Mind Sets

Who Can We Trust To Get A Consensus?


The Act of “Consensus” – Part VI

 In Conclusion:

Building a consensus, to be “in one accord”, takes work, and it takes trust. Bottom line: In the vertical relationship between us and our God (John 3:16), can we trust the Holy Spirit to direct us into a consensus? If that same Holy Spirit indwells each of us believers because our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, cannot that Spirit arise among us to bring unity, purpose, and direction toward Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church?  In the horizontal, peer, relationship with other believers in Jesus Christ (I John 3:16), can we trust each other to bring consensus, agreement, and unity of faith in the Body of Christ? As a Christian, I ask, “Who can you trust?”

With all the splits, all the sects, all the denominations, all the church offices, all the different giftings, etc., with all this diversity in the body of Christ, how can consensus be found in the 21st Century Church structure? How can consensus be the norm of church governing? 


Question: Does Consensus Mean “Being In One Accord”?


The Act of “Consensus” – Part V

            Frank Viola, in his book Reimaging Church, states, “What was the New Testament pattern for decision-making in the early church?  It was simply by consensus.  "Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church," and, "it seemed good to us, having become of one mind," was the divine model for making corporate decisions (Acts 15:22, 25 NASB).  In other words, the decision-making of the early church was not in the hands of the elders. It was in the hands of all the brothers and sisters.  

Because the church is a body, all the members should agree before it moves forward in obeying the Head (Romans 12:4-5; 1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Ephesians 4:11-16). In fact, a lack of unity and cooperation among the members reveals a failure to embrace the Head (Christ).  

Majority rule, dictatorial rule, and a Robert's Rules of Order mentality do violence to the body image of the church.  And they dilute the unvarnished testimony that Jesus Christ is the Head of one unified body.  For this reason, Paul's epistles to the churches are saturated with exhortations to be of one mind (Romans 15:5-6; 1 Corinthians 1:10, 2 Corinthians 13:11; Ephesians 4:3; Philippians 2:2; 4:2).  Recall the Lord's teaching on the following text:  

Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. (Matthew 18:19)

Significantly, the word agree in this passage is translated from the Greek word sumphoneo.  Sumphoneo means to sound together-- to be in one accord.  Our word symphony is derived from this term.  So the meaning is clear.  When the church is in sympathetic harmony, God will act.  

In this connection, consensus mirrors the decision-making activity within the triune God, whose nature we were created to reflect.  God acts when the Father, Son, and Spirit agree.  Decision-making in the Godhead is communal and marked by mutual submission.  In other words, it's consensual.”

Viola continues, “Again, the elders of the early church bore the bulk of spiritual oversight and pastoral care for the assembly (Hebrews 13:7, 17, 24).  But they didn't make decisions on behalf of the church.  Nor were they solely responsible for the church's direction.  

Therefore, an elder has no biblical or spiritual right to bark out commands to a passive congregation.  Instead, the elders (once they emerged) worked together with the whole church toward reaching a unanimous decision and a single mind (Acts 15:22, 28).  But it was the church, as a whole, that made the decision as "one new man."   

But what about Hebrews 13:17?  In that text, some translations have "Obey them that are over you."  The Greek word for "obey" in this passage is not hupakouo, the garden-variety word for obedience used elsewhere in Scripture.  It's peitho (middle-passive form), which means to yield to persuasion.  The author of Hebrews was simply saying, "Allow yourselves to be persuaded by those who are more mature in Christ than you are."

So within the decision-making process of the early church, the role of the elders was to help the church reach a consensus on a matter.  By virtue of their relative spiritual maturity, they were sometimes able to persuade the church into a unified understanding of the Lord's mind.  But they had no right to force the church to adopt their view.  The elders were people who simply demonstrated qualities that build family solidarity (1 Timothy 3:4-5; Titus 1:6).”

Viola concludes “There's no doubt that consensus is costly.  It imposes responsibility upon all the member of a church to seek The Lord for themselves.  It demands that each believer patiently wrestle and struggle with one another to secure the Lord's mind.  It often means trading quick decisions for gaining confidence through delay.  But what building together it affords!  What working out of patience.  What expression of mutual love and respect.  What exercise of Christian community.  What restraint imposed upon the flesh.  What bearing of the cross.  What dying to our own agendas.

Is such a cost not worth the value of securing the Lord's mind for his body?  Is it not worth giving Him the opportunity to work in us more deeply as a people?  Does not confidence in getting the mind of The Lord on a matter relating to His church outweigh the convenience of making premature decisions-- decisions that can damage the lives of our brethren and miss the Lord's will?  We so often forget that, in God's eyes, the means is just as important as the end.  Once again, Christian Smith puts it beautifully:  

Consensus is built on the experience of Christian community.  It requires strong relationships able to tolerate struggling through issues together.  It requires mutual love and respect to hear each other when there is disagreement.  Consensus also requires a commitment to know and understand other people more than a desire to convince or railroad them. Consensus, as a way to make decisions in the church, is not easier, just better.  To paraphrase Winston Churchill, consensus is the worst form of decision-making in the church, except for all the others.  Consensus is not strong on efficiency, if by that we mean ease and speed.  It can take a long time to work through issues, which can become quite frustrating.  Consensus is strong on unity, communication, openness to the Spirit's leading, and responsible participation in the body.  In achieving those values, consensus is efficient.  Deciding by consensus, then, simply requires belief that unity, love, communication, and participation are more important in the Christian scheme that quick, easy decisions.  It requires the understanding that, ultimately, the process is as important as the outcome.  How we treat each other as we make decisions together is as important as what we actually decide.


Question: What Are The Elements Of Consensus?


The Act of “Consensus” – Part IV 

The decision making process or consensus became common among first century believers in the governing of this newly born Church. Dr. Tim Hartnett outlined in his article “The Basics of Consensus Decision-Making”  (www.GroupFacilitation.net) the common elements that are definitive of consensus decision making. These include:

Inclusive: As many stakeholders as possible are involved in group discussions.

Participatory: All participants are allowed a chance to contribute to the discussion.

Collaborative: The group constructs proposals with input from all interested group members. Any individual authorship of a proposal is subsumed as the group modifies it to include the concerns of all group members.

Agreement Seeking: The goal is to generate as much agreement as possible. Regardless of how much agreement is required to finalize a decision, a group using a consensus process makes a concerted attempt to reach full agreement.

Cooperative: Participants are encouraged to keep the good of the whole group in mind. Each individual’s preferences should be voiced so that the group can incorporate all concerns into an emerging proposal. Individual preferences should not, however, obstructively impede the progress of the group.

Acts 15 records such a proceeding in the early Church over the question of following the Jewish tradition of circumcision in this new group of believers, particularly among the newly converted gentiles.  A couple of hundred years later the Church would send its top brass, regional Bishops, to preside over a council to draft position papers on a controversial subject, debate with persuasion over the matter, and expel the opposition after an edict was passed. The hierarchal leaders in the power struggle would maintain direction and order. Any opposition would appear as heresy, but that was not the case at this first Church council held in Jerusalem. Let’s examine how the common elements that are definitive to consensus decision making were used.

Background: (Acts 15:1-3)

Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” When Paul and Barnabas had great dissension and debate with them, the brethren determined that Paul and Barnabas and some others of them should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders concerning this issue. Therefore, being sent on their way by the church, they were passing through both Phoenicia and Samaria describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and were bringing great joy to all the brethren.

Inclusive: As many stakeholders as possible are involved in group discussions.

(Acts 15:2) ….. the brethren determined that Paul and Barnabas and some others of them should go up to Jerusalem…..

(Acts 15:4) When they arrived at Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders.

This new “Believers in Jesus” movement had originated as predominately a Jewish movement, most believers living in the Jerusalem area after Pentecost. Like today, the “traditionalist”, those of Pharisee background, (the ‘Word’ faction of the 1st Century Church) wanted to be doctrinally heard. Those who had seen the transforming power of this gospel, (the ‘Spirit’ faction who had ‘experienced’ the power of the Holy Spirit even among the gentiles) wanted to present their defense. Both factions, who were hotly sincere about their convictions, wanted the whole church of their time to come on a consensus to settle the dispute. Recognized leadership through the apostles and respectful wisdom from older, mature Christians, the elders, also participated.

Participatory: All participants are allowed a chance to contribute to the discussion. We hear from the concerned, critical “Word/Holiness” faction led by Pharisaical brethren which produced debate; the “Traditional/Historical” perspective from Peter, the Apostle, produced silence; the experiential testimonies of the “Spirit/Pentecostal” faction were led by Paul and Barnabas; and the “Scriptural” perspective from James, the brother of Jesus, an elder were shared\ before the group could come to a consensus on the issue.

Collaborative: The group constructs proposals with input from all interested group members. Any individual authorship of a proposal is subsumed as the group modifies it to include the concerns of all group members.

-  Word/Holiness Faction (led by Pharisees): (Acts 15:5) But some of the sect of the Pharisees who had believed stood up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to direct them to observe the Law of Moses.”

-  Traditional/Historical Faction (led by Peter): (Acts 15:7-12) After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe. God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us, and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hears by faith. Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.”

-  Spirit/Pentecostal Faction (led by Barnabas and Paul): (Acts 15:12) All the people kept silent, and they were listening to Barnabas and Paul as they were relating what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.

