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)
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.
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.
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.
As the years come and go, I wonder if I’ll ever see the church my spirit is yearning for.
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23-24
…“Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’?…” Mark 11:17
Greeting. Worship. Announcements. Teaching. Dismissal. Repeat 7 days later.
Sound familiar? Yeah, too familiar.
For at least 8 years specifically, and 23 years generally I’ve been teaching, writing articles, writing books, recording podcasts and posting videos about this very subject—extreme reformation in the church. Yet, the church service in nearly every Christian church looks the same (or worse) than it did decades ago.
I’m just about done. Finished. I can’t stand the thought of additional years of church experiences modeled after a wine skin that’s been outdated for years—yet, I acknowledge that it’s all I may have to choose from while I’m still on the earth. Reformation seems to be far off.
The goal is not to hope for a more anointed old wine skin, but rather for such a radical reformation that it looks nothing like what we see today.
Simply, what’s coming will look more like an extreme prayer meeting with people laid out all over the place with fire and tears in their eyes than the casual, tired & predictable worship and teaching services we see today.
Yes, the Sunday service will finally be the Upper Room experience that the burning, desperate remnant has been yearning for. Raging prayer, fervent prayer, passionate prayer will return to first place in the church.
The Trap of Worship | Where's the Prayer?
Did you notice that the very biblical identity of the church was not even listed in the church service model I shared above? Greeting, worship, announcements, teaching…but no prayer. Sure, people say prayers, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I mean a culture of never ending night and day prayer where every single person is invested with wild passion in ministry to God.
This is the one issue in today’s church that is absolutely maddening to me. I have made this point countless times over the years, yet the prophetic call to action is rejected soundly.
How can we even presume to be a legitimate Christian church if prayer isn’t primary? According to scripture, the church is a house of what? Worship? No. Teaching? No. Fellowship? No. The church is a house of prayer—except in America. Except in the Western world.
Regarding worship I’ll qualify this one time as I dive deeper into this point—I am zealous about worship and affirm it is critical and biblical, without question. I have worship music playing hour after hour as I go through my day. Misty Edwards is leading worship on the screen as I write this, and I love it!
That being said, I am troubled at the attention musical worship receives in the church today. It has become an idol for many and is all too often devoid of a spirit of prayer.
I’ve said before that worship music in its current state can be used as a lazy man’s intercession. It’s entertaining. It feels good. It feels spiritual. Yet, it by no means defaults in spiritual maturity or true worship.
And the incense that you shall make according to its composition, you shall not make for yourselves. It shall be for you holy to the LORD. Whoever makes any like it to use as perfume shall be cut off from his people.” Exodus 30:37-38
That Scripture is for today. Today’s pop worship culture better take notice. The incense, the worship, is holy. It’s for God. It’s not to enhance our personal experience! It’s not perfume for us, it’s incense for God!
I’ve become increasingly grieved at how popular worship events can draw thousands while prayer meetings draw few. The call to prayer is rejected.
Even more disturbing is how easy it is for people to blend in, raise their hands, dance at the altar and enjoy even truly anointed musical worship—while not legitimately worshiping at all and not being grieved over their immaturity, sin and lack of radical commitment to the cross of Christ. They celebrate some presumed freedom while not being locked in as prayer-driven people, broken and fervent warriors. No sacrifice. No surrender. Just a pursuit of a personal supernatural experience. I’m becoming more convinced than ever that many of these supernatural experiences are certainly supernatural, but not holy.
I’ve witnessed people who are involved deeply in the New Age, engaging in homosexual activity, gossip, watching impure movies or television and a variety of other issues that, at times, would even disqualify them as true Christians, worshiping and dancing with abandon. However, I’ve never seen people who are given to these compromises stay engaged in an Upper Room style, Holy Spirit driven prayer meeting. A culture of burning prayer draws the remnant. A culture of prayer repels the casual. Prayer is that powerful.
This is why I have counseled leaders and others—if you want to know who’s on fire, surrendered and truly following Jesus, throw a prayer meeting. In fact, I’ve actually modified that advice. Now I instruct them to develop a prayer culture. Remove any activity that would allow them to hide or blend in—and call them to the furnace of intercession. I have dramatic stories of how this strategy has rocked our own ministry. Here’s a few.
Demons Can Hide
An amazing young man was on our worship team in a previous church. He was skilled and committed. I was growing concerned about our worship team at that church due to a slight independent spirit that was manifesting. It wasn’t major, but it was growing and I had to deal with it. So, I started mandating that the worship team join us for an hour of prayer prior to the service. I knew that a call to fiery, Spirit-driven prayer would bring issues to the surface.
