21st Century Church

The World Of Change And The Church

Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part XXXVI 

What would the world be like without electricity, telecommunications, the Internet, combustible engines, septic systems, water and sewage treatment plants, super highways, super markets, etc. We wonder how our ancestors survived without them. Technology has changed everyone’s lifestyles.

The church often associated new technology with being the devil’s tool and wanted no part of it. The Amish still hold that standard. Church services still feature hymns written by composers who have been dead for over one hundred and fifty years, an order of worship that is no different than when the Puritans landed on Plymouth Rock, and has maintained the same leadership structure for almost seventeen hundred years. I think it is safe to say that the church does not embrace change as quickly as the secular world does.

Some look at this lack of change as stability while some minimally embrace it as an attempt to be relevant with current culture. Those who have embraced wide change are called heretics, and historically they were burned at the stake! The secular world expects change; the church is threatened by it. Why? For a group that believes that “I can do all things in Christ Jesus who strengthens me,”(Philippians 4:14) why are they so threatened by change and fear of the unknown, and fail to adjust?

If anyone should understand change, it is my generation, for we demanded it. I was raised in a well ordered church life of going to Sunday School and Church, Mid-week Prayer Service, Choir Rehearsals, and church Youth Activities weekly. Leave It To Beaver, Father Knows Best, and the Ozzie & Harriet Nelson television shows depicted the sterile, clean, family lifestyle I knew. Then came the rebellious ‘1960’s with Woodstock, hippies, the Civil Rights Movement, the Women’s Liberation Movement, segregation of schools in the South, the Viet Nam War, assassinations of political figures, and even the resignation of a U.S. President under a corruption scandal. America’s moral and ethical infrastructure was challenged at every level, yet the church remained primarily silent, not sure how to address such rapid change. They even resisted the Jesus Movement and Charismatic Movements with in their own ranks during this time.

If church change is so cumbersome, what challenges does the 21st Century church face in a connected world shrunk by the Internet?  We still have to ask, “Does my local church want to remain status quo, stable, orderly, and predictable, or will it accept the challenges that come with change? What changes are affecting my generation? In the next upcoming blogs we will look at the current winds of change that are blowing over the church steeples of America and the world.


The Five Fold Is Already In The Church!


Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part XXXV

In the 1980’s and ‘90’s, my family was active in Lay Witness Missions through the United Methodist Church, a powerful lay ministry composed of pot-luck dinners, small group activities, while staying overnight in local parishioner’s homes. A lay coordinator would be assigned to invite a team of visiting missioners to come share their faith journeys. He would also help establish committees to involve the local parishioners in participating in the weekend.

The weekend featured several covered dish dinners, adult small group sessions, Youth activities, and a Children’s Ministry. In Friday night’s small group adult session, only three questions were posed: 1) What do you expect for your church this weekend? 2) What do want for yourself this weekend? and 3) Why did you come tonight? Some came for the food and fellowship. Some confessed they came because their spouses made them. The answers to these three questions were quite insightful.

Some wished to get closer to God, to grow in their faith, or to hear how the Lord was working in other’s lives. One wanted to see others get saved while another hoped for more Bible studies, prayer groups, and small groups to be established in the future. The need for the five fold was prevalent in all these groups: to win the lost, to nurture the saints, to study the Logos Word and transform it into the Rhema Word, to get closer to God, and to see the church as a whole unite and come alive.

Even though the weekend had a formal schedule, it still remained fluid. The Lay Witness Coordinator functioned as an apostle: he did not “control” the weekend, but counted on the Holy Spirit to lead it, monitoring the Holy Spirit’s activities through visiting missioners and in local parishioner’s lives. Flexibility was a key to the weekend’s success.

My wife and I were part of a 23 member team of Americans to participate in Lay Witness Mission in Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Capetown, South Africa in 1993, while under the watchful eye of local South Africans. They wrote to us what they learned about the experience, “There is safety in following the Holy Spirit.” Wow! They got it! The Holy Spirit was in charge, we are only vessels of service and obedience to His voice.

In every Lay Witness Weekend that I have participated, I have met a local believer with an evangelistic zeal. “You must be born again” was understood in every local church. There were believers with pastoral, shepherding hearts who wanted to see spiritual growth among their members. The desire for simplistic biblical truth was prevalent. Yearning for more intimate worship and drawing closer to the Lord was evident individually and corporately. The voices of the five fold were all present. The five fold was already embedded among members in a local church. Believers just needed to be equipped, encouraged, and released in them. As a local church yields to the leading of the Holy Spirit and to the building up of peer relationships in Jesus, the release of the five fold will become more evident. Often the holdback to releasing the five fold through the Priesthood of Believers is the structure. If structure prevents continual revival, then the church must face a metamorphosis, a transitional rebuilding of relationships while being open to new forms or structures.


