Possibly the most shocking shift coming to the church is the transition away from senior pastoral leadership.
The church army became a nursery. We want to play all day and cry for our needs to be met. Grow up! ~Isaiah Saldivar
I’m currently writing my next book titled The Coming Church, and I am continually stricken by fear and trembling as I communicate what is about to hit. The coming fire will be consuming everything that is outside of God’s design. The coming church will look so different than the church of today that we will find ourselves speechless. Everything man-made is going. Everything that God deems good but outdated is going. The coming church will be a defined by fire and it will repel the lukewarm and religious—as it draws in the hungry and desperate.
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I continually hear people eagerly declaring that they are done with church as usual. Their heart is for God to move in and explode in power. I count myself as one of those people. However, the shift necessary to see this happen will upset what has been setup, and that price may be too costly for most.
Consider the radical differences between the United States Marines and a spa.
Today, the church structurally has the makeup of a spa that is setup to draw people in via programs and promises of personal attention. The coming church will function like a military that is setup to draw people in compelled by the magnitude of the mission. They will not show up to be served by to serve.
People join a spa to be nurtured and enjoy life with themselves in mind. People join the military to serve unto death with others in mind.
After 22+ years of ministry my opinion is that one of the weakest links in the church today is false expectations—expectations perpetuated by leaders who want to fill the pews. Let me explain.
In the local church context today, most want to connect in the place that will meet their expectations. There is a predetermined set of expectations that people enter the church with, and If those expectations aren’t met, negativity creeps into the camp. So, today, people won’t continue in a church if it doesn’t offer what they want, and pastors can’t imagine the thought of losing them, so they adjust course and focus on giving them what they expect.
In the Western church, the pastoral office is the natural office to lead a church that’s fueled by people’s need for nurture. After all, it’s presumed that pastors, by design, are the ones to meet the expectations of the people. They have the heart to do so. Therefore, pastoral leadership is widely embraced by those who are more inclined to receive than to give.
Does that sound like American culture? Does a consumer mentality have its touch on most every area of our lives? Absolutely, and, it has nearly overtaken the church, and we as leaders have left that problem largely unresolved.
What happens now is that pastors are overwhelmed with connecting with people, feeding them what they prefer and ensuring they are attended to—and that has compromised the strength and outward mission of the church.
Now, of course, helping people is absolutely appropriate and necessary, and pastors are the ones best equipped by God to do that, but this ministry was never meant to be the primary function of the church!
Today, churches act much like hospitals. Their key function is to deal with the wounded. In reality, they should look more like MASH units! Soldiers who are wounded in the mission are quickly stitched up so they can get back to the war!
God is raising up people who want to get challenged, not fed. ~Isaiah Saldivar
Ephesians 4:11-12 (ESV) 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,
The nurturing, equipping process is important, but it is not the goal! Notice that the equipping is for a reason! To work! Additionally, we have every opportunity and responsibility to feed ourselves instead of relying fully on the church. Today there are countless teachings online, in books, on CD’s and more. There is no excuse for any of us to rely on anybody else for our nourishment. We should not be showing up to the church empty waiting to be fed. We should arrive full and overflowing with the richness of the Word that we have fed ourselves with that week!
As an prophetic apostle, my focus is over the horizon. It’s on just a few narrow topics. I need everybody on their face praying, and I’ll do everything I can to teach them how. I want everybody going after regional revival, and I’ll teach week after week on how they can do that. I prophetically have a pulse on the church and I’ll constantly relay that information to the church so they can respond. But, they will have to take it upon themselves to learn most everything else. Of course, I’m not the only teacher in my context either. Others can and do impart knowledge and revelation, but it is still limited and it’s still required that we devour the Word ourselves.
Today, pastor led churches nurture and feed as the goal so much of the time without casting the vision that they are about to call everybody to pick up their weaponry and move out to battle!
The coming shift will result in less feeding and a higher bar of committed and focused response. The problem? Pastors are not the ones best gifted or called to lead this transition. The pastor led church is functionally compromised.
Simply stated, the church is out of biblical order.
Apostles and Prophets are Coming
Prophets announce, among other things, the coming governmental order and apostles bring the order.
1 Corinthians 12:27-28 (ESV) 27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues.
These offices are listed in order of importance and function in the church.
Life Application Commentary: Paul specifically ranked them as first, second, and third to show their prime importance above all the other gifts.
ESV Study Bible: First… second… third… then seems to be a ranking of importance or benefit to the church, with apostles being primary and then prophecy and teaching also contributing greatly to building others up.
The apostolic ministry is actually the first one that our Lord, Jesus, established in the New Testament church.
Lk 6:13 And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles.
Why did Jesus establish the apostolic ministry first? Because it was to be the foundation of the church government in the New Testament, as the priesthood was the foundation of the ministry in the Old Testament. So, without apostles in the ministry, the ministry gifts are literally without the necessary foundation.
Eph 2:20 And (you) are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.
There are governmental levels in spiritual realms. These are called “principalities, powers and rulers.” Each has a different realm of authority, a different authority level, and a different manner of operation.
Eph:6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Likewise, we have different levels of authority in the different ministry gifts. Here is where the apostle's authority is truly needed. At times, a pastor is confronted with different types of spiritual attacks. Without the spiritual covering of an apostle, he can be battling against powers and rulers that he is not actually anointed, or prepared to battle against. With the apostolic covering, he is able to draw upon the apostle's anointing, understanding, and experience in these battles. Instead of fighting alone, he has the spiritual support he needs.
