Extreme reform must come to the out of control prophetic movement.
I believe we must see a radical increase in authentic prophetic ministry. While there are issues and extremes in today’s prophetic movement, the truth is that most churches are woefully shallow or outright resistant when it comes to developing a prophetic culture.
An electric, supernatural and stunning spirit of prophecy should be energizing our church services. The Holy Spirit is moving powerfully and it’s critical that we tap into what he is doing and saying.
“Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:19–21, ESV)
A CALL TO REFORMATION
The famine of the Rhema voice of God in so many Christians and churches has been a burden of mine for decades. Unfortunately, it seems some have tried to fill that void with either unhealthy, unbalanced or outright unbiblical prophetic practices. Reform is needed.
NO MORE PROPHETIC GUARANTEES
Have you ever heard someone in church belting out a revelation that starts something like, “The Lord is saying to you…” or for some of our more traditional Pentecostals, “Thus sayeth the Lord…”
Yeah, this has to stop.
People are sharing prophetic words as if they are guarantees. They fail to consider the myriad of variables that come into play regarding a prophetic word. People are mortal. They can make mistakes.
Further, prophetic words are always conditional. People have a role to play. A failed response can result in a word that doesn’t come to pass.
Also, hearts can change. Someone can fail to measure up to the demands of the word. They can reject the word. They can fall into sin. On and on.
Prophetic guarantees can do great damage to people’s faith. I’ve known people who have made very costly life decisions because of a prophecy. They have quit their jobs, sold their homes, moved across the country, married the wrong person, and on and on simply because they received a prophetic guarantee. Like I said, this has to stop.
A better way to say it would be, “I sense the Lord is saying,” or “Be sure to pray over this and weigh it carefully. I feel God is saying…”
PROPHETIC WORD SHOULD BE SUBMITTED FOR ANALYSIS
“but test everything; hold fast what is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21, ESV)
The Bible clearly requires all prophetic words to be tested, weighed and judged.
“Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said.” (1 Corinthians 14:29, ESV)
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God…” (1 John 4:1, ESV)
It requires humility to invite a thorough critique when releasing a prophetic word. Instead of a prophetic guarantee, we should be submitting our divine revelation for consideration. We should invite people to analyze it, to pray over it and to judge it. If people did this with each word they communicated, it would remove much of the stigma surrounding the prophetic movement.
MINIMIZE FORETELLING, EMPHASIZE FORTHTELLING
Has anybody else grown tired of the circus-like, crystal ball-style fortune telling in so much of the prophetic today?
Understand, I absolutely do believe in foretelling, in revealing future events as the Holy Spirit gives the revelation. The Bible is filled with such prophetic information and authentic foretelling absolutely happens today.
That being said, there has become an unhealthy obsession with gazing into the future. It’s time for a fresh, anointed prophetic climate to emerge that is driven by forthtelling, by a Rhema revelation of timeless biblical truths. We need prophetic preachers who breathe fire as they release oracles from Heaven that erupt right out of the Bible. The Word of God must again be primary.
WE NEED TO QUIT LEANING SO HEAVILY ON PROPHETIC WORDS
As someone who affirms the need for a radical increase of true prophetic ministry, you might be surprised that I rarely get excited or uptight about a prophetic word.
This is true when the word is for me personally and it's true if the word is a public word.
Why? It's simple. Prophetic words take time to unfold. Also, they are often flat out wrong. If they are true, I need to discover what my role is and how I should steward the word. There is process.
It's not like winning the lottery or finding a genie in a lamp.
Does this mean I don't prepare if a prophetic word is given to warn me? No way. I prepare as the Lord leads, but I don't get spun out about the word or overly obsessed with the word.
Does this mean my faith isn't encouraged if a positive prophetic word is given to me? Nope. Faith comes by hearing the word of God. The Rhema, prophetic word of God.
However, you'd be shocked at how many positive, encouraging words I've received that have never come to pass. Good people were attempting to bless me but wrongly labeled their encouragement as prophecy.
Prophecy can be wrong no matter how convinced we are that God said something. We can interpret incorrectly. We may miss the analysis. We may not rightly steward the word. We might wrongly discern the timing.
The prophetic is less like a fortune cookie then many realize.
WE NEED BOTH GRACE AND ACCOUNTABILITY
The Old Testament “stone them if they are wrong” mindset needs to finally come to an end. In the New Covenant prophecy is markedly different. While a prophetic word can certainly be extremely weighty, it’s never complete. In fact, prophetic data comes not in the form of a bellowing, clearly heard and perfectly understood voice erupting out of a burning bush, but rather as abstract, nebulous impressions and sensations.
Consider dreams. They require interpretation. So does every other type of prophetic impression. Today, it’s not difficult to be deeply intimate with Jesus, living a life of prayer, humbly surrendered, wholeheartedly given to God’s call on our lives and also mistaken about a prophetic word. We need to give people grace when they miss it.