-  Scriptural Faction (led by James): (Acts 15:13-18) After they had stopped speaking, James answered saying, “Brethren, listen to me. Simeon has related how God first concerned Himself about taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name. With this the words of the Prophets agree, just as it is written ‘After these things, I will return, and I will rebuild the tabernacle of David which has fallen, and I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it, so that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by My name,’ says the Lord, who makes these things known from long ago.”

Agreement Seeking: The goal is to generate as much agreement as possible. Regardless of how much agreement is required to finalize a decision, a group using a consensus process makes a concerted attempt to reach full agreement.

James throws out a proposal that shows that everyone’s voice has been heard. No view is totally rejected, nor totally accepted, nor is a compromise established to gain political influence. James suggests,  (Acts 15:19-21) Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles, but that we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols, and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood. For Moses from ancient generations has in every city those who preach him, since he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath.”

Cooperative: Participants are encouraged to keep the good of the whole group in mind. Each individual’s preferences should be voiced so that the group can incorporate all concerns into an emerging proposal. Individual preferences should not, however, obstructively impede the progress of the group.

 (Acts 15:22-31) Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas – Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren, and they sent this letter by them,

The apostles and the brethren who are elders, to the brethren in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia who are from the Gentiles, greetings. Since we have heard that some of our number to whom we gave no instruction have disturbed you with their words, unsettling your souls, it seems good for us, having become of one mind, to select men to send to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, men who have risked their lives for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore we have sent Judas and Silas, who themselves are also report the same things by word of mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials:

 That you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication; if you keep yourself free from these such things, you will do well. Farewell.

So when they were sent away, they went down to Antioch; and having gathered the congregation together, they delivered the letter. When they had read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement.

Agreement was reached through consensus. It was not decided by vote, or majority rule, nor dictatorial decree from leadership, but through a consensus of agreement among all present. All voices had been heard; all voices were given credence, and the Holy Spirit brought the group to a consensus, and understanding, a direction which all could proceed forward. Everyone left proclaiming the same message which brought encouragement, not division. There were no church splits, no continual feuds, not criticisms about what happened, but everyone left “in one mind”, “in one accord”.  The Church has not been able to reproduce this astounding accomplishment over the centuries as it established a hierarchal pyramid of leadership structure that began to dictated doctrine, decree, and dogma. With the clergy/laity divide the voices of the common believer, the laity would be silenced or ignored. Opposition would be looked upon as heresy, and its advocates shunned or ex-communicated from the church, and the church would be baptized into what would be known as the Dark Ages of history. 


Question: What Does Ekklésia Have To Do With Consensus?


The Act of “Consensus” – Part III

Nowhere in the New Testament are strict guidelines given on how to form and run Church government. All agree that Jesus is the head of the Church and that “the government shall be upon his shoulders”, but how that works practicality is debatable? 

 In the United States of America, the Church as a whole finds it hard to understand how to govern collectively. Under the old European system, traditional orthodoxy was led by strong hierarchal structures that created Bishops, Cardinals, and a Pope. Secular kings and dictators aligned themselves with church movements: Henry VIII of England created the Anglican Church in protest against the Roman Catholic Church. Germany aligned themselves with Luther and the “Protestant” movement. Even Hitler made sure he appeared to be aligned to the Lutheran Church of his day. When the United States formed its new government, they made sure there would to be a separation between church and State.

Democracy became a vertebra in the backbone of American politics and government. In a country with a two party political system, government gridlock is the norm; having an “unanimous” decision on anything seems impossible and only happens rarely. 51%, a majority, brings “agreement”, although 49% can be in opposition. Biblically, there is no support for democracy as a form of church government; the Bible clearly does not support majority rule.

Ordained Old Testament government was a theocracy, headed by God. Although it started with strong leadership from Moses, it yielded to judges, then kings, and even established a high priest and a Levitical priesthood to set the religious bounds for Israel.

 All that changed when Jesus became the “messiah” and “king” establishing his “kingdom of God.” “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (II Corinthians 5:17)  The Old Temple system of worship would be abolished. God’s Spirit would indwell in any and every man or woman who believed in Jesus Christ. “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” (I Corinthians 6:19)  Animal sacrifices were now archaic since Jesus had become the sacrificial lamb. Even the Levitical priesthood demolished. A new priesthood, a royal priesthood was birthed. “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you ay proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.” This priesthood of believers would form what would become known as the Church.

Those operating under this new kingdom differed from those under the Old Testament style of government. They governed by “consensus”.  The Bible uses the term “with one accord”. Told to tarry in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit would come, they obediently “continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.” (Acts 1:14) “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.” (Acts 2:1)  The promise of the Holy Spirit came, and this spirit of consensus continued. “So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart.” (Acts 2:46)

Steve Atkerson’s article “Building Congregational Consensus” shares an insight into the word ekklésia. “The Greek word ekklésia never refers to a building or place of worship, and it can refer to much more than just a meeting, assembly, or gathering.  Our understanding of Christ’s church will be much impoverished if we fail to factor in the dynamics of the original Greek word. With so much emphasis today on the separation of church and state, the last thing people associate church with is government. Yet, this was exactly the original meaning of ekklésia.

During the time of Jesus, ekklésia was used outside the New Testament to refer to a political assembly that was regularly convened for the purpose of making decisions. In the secular ekklésia, every citizen had “the right to speak and to propose matters for discussion.” [1]

Why did Jesus choose such a politically loaded word (ekklésia) to describe His people and their meetings?[Matthew 16:13-20 & 18:15-20.] Had Jesus merely wanted to describe a gathering with political connotations, he could have used sunagogé, thiasos or eranos. Perhaps Jesus intended His people, the Church, to function together with a purpose somehow parallel to that of the political government. If so, believers have the responsibility to propose matters for discussion, decide things together, make joint decisions and experience the consensus process.

God’s people have a decision-making mandate. A church is fundamentally a body of Kingdom citizens who are authorized (and expected) to weigh major issues, make decisions, and pass judgments on major issues. Though decision making will not occur at most church meetings (there aren’t usually issues to resolve), an understanding that the church corporately has the authority and obligation to settle things is important. Churches where the congregation never grapples corporately with problems or resolves issues may be failing to fulfill their full purpose as an ekklésia.”

Atkerson continues, “An important caveat is that the church, in its decision making role, should be judicial rather than legislative. Christians are subject to the Law of Christ. The church’s job is not to create law – only God can rightly do that. This is one point where the ekklésia of God’s people would differ in function from the ekklésia of the Greek city-states. Our responsibility as believers within Christ’s ekklésia is to correctly apply and enforce the law of Christ as contained in the New Covenant (Mt 18:15-20). Church members are to be like citizen-judiciaries who meet together when necessary to deliberate and decide issues or to render judgments. This form of government works tolerably well in a smaller church where people love each other enough to work through their disagreements. It is virtually impossible to operate this way in a large church setting.”

Atkerson concludes, “Not all occurrences of the word ekklésia in the New Testament involve a decision making body.  The word ekklésia is actually used several different ways in the New Testament. Yet its most fundamental usage remains that of a group of people gathered for the purpose of making decisions. In this sense, the ekklésia is not merely the coming together of God’s people.  It is also what occurs when God’s people come together. The church is authorized by the Lord to make decisions about the correct application of Scripture. It is expected to enforce the law of Christ (within the family of God) and to deal with issues as they arise. There will not always be issues to resolve, but God’s people must ever bear in mind their obligation to function as an ekklésia when necessary.”

[1] Lothan Coenen, “Church,” The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, Vol. 1, Colin Brown, General Editor (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1971), 291.


Question: What Do Others Have To Say About Consensus?


The Act of “Consensus” – Part II 

“Consensus isn’t just about agreement. It’s about changing things around: You get a proposal, you work something out, people foresee problems, you do creative synthesis. At the end of it, you come up with something that everyone thinks is okay. Most people like it, and nobody hates it.”David Graeber 

“Effective strategic leaders know how to get everyone involved in policy making and build consensus in the process. Within large complex organizations, whether public or private, consensus is the engine that sustains policy decisions. No strategic leader can succeed unless he or she can build such consensus. Thus, the search for consensus among peers, allies, and even competitors becomes a requirement for shared commitment to a national policy, and to corporate, business policy.” ― From National Defense University’s Website (http://www.au.af.mil/au/awc/awcgate/ndu/strat-ldr-dm/pt3ch11.html) – paper: “Strategic Leadership and Decision Making 11”

“Someone has postulated that most human beings only use ten percent of their brain. If that is true, then ten people have to be in a meeting to get whole-brain thinking. This explains the value of working in teams.

Everyone who has been in one of my management training sessions knows that I define a "team" as a group of individuals who "step forward together" to achieve a common goal. Teamwork requires individuals to pool information and consider different viewpoints to find solutions and make decisions. Seldom do all team members have the same view about an idea or issue. Polarized views, opposing opinions, and stubborn holdouts can often block the progress of a team. The success of a team relies heavily on how quickly the members can come to consensus on both what their goal is and how it will be achieved.

A significant portion of a team's effectiveness and "health" is tied to how well the team members interact and make decisions…..

Coming to true consensus among a group of individuals is hard to do. It takes great facilitative skills and effective process tools among the group to bring everyone to agreement. True consensus requires everyone to remain firmly grounded and completely committed to their consensus decision once the team discussion has ended.

