3: marked by originality and verve <audacious experiments>
Every definition of the word audacious fits perfectly in the definition of the mission of the church. It certainly does for the church I am so honored to lead, Revival Church in the Detroit area.
In a season where most of the church in the Western world has been marginalized, the time is now for daring, bold, and yes, reckless leaders to pierce a stagnant, stale and religious culture with the sharp sword of the Spirit of the Lord. Now is the time for burning men and women to shock the nations.
I will never apologize for the white hot passion we have for the presence and plans of our wonderfully fearful God. In fact, we are still quite far from the level of trembling and zeal that will soon be here. The fire must get perpetually and exponentially hotter.
We refuse to get excited about any goals that don’t require ridiculous faith and that don’t cause the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of religion to shudder. Those kingdoms are coming down.
The plan of action includes the pursuit of extreme Holy Spirit activity. Signs, wonders, miracles and experiential manifestations of the glory of God are key. We are going after God with abandon!
So many people believe that we are waiting for God to bring revival…and that we have to jump through hoops to cause him to do it. What a frustrating life to live! Jesus let us know that he was done. He said, “It is finished.” He sent the apostles to do the work that Jesus used to do when he was on the Earth. He said he’d send the Promise, the Holy Spirit, to enable them. So they waited for the Holy Spirit…but we don’t have to! He has been empowering us for 2000 years! Now we literally carry God and we have every resource right now to release revival into the world! We aren’t waiting for God, he’s waiting for us!
It’s time to gather together, to receive ridiculous vision, stir up crazy faith and plan the impossible! We can bring revival to Detroit now!
TEN AUDACIOUS GOALS
- It’s all about the numbers. At Revival Church we are fearlessly going after those that yearn for God, and we are out to build the largest and most impactful ministry in Detroit—and every other pastor in this region should have the same audacious plans! If the Detroit Lions can hold Sunday services and unapologetically draw in 70,000 people to Ford Field, you have to be kidding if you think Christian leaders should have a problem with determining to have a greater impact. I see stadiums filled week after week with fervent lovers of Jesus in Detroit. (I can’t wait for TheCall on 11/11/11, but it’s an indictment against the church that months of cheerleading and mobilization must take place prior to the event just so the church would show up for one service at Ford Field—and the tickets are free!)
- Acts 2:47 (NKJV) 47 … And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
- The culture will never drive us. It’s time for the church to repent for succumbing to the busyness and distractions of American culture. We are calling people to a fully immersive life of Kingdom activity. Instead of cancelling services out of respect for the distracted we are calling a company of forerunners to blaze a trail of Acts chapter 2 style devotion and urgency. Someone asked Pastor Steve Gray, the leader of the Smithton Outpouring, “How is it that you can be at church six nights a week?” Steve replied, “How is it that you can watch TV six nights a week?”
- Ephesians 5:14-17 (ESV) 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” 15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
- We are planning on hosting and serving one of the worlds greatest revivals in history. The times are urgent, and the harvest is waiting. We acknowledge that many other amazing churches are building according to the critical plans God has given them. But, the vision we have cannot be found anywhere in Detroit, so we are provoked to build. There is a Nehemiah cry that is resounding at Revival Church. The project is massive and the time is short. We both praying and working simultaneously so the masses have a place to go on any weekend or weekday to experience the revival they so crave.
- Nehemiah 4:1-2 (NKJV) 1 But it so happened, when Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, that he was furious and very indignant, and mocked the Jews. 2 And he spoke before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, "What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they fortify themselves? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they complete it in a day? Will they revive the stones from the heaps of rubbish–stones that are burned?"
- We are to be a threat to the status quo. The religious structures are coming down. We embrace the principles of the story of Gideon. Religious altars are coming down and an army of fearless warriors is being raised up to take a city. We have no option to blend into the prevailing church landscape. It’s time to war!
- Acts 17:6 (ESV) 6 And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also,
- The 24/7 church will be the norm. If the Tigers and Red Wings can dominate the night here in Detroit, and if thousands converge together in unity to celebrate them, we won’t stop until the same level of devotion is found in the church.
- Acts 2:46-47 (NKJV) 46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
- We are believing for millions of dollars to come into Revival Church. We are boldly praying and asking for the resources to complete our mission. A religious spirit will attempt to shoot down such a focus, but if a person can believe for his household bills to be paid then you better believe we are expecting God’s mission to be financially covered. The provision will match the vision.
