This is a raw, timely message to the church regarding the risk necessary to see revival come to a region.
I'd like to encourage you to read Piece of Cake which is a guide for those who are called to move into ministry—but are nervous and hesitant.
In the midst of writing from the prayer room, I found myself compelled to share some of my journey with you—the successes and failures, the joys and the troubles.
There will always be extreme pressure to adjust your vision, sometimes ever so slightly, to be more appealing to others, but it’s this adjustment that will put your entire mission at jeopardy.
I’ll just say it—when God gives you your mandate, you must be both humble and stubborn—and no matter how humble you are, your stubborn disposition will invite trouble. Convincing arguments from wonderful people can lead you to compromise. Don’t do it. Love people in your stubborn, unmoving determination to obey God. In ministry, there are negotiables and non-negotiables. Never move on the non-negotiable vision God has called you to steward.
I believe there is a remnant, a very small army of prayer-devoted awakeners, who will respond to the mission God put into my spirit years ago.
So, what is the risk? Most would say, “Just go for it! Develop a ministry that gathers together those end-time firebrands!”
I absolutely agree, and we are attempting to do just that. But, there is significant risk when we consider what we are talking about here.
The purpose of this article is to help you eliminate fears and compromises as you develop your ministry. A fulfilled mission is required!
Mission ConfusionOne of the most difficult barriers to overcome when developing a ministry according to a fresh but unfamiliar vision is the “supposed to’s.”
In our Western church culture, there are numerous focuses, ministries, attitudes and functions that are just “supposed to” be a significant part of the ministry. When attention isn’t given to what others presume are non-negotiable, discord and accusation can quickly enter the camp. Many leaders (most) will diplomatically, democratically attempt to avoid discord by entertaining these arguments in the name of unity. However, the result is false-unity around the desires of people instead of true unity around the mandates of God. How can you tell the difference? False unity is inclusive of all, true unity requires agreement that most are unwilling to adhere to.
Under Moses, there was accusation that he was most interested in his vision to enter the Promised Land, and that he wasn’t concerned for his people and their safety. Their arguments were convincing—and they won the argument—and then died in the desert.
I once went through a trying season that highlights this point very well.
Our mandate has always been unique. As a ministry of reformation, it is by design entertaining disruption and recalibration, and this will always cause trouble. I won’t go into the details, but suffice it to say that God gave me a very clear prophetic word when I was leading a ministry in Colorado to transition from ministering to people to ministering to him. I was to vertically focus on God and draw others into that encounter with me. That vision is quite offensive as it takes the primary focus off of people and puts it on God.
As a result, our ministry would not look like a typical one and would not focus on many of the expected ministries that you find in other churches and ministries. When we went through our trying time, there were some amazing friends who were wired a bit differently, and who were seeking some ministry focuses that were good, but not what we were to facilitate. There was confusion in the camp as I was running one way and they wanted to run in a slightly different direction.
It was presumed that our church, or any church, was “supposed to” be pastor led with a focus on community. Revival Church was Apostle led with a focus on intercession. Mostly vertical with a little horizontal. Our friends saw a lack of focus on community, and the lack of pastoral ministry, as a problem while we saw it as intentional and core to our mission. I’m so blessed to have Barbara Yoder as our spiritual covering. She and her team have gone to great lengths to communicate that their church is not a “family church” but rather a regional equipping center. They are key in the reformation from one system to another. The family church is the expected norm today, and it does truly take quite an effort of vision casting to break through that expectation.
To see reformation, you will have to work hard to cast the vision, and then to stay true to it. Our culture of fiery intercession and equipping awakeners has resulted in a surprising and deep community of people that love one another and who are keeping their gaze upon the Lord together! We have burning ones who pray as their primary ministry, and enjoy doing it with friends and family around them.