Storehouses, Deep Within

Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part XXXIV


As believers in Jesus, there is a treasure stored deep within us if we are just willing to just dig deeper.

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.”     

If the Holy Spirit “abides with you and in you,” then all we must do is dig deeper within ourselves and release what the Lord has stored in his temple. God has a record of building storehouses, a principle we need to tap into.

The foundation for storehousing is founded in Genesis 41, the story of Joseph, whose brothers sold him into slavery, but he rises to power, second only to the pharaoh of Egypt to build storehouses to prevent an upcoming famine. The power of these storehouses brought everyone to be indebted to Egypt, enslaved the children of Israel for the next 500 years, and built an empire!

The prophet Malachi writes, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.” (Malachi 3:10)

I have heard this passage quoted over and over again to justify financial tithing to local churches to meet their budgets and Christian speakers to finance their organizations. This passage has nothing to do with monetary wealth, but is a significant principle for the Priesthood of Believers who are to ”bring the whole tithe into the storehouse.” We are only God’s stewards. Egypt demanded bringing 1/5th, the church 1/10th, but God demands “the whole tithe,” everything! “’Test Me now in this,’ says the Lord of hosts! I will open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.” The storehouses will overflow because everything that is in it, God has put there, not you! He fills His storehouses to overflowing when we give Him our all! Test Him!

The tragedy of Ananias and Sapphira during the first century lay not only in them not ”bringing the whole tithe into the storehouse,” but lying to the Holy Spirit about it. (Acts 5:1-22) You don’t mess with the principle of storehousing or with the power of the Holy Spirit; they are powerful! Because of Ananias and Sapphira’s actions, a ”great fear came over the whole church, and over all who heard of these things.”

Can you not see the potential of this storehouse, this temple of the Holy Spirit that is within you and the many giftings it holds: the gift of salvation, the gift of eternal life, the gifts of the spirit, the fruits of the spirit, patience, kindness, meekness, mildness, love, wisdom, word of knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, distinguishing spirits, tongues, interpretations, evangelists, shepherds, prophets, apostles, and teachers, etc., etc. “But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (I Corinthians 12:7) There are more gifts than our personal storehouses can contain.

Churches today should be ashamed of themselves for not tapping into this valuable resource instead of enabling their laity into passivity and inactivity. The five fold is for the equipping, the building up, and the releasing of the saints for service from their storehouses! Like Williamsport, once rich, then poor, but now alive because of what lies beneath them, the church needs to tap into the storehouses that already lay beneath their laity, the Priesthood of Believers.


Digging Deeper, What Lies Deep Inside

 Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part XXXIII

The Williamsport High School band in Williamsport, Pennsylvania is known as the Millionaires because Williamsport once housed an abundance of millionaires, but when hard times hit, the historic luster of its Victorian wooden mansions diminished. Today new life and wealth has again sprung back because of the treasure that lay beneath their surface: natural gas. If dug deep enough, gas will arise, and life has returned to Williamsport.

John 4:7-26, the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman, is a powerful passage about digging deep and what can be found under the surface.

“Jews have no dealings with Samaritans,” yet Jesus asks this Samaritan woman to draw water for him at the historic Jacob’s well. She dig’s deep questioning him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink? Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water? You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself and his sons and his cattle?”

Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”

 The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw.” 

The water that gives eternal life is the water that she desires, but Jesus wants her to dig deep into her well to discover what is there instead. Prophetically, he reveals what is deep in her historical past. “You have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband.” 

 “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet,” so she digs even deeper, “Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” 

Because of her digging, she has struck gold. Jesus reveals more of himself. “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

She believes the validity that he truly is a prophet, but she is willing to dig even deeper as she continues, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.”

She has dug deep enough to discover the source of the well as Jesus reveals his true identity that he has not even revealed to his intimate disciples.

“I who speak to you am He.”

Sometime, to find the answers, the treasures, the sources of life, we just need to dig deeper.


The Tension Between Revival And Control

 Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part XXXII

When revivals break outside conventional church boundaries, the church asks, “What covering do you have?” Basically they are asking, “Who is in control?” They feel their pyramidal leadership structure can control to prevent weirdness, cults, and heresies. Ironically, it is the pyramidal control that kills the organism, the life of the movement; it certainly does not protect it. During times of revival, the church needs to learn how to come along side the revival movement, embrace it, not control it, but accept it for what it is, a movement of God, or just leave it alone.