Yes, as I have already said, grace will be more easily extended when the prophets stop slapping a “thus sayeth the Lord” on every word they deliver.
And, yes, we also need a more solid system of accountability. What happened to those who prophesied that COVID would be gone nine or ten months ago? What about other failed words that go unjudged and are long forgotten? There’s a healthy way to handle this. Ignoring it isn’t the answer.
QUIT SHAMING THOSE WHO WEIGH AND JUDGE PROPHETIC WORDS
If you hang on to prophetic words without weighing them, and shame those who are in fact weighing, you have no idea how biblical prophecy works.
There is no medal of honor given to those who are unmovable regarding prophetic words. Scripture, in fact, requires that we are flexible as the outcome of prophecies can change depending on many different variables.
There has been a spirit of mean unleashed this past year by those who have white-knuckled grips on prophetic words about the election and other key issues. Dare to weigh the words, as the Bible commands, and question them in the slightest, and you better duck. Some uber-spiritual people will launch assaults questioning your faith, your spirituality and even your salvation. It’s disgusting.
REJECT WORDS NOT BIRTHED FROM THE FURNACE OF PRAYER
If the person delivering the word isn’t burning hot in the furnace of intercession day after day, their word cannot be trusted. Throw it out. If it’s truly a word of God, it will jump right back into play and it will be undeniable. However, I’ve found it to be quite rare that a prophecy can be truly trusted if it’s not birthed from the place of intercession.
There are other measures we can take to see the prophetic become healthy and effective, but if we can start with the above, the prophetic culture this nation so desperately needs will become vibrant, anointed and accurate again.
This should be the shock to the system that pastors need, or the next pandemic just may take the church out.You'd expect the church to respond very differently than the world in the midst of crisis. Sadly, this hasn't always been the case. Social media is filled with freaked-out Christians who are absolutely terrified, spending their energies seeking out natural solutions to a supernatural situation. The fact that they can't disinfect their hands or wipe their, well, you know, has sent many into a frenzy. Something is terribly wrong and church as usual is no longer an option. If ignoring, minimizing or seeking a natural solution to a demonic threat brings relief, don't presume you have won the battle. The entity is merely resting alongside you, thankful his foe has refused to fight. The response is a glaring indictment on the church, and without question, the church must not ever allowed to go on as usual. This pandemic may be the catalyst to reformation the remnant has been crying out for.
THE CHURCH ISN'T READY
7 Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; Revelation 19:7 (ESV)In an age when so many Believers are merely concerned with their personal eternal security and so many others are sitting back waiting to be raptured before the trouble comes, it's clear that the church is far from ready for the end-time waves of crisis that are crashing down. Global traumas like the coronavirus very well may play a part in determining the wheat and the tares. Who will rise up in great, unmovable faith and who will shrink back in fear? Those who know God will respond very differently than those who are mere pretenders.
32 …the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits. Daniel 11:32 (NKJV)So, the question for pastors and every Believer in the midst of trial is, how can we prepare? Yes, there are natural precautions we should take. There are spiritual reactions that are necessary too. Many are suggesting adopting house church/small group models. That very well may come into play, but that's a functional shift. There are spiritual shifts that are much more important.
TEN WAYS EVERY CHURCH MUST RESPOND
INSTITUTE STRATEGIC PRAYERThe days of simply attending a Sunday morning service where we worship a little, pray a little and listen to a sermon before heading back into the world for a week must come to an end immediately. The primary focus of every legitimate Christian church must be fervent, passionate, powerful and strategic intercession. The days of simple prayer lists and prayer chains are over as the call to groans and cries of spiritual prayer explode out of the saints. For years I've been campaigning for services that are marked by people laid out at the altars from start to finish as the Holy Spirit broods over them. Deep, guttural groans of intercession will be heard throughout the sanctuary every Sunday (and ultimately, every day of the week). I am absolutely convinced that a church filled with tongues of fire will do more than any other single activity to make everybody ready for the coming storms.
1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:1-4 (ESV)
DEAL DIRECTLY WITH SPIRITS OF FEARIt's astonishing how a very dark spirit of fear has blanketed the church. Fear results in unsettled, nervous reactions while faith results in a confident, peaceful, calculated response. Pastors must introduce deliverance into their churches as a primary ministry. The spirits that are tormenting Christians have been exposed all over the world during the pandemic. I believe nearly all Christians need or have at one time needed deliverance. The enemy is especially attracted to children of God as he seeks to find open doors to latch on and destroy. We cannot afford a scared, timid people who shrink back at the sight of their own shadow. This end-time season requires mighty warriors, an army who has annihilated fear and who will stare right through the darkness and expose the enemy and send him fleeing! In fact, it very well may be time to allow those who are afraid to step back so the church can finally do what God has ordained it to do—fight and possess the land!
