Sacrifice Beyond the U.S. Marine Model


Why I Would Want The Five Fold In My Church – Part IX


….. because it requires sacrificial service, the laying down of your life, for others.

U.S. Marines have a built a code of conduct through relationships that even the church hasn’t been able to match in the last couple of centuries.  A Marine will sacrifice his life for his buddy, lay down his life in battle to save his buddies; and even carry out a dead body from a combat zone so the enemy cannot desecrate it. That is the honor of the U.S. Marine Code.

The first century church was built on such a code since martyrdom was a reality, but since the easing of persecution, the code has been dropped. Today there is division, bickering, judging one another, and criticism about anything and everything different from the mode and code of worship one follows. Tolerance for other sects within Christianity is at an all time low. Rejecting one another, then shooting the wounded is common place.

Yet, what was Jesus’ mission on earth? It was to lay down his life for mankind, to be the sacrificial lamb for the sins of man. It was to suffer and die on a cruel Roman cross. Yet Romans 5:8 records, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” He didn’t die for the righteous but the unrighteous, not for the godly but the ungodly. He became more than a martyr because not only did he die for the sins of mankind, but he rose from the dead to conquer death. Because of Him, the dead can now live! Ephesians 4:8 records, ““When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.”. Like the Marines, he carried the dead, through a resurrection, to heaven with him and equipped those who remained on earth.

                  At the Cross, Jesus fixed broken relationships. Being the sacrificial lamb, he bridged the gap between God and mankind because of sin. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) Man again could be in right standing with his God.  He also bridged the gap between man and mankind. “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 and sisters.  If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?” (I John 3:16-17)

                  It is now each believer’s responsibility to look out for his brother. Unlike Cain and Abel, we ARE our brother’s keeper. We are to take care of a brother or sister in need. We are to serve one another in spite of our diversity. We are to receive from other brothers and sisters even outside of our spiritual camps.

                  What better avenue for service than through the five fold where one has to give his gifting, passion, and desire to serve others, and the others reciprocally give back him. The five fold is all about give and taking the talents Jesus has given us for service.

                  As Christians, lets begin to carry one another’s cross, be willing to die for others, live by a spiritual code that is stronger than even the bond between two Marines. That is the calling for the body of Christ for today.


From Enabling Apathy To Promoting Equipping


Why I Would Want The Five Fold In My Church – Part VIII


….. because instead of enablement and inactivity, it promotes equipping and releasing of believers in Jesus to actively pursue service.

As a 21st Century Church we are not doing a very good job at what we call discipleship and promoting the Great Commission. American Christians have gotten lazy. Keith Green sang his “Asleep In The Light” song in the 1980’s; its prophetic message still rings in my ears. The average American Christian has chosen not to make Christianity its daily way of life, opting to be passive, and allowing themselves to be enabled by its leadership to the point of inactivity even while you are attending a church service or gathering. Like Keith called us out on over3 ½ decades ago, it is like we are a sleep in the light! What will be our wake up call?

The leadership team at the church I had attended is made up primarily of men who had Bible Degrees, not “uneducated” people, like Jesus’ 12 disciples. The Sanhedrin was amazed that these “uneducated” men of Galilee could speak with such authority. We, the church today, have made “education” a prerequisite to leadership, which is not what Jesus did. He had no Pharisees, Sadducees, or church officials on his leadership team of 12. He had men who may have come across as dumb, stupid, and always inserting foot into mouth, but men who were willing to follow Jesus, and later be taught by, and obedient to the Holy Spirit in all matters.

Jesus had poured three years of his life into building relationships with these 12 men. He walked, talked, and debated with them, took them of field trips of faith and a journey that would mold them into becoming leaders that would change the world. He never started a Bible College or seminary, not even built a church building; he invested in people by investing in relationships. Being Jewish, the 12 grew up being taught the Law, the Torah. They already had a Jewish Biblical perspective, but Jesus had to teach them how to make this written Logos Word, alive, relevant, a Rhema Word. He equipped them for their up coming faith journey, teaching them not only through parables but also personal dialogue, feeding the needy, healing the sick, taking care of widows and orphans, etc.  When they fought over position, he brought them back to relationships, emphasizing service, even washing their feet as an object lesson. He equipped them, and prepared them by giving them the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, and then released them for ministry. He promised them that they would not do this alone, but sent the Holy Spirit to be their “suitable helper”.

