Four Levels to the Ecclesia

 by Jane Johnson – Founder of the Ecclesia Framework

430171950XrWCam_phStruck by comments by Mike Parsons that unless we have a scroll and a position of influence in a traditional church, it is not good to stay for friendships. We must be a mobile body. I feel this truth deeply.

We can do the Ecclesia organically. There are four levels of the Ecclesia, not just our local gathering.

Ecclesia as the people of God expressing ministry of Christ in every sphere and domain.

Ecclesia as the local body.

Ecclesia as the citywide body.

Ecclesia as the universal body.

So the Ecclesia is a movement not a local gathering.

Moving from an institutional paradigm to a movemental paradigm, which includes organic elements but goes beyond this to include:

Grassroots renewal that can replicate itself.

Being Christ-like in everyday life (A missional incarnational).

Includes apostolic input:

I see the heavenly blueprint as being missionally responsive, organisationally agile, multiplication apostolic movements, that are reproducible and netweaved not in a centralisation of power. People grouping according to scrolls and not location that has a danger of becoming an institutional church, where people think we go to church.

Unless people are grouping according to different mandates and free to go where the spirit says, rather than attending a hub to be allowed to function, we will not have moved on.

Movements mobilise the whole people of God and are reproducible. So that is why learning to disciple another is so important.

But before we can manifest something on the earth we must legislate in heaven, so forming groups to do court cases over mandates and blueprints is the season we are in I believe, before forming something on the earth.

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JaneJohnson new smallCEO. Jane Johnson B.Com Grad Dip LD, Dip Coaching.

Jane has worked in many different leadership capacities from being a professionally qualified Christian Leadership Coach for 13 years to many Christian leaders, to leading a ministry with the Navigators, to being a Senior Learning and Development Manager of a multimillion corporation, advising the management team on strategic approaches to get the best out of their people. She has developed considerable experience with Investors in People taking several companies through to successful accreditation and training as a consultant for them. Hence she understands the amazing impact a tool based on this principle can have.

Connect with her on LinkedIn athttps://www.linkedin.com/profile/viewid=287940854&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile

The Creation Story Clarified

God in the Garden

with Jeremy Westcott – 

sunset-50494_640There is a frequency of sound that is being released from heaven today: God’s voice. John 10:27 says, My sheep hear my voice, I know them and they follow me.’How many of you are hearing God’s voice? God wants you to hear his voice, not just in big meetings or when someone’s speaking or when you are reading the Bible, He wants you to hear his voice all the time.

He is speaking all the time: that voice is coming out of heaven and it is the voice of revival, the voice of God calling his people to himself. Look at Ps 42:7, Deep calls to deep at the sound of your waterfalls. That sound from heaven is like a waterfall. It contains all the frequencies of sound. You need frequencies which flow; you need something to move you. Low frequencies vibrate and you can feel them go through you. It is possible to move a house off its foundations using low frequency sound, and that is nothing compared to the sound of God’s voice. God’s voice is powerful, he wants to release his voice so that we can hear it. We looked at this before in Rev 1:15-16: His voice was like the sound of many waters… out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength.

God’s voice can sometimes be a voice of love. He comes to woo us, as we sing, drawing us close, letting his love surround us. When we have got to that place where we know the love of God, sometimes the sound of God’s voice changes and he comes to declare the truth.

The sound of revival is about a visitation of God.

Why is God coming the way he is coming in this revival? The answer is, because we are not doing what we should be doing. That is the bottom line. If we were manifesting the presence of God, the Spirit of God and the power of God that is in us, he wouldn’t need to come like that. When we come together, are we coming to receive, or are we coming to release? God wants us so connected with his presence on the inside of us, which is connected to heaven, that it is releasing the sound of heaven through us. ‘On earth as it is in heaven’: the sound of heaven, the light of heaven, the power of heaven would be released through us.

Over the years we know the church has become traditional and institutional and has stopped doing the things they did in the New Testament times. We have looked at how the church spiralled down and went into darkness in the Dark Ages, and how God has been restoring the church ever since, bringing it back to its intended glory, not just the glory of the former house, the New Testament church, but the glory of the latter house, the end-time church that is going to usher in Jesus’ return. And that church is going to be far more glorious; but who is the church? We are. So who is going to be far more glorious? I said last time that Adam was glorious in the Garden of Eden. We sing the song Nigel wrote about wanting to walk with God in the Garden of Eden; I could preach a whole message on the Garden of Eden but let me just pursue this a moment, I will try not to get too far off track…

The Garden of Eden was not the garden of God. Read it carefully and you will see the garden of God was in Eden, and he planted a garden east of Eden, and it was watered from the garden of God. The River of Life flowed from the garden of God into the Garden of Eden, then it came out in four streams that filled the earth. The Tree of Life was present there and if Adam had eaten of the Tree of Life, his destiny would have been fully revealed to him. We can now eat from the Tree of Life, but not on earth, because the Garden of God went back into heaven when Adam sinned. The River of Life went back into heaven. The Tree of Life went back into heaven. When it was on earth, heaven and earth overlapped and everything from heaven was flowing freely to earth. So God was able to walk with Adam in the cool of the day. He was walking in that place of intimacy and relationship. God breathed the eternal essence of his Spirit into man and he became a living soul, so we are spirit beings first and foremost – and Adam’s spirit was on the outside. He didn’t look the way we do now, he did have a body, but the glory of God clothed him on the outside. He shone. God is going to restore that.

God does not want to restore us to the purpose of the New Testament church, he wants to take us back to Adam and Eve. They were given a mandate to bring heaven to earth, to manifest heaven on earth, and they walked in intimacy with God and had a relationship with God which was way beyond what most of us have experienced. We are just beginning to experience that too, and God is going to restore it more and more.

God is shouting right now, he is calling HIS church. It belongs to him, it doesn’t belong to us. He sent his Son to die for the church, to establish it. God is calling to his church, he is coming to his church in this visitation, to prepare us. He wants our full attention fixed on Him. He doesn’t want us to be distracted, looking at the signs and wonders, only that they point to him. He doesn’t want us to be looking at the miracles and the healings, only that they point to him. Everything needs to point to him. When we fix our eyes upon him, we are we going to become like him. We will become like the one we behold, transformed from one degree of glory to another, one degree of being like him to another increased measure of being like him, being like the Son.

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Practical Steps to Take Back Dominion over the Earth

By Jane Johnson Founder of Ecclesia Framework

dominion_earthWe are created to have dominion (gen 1).

Here are some practical ways of doing this spiritually:-

Realise you were created to be a king over the earth . Not a slave, friend, orphan or servant but having all the rights of royalty of a son.

Move towards becoming a manifest son as all creation is groaning for you to be manifest. ( areas for new people page shows a possible pathway).

Build a nest in the tree of life for a city or area so they are safe. (ie Deal with Giants and dragons, create benches over scrolls, legislate in heaven, discern and release heavenly blueprints onto the earth, and multiply your life by imparting what you have to other faithful men).

You are a light being so can vibrate or brood over an area ,so shining the blue light of government  over your mandate.

Intimacy with the father is a priority so we are not getting our security from dominion but balancing this is important with responsibility of acting out our kingly authority .

Entangle with the seven spirits and work through engaging them individually for a period .( see seven spirits page )

Stretch or expand your spirit over the area, person, situation or room.

Move from prophet to oracle (oracle speaks directly from heaven, prophet has elements of their own words in it).

Move from apostle showing the vision to legislator in the courts releasing heaven where the real difference is made.

Mandate angels particularly higher spheres of angels.

Come into agreement with the  men in white linen aligned to your scroll who have a similar scroll.

Build a court case then present it and take it to the court of chancellors for authorisation and court of scribes to have it placed in legislation and then go to the court of war for strategy. Can place papers in your belly and then plant in your garden.

Take your divorce papers to the storeroom of Melchizidek and  your treasury room for storage so you can draw on them later and re- enforce verdicts.

Use your spiritual weapons – mantle, swords, orb, sceptre, crowns as authority in dealing with principalities.

Restore crowns that have been  taken from you. Walk in the reality of your crowns.

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JaneJohnson new smallCEO. Jane Johnson B.Com Grad Dip LD, Dip Coaching.

Jane has worked in many different leadership capacities from being a professionally qualified Christian Leadership Coach for 13 years to many Christian leaders, to leading a ministry with the Navigators, to being a Senior Learning and Development Manager of a multimillion corporation, advising the management team on strategic approaches to get the best out of their people. She has developed considerable experience with Investors in People taking several companies through to successful accreditation and training as a consultant for them. Hence she understands the amazing impact a tool based on this principle can have.

Connect with her on LinkedIn athttps://www.linkedin.com/profile/viewid=287940854&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile

 

Heavenly Prayer Methods

img_0355This is just meant to be a checklist for you to further investigate the biblical and heavenly basis for these points. There are many podcasts from Mike Parsons on You Tube that are free to obtain the biblical basis.

This document is open for revision and debate if you feel the points are misinformed. Please comment on the webpage.

All our pages are designed so they can be printed off and worked through each day so we begin to change from old methods of doing things.

  • Expanding your spirit and brooding/vibrating over someone.
  • Releasing creative light.
  • Going into the court of accusation (mobile court) (See court protocol page)
  • Preparing court cases and putting things into legislation via authorisation by the court of chancellors and written into law by the court of scribes.
  • Trading on the sea of glass.
  • Re-enforcing verdicts in courts.
  • Mandating as kings. Using your authority stepping into Jesus body being in the name (not just saying in the name).
  • Applying the blood over things (like painting it).
  • Taking communion to change your DNA.
  • Asking for the dividing of soul and spirit until the soul matures and comes into oneness with the spirit.
  • Confessing sin of cities, people that are in your mandate. Families are automatically in our mandate.
  • Slaying giants, dragons and kings over mountains, your gateways, and your scroll.
  • Seeing blueprints in heaven or dragons as a bench, and coming into agreement, slaying them or presenting a case together. Getting a fourth person to agree after opening a window.
  • Mature Sons interact with councils, e.g. bringing a case to the  council of 70, as in 70 elders, court of men in white linen.
  • Raising your sceptre and hand over your mountains.

MISUNDERSTANDINGS

Jesus is the way, so there are many ways to access heaven, but here are a few possible misunderstandings:-

  • We DO NOT Come into agreement with what someone wants to see.
  • Pray requests but just step in the court of accusation.
  • Do court cases outside our authorisation.
  • Feel we are not able to step in untill we know more or can see. We can step in by faith.
  • Have to have an expert go into the courts for us.
  • Always go into heaven on our own (we often see more with others as coming into agreement).
  • Ideally not Stepping in quickly without reviewing our gateways/presenting ourselves as living sacrifice and honouring some of the nine voices in heaven.
  • Not seeking to operate spiritual gifts in the kingdom of the earth and not stepping into heaven. There can be backlash, whereas in heaven we are above the enemy and he has no access, other than being called into the courts at our request.
  • Not just saying “in his name ” but stepping into Jesus and walking in the authority you are recognised by in heaven . So our crowns matter.
More pages on court protocol and areas for new people and stumbling blocks to accessing heavenly realms at our site.

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JaneJohnson new smallCEO. Jane Johnson B.Com Grad Dip LD, Dip Coaching.

Jane has worked in many different leadership capacities from being a professionally qualified Christian Leadership Coach for 13 years to many Christian leaders, to leading a ministry with the Navigators, to being a Senior Learning and Development Manager of a multimillion corporation, advising the management team on strategic approaches to get the best out of their people. She has developed considerable experience with Investors in People taking several companies through to successful accreditation and training as a consultant for them. Hence she understands the amazing impact a tool based on this principle can have.

Connect with her on LinkedIn athttps://www.linkedin.com/profile/viewid=287940854&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile

 

Tired of your Religion

Religion-copyBy Jose Bosque

There is a growing ground swell of Christians who like me are tired of your religion. That doesn’t mean we hate God I just means we cant take religious church “as is” anymore. The word Religion means man’s attempts; traditions, practices, and ideas (rituals) to serve their God.

In Henry Fielding’s novel “Tom Jones.” he has one character say: “By religion I mean Christianity, by Christianity I mean Protestantism, by Protestantism I mean the Church of England as established by law.” It’s kind of funny but he was being honest. In other words he means the 1611 KJV of the Bible which many evangelicals call “the Authorized Version”.
Here is what the Lord says about the best religion man can come up with “And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags (modern translation; sanitary napkins) It’s a hard word but crystal clear!

We are so tired of hearing: “this is what I think”, “in my opinion”, “well So and So says”, “this is what I believe”, “In my church we etc., etc.” ‎ad infinitum, ad nauseam.

What ever happened to as James says in the Acts of the Apostles “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us,” Hebrews “as the Holy Spirit says,” and Revelation “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the church.”

I believe the problem is we are living in a 21st century where there is an “information overload.” Everybody has memorized the Bible after so many sermons. National Geographic, Discovery Channel and the History Channel have made us all into armchair historical experts concerning everything, including the things of God. The problem is very few of us really know how to hear God.

We are sorry but real Christianity is not a “pick and choose” buffet line like in Golden Corral. You can’t go around saying “the Bible says” like you really know what it says if you don’t. You can’t hand pick bible verses and put them together out of context to back up whatever your opinion is or your denomination believes. You can’t come to me with the King James Version says whatever, whatever. Don’t you know that the King James Bible was translated from the Greek on orders of a heathen King of England who wanted to create his own brand of religion to control the people? The translators were mostly x-catholic priests who in 1611 were full of the religion of men. Are you aware the chapter and verses were put in by men?
When is the last time you heard a “Rhema” from God. Rhema means an utterance. “God speaks” to His children. This was normal in the real church for the first 1500 years until the printing press was created and started printing bibles. About the same time the other 95% of humanity, the common person was taught and learned to read. Today we all have bibles and few of us are illiterate but even fewer of us actually have a daily relationship with the Lord himself.

We were all taught; Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word (BIBLE) of God. That is a full on lie it is Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word (Rhema) the voice of God. No, that doesn’t mean a word from a prophet for profit!
That’s a shocker …let that sink in for a while.

Many have memorized bible verses but when it gets tough they have no faith. That kind of confusion and misguided direction is causing many to leave organized religion. In other words they are;

Tired of your Religion

tired of your religion

According to sociologist, Josh Packard;

“in his scrupulously researched book, Church Refugees, there are currently 65,000,000 individuals in the USA who are “done” with church, 30.5 MM of those, retaining their “faith,” the balance having no “faith affiliation.”

The Nones and Dones are not rebellious, wounded, bitter, Absaloms, Jezebels, and heretics as they are so often caricatured. They are often the best, the brightest, the finest, most faithful, and the most committed to Christ–those who take their faith very seriously. There are another 7,000,000 “on their way” to being done for a total of 72,000,000 nones and dones.

In the United States, there are also approximately 65,000,000 believers who self-identify as being part of an organized church.
Thirty to fifty percent of those who confess Christ in the USA, are DONE with “church,” (organized, institutional religion) or soon will be.”

You want a prophetic word for the 21st century? I see religion (man’s best rituals and opinions) falling like dominoes. People’s eyes are being opened by the Spirit of the Lord. The Lord will have His Church back from the mini kings (popes, priests and pastors) that now rule it.

Please don’t quote me the Old Testament verse of “touch not the Lords anointed” that verse has nothing to do with New Testament Christianity. We are the New Creation of God, The Lord Himself lives in us and the Holy Spirit anoints us to understand His ways.

The clergy-laity division is an invention of a religious church to control the people of God. (The masses that’s why it’s called “mass.”

This was written by Jon Zens and I strongly agree;

“My letter to the sponsors of the recent “Clergy Conference” in Atlanta reflects my deep concern over the biblically unjustified practice of dividing God’s people into two classes – pulpiteers and pew-sitters. It is a pattern that certainly reflects the hierarchical patterns of the world, but which does not square with New Testament teaching.
What really needs to be done is to hold a conference where the New Testament’s teaching on leadership is unfolded. If this were done, of course, then the traditional “clergy/laity” practice would have to be jettisoned in favor of the New Testament patterns.
Looking at the big picture, you are really doing harm to the very class of persons you are trying to help. By not challenging the “clergy” system, which has brought untold hurt to those within its pale, you end up giving pep-talks and encouragement to people who are functioning in an office Christ has nowhere revealed in His Word. You admit in Men of Action (Nov. 1995, p. 4), “Pastors are worn out, discouraged, and in need of affirmation. In fact, poll after poll reveals that most pastors are battling isolation, depression, and loneliness. They are so beaten up by the ministry . . .”Actually, the situation among the “clergy” is much worse than this brief statement. But should this be surprising when people are forced to fill a job description found nowhere in the New Testament? The most Christ-honoring and caring thing you could do is to tell the 70,000 men that come to Atlanta to stop being “clergy”, because God’s Word teaches nothing about “clergy”.

Consider this from John Matthews:

1. It is important for people to understand the difference between the Church (every follower of Jesus the Christ throughout all time) and the institution frequently called “church” (the human hierarchical institution consisting of many denominations and organizations that usually meets in a building and claims to follow Jesus the Christ). They are not the same thing.
2. Everyone who frequents the institution called “church” and assumes the label “Christian” is not necessarily a follower of Jesus the Christ and therefore not necessarily a “brother or sister.”
3. Pointing out the above distinctions and challenging the associated behaviors or practices of the institution or individuals does not make you unforgiving, someone who “hates your brother,” or does not love the Body of Christ.
4. It is possible to love the Church while not loving the “church.”
Finally, let’s honor the priesthood of every believer, let’s learn to listen to the Holy Spirit together and let us walk life out together in love. It is the biblical way and it is the only way we will ever receive solutions for the problems of this world.

Much love,
Jose Bosque

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Jose Bosque is Editor in Chief and founder of Viral Cast Media which oversees GodsLeader, JaxChristian now ViralChrist and 15 other websites. He has ministered in Jacksonville since 1987 and served the city since 1992 as a citywide servant leader.

Jose is considered a resource and a spiritual father to many leaders in the city and in the 54 nations where the Lord has sent him to serve. Originally born in Cuba, Jose has resided in Jacksonville since 1966.

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Changing our Learning Practices to become a Mature Son of God

Written by Jane Johnson

Disciple-Making-ChurchAs a learning and development professional I see many practices in church settings that are not conducive to good learning and are not modelled in the Bible.

Here is what I see in the bible, I see in heaven and is a better way to learn:-

  • One anothering (see page).
  • Learning a small piece of info and applying it straight away (this is why conference learning and spirit schools are not the best).
  • Trying to explain it to others really helps and you can even get new revelation from heaven in the process sometimes!
  • Seeing things in writing  increases retention more than hearing so finding a balance of written and audio materials is best. Trying it out in practice helps even more no matter what your preferred learning style (action learning). If you are doing any learning interventions for people, try to give them exercises to practice and reinforce with visual elements.
  • Debating was the original meaning of teaching in scripture not listening – there was so much debate when Jesus was on the earth and people allowed to ask questions. Debate allows us to overcome mindsets and blocked gateways. Listening to sermons only has limited retention and usually around 20 mins.
  • Daily discipling was the model of the early church. We can do this by using a lot of online methods these days such as messenger groups and Facebook chats on pages or messaging /texting each other.
  • Coaching/mentoring is a great tool to give a sounding board, accountability, setting goals, overcoming obstacles. Coaching workshops do exist but some coaching tips are on page “looking for community”.
  • Networking to get resources tailored to you.
  • Keeping momentum by listening to frequent resources to boost faith and  sharing what you have learnt to reinforce learning. Trying to explain it to others is a great exercise.

The great fact about this generation is the technology allows us  to seek resources that are the best in the world. As we were never meant to stay in one small location dealing only with the same people for years (traditional church thinking), this technology can be a real blessing to seeing a more heavenly blueprint.

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JaneJohnson new smallCEO. Jane Johnson B.Com Grad Dip LD, Dip Coaching.

Jane has worked in many different leadership capacities from being a professionally qualified Christian Leadership Coach for 13 years to many Christian leaders, to leading a ministry with the Navigators, to being a Senior Learning and Development Manager of a multimillion corporation, advising the management team on strategic approaches to get the best out of their people. She has developed considerable experience with Investors in People taking several companies through to successful accreditation and training as a consultant for them. Hence she understands the amazing impact a tool based on this principle can have.

Connect with her on LinkedIn athttps://www.linkedin.com/profile/viewid=287940854&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile

 

Growth checklist – See how well you are growing spiritually

church-growth

  1. Are you making a choice to say Jesus is your first love every day?
  2. Are you able to hear, discern  or see in the spirit?
  3. Do you know your gateways and how open they are daily?
  4. Do you know your scroll of destiny or what you really want to see happen in the world?
  5. Are you ruling on your mountains daily (that does not mean that you have no problems)?
  6. Are you asking for a mandate in heaven daily?
  7. Are you engaging angels?
  8. Are you operating from a seat of rest meaning things are fun and in Christs strength not striving on our own?
  9. Are you seeking to grow in court protocol and entering regularly? (Note -nothing is stopping u entering right now by faith)
  10. Are you seeing answers to court cases?
  11. Are you connecting with others to go into heaven and in some form of accountability relationship?
  12. Are you learning to multiply your life by mentoring/coaching another?
  13. Are you seeking others who have the same scroll as yourself to begin a bench of 3?
  14. Do you understand we don’t go to church we are  Ecclesia in everyplace, city, local and nationwide?
  15. Do you want to be part of the Joshua generation mentoring others and crossing over to build a new wineskin for future generations?
  16. Do you understand why traditional church models are not  heavenly , healthy or biblical in most areas?

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Join our Facebook page: Ecclesia Framework to receive regular updates and daily updated content.

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JaneJohnson new smallCEO. Jane Johnson B.Com Grad Dip LD, Dip Coaching.

Jane has worked in many different leadership capacities from being a professionally qualified Christian Leadership Coach for 13 years to many Christian leaders, to leading a ministry with the Navigators, to being a Senior Learning and Development Manager of a multimillion corporation, advising the management team on strategic approaches to get the best out of their people. She has developed considerable experience with Investors in People taking several companies through to successful accreditation and training as a consultant for them. Hence she understands the amazing impact a tool based on this principle can have.

Connect with her on LinkedIn athttps://www.linkedin.com/profile/viewid=287940854&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile

 

Can we serve your calling on one of our mountains?

mountain-water_2188_1024x768We have been given a mandate to set up a governmental hub/apostolic resource centre to facilitate the emergence of a heavenly Ecclesia which we believe will be foundational to transforming the mountains of society which in turn will restore dominion over the earth. Helping people find their scrolls and link in benches of 3 is critical to this.

We believe this will be the emergence of new expressions not run by paid pastors but by facilitators allowing the full expression of gifts and calling of all and building organic quickly reproducible expressions which will use resources from all areas . So we see at the moment it will be a combination of heavenly realms principles, organic church principles and one United body.

We and many others do not sense that this will be remodelling traditional churches predominately.

Our mandate is to:

Develop materials to enable people to understand heavenly realms  revelations.

Communicate the principles in the heavenly Ecclesia blueprint document.

See the Raising up hangouts for different levels and going into heaven together and one on one discipling  in the new blueprint who understand multiplication of groups and each other’s lives (not spiritual addition).

Facilitate benches of 3 meeting around a scroll.

Train up hub leaders who understand how to prevent the return to traditional church ethos.

Promote all aspects of the body not just our own to see one United body.

Help understand good learning principles.

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Possible values of a new ecclesia

  • Intimacy with God.
  • Replicating “as it is in heaven”.
  • Raising up the new generation through “one anothering”.
  • Legislating in heaven and responsibility on earth.
  • Only doing what we have a mandate for.
  • Love and honour your neighbour as yourself.
  • We are all one body across the world not just one location therefore freedom to access resources elsewhere.
  • Facilitation and Mutual subjection to one another moving away from clergy / laity divide.

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Join our Facebook page: Ecclesia Framework to receive regular updates and daily updated content.

Click here to sign up to the Heavenly Realms page. 

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JaneJohnson new smallCEO. Jane Johnson B.Com Grad Dip LD, Dip Coaching.

Jane has worked in many different leadership capacities from being a professionally qualified Christian Leadership Coach for 13 years to many Christian leaders, to leading a ministry with the Navigators, to being a Senior Learning and Development Manager of a multimillion corporation, advising the management team on strategic approaches to get the best out of their people. She has developed considerable experience with Investors in People taking several companies through to successful accreditation and training as a consultant for them. Hence she understands the amazing impact a tool based on this principle can have.

Connect with her on LinkedIn athttps://www.linkedin.com/profile/viewid=287940854&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile

 

 

8 WAYS TO TREAT CYNICISM SICKNESS FROM A RECOVERING CHRISTIAN CYNIC

Slide01-compressor-4-e1445377565952by Frank Powell

Hello, my name is Frank Powell, and I am a recovering Christian cynic. I was disillusioned about the church. I didn’t sign up for church ministry. I was drafted by God. I also didn’t grow up heavily involved in a youth group. I attended church sporadically to appease my parents.

I tell you this because when God drafted me, I had a picture of the church. This picture was shaped by my limited experience in church and my idea of what I thought “church” should look like.

In my mind, church ministry would be easy.

I would baptize new Christians all the time. Everyone would be receptive to my plans and teaching. In no time, I would have a mega-church. I knew I could do it. I was friends with several 20-somethings on Facebook and Twitter who pastored mega-churches.

I quickly realized “church people” are often frustrating and resistant to change. Not everyone enjoyed my teaching. Progress was slow. For nearly two years, I fought disillusionment. And, slowly, I made strides.

Then came the bombshell.

Another minister at the church where I worked sent me a scathing e-mail. He attacked everything, from my competency in ministry to the future salvation of my family.

That e-mail was the final straw. I wanted out.

Ever been there?

Thankfully, God kept me in ministry. I accepted another position and battled more disillusionment. But on the other side of my latest season in ministry, God restored my hope. It’s not because people changed. People will always be people. It’s not because the church is different. My hope is restored in the church and in God’s work in the world because God awakened me to inconsistencies and brokenness in my heart.

Here’s the reality. Cynicism plagues our culture. It might be the greatest threat to the present-day church. Cynicism is toxic. It’s insanely contagious. And, it’s not a respecter of persons. Anyone, anywhere, regardless of age, background, socioeconomic level, or race is susceptible to cynicism.

Cynics live without hope (the anchor of the Christian faith), void of compassion, lacking trust in everyone and everything. And without hope, compassion, and trust, what do you have? Seriously?

I want to share what I learned about cynicism. And I want to challenge you to start (or continue) fighting against cynicism. Cynicism is a sickness. It’s not from God.

Here are 8 ways to treat cynicism sickness.

1.) NEVER BECOME FAMILIAR WITH GOD.

If familiarity breeds contempt, then religious familiarity breeds unholy cynicism.Margaret Feinberg

Familiarity with God turns blind faith into dry legalism. The church needs a larger view of God. The church needs to rediscover the God who created stars with his breath. God’s people are desperate for a new, fresh perspective of what it means to be all-powerful and all-knowing. There is no mountain God can’t move. There is no place to hide from God. If you travel to Pluto, he’s there. If you travel to the furthest known galaxy in the universe, MACS0647-JD, 13.3 billion light years from earth, God is there.

Familiarity with God turns blind faith into dry legalism.

Write this down…the smaller your God, the larger your problems. And when your problems are too big for God, cynicism will plague your life. Rest in God’s power to do anything, anywhere, anytime.

But also rest in God’s knowledge, which far exceeds yours. God might not answer the way you want. It’s not because God doesn’t hear you. It’s because he sees the trajectory of your life. And, he weaves your requests with his will to form an unbreakable cord that lasts for all of eternity.

2.) DON’T FIGHT RELIGIOUS BATTLES. JUST SERVE PEOPLE. 

Several years ago, a tornado ravaged a suburb in Jackson, MS. A group of teenagers and adults from my church spent the day helping those affected. It’s interesting. That day, I served alongside Christians from other denominations. I realized, despite what I was taught, they weren’t from Satan. They actually loved Jesus. A lot.

Cynicism thrives in a culture where Christians are idle and bored.

You know who doesn’t spend time debating ideals? Christians actively engaged in the mission of Christ. These Christians are too busy actually doing what Jesus said to debate whether Jesus actually meant it. What a novel idea, right? You see, cynicism thrives in a culture where Christians are idle and bored.

Show me a culture where Christians are cynical, I will bet my son’s salary (because he’s three) that church is focused on themselves and not others. I will bet my other son’s salary (because he’s two) a disproportionate number of Christians simply fill pews. Few Christians in cynical churches serve and few church leaders challenge people to serve.

Can you imagine what would happen if every Christian decided to serve others? This sounds ridiculous, but what if Christians stopped reading about Jesus and started living out what they already knew?

What if…

3.) CHALLENGE YOUR LONG-HELD ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT YOUR FAITH AND GOD. 

In times of profound change, the learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”Eric Hoffer

Cynicism loves a culture where people hold to their beliefs tighter than the time I held to my wife when we rode the Goliath at Six Flags. And, yes. I screamed like a girl. Don’t judge me.

You are a learner. When you stop learning, you cease to be human. Human beings are the only creations of God with the ability to accumulate knowledge.

Dogs eat, pee, poop, make me sneeze (I’m allergic), and sleep. Dogs don’t reach a certain level of maturity and say, “Hey, I think I’ll learn to drive today.”

Cats eat, pee, poop, annoy people, look scary, and sleep. No one ever walked into your house, looked at your cat, and said, “Isn’t your cat five? Shouldn’t he be in school?”

But you? You were created to learn. If God is all-knowing, it is godly to learn and grow.

Listen to people you don’t agree with. I listen to sermons and podcasts of people from all walks of life and backgrounds. I have even listened to atheists discuss their perspective on the world, humanity, and culture. Do I agree with them? No. Do I have to agree with their views to listen to them? No.

You must listen to viewpoints you don’t agree with. Your church culture won’t do this for you. Most Sunday mornings are glorified pep rallies. Just watch the head nods. Listen for the amens. Here’s what they mean. “Yeah, I knew that. Yep, that’s right. I agree with you.” People come to hear the preacher say what they already know.

To combat the pep rally culture, you must expand your horizon. Challenge your traditional thinking. Be open-minded. Learners will inherit the earth. Are you a learner?

4.) ENGAGE IN CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY.

You weren’t created to be alone. Isolation fuels cynicism. Ironically, cynicism often drives people into isolation. So, there’s a dangerous cycle at work here.

How do you break the cycle? Christian community. Authentic, Christ-centered community removes poison from the veins of cynicism. It reveals, on a smaller scale, what is true on a global scale. Transformation is slow. Ministry is messy. People are broken. Growth comes through vulnerability. The mission of Christ is external. Suffering is inevitable.

You get the idea.

You can’t become the man or woman God created you to be if you aren’t plugged into Christian community.

Through the years, community with other Christians shaped my journey more than anything else. I decided to go into full-time ministry after a Bible study at a friend’s home. When I got the news about cancer, it was my community who prayed for me. I could on and on.

As much as it hurts, regardless of how uncomfortable it is for you, plug into a community of believers. It will transform your life.

5.) BE VULNERABLE AND AUTHENTIC.

Cynicism thrives in a culture where Bible memorization and church attendance are merit badges for your coat of external righteousness. Why? External righteousness isn’t about God. It’s about you. And cynicism begins at the line between selflessness and selfishness.

This is why authenticity is so important. It reminds you that you’re broken. And this brokenness reminds you of God’s perfection.

But, if your church culture is like mine, this isn’t the message you are taught. I was instructed to hide my sins. Good Christian boys didn’t have sex, watch pornography, or drink alcohol. And God didn’t like little boys who did those things. So, when I did them, you know who I told? No one. And it caused me years of shame and pride.

At some point, I decided the Christian game wasn’t very fun and I stopped playing. Regardless of the facade your church tries to sell, don’t buy it. Everyone is broken. Every person who walks in a church building struggles with something. If you think you don’t struggle with anything, you’re wrong.

You struggle with pride…and lying.

Surround yourself with Christians who value authenticity. The more you do this, the less you hide feelings of shame. The more you let go of yourself, the deeper you sink in the sea of God’s unending grace. Cynicism dies where God’s grace lives.

Cynicism dies where God’s grace lives.

6.) BY DEFAULT, TRUST EVERYONE. 

Look, I get it. People hurt you. They hurt me too. But when you don’t trust someone, you throw up a wall to keep from being hurt.

If you don’t trust your spouse, you don’t give all of yourself to them. If you don’t trust your boss, you withhold information from them. And here’s the problem with not trusting people…you can’t point someone to God when there’s a wall between yourself and someone else.

Look, don’t run around like Mary Poppins. Understand people are going to hurt you and disappoint you. But don’t give up on people because they’re broken like you. Treat others the way you want to be treated. You want to be trusted, right? Even when you mess up.

And remember, Jesus will never give up on you. He believes you are good. He believes you are worthy of dying for. What if the Christian community embraced the mentality of Jesus?

7.) DON’T RUN FROM DISCOMFORT. RUN INTO IT.

My default response to conflict is to run from it. And while this response protects me from short-term pain, it creates more long-term pain. If you want to end your life with no friends and overcome with bitterness, run from conflict. Don’t lean into discomfort when it comes.

Don’t miss this.

Almost every promise of God is fulfilled through conflict. God promised Abraham he would bless nations through him. In the meantime, Abraham was asked to sacrifice his son, leave his family, and endure a host of other difficult events.

David was anointed king by Samuel, but he didn’t take the reigns until 20 years after his anointing. In the meantime, David ran for his life. He fought for his life.

And, of course, the reconciling of the world was promised in Genesis and fulfilled at the resurrection of Jesus. In the meantime? Murder. Divorce. War. And, ultimately, the cross. At the cross, God redeemed humanity through pain and discomfort.

This is one of the greatest lessons I have learned in ministry. If you step into discomfort, the short-term might be difficult. But the long-term will be more joyful. Don’t take my word for it. Look at how God rolls.

8.) PRACTICE HOPEFUL REALISM EVERY DAY.

Hopeful realism embraces the dual realities of contemporary evil and forthcoming redemption.Andrew Byers

Hopeful realism, a phrase coined by Andrew Byers in his book Faith Without Illusions is the alternative to both unhealthy disillusionment and cynicism.

So, what does hopeful realism look like? Here are a few examples.

  1. Cynics believe the world is too far gone. Idealists don’t understand the magnitude of the hurt in the world. Hopeful realists look to the disillusionment that surrounds an empty tomb and engage the world with the Spirit’s power.
  2. Cynics turn their backs on the church in disgust. They sit in the stands, silently hoping the ship sinks. Idealists believe the church is without problems. Everyone should be happy and get along. Hopeful realists see the church as the bride of Christ, and acknowledging the church’s problems, refuse to give up on something Jesus died for.
  3. Cynics look at the youthful naivety and disillusionment of the next generation as a product of immaturity and inexperience. Idealists are more concerned with talking about changing the world and less concerned with faithful acts of daily obedience. Hopeful realists never lose the wonder and awe of God but also understand the power of daily obedience.

There is no faith without disillusionment. The central message of the Christian faith is that a man (who is also God) lived without sin, died on a cross, was placed in a tomb, and after three days walked out…alive. If you don’t believe in Jesus, the Christian message sounds more ridiculous than flying pigs.

At the same time, there is no faith without face-to-face, hand-in-hand service. Real Christian ministry is really messy. It’s really slow. And it’s really about people, not ideas.

Talking with a college student recently about this, he summed it up beautifully. He said his perspective is to think idealistically and live in reality.

____________

It’s time to fight cynicism. Yeah, cynicism is easy. That’s why most of the world chooses it. But, Christians don’t serve a God who specializes in easy. Christians serve a God who specializes in taking something hard or difficult and turning it into something beautiful. That’s your mission as well.

It’s time to stop running from the church because of disillusionment. It’s time to stop simplifying the church’s mission to nothing more than programs and steps. It’s time to stop trash-talking churches because their name is different. It’s time to stop bad-mouthing church leaders because they hurt you.

As Jesus says, “You who are without sin cast the first stone.” Translation: if you have never hurt someone, then by all means, trash those who hurt you. Since you have hurt people, you have no right to trash others. But you do have a right to pray for them.

What if every Christian lived with hope and joy? Maybe I’m disillusioned. But if I’m disillusioned, it’s because of the cross. And I refuse to believe God can’t operate outside of my logic. In the meantime, I won’t stop working for the kingdom. I won’t stop writing. I won’t stop preaching and teaching. I won’t stop discipling the next generation. I won’t give up on the church.

I want to challenge you to do the same. God is up to something at your workplace. He is doing something in your family. Believe it. Until then, work hard. Love your family well. Engage in your Christian community. Serve your city.

I love you all. To God be the glory forever. Amen!