The current structure or model of church ministry revolves around the pastoral paradigm (model) of ministry. A paradigm is a structure of ministry that serves as a model or pattern. It's astonishing but the word pastor, Greek poimen is only mentioned once in the entire New Testament. From one occurrence in scripture we have built thousands of pastoral churches. Yet there were no churches ever built in the New Testament by pastors. Even the one started at Antioch soon received Barnabas as an apostolic leader. Barnabas was a sent-one (apostolic gift) from the church in Jerusalem.
In reality we have created a structure of church services that is designed to bless, nurture and comfort attendees. After all, that is the dominate grace on the pastoral ascension gift to comfort, bless, nurture, protect and lead to still waters. There is nothing wrong with being a pastor. What we are discussing is the transition into an apostolic model of ministry that enables us to be more effective in establishing and advancing the Kingdom of God.
Let’s face it the pastoral-only model of ministry is not working. We need something that is more effective and that’s going to be the apostolic model of ministry that we are experiencing today, the new apostolic prophetic church.
There will always be a set man over a congregation. Scripture says, “Let the Lord the God of the spirits of all flesh, set a man over the congregation” (Numbers 27:16). Apostolic ministry models may have a plurality of leadership gifts working together to equip believers known as a presbytery but there will always be one set man that is ultimately responsible before God to apostle a church.
The Holy Spirit is going to restore an effective structure of ministry that will empower you to raise-up strong sons and daughters in the Lord that will take the battle out of the church and into the city.
Apostolic ministry gifts are spiritual master builders that carry the revelation of Christ governing Church. As Paul said, “According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon” (1 Corinthians 3:10).
The Purpose of the Church
The church is not a house of teaching or a house of evangelism or a house of friendships. The very purpose of the church is prayer! It is a house of prayer for all nations! If someone in the church is resistant to the call to pray corporately, they can’t consider themselves to be a functional part of the church.
This is a huge problem!
In today’s church very few live a lifestyle of prayer. In fact, most pastors don’t either!
Leonard Ravenhill said: Pastors who don’t pray two hours a day aren’t worth a dime a dozen!
Mark 11:15-18 (ESV) 15 And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 16 And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. 17 And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” 18 And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching.
We are in a Mark 11:15-18 season in our nation. In that situation, the people were using the church for personal gain. They had expectations of personal benefit. They entered the church with the expectation of leeching off of it, of using it, and leaving with more than they entered with. This is a defilement of the church!
The call is to go into the church with the expectation of leaving with less than we enter with! We bring an offering, a sacrifice! We minister to God!
This is critical! Pastor led churches more easily seek to give people what they expect out of the church. Now, please understand me. Pastors are God ordained! But, when they function outside of their appropriate governmental position, it brings disorder. The same would be true of any of the offices. You probably don’t want a prophet trying to nurture people! Thank God for pastors!
The House of Prayer
In the coming church, everybody will pray as their primary ministry! Yes, everybody!
This means a great offense is coming as suddenly those focused on their own expectations and who are resistant to the call to prayer will have nowhere to go!
The governmental order in the church will require a mass exodus of uncommitted, unwilling hearts as intercession takes first place again. This type of dramatic shift requires the skills of an apostle to pull off.
You might presume that intercession is to be reserved for the mature, for those who have graduated from the equipping process. No! No! No!
The best equipping center is the prayer room! If an 18 year old pimple faced young person fresh out of high school with no experience, no knowledge, no wisdom can join the Marines and fight for our country, he can do the same in the prayer room!
Again, there is a place for pastors to nurture people like this, and, in fact, we need pastors not as senior leaders, but as smaller group leaders who can invest time into individuals. They need to prepare them quickly to respond to the coming instructions from the apostles and prophets. It would make sense to have serving with an apostle maybe ten to twenty pastors for every one hundred people in a church.
Islamic prayer: The second pillar of Islam is salat, the requirement to pray five times a day at fixed times. Children are often required to fulfill this daily requirement by the age of 7.
If a mosque can be jam packed full of people praying early in the morning on a weekday as happens in our area, and if children as young as 7 are praying five times a day in that system, certainly an all consuming, Holy Spirit fueled life of prayer for a Christian is not hard to imagine at all!
Act like priests!
When you stand as a priest before the Lord, you aren’t representing yourself, you are representing others in corporate identificational prayer. ~James Goll
You are a priest, and that means that you have a job to do. You are a priestly intercessor before God and the call is to pray individually and corporately continually!
In the coming church, under apostles and prophets, we all will show up and pray! That is church! Church services will be prayer meetings again!
Personal expectations will be replaced by assignments to serve, give, pray and lay down our lives! We won’t show up with our prayer lists or our own issues but rather we will represent the nations as we invest into them in prayer.
We are all priests and we all carry extreme authority! This is church at its best!
The Simple Blueprint
Apostles and Prophets
- The shift: Corporate leadership will shift from pastors to apostles and prophets primarily. Instead of merely relaying information, messages will be mostly challenging and directive with a clear expected response as the body is rallied to fulfill a corporate mission together. They will lead with the expectation that the entire unit will be moving in step with them as they fulfill the vision of the church in unity.
- The difficulty: Those that are averse to responding to prophetic instruction or who simply want a ‘pick me up’ each week to help them make it to the next Sunday will suddenly find themselves well outside of the vision of the church. There will be costly calls to serve, give, pray and function as a priest before the Lord, and that will be unappealing to many. The new aggressive, fast moving military will be challenging to say the least.
