The change that must come to the structure and the day-to-day operation of the church is extreme. It’s considered “normal church attendance” if someone attends less than two services a month.
That’s four hours out of 720 in a month!
THe 24/7 City Church must arise!
Can you imagine the United States military having sufficient training, unity, common vision, education and impartation if soldiers only had to report four hours per month?
It wouldn’t work. It can’t work in the church.
Consider the Chinese underground church. They are willing to risk death or imprisonment and torture just so they can gather together as the corporate body. In America we are often not willing to even risk missing the Super Bowl or relaxing on the couch.
Listen to this new teaching on the coming reformation in the church at www.detroitrevivalchurch.com/teaching or simply listen using the player below:
I’ll include the notes below:
I. The Goal
a. The ancient and emerging 24/7 church
i. Acts 2:42-47 (ESV) 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.
ii. The Chinese church: "It is estimated that there are at least 20 million Christians who are part of the underground movement," said Newton. "The Chinese have a saying, ‘God embraces the fire,' meaning that through persecution and hardship faith grows stronger." Newton says this is apparent in their willingness to risk their livelihood to practice their faith. "These Christians are a powerful reminder of the first church as described in the Acts of the Apostles. I saw in them a strong fire and conviction, the work of the Holy Spirit," said Newton. He also explains that the difficulties they face have made them a cohesive group "There are no denominations in China underground churches. There are simply Christians worshipping together, sharing the one message of the Savior," he added.
iii. Peter Xu: "They hung me up across an iron gate, then they yanked open the gate and my whole body lifted until my chest nearly split in two. I hung like that for four hours." That is how Peter Xu Yongze, the founder of one of the largest religious movements in China, described his treatment during one of five jail sentences on account of his belief in Christianity.
iv. Peter Xu said that while he was in jail, he saw several people even being killed for their faith. "A believer was praying, so a jailer made other prisoners lift him up to the ceiling and drop him to the ground many times until he died," Mr Xu said. But government crackdowns – and even torture – may not make people like Peter Xu give up their faith. "Despite all the persecution and suffering, God is calling more and more people in China," he said.
v. …police in a remote region of China had interrogated a woman named Ma Yuqin, but their efforts seemed unsuccessful. Kristof wrote: “She never broke when she was tortured with beatings and electrical shocks. Even when she was close to death, she refused to disclose the names of members of her congregation or sign a statement renouncing her Christian faith.” While the physical abuse was almost unbearable, the mental torture was even worse. Throughout her ordeal, Ma Yuquin could hear the sounds of her son being tortured in the next room. They could hear each other’s screams-additional incentives to betray their friends and their faith. Recalling this, Ma Yuquin began to sob. “They wanted me to hear (my son’s) cries,” she said. “It broke my heart.” According to VOM sources, Sister Yu was beaten to death while in custody.
b. The church is so important to the Chinese that they are willing to risk death to gather—in America many aren’t even willing to risk missing the Super Bowl or relaxing on the couch.
c. The primary issue that this issue is hinging on is found in Matthew 21.
i. First, we see the triumphal entry
1. Everybody celebrating, a huge church service
2. Most in the church would be thrilled at this level of commitment to Christ, but the problem is that the hundreds of thousands of people there actually didn’t have commitment to Christ, they had commitment to self.
3. They embraced a ‘bring your own bar’ to church mentality.
a. The bar of commitment was determined by themselves, and the moment they realized that they weren’t going to get what they wanted, the lowered the bar to zero.
b. We see this in churches all over, except instead of holding the bar high and letting people dismiss themselves, leaders are lowering the bar in order to keep the people.
c. The problem is that they are generally not Good Friday Christians—those who embraced the cross of Christ. They are more often Palm Sunday people.
ii. But then, we see Jesus dealing with the spirit that drove the Palm Sunday crowd.
1. Matthew 21:12-13 (ESV) 12 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 13 He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”
2. Religion- man’s attempt to use God to get what he wants.
3. The message of salvation must also be discussed here.
a. The Palm Sunday people didn’t find salvation and cleansing from their sins because they celebrated Jesus.
b. Only the cross, which resulted in all but two, plus a thief on a cross to Jesus’ side, will suffice.
iii. Then, as this religious reformation continued, we see Jesus restoring the Temple:
1. Matthew 21:14-15 (ESV) 14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant,
iv. Then, Jesus established the reality of supernatural faith and fruit as a normal life experience for those who dismiss religion and who embrace Jesus as Lord.
1. Matthew 21:18-22 (ESV) 18 In the morning, as he was returning to the city, he became hungry. 19 And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, he went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And he said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once. 20 When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” 21 And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. 22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”
v. Then, the cross.
d. Our focus right now is to gather, pray and communicate the prophetic word of the Lord.
