many local expressions within the city, but they weren’t entities unto themselves. They were a part of a greater whole.

John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come… Revelation 1:4 (ESV)

This is why reports of revival that are limited to a single local church must be viewed as a single piece of a much greater movement. Unfortunately, local church moves of God, as wonderful as they are, rarely impact the city, much less the world, and ultimately they die out.

The local church cannot be an end in itself. The local expression isn’t to be the primary experience for Christians. It’s one gear inside of a massive machine. It’s one leg of a table. It’s one organ in the body.

For most Christians, the Sunday service is the epitome of their church experience. It’s the greatest experience of the week. This must change! The church culture they are participating in must evolve from local only to local/regional. The coming fire of God will most likely ignite outside of their local, Sunday experience, and they will need to be right in the middle of it when it happens. This means they must be connected regionally and not only locally.

If fact, when I was giving leadership to Revival Church, I communicated regularly in our services that the spark of revival would most likely not occur in our church. Statistically, it wasn’t probable. Others in the city were contending for fire to fall in their churches too. Why would we presume our church, instead of any of the other hundreds in the city, to be the landing point God would choose for the region? A regional outpouring would gather people together from many churches. That means they’d move out of their local church and into another location with their pastor and others in their congregation to join with the rest of the city church.

When the fire fell in Brownsville, the other churches of the city should have cancelled most of their services so they could have joined others around the fire. The same is true for Lakeland, Florida and Toronto and other places where God moved in a single location.

While we were contending for revival to erupt, we were doing so with the city in mind, not our local expression. The goal wasn’t a move of God in our church. That would be too limiting and even self-serving. I was going after an entire city. The God of the city was on the move, not the God of Revival Church alone.

I explained that, when that spark of revival lit in another church or ministry somewhere in the city, we’d have no option but to excitedly lock arms with that church and serve the work of fanning the flames. At that time, the instruction would be to cancel as many of our services as necessary to join with the movement in the city. If we and other churches didn’t do that, the flame would die out.

To give you a better understanding of why the local church is in such a critical place of either being a hindrance or catalyst to revival, I need to spend a little time explaining what the reformation may look like.

THE COMING CHURCH

What is coming to the Church is not an enhancement or an adjustment. The destruction (or we could use the word deconstruction) will be so comprehensive and total that it will not only remove current structures, but also the faulty foundations (anything other than the foundation of Christ) they were built on. The coming Church will look nothing like the Church we now know.

Disgruntled people are leaving churches by the thousands, frustrated with their experience. These people must not leave the church. They must surrender their desires and lay down their lives for the church! If today’s disappointed Christian can’t withstand this current low level, marginally supernatural structure, what will they do when the fireball from Heaven crushes them fully? What will their response be when they are called into the humbling ministry of nameless, faceless night and day prayer? How will they react to an atmosphere of groans and cries of deep repentance and Holy Spirit intercession that cuts to the heart? What will happen when they are called to lay down their lives for the very system they despise?

In my book The Coming Church, I detail several key changes that are coming to the local church in the reformation. Here’s one:

Local churches will be regionally focused. The level of impact that the rock from Heaven will bring will not be confined to local churches. Pastors and leaders will stop focusing mainly on developing their own local ministry and will instead shelve much of what they did in the old church model and focus on serving the regional mission. The local will give way to the regional as leaders lead the people into encounter, into regional mission and into the greater vision of revival and reformation. The spirit of Pharaoh that focuses on personal goals and keeping people locally focused will give way to the spirit of reformation and Kingdom advance that was manifested through Moses and Joshua. (Read more about this in my book Pharaoh in the Church.)

In the coming Church, we will be entirely focused on God showing up and visitors being troubled, not the other way around. The only way we can impact the people of the world is if we jealously guard the ark, God’s presence. The coming Church will result in a ferocious invasion of God’s presence into the Church, and this will result in a mass exodus of the naturally minded and lukewarm.

The remaining remnant will automatically have a regional, city focus. They will zealously submit to local church leadership while simultaneously advancing with others under apostolic and prophetic leadership on a city level. There won’t be any conflict or competition. The local will serve the regional and the goal of revival will be common among all.

On the other side of the reformation I believe we will see clear, anointed, governmental and biblical leadership on a city level. Pastors will be submitted to apostles in the city, not only those in their denominational headquarters. The church will run with great precision as everybody is on the same page, often in the same place and functioning according to their specific role in a clearly communicated grand design.

AN EXAMPLE OF HOW THE CITY CHURCH MIGHT FUNCTION

SUNDAY MORNINGS

As an example, people will be in their local churches on Sunday mornings, as their local pastor leads in fervent prayer and worship and trains for battle after receiving key instructions from city apostles. These wouldn’t be seeker focused events, but rather furnaces of Holy Spirit activity that would result in a tremble in the people!

SUNDAY EVENINGS

Sunday evenings the local church pastors and those in their congregations would join with the other Christians in the region in a large venue such as a convention center or possibly the largest church building in the city where the apostles of the city cast vision, instruct and keep everybody on the same page.

MONDAYS

Mondays would be devoted to several hours of prayer in the larger venue as the apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers and evangelists publicly lead people into intercession for the region.

TUESDAYS

Tuesdays could be devoted to teaching specific to what God was revealing the previous two nights. Teachers in different parts of the city would gather people together for a few hours of small group instruction.

WEDNESDAYS

Fellowship and personal ministry would fit great mid-week. People could gather together in small groups and simply have fun, pray for one another and encourage each other in the battle. This would most easily function under the leadership of the individual local churches.

THURSDAYS

Outreach and various ministries could be the focus of Thursdays. Some teams would hit the streets to witness while others would minister deliverance while still others could hold events for children and youth.

FRIDAYS

Prophetic training and impartation would be an important part of the week. God will reveal key regional strategies to prophets and apostles, and as they communicate that and train people in the prophetic, the city church will grow stronger, more powerful, precise and activated.

FRIDAY NIGHTS

All night prayer, from 10pm until 6am, would be attended by all, either in the large venue or spread out in homes and local churches throughout the city.

SATURDAYS

Rest!

Of course, days and actual focuses are interchangeable, but you get the idea.

With this model, pastors of local churches don’t have to fulfill every need for the people under their leadership as they release and lead them into other venues for growth and training. They literally only have to lead one or two events per week. The rest of the time they are getting filled, serving in other capacities and supporting the greater regional vision.

Similarly, teachers will have a constant outlet to teach, and they will do so under the leadership of the apostolic leaders of the city. They will train people according to what is timely in the city. The same is true for the regions prophets and evangelists.

This also means most Christians will be involved in regional ministry, in several different venues, under different unified leaders, six days a week. The church will be strong, alert and at the ready.

Additionally, apostles and leaders in the region will have the flexibility to call special meetings, solemn assemblies and other events with the confidence in knowing every Christian in the region will respond.

15 Blow the trumpet in Zion; consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly; 16 gather the people. Consecrate the congregation; assemble the elders; gather the children, even nursing infants. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her chamber. 17 Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep and say, “Spare your people, O LORD, and make not your heritage a reproach, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’” Joel 2:15-17 (ESV)

Wow! Everybody had to respond to the regional call to pray. Even those who were nursing infants or getting married had to cancel their plans and gather together for the sake of their nation. No excuses allowed!

We need instant, regional response again today.

SEVEN WAYS THE LOCAL CHURCH CAN BE A CATALYST FOR REVIVAL

ONE: MINIMIZE BUSYNESS

There are a lot of tired pastors and people in churches today because of overstuffed, inflexible schedules. It’s common to fill church schedules with all sorts of programs and ministries, special events and other activities. It’s true that a lot of wonderful ministry occurs at the local church level, and it’s easy to expend a lot of time and energy on those activities.

The problem comes when a call for the church of the city (which is how the church is defined biblically) needs the participation of Christians in the region to support a greater cause.

I propose, with few exceptions, local church schedules should be flexible enough to cancel in a moment’s notice so the people can be released to attend to regional church focuses.

15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:15-17 (ESV)

TWO: UNDERSTANDING REGIONAL PRIORITY

I was part of a large, city-wide event that was to be held at the Palace of Auburn HIlls in the Detroit area. Unfortunately, the event had to be cancelled because pastors wouldn’t release the people under their care from their Wednesday night church responsibilities to attend.

Not only should the pastor have released his people, he should have led the charge!

How unfortunate that a lesser, local church weekly service kept people away from the more important regional event.

When regional prayer events, revival meetings or other key, strategic meetings are called, it’s critical that the local focus yields.

We must see a time come when every pastor and every Christian in the city shows up at the city events. Solemn assemblies are nearly non-existent today due to misplaced ministry priorities.

 Consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly. Gather the elders and all the inhabitants of the land to the house of the LORD your God, and cry out to the LORD. Joel 1:14 (ESV)

THREE: REJECTING A FOCUS ON SURVIVAL AND LOCAL CHURCH GROWTH

Instead of focusing on the success of the regional church and the advance toward revival at that level, local churches are often focused mostly on growing or surviving themselves.

If we were honest, we’d admit primary reasons we as pastors and leaders might not want people under our care involved in other ministries and churches is because they might leave and take their money with them. I believe this insecurity is a serious violation of the trust God has given us as leaders. We must have open hands and encourage people to move in and out of our local churches easily so they can fulfill their vision, and the city vision, instead of our own.

FOUR: RELEASING RESOURCES

Regional events and ministries often need the people who are part of the various local churches in the city to serve. People, finances, time and energy are often guarded by local churches which leaves regional assignments under-resourced. They often fail.

Several years ago, I knew it was critical to cancel my own church plans for a month so people could be free to serve at a regional revival event about 40 minutes away. It would have been inappropriate for me to keep them focused on our own local church ministries when the fire was lit elsewhere. The regional event needed intercessors to support that move of God, so I eagerly released those precious resources, amazing prayer warriors, along with any finances they wanted to give there, to undergird that regional event.

And having sent into Macedonia two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while. Acts 19:22 (ESV)

FIVE: REFUSE TO GIVE IN TO JEALOUSLY, OVERPROTECTIVENESS AND RESISTANCE

As I stated above, the revival in your region most probably will ignite in a church other than your own. We must avoid the temptation to be jealous if that happens. We also can’t be so nervous about other people, visiting evangelists or other leaders that we resist or avoid what is happening through their ministry.

I’ve been involved in true moves of God that died out simply because leaders were taking a wait and see approach to it. They were nervous about what was happening there—for no reason. They held back and pressured people in their church to stay put. I’ve shared about my experience in Detroit before. God was moving. Pastors were resisting. I’m still grieved about that. Jealousy will kill a move of God, and it will bring judgment speedily.