- The shift: In the coming church, pastors will mostly be relieved of primary church leadership responsibilities and will be released to spend most of their time one-on-one with people and in small groups.
- The difficulty: Pastors who are senior leaders will be asked to relinquish their positions, their salaries and their influence in favor of an apostle God is calling them to serve under.
- The shift: Many programs of the church will be eliminated, possibly including children’s ministry, youth ministry, drama, etc. and will be replaced by prayer meetings, training and outreach.
- The difficulty: People will have to change their expectations and make themselves ready to serve by growing intentionally on their own in a significant way each day. They probably won’t have close, direct access with the leader and will have to trade personal desire for close friendship for a readiness to respond to the sound of the alarm.
- The shift: Most services will look more like prayer meetings than anything else. Everybody will spend the bulk of the service ministering to God in intercession and community will surround that emphasis.
- The difficulty: The desire to be entertained and overfed will no longer be met. Mostly receiving will change to mostly giving. Rapid maturity will be required as apostolic leaders move ahead aggressively in a rapidly and ever changing culture of ministry to the nations. Those resistant to growth or to change won’t easily find a place to connect. Additionally, relational community will occur only around the mission. The prayer meeting will be the gathering point for friendships to develop. People looking for these types of connections will be disappointed if they aren’t willing to jump in the bunker in a risky mission with their fellow soldiers. Gladly, the pastors will be in the bunkers with them.
- The shift: Seeker churches will quickly fade away as the fire of the Holy Spirit rages in the houses of prayer. The lost won’t be relationally converted as much as they will be converted by fire. We will trust God’s wisdom as in Acts 2 and allow the fire of God impact a region. The prayer room will become the place of choice to bring the lost.
- The difficulty: Everybody will have to drop most everything and tend to the fire in the house of prayer. To ensure the atmosphere is supernaturally charged, everybody in the church will be spending hours a day in the prayer room together. False salvations will drop to near zero as they won’t be based on a simple prayer but rather on an encounter with the God of fire.
It’s important that I do say that many current pastors are actually gifted with apostolic and/or prophetic offices. They will help lead the shift!
We will all have to trust God as our personal finances, plans, dreams, influence and structures are threatened. God really does have plans to prosper us even in this dramatic, unsettling shift!
God forgive us for building kingdoms of man on doctrines of demons in your name. ~Brian Ming
IT HAS TO STOP!
Watch this short, raw video on the issue of competitiveness, accusation and jealousy in the church. It has to STOP!
When Amy and I first moved to Detroit and launched Revival Church we sent out 200 copies of my book Pharaoh in the Church to pastors in the Detroit region. The book is written to leaders and those who are called to lead the people of God into encounter.
In that book I deal directly with the issue of personal kingdom building & how it can be a threat to the advance of God’s Kingdom in a region.
Not shockingly, but sadly we only heard from one pastor. One.
When a new Kingdom building church arrives on the scene, the pastors of the region should celebrate their arrival!
PEOPLE, MONEY & REPUTATION
Too much energy is invested into keeping people, protecting our financial situation and enhancing our reputations as leaders—energy that can not be used for its intended purpose of going hard after revival in a region and leading people into encounter.
If we are serious about the city church exploding in life and power, we must be willing to lose people, lose financial security (salaries, benefits) and lose our reputation. Jesus was of no reputation, why should we be?
How can you deal with this issue? Have a healthy ministry policy!
HEALTHY MINISTRY POLICIES
- PEOPLE: Have a policy that any pastor, leader or other person can come into your church at any time, with no fear or guilt, and openly recruit anybody, even your staff, to leave your church and join theirs. The fear of losing people and the resulting spirit of competition will disappear.
- MONEY: Give regularly to other churches and pray for them to be blessed in a greater measure financially than your own. Giving always causes fear of financial loss to subside. Additionally, never hold back leading in a biblical direction with full unction of the Holy Spirit if key givers may get leave. Preach them out and trust God!
- REPUTATION: Die. Surrender. Go low. Be humble. Allow people to ridicule you, accuse you, attack you and discredit your ministry. This happens when you preach truth. If you are of no reputation, then when you lose people, money, influence or anything else, your ego won’t drive you whatsoever.
Here’s a definition: Any conversation about an absent third party that wouldn’t meet the approval of that person.
Gossip is biblically forbidden communication.
When I, as a church leader, hear anybody gossip about a former pastor they are immediately disqualified from consideration for leadership in my church.
Why? I can’t afford to give place to a demonic anointing in my church.
This is how important it is to honor other pastors, churches and leaders—and everybody else in the body of Christ!
What do you do if you hear someone gossiping about a leader?
I am personally blessed when someone displays their honor, love and faithfulness when they won’t receive gossip about me. But, it’s not about me…it’s about the health of the church and the church of the city we are called to run with. It really is a big deal.
Why is it a big deal? Many reasons. One that will become very clear as the end of the age develops is that the church is going to be shifted violently to calibrate with God’s end-time plans.
The announcement of the shift will come through people. Prophets. Apostles. Those chosen by God to move into a region and reveal with boldness what is changing.
These people will be a serious threat to the status quo, and if pastors rely on the status quo to keep people in position, their salaries stable and their reputation under their control, they will resist these prophets of God with ferocity.
This is why we need to develop a culture of celebration, humility and honor for other leaders, new churches and people who are in the body of Christ in a region.