First—Revival Church is a REGIONAL strategic center of revival. We are calling all of the hungry people in Detroit, everybody who’s ready for a move of God, to converge every Sunday night with us. TONIGHT we’re gathering the army and preparing for revival at 6PM. Come on out if you are anywhere within 50 miles! www.detroitrevivalchurch.com
Those of you who follow my ministry know a key component is the preparation for a massive reformation in the church. Extreme change to the current structure, style of service and day-to-day operations of the local church must come—and quickly.
I trust that you’ll understand that I am intensely positive and driven by excitement and joyful expectation for the coming revival in the church. I love and currently lead a local church myself. However, we’re at a critical point in history where honest analysis must come forth. Everything is not OK, and a reformation is coming.
Here are some key concerns I have in regard to the local church:
- THE LOSS OF CITY CHURCH IDENTITY—Scripturally we see the church of the city emphasized much more than the smaller, localized church. Today, it seems that the concept of a city church to many is more a fable than a biblical reality. Without question, the proposal to function as a city church has little positive response when discussed among pastors and other leaders. It’s one thing to participate in token city church functions a few times a year, but it’s something entirely different when we’re talking about weekly city church staff meetings, shared responsibilities, pooling of resources and releasing the body to intentionally connect several times a week in other local churches.
Witness Lee said this: “…we cannot have a street church, nor an avenue church, nor a church on a college campus, nor a church in a house that is not also the church in the city. According to the New Testament we can have only a city church, that is, the church in the city where we are.”
Watchman Nee said, “I believe God in His great wisdom made the locality the boundary of the church in order to eliminate the works of man, which try to divide the church within one locality.”The local church is a puzzle piece. A single puzzle piece has no purpose or value if it’s not connected to the completed picture. But, when connected, it’s powerful.
- A TEMPERED ENVIRONMENT—When I led Revolution Church in Manitou Springs, Colorado I made a promise to the church. I would never tone down the activity of the Holy Spirit out of respect of those less hungry. If we fear that extreme Holy Spirit activity will drive people away, I’ll propose we’re in an extremely dangerous place. Our true motive of church growth ahead of Holy Spirit freedom becomes clear. We presume we have a more natural, logical, social and appropriate way to touch lives. We actually say, “Holy Spirit, I’ll take it from here.” The reality is that it takes a supernatural infusion to touch lives. A logical, social approach as the primary strategies just can’t work.
Today it has become rare to find a church that is exploding in life, power and heavy moves of the Holy Spirit. The reality is that, at least in the formative stages, a church that emphasizes Holy Spirit liberty and allows a weighty manifestation of God’s presence is at risk of losing people. Most people do enjoy a quick touch, a healing, an experience in God’s presence—at a low cost. However, few—very few—are willing to pay the price, week to week, to go into the deep. The cost is high and the Western church has created a culture of satisfying the desires of the people ahead of mission advance and intimacy with God. I wonder how many people have been lulled into a false sense of eternal security due to a tempered corporate expression.
- IT’S DIFFICULT TO EMPHASIZE AND FACILITATE A CULTURE OF PRAYER—Why is this? Poorly steward time, for one. Most churches today intentionally limit the length of the Sunday service to less than two hours. Most people today only attend a Sunday morning service. We have little choice but to reform this model and introduce deep, zealous, faith-driven prayer and intercession for the nations back into our primary services. Today, pastors, on average, pray six minutes a day. This is a horrifying statistic. The church of our nation is being led primarily by people who know certain things about God, but may not deeply and intimately know him.
- COMPETITION BETWEEN CHURCHES—I’ll make my feelings on this point clear. It’s tragic and often sickening when churches compete, exhibit jealousy and aren’t clearly connected to each other. We have to admit that something’s wrong when established churches aren’t rushing to the front of the line to welcome and help a new church plant.
I’ll share my own story of insecurity from the early days of Revolution Church in Manitou Springs, Colorado—a city with only five churches, and only two that were open to a move of the Spirit. We had a huge vision for that region. We had invested much and were working hard to advance the mission. On day I stumbled upon a new church’s website that highlighted a vision of their own to plant a satellite church in Manitou Springs. Though I handled the news just fine publicly, I’m embarrassed by my personal, emotional response. I was nervous. I didn’t want to lose ground, lose people or be upstaged by something more successful. Sad but true! What should my response have been? What should the response of established churches be when other churches are on the move and advancing in their mission?
- I should have sent them money.
- I should have celebrated their arrival.
- I should have found some of my best leaders and families and sent them to the new church for several months to help them get established( even if those families felt led to remain in that new church indefinitely).
- I should have taken the pastor and his wife out to dinner.
- I should have rejoiced at the greater opportunity to expand the Kingdom of God in Manitou Springs!
I absolutely love Mike Bickel’s philosophy—anybody at any time can walk through the doors of his ministry and recruit anybody they want to leave and join them in their own ministry. That’s the way it should be! The time is growing short where building our own kingdoms and jealously guarding them is coming to an end. We simply have to keep our hands open. I encourage the people at Revival Church to serve, enjoy and connect with other churches in the city. We also welcome people with open arms from other churches to connect at Revival Church.