Unfortunately, I've found that consensus in many companies is only consensus until everyone leaves the room. Once people get back into their work area or start to ponder the team's decision outside the team room, some members tend to question the team's decision and their commitment to it. The key, therefore, to achieving consensus is not just getting it, but also making sure it sticks once it is reached.” ― Mac McIntire, President, Innovative Management Group  (On website: http://www.imglv.com/articles/gaintrueconsensus.htm)

“So what was the New Testament pattern for decision-making in the early church?  It was simply by consensus.  "Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church," and, "it seemed good to us, having become of one mind." was the divine model for making corporate decisions (Acts 15:22, 25 NASB).  In other words, the decision-making of the early church was not in the hands of the elders. It was in the hands of all the brothers and sisters. “― Frank Viola; “Reimaging Church” 

“It is important to remember that the process a church goes through in achieving consensus may be just as important as the consensus that is finally achieved. Consensus governing takes time, commitment, mutual-edification, and lots of brotherly love. It truly can work in smaller churches, such as were found in the New Testament era.  We must love each other enough to put up with each other. The concept behind consensus might be called government by unity, oneness, harmony, or mutual agreement. Do we really trust in the Holy Spirit to work in our lives and churches?” “― Steve Atkerson; “Building Congregational Consensus”

The Principle Of “Reigning With”, Not “Ruling Over”


Prepositions Define Leadership Style & Relationships

God established a Priesthood so that He would have men “draw near TO him.” God’s design was never to have a “distant” relationship WITH mankind, but an intimate, close relationship. God had walked IN the garden WITH Adam and Eve; they all communicated as close friends. Sin separated man FROM his God; distant relationships came THROUGH sin.

Relationships were mutual BEFORE the fall; Adam and Eve did everything IN one accord, together, IN unity WITH God. Sin brought distance IN Adam’s relationship WITH Eve, and as part OF the curse the male would dominate or “rule OVER” the woman who would cling TO him. This intimate mutual relationship OF equal peers could only be restored THROUGH the shed blood OF Jesus Christ ON the Cross, as an atonement for the sins OF mankind. Now, IN Jesus, a mutual relationship as equal peers to be united as one was restored not only TO the institution OF marriage but also TO the Church as a whole. God’s design was never to have a “distant” relationship WITH mankind, but an intimate, close relationship.

Jesus told his disciples that the gentiles “rule OVER” one another, but that is not the way IN the kingdom OF God. God’s people “reign WITH” one another by being “BESIDE” one another IN a linear relationship OF equality. Even though Jesus had to return TO the Father IN heaven to intercede FOR His believers, He promised that he would not abandon them as orphans. He does not believe IN distant relationships. Instead they He made them “children OF God”, and their physical bodies would become the “temples OF the Holy Spirit.” God’s personal Holy Spirit would not be “ABOVE” them in the far distance, nor descending as a dove had upon Jesus when he was baptized, but would be “IN” them. How intimate is that?  All mankind has to do is allow the Holy Spirit “IN” their lives, and He chooses to dwell or live there forever! How awesome is that?

Unfortunately when we diminish relationship, we establish religion. As “God’s people” became known as “The Children OF Disobedience” IN the dessert, a religious institution replaced those relationships WITH an Old Testament Priesthood headed by a High Priest, a man, who oversaw animal sacrifices and a Levitical priesthood. By the time Jesus appeared the Ark OF the Covenant, God’s Presence, was missing IN a Temple that had replaced the Tabernacle. God wanted to reestablish relationships, to again “draw men near” him, thus he faced the Cross, death, that led TO his resurrection. God had already established a “Priesthood of Believers” according TO the order of Melchizadek who was without genealogy, tradition, and IN the likeness of Jesus Christ. Fallen relationships had been restored THROUGH Jesus.

Religious “institutions” have built pyramidal organizational structures WITH a man AT the top. I don’t care if it is the High Priest, the Roman Catholic Pope, or the Protestant local Pastor who lord “OVER” their flock or group. The foundation OF the clergy/laity schism is built ON this pyramid of church power and politics of who will rule “OVER” the church. OVER the centuries the clergy have made sure power has become entrenched WITH them while the laity are to be only followers.

This is not how the kingdom of God works. Leadership “WITHIN” the Church is defined by who is “BESIDE” you, “NEXT TO” you, “WITH” you, not who is “OVER” you. When Jesus was ON earth, He never lorded “OVER” anyone. He did not establish a pyramid structure where he was “ABOVE” his disciples but always walked “WITH” them, “BESIDE” them while teaching them AS a peer, a man, a teacher teaching only what the “Father” was telling him. In fact, the last thing he taught his disciples before going TO the Garden OF Gethsemane and the Cross was how not to be “ABOVE” them, but stooped down “BELOW” them and washed their feet. He was preparing them to learn the principle OF how to “lay DOWN your life FOR your brethren” by literally “laying DOWN his life FOR them.” When you lay something DOWN, it is “BENEATH” you, not “above” you.

The Church needs to learn to lay “DOWN” their lives FOR one another; Christian husbands need to learn how to lay “DOWN” their lives for their wives, not lording “OVER” them. They are your equal peers, your Eve’s, restored TO oneness “WITH” you so that you can be IN agreement IN all things! They are not to be controlled but served! You are to present them TO yourself “without spot or wrinkle”, pure, holy, blameless, as a restored equal IN Jesus!  Leadership needs to not be “ABOVE” those they are to serve, but be AT their level: “AHEAD” of them to lead, “BEHIND” them to cover their backs, and “BESIDE” them IN their personal journeys, and they need to begin to “equip the saints”, not the staff, for the “works OF service”, teaching them to serve one another THROUGH personal examples!

As believers IN Jesus, God is “WITH” us, not distantly “ABOVE” us, out OF our reach, but actually “IN” us; His Holy Spirit choosing to “IN”dwell us! The church needs to rethink and restructure its leadership models. Institutional hierarchy models are not scriptural, not the plan of the kingdom of God, and not relational as equal peers IN Jesus Christ. If the Church wants true revival, radical changes will have to occur IN its mindsets, IN its methods, and how it handles relationships, especially between leadership and the rest OF the body of Christ.  Leadership MUST begin to get off its pedestal “above” its congregation, and not only mingle, but be equal peers WITH them THROUGH service.


The Cross: A Dying Principle


What Does “Laying Down Your Life For Your Brethren Mean?

“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? (IJohn 3:16-17)


  • Even nature teaches us that you cannot have life without death.
  • The season of “spring” comes only after the dying of the “winter” season.
  • The Christian Church was birthed through death & resurrection, thus the Easter story.


During the Lenten season, I often ask the Lord to reveal a new aspect of the Cross to me. There is so much to learn from the Cross, for it is central to the Christian faith.  One year I learned the principle that “God can make beauty out of the worst possible scenario; he can make the ugliest situation the most beautiful.” The most painful, cruel, inhumane judgment the Romans executed was the crucifixion. Jesus hung beaten beyond recognition, exposed before women, and totally disgraced in front of his own mother, YET in less than three days he would be resurrected in a new body with scars but without pain for his mother and his disciples to see!  The beauty of the resurrection replaced the horror of the crucifixion.  When I find myself in dark spots, places of disgrace, in areas of pain and suffering, those ugly places, in hope, I look for the coming resurrection that can only be found in Jesus.

This Lenten season I am focusing on IJohn 3:16-17 as I continue to ponder over the meaning of “laying down your life for your brethren.“This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” That principle I understand in my head, in my intellect, but practically in every day life the “we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers” still baffles me.

Being a retired 8th Grade English teacher for 40 years who had to teach English grammar, I am fascinated by John’s choice of pronoun here: “We ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” The pronoun “we” is inclusive and plural. It doesn’t say “I” but “we”. We, I believe, refers to the Body of Christ, the Priesthood of Believers, the corporate Church! Today’s church is known for shooting their wounded, criticizing their brethren, debating profusely over theology and doctrine, yet hypocritically proclaims that “we” are one Church, united in Jesus! If we truly are united in Jesus, then our actions should speak louder than our words, and they don’t. When we see brothers and sisters in different Christian denominations, sects, or local churches not under the same Christian sect’s banner as our own, we do not meet their “need” nor show “pity” towards them, but judge them by “pitying” them for having a “need” as if it were judgment for their lack of faith or incorrect theology! As John and I both ask, “How can the love of God be in (us)?

Laying down one’s life is the central message of the gospel. “Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” That single act opened the door for redemption, reconciliation, healing, hope, faith, love, etc. “And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers,” that single act, will open the door for redemption, reconciliation, healing, hope, faith, love, etc. between brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. The Cross ended the curse of sin that divided mankind from his God; the Cross also ended the curse that caused Cain to kill his brother Abel that has divided mankind throughout history.

Death brings resurrection. Jesus’ body that laid in the tomb three days dead was resurrected. History was now changed forever. Only if “we”, the Church, the believers in Jesus Christ, the Priesthood of Believers, are willing to lay down our lives, dead to our past traditions and mindsets, can “we” expect to see a resurrection of life and unity in the Spirit and in the Church!

But the question still needs to be asked, “How do we lay down our lives ‘practically” in our day to day life towards each other?” What does that mean? What does it look like? What practical steps must “we” take, individually as believers in Jesus and corporately as a Church, a Body?