The young man was immediately resistant. He would suddenly show up late and then attempt to hide in a corner. I noticed this immediately, and decided to gather everybody together to pray so nobody could shrink back from the fire. He stood there as stiff as a board with a blank look on his face. His agitation was increasing as the prayer grew in fervor.
Isn’t it interesting how demons may be able to hide in the midst of worship, and even on a worship team, but can’t stand people praying in tongues in a prayer meeting!
The type of deliverance that comes from musical worship only comes from a lifestyle of ministry to God—of prayer.
Prayerless Worship Teams
We were between worship teams once, so we decided to invite guest worship teams to lead in the interim. What I witnessed saddened me deeply.
We required these visiting worship teams to join us for pre-service prayer, and most of them looked lost, confused and eager to get out. Some would actually leave and hang out in the foyer. Just one, from a House of Prayer in the area, was on their face crying out in prayer with us.
I couldn’t imagine how those teams, who were mostly quite skilled, could even begin to lead a church in worship without a spirit of prayer on them. Prayer was actually foreign to them! Even worse, for many, prayer was troubling to them!
After several weeks of the nightmare, God spoke to me clearly: “Don’t seek out another worship team until I say.”
He wanted us to worship—from a place of Spirit-filled prayer. Worship doesn’t require music. It requires a surrendered heart of continual, burning prayer.
The question was clear: would people still gather together if the musical entertainment was removed in favor of prayer? Most did not, and we were left with the remnant God was after. No longer could people shrink back and hide in the music. Now everybody was unified together in passionate prayer.
That was one of the best decisions I ever made as a leader. We had people who may have been using incense as their personal perfume, and when it was removed, they left too. You see, worship requires sacrifice, and today’s worship culture doesn’t highlight that.
Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. John 12:3
God instructed us to discover true worship without the assistance of a live worship team over a year ago, and to this date we don’t have one—and I’m not looking for one. Now, prayer drives our services, and while we do use video worship from the International House of Prayer, it will always be supplemental. We could proceed with it or without it. So, thus far God hasn’t revealed that it’s necessary for us to have someone leading live musical worship. Simply, we can worship now from a place of intercession, and that is what we are doing. In fact, I can see churches of many thousand people praying throughout their service with video worship playing over them and not even have an in house worship team! I personally think it would be a powerful move.
And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song.., Revelation 5:8-9
What’s become to be known as Harp and Bowl Worship is truly a powerful way to intermix prayer and music. However, very interestingly we see in the above passage that it’s the creatures and elders who are singing—and it’s the saints who are praying!
It’s the intercession of the saints that results in new songs! This is why the primary focus must be on prayer, not music. Prayer + worship (surrender, adoration) can result in new songs. But don’t confuse musical worship with biblical worship. They are separate though sometimes overlapping realities.
“And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant— these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” Isaiah 56:6-7
The above passage is the perfect example of a biblical church service—in prayer with offerings and sacrifices. Music not required.
Of course, as I’ve tried to make evident, music is biblical and an important supporting element in the right context, but first we must recalibrate the church. Music has been a crutch for too long and has resulted in a lot of lazy Christians.
The singers will sing with a powerful anointing when the church is in right governmental order.
For the people of Israel and the sons of Levi shall bring the contribution of grain, wine, and oil to the chambers, where the vessels of the sanctuary are, as well as the priests who minister, and the gatekeepers and the singers. We will not neglect the house of our God.” Nehemiah 10:39
Prayer Fueled Worship
Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! Psalm 95:6
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness. Psalm 29:2
If you need musical worship to feel close to God, it's an indicator that your prayer life is lacking.
Again, it’s troubling to me that people can enter into worship while, at the same time, resisting a culture of prayer. That should be a litmus test for us. If they can’t pray with endurance and fervency, just who are they worshiping when the music starts?
Worship isn’t about us feeling good. It’s about God being glorified! We lay everything down and bring offerings and sacrifices and worship! No music required!
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come before him! Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; 1 Chronicles 16:29
Our team at Revival Church has prayed in fiery tongues in over 70 Detroit region churches, and our ministry in Manitou Springs was in over 100 Colorado Springs churches. The two hour prayer meeting was intense as we prayed in the Spirit together, non-stop.
Often the pastor would ask if I wanted their worship team to play, or if I wanted a worship CD to play in the background. Most of the time I’d say no. I didn’t want us leaning on the familiar. It was time to go into the uncharted territory of passionate, continual prayer. I knew that when we found a company of people that could enter in and pray on fire in any environment, that reformation in the church would draw nearer.
You see, when we pray in tongues, when we pray in the Spirit, then we can see worship in the Spirit come. Instead of English lyrics, I see waves of spiritual tongues rising up as incense becoming dominant. This is the spirit and truth worship of the hour.
