Posts Tagged ‘covens in the church’

Ten reasons people are leaving the local church to start attending house churches

Covens-in-the-Church-PaperbackHouse church advocates want pastors to know exactly why they left the institutional church.

Most presume my book Covens in the Church addresses witchcraft, curses and attacks against the church. They are correct, but they misunderstand just what type of witchcraft I’m dealing with until they read the book—and are shocked.

I deal with (among other things) those in the church who are spiritualizing their manipulation, control and rebellion by abandoning the local church, rejecting authority and church government and launching home churches without blessing or qualification. When birthed out of a heart that resists authority, home churches are little more than coven meetings. I have been a bold advocate for what many call the institutional church while shining the light of scrutiny on the exodus to house churches.

It’s important for all who read to understand I’m a staunch supporter of local church pastors and any movement that attempts to circumvent biblical government must be exposed and renounced.

I also want it to be clear that I actually do agree with many house church advocates on many points. They have legitimate disagreements with the way the local church is functioning today, and their issues have been largely ignored by pastors and those who are in leadership. Their evacuation out of the institutional church and into house churches may be the wrong move for some of the right reasons. There are serious issues to deal with, and pastors, it’s time to wake up and lead the church into the new wine skin.

The institutional church is at great risk of irrelevancy and extinction. However, I’m not convinced house churches are the best move if they develop at the expense or exclusion of the local church.

WHY ARE SO MANY REJECTING THE LOCAL CHURCH IN FAVOR OF HOUSE CHURCHES?

I asked a question on Facebook earlier today:

What are some reasons people are choosing home churches over the institutional church?

It didn’t take long for comments to start flooding in. It’s obvious to me that the anti-institutional church sentiment is unapologetic and passionate. The reasons they shared demand some analysis.

I should make it clear that there are most definitely house church movements, when rightly aligned in the government of the city church, that are biblically appropriate and full of fire and power. I’m not anti-house church. I’m anti-rebellion.

Before I get into the reasons people are leaving the church in favor of home churches, I wanted to share a reply that I just received from someone who read my Facebook post. It comes from a pastor’s wife. She gave me permission to publish it. As we continue through this local church/house church debate, let’s keep in mind just how precious God considers his pastors and leaders to be, and how many are laying down their lives for what God has called them to:

As a third generation pastor, who has seen both my parents and grandparents pour themselves out for the local church, selflessly giving and loving the body of Christ it saddens me to see so many abandon what so many paid such a steep price for in faithful service to the Lord. I get it. No church is perfect. Be it a home church or an “institutional“ church. Let me tell you though, it is not easy being a pastor in this day and age. Everyone has instant access to the greatest and best preachers and teachers out there via social media. I know for myself and my husband we are revivalists. We desire a move of God, and give space and place for the Lord to do what He desires. I see many people post online how they’d love to find churches that do that but then in real life we have people come in, decide it’s too steep a price, and go to an easy believeism church or someplace they can be hit and miss with no accountability. The reality is that for the presence and the glory of God to invade an atmosphere it’s because someone has paid a price for it. In intercession, fasting, years, faithfulness.
Just to be honest, as a pastors wife, sometimes reading these kinds of posts adds to the feeling of discouragement. ~Debra McBride

Here are ten reasons people are leaving the local church in favor of house churches:

ONE

They desire genuine community.

It’s true that people can get lost in a larger church, especially if they are gathering people together just an hour or two a week. The Sunday service typically doesn’t provide opportunity for people to authentically connect and develop relationships.

Those who are yearning for deeper friendships can feel their frustration grow every week as they shuffle into a row and sit through a programmed service, only to shuffle right back out and into the parking lot.

I agree that godly relationships are valuable, though I believe people’s frustration can be misplaced. I affirm the desire for relationships can be overwhelming, and loneliness can eat away at us if we don’t handle it rightly. However, the purpose of the church, the Ekklesia, is not mostly to make friends. It’s to gather together as Believers under apostolic leadership and vision to pray and prepare for Kingdom advance.

Relationships will never be developed on a Sunday morning. There’s no way. They aren’t supposed to. And, pastors, please abandon all attempts at trying to fit them in. The three-minute window you give people to walk around and greet one another is a sad and unnecessary attempt at nurturing togetherness. The right approach is to admit the Sunday services are meant for prayer, worship and apostolic instruction. The fellowship can happen at other times and in other places. Any attempt at fellowship on a Sunday morning is misguided.

For those disappointed because the pastor won’t connect closely with you, I have some news for you. Your pastor isn't supposed to be your best friend. He's probably not going to be your friend at all. He may rarely connect with you personally. It may never happen.

His job is to pray, study the Word and facilitate an atmosphere of intercession and equipping. His relational energy will be reserved for just a few, just as Jesus modeled. Those who are prone to rejection, or those who presume the church is supposed to be ultra-relational, will suffer in such environments.

I don’t know when it became the church’s job to become matchmaker, developing circles of friends and facilitating the relationship building process. If people want to hang out, let them connect in the prayer rooms and on the mission field and then head out for coffee or initiate a Bible study on their own time. It doesn’t have to be organized, and it shouldn’t distract from the greater mission.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with the local church hosting small groups. They can be enriching and very good. The problem is when the living room instead of the prayer room becomes the glue that holds the church together. Relationships are actually critically important, but they can’t be the premier goal. The church has a much greater purpose. There’s a world to change. There’s revival to pursue. If people trusted that process, they would develop life-long friendships from the fox hole of ministry. The first church was birthed just like that.