The book of Acts is not boring, but filled with action; there is no apathy or enabling but is filled with constant activity. Jesus gives gifts to men, and they use them, effectively. Jesus’ preparations and the equipping of the saints for the works of service propels a spiritual movement that changes the then known world.

The five fold calling is to “equip the saints for the works of service.” The 21st Century church needs to refocus it direction of equipping the staff for professional development to equipping its saints for works of service. Building relationships should take precedent over building programs and staff. People serving people; peers serving peers through sacrificial service, acceptance, grace, and mercy are the keys. Equipping the saints is more than taking a discipleship course or doing a Bible study on discipleship, it is about involvement, practical everyday experience, and community life. There is no room for apathy or enablement. It is a call to act-ion. The Church needs the five fold!


Accountability: We Need For A Suitable Helper


Why I Would Want The Five Fold In My Church – Part VII


Genesis 2:20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found….. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman ….., and he brought her to the man,…. 24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

  As independent as we like to think we are, man still has the need, the desire for fellowship. Loneliness is not a good thing! Even though Adam communed with God, there was still a void. Adam had a need, and God loves to meet our needs! In fact, God’s ways, His plans, the way He meets needs often surpasses the request given.

Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule ….. over all the creatures …..”  27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” 31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.

                  God saw beyond Adam’s need. Adam needed more than companionship, he needed others to help rule over all the creation God had made. He could not do it alone. True, he was lonely, but he was also overwhelmed. God understood, for in Genesis 2:22 it says “But for Adam no suitable helper was found.” He was doing everything alone; he needed a “suitable helper”. God’s answer: union with Eve! She not only filled his loneliness but was a compatible, “suitable” helper! They now ruled together by serving one another.

                  But Paul in his letter to the Ephesians takes it further.  Ephesians 5:29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.

                  It is all about relationships! Paul goes beyond Adam and Eve’s relationship to sharing a profound mystery: it’s about Christ’s relationship to the church! Who is the Godhead’s “suitable helper” here on earth? The Church! It is through the Church that God chose to rule over the earth and to be protectors of His creation. God has provided a “suitable helper” in his eyes.

                  I believe God has given the Church the five fold in order to be the “suitable helper” He has created it to be because the five fold is build on SERVICE, serving one another, helping one another, aiding one another, sacrificially, the being willing to lay down your life for another as Jesus did for His Church!

                  As a Church we have to begin to allow believers in Jesus Christ who function as evangelists to birth, who function as shepherds to nurture, who function in a teaching role to make the Logos, written Word, a Rhema, living Word, who function in the prophetic to draw near and listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit, who function apostolically by seeing the Church as a whole, networking the many parts of the Body of Christ for the common good. Each of the five ARE NOT entities unto their own, but parts of the Body of Christ who are to be “suitable helpers” to one another through service.

                  If the prophet has a Godly dream, he needs an evangelist to birth it, a shepherd to nurture it, a teacher to bring the truth of the Word of that dream alive, and an apostle to network everyone toward the completion and fulfillment of that dream. The prophet CAN NOT do it alone. He needs the body; he needs “suitable helpers”.


Accountability: We Need Each Other


Why I Would Want The Five Fold In My Church – Part VI


….. because it makes believers in Jesus accountable to one another through service.

I believe one purpose of the five fold is to bring unity to the Body of Christ, to draw one another toward each other through service that will build up individual Christian growth and corporate unity. The church, I believe, will not experience true revival until it admits that “we need one another.”

