Yes, church as we know it is over, but not anywhere near the way the FOX News author suggests.
Church leaders and pastors have spent time every week encouraging, inviting and pleading with people to come to a specific place at a specific time on Sundays. This approach has created church staffing models, systems and ministry strategies focused on improving attendance.
But that way of doing church is dead.
And just like Joshua needed to hear God say, “Moses my servant is dead” (Joshua 1:2), so he could move into the next level of leadership, I think the Church needs to accept the fate of physical church as we know it, so we can move into the next phase of digital church. ~Dave Adamson, FOX News, https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/churches-as-we-know-it-are-over-here-is-how-to-engage-the-faithful
And the church takes another hit, this time not from the anti-church society that’s filled with disgruntled Christians who didn’t have their expectations met in the last church they attended, and not from the organic, house church proponents, but from a pastor featured by FOX News. His take on the emerging, morphing church in the twenty-first century isn’t unique, but it is gaining steam, especially among those who are pretty much done with church as it has been known for centuries.
There’s a problem though. What is being proposed simply cannot be defined biblically as the church. Technology, video and alternate methods of worshiping, listening to teachings and even connecting with other Christians are all benefits for Believers. Every night I fall asleep to worship music I’m streaming online. I am thankful for the never ending live stream of the prayer room at the International House of Prayer. Limitless sermons are available to all of us. In fact, nobody has an excuse in this digital age for lacking in spiritual depth, knowledge and intimacy with Jesus. The opportunities for spiritual growth are endless. This is good, but this is not church.
An omni-channel approach to church would allow people to fully connect and engage with a church without the need to step inside a physical environment every week. They could attend one Sunday, listen to the message on podcast the following week, watch a live online stream the Sunday after, and catch the message on-demand in an church app the week after that. ~Dave Adamson
That sounds freeing, but it’s not the church. It is not the Ekklesia.
In fact, Dave misunderstands the purpose of the church gathering quite remarkably. It’s not simply to connect, worship and learn. If that were the case, the online options would absolutely be better in many ways than connecting physically in a local church. It’s easy to find the best of the best worship experience, the deepest and most impacting teaching and the experience we specifically desire somewhere online. Those experiences will most always out perform what the local church can offer. Except for at least one, important thing—the governmental gathering. The Ekklesia.
The church isn’t primarily there to satisfy our desires for worship, teaching and connections. It’s been ordained by God as a governmental force in the region. Ekklesia is actually a secular term referring to the gathering together of the people in the region by governmental authorities for the purpose of relaying information and calling people to action.
So, for the Ekklesia to function, there must be local leadership, a regular gathering under that leadership and a responsiveness to what God is calling people unto.
Add to that the key purpose of the church, corporate intercession, and you realize it’s not possible to have church or to be the church in any legitimate way online.
In my Charisma Magazine article titled Ancient and Emerging: 5 Major Changes Coming to the Church, I write:
We will gather together most days of the week. The 24/7 church will again emerge as the church drives culture instead of reacting to culture. Cares of life will lose their power as we simplify our lives and put corporate prayer and mission ahead of most everything else.
This may be the most challenging change for Christians. Today, Sundays are the days to set aside for corporate worship while we give precedence to our ‘normal lives.' In The Coming Church, the very reason we live will be to pray on fire together every day, receive apostolic assignments and then move out into our lives as kingdom ambassadors. It wouldn't be surprising if a tithe of our time is what became the standard. Two to three hours a day, whether it's in the morning, afternoon or evening, or even in the late night hours, will be given by every believer to praying on site together with others, ministering and giving ourselves to intercession-fueled kingdom ministry. Of course, much of what we have been giving ourselves to will have to be eliminated so we have the time necessary to devote.
I want to encourage you to consider picking up a copy of my book The Coming Church. This 300 page book is a powerful revelation of what I believe is coming to the church, and the changes for every one of us will be dramatic.
In fact, I’ll make the digital version of this book available FREE for anyone who reads this article. Visit www.burton.tv/freechurchbook and you can download it immediately.
In my article titled Five Unusual Marks of the Coming Church, I write:
The church will drive culture instead of being driven by culture. The 24/7 church is coming and it will violate the prevailing culture of busyness and distraction.
Gone will be the days of formatting our churches to fit within the schedules and expectations of society. The seeker movement will fade away and the urgent call to the wall will overpower even the most demanding of personal and social pressures.
Acts 17:6 (ESV) 6 And when they could not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also,
ESV Study Bible: These hostile opponents spoke better than they knew, for the spread of the gospel throughout the Roman Empire was the beginning of a movement that would change the course of history forever.
The coming church will be marked by its boldness and culture will be threatened for the good.
WHAT ABOUT CHURCH ONLINE?
To Dave Adamson’s credit, he did state:
This approach allows the church to connect with people physically for 1 hour on Sunday, and stay connected for the other 167 hours of the week, digitally.
While one hour per week in church is woefully short of what is coming in the 24/7 church, he does emphasize staying connected. Utilizing technology to stay strategically and actively locked in to what is happening in the local church is a smart move. While I disagree with surrendering to the whims of today’s noncommittal generation and encouraging empty pews, I believe using online media and social connectors is a great move. I remember spending hours in the prayer room every day at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City while also watching the live web stream from home and watching teachings by Mike Bickle and others. IHOPKC is doing media right as it enhances their 24/7 mission instead of replacing it.
However, we need to look a little deeper at the idea of online church.
In my article titled: You are Not the Church: The Scattering Movement, I deal with this concept of church online. There are some very clear issues that can’t be ignored.
- DEVOID OF APOSTOLIC LEADERSHIP—There is most probably (there are exceptions) no clearly defined apostolic leadership involved. We have to know who we’re called to serve with. We have to all hear, together, in our local congregation, how we are to respond in mission advance. What’s God calling our leaders to focus on? How are we to participate? What are the goals? What steps must we take to prepare ourselves to see this come to pass?