3 Now therefore, proclaim in the hearing of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and afraid, let him turn and depart at once from Mount Gilead.' ” And twenty-two thousand of the people returned, and ten thousand remained. Judges 7:3 (NKJV)
DEVELOP A PROPHETIC CULTUREPossibly a primary source of fear in the camp is the lack of foresight, the absence of prophetic revelation. Imagine how different everything would be if God's people were made ready in their spirits as God prepared them with all sorts of prophetic communication. Dreams, visions, God's still small voice, words of wisdom, words of knowledge and other divine impressions are extremely powerful and necessary if everybody in the church is to weather the storm. Every Christian must be both equipped and activated prophetically. The church needs to hear God's ever-present voice now more than ever. To have some people who are not tuned in compromises the camp and gives the enemy a very powerful and secure foothold.
19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies. 1 Thessalonians 5:19-20 (NKJV)
GROW IN POWERFUL FAITHThere is an angry crowd of “Believers” who are demanding we “USE WISDOM!” regarding this crisis. I wish they'd shout “USE FAITH!” It's much more effective. It's disappointing to see very little difference between the world and the redeemed in time of trouble. For so many, the initial and most powerful reaction is natural protection instead of supernatural advance. On social media I've run into an angry Christian crowd that snipes anyone who suggests peace, faith and authority over the schemes of the enemy are the answer. They see such counsel as a minimization of their human efforts and a threat to that strategy. I wonder just what counselor they are listening to. They love to promote “wisdom” but tend to see faith as haphazard and even some sort of nonsensical supernatural voodoo. A life of true biblical faith is so foreign to them that the extent of their belief system is a cop-out by simply “trusting that God will do as he pleases.” True faith looks nothing like that. It's confident, authoritative and declarative. Pastors have no option but to repent of their silly anti-faith positions and to actually embrace some of the teachings they previously dismissed. Whether you appreciate the whole of who Kenneth Copeland (or similar ministers) is or not, you cannot deny the powerful truth on the subject of faith that he carries.
38 Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” Hebrews 10:38 (NKJV)
GO DEEP IN THE WORDThe world needs pastors who have the smell of fire on them as they emerge from the prayer rooms and stand with great anointing and authority behind the pulpit. The low-level milk of Bible teaching must cease as the Spirit of God reveals the deep mysteries of Scripture. The people of God must be students of the inerrant Word, allowing the truth to radically transform them. Times like this require a spiritual response, and the foundation of God's wisdom is found in his timeless Word. The tired Sunday School style sermons must cease as earth-shaking revelation from God's Word shakes us to our core, and equips us as mighty end-time soldiers.
12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 (ESV)
DEAL DIRECTLY WITH SINThe greatest debilitating factor in the church by far is unaddressed sin. A church that isn't pure, holy and consecrated is a liability, a breeding ground for demonic manifestation and a magnet for God's judgment. Hellfire preaching must return to the church and a call to intense consecration is simply mandatory if we hope to endure to the end. The Bible clearly instructs certain people to be removed from fellowship, but it's rare to find a leadership team that is willing to follow those orders. I propose it's either an attempt to extend more mercy than God himself is, or the leadership are steeped in the same sins themselves.
11 But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner–not even to eat with such a person. 12 For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? 13 But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.” 1 Corinthians 5:11-13 (NKJV) 5 deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 1 Corinthians 5:5 (NKJV)
TEACH ON THE END-TIMESI believe the church's greatest hour will be during the Great Tribulation. I understand that many others don't believe that at all. Eschatology is a volatile topic, but we can't afford to ignore it any longer. It's laughable to think the church is ready to endure such a terrible Tribulation period, even though God's wrath won't be expressed on his true church in that season. The measure of protection we'll have will be enough for us to have an opportunity to stay true to God and to proclaim his truth. Yet, today, with a comparatively very minor crisis in the world, the church is failing miserably. The church isn't ready. We need leaders who will emphasize the trials that are coming, whether they occur during the Tribulation period or not. We are in the end-times, and the end itself draws nearer every moment. I believe a casual approach and the thought that we'll be raptured away is detrimental and will cost potentially millions of Christians their very salvation. The falling away will be very great as countless Believers fail the test and don't endure to the end. Their blood will be on the hands of the pastors for failing to prepare them.
EQUIP IN SIGNS, WONDERS, HEALINGS AND MIRACLESI've been sadly stunned at the number of professing Christians who have little to no confidence in God's supernatural ability, and have even less confidence in their authority to move in wonders themselves. Training in signs, wonders, healings and miracles can't be delayed for another moment. We need a supernaturally charged people who are fiercely opposed to the illegal activity of the enemy. This includes fear, sickness, poverty and other assaults of the devil. The church needs to learn the difference between God-ordained pestilence and devil-initiated attacks. From that place, the church can rise up and function in absolutely remarkable signs and wonders as a traumatized world looks on and witnesses God in action. Hope will flood in and countless desperate lost people will be saved.