1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. Acts 2:1 (ESV)

TWO

They are tired of unnecessary hype, productions and programs.

Every few weeks it seems there’s a new project or ministry focus that is instituted just to prove the church is getting bigger and better, is alive and moving forward. People can see right through these attempts and, quite frankly, are tired of investing so much money, time and energy for such a small return. They have had enough of the “bigger is better” mindset and simply want to give themselves to simple, organic church life.

The stage productions, expensive programs, lights, smoke and Hollywood style video presentations might look good, but the house church crowd is rejecting them wholesale. The vision the pastor might have for such a ministry isn’t shared by them.

I’ll be the first to argue that we need to shut pretty much everything down and simply gather together to pray. Filling the calendar with ministries, groups, programs and other endeavors without clear vision and buy in from the people is simply not attractive or, in most cases, effective.

Pastors, it’s time to get back to the basics. It’s true that those who have been conditioned by media and today’s culture might reject the basics, but we aren’t here to pander to culture. We are here to shake the nations.

So, does this mean the pyrotechnics, media and high production value are inherently evil? Absolutely not. Those who are abandoning churches simply because a church has implemented such tactics need to re-evaluate their heart. It’s not okay to abandon ship just because you don’t appreciate this style of ministry, but I can’t deny that’s it’s your right to be troubled if the theatrics veer the ministry off it’s proper course.

I’ve often said that I despise hype and exaggeration. When we employ such psychological methods to project our efforts beyond where they actually are, we limit God to our own imagination. We get overly excited about what we can produce instead of allowing God to blow our minds!

20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21 (ESV)

THREE

They want to be released to minister according to their giftings.

This argument is common. People are discouraged because they cannot function according to the gifting God has placed within them. They are chomping at the bit to be activated. They were created for a purpose, yet, so often in the local church, they are not released to move in their ministry.

As one who has planted and given senior leadership to churches for years, I’ll be the first to come to the defense of local church pastors. Just because you have a gift and calling does not mean you are ready to function in it in the church. There are a lot of broken, immature, untrained, prideful or simply weird people out there who should not be given a place in public ministry—until they have been made ready.

There is significant process involved in the ministry development incubator. If you aren’t willing to submit to authority and give yourself to the process, and allow significant time to pass as you die daily and gradually grow stronger, your ministry cannot be validated.

Many people are launching house churches because their ministry was not confirmed in the local church. This is where a lot of immature people are launching premature ministries. Their authorities have determined they are not ready, but they turn aside from that counsel and move out in childish rebellion—all in the name of spiritual freedom.

That being said, pastors, you must do a better job at equipping the saints. While there are many pastors and church leadership teams that excel at this, most don’t.

11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children… Ephesians 4:11-14 (ESV)

FOUR

The church only goes as deep as the majority will allow.

The house church crowd is typically a spiritually hungry one. We can’t deny that most local churches simply don’t go deeper than the majority will allow. I’m not talking about seeker sensitive churches, I’m referring to Spirit-filled churches that promote exuberant worship and devotion to Jesus.

There are many churches like this that will just go so deep. There’s a limit. They know if they get as passionate and as supernaturally infused as the zealots in their midst, the majority will leave.

Pastors, you must wake up! Let the pretenders leave! It’s time to bring the fire, the shock and the awe back into the church! How can you fault people who desire to leave because they want to experience Jesus more than you do?

For those who are hungry for the deep, I won’t pull any punches. This alone is not a reason to leave a church and to start your own. You can go as deep in God as you want regardless of how far your church goes. I challenge you to burn hot, pray without ceasing, stimulate dreams and visions and raise the temperature of every atmosphere you walk into.

Will God eventually move you on to another church or to build a new ministry yourself? He most certainly may. Just make sure you handle the move with integrity and honor. If your current church is apathetic, you can be sure God will bring resolution one way or another without your intervention.

15 “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. Revelation 3:15-16 (ESV)

Pharaoh-in-the-Church-PaperbackFIVE

Being guilted into serving more, giving more and building the church.

House church people generally are more interested in Kingdom activity than the local church. They are more passionate about God’s expression among a people in a region than a local ministry. They are tired of building a single man’s kingdom by giving and serving and enhancing that local church instead of investing in the advance of the Kingdom of God.

Again, as one who has been involved in the church for decades, I understand. There’s so much pressure today to grow big ministries, to be successful and to keep everybody active and on task. Leaders want people to take ownership. In our American culture we are individualistic and laser focused on whatever project we deem most beneficial to us. The problem? There is much more that needs our focus than a single local church.

I believe it’s healthy and important for people to have a home church while also engaging at a high level in other local churches, ministries and Kingdom activities. When I was giving leadership to churches, I would strongly encourage people to frequent other ministries in addition to our own. Investing in the city church is more important than the local church.

I started this message by mentioning my book Covens in the Church. That book as directed at those who wrongly abandon assignments for the sake of pursuing their own spiritual endeavors. This point requires I highlight the follow up book titled, Pharaoh in the Church. This book was written to pastors who are so focused on building their own ministry that the people are wrongly used, expected to continually serve, give and sacrifice for that never ending project.

In the words of Brian Ming, “God forgive us for building kingdoms of man on doctrines of demons in your name.”

Pastors, right or wrong, this is another reason people are leaving your church for the more efficient, simple and authentic house church.

SIX

The power of God isn’t there.

I’ll admit that I’ve been to some small group meetings that are electric! The Holy Spirit was blowing through that living room or office space like a wind and a fire! When you gather people who are all likeminded and hungry for Jesus, you can’t help but to see God respond.