COPYRIGHT 2015 FRANK POWELL. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Heavenly Blueprint of New Ecclesia’s

Written by Jane JOhnson founder of Ecclesia FRamework                   
AC1766EB-7285-433C-B57B-BBFDEF094F8DThis is a compilation of revelation from what many have seen in the inner court and from many bible verses not really understood from a Hebrew mind-set, as the culture of heaven. It is open to others adding or debating these principles as a culture of honour  is a strong part of the unseen world in the bible.

A strong understanding by facilitators is really important before starting to build a healthy ecclesia, as is evaluating it regularly with all sons. It is hard to change once a culture is established .

  • CHRIST as the real head.
  • We are all part of one body, regardless of location, moving away from denominations, networks or paid apostolic covering (full unity not partial).
  • We DONT go to church . We are the ecclesia so we don’t just go to one location for all our needs which can lead to being insular . All of life is doing church even our work.
  • Intimacy with the Trinity is critical as a base for the purity of motives. We present cases in the courts to remove the legal right of the enemy to act by hearing accusations and agreeing with the accuser (Operating in the courts by Henderson).
  • Spiritual Fathering / one anothering – allowing others to rise above the mentor is foundational (multiplication not spiritual addition).
  • No hierarchy – we are all powerful sons so moving away from the traditional senior pastor role instigated by Constantine in 300 ad Ez 34.
  • Open participatory gatherings with mutual edification in gatherings moving away from predominance on sermons – each bringing revelation, teaching, song, testimony (1cor 14:26) (See Reimagining Church for biblical reasoning).
  • Understanding The order of Melchizidek (as in, Jesus is in the order of Melchizidek) and that we all have apostolic, prophetic and kingly (strategic) elements . We still need apostles.
  • One United Body  therefore hubs not under one apostolic resource centre.Input  from many sources encourages less heresy.
  • Benches of 3 are established for all mountains to come into agreement about a blueprint   based on model of Father, Son, and the Holy spirit. This brings accountability. A window transferring it to the earth is made by a fourth person.
  • Benches of 7 (as in the seven spirits Rev 4:5) are used for Mountains of the blueprint.
  • Benches of 12 are used (drawn from the 12 laws of Zion, 2×12 =24 elders, 12 stones on the breastplate, and 12 strands of DNA). Often used to validate decisions by benches of 3.
  • We seek to first find out what the father wants in heaven and not administrate from earth but learn to administrate from the heavenly realms.
  • Legislating and decreeing before seeking to build in the natural 
  • We all see our role as the one new man in Christ, to restore dominion over the earth, therefore responsibility is important not just intimacy (Gen 3).
  • Understanding difference between the domain of God, the government of God and the presence of God. 
  • Accountability is paramount so there is no one leader in overall charge.
  • We need the BAPTISM OF UNITY. All one church under Christ across the world so looking for agreement is critical – not just doing our own thing, ignoring or failing to promoting others.
  • All people are allowed a strong voice, not just leaders, as we are all powerful sons.
  • We must all be clear on our Mountains of Authority and the Level of Authorisation we have, rather than choosing to pray for things outside our jurisdiction.
  • We seek guidance by Revelation backed up by the word rather than academic exposition of the word.
  • No ecclesia provides spiritual covering– only Jesus is our spiritual covering.
  • We need reformation before revival can come.
  • Reconsidering membership, as we are all part of Christ’s body and this can drive the formation of denominations.
  • Moving on from soaking movement as we legislate in heaven.
  • Moving on from the glory movement of signs and wonders, to becoming the sign and wonder as a manifest son of God.
  • Reconsider owning buildings that stop a church evolving easily and organically.
  • Leaders are facilitators, rather than having authority to exercise – looking to empower rather than insisting things are approved by them. Strong disciples are made by being exposed to debate.
  • Mutual submission to one another not to an organisation or leader, i.e. two way.
  • Everyone exercising gifts – no one refused on the basis of familiarity. Honour means trust.
  • We are all ordained – no ordination required.
  • Facilitating people to find and live out their scroll/call is important not just how to connect with God.
  • Moving away from condemnation of others ministries including non-Christian groups but looking for areas of agreement.
  • An Ecclesia that is missional, existing for those who do not currently believe, more than to support existing believers.
  • An Ecclesia that encourages people to go to the inner court and holy of holies before becoming dependent on prophecy, ministry, prayer or supernatural manifestations (i.e. not just staying in the outer court).
  • Community with a purpose (communitas), not just community.
  • Evangelists teaching us how to reach out, not just doing evangelism ministry themselves.
  • We are not to idol worship teachers or apostles but learn to access the inner court ourselves, so moving away from chasing celebrity ministries without application of the material and actively seeking community.
  • Equipping of the Saints versus supporting the leadership vision.
  • People encouraged to give “gifts and offerings”, to the whole body not just the local church – which are voluntary and come from honour and love – moving away from a duty offering of 10% (which may be above 10%).
  • Moving away from deliverance to overcoming
  • Spiritual gifts are less predominant as we enter a higher way. 
  • Going through the veil together and coming into agreement can open gates.
  • Returning to the original meaning of teaching as “debating”.
  • No paid pastoral salaries -giving goes to the poor.
  • More than a salvation message, but a union message.

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JaneJohnson new smallCEO. Jane Johnson B.Com Grad Dip LD, Dip Coaching.

Jane has worked in many different leadership capacities from being a professionally qualified Christian Leadership Coach for 13 years to many Christian leaders, to leading a ministry with the Navigators, to being a Senior Learning and Development Manager of a multimillion corporation, advising the management team on strategic approaches to get the best out of their people. She has developed considerable experience with Investors in People taking several companies through to successful accreditation and training as a consultant for them. Hence she understands the amazing impact a tool based on this principle can have.

Connect with her on LinkedIn athttps://www.linkedin.com/profile/viewid=287940854&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile

 

Ecclesia Framework Ascension Hub

We are seeking to model the Ecclesia out of heaven and allow everyone a voice and contribution.
Cathy Davis’s Zoom Meeting
Cathy Davis is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Cathy Davis’s Zoom Meeting
Time: Dec 16, 2015 4:00 PM (GMT-7:00) Arizona

Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://zoom.us/j/3882631404

Or join by phone:

+1 415 762 9988 (US Toll) or +1 646 568 7788 (US Toll)
Meeting ID: 388 263 1404
International numbers available: https://zoom.us/zoomconference?m=chd4Otc4X2_GnGxi9Mixpyr8GdhwExw

To convert to your timezone. use the following link, change “Location 1:” then press “Convert Time” – http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html?year=2015&month=12&day=16&hour=16&min=0&sec=0&p1=197&p2=152

Event – Jeff Rohr’s Personal Meeting Room

Sunday, December 13 at 6 PM8 PM in CST
Jeff Rohr is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Jeff Rohr’s Personal Meeting Room

This is about scrolls & mandates every fortnight with Jeff and Cathy doing general topics including: Seeing in the Spirit on the alternative week.

Join from PC, Mac, Linux, iOS or Android: https://zoom.us/j/8748257341

Or join by phone:

+1 415 762 9988 (US Toll) or +1 646 568 7788 (US Toll)
Meeting ID: 874 825 7341
International numbers available: https://zoom.us/zoomconference?m=7CEj1qwJD2BzJdo8wAy1KUFp3rETDehh

To convert to your timezone. use the following link, change “Location 1:” then press “Convert Time” – http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html?year=2015&month=12&day=13&hour=18&min=0&sec=0&p1=403

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Myths and heresies in church today

It is with a sad heart that we at the ecclesia framework write this article but felt the leading of the spirit to spell this out for the done with church and God’s heart to return  to a pure ecclesia  modelled in the heavenly realms. These are ones I have seen numerous examples of in my work as a Christian leadership coach.

We also saw a hard heart when contacting over 750 churches where few showed any openess to consider what they were doing despite figures like 65m in America alone being done with church but in love with God.

It is our conclusion that the majority of church practice is not biblical and not a good learning environment and has lost significant influence in society as a result . We are often keeping Christians busy thinking they are learning about God and serving him in church but dominion in society is the real biblical purpose and restoring  it to “as it is in heaven.”

Traditional church models are not good learning models with little evaluation done of whether people are growing. A lot is based around numbers attending which is not a good signal that people are really having dominion over the earth or loving. Many social projects are done on a small scale whereas working with more professional operations can increase the visibility of Christians and impact on a greater scale. (More principles to

  •  We need to go to a church in one fixed location for years – organic constantly changing and morphing was the OT and New Testament model
  • Church is face to face otherwise it is not real discipling
  • Real ministry is done in church not in everyday life so our calling is not that important as we are serving church vision
  • If we question anything in church it is not honouring – debate was part of early church and is healthy to stop heresy
  • The bible is the be all and end all. Jesus is the word of God and to fully hear from God we must know how to recognise the Father’s voice. We can make the bible say many things by using it out of context. A lot of teachers only know what they were taught in college
  • We support the pastors vision
  • We must tithe all our money to the local church
  • Paying pastors salary is biblical- helping the poor was priority not buildings in the bible.
  • Bringing people into church is the best form of discipling
  • Worship is singing songs written by others – worship is being a living sacrifice . Praise and thanksgiving should come from our own lips from genuine reflection on the goodness of God like the cherubim over the arc.
  • Finances are private in churches. Accountability and excellence are biblical models.
  • Boards of business men or young elders  over a church is biblical
  • You submit to the leaders. Mutual submission is biblical.

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Join our Facebook page: Ecclesia Framework to receive regular updates and daily updated content.

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………………………………………………………………………………………………

JaneJohnson new smallCEO. Jane Johnson B.Com Grad Dip LD, Dip Coaching.

Jane has worked in many different leadership capacities from being a professionally qualified Christian Leadership Coach for 13 years to many Christian leaders, to leading a ministry with the Navigators, to being a Senior Learning and Development Manager of a multimillion corporation, advising the management team on strategic approaches to get the best out of their people. She has developed considerable experience with Investors in People taking several companies through to successful accreditation and training as a consultant for them. Hence she understands the amazing impact a tool based on this principle can have.

Connect with her on LinkedIn athttps://www.linkedin.com/profile/viewid=287940854&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile

 

12 Challenging Questions for Every Christian Leader

8questions_blog1By Peter Sewell

Ever since I was a young boy I have been asking questions. In fact, I make a living out of asking people questions. In my experience I have found questions offer the biggest growth experiences. This week I have chosen 12 of the most important questions that leaders can ask themselves in order to see growth and positive change in their church.

1. Do I equip and support every person to serve in their area of gifting?

(Eph 4:12; 2Ti 2:2; 1 Cor 4:15)

Leaders are often quick to vocally support people, but slow to involve people in practical ways. Empowering leaders recognise the value of involving every person and equipping them to serve. Poor leaders withhold opportunities from others, prefer to do ministry alone, and create conditions that limit ministry to a very few. In the New Testament church, Barnabus mentored Paul, and Paul actively mentored Timothy, Titus and others. Individual mentoring can help people to identify their gifts, and involve them in practical ways.

2. Do we have counsel and support from ministries outside our church? 

(2 Tim 3:10; 1 Cor 4:17; Prov 11:14)

One of the inescapable realities of life is that the longer we function in any role, the more self sufficient we feel. On one hand, self sufficiency is a sign of maturity. On the other hand, it is the breading ground for blind spots, meaning that we fail to see our weaknesses. Pro 11:14 says, “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety”. Over the last few years we have started to see the restoration of Apostolic and Teaching gifts to guide churches by asking the right questions, and giving them insight to areas they are currently overlooking.

3. Do we ensure the ministry involvement of each person matches their gifts?

(1 Cor 12; Eph 4:16; 1 Pet 4:10)

Leaders often wonder how they can get more people to volunteer. The question that leaders need to be asking is how they can support people to serve in areas of their interest and gifts. During the last week I had complete strangers from the other side of the world volunteering to help me on a project. I didn’t have to give them a motivational talk or any incentive. I just found a group of people already doing what I needed, I sent them a polite message, and they not only volunteered to help but offered to do much more than I had even requested. Tap into the interests of every person in your congregation and you will have a different church. Of course, the floor still needs cleaning, but when people feel appreciated and excited about using their gifts to serve, they always go beyond what they are asked to do.

4. Are times of prayer an inspiring experience for our members?

(Col 4:2; Act 4:31; Matt 6)

I often hear church leaders complain about the low attendance of their prayer meetings. I have been blessed by being in churches with an exceptionally high attendance in prayer meetings. Some of the things they had in common were: convenient prayer times, prophecy and spiritual gifts, small groups or triads, reading of scripture, testimonies, and spontaneous singing. I believe every Christian desires to pray, but unfortunately not every Christian has had the opportunity to actively participate in prayer. In 1904, there were 30,000 people in Melbourne Australia who were praying daily in prayer groups.

5. Are we aware of the needs in our community?

(Acts 11:28; 9:39; 2:45; 4:35; Mat 25:35, 36)

Throughout the New Testament there are many examples of ministering to the needs within the community. They collected offerings for famine relief (Acts 11:28), made coats and garments as an act of charity to the poor (Acts 9:39), sold possessions and distributed to those who had need (Acts 2:45; 4:35). The words of Jesus should challenge us to be aware of those in need, both in our congregations and communities. Mat 25:35,36 says, “For I was hungry, and you gave me food; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you took Me in; I was naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me”.

6. Do we continue to evaluate the effectiveness of everything we do?

(Luke 14:28; Mar 7:13)

In recent years much has been written about the decline of traditional churches. As you drive through the Australian countryside, you will find many abandoned churches. In the same way, in recent years we have seen many large companies such as Borders, and Blockbuster, close their doors. They failed to change with the times and suffered from the global competition of the internet. In the same way, many churches are deaf to what is happening around them. Leaders need to continually question whether there are any unhelpful traditions developing and make changes.

7. Do we know which members of our church have the gift of evangelism?

(Eph 4:11; Act 21:8; Mark 16:15,20)

We are all called to share the wonderful good news with those around us; however there are those in the body of Christ who are especially gifted as evangelists. Identifying these people and supporting them offers the biggest return on investment. Think about how much your church spends on advertising and evangelistic outreach each year, then carefully consider how much of your resources, finance and time is invested into those who are gifted in the area of evangelism. Do you train them? Do you send them away for training? What might happen if every church invested in those that are regularly bringing friends to church? Statistics suggest that on average, up to ten percent of your congregation have the gift of evangelism. There are many ways you can support these people, but the best way to start is by asking them.

8. Do we involve young people in our ministry team?Christian-Group-at-Cross

(1Ti 4:12; Tit 2:15; Acts 2:17)

One of the greatest failures of the western church is not involving young people in ministry roles. We are great at saying goodbye as they leave for bible school, but sadly fail at giving them responsibility and support when they return. We are quick to point out their weaknesses, and make generalized statements about their lack of discipline. We accuse them of being irresponsible, but never stop to think that we might be contributing to their behaviour. When you view people as being responsible they will act responsible. Titus and Timothy were both young men, yet they were appointed to the role of overseeing churches and responsible for appointing elders. Paul encouraged both young men not to let anyone despise, depreciate, disesteem, or thinking badly of them in any way.

9. Are our worship services an inspiring experience for everyone?

(1 Thess 5:16-19; 1Co 14:26)

Whether this is a relevant question at all is debatable. After all, “it’s not about how we feel”, right? Nevertheless, there are several points we can learn from the above scriptures which I believe are guidelines that ensure services are inspiring. The first is that personal involvement from every member is encouraged. The second is that all things be done to build each other up. If people are regularly walking out of a service feeling unloved, judged, or more depressed when they entered, there’s something wrong. Church services, in whatever form that take, should lead to an encounter with God, in an environment where members build each other up.

10. Is attending our church a joyful experience for our members?

(Gal 5:22; Prov 17:22; Ps 126:2; Phil 4:4)

In the book of Galatians we are told that one of the fruit of a believers’ life is joy. A healthy church is therefore, without doubt, a place with lots of joy. Yes, there will be times of sadness and grief, but the life of a believer should not be characterized by sadness. Even during times of persecution, as the New Testament church faced, Paul encouraged believers to rejoice. The world desperately needs more joy, and any place where believers gather together should be somewhere with lots of joy and laughter.

11. Does our church promote the multiplication of small groups?

(Tit 1:5; Acts 14:23; Acts 20:20; Acts 5:42)

Much research has been done on the benefits of small groups. I don’t particularly want to reference that here. Instead I would like to ask the more important question, assuming we accept that small groups are helpful and even necessary for Christians to grow in their faith, do you have a strategy in place to multiply the number of groups? This question also relates to leadership ability, and also causes us to consider what we value. Empowering leaders are motivated to duplicate themselves and place people in roles of responsibility. Dominant models of leadership tend to withhold responsibility, and lack the trust to release people into leadership roles.

12. Do our members regularly invite someone home for a meal or cup of coffee?

(Acts 2:46; 16:15, 34; 28:30; 1Peter 4:9; Heb 13:1,2)

Even though the word ‘hospitality’ only appears a few times throughout the New Testament, the practise of showing hospitality was practised consistently by all followers of Jesus. Believers meet in houses and fellowshipped regularly around food. Hospitality also often extended to having people stay with them. I truly believe that hospitality has been overlooked as one of the things that have played a significant role in the revivals we are currently witnessing around the world. In the midst of our technology jungle, face to face relationships are needed more and more. I read a comment recently saying how sad it was that people would happily send a text wishing them happy birthday, but not take the take to call and arrange a coffee date. Can our churches be an example of loving relationships that the world desperately needs?

What is the one question that you find most challenging? Are there other questions you have found helpful in the past? Let us know. We would love to hear from you.


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Tired of being a Church Tweaker?

Church-Tweaker-1

Why I broke down in tears at “The Future of the Church Summit”

This is probably one of the best videos I have ever seen on the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Are you tired of making adjustments (Tired of being a Church Tweaker) to the current model of Church? Are you ready to have you heart and mind opened to what the Lord intends to do in the 21st Century? I dare you to take time to hear this video.

Much love to all

Jose

According to Josh Packard in his scrupulously researched book, Church Refugees, there are currently 65,000,000 believers in the USA who are “done” with church, but not their faith. These are not the so-often-caricaturized “rebellious” “wounded” and “bitter” “Jezebels” and “heretics.” These are often the best and the brightest, the finest and the most committed to Christ. There are another 7,000,000 “on their way to being done.” There are currently 65,000,000 in the US who self-identify as being part of an organized church. Folks, half, or greater, of those who confess Christ in the USA, are DONE.

Do you not think that some self-reflection in leadership is in order instead of self-defensiveness, excuses, rationalizations, self-justifications, program-tweaking, accusations, and labeling of everyone who leaves as “having a problem with authority” and other slanderous labels? I propose that thinking 65,000,000 people are all “rebels” “missing God” and “outside of His will” to be a preposterous, and outlandish proposition grounded in hubris, because of issues of ego, money, control, and power that make self-reflection impossible.

Could it not be that maybe there is something fundamentally out of whack in what we have been calling “church” and “leadership” in the west? Could it not be that 65,000,000 folks might have a point or two worth considering rather than labeling, black-listing, and scape-goating them?

Steve Crosby

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Groups/Mentoring

Wanted hangout group leaders and mentors/ coaches

Want to help others grow in an online messenger group ??church-family-images-_4440318_orig

We are looking for people who feel fairly competent and like sharing experiences and helping answer questions around heavenly realms. Join a great community currently around 40 odd people . Managing the group in future is an option

Anyone else welcome to join – just message us privately and befriend Jane johnson on Facebook to join – https://goo.gl/NK7BLt

Think your calling may be around SETTiNG up a hub in the future ?

We have a messenger group to support you too and understand the heavenly blueprint. Just mention that private message to the group.

WHAT IS COACHING?coaching-signage

Basic Concept-

A – Where you are now.

B – How you are going to get there.

C – Where you want to go.

Coach facilitates coming up with own solutions not giving answers as often own answers are not appropriate for that personality or circumstances – assumption people know what is best for them and can discern this from God

Coaching can involve concepts such as-

  • moving forward, setting goals, keeping you on track, overcoming obstacles,
  • providing resources for moving forward,
  • planning time, directing to professional help, clarity, self-awareness, sounding board, challenge, validation, encouragement/enthusing

Expanding opportunities as opposed to solving crisis situations. If crisis may need to refer to specialist such as eating disorders, depression,

One Commonly Used Process – GROW MODEL

  • Goals – (where do you want to get to) – SMART Goals – (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time bound)
  • Reality – (where are you now)
  • Options – (Strategy)
  • Way forward – (Action points, Time frame, Evaluation of Options, Checking Obstacles and Motivation.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COACHING/ MENTORING/CONSULTING/COUNSELLING/ DISCIPLING

A. Mentoring-

  • drawing on own experience, not necessarily saying that you recommend doing this

B. Coaching-

  • Independent- keep questioning until they come up with solution, assuming they know best. Can ask about scriptures that they know of or what they feel God is asking of them. Important that listening, questioning and reflecting back represents 80% of the conversation not putting your own point of view or preaching at someone.

C. Discipling-

  • Bringing in more scriptures, maybe words, prophecy, looking at whole walk and assessing elements to work on and including prayer.

D. Consulting-

  • Expert giving advice- recommended course of action- in-depth analysis of situation and then often a report is presented

E. Counselling-

  • Many different models but often more of an emphasis on drawing on past- fixing problem,
  • often -expert presenting solution after questioning,
  • Not so action orientated and goal focused,
  • more dealing with acute, crisis situations rather than trying to make something better.
BENEFITS OF COACHING (IMPORTANT TO KNOW TO KEEP MOTIVATION)church-unity-cross
  • Helps deal with stumbling blocks or fear/ confidence
  • More likely to see change as there is accountability
  • Tailored to an individual where they are – as opposed to teaching
  • Deals with sabotaging behaviour not just knowledge or skills
  • Provides encouragement and acknowledgement which are so important to growth
  • Challenges individual to move out of their comfort zone but can also be a reality check.
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To review the studies included in the Framework and find out why we have concluded these things you will need to see the notes which are available for download here.

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JaneJohnson new smallCEO. Jane Johnson B.Com Grad Dip LD, Dip Coaching.

Jane has worked in many different leadership capacities from being a professionally qualified Christian Leadership Coach for 13 years to many Christian leaders, to leading a ministry with the Navigators, to being a Senior Learning and Development Manager of a multimillion corporation, advising the management team on strategic approaches to get the best out of their people. She has developed considerable experience with Investors in People taking several companies through to successful accreditation and training as a consultant for them. Hence she understands the amazing impact a tool based on this principle can have.

Connect with her on LinkedIn athttps://www.linkedin.com/profile/viewid=287940854&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile

 

WHAT IS ORGANIC CHURCH? AN INTERVIEW WITH NEIL COLE & FRANK VIOLA

organic_churchAs simply as you can, define what “Church” looks like to you in practical terms. (Looking for an example of how an “Organic Church” would function – how a typical meeting might look – in your version of “Organic” church). What is your definition of “Organic Church”?

Neil: Many scholars attempt to describe church with a list of ingredients that they believe are found in the New Testament. Here is a typical list: a group of believers that gather together regularly and believe themselves to be a church. They have qualified elders and practice baptism, communion and church discipline and agree on a doctrinal foundation and have some sort of missional purpose.

I have no problem with these ingredients being a part of church, though not all of them are indeed biblical (no where in the NT does it say that we have to consider ourselves a church to be a church—that is a cultural reaction to calling bible studies or parachurch organizations churches. There are also NT churches that have not had elders appointed yet on the first missionary journey—Acts 14:21-25). I believe that this understanding of church is missing the most essential ingredient: Jesus! If we can define church without Jesus than we can do church without Jesus and that is a tragedy at best and treason at worst.

In CMA, we have defined church this way: The presence of Jesus among His people, called out as a spiritual family to pursue His mission on this planet. Church begins and ends with Jesus among us. All the typical ingredients listed to describe church were in the upper room in Acts chapter one but the church really began in Acts chapter two when only one other important ingredient was added: the Spirit of God showed up! God among us is what makes us any different from the Elks Club.

For us church functions like a family, and family is not just for an hour and a half one day a week. We eat together and live together. We do get together, but not only for serious meetings. We meet up during the week for coffee or a meal and hold each other accountable to following Jesus in Life Transformation Groups. My spiritual family often get together to reach out to others, at cafes or with release time outreach at elementary schools and in the marketplace where we all work. We also go to the movies or on hikes together during the week.

Church is not an event, a place or an organization; it is a family on mission together. We must emphasize this shift in understanding. As such we are not defined by a meeting, though we do meet. When we meet we do not have a routine that must always be done. But for the sake of helping people get a feel for the ebb and flow of our lives I will try to describe what our time is usually like when we do get together.

When we do have meetings, we do not presume to have an agenda, but to gather, listen to God and one another. We worship, sometimes with music. About half of the songs we have are original songs written by people in our movement. In our meetings we do not have a set list of songs that are rehearsed, but rather we sing the songs that He puts on people’s hearts as the Spirit leads. We sing until we feel like we have changed our perspective of things from having been in His presence. We may then keep singing if that is what He leads us to do, but often we share next what is going on in our lives.

We have a little poem (not the height of poetry by any means) that is usually said by anyone in the group to start the share time. We do this so that even young kids can lead in the church and when people start a new church they know what can get the interaction started:

Does anyone have praises or prayer requests, a word from the Lord or a sin to confess?

We all share what God is saying and doing in our lives and we all pray for what is happening. This could be all we do for the entire evening as well.

We usually open the Bible, read a passage and discuss it. Right now we are going chapter-by-chapter through Acts but this is not routine and we often turn to something else at the leading of the Spirit. We do not have any preparation for this time, as we are not the ones in charge, Jesus is. Our time in the word, however, is not simply pooling ignorance because of the following reasons:

  1. We are all listening to the Head of the church and He is not ignorant, and
  2. Because of Life Transformation Groups, most of us are all reading large volumes of scripture throughout the week repetitively and in context, so our observations in the scriptures are actually quite insightful. The Spirit of the Lord working in each of us is the teacher, and we are all learners.

When a good question arises or even some false teaching, a leader of the group does not usually step forward and decide the issue for everyone. Rather, we pray and ask the Lord to help us out. Then we ask what insight the Spirit may have given to each of us. The body responds, not the pastor. This empowers everyone to react to false teaching or to find solutions to difficult questions, not just then but anytime. We are also quite comfortable with three little words: I don’t know.

We usually pray and sing and eat until it is time to head home. We may also watch the Lakers play a game or go to a movie. Hope that helps some. As you can see we are not set on a routine and do not have a formal agenda, though we do have some consistent but very flexible patterns. Oh, and we do not have an offering that is passed in my own church. Some of the churches in CMA do, but we do not have that as a set responsibility of church. What we do have is generous people of God who give, not just money but property hospitality and time, to those who are in need.

Frank: I’m of the opinion that the New Testament only knows one kind of church, and it’s organic. The ekklesia is a living organism not an institutional organization.

I’ve been using the word “organic church” or “organic expression of the church” for over 16 years. And I give credit to T. Austin-Sparks for the phrase. For Sparks and I, an organic church is a group of Jesus followers who are discovering how to live by Divine life together and who are expressing that life in a corporate way.

Jesus said “as the living Father has sent me, and I live by the Father, so he who partakes of me shall live by me.” Paul echoed these words in Colossians when he said that the mystery of the ages is “Christ in you,” and that “Christ is our life” (see also Gal. 2:20; Rom. 8:9-17).

Consequently, when God’s people learn how to live by the indwelling life of Christ together, a certain expression of community life naturally emerges. So for me, the word “organic” has to do with life – God’s life. The organic expression of the church comes up from the soil; it’s not mechanical. While it has organization (or an expression) – as all living organisms do – the organization (or expression) comes about naturally from the life, not through human manipulation, religious ritual, or legalism.

Put another way, organic church life is very ancient. It precedes Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Instead, it finds its headwaters in the fellowship of the Triune God before time. When humans touch that fellowship together, experience it, and make it visible on What Is Organic Church? Interview with Neil Cole & Frank Viola by Keith Giles page 4 of 17 the earth, you have the life of the ekklesia, i.e., organic church life (1 John 1:1-3; John 17:20-24).page39_picture0_slide_1328233279

I left the institutional church 22 years ago and have gathered with numerous organic expressions of the church (completely outside the religious institutional system) ever since. I’ve seen a lot during those years – experimented with a lot, experienced some of the high glories of body life, the difficulties and struggles, and have made lots of mistakes as well. I’m still learning and discovering.

Regarding what an organic expression of the church looks like, here are some of its characteristics:

*The members meet often, not out of guilt or obligation, but because the Spirit draws them together naturally to fellowship, share, and express their Lord (ekklesia literally means an assembly or meeting).

*Jesus Christ is their living, breathing Head. The members make Christ profoundly central, preeminent, and they pursue and explore His fullness together. In short, the church is intoxicated with the Lord Jesus.

*They take care of each other, have open-participatory meetings where every member functions, make decisions together, and follow the Spirit’s leading for outreach and inreach, both in their proper season.

*They are learning how to live by Christ and express Him corporately in endless variety and creativity to both the lost and the found.

*The condemnation and guilt is gone. The members experience the liberty and freedom that is in Christ, experience and express His unfailing love, and are free to follow Him out of genuine love rather than guilt, duty, obligation, condemnation, shame and guilt – the typical “tools” that are used to motivate God’s people.

*They are missional in the sense that they understand “the mission” to be God’s eternal purpose, which goes beyond human needs to the very reason why God created the universe in the first place. And they give themselves wholly to that mission. (I’ll speak more on the eternal purpose later.)

*After the foundation of the church is laid, it is able to meet on its own without a clergy or human headship that controls or directs it. The church can sustain herself by the functioning of every member; it doesn’t need a clergy system for direction or ministry.

These features are contained within the spiritual DNA of the ekklesia no matter where or when she is born. For they are the attributes of God Himself, the source and headwaters of body life.

Regarding your question about what an organic church meeting looks like, that’s really impossible to answer. The reason: authentic organic churches have an infinite way of expressing Christ in their gatherings.

Perhaps the best I can do is describe a few meetings that one of the organic churches that my co-workers and I are presently working with have had recently. None of these descriptions will do the gatherings justice, but perhaps they may give some impression of what a good meeting looks like (not all meetings are good by the way – some are unmentionable! 🙂 ).

Last month, the church had a meeting that it prepared for over the course of a month. The church broke up into groups of 3 and began to pursue the Lord Jesus outside of the meetings during the week. The members all came together at a scheduled day and time to worship, exalt, and reveal Christ. The theme of the meeting was Jesus Christ as the Land of Canaan. The meeting included a full banquet feast, which was really the Lord’s Supper (first-century style). The church feasted and then each group began to share Christ as the Land.

One group shared how the vine and the fruit of the vine were a shadow of Jesus. Another group shared Christ as the olive oil; another shared Christ as the milk and honey. Another shared Him as the wheat. Sprinkled throughout the sharing – which was incredibly rich – were prayers, declarations, songs, all of which were spontaneous.

This meeting went on for over 3 hours. It was a gully-washer. No human being led or facilitated the meeting. There were also elaborate creations and visual displays in the meeting place made by the church that went along with the theme.

I didn’t attend this particular meeting, but the reports I heard were amazing. People were profoundly touched. Visitors who came were blown out of the water. They had never seen a group of Christians put Christ on display like that, and without anyone leading, giving cues, or facilitating. The depth of insight, richness, and reality of Christ coming through the believers was without peer. Jesus Christ was revealed, declared, unveiled, glorified, and made visible by the every-member functioning of His body.

On another occasion, each member of the church took a name of the Lord in Scripture. (e.g., Bread of Life, Lion of Judah, Sweet Rose of Sharon, the Great Shepherd, Alpha and Omega, The Branch, etc.). During the week the members sought the Lord concerning the name they selected and came to share Him together in the gathering. The meeting was electric. Christ was revealed in a multitude of different ways. New light was shed on each of His names, all pointing to His glorious Person.

Another meeting was a rather unique way of expressing the Lord through Colossians. The church had immersed herself in the book of Colossians for four months (in some very creative ways). They then planned a meeting where they reconstructed the Colossian church.

Each member acted out a character from the Colossian church. Some created their own names (some names were quite comical). Others played the part of some of the Colossians mentioned in the New Testament (Philemon, Apphia, Archippus, etc.) For weeks the church broke up into pairs to plan and prepare for the gathering. They then had an entire meeting where they reconstructed the situation in Colosse. If you had walked into that meeting, you were seeing the Colossian church dramatized. People even dressed up for their parts.

At the end of the meeting, someone who played Tychicus came into the gathering with a letter from Paul and read the whole letter to the church. Incredible light was shed on the letter, as it addressed all the problems that the Colossian church (through drama) was shown to have had. We all awed at the Lord as Paul presented Christ in this magnificent epistle.

I could multiply many more examples, but I hope you get the drift. Note that the people who are part of these churches aren’t spectacular Christians nor are they professionally trained. They are “the timid, the weak, the lame, and the blind” . . . just like I am. Ordinary believers without any special titles, degrees, or formal theological education. In this way, they are much like the early believers we read about in our New Testaments (the exception being that most of us are able to read and write). 🙂

Some meetings are planned with a theme that the Lord gives the group (as the above examples). Other times the meetings are completely spontaneous without any planning or direction. But spiritual preparation normally takes place, else the meetings will be rather poor. The meetings are the overflow of the spiritual life of the community; hence, all the believers come to give rather than to receive. (In the institutional church system, this order is reversed.)

Again, these meetings have no leaders present directing, facilitating, or coordinating. The Spirit takes that job. I’ll add that I’ve seen unbelievers visit these sorts of meetings where no one said a word about “being saved,” and the unbeliever would fall to their knees and profess that “God is here, and I want to know Him!” Strikingly, this comes straight out of the New Testament (see 1 Corinthians 14).

Also, the churches have all sorts of meetings – some for decision-making, some where the men creatively bless the women and vice versa, some for the children, some for specific prayer, some for fun, some to share the gospel with the lost, some for spiritual training and retreats, etc. But everything is “in season.” (The seasonal nature of the body of Christ is a special feature of organic church life. All life forms pass through seasons. This element is virtually unknown in organized Christianity.)

Note also that the churches I’m speaking of have been equipped to know the Lord together, to pursue Him together, to express Him with unlimited creativity, and to function in a coordinated way under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Part of this equipping is “detoxification” from a religious and institutional mindset, and being equipped to know Christ in profound depths. (One of the most common remarks that people make when they get involved in this kind of church life is, “I thought I knew the Lord well; but I now realize I didn’t know Him well at all.”)

Thus the normative passivity that flows through the bloodstream of the typical pewsitting Christian has been drained out of them. Instead, they’ve been captured by a vision and an ongoing experience with the Lord Jesus that has dramatically affected them. I’ve been changed by the experience. Yet what impresses me just as much or more than the meetings is the remarkable way the believers take care of one another in organic church life. But that’s another story.

As you understand it, how would you describe one another’s definition of this same term? (I’m looking for how you two understand each other’s positions here)

Frank: I’m really not sure as Neil and I have never discussed this. But my impression is that the term “organic church” for Neil boils down to rapid multiplication of Christian groups with the goal of trying to win lost people by going to the places where they spend their time. It also includes a method of discipleship in very small groups which includes Bible reading and personal accountability questions. This may or may not be accurate, but it’s my impression.

Neil and I have shared the conference platform on two occasions, and from hearing him speak, it seems to me that the major difference is one of emphasis. I also think he may emphasize the church scattered where I tend to emphasize the church gathered. But in my world, the church gathered is nothing like an institutional church “service.” For us, the gathering of the ekklesia is related to God’s highest intention, i.e., His eternal purpose. God has had an “eternal purpose” that’s been beating in His heart from the beginning of time, l

ong before humans fell. That purpose is what provoked Him to create, and He’s never let go of it. The eternal purpose of God isn’t the salvation of humans or to make the world a better place. (Remember, the Fall hadn’t occurred when He created.) There was something else He had in His heart before He said “let there be.”

That purpose has to do with obtaining a bride, a house, a body, and a family, all of which are by Him, through Him, and to Him. The purpose of God is not centered on the needs of humanity, but rather, to meet a desire in God Himself. So God’s end is to have a bride, a house, a body, and a family in every city on the planet. The ekklesia – properly conceived and functioning – indeed benefits humanity and blesses the world that God made; but His goal for her is higher than that.

Having Christ formed in us is an important aspect of God’s purpose (Rom. 8:28-29; Ga. 4:19). But for us, we don’t use any of the typical discipleship methods to accomplish this. Instead, we have learned how to encounter the Lord Jesus in Scripture together, to seek His face, to fellowship with Him, to be in His presence, and to share and express Him to one another.