29 Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, 30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness. Acts 4:29-31 (NKJV)
KEEP ETERNITY IN FOCUSThe fact that Christians pay little attention to eternity and that their gaze is on the here and now has never been more evident in this generation than it is today. Instead of having peace and confidence about spending an eternity with Jesus, and being excited about that, so many are fearful and anxious about a virus that, in their minds, has the power to kill. It's time for our preaching to be zeroed in on eternity and to prepare people for the place they will be living forever. I am personally gripped by forever, by the expectation of the glories of the age to come. Do I want to die before my time? Of course not. But, I place myself in God's hands, and I battle the enemy's attempts to bring destruction to me and I trust that I will go not a second before or after my designated time.
55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 1 Corinthians 15:55 (KJV)
PREPARE TO GO UNDERGROUNDAs easy as it was for our government to force everybody indoors, and to cancel everything from sporting events to church services, and to threaten imprisonment for those who defy the orders, we better be preparing the people to go underground. We can't presume the internet will be available. We can't expect to be able to freely gather. There will come a time when we will have to choose to obey God rather then men and gather, illegally, to worship, pray and unite as Believers. Read this passage and be ready to expect a very similar scenario as the end draws near:
27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” 33 When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them. Acts 5:27-33 (ESV)
FINAL THOUGHTSThe call is for pastors to embrace a mighty shift in the church. Church as usual is no longer an option. We must see the people equipped as mighty men and women of great faith, fervent intercession, workers of miracles and prophetic instruments in the hands of God.
A shakeup in the culture of superstar, itinerant ministry would do us all some good.
We’ve all become frustrated, or even disgusted, with much of what we are seeing in today’s Christian landscape whether it’s on Christian television, at conferences or online. Some of that irritation is absolutely warranted, while some of it may be our own inappropriate judgments based on a lack of information. What I mean is, the way someone comes across publicly may rub us the wrong way due to misunderstanding their motive or not really tapping into their hearts.
We should be careful when arriving at such judgments to ensure our own hearts are pure.
We also need to be discerning enough to know when reform is necessary.
In this article I want to narrow down the focus specifically to itinerant ministers.
We’ve all been in a church service with a special guest speaker at the helm. By and large I’ve been positively impacted by these men and women of God and I can easily endorse their ministry.
However, even while honorable people are traveling from church to church, conference to conference, I’m seeing trends and a developing itinerant ministry culture that leaves me frustrated.
I also travel and am not at all immune to what I am going to discuss here. It’s extremely easy to fall into traps, presuming them necessary to keep the ministry moving forward. Motives can be pretty good while the execution leaves something to be desired.
Some itinerant ministers enjoy a cult following, and they are masters at drawing in the crowds. We need a raw, inconvenient reformation to come to itinerant ministry. God will not be mocked.
7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Galatians 6:7-8 (ESV)
9 NECESSARY CHANGES FOR ITINERANT MINISTRY CULTURE
Stop with the hype
I never want to adopt a suspicious, cynical attitude regarding moves of God, but I have to admit it’s becoming more and more difficult. I absolutely affirm flowing in whatever charisma and stage presence that God has given to us as ministers. I believe that is a gift. What needs to stop is the tired drama and efforts to make a meeting appear more substantial that it is. Folks, it’s a meeting. It will be over in a few hours. Quit making it out to be more than that.
When we hype something we are lying. In fact, we are edging close to a terrifying category of ministers: False Prophet
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 1 John 4:1 (ESV)
Of course, many ministers aren’t deliberate in their deception. I understand this. Some are overzealous which is a mark of immaturity. We don’t want to sit under false ministers or immature ministers. If you are in either one of these two categories I’d recommend repenting and growing before you proceed in your ministry.
Become accountable to an apostolic leader who will call you out on your reports. Stay humble. That’s the quickest track to true moves of God that will not need your hype.
“God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6 (ESV)
Counterpoint: God will always out perform hype if we let him. We should definitely expect remarkable moves of God in our meetings, and when that happens it should leave us speechless—not hype machines that have to promote something in the hopes that your superstar status grows. If God is moving, by all means, spread the word. But be honest. If you want to use hype I believe you’ll limit God to what you can imagine and are falsely reporting. In fact, God might not hang around for long at all in such an environment.
Huge altar calls aren’t mandatory
Every traveling minister loves to post to Instagram or Snapchat wide angle shots of masses of people responding to their amazing message. Come on preachers, you know it’s true! I can’t deny that it feels great to see people rushing the altars, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with that. It’s when we manipulate the service in such a way to get that photo op that problems arise.
Altar calls are actually a fairly recent innovation. Charles Finney popularized them. I don’t believe seeing people at an altar is a good measure of truly converted and transformed lives. It can very easily be a false positive.