At the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, you don’t see a lot of hanging out for the sake of hanging out, but you do see people in the prayer room together ministering to the Lord. That culture is a problem for those who don’t crave to pray, but can you imagine IHOP bending to develop a culture that doesn’t emphasize prayer? It’s nonsensical. But, it’s only nonsensical now because they have gone through much trial and trouble to set their culture. They stayed true to the mandate even when it was confusing to more traditional Christians.
ResourcesWhen you adhere to God’s risky vision, you are at great risk of losing the resources of the majority. Since an apostolic spirit of reformation is initiating change to the status quo, the high majority of those who still value the status quo will not invest in your vision.
The cash flow of your church or ministry is absolutely at risk of slowing to a crawl. Are you OK with that? Pastors may have to surrender their security and salaries, get secular jobs and trust that God will truly provide—because many people will stop giving.
They will also not show up. They won’t run with you. Are you OK with that or will you look for a happy medium that’s appealing to the majority?
If you pray for a remnant, don’t be surprised when a remnant shows up—and the majority leaves. I absolutely do want many to contend with us for revival, but, I am willing to sacrifice their investment for the sake of staying true to our mission.
I have a lot of weaknesses. That’s not false-humility, it’s true. Just ask my wife! However, I am convinced that I am skilled just enough to grow a church, with the right team, to possibly 250. We had a church consultant years ago that said we had what it took to grow a church to 300-400.
Why and I revealing this? To let you know how easy it might be to sacrifice the mission for the sake of personal satisfaction.
A church of 250 would ensure that I would have a great salary and the ability to pay other key staff members. We would also have significant resources to grow and facilitate additional ministries. We’d have the people and the money to do much. It would feel great to be ‘successful’ in the eyes of man.
In our recent trial, some friends were focused on church growth and on creating a vibrant, exciting atmosphere with people who were deeply connected to one another. This sounds great! And, I actually want this too. However, this is very important—that goal is not the goal. It is actually more of a desire than a strategic focus.
Yes, a lot of people gathering together each week can be very good, but I had already made the decision that we would not compromise the vision for the sake of resources—be it money or people or an energetic environment. I’m willing to run with a remnant and keep investing outside of the ministry to help pay the bills.
The resources this ministry needs are burning, interceding prayer warriors who minister to God night and day. Any compromise of the vision would ensure those people won’t show up. I’ve counted the cost, and that is my goal, no matter how great the challenge or how injurious it is to my ego, energy, time or ability to grow. In fact, the humility and challenge does me good.
Lack of MomentumSmall numbers and minimal buy-in are extremely hard for many people to look past. Staying the course on the way to mission fulfillment will result in that small remnant running with you, and for some, small numbers look like failure. The momentum won’t be there. That in itself can result in lost hope. This is not good! This is why unity around the vision is so critical. You must have buy in from those who are running with you.
Again, the vision is NOT a large group of people. It’s a fulfilled mission! I have to communicate this so false-expectations don’t result in frustration.
At one point in our ministry, our worship team moved on, and this is when we decided to hold off on finding a new one. We decided to lead the services in prayer. I knew numbers would drop, and they did. I also knew that I had a job ahead of me of communicating the true vision. Our vision is not to add people, and I had to make that clear. Anybody, including myself, loves a big crowd. There’s some sense of accomplishment when that happens. Momentum is addictive. However, it really is not the goal. I have led ministries that had decent sized crowds, and a sense of momentum, but I was grieved. We were growing with people who didn’t fully buy into the mission.
Trust me, I’d rather function without visible momentum while running with a few who are all in than with a crowd of people who are mostly there because of the experience. This is a huge point!
That being said, I am looking forward to the day when many buy into the vision and we actually see stadiums filled with burning intercessors! Now, that’s momentum! But, I don’t want to see a stadium filled with people who are only there for the experience. I’d rather buy a ticket to an NFL game at packed stadium and be legitimately entertained than attempt to spiritualize an electric quasi-worship-fest with an arena full of interested but non-invested people.