God created man to draw near to him. God empathized with Adam’s loneliness when he said, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will give him a ‘helpmate’.” Communing with one another is a basic need in humanity.  God met that need before the Fall. Sin brought separation, rejection, distancing, and a desire to “have one owns space”, withdrawal, and a desire for independence. God’s plan was for unity, acceptance, a drawing near, a desire for fellowship, a coming together, a dependence on one another. God’s plan is all about relationships. With sin, relationships were broken, Adam & Eve hid from God, and their son Cain killed his brother Abel. The Cross of Jesus Christ offered redemption. Relationships were mended. Man again could draw near to God, and redemptive people were now told “to lay down you life for your brethren” as Christ did on the Cross.

The five fold is all about “laying down your life for your brethren” (IJohn 3:16) through service in spite of your differences, diversity, your uniqueness, your individual callings and challenges. You are commanded to love those different than you; in fact you are commanded to even love your enemy. It is not an “us” verses “them”, where “we” are Biblically, doctrinally, and theologically correct, and “they” are in error, false prophets, or false teachers. It is about “us” serving “them”, and “them” serving “us” as equal brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, peers, one body, one Priesthood. The five fold CAN NOT function properly until this attitude becomes reality.  

The very diversity that has divided us is the very diversity God wants to use to unite us. We look at our differences as points of contention, but until we get to the point of NEEDING ONE ANOTHER, we will continue to be divisive opponents, not brethren. As I have pointed out in so many of my previous blogs, an evangelist needs a shepherd, a teacher, a prophet, and an apostle around him. Everyone of these needs the other for a balanced ministry. We need the whole package: the birthing, the nurturing, the teaching, the living out of the gospel, the drawing near to God, and the networking of all these in serving one another and drawing from one another. That is accountability; people laying down their lives for one another through service.

For a body of believers to be truly functional, it needs to develop this desire to serve one another, peer to peer, and to draw from one another, peer to peer, rather than counting on a professional ministry to do it for them. If “we”, the Priesthood of Believers, are the Church, then we got to begin to act like the Church and accept one another as equal peers and begin to serve one another, not oppose one another, and quit acting like Cains. I believe the five fold can be a tool for this coming together, this acceptance, this service, creating accountability.

When your are willing to lay down your life for a diverse Christian brother or sister whose giftings are different than yours, and they are willing to lay down their lives for you, then the church will experience an accountability that it has not experienced since the first century when the Church was born and during its infancy. That relationship of peer acceptance in Jesus is the key to establishing true accountability among the brethren. That is what the five fold has to offer.


Apathy to Activity


Why I Would Want The Five Fold In My Church – Part IV


….. because it replaces enabled apathy with Holy Spirit led activity for believers in Jesus.

Which church would you want to attend?

One whose Worship Service tells you when to stand, sit, or kneel, when to sing, pray, be silent, or listen, when to financially give generously or greet one another cordially. You can volunteer to be an usher, children’s worker, or nursery attender, or you can just show up, follow directions, and leave having no social contact but entertained. The music will be excellent. The sermon delivery will be professional; all done orderly. Bible quotes and lyrics to songs will be projected. Not much is required of you, nor is much expected from you. The Senior pastor and staff will do everything in a professional manner. An enabled apathy will settle over the congregation as everyone knows their place and expectations.


One that will only be a hymn or chorus sing followed by a sermon unless the congregation comes prepared to give. If prepared, one may share a scripture that came alive during their private devotion; another may sing an original song or a song everyone knows and joins in. A poet may read an original poem; an artist may draw or paint. Peer believers in Jesus may be led to pray, offer healing, comfort or encourage one another. Some may release spiritual gifts to edify the body of Christ, while others may release giftings to aid in their peer believers’ spiritual growth. A formal sermon is not necessary because sharing of scripture and its application may be given by believers or the sharing of narratives of how Jesus came alive in people’s lives may be shared. Invitations for salvation, empowerment, healings, may be given by fellow brethren . There is no formal agenda, only individuals and the body of Christ jointly listening to the Holy Spirit’s lead. The service in unpredictable, but the anticipation high that God’s Spirit is among his people, and Jesus will be manifested through them. The leadership is not on a platform, but among the people, not seen, but arises for encouragement, support, edification, and correction when needed. This service is not passive, but active, only if the congregation has decided to participate and give back to the Lord what He has already given them. If the people are apathetic, a hymn sing or choral response of songs and a planned, prepared sermon is given. If the people are active, a theme, a sewn thread in the tapestry of worship will relay the Holy’s Spirit’s theme.