If we don’t, crosses may remain on the steeples while Ichabod is posted above the doors of resisting, self-centered pastors flowing in the spirit of Pharaoh as they remain focused on building their own kingdoms.
God led Amy and my family to Detroit to see revival land. God is bringing many others here as well. Many others have been laboring here for years and have been prepared for what’s coming. Let’s do all we can to unite and take advantage of the amazing convergence in this critical end-time season!
God is identifying an emerging army of end-time leaders—discover how to respond to this critical call.
FIRST: Listen to the latest teaching in my series Ten Threats to Revival here: http://media.johnburton.net/5044148
I had a meeting with two of my several amazing leaders at Revival Church last night—and I felt impressed to share some practical tips on how you can be equally amazing as you serve in your ministry.
theLab School of Fire is a three month school that trains people to grow fast, run well and to serve with passion in the ministry God plants them in. If you want to learn more than this article could ever hope to relay, by all means, apply for theLab today! www.revivallab.com
OUR CRAZY DNA
I believe we are seeing some great leaders emerge at Revival Church because of our wild and crazy DNA, not in spite of it. It’s a thrill ride and a challenge to run with someone like myself. The pressure cooker that is Revival Church is openly revealing those who are responding and being formed into the next wave of leaders in Detroit!
To help you understand our context, I’ll share some of the primary vision points that will reveal the challenge of serving in a ministry like this. The challenge, for those who take advantage of it, leads to rapid promotion, favor and honor.
- Revival Church is an apostolic and prophetic church.As an apostle/prophet with a regional and national focus, we are leading from that edge. The constant focus around here is reformation, revival and regional impact which means we are always shifting and redirecting in our methods as we pursue the ultimate goal. Following a prophetic leader is a challenge to say the least. The vision is always expanding and the methodology is always changing which requires that everybody involved is ‘instant in season and instant out of season’. New projects are often initiated well before old projects are completed.
- Revival Church’s message isn’t locally limited.I say often that I’m a one string banjo. We are all about revival on a regional and national level. So, what this means is that those in our church will be hearing the same revival thread in our messages over and over again. We are intentionally focused and limited instead of diverse in our teachings. I understand that the messages I deliver are mostly for the region and nation, and the primary vehicle we are using is the Sunday evening Revival Church service. I’m certainly preaching to those in attendance, but I’m equally targeting those who will be hearing the message online. If I have to say the same thing over and over until those in attendance have it memorized word for word, that’s OK as long as the message is impacting those who are listening in our target areas around the world.
- Revival Church, by design, does not give all five of the offices equal attention.This is not to say that we don’t value all of the offices, but it does say that we know who we are and who we are not. In the current church structure the presumption is that all five offices must be active in every local church. That’s not true. First of all, that’s not realistic for smaller churches. Secondly, in scripture we know the church is identified by the city, not by the local expression. The five-fold offices must be in effect in the city church, which will require that we as leaders are OK with people in our church participating in other local churches that are anointed in another office.
- Revival Church, again by design, is not a Pastor led church.The current Pastor led church system in our nation has resulted in a lot of false expectations that are placed on leadership. This is one of our greatest challenges. Again, it’s not that we don’t value the Pastoral office, we do. However, our focus, time, energy and resources are not to be used to focus at a significant level on developing pastoral ministry. Interestingly, the presumption might be that without a strong pastoral focus that people can’t easily grow. It’s quite the contrary around here. We are raising up people who are growing at a faster pace than I’ve ever witnessed—and these people are self-motivated. When they notice a struggle in their lives, they proactively take steps to resolve it. False expectations can lead people to presume I as the Senior Leader will be fulfilling the role of pastor in their lives when, in reality, I’m not a pastor at all. This is a challenge to communicate and it can often feel like rejection to those who want close and constant access to me. However, it’s not rejection at all. It’s simply that a prophet/apostle interacts very differently with people than a pastor does.
- Revival Church has an unapologetically high bar of commitment.We believe the 24/7 church is coming, and the call around here is to start modeling this emerging church structure. Additionally, we are launching 50 new churches in this region alone, and we are asking everybody to consider how they will participate in this mission. Everybody here has the goal of changing the Detroit region and working toward revival.
- Revival Church has a vision that demands we expand and look outward. There is much that feels undone in our local church due to our focus to continue expanding in the region. We refuse to wait until everything is perfectly in place and mature before we move out and launch other ministries and projects.
HOW TO FOLLOW YOUR LEADER AND PREPARE YOURSELF FOR PROMOTION
If people can learn how to follow leadership with crazy DNA like we have at Revival Church, you can certainly do the same in your church.
Remember, the greatest servants make the greatest leaders. And, leaders who take their mission seriously are on the lookout for the rare few who will be the next great leaders in the church.
Your leader (Pastor, Prophet, Apostle, etc.) is looking for armor bearers, not in title but in function.
Definition of an Armor-bearer: An officer selected by kings and generals because of his bravery, not only to bear their armor, but also to stand by them in the time of danger. — Easton's Illustrated Dictionary
In my book Covens in the Church I point out that most people think leaders should make it easy for people to follow them. I disagree. People should make it easy for leaders to lead them. Why? The very call of leadership is to lead people into the challenging, threatening new land of promise. True leaders make your life harder, not easier. They challenge you to your very limit so you can fulfill a naturally impossible mission.
I wanted to make this as raw and practical as I could, so here it goes!