This typically happens in groups of two and three during the week (sometimes in the early mornings), but also in the corporate gatherings. I call these groups “pursuit teams” – teams that pursue the Lord. The focus is not on us but on Christ. Paul said that we are transformed by “turning to the Lord” and “beholding His glory” – so that’s a large part of our church life experience (2 Cor. 3:16-18). In short, we experience together – in pursuit teams and as a church – perceiving and following the Lord’s indwelling life, What Is Organic Church? Interview with Neil Cole & Frank Viola by Keith Giles page 8 of 17 allowing God to shape us by it. That, to my mind, is what spiritual formation/transformation is all about.

Watchman Nee once pointed out that when the Lord called people to His work, their God-given ministries were often prefigured by their secular occupations.

For instance, when the Lord called Peter, he was casting his net and bringing fish onto the shore. What was true in the natural ended up being true in the spiritual. Peter’s ministry centered on fishing for men. His emphasis was evangelism, and he brought many lost people to Christ (just think of Pentecost in Acts 2).

When the Lord apprehended Paul, he was building tents. And his future ministry reflected this. Paul was more of a spiritual builder, a “master builder” as he put it in 1 Corinthians 3. His emphasis was to build the church into the fullness of Christ. So Paul spent most of his time grounding and enriching the believing communities to gather under the Headship of Christ, establishing them deeply into Christ, unveiling to them God’s eternal purpose – or “the whole counsel of God” as he once put it.

When the Lord apprehended John, he was mending a torn net. We see in John’s later writings (1 John, 2 John, and 3 John) that he is bringing the church back to center . . . back to first things . . . back to “the beginning” of Christ as life, love, and light in a time when these elements had been lost. The tent that Paul built was falling apart during John’s day, so John prophetically began to repair it by restoring God’s original thought, bringing His eternal purpose back into view.

So Peter casts the net, Paul builds the tent, and John mends the tent. All three men were Christian workers in the Lord’s vineyard, but each had a different emphasis and disposition.

In my observation, Neil is a lot like Peter. His major focus seems to going out to the sea, casting the net, and bringing the fish on dry land and encouraging God’s people to do the same. Some have described my on-the-ground ministry to be more like Paul’s – the building of the tent – the constructive work of building the house of God to fulfill the eternal purpose “from eternity to here.” By contrast, my writing ministry in books like Pagan Christianity and Jesus Manifesto are very much along the lines of John’s ministry of repairing the torn net.

Whether that’s accurate or not, here’s my point. The ministries of Peter, Paul, and John are not to compete with one another. Instead, they are to complement one another. The body of Christ needs the ministries of Peter, Paul, and John. And each person needs the other.

That’s how the terrain looks from my hill, anyway.

Neil: From my reading, I assume that Frank and I are pretty close to seeing church as a body connected to the Head. Jesus is the main thing for both of us and we both emphasize that in our teaching. If there is a difference I believe that Frank exalts the purpose of the church and I tend to emphasize the purpose of disciple-making. Not that we don’t both teach both, but we do have our own priorities. These could be simply different focus rather than a difference of opinion. How organic church starts and multiplies is probably different in our minds.

Does the model of church really matter? Isn’t it more important what fruit is produced or how the people in the church grow spiritually?

Neil: Well, I tend to agree with this statement, but…if reproduction and multiplication is desired, model of church is an important consideration. More complex models will not empower ordinary people nor reproduce easily. Another important consideration is that many models tend to usurp the leading of Jesus with our plans, personalities and programs.

The more scripted the church is the less spontaneity will be possible. We cannot expect Jesus to lead if we are all busy maintaining the script and all our time together is scheduled down to the fraction of every second.

This may step on a lot of toes but a performance with preaching on Sunday mornings (or Saturday for some) is not conducive to a changed life or a responsive body. If the body wants to have a gathering where they praise, preach and pass the plate, fine, but if that is your sole model of church and where you think the most important work is done and than you have a bankrupt model of church. Our society today is reflective of that bankruptcy, and we must make some changes now. It is the forth quarter and we are down by twenty…it is time for a shift. I believe that organic church is not a model but a mindset that can work in any model…but will work better in some models than others.

I also believe that any model that is built upon a hierarchy of leadership is probably less healthy in most aspects. When a few are responsible to hear from God and tell the rest what God is saying the church is separated from God by a middle-man and that is not what Jesus died and rose to birth. We are all priests in His kingdom and we all have direct access to God. None are more spiritual, more connected or more responsible for the advancement of the Kingdom, but all are agents directly connected to the King Himself.

Frank: For me, organic church is a shared-life in Christ; it’s not a model. It’s not about a new structure; it’s about a new relationship with the Lord Jesus. One that is real, intimate, deep, and corporate. A common remark that my co-workers and I hear from people who attend our conferences is, “I came here to learn how to ‘do organic church,’ and instead, I received a revelation of Jesus Christ.”

The idea that church is an “event” or an “organization” was foreign to the New Testament believers. For them, the ekklesia was a community of people who lived a shared-life together in Christ and who gathered together regularly to express the fullness of Jesus. Their minds thought in terms of “us” and “we” rather than “I” and “me.”

Their identity was tied to their union with Christ and their bond with one another. They pursued their Lord together, expressed Him together in regular meetings, took care of one another, married one another, and buried one another. Think of it as an extended household . . . a new polis (city) that is blind to race, social status, economic standing, etc. They were a new kind of humanity . . . a new civilization . . . the “third race” as the ancient Christians called themselves, where all earthly distinctions, separations, and barriers were not recognized.

The church was a colony from heaven . . . a community of “resident aliens” on this earth . . . the corporate manifestation of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself . . . a microcosm of the kingdom of God . . . the house of the living God where the heavens and the earth intersect and meet . . . the foretaste of the New Jerusalem and the aftertaste of the fellowship of the Godhead that has been going on from before time. In short, a local church that is functioning properly is Jesus Christ on the earth (see 1 Cor. 12:12). And therein do you have yet another definition of organic church.

For those who are burdened for evangelism and being missional to a post-Christian country (as the USA now is), the ekklesia – when she’s functioning the way God intended – is the greatest evangelist on the planet. There’s nothing that bears witness more to the reality of Jesus as the world’s true Lord than a group of believers who share their lives together and demonstrate what the kingdom of God looks like. This point is completely overlooked by those who would argue that the expression (structure) of the church doesn’t matter.

By contrast, today’s Christianity is very individualistic – this is true both in and outside the organized church. But authentic Christianity is intensely corporate and therein was their power and testimony.

A careful reading of the Gospels, Acts, and the Epistles shows no distinction between being a Christian, being saved, being a disciple, and being a functioning member of a local body of believers. (I’ve discussed this point at length in another place where I added a plea to learn our history regarding modern discipleship methods.) Note that when Luke describes how Paul and Barnabas planted the church in Derbe, he says they preached the gospel to the city and “made many disciples” (Acts 14:20-21, NASB & NKJV).

The organic expression of the church in a given place is the true habitat of every child of God. Separating spiritual growth (“discipleship”) from the ekklesia (properly functioning) is like separating child-rearing from the family. This again touches evangelism. One of the young men in an organic church that I relate to was a leader in a very large para-church organization that’s known for evangelism. About a year ago, he said to me after one of our gatherings, “I just go back from one of our leadership conferences and the more they talked about saving the lost, the more disinterested I was. I come to these meetings here and while nothing is said about evangelism, I’m so excited about my Lord that I want to share Him with others. There’s no guilt or duty in it at all. I’m fired up about Him.”

Properly conceived, the ekklesia is the environment in with we live, move, and have our beings. While it will never produce perfect Christians who are beyond making mistakes (we will all make mistakes on this side of the veil), their depth in Christ is unmistakable. So for me at least, it’s not about a different model, but about a different habitat. Those interested in learning more may want to take a listen to an audio excerpt where seven members of a fairly new organic church answered common questions about organic church life at a recent conference (Threshold 2010). The excerpt contains only one question that they answered (there were 7 questions in all). The question was: How has your relationship with Jesus Christ changed since you’ve been part of organic church life? People can listen to it here.

How do you define – and better yet practice – the idea of leadership in the model of church you promote?

Neil: Leadership is not about a position, an office, or a title, it is influence. Leadership is not functioning as a delegated decision-maker for an absentee King. We are servants that distribute empowerment rather than delegate it. Leadership is all about connecting people to the King and allowing them to listen and follow His word. We do not need more servant leaders; we need more servants…period. Many leaders don’t mind being called a servant; they just don’t like being treated like one. To lead is basically to go first and let others follow your example. Often in the NT the words, “go before” or “stand before” is used to describe our leaders, but unfortunately they get translated as being above or over the others.

There is a form of servant that exemplifies maturity and can point to spiritual children and even grandchildren in their lives. We need more of these servants in the body. Their role is to equip others to function in the likeness of Christ together. These are apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers (Eph 4:11). They do not do the work but equip others to do it. For example: Evangelists are not called simply to reach the lost, but to equip the church to do so. Teachers are not called to teach the saints, but to equip the saints to teach. All are saints, so of course evangelists evangelize, that gives their equipping even more authority and practicality (besides, I can’t imagine an evangelist who wouldn’t). A teacher is good at teaching, but needs to be very good at training others to teach. We need to rediscover this type of leadership if we are going to change ourselves, and then the world.

Frank: In my experience and observation, leadership in an organic expression of the church seems to fall into three categories:

1) It’s expressed through itinerant traveling ministry where Christian workers lay the foundation for a new church, equip the believers to know the Lord deeply, to function together, to build community, and to have open-participatory meetings where Christ is made the visible, functioning Head. Their leadership is strong in the beginning, but then it literally leaves and moves to the periodic. You find this sort of leadership all over the New Testament in the ministries of Paul, Peter, Timothy, etc.

2) It’s expressed by consensual decision-making where the believing community plans how they will pursue and reveal Christ week by week, how they will handle problems, and how they will take care of one another and serve the lost in their city.

3) It’s expressed by the different giftings that will organically emerge in the community in time. Eventually shepherds will emerge who will care for those with needs, overseers will emerge who provide oversight, teachers will emerge who will bless the church with the ability to unveil Christ from the Scriptures, exhorters will emerge and function according to their giftings, etc. In other words, each person will lead according to their unique gifting. In this way, all believers lead in their own way.

The goal of each expression of leadership is to lead the church to Jesus Christ, the true and only Head of the body.

The interesting thing is that in this type of church life, we don’t use labels or titles. So the reality of the gifts and ministries are present, but in most cases, we don’t earmark or point them out. (Sometimes those who are engaged in itinerant ministry will acknowledge who the overseers are, but this is dependent on the specific situation of a particular church).

In my experience, the believers in these types of churches are so busy pursuing and expressing the riches of Christ that “leadership” never comes up as an issue or subject. Jesus is their Head, and they seek to know and follow Him together. That’s about as much time they spend talking about leadership in the churches. It’s really a non-issue.

I have the impression that it was this way for the early Christians too. Just count the number of times the words “elder”, “shepherd”, or “overseer” are mentioned in the New Testament, and then count the number of times Christ is mentioned or referred to. That says volumes, I think.

Which scriptures would you point to as being reflective of your views concerning organic church?

Frank: I’ve come to the conclusion that there are only two subjects in the entire Bible: Jesus Christ and His church. Everything else can be juiced down to those two realities.

Someone may object by saying that God the Father and the Holy Spirit are the subjects of the Bible. But remember, the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Christ. God is Father because He has a Son. The Spirit is the Spirit of Christ, and He has come to manifest and glorify Christ. Biblically speaking, there is no God outside of Jesus Christ. God is known in and through the Son.

Jesus Himself said that “all Scripture testifies of me.” So Genesis 1 to Revelation 22 is an unfolding of Christ and the church on every page. I add “church” because the church is never separate from Christ – it is His body and bride. She is depicted through many of the types of the Old Testament, such as all the brides of the Patriarchs, the tabernacle, the temple, the nation of Israel, etc.

Jesus Himself incessantly talked about the church. In fact, He did so more than He did the Kingdom of God. If you’re only counting the word ekklesia you’ll completely miss this.

Jesus never used the word “Trinity” or “Godhead,” yet every time He spoke of His Father and the Spirit, He was talking about the Triune God. In the same way, every time you see that little band of Twelve men and some women who lived in community with one another with Christ as Head, you’re looking at the prototype – the earthly embryo of the ekklesia – that Jesus Christ said He would build. And when the Lord spoke of the vine and the branches, “my brethren,” the light of the world, the salt of the earth, etc. He was referring to the church. If we understand what the Kingdom really is, we’ll discover that after the ascension of Christ, the Kingdom came in, with, and through the church.

So for me, it’s not a matter of going to certain proof texts to build a model for church. It’s seeing the whole sweeping, epic saga of the biblical drama from Genesis to Revelation. And that drama is all about the Triune God known and expressed through Jesus Christ and His eternal quest for a bride, a house, a body, and a family (which is the church). I unfold this thesis in From Eternity to Here, which seeks (in an admittedly frail way) to unveil the eternal purpose of God – the mission to which we are all called – throughout the entire Bible. Once our eyes are opened to see His eternal purpose, we suddenly have a new Bible in our hands and a new vision of the Lord before our eyes. The Bible turns from blackand-white to Technicolor, and the Lord becomes infinitively greater to us.

Neil: Wow, um, all of them? All scriptures are profitable for training in righteousness. In our training, we point to the parables of Christ a lot (especially Mark 4). Jesus’ usage of the word church in Matthew is important to us (2xs). Ephesians is a powerful treatise on church for us as well. Acts is foundational of our view of a church multiplication movement. The letters to the seven churches in Revelation is also very important to us.

Have you ever met one another in person and/or read one another’s books?

Neil: To my knowledge, we have met twice, emailed a couple times and talked on the phone once. I have read Pagan Christianity, How to Start a House Church, and Finding Organic Church. I skimmed Reimagining Church, but haven’t read it entirely yet. I think Pagan Christianity is Frank’s best work and we carry it in our online store. I am grateful that he invested the time to produce this seminal work. Thanks Frank. I have also listened to a couple of his talks online, visited his website a few times and read some of his articles. Frank: We’ve met face-to-face twice at conferences, but we didn’t have much time together. So far I’ve read one book by Neil and several articles.

We have a number of  good mutual friends. I have a lot of respect for Neil and am thankful for his contribution to the body of Christ. I’ve made this statement to a few people, but I’ll say it publically for the first time. I’d love to see a Summit that includes all those who are pioneering and influencing the missional church movement/phenomenon to be locked in a room together for 3 days. The first day would be an informal “get to know one another” time, very casual and relaxed. The next day, each person would have a solid hour to share their heart, their burden, their vision, and their present work with everyone else. A time of questions from the group and answers would follow.

We would all get to know one another better as people rather than from a distance as authors and speakers. If no homicides occurred during those 3 days :), it seems to me that the worst case scenario would be that we’d all better understand one another and what makes each of us tick. That alone would be worth the time, in my judgment. In the best-case scenario, we’d all be sharpened, adjusted, and perhaps we’d even see some colaboring going on in different degrees. And a lot of misunderstanding, assumptions, and confusion would disappear.

I am pessimistic that someone could actually put such a Summit together; but if they were able to, I’d move heaven and earth to attend and participate. (I’d even offer to help with the planning.) Incidentally, Pagan Christianity is fairly well known, but it’s not my most important or best work. It’s just the first half of a conversation – the deconstructive part. Its objective is to blow the rocks out of the quarry. But that’s all it does. Reading it by itself is like listening to the first fifteen minutes of an hour-long phone conversation, then hanging up the phone – never knowing what was said afterward. For this reason, Pagan was never meant to be a stand-alone book. It’s part of a multi-volume series. My most important and best book (hands down) is From Eternity to Here with Jesus Manifesto perhaps tied neck-and-neck.

What do you see as the most striking differences between your version of “Organic” church and the other person’s version? Why does it matter?

Neil: Frank does not seem to be as favorable to multiplication movements as I am. I gather that he sees church taking a long time to mature to the place where it can give birth to another church, while I see reproduction as able to occur much faster. Ironically, we both point to Acts to support our point of view.

I believe Frank teaches that one must be part of an organic church to start one and that an apostle must be involved. I think that is probably one of the best ways, but not the only way. It seems to me that Frank teaches that apostles start churches and that not everyone can do it. I tend to go the opposite direction and teach that anyone can start a family. Not everyone is an apostle and not everyone can lay a foundation for a church multiplication movement, but they can certainly reach their friends and start a spiritual family. Anyone that has Christ in them has what it takes to start a spiritual family. Some families are less inclined to reproduce rapidly and start a movement, because an apostolic and prophetic foundation is necessary for this.

I also see that an apostolic foundation can be extended without the apostle needing to be present. Colossians, Hieropolis and Laodicea were begun by Epaphras but it was Paul who laid the apostolic foundation so he could write to them as their apostle even though they’d never seen his face (Col. 2:1-3).

I see maturity for people and the church to be a life-long process so I believe that the church can reproduce throughout that process, even in the first year. We have experience in this as well. I have personally started probably six or seven churches, but grand-parented and great-grand-parented dozens more. Our training has catalyzed the start of thousands of churches. The church I currently am part of has been in existence for ten years and sent off 35+ church planters all around the world. It has birthed other networks and has several generations of churches.

Frank emphasizes the spiritual life together connected to Jesus, and I admire that. We do as well, but we tend to emphasize apostolic mission much more in addition to the presence of Jesus and our nurturing relationships. I see church as the fruit of disciplemaking, not the other way around. Our life together is better because each of us is connected to Jesus, each other and our mission to the world. We refer to this as the DNA of organic church, which stands for Divine Truth, Nurturing Relationships, and Apostolic Mission. We teach emphatically that all components of the DNA must be in every part of the church from the smallest unit of disciple in relation to another disciple. We teach that the components should not be supplanted, supplemented or separated. The organic life of the church springs from the DNA at work in the heart of disciples together.

Frank: I think the only way we can accurately answer that question is if Neil and I sat down for several hours to discuss our views, observations, and experiences.

I’m pretty convinced that Epaphras was a “sent one” who received training from Paul in Ephesus, then went back to his hometown in Colosse and planted a church there that met in Philemon’s home and in two other nearby cities in the Lycus valley. I detail this account elsewhere with documentation, but that’s a short riff.

Regarding church multiplication, I’ll simply say that I believe in the multiplication of the church (I usually call it “transplantation”). But I don’t regard it as a template or metric of anything. In my experience and observation, as well as my study of the New Testament, a specific church should follow the Lord’s leading on when and how to multiply. Like so many other things in organic church life, discerning the season is imperative.

Consequently, when and how to multiply a church is more of an art than a science. It’s dependent on the art of hearing the Spirit and rightly perceiving the season. Thus it will differ depending on the season of a particular church’s life, the spiritual maturity and development of the group, the kind of foundation that has been laid, and many other variables. If these elements are ignored, multiplication can easily lead to quick dissolution of one or both groups. That’s been my observation anyway.

It’s also not wise to push toddlers outside of the home and expect them to reproduce. So again, I’m of the opinion that there’s a danger of making multiplication a method, a science, or even a goal. I believe the goal should be God’s eternal purpose, the heavenly vision that Paul labored under and that provoked him to plant and nurture organic believing communities.

Regarding church planting, I don’t believe that an organic church can only come into existence by the hand of those who are called to plant churches. Organic church life can occur spontaneously . . . and it often does. As I write these words, it’s taking place right now among numerous college campuses across this country. The students who are touching and tasting it don’t know exactly what it is (except that it’s glorious), and they are probably not calling it “organic church life.” Yet the problem is that body life (the way I’ve been describing it) is extremely fragile, and it doesn’t last very long. It invariably dies within a short period of time. It either dissolves or it devolves into an institutional form and a clergy figure emerges to take it over.

Its chances of survival are much better if there is experienced outside spiritual input that knows how to center the group on Christ, help prepare and navigate it through the inevitable pitfalls, and give it the kind of equipping to sustain it in a spiritual way without human organization or control. This sort of spiritual input can take many forms, but the traveling ministry of broken, experienced, Christ-centered, humble, and non-sectarian itinerants who eventually leave the group to the Lord is one of the most common in the New Testament narrative. It of course isn’t a panacea (nothing is), but it can be a tremendous benefit.

As for the subject of movements, that’s too big of an issue to go into here, I think. And it’s quite complicated. (I plan to address it in the future.) I’ll just say that numbers don’t impress me at all. I grew up in a movement that stressed numbers and “counting.” The problem came with exaggerating the data (which is the scourge of virtually every movement – whether Christian or nonchristian). To get the “accurate/real” figure, you had to cut it in half and divide by two [Symbol] Einstein couldn’t be more correct when he said, “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”

I believe this applies to the work of God.

All told, my impression is that Neil and I probably agree more than we may disagree. Both of us are often associated with “the house church movement,” yet I get the impression that we share a common feature here. Neither of us makes the home our center. The living room isn’t our passion. As I’ve often said, meeting in a home doesn’t make you a church anymore than sitting in a donut shop makes you a police officer. 🙂

While a house has many advantages as a gathering place, there’s nothing magical about meeting in a living room. Not all house churches are “organic” (the way I’ve been using the word) – so “organic church” is not a synonym for “house church.” I suspect that Neil would agree with this.

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To review the studies included in the Framework and find out why we have concluded these things you will need to see the notes which are available for download here.

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What are we looking for in the NEW ECCLESIA / Wineskin?

 Blog from CEO of Church Excellence Framework

We are now receiving a lot of interest from people looking at starting new wineskins / Ecclesias in light of new mandates from God revealing the kingdom age and the order of Melchizidek.   I am convinced this will work towards  combatting  the rapidly declining numbers and the sad fact  that the dechurched( or DONE WITH CHURCH)  which are now present in massive proportions . God is calling a whole generation to cross over and begin understanding the order of Melchizidek and using the incredible tools to bring intimacy and transformation in righteousness.

Part of the heavenly blueprint revealed is that we are all powerful sons. It will take all of us to work together to do our part and form one body and  become the One New Man. Many of us accessing heavenly realms now are seeing theheavenly-realms-diagrams-page-002 blueprint.  Here are some things we are seeing.

Possible values of the new Ecclesia

  • Intimacy with God
    Replicating as it is in heaven
    Raising up the new generation through fathering
    Legislating in heaven and responsibility on earth
    Only doing what we have a mandate for
    Love and honour your neighbour as yourself
    We are all one body across the world not just one location therefore freedom to access resources elsewhere
    Facilitation and Mutual subjection to one another moving away from clergy / laity divide
  • Transformation is more important than numbers

Deciding on your values in so important before beginning a new wineskin as trying to change something after a culture has set in is really hard. Being clear up front will attract people who believe in these values and by asking what they believe in will be very engaging and bring commitment.

Transformation Outcomes

Crucial to the starting point for any ecclesia is to think about transformation outcomes. With this we can begin to identify and measure elements that are crucial to changing our nation.  Normal measures are attendance at services, home groups, people serving in the church or new ministries of the church. These do not measure whether we have strong disciples. We could have thousands in our gatherings  but few who are multiplying their lives or who know how to walk closely with God or live a holy life. To move away from activities to what makes a strong disciple we have listed some examples of possible outcomes an ecclesia could focus on to help you get the picture of what we are speaking about within the framework.

These outcomes allow an ecclesia to dialogue with its congregation and not lead in a vacuum. With this we can adjust our learning activities in line with the feedback and outcomes so we have a more strategic approach rather than ad hoc interventions with no real understanding of whether they are effective or tailored to where our congregation is at.  Just doing small group, prayer/worship  meetings  and having a sermon is not building strong disciples as Jesus commanded. Discipling covers topics such as establishing a believer with core elements of spiritual growth , establishing them multiplying their faith, knowing their highest purpose and being a strong character witness in their everyday roles to establish dominion over the earth.

TRANSFORMATION OUTCOME  EXAMPLE OF A POSSIBLE SMART GOAL EXAMPLE OF LEARNING COMPETENCIES
How many feel they are growing over the last 12 months By Feb 1 we will have developed a survey to assess how many feel they are growing over the last 12 months. Elements of Core Spiritual Growth, How to connect with God in the heavenly realms, our Identity in Christ, How to Understand the bible etc
How many feel equipped to pass on what they know to others By Oct 1 we will have found and promoted several resources to help people know how to share the gospel and encourage an outward looking  mindset. Witnessing/ Being missional

How to share  New Christian Essential Principles

How many know their highest life purpose By June 1 we will have promoted a system to help people find their highest calling on an ongoing basis How to find your own unique call and how to discern gifting.
How many have ongoing relationships that seek to pass on spiritual truths By Dec 1 we will have introduced one on one coaching  and spoken about it repeatedly in many forums Discipling concepts
How many feel they are really engaged with the church By Feb 1 we will have introduced a person to oversee the engagement of people  Facilitators training on engaging
How many feel  empowered in their calling from the ecclesia By Oct 30 we will have recruited a  facilitator  to ensure good networking and integration is going on in the ecclesia Whole church training on how to love others, engage them and support them, or coach training. Going into heaven to do court cases together

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To review the studies included in the Framework and find out why we have concluded these things you will need to see the notes which are available for download here.

Join our Facebook group to receive regular updates and daily updated content.

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JaneJohnson new smallCEO. Jane Johnson B.Com Grad Dip LD, Dip Coaching.

Jane has worked in many different leadership capacities from being a professionally qualified Christian Leadership Coach for 13 years to many Christian leaders, to leading a ministry with the Navigators, to being a Senior Learning and Development Manager of a multimillion corporation, advising the management team on strategic approaches to get the best out of their people. She has developed considerable experience with Investors in People taking several companies through to successful accreditation and training as a consultant for them. Hence she understands the amazing impact a tool based on this principle can have.

Connect with her on LinkedIn athttps://www.linkedin.com/profile/viewid=287940854&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile

 

The Need to Do Something Different Now

Here are a few reasons why we can not keep doing the same thing in The Western World  and expect a different result:-

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24% say  they don’t attend because of the outdated style which equates to millions who are Done with Church but love God

88% say  being part of a church is beneficial yet only 1 in 7 attend church monthly.

Church attendance has gone down 48% since 1976 with only 5-15% viewed as Committed Christians in Australia

Average church age now is 53, yet 4 out of 5 conversions occur under age of 20 meaning we are not keeping our young people.

Christian Camps came 5th in top activities in coming to faith, ahead of evangelistic events, small groups, Christian outreach, introductory series, mission groups etc., YET 2 in 3 church goers have not attended a church camp in last 2 years .    When they did  47% made a commitment.

There is much we can do to change this.                   

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Barna a well-respected Author on Christian Trends challenges us with statistical evidence on the decline of the church.  Here are a few conclusions from their work:-

80% of those raised in church could be disengaged by the time they are 29 years old.

2 out of 3 churchgoers say they attend church to “learn more about God.” But less than 1 in 10 say that happened last time they attended.

The Dechurched are still the greatest proportion of the churchless. 

But 2 in 3 Unchurched Americans say they are spiritual people. 

AAM research shows a sharp decline in church attendance across Australia, and this decline is expected to continue into the future.  The Church is failing tochurch pic win enough new people to faith and replace the number of attenders lost each year, meaning a double storm of lost members. One positive is the sustainable numbers of Christians starting to and continuing to attend church, who have come to our country from other nations and brought their faith with them. Unfortunately the picture is similar in other western countries. Without significant missional initiatives by the Church , it is inevitable that attendances will decline even more, as the 65,000 people now aged over 75 no longer attend. (Source: Rob Issachson Mission Report for Australia).

We believe we can  do something more to engage Generation Y/Z and Millennials. We desire that Church  is more relevant to them and  where they do not feel alienated and forgotten. There are many studies and material that point to a better way. We would like  all the body to take responsibility for how we may do this and request a copy of the framework.

This material has been well-tested in organizations for many years and has shown to have extremely positive results if used correctly. It seeks to bring  The Body  greater understanding of the principles necessary for change in one easy to read format, with ideas on how to implement these principles in practice.

What if we don’t change?

Here are a few possibilities of what could happen:-

  • Bored people
  • Untrained people
  • Spectator Christians
  • Ad hoc approach which leads to poor quality learning.
  • People leaving hurt as they lack the engagement with their church, often without saying why, and we are not finding out or showing we care about that
  • Unloved people tell others so the reputation of the church goes down
  • Hurt Christians who feel no one cares about their views or their calling
  • The younger generation becomes more detached as we don’t adapt and church becomes predominately older Christians which is not sustainable
  • People view church as out of date and uneducated
  • Leaders become bottlenecks as decision-making centers around a few. We feel we need permission to do things God has led us to and leaders are too busy to facilitate those new ideas.
  • We set a model that does not reflect the creativity of Jesus and his people
  • We believe we are raising disciples but have never evaluated if this is the case
  • We fail to raise leaders with quality leadership skills that work for this generation and the next generation suffers from a disengaged Church.
  • We fail to recognize that the greatest support we can give is to empower people in their calling not get them to volunteer below their capacity for a church event. This will not change the world.
  • We don’t create wealth and power to influence Gods Kingdom.
  • Without modelling priesthood of all believers we may be  encouraging our people to become fat with too much content but not enough application.    ( we become hearers not doers)
  • We don’t facilitate tailored connection so people don’t make genuine friendships which brings disengagement or people get bored doing community without a strong mission.
  • We have poor accountability so we increase the chance of poor decisions being made and unethical behavior
  • We set a standard of saying we don’t trust others so they model that by not trusting the church.

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To review the studies included in the Framework and find out why we have concluded these things you will need to see the notes which are available for download here.

Join our Facebook group to receive regular updates and daily updated content.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………….

JaneJohnson new smallCEO. Jane Johnson B.Com Grad Dip LD, Dip Coaching.

Jane has worked in many different leadership capacities from being a professionally qualified Christian Leadership Coach for 13 years to many Christian leaders, to leading a ministry with the Navigators, to being a Senior Learning and Development Manager of a multimillion corporation, advising the management team on strategic approaches to get the best out of their people. She has developed considerable experience with Investors in People taking several companies through to successful accreditation and training as a consultant for them. Hence she understands the amazing impact a tool based on this principle can have.

Connect with her on LinkedIn athttps://www.linkedin.com/profile/viewid=287940854&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile

 

The incredible impact of One-on-One Discipling versus Spiritual Addition Models

From the CEO of the Ecclesia Framework

JaneJohnson new smallWe are excited to see our visits to our site have massively increased as people see how much transformation is needed in the body of christ ands it is everyones responsibility to understand what form of ecclesia is biblical. We are in a period of great transition but there are many new organic forms of the ecclesia rising up using resources from all parts of the body across the world ( not just restricting themselves to one source of input which can be spiritually limiting).


The writings of Jesus and the apostle Paul show us how important the model of discipling is to effective training and how real multiplication can only take place through oneon-one discipling. This is shown by Jesus spending a large proportion of his time with the 12 disciples and in particular the three.

Jesus knew he would not reach the world by preaching alone and that he needed to raise up good men who were equipped to train and teach others. (2 Tim 2:2). Although this seems to be a slower method on the surface, in the long run, through the process of multiplication it is much faster( see the stats below).

It is also  one of the most effective method of encouraging people to stay in the church as people stay for relationship mainly . It also allows for people to be alerted if they are losing their faith. We may then have a method of dealing with the lost sheep.

the_church_body_400_clr_8912This has been promoted and practiced by the Navigators for decades. See the difference between Spiritual Addition and Spiritual Multiplication.

Results of Spiritual Addition V Multiplication    

Spiritual AdditionReach 100 people for Christ each day MultiplicationWin, Build  & Send One Person Every 6m
36,00072,000108,000

144,000

180,000

216,000

252,000

288,000

324,000

360,000

396,000

432,000

468,000

504,000

540,000

1664256

1,024 (thousand)

4,096

16,384

65,536

262,144

1,048,576 (million)

16,777,216

67,108,864

268,435,456 ( million)

If we are sending out we may not see the numbers in our church but what counts is the quality of the disciple following their highest calling and impacting thechurch growth kingdom.

For more great notes on methods that work – ask for a copy of the framework. www.churchexcellenceframework.com

CONCEPTS of New Ecclesia Operating in the Heavenly Realms

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This is a compilation of concepts from those discerning the blueprint coming out of Heaven.

WE ARE INVITING PEOPLE TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE FORMATION OF THIS DOCUMENT TO HELP OTHERS GRASP CONCEPTS MORE EASILY. PLEASE ADD OTHERS POINTS IN THE COMMENTS OR AT THE CONTACT FORM. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO SIGNAL YOUR AGREEMENT TO THESE WE WOULD LIKE TO PUT A LIST OF  NAMES AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE.

  • We are designed as Sons having responsibility for Dominion over the earth not just intimacy to restore earth as it is in heaven.
  • We can access heaven beyond the veil, through our gateways( see Ian Clayton book)
  • Everything comes out of Christ being our first love( enter through first love gate).
  • Understanding how to divide our soul from our spirit to finally allow them to come into union.
  • We seek to return  to have our spirit on the outside of our body as in the first creation so we can be transfigured and become a true spirit being able to translocate in the spirit like Jesus.
  • Everything out of Love and a Servant heart( although we are not servants)  are paramount.
  • We seek to move from Lordship to Kingship to Sonship ( away from orphan and slave)
  • With intimacy comes responsibility,  so going into the court to legislate is important .
  • Principle of Zech 3: how to follow my laws, walk in his ways, judge my house, judge my courts and protocol of entering in the courts.
  • Understanding of the four faces of God–     Lion( King) Ox (prophetic), Eagle (Apostolic), Man.
  • Understand the 7 spirits of God , role of  Angels ,  Men in White Linen and cloud of witnesses and how  we can work with them to assist our scroll.
  • Understanding of trading floors and crowns, and seat of rest.
  • Communion more about changing our DNA than remembrance.
  • Setting up ourselves as boundary stones
  • Accessing heaven is voluntary but process of repentance and agreeing with the accuser is important as it is  gathering our royal armaments for coronation.18796_1449923101977249_185850677502023187_n
  • Understanding transformation through seed line cleansing, dna transforming, the importance of the blood and jesus as mediator , obtaining our investiture in heaven and repentance
  • Understanding of  the Garden of God and the Garden in our heart. Responsibility for tendering the garden in our heart( sowing seeds of righteousness).
  • Understanding of peoples scroll/ call/ mandate  is fundamental.
  • Understanding the importance of establishing a marriage covenant with God ( what will you promise to god ? )
  • Understanding of finding God in the Dark Cloud, in the Arc, in the Dance floor, the Bridal Chamber, the Matrix of water, On Gods Mountain and the Tent of Meeting , 
  • Accessing satans trading floor scroll room and training room 
  • Establishing Benches of 3 ( kingly strategic , apostolic, prophetic) based on model of Father, Son Holy spirit.
  • Benches of 7 (as in seven spirits) are used for teams involving elders rather than boards of business people.
  • Understand Benches of 12 ( 12 laws of Zion, 2×12 =24 elders).
  • Understands Mountains are areas of authority/ dominion.
  • Sonship and Kingship underpin 5 fold ministries.
  • 11188340_1449748901994669_3897829647298330200_nEstablishing pillars of fire, entering in the river of fire ,trading floors and trading  from the fiery stones.
  • Understanding the 7 domains  of heaven from the menorah and difference between domain, government and presence of God .
  • Moving from outer court to inner court to increase intimacy .
  • Understanding the different courts, ( court of angels, mobile court, court of war, court of chancellors, court of kings, court of scribes, court of the lord, bench 0f 70, court of fathers and court of men in white linen).
  • Everyone has a voice not just leaders ( priesthood of all believers).
  • Understanding the role of the Hand of God and the Breath of God. When we raise our hand in heaven we are exercising authority
  • We dont ask for the glory to come down to us but the glory is inside us.
  • Engaging the Sapphire and Metatrons cube to create
  • To not be subject to time so we can have rich time
  • We begin to understand the nature of the chancellors houses and how they must come into alignment to release the house of scrolls.
  • Frame the future by setting our desire on it and go back in time and reset it
  • Dealing with familiar spirits in our gateways
  • Experience  baptism of fathers, Baptism of Glory, baptism of Fire and holy spirit, baptism of death, baptism of water and baptism of repentence
  • Leaves of tree of life are for healing of nations and open gateways for nations healing if we take them on board
  • Engaging wisdom and her 7 handmaidens , spirt of truth, glory, excellence , promise, holiness, faith and life
  • Engaging seven spirits : counsel , understanding , wisdom, might, fear of lord , knowledge , spirit of God
  • Engaging tree of wisdom and depth
  • We can ask to engage the men in white linen, e.g. Enoch , Moses , Abram.

Please visit our many pages for diagrams, pathway to begin heavenly realms, governance of ecclesia documents

The Hard Work of Christian Unity

By Dr. Stephen R. Crosby

Romanticism and Idealism Hinder the Work of Unity

Hard-Work-Ant-e1416262281822There’s an old saying that if we ever saw sausage being made, we would never eat sausage! Saying you favor Christian unity is like saying you love sausage.  Anyone can wax eloquent about the philosophical virtues of ideal sausage. The question is, do you have the stomach for the process of making sausage? Yielding to the processes of God that will actually yield John 17 Christian unity rather than cheap counterfeits is an entirely different matter than agreeing about the eternal priority of unity. How unity is defined, implemented, and embracing its cost will separate sausage lovers from sausage producers. God has called us to produce sausage, not just rhetorically extol its virtues. It is not for the faint of heart.

