We don’t contend for God’s love or for a position in Christ! Understand the difference between healthy and unhealthy striving and be set FREE!
SECURE IN OUR IDENTITY
The subject of contending often leads people to presume we are contending for God’s love, or for our position in Christ. This is not the case.
We must have a fervent, contending, striving spirit, and that can only come as we are secure in our position in Christ.
We can't help but to contend for souls, for revelation, in intercession, for godliness, etc. as we are set in our position in Christ.
1 Timothy 4:7-10 (ESV) 7 … train yourself for godliness; 8 for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 9 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. 10 For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.
We strive not to have our hope set, but because our hope IS set!
Yes, you are seated in heavenly places with Christ Jesus!
You don't have to spend your energy attempting to convince God to affirm you, love you or advocate for you. The cross resolved that!
Now, you can be free to contend in the Spirit for revival, revelation, breakthrough and souls!
Exclusively for CoFI Media Partners—a brand new teaching series is available! “Orphans No More!”
No more excuses: Don’t let an orphan spirit keep you from fulfilling your destiny! Elizabeth had to be delivered from her barrenness to deliver John the Baptist and Mary had to miraculously overcome the fact she was a virgin to bring our Lord Jesus into the world. It’s time for the issue of fatherlessness to, in the same way, be overcome by the power of God!
I agree that it’s widely acknowledged today that there’s a serious problem with fatherlessness and orphan spirits in the church and in the world.
I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me. 1 Corinthians 4:14-16
It’s true that spiritual fathers are needed, and it’s also true that sons and daughters must discover their true identities-and those identities are not dependent on whether fathers appear in their lives or not. It’s much deeper than that.
The sins of the fathers are significant, and they impact the succeeding generations dramatically. The call is for every one of us as sons or daughters to break off generational destruction and align ourselves with Father God. If we don’t, the devastation will continue. Children of God arise!
Are you already a partner? You can listen HERE!
Pray for Bruce (not Caitlyn) Jenner. If we don’t discover who we are in Christ, and who Christ is in us, a crisis is all we can expect.
It’s easy to read about Bruce Jenner’s transition away from his God-given gender identity and experience a range of thoughts and emotions: sadness, compassion, anger, disgust, confusion
Certainly the appropriate reactions for blood-bought Christians should include intense intercession for Bruce, thankfulness for God’s power to keep us free from the enemy’s assaults in our lives and prayer for a better understanding of the issue of identity. Every one of us is at risk of losing our grip on our own identity if we don’t understand who we are in Christ and who Christ is in us.
Galatians 2:20 (ESV) 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
The answer to finding ourselves is to lose ourselves—to die. The old is to pass away so the new can come.
2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV) 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
THE PURSUIT OF IDENTITY
Any youth pastor will tell you the issue of identity confusion, whether it’s gender based or not, is not unusual. Young people are famous for attempting to find and express their “true selves” by altering their bodies through tattoos, piercings, funky hair colors and various other methods. Of course, it’s not the outward manifestation that’s concerning. It’s the despair within that’s resulting in gasping for validation.
They are also experimenting with alternate sexual experiences, exhibiting attitudes of independence and becoming more narcissistic than possibly any generation in history. They are looking for life that makes sense and truly has meaning.
The problem? Without dying to self we can never discover our true identity.
Without Jesus, Bruce Jenner is hopeless—regardless of whether he struggles with gender identity or not. Eternity is a small and rapidly decreasing number of heartbeats away and he will live, as Bruce Jenner, not Caitlyn, for trillions of years (forever) in horrifying, unending torment—a never ending panic attack.
The same is true for every person who has ever lived on the earth. For those who don’t radically, completely die to their own pursuits and their own selfish identities and decide to make Jesus Christ the supreme loving master of their lives, Hell is their future. This is truth. This is terror.
However, the glorious promise for Bruce and everyone is that we can die to our flesh and experience a sudden invasion of love, freedom and clarity about the identity of Christ—and how that brings the definition to our own identity that is so fleeting without God.
John 8:32 (ESV) 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
With the increasing hostility toward God in our culture, people’s only remaining hope is to discover self through the magnification of their own desires and inclinations.
This confusion is being celebrated today with exuberance.
How often have you heard about a married man realizing that he is gay—and then leaving his marriage and his children to live life as he was “created to?” Increasingly that man is celebrated for having the courage to “come out” and live how he was supposedly designed to.