8 And Saul was very angry, and this saying displeased him. He said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands, and what more can he have but the kingdom?” 9 And Saul eyed David from that day on. 1 Samuel 18:8-9 (ESV)

The next day a harmful spirit from God rushed upon Saul.. 1 Samuel 18:10 (ESV)

SIX: SUPPORT GREATER GROWTH

If people are limited to connecting at a local church level, their growth can’t help but to be stunted. Today, few are ready for revival because local churches are, by design, only focusing on a limited set of tools they are equipping their people with.

I can’t imagine, as a leader, only sitting under one pastor and being limited in my growth to their awesome yet limited strengths. While we are called to radically support and serve a local pastor and body, we can’t stop there. I believe it’s important to connect in various churches and ministries in a region on a regular basis. Not only can we grow much faster, we can connect local churches together and experience greater strength on that regional level as well.

SEVEN: UNDERSTAND LEVELS OF AUTHORITY

Senior pastors of a local church are not the senior authority in the region. It will take quite a reformation for us to step into city-church government, but we can start now by acknowledging that leaders on a regional level must have the support and participation of the more localized leaders.

Apostles are the gatekeepers of a city, and it’s critical to know who they are if we are to advance toward revival.

Peter Wagner says:

…recognizing and affirming apostles of the city might well be the most vital missing link for seeing our cities truly transformed.

Several years ago I worked as a supervisor at a T-Mobile call center in Colorado Springs. There were over 1500 employees, and it required at least 50 supervisors to manage that many people. I was the local leader, if you will, of my group of 25 employees. It was quite obvious that I was not the senior leader of T-Mobile. I had certain liberties to lead according to my style and local vision for developing my team, however, there were both limits to that freedom and serious expectations. I reported to one of a handful of managers, who in turn reported to the Associate Directors. That small team reported to the Director of the call center. That wasn’t the end of the org chart, but you get the idea.

My job was important, and I had limited authority, and a lot of responsibility. However, I could only function in that authority as I submitted to the greater authorities. The Director of the call center was, in effect, the gatekeeper of the call center. It was an important position.

The authority structure wasn’t there to stroke egos or to build individual departments of the call center. It was there to most successfully impact the world with cell phones!

The same is true for the church, but the mission is much more serious and important.

Today, pastors are often only submitted to denominational leaders that aren’t even based in their city. They leapfrog city authorities, and, in turn, ignore the call for them to lead the people into regional assignments.

I agree that such a reformation that I touched on in this article will be extreme. It won’t happen overnight, or even in a handful of years.

What can happen immediately, however, is that we embrace the shift and come into agreement to serve the city church and to advance toward revival at that level.

A local church move of God will be wonderful, but it won’t last. We must see a foundation built regionally that will support a massive move of God.

Maybe your region will be the first of 19,000 that will see the church of that city set ablaze in revival!

Pastors don’t rule the city—but they can hinder God’s plans for it.

The pursuit of city wide revolution must no longer be resisted by the spiritual leaders.

I’m risking a lot by writing this article, but the grief in my heart is telling me it’s a risk that is well worth it.

I’m beyond disgusted, and I am going to reveal to you the source of that sickness that’s churning in my spirit in a moment. First, since I’m jumping way out on a limb in a way that will make it very easy for people to misunderstand my heart, I have to make some qualifying statements.

First, I am a radical, unapologetic lover and supporter of pastors and leaders. What many of them go through for the sake of the advance of the Kingdom is worthy of high honor. I am quick to defend a ‘wrong’ pastor against a ‘right’ congregant due to the fact that God has ordained them. God establishes all leadership. I absolutely love pastors!

Additionally, I embrace with great passion the local church, even in it’s yet to be renewed wineskin. We must commit to the ministry of the local body God has placed us in with great zeal.

For zeal for your house has consumed me, and the reproaches of those who reproach you have fallen on me. Psalm 69:9 (ESV)

Lastly, I understand how terribly an outsider can wreck havoc and bring destruction to a local body. We should guard our pulpit from wolves. I’ve been ravaged by wolves in ministry before and, trust me, the knee-jerk reaction is to reject anybody outside of my circle of trust.

However, it’s that last point that brings us to our current crisis. The gun-shy dog syndrome is causing pastors to be tentative at best and outright dismissive and cruel at worst toward God’s circuit riders that are on assignment in their city.

PASTORS DON’T RULE THE CITY

I continue to hear from people that God desires to use to impact a city, people who are outsiders but who carry key authority, messages and ordination to function with apostolic and prophetic strength in a region.

They are rejected, one after another. They are gossiped about. They are murmured about. They certainly aren’t celebrated, as they should be.

There was a particular well known evangelist that came to a city, and God was working wonders. The pastors were few in number at the meetings. The gossip and suspicion and rejection of this ministry was being whispered through the town. That makes me sick. I just can’t hold back anymore. You have to be kidding if you think God is going to bring revival to your city if you treat God’s messengers like this. It’s shameful.

Pastors, you have to get over it. When revival comes to your city, your ministry will be threatened. People may flock to the greater city meetings—and you should too. If I was asked whether it’s best to stay in position in our local church or to rush to an outpouring in the region, with grief I’d counsel the person to stay submitted in their local church. However, I’d probably leave with tears in my eyes and fire in my veins. The pastor of that church should never put that person in such a terrible position. They have to choose between the sudden and timely fire of God in the city or fulfilling their duties in their local church? The pastors should be shouting to everyone of his sheep, “Follow me to the pillar of fire!”

But, unfortunately, that’s not how it works. Rejection is the norm. Evangelists know that in order to get the pastors on board they have to choose a neutral location such as a convention center. If they hold their meetings in a local church, other pastors won’t come. Again, this is disgusting. Shameful.

I’ve experienced this type of resistance myself. Many tears have been shed in the Burton family through the arrows of other ministers. And, by the way, the arrows that hurt aren’t only the ones that are clear, vicious attacks. It also hurts when other pastors in the city don’t encourage and visibly support the mission of revival. Rejection and resistance can be felt by God’s messengers. Silence is loud. 

Such treatment is par for the course for prophetic and apostolic people especially. However, don’t worry. We signed up for this. It’s not about us.

It’s not about tending to the wounds of the prophets, but rather it’s about, once and for all, dealing with the rejection of God’s ministry through them.

1 Now at Iconium they entered together into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed. 2 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. 3 So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands. 4 But the people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews and some with the apostles. 5 When an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to mistreat them and to stone them, 6 they learned of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding country, 7 and there they continued to preach the gospel. Acts 14:1-7 (ESV)

Paul and Barnabas didn’t visit Iconium for a vacation. They were there to lay down their lives for the sake of God’s call on their lives. Instead of being celebrated, instead of leaders rallying around them, they were mistreated. In fact, the leaders tried to kill them—for delivering good news.

So, what did they do? They fled. They went to Lystra. A new chapter and a fresh start was upon them. What happened there? Paul was stoned.

19 But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. 20 But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe. Acts 14:19-20 (ESV)

He was left for dead, but survived. While I don’t want to make it sound like the trials of God’s messengers in America today are at the same level of those that Paul experienced, or of those in other nations that have outlawed Christianity are experiencing today, I do want to offer a parallel. Today the religious leaders, those who don’t want their status quo touched by an outsider with another focus or level of authority or charisma, are attacking them through gossip and other forms of rejection. Often their credibility, their motives, their ministries are assaulted and threatened.

The attacks of supposed spiritual leaders can be relentless.

In fact, the ministry of Paul and Barnabas so incited the region, Jews from Antioch and Iconium actually followed them in order to defame them in their next city!

It would seem that the spiritual leaders, the pastors of today, presumed to rule their respective cities. They banded together and resisted with violence the messengers of God. However, I love how the story continues, without any pretension whatsoever:

21 When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. 23 And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed. Acts 14:21-23 (ESV)

They would not be denied! They returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch! The spiritual leaders of the cities would not dictate whether they would advance the Kingdom of God there or not!

The desire of Paul and Barnabas certainly was to work together with the leaders of the Jews and Gentiles, and to be welcomed in with open arms so they could tend to the difficult assignment God had given them without any unnecessary resistance.

This is the passion of evangelists, prophets and others that God is raising up today to initiate reform in cities. They desire the pastors of the city to rally around them! Don’t be suspicious. Open your pulpits! Let them cast their vision for revival!

It pains me to say this—if pastors won’t honor those God is bringing to labor with them, there comes a time to either shake the dust off your feet and move on, or to power through without their support.

14 And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. 15 Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town. Matthew 10:14-15 (ESV)

What would the Pensacola Revival have been without Steve Hill being received from the outside?

What would Toronto have been without Randy Clark?

Evan Roberts was rejected, and then the Welsh Revival broke out.

William Seymour’s message was rejected and the door to the building he was ministering in was padlocked—so he moved to 214 Bonnie Brae Street. After outgrowing that space, his next stop was Asuza Street.

Until pastors value the pursuit of a move of God in the region more than a move of God in their own local church, conflict, resistance and disunity will reign. Local churches are merely departments of the greater city church and MUST be in sync with what is going on at that level. If revival is being pursued, will doors be padlocked? What happens when the meetings are being held in a church other than yours? Will you still radically support it, lead the people there and honor those God is calling to give leadership to it? It continually grieves my heart when I hear about pastors who refuse to unite at a strategic level with other pastors. God will raise up a lay remnant if today's senior leaders can't lay down their own pursuits for the sake of the greater call in the region.

No, pastors don’t own the city. We must honor them and support them as they work tirelessly in the assignments God has given them. However, I’m done with the ridiculous rejection of people who are paying a great personal price to serve God among them. Visitors to town, people that have quit jobs and uprooted their families to contend for revival in a new place, those who have no friends in the city they are assigned to, those who feel alone and would love to be well received, should be celebrated and encouraged to move ahead with no resistance and with the zealous support of the town’s spiritual leaders.

And, yes, there’s an entirely different article that can be directed at the evangelists and prophets. If they can’t handle the heat, they should get out of the kitchen. But we’ll leave that article for another day.

For now, is it possible even to have revival at a city level? Will pastors finally embrace those who God has called to help facilitate an outpouring? Will they stop building their own little kingdoms for the sake of revival in their city? If not, it’s time to advance in humility and boldness, whether the pastors like it or not. If the pastors don’t yield, love and honor God’s messengers, there’s a remnant waiting to step into position, and their time may be soon upon us.