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23-24
At Revival Church I’m on the hunt for what I call Pavement People. These are the 2 Chronicles 7 people who couldn’t even enter the building due to the glory of God filling it—so they hit the pavement and worshipped. No comfortable chairs, no music, nothing but them, the pavement and God.
As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD’s house. When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the LORD, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” 2 Chronicles 7:1-3
And Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground. Nehemiah 8:6
But today, if there’s isn’t a powerful musical worship experience in the building, you’ll find not only an empty building, but an empty parking lot.
The coming musical worship movement will come from a place of extreme prayer. Maybe it would make sense to sit the musicians down and call everybody to hit the pavement and pray in tongues for two hours every Sunday—and then again on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. We will come to the House of Prayer in the fear of the Lord to revere him.
But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house. I will bow down toward your holy temple in the fear of you. Psalm 5:7
Maybe after a year or two of Upper Room style prayer, with no musical assistance whatsoever, we’d see a new wine, culture shifting musical worship movement emerge.
Neither is new wine put into old wineskins. If it is, the skins burst and the wine is spilled and the skins are destroyed. But new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved.” Matthew 9:17
We will be so undone and overwhelmed by the ‘groans that can’t be uttered’ from a life of intercession that the musical worship that emerges will be nothing like we have today.
Everybody will be on their face groaning and crying out, repenting and worshiping with deep groans of intercession as the instruments play over them. From that place new songs will explode out of us!
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26-27
My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God. Psalm 84:2
Blessed are those who dwell in your house, ever singing your praise! Selah Psalm 84:4
A Reformed Church Service
So, just what does a reformed church service look like?
It looks like a prayer meeting—because it is a prayer meeting. When people arrive on a Sunday morning, they will see people plastered all over the floor groaning and interceding. In prayer. The kids will be on the floor with them as biological families come together with their spiritual family for hours of passionate prayer. That’s the new, reformed church model! Apostolic leaders will break in briefly with instruction and prophetic decrees that take everybody back into focused intercession.
The church will finally become the House of Prayer that it was born to be.
Maybe there will be music, maybe there won’t be—but, without question, there will be prayer. Raging, continual prayer. And, that culture of Holy Spirit baptized intercession will result in clarity as to who’s with you and who is not.
Sin won’t be able to survive in the camp. Resistance will become immediately evident. Gossip will cease. Pride will die. Personal comfort zones will be threatened. God will be exalted.
From that place of prayer, other secondary events will take place such a teaching services, but they will remain supplemental. Prayer will be primary because, it’s clear, the church is a house of prayer for all nations.
We will be in the church, physically with other Believers, most every day of the week in intercession and new wine ministry!
And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God. Luke 24:52-53
So, here’s the model:
Greeting. Fervent prayer. Groans of intercession. Apostolic instruction. Zealous decrees. More groans. Declaration of Scripture. Fear. Trembling. New songs. Brokenness. Repentance. Prayer. Joy. Dancing. Freedom. Repeat again tomorrow.
Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth! Psalm 96:9
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” Revelation 7:9-12
Prayer. That is the call of the church. It's time for a prayer reformation. A prayer revolution.
Assisted Suicide: I was shaken by a prophetic dream about the resistance against the prayer movement.
I had a dream that shook and provoked me this morning regarding the prayer movement. There is an assault against the prayer movement from within the church, and it's time for bold prophetic people to arise and pray with power!
I’ll let the video explain what shook me, but suffice it to say:
- The prayer movement is under attack
- God is raising up prophetic voices and apostolic intercessors
- We have to light the candle and ensure the fire never goes out
More info on how you can join the1000, a prayer movement to cover Detroit, is coming soon!
WATCH THE VIDEO HERE: http://youtu.be/VXP3h6SHrls
Piece of Cake is now available for order! Discover how to quickly launch new life projects!
I started by designing the cover and then outlining the book and starting into the first couple of chapters on Thursday, July 18, 2013—just 19 days ago. The entire project was completed and made ready to order in just over two weeks!
This book was written according to the principles it communicates—launch into new ministry assignments, projects and other endeavors immediately upon conception.
Now, two weeks later, I can move on to other projects instead of letting time slip away as I continue to wrestle through this one.
The book will be available on Amazon AND Kindle within a day or two, but you can order it from my publisher site RIGHT NOW here: https://www.createspace.com/4392044
Here’s an excerpt from the book:
An Apostolic Freak
I often feel like a freak in the Kingdom. It’s not because I don’t fit in, or because I don’t have great friends and connections in the ministry. Rather, it’s because I’m continually provoked by the possibilities to change the world through various ministries, projects and endeavors—and that results in a lot of action, shifting, trial and error that takes many beyond their comfort zones. As a visionary, my heart is to provoke and awaken a generation to the greatness of God, and I am seeking any and every vehicle I can find, or invent, to get that message out there.
