Monday, January 25, 2010

A Seed is Planted - No More Church as Usual!

Some years ago I had a dream. The Lord simply gave me the word "Antioch." At the time, all that I knew was that is was a biblical city where one of the apostles went. The first thing that I did was a word study on "Antioch."

What the Lord was trying to show me was that in the book of Acts there was a rich history describing the working of the spirit-filled church of the 1st century. Here are a few bullet points.

- The church was planted after the persecution of Stephen in Jerusalem. (Acts 11:19)

- The church was evangelistic having outreaches to the Greeks (Acts 11:20)

- It was overseen by the Apostle (Greek "sent one") Paul and Barnabas for about a year.

- Prophets from Jerusalem went there to minister. (Acts 11:27)

- The new church had apostolic, prophetic and teaching gifts. (Acts 13:1)

There is a lot more about the church at Antioch that one could glean just by reading Acts. It was a well known center with the ENTIRE 5-Fold ministry operating in it for about the first year. Apostles and prophets should move on once a local church has a pastor, good evangelism that fits the community and teaching.

I can't imagine that Antioch was "church as usual." The richness of teaching, miracle working apostles imparting gifts to the local body for the work of ministry and prophets hearing God for individual and corporate direction. How exciting to work together in relationship with other gifted folks, doing outreaches and growing in grace!

The difference between a formula and model is this. The formula is a patterned way of working, while a model is a principled way of working.

Having a church model allows the players to be diverse, yet uniquely individual while providing an invisible structure that God can use. For example, an apostle may stay for a year, but it certainly could be longer, or shorter. The same is true of prophets.

In the end, the local church must have pastoring, teaching and evangelism so that it will not become a Dead Sea. Every church needs an inflow of unbelievers that get saved, get discipled and then released into their destiny and ministry; some becoming leaders - reching outward.

The fruit of a healthy church is savlations leading to mature disciples. The problem sometimes is the lack of vision for various parts of body life when churches put a single holy-man in charge.

- Pastorally centered churches retain members for a long time because their needs are being met. They usually fail to bring unbelievers in to experience Christ, and become a Christian ghetto for others wounded by other churches.

- Prophetic centered churches provide lots of personal revelation, which is very encouraging and exciting, but little in the way of grace and fellowship.

- Apostolic centered churches breed miraculous excitement for a time - but without deeply committed pastors they can be a flash in the pan.

-Teacher centric churches can by relationally dry. Good teaching and theological training is essential. But it is not the end goal of the local church.

- Evangelistic churches are a wonder in the kingdom, bringing many through the door of salvation. However; they concentrate on evangelism, and not the deep and needed discipleship that a fruitful life as a Christian requires.

The above churches can also lead to spiritual abuse in extreme cases.

Any church the relies on just one man to get things going, and stay running, is going to be a lopsided and crippled expression of Jesus. It is essential that an apostolic/prophetic foundation be laid so that pastors, teachers and evangelists can work together for a balanced local ministry that creates gifted disciples for Christ.

Today I am writing to myself too - as I brood over the events of a church planting meeting yesterday. I am reminded that it is His church, and He has chosen leaders for his purposes - I just have to do my part - and nothing more.

I am also excited to see the apostolic process talking place for the very first time in my Christian life. Is it possible that there is an Antioch just out side of Boston that will grow into a living breathing church where God's creation is reached, taught, and released for His glory? I pray there is.

No more church as usual, are you with me?


Michelle said...

My husband and I were just discussing this...sort of. We have 3 churches that we either have attended or listen to via internet/DVDs. All three of those churches have a specific focus but are lacking in other areas.

It's great to hear the seed has been planted in your area. I know from reading previous posts the difficulties you have had in this area and this must be an answered prayer.

Joyce Lighari said...

That is an excellent summary of the focus of churches... which as you say are often dysfunctional or even abusive.
This sounds like a real God thing -- I'm praying.

Kristi Harris said...

Several of my friends no longer "do" church, and they're all saying that "church as usual" leaves them empty. More and more, I'm seeing Christians embrace the need for a deeply personal and fulfilling intimacy with God above and beyond the formulae that the modern church typically offers. Thanks for breaking things down into detail. It does seem that God is moving us away from comfortable patterns and into authentic sonship modeled after Christ. All I can say is Hallelujah!

photogr said...

Ok David: I am with you BUT!

So you are saying that a church must have the 5 fold ministry in order to follow God's will and prosper ( not monetarily). Bear with me a minute here.

So what you are saying is the church needs a pastor, an apsotle, a prophet, a teacher, and an evangelist. Right?

I attend a church that has two lead pastors and a hand full (about 6 to 8) of ministers for everything under the sun and they seem to have their own agenda about things. I see no such titles in that church relating to what you suggest. As a matter of fact, I have never been in a church that has that program in effect. The closest was probably the tent revivals from yesteryear. Probably the reason why I fell out with organized churches in general. Too much hypocrisy and double standards and one supreme leader ( pastor or business administrator).