As this series of blogs professes, I truly that believe by embracing the five fold as passions, drives, points of view, and diverse voices in the body of Christ to build up the saints into the image of Jesus Christ while bringing unity to the Body of Christ, every believer in Jesus Christ, every member of the Priesthood of Jesus Christ, is responsible for the “we” who are to “lay down his life for his brethren.” If I truly profess that the Church is going through a metamorphosis stage of redevelopment and structural reconstruction, then I need to focus on the “we”, the Church, part and figure out how I can lay down my life for my brethren, not for the institution nor its organization, but for my fellow brethren, real live people! This Easter “I” need to die to self; “we” need to die to ourselves, and begin to “lay down our lives” for one another! That is the price for true revival!


Have I Missed The Mark? I “Think Not”; I Just “Experienced It!”


Having Second Thoughts About The Next Movement Of God?

I had forgotten an important principle in my life: In order to learn a spiritual kingdom of God principle, I usually have to experience it! Head knowledge for me is never enough!

Although revivals usually work outside the boundaries of the institutional church, I believe the next major movement of God will directly affect present day Church structure.  I sense God will work within his own body, the Body of Christ, to reinstitute the Priesthood of Believers as peers, equals, brothers and sisters in the faith where linear relationships built on trust, service, honesty, and integrity will be solidified. The clergy/laity schism will finally be diminished. Like every other revival or movement of God, this must be orchestrated by the Holy Spirit, and obedience to what the Holy Spirit reveals is mandatory.         

I believe that this move of God will be a “metamorphic” transformation of present day church structure that is professional, clergy driven, and pyramidal in structure (caterpillar stage) to a laity driven, linear structure of peer relationships among believers in Jesus built on acceptance, equality, and accountability to “one another” (butterfly stage). How does the Church get from Point “A”, the caterpillar stage, to Point “B”, the butterfly stage?

On this path lies the dynamics of this next movement of God, the cocoon stage. As God covers, masks, and builds this cocoon around his Church, unobservable by the outside world, the Holy Spirit will supernaturally reconstruct what was once natural into a butterfly. The butterfly’s structure will not resemble anything the traditional church has ever seen; the old structure will be totally reconstructed. “The old has passed, behold the new!”  Infamous for not embracing change, the Church will embrace structural change and how it functions. Since butterflies function differently from caterpillars, this new Church structure will demand new ways, new forms, and new mindsets.

My dilemma: I have believed that my local church, which has embraced drastic changes in the past, would be open to embracing this new movement of God. I became shocked when leadership opposed it, not wanting to hear about it, so conflict arose which has forced me to break ties with that body. It became a power play. Why would a strong, pyramidal leadership structure relinquish their control over the Priesthood of Believers? I have looked “unsubmissive” to their leadership by questioning them. Some have even accused me of “slandering” their office and “defiling” their sheep. One elder advised me to accept their strong, pyramidal leadership style that he thought biblical or leave the fold, the family, that which I have been grafted in for almost twenty years. I told him I am seeking leadership who will be in front of me to lead, behind me to cover my back, and beside me to walk relationally through my faith journey with me, not a leader who dictates what I should and should not do and can and cannot do over me. I am looking for an equal brother in the Lord, not a leader who renders me voiceless, threatening severe church discipline if I make one more mistake.

While what was my local church keeps choosing the path of institutionalizing, empowering clergy and staff, while enabling the Priesthood of Believers into passivity, families are leaving, numbers dwindling, with many of the faithful no longer faithfully attend. I still believe God is working in their midst, for they are entering their cocoon of introspection, and it is painful because inside the cocoon at the center of all this activity is the CROSS!

The Cross is a painful place that brings death. Without death there is no resurrection. Great opposition led Jesus to the Cross. The Pharisees of Jesus’ day could not hear nor see what God was saying or doing. Today is no different, for Pharisees are always spiritually blind and tone deaf. I know; I am a recovering Pharisee. Like Saul, now Paul, I have been there! At the Cross God reconciled himself to man (John 3:16) and reconciled man to mankind (IJohn 3:16). The Cross is the only place God can teach his faithful, his Priesthood of Believers, how to “lay down your life for your brethren,” bringing transformation from dominant leadership to peer acceptance through reciprocal service to and from “one another” as equals. There are no classes of distinction, no offices nor titles in the kingdom of God, only equals, a Priesthood of Believers.

In spite of the opposition, the darkness of the hour, facing the emotional feelings of rejection and abandonment, I still believe God is faithful and moving, and revival IS happening IN the CHURCH right now as it approaches this metamorphic stage. God, give us, the Priesthood of Believers and church leadership everywhere, strength as we go through this dynamic transformation! 


How To Move Away From Church Politics Pt.3

The Spinning Wheel Of Diverse Ideas

In the last blog, we recognized the role, passions, and point of view that drive the evangelistic, shepherding, teaching, prophetic, and apostolic spirits that can be in a church leadership meeting. No one passion or role dominates the others if they are going to work in unity. As the model of a five fold diagram suggests, each distinct passion of the five fold reaches out to the other four and receives or submits to them, thus creating a star shape in a pentagon of accountability. A key to the success of this model lies in the circle around it, for the pentagon can rotate, and the passion or the point of view needed at that moment can arise to the occasion with the other four being supportive. As the circle rotates, different passions and points of view are shared and a solution is found. It is in the relationships of giving and receiving/submitting of the five to one another, yet releasing each individually to “do their thing” or release their passion that is monumental in keeping unity, yet achieving success.

Let’s look at a hypothetical situation.  Hot potato problem: The Tuesday Evening small group that meets at Matt & Mildred Miller’s has the same 8 people in it as when they created the group three years ago. They recognized their group has become “very close” but have become accused of being “cliquish”. The group has become stagnant, lacks motivation, and they are asking leadership for help.

After the leadership team have prayed and sat in silence, listening to the Holy Spirit, the evangelist in the group rises and identifies the problem. He discerns that Matt Miller, their leader, is a true shepherd, nurturer, who cares for those in their group, thus they have followed his lead, allowed him to shepherd them, producing their small group as a safe nest and have become introverted as a group.

The prophet now rises as the five-fold circle rests on him. He gets the world “expand” and exhorts the group “to reach out to others producing new streams that will water their group.” He continues to exhort them to “expand beyond just the care of a shepherd, and begin to instruct and guide these new ones. A teacher in the group will arise. He will walk beside them as a shepherd leading his herd as he instructs.” He continues to prophesy, “and one of you will network these new ones into various aspects of the five fold bringing life.”

The teacher in the leadership group now arises in the circle of the five fold to share scriptures pertaining to the kingdom of god and its expansion, scriptures about the shepherd and his sheep like the parable of the shepherd who left the 99 to find the lost one. The shepherd of the leadership team confirms that they could take the nurturing Mat Miller instilled in them and now walk “beside” these new ones in their group in instruction in practical day-to-day experiences.

The remaining leader with an apostolic bent confirms the possibility of all these suggestions if the group first identifies the giftings in their group who has the passion for evangelism, shepherding, teaching, prophesying, and networking. The person with the networking passion can then coordinate the others in their united attempt to nurture the influence of these new ones, releasing each in the group to go with their passion. The five look at each other in agreement, are unified on their recommendation, no longer looking at the Miller group as a potential problem but as a promising prospect, and released them to be obedient in following the Holy Spirit’s guidance!

The Miller group begins by releasing the evangelistic spirit: inviting others to join their group, some from within their existing church structure, some nonbelievers who they personally know. They begin “loving” on them, caring for them, nurturing them, fellowshipping with them, sharing the power of the gospel with them, inviting them to enter God’s kingdom and love. Several respond. Now the group responds by allowing the shepherds and teachers in their midst to begin to walk out their new faith through daily living. The prophetic members of the group teaches the new ones how to listen to the Holy Spirit for themselves and share what they hear with the group. The Holy Spirit begins to speak to the group and instructs them to “expand even further” and they begin to reach out to the homeless now that they have a base of nurture, care, and resources in their group to do so. The group grows, expands, is full of life, and moves forward changing lives. In just six months they have grown so huge they decide to split into two, so they can keep the feeling of an intimate small group, and further “expansion” begins as they continue to grow in strength, spirituality, and numbers.

What was once looked upon as a problem has now become a success story because of the “voices” of many, the diversity of different points of view in helping the group, and being willing to release the passions of each member in the group with the support of the others. That is the potential of the five-fold in problem solving.

How To Move Away From Church Politics Pt.2


The Holy Spirit: A Problem Solver

In the last blog, we saw that our mindset toward leadership must change if we are to move away from politics when in church meetings. We need to moved toward being a “servant” instead of trying to be “savior”, having the buck stop with us at the top of the pyramid of hierarchal power. Leadership must be linear, beside one another, laying down one’s life for one another through service and being served. We will only begin to move away from church politics if we instill these principles.

Church business meeting’s agendas often address current “hot potatoes”, topics that have become controversial in the church. It seems like most local church leadership meetings that I have been part of are centered around “putting out the fires” of controversy that seem to lift their heads. You spend more time on “fire prevention” and “fire fighting” than on anything else, and it drains you.