The first choice is today’s typical Sunday service in most churches; the second is what would happen if the church empowered and released their people as peers to minister to the Lord and to one another. The first service is very predictable. The second is unpredictable because the Holy Spirit is in charge; leadership and their peers, the people, follow only what the Holy Spirit leads. The first choice appears to be dead and dry; the second choice appears to be full of life. The first choice requires nothing from you but your finances; the second choice requires your all: body, soul, and spirit. Finances are not needed unless the Spirit calls for them to meet the needs of the body, the poor, and the widows and orphans.

Two drastically different choices! An orlderly caterpillar structure that lumbers along, or an unpredictable butterfly structure that flies. The church today needs a cocoon stage for transition!


Why I Would Want The Five Fold In My Church


Reasons To Embrace This Incredible Journey


I believe part of this metamorphosis, the change of physical institutional structures of the church, will come through the truth and understanding of the purpose of the five different passions, drives, and points of view found in Ephesians 4 (the evangelist, shepherd, teacher, prophet, & apostle). It’s purpose is to “equip” the “saints”, not staff, for the works of “service”. The “priesthood of believers”, the Church, is about to learn how to not only serve their God but serve each other. They will be willing to lay down their lives for their God and for each other. “Service” will be their motive, their passion, their desire, and they will use their personal passion to serve the body of Christ and edify their Lord and Savior, Jesus, whose fruits will be unity.

There will be a new accountability to each other in this new paradigm, not based on a hierarchal structure of dominant leadership, but based on horizontal leadership of walking beside the brethren in service; leading them by being in front of them, covering their back when behind them, and serving when walking beside them. This paradigm will demand intimate relationships of trust through service to be established among the brethren. Instead of being accountable to a hierarchal structure or titles and positions, the accountability will come through relationships and the willingness to “lay down your life for your brethren” and serving them.

So “Why Would I Want The Five Fold In My Church?”

….. because it makes the priesthood of believers, the laity, us, accountable.

….. because it releases believers in Jesus to serve others through their passions, giftings, drives, and points of view.

….. because it replaces enabled apathy with Holy Spirit led activity for believers in Jesus.

….. because it prepares the body, a priesthood of believers, the Church, to serve.

….. because it makes believers in Jesus accountable to one another through service.

….. because instead of enablement and inactivity, it promotes equipping and releasing of believers in Jesus to actively pursue service.

….. because it requires sacrificial service, the laying down of your life, for others.

….. because it equips the local body to serve the local community through Jesus.

….. because every believer is special, gifted, and equipped through Jesus to do the Great Commission, the Golden Rule, and to love one another.

….. because it forces every believer, me, and the entire priesthood of believers, us, the church, to ask the question, “Do I totally trust the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus Christ, and can I trust my fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord?”

….. because it requires us to be our brother’s keeper through service and love.

….. because home grown leaders are birthed, nurtured, taught, equipped, and released by the local church, the priesthood of believers, to serve their local community.

….. because we can not afford NOT to embrace the five fold and its benefits.


Revival and the 21st Century Church

Options: Traditions or Change


I haven’t written a blog entry in almost a half a year, but I am back. I have been working on editing manuscripts, including over 500 blog entries into book form  (over 800 pages worth!), and I have reread every blog entry that I have written. I truly thank the Lord for some amazing insights.

I have realized that if a church truly wants revival it will have to be willing to embrace drastic change, and historically the institutional church has only embraced gradual change. Traditions have ruled the day. There is a sense of safety in doing things the traditional way, for traditions don’t make waves. They don’t flow; they are established.