What if that same man abandoned his wife and children not because he discovered his homosexuality, but rather because he discovered his promiscuity? Would he be honored for having the courage to sleep with another woman? Just what is the difference?
Our culture is becoming increasingly nonsensical.
Isaiah 5:20-21 (ESV) 20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! 21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!
This confusion is leading people to attempt resolution to past sins and struggles in some of the most extreme and bizarre ways. The enemy is most definitely stealing, killing and destroying in unprecedented fashion.
After admitting mistakes as a husband and father Bruce Jenner said, “I have high hopes that Caitlyn is a better person than Bruce. I’m very much looking forward to that.”
He is hoping that a transformation into a new identity—his true identity—can bring healing and strength. He is right. However, the transition isn’t from Bruce to Caitlyn or from man to woman. It’s from old man to new. His only hope is Jesus.
His announcement that he is changing his gender identification shouldn’t bring a celebration. His confusion is heart wrenching—and all of us who have been at one time dead in our sins (which is all of us) should relate to it.
The answer isn’t to encourage and celebrate a humanistic adventure of self discovery. That will only lead to hopelessness and increased despair, even if it brings a short lived respite.
Bruce Jenner, talking about how people didn’t understand what he was going through even at the height of his Olympic success: “Little did they know I was totally empty inside.”
He then continues to share why he decided to go through with his gender transition: “I’m not doing this to be interesting. I’m doing this to live.”
Bruce’s answer is not in becoming a woman in the hopes of starting over. It’s in allowing Jesus to forgive him and heal his past wounds. True peace can be his!
Hebrews 10:17 (ESV) 17 …“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
Romans 5:1 (ESV) 1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Without Jesus Bruce Jenner will always experience desperation. He freely admits he has been in trauma for decades.
How is it that such emptiness can dominate a person’s life for so long and Jesus is never invited in?
I’m not only talking about Bruce’s terribly sad situation. Countless others, including Christians, live every day in depression, despair, confusion, bondage to sin and powerlessness. All too often they turn to self-discovery methods and desire satisfaction in the hopes that they can find life. They transition not from man to woman, but from one deception to another, from one sin to another, from one attitude to another.
John 8:34 (ESV) 34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.
The answer is to surrender. Fully. Gloriously. Give Jesus leadership and refuse to seek after fulfillment in any way other than him. The love you experience will answer every question.
Romans 5:6-8 (ESV) 6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
FALSE HUMAN RIGHTS
This spirit of entitlement convinces us to look inward and fight for our perceived rights. After all, we have a right to be whoever we want, right? We can express it in most any way we desire, according to today’s cultural standard. This attitude is fueled by pride that results in the pursuit of personal attention, gain and satisfaction.
Isaiah 14:12–15: How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How are you cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations! For you have said in your heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet you shall be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
Lucifer was focused on self—entitlement. This pride resulted in destruction beyond anything we could measure. He fell and weakened the nations simply because he was focused on self!
Because of Lucifer’s attitude, millions of people have been destroyed, the Holocaust terrorized a generation, an ancient flood destroyed the masses, 55 million American babies have been murdered and Hell is growing in size to hold the increasing number of people who will live there for eternity.
Yes, a spirit of entitlement destroys.
Proverbs 16:18: Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
Proverbs 11:2: When pride comes, then comes shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.
Proverbs 18:12: Before destruction the heart of man is haughty, and before honor is humility.
It’s easy to rally around one who’s operating in a spirit of entitlement, especially if they are pursuing a self-defining, self-satisfying identity that can be related to. People will champion another’s perceived rights if it means their own pursuits will be strengthened by it. The unity around false human rights is resulting in increased confusion, radical rebellion and an anti-Christ spirit growing in power in our culture.
Again, the answer is to surrender to Jesus. We need a move of God like no other time in history.
It absolutely breaks my heart that Bruce Jenner and others have seen no clear remedy to their many human struggles, fears, sins and disturbances. Where is the victorious church? They can’t find the power. They can’t imagine what deliverance would feel like. This, church, is on us.
PRAY FOR BRUCE JENNER
Bruce’s destiny is in Jesus, as a son. He is entitled to abundant life not because of his human determination to thrive, but because of Jesus’ determination to die for him.