Video Podcast: Shock Christianity: What is love?

Watch the video: What is love? Is it possible we’ve been confused about what love really looks like? Yes.


imageWe are seeing the beginning of the greatest movement of love the world has ever known—and the greatest confusion about love in history.

In our self-centered, narcissistic generation, the demand for others to respond rightly to us seems to be overwhelming the command to respond rightly to others.

In ministry I have had the unfortunate opportunity to witness people spinning out time and time again when they aren’t affirmed the way they think they should be. The enemy is offering his anointing of accusation to wounded people so they can point a finger and identify failures in others. The truth is that most often they simply don’t understand what love really looks like in the Kingdom.

It’s extremely easy to point out self-defined lack in another’s life with the accusation that they are not acting in love. This is an accusation that I and many other aggressive & prophetic leaders, who shock and rock and tear down idols and altars, have received more than once.

The problem? There’s confusion about what love is. True love will often shock us, and we are most certainly in a time when that jolt must come.

Here’s the questions we have to ask ourselves to ensure we are personally living in the love of God:

  • Am I patient? This doesn’t mean we aren’t bold or that we don’t challenge people to pick up the pace. This is a heart issue. Can we advance with determination while also honoring people who are slower than us?
  • Am I kind? This is also an attitude of the heart. It doesn’t mean we are passive or soft spoken. It just means we are looking out for the needs of others.
  • Do I envy others? Jealousy divides. Enough said.
  • Do I boast? Do I have pride that results in attempting to outshine others?
  • Am I arrogant? Boldness and arrogance are closely related. One is Holy Spirit driven, the other is not. I’m sure people might accuse me of arrogance due to my aggressive, urgent focus on life, and my unwillingness to entertain lukewarm theologies, but I am consistently asking God to search my heart on this. I desire to be bold without reservation, even if it looks like arrogance. I’m not out to prove I love people. I’m to love them, and sometimes it can get testy as I promote God’s messages that irritate the resisters.
  • Am I rude? I post a lot on Facebook and Twitter. My goal is to be extremely provocative (to shock!), and I’ll talk about that more in a bit. But, it is always extremely important for me to not be rude. It’s critical that while I provoke, that I also honor and refuse to react in a rude or condescending manner.
  • Do I insist on my own way? This is about selfishness. Am I self-centered and demanding? Or, do I prefer others above myself?
  • Am I irritable? I will admit that I wrestle with this one at times! It’s usually small but nonetheless meaningful issues. I have to be sensitive to my family by not getting irritated when they aren’t in the car ready to go on time or when the kids chores aren’t done. I have improved much, but I must remain sensitive to this.
  • Am I resentful? When life doesn’t go as planned, do I resent God or other people who didn’t live up to my expectations?
  • Do I rejoice at wrongdoing? Or, do I do the opposite as revealed in Ephesians 5 by exposing the fruitless deeds of darkness?

Even when accusations of lacking love fly, we can humbly go to prayer, let God search our hearts and review the above scriptural revelation of what love looks like.

True Expectations: Same love, different manifestations

I once mentioned to Chuck Pierce that it would be powerful to have a resource that explained how we can relate to various personality types, giftings and offices. What type of manifestation of love is typical in a pastor? What about a prophet? I was hoping he would write this book on interactive Christian love, but maybe I’ll have to tackle that at some point!

For example, I often hear people slander the prayer movement by shouting that those who lock themselves in the prayer room for hours a day don’t love people. If they did, they would be out on the streets feeding the homeless or doing something else that relational and meets and immediate need. This couldn’t be further from the truth. While certainly some people who pray all day might struggle with issues of love, the same is true across the board. It has nothing to do with the manifestation (intercession, serving the homeless), but rather it has to do with the condition of the heart.

So, what should we really expect from others? Here’s a short, extremely simplified explanation that should set you free. If you don’t expect someone to express love in a certain way, you won’t be offended when they don’t!

Pastor

In America, church leaders are almost always called “Pastor.” We need to fix this. Why? There are expectations associated with the offices, and if someone is not truly a pastor, when you call them pastor you are putting a burden on them they can’t bear.

In a true pastor, you might expect someone who loves to listen to your story and is ready to encourage you in it. They may be very relational, conversational and invested in people one-on-one.

Teacher

A teacher might spend most of his time behind closed doors in study, and might not have a relational bone in his body—but he loves people by rightly dividing the Word. He love is manifested not through smiles and handshakes but through hours of investment in you through study and prayer.

Evangelist

An evangelist will show love by leading people to Jesus. This can get confusing for some who get saved, and then don’t understand why the evangelist isn’t his best friend. After all, they shared a life changing moment together! The reason? The evangelist is off loving the next person!

Prophet

A prophet will show love through irritating you! I’m a prophetic Apostle, so this is my area of expertise. Prophets may have tears in their eyes and fire in their veins in the place of prayer that results in an uninvited confrontations. In fact, you can consider a prophet an uninvited teacher. He delivers what is not desired to a people who are asleep. Whenever you awaken someone from their sleep, you can expect them to be irritated—yet this irritation is a result of a man or woman of God who loves you so much that they can’t leave you in your condition.

So, you can expect sharp words of warning that are love-fueled alarms designed just for you. You probably wouldn’t expect a prophet to be ultra-relational (they make too many enemies for this to work!). They make horrible counselors most of the time. They love you much as the teacher does—through prayer-driven messages from God.

Apostle

Apostles are always on the move. They show love by inviting you on the journey. However, they usually don’t wait for too long for you to catch up. For some that feels unloving, but the opposite is true. Their love compels them to move and build and advance into new territory so that many can be saved! While an apostle may not wait long for you, he will always be there to pick you up on his next loop through!

Don’t expect apostles to be locally minded. If you need someone to help with your current life situation, an apostle will show you his love by inviting you on a journey regardless of your current situation! You may need to find a pastor if you aren’t looking for that quite yet!

Shock-Christianity-Paperback

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Shock Christianity: Can this be love? Just what does love look like?

Shock Christianity: A prophetic alarm is sounding as a code blue church is under the shock paddles of the great Physician.

I’m going to take the opportunity to lay some very important things out on the table—in the hopes that God will bring clarity to what is expected in this end-of-the-age season that we are in.

**Near the end, I will share very important information about why I focus on such a narrow, offensive, troubling message. It’s important that you hear my heart on this.

Here is a provocative podcast on this topic:

I had planned on writing an article dealing with the issue of love as it’s revealed through prophetic voices for the last week, and since then I’ve had at least a few key unexpected discussions regarding what one called “Shock Christianity.”

image

I believe this is evidence that it’s time to both humbly ask God to inspect our hearts (as I always do when I find myself in such active and controversial seasons) and clearly communicate what is truly to be expected.

It’s extremely easy to point out self-defined lack in another’s life with the accusation that they are not acting in love. This is an accusation that I and many other aggressive & prophetic leaders, who shock and rock and tear down idols and altars, have received more than once.

The problem? There’s confusion about what love is, and also about how to react when someone isn’t manifesting love in the way we think they should.

Friendship & emotional intimacy

For many, especially those with a high mercy gift, the seemingly obvious, non-negotiable manifestation of love is close friendship and deep, emotional intimacy.

This isn’t an inappropriate desire—it’s the way many are wired. But, it is inappropriate to presume that a lack of emotional intimacy is evidence of a lack of love.

It’s too easy to point a finger at someone who has healthy boundaries setup and accuse them of not loving you. The accurate analysis would actually be that they most probably do love you, but they don’t desire emotional intimacy with you.

In fact, it may hurt, but we have to understand that not everybody wants to be our friend! That doesn’t mean they don’t love us, it just means that they don’t feel impressed to develop that type of relationship with us. They are limited in their ability or desire to befriend certain people, and that’s OK. It’s normal.

I personally know that not everybody will like me, and not everybody will want to be my friend. It would actually be really bizarre if that weren’t true!

Additionally, for many leaders, their primary goal isn’t to connect with everybody, but rather it’s to connect everybody to God. That is a valid and important ministry.

I think of Mike Bickle who isn’t going to just befriend anybody who walks into IHOPKC, but he absolutely will invest every ounce of his energy to help you connect to Jesus. What love that is!

What is love?

That’s a loaded question. I feel all of us would agree that the answer is wildly expansive and multifaceted.

And that it is. If the definition of biblical love is so deep and wide, why is it that we get offended when someone doesn’t fit our shallow and narrow definition of love?

If you search for “God’s Love” on Amazon, it returns 311,863 available books. It’s an inexhaustible topic!

When you read scripture, it is, again, inexhaustible. Of course, we do have quite a wonderful definition here:

1 Corinthians 13:1-7 (ESV) 1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

I personally consider this passage often. Really, I do so continually. For me, loving with God’s love is non-negotiable, though it is so easy to fail. The fear of the Lord is on me regarding the issue as this passage reveals a sharp warning to those who minister without loving. For someone with a “shock Christianity” mandate, this is all the more sobering. I must love without fail while shaking the sleepers. If love doesn’t drive the shaking, if it’s selfish ambition or greed that does it, I am in big trouble.

Now, this passage isn’t to be used as ammunition against others who don’t measure up, but rather it’s to be a sword to our own hearts. We need to let God break us. Don’t look to others who seem to be failing in love and accuse them of failure. You love them without reserve! Cover them as Noah was covered by two of his three sons. Don’t be the son that exposed his father’s nakedness! That results in a curse!

Genesis 9:20-27 (ESV) 20 Noah began to be a man of the soil, and he planted a vineyard. 21 He drank of the wine and became drunk and lay uncovered in his tent. 22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside. 23 Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father’s nakedness. 24 When Noah awoke from his wine and knew what his youngest son had done to him, 25 he said, “Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be to his brothers.” 26 He also said, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant. 27 May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem, and let Canaan be his servant.”