- LACK OF STRATEGIC CORPORATE INTERCESSION—While not impossible, it’s very hard to involve ourselves in the number one purpose of the church this way—corporate intercession. We just have to be together to pray with unity and consistency if we are to have the sufficient strength to see significant impact.
- NO ACCOUNTABILITY—Accountability and discipline are nearly non-existent outside of the context of the local church. Most who flock from the church and into alternative spiritual activities do so to avoid conflict, accountability and correction from leadership. We have to understand that this is a critical part of the refining process. We must be receptive and humble and ready to be challenged—even if the leaders God established for us are exceptionally flawed and out of touch with our needs.
- PROMOTES MISUNDERSTANDING OF THE PURPOSE OF THE CHURCH—It can quite easily reinforce a wrong understanding of the purpose of the church. I would say this is the most serious issue. The prevailing thought these days is that the church is there for us. Whatever needs we have, we can get many of them met in the church. So, we attend if we are ministered to. Or, we may determine that we can get what we’re looking for without regular church attendance. So, the church becomes unnecessary to us. Friend, this concept is a defilement of the church. I can’t say it any less striking than that. We are called to gather together with other believers primarily to intercede for the nations. We are there to give, to leave offerings, to serve, to minister, to pray, to grow. The church isn’t primarily there for us, we are to be there for the mission of the church. We may say that we don’t need the church but have we considered that the church needs us?
The purpose of the church simply cannot be fulfilled through technology. Video, social media, websites like this one and other mediums absolutely can be powerful supplements to what we are experiencing in our weekly gathering, but they simply aren’t designed to handle the demands of the Ekklesia, the governmental, prayer-fueled, local church.
Trust me, you will never look at the Burton family the same way again. Have we no shame?
18 Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him–for this is his lot. 19 Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work–this is a gift of God. Ecclesiastes 5:18-19 (NIV)A bunch of you out there have an aversion to enjoying life. You can probably blame a good, old fashioned religious spirit on that. God does want you to enjoy the life he died to give you. Of course, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it. We should die daily and live in resurrection power. We should give and prosper. Recently, Amy and I had the privilege of hosting a team of high school business class leaders at our escape room business, Escape Code, and our axe throwing business, The Axe Game in Branson, Missouri. Something I thoroughly enjoy is introducing and sharing Kingdom principles and other bits of life-giving wisdom in the marketplace. I know the bulk of our success comes from our radical devotion to promoting godly standards and living with integrity in the workplace.
11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? Luke 16:11 (NIV)We recently “enjoyed” the opportunity going through a state audit for our escape room business. After hours, and hours, weeks and weeks of hard work, they met with us in person. Of course, we were nervous, wondering if our math would match with theirs. They reported that, aside from some very minor miscalculations, everything matched up. They were actually quite surprised and impressed at our honesty and integrity. My wife handles the finances, and if a single penny doesn’t match up, she will work hard correcting the error. She will pay that penny. That is not an exaggeration. After the high school students played one of our escape games, we had an opportunity to address the team of future business leaders and engage in a time of questions and answers. In addition to discussing the issues of extreme integrity and honor in the workplace, we encouraged them in a critical plan of action: develop multiple streams of income. When I was in high school, the only obvious option after graduation was to go to college. The question every junior and senior was asked time and time again was, “Where are you going to college?” It was college or bust. It would have been extremely valuable to know that there are many additional options in our big, wide world! Trade schools, alternative learning, business incubators, internships, various prosperous jobs that don't require college and many additional choices are out there. If our God loves to function outside the box, which he absolutely does, limiting our future and our income to a single, predictable track just doesn’t make sense. We made it clear that, yes, many would obviously benefit from a college degree, and, of course, many professions require it. I most certainly want our future doctors to have every degree and certification they need to operate. My oldest son, Skylar, is currently attending Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee as he prepares for a career in law. College, and more, is a requirement for him. However, whether college is or is not a part of one’s track toward success and prosperity, developing multiple streams of income is a valuable move. In my opinion, a non-negotiable one. For instance, people often criticize pastors who are financially prosperous, presuming they are immoral, thieves or greedy, when in fact they may have wisely developed multiple streams of income. They are appropriately creating wealth according to biblical standards. They have bought and sold real estate, written books, built businesses, consulted or initiated any number of other ventures that create wealth for them and their family.
18 You shall remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth… Deuteronomy 8:18 (ESV)Amy and I never want to rely on a single source of income—or rely solely on ourselves. We want to let God lead and develop new ventures through us understanding that businesses fail, people get fired, the economy can crash and tides can turn. On the positive side, we are entrepreneurial at heart, and we have a blast creating businesses and fresh income strategies. It’s fun! We aren’t “rich,” but, then again, I believe we are. Our lives have been enriched in many ways. God has blessed us and we are thankful.
17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 1 Timothy 6:17 (NIV)Over the years we’ve had many streams of income, most of them small, that have helped us grow financially. In fact, when we leased space for The Axe Game earlier this year, two doors down from Escape Code, we also leased a storefront between the two businesses with plans to develop a third business at some point. It stands empty today as we give time to the praying and dreaming process. It is an exciting blank canvas for whatever big idea God drops into our spirit down the road.