If we want momentum, we can create momentum. Just gather people around a self-satisfying, entertaining message and slap the name of Jesus on it. Or, you can reveal the costly, deadly message of the cross and call people to a life of inconvenient intercession and spend years and decades creating a prayer movement. I choose the latter.
Invisible Realities are Invisible NonethelessThe true church is a supernatural church. When you start leading people into the invisible, you will lose those who walk by sight and not by faith.
I often counsel pastors and others to check on who really is and who is not with them. Is their team invested in the vision? The way to do this is simple—throw a prayer meeting and develop a prayer culture. Create an environment for your leaders where only those who are walking in the spirit can keep up with you. Those who are living according to the flesh, or who are leaning on their own understanding instead of living in the spirit will be quickly exposed.
The desire for unbiblical community (as opposed to biblical community) is a result of focusing on the visible more than the invisible. I regularly encourage people to get their satisfaction from the invisible, spiritual realm primarily—be with God and encounter him daily! The person that truly follows that advice is rare indeed.
True, biblical community actually exists in the spirit realm! In the invisible realm!
The problem with leading people into the invisible realm? Those people have to invest radically into a life of consecration, fervent prayer and going deep in God. Those who don’t do this won’t even understand where you are going or how to follow. Leading a spiritual church requires a spiritual people. For those are are invested at a lesser level, they will struggle, and usually leave. It is hard to lead a supernatural church.
Understand, I’m not talking about a church where the supernatural manifests in the natural, I mean a supernatural church that exists in the invisible realm. Those who truly walk in the spirit aren’t focused on physical manifestations nearly as much as they are encountering God in the spirit.
It feels quite spiritual to cry out for God to manifest in our natural realm, but his desire is for us to manifest in his supernatural realm. The call isn’t “on heaven as it is on earth,” but “on earth as it is in heaven.”
Not so Friendly FireThere is a temptation to minimize the cost when moving out into a mission. However, a revolution is bloody. It’s not for the weak minded, or those who are looking for personal affirmation or a lot of friends. You absolutely will be slandered, attacked, accused, talked about, mocked and ridiculed. When you don’t lead the way that others believe you should, trouble follows.
The reason this point is so important to understand is that the enemy is extremely proficient at using the fear of friendly fire to keep leaders in alignment with his unholy plans.
You better be good at separating out people and devils! We cannot wrestle against flesh and blood. It’s extremely important for me to be able to easily, without issue, give those who have wounded me a big hug if I ever saw them again! That is the goal! The friendly fire will come, often through well meaning people who just don’t know how to facilitate their grievances. If you are afraid of the attack, you will compromise your mission before you even begin.
False-expectations will lead people to, at times, become quite fierce in their resistance. Since you are bringing reformation to a system they may value, you better get ready for a spiritual battle!
Gossip is revenge. I often teach on this, and I mention that I can most always feel the spirit of gossip, even when I have no natural indicators that its taking place. It’s a spirit of witchcraft, and I am very alert to that demon.
I’ll be very raw and honest with you. It’s grieving, but nonetheless a reality in my life—I am gossiped about a lot. I feel it. My family feels it. The wounds are real. It’s usually spiritualized gossip—wonderful people sharing their concerns about our ministry’s lack of ‘balance’ with other wonderful people. The spirit of Absalom is crafty—it highlights often accurate analysis about a leader, and it devises a plan to cause what they want to come to pass—or else.
You cannot avoid this! Stay humble and full of love. I was talking to a national leader once about a website that was fully devoted to communicating the author’s issues with him. It was vile. He even secured the domain of that leader’s name! He was intent on exposing and destroying. He was frustrated, mad, hurt and in disagreement with this leader. He used scripture to “back up” his claims and gathered other people around him to discredit the leader.
What was the leader’s response me when I asked him about it? He said God sent that man as a thorn in his flesh to keep him humble. Friendly fire turned to good!