Too often unity is defined emotionally, psychologically, and culturally rather than biblically. There can be a mindset that if we could just recover some imagined idyllic condition of the first one hundred years of the Church, or if we were just “nicer” to each other, that we would have unity and revival. Here are a few snapshots of the “ideal” first century church:

  • At the end of his life, Paul was abandoned by almost everyone. Did he/they not value unity?
  • Paul confronted Peter, publicly. How does that make for unity?
  • Jesus called people names and insulted them. Is that the way to build “unity?”
  • The Corinthian church was divided over relational apostleship. Paul writes a letter that was read publicly, rebuking them all. Is making people uncomfortable in public good for unity?
  • The Judaizers were aggrieving the Galatian churches. The Gnostics were dividing the Colossian and Ephesian churches. Doctrine just divides. Shouldn’t we just love everyone in unity?
  • Paul publicly mentions people by name as causing division; he puts fornicators out of the church. That is so harsh and judgmental. That’s not conducive to unity.

There’s no place in the ekklesia for romantic notions regarding Christian unity. With romanticism out of the way, let’s take a look at sausage loving unity and then finish up with some real sausage making.

Church Culture Unity – unity based on similarity of expression, style, practices, tastes, preferences, likes and dislikes, age, economic status, etc. We are united as long as we all think, look, and act alike and value the same things. This is conformity of culture, not biblical unity.

Programmatic Unity – unity driven by doing projects and events together. We come together to “work,” but there is no spiritual substance beyond that. There is no genuine cost to this type of unity, because all the participants know that after the event is over, there is no pressure to have to relate with fellow participants. The event is the bond, rather than genuine love, the only legitimate biblical cement (Col. 3:14). The best program unity will ever produce is the context for the possibility of real unity.

Persecuted Unity – I once knew a missionary who lived in Uganda during the reign of Idi Amin. He discovered that while Amin was martyring thousands of Christians, there was a “coming together” and unity in the Church.   Unfortunately, as soon as the pressure of persecution ceased, so did the apparent unity. Everyone reverted to pre-persecution habits and patterns. Even life and death persecution cannot produce real unity.

Socio-Cultural Norm Unity – unity based on avoidance of conflict and confrontation. Individuals who have embraced this will emphasize inordinate sensitivity on not doing or saying anything that upsets anyone. The objective is that no one would feel any discomfort for any reason, at any time. It is a unity that avoids group discipline. Anything goes. There is nothing in scripture that remotely hints that avoidance of subjective discomfort is the basis for Christian unity.

Denominational Unity – is unity assumed to exist within a given denomination or group. I know many ministers who attend their denominational meetings and are heartbroken because of the absence of genuine unity and organic relationship. Wearing the same uniform does not produce unity. The uniform is supposed to be a symbol of something genuine.

Vision Unity – is similar to programmatic unity. Often times there can be an exciting “vision”’ or presentation of Gospel truth that attracts and becomes the gathering focus for unity. The problem with vision unity is that if a more exciting vision comes down the line, the unity built upon the previous vision evaporates. Vision unity is like jumping on the bandwagon for a passing fad. The latest “new thing” becomes the unifying factor.

Lowest Common Denominator Unity – is the “leave-your-distinctive baggage-at-the-door-unity, the curse of many “pastor’s prayer networks.” Of course, it is always the “other guy” who has to leave his baggage at the door because we don’t have any baggage! This unity lowers the bar for participation as low as it can possibly go, out of fear of being exclusionary or hurting someone’s feelings. Participants cannot be, do, or say who they really are for fear of offending someone else, who will then take his or her ball and go home, thus ending unity.

Prayer Unity – centers around prayer and fellowship only. Not only does it normally not go much beyond that, but sometimes it is also forbidden to go beyond that because any thing approaching authenticity in relationship would be considered bad for unity. Prayer may be a good place to start, but too often it is the place we settle for because the cost of going deeper toward reality in authenticity as human beings and brothers is simply more than most are willing to pay. You don’t have to trust someone to pray with them. Prayer unity is, again at best, a starting point as a context for the potential for real unity.

Political Unity – is the shallow, glad-handing spirit that prevails in many pastors’ networks. The unity meeting is a means of personal advancement and self–realization and the self-promotion of the minister, the minister’s organization, and personal agenda. Transparency and honesty are avoided because they hinder the path of self-esteem, peer-esteem, and ministerial advancement. I have had more than one pastor tell me explicitly: if they got real in relationship, it would cost them everything “they have built” and they are unwilling lose that. That attitude is unworkable unity material.

What Does Genuine Christian Unity Look Like?

Psalm 133 is the Old Testament classic on the subject: the tribes in Jerusalem were gathered to worship Yahweh at feast time.

The first thing we need to remember is their diversity. Other than their worship, they did not share values and priorities. A landlocked Israelite would not have the same values or priorities as a covenant brother living on the Mediterranean coastline. Their unity could contain those differences. Secondly, the Psalmist uses a Hebrew literary device—the metaphorical couplet—to convey a unified thought: the oil on Aaron’s beard and the dew of Hermon.

The oil was poured on Aaron’s head and ran down to his collar, not his feet as is commonly believed (The KJV ‘skirt’ is a most unfortunate rendering). The priestly anointing oil was held in very small quantities in a cruse or horn. The reason for the small quantity was because of its costly preciousness. The oil was obtained by crushing different costly spices and the oil together.

Genuine Christian unity that commands the blessing is not some cheap sing-along where we all get together, smile at one another, sing a few non-controversial hymns and go home. God’s unity begins with crushing and cost. God’s unity starts with Calvary: Calvary for us, and Calvary in us. Only those who walk in the spirit of Calvary who themselves have allowed the crushing experiences orchestrated by the Holy Spirit in their lives to have full effect, will ever be workable material for the unity that commands the blessing.

Mt. Hermon was on the northern border of the Amorites at the full geographical extent of Joshua’s victory. Hermon’s dew was carried by winds and settled or watered Mt. Zion and was known for being refreshing.

Both poetic metaphors are analogies of descent, (something starting from above, downward) andtransference. The psalmist’s point is that commanded blessing unity:

  1. Does not have its source in us.
  2. It comes from above/the Head
  3. It must be transferred.
  4. It is refreshing and sweet.

Transference is a download: one source has it; another doesn’t, but needs it. Biblical Christian unity is transferred from the heavenlies to earth. It doesn’t start with us. It must descend and be transferred upon us. It cannot be organized and legislated from below. It can be received and entered into. The commanded unity blessing will only occur when individuals who themselves have been “touched from on high” and who have experienced the inner healing of identity and the outer healing of relationships,gather together in determinate love one for another. A collection of Cross-dodging self-centered people will never produce biblical Christian unity.

If our lives are broken, marriages fragmented, families shattered, and local churches relationally inauthentic, merely gathering the aforementioned in one place under one purpose will never produce biblical Christian unity. It is just an agglomeration of dysfunction trying in the power of the Adamic nature to fulfill John 17. The only thing worse than dysfunction is thinking that if we just gather more of it in unified purpose under unified government, something wonderful will happen!

So is John 17 a pipe dream? Was Paul an idealist? Not at all.

Unity is not difficult. It’s just costly. Our unity must be in Christ, and Christ alone. Unity must begin and be sustained by our revelation of our union with Him and one another. It is the logical overflow of superabundant love. No vision, no organization, no plan, nor dream will ever realize that which is only possible in response to a gracious heavenly outpouring that transforms hearts causing us to fall irrevocably in love with one another. We simply must become necessities for each other, in the deepest and most genuine way.

If my American rights to independence and privacy in time, personal space, and money are more important to me than you, your pain, and your needs, we can forget romantic ideals of Christian unity, on any scale. Any model of unity that is based upon mere cooperation or group conformity is doomed to fail because that kind of unity must be maintained by external pressure rather than internal empowerment from transformation. Unity that is maintained by external constraint betrays the Spirit of Christ in the process of pursuing the unity in Christ.

As long as pastors, ministers, and other types of leaders view people, money, property and assets as “theirs” there will never be Christian unity. As long as leaders insist on the primacy of their own parochial self-interest masquerading as the “mandate and vision God has given me,” John 17 unity will remain a philosophical platitude.

Unity that is Spirit-born, touched with Calvary, descending from heaven, transforming us inwardly so we can unite outwardly, is in indeed precious. It is circumstantially indissoluble because its quality is eternal. No offense of humanity or attack of the devil can dislodge the Calvary-saturated, commanded blessing unity.

Christian unity is relational and covenantal. It is based on His cross: revealed, appropriated, and applied. It is covenantal love that is maintained in the presence of conflict and differences at great emotional, spiritual, psychological, time, and financial cost. So are you and I sausage lovers or sausage makers? Are we serious about the hard work of Christian unity? Are we ready to give ourselves to the real thing, or are we going to settle for the less costly counterfeits? Jesus is for us, and in us, to accomplish through us, what our flesh and ego will allow.


To review the studies included in the Framework and find out why we have concluded these things you can download the Framework and Notes here, free of charge.


Copyright 2015,  Dr. Stephen R. Crosby, www.stevecrosby.org Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.  For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact stephrcrosby@gmail.com.

Churches as God’s Flock, Following the Shepherd’s Voice (Part 4)

By Peter Thompson B.Theo Grad Dip Theology

Church-Interior-Design-Ideas-1-600x341Parts 1-3 presented us with some sobering perspectives on what it means for the church to be the flock of God’s pasture.  Now we will consider what impact these perspectives should have on contemporary church structures.

Responsibilities of God’s Sheep

Covenant responsibilities of the sheep (in Parts 1 and 3) remained somewhat consistent across both the Old and New Testaments, requiring them to:

  • listen attentively to the voice of their divine Shepherds (namely Yahweh and Jesus) as expressed either directly by God (as Father, Son and Spirit), or through the mouthpiece of the prophets/prophetic giftings;
  • respond in obedience together as one flock to both the voice of their divine Shepherd, and to the admonitions/guidelines of Scripture (note Proverbs 28:9);
  • trust in their divine Shepherd’s continual presence to lead and protect;
  • know God’s ways by treating all the weak, oppressed and needy among or around them with God’s love and compassion, meeting their practical needs; and
  • remain faithful to God alone, seeking only His kingdom rather than pursuing one’s own self-seeking agendas.

Forms of New Testament Obedience

Pointedly, nowhere in the Bible are the sheep specifically directed to generally heed/obey the voice of human under-shepherds other than in their role as God’s mouthpiece or skilled handler of Scripture!  It is essentially the divine voice only that must be listened to and obeyed!

This does not contradict certain passages exhorting believers to obey their leaders, because there are different Greek words for obedience which have important distinctions:

  • Persuaded obedience (peitho) arising from being convinced to the point of relying upon and being confident about someone/thing is used only once in respect to submitting to those church leaders who lead by good example and responsibly watch out for the sheep as those who have to give account, i.e. to the divine Shepherd (Hebrews 13:7-9, 17), just as all believers should be persuaded to obey the truth (Galatians 5:7-8);
  • Yielded obedience (hupeiko) arising from giving way to, ceasing to resist, authority is used only once in the whole New Testament, and that concerning leaders who led by example and responsibly watched out for the sheep in the context of believers tempted to fall away from the faith due to persecution (Hebrews 13:17);
  • Submitted obedience (hupotasso) arising from a voluntary submission to, bringing under the control of, another person is used only once in respect to obeying leaders like Stephanas who wholly devoted himself to the service of the saints (1 Corinthians 16:15-16), in the same way that all believers are to submissively obey Christ Himself (e.g., Ephesians 1:22; 5:24; 1 Corinthians 15:27), and citizens are to submissively obey government authorities, wives their husbands, children their parents, younger people their elders, and all believers one another (e.g., Romans 13:1, 5; Ephesians 5:21-23; Colossians 3:18-21; 1 Peter 2:13; 3:1-5; 5:5; 1 Timothy 3:4; Titus 2:5; 3:1; note 1 Corinthians 16:16); and
  • Listening obedience (hupakoe) resulting from a stillness and attentiveness to hear another is used very sparingly only in respect to apostolic authority required in particular contexts (2 Thessalonians 3:14; Philemon 21; note Acts 7:38-39 concerning the Israelites heeding the voice of Moses who received the living oracles of God; compare 2 Corinthians 2:5-9; 7:15; Exodus 16:19-20; Deuteronomy 1:42-45), for the sheep are to listen to and heed/obey the faith/truth (Romans 1:5; 15:18; 16:17, 26; Acts 6:7; 1 Peter 1:22; compare Romans 6:11-17; Philippians 2:12) through the Gospel (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8) which is in effect heeding the voice of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5-6; 1 Peter 1:2) and the Father (1 Peter 1:14), just as Christ Himself learned listening obedience to fulfil His call to suffer death out of His prayerful relationship with the Father (Hebrews 5:7-8; compare Romans 5:19; Isaiah 50:4-9), and children are to listen to and heed their parents (Ephesians 6:1-2; Colossians 3:20).

Effectively, the church is urged to heed under-shepherds only when they speak, write down, or otherwise communicate either the actual words and directives of the divine Shepherd, or command in accordance with the dictates of the Gospel/faith which is all about following Jesus anyway (compare the use of tereo, observed obedience arising from keeping an eye upon and hence observing something, in respect to the words of Jesus in Matthew 28:19-20; John 8:51; 14:15, 21; 15:10; 1 John 2:3-4; 3:22-24; 5:2-3; and the faith in 1 Timothy 4:7; compare 1 Timothy 6:11-14).

Jesus the Living Word as the Over-Shepherd

It is not surprising then that God’s sheep are to heed only the voice of Jesus because:

  • Jesus is the Word Himself (John 1:1, 14; Revelation 19:13);
  • Jesus is the Word of life (1 John 1:1-3);
  • words spoken by Jesus, like Yahweh, stand forever (Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33; 1 Peter 1:24-25; Isaiah 40:3-9; Psalm 119:89; 102:26; compare Isaiah 55:8-11);
  • the word of God is living and active (Hebrews 4:12; 1 Peter 1:23; compare 2 Peter 3:3-7); and
  • because it is alive, the word of God increased, spread, and grew in power (Acts 12:24; 13:49; 19:20).

In Colossians 3:16, Paul exhorts the churches to allow the word of Christ to dwell within them richly.

The reliability and life-giving properties of divine words contrasts sharply with the poisonous and untameable human tongues which inevitably speak words that cause conflict, stumbling and destruction (e.g., James 3:1-12; compare Psalm 12:1-4; 120:1-7; 140:1-3; Proverbs 10:19-20; 13:2-3; 15:4; 16:27; 26:21, 28).  Relying on human leaders to speak into our lives is fraught with danger when it is not communicating the voice of the divine Shepherd.  Only at the absolute pinnacle of Christian maturity can leaders truly tame their tongue and therefore completely bridle the desires inherited from Adam, hence the warning not to seek becoming teachers as they will be subject to a greater strictness of judgment (James 3:1-2; compare James 1:26; Matthew 12:36-37; Romans 14:10-12; Mark 7:14-23).  This is why church is structured organically and not hierarchically.

Traits of Bad Under-Shepherds

Some rather interesting parameters also come to light concerning what it means to have the privilege of being God’s “human” under-shepherd.

For instance, notice that the bad under-shepherds of the Old Testament in Part 1:

  • failed to inquire of Yahweh, turning to their own ways, and consequently leading the flock astray;
  • failed to properly care for and strengthen the flock as needed;
  • failed to seek out and recover the lost/straying sheep;
  • mistreated and dominated/controlled the flock to serve their own ends;
  • protected their own position and affluence; and
  • preyed on God’s flock to satisfy their own needs and desires.

It is interesting to observe how the vast majority of bad OT under-shepherds failed to even acknowledge their abuse of God’s flock until judgment came, by which time it was too late.  Contemporary pastors beware!

Traits of Good Under-Shepherds

Now, notice that the good under-shepherds of the Old Testament in Part 1:

  • were all equipped by the Holy Spirit to shepherd God’s people;
  • did not have the Spirit necessarily remain permanently on them unless they were outstanding prophets/kings like Moses, Samuel and David, signifying how Jesus as the Christ, the Spirit anointed One (e.g., Isaiah 61:1), is the one permanently Good Shepherd, suggesting therefore that shepherding God’s flock as Christian leaders is not necessarily an irrevocable office/calling in itself; and
  • all had Yahweh speak directly to them fairly frequently, so that the under-shepherds only conveyed God’s words and instructions, not their own concepts of what is right (note Numbers 20:6-13; 27:12-14).

New Testament Under-Shepherds

We will look at this in more detail at a later date, but for now, we can note that:People Circle Hold Up Hands Gather Around a Cross

  • Peter as an apostle was required by Jesus to shepherd His sheep, and feed His lambs (John 21:16-17);
  • the overseeing elders of churches were exhorted by both Peter and Paul to shepherd the flock of God under Jesus the Shepherd and Overseer of God’s flock (Acts 20:17, 28-31; 1 Peter 2:24-25; 5:1-4); and
  • shepherding-teaching is a ministry gift in the church to equip the saints for ministry (Ephesians 4:11-12).

This means that shepherding in the New Testament church is a responsibility affecting various levels of ministry gifting, all of which are subject to Jesus as the chief Shepherd.

Contemporary Relevance

Those in positions to under-shepherd God’s flock today need to ensure that they not only rely entirely upon the Spirit’s gifting and facilitate the prophetic voice, but also don’t use that privilege to:

  • protect their own position, reputation, and/or privilege;
  • coerce submission to themselves and to their own vision for the congregation, especially if it serves to promote their own importance and prestige in the eyes of their peers;
  • draw people to themselves as followers of their self-aggrandising or altruistic schemes; and
  • prey on God’s people either financially or to meet their own inherent and insecure need for attention/respect/affection, power/control/influence, or prominence/fame/success.

Church Excellence Framework

Getting Jesus back in control of His church so that He can shepherd His own sheep again using His voice, whether directly by the Spirit or through genuine prophetic speech, cannot simply happen overnight.  Various measures have to be carefully introduced which facilitate the underlying changes necessary for reformation.

Hence, the Church Excellence Framework seeks to reinstate the priesthood of all believers so that the risen Lord and Head over the Church can properly speak again to guide and instruct His flock.  To change decades or centuries of church tradition without careful preparation will result in disaster.  Change has to be managed responsibly, which is why education of church members and their participation in the strategies for change have to be wisely planned using a proven system.  The Framework therefore facilitates prudent under-shepherding.


To review the studies included in the Framework and find out why we have concluded these things you will need to see the notes which are available for download here.

Please also share our blog to allow others to review and contribute – we need everyone, not just leaders, to play their part in building a church that others want to come to.

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Peter “Thommo” Thompson was born in 1958 in the bulldust of south-western Queensland in the region around the township of Mitchell.  He was converted outside of the church through a supernatural encounter with the living God in Mackay, North Queensland, in February 1979, and embarked upon a long and arduous journey of God dealing with the figurative bulldust in his life.  In 2012, he completed a Bachelor of Ministry & Theology double degree, and in 2013, a Post-Graduate Diploma in Theology, all at Tabor Adelaide.  He currently lives with his two adult daughters in Ipswich, Queensland, and is writing a series of academic novels with the intent of hopefully helping to facilitate a church unifying movement through an unbranded form of Christianity in Australia.


Copyright 2015 Peter Thompson. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references. For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact us.

Churches as God’s Flock, Following the Shepherd’s Voice (Part 3)

By Peter Thompson B.Theo Grad Dip Theology

74a2b24328b9fd29f4ca3bb09e32d68bIn Parts 1-2, we looked at how Yahweh shepherded Israel, especially by leading them using His voice.  Now, we will consider how Jesus, as the messianic Shepherd raised up by Yahweh, shepherds the church today in the same way.

The Messianic Shepherd

Yahweh will:

  • Himself as Israel’s Shepherd gather the remnant of His lost flock from the exile, from all the places they had been scattered to, bringing them back into their fold where their wounds will be bandaged, the weak strengthened, the lost found, and where they can be fed with good pasture and be fruitful and multiply (Jeremiah 23:3; 31:10-11; 50:17-20; Ezekiel 34:11-16; compare Micah 7:14-17; Zechariah 9:16-17);
  • set up post-exilic under-shepherds over His flock (like Zerubbabel and Nehemiah), but will eventually raise up one particular under-shepherd, the Davidic Messiah, the true Shepherd who will feed Yahweh’s flock and reign over them as a wise king to deliver them so that they will be totally secure, walking according to Yahweh’s rules, obeying His statutes (Jeremiah 3:14-18; 23:4-6; Ezekiel 34:23-24; 37:24-28; compare Psalm 2:9 noting “rule” there is literally “shepherd”); and
  • put His words in the mouth of the messianic prophet like Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15-19).

Note Proverbs 10:21 which states literally that the lips of the righteous shepherd/feed many.

Jesus the Messianic Shepherd

Jesus is the Great Shepherd of God’s flock (Hebrews 13:20; 1 Peter 2:25; 5:4), the Messianic/Davidic Shepherd predicted in the Old Testament, because He:

  • was born in Bethlehem just like the shepherd-king David (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:1-11; 1 Samuel 16:1-5; compare Luke 2:1-7, 10-11; John 7:42);
  • will come forth for Yahweh at the appointed time, when she who is in labour gives birth, as the ruler in Israel, one whose origin was from ancient days (Micah 5:2-3; compare Luke 1:30-33, 35; 2:8-12);
  • was anointed by the Spirit (Isaiah 11:1-2, 42:1; 61:1; Mark 1:9-11; Matthew 3:13-17; Luke 3:21-22; 4:16-21; Acts 10:38);
  • was struck by both the elders/scribes/priests and the Roman soldiers, after which His disciples were scattered, denying knowledge of Him (Zechariah 13:7; Matthew 26:31, 67; 27:30; Mark 14:27; 65; 15:19; Luke 22:63-64; John 16:32; 18:22; 19:1-3; compare Matthew 26:69-75; Luke 22:54-62; John 18:15-18, 25-27; Mark 14:66-72);
  • shall shepherd His flock in the strength of Yahweh (Micah 5:4; compare Luke 4:14; John 10:37-38); and
  • shall be the peace of His flock, defeating all their enemies (Micah 5:5-6; compare Revelation 7:14-17).

Jesus the Good Shepherd

In contrast to hired hands who flee when danger approaches the sheep, Jesus is the good Shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep (John 10:11-13).  As such, Jesus:

  • knows His sheep, Jew and Gentile alike, as God’s one flock who listen to His voice (John 10:14-16, 27; compare Ephesians 2:11-16);
  • provides access to the safety of the fold for the sheep who follow and heed His voice (John 10:1-6); and
  • is the actual door of the sheep by whom entry is provided to find safety and pasture (John 10:7-10).

Jesus the Responsible Shepherd

As the good Shepherd, Jesus, like Yahweh:

  • seeks the lost sheep (Luke 15:1-7; Matthew 15:24; 18:10-14);
  • heals the lost sheep of Israel (1 Peter 2:24-25; Matthew 9:35-36; compare Acts 10:38);
  • teaches/instructs the lost sheep (Mark 6:34); and
  • sends His disciples out to also find and heal Israel’s lost sheep (Matthew 10:5-8; Luke 9:1-6; 10:1-9, 17).

The Risen Lord Who Speaks

If the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God at the resurrection (John 5:25, 28-29), how much more will the living now hear Him as the risen Lord.  For instance, after His resurrection, Jesus appeared and/or spoke to:

  • Mary Magdaline (John 20:11-18; Mark 16:9-11; compare Luke 24:1-12; Matthew 28:1-7; Mark 16:1-8);
  • Cleopas and another disciple on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-32; Mark 16:12-13);
  • all the disciples at least three times when they were gathered together in Jerusalem (Luke 24:33, 36-51; John 20:19-29; Acts 1:2-9; Mark 16:14-19; 1 Corinthians 15:5-7);
  • the eleven disciples on a mountain in Galilee (Matthew 28:5-10; 16-20; Mark 16:6-7);
  • seven of the disciples, including Peter, James, John, Thomas and Nathanael, by the Sea of Tiberias (John 21:1-24);
  • Peter (1 Corinthians 15:5);
  • James (1 Corinthians 15:7);
  • Paul directly on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-8, 27; 22:6-14; 26:12-15; 1 Corinthians 15:8-9);
  • Ananias in a vision concerning Paul in Damascus (Acts 9:10-15);
  • Peter in a vision on the rooftop at Joppa (Acts 10:9-16; 11:7-10);
  • Paul in a vision in Corinth (Acts 18:9-10);
  • Paul in a trance in the temple at Jerusalem (Acts 22:17-21);
  • Paul in Jerusalem (Acts 23:11);
  • Paul in a vision when he was caught up into the third heaven (2 Corinthians 12:1-4, 7-9); and
  • John when he was in the Spirit on the Isle of Patmos (Revelation 1:9-20).

Christ the risen Lord also spoke through Paul (2 Corinthians 13:2-4), especially considering that Paul’s gospel was given by special revelation (Galatians 1:11-12; 2:1-9).  Jesus even spoke through the Scriptures (Hebrews 2:10-13; 10:5-9), but it is important to emphasise that He also speaks directly to certain individuals, and can speak supernaturally to whole assemblies of believers through the charismatic gifts of speech.how_you_can_keep_volunteers_on_your_team_128727701

The Holy Spirit Who Speaks Directly

The Holy Spirit, in speaking on behalf of the risen Jesus (John 16:13-15):

  • spoke directly to a group of teachers and prophets at Antioch (Acts 13:1-4);
  • spoke directly to Philip (Acts 8:29);
  • spoke directly to Peter (Acts 10:19; 11:12; compare Acts 10:28);
  • guided Paul, Silas and Timothy directly by forbidding them to speak in Asia or to travel to Bithynia (Acts 16:6-7), and indirectly through a vision to travel to Macedonia (Acts 16:8-10); and
  • spoke through the eleven disciples/apostles initially, and then at times through church leaders of all ages, whenever they were dragged before the rulers of the land (Matthew 10:17-20; Mark 13:10-11; Luke 12:11-12; compare Acts 4:8-21, 29-31; 6:8-10).

The Holy Spirit Who Speaks Through Prophecy

The Holy Spirit also speaks through prophecy to:

  • the Christian assembly communally (1 Timothy 4:1; 1 Corinthians 12:10; 14:3-5, 29-33; Acts 11:27-28; 15:30-32; Ephesians 4:11-12; Romans 12:4-6; Revelation 1:3; 22:6-10; compare Acts 2:16-18 1 Corinthians 12:3); and
  • individuals (Acts 20:22-23; 21:4, 10-11; 1 Timothy 1:18; 4:14; compare 1 Corinthians 14:24-25).

Nonetheless, we must not diminish how the Spirit also speaks through the Scriptures (Hebrews 3:7; 10:15-17; Acts 28:25).  Note that the Spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus (Revelation 19:10), so prophecy never contradicts the Scriptural account of the Gospel centred around Jesus.

Jesus the Second Moses

Notice Numbers 12:1-15, with Moses as a type of Christ (Acts 3:20-24; 7:37; Deuteronomy 18:15-19; 34:10-12).  Jesus is the only One who has truly spoken directly to the Father face-to-face (note especially John 5:36-40; compare John 1:1-2, 14, 18; 8:38), and He is the One through whom the Father now speaks to us, and Him alone (Hebrews 1:2; compare Ephesians 2:18; 1 Timothy 2:5).

Any other avenue for the Father speaking is leprous, contaminated, unclean/impure, and in context egocentric and insubordinate (note Deuteronomy 24:8-9; compare Leviticus 13:45-46; 14:1-32; and especially 2 Kings 5:1-27 noting verse 25 where Gehazi no longer stood before Elisha in submission but beside him, after robbing Yahweh of the sole honour of healing Naaman in order to procure goods/luxuries for himself and the school of prophets — on the basis of his own standard of what is good and proper — rather than trusting in Yahweh’s provision).

This means then that the Father speaks through Christ like He did through His under-shepherd Moses (John 3:31-34; 8:26-28, 40; 12:49-50; 14:10, 24).  Hence, Jesus shepherds the church now in the strength of how the Father had shepherded Israel through Moses.

Responsibilities of the Sheep

Consequently, the church, as sheep belonging to Jesus’ sheepfold, are to:

  • believe in their shepherd as the Christ (John 10:24-26);
  • listen only to the voice of their Shepherd, not to strangers, in order to be secure in the safety of the fold (John 10:3-5, 16, 27-28);
  • respond to their Shepherd’s voice when He speaks (Revelation 3:20);
  • beware the wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15);
  • give food to the hungry, drink to the thirsty, clothing to the naked, and to visit the sick and those in prison (Matthew 25:21-40);
  • seek the kingdom of God, selling their possessions and giving to the poor (Luke 12:29-32); and
  • suffer with and for the Shepherd’s sake (Romans 8:17-18, 35-37).

Note that those who side with truth listen to Jesus’ voice (John 18:37).  This is not surprising since Jesus is the embodiment of truth (see Churches as God’s Household-Temple Revealing Truth Part 1).

In Part 4, we will tie together the implications of Parts1-3 for how churches should be structured as God’s flock.


To review the studies included in the Framework and find out why we have concluded these things you will need to see the notes which are available for download here.

Please also share our blog to allow others to review and contribute – we need everyone, not just leaders, to play their part in building a church that others want to come to.

Join our Facebook group to receive regular updates and daily updated content.


Peter “Thommo” Thompson was born in 1958 in the bulldust of south-western Queensland in the region around the township of Mitchell.  He was converted outside of the church through a supernatural encounter with the living God in Mackay, North Queensland, in February 1979, and embarked upon a long and arduous journey of God dealing with the figurative bulldust in his life.  In 2012, he completed a Bachelor of Ministry & Theology double degree, and in 2013, a Post-Graduate Diploma in Theology, all at Tabor Adelaide.  He currently lives with his two adult daughters in Ipswich, Queensland, and is writing a series of academic novels with the intent of hopefully helping to facilitate a church unifying movement through an unbranded form of Christianity in Australia.


Copyright 2015 Peter Thompson. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references. For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact us.

The Prophetic Manifesto

Revelation-copyThis is presented as something to Consider before God.

By Dr. Stephen Crosby

If after reading this document, you would like to add your name to this effort as either a sponsor (someone who personally identifies with the content) or as a supporter (someone who agrees with the content), please email us at stephrcrosby@gmail.com expressing your preference. We will add your name. We give you our word we will neither solicit you for money, nor add you to our routine mailings without your permission. God bless you in your kingdom endeavors.

Before I formed you in the belly, I knew you; and before you came forth out of the womb I sanctified you, and I ordained you a prophet to the nations. – Jeremiah 1:5

Now therefore you all are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone in whom all the building fitly framed together continually grows up into a holy temple in the Lord: in whom you are built together for a habitation of God through the Spirit. – Ephesians 2:19-22

ARTICLE I – PROPHETIC IDENTITY

Prophets:

  1. Exist without malice or ill will toward those who believe their existence and attestation to the same are aberrant.
  2. Accept the prophetic calling as a matter of sovereign grace and divine mandate, as legitimate as any other ministry gift, regardless of all protests to the contrary.

Prophets are:

  1. Distinct
    1. The prophetic ministry is not merely a persona, facet, style, or emphasis, of other ministries. It is a distinct gift and calling.
  2. Different, not deficient
    1. A prophetic perspective is not inherently a fault to be remediated by other gifts.
  3. Necessary
    1. Prophets are not the equivalent of a spiritual appendix. They are neither optional nor perfunctory.
    2. The purposes of Christ in and through His saints require a full expression of prophetic ministry as well as the other graces and gifts.
    3. His fullness is expressed in our togetherness: we need one another.
    4. Neither better nor more spiritual than other gifts.
  4. Prophets bear no malice or ill will toward those who would try to conform them to their understanding. Prophets reject all pressures born out of artificial attempts at conformity for acceptance.

Prophets accept:

  1. Their calling to speak the truth in love, remembering their own frame, and susceptibility to sin and failure. Prophets are what they are by the grace of God. Their responsibility to reveal the fellowship of the mystery, to make Christ accurately known through the Scriptures, by the Holy Spirit.
  2. The responsibilities that come with their calling. The divine process of maturation that accompanies this calling.
  3. A ministry of tears that accompanies this calling.
  4. Identification with our Lord in His prophetic ministry.
  5. Prophets accept that misunderstanding and rejection by others routinely accompany this calling. Prophets accept this reality and forgive those whose response is rejection.

ARTICLE II – OUR REPENTANCE

We, the undersigned, repent on behalf of ourselves, and others of like calling. We sincerely ask the Body of Christ to forgive us:

  1. For the ineptness and immaturity of our youth in which we did harm with our gift. We thank our heavenly Father for the chastening we received and continue to receive, even through vessels who may mean us harm.
  2. For taking our identity and senseofself worth from the exercise of our gift,rather than our status as beloved sons and daughters of God, regardless of any expression of “ministry.”
    1. We often illegitimately project our psychological needs for validation on others in the Body of Christ.
  3. For at times functioning independently and in relational isolation out of a spirit of rejection, woundedness, spiritual superiority, elitism, separatism, hyper-spirituality, and judgmentalism, thus misrepresenting the heart of God in Christ for His people.
  4. For teaching and practicing Old Covenant models of prophetic ministry:
    1. In the Old Covenant prophets sat apart from the community, speaking for God, to the people. In the New Covenant prophets sit among, and speak from, the community, as representative members.
    2. Since Pentecost the prophetic spirit rests upon every genuine son and daughter of God. Together, we have the mind of Christ.
  5. For putting God’s people into bondage and servitude to legalism, merit-based, performance and reward, systems of thought, rather than a revelation of the unmerited grace of God, effective all the days of our lives.
  6. For allowing numerous Gnostic, New Age, and psychic belief systems, doctrines, and practices to be introduced into the Body of Christ unchallenged, including from among our own number, under the guise of “prophetic,” “deeper,” or “third heaven” revelations.
  7. For promoting and facilitating a culture of unbridled subjectivism in dreams, visions, prophecies, declarations, ideas, experiences, and systems that undermine the uniqueness of Scripture and the uniquenessofthe revelation of God in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ.
    1. No subjective experience or manifestation outranks the accurate exegesis of Scripture, which brings forth a revelation of Jesus Christ, His cross, and His resurrection. God in Christ, can, and does speak to people through dreams, visions, etc., especially in lands and cultures where a biblical record is not readily available. However, this fact should not, and does not supplant the primacy of Scripture, as the revealer of the Person of Christ, as the more sure and final Word of God.
    2. Experience does not validate doctrine. Doctrine validates experience.
    3. The primary ministries of the Holy Spirit are to convict of sin, righteousness, and judgment and to testify to Christ in resurrection. He, the Holy Spirit, does not establish His own centrality . . . never.
  8. For promoting and facilitating a culture that equates being “spiritual,” “mature,” or “prophetic” according to various ecstatic enthusiasms rather than transformation and configuration to the image of Jesus Christ.
  9. For failing to preach grace, repentance, transformation, and conformity to the image of Christ as the core gospel message and its outcome.
  10. For believing, teaching, and encouraging that an increase of endorphins in our blood stream defines the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
  11. For failing in our role as watchmen.
    1. Prayer is the language of intimacy. The mind of Christ is known through intimacy, and knowing His mind is the fountainhead of discernment. We repent for prayerlessness and a failure in exercising and vocalizing Christ-centered discernment.
  12. For facilitating an “anything goes” mindset as allegedly being “open to the Spirit” and allowing false, psychic, and demonic manifestations which have resulted in human trauma and pain.
  13. For an unhealthy fixation upon various end time schemes to the detriment of a present reality of the life of Christ in our mortal bodies.
  14. For allowing the fear of rejection and a desire for acceptance, to keep us from speaking out boldly to those in positions of authority and power.
  15. For allowing personal friendships and the esteem of peers to prevent us from saying what should, and must be said.
  16. For allowing our voice to be managed, manipulated, and muzzled by those who control access to pulpits, purse, and media.
  17. For elevating giftedness above character.
  18. For blame shifting: projecting our own failures and lack of discernment on the devil or the alleged failure of other members of the Body of Christ who supposedly “don’t understand us” and didn’t adequately “support and pray for us.”
  19. For using the grace of God and the universality of human frailty as an excuse for a lack of holiness, self-control, and self-government in life and ministry.
  20. For failing to govern and discipline ourselves according to the revelation of Christ in the Scriptures.
  21. For believing that in the presence of aberrant belief systems and practices that remaining silent is a manifestation of God’s love.
  22. For believing that getting along with one another means never discussing anything potentially uncomfortable to human concepts of etiquette and propriety.
    1. Our unity is in core apostolic truth, or it is nonexistent.
  23. For engaging in corrupt, extortive, and wicked financial teachings and schemes which result in significant personal enrichment at the expense of the Body of Christ and to the neglect of the truly needy of the world.
  24. For complicity in building, supporting, and sustaining hierarchal Babylonian systems of man under the guise of kingdom honor and submission.
  25. For promoting a culture of elitism, rank, and privilege through erroneous doctrines of honor and authority, which result in the extinguishing of a kingdom culture of mutuality, love, service, and gift (charis/charismata) exchange.
  26. For failing to engage our culture in the issues of the day with wisdom, tact, lowliness of spirit, and truth.
  27. For indifference to the plight of the poor, the widow, the orphan, the unborn, the oppressed, and all those who have no voice.
  28. For tolerating racism and gender bias.
  29. For tolerating rampant immorality, adultery, marital failure, and sexual uncleanness of all sorts in our midst, while wagging our fingers at homosexuals.
  30. For defining prophetic ministry as solely the prediction of future events, thus “out-ranking” the foundational work of the revelation of the Person and Work of Jesus Christ.
  31. For a complete lack of functional accountability for those who make predictive prophecies that do not come to pass, or who make them so generically that evaluation is impossible.
  32. For being impressed with success, celebrity, fame, and rank and for allowing these attributes to make us slow to speak, quick to overlook, or purposefully ignore sin and troubling issues of doctrine, character, or practice in our midst.
    1. The presence of “anointing” alone in ministry is an utterly meaningless indicator of spiritual legitimacy and heaven’s validation.