5 The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty. Proverbs 21:5 (NIV)
A HILARIOUS NEW POTENTIAL INCOME SOURCE—GET READY TO LAUGH RIGHT AT ME!The reason I’m writing this article isn’t to bring attention to what the Burton family is doing, but rather to share how God is working in us so as to encourage you to dream big and break free from the stranglehold of poverty and lack. In fact, Amy and I along with the younger kids recently ventured into a new business that many would call “cringy,” but I call “cringy cool!” It’s called Toys of the Realm. But wait, allow me to back up a few weeks first. Another video project preceded Toys of the Realm. Amy and I have been gifted in some specific ways, including communication, creativity, graphic design and video production. We also love to travel and do it often. Anything from short day trips to business trips to ministry trips to actual vacations keep us on the move regularly. While we are about ten years late to the game, we decided to launch a YouTube travel channel. Many who started years ago are enjoying very large monthly checks. Today, the competition is much greater, but we will not be deterred! We spent a few hundred dollars for some basic equipment and then launched out to create travel videos. It’s so much fun! As I walk around with my gimbal, recording anything from donuts at Hurt’s Donut Company, to rides at Silver Dollar City, to cave systems to food on the table of our our favorite restaurants, people wonder what we are doing. We explain that we are travel vloggers and then offer them a business card that directs them to the YouTube channel that will soon have the very content they are watching us record, possibly that very night. TPF! Travel Adventures is a fun, though time consuming, potential stream of income that we are taking very seriously. We understand that it may take anywhere from one to three years to see ad revenue from YouTube and our affiliate marketing to start trickling in. But, who knows, we may really need those paychecks at that time. We will be extremely thankful that we planned ahead and developed this stream of income.
27 Finish your outdoor work and get your fields ready; after that, build your house. Proverbs 24:27 (NIV)
TOYS OF THE REALM—CRINGY COOL
Definition, CRINGY: Someone or something that makes you embarrassed to be a part of the human race. Usually classified by seeing something and feeling extremely embarrassed, throwing your head back and closing your eyes to block your view, and biting your lip to keep in your scream of utter disgust. ~Urban DictionaryAfter Amy and I kept this next potential income stream a secret for the first four episodes, we decided it was time to let our pride go and let the world laugh with (at) us. I playfully posted this to Facebook last night:
I have to confess something… a hidden, secret part of my life. You may never look at Amy or me the same way again…but it's time for the Burton family to come clean… We can hear toys talk. Yes, it's true. You might know me as a fiery preacher, an author and passionate revivalist… but, I couldn't keep this hidden part of our lives from you, our friends and family forever. After you watch our first four videos about our wild adventures rescuing toys from the Toy Reaper, you are sure to lift an eyebrow, shake your head in wonder…and ask your kids to interpret just what is happening. Some of you may start interceding for us. That's OK. We need it. If you could, say some prayers for the toys as well. They are in great danger. The first video can be seen here…just don't say we didn't warn you: https://youtu.be/yz1Kt019KWE The link to our channel where you can watch all four thrilling episodes is: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMqwOHxpg5vWTxHbjGW5GYA Be sure to SUBSCRIBE so you can watch the adventure unfold multiple times each week. Please don't unfriend us. We need you now more than ever. John and Amy Burton and familyIt’s OK. Laugh. Amy and I have busted up laughing with tears in our eyes many times as we recorded and watched the final release of each episode. Definitely cringy…cool! So far, the toys have led us to castle ruins, through tunnels, into the woods and into a dungeon! How can that not be thrilling? Here’s the kicker. This channel may never bring us a dime, or some day it may bring in a truck load of dimes, but it has introduced something to our family that is exponentially much more valuable—we are having the time of our lives, together, as a family! The memories are more precious than all the gold in the world. In fact, there’s something to having fun as little children:
15 I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” 16 And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them. Mark 10:15-16 (NIV)You can definitely laugh and cringe along with us. I can’t begin to tell you how much fun we are having with both of our channels. Recently Amy and I took a day trip to Lake of the Ozarks and recorded an episode about a monster in Ha Ha Tonka State Park. It was just good ole’ fun! We loved hanging together, coming up with story lines and just having fun on camera! Amy is a brilliant story teller. She develops all of our themes and storylines for our escape rooms. After playing, guests are regularly amazed at the fact that she designed them herself. She’s amazing! Now, with our children’s focused channel, Toys of the Realm, she uses that gift in another way. I’d strongly encourage you to watch, and cringe, and laugh HERE.
DO WHAT YOU LOVEAnother piece of advice we gave to the high schoolers was: do what you love. What causes you to come alive? Don’t base your career path on the amount of money it may provide. Discover your passion and have a blast discovering how you can turn that into a career! How often do we hear stories of people who have climbed the ladder and gained a six-figure income, only to burn out, quit and turn a hobby, something they are passionate about, into a career? It happens every day. I believe God puts passions inside of us, and often he enables us to turn those passions into wealth creating opportunities. Understand, when I say wealth, I’m not putting a gigantic number on it. Wealth is simply resource that enables us to live the life God has called us to, and to enrich others around us. Each stream of income may only bring in a few hundred dollars a month, but all together, they make it possible to pay the bills, give extravagantly and continue dreaming and developing new streams! Of course, those of you who know me understand that I’m all about revival and ministering in power. Laying down our lives and surrendering all should be our devotion every day. Many are called to venture into costly, challenging ministry assignments that don’t pay much at all. Definitely do that with your whole heart! However, I also believe we can still develop streams of income in the midst of ministry. When Amy and I were called to spend a season at The International House of Prayer in Kansas City, it would have been impossible if I hadn’t already developed sources of income that would sustain us. We eventually received a small stipend at IHOPKC as I first joined the graphic design team and then was asked to direct one of the four primary internships. That stipend was not nearly enough to sustain us. It took the other streams to make our ministry there possible. In fact, we were able to buy a house. There was no one single source of income that made that possible. Many streams (I believe we had developed seven separate small streams at that time) were required. So, we were able to do what we loved, what we were called to do and support a growing family! After our season there, we moved to Detroit with no job, no new income opportunities and even nowhere to live. We drove our moving truck there, rented a place the next day, started a church, developed new income sources and watched ministry and finances develop together!
DON’T BE LAZY!