To understand how the five fold can be an effective “problem solver” model you have to understand the role, the passions, the gifting, and the points of view of each of the five fold present so you know their strengths and weaknesses:

The Passion, Drive, & Point Of View toward Evangelism: The evangelistic spirit is all about birth and rebirth. It takes what is lost and gets it found! It draws people to Jesus as the only answer. It demands repentance from the old; the embracing of the new. Once that process happens, it moves on to another lost cause/or person to be found. Evangelists can recognize what is “wrong,” leading people to Jesus to make it “right”. Often the evangelistic spirit can identify the problem, define it in its simplest form (sin), and present it to the group. Now they know what they are facing. The evangelist is usually not good at problem solving, but knows how to lead people to Jesus who is the problem solver. When the group focuses on Jesus, it releases the evangelist to move on. Once a group comes to a consensus, the evangelist is an excellent source then to “proclaim the new”, give “birth” to the solution, begin the process of birthing results to solve the problem. In conclusion: the spirit of evangelism is good at identifying the problem, defining it, moving others toward Jesus for the solution as their “Savior”, then releasing it to the others. Upon their consensus, jumping back into the picture, they love to birth and proclaim.

The Passion, Drive, & Point Of View toward Shepherding: The shepherding spirit is all about caring, nurturing, developing, grooming, and growing others into the image of Jesus Christ.  The shepherd will want to solve the problem from a caring, nurturing point of view. They know the solution may not be instantaneous, though it could be, but probably a process of day-to-day learning experience of adjustments and changes. Walking beside or through the solution is mandatory for the shepherd who walks with his/her sheep and knows their voice, habits, life style, wants, etc. He gives practical applications to the steps needed to solve the problem. Nurturing properly is important to him. A shepherd is a very practical, disciplined person who takes one step at a time. Shepherds are usually not in a hurry, but patient, moving in harmony with their herd. In problem solving, they see that the process leads to the solution desired as a series of steps, a walk, a journey toward a destination. They are instruments of grace, taking their lambs out of thickets, lifting ewes out of ditches, fighting of predators who thrive on problems caused by dumb sheep. They extend mercy even in the harshest of times. Their attitudes extend hope in hopeless situations, and love to the unlovely. They are the practicality of the problem solving process.

The Passion, Drive, & Point Of View toward Teaching: The teaching spirit is all about having everyone “experience” the solution, actually changing mindsets, attitudes, and patterns by “living it out”, not just intellectually knowing it.  “Knowing about” forgiveness is far different that “experiencing” forgiveness or “extending” forgiveness to others. We are to not only be “hearers of the Word, but doers,” so the teacher is there to make sure the linear “walking out” the solution will be Biblically based but practical in life.  Jesus had to allow Peter to sink first before allowing him to walk on water to teach the Biblical principle of “faith”. I’ve learned there are two kinds of students in life: “obedient” ones who do what they are told without questioning and the “stove touchers” who have to “experience” touching the stove to know “why” and are willing to endure the pain to learn that truth. In the end they both learned not to touch hot stoves, but the teacher has to know how to lead both groups toward the lesson to be learned. In problem solving, the teacher often is the person defining the steps and methods how to solve the problem for those who blindly accept the solutions and those who will buck it to find out “why” before resigning to the solution.

The Passion, Drive, & Point Of View toward the Prophetic: The prophetic spirit is all about relationships. Prophets want intimate relationships, usually between man and god. They want others to learn to seek the Father, get into the Presence of Jesus, listen to the Holy Spirit, and intimately enter into worship with all three. In problem solving within the church it is so important to understand “the mind of Christ” by revelation through the Holy Spirit to get a solution. The woman at the well is a good example, where Jesus “understands” her background by revealing it to her before addressing the real problem, her relationship with God. Peter had to understand “the mind of Christ’ by having the revelation of the sheet with unclean animals being acceptable before going to the House of Cornelius. This ability to know “God’s will”, his “revelation” on the problem is crucial in finding “His” solution.

The Passion, Drive, & Point Of View toward the Apostolic: The apostolic spirit is all about discernment and networking. The apostle is not the C.E.O, the Big Cheese, the Head Honcho, only a person who gets “revelation” of seeing the big picture in its entirety. He is known for discernment and knowledge. He “hears” the evangelistic voice, the shepherding call, the teacher’s objectives, the prophet’s discernment, and pulls them all together. He not only sees the problem clearly, but sees the revelation of the answer in its entirety and knows how to network the others into bringing a proper, godly solution that will bear great spiritual fruit. Unlike a C.E.O., he does not take the credit nor leads the drive toward its solution, but humbly gives the credit to the entire group, calling each in his or her own way to use their gifting toward the solution.

Now we have seen what is in our group, we can move forward toward a solution.


How To Move Away From Church Politics: Pt. I

Leadership Model: A New Mindset

 Church politics often devastates church unity. Divisions bring hurt. Hurt produces schism. Schisms rip relationships asunder, destroying unity. Church politics contributes to “church hoping”. Since most local churches pattern their leadership meetings after the C.E.O. hierarchal business model, agendas out line reports to the upper echelon of the hierarchy, old business to be reviewed, and building maintenance, business management, and current “hot potatoes” to be discussed. Finances, or lack thereof, often control what is or is not on the agenda.  By the end of the meeting tempers can flare, disagreements exposed, and disgruntled attitudes can replace hope and direction. Wanting our business meetings to be like worship sessions, “devotions” are read with an opening prayer, but unlike worship which draws all men toward Him, the political battles over heated topics causes withdrawal instead. I have witness church politics at the local, district, and denominational levels, and it never has been a pretty thing nor an unifying process.

Is there an alternative? As long as we opt for a business model with hierarchal power we can expect the same results.  “You can not serve God and money,” yet we patter our church leadership style after the Wall Street business model.

First, we must acknowledge that leadership in the kingdom of God walks beside a brother and sister in the lord, not lording over them. The mother of two disciples was soundly rebuked by Jesus when she wanted her sons positioned for power beside Jesus in his kingdom. In fact, true kingdom leadership bows down while washing feet in service and is willing to lay prostrate by physically and spiritually laying down their life for their brethren (I John 3:16). There is no elevation, only revelation through peer relationships of acceptance and equality. “Chairmen of the Board” and “Senior Pastors” are not scriptural. Contrary to what my Roman Catholic brethren believe, Peter was no “Pope” above everyone. He became known for opening his mouth and inserting his food, humbling himself often. He was even rebuked by Paul at the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15) in front of all the Church leaders. Being humbled and being willing to follow the Holy Spirit is what propelled him into leadership.

Second, no one is elevated above another! Everyone has a gifting, a talent, a voice, a passion, a calling, a point of view unique to their own personal spiritual walk. When willing to lay all that down at the feet of Jesus and his brethren in total surrender through service does respect come as a peer. Jesus disciples were known as “The Twelve”, not Peter and the eleven, of Peter, James and John and the Nine! They became twelve apostles, all peers, all equals in a linear horizontal relationship. Even James, Jesus’ brother, not one of the twelve, became recognized as a leader.

Who would be in charge of a leadership meeting using the five-fold model? Who is the “Chairman”, the “C.E.O.”, the “Senior Pastor”, the individual where “the buck stops here”? No man is! Christ is the head. He placed His Holy Spirit in charge. Will the participants be willing to listen to him and be obedient to his leading no matter how illogical they may seem? The gospels are filled with illustrations of what seemed to be stupid things His followers were instructed to do, but obedience brought fantastic results! The problems comes when most church leadership teams rely on their agendas, programs, and institutional organizations to work out problems rather than allow the Holy Spirit to “problem solve”.  It is easier to “designate” others to do things to “solve the problem” than it is to be obedient to the Holy Spirit who may tell you to lay down your life, repent of your attitude, redirect your stream of thought, and then actually serve the very person who seemed to have originally opposed you.

So the alternative to the American C.E.O. business model of dominant pyramidal power is embracing a linear leadership style of serving, the taking of the apron and washing the other’s feet as Jesus exemplified. It is never dominating over, but walking beside each brother and sister in the Lord as equal peers, accepting one another’s diversity and differences, and drawing from that diversity instead of using it to cause division. It is a leadership style of “laying down your life for the brethren” constantly. You become known for your humility, your servant’s attitude, your selflessness, your character instead of your power, position, or title. This is the beginning of a new mindset of church leadership.

Five Fold Fluidity


The Five-Fold Can Be A Fluid Model

I have written several manuscripts about the five fold, still trying to decide what to do with them. I wrote a Master’s Thesis in 1999 researching the history of each of the five fold in British and American history. I rewrote it in simple language in a manuscript I called Revealing and Releasing Jesus. I followed it with four fictional novels based on the five fold: Five, Five=One, Five Squared, One of the Five. Someone recently commented that I had given them a neat formula, only to crush and destroy it by having varying applications in different situations. They discovered the secret to my five-fold formula or star shaped circle; it is very versatile and very fluid.

The church loves simple models and formulas. If a church perfects a successful model, others immediately duplicate it. Leadership conferences are born around it, but the Holy Spirit isn’t into duplicating. He is into creating and loves to speak into unique situations. The Holy Spirit applies Godly principles to bring the best outcomes for the kingdom of God.

I believe the five fold to be linear based and should not be hierarchal in nature, for no one five-fold passion should be elevated above another. Each with its own place, vision, voice, and point of view, if allowed to dominate or be overpowering, can bring division in the body. If that same vision, voice, and point of view be in a submissive, service spirit as equal peers, it can bring unity to the body. The five fold is powerful when it operates in unity from each, through each, and to each of the five. It creates a circle of love.