Apostolic people are pioneers who go where no man had dared to go before. They tear down, plant and build. God is awakening leaders today who fear nothing and respond immediately to his commands to shock the planet with the fire of his Spirit! This lifestyle will trouble the status quo and irritate the hesitant.
God is looking for people to blaze a new trail—people who won’t delay and who won’t wait for others to affirm them with a vigorous thumb’s up. He is seeking people, like Paul, who have the confidence to run the race and call people to follow them as they follow Christ.
People are longing to launch into ministry, and to initiate ministries and projects—and this is good! We are living in an era when the Lord is vigilantly identifying critical end-time ministries and the laborers who will give leadership to them. I am regularly contacted by zealous men and women of God who know they have been tapped by God to make a difference, yet are unsure about how to take the leap into ministry.
This uncertainty results in dreams and desires that feel like little more than a vapor of gasoline that’s unable to get the engine started. The hope gets deferred and the heart gets sick. I can’t even count the number of potential Earth shakers who are experiencing defeat without even making an attempt at success! Fear of failure results in actual failure!
Whether you are starting a church or a ministry, an important life project or even a minor endeavor, the message is the same: Get started! Starting a ministry that is birthed by God is truly much simpler than you may realize—it’s a piece of cake! And, there’s icing on the cake! And there’s fire on top of that!
When I am awakened to a fresh ministry idea, I’m instantly invigorated. Often, I will actually begin developing the ministry immediately—within hours or minutes! It’s important to let the vision activate and gain traction immediately upon conception.
ORDER TODAY https://www.createspace.com/4392044
Does the American church have the desperation and the guts to return prayer to first place?
TONIGHT at 6pm! Julia Palermo is going to bring a potent message that will awaken your spirit! You MUST watch a short video of her preaching to a crowd of people—many of which were on drugs and radically demonized. The call is for the firebrands—the generation of youth to lead the prayer movement in Detroit and our nation! Watch here: http://youtu.be/EZ9CClOVNJE
Revival Church meets at CENTRAL CHURCH, 1529 E. 12 Mile Rd, Madison Heights, MI 48071.
RETURNING PRAYER TO FIRST PLACE
When our worship leader recently moved on, I made a bold decision. Fiery intercession is every Christian’s most foundational calling, and in place of a typical musical worship environment, the atmosphere is now filled with passionate prayer, decrees and expressions of worship and surrender.
I’ve often said one reason the prayer rooms are empty is because prayer has been relegated to a secondary activity in the church. It’s usually an afterthought. It’s certainly not primary in our nation.
When fervent prayer is returned to first place, everybody in the church will be in the prayer meeting—because the prayer meeting will be THE meeting.
My wife asked me a question the other day that caused me to come alive:
We have Prep Room, which is pre-service prayer, from 5:15pm-6pm. We then roll right into an hour of corporate intercession as light instrumental music is played behind us.
Amy asked, “So, just what is the difference between Prep Room and the first hour of the service?”
Nothing! Nothing at all! I love it! Finally, prayer is the main thing in the church!
I often hear that prayer like this is not for the new Christian—they will feel out of place. That is a doctrine of demons that must be rebuked! The prayer room must be the first stop for every new Christian! It’s absolutely nonsensical to say that ministering to God is reserved for those who have been a Christian for a while! As a very young Christian, I was awakened in the prayer room. Prayer is not complicated, only costly. It is for everybody.
Will musical worship return? Yes, but only as it’s birthed out of burning, groaning intercession. There will be a tremble on the worshippers. Worship will exist in the realm of the Spirit and we will all sing from a place of brokenness, encounter and surrender.
John 4:23-24 (ESV) 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Everything that takes precedence over prayer for the nations is about to be overturned in the church.
This shift in the church will be extremely offensive to those who don’t value connecting with God in prayer. Today’s system affirms a casual connection. In fact, church systems and programs are set up to remove responsibility from the people—to make it easy and costless for them to participate. This is our current American church culture, and it will soon be overturned.
I so often hear angry Christians mention how there should be no leader/laity division—yet, when the call to the body is sounded to serve like a leader, to pray like a priest, to do the work of intercession, to advance with passion and to be in position as a ready soldier, there is a spirit of resistance that often rises up.
I’m all for laity to serve as leaders—but it’s rare to find those who will actually do it. The cost is too high and the return on investment seems to be so low. (We forget that the return on our investment isn’t personal blessing but rather blessing for the nations—and the fruit of our prayer may not be fully realized by them for decades.)