25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.' 26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. Matthew 25:25-27 (NIV)Friend, many people are in lack because of this very parable. Look at how it continues:
28 “‘Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. 29 For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. Matthew 25:28-29 (NIV)Those who are lazy, those who don’t aggressively advance in their financial strategies will often find themselves losing ground while those who are prosperous and working hard will seem to gain with little effort. While it’s true that doing what you love will result in a life where you don’t really work at all, as the saying goes, the truth is that you must work very hard. But if you choose your career and businesses wisely, the work will be enjoyable. While I understand that we may not see financial rewards from our two video endeavors for years, we are recording several times a week and I’m editing late into the night, several hours at a time, day after day. I love it! However, it absolutely is work. Add that to running two extremely busy and demanding businesses, working often at those businesses personally to keep staff costs down, writing for Charisma and other publications, traveling for business and ministry, going to parent/teacher meetings, gymnastics and other soccer mom (and dad!) style responsibilities, and you have a lot of work! This being said, as you work very hard, stay healthy, get rest and always know it’s God who brings increase, you will live in victory. A wrong heart will do you in. A right focus will bring great success. Your work and faithfulness will result in God ordering your steps.
Do not wear yourself out to get rich; do not trust your own cleverness. Proverbs 23:4 (NIV)
GUARD YOUR HEART
15 And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” Luke 12:15 (ESV)The purpose of creating wealth is not for the sake of accumulating wealth. It takes a humble and zealous lover of Jesus to agree with the principle that God desires us to create wealth, and to have great resource to give extravagantly, while never, ever giving our heart to that wealth. In fact, if you can’t grow financially and grow in Jesus at the same time, I’d strongly encourage you to do what the Rich Young Ruler was instructed to do. Give it all away! Your eternity is not worth a temporarily large bank account. It’s laughable that it would be. So, guard your heart. Reject greed. Be a passionate, fervent lover of Jesus and allow the resources you develop to bring life to your family, to the church and to the Kingdom of God.
24 One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. 25 A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. Proverbs 11:24-25 (NIV)
YOU CAN DO IT!You absolutely have been given gifts and passions by God that can result in a joyful and very busy life that includes a strategic track toward financial prosperity. God isn’t going to drop the money into your lap. The Parable of the Talents should be enough to shake us all out of that mirage. Not only has God given us the power to create wealth, he has given us the responsibility to do so! I’d strongly encourage you to read a powerful article on the subject that I wrote recently titled: Why giving large percentages of our finances to the church might require disobedience to God. Here’s an excerpt:
Successful entrepreneurs and business people will understand this principle easily. Their money is simply a tool. It’s used to expand their business, make investments and multiply their resources so they can have greater and greater impact. Don’t ever look at a wealthy Christian in judgment. Many of them are doing exactly what God wants them to do. They aren't suppose to give everything to the poor or to the church. Their gift is much better used by multiplying resources and giving extravagantly year after year then by simply giving away what they have a single time. The result would be lack of resources and an inability to do what God has called them to do. If you have one million dollars, don’t give it all away. Multiply it and give millions and millions away. If we give all we have to the church, or more than God has called us to, we won’t have enough to put to work for the sake of multiplication. We must give the correct amount and invest the correct amount to see the greatest Kingdom impact.Kick into prayer. Develop strategies. Dream. Plan. Move. Risk. Maybe God will call you to develop something that has the world laughing at you…as you laugh right on over to the bank. Your pastor and ministries all over the world will certainly appreciate the upward spike in your giving receipts as well.
Listen to short, 5-10 minute teachings AND watch hours of video on Facebook and Youtube!
I want to encourage you to listen to brand new, short, 5-10 minute teachings and prophetic insights on my new podcast, theFurnace.
FACEBOOK & YOUTUBE
Additionally, I just uploaded MANY teaching videos both to Facebook and YouTube.
You can partner with our ministry through financial and prayer support.
To donate, go to www.burton.tv/donate.
TONIGHT at 10pm on theFurnace.tv • 16 Dangers of the Positive Christianity Movement
There is a seductive yet extremely dangerous movement in the land that refuses to acknowledge God in any other fashion than good and happy.
Tonight at 10pm EST I’ll be discussing this. (And, yes, Nia will certainly make another appearance.)
You can participate via the chat room and I will address your comments and questions live on the air.
Head over to www.thefurnace.tv/live and get ready to encounter Jesus!
I will be broadcasting live Monday-Friday at 11pm…tune in TONIGHT at www.thefurnace.tv/live!
Last night I started forty nights of video broadcasts, and I will continue TONIGHT at 11pm Eastern.
You can always jump right to the Youtube LIVE stream every night from our live streaming page: www.thefurnace.tv/live.
Be sure to comment right on the Youtube page during the show!
See you TONIGHT!
Discover how you can participate in strategic intercession and personal growth as an end-time forerunner!
People have been asking how they can participate with us, even if they live on the other side of the world. I want to help answer that question!
We are looking for 40 burning men and women of God to join our core leadership team at the Detroit Prayer Furnace.
We are also identifying 1000 intercessors for Detroit—and anybody from any place in the world can participate!
Watch this short video and you are sure to be stirred by the fire of God!
After you watch the video, CONTACT ME and I will help you get started into a key leadership position for revival!
Join theCore at the Detroit Prayer Furnace!
Just wanted to touch base regarding the revival movement in Detroit.
We are still contending after four years here in Detroit, and our next step is to identify 40 people who will be a part of theCore leadership at the Detroit Prayer Furnace.
We are also seeking 1000 intercessors to cover Detroit each week in prayer.
I’d love to talk with you personally about the opportunity!
God is equipping key prophetic people, and you most definitely have a role!
We’re connecting with pastors and leaders as well, so spread the word!
Check out two things:
- A brand new video that I just uploaded here on the need for prophetic town criers: http://youtu.be/bZmo_OJKXxY
- Info on how to join theCore here: http://www.detroitprayerfurnace.com/2013/08/15/how-to-join-thecore-and-the1000-in-detroit-thecore-leadership-team-at-the-detroit-prayer-furnace/
Contact me here: www.johnburton.net/contact
I’m going to let it rip—this is one message you won’t want to skim.
Troubler of Israel
1 Kings 18:17-18 (ESV) 17 When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?” 18 And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you have, and your father’s house, because you have abandoned the commandments of the LORD and followed the Baals.
Is there anybody out there like Leonard Ravenhill and David Wilkerson who is bringing attention to how so much of the church is following the Baals?