Acts 5:34-40  records, “A Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law, respected by all the people, stood up in the Council and gave orders to put the men outside for a short time. He said to them, ‘Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men. For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about four hundred men joined up with him. But he was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census and drew away some people after him; he too perished, and all those who followed him were scattered. So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.’ They took his advice.” (Acts 4:333-40)

Revival exposes the church’s tension for control. The religious institution always has asked who is in charge, who is responsible for the actions of this radical movement? The revivalist claim the Holy Spirit is in control.  Being outside established religious norms, the Holy Spirit moves anyway he chooses, often looking like chaos to the institutional church, so they take control to establish order, but usually at the price of the life of the organism.

Only if one is willing to give up total control to the Holy Spirit can they become part of the revival spirit. If not, tension and a battle may ensue. One could find themselves in the same position as Gamaliel and the Sanhedrin. Is is smart to take Gamaliel’s advice, or you too could be taking the risk of “fighting against God”? 

I realize that what I am proposing with the five fold is a challenge to current church leadership structures, accountability structures, the clergy/laity belief system, while advocating for a Priesthood of Believers and the restoration of the five fold for everyday believers. The question is am I, or are we, willing to embrace this movement of God or will we oppose it?



Consensus and Accountability

 Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part XXXI

The first century church was governed by consensus as recorded in Acts 15. At the Council in Jerusalem, the Church came to a consensus over the “gentile question.” They agreed that gentiles received the same Holy Spirit as they did and were a part of the Body of Christ. There would be no room for divisions or classes in Christ’s kingdom. Peer brethren were sent to verbally proclaim their consensus and blessing. The apostles did not dictate or manipulate the outcome; they allowed the Holy Spirit to work among the brethren which brought a consensus, a unity, a positive move forward.

In the kingdom of God, accountability does not come from the top down from leadership that demands unquestionable submission to their authority, but instead is a body ministry of believers standing beside one another, taking the lead or adding support through their strengths and talents. Leadership is from a linear plane of being peers, equals in Jesus who accept and receives from one another. Unlike pyramidal structures were decisions are often dictatorial, leadership is consensual. It is not being “told” what to do, but to willingly give what you have for the common good. Apathy becomes archaic as every believer is active in this giving and receiving process rather than be passive. A community is built as a living organism that produces life.

Respect does not come by being in an office with a title, but by being an accepting friend, a brother or sister who not only is willing to stand beside you and with you through the good and bad times of your life, but who is willing to lay down their life for you in spite of who or what you are. If Jesus is your Lord and Savior, you are my equal, my peer, in Christ! Respect comes through service, and the five fold is all about serving.

Accountability to an organization is dictated by position and office. The question is always, “Who are you under, who are you accountable to, who is the authority above you?” Basically they are asking what leadership do you have “over” you, as if that authority is your protective umbrella.

Accountability to an organism is built on peer relationships. Their question is “Who accepts you as an equal by walking beside you in your journey? Who is protecting your back? Who is walking before you in the lead? Who are you surrounded by who will nurture, care, teach, and fellowship with you on a daily basis in practical ways? That is linear.


The Accountability Round Table: Hypothetical Situation


Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part XXX

Recognizing that today’s church is one of the most segregated institutions, your five fold group asks, “Since we live in a community that is multi-cultural, how can we get believers of different races and cultures to worship and fellowship together?”

The evangelist pipes up, “That’s easy. They all just need Jesus. Let’s introduce each and every person in our community to Jesus. It is that simple. (The evangelist’s limited point of view sees only the lost in need of Jesus, spiritual birth.)

The believer with a shepherding heart comments, “The challenges lie in how we care and nurture in the context of different cultures, social norms, and traditions. I’ve experienced a White church that started Sunday services mid-morning, while the Black churches arrived an hour later, and it took another hour just to get it rolling! The Hispanic church didn’t even think of starting until noon or later. How are we going to integrate these cultures and worship styles together?” (The shepherd’s limited point of view is his concern for spiritual growth.)

The teacher interjects, “What really matters is their need to get grounded in the Word, the Bible, and truth will work itself out. One has to know what they believe, and that knowledge will be unifying. We will have to make the Logos Word an active Rhema Word that touches their daily lives, no matter what culture.” (The teacher focus is on the Word.)

The prophet shakes his/her head, “Drawing all men to Jesus is the answer. If people focus on Jesus, their focus on cultural traditions will be diminished. The Holy Spirit speaks all languages, earthly and heavenly, so we must teach all our believers to listen to the Holy Spirit for themselves, He will direct our path.”” (The prophet’s point of view is to spiritually draw near to God and seek His will.)