They keys to this models success is found in allowing the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus Christ, to be in charge, for it is a very fluid spirit, working in many ways naturally and supernaturally. The Spirit knows the will of the Father, how to glorify the Son, and how to instruct the saints, the Bride, the Church. Giving up control is difficult for any institution because control defines an institution’s image. Giving up control to something unpredictable and fluid can be scary. The Church’s stringent control over the Holy Spirit led it into the Dark Ages. Why does the church old on to its traditions, just as their Jewish forefathers had, getting the same frustrating results? When the early Jewish founding fathers of the Church yielded to the Holy Spirit rather than traditions, a powerful movement of God emerged, the Church.

So I ask you, the reader, “Can you trust the Holy Spirit?” Are you willing to allow Him to “teach you all things” about the kingdom of God. Is he directing your spiritual journey? Are you holding on to control, or are you willing to release it to him? For the five-fold to work effectively, relinquishing and releasing is mandatory. The model won’t work if the Holy Spirit isn’t in charge! It will only be another lifeless institutional model if implemented without the Holy Spirit’s leading, guidance, and instruction.

In the next several blogs we will look at this model and its potential if we yield to the unpredictable, the Holy Spirit to initiate it, mold it, lead it, direct it, and form it according to the diverse believers’ talents in the body of Christ. Institutions love to reproduce themselves, thinking their way is the only right way which brings division in the body of Christ. The Holy Spirit produces organisms, living forms of a living gospel of a living Word in unique and diverse ways, yet producing unity. If Jesus prayer of John 16 is to come true, unity is mandatory. “Father, make them one as we are one!” The “laying down of your life for your brethren” is the mandatory ingredient for unity, and the Holy Spirit who works with the heart and the spirit of man can do that by bringing repentance, revival, and restoration.

Let’s continue to look at scenarios of how the Holy Spirit can work in this model, uniquely through the people yielding to it and their specific situations.


Five-Fold Prophetic Word Continued

 Part III: The Prophetic Five-Fold Word of 1993:

     On the evening of April 15, 1993, while sitting quietly in my living room, I asked the Lord a question, “What is the five fold ministry all about.  How is it to work? “

     Here is what I wrote down that night: (Continuation of the last two days blogs)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

     In Acts 2 apostle Peter sees a glimpse of the whole Body as people begin speaking in the native tongues of many languages of nations of their known world.  Little did Peter know that he had much to learn about vision of apostleship (House of Cornelius, acceptance of Gentiles, etc.), but the apostolic vision came upon Him (vs. 5-13)

     When questioned, Peter kicked into the prophetic (vs. 14-21) as he quoted Joel 2:28-32  and shows its fulfillment.

      (Versus 22-36) Peter flows as a teacher, explaining the prophecies of Joel using Psalms 16:8-11 as a teaching text, and explains the purpose of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. When he proclaims Jesus as the Messiah, it “pierced their hearts”.

     (Versus 37-41)  Peter, the evangelist, manifests himself as he leads 3,000 to the Lord’s gracious salvation.

     (Versus 42-45) illustrates the pastoring that took place in those early days to the 120, then 3,000, then 3,000 plus as they grew.

     The results was the birthing of the five fold ministry and its fruits:

          1)  Unity in faith - continuing with one mind (Acts 2:46);

          2)  Knowledge of the Son of God - Peters sermon of Acts 2:14-42;

          3)  Maturity - fellowshiping with gladness and sincerity of heart (Acts 2:26);

          4)  Measure of Stature - having favor with all the people (Acts 2:46);

     Acts 2 is only a measure compared to what we are about to see:

          Pastoring:  Who would have ever dreamed of Pastor Cho’s church reaching the 3/4 million mark?

          Evangelist:  If Peter could have seen into the future at how Billy Graham has been used with massive meetings and satellite TV international hookups, he would have said, “What is only 3,000”!

          Prophecy:  As we are currently witnessing this movement, the Lord is exhorting, encouraging, edifying, purifying, and challenging His Body as the Church is again “hearing from the Lord”

          Apostolic:  The Holy Spirit is birthing vision of Jesus and His Church in men and women who will “see over” the work of the Holy Spirit who is doing the work, not try to “oversee” the work of the Holy Spirit and interfering with it, and will have their spiritual eyes open to the revelation of Jesus Christ as He prepares to return for His Bride.

     We are truly living in an exciting time:

          The Evangelist will need the prophet to give him/her direction and spiritual insight to break down the darkness of a city and bring revival.  Old evangelistic modes will be replaced with new strategies planned and implemented by the Holy Spirit.  The evangelist needs the pastor to nurture the new converts, and the teacher to teach them while the apostle watched over them to “guard this new body” and develop it toward maturity”.

          The Pastor needs the evangelist to birth his flock; the teacher and/or the prophet to nurture and verify the flock, and the apostle to help it mature into the “fullness of Christ”.

          The Teacher needs to hear the apostle’s vision, and the prophet’s fresh word, then dig into the Word, the Bible, to verify it and teach its principles.  He/She needs the evangelist and pastor to prepare the ground and planting of the seed for his watering through the Word.

          The Prophet needs the pastor to balance his/her assertiveness; the teacher to authenticate the Word; the evangelist to initiate the word, and the apostle to verify the fresh word.

          The Apostle needs the prophet to give a fresh Word to verify his vision or revelation of Jesus; the teacher to check it out through the word; the pastor to see if his “heart” lines up with the Word as a shepherd, and the evangelist to birth the Word.

          Together they function 1) in unity 2) in revealing the knowledge of the Son of God; 3) maturing or preparing the church, the Bride, for her Groom, and 4) measuring the stature or having the church as the Revelation of Jesus Christ shining, bringing respectability.


Five-Fold Prophetic Word Continued

 Part II: The Prophetic Five-Fold Word of 1993:

           On the evening of April 15, 1993, while sitting quietly in my living room, I asked the Lord a question, “What is the five fold ministry all about.  How is it to work? “

           Here is what I wrote down that night: (Continuation of yesterday’s blog entry)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

          There will be NO TOP DOG in this church structure.  The apostle is not the top dog, neither is the prophet, evangelist, pastor, or teacher.  The day of the super pastor, super evangelist, super teacher, and super prophet are gone.  Instead we will be in a new day, a day of the supernatural pastor, the supernatural evangelist, the supernatural teacher, the supernatural prophet, and the supernatural apostle.  No office will be greater or lesser than another.  In the past we have been fed teaching emphasizing the greater spiritual gifts by the way that they are listed in the Bible, and blew it, for that is not true.  Beware we do not do the same thing to the five fold offices.

          Only as the members of the five fold ministry allow their star to rotate, will they see “the light of Jesus” radiating from them.  That rotating (Circle on the diagram) is the life flow of the Church!

            I see in the spirit, like on a clear night the sky being full of stars displaying the splendor of the heavens, so the earth will become like the heavens, each Spirit lead, five (fold ministry) pointed star local body, glimmering, making up county, state, and national galaxies of stars.  When the Lord returns all these star galaxies around the world will come together to shine in the Second Coming or the Feast of Lights in its “fullness”, Jesus Christ.

          The Lord showed me how these offices worked in Acts 2 when on Pentecost a “measure of His Spirit” birthed His Church, and those same offices brought “unity”, gave “knowledge of the Son of God”, began to “mature the saints”, and gave “stature or form”.  (Ephesians 4: 13) The Body of Christ will mature into His “fullness” as His Second Coming approaches.

          An apostle had to be an eye witness of Jesus Christ in the First Century, and Paul defended His apostleship by having his road to Damascus experience.  An apostle in the end times church too will have a revelation of Jesus Christ, not in a vision of His earthly or His resurrected body, but as a revelation of His Body, His Church, seeing the big picture, the reason for all five points of the star.

          The apostle will see the book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible, becoming fulfilled.  Instead of the book being viewed as eschatology, as a book of end times tragedies and joys (Biblical scholars were blinded in their charts and theories of Jesus’ First Coming, why would they not be any different in His Second Coming?), the apostle will see it as it’s subtitle reads, The Revelation of Jesus Christ.  The Holy Spirit will open his eyes to reveal Jesus’ Church, His end time’s body to the apostle.

           The Old Testament priesthood is archaic: the New Testament priesthood is going from its birthing in Acts 2 to its fulfillment in the “fullness of Christ”.  The Church is about to experience a newness, another drastic change in its preparation for the communion of the Bride.  It will learn how to “sing a new song” not only individually, but corporately.  It will learn worship that they thought only could happen in the heavenlies as depicted in the book of Revelations, but that worship will be activated in the earth.

          The Church will experience a “communion” of worship with the heavenlies and the Church on the earth.  The heavenlies too sense His soon return, and will join in with the saints on earth, so when the trumpet sounds the groom's coming, His Bride will be ready and waiting because she will be in the act of worshiping, adoring, exalting, lifting up her coming Groom.  The Church, the Bride, is about to experience a “true romance” as it anticipates its coming Groom.  This will take place in her worship and in the relationship of her members to the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, and to each other in a depth that she has never yet experienced.

          So the apostle will “see over” the local star, or national, or international galaxy, not “oversee” it as church leaders have done in the past.  The apostle can not do this without the other four points or offices of the five fold ministry, or they can not see the whole picture.  Rejecting one of the other offices by not communicating, serving, receiving, being accountable to, or accepting them will cause spiritual blindness and cause the apostle to see “only dimly” or “in part” when the Holy Spirit wants to show the apostle the “fullness of Christ” for his local body and clarity.