I told you I’m going to let it rip. Understand that I am not sending this out of frustration or because of a personal vendetta. This is a searing, troubling message that is consuming every part of me—and it’s time for it to come out with strength.
We need more troublers to arise! Why? Based on what we see in Elijah’s story, the prevailing culture is actually what is troubling the church and it’s the prophets of God that MUST stand boldly in the face of their accusations. Truth will prevail. God will answer by fire.
First, I want to directly address fellow pastors and leaders with both brokenness and boldness—open your mouths!
When people tell me that I have guts to say what I do in teachings, on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube, I am shocked! Really? They can’t be serious! I barely reveal even a small percentage what is burning within me. The messages are minor and obvious, yet somehow in our passive, ultra-sensitive culture they come across as sharp and risky. We have to open our mouths and deliver the troubling truth! No more messages designed to grow churches. No more sermons that result in us looking good, smart and polished.
If we are out to save face, we may do just that—as we ultimately lose our soul in Hell.
The raw, irritating, offensive messages of the Word of God must explode out of us with the full understanding that many of those under our care will revolt! That is true love based preaching!
Just so you know—yes, I am extremely intentional with the messages I post, and they are meant to trouble and provoke, boldly and in love. They are meant to expose error and awaken people to truths they may have not considered—but that often has serious impact on their eternities. My posts are meant to trouble the spirits that are assaulting the church and the people who are entertaining them! We must be disturbed & wrecked by our mandate to awaken the sleepers & warn those falsely convinced of their salvation—and those at risk of losing it.
We can’t even call people to prayer today due to the fear that they will leave our churches! My God! How can we presume revival is near?
Over 340 Houses of Prayer closed their doors last year. I met with a house of prayer network leader the other day who said that people leave churches when leaders shift time, energy and attention from them to God. I’ve watched that happen myself, and it rips me up! In our church in Colorado we shifted from potlucks to prayer meetings and there was a mass exodus. We lost people and money. I had to get a part-time job. It was disruptive. It was heartbreaking that people ran from the call to pray.
Where are the ones who aren’t looking first for human friends, personal affirmation or a sense of belonging but who are seeking after every available minute to minister to God in prayer? The prayer rooms must be full—and the main prayer room in the American church is the Sunday morning sanctuary!
And, don’t you even think of using the excuse that you need to create a non-threatening environment for the new Believer! Every person, young or old, immature or seasoned must be in the prayer room—and it must be their primary focus! What if the Upper Room was toned down in the hopes of drawing a bigger crowd and interested seekers?
I told God one day many years ago that, if I responded to his call, I would lose my reputation. People would sever relationship with me and hurl accusations my way.
God said, “Good. My Son was of no reputation, why should you be?” I was rocked. It was that day, many years ago, that I stopped trying to look good and build a ministry and make people happy about running with me. Selfish ambition died that day. The moment we make decisions based mostly on attracting people, keeping people or raising money is the moment we have failed as leaders.
Philippians 2:7-8 (KJV) 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
I’m not trying to build a ministry—I’m devoted to obeying God and delivering the messages he has given me. I know these messages will directly hit theologies and ideals that so many hold dear. That’s the point. I crave people’s freedom from those harmful ideals! I desire the truth of Jesus to invade everybody’s life!
Matthew 10:34 (ESV) 34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
One reason I’m OK with this divisive strategy (that Jesus affirmed above) is that it clearly reveals who’s for and who’s opposed. I’d rather make the message clear and know who I’m running with then to tone it down and have those who are opposed to it in our camp (Have you ever had a witch infiltrate your ministry? I have, and it’s not fun!). So, we love and serve everybody in the camp, but we can’t get sidetracked from our mission for the sake of their comfort.
Trust me, the resulting remnant of burning ones will rejoice at such an atmosphere of clarity and fire! Those who are lukewarm today just may awaken and burn tomorrow—if we have the courage to preach the very difficult, costly truth!
There are some people thanking me for my boldness in delivering the messages God gives me. There are others who are vocally opposed to me. There are many more still who are silent but resistant—many of them friends in the past who I don’t hear from anymore. They sadly just disappeared from our lives.
I’m sure there are some who translate boldness and refusal to soft step issues as arrogance—but I do not apologize. Yeah, I know that sounds arrogant! The reason I don’t apologize is because I wrestle with the call to humility continually, and I check my heart non-stop. The possibility of pride and arrogance is there, without question, and I take that very seriously. I check my heart to ensure I’m humble and full of love. It’s wisdom to receive insight from your critics, at least to a point!
People that are close to me do know my heart—and they know I’m broken before the Lord. My call is to aggressively sound alarms, gather people around the mission of revival and call people to pray night and day. It can’t be a soft spoken suggestion if we hope to awaken a great end-time army!
Several years ago in Colorado, the Lord directed me very urgently to learn how to walk in extreme humility and extreme boldness at the same time. It was full year of intense prayer and discovery—a personal school of the Holy Spirit. In that school, I learned much, including this—I was not to attempt to appear humble, I was to be humble. Why was this important? Because the Elijah level boldness that is required to impact a region would often look like anything but humility. It would appear as arrogance and selfish ambition.
We are not in a season where we need to gather around a table and water down the message in the hopes of finding common ground that results in handshakes and smiles. The message of the hour will overturn that table with violence.
I endeavor to love every person deeply, but I refuse to affirm systems, methodologies, theologies and lifestyles that are an offense to the Word of God. I will, in humility and boldness, be relentless in provoking the sleepers to awaken and those given to a lukewarm life to be shaken. Prophetic threats against human systems and unholy altars results in accusation, gossip and resistance.
Judges 6:28-31 (ESV) 28 When the men of the town rose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was broken down, and the Asherah beside it was cut down, and the second bull was offered on the altar that had been built. 29 And they said to one another, “Who has done this thing?” And after they had searched and inquired, they said, “Gideon the son of Joash has done this thing.” 30 Then the men of the town said to Joash, “Bring out your son, that he may die, for he has broken down the altar of Baal and cut down the Asherah beside it.” 31 But Joash said to all who stood against him, “Will you contend for Baal? Or will you save him? Whoever contends for him shall be put to death by morning. If he is a god, let him contend for himself, because his altar has been broken down.”