I’ve been to local church meetings like this too, but they are rare. How often do you leave an institutional church remarking about how powerfully and supernaturally the Holy Spirit moved? Some of you reading this are truly blessed, and you’d respond by saying, “Nearly every Sunday!” Most would have to honestly admit that it’s extremely uncommon or nonexistent.

Understand, I’m not talking about a great worship experience or an encouraging message. I mean, when is the last time the supernatural presence of God flooded the place to such an extreme that people were trembling, crying, and laying out all over the place? This should be the norm for the church. Pastors, until you can steward this call and facilitate a white-hot atmosphere of Holy Spirit power, it will be easy for people to be disappointed in your church.

1 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. 2 And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD filled the LORD’s house. 3 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 (ESV)

SEVEN

Services are predictable, overly structured and polished.

People who are hungry for authentic encounter with Jesus are done with perfectly orchestrated worship sets and precisely ordered services. House churches offer an opportunity to ditch the set lists and eliminate the clocks in favor of spontaneous, unpredictable and untimed worship, prayer and teaching along with a fervent pursuit of an ever increasing tangible presence of the Holy Spirit.

Instead of the spit and shine, they long for the messy, unpredictable, uncontrollable move of God that simply won’t allow for manmade organization.

How often are the people in the pews crying out for the pastors to get out of the way and to let the Holy Spirit move? It’s time we admit that our messages really aren’t that great, and our worship sets aren’t that special. Let’s move aside, hit our knees and let the Holy Spirit run our services! I’ll tell you this, when it happens, people won’t be frustrated and disappointed, fleeing the church, they’ll be flooding out from wherever they are to the place where the fire is burning!

The truth is it can be easier to fan the flames of revival in a small house church than in a local church simply because local churches aren’t typically focused on the remnant. They want the bigger crowds and are willing to compromise to ensure the people stay connected. Those in house churches aren’t focused on numbers or on drawing the seeker. They simply want God. Period. They have no order of service. They pray. They cry out. They minister to God and to each other.

While I acknowledge this reality, my belief is that we need to see such a remnant focus in the local church! I believe apostolic hubs, houses of prayer and house churches have emerged because local churches have abdicated their responsibilities to be centers of prayer and Kingdom advance. They have become fully local to the detriment of the city vision. Prayer has taken a back seat because most resist such a devotion.

I love houses of prayer, apostolic hubs, para-church ministries and even healthy, rightly aligned house churches. I also love the local church and am campaigning for it to break out of the old, tired and predictable in favor of a Holy Spirit who cannot be controlled.

13 He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ …Matthew 21:13 (ESV)

EIGHT

Pastors who are functioning out of ability, creativity or charisma instead of anointing.

Stage shows seem to be overtaking much of the church today. Instead of contending for hours in the prayer rooms, pastors are often functioning from their creativity and charisma. The anointing simply isn’t intense. They haven’t been branded by the fire that can only be found at the altars.

How rare it is to see the man or woman of God trembling behind the pulpit after emerging from an encounter with almighty God in the prayer room.

Leonard Ravenhill said, “Pastors who don’t pray two hours a day aren’t worth a dime a dozen.”

People can see right through pastors who are operating out of gifting instead of anointing. It’s leaves a very bad taste in their spirits. They want to be led by people who are continually encountering Jesus, people who aren’t so confident in their giftings that they simply put together “creative” programs, conferences, sermon series and whatever else they can orchestrate.

That being said, house church friends, I challenge you to re-read the appeal from Debra at the beginning of this article. Have enough compassion for God’s leaders that you don’t rise up in pride, determined to be more spiritually driven then they are. In fact, I bet most house church people are no more spiritually devoted than most local church pastors.

17 pray without ceasing, 1 Thessalonians 5:17 (ESV)

NINE

A lack of focus on the greater church.

House church folks don’t like to be limited in their church experience. They don’t value, and actually devalue, the demand many pastors have to commit fully and only to their specific local church. It stinks of personal kingdom building instead of truly being Kingdom minded.

As I said above, we need to encourage people to invest in a variety of churches and ministries in our region. In fact, pastors should be very active in supporting other churches and ministries. Lead the people in your church to conferences, prayer events, special church meetings, revival services and strategic Kingdom happenings in the region.

House churches can easily become equally unhealthy when they become inward focused and disconnected from the greater city church. In fact, many, many house churches regularly fall into this trap.

Out of one side of their mouth they confess to being “Kingdom focused” while on the contrary they never visit and lock arms with other local churches, ministries or functions in the region.

46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes… Acts 2:46 (ESV)

TEN

They are plain bored with the old wine skin.

Church as we know it is done. This is the driving message behind my book The Coming Church. I’ve preached about this, written about this and led movements with this in mind. The old wine skin must give way to the new. The house church, for many, seems to be a logical step out of the old and into the new.

The reality is that the new wine skin looks nothing like anything we see in local or house churches.

However, one key component that many house church enthusiasts may not be too excited about in the new wine skin is: authority. The government of God will be firmly established and the five-fold ministry will be foundational. No longer can people just do as they please presuming that God is their only authority. We will function within Kingdom government, and we must acknowledge the various leaders in the region.

22 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. If he does, the wine will burst the skins—and the wine is destroyed, and so are the skins. But new wine is for fresh wineskins.” Mark 2:22 (ESV)

HOUSE CHURCH OR LOCAL CHURCH?

Both. Neither. Actually it’s the city church we should be advancing. Local churches are important as larger groups of people lock in to contend for revival and advance the Kingdom. Smaller churches that are more keenly focused will exist in homes along side the rest of the church of the city. Apostles, prophets and other leaders will serve with sobriety and boldness.