If what I am sensing is truth, that the church is entering a cocoon stage in its development, drastic change will be a requirement. The necessity of changing the church’s very structure is at the core of this metamorphosis. The caterpillar structure of the current church with is squishy body, its multi-legged segments, and its ravishing eating habits to sustain constant growth will have to yield to a hard shelled, three segmented structure with wings whose purpose is to soar into the heavens. These are two totally different structures; same creature, but new look and purpose!

The churches who are willing to face this metamorphic state will find themselves surrounded by conflicts that demands change. Every program they have will be challenged; every thing they have done will be questioned by the standard of “relationships”. How does this standard or program enhance the relationship between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and their relationship to mankind, us? Can I trust the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus Christ? How does this standard or program enhance the relationship between man with his brother in this priesthood of believers that is known as the Church, us?  Am I truly my brothers’ keeper; if so, am I willing to “lay down my life for the brethren”? Can I trust my brother or sister in Jesus Christ? Those are the basic, challenging questions that will be asked.

Under the old caterpillar mentality of doing church, the Church cannot fly. It’s multi-legged, multi-bodied structure of splintered, divided factions, and its ravish appetite for constant church growth have often hindered its vertical relationship with the Godhead. It has not been able to bring an united, corporate atmosphere of worship or fulfilled John 17’s vision of church unity with the Godhead. Every segment feels it has the inside scoop with the Father through their church doctrine and beliefs, and the other segments of the body don’t, thus bringing division.

Under the butterfly mentality, the Church will be “equipped” to fly because it will “equip” the “saints”, the priesthood of believers, for the works of service. Everything that they do will be seen as an act of worship to the Godhead. Everything that they do will be an act of service to each other; all at the price of being willing to lay down their lives for their God and their fellow brothers and sisters, exactly what Jesus did on the Cross! The Cross is still the central component of the message of the gospel.

Every church revival that I have studied about or have personally experienced has been a messy affair as man has been challenged with new ways of doing things, new mindsets, a new awareness for the need of worship, a new burden to truly be one’s brother’s keeper, and a hunger for healthy relationships with the Godhead and the body of Christ, the priesthood of believers, that only comes through brokenness, repentance, and healing through Jesus Christ. Churches who don’t want the mess or the challenges will safely continue to crawl into its security and safety that tradition and being an institution can give. We are faced with only two options: tradition or change!

Question: Can The Principle of “Consensus” Be Taught?


 “Consensus” Through Family Interaction

My dad told us that as a child he had been taught, “Children should be seen but not heard.” When visiting his grandparents, he and his brothers and sister were instructed to sit around the table quietly and only talk when spoken to or questioned by an adult. Seldom were they ever a part of adult conversation, and never were they part of decision making. The “Poppa” ruled the house because he was the “head of the home”, and “Mamma” ran the house because she was “the neck that could turn the head” any direction that she chose! There was no consensus in those households, only parental dictatorship. As a child, you were expected to only do what you were told or face discipline.

As a dad, my house was different. During the evening meal we sat around a round table conversing. My wife told us of the challenges and triumphs of her work day as a painter and wallpaper hanger. My children talked about “school”: bonding of friends, the breaking up with others, and the comical events of the day. My daughter told of new gymnastic moves she conquered, my son what rudiments he could drum, and my younger son telling what guitar pieces he mastered. All shared the excitement of upcoming concerts, gymnastic meets, church youth group events, and painting and wallpapering experiences. These were noisy times, for it was part of moving forward as a family. Silence usually signaled a problem or a hurt feeling, certainly not the respect and dignity their grandfather had often shared. These times around our table taught us to support one another, show interest in other’s activities, and a time to pull together to map out strategies so that all could participate in individual efforts as well as family events.