I know the accusations will continue, but you need to know that, if you are bold, you will provoke. You must be OK with that! Love people deeply, hate the enemy powerfully and know there will be a crisis in the middle as God, people and demons step into the ring. Don’t wrestle against flesh and blood! Be innocent! But, don’t presume a passive spirit is the same thing as a humble spirit.
FALSE UNITY IS NOT MY GOAL
Today I hear a lot about leaders, churches and movements in a region unifying for the sake of revival. I have been disturbed by that strategy for years.
First, it’s imperative that we honor people. That’s a heart condition issue that will either qualify or disqualify you from ministry. But, honor and unity are not at all the same.
I commit to serve all, but I refuse to strategically align with someone who is doesn’t embrace fervent prayer as a lifestyle, holiness as a principle and dying daily as a goal.
Today we have worship leaders who listen to secular music and go to secular concerts. There are pastors who are entertained in media by the very sins that required the death of the Jesus they preach about. It makes you wonder just what they are ministering to us!
I’ll say it plainly—we cannot align with those who are operating in the spirit of Baal. We must confront them in the spirit of Elijah!
Ephesians 5:11-14 (ESV) 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
There is so much fear today that messages of holiness will result in accusations of legalism. I say, bring on the accusations! You have to be kidding me if you think it makes sense to lessen the call to purity for the sake of unity!
When preaching holiness results in accusation of legalism you can know darkness is increasing in strength in our culture—and in the church.
No, it’s NOT OK to watch movies that have cussing, nudity, violence or crude humor it it. It’s NOT OK to soak in secular music in one moment and with worship music in the next.
It’s so hard for so many to encounter God today—and this is the main reason! Media! Holiness! Prayer!
I have a high value for true unity and am looking for those in the Detroit region that will truly gather in a spirit of humility, brokenness, intercession and passionate, unhindered focus on the goal of God’s heart—revival that transforms a culture.
The call today is first for consecration, not liberation! First comes holiness and a resolve to be single-minded in our pursuit of a holy God—and then the power to set the captives free will come.
Joshua 3:5 (ESV) 5 Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.”
Listen closely: the lukewarm, casual church must be shaken! Yes, the true church is one that is burning hot, in love with her Bridegroom. I risk offending a lot of people when I deal with this issue of fervency and costly discipleship as it’s an assault against their theologies and lifestyles. It is NOT OK to be casually committed, loosely connected and given to the apathy that is destroying the church. I’m calling awakeners to rise up! We must pray and burn non-stop! You can do this! There is no better way to live—and there is no other option!
I know this is why some don’t connect well in houses of prayer, or even in my own church—the call to burn hot is beyond what most are comfortable with. The call over the edge is unsettling for those who don’t even want to come near the edge. Listen—your eternity is at risk! Be fervent and radical in your love of God and commitment to his mission!
In the end, this issue is what drives me. It is my life mandate. Hell.
Why? If you would have had the same encounter that I had by being dragged toward Hell, you wouldn’t ask that question.
Many, MANY in the church will be SHOCKED to find themselves in Hell one day. I’m talking about seemingly alive people who lift their hands, live good lives and made a decision to follow Jesus.
Revelation 3:1-3 (ESV) 1 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.
I am grieved and shocked by the casual attitude in this nation regarding salvation. There’s such a quick and easy thought that “of course” we are saved, yet for MANY of those people, they are NOT. They WILL go to Hell when they die, and will be utterly confused as to why they are there.
This article is not at all meant to be a theological study. I’ve done that in the past and will do it in the future. This article is a raw eruption of the emotions of my heart—and my heart is sickened and broken over such terrible theologies that affirm the salvation of people in such a cavalier way. The attempt is to affirm the culture and encourage people in their lifestyles—even though it’s resulting in eternal tragedy! I'm concerned that the American church is working so hard at aligning with culture instead of irritating it.
The greatest resistance I receive is when I talk about eternity. To be specific, the threat of living eternally in Hell. (People love to hear about Heaven!) There are great people who are living great lives who reject messages that focus on Hell—due to fear. The accusation is that I shouldn’t preach on messages that result in fear. My response? If you aren’t going to Hell, you have no fear! If you are in the love of God, you should have no fear whatsoever, no matter what is taught! If you are in fear, the issue is with you, not with the messenger, and I want to help you move out of fear and into the love of God, leaving any threat of Hell behind you!
This is the primary reason I am so violent against the false-grace message (https://burton.tv/grace-message). I will not be silent on this matter. It’s not a minor theological issue that we can just agree to disagree on. It’s sending potentially millions of people to Hell—people that will be in maddening torture a hundred billion years from now just because they embraced this heretical teaching. I can’t stay silent, hoping to keep from making waves, trying to make friends and grow my church while every single day churched people shockingly live their first eternal moments in a tormenting fire they were convinced they were exempt from.
So, yes, I am violent and vigilant and brash at times because of the reality of Hell. Wouldn’t you be? Shouldn’t you be? Yes!
RAW, RISKY CONFESSION
I’ll admit, like Elijah (though I’m not pretending to be anywhere in the ballpark of the great Elijah!) I do feel extremely alone here in Detroit. But, I’m smart enough to know there are 7,000 who have not bowed their knees to Baal. (1 Kings 9:9-18)
I’m also blessed by the amazing friendships I have with some leaders, forerunners and intercessors in the area. But I’m so saddened by others who have disappeared from our lives—those I know had a calling to run as men and women on fire! I wrestle with anything I may have done to wound that relationship, that destiny, and I live in repentance and tears over it. I see so much destiny in people that it is crushing when I don’t get to see it come to pass! I get violent against the enemy that would attempt to threaten that relationship and that alignment!