- REDUNDANCY—This point is so simple that it’s shocking that we haven’t figured it out. The secular business world is sharper than the church on this issue. McDonalds would never attempt to build a restaurant on each of the four corners of an intersection. It would be foolish beyond description to do so. The world knows this, and also finds it easy to laugh and mock when they see four Christian churches, one at each corner of the same intersection. It’s madness!
Our independent, controlling methodologies as church leaders have resulted in an extreme waste of resources. You see, it would make perfect sense for there to be one McDonalds, one Taco Bell, one KFC and one Pizza Hut on each of the four corners of an intersection. Each restaurant has a specialty, a fresh take on the dining experience. On Monday the family enjoys McDonalds, on Tuesday it’s Pizza Hut, etc.
If we in the local church could understand that we are to create departments of the city church as opposed to autonomous and independent local churches, and it’s ok to specialize on one or two Kingdom focuses instead of unsuccessfully trying to do it all, the Kingdom will advance very quickly. Let’s take those four churches, consider the pastors to be associate staff members on the city church staff, allow them to only focus on what they are gifted to do and encourage their members to visit all four at different points during the week.
It's time to stop presuming people will only commit to one local church or ministry.
I regularly consider how we are going to see the massive reformation in the church come to pass. The way we see church today will become a distant memory as the entire structure changes.
We’ll need to take intentional steps toward a city church structure, which means the face of the local church is going to morph considerably.
Some preliminary steps:
- Multiple church commitment: We will begin to see people primarily commit to one church and also commit (truly commit, no hopping allowed!) at a lesser, yet still significant level at other churches. When this happens, every church won’t have to be focused broadly on everything, but they will focus intently on the few areas they are called and gifted to facilitate. When the body is expected to connect at only one church, they in turn have no other option but to expect that church to have a broad focus. The current system works against itself. When the reformation comes, a family will connect in one church where they will serve and sit under apostolic leadership that’s running with strength in a streamlined ministry, and on other days and nights of the week they may serve at another church’s youth ministry, Bible study or small group.
An important element here is that instead of limiting themselves to senior leadership at the local level, the various leaders of the churches in the city take on the role of associate leaders of the city church. So instead of thinking of it like people frequenting multiple local churches, they are actually strategically connecting in multiple departments of a single city church. One night they are in the teaching department growing in discipleship and on another night in the prayer department serving in intercession. These departments are actual churches and ministries spread out all over the city.
The five-fold ministry does not have to function in every single church or ministry. It's not realistic for that to happen. One church might be led by someone in a teaching office while another is led by a prophet. Pastors will give leadership to small groups and other ministries. Evangelists will train and lead out in strategic soul winning events. Apostles will govern and serve all of the city's leaders by casting vision, gathering the Ekklesia in the region and instructing at a high level.
Local church pastors will have to surrender their solitary leadership position in people's lives and begin to emphasize the city church more than their own local church. Senior pastors will then lead the way multiple times a month into other events, conferences, prayer meetings, church services and small groups in the region. People under their leadership will truly experience refreshing and renewed passion as they are no longer limited to what a single local church can provide.
- Prayer as a primary ministry: We must start where the first church started in Acts 2- in the prayer room. It’s shocking how absent prayer is in the church, and it’s terrifying how few Christians are intimately connected with Jesus in the place of prayer. I propose we cancel most everything we’re doing in the church and hit our face night and day and pray, and soak, and intercede and declare as a corporate body.
- Connecting with apostolic and prophetic leaders: We need to pray in, invite in and partner with apostolic and prophetic leaders who God is preparing right now. Who is God going to use regionally to help give leadership to a move of God? It probably won't be your local church pastor, but your pastor and everyone in your church should support whoever it is.
When I was leading Revolution House of Prayer in Manitou Springs, Colorado, a common theme was the establishment of the city church. I outlined this concept on the white boards there and we prayed into it fairly regularly.
In this City church model we’ll see local churches take on the identity of departments of the larger City church. People will participate at a high level at a primary local church and at lesser yet significant levels at a variety of other ministries.
This will enable one church to focus intently on the few callings in the primary giftings they have been given, while allowing other churches to function in their specific callings and giftings. Churches no longer have to attempt to cover every base. As we work together on a city level we can pool our strengths and giftings.
Someone may primarily be involved in a local church that mainly focuses on evangelism, while also attending other churches on other days and nights of the week that are geared toward teaching, youth, pastoral care, etc.
A great example is the house of prayer movement. They pray as their primary focus. People attend the house of prayer while also attending other churches at different points during the week.
Here’s a simple diagram of this idea from the vantage point of Manitou Springs, Colorado. We’ll see people involved in several different churches and ministries every week. I see this idea coming to Detroit and other cities as well. You can see the larger, easier to read version at http://praytherevolution.com/images/Manitou-Springs-Vision-Map.gif