The money changer mindset results in us focusing on self—on using church for personal gain, on expecting ourselves to be served or entertained or blessed instead of surrendering all and praying for the nations.
I’d encourage you to read my article titled God 2.0 where I address the danger of being a Money Changers Church here: GOD 2.0.
Today, worship teams lead while the body engages at the level they prefer. This is about to change—and those who want to be served rather than serve are at risk of great offense. This reformation in the church will change our expectations radically. The body won’t simply sit and soak as others sing over them. We will all do the work of intercession in a corporate setting. It’s not about receiving from God, it’s about ministering to him. This is pure worship.
This shift in the church will result in a violent assault by those who have their pet church focuses, relationships, levels of commitment and expectations threatened. Instead of simply showing up for a Sunday service and enjoying good worship and positive teaching, the expectation is now for everybody to go hard in fervent, violent prayer for the billions of people in the nations of the Earth who are nearing an eternity in Hell. Check out what happened to Jesus when he set the church in order:
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.
They wanted to destroy him. Their personal blessing was threatened.
If the scriptural call is to pray without ceasing, is it not strange that people so often run when the prayer meeting is called?
The thought of having a two-hour prayer meeting as the primary Sunday service shouldn’t be a strange idea at all if we are already praying the remaining 166 hours throughout the week. It’s simply an glorious corporate expression of what we should already be doing individually. Every one of us should walk into the church building burning, trembling, praying in tongues and coming out of perpetual encounters with God.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 (ESV) 17 pray without ceasing…
I have extreme patience for those who are struggling to connect with God as they devote themselves to finding him. (Ask, seek, knock)
But, let me be clear—those who complain that they don’t encounter God, they don’t feel God’s love, yet do not devote themselves to wrestling with God in prayer until they break through are without excuse.
No amount of teaching, anointed worship music, positive thoughts or counsel from others will result in a life of encounter with Jesus. Only prayer based on the truth of the Word of God will do that. Others can help you learn about God, but you have to meet him on your own. And, meeting him doesn’t always feel sweet and happy. It will actually burn our flesh and crush every part of us.
Julia Palermo: “People want loving God to be an emotional experience, but loving God has a very practical expression. Obedience.”
John 14:21-22 (ESV) 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?”
Intercession isn’t about emotionally enjoying God, though that can certainly happen at times. It’s about work. It’s about carrying the burden of God’s heart. This is what must lead our church services and our entire lives again.
Mike Bickle: The revelation of the Bridegroom filled with tenderness leads some to laziness because they have not seen the revelation of His heart of abandonment or His call for us to be abandoned to Him.
A CORPORATE REBUKE FUELED BY LOVE
God is so zealous about his Bride, his church, that a love-fueled rebuke is coming—and it will hit most every one of us.
The money changers spirit has so infiltrated the church that judgment is necessary just to save God’s precious Bride.
A critical correction is coming to those use the church as their personal blessing machine. In Revelation we see God lovingly rebuke the churches. It’s time for an end-time judgment to hit our churches. Judgment isn’t a bad God doing bad things to bad people. Judgment is an act of extreme, passionate love. Judgment draws the remnant to God, and exposes the pretenders as they run from God. It’s a wheat and tares reality.
Connecting in the church because of good friendships, good teaching, good worship, good programs, good children’s ministry, good environment—and disconnecting when any of that doesn’t meet our standards—is coming to an end.
The Upper Room mandate is upon us—we gather and pray. If prayer is there, so are we—every time the doors are open.
THE LOOK OF THE COMING CHURCH
Again, the 2 Chronicles 7 pavement people are the model of the remnant church. Acts 2 is a New Testament example of it—the whole house will be filled with the fire of God as every single person prays in the Spirit.
Acts 2:2-3 (ESV) 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.
This is some of what we can look forward to—and what we can start working towards right now. God is building his church through his apostolic and prophetic remnant and it will be a white hot center of intercession for the nations.
- We will walk into the meeting praying in the spirit, trembling, in the fear of the Lord, often coming out of dreams of God.
- There is no concern for comfort, who likes us or who doesn’t like us.
- Our position in the church won’t matter—we will know our position is on our face in fervent prayer.
- The room may simply be a giant warehouse with a cement floor—it won’t matter. We’ll bring a blanket, throw it down and prepare to encounter God with other desperate people.
- When we enter the room, we hit our faces without prompting, music or no music, and start praying passionately in the spirit for the nations and the burdens on God’s heart.
- Kids may be right next to us, or in a similar environment in a classroom elsewhere. Either option will work just fine.