- Understand the vision. Do you know what the vision of your leader is and is not? If there is any confusion at all, seek out a clear, definitive explanation. Then, memorize it. Repeat it to others. Often. At Revival Church, my vision is most clearly outlined in my book 20 Elements of Revival. All of our leaders are required to read this book and then work hard to implement it. I continually teach on the vision here so everybody on board has it in front of them week after week.
- Don’t attempt to tweak the vision.Vision by design is limited—extremely so. Remember, your church is not supposed to dilute their vision by diverting energy and resources to your vision. You must follow your leader’s interpretation of the vision as the vision will come directly through him.
- Don’t try to fit your vision into your leader’s vision.We like to think that our vision will complement our leader’s, and sometimes it will. But, sometimes it will not. Some personal endeavors can threaten the vision of the house while others can strengthen it. Find out from your pastor what category your vision fits in, and refuse to pull back or take on offense if you discover it doesn’t fit in the current season.
- Resolve problems.I tell my leadership team that I expect them to deliver resolutions to me, not problems. In fact, when someone is known for recognizing and highlighting problems to me, it’s an indicator that they are not ready for leadership. Generals don’t report problems without taking on the responsibility to take care of business.
- Don’t have false-expectations.“My leader should be doing…” Fill in the blank. There are many things people want their leaders to spearhead or to give attention to, but it’s not his place to do so. I often hear people come to me with great ministry ideas and I almost always place the ball back in their court and encourage them to make it happen. It’s not your leader’s job to run with your vision, but if it’s complementary to the vision of the house, he can open the door for you to run with it yourself. I remember sitting in a class with Dr. Peter Wagner and Dutch Sheets one day. Dutch is an apostle. I don’t think he has a pastoral bone in his body, yet he at the time was leading a church in Colorado Springs. He’s one of the most important voices in our nation, in my opinion, and his attention had to be given to that. Peter Wagner said that day to everybody in attendance, “If you are sick in the hospital or in need of counseling, don’t expect Dutch to show up. That’s not his role.” Expect your leader to fulfill his function and his vision, not the function you want him to, or even a function that desperately needs to be filled by someone else. Just because there is a great need with nobody to meet it doesn’t mean it defaults to your leader.
- Champion your leader’s cause. This is a big one. If you want to be received by leadership and experience on-time promotion, you must champion your leader’s cause. The alternative is to be a threat to his cause, which will result in stalled personal development for you. Know your leader’s vision inside and out—and refuse to promote any competing viewpoint. This will require you set aside personal doctrines or ministry philosophies that are contrary. You will also have to confront those who are negatively impacting the vision. Few people are truly able to do this, but those who are most usually experience great favor and rapid promotion.
- Never gossip—ever. You do not have the right to discuss frustrations, disagreements or negative analysis of your church with anybody in the entire world—except your leader. If your church doesn’t focus on evangelism to the degree you think it should, for example, it would take a spirit of treason for you to discuss your frustration or disapproval with others. Keep in mind that the Absalom spiritis alive and well in the church today. Also remember that your church, by design, is lacking in many areas so they can focus intently on their God given vision. Many people will come to you in the hopes of gaining a sympathetic ear as they voice their concern about the church. Don’t receive their complaint. Don’t listen to their frustration. Stand firm and communicate without apology the vision of the church. Let them know the vision is not up for debate. My leader in Colorado is a rock star in this regard. When people came to him with their concerns, he took them by the hand directly to me so they could share their issues! Guess what, people stopped going to him with their gossip.
- Be faithful.I don’t look for people with great giftings, I look for faithfulness. Ask your leader what his expectations are, and go overboard fulfilling them. Be at every service. Lead the charge. Model extreme, sold-out faithfulness not only to Jesus but to the leader he placed in your life.
- Openly respond.When he’s teaching, let everybody in the building know you agree and are ready to respond. Shout amen! Don’t get distracted. Don’t text. Don’t post to Facebook. Be obviously engaged. One of my favorite worship leaders is Catherine Mullins. She’s a good friend too. I often tell people that my favorite part of her ministry isn’t her worship leading, but, rather, the way she immediately sits in the front row after worship and actively engages in the sermon. She shouts, she has her Bible open. She changes the atmosphere from her seat. Powerful.
- Address him and his wife with respect.I’m personally challenged regarding titles. On one hand, I really don’t like to call myself anything other than John. I’m OK with others calling me John. But, I also understand what it means to honor authority and to recognize that person’s role in your life. The greater challenge is that I’m not a pastor, though people do call me Pastor John. That’s OK with me, and in fact, it feels more appropriate than for people to call me by my first name. The most accurate title would be Apostle or Prophet John, but with all of the goofy and prideful demeanors that can come along with a title, it’s a bit uncomfortable. So, how do you relate to your leader? Simply, with respect. Use a title if that’s expected and show your respect in other ways if it’s not. Remember him and his family on birthdays, on Pastor Appreciation Day, anniversaries, etc.
- Understand that you can disqualify yourself for leadership for a season.I’m a very active listener and watcher. You may not think it’s fair or right, but leaders analyze people, in love, and with a sober spirit. They are mandated to protect the mission God entrusted to them. As one who comes alive when ‘the least of these’ are awakened to their destiny, and as one who has a lot of grace when it comes to failure, trial, error and weakness, I also am looking to see who’s rising above the rest. Your leader will have his own set of tests. For me, as an example, gossip will quickly disqualify someone, until the issue is resolved and repentance is clear. I have to ensure my leaders are fully on board and that they don’t threaten or compromise the mission. This doesn’t mean that I don’t love them. Not at all. My grace level is high as they grow through their challenge. I still see them one day leading significant ministries and changing the world!