Here’s the questions we have to ask ourselves to ensure we are personally living in the love of God:

  • Am I patient? This doesn’t mean we aren’t bold or that we don’t challenge people to pick up the pace. This is a heart issue. Can we advance with determination while also honoring people who are slower than us?
  • Am I kind? This is also an attitude of the heart. It doesn’t mean we are passive or soft spoken. It just means we are looking out for the needs of others.
  • Do I envy others? Jealousy divides. Enough said.
  • Do I boast? Do I have pride that results in attempting to outshine others?
  • Am I arrogant? Boldness and arrogance are closely related. One is Holy Spirit driven, the other is not. I’m sure people might accuse me of arrogance due to my aggressive, urgent focus on life, and my unwillingness to entertain lukewarm theologies, but I am consistently asking God to search my heart on this. I desire to be bold without reservation, even if it looks like arrogance. I’m not out to prove I love people. I’m to love them, and sometimes it can get testy as I promote God’s messages that irritate the resisters.
  • Am I rude? I post a lot on Facebook and Twitter. My goal is to be extremely provocative (to shock!), and I’ll talk about that more in a bit. But, it is always extremely important for me to not be rude. It’s critical that while I provoke, that I also honor and refuse to react in a rude or condescending manner.
  • Do I insist on my own way? This is about selfishness. Am I self-centered and demanding? Or, do I prefer others above myself?
  • Am I irritable? I will admit that I wrestle with this one at times! It’s usually small but nonetheless meaningful issues. I have to be sensitive to my family by not getting irritated when they aren’t in the car ready to go on time or when the kids chores aren’t done. I have improved much, but I must remain sensitive to this.
  • Am I resentful? When life doesn’t go as planned, do I resent God or other people who didn’t live up to my expectations?
  • Do I rejoice at wrongdoing? Or, do I do the opposite as revealed in Ephesians 5 by exposing the fruitless deeds of darkness?

Even when accusations of lacking love fly, we can humbly go to prayer, let God search our hearts and review the above scriptural revelation of what love looks like.

So, if someone is aggressive, bold, focused, not easily approachable, confrontational, controversial, troubling or intent on tearing down false ideologies that people hold dear, does that reveal a lack of love? Not according to the Bible. In fact, they may love with such a passion that they are more focused on loving than on convincing people they love.

False Expectations

In our culture, love is defined in a way that is often different than what we see in scripture. For example, there is a false-love movement on the rise that presumes that relational friendship is a required manifestation of true love. I disagree. That false expectation will leave many wounded when one who does truly love them doesn’t show it the way they would prefer. Offense will follow and division, hard hearts and cold love are next.

This is an eternal issue! We cannot allow false expectations result in cold love! If others don’t love us the way we want, do we ourselves lose our love for them?

Matthew 24:10-13 (ESV) 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

I’ll say it again—true love doesn’t demand that others respond lovingly. True love is seen on the cross where Jesus didn’t demand any affirmation, friendship, encouragement or any outward manifestation of affection. We know from the encounter in the garden just prior to his arrest that he desired relational closeness, but he didn’t get offended when his friends slept while he sweat and bled.

True maturity comes from our garden experiences. If we can’t escape the lonely bleeding in the garden without offense toward unconcerned, selfish sleepers rising up in our hearts, how can we expect to take up our cross for them? Do we demand that they manifest love toward us, or do we simply love them unto death?

People who struggle with fear and rejection are often hit by the enemy regarding this. They so crave affirmation (which feels like love), that when they don’t get it it’s easy to accuse the person of not loving them. The problem? Affirmation and love are not the same. You can love someone without affirming them, befriending them or even talking to them!

John doesn’t love people

I told you I was going to lay it on the table!

This one hurts so deeply!

There was a situation in Colorado many years ago that resulted in an underground, “spirit of Absalom” situation that was fueled by offense. I started to hear the rumors: John doesn’t love people. Amy and I felt like we were hit by a train.

Someone on my staff had a false expectation about something incredibly minor. I was unable to meet that need due to needing to be somewhere later that night. It wasn’t until months later that I put two and two together and realized that an underground movement of gossip was setting my staff and team against me. The accusation? I don’t love people because I wasn’t there for them that day, and since that situation revealed my true, unloving heart, and my motives in ministry were now compromised, there must be an effort to resist the ministry—and, for them, it was in the name of ‘love’!

My initial split second reaction when I received knowledge of the situation was this: That doesn’t make sense! I love that person and the others so much. Of all things how could that be the accusation?

I was really saddened that those who I expressed love to by welcoming them onto our team, supporting them in their ministries, encouraging them to be free to lead with passion, etc. were rejecting my expression of love! Wow! Isn’t it interesting how it all works together—how the enemy can twist and turn things in such a dastardly way!

This was the same individual that had come to me with a dilemma. She had to deal with a situation in the church, but she didn’t want to make waves. She asked, “John, how in the world can I handle this explosive situation and convince the person that I love them?” I simply responded, “Why are you trying to attempt to convince them you love them? Simply love them.”

If we try to convince people we “love” them, we won’t actually love them by administering true tough love, biblical discipline and challenges. True biblical love at times does not feel like the love our culture has defined.

This is the power of love languages at work. We can’t expect someone to respond in love according to our love language. They will naturally respond according to their love language.

Of course, we can try to reach out to people according to their love language, but, here’s the point I’m trying to make—a failure to manifest love according to another’s language doesn’t mean they don’t love—it means they aren’t expressing or manifesting love the way that seems obvious to us. That accusation must come to an end.

Can an introverted recluse so deeply love people he has never even met by writing checks for millions of dollars to charities? Yes! That is love though he would never hug you, seek friendship or even smile when you enter the room!

My heart breaks over situations like this. Can I love better? Oh man, YES! But, I also need to help bring this issue to the surface. Too many leaders are not living according to their calling because they are so busy modifying their personality and mandate to match what others expect!

We must love according to how God designed us. The cross wasn’t welcomed, but it was the method Jesus was mandated to use. It didn’t feel like love then, but boy was it.

True Expectations: Same love, different manifestations

I once mentioned to Chuck Pierce that it would be powerful to have a resource that explained how we can relate to various personality types, giftings and offices. What type of manifestation of love is typical in a pastor? What about a prophet? I was hoping he would write this book on interactive Christian love, but maybe I’ll have to tackle that at some point!

For example, I often hear people slander the prayer movement by shouting that those who lock themselves in the prayer room for hours a day don’t love people. If they did, they would be out on the streets feeding the homeless or doing something else that relational and meets and immediate need. This couldn’t be further from the truth. While certainly some people who pray all day might struggle with issues of love, the same is true across the board. It has nothing to do with the manifestation (intercession, serving the homeless), but rather it has to do with the condition of the heart.

So, what should we really expect from others? Here’s a short, extremely simplified explanation that should set you free. If you don’t expect someone to express love in a certain way, you won’t be offended when they don’t!

Pastor

In America, church leaders are almost always called “Pastor.” We need to fix this. Why? There are expectations associated with the offices, and if someone is not truly a pastor, when you call them pastor you are putting a burden on them they can’t bear.

In a true pastor, you might expect someone who loves to listen to your story and is ready to encourage you in it. They may be very relational, conversational and invested in people one-on-one.

Teacher

A teacher might spend most of his time behind closed doors in study, and might not have a relational bone in his body—but he loves people by rightly dividing the Word. He love is manifested not through smiles and handshakes but through hours of investment in you through study and prayer.

Evangelist

An evangelist will show love by leading people to Jesus. This can get confusing for some who get saved, and then don’t understand why the evangelist isn’t his best friend. After all, they shared a life changing moment together! The reason? The evangelist is off loving the next person!

Prophet

A prophet will show love through irritating you! I’m a prophetic Apostle, so this is my area of expertise. Prophets may have tears in their eyes and fire in their veins in the place of prayer that results in an uninvited confrontations. In fact, you can consider a prophet an uninvited teacher. He delivers what is not desired to a people who are asleep. Whenever you awaken someone from their sleep, you can expect them to be irritated—yet this irritation is a result of a man or woman of God who loves you so much that they can’t leave you in your condition.

So, you can expect sharp words of warning that are love-fueled alarms designed just for you. You probably wouldn’t expect a prophet to be ultra-relational (they make too many enemies for this to work!). They make horrible counselors most of the time. They love you much as the teacher does—through prayer-driven messages from God.

Apostle

Apostles are always on the move. They show love by inviting you on the journey. However, they usually don’t wait for too long for you to catch up. For some that feels unloving, but the opposite is true. Their love compels them to move and build and advance into new territory so that many can be saved! While an apostle may not wait long for you, he will always be there to pick you up on his next loop through!

Don’t expect apostles to be locally minded. If you need someone to help with your current life situation, an apostle will show you his love by inviting you on a journey regardless of your current situation! You may need to find a pastor if you aren’t looking for that quite yet!

A one string banjo

As someone who’s not a pastor, I find myself, by design, extremely limited in my message. I’m a one string banjo. Maybe two string.

If I asked you what a particular pastor’s message is, you probably wouldn’t be able to answer. He will usually teach on many different topics.

But, if I were to ask you want John the Baptist’s message was, you’d have an answer—REPENT! PREPARE THE WAY OF THE LORD! Like John the Baptist, prophetic leaders are one string banjo players.

For me, EVERYTHING I do in ministry stems from one encounter and one message. After an encounter of being dragged toward Hell, God spoke this to me: John, many Christians will be shocked to find themselves in Hell one day.

My love for mostly nameless, faceless people burns so hot that I simply cannot deviate from my message of warning. I am loving through provoking people into safety. I am, as someone used the terminology yesterday, a shock Christian. I’m a prophetic messenger that sees time running out.

The horrific confusion regarding the issue of salvation in the Western church is the key reason why I am so intense. I am intentionally WAY off balance due to off-balance theologies. People are going to Hell. They think they are saved.

Just so you know how I see things, due to this encounter that I had 22 years ago: when I’m in a vibrant, Spirit-filled church of, lets say, 1000 people…people who are lifting their hands, worshiping Jesus and paying their tithes…I see maybe 100 of them, on average, ending up in Heaven. That’s not a judgmental statement, as I have no way of truly judging that on a person by person basis. It’s a spiritually analytical reality for me. How can I stay silent even for a day if billions of unsaved people are going to Hell PLUS many more others in churches who are following Jesus in an unsaved condition?

In fact, I’ve often said that I give myself only an 80% chance of making Heaven. If I were to die today, I’m about 99.9% sure I’d be there. However, the Bible is clear that there will be a great falling away. Even the elect will be deceived. If I presume myself to be exempt from that, I am presuming myself to be among the elect—and I am surely deceived. I absolutely can fall away from Jesus, and I don’t take that lightly.

George Barna revealed in a recent poll that only 8% of Americans are Born Again. Only 4% have a biblical world view!

My mandate is simple—love people by communicating to them truth, sounding alarms and tearing down doctrines of demons and humanistic religious idols.

Additionally, as a prophetic Apostle, those warnings come with an invitation—to get equipped to do the same, and to run with me as I charge ahead. I’m looking for modern day Paul Reveres who will love people through shocking and shaking deadly systems!