ARTICLE III – OUR DECLARATIONProphetic_Ministry1

We the undersigned, by the grace of God and the strength of the Holy Spirit are from this day forward committed to:

  1. Speaking the truth in love to power in all forms: secular, spiritual, religious, and hierarchal.
  2. Speaking the truth in love to those within our spheres of influence who have erred in core apostolic doctrine or who have embraced aberrant belief systems and practices.
  3. Discern and function in relationships across the Body of Christ based upon truth, transparency, and honesty.
  4. Not allowing our own insecurities or the insecurities of others to keep us from speaking those things that are needful and necessary for the health of the Body of Christ.
  5. Serving the Body of Christ in our gift and calling, not as micro-managing doctrinal police requiring monolithic adherence to every nuance of doctrine, but rather as spiritual guardrails to the life and ministry of the Body of Christ.
  6. Maintaining our passion and commitment to the centrality of Christ, His Cross, and His resurrection; that He would be preeminent in all that we say and do.
  7. Gladly identifying with Jesus Christ in the care of His Church and in His burden for others, though we may be rejected and scorned by the objects of His love and the objects of our service.
  8. We forgive in advance, and carry no offense. Dead men cannot be offended.
  9. Being satisfied in our calling and our obedience to it, rather than from the responses of those to whom we might minister and any temporal results we might see.
  10. Embracing a call to repentance and walking in humility with God and humanity.
  11. Serving and equipping a younger generation of prophets, if they will walk with us and listen to us.
    1. We will not project our psychological need for validation upon them.
    2. We will give our selves to them as grains of wheat, embracing death for them.
    3. It is our sincere desire that they would excel beyond us and that they would avoid the pitfalls of this and previous generations.
  12. Resisting all attempts to build systems and organizations of man that are dependent on the resources of man and mammon in order to be sustained. Our faith started in relationship, it is maintained in relationship, it goes forward by relationship, and will be consummated in relationship.

We deeply regret that many churches and individuals have experienced abuse and pain from distorted and corrupted representations of what should be legitimate New Covenant prophetic ministry.  We have both caused pain, and been the recipients of pain. We forgive and pray that we might be forgiven. We cannot control the teachings and behaviors of others, but we do apologize for them.

However, by the grace of God and with your prayers, we are determined to not let past abuses and corruptions hinder us from legitimately manifesting authentic New Covenant prophetic ministry. We desire to bring honor to Christ and increase to His Body through the ethical and honorable stewardship of His prophetic grace that has been planted in us.

To this end we covet your love, friendship, and prayers.

By the grace of God.


To review the studies included in the Framework and find out why we have concluded these things you can download the Framework and Notes here, free of charge.

Please also share our blog to allow others to review and contribute – we need everyone, not just leaders, to play their part in building a church that others want to come to.

Join our Facebook group to receive regular updates and daily updated content.


Copyright 2015,  Dr. Stephen R. Crosby, www.stevecrosby.org Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.  For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact stephrcrosby@gmail.com.


THE IMPORTANCE OF APOSTOLIC MINISTRY

From the CEO of the Church Excellence Framework

We have seen some incredible examples of true apostles rising up showing us real revelation . One example is Ian Clayton. I personally have seen an immense difference between pastor/ teacher material and apostles. Many churches do not have apostolic input or many are not really true apostles. A new definition of apostle is now one who has seen God face to face in heaven. This is a stunning article showing why we need apostolic input. Does your church have this?

We now have a new page to the site where we show resources for those who want to explore the immense revelations coming from Apostles. Called Heavenly Realms support.

We have a great diagnostic tool for church health. Many churches are structured poorly so we are expecting pastors to deal with all things and many are sinking and not able to cope with high level strategic input. We are finding many are not opening themselves to challenge.  This is the responsibility of the body to start playing their part where we are all pastors. Lets keep working with pastors to make sure they are not just working maintaining the status quo.


By Brad Brisco

Missional-Quest-e1365902537830The great Christian revolutions came not by the discovery of something that was not known before. They happen when someone takes radically something that was always there. ~ H. Richard Niebuhr

We have suggested that recruiting apostles is strategic to the renewal of the organization, and at the very least, it gives equal legitimacy and access to reverse the exile of distinctly missional forms of leadership. To exclude apostolic influences from any position (as the church has typically done up to this point) is to effectively lock out the distinctly missional leadership that churches so desperately need to recover. We need to level the playing field, give equal access, widen the gates, and expand our vision of what biblical ministry is. Consider the following deficits that emerge when apostolic ministry is left out of the equation:

Without apostolic multiplication, we stop at evangelistic addition. Salvation is seen as individualistic as we fail to see how God wants to start a gospel pay-it-forward movement though the life of every believer.

Without apostolic action, we fail to experience the promised presence of Christ. Spiritual authority comes when we operate as an apostolic people sent to disciple the nations (Matthew 28:18–20).

Without apostolic clarity, our identity and purpose become murky. We fail to think strategically about the underlying value systems and core ideologies that define a community.

Without apostolic modeling, we miss out on a culture of releasing and empowering. Instead we contend with a culture of management and control.

Without apostolic parenting and releasing, multigenerational mentoring and leadership development are replaced by a dependence on the ministry of professionally training clergy.

Without apostolic accountability, we fail to ask the obvious questions of strategy and sustainability behind our best practices. Consider these examples: “Do we really need to have million-dollar budgets, seminary-educated leaders, and fifty to one hundred Christians to start a church?” “Do we need to have land and a building to be the church?” Because apostolic ecclesiology is more movemental in nature, it can go beyond thinking of the church in concrete ways.

Without apostolic imagination, we fail to ask questions of scalability. Instead of reproducibility and scalability, we opt for “go big” and “launch large,” forgetting that big movements grow out of small ones done well. The New Testament is our best and most basic example of this.

Without apostolic vision, we fail to ask the questions of reproducibility and transferability. We so complicate the message and training process that few know it and are able to pass it on to others.

Without apostolic passion, we fail to embrace our role in the big picture of kingdom mission. Rather we busy ourselves with the smaller vision and goals of our organizations instead of embracing our calling to actively participate in the global movement of the kingdom.

We believe the idea of custodianship establishes the correct relationship that apostolic people have in relation to their Lord, the gospel, and the ecclesia—namely, that of a slave or a servant. A great deal is contained in this idea: the custodian both seeds and guards the theo-genetic codes of the church, and this helps generate and sustain movements as well as catalyze the incredible potential locked up in the ministry of Jesus’s church. Exclude the apostolic, and it becomes hard to see how a fully formed, mature, and expansive ecclesia can possibly take place. Most likely the church would be limited to good preaching, groovy contemporary worship, and Bible studies. We suspect that Jesus intended much more for the movement that he started.


To review the studies included in the Framework and find out why we have concluded these things you will need to see the notes which are available for download here.

Please also share our blog to allow others to review and contribute – we need everyone, not just leaders, to play their part in building a church that others want to come to.

Join our Facebook group to receive regular updates and daily updated content.


15 SIGNS YOUR CHURCH IS IN TROUBLE

 

12Feature_Church_is_in_trouble_1102_149459859

Our web numbers are increasing with great interest in the article on the culture of trust and goal setting. We are getting interest across the globe with America showing the greatest interest. There have been a lot looking at the calling tool and the church health tool.

We now have the implementation hints as a separate download which is like a coaching tool to identify key areas to work on. Coaching is a popular area for churches to choose and we have guidelines about implementing this in the notes. Remember the framework is available on the site for free and immediate download.

Remember the scripture exhorts us to add excellence to our faith so let us resist the temptation to say we will never find a perfect church so what we are doing is okay. I am reading the book “Unchristian “at the moment and society is saying we are not representing Christ well. I do encourage you to get this book.

 


By Perry Noble

Evaluating the growth and health of our ministries is an important task. In this helpful post Perry Noble offers a list of warning signs to watch out for in your church. Why not share this list as a discussion-starter during your next leadership meeting?

1. When excuses are made about the way things are instead of embracing a willingness to roll up the sleeves and fix the problem.

2. When the church becomes content with merely receiving people that come rather than actually going out and finding them…in other words, they lose their passion for evangelism!

3. The focus of the church is to build a great church (complete with the pastor’s picture…and his wife’s…on everything) and not the Kingdom of God.

4. The leadership begins to settle for the natural rather than rely on the supernatural.

5. The church begins to view success/failure in regards to how they are viewed in the church world rather than whether or not they are actually fulfilling the Great Commission!

6. The leaders within the church cease to be coachable.

7. There is a loss of a sense of urgency!  (Hell is no longer hot, sin is no longer wrong, and the cross is no longer important!)

8. Scripture isn’t central in every decision that is made!

9. The church is reactive rather than proactive.

10. The people in the church lose sight of the next generation and refuse to fund ministry simply because they don’t understand “those young people.”

11. The goal of the church is to simply maintain the way things are…to NOT rock the boat and/or upset anyone…especially the big givers!

12. The church is no longer willing to take steps of faith because “there is just too much to lose.”

13. The church simply does not care about the obvious and immediate needs that exist in the community.

14. The people learn how to depend on one man to minister to everyone rather than everyone embracing their role in the body, thus allowing the body to care for itself.

15. When the leaders/staff refuse to go the extra mile in leading and serving because of how “inconvenient” doing so would be.


To review the studies included in the Framework and find out why we have concluded these things you will need to see the notes which are available for download here.

Please also share our blog to allow others to review and contribute – we need everyone, not just leaders, to play their part in building a church that others want to come to.


 

 

Churches as God’s Flock, Following the Shepherd’s Voice (Part 1)

By Peter Thompson B.Theo Grad Dip Theology

interiorAnother significant biblical image which has major implications for the church today is that of the shepherd and the sheepfold.

We will explore this imagery in four parts.  In Part 1, we will look at how Yahweh Himself shepherded Israel in comparison to Israel’s rulers.  In Part 2, we will explore how Yahweh has called to and led His sheep using His voice.  In Part 3, we will consider Jesus as the messianic Shepherd predicted in the Old Testament.  Finally, in Part 4, we will look at what this all means for church structures today.

Yahweh as the Shepherd of His People

The people of Yahweh are the flock/sheep of His pasture (Psalm 79:13; 95:6-7; 100:3; Ezekiel 34:30-31; compare 2 Samuel 24:17; 1 Chronicles 21:17; Micah 2:12).

Consequently, Yahweh:

  • leads them beside still/restful waters and causes them to lay down in green pastures, meeting their every physical need (Psalm 23:1-2; compare Psalm 34:9-10; 80:1; Ezekiel 34:13-15; Deuteronomy 2:7; 8:2-4; 32:10, 12-14; Exodus 15:25-26; Hosea 11:3-4; Luke 12:22-32; Matthew 6:25-32);
  • leads them in right paths, paths that are straight and easy, to give them rest and security from enemies (Psalm 23:1-3; Isaiah 63:11-14; compare Psalm 25:8-10; 95:7-11; 121:3-4, 7-8; 1 Kings 8:56; Proverbs 2:6-9; 4:10-14; Isaiah 26:7-8; Numbers 9:15-23);
  • protects them from evil with His rod and staff so that they can stand before their enemies with no fear (Psalm 23:4-5; compare Genesis 49:23-24; Exodus 14:15-18; 23:20-21; Isaiah 10:24-27; Psalm 31:19-20; 78:52-53; 91:9-10);
  • disciplines them and gives them words of wisdom as painful prods to motivate responsible living under the sun (Deuteronomy 4:36; Ecclesiastes 12:11; compare Proverbs 2:5-6);
  • carries them as the strength of His people (Psalm 28:8-9; compare Isaiah 40:11; 46:3-4; 63:9; Deuteronomy 1:30-31; 32:9-11; Exodus 19:4);
  • makes His presence known by coming forth to deliver His people with dazzling displays of His mighty power just like He did in the exodus from Egypt (Psalm 50:2-6, 14-15; 80:1-3; 94:1-2; compare Deuteronomy 33:1-2; Psalm 78:42-54; Isaiah 40:10-11);
  • gently leads and directs those of His people with young (Isaiah 40:11; compare Deuteronomy 33:2-3; Exodus 15:13);
  • seeks out the lost sheep of Israel (Ezekiel 34:11-12, 16);
  • bandages the injured and strengthens the weak (Ezekiel 34:16); and
  • shepherds individuals like Jacob throughout their whole life (Genesis 48:15).

Responsibilities of Yahweh’s Flock

In response to their divine Shepherd, Yahweh’s flock need to:

  • obey the voice of Yahweh and not rebel against His commandment, to serve Yahweh with all their heart (Exodus 15:25-26; 19:5-6; Deuteronomy 10:12-13; 13:4, 17-18; 26:13-19; 27:9-10; 28:1-2; 30:19-20; 1 Samuel 12:12-15, 20-25; Jeremiah 7:23-26; 11:3-5; compare Psalm 95:7; 107:11; 138:4);
  • trust Yahweh to be present with them, protecting them with His rod and staff (Psalm 23:4-6; compare Psalm 22:8-11; 37:3, 32-33, 39-40; 40:4-5; 62:5-8; 91:2-6; 139:7-12; Isaiah 41:8-10; Exodus 33:12-16; Joshua 1:5; Deuteronomy 1:26-33; 3:28-29; 31:23; 1 Samuel 17:40, 43);
  • shun the whoredom of idolatry and remain faithful to Yahweh (Hosea 4:15-19; compare Psalm 77:52-58; Jeremiah 7:9-10, 16-20, 30-31);
  • listen to Yahweh’s voice for His commands to guide all aspects of their lives as their covenantal commitment, rather than devising their own acts of worship and service in order to follow their own self-serving, stubborn wills instead (Jeremiah 7:21-24; compare Hosea 6:4-6; Isaiah 1:10-17; Amos 5:21-27; 2 Kings 17:7-23; Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46-49); and
  • know Yahweh’s ways, not going astray in their hearts (Psalm 81:11-16; 95:8-10; compare Deuteronomy 5:32-33; 10:12; 30:16; Jeremiah 7:23-26; Psalm 32:8-9).

The Good Shepherds of Israel

Yahweh appointed a number of specially chosen under-shepherds to help shepherd His flock, Israel, under His hand:

  • Moses and Aaron, men of the Holy Spirit, noting in particular the authority expressed through Moses’ staff (Psalm 77:20; Isaiah 63:11-14; Exodus 4:1-5, 17; compare 1 Samuel 12:8; Exodus 4:10-17);
  • Joshua in whom was the Spirit of God, who led Israel out and brought them back in with some of Moses’ authority (Numbers 27: 15-21);
  • various judges like Gideon, Deborah/Barak, Jephthah, Samson and Samuel, who were either prophets/prophetesses or upon whom the Spirit of God rested (2 Samuel 7:7; 1 Chronicles 17:6; Judges 4:4-8; 6:33-35; 11:29-33; 14:5-6; 1 Samuel 3:19-20; compare 1 Samuel 12:9-11);
  • Saul, in whom was the Spirit of Yahweh initially, but through Saul’s disobedience, the Spirit departed (1 Samuel 10:5-6, 10-13, 20-24; 16:14);
  • David who shepherded God’s inheritance with an upright heart, and guided them with his skilful hand, upon whom Spirit of Yahweh rushed, and remained throughout his life (2 Samuel 5:1-2; Psalm 78:70-72; 1 Chronicles 11:1-3; 1 Samuel 16:11-13); and
  • Jeremiah who, as a prophet appointed from the womb, didn’t run away from being Yahweh’s under-shepherd despite persecution (Jeremiah 1:4-10; 17:16).

Note especially Isaiah 44:28; 45:1-6 where King Cyrus of Media-Persia was raised up as Yahweh’s anointed under-shepherd, even though Cyrus didn’t personally know Yahweh, to fulfil the one special purpose of facilitating the Israelite return from exile (see also 2 Chronicles 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-11; 3:7; 4:3).the_church_body_400_clr_8912

The Bad Shepherds of Israel

The later under-shepherds of God’s flock (namely the various royal dynasties of Judah and Israel along with their ruling class/elders, priests and prophets), however, transgressed against Yahweh, abusing His delegated authority over the sheep, destroying His vineyard (Jeremiah 2:8; 12:10-11), because they:

  • were stupid, failing to inquire of Yahweh, with their lazy prophets/watchmen being blind and unable to provide warning like useless dogs unable to bark, thereby leading Yahweh’s flock astray (Jeremiah 10:19-21; 50:6; Isaiah 56:9-11; compare Zechariah 10:2);
  • turned to their own way, each to his own gain, satisfying unbridled appetites/desire and indulging themselves to excess with strong drink (Isaiah 56:11-12; compare Daniel 5);
  • became predators themselves, feeding on the sheep, clothing themselves in wool, and slaughtering the fat lambs, rather than feeding and tending to the sheep, especially when they entered into foreign alliances which were costly and detrimental to the general populace of Israel and Judah in order to protect their own affluence (Ezekiel 34:1-3, 8; Zechariah 11:4-17);
  • failed to strengthen the weak, bandage the injured, heal the sick, seek the lost, and fetch back the strays (Ezekiel 34:4, 8; Zechariah 11:4-17);
  • ruled over and mistreated them with harshness and ruthless force (Ezekiel 34:4); and
  • destroyed Yahweh’s sheep by not only failing to attend to their needs, but by driving them away, scattering them to become food for the wild beasts (Jeremiah 23:1-2; 50:6-7; Ezekiel 34:4-6, 8; compare Isaiah 56:9-11).

Yahweh’s Judgment of the Sheep

Because God’s people Israel, like sheep, have gone astray, each turning to his/her own way (Isaiah 53:6; 95:7, 10; compare Psalm 119:65-72, 169-176; Deuteronomy 12:8), failing to listen to/heed Yahweh’s voice (Jeremiah 3:13, 25; 7:21-26; 9:12-16; 11:6-8; 22:21-22; 32:23; 40:1-3; 44:20-23; Daniel 9:8-12; compare Numbers 14:21-23; Deuteronomy 8:19-20; 9:23-24; Joshua 5:6; Judges 2:20; 6:7-10; 1 Samuel 15:18-19; 28:18; 2 Kings 18:11-12; Psalm 81:11; 28:15, 45, 62), Yahweh:

  • raised up many foolish, God-rejecting under-shepherds (kings) from the time Israel was divided into two kingdoms under Rehoboam and Jeroboam up to the day Jerusalem was destroyed, under-shepherds who didn’t care about Yahweh’s flock (Zechariah 11:4, 10-14; compare 1 Kings 12:1-24);
  • doomed His faithless sheep to be slaughtered at the hands of the sheep-traders (i.e. neighbouring foreign nations), into whose hands Israel/Judah’s shepherds (royal dynasties) had sold them without pity (Zechariah 11:4-6, 9; compare Psalm 44:9-14, 22; 49:12-14; 74:1-8; Jeremiah 12:1-4; 50:7, 17);
  • destroyed the fat and strong sheep among His flock (i.e. the whole non-royal ruling class across Judah like elders and administrative officials) who ate and drank the best pasture and water, and trod down what remains, muddying the rest of the water, whilst thrusting out the weak to scatter them abroad (Ezekiel 34:16-22);
  • drove away their shepherds into captivity, shaming and confounding them as sheep without shepherds because of their evil, because they persistently disobeyed Yahweh’s voice (Jeremiah 22:21-22; compare Lamentations 5:1-16); and
  • raised up a particular foolish under-shepherd (foreign ruler) after the exile of Israel and Judah who also failed to care for the sheep and devoured the fat ones, tearing off their hooves like lions (Zechariah 11:4, 15-16).

Yahweh’s Judgment of the Bad Shepherds

Yahweh will be against and punish/judge with woe those who failed to care for the sheep of His pasture (Jeremiah 23:1-2; Ezekiel 34:10; Zechariah 10:3):

  • putting a stop to the predatory shepherds feeding themselves on the sheep, rescuing the sheep from their mouths, terminating their privileges as under-shepherds (Ezekiel 34:9-10);
  • lifting up the skirt of Jerusalem (symbolising Israel’s ruling class) over her face to expose her shame like a humiliated woman raped by her conquerors during war (Jeremiah 13:20-27; compare Jeremiah 8:1-3; 52:1-11, 24-27; 2 Kings 25:1-7, 18-21; Lamentations 5:11; note Isaiah 47:1-3 concerning Babylon); and
  • maiming the foolish shepherd (foreign post-exilic ruler) who didn’t care about Yahweh’s flock doomed to slaughter in such a way that he is unable to shepherd sheep again (Zechariah 11:16-17).

Nonetheless, once again, judgment is not the last word, for Israel will again in their latter days return to Yahweh and seek Him wholeheartedly, and in His mercy hear and obey His voice (Deuteronomy 4:29-31; 30:1-10; compare Zechariah 6:15).

In Part 2, we will examine in more detail just how Yahweh has shepherded His flock using His voice.


To review the studies included in the Framework and find out why we have concluded these things you will need to see the notes which are available for download here.

Please also share our blog to allow others to review and contribute – we need everyone, not just leaders, to play their part in building a church that others want to come to.


Peter “Thommo” Thompson was born in 1958 in the bulldust of south-western Queensland in the region around the township of Mitchell.  He was converted outside of the church through a supernatural encounter with the living God in Mackay, North Queensland, in February 1979, and embarked upon a long and arduous journey of God dealing with the figurative bulldust in his life.  In 2012, he completed a Bachelor of Ministry & Theology double degree, and in 2013, a Post-Graduate Diploma in Theology, all at Tabor Adelaide.  He currently lives with his two adult daughters in Ipswich, Queensland, and is writing a series of academic novels with the intent of hopefully helping to facilitate a church unifying movement through an unbranded form of Christianity in Australia.


Copyright 2015 Peter Thompson. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references. For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact us.

The Continued Rise of the Nones

By James Emery White

When I wrote The Rise of the Nones: Understanding and Reaching the Religiously Unaffiliated, the most recent data revealed that the “nones” made up one out of every five Americans, which made them the second largest religious group in the United States – second only to Catholics. They were also the fastest growing religious group in the nation.
 
And when I wrote about it being fast, I meant fast.
  
 

As you see in this graph, the number of “nones” in the 1930’s and 1940’s hovered around 5 percent. By 1990, that number had only risen to 8 percent, a mere 3 percent rise in over half a century. Between 1990 and 2008 – just 18 years – the number of “nones” nearly doubled leaping from 8.1 percent to 15 percent. Then, in just four short years, it climbed to nearly 20 percent, representing one of every five Americans. And when you studied only those adults under the age of 30, it went to one out of every three people.
 
But hold on – it’s gotten worse.
 
First came the figures released in March from the General Social Survey, filling in the gap between 2012 and 2014. Then, this week, the Pew Research Center released its latest findings. Both are considered the “gold standard” of research.
 
In just two years, the “nones” have climbed from 19 percent to nearly one out of every four adults.
 
(*The GSS charted the rise to around 21 percent, the Pew study at around 23 percent).

 
 
The “nones” are no longer the second largest religious group in the United States, but the largest. And still, by far, the fastest-growing.
 
(The Pew study still maintains that Evangelical Protestants are the largest, but they do it by pooling together several groups and organizations, instead of a single entity, such as the Southern Baptist Convention).
 
But wait…it gets worse.
 
It’s not simply that the “nones” are growing, but that the number of professing Christians is shrinking. The percentage of adults who describe themselves as Christians dropped nearly eight percentage points from the last Pew study in 2007. So now, only about 71 percent of American adults would call themselves a Christian, down from nearly 80 percent.
 
But wait…it gets “worser.”
 
More than 85 percent of American adults were raised Christian, but nearly a quarter of those who were raised Christian no longer identify with Christianity. Former Christians now represent 19.2 percent of the U.S. adults overall.
 
And the rise of the “nones” and the fall of Christians is widespread, crossing race, gender, education and geographic barriers. Forget the Bible Belt, or the Catholic North…this is happening everywhere and across every demographic.
 
I have more to say about these findings in future blogs, but for now, I just wanted to get the information out there.
 
But I couldn’t help but think of a conversation I had recently with a man about his church.
 
I asked him how it was going.
 
He said, “Our pastor has started trying to get people to invite their unchurched friends, and started preaching the gospel.”
 
I thought to myself, “Good!”
 
“And lots of people are getting baptized.”
 
Again, I thought, “Good!”
 
Then he paused.
 
“And most of our leaders have left.”
 
Stunned, I said, “Why?”
 
He said, “They said they needed to be fed.”
 
I felt like vomiting.
 
Fed for what?!
 
There is one and only one reason why Christians are to be fed. It is so they have the strength and stamina for the mission. And that mission is clear: to be about the evangelization and transformation of culture through the centrality of the local church.
 
And even then, the goal is for them to learn to feed themselves, not be dependent on a church or teacher for spiritual room service.
 
The data released this week will be parsed many times over.
 
People will ask, “Why?”
 
Perhaps the most obvious answer is narcissistic Christians.
 
James Emery White
 
Sources
 
James Emery White, The Rise of the Nones: Understanding and Reaching the Religiously Unaffiliated (Baker).
 
Pew Research Center, “America’s Changing Religious Landscape,” May 12, 2015, read online.
 
Cathy Lynn Grossman, “Christians lose ground, ‘nones’ soar in new portrait of US religion,” Religion News Service, May 12, 2015, read online.
 
Sarah Pulliam Bailey, “Christianity faces sharp decline as Americans are becoming even less affiliated with religion,” The Washington Post, May 12, 2015, read online.
 
Nate Cohn, “Big Drop in Share of Americans Calling Themselves Christian,” The New York Times, May 12, 2015, read online.
Editor’s Note
James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. His latest book, The Rise of the Nones: Understanding and Reaching the Religiously Unaffiliated, is now available on Amazon. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, visit churchandculture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.

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To review the studies included in the Framework and find out why we have concluded these things you will need to see the notes which are available by contacting us.

Please also share our blog to allow others to review and contribute – we need everyone, not just leaders, to play their part in building a church that others want to come to.

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Churches as God’s Vineyard Bearing Fruit (Part 2)

By Peter Thompson B.Theo Grad Dip Theology

Blaxland-Wine-Group-Australian-Vineyard-LandscapeIn Part 1, we looked at the failure of Israel as God’s choice grapevine to yield good fruit. Now we will look at how God’s vineyard is restored to life again through union with Christ.

Restoration of God’s Destroyed Vineyard

Israel as Yahweh’s spoilt vine once judged and destroyed will be restored to life again:

  • as a vineyard of good wine, blossoming, budding and filling the surface of the ground with fruit under the watchful care of Yahweh as farmer, where the only divine wrath remaining is for those who would threaten this fruitful vine which Yahweh in His loving enthusiasm is more than prepared to defend (Isaiah 27:2-6; compare Romans 11:17-24);
  • when Yahweh like dew causes shoots to spread out into a blossoming vine producing fragrant wine as God lovingly heals their waywardness (Hosea 14:4-7; compare Jeremiah 3:22-23; Genesis 27:27-29); and
  • by the power and might of Yahweh’s right hand being upon the “son/child of humanity” He planted and caused to grow strong for Himself, the son/child who is actually equated to the choice vine of Israel, alluding to the Davidic dynasty fulfilled in Christ as the Son of Man through whom wayward Israel will be revived, delivered/saved and not turn away from Yahweh again (Psalm 80:14-19).

The Useless Wood of Israel’s Vine

In Ezekiel 15:1-8, the wood of the grapevine is described as worthless in comparison to all other kinds of wood. Hence Israel, God’s chosen privileged nation, the royal vine, became inherently worthless because of their complete covenant faithlessness (note Ezekiel 14:12-23), useful only as fuel for the fire.

After the fiery judgment of the Babylonian conquest under King Nebuchadnezzar, the residents of Jerusalem who survived the initial slaughter became charred to the core and utterly useless, destined to be destroyed completely like bits of the grapevine wood not completely consumed in the fire which are thrown back into the fire (Ezekiel 15:6-8).

The residents of Jerusalem therefore, representing the government of the land, were of no more value to Yahweh than the fruitless branches that vinekeepers prune from the vine and destroy.

The Tender Shoot of God’s New Vine

However, despite the worthlessness of this vine in Ezekiel 15, in chapter 17 Ezekiel prophesies that out of it will emerge a messianic tender shoot Yahweh will plant as the stem of a new fruitful grapevine, because:

  • the cedar of Lebanon refers poetically to Judah as the once glorious but now rebellious house of Israel (compare Judges 9:7-15; Numbers 24:5-6; Psalm 92:12-13; 1 Kings 5:5-6; 2 Kings 14:8-9), with the crown of the cedar representing Jehoiachin, the current king of the arrogant, self-aggrandising Davidic dynasty in Jerusalem (see the end of Part 1), noting that one of Solomon’s royal buildings was called the house of the forest of Lebanon (Ezekiel 17:1-4, 11-12; 1 Kings 7:1-5);
  • the first great eagle with great wings, long pinions at the end of the wings, and rich colourful plumage is on the human level Nebuchadnezzar, the conquering king of Babylon, who took Jehoiachin into exile in Babylon (Ezekiel 17:3-4, 12; 2 Kings 24:8-16; 2 Chronicles 36:9-10; compare Habakkuk 1:6-8; Deuteronomy 28:49-51; Daniel 7:4);
  • the low-spreading vine is Mattaniah/Zedekiah whom Nebuchadnezzar set up (planted) as king in Jehoiachin’s place (Ezekiel 17:5-6, 13-14; 2 Kings 24:17-20; 2 Chronicles 36:10-16);
  • the second eagle with great wings and much plumage but not as impressive as the first eagle is Egypt towards which Zedekiah had turned for support in his failed rebellion against Babylon (Ezekiel 17:7-10, 15, 17-18; 2 Kings 24:20; 25:1-7; 2 Chronicles 36:17-20; Jeremiah 27:1-15; 37:1-11; compare Ezekiel 12:1-16);
  • the topmost sprig/twig of the crown of this cedar is a special shoot from the Davidic dynasty that Yahweh as the first great eagle on the divine level, the one behind the human King of Babylon, carried to a foreign land, to a mysterious city of merchants not identified in the interpretation which follows (Ezekiel 17:3-4; Exodus 19:4; Deuteronomy 32:9-14; compare Hosea 8:1); and
  • Yahweh took that tender twig/branch from the remnant of Judah’s exiles and planted it on the high mountain of Israel, a clear allusion to Mount Zion in Jerusalem upon which Solomon’s temple had been built, making it the main stem of a new vine which will bear branches and produce fruit (Ezekiel 17:22-24; Psalm 132:13-18 noting Ezekiel 29:21; compare Jeremiah 23:5-6; 33:14-15; Zechariah 3:8-10; 6:9-14).

The Root of Jesse

This tender twig or “Branch” is referred to again in Isaiah 11:1 as a shoot going forth out of the stump/stock of Jesse, the father of King David. From the devastation of the Babylonian exile where Judah as a forest of oaks is reduced to nothing more than burnt-out stumps, a holy seed/offspring will shoot forth (Isaiah 6:11-13; compare Isaiah 53:1-2).

This tender shoot/offspring is clearly Jesus who, in contrast to Israel’s leaders:the_love_of_god-t2

  • will be a branch coming out of the roots of Jesse bearing good not putrid fruit (Isaiah 11:1);
  • has the divine endowment of the Spirit of Yahweh resting upon Him in order to produce that good fruit, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, counsel and might, knowledge and the fear of Yahweh (Isaiah 11:2; compare Matthew 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22; Isaiah 9:6-7; 28:29; 32:14-18; Proverbs 8:12-21; Ezekiel 36:24-29); and
  • delights in the fear of Yahweh by judging the poor and downcast with righteousness and uprightness rather than by what His eyes see and His ears hear, and by slaying the wicked with the breath of His lips, thereby providing a reign of absolute safety and security (Isaiah 11:3-9; compare Jeremiah 23:5-6; 33:14-16; Proverbs 2:1-15; 14:2; 15:33; Psalm 34:8-22; 110:1-6; 111:6-10; Isaiah 16:3-5).

The Messianic Vine

Therefore, it is highly significant that:

  • the Messiah is Himself called the vine of Israel which Yahweh planted and caused to grow strong to save and restore His chosen people, hence all who are in Him are the new Israel (compare Galatians 3:7, 25-29; 6:15-16; Ephesians 2:13-19);
  • it is only in the Messiah that good fruit can be produced (compare Romans 7:4);
  • the Holy Spirit is essential to fruitfulness, and especially for leadership and feats of skill and strength (compare Galatians 5:22-24; Romans 7:4-6; 1 Samuel 10:9-13, 19-24; 16:1, 11-13; Numbers 11:16-17, 24-29; Genesis 41:37-46; Daniel 4:8-9, 18; 5:10-16; Exodus 31:2-5; Judges 6:33-35; 11:29-33; 14:5-6); and
  • those who fail to bear good fruit will be cut off and burned, being utterly useless (compare Hebrews 6:7-8; Malachi 4:1; Luke 3:7-9; 13:6-9; Matthew 3:7-10; 7:17-19).

Jesus as the True Vine

In clear fulfilment of these Old Testament messianic prophesies, Jesus called Himself the true vine of Yahweh’s planting that Israel should have been, where:

  • the Father is the vinekeeper who trims the vine to bear more fruit, removing all branches who are in Christ as the true vine but which bear no fruit (John 15:1-2; compare Matthew 21:33-44);
  • only by dwelling in Christ and having Christ indwell them can disciples be fruitful, because without Jesus they can do nothing at all (John 15:4-5; compare Philippians 1:10-11);
  • those who don’t dwell in Christ are thrown out like fruitless branches to wither away and be burned up (John 15:6);
  • those who keep the commandments of Jesus, loving one another as He loved them, dwell in His love and have His joy indwell them so that their joy may be fulfilled (John 15:9-12); and
  • Jesus chooses His disciples, not vice versa, to become branches that go and bear the lasting fruit of loving one another (John 15:16-17).

If a branch from the grapevine isn’t attached to the main stem of the vine, it must wither and die, becoming utterly useless other than to be burned. So it is for all believers who do not maintain proper union with Christ through obedience to His commandments, which are all summed up in loving one another as Christ loved us (compare Galatians 5:13-14). There is a sobering warning here!

In Part 3, we will consider the implications of all this for structuring churches today as God’s vineyard.


To review the studies included in the Framework and find out why we have concluded these things you will need to see the notes which are available by contacting us.

Please also share our blog to allow others to review and contribute – we need everyone, not just leaders, to play their part in building a church that others want to come to.


Peter “Thommo” Thompson was born in 1958 in the bulldust of south-western Queensland in the region around the township of Mitchell.  He was converted outside of the church through a supernatural encounter with the living God in Mackay, North Queensland, in February 1979, and embarked upon a long and arduous journey of God dealing with the figurative bulldust in his life.  In 2012, he completed a Bachelor of Ministry & Theology double degree, and in 2013, a Post-Graduate Diploma in Theology, all at Tabor Adelaide.  He currently lives with his two adult daughters in Ipswich, Queensland, and is writing a series of academic novels with the intent of hopefully helping to facilitate a church unifying movement through an unbranded form of Christianity in Australia.


Copyright 2015 Peter Thompson. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references. For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact us.

Churches as God’s Vineyard Bearing Fruit (Part 1)

By Peter Thompson B.Theo Grad Dip Theology

red grapes Ventana 9.07There are many agricultural images used in the Bible, but the one image that has major implications for the church today is that of the vineyard, for Jesus in one of His “I am” statements referred to Himself as the true vine.