- Don’t require your leader to say things twice.Leaders have expectations that are necessary for the development of the ministry. I am always impressed and will give favor to those who respond to my requests without the need to say it again. I don’t have the time to repeatedly make the same requests over and over. Understand, this is usually simple stuff… but, not insignificant stuff. Don’t make the mistake of presuming a simple request is an insignificant one or one that can be ignored altogether. As an example, in theLab we have a call to excellence that includes never being even one minute late to any class or event. We say, “Early is on time, on time is late and late is unacceptable.” Those who respond to this call the first time have my attention.
- Undergird him much more than you pull on him.Leaders are looking for those who lessen the burden of the vision, not those who add to it. Of course, we are to help, as we can, the leaders on our team. However, all of our energy can’t continually be tapped by resolving problems. The job must get done and we have to ensure distraction is at a minimum. Be the one who is vigilant in resolving issues so you can hold up the arms of your leader as he goes to battle.
- Love, honor and pray for him.A few of my leaders specifically communicate with me on an ongoing basis sharing how they are praying for me. They also usually pull me aside before the Sunday service to pray for me, to break off any attack and to stand in the gap for me. This is greatly appreciated and needed.
- Don’t use your church for your own ministry platform.I learned this lesson myself over 20 years ago. I started serving in a church that I thought was a great place for me to establish my own ministry. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my ministry was not welcomed by the leadership in the way I thought it would be. I wasn’t championing their vision, I was using them to fuel my own. Big mistake. I was humbled (humiliated is more like it) one day at a staff meeting. I was serving in the youth department, and was starting to have quite an impact. At the staff meeting the pastor said, without even looking at me, “John Burton is not someone we are considering for the position of youth leader in this church now or in the future.” I was mad, but years later I understand. I wasn’t truly there to enhance their vision, I was there to leech off of them. Lesson learned.
- Grow intentionally on your own.Come to every service stronger than you were in the last. Take it upon yourself to work out spiritually so you can be an ever increasing benefit to the work of the Kingdom.
- Financially invest in the vision.Go beyond the tithe. Give extravagantly to the endeavors and projects that are initiated in the pursuit of a fulfilled mission.
- Refuse to take on offense.True ministry provides opportunity for offense continually. Don’t fall into it. Don’t get offended when you aren’t recognized, when you aren’t listened to or when you aren’t valued the way you think you should be. Don’t take on other people’s offense either.
- Model expected behavior.A spirit of entitlement can easily hit emerging leaders and church staffs. The presumption that we don’t have to participate at the level expected of others can halt a mission. For example, I want our leaders to lead the way by always sitting up front during the sermon, listening intently, leading the charge during pre-service prayer, to be at the altars prior to service for a time of intercession, etc. As our leaders model expected behavior they set a culture. That culture is invaluable.
- Be a long-timer.Attrition is an extremely disruptive occurrence in the church today. Church leaders are most always anxious about whether they can count on people to stick with them for the long term. Make a commitment and voice it to your leader. Let him know that you will stand with them through good times and bad in a covenant relationship—and you’ll do what you can to model that in such a way that it becomes a key part of the culture of the church.
- Be joyful!Be that person that’s always smiling, rejoicing and positive! Trust me, leaders can’t get enough of people like that. I have someone on my team that is contagiously joyful. That in itself has her on my leadership radar.
- Be the buzz. Be the most visible, radical, exuberant cheerleader for your church! I’ve been involved in just a few ministries that do this very well. People excitedly spread the word about the church God planted them in. You see it on their faces. You read their Facebook posts. They can’t stop Tweeting. They are fiery evangelists! Around here people can’t stop talking about theLab. There’s buzz. Be that buzz for your church. I know when people are running with the vision when I see them actively advancing the cause Monday through Saturday.
Some books on this topic that I highly recommend to you include A Tale of Three Kings, God’s Armor Bearer, Under Cover and my book Covens in the Church.
THE CHURCH IS BREECH
If you have been following the ministry recently you know that I’m zeroed in on a critical issue—an issue, in my opinion, that can result in the further fracture of the church, or in a powerful reformation that will shock the world.
Sunday at our Revival Church staff meeting, there was a strong prophetic word that must be given attention.
The message was that the church is in a time of massive transition, much like you’d find in a delivery room. When the mother is transitioning into the process of birth the room is filled with chaos and even confusion for the untrained, nervous or unprepared.
We are seeing this same chaos and confusion in the church today. People are scattering, searching for traction, for fresh new life that they sense is near.
Then, the person who gave the message declared, “The church is breech! The church is breech!”
Of course, a breech delivery is a cause for serious concern. The chance of death to the coming baby is much greater than in a normal, head first birth.
Immediately, God revealed to me what the word meant. What the meaning of a breech church was.
The confusion, frustration and wounding that’s impacting so many Christians is resulting in an intentional divorce from pastors and leaders. It’s a movement that either greatly minimizes or even renounces governmental church leadership.
It’s a feet first movement. The church is breech.
A common cause for a breech delivery is prematurity. Premature babies tend to deliver breech, and we need to consider this for the church. We can’t allow our dissatisfaction and impatience to cause us to move out ahead of leadership.
Many believe this chaotic transition, this reformation in the church is the answer to their frustrations and pains that they experienced in the organized church. They feel it’s a transition out of body life and away from human leaders.