John 1:12 (KJV) 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
John 10:10 (ESV) 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
I once met someone who had quite a testimony. He was born a male and then underwent a complete sex change operation. After living as a woman he met Jesus—and made the decision to live in his permanently altered “female” body as a man, just as God created him. That man is a champion. That man should be celebrated for his bravery to die to self and surrender all.
There is always hope when Jesus is involved.
Bruce will never be a female. He can, however, be a son of God. Let’s believe together that he is touched by the unmistakable power of the Holy Spirit and falls in deeply love with him. His confusion will be replaced with clarity and his old man will make way for the new. What a mighty celebration we will have the moment that happens!
Listen to a very interesting and important teaching about a church in crisis: Almost Homosexual
My heart is provoked to see 50+ churches launched in the Detroit region, and many others around the world. I am currently praying about what this looks like. Pray with me as God reveals his heart for revival style churches launching all around!
Visit the site here: www.revivaltribe.com
You can listen to the audio Almost Homosexual: Church in Crisis here: media.johnburton.net/2661671
You can follow along with my notes as you listen if you’d prefer. I taught this last night to my staff.
theLab Staff 072612 Almost Homosexual
I. Come Full
a. One of the traps of being involved with a ministry based on prayer is that we can unwittingly use the ministry for our own personal edification.
i. We can minimize our own life of prayer in the hopes that the activity at church will make up for it.
ii. It won’t.
1. We must become well accustomed to praying fervently, alone.
2. Romans 12:11-12 (ESV) 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
a. Fervent: hot, boiling
3. Romans 15:30 (ESV) 30 I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf,
a. Fervent, urgent
4. James 5:16 (KJV) 16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
a. Fervent: To be active, to be mighty in, to work
iii. E.M. Bounds: Our Lord warns us against feeble praying. "Men ought always to pray," He declares, "and not to faint."
iv. E.M. Bounds: The atmosphere about us is too heavily charged with resisting forces for limp or languid prayers to make headway. It takes heat, and fervency and meteoric fire, to push through, to the upper heavens, where God dwells with His saints, in light.
v. E.M. Bounds: While fervency is not prayer, yet it derives from an earnest soul, and is precious in the sight of God. Fervency in prayer is the precursor of what God will do by way of answer. God stands pledged to give us the desire of our hearts in proportion to the fervency of spirit we exhibit, when seeking His face in prayer.
b. When we lose this intimate and active encounter with God, we unwittingly embrace spirits that are out for our destruction.
II. Almost Homosexual
Almost homosexual: A crisis in the church
As I begin this urgent and troubling prophetic message, I must do my best to make several points extremely clear.
- God is passionately jealous and zealous for his beautiful bride, the church. His emotions are extreme and deep as he yearns for love fueled intimacy with those he laid down his life for. His affection cannot be described by even the most romantic or poetic language.
- When I mention the church in this message, I am referring to the global body of Christ. The global bride of Christ. I’m fully aware and thankful that there are many local expressions of the church that are radically surrendered and given to the lover of their souls—Jesus Christ.
- The primary points I will expound on have little to do with sexuality, or sexual sin. You will have to intentionally keep this in mind so as to ensure you understand the issues when I deal with the spirits behind homosexuality and how these spirits are being embraced in the church (again, the global church; or, the church in general).
Jer 17:9 "The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it? 10 I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.
This is a powerful verse, and the more time we spend on our face in the presence of God, the more we realize how true it is.
Before we can go any further, we have to all agree on the above point that is found in Jeremiah 17: Our hearts are both deceitful and wicked. What does this mean? Very simply, it’s possible and common for impure motives to be rooted deeply in us even though we may be devoted followers of Christ.
The more time I spend in prayer the easier it is for the Lord to dig deep and bring to the surface issues that wouldn’t normally be evident. My heart has harbored pride at times though at the surface I felt meek. Other times I’ve verbally forgiven people, but then the Holy Spirit revealed to me a deeper reality—that I hadn’t truly done so.
This is why we must not only be OK with messages like this one, but we have to eagerly invite God to shine his burning light into every part of our lives.
Is 6:5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”
When God is in our midst, a revelation of our own sin and issues are made known. A key problem today is that God’s manifest presence isn’t with us as He should be! Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy. He is the Revelation. He is the Word. Where God is, revelation is. You can’t separate the two.