The believer with an apostolic leaning has been quiet, listening, validating each person’s voice while listening to the Holy Spirit for wisdom, understanding, insight, and guidance. The apostle’s vision is for an united family under the headship of Jesus, but can not attain that unless the other four are “on board” with him. (Networking is the apostle’s passion.) He begins, “I hear us saying Jesus has to be central in this endeavor. He has to be the creator who births this project. Jesus, as a Jew, also reached out to gentiles like the Samaritan woman at the well, and Peter who had to experience the vision that ‘what was unclean is now clean,’ meaning the Church must be inclusive, so how do we get each culture to accept one another in Jesus? Can we trust the Holy Spirit to speak in any language? He did at Pentecost! We may first have to meet around a table, the Lord’s Table, to eat together. There just may be grits, beans, and rice served with our cheeseburgers. The Lord wants us to not only draw near to Him, but also to each other. As we ‘accept’ one another no matter what sex, race, nationality, culture, passion, or point of view, the more ‘receptive’ we will be towards each other.

To my evangelistic brother/sister, I ask, ‘How can we birth this multicultural endeavor?’ To my pastoral shepherd friend, ‘What cultural experiences can we have to break down barriers, then instead of building new structures or barriers, build meaningful relationships between us? How can we build one another up by walking beside each other? Finally what will it take to get us to a point where we are willing to die for one another?’ To my teaching brethren I ask, ‘What will it take to make a Logos Word a multi-cultural Rhema Word, where we are all of the same race because we have been transformed into the image and likeness of Christ?’ To my prophetic friends, I ask, ‘What is the Holy Spirit telling you individually and corporately, so that we may be obedient to His will and His way?’”


The Accountability Cycle

Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part XXIX

The five fold accountability circle forces each participant to serve one another while receive from one another. Because it can circulate, no one gifting is top dog, but any of the five may arise to lead when needed with the other four in a supportive role.  The giving and receiving from one another prevents believers from becoming passive and brings life back into the organism.

But the critics cry, “Who’s in charge? Where does the buck stop?" Being in charge to them means someone being “responsible” at the top of the pyramidal structure of leadership. That is not so with the five fold. In the five fold, trusting the “Spirit of Jesus Christ” is mandatory. The five fold will fail if any of the five doesn’t put their trust in the Holy Spirit, for He is in charge.

“Trusting one another” as peer believers in spite of our diversity is compulsory. Instead of arguing over differences, being defensive, becoming aggressively defiant to other Christian sects, the church needs to extend grace, mercy, trust, and acceptance to one another as peers, equals, needed parts of the Body.

In this circle of faith, if you can’t trust your spiritual brother/sister in Christ to your lift or right or across the table, who can you trust? Being one in Jesus as peers is the only way to create unity.

When it comes to leadership, how does this wheel of service work? Isn’t the apostle to be “at the top” as the “overseer”? No! The being an apostle is not a position, title, or an office; no one is “above” the other. The apostle IS NOT an administrator, a management consultant, a C.E.O., a President, or a Chairman of the Board. He is just a peer to other believers who just so happens to have the passion, vision, and point of view to see the big picture of the Church as a whole and the knowledge of its parts and how they work together.  Anyone of the five could “lead” according to how their passion, gifting, or point of view addresses a need or situation that the five together are facing. When another person feels his passion is needed, the wheel can rotate so that they take the lead and the others follow supplementing his work. It doesn’t matter what direction the wheel rotates, so any of the five can rise to lead with the others giving support to meet the current need of the group.


The Teacher, Prophet, Apostle Connections


Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part XXVIII

Let’s examine how the teacher, prophet, and apostle can relate to the five fold to bring maturity to individual Christian growth and unity to the Body of Christ. Strong relationships are reciprocal, so lets see what the teacher, prophet, and apostle can give to the others and receive from them and why they need each other.

Teacher/Prophet: If there was ever two giftings that augment each other it is the teacher and the prophet because they both major in the Word of God, Jesus! The teacher’s passion is to study the written Word, the Logos Word, the Bible, which is foundational to everything he does. The prophet’s passion is to live out this written Word through the Rhema Word, the living word. Jesus, God in human flesh, “lived out the Word” because he was the Word. The question for the ages is how do we, as believers in Jesus, live out the Word? The living out the Word is central to the Jewish faith, but it has become legalistic. Man has failed to live out the Logos Word on his own; he needs the living Rhema Word and the Holy Spirit in order to live it out. The teacher and prophet working together is a powerful tool to help believers in Jesus to grow into a “mature” man in the image of Jesus.