That is a devastating and terribly incorrect analysis.
The coming reformation will in fact highlight God’s established apostolic leaders and will call the church to rally around them in radical unity and advance into the darkness of the world.
Further, there’s an incorrect mindset that every Believer is identical. That we all have equal giftings and equal authority in every situation. Usually this idea is embraced as a defense measure after feeling slighted by Christian leaders. I understand the pain that this can bring, but the answer isn’t to artificially level the playing field. God loves us all passionately, but he does flow through us differently. Our abilities and responsibilities vary.
Those with a gift of healing have a greater grace to heal people. People with the gift of helps can function in that role much more easily and efficiently than others. If someone has an ordination from God into a prophetic office, he or she will be receiving information that most others won’t. Apostles have breakthrough ability that’s unique to that office.
As we embrace true biblical order, and understand that we can’t cut off the heads (small ‘h’ vs. the capitol ‘H’ reserved for God alone—God is the Head and he establishes heads of ministries) of God’s ordained leaders simply because they have disappointed us.
Man will always disappoint, but it’s God’s wisdom that has resulted in the establishment of significant responsibilities, anointings and missions through them. It’s always been this way, cover to cover in Scripture. God raises up men and women to lead. We can’t avoid it.
So, it’s time to gather together in love, passion and mission as God readies a massive advance of God’s government that lies just on the other side of our current birthing room season of transition.
First—Let’s take a Revival Team of fiery, prophetic people to three upcoming ministry events! Join us THIS WEEK!
Also, this Sunday, June 27th at 10:30am I’ll be at Revival Nation Church in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. Check them out at www.revivalnation.com.
Are you in the Detroit area? I’m boldly casting the vision for a mass gathering of likeminded, hungry and passionate people at Revival Church every Sunday evening at 6pm.
Simply, we need you! We’re looking for an expectant people to rise up and lock arms with the rest of us at Revival Church as we intentionally and strategically prepare for the upcoming outpouring in Detroit. If you can make a commitment to be with us every Sunday night, I’m fully confident your life will take a turn you never thought possible!
Last night I taught on part two of a message on Jonah. This one is titled A Fish, a Worm and a Wind.
Two key points were addressed:
- There is a ‘spirit of Jonah’ that’s rising up in the religious world right now. It’s a prophetic movement of tearing down men and women of God due to slight doctrinal differences, or due to their vindictive and proud disposition and desire to see fallible people renounced and eliminated from ministry.
- Jonah was known to be an emotional wreck. He went from gladness to depression in record time. Do you find yourself angry or depressed or sad often? You may find freedom as you repent of the same issues that drove Jonah.
Head on over to www.detroitrevivalchurch.com/teaching and listen now.
I got great feedback last week when I included my notes, so here are the notes for last nights teaching:
A Fish, a Worm and a Wind
a. Jonah 2:10 (ESV) And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.
i. If anybody in history should have understood mercy and grace, it’s Jonah.
ii. Jonah was a prophet of God, a minister, someone who had a massive life mission to change the world.
1. He was a highly esteemed Prophet of Israel around 786BC.
2. However, he had serious shortcomings.
3. He was vindictive and radically exclusive.
4. Nineveh was a bitter enemy of Israel.
5. He could be compared to the elder brother of the prodigal son who was angered at the father’s unconditional love, forgiveness and acceptance of his long lost son.
iii. Last week I mentioned the importance of not living a Jonah 3:1 life:
1. Jonah 3:1 (ESV) Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time…
2. However, you would think that Jonah, after his tragic error of disobedience, would understand the deep love and grace of God.
3. Let’s read his prayer from the belly of the fish that God appointed to deal with Jonah:
4. Jonah 2:1-10 (ESV) 1 Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the belly of the fish, 2 saying, “I called out to the Lord, out of my distress, and he answered me; out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and you heard my voice. 3 For you cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the flood surrounded me; all your waves and your billows passed over me. 4 Then I said, ‘I am driven away from your sight; yet I shall again look upon your holy temple.’ 5 The waters closed in over me to take my life; the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped about my head 6 at the roots of the mountains. I went down to the land whose bars closed upon me forever; yet you brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God. 7 When my life was fainting away, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple. 8 Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love. 9 But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the Lord!” 10 And the Lord spoke to the fish, and it vomited Jonah out upon the dry land.
iv. Jonah was saved by God’s mercy and in God’s grace he delivered the prophetic message he was born for.
1. It’s been said that mercy is God’s unmerited favor. Grace is God’s empowering.
2. A fallen minister went through God’s microwaved restoration process and was immediately back in the ministry. This still flawed man of God was called on to save an entire city. God’s grace was with him!
3. Jonah 3:10 (ESV) When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.
4. Jonah was furious!
5. Jonah 4:1 (ESV) But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry.
6. If we are driven by grace, we will easily love and honor people. Our passion will be their life, not our life.
7. Jonah had a certain right to be angry. After all, he loved truth and was intent in seeing everything unholy and false destroyed. His problem though was simple. His love of truth that resulted in vindictiveness against people clearly showed that his revelation of truth was flawed.
8. However, Jonah had so much hatred for the Assyrians for their past oppression of his people that he could not rejoice over their
v. Check out what he says in chapter 4 verse 2!
1. Jonah 4:2 (ESV) And he prayed to the Lord and said, “O Lord, is not this what I said when I was yet in my country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.