                                    (Continues in next blog…..)


Five-Fold Prophetic Word


Part I: The Prophetic Five-Fold Word of 1993:

     On the evening of April 15, 1993, while sitting quietly in my living room, I asked the Lord a question, “What is the five fold ministry all about.  How is it to work? “

             Here is what I wrote down that night:

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

  The Lord began to show me how He wants His Church, His Body, to represent Him ruling and reigning in this time.  Jesus is currently reigning in the heavenlies on the right hand of His Father interceding for His Church, His Body, or the remnants of his earthly body, His true (Spirit and Truth worshipers) believers.  His glorified body is sitting by the Father.  The Holy Spirit has been activated to get his Bride, the Church, ready to be in a position, condition, or place to be prepared for His Second Coming, so they too can be glorified with Him.

     As a child I used to put my hands together, interlocking fingers, and begin to recite, “Here’s the church; there’s the steeple” while raising my two pointing fingers up.  Then I opened my thumbs while saying, “Open the door”  as I unfolded my hands showing my interlocking fingers, “and there’s the people”!  God’s Church is still His people. It never was meant to be a building, and never will be.  But the Lord is calling His people to the Five Fold Ministry in these end times.  He gave me a diagram to illustrate this point.  We think of a church building to be in this shape.  We put a cross at the top of it to distinguish it from any other building. The Lord is building a building, not in the natural, but in the supernatural. The building has five points.  Each point is a member of Ephesians 4:11’s Five Fold Ministry. (There is no set position for each office on the diagram.  They can be rotated.)

Each house or building or local (national or international) church of believers needs in it at least one apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher to:

     1)  Equip the saints (vs. 12);  

     2)  Build up the body (vs. 12); until we all attain to: (vs. 13)

          a)  Unity of faith;

          b)  Knowledge of the Son of God;

          c)  Maturity;

          d)  Measure of Stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.

Currently we only have a “measure”, but the Holy Spirit wants to lead us towards the “fullness” as He prepares the Bride who will be ‘without spot or wrinkle’, the glorified Body of the Church in the ‘fullness of Christ’ for the coming groom at Christ’s Second Coming!”

The Lord has assured me that men will make mistakes as the Holy Spirit leads them through this end times process of preparation, for one way man learns is through error.  Repentance can only come after a fall or mistake, so He will develop a repentant heart, a repentant Church.

The Lord has shown me how in my life time that He has raised up evangelists, pastors, teachers, prophets, and soon apostles not only locally but of international proportions.

In the 1970’s when the charismatic gifts were being poured out, in man’s lack of Godly wisdom and understanding, many were seeking “their gift” not knowing that the Lord’s desire is for us individually and the Church corporately to grow into the “fullness of Christ”, not in meager mustard seed measures.  We are, as a Church, to blossom into His fullness, the Bride ready for the groom.  In the ‘90’s many will scramble to find “their office”, again showing their lack of maturity in Christ.  If people scramble to do this, we will only have the shell (see diagram) of another Church structure with no life in it, and legalism will set in, and self appointed “offices” will fight and bicker with each other, and like other empty structures the Church has built in history, it too will crumble.

The Lord showed me that the star stood over where the Christ child lay during his First Coming, and a star will also mark His Second Coming.  This star will not be in the heavens above the earth, but inside the framework of the Church.  (See diagram)  That star, that light, will be the Holy Spirit manifesting Jesus Christ in His  Church through the five fold ministry.  Each “office” of the five fold ministry can not stand alone, just like a Lone Ranger Christian can not stand alone, but they need to be:

          1) Communicating with each other;

          2) Accountable to each other (Each office is a point of the star and will keep its point sharpened by the other four!)

          3) Serve each other, never Lord over each other.  There is no jockeying for positions, for you can rotate a five pointed star and no one is ever always on top.  They must give to each other!

          4) We will have to learn to receive from each other too!

          5) We will have to accept one another as peers, equals, not a hierarchy positioning.

                                    (Continues in next blog…..)


History of Experience?


A Historic Jesus Or An Every Present Jesus!

We are a data driven society. We want to know facts in order to rationally figure everything out. What happens if the rational or natural becomes irrational because of the supernatural? What do you do when the explainable now becomes supernaturally unexplainable?  How do you handle it when the facts of data are face-to-face with actual experience that goes counter to those facts and data?  How do you handle faith?

It is amazing what we know “about” subjects but really don’t “know” the subject. For example, we know a lot about “marriage”, what it should and should not be, how it should or should not work, yet once we said “I do” and experienced marriage do we discover we know very little about it!  We learn more and more about it as we experience it! I love to talk to couples who have been married 35 years or more, for they can share wisdom that is not data driven, but experience driven.  Marriage works, but only if it is applied, if you experience it, work through it, embrace it, live it.

I’ve met people who know a lot “about” Jesus, so they think, yet they do not really “know” Jesus because they have not experienced him! They can spout off about the historical Jesus, their conception and “scholars’” conceptions of what Jesus was like when he was a human here on earth, but they know very little about the Jesus of today, personally or corporately.  If Jesus today is the corporate church, they know him as an institution, a religious organization, not as a living organism of relationships between his people. You have to “experience” Jesus as an “”organism”, a living form through his people in order to truly understand him. How?

The five-fold is all about relationships, the laying down your life for your brethren in a peer-to-peer relationship of equality and acceptance. It is all about bringing life to the individual believer, developing him in the image of Jesus Christ, and to the corporate body of believers called the church, bringing unity in spirit and truth. If you pattern Christian life after church history, you follow traditionalism, the very thing that opposed Jesus when he was on earth. Jesus came to earth to bring life for man to experience life in Him not to establish traditions never to be broken. If you follow only a historical Jesus, you establish your understanding of Jesus through tradition, laws, decrees, etc., not out of personal relationships and experiences.

It amazes me how someone as dedicated as a seminary student can know some much about Jesus, yet not have personally experienced him, but it happens. I know ministers who deliver excellent sermons and exegeses “about” Jesus historically, quoting Greek, Hebrew, and Latin, and every known scholar, yet never having personally experienced him as a living, unexplainable, supernatural organism.

In order to understand the five-fold, you have to experience the five fold. Just knowing “about” it is not good enough. It is one thing knowing everything about evangelism but never evangelizing, know about care, nurturing, and discipleship but never shepherding anyone, knowing about the Word and being able to quote it verbatim but never experiencing or living it, knowing about God personally but never prophetically listening to his still small voice, knowing about administration from a business model, but never seeing over what the Holy Spirit is already doing while networking his people from an apostolic framework. My goal is not for the Church to know about the five-fold but experience it, live it, making it an organism of personal, sacrificial relationships.

We face a challenge in these days to either bring life through experiencing Jesus, or follow the “traditions of men” as the Bible calls them, and continue our Westernize view of the gospel of “knowing about” our faith through facts and data while quoting scriptures. We need to live our faith, live out of our faith, and experience our faith if we wish to see it as an organism. What a challenge! Let’s do it!


The Five Fold Option?


Part IV: Possible Linear Pattern To Evaluate!

If we are demolishing old structures and looking for new, what possibilities are there? One may be the five fold model under the following pretenses:

  • The five fold is not offices or positions but passions, desires, and points of view that drive a believer in a certain direction.      
  • The five fold is not part of a hierarchal system of professionals with titles over nonprofessional believers.
  • The five fold is evidenced by what one does, what motivates that person, what drives them, not who they are or what position they hold.      
  • The five fold is a linear process of believers walking beside other believers in their Emmaus walk of faith together, not hovering “over” someone.
  • Since each of the five fold separately has divided the Church so far in history, each must learn to serve each other and submit to one another, being willing to “lay down their lives for their brethren” in order for it to work.

Each of the five fold:

  • Is a peer to the others, an equal in the faith, that is driven by a passion, desire and point of view.     
  • Needs the other four, for one’s gifting, or strength, augments the other’s weaknesses.
  • Needs the other four to become balanced in ministry and approach.     
  • Walks beside one another serving, not ruling. (Jesus modeled this when on earth as a man.)     
  • Is relational to the others either birthing, nurturing, teaching, developing, or networking through service     

Every local church, body of believers:

  • Needs an evangelist to birth new converts, birth new projects, be the midwife to what the Holy Spirit is doing    
  • Needs an shepherd to nurture, care and develop the sheep in practical day to day faith.      
  • Needs an prophet to bring spiritual life to a church, draw others into worship, and listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit through obedience.       
  • Needs a teacher to keep everyone grounded in the Word, the Bible through apostolic teaching rather than religious dogma      
  • Needs an apostle to network people serving people from their strengths and callings      
  • Needs the five fold to bring birth, develop maturity, and cultivate unity.     

The five fold is a linear model worth evaluating to see if the Holy Spirit can be released among God’s people in the spirit of service.


Demolition Or Historical Preservation?


Part III: Demolition… Ka-Boom! There She Falls!