- Philippians 4:19 (ESV) 19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
- The church isn’t a building, but it meets in one. We’re planning on a property to hold thousands of people, dorms, a school of ministry and much more. Read more here: https://burton.tv/2010/08/20/you-are-not-the-church-the-scattering-movement-what-about-church-online/
- We’re going to annihilate the sheep stealing myth. At Revival Church we have open hands. We don’t own the sheep at Revival Church and we have no patience for any controlling doctrine that teaches otherwise. While we do encourage people to a high level of honor and commitment, we also honor them and understand that God may lead them to participate in other churches and ministries. We have an open recruitment policy here as well. Any pastor can come into Revival Church and attempt to recruit anybody on my staff or team without any guilt or fear. You can read more here: https://burton.tv/2011/09/06/church-competition-and-the-sheep-stealingtransfer-growth-myth/
- Revival is coming to Detroit. With all of the phenomenal and hungry revivalists in Detroit, and with the prayer movement and other strategies expanding all over the region, the time is now to experience revival. However, we also believe that revival will probably be hosted in one primary location. We are preparing for that location to be Revival Church. But, we’re also pretty smart and we realize that the chances are high that it will land in another church. The call will be to travel, to lead the people out, to go where the fire is. So, in that case, we will be highly invested there in addition to developing the supporting ministry of Revival Church.
- Exodus 13:21 (ESV) 21 And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.
- We have names and faces. We fully embrace the heart of the nameless, faceless movement. Extreme humility is mandatory. However, that movement has in some places adopted a strange false-unity ideology. Leaders are being renounced in favor of equality in function. This just isn’t biblical. We expect to have so many humble, surrendered people who embrace the cross of Christ that they will be promoted by God to have influence over millions of desperate people. We can’t hide. We can’t blend in. We can’t espouse false humility. There are prophetic messengers arising and the world will know who they are and they will fall in love with Jesus who they carry.
- 1 Corinthians 11:1 (NKJV) 1 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.
While potentially provocative, it’s important to discuss the issue of church competition as we progress toward revival.
It hits me very deeply, and it saddens me so much when I encounter a spirit of competition within the landscape of the church.
This issue is rampant and it has resulted in a weakened, compromised city church structure, which is extremely problematic as we prepare for revival.
1 Timothy 3:14-15 (ESV) 14 I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, 15 if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.
This passage is written with leaders in mind. It’s important to know how to behave in the household of God… and how not to behave.
Keep in mind, scripturally the church is identified by the larger city, by geography. It’s the Church at Ephesus, not the First Church of Jesus Christ and the Second Church of Jesus Christ and such and such Baptist church in the city of Ephesus. We don’t see the local church in the Bible, though God has and will move powerfully through local, smaller groups within the larger city Church. However, we have to understand that local churches are simply departments of a single city Church. Senior pastors are departmental leaders under the apostolic leadership of the city.
The call of leaders is to raise up a company of burning ministers of God with the expectation of seeing them released into world shaking endeavors. Some will be released into ministry in other cities, some will be released into other expressions of the church in their own city, while others will remain directly involved where they were trained.
But, everybody must be trained and released. The message to Timothy continues:
1 Timothy 4:14-15 (ESV) 14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.
Everybody must be progressing.
prog·ress n. 1. Movement, as toward a goal; advance.
Everybody under my care at Revival Church must be moving! If someone is not able to progress, to move, to advance in their ministry due to nervous pastors, it is a serious violation of God’s instructions to the Church. As I said, movement may take people out of a local ministry and into the place they are called to advance into, and we as leaders must celebrate when that happens.
A spirit of Pharaoh within spiritual leaders will do everything possible to keep their people from leaving into their wilderness of encounter, into their destiny.
That unhealthy spirit of Pharaoh will use people to fulfill leader’s personal endeavors, and any thought of those people leaving will strike them with fear and anger. A divisive, controlling spirit is embraced while people who are meant to fulfill their destinies are required to continue making the bricks of a man-made Egypt.
I didn’t realize how much a simple statement would set someone free.
A new friend had been through a troubling situation at a church and her transition out was filled with unfortunate and unnecessary struggle and guilt.
She cautiously started to investigate Revival Church from her place of fear and pain. We were discussing our pursuit as a church of freedom in Detroit one day, and I told her, “I don’t own you. I don’t own people here. As a pastor, my role is to serve you, not use you.”
That simple statement changed her life dramatically and caused her to breathe more easily.
I often tell the people who are pressing ahead with great commitment and focus at Revival Church that I, as their leader, have wide open hands. They aren’t my possession, they are my joy. Anybody from any church or ministry can, at any time, openly recruit any person at Revival Church. I have open hands. Sheep stealing cannot happen at Revival Church because it’s impossible to steal what someone freely gives.
Additionally, I know that my church is simply a department of the city church. I am not an island to myself. I’m not the supreme leader (yeah, doesn’t that sound ridiculous?). It would be silly for a local church’s single’s pastor to refuse to allow someone in his ministry to also commit to a weekly small group in the same local church. The same is true within the context of the city church. It makes no sense to presume people running with us at Revival Church wouldn’t also have opportunities to serve in other local ministries. My job, as 1 Tim 4:14-15 declares, is to lay hands on them and allow them to immerse themselves in their ministry, to practice, to progress, and I realize that much of that practice will take place in places other than Revival Church.
If a pastor in Detroit encourages one of my key leaders to serve on his leadership team, then I should celebrate! And I do! They aren’t stealing one of my sheep. We are on the same team, in the same church!