- An hour or two later, teaching will boldly call us to action as the Word lands on our burning hearts.
- Teaching will be mostly prophetic/apostolic. Prophetic alarms and decrees will be constant and extremely anointed.
- We will all respond to the instruction corporately and prepare to fulfill our assignments.
- We will return to the corporate gathering for intercession and apostolic equipping several times a week instead of waiting for the next Sunday.
- Between meetings our personal lives will be filled with prayer, reading the Bible, listening to sermons and fulfilling our ministries. We will have plenty of time to do that as TV, movies, entertainment and other cultural norms are put under submission.
Are you part of the remnant church? Are you ready to join a company of pavement people? Will you jump ship when the old wineskin is removed, or will you embrace the fresh fire of God in our nation? Are you burning hot for God? Or, are you lukewarm?
These are critical questions we all must answer. Do we attend church because of what we get out of it? Because people like us? Because we enjoy it? Or, do we understand our call to die, to surrender, to pray and to burn night and day?
See you tonight.
The Coming Church will look nothing like the church we know today. Here are some of the significant changes on the horizon.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
Our role has become much clearer after the troubling end of the Presidential election.
My focus in this article is to bring clarity of our vision to the Revival Church staff and team, yet it’s something that any Christian will appreciate.
I am simply confounded. No matter how I try, I cannot even come close to understanding how a Christian would support a candidate that has so clearly, boldly and methodically renounced biblical truths. I’m beside myself.
2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 (ESV) 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
That is a verse specifically dealing with the antichrist, but the principle remains. There is a strong delusion in the world today as the antichrist spirit gains momentum.
For example, consider abortion. If you understand biblical history, you know that it is a violent antichrist spirit. Just as with Herod during the arrival of Jesus on the Earth, there is an antichrist, God killing spirit in America. To stand with anybody who promotes this spirit is beyond nonsensical.
Yes, it’s true that one day after the election that Jesus is still the King. However, I’m trembling as I believe the King is closer to executing desperately needed judgment on America than he has ever been.
Franklin Graham, regarding the election of President Obama to another term: “…I think it will be to our peril and to the destruction of this nation.”
Have you ever considered the nation we love ceasing to exist? It’s possible. Many think it’s probable.
I’ve asked the following question several times yet it’s almost always dodged without an answer:
If a candidate were to support the murder of any child under the age of two, for any reason, would you vote for him? If it was OK to take your toddler, who was becoming an inconvenience to you, or if you couldn’t afford to take care of him, down to the clinic to have him dismembered and disposed of, would that be acceptable? If not, why is it OK to stand with a candidate who supports the murder of children who are younger?
Another even more provocative question is this:
If a two year old child was the result of rape, should it be OK to kill them? If not, then why is it OK to kill them at an earlier age?
The other issues that I consider most troubling are the destruction of the traditional family through the promotion of gay marriage, and the resistance to stand with Israel.
For me, the economy is a near non-issue for the Christian as our needs were already guaranteed to be supplied. My vote was not at all driven by questions about our economy.
A LUCIFERIAN SPIRIT
It’s shocking how deeply a Luciferian spirit has infiltrated the church and our nation. There is a deeper teaching that this article can’t give justice to, but allow me to share some of the key issues that we must be aware of so we can best understand our vision of reformation.
Simply stated, Lucifer was in the very presence of God, witnessing and experiencing all of his love, power and glory. The radiance of God’s presence and his unlimited and immeasurable power was before Lucifer continually. So, what happened?
With God in the room, Lucifer was focused on self.
It’s crazy! Yet, we see this every week in churches from coast to coast.
We see this troubling spirit in the story of the money changers in the temple. Jesus violently reacted as he picked up on this self-centered, Luciferian and religious spirit that resulted in people using God’s holy place for their own personal gain. The temple wasn’t about worshiping God that day, it was about worshiping self just as Lucifer did.
Today’s church, and today’s America is largely about the pursuit of happiness. God’s presence is not enough, and, an even more troubling reality is that, with God in the room, if he is blocking what we really want we will forsake him and spiritualize our own endeavors. That’s what happened with Eve in the garden. Satan appealed to her desire for godliness, for personal gain. So, she rebelled all while spiritualizing her decision.
It’s a Luciferian spirit that is driving so many in the church to focus on personal gain. It shockingly results in some Christians actually supporting abortion if it will result in a better life for the mother. It’s such a high level demonic deception that it has put our entire nation, not to mention the church, at great risk.
The Lucifiarian tradition usually reveres Lucifer, not as the Devil, but as a rescuer or guiding spirit. This philosophy is based on carnal fulfillment with consideration for the preservation of self.