The key is having pure motives, honoring all and being faithful to the calling and the process God has given you to steward whether it’s in a local church, house church, apostolic hub, house of prayer or other community of faith.

We all want revival, or, rather, we all think we want revival. We crave God’s presence. We want the fire. But, let’s all be challenged. When the fire comes, will we honestly allow it to consume us? Will we stay devoted, humble and surrendered? Or will we rise up in pride, dissatisfied with the way things are unfolding and move out in rebellion to start an alternate, individualistic, isolated, coven in the church?

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    John Bevere Answers: ‘When Should I Leave My Church?’

    John Bevere Answers: ‘When Should I Leave My Church?'

    I’m often asked, “When should I leave a church or ministry team? How bad does it have to get?”

    I respond, “Who sent you to the church you presently attend?”

    The majority of the time they answer, “God did.”

    “If God sent you,” I reply, “do not leave until God releases you. If the Lord is silent, He is often saying, ‘Don’t change a thing. Do not leave. Stay where I have placed you!’”

    When God does instruct you to leave, you will go out with peace, no matter what the condition of the ministry: “For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace” Is. 55:12, KJV). Therefore, your departure will not be based on the actions or behavior of others but rather on the Spirit’s leading.

    So leaving a ministry is not based on how bad things are. To leave with an offended or critical spirit is not the plan of God. It is reacting rather than acting on His guidance. Romans 8:14 (NKJV) says, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.”

    Notice it does not say, “For as many as react to difficult situations, these are sons of God.”

    Almost every time the word son is used in the New Testament, it comes from the two Greek words teknon and huios. A good definition for the word teknon is “one who is a son by mere fact of birth.”

    When my first son, Addison, was born, he was John Bevere’s son by mere fact that he came from my wife and me. When he was in the nursery in the midst of all the other newborns, you could not recognize him as my son by personality. When friends and family came to visit, they could not pick him out except by the nametag above his crib. He did not possess anything that set him apart. Addison would be considered a teknon of John and Lisa Bevere.

    We find teknon used in Romans 8:15–16. It says that because we have received the spirit of adoption, “the Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children [teknon] of God.” When a person receives Jesus Christ as Lord, he is a child of God by fact of the new birth experience. (See John 1:12.)

    The other Greek word translated sons in the New Testament is huios. Many times it is used in the New Testament to describe “one who can be identified as a son because he displays the character or characteristics of his parents.” As my son Addison grew, he started looking and acting like his father. When Addison was 6, Lisa and I took a trip and left him with my parents. My mother told my wife that Addison was almost a carbon copy of his daddy. His personality was like mine when I was his age. As he has grown, he has become more like his dad. He now can be recognized as John Bevere’s son, not only by the fact of his birth but also by the characteristics and a personality that resemble his father’s.

    So, to put it simply, the Greek word teknon means “babies or immature sons,” and the Greek word huios is most often used to describe “mature sons.”

    Looking at Romans 8:14 again, it reads: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the sons [huios] of God.” We can see clearly here that it is the mature sons who are led by the Spirit of God.

    Immature Christians are less likely to follow the leading of the Spirit of God. Most often they react or respond emotionally or intellectually to circumstances they face. They have not yet learned to act only on the Spirit of God’s leading.

    As Addison grows, he will progress in character development. The more mature he becomes, the more responsibility I will entrust to him. It is wrong for him to stay immature. It is not God’s will that we remain babies.

    One way the character of Addison has grown is by facing difficult situations. When he started school, he met up with some “bullies.” I heard some of the things these rough kids were doing and saying to my son, and I wanted to go and deal with it. But I knew that would be wrong. For me to intervene would hinder Addison’s growth.

    So my wife and I continued to counsel him at home, preparing him to face the persecutions at school. He grew in character through obeying our counsel in the midst of his suffering.

    This is similar to what God does with us. The Bible says, “Though He [Jesus] was a Son [Huios], yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered” (Heb. 5:8, emphasis added).

    Physical growth is a function of time. No 2-year-old child has ever been 6 feet tall. Intellectual growth is a function of learning. Spiritual growth is a function of neither time nor learning, but rather of obedience. Now look at what Peter says: “Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin” (1 Pet. 4:1, emphasis added).

    A person who has ceased from sin is a perfectly obedient child of God. He is mature. He chooses God’s ways, not his own. Just as Jesus learned obedience by the things He suffered, we learn obedience by the difficult circumstances we face. When we obey the Word of God that is spoken by the Holy Spirit, we will grow and mature in times of conflict and suffering.

    Our knowledge of Scripture is not the key. Obedience is.

    Now we understand one reason why we have people in the church who have been Christians for 20 years, who can quote verses and chapters of the Bible, who have heard a thousand sermons and have read many books but still wear spiritual diapers. Every time they meet with difficult situations, rather than responding by the Spirit of God, they seek to protect themselves in their own way. They are “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:7). They never come to the knowledge of the truth because they do not apply it.

    Truth must be allowed to have its way in our lives if we are going to grow and mature. It is not enough to give mental assent to truth without obeying it. Even though we continue to learn, we never mature because of disobedience.

    John Bevere is a popular speaker at conferences and churches and the author of best-sellers The Bait of Satan and The Fear of the Lord. He is host of The Messenger TV show and directs Messenger International ministry. This article was excerpted from his popular book The Bait of Satan.