These efforts were tested in 1993 when my wife and I were invited to go to South Africa during the demise of apartheid as part of an United Methodist Lay Witness Team for a sixteen day trip from Johannesburg to Capetown. Since this invitation effected every family member, I called for a “family meeting.” After my wife and I shared the facts with the children, we wanted to hear what they thought. Unanimously they thought we should go on the trip even though it would mean they would have to alter their schedules for twenty-one days. Everyone shared how the trip would effect them personally, yet there was a consensus that we move forward and go.

As a family we prayed, and we began to see those prayers answered: checks came from friends to financially support our trip; the school district allowed me to take a twenty-one day “Sabbatical” from teaching for educational travel; and our friends who had six children of their own agreed to add our three to their family for three weeks. While we were on the trip, our children prayed for us daily, and the trip became “life changing” for all of us individually as well as a family.

Now, as adults, our children are vastly diverse, more independent, each unique, following different paths on life’s journey, yet as a family we are still close. They learned that family is important! Even during challenging times, we still seek consensus on how to support, aide, and give direction to each other on life’s journey. While other families fuss, feud, and debate bringing division, our family has “learned” that consensus may not come easily, may surface pain and conflict, yet we as a family can still move forward with positive support for one another. “Consensus” is a process that can be taught and learned by families.

The same is with the family of God, the body of Christ, the Church. Today’s church could operate through consensus if it were willing to give everyone a voice, validate everyone as a peer in the group, a member of the Priesthood of Believers, and work toward a common direction that will produce positive results for the good of the group. Maybe, just maybe, instead of being an organization, the church needs to return as an organism, a family, governed by consensus, just as it was when it was birthed at Pentecost.


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 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: How Did The Early Church Come To An Agreement?

The Act of “Consensus” – Part I


The early church followed what form of government?

Certainly not a democracy, for there were no viable democracies in the first century. The church did not vote on matters with the majority ruling the day.

Certainly not a monarchy, even though Jesus is referred to as King of King. Jesus taught that his kingdom leadership was built on service, not “lording over” others like the gentiles do. His kingdom would be composed of a royal priesthood; a kingdom that would recognize Him as both King and High Priest, but his believers would be a linear, relational priesthood of peer equals in Jesus Christ. There would be no hierarchy or distinctions among them as in secular institutions.

Certainly not a dictatorship, for the Roman Caesars vividly displayed the ruthlessness of such a structure. The “laying down of one’s life” rather than the taking of another’s life seemed to be rule of thumb in Jesus’s kingdom.  “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 and sisters.” (I John 3:16) In fact the gospel takes it farther, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) Laying down your life not for just your own, but also outsiders is a pillar of the Christian faith.

If the Church was birthed in a Middle East, Westernized world of kings, Caesars, ruthless dictators, why did they not just make Peter the Pope and the Apostles the Ruling Council of Lead Elders to micromanage this new organization. The answer is simple. The church is not an organization. It is a living organism. Man directed it towards becoming an organization and later an institution. It does not have to follow Robert’s Rules of Order, just Jesus’ unconditional love by worshiping the Father and laying down your life for your brothers and sisters in Jesus.

If not an organization, then how did they govern themselves as an organism?  Another simple answer: through consensus in the Holy Spirit. They learned to listen and be obedient to the Holy Spirit. When he speaks, he speaks in one voice, the voice of God, that brings unity. He reveals only what Jesus wants, and Jesus reveals the heart of His Father. The three speak as one in unity.

When the Holy Spirit spoke, the Church did not debate about what He said, they just obediently followed it. They did not write position papers, or create dogma, or write doctrinal statements, etc., they just were obedient and followed it. God could speak through any believer, and often through several, yet his Word, his message, was always the same, bringing unity and clarity. All were in agreement, “in one accord”, in consensus. No debate, no dialogue, no critiquing, no criticizing, no theologizing, only faithful obedience! All moved ahead in the same direction because they had consensus on every matter when the Lord spoke to them.

Let’s look over the next few blogs on how this consensus worked, how effective it really was, and how the church has wondered away from that model into the hierarchal models it practices today. Finally let’s examine how we can “revive” the spirit of consensus back into the Church.



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 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…..)