This spirit must be dealt with from the opposing direction. Check out the story in Revelation:
Revelation 12:11 (ESV) 11 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.
The blood of Jesus, the declaration of our surrender to him and focusing not on personal happiness but on embracing the call to martyrdom is the answer.
Our churches and our American lives can no longer be about personal gain, storing up blessings, self-centered happiness or loving our lives.
It’s so sad to me as a leader that the church at large is not satisfied with the fact that Jesus died for them. Is that not enough for us to lay down our own lives for him?
We see most every Christian conference today focusing on our blessings, our identity, our rights. Of course, there is biblical precedence for such topics when handled rightly, however the concern is that self-focus is what draws the crowds instead of the call to die daily and surrender all.
We also see this issue manifesting in the realm of finances. The greatest offerings are received when the greatest teaching on financial return is delivered.
It’s a Luciferian spirit that drives abortion as well. When focused on our own happiness, our delusion results in a willingness to to remove any hindrance to that pursuit—including unwanted children. That self-centered spirit is what drove Pharaoh when he tried to annihilate the Hebrews and what drove Herod when he tried to eliminate Jesus by killing children. It’s the same spirit that fueled the Holocaust. That spirit is powerfully active in America today.
The current abortion crisis in America is significantly worse than the horrific tragedy of the Holocaust. 17 million vs. 55 million dead.
Now, let me say this very, very clearly. I don’t believe the primary reason abortion is freely available in America today is our elected officials. It’s because the same Luciferian spirit that drives the abortion agenda drives so many in the church. Those seeking abortion are on the hunt for personal happiness and the elimination of any threat to it. In the church, the focus has become the same—personal benefit, happiness and freedom. The tickling ear messages and the focus on personal gain is rampant in the church today. Instead of calling the church to lay down their lives, the messages are nearly always about finding themselves and having the best life they can. As I’ve said before, I don’t believe it’s time to “become a better you,” it’s time to “become a deader you.” Dead to self, alive in Christ.
This is the current state of the church.
Charles Finney brought this strong charge back in 1873:
“The error that lies at the foundation of this decay of individual and public conscience originates, no doubt, in the pulpit. … Brethren, our preaching will bear its legitimate fruits. If immorality prevails in the land, the fault is ours in a great degree.
“If there is a decay of conscience, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the public press lacks moral discrimination, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the church is degenerate and worldly, the pulpit is responsible for it. If the world loses its interest in religion, the pulpit is responsible for it.
“If Satan rules in our halls of legislation, the pulpit is responsible for it. If our politics become so corrupt that the very foundations of our government are ready to fall away, the pulpit is responsible for it.
“Let us not ignore this fact, my dear brethren; but let us lay it to heart, and be thoroughly awake to our responsibility in respect to the morals of this nation.”
So, that’s our setup. Now, what should our response be?
Revival Church team, it’s imperative that we all understand what the vision is and what it is not so we can fulfill the very finely focused mission God has given us.
Further, we must understand if a function of our ministry is a key component of the core vision, or if it’s a supplemental support to the core, or even if it’s contrary to the core. This will help ensure that the main things remain the main things.
Our call is to deal directly with a sleeping and dying church. It’s our prophetic mandate. The alarms must be sounded and repentance must be the result. There is a holy grief and a spirit of mourning that must be upon us, even as we are driven by a deep, abiding joy as God moves through us. Remember, Revival Church is a prophetic ministry that is focused on reformation and calling the greater church into a revival ready model. Many of the messages that come out of this ministry are not only for those in our church but are for those throughout the Detroit region and beyond.
The two chapters in the Bible that must be continually opened at Revival Church are Joshua 3 and Acts 2. Those are our blueprints. Study them. Memorize them. Pray through them. Continually.
Our key verse is Joshua 3:5: Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.
My book 20 Elements of Revival is our practical guidebook as it gives us a step by step process of city-wide revival. If it’s in there, it’s in our DNA.
Again, as we look at the vision, keep in mind the state of the church and the state of the nation. There is much calibration to be done.
WHAT IT IS AND WHAT IT ISN’T
- Revival Church is prayer-fueled and aggressive. We are calling people into an urgent lifestyle of holy striving and zealous prayer as we press toward the goal together. There is a literal groan of intercession that we must discover and release night and day.
- Revival Church is a movement of holiness, repentance, excellence and radical discipleship. Joshua 3:5 reveals that we are to consecrate ourselves and prepare for a life of wonders.
- 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. Second, 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. We are an “all hands on deck” ministry and are calling everybody to gather every time the doors are opened and the alarm is sounded.
- 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.