The one things that really rattles my chains is this group seemed to have put a restriction on the monthly encounters ( no healing and laying of hands). God help me find a "tent" in this desolate desert that follows God's principles, not mans.

This was supposed to be the time that the Holy spirit had free will, not regulated to what the church leaders thought was appropriate. We cannot dictate to God how He should act.

Your idea of a 5 flod ministry is so revolutionary and yet ancient in it's beginnings that I wonder why the current body of Christ is not embracing this principle. It is readily apparent most are not winning souls to Christ lately isn't it.

From what has been revealed to me, this is what God's will is. It is amazing that so many churches are missing the mark in God's wishes aren't they?

I sincerely pray that your planting of the seeds works up there. If so I got some prime areas down here for you to do more seed planting. It is so drpressing to lead people to a church and then see them ignored.

Seltzer said...

Hey, thanks for the comment. I like your approach on balance in the 5 fold. Maybe that's why I like Bethel Church of Redding so much.
God bless,

David said...

Thanks, everyone for the comments. Paul - I look forward to reading more of your blog My Life, and suggest the others check it out.

Yes, Larry, I do think it is best o have a balance in the 5-Fold ministry. But we need to seek first the Kingdom of God, and watch to see what the Father is doing - then do it.

The balance comes in hearing God - where as the apostolic and prophetic are more often sent out than resident. The pastor is the relationship maker, the evangelist is outside the walls (in if the have the old time revival meetings) and the teacher is a minister to the body. These are rolls, not gifts per se. They can be fulfilled by one or more. - specifically with pastors.

I also think that it is a model, not a formula!

Ping said...

I get so frustrated when sharing with non-believers, and how they attacked Christianity as "organized religion". I need to thump one with a bible, OR I need to let the Spirit to handle this one for me.
I guess eventhough I'm so frustrated, I understand what Christianity = hypocrisy.
I know it's a bit off track, but I just want to share & want to bless you; may God bring His wisdom for you and those who try unleash the power of the Spirit into the body of Christ.

Location said...

Hey David, good word bro! This is why we have had a home church for the last 12 years just worshiping Him and loving on Him and getting out from within the walls!

I also believe if the church began to really speak the truth of the gospel you would not see hurting people in the church but victorious people! The truth is He's already done everything and if we begin to speak & teach the word as its already been perfected and that we don't have to work at what the Lord already has done. Col. 2:9&10 says He's the fullness of the Godhead,(Father, Son & Holy Spirit) were complete and that He has authority over all principalities and powers. Guess what, if he's in me, (I've excepted Him into my heart as my Lord & Savior)I have the fullness of the godhead in me, I'm complete and I have authority over all Principalities & powers. That's who we are, we can't do what grace already did for us on the cross!

Oh well, don't get me going! Keep up the good work no matter what anybody says. Hope to talk and see ya soon!

Blessings & love,
John & Deborah Sotirkys

Dottie said...

I believe you are exactly right on! However, sometimes, even when the 5 fold ministry is present, so are the egos and still it becomes the 'man' church. WE all need to realize that we all can be deceived and humbly repent often and move forward in unison.
And yes, I know of a lot of people who just won't go to church anymore, they either have their own worship time at home or meet with others in their homes etc, but there is something lacking there also....relationships and being out amongst people to pray for them etc. Relationships are key to this whole thing, first the relationship with Jesus and then with each other.
In church, we all need to realize that we all can hear from the Lord, it isn't just a chosen few. I have found that the Lord likes to give a word to each of us that all fits together.
The church I attend is new church, only 2years old and is starting to move slowly in the right direction, as far as I can see. I'm praying for more! I saw the Niagra falls sunday at our church, so I'm believing He is sending it!!

David said...

Wow, lots of good comments!

A lot of folks that have had it with church as usual, sad – but they are meeting, trying to enjoy Jesus.

Let me hit some of the keywords here. Ping, our mission is to the unbelievers, but better to bring a word, a comfort, or meet a need than debate with them. A lot more folks get saved when God meets their need, or provides comfort than when they debate thing – especially those that think we are hypocrites (which we may be).

Ego – yeah, I am not into the look-at-me type of Christianity. The 5-Fold is meant to function lovingly (1Cor 13) and in power. Not in human strength or even talent. The key is hearing from God, training releasing all the gifts, and this is central to accountable relationships in which we can confess our sins. If we cant confess our sins one to another, we do not have the type of relationship that God wants for us in the body!

Larry – churches need a balance of gifting in order to effectively reach the community and minister to its members. In the short term, to establish a foundation, the apostolic and prophetic roles are essential. In the long term, a steady flow of evangelism (new folks), in addition to good teaching and pastoral care is also essential.

John and Deb – hey, you guys have done a wonderful job in a dry place. You are the “relationship” folks, have a good apostolic and prophetic flow – I ask the Lord to bless it. Love you guys.

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