As God, in his burning love for us, reveals our hearts to us, we will find ourselves falling to our knees.
God is calling the church to massive repentance.
God has suddenly revisited me with a prophetic word that shocked me and those I shared it with a few years ago—and he’s added to the revelation.
Trust me, I’ve waited several days before deciding to write this (I usually write prophetic words the moment I receive them). I’ve considered the trouble it may bring. I’ve also considered God’s thoughts about the matter and I’ve chosen to trust his wisdom that this will free many more people than it will disturb. God’s word and his wisdom must return to the pulpits again.
"If Jesus had preached the same message that ministers preach today, He would never have been crucified." — Leonard Ravenhill
Deuteronomy 4:23-24 (ESV) 23 Take care, lest you forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which he made with you, and make a carved image, the form of anything that the LORD your God has forbidden you. 24 For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
God is jealous of his church—and the spirits that have not only invaded the church, but that have been embraced by the church, have made him jealous indeed.
As I was on the airplane flying into Colorado a few years ago, the Lord surprised me with a strong and striking word for the church. I was shaking.
The church is almost homosexual.
This is a word that I’m confident is tearing at the heart of God… he’s watching his bride become bewitched.
Question—Is it possible that we in the church are close to embracing the same spirits that fuel the homosexual agenda?
As I was watching the mountains of Colorado draw closer during the final approach to the airport that day, the Lord revealed three drivers of the homosexual agenda:
Understand—the driver of the homosexual agenda is not same-sex attraction, but rather there are strong deceiving spirits of pride, self-promotion and identity, and lust.
I was on a train where two homosexual girls were very visibly hanging on each other, making it very clear that they were together. Their actions were not a result of raging hormones, but rather, they were making a bold declaration, a prideful pronouncement of their chosen identity as lesbians.
They wanted to force affirmation, be noticed and demand acceptance and equality.
"All of the acceptable sins in church are keeping us sick."-Steve Gray
"Be careful about what you think is innocent. It may come back and choke you."- Steve Gray
The church has been bewitched by the same spirits that give fuel to the homosexual agenda—and this is a primary reason we have not had success in winning homosexuals to Jesus. We can’t cast out the same demonic spirits we embrace.
We’ve all heard of gay pride. Pride is a hallmark of the homosexual movement, and, all too often, it’s a driver of the church as well.
I hear continually that it’s rare to find a church where the tangible, manifest presence of God can be experienced. I believe, sadly, there are more Ichabod churches than we realize. An Ichabod church is simply a church that is devoid of God’s glory. The ark of God’s presence has been captured. It doesn’t mean God hates that church. Quite the opposite—He is grieved that he must be removed from his lover, his bride.
1 Samuel 4:21-22 (ESV) 21 And she named the child Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel!” because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband. 22 And she said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.”
1 Peter 5:5 (ESV) 5…Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
You may not have thought about it this way, but God, though he loves so deeply, actually opposes, or resists, those who are proud. God’s glory departs.
We live in a culture where we fight for success, we jockey for position and we can’t imagine being hidden or failing. Compromise has consumed the church as it seeks success, a larger building, more people, more influence, more money and other demands. Pride has resulted in worship of images made of gold where humility demands the gold is given as worship to God. Pride has resulted in worshiping a packed house where humility calls for laying down our lives for even one.
We wonder why the church isn’t having more success in the culture.
I believe a key reason is that we are attempting to attack worldly pride with religious pride. We are actually retaining the services of the very same demons that we are attempting to battle! A spirit of pride! God resists the proud! Is it possible that we are attempting to change culture from a position of religious pride all while God is not standing with us?
When humility reigns, the church will have the grace that God promises in 1 Peter 5.
This point is the most burning issue in my spirit right now.
I am fully given to seeing people step into their destinies, discover their true identity in Christ and finding freedom from lies and emotional scars that the enemy has given them. It’s a significant focus of my own ministry.
However, we have a growing problem.
- Focus is on self more often that it is on God.
- Focus is on living more than it is on dying daily.
1 Corinthians 4:10-13 (ESV) 10 We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. 11 To the present hour we hunger and thirst, we are poorly dressed and buffeted and homeless, 12 and we labor, working with our own hands. When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; 13 when slandered, we entreat. We have become, and are still, like the scum of the world, the refuse of all things.