George Whitefield, who historians identify as the key preacher of the Great Awakening, refused to speculate on how many of his listeners had been converted. “There are so many stony-ground hearers which receive the word with joy,” Whitefield said, “that I have determined to suspend my judgment till I know the tree by its fruits.” Revivals were the sole work of the Holy Spirit, and the test of time either confirmed or disproved these conversions. ~www.christianitytoday.com
It’s actually quite common in meetings I’m leading to forgo the altar call altogether. I often want the weighty message to rest heavy on people as they go home. I don’t want to give an artificial sense of completion to their decision to respond to the message. Some of my most memorable services have resulted in empty altars as people filed out the door and into their world with burning spirits.
In fact, true biblical preaching will often lead many to become angry and to leave! When this happens we may be on to something.
I think we should shoot for services that cause many to be amazed and many to mock. The altars might not be full but the message will shock the city!
12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.” Acts 2:12-13 (ESV)
Counterpoint: I’m waiting for the days when people can’t even make it through a heavily anointed message before they rush out of their seats to an altar in repentance. Very big, legitimate calls to the altar are in front of us, so as God leads let the people come in as a flood!
Praying for people isn’t mandatory either
Understand, I’m a prayer freak. I promote prayer relentlessly, so it may come as a surprise to you that I’m suggesting that prayer lines aren’t always necessary.
Something in my gut just doesn’t feel right when people attend a conference or a meeting with the primary motive of receiving prayer from the person bringing the message. Itinerant ministers often use this desire to their advantage as they call people forward, again, for that photo op or Facebook report.
Do I believe in praying for people, laying on of hands and activating the power of the Holy Spirit in their situation? Absolutely. I will never be able to give human language to encounters with God that I’ve had through other people who have prayed for me. However, it only happened when I was pursuing God alone and not some superstar preacher.
I often end services when I’m traveling without an altar call and without praying for people. I can often discern when people are craving some magical touch from a stranger they’ve never met instead of simply hitting their knees and encountering God themselves. I don’t typically like to play into that, unless God gives me the green light.
I’ve had pastors walk up to me after the service on many occasions asking if I’d pray for people. It seems the culture has been set and people are looking for that touch. In honor of the pastor who I am in submission to, I always comply with joy. However, I think we need to be led of the Spirit. Pray for those God highlights. Prophesy over those God points out. Often I’ll have people spread out in the room, find a place to pray and go hard after God alone as we close a service. The pressure to always give people that magical touch needs to stop.
In fact, do we understand that many people who want a touch are living in sin? They are unrepentant and are in search for healing or a prophetic word. The Bible is very clear regarding this:
Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure. 1 Timothy 5:22 (ESV)
We can’t bring affirmation to a person’s situation by praying for blessing to manifest when they are unrepentant. There have been many times people have asked me to pray for them and the word God gave me for them had nothing to do with their supposed need. God would reveal a heart issue and their need for a loving rebuke.
I think we need a reformation in the prayer lines. Lets see God really work in power and have the fear of the Lord land again.
The prayer lines that result in people falling over for no real reason need to be dispersed. The circus atmosphere must come to an end. If God’s in it, and prayer is his plan for the service, then go for it. If not, it’s more appropriate to close another way.
Counterpoint: God will most definitely call ministers to pray for people. I’ve spend hours after a service was over praying for and prophesying over every single person in the room on many occasions. If God’s directing it, you have to do it.
Shut down the green rooms
I was a workshop speaker at a conference several years ago. A well known worship leader was brought in, and though I absolutely love her ministry I was disappointed by a complaint she aired to me. She was extremely irritated that there wasn’t a green room for her to hide away in during down time. I was disappointed at her apparent spirit of entitlement. She felt special because her name was on the program.
Now, it is true, it’s a wonderful thing to have a private place to retreat to when you are expending all sorts of energy—physical, emotional and spiritual—when traveling and ministering. The efforts some churches make to bless visiting ministers in this way are really wonderful. The issue is the attitude.
I had no problem, at that conference, with hanging out with the people and resting on the floor or in a chair just like everybody else did between sessions. Why are guest ministers in hiding except when they are on the platform or behind their book table?
It’s time we see guest ministers in pre-service prayer meetings, in the foyer after the service and serving the people with great passion.
We aren’t there just to bring a message or to sing a song. We are there to serve. If there’s a church picnic between services, go to it! If there’s a special prayer meeting, you have to be there! When I travel I do my best to act just as if I were a member of that church. If I attended there, what would be expected of me? I guarantee I wouldn’t be hiding away in a green room.
For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves. Luke 22:27 (ESV)
Counterpoint: Traveling ministers do have unique challenges and needs. Will there ever be a time when retreating to pray and rest is needed? Yes, in fact it will be quite common. Hosts need to keep this in mind by not putting too much on their plate. If such an opportunity is given, guest ministers should receive that gift with thanks. If not, jump in with the rest of the body.