    Joseph Prince, false-grace and two key threats to revival

    Listen to the final two threats to revival in my teaching series, Ten Threats to Revival. There’s a false-grace message that’s promoted by people like Joseph Prince that is threatening a move of God.

    imageFirst, MERRY CHRISTMAS!

    Our gift to you? A completed series on revival that you can listen to and share with your friends right now! Listen to this teaching here: http://media.johnburton.net/6014999

    The final two threats to revival that I address are:

    • Seeking an enhanced life
    • The lack of an immediate response

    I’ll post the notes below so you can follow along, but I also wanted to share a couple portions from my book Covens in the Church.

    Someone asked me about the call for an immediate response. What if we don’t feel that God is calling us to respond? Here’s my reply:

    That’s a great question!

    Here’s my response that includes what I wrote in my book that addresses this directly:

    Most of the time, our response can’t be attached to our feelings. Basically, we’ll have to move contrary to feeling quite a bit.

    We see in the Gideon story that God did release those who were feeling afraid… but, then, they disqualified themselves from participating in the mission.

    The key story is Joshua. Under Moses, people didn’t respond to their authority rightly, so they didn’t enter the Promised Land and most of them died in the desert.

    Under Joshua, there was precision and immediate response. Nobody stayed back. The call was troublesome and inconvenient, yet everybody was immediately responsive.

    The most important first step is to answer the question of whether you are under the person’s authority or not. If someone regionally makes a call and I am legitimately not under their authority, then I can go to prayer and respond how God leads.

    But, if I am under their authority, there’s no prayer necessary. I simply respond.

    Here’s two sections from my book that deal directly with this:

    As the leader of Revolution House of Prayer I have people who God has appointed as my authority. We call them overseers and they

    are leaders of ministries and people with a mature walk with the Lord. Like the centurion, I am a man under authority.

    Let’s say, for example, I, along with the leadership of Revolution, decide to hold a conference. We go through the tedious process of

    securing guest speakers and figuring out how to administrate the event.

    We spend thousands of dollars promoting the conference on TV, radio and in print. I am a key part of the process as well as the actual event.

    I’ll be teaching in several of the workshops and facilitating the week of activities. A week before the conference I receive a phone call from

    one of my overseers. He tells me he needs me to fly to Alabama to help a church work through a transition from one pastor to another. Their previous pastor just repented of indiscretion and resigned suddenly.

    The problem? It’s during the same week as my conference. I would have a dilemma. Honestly, I don’t want to go to Alabama. In addition to the upcoming conference I have a wedding to officiate among other important tasks. My integrity and reputation, along with my own personal comfort would be at stake. What’s the correct approach to take?

    • Refuse to mention my disagreement with my overseer with anybody–including my wife. There is power of life and death in the tongue. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. I’d have to allow God to break me and cause me to have a pure heart in this matter.
    • Put to death any of my own desires and prepare to surrender to the wishes of my overseer however inconvenient they may be.
    • Meet with my overseer and honestly share all of the concerns and issues at stake. Inform him that I’d prefer not to go and if he could find someone else, I’d really appreciate it.
    • Submit. After a healthy conversation, my overseer states that he appreciates my concerns but he still needs me to go. So, I go.

    I don’t have to pray about my decision. I don’t have to talk with anybody else. I have no option according to God’s established government in my life. I fly to Alabama with a smile on my face. God’s authority has spoken.

    The enemy has caused many to believe that we can’t experience freedom while being submitted. This is simply not true.

    Freedom from authority is rebellion.

    Freedom in the absence of authority is anarchy.

    Freedom under authority is liberty.

    The process of response to my leader described above not only must take place between a pastor and his overseers, but also between a youth pastor and his pastor. Also, between the ministers in the pews and their leaders. We’ll eventually see the city Church established once again and pastors will be submitting to apostles in their city. It’s a process that is quite foreign to most.

    The 100% Church and the Call to Corporate Mission Advance

    This issue of pastors becoming salesmen has forced the rapid growth of para-church ministries. Leaders of para-church ministries have a greater ability to call those people who have partnered with them on their mission field into a position of readiness and response.

    The success of the mission is at a lesser risk as all hands are on deck and ready to go. Pastors don’t always have it as easy.

    For example, a pastor may hear God tell him to gather his flock together and fast from all food for 3 days. In God’s government, there would be no resistance, complaining or negativity. 100% of the participants in the church, who had already made up their mind to be unified and ready to press ahead as warriors for God, would immediately embrace this God given mandate. All would fast. If someone had a concern with the directive, that’s OK. A good servant won’t simply ignore the plan of action, but will rather make the effort to talk to the leader. A good leader will certainly listen to their concerns with compassion.

    Much dialogue can occur. However, at the end of the discussion, the two would be ‘agreed’–moving in the same direction. The events of 1988 in Baton Rouge changed that considerably.

    Now, the process that poor pastor must go through when the need to call the troops to action is enough to cause him to resign!

    1. He studies endlessly in the Word so he can ‘cover all of his bases’. He is already preparing his heart for resistance–the resistance that was perpetuated back in 1988.
    2. Due to this certain impending resistance, he prays long and hard for God to help him cast vision and sell this strategy to the church by giving him ‘the words to say’.
    3. He shares his impression that God wants this three-day fast with his leadership team, hoping to gain support. He knows he’ll need it.
    4. He looks at the schedule to make sure he doesn’t offend anybody by scheduling the fast during a time when someone else has already planned his or her own event.
    5. He prays again asking God for more insight as to the purpose of the fast. He wants to make sure he has enough info so as to effectively sell this idea to the people.
    6. He stresses out when God doesn’t give further insight.
    7. He starts to guess how many will actually respond so he can devise a plan to effectively make sure those who don’t respond don’t feel alienated. After all, an affirmed and happy family is very important.
    8. He then shares how he ‘feels led’ that God ‘would like’ the church to fast. Those who also ‘feel led’ should sign up in the back as they leave.
    9. The same five or six people who show up for everything sign up and the rest of the sheet is left blank. It’s a monument of a failed mission.
    10. The next time God says something, the pastor will be even less zealous in sharing the dream.