2. Wow! That is an insane verse! We see more clearly now why he ended up in the belly of a fish. It wasn’t because he was scared of prophesying in Nineveh. It wasn’t because it was inconvenient. It was because he knew God was full of grace and mercy, slow to anger and abounding in love! He knew God’s love would prevail instead of judgment!
3. Matthew Henry- There appeared in Jonah remains of a proud, uncharitable spirit; and that he neither expected nor desired the welfare of the Ninevites, but had only come to declare and witness their destruction.
4. Jonah 4:3-4 (ESV) 3 Therefore now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” 4 And the Lord said, “Do you do well to be angry?”
5. He would rather die than partake in the grace and mercy of God.
a. We see a movement today that has this unhealthy spirit of Jonah fueling it.
b. We have to be careful not to be so focused on our righteousness and other’s failures, we can’t trumpet truth in such a way that it results in the destruction of others as it would be reveal an inaccurate revelation of truth.
vi. Jonah finds himself outside of God’s grace yet again.
1. He was known to have emotional mood swings—he was depressed yet again.
2. Heaviness, depression and anger can be an indicator that we are living outside of God’s grace, and God will do much to draw us back in.
3. We can’t presume to be delivered from depression without repentance and release of the ideals that put us there.
4. Check out what Jonah did.
5. Jonah 4:5 (ESV) Jonah went out of the city and sat to the east of the city and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, till he should see what would become of the city.
6. Jonah reverted to the demeanor of a five-year-old.
7. He built a fort and pouted.
vii. So, what did God do? Did he send a wise man of God to counsel him? Did he reason with him? Nope. Jonah should know that God would do something bizarre. He should have remembered that God had previously appointed a fish to deal with his issues.
1. Jonah 1:17 (ESV) And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
viii. Now, in Jonah’s even more ridiculous situation, God appoints a wise and mighty plant.
1. This verse is hilarious:
2. Jonah 4:6 (ESV) Now the Lord God appointed a plant and made it come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to save him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the plant.
3. Yeah! A plant! This emotionally unbalanced prophet went from depression to being exceedingly glad in a moment.
4. However, his joy is rooted in selfishness. He was rejoicing over his own comfort as he sat overlooking a city that he wished God would change his mind again and annihilate.
5. Now, God’s sense of humor in Jonah’s embarrassing state wasn’t done.
6. Jonah 4:7 (ESV) But when dawn came up the next day, God appointed a worm that attacked the plant, so that it withered.
7. Psyche! Just kidding! No comfort for you! You big baby!
8. God wasn’t done.
9. Jonah 4:8 (ESV) When the sun rose, God appointed a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on the head of Jonah so that he was faint. And he asked that he might die and said, “It is better for me to die than to live.”
a. Common to the Middle East, the wind was a dust-laden, furnace-like blast of heat that parches the body by evaporating perspiration.
b. He wanted to die because of this worm and wind. His own shelter couldn’t even comfort him!
10. Jonah 4:9 (ESV) But God said to Jonah, “Do you do well to be angry for the plant?” And he said, “Yes, I do well to be angry, angry enough to die.”
a. His lack of mercy and grace resulted in deep depression from a worm and a wind.
b. But God caused him to deeply care for the plant. He loved the plant. He was mad at the worm and the wind and the beating down sun for killing his plant.
c. Are you in that place? Are you continually depressed or angry because of seeming ridiculous reasons?
d. Do you blame others for your condition? If so, listen closely, it’s possible evidence that you are operating in an unhealthy spirit of Jonah. That heart of blame is an indicator that we expect to be served instead of to serve.
e. Of course, God used this lesson to show how much God loved Ninevah.
11. Jonah 4:10-11 (ESV) 10 And the Lord said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. 11 And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?”
a. Bachman-the right hand is the symbol of the good realm, the hand that symbolizes power and righteousness. The left hand, by contrast, is the symbol of evil, the hand used to curse and used to clean oneself. Each realm is opposite to each other and
should not be mixed. So when it is said that Nineveh cannot tell their right hand from their left, it is saying that they have no discernment, no knowledge of ethics or the basics of life (Bachmann 54).
b. The last few words, “and much cattle” were intentional to display how far God’s grace extends.
c. The animals were included in the king’s decree for repentance in chapter 3.
d. Our amazing God won in dramatic fashion. His mercy and grace saved and entire city of precious people, AND he lovingly took Jonah by the hand and helped him understand God’s heart.
II. The Takeaway
a. If we are driven by selfishness, a religious spirit that embraces truth but despises people or by pride and selfish ambition, we can expect God to appoint a fish, a worm and a wind to our situation.
Many of you know that we are praying for key connections, 1000 new intercessors in the Detroit area and an infestation of new church plants.
The outpouring that’s coming is going to rock the entire world—and we have to get ready!
Detroit has a sufficient army of believers, but we don’t know each other! We’re not organized.
I wrote a letter to the pastors and church leaders in the entire Detroit region, and I’d love some help!
If you know a Detroit area pastor, apostle or other leader, would you direct them to read the letter on our site at www.detroitrevivalchurch.com/pastors?
That would be a HUGE help!
All of us at Revival Church want to pray for and serve the greater city church with a lot of love and passion!
Last Sunday’s “Bring your blanket to church” event was sweet! So, we’re doing it again! This Sunday at 6pm bring your blanket and get ready to soak and pray and worship in the presence of God!
If you need refreshing, this night is for you!
And, last but absolutely not least, have you REGISTERED for the Michele Perry event?
Do so VERY SOON at www.detroitrevivalchurch.com/events! It’s FREE!