Mike Bickle at IHOP has regularly been accused of not caring about people or creating an environment where people can socially connect with one another. What his accusers didn’t understand was that God was requiring him to develop a reformed culture where ministry to God was primary, and any ministry that stole focus from that had to be tabled until it could be developed in such a way that it supported the prayer movement.
Mike wasn’t anti-community, he was anti-distraction. He was guarding the main thing. However, the assaults against him have been merciless. Thank God, Mike has stayed the course and hasn’t compromised the mission of intercession for the nations.
High Potential of FailureIf you fear failure, you better find another line of work!
I’ll give you a glimpse into my book Piece of Cake where I address this issue in detail. Keep in mind, it’s a rough draft and I will be adding to it as I get closer to completing the book:
Yes, you are going to fail. Go ahead and wrestle with it now, you can’t avoid it. I don’t mean ultimate failure, of course. But, I do mean that you will pray much, do your best to gain insight from God, consider your best options, seek wisdom from others and then move out with at least a measure of confidence—and you will experience failure!
Most young ministers crave for others to presume them to be successful and steady with a pipeline directly into the command center of Heaven. The reality? We see in part. We understand little. We have clarity on a small part of the big picture, and when we initiate action, others will watch as we stumble and struggle. Are you OK with that?
Thomas Edison said, “Just because something doesn't do what you planned it to do doesn't mean it's useless.” Quoted in Artifacts: An Archaeologist's Year in Silicon Valley (2001) by Christine Finn. p. 90
Your job is not to be so careful that you avoid failure, it’s to be instant in obedience! In fact, failure is sweet when you learn how to handle the pressure it brings. Failure is an effective and desirable teacher. You may actually find yourself enjoying the various failures you experience, as a researcher would in a laboratory, in your pursuit toward efficiency and success. Really, the main thing standing in the way of the sweetness of failure is pride. If our goal is to impress people instead of developing ministries that set them free, we have no business even considering entering into a ministry project. We need to mature a little bit more first.
One of the most prevalent issues that I come across on a regular basis is the fear of missing God. Often people feel led to initiate a ministry, or to make a move in that direction, and they are afraid of being outside of God’s plan. This is a legitimate concern, but fear should not drive us. Wisdom should.
There was a time when I was living the life as a youth pastor in a church in the San Diego area. It was amazing! I was at the beach every Thursday and had a stress free, invigorating position in the church. I had full liberty to develop the youth department according to my vision and ideas. After a year and a half in that church I was offered a position in a large church in the Dallas area. It was a completely different environment, and making such a move would be a huge decision. I felt I had confirmation and I was excited about the possibilities this new opportunity presented, but I was afraid of missing God.
A good friend of mine gave me some of the most simple yet most profound and life changing advice I had ever received. He simply quoted scripture and said, “The steps of a righteous man are ordered of the Lord.”
The revelation was instant. If I was living a righteous life, and was making righteous decisions, God would order my steps—even if and when I ever made a misstep! The fear and pressure of making a wrong decision lifted off of me! I have used that counsel countless times in my life sense. When I feel led to make a decision, I ensure I’m living in righteousness and am doing my due diligence through prayer and seeking counsel, and then I step! I trust that God will direct my steps, and if I’m off track a little bit, he will lovingly guide me back. It’s really a glorious way to live!
As I do this, I am fully confident that a lot of sweet failure is ahead of me, and I learn how to stay joyful and teachable as I learn from every ministry experiment.
Keep in mind, I am not advising a haphazard life. That will only cause you unnecessary frustration. Measure your decisions and step according to wisdom as you live in the spirit, and refuse to fear knowing that both temporary failures and ultimate victory are both ahead!
I’ve heard it said that we should make quick, pretty good decisions as opposed to calculated, perfect ones. Using this book as an example, I could have pulled out various resources, created a perfect outline, pondered it for a few months and eventually start writing. But, instead, my quick, pretty good decision has resulted in writing chapter two just one day after I started designing and writing the book. If my schedule allows, I can have this entire book written, in less than perfect but fully acceptable form, in just a few days! I’m literally sitting here in the prayer room unsure of what I will write next, but that’s OK. My goal is to pour out my heart, get the message out and move on to the next project sooner than later.