    Here are my notes from last night’s teaching:

    1. Threat 9. Seeking an Enhanced Life

    1.       People generally want God to make their current lives better. They want an enhancement, an upgrade.

    2.       However, the demands of revival include the willingness to embrace a fire that won’t warm your flesh—it will consume your flesh.

    3.       I wonder if the church would listen to “prophetic words for 2013” if they included extreme surrender & death to self instead of benefits.

    1.       We should certainly understand that the great and terrible day of the Lord is at near! We are living as in the days of Noah.

    2.       “I Thess. 5:2,3 …the day of the Lord comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them…”

    1.       “Just as false prophets of old fraudulently forecast a bright future, in spite of the imminence of God's judgment (Jer.6:14, 8:11,14:13-14; Lam.2:14; Ezek. 13:10,16; Mic. 3:5) so they will again in future days just before the final Day of the Lord destruction.”

    2.       Ezekiel 13:15-16 (ESV) 15 Thus will I spend my wrath upon the wall and upon those who have smeared it with whitewash, and I will say to you, The wall is no more, nor those who smeared it, 16 the prophets of Israel who prophesied concerning Jerusalem and saw visions of peace for her, when there was no peace, declares the Lord GOD.

    3.       Matthew 24:36-39 (ESV) 36  “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37  For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38  For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39  and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

    3.       I was chatting with a pastor from Quebec… he said people call him the ‘death pastor’… because he is unrelenting in his call to die to self.

    1.       What??!

    2.       Somehow it’s a derogatory thing to call people to lay down their lives?

    3.       Messages of personal benefit are rampant. Joseph Prince is teaching a very dangerous message.

    1.       No confession, no repentance, no way to lose salvation.

    4.       Evan Roberts called for people to gather—but not all people—only those who were willing to make a total surrender.

    1.       Revival doesn’t enhance lives, it crushes them. If we attempt to advance with a semi-surrendered people, the fire simply will not fall.

    2.       It’s not that blessing won’t come…but there are a lot of people who are looking for an enhancement to lives that are actually on agenda to be broken, not built up.

    3.       We don’t want life as we know it to become better! We have to lay that life on the altar and trade it for the cross!

    1.       It’s the same thing that was happening when the money changers were in the temple.

    1.       They wanted a better life.

    2.       It’s the same thing that happened at the triumphal entry.

    3.       Matthew 21:8-9 (ESV) 8 Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”

    1.       Hosanna literally means: Save us now!

    2.       They wanted an enhanced life!

    3.       Jesus decided to answer their cry, but when they realized it wasn’t what they wanted, they turned on him!

    4.       That spirit is in the church everywhere!

    5.       Matthew 27:20-23 (ESV) 20 Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. 21 The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” 22 Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified!” 23 And he said, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”

    5.       Since I’ve been in Detroit I’ve heard a lot about revival. It seems the whole region is crying out for it. However, this is where the root of the disturbance in my spirit exists.

    1.       Most every time revival is mentioned, the intent of that desire is to experience some sort of breakthrough, blessing or restitution.

    2.       It’s time we STOP crying out for God to revive the economy, for resolved issues, for racial tensions to subside, for a fixed city… and START crying out for God and God alone!

    3.    God is jealous and he won’t allow Detroit to be satisfied by money, security or anything else until we are satisfied in Him and no one or nothing else!

    4.    Jesus’ own disciples fell into the trap too… they focused on the enhancement instead of the mission!

    1.    Acts 1:6-11 (ESV) 6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

    6.       DO NOT expect revival until we return to our first love and lay down our lives daily. It WILL NOT COME! In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if the situation in this region got dramatically worse. The choice is ours, however.

    7.       It’s absolutely shocking to me that so much emphasis is placed on the pursuit of breakthrough yet the call to breakthrough into a pursuit of God falls on deaf ears.

    8.       Will we only gather and pray if we have a hope of personal blessing?

    1.       Where are all of the hungry people in Detroit? The stadiums should be filled with zealous, praying people every night of the week! Have the cares of life and entertainment so bewitched us that we have become convinced that being with God is not worth it?

    9.    I propose starting a movement of encounter which only has one goal—to be fully satisfied in enjoying and responding to the Lover of our souls. Nothing else matters. If we all have to live in a cardboard box on the streets of Detroit to encounter God, so be it! Our goal is not financial! It’s not selfish! It’s to be with God! That is all!

    1. Threat 10. A Lack of Immediate Response

    1.       We must develop a ‘drop everything ‘culture. An ‘all hands on deck’ culture.

    1.       There will be regular calls to prayer, calls to action… monthly, weekly, that will require a ‘drop everything’ culture.

    2.       My intercessors know this… if I send them an issue, depending on the severity, they drop everything… they get on a conference call… they pray.

    3.       If we have fallen into the trap of seeking an enhanced life, we won’t respond to the inconvenient call!

    1.       This is a major danger in the church today!

    2.       We’ll say, I don’t see how my life will be enhanced by participating, so I will hold back.

    3.       This is why we teach people in theLab to be alert… to always be on time… we don’t break for holidays… we don’t excuse people for vacations… it’s a drop everything culture of consecration.