Stop focusing so much on money
Yes, it takes a lot of money to function as an itinerant minister. Churches, if you are hosting a guest speaker for a day or two, please ensure they are leaving with at least $1500-2000 in addition to their travel expenses if not much more. They have bills to pay that are much greater than you may realize. They should never have to even think about the money. You are hosting them. Be a really great host.
When I was pastoring, we had a very simple rule: Every dollar received in the offering for the guest minister, beyond expenses for the event, would go to them. If we received $10,000 in the special offering, all of it would go to the guest. If it was $1,000,000, the guest would become an overnight millionaire while the church received nothing.
Now, traveling ministers, the way many are approaching finances must change.
Please, stop the offering sermons that are nearly as long as the main message. We get it, you want a lot of money.
We also need to stop determining where we are going to minister based on the number of people there. What if a church of 10 wanted to bring you in? What if you had to sleep on the floor in the church basement? Would you go? I know many would, but many would not. I believe this attitude is shameful.
And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Luke 9:58 (ESV)
Why would you not go? It usually because there would be no notoriety, no crowds, no money. Shameful.
For those who have a minimum honorarium requirement, I’d encourage you to go to the Lord with that plan. If you won’t travel and minister for a few hundred bucks, what does that say about your pride? Trust me, you aren’t all that important.
If it isn’t worth your time and energy to minister for a few dollars, that is extremely telling. Building people up, training disciples and saving souls isn’t worth your investment? Again, shameful.
Counterpoint: I do believe a certain emphasis on financial giving is appropriate. Certainly receive an offering. Communicate truth in the Word as it relates to giving. Share a testimony. It’s good to keep this in front of the people. However, it’s about giving to God and not to your ministry.
Shut up with all of your demands
No, you aren’t a rock star.
If you place a minimum number of stars on the hotel you will stay in, you’ve fallen into a superstar delusion. You have become a prima donna.
a very temperamental person with an inflated view of their own talent or importance.
You don’t need a certain type of bottled water, first class seats on the airplane or anything else that worldly celebrities might demand. Trust me, you aren’t all that special.
If you won’t sleep in a host home and eat what’s put in front of you I question your qualifications for ministry.
Remember, Jesus stayed in a one star hotel as he began his mission to serve all mankind. His accommodations included hay for a mattress in a smelly barn under a bright star.
I’ve stayed in some very uncomfortable places over the years (but nowhere near as uncomfortable as what baby Jesus experienced). I’ve stayed in homes with people that I don’t click with. Rooms I’ve slept in were musty and caused my allergies to go haywire. I’ve eaten meals from a can heated in a microwave. Is that what I prefer? Of course not. But, it’s not about me! I’m not there to be served! I’m there to lay down my life, my demands, my opinions and to serve with unrelenting passion!
You are there to give, to bless, to serve. It’s not the other way around.
43 But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:43-45 (ESV)
Counterpoint: I believe it’s just fine to communicate what type of food you prefer, what type of accommodations would be most comfortable and other points that would make your visit easier. Just don’t make them into demands. Honor them and don’t require them to honor you.
Quit exaggerating miracles
I know, people will flock to your meetings if they think miracles are happening. That’s unavoidable. What is avoidable is lying.
When reports of healings and miracles get most of the press instead of mass repentance and surrender you should be alert. That doesn’t mean God’s not moving, but it does mean that there may be exaggeration in the mix.
In the Bible we do see people repenting and excitedly reporting about healings and miracles. What we don’t see is Jesus blasting them all over the press of the day.
If healings aren’t clear and obvious, just steer clear. Quit reporting on possibilities.
A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will perish. Proverbs 19:9 (ESV)
If you are called to preach the Truth in your meetings, and you are lying about what God is doing, you should be trembling in the fear of the Lord right about now.
Counterpoint: We should expect miracles! When God is moving we should see great and mighty works before our very eyes. When this happens, shout it from the rooftops! You should find yourself without words to explain exactly what happened instead of wordsmithing something that needs your marketing skills for it to be convincing.
Stop giving the people what they want
Itinerant ministers are avoiding necessary scriptural truths in their meetings for the sake of drawing a larger crowd.
The topics of the hour seem to be prosperity, healing, encouraging words, signs and wonders and personal growth.
16 Thus says the LORD of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD. 17 They say continually to those who despise the word of the LORD, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’” Jeremiah 23:16-17 (ESV)
We need preachers who will come out of their prayer rooms on fire with a message from Heaven! Preach the room empty with a striking, convicting word for the hour. Preach in such a way that people either hate you and leave with their money still in their wallets or the fall in love with Jesus.
Quit trying to make friends from the pulpit! Stop building your mailing list with admirers! Preach with the conviction of Peter on the day of Pentecost!