Running with me will be a joy if you want to be rocked and challenged as your destiny is called out of you.

The label of “shock Christian” fits the movement I’m a part of. I’d rather you be shocked with truth now than shocked to find yourself in Hell one day.

I am extremely thoughtful, prayerful and boldly intentional with what I communicate. Do I always do it perfectly? No way. But I try. But, you can know that I love you deeply and will be in prayer continually as I get the ‘now message’ of the Lord. The message will probably trouble you at times. It is supposed to. The paddles must be placed on ALL of us at times to shock to life a dying part of our lives.

You may wonder why I don’t deviate from this approach. I hope you now know why.

And, let me say this. I think it’s an indictment on our passive, timid culture when, what I consider to be mildly jarring truths, seem to be so extreme and impacting. It’s an indictment on the church when truth is shunned when it troubles or causes discomfort. What I post, honestly, is simple, old school Christianity. I’m saddened that people find it drastic—but so be it. I will continue preaching it until drastic becomes normal again.

The coming shift in the church away from senior pastoral leadership : The Coming Church

Possibly the most shocking shift coming to the church is the transition away from senior pastoral leadership.

The church army became a nursery. We want to play all day and cry for our needs to be met. Grow up! ~Isaiah Saldivar

imageI’m currently writing my next book titled The Coming Church, and I am continually stricken by fear and trembling as I communicate what is about to hit. The coming fire will be consuming everything that is outside of God’s design. The coming church will look so different than the church of today that we will find ourselves speechless. Everything man-made is going. Everything that God deems good but outdated is going. The coming church will be a defined by fire and it will repel the lukewarm and religious—as it draws in the hungry and desperate.

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST:

I continually hear people eagerly declaring that they are done with church as usual. Their heart is for God to move in and explode in power. I count myself as one of those people. However, the shift necessary to see this happen will upset what has been setup, and that price may be too costly for most.

Consider the radical differences between the United States Marines and a spa.

Today, the church structurally has the makeup of a spa that is setup to draw people in via programs and promises of personal attention. The coming church will function like a military that is setup to draw people in compelled by the magnitude of the mission. They will not show up to be served by to serve.

People join a spa to be nurtured and enjoy life with themselves in mind. People join the military to serve unto death with others in mind.

False Expectations

After 22+ years of ministry my opinion is that one of the weakest links in the church today is false expectations—expectations perpetuated by leaders who want to fill the pews. Let me explain.

In the local church context today, most want to connect in the place that will meet their expectations. There is a predetermined set of expectations that people enter the church with, and If those expectations aren’t met, negativity creeps into the camp. So, today, people won’t continue in a church if it doesn’t offer what they want, and pastors can’t imagine the thought of losing them, so they adjust course and focus on giving them what they expect.

In the Western church, the pastoral office is the natural office to lead a church that’s fueled by people’s need for nurture. After all, it’s presumed that pastors, by design, are the ones to meet the expectations of the people. They have the heart to do so. Therefore, pastoral leadership is widely embraced by those who are more inclined to receive than to give.

Does that sound like American culture? Does a consumer mentality have its touch on most every area of our lives? Absolutely, and, it has nearly overtaken the church, and we as leaders have left that problem largely unresolved.

What happens now is that pastors are overwhelmed with connecting with people, feeding them what they prefer and ensuring they are attended to—and that has compromised the strength and outward mission of the church.

Now, of course, helping people is absolutely appropriate and necessary, and pastors are the ones best equipped by God to do that, but this ministry was never meant to be the primary function of the church!

Today, churches act much like hospitals. Their key function is to deal with the wounded. In reality, they should look more like MASH units! Soldiers who are wounded in the mission are quickly stitched up so they can get back to the war!

God is raising up people who want to get challenged, not fed. ~Isaiah Saldivar

Ephesians 4:11-12 (ESV) 11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,

imageThe nurturing, equipping process is important, but it is not the goal! Notice that the equipping is for a reason! To work! Additionally, we have every opportunity and responsibility to feed ourselves instead of relying fully on the church. Today there are countless teachings online, in books, on CD’s and more. There is no excuse for any of us to rely on anybody else for our nourishment. We should not be showing up to the church empty waiting to be fed. We should arrive full and overflowing with the richness of the Word that we have fed ourselves with that week!

As an prophetic apostle, my focus is over the horizon. It’s on just a few narrow topics. I need everybody on their face praying, and I’ll do everything I can to teach them how. I want everybody going after regional revival, and I’ll teach week after week on how they can do that. I prophetically have a pulse on the church and I’ll constantly relay that information to the church so they can respond. But, they will have to take it upon themselves to learn most everything else. Of course, I’m not the only teacher in my context either. Others can and do impart knowledge and revelation, but it is still limited and it’s still required that we devour the Word ourselves.

Today, pastor led churches nurture and feed as the goal so much of the time without casting the vision that they are about to call everybody to pick up their weaponry and move out to battle!

The coming shift will result in less feeding and a higher bar of committed and focused response. The problem? Pastors are not the ones best gifted or called to lead this transition. The pastor led church is functionally compromised.

Simply stated, the church is out of biblical order.

Apostles and Prophets are Coming

Prophets announce, among other things, the coming governmental order and apostles bring the order.

1 Corinthians 12:27-28 (ESV) 27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues.

These offices are listed in order of importance and function in the church.

Life Application Commentary: Paul specifically ranked them as first, second, and third to show their prime importance above all the other gifts.

ESV Study Bible: First… second… third… then seems to be a ranking of importance or benefit to the church, with apostles being primary and then prophecy and teaching also contributing greatly to building others up.

Rich Murphy:

The apostolic ministry is actually the first one that our Lord, Jesus, established in the New Testament church.

Lk 6:13 And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles.

Why did Jesus establish the apostolic ministry first? Because it was to be the foundation of the church government in the New Testament, as the priesthood was the foundation of the ministry in the Old Testament. So, without apostles in the ministry, the ministry gifts are literally without the necessary foundation.

Eph 2:20 And (you) are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.

There are governmental levels in spiritual realms. These are called “principalities, powers and rulers.” Each has a different realm of authority, a different authority level, and a different manner of operation.

Eph:6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Likewise, we have different levels of authority in the different ministry gifts. Here is where the apostle's authority is truly needed. At times, a pastor is confronted with different types of spiritual attacks. Without the spiritual covering of an apostle, he can be battling against powers and rulers that he is not actually anointed, or prepared to battle against. With the apostolic covering, he is able to draw upon the apostle's anointing, understanding, and experience in these battles. Instead of fighting alone, he has the spiritual support he needs.

Jonas Clark:

The current structure or model of church ministry revolves around the pastoral paradigm (model) of ministry. A paradigm is a structure of ministry that serves as a model or pattern. It's astonishing but the word pastor, Greek poimen is only mentioned once in the entire New Testament. From one occurrence in scripture we have built thousands of pastoral churches. Yet there were no churches ever built in the New Testament by pastors. Even the one started at Antioch soon received Barnabas as an apostolic leader. Barnabas was a sent-one (apostolic gift) from the church in Jerusalem.

In reality we have created a structure of church services that is designed to bless, nurture and comfort attendees. After all, that is the dominate grace on the pastoral ascension gift to comfort, bless, nurture, protect and lead to still waters. There is nothing wrong with being a pastor. What we are discussing is the transition into an apostolic model of ministry that enables us to be more effective in establishing and advancing the Kingdom of God.

Let’s face it the pastoral-only model of ministry is not working. We need something that is more effective and that’s going to be the apostolic model of ministry that we are experiencing today, the new apostolic prophetic church.

There will always be a set man over a congregation. Scripture says, “Let the Lord the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation” (Numbers 27:16). Apostolic ministry models may have a plurality of leadership gifts working together to equip believers known as a presbytery but there will always be one set man that is ultimately responsible before God to apostle a church.

The Holy Spirit is going to restore an effective structure of ministry that will empower you to raise-up strong sons and daughters in the Lord that will take the battle out of the church and into the city.

Apostolic ministry gifts are spiritual master builders that carry the revelation of Christ governing Church. As Paul said, “According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon” (1 Corinthians 3:10).

The Purpose of the Church

The church is not a house of teaching or a house of evangelism or a house of friendships. The very purpose of the church is prayer! It is a house of prayer for all nations! If someone in the church is resistant to the call to pray corporately, they can’t consider themselves to be a functional part of the church.

This is a huge problem!

In today’s church very few live a lifestyle of prayer. In fact, most pastors don’t either!

Leonard Ravenhill said: Pastors who don’t pray two hours a day aren’t worth a dime a dozen!

Mark 11:15-18 (ESV) 15 And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 16 And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. 17 And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” 18 And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching.

We are in a Mark 11:15-18 season in our nation. In that situation, the people were using the church for personal gain. They had expectations of personal benefit. They entered the church with the expectation of leeching off of it, of using it, and leaving with more than they entered with. This is a defilement of the church!

The call is to go into the church with the expectation of leaving with less than we enter with! We bring an offering, a sacrifice! We minister to God!

This is critical! Pastor led churches more easily seek to give people what they expect out of the church. Now, please understand me. Pastors are God ordained! But, when they function outside of their appropriate governmental position, it brings disorder. The same would be true of any of the offices. You probably don’t want a prophet trying to nurture people! Thank God for pastors!

The House of Prayer

In the coming church, everybody will pray as their primary ministry! Yes, everybody!

This means a great offense is coming as suddenly those focused on their own expectations and who are resistant to the call to prayer will have nowhere to go!

The governmental order in the church will require a mass exodus of uncommitted, unwilling hearts as intercession takes first place again. This type of dramatic shift requires the skills of an apostle to pull off.

You might presume that intercession is to be reserved for the mature, for those who have graduated from the equipping process. No! No! No!

The best equipping center is the prayer room! If an 18 year old pimple faced young person fresh out of high school with no experience, no knowledge, no wisdom can join the Marines and fight for our country, he can do the same in the prayer room!

Again, there is a place for pastors to nurture people like this, and, in fact, we need pastors not as senior leaders, but as smaller group leaders who can invest time into individuals. They need to prepare them quickly to respond to the coming instructions from the apostles and prophets. It would make sense to have serving with an apostle maybe ten to twenty pastors for every one hundred people in a church.

Islamic prayer: The second pillar of Islam is salat, the requirement to pray five times a day at fixed times. Children are often required to fulfill this daily requirement by the age of 7.