    4.       This model isn’t just for theLab!!!! This is the life of the Believer!!!!!

    5.       Christmas morning at IHOP is just like any other day of the week! They stay on the wall… they don’t relax the mandate.

    6.       Let me set you free from a Christian cop out.

    1.       When called to action, don’t ever say, “I’ll pray about it”… unless you are truly going to invest some hard core prayer and then report back exactly what God said!

    2.       To say that we’ll pray about it… and then do what we want to do instead of exactly what God said to do whether we pray or not… is taking the Lord’s name in vain!

    1.       If we tell people that God said that we aren’t to do something when God never said that at all is taking his name in vain!

    2.       Most things don’t require praying about… and we’re a praying church!

    3.       In a drop everything culture where the prophetic calls are constant, if everybody just stopped everything to pray about whether they should respond or not nothing would ever be accomplished.

    4.       Check out a couple passages in Joel:

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

    3.       And in Joel 2:

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

    1.       The people are saying “Where is their God!!!!!!!!”

    2.       Connecticut! Where was God!!!! Church!!!! Are we so asleep that we don’t see this?

    3.       We have to gather!!!!! Be together!!! Be instant!!! Pray!!!! Always!!!!!!

    4.       At 5pm every Sunday, be in the prayer room!!! Cry out to the Lord!!!

    2.       We live in a day where there's Twitter, email, Facebook, video and more… in every house in the city!!! We have phones that are many times smarter than the computer that took a rocket to the moon!

    3.       There is no excuse to not hear and respond to the prophetic decrees moment by moment!

    4.       We must be alert and ready! Alarms are being sounded, yet are any hearing?

    5.       The call a couple of years ago was for every church to gather at Fire in February. Few responded. The same thing with The Call. Few responded. The prophets are calling the church of Detroit to respond, and immediately!

    4.       This is one reason why church schedules must be flexible.

    5.       It’s also a reason why daily meetings are critical.

    6.       When prophetic instruction is received, the entire region must know about it right away, and the people must respond.

    1.       The Manitou way of doing things… continual data, continual response.

    2.       Luke 9:59-62 (ESV) 59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

    3.       We have to learn to do two things:

    1.       Embrace key prophets in the region

    2.       Stay tuned in, stay in your email, stay ready for an urgent message that just may require you respond in hours time!

    7.       In Joshua 3, the instructions were clear, and everybody responded in unison.

    1.       Consecrate yourselves today…for tomorrow!!!!

    8.       There’s no way to fulfill this mighty mission if we are only together one day a week (actually 2 hours a week!).

    1.       There’s way too much work to be done!

    2.       As an example, Mike Bickle recently called an urgent meeting. Most of the departments at IHOP in Kansas City were immediately closed and the people all gathered together to receive an urgent prophetic message.

    3.       In Detroit, we must promote extreme alertness and flexibility so we can respond moment by moment to the demands of regional revival.

    4.       If we are mostly focused on our local, personal ventures, we’ll stay disconnected from the greater, regional mission. The response won’t be what is necessary and revival will most likely never come.

    Pro-church/Pro-leader Cohesion Event

    Pro-church/Pro-leader Cohesion Event

    In addition to my thrill ride as the senior leader at Revival Church in the Detroit region, an equally thrilling mission of mine is to bring a message of revival and unity to churches around the world.

    It would be an honor to talk with you (or your Senior Pastor) about bringing a Cohesion Event to your church. See my bio, recommendations, teaching videos, TV interviews, articles, books I've written and more at www.johnburton.net/booking.

    We would have a lot of fun and your local mission would experience a serious surge of strength and life as I minister messages including:

    • Covens in the Church (The body's responsibility to submit to authority for the same of mission advance)
    • Carry Like Mary (A message of awakening and positioning)
    • Becoming Unoffendable (My most popular teaching)
    • A Spirit of Insignificance (Freedom from rejection and insignificance)
    • And more!

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    RECOMMENDATIONS

    "John is dangerously prophetic, provoking passion in those in pursuit of revival. In just a few short years, I have witnessed the impact of his obedience to Christ in a region bound by division & religion. His mandate is one of radical devotion, raising up burning ones and releasing them into new levels in their kingdom assignment."

    Marcellis Smith, Lead Pastor
    Jubilee City
    Detroit, MI 


    "John Burton is a modern day revivalist that sees and wants the heart of God rise up in this present generation! I highly recommend him for any ministry you may be considering. In my opinion, he is like a modern day John the Baptist going ahead preparing people for the Lord! We had him in our church and we were not disappointed and neither will you!"

    Pastor Tim Martin


    "John Burton is a man who has continued to allow himself to be thrust into the middle of what God is doing. He not only hears from Heaven, but is willing to boldly shout it from the rooftops. If John is stirred about something, I would recommend that you listen."

    J.D. King, International Director World Revival Network of Ministries


    John Burton is a man with unquenchable passion for God. His life is a living Epistle of the truth that the Kingdom of God is not just in word, but in power. He lights fires wherever he goes leaving behind the unmistakable fragrance of the life of Christ. I highly recommend his ministry to you.

    Glenn Bleakney


    I highly recommend John’s ministry! Can’t wait to do some meetings together with him!

    Pastor Brian Simmons


    “If you are in a room with John Burton for more than 10 minutes and you don’t have a fire in your belly, I would check your pulse. This man is a fire starter and it’s catchy! John is a revivalist who burns with a passion to see cities and nations set ablaze with love for Jesus! He is a gifted writer, preacher and prophetic minister. He has clear vision and strategy for city wide breakthrough of revival. I highly encourage you to invite his team at TheLab to your church if you are in need of corporate breakthrough!”