In Part 1, we will look at how the Old Testament used the vineyard imagery to describe rebellious/idolatrous Israel as God’s spoilt vine. In Part 2, we will look at how God’s precious vine has been restored in Christ, and in Part 3 what that means for restructuring churches today in the light of Israel’s mistakes.

Israel as Yahweh’s Special Vineyard

Israel is referred to as Yahweh’s special vineyard which He lovingly established and tended by:

  • transplanting a vine of pure seed as He plucked it up out of Egypt (Psalm 80:8; Jeremiah 2:21; Ezekiel 17:1-6);
  • clearing ground for it on an exposed fertile hillside so it could take root as He drove out the Canaanite nations before Joshua (Psalm 80:8-9; Isaiah 5:1);
  • digging up the soil and removing its stones (Isaiah 5:2);
  • taking delight in planting it as good vines besides plentiful water (Psalm 80:8, 15; Isaiah 5:2; Ezekiel 19:10); and
  • building a watchtower in its midst and hewing out a wine vat (Isaiah 5:2).

The emphasis is on the lavish effort Yahweh went to in the expectation of producing a crop of good grapes.

Israel as Yahweh’s Fruitful Vine

As a result of Yahweh’s tender care, Israel became a vine which:

  • filled the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Euphrates River (during the reigns of David and Solomon when Israel’s borders were extended the furthest as promised in Deuteronomy 11:22-25), covering the mighty cedars (literally the cedars of God) with its branches and the mountains (of Lebanon) with its shade (Psalm 80:10-11); and
  • was fruitful and full of thick foliage from which strong prominent branches, i.e. world-renowned rulers, emerged (Ezekiel 19:10-11; compare Genesis 49:9-12; Hosea 10:1).

The Spoiling of Yahweh’s Vine

However, when Yahweh went to examine the produce of His vineyard, Israel, all He found were sour/putrid “wild” grapes, i.e. oppression instead of justice, crying instead of righteousness (Isaiah 5:3-4, 7; Jeremiah 2:21-22; compare Deuteronomy 32:28-33), because of their:

  • greed, haughtily acquiring parcel after parcel of land to establish large land estates/vineyards, land which belonged to Yahweh as landlord and must be automatically returned under the law of Jubilee to the heirs of the tenants Yahweh originally gave it to (Isaiah 5:8, 15; Leviticus 25:23-28; compare Ezekiel 46:16-18; 2 Chronicles 7:20; Psalm 85:1; Hosea 9:3; Joel 2:18), incorporating the sin of covetousness into their greed which is at the heart of idolatry (Deuteronomy 5:21; Colossians 3:5);
  • excessive indulgence in wine and music by the wealthy in the day-to-day haughty pursuit of pleasure, completely disregarding how God might be at work in the world (Isaiah 5:11-12, 15);
  • arrogance which mockingly denies God’s moral counsel and activity in the world so that they can be free to consciously indulge in iniquity and sinful behaviour (Isaiah 5:18-19, 24; compare Jeremiah 2:34-35; 5:7-13);
  • idolatry, forsaking and rejecting Yahweh with His righteous demands, the fountain of living waters who faithfully led them into His land of plenty (compare John 4:7-14), to pursue other unprofitable spiritual sources like the prophets of Baal which are not morally demanding, enabling them to live their own selfish lives, redefining themselves by hewing out cisterns for themselves (Jeremiah 2:4-8, 20, 23, 26-28, 31; 17:13; compare Proverbs 5:15-23; Deuteronomy 32:15-18);
  • spiritual adultery and covenant insincerity, for despite their oaths to Yahweh, the more affluence they established for themselves, the more they improved their pagan altars and the pillars at their pagan shrines in order to seek more wealth from Baal (Hosea 10:1-2, 4);
  • failure to seek and put their trust in Yahweh as their only security, the fountain of living waters, by turning to political manipulation to secure an advantage from (the waters of) Egypt and Assyria (Jeremiah 2:13, 18-19, 24-25, 36-37; Isaiah 30:1-5; 31:1-3; compare Psalm 3:3-7; 28:7-8; 84:5-12; Hosea 7:11-13);
  • perversion in justifying their dark, bitter, evil behaviour by determining that it is good, being wise in their own eyes, thereby rejecting the word of Yahweh, the Holy One (Isaiah 5:20-21, 24; compare Jeremiah 4:22; Isaiah 29:13-21); and
  • injustice, being champion drink-mixers freeing the guilty and condemning the innocent if the price is right, rather than being champions and heroes of the weak and defenceless (Isaiah 5:22-23; compare Jeremiah 2:33-34; 5:26-31).

Modern Implications

It is highly significant that part of the spoiling of God’s vineyard included:

  • taking ownership over what properly belonged to God for personal use and benefit, something senior church leaders can be prone to do today (compare the imagery of Jeremiah 2:3 where all who ate of Israel as the firstfruits of Yahweh’s harvest incurred guilt because the firstfruit offering was holy and belonged to Yahweh — Deuteronomy 26:1-19);
  • losing passion for God, His truth and His righteous purposes and activity in the world because passion for pleasure had become uppermost in a person’s life, something so many Western world Christians can also stumble into today in their pursuit of financial security and entertainment (compare Isaiah 17:7-11; Matthew 16:24-27);
  • determining what is right and good according to human reason out of self-interest to justify sinful behaviour, something the church frequently does today in resolving ethical dilemmas like gay marriage, rather than seeking the command of the only One who is truly good (Mark 10:17-18; compare Proverbs 1:7; 3:7; 9:10);
  • incorporating pagan religious practices into the life of the nation, which so many churches do today to either bolster flagging spirituality or to increase appeal by compromising with an existing culture;
  • denying the manifest presence of the living God in the midst of the assembly to challenge sinful behaviour (compare 1 Corinthians 5:1-8), something most churches do today by denying, ignoring or neglecting the supernatural expression of the charismatic gifts of speech; and
  • seeking the security of the world’s protection with its hierarchical structures and distorted, ungodly scientific knowledge to make alliances for gain or influence, rather than seeking the mind of Christ who is the embodiment of truth and wisdom.

God’s Spoilt Vine under Judgment

Yahweh therefore, in judgment of Israel as a useless vine because of their putrid fruit:practice-Gods-presence-1024x768

  • broke down the vineyard’s walls and hedges (of His protection) so that boars and wild creatures (i.e. unclean foreign passersby) could root out and feed on the vine, ruining it (Psalm 80:12-13; Isaiah 5:5-6; Jeremiah 2:14-15; 12:7-11);
  • had the vine cut down and uprooted, hurling it to the ground where the east wind of judgment ripped off and dried up her putrid fruit, after which all its branches and dried-up fruit were consumed with fire (Ezekiel 19:12-14; Psalm 80:16; Isaiah 5:24-25);
  • prevented rain so that thorns and thornbushes grew up in its place (Isaiah 5:6; Jeremiah 3:2-3);
  • caused wealthy vineyards/properties to become unproductive/infertile and eventually uninhabited, so that flocks will quietly graze over the ruins of the once fine houses (Isaiah 5:9-10, 17, 24; Jeremiah 2:15; 8:13-14; compare Leviticus 26:14-15, 19-20); and
  • figuratively transplanted His vine to a desert where it lost all its strong branches (i.e. the Davidic dynasty) by sending His wayward people with their haughty, self-exalted leaders and their idols into exile where death will swallow them up, rich and poor alike, because they lacked knowledge of who God really is, replacing justice and righteousness which exalts and characterises God as holy with violence and oppression (Ezekiel 15:1-8; 19:13; Isaiah 5:13-14, 16, 26-30; Jeremiah 2:15-17, 19; Hosea 10:2, 4-6; compare Hosea 4:1-2; Jeremiah 9:23-25; 22:15-16; Micah 6:6-8).

Yahweh not only abandons His worthless vineyard, but actually assists in its destruction (note especially Isaiah 5:25; Ezekiel 17:19-21).

But judgment and indictment is not the last word on Israel’s spoilt vine, for in Part 2 we will look at how this vine comes back to life in Christ.


To review the studies included in the Framework and find out why we have concluded these things you will need to see the notes which are available by contacting us.

Please also share our blog to allow others to review and contribute – we need everyone, not just leaders, to play their part in building a church that others want to come to.


Peter “Thommo” Thompson was born in 1958 in the bulldust of south-western Queensland in the region around the township of Mitchell.  He was converted outside of the church through a supernatural encounter with the living God in Mackay, North Queensland, in February 1979, and embarked upon a long and arduous journey of God dealing with the figurative bulldust in his life.  In 2012, he completed a Bachelor of Ministry & Theology double degree, and in 2013, a Post-Graduate Diploma in Theology, all at Tabor Adelaide.  He currently lives with his two adult daughters in Ipswich, Queensland, and is writing a series of academic novels with the intent of hopefully helping to facilitate a church unifying movement through an unbranded form of Christianity in Australia.


Copyright 2015 Peter Thompson. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references. For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact us.

Restructuring the Church to Reveal the Risen Jesus (Part 5)

By Peter Thompson B.Theo Grad Dip Theology

church-windows-svetlana-sewellIn Parts 1-4, the biblical imagery of the church being God’s household, temple and cultivated field present the contemporary church with some sobering challenges if the risen Jesus as embodied truth is to be effectively revealed again to our now lost and alienated Western world society.

A few very interesting factors now emerge in respect to how the Christian community should to be restructured:

  • Leaders are to humbly and gently oversee the Christian community by example so that the whole congregation all might together guard the purity of the Gospel/truth concerning the risen Jesus, the living Word, as the embodiment of truth, thereby maintaining the only permanent link between heaven and earth (1 Peter 5:1-3; 2 Peter 3:17-18; Titus 2:7-8; Philippians 3:17; 1 Timothy 4:12; 2 Thessalonians 3:9);
  • For the Christian community to grow fruitful and strong in God’s garden-dwelling-place, servant leaders must humbly facilitate the transforming, liberating work of the Spirit through Christ, the anointed One so that the Father’s glorious attributes (including grace, mercy, loyal-love, slowness to anger) may be continually displayed by His children through loving, community-building behaviours (Isaiah 61:1-3; Romans 6:4-14; 8:3-13; Ephesians 4:17-32; 5:1-5; Colossians 3:1-17; Galatians 5:16-26); and
  • Jesus as the master interpreter of Scripture, the permanent link between heaven and earth, should be allowed to speak/command clearly, sovereignly and supernaturally through the charismatic gifts of speech to keep the community in one mind, will and purpose in respect to understanding the truth (Luke 24:25-27; Ephesians 4:20-21).

Structuring God’s Household-Temple

Therefore, the key elements for renewing church structures as God’s household/temple/cultivated-field are:

  • the Father is the only ultimate authority (not the Bible), with His only Son, Jesus, as His sole heir (Hebrews 1:2-4; 2:5-10; Galatians 4:1-6; Ephesians 1:19-22; 4:6; Matthew 11:25-27; 1 Corinthians 8:6; 15:24-25; Romans 9:5; 11:33-36; 13:1-2; Jude 24-25; Colossians 1:15-18; 2:10; John 17:1-2; 1 Peter 3:22; compare John 19:10-11; Matthew 21:37-39; 28:18; Mark 12:6-8; Psalm 2:8; 22:27-28; 66:5-7; 89:8-11; 103:19; Daniel 7:9-14);
  • the Father initiates service in His household, not human leaders (2 Timothy 1:8-13; 2:20-21; 1 Corinthians 12:6, 18, 28; compare 2 Corinthians 5:18-20; Romans 1:1; 8:28; Hebrews 5:1-6; Ephesians 4:7-12; Acts 13:1-3; 20:28; 1 Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:1, 11-16; 1 Timothy 1:12; 2:7);
  • Jesus (not a church leader) is the merciful and faithful High Priest in the service of God to purify the saints (as they obey Him, not just the Bible, as the living Word) in order that they may then serve the living God, being the Son over God’s house (Hebrews 2:17; 3:1-6; 5:5-10; 6:18-20; 8:1-2; 9:11-14; compare Hebrews 4:14-15; 7:20-28; Acts 15:8-9; Ephesians 5:26; Titus 1:13-16; 2:11-14; 1 Timothy 1:3-5; 1 Peter 1:22);
  • Jesus Himself as the risen Lord in the wisdom of God forms the only genuine foundation of the church as the embodiment of truth, not human leaders who can only build on that foundation already laid (1 Corinthians 3:10-11; 4:6; Ephesians 2:20-22; 2 Corinthians 4:5-6; compare John 17:14-19; 2 Timothy 1:11-13; 1 Thessalonians 4:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-15);
  • believers as adopted sons are joint-heirs with Jesus providing they continue to be disciplined by the Father by putting the community-destroying or defiling deeds of the body to death, and to put on the new man in Christ (Romans 8:12-17; Ephesians 1:11; 3:6; 4:17-24; Galatians 3:25-29; 5:19-26; Hebrews 12:7-17; Titus 3:4-7; Colossians 3:1-11);
  • believers together form the spiritual house/temple in which the Holy Spirit dwells as the manifest (unveiled) presence of God, and therefore believers and their leaders must avoid grieving the Spirit by maintaining unity in the bond of peace, submitting to Him as Lord in order for all to be transformed from glory to glory as sons/daughters rather than human leaders controlling the format and outcomes of Christian assemblies (1 Corinthians 3:16; 14:23-25; 2 Corinthians 3:16-18; 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22; Ephesians 2:22; 4:1-3; 5:18-21; John 17:22-23; 1 John 4:13-16; Isaiah 63:9-14; compare 1 Corinthians 12:12-13; 14:26-33, 39-40; Exodus 34:29-35; Psalm 63:2);
  • all genuine believers as a priesthood together are also to offer up spiritual sacrifices, walking in the truth by obeying the living Word in community-building behaviours and together guarding God’s presence from impurities (1 Peter 2:5; 1 John 2:3-6; 2 Timothy 1:13-14; 2:14-26; compare John 14:23-24; Hebrews 12:28-29; 13:15-16; Romans 12:1-2; Galatians 5:13-17; Ezekiel 36:26-27);
  • apostles become, in a sense, fathers of the churches they give birth to through the Gospel with authority to build up each Christian community, providing them with an example of Christian life to imitate as Christ is formed within them by the Spirit, giving them access to the Father (1 Corinthians 4:15-17; 2 Corinthians 10:7-8; 13:10; Galatians 4:18-19; compare 1 Thessalonians 2:10-12);
  • apostles represented by Paul are priestly servants of Christ so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, having been sanctified by the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:16);
  • apostles as Christ’s bond-slaves and servant-helpers/attendants, along with overseeing elders, are God’s head-servants or managers of the household who primarily take care of and humbly shepherd God’s flock through gentle persuasion and example under the authority, oversight and dynamic day-to-day guidance of the risen Jesus, the Great Shepherd, who leads His church into knowledge of the truth (1 Corinthians 4:1-2; 2 Timothy 2:24-26; Titus 1:7; 2 Corinthians 4:5; 1 Timothy 3:2-5; Acts 20:17, 28; Hebrews 13:7, 17-18; compare Acts 26:16; Luke 1:2; Philippians 1:1; Colossians 1:7-8; 4:7-13; Romans 1:1; Titus 1:1; Galatians 1:10; 1 Corinthians 9:19; James 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1; Jude 1:1; Revelation 1:1-2; 2 Timothy 2:24; Matthew 28:20); and
  • all other elders and ministers are God’s household stewards/servants who humbly share in caring for God’s people (1 Timothy 3:10, 13; Acts 6:2-5; Romans 16:1-2), assisting them to thoroughly know and follow the risen Jesus together (1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 John 4:7-8; Ephesians 1:15-20; 2 Peter 1:3-8; 1 Peter 2:20-21; compare John 17:3; Philippians 3:8; 1 John 5:20; Colossians 1:9-10), noting that the term “deacon” or “minister” actually means “servant”.

As we have seen previously, Christian leaders belong to the church, not the other way around,13. Rose Window, Alpha & Omega because the church belongs to God under the headship of Christ who purchased it with His precious blood (1 Corinthians 3:22-23; 2 Corinthians 4:5; Acts 20:28; compare 1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

The Church Excellence Framework

For this reason, the Church Excellence Framework seeks, in a practical and systematic way, to:

  • return the church to the original definition of ecclesia;
  • clarify the individual calling of each believer and serve them in stepping into that calling;
  • recover the full spectrum of ministry gifts (apostle-prophet-evangelist-shepherd/teacher) within church life;
  • empower the priesthood of all believers by providing more effective methods to equip the saints for ministry;
  • disciple individual believers more effectively so that they are transformed more and more into Christlikeness and active service in a measurable way;
  • facilitate better relationships among church members which result in more active engagement and participation in church assemblies and in the mission of God to the lost;
  • engender more active input and feedback from all believers to enhance the life and activity of each church community;
  • restore the charismatic giftings across the whole church assembly; and
  • support the church to venture out into the outside community with the Gospel in God’s power.

The Key to Church Growth

It should be clear by now that I am convinced the presence of the living God is the primary key to church growth, as the risen Christ speaks and commands not just through biblical injunctions but through the supernatural expression of charismatic gifts of speech across the whole assembled Christian community (compare John 14:21; 16:13-15). This is proper church governance which gives the Christian community rest, embracing the yoke Jesus Himself bore which for us is light and easy [see Restructuring the Church to Find Rest]. Only Jesus has the right to correctly interpret Scripture. Only His supernaturally evident presence can provide the means whereby the church can arrive at one mind, will and purpose together, bringing growth and impacting the outside world [see Structuring Churches to Come to One Mind, Will & Purpose]. Only the risen Jesus obviously manifest to all in the midst of the Christian assembly can supply all that community needs for growth and maturity.

Preserving this supernatural presence of God in the midst of the church assembly by protecting the purity of the Gospel/truth, and wanting what God wants, transforming our behaviour accordingly in the power of the Spirit, is the secondary key to growth. Failure to do this today with the church’s alien hierarchical structures (i.e. wrong foundations), lack of Christlike maturity, and ineptness in maintaining unifying, community-building behaviours has caused God’s presence to largely depart from the church, simply because God’s presence equates to church growth. Hence the decline of the Western church!

Final Warning

Participating in God’s household, His dwelling and resting place, has wonderful benefits but sobering responsibilities, as outlined in Parts 1-4. These responsibilities have to be taken seriously by churches today, because:

  • those who inadvertently or with wrong motives build upon the foundation of Jesus Christ with materials inappropriate for guarding God’s presence from impurities by going beyond the insights written down by the original apostles and prophets will still be saved, but with no reward (1 Corinthians 3:12-15; 4:6; Philippians 1:15-18);
  • those who bring God’s temple to ruin by building upon a wrong foundation, making a human leader the foundation over above another, will themselves be brought to ruin/corruption/destruction, and likely lose their salvation (1 Corinthians 3:16-21; 4:6; compare Galatians 1:8-11; note 2 Peter 2:12; Galatians 6:8; Jude 1:10 where same word for “ruin/corruption/destruction” appears); and
  • those who persist with community-destroying, sexually impure, or idolatrous/occultic behaviours, will not inherit the kingdom of God as the Father’s children, and therefore will not be saved (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Galatians 5:19-21; Revelation 21:6-8; 22:14-15; John 5:23-24; 1 John 3:4-6, 14-15; Hebrews 10:26-31; compare 1 John 3:10; 5:16-18; Isaiah 35:8-10; 52:1; Ezekiel 44:9; note especially Hebrews 6:4-12; Colossians 3:5-7).

The severe widespread divisions and the men-following tendencies of contemporary Christianity means that we have to sober up, act on these warnings, and reform our church structures and communities now if the Western church is to find God’s favour again. Compare how the warning judgments given to rebellious Israel in Amos 4:6-13, noting how they all stifle the growth of God’s people, are relevant to the global church today, with growth non-existent in most places, and Christians murdered in greater numbers than ever before.

Only as we heed these warnings and change can we experience God’s growth again, as the living Word Jesus, the embodiment of truth, is made evident to the outside world now darkened and alienated from God because of the sinfulness, impurity, divisiveness and hierarchical structures of contemporary Christianity.


To review the studies included in the Framework and find out why we have concluded these things you can download the Framework and Notes here, free of charge.

Please also share our blog to allow others to review and contribute – we need everyone, not just leaders, to play their part in building a church that others want to come to.


Peter “Thommo” Thompson was born in 1958 in the bulldust of south-western Queensland in the region around the township of Mitchell.  He was converted outside of the church through a supernatural encounter with the living God in Mackay, North Queensland, in February 1979, and embarked upon a long and arduous journey of God dealing with the figurative bulldust in his life.  In 2012, he completed a Bachelor of Ministry & Theology double degree, and in 2013, a Post-Graduate Diploma in Theology, all at Tabor Adelaide.  He currently lives with his two adult daughters in Ipswich, Queensland, and is writing a series of academic novels with the intent of hopefully helping to facilitate a church unifying movement through an unbranded form of Christianity in Australia.


Copyright 2015 Peter Thompson. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references. For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact us.

Restructuring the Church to Reveal the Risen Jesus (Part 3)

By Peter Thompson B.Theo Grad Dip Theology

Stained_Glass_Window_2_by_SolarShineThe household/temple imagery from Parts 1 and 2 can be further developed by a slightly different combination of metaphors in another Pauline passage.

Combination of the Cultivated-Field/Vineyard and the Temple Metaphors

In 1 Corinthians 3:5-15, the church is described as both a productive, cultivated-field/vineyard owned by God Himself, and God’s building.

It is clear that God’s building refers once again to His temple because:

  • verses 12-13 refer to the church community (including leaders) building on the foundation with gold, silver and precious stones which were all used in Solomon’s temple (1 Kings 6:20-22, 28-32; 7:9-10, 48-51; 1 Chronicles 29:2-3; 2 Chronicles 3:4-7; 5:1; compare Revelation 21:18-22) and in the wilderness tabernacle (Exodus 25:2-8; 36:34-38; 38:24-28; 39:1-21, 32-42);
  • Jesus is described as the foundation of the end-time temple (Isaiah 28:16); and
  • God’s building is explicitly called His temple in verses 16-17 as a key part of this whole integrated chapter.

This temple imagery is combined with the image of cultivating a field/vineyard which has some very important connotations in the light of the Old Testament if we are to fully comprehend the imagery of 1 Timothy 3:15.

Roles in God’s New Cultivated-Field/Vineyard

The agricultural side of the imagery is significant in that:

  • God owns the church, not the apostles/leaders who are assigned by God to serve Him as fellow-workers together, with no human leader more important than another (verses 5, 8-9; compare Matthew 21:33-46; Mark 12:1-12; Luke 20: 9-19);
  • once again, it is God who is continually causing the growth, not human apostles/leaders (verses 6-7); and
  • although apostles plant God’s cultivated field, and other leaders water it, they are nothing in comparison to the role God undertakes in bringing forth growth (verse 7).

Jesus the Foundation of God’s Temple

On the construction side of the imagery, the emphasis is on God’s servants the apostles laying the only correct foundation, Jesus Christ, and on how the Christian community builds on that foundation. It is no coincidence that the Greek word for “master-builder” to describe Paul in verse 10 is the same word used in the Greek translation of Exodus 35:31-32 to describe Bezalel who, being filled with the Spirit, designed the wilderness tabernacle.

Failure to build on the Jesus-foundation carefully (1 Corinthian 3:10, 12-15) is significant because:

  • the Greek word for “temple” in verses 16-17 generally denotes the inner chamber of the temple, the Holy of Holies where God’s actual presence dwelt (Exodus 25:22; 40:32-38; Numbers 7:89; 9:15-23; Leviticus 16:2; 1 Kings 8:1-11; 2 Chronicles 5:11-14; 7:1-3; compare Isaiah 6:1-4; Haggai 2:7; Revelation 15:7-8; Ezekiel 10:1-22; 43:1-5);
  • God’s presence in the Old Testament tabernacle/temple was crucial for Israel’s continued existence, just as the presence of Jesus is the only means of access to the Father’s presence by the Spirit (Exodus 33:13-16; Isaiah 63:7-10; John 14:6-7; compare Ephesians 2:18; John 8:19; 10:38);
  • the church is the actual end-time temple where God promised to dwell among them forever (Ezekiel 43:6-9);
  • the temple is a holy place, set apart for God’s purposes, where no uncleanness can enter (2 Corinthians 6:16-18; 7:1; Revelation 21:22-27); and
  • considering that unity as God’s family/people is a work of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:12-13; Ephesians 4:1-6), any disunity in the form of strife and division grieves and banishes the Spirit, bringing the temple to ruin because the Spirit alone seals/marks the Christian community as God’s children/people (1 Corinthians 3:1-4, 16-17, 21; Ephesians 1:13-14; 4:30-32; 2 Corinthians 1:21-22; Hebrews 10:26-31; Isaiah 63:7-14; Acts 7:51; compare Galatians 5:16-26; Mark 3:22-30; Matthew 12:22-32).

Growing the Temple in God’s Wisdom

It is not worldly wisdom, boasting in human ability, which builds the church as God’s temple, but God Himself in His wisdom as His fellow-workers plant and water (and hence build) under His direction (1 Corinthians 3:5-7, 18-21; compare Zechariah 6:12-15 where the Messiah, the “Branch”, builds the temple with the help of those afar off).

The Corinthians, like us today, are not to go beyond what is written and become puffed up in favour of one against another (1 Corinthians 4:6-7). This is why the revelatory insight of the original apostles and prophets form the enduring foundation of God’s organic household/temple in Ephesians 2:20-21 (see Part 2).

Comparing the Garden of Eden with Israel’s Tabernacle/Temple

Adam served as a type of primal priest in the Garden of Eden to cultivate and guard/keep not just the Garden itself, but God’s one commandment (Genesis 2:15-16), because:

  • Solomon’s temple had a garden-like appearance throughout the Holy Place and Holy of Holies with the proliferation of pomegranates, gourds, palm trees, lilies and open flowers adorning the walls, doors and furniture (1 Kings 6:18, 29, 32, 35; 7:18-26, 36, 42, 49; compare Isaiah 60:13; Lamentations 2:6; Psalm 52:8; 74:3-8; 92:13-15);
  • both the Garden and the temple were unique places of God’s presence (Genesis 3:8-9; Leviticus 26:12-13; Deuteronomy 23:12-14; compare 2 Samuel 7:6-7);
  • a river of life flows out of both Eden and the end-time temple (Genesis 2:10; Revelation 21:22; 22:1-4; Ezekiel 47:1-12; Psalm 36:8-9; compare Revelation 7:15-17; Jeremiah 17:12-13; Zechariah 14:5-11);
  • the same two Hebrew words, “cultivate” and “guard/keep”, in Genesis 2:15 are exclusively used together in close proximity to speak of either the Israelites serving God and guarding/keeping God’s word/commandments (1 Kings 9:1-2, 6-7; Deuteronomy 10:12-13; 11:16; 13:4; Joshua 22:5) or the Levite priests guarding the service of the tabernacle/temple (2 Chronicles 23:18-19; Numbers 3:5-8; 8:23-26; 18:2-6; 1 Chronicles 23:27, 32; Ezekiel 44:10-11, 14);
  • priests had the duty of guarding God’s sanctuary to stop unclean things from entering (Numbers 3:6-7, 32, 38; 18:3-7; 1 Chronicles 9:17-27; Nehemiah 11:18-19; compare Revelation 21:22-27), something Adam failed to do in respect to the unclean serpent entering the Garden (Genesis 3:1; note the imagery in Ezekiel 28:13-18 of the King of Tyre as a type of Adam);
  • failure to guard/keep God’s sanctuary/temple and commandment(s) resulted in expulsion from the sacred Garden for Adam (Genesis 3:22-24), and from the promised land for Israel (2 Kings 25:1-21); and
  • Cherubim were placed at the entrance to the Garden to prevent further human access to the tree of life after Adam’s expulsion (Genesis 4:23-24), and cherubim guard the mercy seat/ark of the covenant where God’s presence is manifest, and feature on the inner walls and doors of the Holy Place as protectors of the tree of life (Exodus 25:17-22; 1 Kings 6:29-35; 8:6-7; Ezekiel 44:17-20).

The Christian Priesthood

Consequently, with Adam as the primal priest, it is a human duty to keep God’scfiles24752 word/commandments and guard the place of His presence from anything unclean. This explains why all true Christians are, together, a holy priesthood (1 Peter 2:5; Revelation 1:6; 5:9-10; compare Isaiah 61:3-6; 66:20-21; Exodus 19:6; 1 Peter 2:9).

This is not the duty of just a few privileged leaders in a hierarchical system, but the duty of the whole Christian community functioning properly in one mind, will and purpose together under the humble oversight of the servant leadership.

Community Responsibility

This is why Paul always addressed the whole Christian community to deal with the issues he raised in his letters, rather than specifically addressing the leadership to do it (e.g., Galatians 3:1; 1 Corinthians 1:2, 10; 3:1-3; 5:1-5; Philippians 1:1; 4:1; Romans 15:14; 2 Thessalonians 1:1; 3:6-7). Consequently, Paul:

  • recognised each congregation’s self-sufficiency in the Spirit (e.g., 1 Thessalonians 4:7-10; 1 Corinthians 2:12-13; 14:29-31; 2 Corinthians 1:24; Romans 1:7, 11-12; Colossians 3:16; Ephesians 5:7-10; compare 1 John 2:24-27; John 6:43-45; 14:26; 16:13; Jeremiah 31:33-34; Isaiah 54:11-14);
  • reminded each church community of the foundations he had already previously established in the truth of the Gospel (e.g., 1 Corinthians 4:14-17; 2 Thessalonians 2:5; 3:10; compare Colossians 1:4-8; 2 Peter 3:1-2; 2 Timothy 2:1-2);
  • gave them directions as required when new situations beyond the initial instruction in the Gospel arose (1 Corinthians 7:17; 11:34; 16:1; compare Titus 1:5);
  • pleaded with them and urged/encouraged them all to conduct themselves appropriately together (e.g., Ephesians 4:1; Romans 12:1; 15:30; 16:16; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; 4:1, 10; 5:14; 2 Corinthians 5:20; 6:1; Philippians 1:27; 4:2; Acts 14:21-23; 16:40; 20:1-2; compare Philemon 8-10); and
  • only occasionally needed to command them where it concerned matters integral to the Gospel and the health of the whole church (1 Corinthians 7:10; 11:17; 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12; 2 Thessalonians 3:4-6, 10-12; compare 1 Timothy 1:3; 4:11; 5:7; 6:17; 2 Timothy 2:14; 1 Corinthians 14:37; 1 Thessalonians 4:8).

It seems the New Testament authors, and in particular Paul, were well aware of the priesthood of all believers.

Hence, over Parts 4 and 5, we will look at how churches should be restructured to reverse the current decline in western Christianity.


To review the studies included in the Framework and find out why we have concluded these things you can download the Framework and Notes here, free of charge.

Please also share our blog to allow others to review and contribute – we need everyone, not just leaders, to play their part in building a church that others want to come to.


Peter “Thommo” Thompson was born in 1958 in the bulldust of south-western Queensland in the region around the township of Mitchell.  He was converted outside of the church through a supernatural encounter with the living God in Mackay, North Queensland, in February 1979, and embarked upon a long and arduous journey of God dealing with the figurative bulldust in his life.  In 2012, he completed a Bachelor of Ministry & Theology double degree, and in 2013, a Post-Graduate Diploma in Theology, all at Tabor Adelaide.  He currently lives with his two adult daughters in Ipswich, Queensland, and is writing a series of academic novels with the intent of hopefully helping to facilitate a church unifying movement through an unbranded form of Christianity in Australia.


Copyright 2015 Peter Thompson. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references. For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact us.

Restructuring the Church to Reveal the Risen Jesus (Part 1)

By Peter Thompson B.Theo Grad Dip Theology

160_church_buildingIn 1 Timothy 1:3-7, Paul left Timothy in Ephesus to address the problems in the church there brought about by false teachers, a problem Paul himself interestingly pre-empted (prophetically) in Acts 20:28-30. In the process of guiding Timothy in this task, Paul used a fascinating mixture of two metaphors in 1 Timothy 3:14-15 to reveal an intriguing dimension of what the church of the living God should be like.

We will explore this imagery in five parts. In Part 1, we will look at the two metaphors Paul used, namely God’s household and the temple of the living God, in some detail. In Part 2, we will explore Paul’s use of this temple/household combination of metaphors in two other passages. Then, in Part 3, we will look at a third passage in some detail where a similar but slightly different combination of metaphors occurs, namely cultivated-field-vineyard/temple. Finally, in Parts 4-5, we will consider the significance of all this temple/household/cultivated-field-vineyard imagery to provide some insights into how we should structure churches today to enable us to dwell properly together as God’s immediate family while at the same time being God’s spiritual dwelling place.

The Household of God

1 Timothy 3:15 speaks of the need for believers to know how to conduct/behave themselves as part of God’s household. This means that while we as believers all live together in God’s house as members of His family, being children of God carries with it certain privileges and responsibilities:

  • We all, Jews and Gentiles alike, as members of God’s one household together, have access to the same Father through the Son in the one Spirit (Ephesians 2:18-19; compare Matthew 23:8-9; John 14:6-7);
  • The Father has blessed us all together with every spiritual blessing by predestining us in love for adoption through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:3-5; compare James 1:17);
  • The Father faithfully meets the physical needs of His children (Matthew 6:31-33; Luke 12:29-31; compare Matthew 6:8; 7:11; John 15:16; 16:23);
  • Membership in God’s household is dependent upon continually holding firmly, boldly to the authentic Christian confidence and hope concerning Jesus (Hebrews 3:6; compare Matthew 10:32-33);
  • God’s children should walk in the truth (2 John 4);
  • Belonging to God’s household requires active submission to the Father’s will (Matthew 7:21-23; 12:49-50);
  • As God’s children, we need to submit to the discipline of the Father in order to yield the peaceful fruit of righteousness (Hebrews 12:7-11);
  • Practising righteousness and loving one another are essential qualities of being children of God (1 John 3:10);
  • Children of God must not live according to the lustful passions/desires of who we were in Adam before conversion, but must put to death the deeds of the body and be led by the Spirit who opposes all community-destroying behaviour (Romans 8:12-15; compare Galatians 5:16-24; Ephesians 4:17-32; Colossians 3:2-17);
  • The status of being children of the Father is completed/fully developed when the Christian community imitates their Father by loving their enemies and doing good expecting nothing in return, being merciful and kind to ungrateful and wicked persons (Matthew 5:44-48; Luke 6:35-36; Ephesians 5:1-2; compare Galatians 6:10);
  • The children of God must do all things without complaining/grumbling or disputes/controversies in order to be blameless and innocent without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, holding fast to the word of life (Philippians 2:14-15); and
  • Judgment must begin with the household of God to discipline and purify us through trials, persecution and suffering (1 Peter 4:17; compare 1 Corinthians 11:32; Romans 8:18-19, 23-24; 1 John 3:1-3; Ezekiel 9:3-10; Malachi 3:1-5; Matthew 10:16-23).

Make no mistake, being a part of God’s household has many extraordinarily wonderful benefits, because the Father is gracious, lovingly kind, loyal, merciful, and slow to anger (Exodus 34:6-7; Numbers 14:17-19; Nehemiah 9:16-21; Psalm 86:5, 15; 111:2-6; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2). Yet, there is a very sobering side to being part of this household, something which is not respected enough in contemporary Western Christianity today.

The Foundation and Pillar of the Truth

1 Timothy 3:15 also speaks in temple imagery of the church of the living God being the firm (i.e. stable, immovable) foundation and the pillar of the truth. The church then is the temple, the dwelling place, of the living God which also carries with it certain privileges and responsibilities:

  • God walks among us as His people, and will be a Father to us (2 Corinthians 6:16-18);
  • The church becomes a holy, royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:5, 9; Revelation 1:5-6; 5:9-10; compare Exodus 19:6; Revelation 20:6; Isaiah 56:6-8; 66:18-21);
  • Spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God must be offered in this temple, which includes practical, loving service to one another (1 Peter 2:4-5; Romans 12:1; Philippians 4:14-18; compare Ephesians 5:1-2; Romans 12:9-21);
  • The church must continually cleanse itself from every defilement of body and spirit, such as sexual promiscuity, to bring holiness to completion in reverence for God (2 Corinthians 7:1); and
  • Members of the church and budding leaders have to submit to leadership structures which uphold and keep the truth of the Gospel pure (Galatians 2:1-6; compare Acts 15:22-26; Galatians 1:6-11; 2 Corinthians 11:3-4; 1 Thessalonians 2:4).