If a mosque can be jam packed full of people praying early in the morning on a weekday as happens in our area, and if children as young as 7 are praying five times a day in that system, certainly an all consuming, Holy Spirit fueled life of prayer for a Christian is not hard to imagine at all!

Act like priests!

When you stand as a priest before the Lord, you aren’t representing yourself, you are representing others in corporate identificational prayer. ~James Goll

You are a priest, and that means that you have a job to do. You are a priestly intercessor before God and the call is to pray individually and corporately continually!

In the coming church, under apostles and prophets, we all will show up and pray! That is church! Church services will be prayer meetings again!

Personal expectations will be replaced by assignments to serve, give, pray and lay down our lives! We won’t show up with our prayer lists or our own issues but rather we will represent the nations as we invest into them in prayer.

We are all priests and we all carry extreme authority! This is church at its best!

The Simple Blueprint

Apostles and Prophets

  • The shift: Corporate leadership will shift from pastors to apostles and prophets primarily. Instead of merely relaying information, messages will be mostly challenging and directive with a clear expected response as the body is rallied to fulfill a corporate mission together. They will lead with the expectation that the entire unit will be moving in step with them as they fulfill the vision of the church in unity.
  • The difficulty: Those that are averse to responding to prophetic instruction or who simply want a ‘pick me up’ each week to help them make it to the next Sunday will suddenly find themselves well outside of the vision of the church. There will be costly calls to serve, give, pray and function as a priest before the Lord, and that will be unappealing to many. The new aggressive, fast moving military will be challenging to say the least.

Pastors

  • The shift: In the coming church, pastors will mostly be relieved of primary church leadership responsibilities and will be released to spend most of their time one-on-one with people and in small groups.
  • The difficulty: Pastors who are senior leaders will be asked to relinquish their positions, their salaries and their influence in favor of an apostle God is calling them to serve under.

The Body

  • The shift: Many programs of the church will be eliminated, possibly including children’s ministry, youth ministry, drama, etc. and will be replaced by prayer meetings, training and outreach.
  • The difficulty: People will have to change their expectations and make themselves ready to serve by growing intentionally on their own in a significant way each day. They probably won’t have close, direct access with the leader and will have to trade personal desire for close friendship for a readiness to respond to the sound of the alarm.

The Culture

  • The shift: Most services will look more like prayer meetings than anything else. Everybody will spend the bulk of the service ministering to God in intercession and community will surround that emphasis.
  • The difficulty: The desire to be entertained and overfed will no longer be met. Mostly receiving will change to mostly giving. Rapid maturity will be required as apostolic leaders move ahead aggressively in a rapidly and ever changing culture of ministry to the nations. Those resistant to growth or to change won’t easily find a place to connect. Additionally, relational community will occur only around the mission. The prayer meeting will be the gathering point for friendships to develop. People looking for these types of connections will be disappointed if they aren’t willing to jump in the bunker in a risky mission with their fellow soldiers. Gladly, the pastors will be in the bunkers with them.

The Lost

  • The shift: Seeker churches will quickly fade away as the fire of the Holy Spirit rages in the houses of prayer. The lost won’t be relationally converted as much as they will be converted by fire. We will trust God’s wisdom as in Acts 2 and allow the fire of God impact a region. The prayer room will become the place of choice to bring the lost.
  • The difficulty: Everybody will have to drop most everything and tend to the fire in the house of prayer. To ensure the atmosphere is supernaturally charged, everybody in the church will be spending hours a day in the prayer room together. False salvations will drop to near zero as they won’t be based on a simple prayer but rather on an encounter with the God of fire.

To Conclude

It’s important that I do say that many current pastors are actually gifted with apostolic and/or prophetic offices. They will help lead the shift!

We will all have to trust God as our personal finances, plans, dreams, influence and structures are threatened. God really does have plans to prosper us even in this dramatic, unsettling shift!

Video: It has to stop! Competition, accusation and jealousy between churches

God forgive us for building kingdoms of man on doctrines of demons in your name. ~Brian Ming

(http://youtu.be/leedwHInzfQ)

IT HAS TO STOP!

Watch this short, raw video on the issue of competitiveness, accusation and jealousy in the church. It has to STOP!

When Amy and I first moved to Detroit and launched Revival Church we sent out 200 copies of my book Pharaoh in the Church to pastors in the Detroit region. The book is written to leaders and those who are called to lead the people of God into encounter.

In that book I deal directly with the issue of personal kingdom building & how it can be a threat to the advance of God’s Kingdom in a region.

Not shockingly, but sadly we only heard from one pastor. One.

When a new Kingdom building church arrives on the scene, the pastors of the region should celebrate their arrival!

PEOPLE, MONEY & REPUTATION

Too much energy is invested into keeping people, protecting our financial situation and enhancing our reputations as leaders—energy that can not be used for its intended purpose of going hard after revival in a region and leading people into encounter.

If we are serious about the city church exploding in life and power, we must be willing to lose people, lose financial security (salaries, benefits) and lose our reputation. Jesus was of no reputation, why should we be?

How can you deal with this issue? Have a healthy ministry policy!

HEALTHY MINISTRY POLICIES

  • PEOPLE: Have a policy that any pastor, leader or other person can come into your church at any time, with no fear or guilt, and openly recruit anybody, even your staff, to leave your church and join theirs. The fear of losing people and the resulting spirit of competition will disappear.
  • MONEY: Give regularly to other churches and pray for them to be blessed in a greater measure financially than your own. Giving always causes fear of financial loss to subside. Additionally, never hold back leading in a biblical direction with full unction of the Holy Spirit if key givers may get leave. Preach them out and trust God!
  • REPUTATION: Die. Surrender. Go low. Be humble. Allow people to ridicule you, accuse you, attack you and discredit your ministry. This happens when you preach truth. If you are of no reputation, then when you lose people, money, influence or anything else, your ego won’t drive you whatsoever.

imageDISQUALIFIED

Gossip.

Here’s a definition: Any conversation about an absent third party that wouldn’t meet the approval of that person.

Gossip is biblically forbidden communication.

When I, as a church leader, hear anybody gossip about a former pastor they are immediately disqualified from consideration for leadership in my church.

Why? I can’t afford to give place to a demonic anointing in my church.

This is how important it is to honor other pastors, churches and leaders—and everybody else in the body of Christ!

What do you do if you hear someone gossiping about a leader?

I am personally blessed when someone displays their honor, love and faithfulness when they won’t receive gossip about me. But, it’s not about me…it’s about the health of the church and the church of the city we are called to run with. It really is a big deal.

PROPHETIC VOICES

Why is it a big deal? Many reasons. One that will become very clear as the end of the age develops is that the church is going to be shifted violently to calibrate with God’s end-time plans.

The announcement of the shift will come through people. Prophets. Apostles. Those chosen by God to move into a region and reveal with boldness what is changing.

These people will be a serious threat to the status quo, and if pastors rely on the status quo to keep people in position, their salaries stable and their reputation under their control, they will resist these prophets of God with ferocity.

This is why we need to develop a culture of celebration, humility and honor for other leaders, new churches and people who are in the body of Christ in a region.

If we don’t, crosses may remain on the steeples while Ichabod is posted above the doors of resisting, self-centered pastors flowing in the spirit of Pharaoh as they remain focused on building their own kingdoms.

FINAL THOUGHTS

God led Amy and my family to Detroit to see revival land. God is bringing many others here as well. Many others have been laboring here for years and have been prepared for what’s coming. Let’s do all we can to unite and take advantage of the amazing convergence in this critical end-time season!

Ancient & emerging: 5 major changes coming to the church

The Coming Church will look nothing like the church we know today. Here are some of the significant changes on the horizon.

image Over the last 22+ years of ministry, one of the most difficult challenges I’ve faced has been effectively communicating just what changes are coming to the church.

The current church paradigm is so prevalent and saturating in our culture that people just can’t seem to wrap their minds around the shift that is coming. It seems nonsensical, threatening or just plain bizarre. They wonder how their ministry stream or focus or gift fits in that structure. The reality is that it may not, or it may be radically redefined. The discomfort level will be quite high, and it will take a radical remnant to truly sign up for the reformation—for the revolution of the church.

The disciples of Jesus had an idea of what it would look like in Acts 1, but Jesus radically violated their dreams, plans and comfort zones by leaving—and commissioning them to establish what they hoped Jesus would build!

Acts 1:6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, jwill you at this time krestore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, l“It is not for you to know mtimes or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive npower owhen the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and pyou will be qmy witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and rSamaria, and sto the end of the earth.” 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, the was lifted up, and ua cloud took him out of their sight.

The Coming Church

This book that I’m currently writing will be addressing some of the spiritual and practical changes that will be coming to the structure and expression of the church. Trust me, it will shock our nation severely. Those who hold on to a structure or a ministry instead of Jesus himself will not be willing to go where God is leading.

I call this the ancient and emerging church. Ancient because it’s rooted in scripture, emerging because the biblical structure has been largely forsaken.

What will this ancient and emerging church look like? Here’s just a small peek into a grand shift in the structure of the church:

  1. Services will become more like prayer meetings. One of the greatest indictments on the church today is that prayer is not the driving force. Today, people tend to choose churches based on the appeal of the teaching and the worship instead of the fervency of prayer. If the church was a house of teaching, or a house of worship, that would make sense, but it’s not. The church is a house of prayer for all nations. Every person in the church will function as a burning intercessor and the services will be marked by this unified groan of fiery prayer.
  2. Personal need will give way to personal mission. Today, churches are often more like organic, socially driven hospitals. People tend to use the church as a way to meet their personal needs instead of serving it as a minister of God. This is going to change. Of course, there will still be personal ministry and true needs will be addressed. However, instead of the church functioning as a hospital, it will once again function as a mission-driven military. The mission will take precedence. The saints will be equipped for service, not for personal survival. In this ancient and emerging model, their will be MASH units that will take very good care of the wounded with the primary purpose of getting the soldier back into battle. Apostles will again lead with governmental authority and pastors will be seen as the main leader less and less as they focus more on shepherding and less on primary leadership.
  3. Teaching will be minimized while instruction is emphasized. Teaching is mostly for personal edification while instruction is mostly for corporate assignments. Today, most churches focus on teaching principles of scripture, providing truths that will help Believers navigate through their lives and giving nuggets of biblical info. While there will still be important Bible teaching, apostolic instruction will emerge as a necessary new ministry. There is enough Bible teaching online, on CD’s, in books and on video to turn every one of us into personal spiritual giants. We need to take it upon ourselves to grow. What is lacking, however, is apostolic leaders, military commanders, who give instruction, assignments, to a ready army. Teaching is personal growth based while instruction is a call to corporate action for the sake of mission fulfillment. An example of apostolic instruction is this: The apostolic leader gives a corporate assignment for everybody in the church to fast for a week and then show up together to prayer walk through the city streets. It’s a corporate call to action vs. biblical study. It’s mission focused vs. personal growth focused. Personal growth will be largely our responsibility between services so we can be ready to respond to the corporate instruction where we will receive our assignments.
  4. We will gather together most days of the week. The 24/7 church will again emerge as the church drives culture instead of reacting to culture. Cares of life will lose their power as we simplify our lives and put corporate prayer and mission ahead of most everything else. This may be the most challenging change for Christians. Today, Sundays are the days to set aside for corporate worship while we give precedence to our ‘normal lives’. In The Coming Church, the very reason we live will be to pray on fire together every day, receive apostolic assignments and then move out into our lives as Kingdom ambassadors. It wouldn’t be surprising if a tithe of our time is what became the standard. Two to three hours a day, whether it’s in the morning, afternoon or evening, or even in the late night hours, will be given by every Believer to praying on site together with others, ministering, and giving ourselves to intercession fueled Kingdom ministry. Of course, much of what we have been giving ourselves to will have to be eliminated so we have the time necessary to devote.
  5. Worship will be supernaturally driven. There is a new sound coming to worship, and it’s not simply a new style. There is a supernatural, otherworldly groan of intercessory worship that will explode out of the entire body as a new breed of trembling worship leaders lead the way into the shock and awe of the glory of God. We will no longer simply sit in a pew or stand with a raised hand while a familiar worship song is sung. The prophetic, groaning sounds of Holy Spirit facilitated worship will make it normal to shake and fall to our faces as we cry Holy! The natural, logical sing-a-longs will be no more. We will have a hard time standing as God’s Shekinah and Kabod glory resides in his church. Worship teams will practice less and pray in the Spirit with tears in their eyes more.

image Of course, this is an extremely limited glance into the many, many changes that are coming. I wanted to share this to provoke you to preparation. There is much that you and I enjoy in the church, or that is comfortable to us, that we will have to let go. Again, the coming church will be troubling and shocking, but it will result in the power and life that we have been crying out for.

God is about to answer that cry.

I strongly recommend that you read my book 20 Element of Revival.  That book reveals much of the shift that we must embrace right now. If you truly take in all that it has to say, you’ll never participate in the church the same way again.

ORDER HERE

Acts Chapter 2: The Seeker Sensitive Translation

Enjoy reading the Seeker Sensitive version of the Bible!

image

In my series, 10 Threats to Revival, last night I shared on threat #5: The Seeker Sensitive Movement. God broke out in power during the service. I’d highly recommend you listen to it here: http://media.johnburton.net/5464525 

Acts 2: Seeker Sensitive Version

Disclosure: Not an accurate translation

The First Seeker Church is Born

Acts 2:1-47 (SSV) 1 When the day of fellowship arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from the espresso machine a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and the aroma of ground, organic coffee beans filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And the warmth of friendship touched each one of them. 4 And they were all appreciative of the Holy Spirit and began to speak about the challenges of life as their human spirit gave them utterance. 5 Now there were dwelling in the nation religious people, 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 about the same life issues as they had. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking church goers? 8 And how is it that we hear them talking about the same things we talk about? 9 Chicago and Los Angeles and South Carolina and residents of Dallas, Denver and Orlando, Kansas City and Paris, 10 London and Amsterdam, Switzerland and the parts of Tijuana belonging to Mexico, and visitors from Australia, 11 both church goers and seekers, Americans and Europeans—we hear them asking in our own words their questions about God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They have had way too much coffee.” 14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of America and all who dwell in Detroit, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not over-caffeinated, as you suppose, since the coffee bar has only been open a short time. 16 But this is what was uttered through the story teller and great motivator Joel: 17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will encourage human wisdom to be poured out, and your sons and your daughters shall share relevant stories, and your young men shall create media presentations, and your old men shall not get in the way; 18 even on my guys and gals in those days I will give them new fashion sense, and they shall be hipsters. 19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, light shows, and pyrotechnics, and smoke machines; 20 Sunday School stories will be told about the sun turning to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the hard to believe, but great and magnificent day. 21 And it shall come to pass that the mention of salvation will be subtle and culturally relevant.’ 22 “Men of America, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty human difficulties that he overcame, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, happily traded his life for yours. 24 God raised him up, as you have witnessed in your Easter stage productions. 25 For David says concerning him, “‘I saw the Lord always before me, with great encouraging principles to help me stay strong; 26 therefore I was thrilled and really happy; my flesh also will dwell in hope. 27 For you, we don’t want to talk too much about Hell, which shouldn’t be a concern. 28 You have made known to me the six step plan for a happier life; you will make me full of gladness with your principles of victorious living.’ 29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the old guy David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a great motivator, and knowing that God promised that he would set someone in his family in his position, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the suspenseful drama of Jesus, and because of this you can be happy. 32 This Jesus God really appreciates, just like he appreciates you. 33 Hanging out with his Dad, and having received from him awesome wisdom, he has poured this out that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David couldn’t see into the heavens, but he himself says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “let’s hang out, 35 you have no more problems at all.”’ 36 Let all the Christians therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus who traded his life for yours.” 37 Now when they heard this they were happily encouraged, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “This is pretty cool, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Simply know that God appreciates you just like you are and, over time, you will slowly start walking the direction he walks, and you will receive the gift of understanding and awesome living. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Make better choices than the others in this culture.” 41 So those who received his word received a free latte, and there were added that day about three thousand church attenders. 42 And they devoted themselves to the life coach’s stories and hanging out together at the mall, to the buffets and the low key talks about God. 43 And apathy came upon every soul, and no wonders or signs were being done through them. 44 And all who had questions were together and focused on happiness. 45 And they were buying new possessions and belongings and giving to social causes as they felt led. 46 And once or twice a month, listening to the leader’s stories together and watching football in their homes, they enjoyed eating, 47 thinking about God and being pretty much the same as all the other people in the world. And they added to their number day by day those who were being anesthetized. 

Another Disclosure: This is really, really not an accurate translation. Thank God.

Here’s the real version. Notice any difference?

Acts 2:1-47 (ESV) 1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. 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. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 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.” 14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: 17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18 even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. 19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; 20 the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. 21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ 22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says concerning him, “‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; 26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. 27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. 28 You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’ 29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, 35 until I make your enemies your footstool.”’ 36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” 37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. 42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Be the Buzz: A practical guide on how to follow your leader and fulfill your ministry

God is identifying an emerging army of end-time leaders—discover how to respond to this critical call.

FIRST: Listen to the latest teaching in my series Ten Threats to Revival here: http://media.johnburton.net/5044148 


I had a meeting with two of my several amazing leaders at Revival Church last night—and I felt impressed to share some practical tips on how you can be equally amazing as you serve in your ministry.

theLab School of Fire is a three month school that trains people to grow fast, run well and to serve with passion in the ministry God plants them in. If you want to learn more than this article could ever hope to relay, by all means, apply for theLab today! www.revivallab.com

OUR CRAZY DNA

imageI believe we are seeing some great leaders emerge at Revival Church because of our wild and crazy DNA, not in spite of it. It’s a thrill ride and a challenge to run with someone like myself. The pressure cooker that is Revival Church is openly revealing those who are responding and being formed into the next wave of leaders in Detroit!

To help you understand our context, I’ll share some of the primary vision points that will reveal the challenge of serving in a ministry like this. The challenge, for those who take advantage of it, leads to rapid promotion, favor and honor.

  • Revival Church is an apostolic and prophetic church.As an apostle/prophet with a regional and national focus, we are leading from that edge. The constant focus around here is reformation, revival and regional impact which means we are always shifting and redirecting in our methods as we pursue the ultimate goal. Following a prophetic leader is a challenge to say the least. The vision is always expanding and the methodology is always changing which requires that everybody involved is ‘instant in season and instant out of season’. New projects are often initiated well before old projects are completed.
  • Revival Church’s message isn’t locally limited.I say often that I’m a one string banjo. We are all about revival on a regional and national level. So, what this means is that those in our church will be hearing the same revival thread in our messages over and over again. We are intentionally focused and limited instead of diverse in our teachings. I understand that the messages I deliver are mostly for the region and nation, and the primary vehicle we are using is the Sunday evening Revival Church service. I’m certainly preaching to those in attendance, but I’m equally targeting those who will be hearing the message online. If I have to say the same thing over and over until those in attendance have it memorized word for word, that’s OK as long as the message is impacting those who are listening in our target areas around the world.
  • Revival Church, by design, does not give all five of the offices equal attention.This is not to say that we don’t value all of the offices, but it does say that we know who we are and who we are not. In the current church structure the presumption is that all five offices must be active in every local church. That’s not true. First of all, that’s not realistic for smaller churches. Secondly, in scripture we know the church is identified by the city, not by the local expression. The five-fold offices must be in effect in the city church, which will require that we as leaders are OK with people in our church participating in other local churches that are anointed in another office.
  • Revival Church, again by design, is not a Pastor led church.The current Pastor led church system in our nation has resulted in a lot of false expectations that are placed on leadership. This is one of our greatest challenges. Again, it’s not that we don’t value the Pastoral office, we do. However, our focus, time, energy and resources are not to be used to focus at a significant level on developing pastoral ministry. Interestingly, the presumption might be that without a strong pastoral focus that people can’t easily grow. It’s quite the contrary around here. We are raising up people who are growing at a faster pace than I’ve ever witnessed—and these people are self-motivated. When they notice a struggle in their lives, they proactively take steps to resolve it. False expectations can lead people to presume I as the Senior Leader will be fulfilling the role of pastor in their lives when, in reality, I’m not a pastor at all. This is a challenge to communicate and it can often feel like rejection to those who want close and constant access to me. However, it’s not rejection at all. It’s simply that a prophet/apostle interacts very differently with people than a pastor does.
  • Revival Church has an unapologetically high bar of commitment.We believe the 24/7 church is coming, and the call around here is to start modeling this emerging church structure. Additionally, we are launching 50 new churches in this region alone, and we are asking everybody to consider how they will participate in this mission. Everybody here has the goal of changing the Detroit region and working toward revival.
  • Revival Church has a vision that demands we expand and look outward. There is much that feels undone in our local church due to our focus to continue expanding in the region. We refuse to wait until everything is perfectly in place and mature before we move out and launch other ministries and projects.