I am EXTREMELY hesitant to share this, as I really don’t need to for my own emotional health. But, I do believe there is something that must be dealt with in this region, and in regard to church health in any region. A spirit of competition and distrust between pastors and churches just saturates Detroit, and it’s time for it to come to an end.
First, you’d be shocked at how easy (and wonderful!) it is for me to enjoy people who have disappointed us, wounded us or betrayed us. Really, it is! My message on being unoffendable really, really works! (https://soundcloud.com/johneburton/becoming-unoffendable) These are truly amazing people that I love!
So, my agenda in this portion of the article is not personal. It may be hard for you to believe that, which is why I’ve avoided dealing with this for so long. But, I’ve just met too many wounded people who are afraid to deal with these issues due the fear of accusation. I have no such fear. Lets do this.
When I first started traveling to Detroit, the energy was electric. People were ready (or so it seemed) for revival in this region and the meetings and strategies I was privileged to be involved in had a level of excitement I had never experienced before.
Then, after moving from Kansas City to Detroit, something strange happened—I was awakened to the spirits of this region. There were giants in the land. (I discuss this more in my brand new book Piece of Cake: http://detroitrevivalchurch.com/2013/08/06/wondering-how-to-start-a-ministry-or-other-project-piece-of-cake-is-available-for-order/).
Every day I check my heart, as I shared before, to ensure I’m not driven by arrogance, selfish ambition, self promotion or other attitudes that would ultimate disqualify me from ministry. Humility is the only option.
I started hearing through the grapevine, almost immediately upon the launch of Revival Church four years ago, that some people were not happy with us doing so. It was a strange shock as we had been convinced that these people were running just as we were in Detroit for regional revival.
In fact, one church actually met with us (two of their associate pastors) and accused of of strategizing to steal their sheep. To their credit, they came to me, which both Amy and I really appreciated! However, that accusation was so far from the truth that we couldn’t even begin to imagine where it came from. We were extremely intentional about honoring other pastors and churches. It’s core to our DNA! We want other churches to grow faster than ours!
As an example, our primary plan when moving to Detroit was to launch a different church (before Revival Church) out of a local ministry. However, we predetermined to honor a local pastor who was connected to that ministry by refusing to launch it without his blessing. He didn’t bless it due to its proximity to his own church and other concerns, so we didn’t launch it. It was very important for us to honor him, and we still do to this day.
We continued to serve and bless that ministry even though we didn’t have an official connection with them anymore, and love those leaders a lot! They are great friends.
When we were released from that, we aligned with Barbara Yoder’s ministry and launched Revival Church.
So, in our meeting with the two associate pastors, we didn’t know where they were getting their information that we were attempting to steal people. I knew that it was simply the enemy that was spreading lies that were very easy to hear in such a volatile, competitive region.
Amy and I blessed them after that meeting.
I had another meeting with a leader in a nearby city who actually repented to me. He knew he was to connect with me and have me speak at his church, but someone there was speaking against me and he entertained her accusations. He knew it was wrong, and he contacted me to ask for my forgiveness. I love that! But, it shows how vile gossip and accusation can be, and, most importantly, how it absolutely disrupts the pursuit of revival!
I’m convinced revival should have broken out a few years ago! But, there was resistance against a 20+ day move of God in Dearborn. God was moving, but resistance came.
So, here we are in a strange new land looking for alliances with revival minded friends, but instead, we experienced quite a bit of resistance. It broke my heart, but didn’t nullify my mission. I’ve grown to understand that apostolic ministry will do that. It’s a ground taking, status quo shaking anointing and it will disturb those who don’t agree with that type of Kingdom advance.
Since that day we have experienced amazing growth and advance and have developed extremely important, key relationships with apostolic and prophetic leaders with regional authority. We have also experienced a lot of additional attack, which is not unexpected, but here’s the point I really want to make:
Church of Detroit, you MUST break off the spirit of competition, distrust and accusation that has infiltrated you! If we embrace a spirit of Accusation, that spirit one day will turn on us. If we embrace a spirit of Criticism, that spirit will one day attack us mercilessly.
I refuse to shrink back on this out of fear that people will accuse me of wearing my emotions on my sleeve or that some may even resist relationship with us due to erring on the side of caution. I’m really not here to make friends (though I like friends!). I’m here to bless people and to sound alarms in a city that just went bankrupt and is dying! Now is not the time for diplomacy! I didn’t move here to let this city die and I know my revival minded friends in the city won’t let that happen either—not on their watch!
Honoring Leaders & Leaving Churches
When I wrote my book Covens in the Church I exposed what the enemy can do in churches through independent spirits of gossip and accusation. The book deals directly with how to appropriately honor your leaders, how and when to leave your church, processes and protocols, that must be followed, etc. I deal with the Absalom spirit that entertains gossip and initiates division. Detroit needs to hear this message!
I believe the principles in that book must be embraced in this city!
I teach those principles at Revival Church and in theLab University. There is a pattern that must be broken if we hope for revival to break out here.
Here’s the principle: Honor leaders and the mission God has you on by staying in position, through challenge and joys. If you feel led to move on, initiate a process with your leader and stay locked in as you walk through the transition together, ultimately leading to a blessing as you go.
It’s a tough call, and I understand that. It’s not enough simply to announce your plans to leave to your leaders (though even that would be a step in the right direction!) but we must bless them by asking them to partner in the decision making process. Give them the voice in the decision they rightfully have.
I love it when I have the opportunity to celebrate and bless people both privately and publicly when they move on from our church to another! It’s rare that I am able to do that. What results is improper transition where people are uncovered and independent, and, unfortunately, the pattern most often repeats itself. The church of the city is weakened.
This is not unique to our church, I realize that. But, I do want to initiate change! This region must discover the power of being surrendered and unified. Upper Room level power will result! The purpose of this entire article is to awaken a dysfunctional, sleepy church into its destiny—sooner than later!
The call? Honor! Stay connected! Stay locked in! You are important! Revival needs YOU!