What is “Truth”

Truth in the context of 1 Timothy 3:15 is, in the very least, the truth of the Gospel entrusted to the church in contrast to the distortions of the false teachers who have abandoned the truth (1 Timothy 1:6-7, 19-20; 4:1-3; 6:3-5; compare 2 Timothy 2:17-18; 3:6-9; 4:3-4), but it is more than that. Truth is also referring to the manifestation/unveiling/revelation of the risen Jesus because:

  • the truth mentioned in 1 Timothy 3:15 is further articulated in the following hymn (verse 16) with Jesus as the central and essential content of the mystery or revealed truth of godliness, noting that the first 3 lines of the hymn refer to Christ’s earthly ministry, while lines 4-5 refer to the ongoing ministry of Christ through the church (compare 1 Corinthians 2:1-2; 15:1-8; 2 Corinthians 4:4-5; Ephesians 3:7-8; Romans 16:25; Philippians 1:15-18);
  • the Gospel itself, centred around Jesus, is the message of truth (Ephesians 1:13; Colossians 1:5; compare 2 Timothy 2:15; James 1:18);
  • all words/messages spoken by the Father (through Jesus by the Spirit) comprise the truth, which is clearly not just restricted to the written Scriptures (John 17:17; compare John 1:17; 8:31-32; Psalm 119:160);
  • the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of truth not only bears witness to Jesus, but will lead those He indwells into all the truth which comprises all things the Father has, declaring the truth about the risen Jesus (John 14:17; 15:26-27; 16:13-15; compare 1 Corinthians 2:10-13; 1 John 5:6);
  • Jesus as the Word, coming from the Father’s side narrating the only God, Himself embodies truth because the very fullness of the one true God dwells in Him bodily (John 1:1-3, 18; 14:6; Colossians 2:9; compare Revelation 19:13);
  • the truth is in Jesus which is not surprising, considering that Jesus embodies truth, and therefore the truth cannot exist apart from Him because all things, past present and future, are summed up in Him (Ephesians 1:10; 4:21); and
  • Jesus is called Faithful and True (Revelation 19:11; compare 1 John 5:20; Revelation 3:14).

cross-706904_640The Truth Upheld by the Church of the Living God

This truth is portrayed as the roof of the building metaphor, because it is upheld by the foundation and pillar. The church of the living God therefore reveals the risen Jesus, the content of the Gospel and embodiment of truth, who becomes evident to those outside of the building i.e. the world.

Hence, this combination of metaphors has a particular relevance to the effect that behaviour within the church of a particular city or region has upon the surrounding non-Christian communities. Proper conduct that befits God’s household, and facilitates the indwelling presence of a holy God, will make the risen Jesus obvious and evident to the outside world (compare Acts 5:12-16, 42).

The Church as the Household and Temple of God

This means then that we all as Christians dwell together in God’s house as members of His family, yet at the same time we are a spiritual building together in which God dwells. God’s household where the members of His family reside is also the place where God Himself resides. Hence:

  • the Holy Spirit dwells in the church as God’s holy temple, and must not be grieved by community-destroying divisive behaviour, for He is the indwelling seal of God’s ownership within us until the final day of redemption when our bodies will be resurrected, implying that persistence in such behaviour will eventually result in the Spirit’s indwelling presence departing just like God’s presence departed the first temple (1 Corinthians 3:16; Ephesians 2:22; 4:30; compare Isaiah 63:7-19; Ezekiel 10:1-22; 43:1-5);
  • the truth of the Gospel has to be obeyed, which has considerable impact upon our behaviour as Spirit-led people (2 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Peter 4:17; compare Romans 15:18-19; Galatians 5:7); and
  • in the context of building upon the foundation of Christ, those who destroy/ruin/corrupt God’s temple will in turn be destroyed/ruined/corrupted by God (1 Corinthians 3:10-15, 17).

Consequently, being actively involved in the church, especially as leaders, carries a serious responsibility to live according to the privileges provided if Christ is to be made evident to the world.


To review the studies included in the Framework and find out why we have concluded these things you can download the Framework and Notes here, free of charge.

Please also share our blog to allow others to review and contribute – we need everyone, not just leaders, to play their part in building a church that others want to come to.


Peter “Thommo” Thompson was born in 1958 in the bulldust of south-western Queensland in the region around the township of Mitchell.  He was converted outside of the church through a supernatural encounter with the living God in Mackay, North Queensland, in February 1979, and embarked upon a long and arduous journey of God dealing with the figurative bulldust in his life.  In 2012, he completed a Bachelor of Ministry & Theology double degree, and in 2013, a Post-Graduate Diploma in Theology, all at Tabor Adelaide.  He currently lives with his two adult daughters in Ipswich, Queensland, and is writing a series of academic novels with the intent of hopefully helping to facilitate a church unifying movement through an unbranded form of Christianity in Australia.


Copyright 2015 Peter Thompson. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references. For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact us.

 

40 Characteristics of the Joshua Generation

Adults_MainLandingPage 1. Joshua generation will be victorious warriors dependent on God for supernatural victory.
2. Joshua generation will have servant hearts – be gentle & humble in heart.
3. Joshua generation will know the glory of God as a consuming fire.
4. Joshua generation will be hungry & thirsty for the intimacy of God’s presence.
5. Joshua generation will be chosen as forerunners to enter the promise land.
6. Joshua generation will be men and women of faith, who speak and live by the word of God.
7. Joshua generation will have and operate in a militant spirit & fully follow the Lord.
8. Joshua generation will be sensitive to and feel grief over sin.
9. Joshua generation will be men and women of the Spirit.
10. Joshua generation will be chosen, anointed and commissioned by God for the task.
11. Joshua generation will be equipped to enable the next generation to possess the land.
12. Joshua generation will witness the awesome overcoming power of God.
13. Joshua generation will be strong and courageous.
14. Joshua generation will be filled with the spirit of wisdom.
15. Joshua generation will meditate on God’s word day and night.
16. Joshua generation will be obedient to God’s directions.
17. Joshua generation will be prosperous and successful.
18. Joshua generation will know that they walk with God.
19. Joshua generation will free the next generation from the reproach and effects of past generations into new fresh revelation of past activities.Grow.-Plant.-Discipleship
20. Joshua generation will be equipped to prepare provisions – live by faith.
21. Joshua generation will equip the people to be consecrated or sanctified (set apart, dedicated and holy).
22. Joshua generation will encourage people to hear the word of God directly.
23. Joshua generation will operate with the angels and the heavenly realms.
24. Joshua generation will be honoured and respeced by the next generation.
25. Joshua generation will hear God’s strategy for warfare.
26. Joshua generation will start to be known and get public attention.
27. Joshua generation will take a radical stand against sin.
28. Joshua generation will be careful to always seek counsel from God before making decisions.
29. Joshua generation will put the enemy under their feet.
30. Joshua generation will be ruthless in the pursuit and eradication of the enemy (not flesh & blood).
31. Joshua generation will operate in great signs and wonders.
32. Joshua generation will ensure that nothing God commands will be unfinished.
33. Joshua generation will bring the next generation into their full inheritance.
34. Joshua generation will have supernatural strength for war like Caleb at 85 years of age.
35. Joshua generation will be giant killers, forerunners for the next generation.
36. Joshua generation will bring revelation that wherever next generation place their feet they will possess-the world – universe & heavenlies are our inheritance and destiny.
37. Joshua generation will encourage a passion to love God and walk in His ways and serve Him will all our hearts and souls.
38. Joshua generation will warn the next generation about the dangers of compromise and going backwards.
39. Joshua generation will charge the next generation to never stop waging war until the Kingdom of God fills the earth, the glory of God fills the earth and Jesus returns.
40. Joshua generation will set a clear choice before the next generation – the past or their future destiny.

12 Signs that your Church has a Culture of Trust

By Peter Sewell

0721_trustOne of the greatest challenges I face when helping business organisations, is the lack of trust between leaders, management, and staff. Sadly, a culture of distrust is also experienced in many churches. Often the issues that contribute to a culture of distrust have been persistent for many years. In a conversation which I recently had with a pastor in Berlin, I was told that if trust was a currency, then Germans would be bankrupt. It seems a hard statement, however all the Germans I have spoken with agree that distrust is a major problem. In Germany’s history we see many examples of division, not only among the religious community, but also politically. The most famous examples of division include Martin Luther’s 95 Thesis, and the construction of the Berlin wall. Rather than exploring the reasons why distrust is often prevalent, I would like to focus on the benefits of being in a culture where trust is active.

The following list includes twelve signs that clearly demonstrate whether a church has a culture of trust or not. In my experience, I have found that these twelve points are seen working together. They are seldom seen in isolation from each other.

1. Everyone feels valued and appreciated

Trust creates an environment where people value each other. People should feel valued no matter how small their contribution is. In a culture of trust, it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been a member, what role you play, what your abilities are, or how old you are, everyone is appreciated and valued. In a culture of trust, people regularly receive praise no matter what contribution they make.

2. Members are empowered to minister spiritual gifts

Trust opens a platform to impart a gift into a person’s life. Timothy was able to minister to the Corinthian church because Paul trusted him and highly recommended him. In an environment of trust, everyone is more open to receive from each other. In a culture of distrust, excuses are created to discourage members from ministering their spiritual gifts.

3. People are willing to take greater risks

If people have encouragement and feel trusted, they are more willing to take risks. Most of the missionaries I know, and anyone who has served God outside of their comfort zone, have one thing in common. They may have been apprehensive at stepping out into something new, but they had at least one person who trusted and supported them.

4. There is a high commitment to serve

When people know they are trusted, they are more willing to commit to serving. In an environment of distrust, everything you do is carefully monitored, decision making is limited, and creativity is suppressed. No one enjoys serving in an environment where every decision needs to be approved by five different people, and where someone is watching over your shoulder 24/7.

5. There is a high level of productivity

When there is a high level of trust, people naturally achieve much more. Trust is not the only issue that affects productivity, but I believe it is one of the biggest factors. If people trust each other to do their jobs, whether it involves a safety check, a phone call, or scheduling an appointment, it’s much easier for them to focus on their own task instead of worrying about others.

6. Everyone honours one another

The bible instructs us to honour one another. One of the keys to honour is trust. In a culture of distrust, people pull each other down in order to justify their own importance. In a culture of trust, leaders don’t need to seek honour, they are given honour because they have supported, cared for, and believed in the people they serve. Honour should always be based on a relationship of trust, and never obligation.

7. Bridges of friendship are created and groups work together

Division within the body of Christ is created from a lack of trust. When groups trust each other, they are happy to share resources and time to assist one another. When groups focus on common goals and have a desire to work together, it is possible to achieve much more than any of them could achieve alone. Everyone benefits from long term trusting relationships.

8. Members actively seek ways to learn from one another

It’s much easier to learn from someone that you trust. When people don’t trust each other, the levels of conversation are very shallow. When the level of trust grows, people share more freely allowing everyone to learn from each others’ personal experiences. In an environment of trust, churches seek ways to bring people together to build relationships and facilitate learning.

9. Members are transparent and accountable to each othertrust-father-son_4da5cf3571f9c356dbf96fc1a23417b4

Accountability is based on trust. When people trust each other, they can be transparent and share honestly with each other. In an environment of trust, people don’t hide their true feelings, they share them. In an environment of trust, people can share their mistakes and weaknesses, and in return they can receive the support and encourage they need to grow in their personal life.

10. Members can share their concerns and issues are addressed

An environment of trust allows everyone to share their concerns. Too often people are afraid to speak up and question the way something is done, or raise contentious issues. In Acts chapter 6, the Apostles responded to a report that Grecian widows were being neglected. In a culture of distrust, issues are swept under the carpet.

11. Members share their ideas freely

In an environment of trust, people are more willing to share their ideas. Even if the idea is not suitable, people know they are appreciated for their input. An environment of trust is always buzzing with excitement as people share ideas and work together. I wonder how many creative ideas have experienced a silent death because members knew that no one would seriously listen to them.

12. Members are equipped and promoted

One of the most distinctive signs of a culture of trust is the promotion of members. The Apostle Paul released Timothy into the role of an overseer, even though Timothy was still considered very young. A culture of trust supports and releases people to serve in order to facilitate multiplication. In a culture of distrust, leaders protect their roles, and withhold opportunities for others to grow.

Can you identify any of the signs in your church? What are some things your church does to enhance trust among members? Are there any other points you would add to this list? The framework has suggested methods to enhance trust which we are confident you will reap tremendous rewards. We cannot live in fear. But building a culture of honour is paramount.


To review the studies included in the Framework and find out why we have concluded these things you can download the Framework and Notes here, free of charge.

Please also share our blog to allow others to review and contribute – we need everyone, not just leaders, to play their part in building a church that others want to come to.


Peter Sewell has over 25 years of ministry experience, training church leadership teams, business and government leaders, and community groups. He is a passionate supporter of the local church and served as an associate pastor for 15 years. During this time he was involved in planting new churches, and coordinating cell groups, pastoral care, and discipleship. He has qualifications in biblical studies, business, counselling, coaching, and adult education, and is currently involved in training future leaders across Europe.


Copyright 2015 Peter Sewell http://www.churchexcellenceframework.com. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.  For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact us.

 

14 Wrong Reasons for Going to Church

Guest blogger Jose Bosque , founder of viral cast media

two-or-moreAs you can tell from the title, I am not trying to make friends here. I am however, serious as a heart attack about the importance of this subject. I understand what I am going to say goes against thousands of years of ingrained religious nonsense, business success concepts brought in to “help” the church, and human traditions meant to replace the absence of the GENUINE.

I am just a one voice, but I join millions worldwide who are waking up and coming out from under the religious bondage and propaganda of a centuries old, corrupt, religious system. All of this has been fueled by the desire to control others, a “we have always done it like this” mentality and/or, a general lack of faith in God’s ability to provide for His own.

First let me begin by saying I love the Church. She is formed of the most wonderful, loving, and caring people you would ever want to meet.  I truly love this One Church that the Lord Jesus Christ is building. There is no other. There is only one Body of the Lord Jesus Christ. All Christian are members of that Body by virtue of being born again from above.

I am just a one voice, but I join millions worldwide who are waking up and coming out from under the religious bondage and propaganda of a centuries old, corrupt, system. All of this has been fueled by the desire to control others, a “we have always done it like this” mentality and/or, a general lack of faith in God’s ability to provide for His own.

The Lord recognizes no other memberships to local or independent congregations. The Lord recognizes no baptism certificates or ordination papers or any other human external validation. There are many religious clubs and associations that are independent or are connected to denominations who consider themselves also to be part of the Church. Scripture is very clear on that.

2 Tim 2:19 says: Nevertheless, the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His. NKJV

We don’t write to judge others. The Lord Himself will judge on that day. We are here to bring truth to God’s people and that TRUTH is a person, The Lord Jesus Christ, not a neat little package of favorite Bible verses that support your style of worship or your favorite theology.

The Lord recognizes no Catholics, Baptist, Assemblies of God, or any other call sign you wish to use. Those are all man made divisions of the Body of the Lord Jesus Christ.

When Constantine messed with the church in 300 AD and began building sanctuaries and creating a salaried clergy class (Pastors & Priests) the church probably, in my book, suffered its greatest blow. Man simply should not try to “help” God. We would think that the Roman persecution hurt the church more but instead it caused the church to grow. It was said in those days that the “blood of the martyrs was the seed of the Church.”

When the church became a building, man separated secular time with spiritual time. When you are in the building its time to be spiritual, but when you are away that is your time. To a truly born again person such thinking is heresy.

Scripture says we were bought with a price. Calvary wasn’t meant to provide humanity with a get-out –of-hell card, or to pay our dues so we can attend the weekly hour and twenty minute show.  People are not laundry “in by 11 dirty out by 1230 clean” and God is not limited to talking only in our “sanctuaries.” Real Christians know we can’t go to Church–we are the Church. The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is made up people not brick and mortar or any other building material.

I believe that when the requirement of going somewhere weekly was tied to our ability to hear from God, we had to create pseudo reasons to perpetuate the nonsense.

choir-303302_640The following “14 Wrong Reasons for Going to Church” are in progression of how they were taught to me.

1. To celebrate the Lords Day – I was taught that the church exchanged the Jewish Sabbath with celebrating Sunday the first day of the week to celebrate the resurrection. Talk about piecing together scripture to come up with that one.

2. To show respect for the Lord by dressing up with our Sunday best. Since when does Christianity care about the externals? Oh, how we have kept thousands out because they were too ashamed of their dress.

3. To go hear the preacher give us the “Word.” Nowhere in the New Testament does the Church have a mediator between God and man like the present pastor/priest system. The word of the Lord was never an exposition of scripture by professional seminary-trained clergy. At best two or three need to speak and every believer is to be mature enough to test the Spirit of what is being said.

4. To give (Pay) our tithes and offerings. More than 80% of a church’s income goes to support two totally unbiblical things: the modern church building and the salaried clergy class. To justify them, we use very selective Old Testament proof texts. However, neither of these concepts are justifiable. These practices simply cannot be found in the New Testament.

5. To bring the “lost” to His house to receive Christ and get “saved.” Until around 1870, no one ever walked up front to receive Christ during an “invitation.” This is another modern invention– that teaches that the front of our church building is the “Holy Place” or altar because it’s higher or decorated differently. New Testament church gatherings were for believers and the lost got saved wherever they were when they had an encounter with Christ. I languished in a denomination that preached salvation sermons every Sunday at “saved” people. Talk about perpetuating immaturity!

6. To worship Him. This is going to come as a shock to many, but real Christians worship the Lord daily with their life. The idea of going once a week to a building to worship God is alien to real Christianity. Worship is not singing prior to the preaching. Worship starts when your feet hit the ground each morning.

7. To use our gifts and our talents.  Again, this is another invention of the once a week Christianity. Real Christians operate in their gifts and callings 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. What part of “DAILY” do we not understand? All of you dying to get the microphone on Sunday morning when was the last time you got a word from the Lord in Wal-Mart?

8. To do ministry (healing & deliverance).  When we invented professional clergy, we had to come up with a word for what they did. “Ministry” is a lifestyle of every real Christian. Full-time ministry is what every Christian is called to do. The early church had no on/off button. From the day you got saved you are in the ministry. Someone who gets paid for doing ministry is called a hireling in scripture.

9. To punch the clock and give God His day. Every day is God’s day. Punching the clock so as to please the pastor, your wife, or God is religion. Scripture says: “In everything you do.” Did you know that God is happy when you take some rest and go fishing? God does not give you a pass to do whatever you want with the other 6 days of the week. Every day is His day!

10. To get under the anointing. This is more baloney coming from an alleged need of the “laity” to get some from the “clergy.” This thinking teaches that the upper class “clergy” have something you need from them so you must come weekly to get it. The problem arises when you keep getting it weekly for years, but your life does not change. The problem with that is, all of Gods people are already anointed, and carrying “the anointing,” and all God’s people are clergy or the Lords portion, and all of the Gods leaders are laity too. In the Kingdom of God there are no second class citizens.

11. To get in His presence. There is not one New Testament verse tying the presence of God to a building or to a weekly gathering. Furthermore, there is not one verse in the New Testament about believers going in search for His presence, or having to call His presence down. The Lord is not in a cloud anymore or even in a chair next to us. He is a forever with us and IN us.

12. To hear or experience Christ as we each share in the meeting. Scripture tells us that wherever two or three are gathered in His Name (nature) there He is. It doesn’t say it has to be an official meeting or that everyone in the meeting must share to hear Christ. If that is true, how many believers represent a quorum for God to be heard?

13. To go up to Zion together with rest of the Church worldwide. This is a Jewish practice taken from the Old Testament typology. Sorry, but since Jesus shed His blood I can get in His presence anytime and anyplace. I am not working my way in a service to go up to Zion. I am Zion, the New Jerusalem of God because He lives and dwells in me in, with, and among the body of Christ.

14. To train you to be missional. This is the newest one I have heard. Talk about getting the cart before the horse! Anything that is genuinely missional arises from Christ’s compassion for a hurting world. The more we love like Christ, the more we are missional like Christ. The fuel of everything missional is love not six elements of this or that, and “apostolic genius.” God help us! If we are still obsessing with programs and recipes we are not yet free!

All of the above are

Wrong Reasons for Going to Church

Finally, it would be improper to close this article without mentioning the only verifiable reason in the New Testament for new creation people to gather as the people of God. This one reason is by far the greatest missing element of the 21st century church. You would think it is some deep profound mystery for the mature, but it’s not. It’s the only reason that can grow His Church because it’s the only one scripture says the lost are waiting to see.

I will say it and most will say they already have it. The problem is, the standard of what this word means to new creation people has been dumbed down to simply saying “God bless you” to people you will have to wait another week again to maybe see.

The bar was set in the New Testament, but we have no clue to the meaning of all this or how to implement this in the 21st century.

Acts 2:44-45  Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, 45 and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. NKJV

Acts 4:32-33 Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. NKJV

The above will never work in our world until we love each other the way they did. The early saints were driven to gather by the love and compassion they had for each other. Paul never praises the congregations in the New Testament for their soul winning efforts, the size of their congregations or the amount of money they handled in their budgets. Paul never speaks of a brand name, a denomination or a particular leaders following. His greatest praise is how the NAME of Christ is being made known by the love they are manifesting first for each other and then for the lost. You want a name to describe the gathering of the saints? Return to the foundation of a “love feast” instead of Catholic services and Protestant meetings.

I agree with John–how can we say we have been with God if we don’t have a heart for the brethren?  You claim you spend hours in worship and prayer but you don’t have a heart to help your own family? What God do you pray to?

Still bragging about your Easter service? What if your measurement and values don’t register with God?

May the Lord have mercy on His church and may He have patience with you as He has had with me. I am not praying for revival of a dead human system but I am praying for His people to be holy and wholly unsatisfied until they find HIM and become HIM to a lost and dying world by their love..

Jose Bosque


To review the studies included in the Framework and find out why we have concluded these things you can download the Framework and Notes here, free of charge.

Please also share our blog to allow others to review and contribute – we need everyone, not just leaders, to play their part in building a church that others want to come to.


Jose Bosque is Editor in Chief and founder of Viral Cast Media which oversees GodsLeader, JaxChristian now ViralChrist and 15 other websites. He has ministered in Jacksonville since 1987 and served the city since 1992 as a citywide servant leader. Jose is considered a resource and a spiritual father to many leaders in the city and in the 54 nations where the Lord has sent him to serve. Originally born in Cuba, Jose has resided in Jacksonville since 1966.


Copyright 2015 Jose L. Bosque. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references. For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact us.

 

10 Surprising Signs Your Church Is Ready To Reach Non-Christians

By Frank Powell

Why does the church exist? If I asked this question to a thousand Christians, the answer would be fairly consistent across the board. The church exists to reach the lost and make disciples (or some variation of this phrase). The problem is most churches aren’t reaching the lost and making disciples.

Maybe this is because churches don’t understand the culture that must be present to reach the lost. Yes, the Spirit is essential and can work through any church culture. But some cultures are more favorable to the spread of the mission than others. There is a reason some churches are externally focused and other are not. There is a reason some churches are impacting the culture and awakening people to Christ and others are not.

What does a church culture prepared to reach the lost and unchurched look like? I want to introduce 10 signs your church is ready to reach the lost and engage the unchurched.

As you read, you will be surprised. These signs don’t appear to be representative of healthy church cultures. But healthy cultures (at least in terms of stability) rarely focus on the lost. They rarely engage the unchurched. These might be ideas preached from the pulpit, but they are not actions in the lives of members. So, understand, sometimes what appears to be instability and failure is actually growth and forward progress.

Here are 10 signs your church is ready to reach the lost.

1.) Longtime church members are upset. 

Carey Neiuwhof talks about this here. When the unchurched or lost begin showing up at your church, some long time church members will become upset. People who don’t know Jesus don’t understand the “code.” They don’t speak the church language. And these church people only like those who speak their language.

But this is not true of everyone. Some Christians will see the shift and be revitalized. They understand the goal is not to be comfortable and safe. And this will ignite their heart towards the mission. So, if your church has some Christians uneasy and upset, don’t feel bad. This is a natural part of a culture focused on reaching the lost. Embrace it.

2.) Members celebrate when people are sent into the world.

‘Success in the church shouldn’t center around how many are gathered, but how many are sent.’

The God we serve is a God who sends people into the world, not gathers them into a huddle. Likewise, success in the church shouldn’t center around how many are gathered, but how many are sent. Insider-focused churches try to plug people into the life of the church. Churches focused on the lost try to plug the church in the life of the world.

Recently, my wife informed me of a local ministry in Jackson, TN focused on ministering to women at a strip club. These are ordinary women. No special training. Just women who decided volunteering at church wasn’t the extent of their ministry for God. So, Friday nights are not a time to rest and wind down from a long week. They are a time devoted to prayer and showing up at a strip club to minister to women.

They realize being sent is the call of God. They understand being sent isn’t a future event or an overseas calling. Being sent is a lifestyle. A way of living. The way of Jesus.

3.)  Traditional stances on moral and cultural issues are re-examined. 

Recently, I talked with a man who used to be in ministry. This man focused his ministry on reaching the lost and unchurched. For a season, everyone was enthusiastic about this shift. But eventually excitement relinquished and reality set in. Leaders began asking questions. People were coming to Jesus who lived together before marriage, had broken marriages, and everything in between. This forced everyone to re-examine issues like homosexuality, divorce and remarriage, etc.

You see, when your church focuses on reaching the lost, the issues most Christians talk about abstractly become concrete. Sexual immorality has a name. Tom. Jill. Billy. These are real people with real struggles. They aren’t ideas. And this creates tension. Healthy tension, but tension nonetheless.

If your church isn’t re-examining traditional stances on certain issues, you probably aren’t reaching people who struggle with these issues.

4.) Church attendance is no longer the primary metric for church growth. 

If your church is focused on reaching the lost, weekly attendance will decrease. Some regular church members will leave, and new converts won’t initially attend church regularly.

But this is where using attendance as a primary metric is dangerous. If your church is reaching the lost, attendance might decrease, but engagement will increase. And engagement drives church growth and effectiveness, not church attendance. The issue with most insider-focused churches is engagement can be a very difficult thing to measure. And these churches must have a concrete metric to gauge the condition of the church.

Churches focused on reaching the lost value church attendance, but they never allow a packed room to be more important than engaged people. Because decreased attendance isn’t always a bad thing. It might be a sign your church is ready to reach the lost.

5.) Leaders admit struggles and sins. 

One thing the lost and unchurched sniff out immediately is…hypocrisy. And a hypocrite isn’t someone who sins or struggles. A hypocrite is someone who knows sin exists but either covers it up or is blind to it. The lost won’t hang around in churches where everyone has it all together. I don’t blame them.

Churches focused on the lost have members keenly aware of their sin. These churches will be transparent about sin. This starts with the leaders, but it doesn’t stop with them. A culture of authenticity and openness is present in these churches. This might come off as a sign of weakness to some insider-focused churches, but it is really a sign of strength. Because it is in weakness God is glorified. It is through sin the gospel’s power comes to life.

Don’t expect those who don’t know Jesus (or those who understand the infinitely wide gap between man’s sinfulness and God’s perfection) to be at a church where leaders aren’t confessing and repenting.

6.) Programs and events are scrapped. 

Churches focused on the lost and unchurched always filter programs and events through the mission and vision. These churches realize neat, tidy programs and events often hinder spiritual growth and development. And they aren’t willing to keep a program on life support at the expense of losing people.

‘Externally-focused churches won’t hold on to a program at the expense of losing people.’

Programs and events are inherently wrong, but too many churches place more value on programs than people. They would rather scrap people than scrap programs. This is a problem. Churches who value reaching the lost are flexible. They understand the church isn’t about programs and events. It is about people.

7.) Being a family isn’t a core value. 

The church is a family. But the traditional American family isn’t a great metaphor for the type of family the church should be. The traditional American family looks the same. They do everything together. They enjoy the same hobbies and activities. And they are typically exclusive.

The church, however, should not look the same. People from all walks of life should be present. People from all backgrounds should be present. It should never be exclusive. For churches focused on the lost, the mission will be more important than meeting together and placing everyone in nice, neat groups.

8.) Everyone is ok with not being ok. 

Insider-focused churches would rather keep their Christian bubble from bursting than allow someone who curses, smokes, or makes obscene gestures to know Jesus. “Holy huddle” churches might keep their children from hearing “bad words,” but they will never experience the power of the gospel. They will never see God altering trajectories and transforming lives.

Churches focused on the lost understand faith in Christ doesn’t equal instant behavioral transformation. They take people where they are and embrace the journey, bad words and all. They celebrate transformation, but they don’t expect every person to transform instantly (or equally).

9.)  Pharisees are leaving. 

It is impossible to make everyone happy and pursue the mission concurrently. When making disciples is the priority, Pharisees get angry. Eventually, these Pharisees will be fed up with the direction of the church. And they will leave.

Churches focused on the lost value reaching people more than keeping people. They understand you can’t have both. This is why a compelling vision is essential. When vision is present, decisions and actions are filtered through this vision. And angry Pharisees don’t fit in a vision focused on the lost.

‘Churches must decide whether they want to keep people or reach people.’

10.) No one is talking about “church issues.” 

‘Churches focused on reaching the lost don’t have time for meaningless conversations.’

Churches focused on reaching the lost and fulfilling the mission don’t have time for meaningless conversations. They don’t gather to answer questions no one is asking. They don’t use the pulpit as a platform to discuss political or denominational issues. These churches are focused on Jesus and the gospel. They understand, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15, the gospel is of first importance. Everything outside the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is secondary.

Meanwhile, insider-focused churches are constantly gathering to discuss why their denomination is the best, why their interpretation of a particular Scripture is right, and why in the world the Seahawks passed the ball in the Super Bowl when they were six inches from the goal line?

Alright, maybe I have asked this question to a few people since it happened. But, really? A pass play?

I know there are more signs a church is ready to reach the lost. Let’s keep the conversation going.

I love you all. To God be the glory forever. Amen!


To review the studies included in the Framework and find out why we have concluded these things you will need to see the notes which are available by contacting us.

Please also share our blog to allow others to review and contribute – we need everyone, not just leaders, to play their part in building a church that others want to come to.


Frank serves as a college/young adult pastor in Jackson, TN. He loves sports, outdoors, and playing with his two boys. You can find him at http://frankpowell.me/


Copyright 2015 Frank Powell. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references. For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact us.

 

 

 

Structuring Churches to Come to One Mind, Will and Purpose (Part 2)

By Peter Thompson B.Theo Grad Dip Theology

In Part 1, we discerned some similarities in the Corinthian and Philippian contexts for Paul’s exhortation that those churches fully agree with one another by coming to one mind together.

With the Corinthian church, Paul exhorted them to be united in the same mind and judgment:

  •  on the basis that all the power and wisdom they need for their life in Christ together comes out of their intimate, corporate relationship with the risen Lord Jesus by means of the activity and empowerment of the Spirit;
  • under the motivation of genuine, self-giving love which builds up the whole church community;
  • because they have the mind of Christ together by means of the Spirit;
  • so that the Gospel is not hindered.

With the Philippian church, Paul exhorted them to set their minds and whole beings on the same thing together:

  • on the basis of the Father’s love, the comfort of Christ, and the sharing in the Spirit together in the face of persecution and suffering;
  • under the motivation that their self-giving love for each other needs to abound even more and more;
  • because God works in them (as a community) to effect obedience to His will, as they have full knowledge and moral insight by the Spirit to discern and approve the things which really matter;
  • so that they could effectively contend for the Gospel together as one person, holding out the word of life as true children of God.

Conclusions from Paul’s Two Calls for Oneness of Mind

From this, we can conclude that Paul’s call for community-wide unity had the following characteristics:

  • church leaders had indulged in various forms of self-seeking, ambition and domination, resulting in disputes, grumbling and community-destroying behaviours among the church community;
  • the expression of self-giving love within the Christian community was only truly complete and operative when they arrived at this oneness of mind and judgment;
  • community-building characteristics like humility, self-emptying, and seeking the interests of others were to be sought through the Spirit’s transforming work within them, and all community-destroying attitudes and behaviours were not to be tolerated;
  • church leaders were not to dominate decisions, but rather, as Christ’s slaves/servants, they were to facilitate the activity of the Father, Son and Spirit in order for the community to come to one mind over all decisions which really mattered; and
  • such oneness of mind in the wisdom of Christ as effected by the activity of the Spirit constitutes a manner of life by the church community which is worthy of the Gospel and doesn’t hinder its continuing effect in the world, and equates to the church community’s experienced, not just objective or theoretical, life in Christ which is sourced in the Father.

What Paul is calling for is not just arriving at one mind, but arriving at one will and purpose as well, that of God’s will and purpose expressed within the community, for they were to arrive at the same mind and the same judgment together as one, whole person. Obedience to God’s will is effected by God’s own efforts within the community, and this is how churches are to work out their salvation in real life — it is a true partnership between all the divine and human persons involved in the community and its decisions.

This is particularly important considering the church community is to mirror the perfect relational unity of mind, will and purpose which encompasses our three-in-one God.

The Common Problem Experienced by the Churches across Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia & Bithynia

The Apostle Peter wrote to the various Jewish churches across the Roman provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia (i.e. modern-day Turkey). The key issue was persecution against these churches by the neighbouring pagans and the suffering that persecution caused them (1 Peter 1:6-7; 3:14, 17; 4:1-4, 12-16, 19; 5:9-10).

In addressing this issue of suffering, Peter also exhorted them all to:

  • get rid of all malice, deceit/treachery, insincerity/pretence, envy/spite, and every type of slander (1 Peter 2:1);
  • have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love/fondness, compassion/tender-heartedness, and humility (1 Peter 3:8);
  • show hospitality to each other without grumbling/complaining (1 Peter 4:9);
  • live the rest of their days in the flesh for the will of God, not human desires (1 Peter 4:2);
  • above all, earnestly/constantly maintain love for one another (1 Peter 4:8);
  • serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace through their charismatic giftings of speech and service (1 Peter 4:10-11); and
  • be prepared to give a defence with gentleness and respect to anyone questioning them about the hope evident within their community (1 Peter 3:15-16).

Peter also exhorted the church elders to shepherd the flock of God under their care/oversight, not by domineering them or greedily seeking material gain, but by watching over it, humbly leading them through their own example (1 Peter 5:1-6).

Here we see the basic elements of how Paul dealt with divisions in the Greek/Macedonian churches now evident in Peter’s approach to handling the effects of persecution upon each church’s inner unity and functionality. It seems to me this is no mere coincidence, for Peter’s epistle (which was most likely written between Paul’s and Peter’s respective executions) was addressed to various Jewish churches within areas where Paul first initiated and pioneered contact with the Gospel. church-family-images-_4440318_orig

The Agreement Reached by the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15

Too many scholars and church leaders have looked too casually at Acts 15 and concluded that the Jerusalem meeting was just a human forum for all stake-holders to present their case after which some conciliatory process occurred, resulting in a compromise being reached between the various parties for the sake of the Gentile churches, a compromise in which the Spirit played a role. In my opinion, this interpretative approach mistakenly reads modern forms of church governance, based upon modern democratic forms of government, back into the text.

Rather, the actual elements of the text are that:

  • a strong and significant dispute, which is the significance of the Greek word used in verses 2 and 7, arose over the need for Gentile converts to be circumcised;
  • no specific mention is made of any contribution to the meeting made by those who upheld the need to circumcise Gentile converts other than the general statement in verse 7;
  • silence fell over the whole assembly in verse 12 after Peter spoke despite the strong disputes occurring in verse 7 immediately prior to Peter speaking;
  • after Paul and Barnabas related what God had done among the Gentiles (verse 12), James stood up to cite a text from Amos which confirmed that the Old Testament prophets agreed with what God had been doing in their midst to include the Gentiles within the church (verses 13-18);
  • the Holy Spirit and the whole assembly “resolved” the issue (verses 25, 28) by reaching “a unanimous decision” (verse 25) — the significance of the Greek words translated “seemed good to” and “to one accord” [ESV] — which signified a complete harmony, peace, wholeness and agreement had been reached; and
  • the whole assembled church in Jerusalem, not just the church leaders, was the vehicle in which the Spirit spoke (verses 4, 12, 22), noting that the apparent contradiction in verse 6 where only the apostles and elders came together to see about the matter probably only indicates, in the light of verse 12, that the leaders met first before calling the whole church to assemble.

Basis for the Assembly Reaching a Unanimous Agreement

A number of scholars are now observing that something more than a compromise or leader-imposed majority decision actually occurred in this assembly, because:

  • there was no actual discussion or debate recorded by Luke which resolved the issue;
  • James did not clinch the argument from Amos in verses 16-18, but simply pointed out in verse 15 how the words of the prophets agreed with what Peter, Paul and Barnabas had already observed God doing;
  • what actually clinched the argument was the reciting of the accounts of what God had already done to include the Gentiles within the wider church in verses 7-12;
  • the Holy Spirit is given prominence in verse 28 for the unanimous decision achieved by being mentioned first;
  • what James passed judgment upon in verse 19 as the chairperson of that meeting/assembly was a conclusion that verse 25 clearly states in retrospect was a unanimous agreement arrived at by the whole assembly;
  • no Greek words for commanding were used in conveying the unanimous decision — in fact, the only imperatives in the whole chapter occur in verse 13, “listen to me”, and in verse 29, “farewell”; and
  • when God clearly speaks in a way in which His declared will and purpose is obvious to everyone present, a unanimous agreement would naturally result.