HOW TO FOLLOW YOUR LEADER AND PREPARE YOURSELF FOR PROMOTION

If people can learn how to follow leadership with crazy DNA like we have at Revival Church, you can certainly do the same in your church.

Remember, the greatest servants make the greatest leaders. And, leaders who take their mission seriously are on the lookout for the rare few who will be the next great leaders in the church.

Your leader (Pastor, Prophet, Apostle, etc.) is looking for armor bearers, not in title but in function.

Definition of an Armor-bearer: An officer selected by kings and generals because of his bravery, not only to bear their armor, but also to stand by them in the time of danger. — Easton's Illustrated Dictionary

In my book Covens in the Church I point out that most people think leaders should make it easy for people to follow them. I disagree. People should make it easy for leaders to lead them. Why? The very call of leadership is to lead people into the challenging, threatening new land of promise. True leaders make your life harder, not easier. They challenge you to your very limit so you can fulfill a naturally impossible mission.

I wanted to make this as raw and practical as I could, so here it goes!

  • Understand the vision. Do you know what the vision of your leader is and is not? If there is any confusion at all, seek out a clear, definitive explanation. Then, memorize it. Repeat it to others. Often. At Revival Church, my vision is most clearly outlined in my book 20 Elements of Revival. All of our leaders are required to read this book and then work hard to implement it. I continually teach on the vision here so everybody on board has it in front of them week after week.
  • Don’t attempt to tweak the vision.Vision by design is limited—extremely so. Remember, your church is not supposed to dilute their vision by diverting energy and resources to your vision. You must follow your leader’s interpretation of the vision as the vision will come directly through him.
  • Don’t try to fit your vision into your leader’s vision.We like to think that our vision will complement our leader’s, and sometimes it will. But, sometimes it will not. Some personal endeavors can threaten the vision of the house while others can strengthen it. Find out from your pastor what category your vision fits in, and refuse to pull back or take on offense if you discover it doesn’t fit in the current season.
  • Resolve problems.I tell my leadership team that I expect them to deliver resolutions to me, not problems. In fact, when someone is known for recognizing and highlighting problems to me, it’s an indicator that they are not ready for leadership. Generals don’t report problems without taking on the responsibility to take care of business.
  • Don’t have false-expectations.“My leader should be doing…” Fill in the blank. There are many things people want their leaders to spearhead or to give attention to, but it’s not his place to do so. I often hear people come to me with great ministry ideas and I almost always place the ball back in their court and encourage them to make it happen. It’s not your leader’s job to run with your vision, but if it’s complementary to the vision of the house, he can open the door for you to run with it yourself. I remember sitting in a class with Dr. Peter Wagner and Dutch Sheets one day. Dutch is an apostle. I don’t think he has a pastoral bone in his body, yet he at the time was leading a church in Colorado Springs. He’s one of the most important voices in our nation, in my opinion, and his attention had to be given to that. Peter Wagner said that day to everybody in attendance, “If you are sick in the hospital or in need of counseling, don’t expect Dutch to show up. That’s not his role.” Expect your leader to fulfill his function and his vision, not the function you want him to, or even a function that desperately needs to be filled by someone else. Just because there is a great need with nobody to meet it doesn’t mean it defaults to your leader.
  • Champion your leader’s cause. This is a big one. If you want to be received by leadership and experience on-time promotion, you must champion your leader’s cause. The alternative is to be a threat to his cause, which will result in stalled personal development for you. Know your leader’s vision inside and out—and refuse to promote any competing viewpoint. This will require you set aside personal doctrines or ministry philosophies that are contrary. You will also have to confront those who are negatively impacting the vision. Few people are truly able to do this, but those who are most usually experience great favor and rapid promotion.
  • Never gossip—ever. You do not have the right to discuss frustrations, disagreements or negative analysis of your church with anybody in the entire world—except your leader. If your church doesn’t focus on evangelism to the degree you think it should, for example, it would take a spirit of treason for you to discuss your frustration or disapproval with others. Keep in mind that the Absalom spiritis alive and well in the church today. Also remember that your church, by design, is lacking in many areas so they can focus intently on their God given vision. Many people will come to you in the hopes of gaining a sympathetic ear as they voice their concern about the church. Don’t receive their complaint. Don’t listen to their frustration. Stand firm and communicate without apology the vision of the church. Let them know the vision is not up for debate. My leader in Colorado is a rock star in this regard. When people came to him with their concerns, he took them by the hand directly to me so they could share their issues! Guess what, people stopped going to him with their gossip.
  • Be faithful.I don’t look for people with great giftings, I look for faithfulness. Ask your leader what his expectations are, and go overboard fulfilling them. Be at every service. Lead the charge. Model extreme, sold-out faithfulness not only to Jesus but to the leader he placed in your life.
  • Openly respond.When he’s teaching, let everybody in the building know you agree and are ready to respond. Shout amen! Don’t get distracted. Don’t text. Don’t post to Facebook. Be obviously engaged. One of my favorite worship leaders is Catherine Mullins. She’s a good friend too. I often tell people that my favorite part of her ministry isn’t her worship leading, but, rather, the way she immediately sits in the front row after worship and actively engages in the sermon. She shouts, she has her Bible open. She changes the atmosphere from her seat. Powerful.
  • Address him and his wife with respect.I’m personally challenged regarding titles. On one hand, I really don’t like to call myself anything other than John. I’m OK with others calling me John. But, I also understand what it means to honor authority and to recognize that person’s role in your life. The greater challenge is that I’m not a pastor, though people do call me Pastor John. That’s OK with me, and in fact, it feels more appropriate than for people to call me by my first name. The most accurate title would be Apostle or Prophet John, but with all of the goofy and prideful demeanors that can come along with a title, it’s a bit uncomfortable. So, how do you relate to your leader? Simply, with respect. Use a title if that’s expected and show your respect in other ways if it’s not. Remember him and his family on birthdays, on Pastor Appreciation Day, anniversaries, etc.
  • Understand that you can disqualify yourself for leadership for a season.I’m a very active listener and watcher. You may not think it’s fair or right, but leaders analyze people, in love, and with a sober spirit. They are mandated to protect the mission God entrusted to them. As one who comes alive when ‘the least of these’ are awakened to their destiny, and as one who has a lot of grace when it comes to failure, trial, error and weakness, I also am looking to see who’s rising above the rest. Your leader will have his own set of tests. For me, as an example, gossip will quickly disqualify someone, until the issue is resolved and repentance is clear. I have to ensure my leaders are fully on board and that they don’t threaten or compromise the mission. This doesn’t mean that I don’t love them. Not at all. My grace level is high as they grow through their challenge. I still see them one day leading significant ministries and changing the world!
  • Don’t require your leader to say things twice.Leaders have expectations that are necessary for the development of the ministry. I am always impressed and will give favor to those who respond to my requests without the need to say it again. I don’t have the time to repeatedly make the same requests over and over. Understand, this is usually simple stuff… but, not insignificant stuff. Don’t make the mistake of presuming a simple request is an insignificant one or one that can be ignored altogether. As an example, in theLab we have a call to excellence that includes never being even one minute late to any class or event. We say, “Early is on time, on time is late and late is unacceptable.” Those who respond to this call the first time have my attention.
  • Undergird him much more than you pull on him.Leaders are looking for those who lessen the burden of the vision, not those who add to it. Of course, we are to help, as we can, the leaders on our team. However, all of our energy can’t continually be tapped by resolving problems. The job must get done and we have to ensure distraction is at a minimum. Be the one who is vigilant in resolving issues so you can hold up the arms of your leader as he goes to battle.
  • Love, honor and pray for him.A few of my leaders specifically communicate with me on an ongoing basis sharing how they are praying for me. They also usually pull me aside before the Sunday service to pray for me, to break off any attack and to stand in the gap for me. This is greatly appreciated and needed.
  • Don’t use your church for your own ministry platform.I learned this lesson myself over 20 years ago. I started serving in a church that I thought was a great place for me to establish my own ministry. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my ministry was not welcomed by the leadership in the way I thought it would be. I wasn’t championing their vision, I was using them to fuel my own. Big mistake. I was humbled (humiliated is more like it) one day at a staff meeting. I was serving in the youth department, and was starting to have quite an impact. At the staff meeting the pastor said, without even looking at me, “John Burton is not someone we are considering for the position of youth leader in this church now or in the future.” I was mad, but years later I understand. I wasn’t truly there to enhance their vision, I was there to leech off of them. Lesson learned.
  • Grow intentionally on your own.Come to every service stronger than you were in the last. Take it upon yourself to work out spiritually so you can be an ever increasing benefit to the work of the Kingdom.
  • Financially invest in the vision.Go beyond the tithe. Give extravagantly to the endeavors and projects that are initiated in the pursuit of a fulfilled mission.
  • Refuse to take on offense.True ministry provides opportunity for offense continually. Don’t fall into it. Don’t get offended when you aren’t recognized, when you aren’t listened to or when you aren’t valued the way you think you should be. Don’t take on other people’s offense either.
  • Model expected behavior.A spirit of entitlement can easily hit emerging leaders and church staffs. The presumption that we don’t have to participate at the level expected of others can halt a mission. For example, I want our leaders to lead the way by always sitting up front during the sermon, listening intently, leading the charge during pre-service prayer, to be at the altars prior to service for a time of intercession, etc. As our leaders model expected behavior they set a culture. That culture is invaluable.
  • Be a long-timer.Attrition is an extremely disruptive occurrence in the church today. Church leaders are most always anxious about whether they can count on people to stick with them for the long term. Make a commitment and voice it to your leader. Let him know that you will stand with them through good times and bad in a covenant relationship—and you’ll do what you can to model that in such a way that it becomes a key part of the culture of the church.
  • Be joyful!Be that person that’s always smiling, rejoicing and positive! Trust me, leaders can’t get enough of people like that. I have someone on my team that is contagiously joyful. That in itself has her on my leadership radar.
  • Be the buzz. Be the most visible, radical, exuberant cheerleader for your church! I’ve been involved in just a few ministries that do this very well. People excitedly spread the word about the church God planted them in. You see it on their faces. You read their Facebook posts. They can’t stop Tweeting. They are fiery evangelists! Around here people can’t stop talking about theLab. There’s buzz. Be that buzz for your church. I know when people are running with the vision when I see them actively advancing the cause Monday through Saturday.

Some books on this topic that I highly recommend to you include A Tale of Three Kings, God’s Armor Bearer, Under Cover and my book Covens in the Church.

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