22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. Acts 2:22-24 (ESV)
37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:37-38 (ESV)
Counterpoint: No, every message doesn’t have to cut to the heart. There is a time to teach on blessing, healing, abundant life and other such topics. In fact, some people are raised up to teach on such topics often. But, there must be the searing Word of God burning through them. Messages of repentance and surrender simply cannot be forsaken.
Stop being dishonest about your meetings
I suppose this is related to the issue of hype. How often do you see posts on Facebook from a traveling minister that go like this:
I preached with passion and am hungry for an outpouring, but this service was a dud. The anointing wasn’t really there. People weren’t impacted. If I were sitting out there I’d be thinking of what I’m going to eat for lunch.
How refreshing a report like that would be! An honest evaluation of an event should lead to an honest report. Come on everybody, God doesn’t always do big things in a service. If he doesn’t, don’t tell the world that he did.
And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. Mark 6:5 (ESV)
How powerful is it that God himself reported on a bad service! (For Jesus, a bad service meant only a few sick people got healed!)
Is it possible your faith, your preparation, your anointing or your skill isn’t up to standards? Jesus was perfect and he experienced a bad service. My guess is you and I will experience many that are much worse…and often it’s because of our own lives and not the unbelief in the people.
Counterpoint: I would say it’s great if we report in faith, without lying. If we communicate that we sense God is desiring to do a great work in the midst of a challenging situation, that is a smart move—if he really said that to you.
First, watch last night’s School of Prayer. It was a powerful night with practical teaching on how to have extreme success in prayer.
We then modeled what was taught in prayer. You are SURE to learn a lot! WATCH HERE.
Watch tonight’s service at www.thefurnace.tv/live!
theFurnace exists to gather forerunners who are united in the mandate to initiate reformation in the church and revival in the region. As carriers of the fire of God, we are single-minded in our mission to rally a generation that will embrace the cross of Christ, pursue radical holiness, engage in fervent prayer, live a life of repentance and experience both the freedom and the fear of the Lord.
You can DOWNLOAD NOTES and follow along with tonight’s message by clicking on “Extravagant Intimacy” under the Teaching Notes section next to the media player at www.thefurnace.tv/live.
“The coming moves of God will require nothing short of a revolution of our current structures, models and mindsets. Not an adjustment or an enhancement, but deep reform. The resulting fire and presence of the Holy Spirit will cause us to marvel and wonder why we ever resisted at all.”- John Burton, based on his book 20 Elements of Revival
The following was written after being awakened in the night—a word of reformation for the church.
It was delivered to the church of Colorado Springs many years ago, but it is applicable to the church of America. I shared this at Revival Church recently. It’s time for reform!
Reformation: The Church of Colorado Springs
God has given the Church of Colorado Springs every resource necessary to initiate a fire of revival that will burn our city, our nation and our planet.
We can all agree this fire is not raging- and the current structure in our city can neither initiate nor sustain a move of God of this magnitude.
It’s time for a radical and momentous change in the Church of Colorado Springs. It’s time for a reformation.
1. We must repent of prayerlessness. A call is being made for every believer to pray with hunger and passion to an extreme degree. Spiritual leaders of this city must model such a lifestyle of prayer on a daily basis. It must be our primary activity. Pastors and leaders- let’s agree to a minimum of one three hour prayer watch every day.
Leonard Ravenhill said, “Pastors who don’t pray two hours a day aren’t worth a dime a dozen”
Acts 6:4 “but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”
2. We must repent of competition. It’s time to promote the City Church ahead of our local Church. Are we willing to lose people, money, our ministries and our reputations in order for God’s corporate dream of city-wide revival to explode?
Phil 2:3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.
3. We must repent for being mindful of man ahead of God- and then resign our positions as salespeople. We are to once again lead with a bold prophetic mantle. As a leader, the primary role is to hear God in prayer and to declare his Word to the people. The body must renounce consumerism in the Church by asking not what our Church can do for us but what we can do for our Church.
Mat 16:23 But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”
4. We must repent for forsaking the house of prayer. There is a call for every church in the city to maintain a 24-hour prayer center as its primary ministry. It is to be modeled and led by senior leadership. The primary purpose of the Church is not teaching, visitor assimilation or fellowship. It is undeniably night and day prayer for the nations. Lengthy prayer should be taught and modeled as the dominant activity of every believer.
Is 56:7 Even them I will bring to My holy mountain, And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices Will be accepted on My altar; For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.”
5. We must repent of pride. God resists the proud, and this city can’t afford for God to move away from us. We must repent, humble ourselves and cry for Jesus to come!
James 4:6 “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”
6. We must repent for quenching the Holy Spirit. Our cry must be, “Come as you are and do what you want!” Sunday services should be marked by significant and earth-shaking supernatural moves of the Holy Spirit.