I have no fear of failure. Many will enjoy this book, many won’t get past the first chapter and many will think it’s a ridiculous concept and never pick it up. That is OK! There are people who will be unlocked into their destiny and that is all that matters!
I’ll share another failure with you. I value the advance of the Kingdom through church and house of prayer planting. I personally love the process of starting with nothing and watching God build a ministry that truly touches lives.
While leading Revival Church in the Detroit region, my family and I moved about thirty minutes north by the apple orchards. It is a different environment than where our church is, and I felt the birthing and planting bug start to buzz in me again. So, we planted Revival Church North in my living room.
We met for several weeks on Sunday mornings and drew a handful of interested people, but, I could sense early on that the necessary traction wasn’t there. Just as quickly as I decided to plant the church, I punted. It was fourth down and we could go for it or we could admit failure and move on to the next project. If I was walking in pride, I would have fought to keep it going, but, rather, it was easy for me to let it go. That plant failed. So what? Clearly it wasn’t meant to be, and that’s OK. Believe it or not, I lost literally zero emotional energy through that process. I woke up the next day and refocused, prayed more and talked to God about next steps. There was still much burning in me and there are missions to attend to.
Thomas Edison said, “None of my inventions came by accident. I see a worthwhile need to be met and I make trial after trial until it comes.” Statement in a press Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Harvey Firestone, Alexis Carrel & Charles Lindbergh (conference (1929), as quoted in Uncommon Friends: Life with 1987) by James D. Newton, p. 24
If there is a need that you are picking up on, get to work! Trial and error are both your friend! Don’t allow a spirit of insignificance to keep you from being the one that God wants to use to bring transformation, whether it’s in leading a Sunday School class, developing a Kingdom business, starting a church or doing anything else God is leading you to do!
Remember Gideon? All he knew was that he was the weakest and the least, yet all God called him was mighty man of valor! Gideon was cowardly, as was his entire community. They were in hiding from their enemy, afraid of losing their crops, their livelihood.
Judges 6:14-16 (ESV) 14 And the LORD turned to him and said, “Go in this might of yours and save Israel from the hand of Midian; do not I send you?” 15 And he said to him, “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.” 16 And the LORD said to him, “But I will be with you, and you shall strike the Midianites as one man.”
This is God’s call to you! Don’t fear! Don’t fear failure! God had ordered your steps you mighty man of valor! Don’t wait for others to affirm you, you will be waiting for decades possibly! Don’t wait for the perfect plan. Gideon advanced with one percent of the army available to him and told them to blow their trumpets and smash their jars. That doesn’t sound like a good plan at all, but it was what God led them to do. God has a Gideon’s army waiting for you to have the courage to respond immediately with an imperfect plan and an insufficient army to lead them into their destiny!
Remember that failure is an event, not a person. ~Zig Ziglar
While potentially provocative, it’s important to discuss the issue of church competition as we progress toward revival.
It hits me very deeply, and it saddens me so much when I encounter a spirit of competition within the landscape of the church.
This issue is rampant and it has resulted in a weakened, compromised city church structure, which is extremely problematic as we prepare for revival.
1 Timothy 3:14-15 (ESV) 14 I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, 15 if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.
This passage is written with leaders in mind. It’s important to know how to behave in the household of God… and how not to behave.
Keep in mind, scripturally the church is identified by the larger city, by geography. It’s the Church at Ephesus, not the First Church of Jesus Christ and the Second Church of Jesus Christ and such and such Baptist church in the city of Ephesus. We don’t see the local church in the Bible, though God has and will move powerfully through local, smaller groups within the larger city Church. However, we have to understand that local churches are simply departments of a single city Church. Senior pastors are departmental leaders under the apostolic leadership of the city.