No form of compromise or system of voting could achieve a unanimous agreement, because the whole nature of compromise or a majority-based decision always leaves some people dissatisfied with the decision.

How this unanimous agreement in Acts 15 could be achieved in light of the three passages in Paul and Peter calling for oneness of mind will be explored in Part 3.


To review the studies included in the Framework and find out why we have concluded these things you will need to see the notes which are available by contacting us.

Please also share our blog to allow others to review and contribute – we need everyone, not just leaders, to play their part in building a church that others want to come to.


Peter “Thommo” Thompson was born in 1958 in the bulldust of south-western Queensland in the region around the township of Mitchell.  He was converted outside of the church through a supernatural encounter with the living God in Mackay, North Queensland, in February 1979, and embarked upon a long and arduous journey of God dealing with the figurative bulldust in his life.  In 2012, he completed a Bachelor of Ministry & Theology double degree, and in 2013, a Post-Graduate Diploma in Theology, all at Tabor Adelaide.  He currently lives with his two adult daughters in Ipswich, Queensland, and is writing a series of academic novels with the intent of hopefully helping to facilitate a church unifying movement through an unbranded form of Christianity in Australia.


Copyright 2015 Peter Thompson. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references. For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact us.

Restoring a Relevant Church in the 21st Century

As the CEO of the Church Excellence Framework, this has been an exciting year where we feel the Lord has given many a rough blueprint for what needs to happen to restore the reputation of the church. Here are a few things we believe in passionately and believe are highly backed up scripturally and in practice.

  • Returning the church to the original definition of Ecclesia; that all people have authority and involvement, not just leaders.
  • The church serving the people not the people serving the church vision.
  • Moving to the Senior Pastor as a facilitator rather than the person who must give permission before people are allowed to act in their area of passion.
  • Clarifying and serving the Calling of People vs Serving the Church vision, even if outside of the churches activities.
  • Priesthood of All Believers and Every Member Ministry (1 Peter 2: 9) to put less pressure on paid pastors.
  • Placing significant emphasis on the skill of the youth and children’s workers, as this is the area of the greatest fruit.
  • Bringing back the Five Fold Ministry (Eph 5) ensuring that every church has apostolic oversight, and that there is a role for the Evangelist and those with prophetic gifts. One could also argue for the removal of the Senior Pastor role biblically.
  • Increasing understanding of the heavenly court systems and unseen realities of heaven that have been hidden from traditional church teaching.
  • More effective methods of Empowering, Establishing and Equipping of the Saints, going beyond small groups and sermons to methods of multiplication, fathering and pathways to growth.
  • Moving from measures of “Connecting to a Church” to “Measures of Transformation.”
  • Moving away from the Attraction Model to the Discipling Model – Platforms for Community Engagement not Concert Attendance
  • Moving towards measuring “numbers of disciples effectively equipped and able to reach out” versus “Numbers attending Church.”
  • Changing the staffing structure from appointing ministry roles to appointment by critical Functions such as HR and Communications, Head of Spiritual Operations or Head of Evangelism. Avoiding pastors seeking to do numerous tasks not in alignment with their gifting and ultimately becoming blockers.
  • Principle that Quality Relationships result in Engagement more than content so reducing heavy listening content and more net weaving.
  • Allowing Debate and Questioning as a key tool for learning that allows doubt to be expressed.
  • Encouraging greater unity with other Christian denominations and Christian organizations by seeing more products advertised and working with other churches and city councils.
  • Encouraging Trust and Believing the Best in Others particularly new people moving from a “we need to get to know you” philosophy, which slows down disciplemaking and breeds resentment.
  • Moving from Teaching to Learning with emphasis on outcomes such as growth of believer not input such as how many are in small groups.
  • Multiplication and one-on-one Disciple-making (2 Tim 2:2) not just group discipling.
  • Encouraging more Church Transparency and Lives that Invite Feedback and Development.
  • Moving from “Shouting on the Mountaintop”, i.e. preaching in a church mainly full of believers to “Immersing in the Culture” and strong missional component that is based in the community not just in the church.
  • Encouraging lots of resources to be given to people even if from different parts of the Body of Christ to restore the view we are one body not a location or denomination.
  • Establishing a culture of Honouring People, evaluating how people are loved  and treated fairly, “All men will know you are my disciples if you love one another” (John 13:34).
  • Supporting Christians in the Marketplace (Being Salt and Light) with support in character, outreach techniques and calling or spiritual gifts.
  • Bringing the charismatic, contemplative, community care, evangelistic, mystic style churches into one church rather than churches specializing, on the basis that all elements are biblical and not to be excluded.

We have many other aspects listed in our framework if you would like to get more info at www.churchexcellenceframework.com—————————————————————————————————————

CEO. Jane Johnson B.Com Grad Dip LD, Dip Coaching,

Jane has worked in many different leadership capacities from being a professionally qualified Christian Leadership Coach for 13 years to many Christian leaders, to leading a ministry with the Navigators, to being a Senior Learning and Development Manager of a multimillion corporation, advising the management team on strategic approaches to get the best out of their people. She has developed considerable experience with Investors in People taking several companies through to successful accreditation and training as a consultant for them. Hence she understands the amazing impact a tool based on this principle can have.

Connect with her on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=287940854&trk=nav_responsive_tab_profile

Restructuring the Church to Find Rest (Part 2)

By Peter Thompson B.Theo Grad Dip Theology

In Part 1, we had a somewhat detailed look at the “yoke” imagery in the Old Testament, which frequently referred to oppressive human governments in contrast to God’s gracious form of government. Out of this contrast, a further contrast between the structure of the first-century church based upon the fatherhood of God, and contemporary church structures rooted in modern democratic forms of human governance, becomes a little more obvious. In particular, this is a contrast between governance rooted in modern individualism versus the more tried and tested biblical form of governance based upon family relationships.

rsz_lego-church-building-pictures

The Yoke Jesus Offers

As a result of understanding this “yoke” imagery as speaking of governance, it is quite feasible to understand the yoke that Jesus is offering in Matthew 11:25-30 as speaking of the yoke Jesus Himself embraced as a human being under the rule of the Father, but not as the beast of burden in the yoked relationship. In the yoke imagery, the beast of burden did all the hard work, while the farmer yoked to the beast directed the service of the beast and controlled how that service was undertaken. The farmer had the authority, wore the pants so to speak, within the yoked relationship to the beast, usually an ox. Hence, the people in the Old Testament were yoked like oxen to their oppressive kings/rulers.

Jesus, on the other hand:

  • had the Father hand over all things to Him, even though the Father is Lord of heaven and earth (Matthew 11:25-27; compare John 3:35; 13:3; 1 Corinthians 15:27);
  • had been given all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18; compare John 5:22-27; 17:2; Colossians 2:10; Hebrews 2:6-9);
  • only did what He saw the Father doing (John 5:19);
  • claimed that it was the Father living in Him who was doing all the works Jesus performed (John 14:10); and
  • only spoke the Father’s words (John 14:24).

Jesus was yoked to His Father in intimate relationship, proclaiming the coming of the “kingdom” (e.g., Mark 1:15), that is, God’s kingdom, the rule of the Father that Jesus Himself, as the Son, shared in. Jesus as the Son of Man, representing the new humanity in Him, therefore demonstrated the Father’s “yoke” which was not oppressive and burdensome like the yoke of human rulers

The Yoke Jesus Himself Wore

I firmly believe that the yoke Jesus offers in Matthew 11:29 was in fact the very yoke Jesus Himself wore as a human being in the service of God’s kingdom, because:

  • the Holy Spirit now speaks to us as Jesus’ present-day disciples whatever He hears the Father and Son say (John 16:13), just as the Spirit spoke to Jesus what the Father was saying;
  • it is the Spirit who guides us and does all the work, both in evangelism and in maturing believers (e.g. John 16:8-11; Acts 1:8; 4:8, 31; 8:29, 39-40; 9:31; 13:2-4, 9-12; 15:28; 16:6-10; 20:28; 1 Corinthians 2:4-5, 10; 6:11; 14:23-25; 2 Corinthians 3:16-18; Galatians 3:1-2; 5:22-23; Romans 8:13, 26-27; 15:17-19; 1 Thessalonians 1:5-6; 2 Thessalonians 1:11; Colossians 1:9-12; Ephesians 3:16-17; 4:1-3; 2 Timothy 1:6-7); and
  • it is the same Spirit Jesus was anointed with in power to do good and heal all who were oppressed by the devil (Acts 10:38).

This explains why Jesus stated that it was His yoke. This also explains why, in my opinion, Jesus’ yoke was easy, and His burden light! With the Father doing all the work through the Holy Spirit, the Christian community through their relationship with Jesus are yoked to the ultimate power and authority in the universe.

This Yoke Was Offered to Us Communally

I am convinced that the yoke Jesus offers us was offered to the whole community of His disciples, not just to the twelve disciples, or to individual leaders or believers, because:

  • the second-person plural “you” is used consistently throughout Matthew 11:7-30;
  • in Matthew 11:7, Jesus had been addressing the crowds concerning John the Baptist, and there is nothing to suggest in the chapter that Jesus had turned from the crowds to address only the twelve disciples as leaders;
  • Jesus was calling out to all who would come to Him in Matthew 11:28; and
  • the yoke speaks of the governance of the whole people of God under the gracious rule of the Father.

Hence, what arises for followers of Jesus is not some form of a democratically-structured government which is based upon individualism where individual desires, needs and insights are held in fluid, and at times strained, tension with the desires, needs and insights of the larger groups within the community — this results in various forms of political power struggles within church congregations, and across church denominations.

Instead, a Christian community should be embracing the powerful yet gracious rule of the Father through the Son by the Spirit as a shared experience where the Father does all the work, for the yoke Jesus embraced with the Father as a human being He offers to us as His community of disciples. It is then, and only then, that the Christian community can ever do even greater works than Jesus Himself did (John 14:12), for Jesus was only one man in a very large world.

Contemporary Church Governance

My experiences of church leadership and governance leave me in no doubt which form of government operates almost universally in Australian churches. I have found that church leaders to some degree or another:

  • expect their congregation to commit to the vision either the head pastor/minister or the inner core of leaders determines for the church;
  • tend to make decisions concerning the church for and on behalf of the congregation without full congregational involvement and approval, even where churches are supposed to be governed by congregations democratically;
  • tend to resist the giftedness of the whole congregation in order to protect their own status as the more gifted ones in the assembly, which in turn enhances their own prestige, and garners respect and authority;
  • determine in advance how each meeting should be conducted and ordered;
  • seriously struggle to facilitate the supernatural manifestation of the Spirit in church meetings so that church members are genuinely built up and matured into Christlikeness; and
  • have absolutely no idea how the greater church community can ever come to one mind on any one thing, let alone all things (note 1 Corinthians 1:10; Philippians 2:2 and 1 Peter 3:8 in the light of Romans 12:1-2; 1 Corinthians 2:16).

Furthermore, it is rather obvious to me that this present democratic-style rule of the church by privileged office-bearers within the various church leadership structures is not causing the church to impact our nation in any significant way, hence the contemporary church right across the Western World has been in a serious and steady decline, despite the mega-church phenomenon. Burnout and depression among Christian leaders/ministers throughout the Western World is at epidemic levels — this is not the rest Jesus offers us. Things need to change!

Restructuring Under God’s Governance

For me, personally, the way forward is to restructure how we do church so that Jesus Himself personally guides and directs us as the Head of His Body through the charismatic giftings across the whole local Christian community, which is facilitated and safe-guarded by all five ministry giftings, not just pastors and teachers. This is, in my understanding, the clear meaning of Ephesians 4:11-16, Ephesians 2:19-22 and Colossians 2:19 in tandem with passages like 1 Corinthians 14:26-33 and 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21. I have experienced such a manifest, supernatural presence of Jesus in the midst of the congregation on some rare occasions where Jesus Himself dynamically, in person, in the here and now, speaks and acts in the midst of His people.

I am therefore convinced that this can occur regularly when a careful reassessment of leadership structures is implemented on the basis of family, not some form of democracy rooted in individualism. It is time for the church to address its disunity, come to one mind on all things, and grow up into the fullness of the stature of Christ as sons of the Father together in one household. More on how that can be achieved another day.

It is time to embrace the true yoke Jesus offers, and carefully with humility and appreciation cast off the yoke Christian leaders have put on their respective congregations by not allowing those leaders to solely determine what is best for the Christian communities they oversee. Then, and only then, will the secular community outside the church sit up and take notice, so that eventually, we won’t be such a joke to them anymore.


To review the studies included in the Framework and find out why we have concluded these things you will need to see the notes which are available by contacting us.

Please also share our blog to allow others to review and contribute – we need everyone, not just leaders, to play their part in building a church that others want to come to.


Peter “Thommo” Thompson was born in 1958 in the bulldust of south-western Queensland in the region around the township of Mitchell.  He was converted outside of the church through a supernatural encounter with the living God in Mackay, North Queensland, in February 1979, and embarked upon a long and arduous journey of God dealing with the figurative bulldust in his life.  In 2012, he completed a Bachelor of Ministry & Theology double degree, and in 2013, a Post-Graduate Diploma in Theology, all at Tabor Adelaide.  He currently lives with his two adult daughters in Ipswich, Queensland, and is writing a series of academic novels with the intent of hopefully helping to facilitate a church unifying movement through an unbranded form of Christianity in Australia.


Copyright 2015 Peter Thompson. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references. For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact us.

 

Do we need to Restructure the Church? (Part 1)

Joke or Yoke

By Ian Thompson B.Theo, Post Grad Thoelogy

Christianity one could argue  has become something of a joke to the large majority of people in our secularised Australian society. They basically see Christianity as irrelevant to their individualistic lives and often see Christians as weak, gullible people in need of a religious crutch of some sort.

My adult experience in a variety of Australian churches over the past 36 years suggests that Christians really don’t know how to overcome this “joke” status, and therefore don’t effectively communicate their faith to neighbours, workmates, the media, or community leaders. That was certainly the case for me until fairly recently.

In my opinion, one central reason the joke-status label sticks has to do with the way we do church in Australia. We appear to be missing one of the most important keys to proclaiming and evidencing the kingdom of God to our local surrounding communities, and  I would argue our church structures are largely responsible for this.

I believe that this important key, which can help us understand how to start reversing the incredible decline of Christianity in Western World countries today, centres around reassessing the significance of one of the most popular of Jesus’ sayings — Matthew 11:25-30.

We can start removing the joke-status label that society puts on the church (especially through the media) by putting on the yoke Jesus offered to us. In other words, I am convinced that we can replace the “joke” with the “yoke”! But first, some foundations need to be laid to understand what Jesus meant by the “yoke” imagery in this beloved Matthew passage.

Western Individualistic Cultural Influences

The modern Western World culture and its development of democratic political structures has been dominated by individualism for many centuries, and it is obvious that this has resulted in:

  • most public issues these days being assessed on some perceived basis of individual rights, privileges and freedom;
  • tension arising between what a particular individual wants in his or her perceived sense of freedom, and what influential groups within society want in order to maintain their own privileges;
  • minority groups battling against society’s power brokers for a legal recognition of their individual rights; and
  • political power struggles where representative groups are seeking to impose their particular sense of individual rights and privileges upon the whole of society, such as with gay marriage, abortion, euthanasia, and legalised marijuana.

Common Basis for All Forms of Democratic Government

Democracy in all its various forms therefore has one particular common factor, ensuring that individuals in power are, to some degree or another, subject to the people they govern. Otherwise, either a dictatorship will result, or society will degenerate into an anarchy, where the strongest individuals with the most physical, military and/or financial power rule.

Democratic Influences on the Contemporary Western Church

These democratic forms of government rooted in individualism have tended to universally affect the Western World churches in many ways, including:

  • some form of a hierarchical leadership structure (such as popes, patriarchs, arch-bishops/bishops, priests, senior pastors, head ministers, synods, presbyteries, etc.);
  • some form of accountability for those in leadership;
  • some form of control against the basis of church government degenerating into an anarchy or dictatorship; and
  • some form of control where the church’s doctrines and practices are preserved against strongly opinionated detractors seeking their own agendas.

First-Century Cultural Influences

In contrast, New Testament scholars these days tend to accept that first-century, Greek-influenced Roman culture:

  • was not rooted in individualism but in family structures;
  • operated on an honour/shame system where individuals were bound to maintain the honour and social status of their family group;church-building
  • conferred shame upon families to enforce the wider society group values; and
  • upheld the authority of fathers, husbands and masters as the cornerstone structure of society, leading to the formation of family-group elders to govern the wider family affairs.

Most first-century family groups relied on their honour status in society for their very survival, because their capacity to trade or provide services depended upon that status. Consequently, families had to cover up as much as possible any shameful conduct of their individual family members. This meant that the honour of the family far outweighed the rights of any individual.

 

First-Century Church Structure

As a result, the New Testament church was primarily structured on the basis of family relationships:

The church was to exist as the household of God Himself, with the heavenly Father as the primary authority and provider (1 Timothy 3:15; Ephesians 2:19; Hebrews 12:7-11; compare Galatians 4:4-7; Romans 8:14-17; 2 Corinthians 6:17-18);

  • The church under the body of Christ metaphor was to model the coming eternal community, where the whole resurrected people of God will be structured and centred around Jesus as their rightful King (e.g., Luke 11:23; John 17:20-23; 1 Corinthians 1:7-9; 1 Timothy 6:13-16; Hebrews 3:1-6; Colossians 1:13; 2:19; compare Galatians 4:25-26; Philippians 3:20; Ephesians 1:22-23; Revelation 21:22);
  • The church under the temple of the Spirit metaphor are to exist as a single spiritual house wherein God Himself dwells (1 Peter 2:5; Ephesians 2:19-22; 1 Corinthians 3:9, 16; compare Revelation 21:1-3);
  • Individual church members were to seek the honour of others, not themselves (Romans 12:3, 10; Philippians 2:3-4; compare 1 Corinthians 12:22-26);
  • Church leaders were to function like household servants (2 Corinthians 4:5; Colossians 1:7; 4:7; Romans 16:1; 1 Corinthians 3:5; 16:15; Titus 1:7), with the apostle Paul being the household servant-manager over the churches he started (1 Corinthians 4:1; compare Colossians 1:24-25); and
  • The primary purpose of church meetings was for all believers in their Spirit-giftedness to build each other up as brothers and sisters (1 Corinthians 14:26; Ephesians 4:12, 15-16; Romans 15:2).

The language of family and household are very extensive throughout the New Testament’s description of the early church. I am utterly convinced myself that New Testament church structures based on family relationships were not hierarchical, despite arguments to the contrary by other theologians who, in my opinion, have vested interests in upholding the current status quo in contemporary church leadership structures.

Understanding these cultural differences between our modern, democratic Western societies and the New Testament Rome-dominated societies will offer what I consider to be a different perspective on comprehending the significance of Matthew 11:25-30.

Old Testament Language of Matthew 11:25-30

The language Jesus used in Matthew 11:25-30 was clearly drawn from Old Testament passages like:

  • Jeremiah 6:16: “find rest for your souls” [ESV];
  • Jeremiah 31:25: “satisfy the weary soul” [ESV]; and
  • 1 Kings 12:4: “lighten the hard service of your father and his heavy yoke on us” [ESV].

The “yoke” imagery in the Old Testament frequently represented service to oppressive kings, usually foreign rulers, who tended to extract hard, burdensome service from their subjects for their own royal ease and prosperity (1 Kings 12:4-14/2 Chronicles 10:4-14; Deuteronomy 28:47-48; Isaiah 9:2-7; 10:24-27; 14:24-25; 47:5-6; Jeremiah 27:6-8, 11-13; 28:2-4, 10-15; 30:8-9; Ezekiel 30:18; 34:25-28; Lamentations 1:14; 3:19-30).

Note in particular Proverbs 28:3, where a leader/ruler who oppresses the poor is compared to beating rain which leaves no food — both leaders and rain are expected to bring prosperity and growth, but tyrants become devastating rain that destroys and leaves people impoverished.

Human yokes/governments are therefore hard and burdensome, but God’s yoke, the yoke of His covenant and law, is light in comparison (compare Jeremiah 2:20; 5:4-5; Deuteronomy 30:11-14; 1 John 5:2-3).

God’s Form of Government

Therefore, in contrast to human kings, Yahweh as King, Shepherd and Father in the Old Testament:

  • caused His people to walk by brooks of water in a straight path without stumbling, satisfying the weary soul (Jeremiah 31:9-14, 23-28; Ezekiel 34:11-16; compare Isaiah 40:3-4, 28-31; Psalm 23:1-3; 36:7-10);
  • gave His people rest under His gracious yet powerful rule (Psalm 95:3-11; see also Hebrews 3:7-4:13);
  • acted powerfully on behalf of His people with grace, mercy and abundant goodness (Psalm 145:4-9); and
  • lifted up His people’s heads, affirming them and giving them dignity, free from oppression (Psalm 3:3-6; Leviticus 26:13; Psalm 27:5-6; compare Psalm 18:1-3; 110:5-7; Genesis 40:13; Judges 8:28).

Human governments and divine government, as represented by the “yoke” imagery, are therefore vastly different. This has significant implications in coming to terms with the “yoke” Jesus was offering all those who come to Him in Matthew 11:29, which we will look at in Part 2.

Peter  Thompson was born in 1958 in the bulldust of south-western Queensland in the region around the township of Mitchell.  He was converted outside of the church through a supernatural encounter with the living God in Mackay, North Queensland, in February 1979, and embarked upon a long and arduous journey of God dealing with the figurative bulldust in his life.  In 2012, he completed a Bachelor of Ministry & Theology double degree, and in 2013, a Post-Graduate Diploma in Theology, all at Tabor Adelaide.  He currently lives with his two adult daughters in Ipswich, Queensland, and is writing a series of academic novels with the intent of hopefully helping to facilitate a church unifying movement through an unbranded form of Christianity in Australia.


Copyright 2015 Peter Thompson. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references. For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact us.

To review the studies included in the Framework and find out why we have concluded these things you will need to see the notes which are available by contacting us.

Please also share our blog to allow others to review and contribute – we need everyone, not just leaders, to play their part in building a church that others want to come to.

RESEARCH on WHY YOUNG CHRISTIANS ARE LEAVING THE CHURCH

From the CEO of the Church Excellence Framework

We are pleased to announce we have developed a diagnostic tool and now have the framework free to download  as well as a copy of the case behind the framework. We are finding there is a significant interest now in what we are doing and feel confirmed from the Lord that it is time for reformation of the church in preparation for coming times. It is a time of exceptional revelation too about things that have not been discussed in churches for centuries. Please can I encourage you to have an open mind and research things in depth before forming conclusions. We always have to fight religiosity to allow the Father to move.


One of the indicators in the framework is  ” Leaders evaluate if they are being overprotective”.  The following research backs up the need for this to be considered.

Barna Group suumarises research as  to SONY DSCwhy people are disconnecting with church in the newly released Book “You Lost Me” by David  Kinnaman.

The reasons are summarized as :-

  • Overprotective
  • Shallow
  • Antiscience
  • Repressive
  • Exclusive
  • Doubtless

Overprotective

  • young generation want to reimagine, recreate, and  be innovators. The church is seen as A CREATIVE KILLER.

Shallow

The most common  perception of churches in the research was that they are boring. Easy platitudes leaving  them with no idea of the gravity and power of following Christ. Few can connect their faith with their gifts, abilities and passions.  So what they see does not give them a sense of calling.

We have a calling tool available at this site for free that can be distributed as a newsletter link. Can we move to offer a range of tools that can really move people quickly to a deeper level. We are all one body therefore should we really be seeing a lot of resources offered in church?

Antiscience

Many have come to the conclusion science and faith are incompatible. As we know this is not the case so if we could stimulate debate around this , could this  dissuade people from  making quick conclusions?  Offering a selection of books on your site that could address this in a deeper way may be of help.  Can we go beyond just offering a sermon and a small group? Coaching( one on one discipling) can also be a great place to have this discussion with people.  These are serious issues for the church so a thought out strategy could produce endless fruit.

Repressive

Religious rules are perceived as stifling particularly in the area of sex. If we could show love first and that what ever they do they are welcome , then we could focus on getting a personal relationship with Christ established which will ultimately motivate this area to change.

Exclusive

They have been shaped by a culture of openmindedness, tolerance and acceptance. They want to find areas of common ground.

As we can be secure in what we believe, and acceptance is paramount in the gospel can we offer love first before discussing lifestyle. The person has to be ready to change and therefore  is challenging before people are ready counterproductive?

Doubtless

Young and former Christians  say church is not a place to express doubts.  Many are concerned over the response to doubt that they can be talked out of it.

Everyone is on a growth curve – do we need to learn more coaching techniques and less statements and opinions or mentoring before we have permission.

How can we create a community that helps this generation face its doubts?

 WE CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS

The Framework seeks to offer ways of increasing debate, building on the principle of priesthood of all believers , builds on love as the overriding principle, promotes ways to increase the amount of  one on one discipling so these issues can be worked out. We can teach people how to share their story of what Christ has done for them in a way that opens people up. We have experienced something uniquely special but often we are  not taught how to share it these days. One of the indicators is prioritising growth and so what would happen if we made this a priority to address in our churches? There is a great study guide that goes with this.

Check out http://www.churchexcellenceframework.com to request the notes to understand where the framework is coming from. We may only be offering this for a limited period to the public.

You may wish to bring this to your pastor and ask to discuss with him so promoting more accountability to the congregation.

 

Maximizing Effective Disciplemaking in Churches

From CEO of Church Excellence Framework

We are pleased to announce the introduction of another blogger to our team who comes with extensive experience coaching pastors and working with church growth tools. He will be blogging shortly.

Part of the framework is to communicate good learning and development techniques so we see quality disciples being made. Without this we can be under the illusion that we are making disciples. This is a tragedy if good learning is not taking place.

To do that it is critical that ministry workers understand principles of adult learning. So we have listed some key points here.

church growth# Adults require a great deal of motivation   –they need to know why they need to learn something. This is so important to keep reinforcing in any learning intervention particularly how it links with the strategic plan.

#Adults have a strong self-concept-   adults learn they are responsible for their own learning. As such they resent others imposing their wills. We need to present the material in a way that respects and consults the learner. This may be done by: –

  1. Involving participants in the process of identifying needs and in the planning
  2. Encouraging the learning process to be more of a mutual responsibility where the trainers role is more of a facilitator and co-inquirer
  3. Helping the participants to manage their own learning and self-evaluate.

Adults come with lots of personal experience.   Adults often have a well-developed sense of values, attitudes and knowledge, which can make them less, open-minded. The implications for training are:

  • Relate new situations to past experiences
  • Respect past experiences as an active component in learning
  • Recognise prior learning and don’t ask them all to start in the same place.
  • Employ training methods that use the learners experience e.g., role plays, testimonies

Adults are under pressure- so they want to learn things that relate to their concerns or immediate issues.  By focusing on these concerns and restating the learning process in terms of these immediate needs, learners will be more open to receive training. This may require consultation with the congregation

 Retention of Information Presented

retentin of info

 The facts  speak loudly that we need to involve people in learning interventions and not just speak to them. If we do speak it has been shown that on average 20 mins is the maximum for retention.

If we do use speaking it is better to contain vital elements such as power points, application questions and some interaction. Talking heads can be a poor way to learn particularly if there are multiple sessions such as in a conference.

We know there is power in God’s word to transform but we also need to ask what percentages of our sermons are actually talking about scripture to quote this reason?

The standard lists some creative ways of engaging particularly in Sunday services. Here are some more: –

  • Youtube
  • Webinar software
  • Twitter or text message sent from congregation asking questions that pastor answers ( so can be filtered)
  • Q and A from Microphone
  • Ensuring themes to build on material
  • Books and handouts recommended on a theme to ensure the learning are reinforced for those interested.
  • Props
  • Banner at back of the stage to reinforce a theme
  • PowerPoint presentations with main points which are then reinforced at the end of the sermon
  • A handout with application questions to ponder through the week
  • Asking for a response for people to come forward after a message
  • Moving the worship so that it can be used as a reflection time for God to speak after the sermon.
  • Interspersing testimonies in between a message (a page on the website can collect testimonies on ongoing basis). Video testimonies can be powerful.
  • Panel discussions.
  • Sheet given to guest speakers as to the minimum requirements in terms of presentation( eg title, summary ,application, powerpoints, bible references)

  Action Learning Illustration

Action learning is a buzzword that is currently being used to demonstrate different ways a learning intervention can be presented to ensure quality learning.  The diagram below shows some elements. The more that are  incorporated ,the more dynamic the learning. TALKING HEADS are not a good style when it is overused. A lot of churches are now bringing in shorter 20 min sermons with other tools to incorporate learning.

Examples of how to empower others: –

  • Ask them what their passion, calling, gifting, past experienced are and help them move closer to this. An individual meeting can be offered to ascertain this and facilitate the use of their gifting. See checklist at Tools note 1, as a tool for use.
  • Provide resources, contacts and authority for them to act. Check how they are doing and if you can help overcome any obstacles .ie use coaching skills to empower them.
  • Be willing to trust and delegate and work through their learning issues. You were given a break when you were learning. Church is not meant to be a professional organisation but a learning organisation with a sovereign people so all are entitled to play a part and deserve to be trusted initially. With a good interview and management process any people not suited for a role can be directed to a more suitable position rather than excluded initially until they have proved themselves. This can be very demotivating to new people.
  • Check how much you aAction learningre not delegating in the name of protecting your people or not trusting. The world needs empowered Christians. Doing is the best way of learning.
  • Encourage them to serve as a way of engaging them. If they are not right for the role then be bold and find something more suitable but don’t let this be a reason to not empower them in the first place. We are all the priesthood of believers so have a right to have a part in a church.
  • Encourage those with authority not to ask permission on small items so small issues are not overburdening senior leaders.
  • Encourage people to give prophetic words to each other.
  • Find out what the person you are empowering is doing and coach them to find their own solution ( as opposed to offering unsolicited advice or assuming you know what  the problem is  without confirming it )

The framework contains lots of notes to help you implement the principles and draw on the vast expertise of many researchers and implementors. Do contact us for the full version. At the moment this initiative is funded by personal benefactors  so we are providing this at no cost. http://www.churchexcellenceframework.com/contact

Church Planting shown to be more effective than other forms of outreach for real growth

One of the indicators we have put on the Framework for churches to consider is ” considering the value of church planting as one of the more effective tools”. This is based on research shown below:-

The NCLS report on Church planting, concluded that Church plants are more effective in connecting with newcomers to church life.  In the Church plants surveyed, 16% of attenders were newcomers to church life in comparison to 10% of attenders in established churches.  Church plants are more effective than other forms of outreach. “…Church plants have higher percentages of newcomers than churches engaged in street evangelism, churches conducting services for the unchurched (eg ‘seeker services’), churches conducting mission activities at schools or churches offering social services such as training or support programs” (Steve Addison).  The NCLS survey indicates that healthy Mother churches continue to grow after the expenses of planting a daughter church. (http://givemetruth.net/infocus/needed-new-churches/)

Also, conducting research into the needs of the local community before planting a church has been shown to be very effective in making sure that it is an outreach church and also in bringing people in. Tools are available to help churches do this from NCLS.church growth

Join our blog via email to ensure you don’t miss out on getting the key facts for church health.

Consider piloting the Church Health Framework for more creative ideas on how to become a healthy church with a good reputation. 

http://www.churchexcellenceframework.com

5 Ways to Connect with Millennials

I was excited when I read this research from the Barna Group on ways to connect with the younger generation at church, as all the points were ones we have covered in the Church Health Framework and so have evidence that people are crying out for certain things. The real growth is really only coming from young people so that is why it is crucial for churches to be looking at this.

If your church is not providing mechanisms to cover these elements, you could take responsibility and begin a dialogue with leadership, bringing it to the attention of those who do not have time to research these things. We are all responsible for building our church into the beautiful bride of christ that God wants. We believe so strongly that rebuilding the temple is critical for our nation as a first step and we have had prophetic words from Haggai confirming this. In the book of Haggai it talks about how, when the organisational leaders, priests and the people came together, the glory of the lord was far greater. All working together is the key to bringing us to a higher level. What is exciting is, many are saying they too have heard God speaking out of Haggai at the moment.

We also have another part of the framework that shows examples of how organisations are pulling together now to rebuild in a way that if they did not work in collaboration, their effect would be very limited (if not held back from not working in unity).

Here is the article and research results

https://www.barna.org/barna-update/millennials/682-5-ways-to-connect-with-millennials#.VG7gSjg9Kpochurch growth

If you have examples of good processes that your church is implementing, please share a sample so we can learn and maybe even refer them as shining lights!!!

To review the studies and find out why we have concluded these things you will need to see the notes which are available by contacting us.

Please also share our blog to allow others to consider – we need everyone, not just leaders, to play their part in building a church that others want to come to.

Copyright 2015 Jane Johnson http://www.churchexcellenceframework.com. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.  For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact orchard.j.johnson@gmail.com

Moving from MINISTRY Roles to FUNCTION

Typical Ministry Roles  are Youth Leader, Senior Pastor, Operations Pastor, Small Group Co-coordinator .

Moving away from Pastor Roles to FUNCTIONS is important because it moves from an employment model to a deployment model. This is critical so that vital aspects of the church are catered for and resources and time go to those, plus good coordination takes place. Critical aspects of church are good church growthcommunication, developing clear strategy, ensuring good networking, ensuring learning is taking place and good outreach is taking place.

Without this we can focus on activities rather than processes. Processes allow for greater growth. Activities may not mean anything at the end of the day. We can have lots of small groups and preaching but it does not mean people are learning or have a vital relationship with God. We also can avoid the trap that one person is doing multiple tasks that are not in line with their gifting. A teacher is very often not a good administrator for example and vice versa. If we pay for these functions or share them amongst churches we can ensure they are done, whereas the other functions can be done by congregation members to engage them with the people, and so stay connected with the vision.

The church excellence framework is available for viewing at http://www.churchexcellenceframework.com

FINANCE MARKETING SPIRITUAL OPERATIONS or MINISTRY ORGANISATIONAL DEVELOPMENT LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT ADMIN AND HR AND BUILDING OPERATIONS
FINANCE and Funding Communications and Marketing Both within and with fringe Christians or the outside world Program Support and Ministry Operations(Designing What is the  Strategy for Learning , overseeing small groups, Prayer ) Networking, New People integration, Deployment of People and Relationships to ensure people are engaged and transferring from one sector to another Learning,  setting up Coaching, Recruiting Qualified Trainers, Designing Competencies for Church Goals, Program for Sermons and evaluation of those methods Human Resources and Admin

Why hasn’t the Church been more influential?

Here are some interesting reasons why we felt compelled to write a framework to address some of these trends and to remove the obstacles so the church can grow well organically.

Some key reasons taken from the source quoted below include:

  • Denominational fragmentation, church splits, disunity and not working together
  • Reduction in emphasis on Evangelism and Discipleship
  • Underdeveloped Learning and Development Techniques in Churches.
  • Split between Teacher Role and Leader Function not clear. A lot of key function roles such as communication not covered as emphasis on ministry role.
  • Not empowering or trusting others in their own Church or resources outside the church
  • Failure to train Christians well in how to serve God in their daily occupations
  • Confusing Teaching for Learning and not focusing on transformation outcomes but statistics on attendance.
  • Certain Biblical Truths not being taught over the centuries
  • Exchanging accountability for people pleasing with a reduction in critical analysis
  • Allowing Greek philosophy to divide the sacred from the secular rather than our Hebraic roots of God being over all, through all and in all (e.g.: book of Leviticus and Eph 4:6)
  • Biblical literacy decline in both the Christian and wider community
  • Breakdown of moral fortitude through media influence and pornography
  • Cultural pressures overriding the knowledge of Jesus as the Lord of the marketplace
  • Dysfunction and disorder in our own homes
  • Failure to teach the next generation our Judeo/Christian heritage (Psalm 78:3-8)church growth
  • Lack of God space in the busyness of people’s everyday lives
  • Lack of training Christians how to serve God in their daily occupations
  • Silo mentalities that cause pastoral disinterest outside the walls of local churches.
  • Liberalism through the media infiltrating attitudes in the church
  • Misunderstanding about Evangelism and Discipleship in the marketplace
  • Scandals and abuses that have undermined trust in the church in the wider community.
  • Lack of allowing the prophetic gifting to develop and training in the prophetic

 

Source Peter Kentley GME Strategic Plan River of Life