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.