The call of leaders is to raise up a company of burning ministers of God with the expectation of seeing them released into world shaking endeavors. Some will be released into ministry in other cities, some will be released into other expressions of the church in their own city, while others will remain directly involved where they were trained.
But, everybody must be trained and released. The message to Timothy continues:
1 Timothy 4:14-15 (ESV) 14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.
Everybody must be progressing.
prog·ress n. 1. Movement, as toward a goal; advance.
Everybody under my care at Revival Church must be moving! If someone is not able to progress, to move, to advance in their ministry due to nervous pastors, it is a serious violation of God’s instructions to the Church. As I said, movement may take people out of a local ministry and into the place they are called to advance into, and we as leaders must celebrate when that happens.
A spirit of Pharaoh within spiritual leaders will do everything possible to keep their people from leaving into their wilderness of encounter, into their destiny.
That unhealthy spirit of Pharaoh will use people to fulfill leader’s personal endeavors, and any thought of those people leaving will strike them with fear and anger. A divisive, controlling spirit is embraced while people who are meant to fulfill their destinies are required to continue making the bricks of a man-made Egypt.
I didn’t realize how much a simple statement would set someone free.
A new friend had been through a troubling situation at a church and her transition out was filled with unfortunate and unnecessary struggle and guilt.
She cautiously started to investigate Revival Church from her place of fear and pain. We were discussing our pursuit as a church of freedom in Detroit one day, and I told her, “I don’t own you. I don’t own people here. As a pastor, my role is to serve you, not use you.”
That simple statement changed her life dramatically and caused her to breathe more easily.
I often tell the people who are pressing ahead with great commitment and focus at Revival Church that I, as their leader, have wide open hands. They aren’t my possession, they are my joy. Anybody from any church or ministry can, at any time, openly recruit any person at Revival Church. I have open hands. Sheep stealing cannot happen at Revival Church because it’s impossible to steal what someone freely gives.
Additionally, I know that my church is simply a department of the city church. I am not an island to myself. I’m not the supreme leader (yeah, doesn’t that sound ridiculous?). It would be silly for a local church’s single’s pastor to refuse to allow someone in his ministry to also commit to a weekly small group in the same local church. The same is true within the context of the city church. It makes no sense to presume people running with us at Revival Church wouldn’t also have opportunities to serve in other local ministries. My job, as 1 Tim 4:14-15 declares, is to lay hands on them and allow them to immerse themselves in their ministry, to practice, to progress, and I realize that much of that practice will take place in places other than Revival Church.
If a pastor in Detroit encourages one of my key leaders to serve on his leadership team, then I should celebrate! And I do! They aren’t stealing one of my sheep. We are on the same team, in the same church!
A youth pastor once confronted a friend of mine, who was a youth pastor at a thriving youth ministry in Texas. He very boldly, full of agitation, accused my friend of stealing his sheep because many of the youth from his church were also attending my buddy’s youth ministry.
My friend boldly replied, “How is it that you are accusing me of stealing sheep that simply wandered away from you? It doesn’t sound like you are feeding them what they need.”
Now, there is some merit (harsh but true) to that reply. However, another scenario might very well be more accurate. Is it possible that the other youth pastor was so successful at cultivating hunger for God that his disciples were making determined decisions to go after God with abandon—beyond the walls of their local church? Is it possible that their ‘wandering’ could be looked at as a sign of success on his part? I think that might be the case!
I have to tell you, I absolutely come alive when people under my care are moving about the city involving themselves in other churches and ministries. I love it! I want them to carry the fire of God into every place they can every single week!
We often hear that churches should not focus on transfer growth, on growing as people from other churches start connecting in the new church. Of course, I agree that we must see the church globally grow through evangelism, through conversion growth. The lost must be found. However, a common reason we hear some pastors renouncing transfer growth is because of insecurity and nervousness. They don’t want to lose anybody because that loss would equate to lost money, lost reputations, lost control, etc.