    Julia Palermo

    Revival Infographic : Covens in the Church tomorrow

    Wonder what it will take for revival to break out? Evan Roberts knows first hand.

    FIRST: Audit theLab class COVENS IN THE CHURCH tomorrow (Saturday) from 10am-2pm. Just show up and pay $15 at the door and get ready for a message that will set you free! If you struggle with submission to authority, this class is for you!

    Church-Attendance-Infographic-web_thumb[3]

    Press Release : John Burton’s new book Pharaoh in the Church is now available!

    Prepare for a dramatic escape into the Cloud of Glory

    Pharaoh-in-the-Church-Box-Shot-032511FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: John Burton’s new book Pharaoh in the Church is now available

    Grosse Pointe Park, MI – March 25, 2011 The follow-up to the controversial and life-impacting book Covens in the Church, Pharaoh in the Church is a call for church leaders to allow the congregation to drop the bricks they are using to build the kingdoms of man—and to lead them in the spirit of Moses into the wilderness of encounter.

    This book is a burning message, an Exodus call that originated in at least a small way like the original Exodus call in a burning bush. Moses experienced the zeal of the deliverer to see His people free to encounter Him. The goal of this book is for you to discover the pounding heart of God in a way that, I believe, will result in a deep and resounding cry of agreement to embrace a radical revolution in the church.

    John Burton has been in ministry since 1991 and has written six books including 20 Elements of Revival, Revelation Driven Prayer and Six Enemies of Fulfilled Destiny.  He was recently featured on the Miracle Channel (www.miraclechannel.ca) as he discussed the thrill and importance of living a prophetic life.

    John also planted Revolution Church in Manitou Springs, Colorado, directed an internship at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri and gave leadership to a city-wide prayer initiative in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

    ORDER NOW at https://www.createspace.com/3533475

    ALSO, COMING SOON, THE REVISED VERSION OF 20 ELEMENTS OF REVIVAL

    Twenty-Elements-of-Revival-Box-ShotThis is the most popular of John’s six books, and has received extremely high marks for it’s potential for dramatic impact on the church:

    I just finished reading 20 Elements of Revival. Everyone should read this book! I wish I had the cash for a case of this book. Seriously! I keep thinking of more people who NEED a copy of it! It’s very, very, very rare for me to feel this way about a book other than the Bible.-Kathi Sharpe

    I just finished your book, 20 Elements of Revival. Wow! This is it. If the Church/House of Prayer at large could get this into their hands and read it before they opened the doors we could actually change the world! I’ve been talking to our leadership team- this book is #1 for all of our Core Leadership. It should be in the hands of every leader in the Body. – Luann Zettle, International House of Prayer East Detroit

    Just finished reading the two books you gave me…and I am buzzing in the Holy Spirit! My wife and I had an hour conversation about the depth of their implications. You have nailed it my friend. I have met few people who have put all this together….and I am in awe and grateful. I want all our leadership team to especially read 20 Elements of Revival. –Tim Johns

    My next book is almost done : Pharaoh in the Church

    The follow-up to Covens in the Church is almost ready to send to print

    Covens in the Church is a book that has set a lot of people free, and my prayer is that Pharaoh in the Church will have the same effect.pharaoh

    The first book was targeted at the body as it presented the case for humility and submission to authority as it relates to mission advance.

    Pharaoh in the Church is directed at pastors and leaders. It’s a call to relieve the body from making bricks and building the kingdoms of man and to take on the mantel of Moses. It’s time to lead the church into a time of reformation that very possibly may have greater impact than the reformation that launched under Martin Luther.

    I’m also considering redesigning both book covers. I may, and I may not… what do you think? Take a look at both here: http://ow.ly/i/6eSI

    Here’s a portion from the book:


    CHAPTER ONE
    A Shocking Shift in the Church

    Its days are numbered.  I don’t know what that number is, but it isn’t large.  In fact, the beginnings of change are here.  You can feel the temperature fluctuating as the days are suddenly growing shorter.  We’re in a transitional season that will ultimately result in the rebirthing and reintroduction of a long forgotten biblical structure– the church.
        This change, as I stated in the introduction and thoroughly investigated in the sister book Covens in the Church, is not, as many believe, an exodus from the relationship with Christian leaders, but it is most certainly an exodus.  In fact, it’s an exodus that will either invigorate or irritate leaders across our nation. 
        You see, there is a God-ordained and God-initiated revolution taking form.  It is quite simple to understand that resistance to God’s process is always a tragic mistake and that embracing God’s process always guarantees success (God never fails).  Revolution, by definition, is drastic and momentous change.  It’s shocking and it’s shaking.  It will rock every one of us as the process unfolds before us, but those who will trust God’s wisdom will survive–and thrive as humble, faithful and tested men and women of almighty God.

    The Spirit of Absalom/20 Elements of Revival teaching

    The Spirit of Absalom

    This has to be the fastest I’ve ever uploaded a message… but it had a great response, and I thought you’d be impacted as you listen to it.

    Just a few hours ago I taught on the divisive spirit of Absalom… it’s one of my most requested teachings, and it sheds a bright light on the brilliance of the enemy to draw God’s people to himself.

    You can listen to the teaching at http://media.johnburton.net/2217921

    Also, here’s some diagrams for you to follow along with the part of the teaching on the spirit of Absalom. It’s from my book, Covens in the Church.

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