Isaiah 57:14-27:  It shall be said, “Build up, build up, prepare the way, remove every obstacle out of the way of My people.” For thus says the high and exalted One who lives forever, whose name is Holy, “I dwell on a high and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit in order to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite. “For I will not contend forever, neither will I always be angry; for the spirit would grow faint before Me, and the breath of those whom I have made because of the iniquity of his unjust gain I was angry and struck him; I hid My face and was angry, and he went on turning away, in the way of his heart. I have seen his ways, but I will heal him; I will lead him and restore comfort to him and to his mourners, creating the praise of his lips. “Peace, peace to him who is far and to him who is near,” says the Lord, “and I will heal him. “But the wicked are like the tossing sea for it cannot be quiet, and its waters toss up refuse and mud.  There is no peace,” says God, “for the wicked.”

I love historic sections of cities, the “old section” of town that is rich in heritage and history. What happens though when it turns into the “slum” of the city. Slumlords become tenant renters never fixing up their place, trash is strewn throughout the streets, crime, prostitution, and drug selling is found around every corner. At this time the section of the city gasps for life, shakes in fear, and loses hope. Soon “death” hovers over the streets instead of “life”. Something needs to be done when so much “life is lost”!  This is the time for renewal; cities call it urban renewal; churches call it revival.

Revival demands change: individual changed lives as well as structural institutional changes. If we keep the same institutions, we get the same results, and the slum mentality will remain in a new environment until it eats away at any progress that was made. Often total demolition is a necessity before renewal can be birthed or maintained.

Isaiah pointed out that to “build up, build up,” first “ remove every obstacle out of the way of My people,” needed to happen. Demolition to religious structures had to be done before renewal was to begin. The Tabernacle had to give way to a Temple when the nation Israel was established. The Temple eventually had to be destroyed, never to be rebuilt, when Christianity was birthed because Christianity professed that the believers’ bodies were the temples of the Holy Spirit, not physical structures. Old structures had to give way to new ones. The previous “Books of God” were now called “the Old Testament” giving way to the new “Books of God” called “the New Testament”. Old influenced the new, but a time came for the old to be old, gone, done away with, “Ka-boom”! It was replaced by something new, something better! That is how God has worked historically as recorded in the Bible, and will continue to do so!

I have written blogs in the past on excerpts of a manuscript I have written called “Metamorphosis” where I believe the Church is going from their current caterpillar stage into a cocoon stage that will “restructure” what a caterpillar looks like. In fact what comes out of that caterpillar will not look like a caterpillar at all; it will be a butterfly, a completely new structure. The old will be gone; behold the new!

What will this new structure look like? Well that is what almost 500 of these blogs have been written about.  I believe we will have a new structure build around the five fold as passions, beliefs, and points of views of average, normal believers in Jesus Christ who have linear relationships with each other of “laying down their lives for their brethren.” This sacrificial love will transform the way we do Church in function, worship, and personal relationships. It will be revolutionary in our thinking, because it will be a new structure. Old hierarchal clergy/laity structures will fall as well as institutional, organizational mindsets based on those structures.

If everything we do becomes relational, either vertically with the way we worship the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, or horizontally, the way we accept one another, it will force us to rethink how we do Church, what is the Church, and demolish old mindset while openly receiving new ones, new revelations as the Holy Spirit reveals.

“Ka-boom”! Another structure falls, another organization, but in its place a butterfly, an organism suitable for flight into the heavenlies, replaces it, a better structure, a better form, a re-form, a newness: revival!


Organizational Structures

Part II: Understanding Organizational Structures: Pyramidal Versus Linear

We have asked the question, “How can we keep from becoming an organization, an administrative and functional structure, and remain an organism, “a living thing, a living being, an individual?” In order to answer this question we have to look at understanding organizational structures.  In America, the hot bed of world capitalism, we worship the “Business Model” of Corporate America with C.E.O.’s, Boards, Stock Holders, and Workers. This mentality has also infiltrated the American Church.

Christian church leadership America primarily follows the C.E.O. model of a Senior Pastor heading a staff of associate pastors, staff, and personnel being monitored by a Church Board. All positions, paid or voluntary, have titles, job descriptions, and professional expectations. The Stock Holders are their parishioners whose “tithe” finances the institution. They are told they are investing in the “kingdom of God”, when most of their investment goes to building and grounds maintenance, professional staff salaries and benefit packages, and paying for programs to bring nonchurch people into their building or enrich or entertain their constituents. Benevolence and missions, the origin of this organization, is now lost in the miniscule regions of the over all budget, as most finances goes to maintenance of the system.

We who have been part of this system all our lives feel it is normal, acceptable, never questioning it, and believing that supporting it is “God’s will”, but what about new believers or even nonbelievers? How do they see it? A fact is that the church has been losing membership over the last couple of decades, and are losing the “young” that are to be the anchors of the church of this century. What will it take to attract the “young” adults back into the “life” of the Church? By returning to the “organism”! The question is how?

We, the Church, need to look through their eyes. When I was young, I wanted to believe I was “anti-establishment”, opting for relationships over religion and systematic organizations. Now older, I catch myself defending my “religion” and the organizations that support my lifestyle while hearing the “young” still crying out for “relationships”. Today’s 20-30’s have been labled “flat-worlders”, believing in linear relationships as being “friends” on Facebook, supplemental “likes” as accepting comments and websites, and networking with others, all relationship on a linear, horizontal plane. They look at hierarchal structures as “speed bumps” (See earlier blog). Social Networking has given them a voice of peer acceptance and equality, but hierarchal structures and leadership have stifled that voice, minimizing their importance and losing the feeling that they are neither “accepted” nor “equal” to anyone, thus they don’t come to church, primarily because of the structure.

So the structure must change from a hierarchal one to a linear, horizontal, accepting one of peer equality as believers of Jesus Christ, a priesthood of equal peers, without titles or positions of stature.  It is what we do, not who we are, nor what title we wear that gives us validity.  It is the “laying down of our lives” to one another that says everything, so titles and offices become irrelevant to our actions and attitudes.

Changing our “religious” mindsets to “relational” mindsets will not be easy, for it will demand structural changes to our established organizational thinkings laid down for centuries. The over emphasis of organization brought the “Dark Ages” for hundreds of years; the emphasis of returning to becoming an organism will bring “Reformation”, or revival. Reformation will not just include “re-forming” our structures, but disposing many of them so the Church can remain fluid in following the Holy Spirit as it had to do during its birthing process. Relying on the Holy Spirit and being obedient to him will trump established church tradition or the Church will forever be fragmented, which is not the will of the Father. Jesus prayed, “Father, make us one,” and to do that drastic change will have to evolved.

How do we have this change evolve? By tearing down the old, and believing in ICorinthians 15 that in “Christ Jesus all things are new!” It is hard for even me to accept, but urban renewal begins with the demolition of old structures, in spite of the local historical federation wanting to keep everything as it was when first established, before new can be build.

Organization or Organism



Part I: Can We Keep An Organism From Eventually Becoming An Organization?


Definition: noun, plural: organisms  (Science: Biology) - An individual living thing that can react to stimuli, reproduce, grow, and maintain homeostasis. It can be a virus, bacterium, protist, fungus, plant or an animal.  Supplement - Word origin: Greek organon = instrument. 
Related forms: organismic (adjective), organismal (adjective), organismically (adverb). 
Synonym: living thing, living being, individual. (http://www.biology-online.org/dictionary/Organism)

or·ga·ni·za·tion noun \ˌor-gə-nə-ˈzā-shən, ˌorg-nə-\

1) a company, business, club, etc., that is formed for a particular purpose 2) the act or process of putting the different parts of something in a certain order so that they can be found or used easily 3) the act or process of planning and arranging the different parts of an event or activity

Full Definition of ORGANIZATION - 1  a :  the act or process of organizing or of being organized;  b :  the condition or manner of being organized 2  a :  association, society <charitable organizations>  b :  an administrative and functional structure (as a business or a political party); also :  the personnel of such a structure. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/organization)

It is so easy to go from being an organism, “a living thing, a living being, an individual, to becoming an organization, an administrative and functional structure. We discover how to bring life or a solution to a problem, then immediately want to organize it to make it more “efficient”.

For example, many hospitals were birthed as a “living” effort to reach out to the sick, especially those who are poor, but once established it becomes an organization to improve its “efficiency” which has brought us to America today where we have developed entire “conglomerates” whose bottom line is the business model of dollars and cents rather than for care for the poor. What started as a good cause, became an efficient system, that eventually becomes all consuming and overwhelming where the organization becomes more important than the original cause. An example is the YMCA, originally a British Christian outreach program for physical health and cheap housing, who now has lost the “C” and is known strictly as the “Y”, and is memorialized by the Village People propagating the gay population in San Francisco in their hit song, “YMCA”.!

This phenomenon also happens with the Church. A person shares one-on-one the gospel producing fruit with several others now believing. As they share their faith, the group grows in size. As it does, they soon believe they can meet more needs if they organize resources to make it more efficient, thus structure and order is formed. Soon structure and order leads to tradition, and we begin to lock in our organization standards which eventually become set in stone, and the movable, fluid, organism is stifled, if not crushed. It is also the dream of some churches to organizationally grow into “religious conglomerates” known as mega-churches where maintaining the huge system becomes an albatross to the effectiveness of the ministry.

We, the church, spend so much time and effort into organizing structures, services, and activities to be more efficient, believing that is the definition of “good stewardship”, rather than spending it on relationships and personal one-to-one contact with our neighbors and other believers. Soon we are willing to “invest” our finances to hire a professional staff to fill organizational positions to perform religious activities rather than staying personally involved in one-to-one relationships, and we wake up discovering we have also become “the institutional church”, though we tend to deny that truth.