Again, we must expect people to participate in a variety of churches and ministries in the city Church. Since we are all in a single city Church, people moving from one local expression to another does not mean they are leaving one church for another. They are still in the city Church. If someone moves from the single’s ministry to a small group, there’s no transfer growth for the small group. The city Church has remained exactly the same size.
We must also admit that any single local church simply doesn’t have everything necessary to equip everybody. In fact, we’d be a much stronger city Church if we understood that. I am able to focus on the vision God has given me at Revival Church, and I don’t have the pressure to be an expert in everything. I can encourage people to connect in another church that’s strong where I am weak. And, if they feel they must spend the majority of their time there, under the leadership of a person who’s more able to give them what they need, then that is great! They can transfer from my local church to theirs, but the city Church has not lost…it has actually won. That person will now be more able to grow and progress, and the city church will be the better for it.
This is where the gloves have to come off. It’s a serious violation of God to foster a spirit of competition.
I was with a well known apostle who has a huge heart for revival in Detroit. He has a lot of influence and a very successful church in another state. He felt led to make several trips to serve Detroit, and on this particular trip he was with a group of pastors. He said, “Don’t worry, I’m not going to move here and start a church.” Everybody laughed.
While funny, I was disturbed by that exchange.
Why would the thought of this man opening another department in the growing city church cause other pastors to worry?
Of course, I know the answer. Because a successful man starting a new church would threaten their own kingdoms.
I don’t want to be overly dramatic, but I have to say that actually sickens me. People are going to Hell and pastors are worried about another ministry being successful? Sick.
Dr. James Emery White said: If you think a new church opening up in your area is a threat to your “mission field”, you need mission lessons.
Mark 3:24-25 (ESV) 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.
Is there any wonder why there is no revival at a city level anywhere in the nation? The city Church is divided tragically. There is gossip about pastors and churches. There is fear and nervousness when other churches succeed. Hands are closed tight, not opened wide. The sheep are being used not served. People are jealous and divisive. This must end. Jesus is the head of the church and we have to finally let him govern freely.
3 John 1:9-10 (ESV) 9 I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. 10 So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church.
This is a powerful verse. This is descriptive of situations that repeat every day in cities all over the world. Diotrephes gossiped and slandered and aggressively divided threatening people out of the church. Anybody that was a threat to his own preeminence was dealt with swiftly.
Contrary to this worldly, demonic approach to church leadership, look at how Jesus led:
Mark 9:35 (ESV) 35 And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”
That is leadership, and that is how we must approach other churches and ministries.
Every Friday night from 10pm-midnight our team travels to different church somewhere in the Detroit region. We pray in the Spirit and release blessing over that church, that pastor and their mission. I tell them that my prayer is for their church to grow much bigger than my own. I want them to receive greater offerings than we do. If they want some of my team to join their team, they are free to approach them about it.
Additionally, the call is for every pastor that we visit to join us every Friday night in another church and to pray the same things there. Can you imagine what would happen if every pastor in Detroit did that with us every Friday night? Revival would land nearly immediately.
One last point is critical: We cannot hold onto people so tightly that they are unable to respond to the greater, regional call. If something in the city church requires people from my team to move out of position in my local ministry and into position into the city ministry, I have to release them. A spirit of Pharaoh will keep people away from the greater calling. It will be common, as revival lands, for people in local ministries and churches to move out to serve regionally.
This will be a challenge for many. What do I do if my worship leader is tapped to serve the department that’s over my own? I let her go and trust God that he’ll ensure everything locally is covered. In fact, if it’s a city Church event, it would make more sense to shut down my ministry for the day or week and head out with everybody, in the spirit of Moses, into the greater, regional mission.
So, how about it church? It’s time to celebrate the growth of the city church, to release the people under our care, to burn with love and to lock arms with other Believers in the region—even if it means our own ministry shrinks. People with that type of heart will be exalted and rewarded as those with a heart after God’s own.