1 Thes 5:19 Do not quench the Spirit.
7. We must repent for resisting the prophetic. Now, more than ever, we need to hear the Word of the Lord. We must teach every believer how to hear God, how to steward that Word and how to take responsibility in the fulfillment of that Word.
1 Thes 5:20 Do not despise prophecies.
8. We must embrace and teach on the experiential reality of the presence of God. If someone were to be on the moon, would he want to learn about air or experience air? Colorado Springs must experience the fresh flowing air of the Holy Spirit again.
Acts 2:2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.
9. We must be willing to forsake programs and policies set in place by the demands of man in favor of the divine vision of the Holy Spirit.
10. We must release control of our services and expect to stay late, burn hot, experience much, cast out demons, prophesy, proclaim the Word, worship intensely and enjoy a wonderfully messy but Holy Spirit ordered event. The first Church was birthed supernaturally in such a way that many marveled and many mocked. It must continue now as it started then.
11. We must raise the bar of expectations and do now what we will be doing when revival breaks out. Pray continually, be in the House of Prayer daily, cry out for justice, establish the 24-hour church, give, serve and enjoy God with other believers..
Luke 18:7 And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them?
Luke 2:37 and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.
Acts 2:46 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.
12. We must repent for canceling services, closing the church doors and lowering the expected commitment. We have submitted to a deadly and apathetic American culture, and it’s time to lead the way and bring reformation to that culture. The Church must dominate our calendars again.
13. We must cry out for the love of God to weigh on His church in the form of both mercy and judgment. Pray for God’s judgment to rest on you, your church and this city so as to ensure wrong things are made right, holiness prevails and God reigns supreme.
1 Pet 4:17 For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?
14. We must teach Acts chapter two style- experience a move of God and then teach on it. Experience an overpowering move of the Holy Spirit to such a degree that highly anointed biblical teachings penetrate hearts. What God does is taught and explained from a supernatural perspective.
Acts 2:14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. 15 For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
15. We must admit there are demons and that they must be dealt with. Not through programs and projects but through prophetic proclamation. A unified assault on the kingdom of darkness will result in mass deliverance in our city.
James 4:7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
16. We must be available for repositioning and do away with the redundancy that a church on every corner invites. Many churches in our city should close. Those pastors would then assume more appropriate positions of service in other churches. Teachers would lead centers of teaching, pastors would lead small groups, and other leaders would serve in a variety of physical locations within the City Church. The goal is one City Church, many departments, unified leadership and individualized roles.
17. We must again become Holy Spirit sensitive instead of seeker sensitive. People aren’t looking for something worth living for, but rather for a cause worth dying for. Show them the cross. The normal New Testament Church experience is one of extreme manifestations of God, death to self, prophetic preaching and an unapologetic invasion into the culture which results in momentous change.
Mark 8:34 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel's will save it.
18. We must again embrace dreams, visions, praying in the Holy Spirit and extreme encounters with God.
1 Cor 14:39 Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues.
19. We must repent for presenting a watered down, socially acceptable gospel. Salvation requires death, surrender and commitment to the plans of God.
Mark 10:21 Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” 22 But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
20. We must repent for emphasizing what people can get instead of what they are to give. To enter a church with the expectation of leaving with more than you entered with is to embrace the same spirit the money changers did. We must again, with fear and trembling, enter the House of Prayer with the expectation of making a sacrifice and giving an offering.
Mat 21:12 Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. 13 And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,' but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.' ”
21. We must encourage every believer to grow intentionally, rapidly and independently. And then, to step into their assigned ministry role.
Heb 5:12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. 14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
22. We must call for the fear of the Lord to return to our Churches and city.
Prov 23:17 Do not let your heart envy sinners, But be zealous for the fear of the Lord all the day; 18 For surely there is a hereafter, And your hope will not be cut off.
23. We must repent for rebellion, self-government, lawlessness and an independent spirit. This is evidenced through church hopping and by leaving a church without being sent out by the leaders. This results in compromised missions, a divisive spirit and a splintering of the body. Accountability and submission to authority must again return to the Church.
Heb 13:17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.
24. We must repent of gossip, complaining and other forms of witchcraft.
Prov 6:16 These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: 17 A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, 18 A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, 19 A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren.
25. We must repent for embracing a religious spirit. Religion is man’s attempt to use God to get what he wants. It’s time to cry out for God to remove our man made structures and advance his Kingdom in our city!
26. We must repent to the nation for misrepresenting Colorado Springs as a significant national Christian center of Holy Spirit activity. It is not. We have wrongly stewarded this responsibility.
27. We must repent for not praying intently for our leaders. Their failure is our failure.
1 Tim 2:1 Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.
As we pray, unify, preach the cross, love God and the people of our city with passion and embrace the present Word of the Lord Colorado Springs will be a propellant for revival around the world.
Written trembling in the fear of the Lord,