- Revival Church’s core vision is extremely limited. If I had to narrow it down to just a few focuses I would have to include: Prayer, regional revival, church planting, groans of intercession, holiness, equipping carriers of fire and releasing regional and national prophetic alerts. Other focuses and ministries may or may not fit within the scope of our vision. Some are supplemental and greatly needed while others are beneficial, but not in our setting.
- Revival Church is less about the experience and more about raising up sober, broken prophetic messengers. We are preparing people who will prepare regions for coming moves and judgments of God. While having a happy heart, we will also carry the weight of the cross as we call people to surrender and awaken a sleeping church. Our services and ministries will reflect this, and while often joyful, the extreme nature of the burden and mission demands that we gather together, go low and allow God to use us to carry some of the most challenging burdens we’ve ever known.
- theLab is our primary equipping center. We are aggressively encouraging every person in Revival Church to permanently call theLab their home. It is where our core DNA is best experienced and where the team will discover their cohesion and receive their assignments. The limited focus of the church is mirrored at theLab as we raise up an army of people who carry the DNA of revival. (You can apply to theLab School of Fire here: www.revivallab.com.)
To confront the spirit of this age that has made significant advances even in the last 24 hours, and to promote the spirit of revival, we must all be signed up, locked in and carrying the message of freedom in our nation.
This means a de-emphasis on personal enjoyment in the church must come as we make way for the remnant to take position, lay down their lives and advance the Kingdom of God in America.
That’s not to say that we aren’t joyful in the house of prayer. We must be. But it must be unto something. The joy of our salvation must explode as we carry the vision of salvation for a sleeping church and a lost society.
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
I 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.
Detroit City Strategy: The most important event of the week is NOT our Sunday service.
As much as I LOVE Sunday night services at Revival Church (and, yes, I mean LOVE!), they are not the most important events of the week.
For those that are interested in city-wide revival, transformation and real unity there is no match for Friday night’s prayer events that travel the city of Detroit.
*Tonight is extremely special. After Catherine Mullins and Brian Simmons minister the fire of revival at The Crossing (the conference starts at 6:30pm), we’ll take over and continue in burning groans and cries of intercession!
10pm TONIGHT: The Crossing 31590 Grand River Ave.Farmington MI, 48336
Detroit: theLab Friday Prayer Events—A movement unlike any other
theLab is an apostolic and prophetic movement in the Detroit region that is working WONDERS. In fact, it has been so powerful that a school of ministry has been birthed out of it! theLab School of Fire is shocking and rocking a lot of zealous, emerging history makers!
Since January, 2011 theLab has been in around 50 different churches in the Detroit region. That means that 50 churches have been rocked by the life and fire of the Holy Spirit in unusual fashion.
The grace that’s on this movement is remarkable. Astonishing. The call is for EVERY pastor, leader, intercessor, revivalist and burning man and woman of God in Detroit to gather together every Friday night from 10pm-midnight. This is a city movement of fire for the entire city church of Detroit. I’m sounding the alarm. Who will respond?
Joel 1:14 – The Message® (MSG)
Declare a holy fast, call a special meeting, get the leaders together, Round up everyone in the country. Get them into God’s Sanctuary for serious prayer to God.
What racial problems in Detroit?
Since before I moved to Detroit I’ve heard about the severe racial tension that plagues this region.
Since a growing team of burning revivalists and I have been traveling the city every Friday night for over a year, both in urban and suburban churches, my testimony is:
I sense no racial tension whatsoever. None.
We pray in fire together. We love God together. Black. White. There is unity. There is no division. NONE.
And, it’s extremely easy. No working things out. No focus on past racial violations. Just freedom.
Off the Radar
I know what you are probably thinking. I’m not seeing all of the other churches and ministries that are steeped in division and racial strife.
I know they are out there, but the prophetic word is this:
They are off the radar.
The next move of God that is drawing very near in Detroit DOES NOT include them—unless they simply repent, pray, humble themselves and join the movement of revival in Detroit.
Repentance will put them right back on the radar of God’s city church mission in Detroit. It’s that easy.
I will make this as clear as I can—division, jealousy, bitterness and resistance in any form, whether it’s racial, theological, relational or otherwise will take us off the radar. We will miss the outpouring. The fear of the Lord should be striking every one of us right now.
Those who are divisive and resistant are simply being replaced by a fresh army of revivalists and a new city church of power in Detroit.
I believe the days of attempting to unite the old guard in Detroit is over. Seeking cohesion between the pastors here is an honorable mission, but that season is coming to an end as a willing remnant takes their place. This simply means that the mission is switching from reconciliation to advance. It’s time to take steps.
The good news is that at any time, those off the radar can willingly step right back onto it. It’s that easy. But, the pillar of fire is moving, so they better do it quickly.