A youth pastor once confronted a friend of mine, who was a youth pastor at a thriving youth ministry in Texas. He very boldly, full of agitation, accused my friend of stealing his sheep because many of the youth from his church were also attending my buddy’s youth ministry.
My friend boldly replied, “How is it that you are accusing me of stealing sheep that simply wandered away from you? It doesn’t sound like you are feeding them what they need.”
Now, there is some merit (harsh but true) to that reply. However, another scenario might very well be more accurate. Is it possible that the other youth pastor was so successful at cultivating hunger for God that his disciples were making determined decisions to go after God with abandon—beyond the walls of their local church? Is it possible that their ‘wandering’ could be looked at as a sign of success on his part? I think that might be the case!
I have to tell you, I absolutely come alive when people under my care are moving about the city involving themselves in other churches and ministries. I love it! I want them to carry the fire of God into every place they can every single week!
We often hear that churches should not focus on transfer growth, on growing as people from other churches start connecting in the new church. Of course, I agree that we must see the church globally grow through evangelism, through conversion growth. The lost must be found. However, a common reason we hear some pastors renouncing transfer growth is because of insecurity and nervousness. They don’t want to lose anybody because that loss would equate to lost money, lost reputations, lost control, etc.
Again, we must expect people to participate in a variety of churches and ministries in the city Church. Since we are all in a single city Church, people moving from one local expression to another does not mean they are leaving one church for another. They are still in the city Church. If someone moves from the single’s ministry to a small group, there’s no transfer growth for the small group. The city Church has remained exactly the same size.
We must also admit that any single local church simply doesn’t have everything necessary to equip everybody. In fact, we’d be a much stronger city Church if we understood that. I am able to focus on the vision God has given me at Revival Church, and I don’t have the pressure to be an expert in everything. I can encourage people to connect in another church that’s strong where I am weak. And, if they feel they must spend the majority of their time there, under the leadership of a person who’s more able to give them what they need, then that is great! They can transfer from my local church to theirs, but the city Church has not lost…it has actually won. That person will now be more able to grow and progress, and the city church will be the better for it.
This is where the gloves have to come off. It’s a serious violation of God to foster a spirit of competition.
I was with a well known apostle who has a huge heart for revival in Detroit. He has a lot of influence and a very successful church in another state. He felt led to make several trips to serve Detroit, and on this particular trip he was with a group of pastors. He said, “Don’t worry, I’m not going to move here and start a church.” Everybody laughed.
While funny, I was disturbed by that exchange.
Why would the thought of this man opening another department in the growing city church cause other pastors to worry?
Of course, I know the answer. Because a successful man starting a new church would threaten their own kingdoms.
I don’t want to be overly dramatic, but I have to say that actually sickens me. People are going to Hell and pastors are worried about another ministry being successful? Sick.
Dr. James Emery White said: If you think a new church opening up in your area is a threat to your “mission field”, you need mission lessons.
Mark 3:24-25 (ESV) 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.
Is there any wonder why there is no revival at a city level anywhere in the nation? The city Church is divided tragically. There is gossip about pastors and churches. There is fear and nervousness when other churches succeed. Hands are closed tight, not opened wide. The sheep are being used not served. People are jealous and divisive. This must end. Jesus is the head of the church and we have to finally let him govern freely.
3 John 1:9-10 (ESV) 9 I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. 10 So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church.
This is a powerful verse. This is descriptive of situations that repeat every day in cities all over the world. Diotrephes gossiped and slandered and aggressively divided threatening people out of the church. Anybody that was a threat to his own preeminence was dealt with swiftly.
Contrary to this worldly, demonic approach to church leadership, look at how Jesus led:
Mark 9:35 (ESV) 35 And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”
That is leadership, and that is how we must approach other churches and ministries.
Every Friday night from 10pm-midnight our team travels to different church somewhere in the Detroit region. We pray in the Spirit and release blessing over that church, that pastor and their mission. I tell them that my prayer is for their church to grow much bigger than my own. I want them to receive greater offerings than we do. If they want some of my team to join their team, they are free to approach them about it.
Additionally, the call is for every pastor that we visit to join us every Friday night in another church and to pray the same things there. Can you imagine what would happen if every pastor in Detroit did that with us every Friday night? Revival would land nearly immediately.
One last point is critical: We cannot hold onto people so tightly that they are unable to respond to the greater, regional call. If something in the city church requires people from my team to move out of position in my local ministry and into position into the city ministry, I have to release them. A spirit of Pharaoh will keep people away from the greater calling. It will be common, as revival lands, for people in local ministries and churches to move out to serve regionally.
This will be a challenge for many. What do I do if my worship leader is tapped to serve the department that’s over my own? I let her go and trust God that he’ll ensure everything locally is covered. In fact, if it’s a city Church event, it would make more sense to shut down my ministry for the day or week and head out with everybody, in the spirit of Moses, into the greater, regional mission.
So, how about it church? It’s time to celebrate the growth of the city church, to release the people under our care, to burn with love and to lock arms with other Believers in the region—even if it means our own ministry shrinks. People with that type of heart will be exalted and rewarded as those with a heart after God’s own.