Here’s a very interesting portion from my book Covens in the Church that explains exactly how the process should go:
An earlier version of this book was read by a couple who lived in another state. They were feeling strongly that God wanted them to move to Colorado Springs to serve the developing House of Prayer movement. They were extremely excited about the call and while they didn’t have all of the answers to their questions (when do any of us have it all figured out?), they we’re burning hot with the vision. So, during this process, they read this book. I met them for the first time as they were visiting Colorado at a conference in Denver. They shared their testimony with me there. In the midst of their planning and excitement they read Covens in the Church. Both of them reported that they felt a great offense crawling up their spine as they turned through the pages. It was hard for them to embrace. They re-read it and prayed. Through the process they both felt God confirming that what they were reading was what they needed to grasp as they were getting ready to move into another important season of their lives. What they shared with me next absolutely floored me. They went to their pastor and shared all of their dreams and plans to move away. However, they told him this, “Pastor, we honor you as our God ordained authority–not in title only, but in function. We want you to know that though we feel led that we are to go, if you tell us that you feel it is not the right move, we will honor you and stay. You make the final call.” They saw tears start to roll down the cheeks of their pastor. He looked at them and said, “I’ve been in pastoral ministry for fifteen years and this is the first time anybody has ever come to me like you just did. You are the first people who have ever asked me to partner with you as you move on. Thank you.” The result? Their church prayed intently for Revolution House of Prayer every week. We prayed for them and were excited about the new relationship that would soon follow. It’s the healthiest transfer from one church to another that I’ve ever experienced. This is the way it is supposed to happen.
An Amazing Update
I am blown away at the lengths God goes to when confirming His prophetic insights. I have been gripped by the content of this book since I first received it several years ago in Kansas City. I, of course, am convinced at the supernaturally driven freedom that comes as we’re fully submitted in love to leadership, however one day very recently I was asking God to give me further confirmation. The very next day was the first day of the new internship that Amy and I are giving leadership to. We met a couple from a house of prayer in the Michigan area and asked them if they knew this particular couple that I shared about above. They said, “Oh yeah! We know them very well!” We talked a little more and discovered something amazing. God answered my prayer of just a day prior by actually bringing this couple’s leaders from the ministry in Michigan to the internship I was directing! They said they have never witnessed anybody leave a church or ministry with such excellence, integrity, humility and honor. They we’re astounded at their maturity and decided then and there that they would also model their exit plan when they themselves left. They did so and these leaders also departed in a mature and healthy manner and ended up running the race with me in the internship! They will be teaching one of the tracks each session here–and I wonder if all of this might not have come together as it did if every party involved, me included, would not have been obedient and surrendered to the biblical blueprint for honoring authorities in our lives. I’m still stunned.
There you have it. There is much broken, and we can’t just keep repeating the positive and hope that a head in the sand approach will work. The good news is that we can all go low, repent, love deeply and refuse to surrender to the spirit that is driving the region. It’s the Holy Spirit’s turn, and he is seeking willing hearts to move through.
So, what do you think?
A lot of zealous Christians have fallen into a risky doctrine of false grace.
Here is a follow up video based on my recent article of the same name, Five Marks of the False Grace Movement.
Watch the video here: http://youtu.be/bXLfCjUr6yM
A false-grace doctrine is a drug—a poisonous sleeping pill that feels freeing, relaxing and euphoric. Yet the false-grace overdose that’s occurring in churches all over the world is resulting in people’s careless, self-focused slumber that they will, one day, fail to awaken from.
Many in this movement have already been shocked on the day of their death to find themselves escorted not into the presence of God by glorious angels, but rather by the most horrifying of demonic creatures into their new, eternal residence in Hell. It happens every day. I’m grieved and broken.
THE WONDERS CONFERENCE
Don’t forget! Registration is FREE but REQUIRED!
Matt Sorger will be in Detroit in a few weeks and we are expecting a powerful outpouring!
Healings have landed at theLab! Watch a video of several interns reporting how God set them free!
Today at theLab was HEAVY! Wow! Most of us are without words as God arrived suddenly and surprisingly in the middle of our class today.
The NEXT INTERNSHIP SESSION starts September 3rd, and we are offering a special reduced tuition of $499.
Watch some videos from today INCLUDING one featuring several interns and their testimonies of God’s healing power! The other two show what happened when God suddenly entered the room.
Check out testimonies from some of our interns:
“I have become unoffendable. No man can shake me. The power of God has touched me and I am free!” Sam
“I’ve been waiting 36 years to see and experience the awesome power of the fire of God through theLab.” Shelly
“My anointing has skyrocketed…” Jamar
“theLab Internship has forever wrecked me.” Shannon
“I am so awakened beyond where I’ve ever been before spiritually! There is this volcanic eruption of the Holy Spirit exploding all the time. I AM SO ALIVE!” Jill
“God has come after the strongholds in my life with a vengeance. Together we are violently breaking through to destiny.” Amy
“I have been delivered from the fear of man.” Victoria
“theLab is a place where spiritual combustion happens, and the result is an explosion of fire!” Pam
“Encounter after encounter, realm after realm, breakthrough after breakthrough. Words can’t even describe it. My life will never be the same!” Ruth
“I am wrecked by the community at theLab. It’s an environment of love and acceptance. I have broken through to a new place of freedom!” Marty
“God really is in the resurrection business! I have gone from coasting until I die to really living again!” Kathy
“Through Revival Church and theLab I’ve become a walking, jumping, dancing and praising fire carrier!” Joy
“Through theLab I’ve been exposed to a new way of ‘doing church’…I am in awe of the tangible experiences that even the staunchest skeptic cannot deny!” Alvin
“My body shakes and quakes…I come hungry and I get full. I burn in His presence. I want more!” Gail
“I’m so excited about theLab because now I can see what Detroit will become—a city and beacon set on a hill to draw humanity to Jesus. The anointing on theLab for this endeavor is evident.” Hedy