Please understand, I believe we are seated in Heavenly places with Christ Jesus. We are kings and priests. We have great authority. We have overcome. We are the head and not the tail, above and not beneath.
But, our identities, when rightfully understood, don’t lead us to focusing mostly on personal benefit. When we embrace the cross of Christ, which is where our identities originate, we are now focused on going low, humbling ourselves, serving with passion and identifying with the scum of the world—so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.
A focus on our own benefits, our own healings, our own identities as it relates to personal gain has actually resulted in us aligning with a key spirit that drives the homosexual movement.
Just as with homosexuals, God loves them and us too deeply to affirm a false identity—no matter how desirable and convincing that identity may be! God’s wisdom is much higher than ours, and it takes humility to admit that.
This is a huge, huge point!
When we fight for a false identity that feels so overwhelmingly a part of us, and when our focus is on acceptance, affirmation and human rights, we give up the call to die to our own desires. Suddenly securing our own identity is more important than serving the masses.
The goal is not to be affirmed, accepted, liked or honored. We aren’t to look for equality. We don’t compare ourselves with others. We can’t make demands when life is unfair. The church is to die so that others may life. Our identity is to be fully and entirely in Christ.
An improper attention given to the pursuit of identity (acceptance, affirmation, etc.) causes us to forsake the call to focus on our mission for the sake of devotion to narcissism. This is where the temptation to disobey God and submit to the demands of man can happen.
"For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice." James 3:16
Lust is oozing through the church today. Yes, it’s true that sexual lust is rampant as pornography has been viewed by as many as 50% of Christian men recently.
However, lust is not limited to the sexual variety.
Simply ask the question, “What causes you to get excited, to come alive?”
Many honest Christians would admit that everything from money to fame to popularity to sex could be the answers.
James 1:14-15 (ESV) 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
Lust results in death. It really is that simple. The life is sucked right out of people. Suicide is on the rise. Eternal death is another threat as well.
This is a tragic reality in the church today—we’ve lost our first love! False intimacy in the form of lust has take the place of a deep, satisfying, truly intimate and never ending encounter with Jesus! He yearns for us while his beautiful bride is yearning for other lovers!
The church has lost its desire for intimacy with Jesus. Many Christians don’t even know what it is to be overwhelmed by his deep, burning love. Jesus is more of a principle or a foreign character in a book than he is a real, tangible, literal person you can feel.
This lack of revelation and encounter in a very intimate, life giving way with Jesus has resulted in one more comparison with the homosexual movement:
The bride is becoming intimate with the bride.
What does that mean?
We have become more interested in reproducing after our own kind than in receiving a fresh impartation directly from God himself. How does this play out? Several ways:
- We become enthralled with a certain stream in the body (Word of Faith, house of prayer, etc.) and want to have a relationship with that stream hoping that it produces life.
- We turn to other people in the church instead of to God through prayer and study of the Word in the hopes that the union can result in the outcome we are looking for.
- We are move connected socially to people than we are spiritually to God.
- We believe our church growth comes through people, so we comprise the mission, cancel prayer, water down the message and get intimate with the body!
An intimate union with God will result in a fresh stream birthing through your ministry!
A deep encounter with Jesus will bring the results that a million human counselors never could!
“You can have all of your doctrines right—yet still not have the presence of God.”Leonard Ravenhill
Intimacy. Repentance. Falling in love with Jesus. Humility.
Yes, fervent, zealous prayer must return to our churches again!
2 Chronicles 7:14-16 (NKJV) 14 if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15 Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. 16 For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.
We cannot anymore develop systems that enhance our own identities, stroke our pride or fuel our lust for power, recognition or anything else.
It’s time again to declare the cross, holiness, humility and passion from our pulpits and on our faces!
The core call is for a movement of humility and holiness.
It’s a call to become broken and undone, desperate and deeply intimate with Jesus.
It’s a call to a fasted lifestyle, to full surrender and complete saturation in the advance of the Kingdom.
It’s a call to the deeply humble, yet powerfully bold life of John the Baptist.
Are we ready to let the Lover of our souls invade the deepest parts of our inner man? He is wooing his glorious bride back to him…will we respond?
Song of Songs 1:4 (ESV) 4 Draw me after you; let us run. The king has brought me into his chambers.
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.