Teacher/Apostle: The teacher and apostle can be a great duo as the teacher grounds the Church in foundational truths and the apostle sees the overall picture. The apostle must prevent the teacher from being legalistic or over zealous in his desire to live out the Word. Ask Saul of Tarsus, a Pharisee of Pharisee, taught under leading rabbis of his day, a zealous defender of his Jewish faith and the Torah. Only when he embraced both the written Word, the Torah, and experienced the living Word, Jesus, did he qualify to become an apostle for this new Church. Every teacher develops his own personal theology and methodology, but he needs an apostle to bring simplicity to the gospel. The restoration of the Apostle’s Teaching is mandatory to prevent doctrinal sectarianism that divided the church for so long.

Prophet/Apostle: You are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord.” (Ephesians 2:19-21) The believer who sees the Big Picture of the Church as a whole is apostolic, while the believer who yearns to draw nearer to God, who seeks to commune with his God, who listens to the voice of the Holy Spirit is prophetic. What better foundation upon which to build the Church but on the vision of an apostle, the guidance of the Spirit, and Jesus as the cornerstone! The apostolic sees the strength of individual pieces and how they fit together in support and encourage one another. The prophetic hears the voice of God, senses his heart, and always leads himself and others toward Jesus. The two together become foundational.


The Shepherd Connection


Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part XXVII

Let’s examine how the shepherd can relate to the evangelist, teacher, prophet, and apostle to bring maturity to individual Christian growth and unity to the Body of Christ. Strong relationships are reciprocal, so lets see what the shepherd can give to the others and receive from them and why they need each other.

Shepherd/Teacher: The shepherd and teacher can work hand in hand because their focus is on “maturing” the saint into the image of being a  godly, Christ-like person. This faith journey must be grounded in the Logos Word, the Bible, yet lived out in practical everyday life as a living Rhema Word. Who better to walk out this new life with a shepherd than a teacher? Since “all things are new” when being born again, a teacher is necessary to instill Biblical principals as a foundation. A convert who has a shepherd on one side and a teacher on the other walking with him is a fortunate person. The five fold can offer that!

Shepherd/Prophet: When facing the challenges of everyday life, one can lose focus and be distracted. The shepherd works daily with a a new convert’s spiritual walk, but the prophet keeps one’s focus on God, his Son, Jesus, and through the Holy Spirit. The shepherd teaches one to walk with God; the prophet teaches one to hear from God through the voice of the Holy Spirit. The more righteous the walk, the more obedience to the voice is required, the more mature a Christian becomes into the image of Jesus. The shepherd and prophet need one another in their own practical daily walks and spiritual journeys.

Shepherd/Apostle: Even with all the nurturing that you have received, did you ever ask how you “fit” into the picture of your local church or the Church as a whole? As the shepherd works with your development toward becoming a “mature” believer in Jesus, the apostle specializes in networking the pieces together, seeing over what the Holy Spirit is doing in each believer’s personal life and the life of the Church as a whole. As the convert grows, the apostle “sees over” the walk he had with his shepherd and networks him with other teachers and prophets. The apostle doesn’t control the sheep nor tells the shepherd what to do, but he “serves” them to assure the growth of the sheep and the spiritual health of the shepherd.


The Evangelist Connection


Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part XXVI

Let’s examine how the evangelist can relate to the shepherd, teacher, prophet, and apostle to bring maturity to individual Christian growth and unity to the Body of Christ. Strong relationships are reciprocal, so lets see what the evangelist can give to the others and receive from them and why they need each other.

Evangelist/Shepherd: An evangelist’s strength is in birthing. His passion is for the lost to find their way into the kingdom of God. Nurturing and caring for new converts is his weakness because his passion drives him toward winning the lost. Every evangelist needs a shepherd beside him whose strength is to nurture, guide, care, and “parent” these new converts in their faith journey. Since the sheep may get sick, wonder off, or even die, it is mandatory for the shepherd to be available 24/7 for his sheep. Personally, an evangelist needs a shepherd to speak advice into their own personal life to temper their zeal. The shepherd, on the other hand, needs the evangelist’s zeal to motivate his own life.

Evangelist/Teacher: An evangelist needs a teacher to ground his personal ministry in the Logos Word, the Bible. If it isn’t scriptural, it’s questionable. Also the teacher can make the Logos Word real by making it a Rhema living Word, applicable to everyday life, not just theological. This is to prevent new believers from becoming Pharisees, followers of institutionalized, structural, lifeless religion. Jesus was severely critical of Pharisees. A teacher needs an evangelist to keep his faith fresh, active, and alive. An evangelist needs a teacher to walk with him through his daily faith journey. Their passions are necessary to keep a believer in Jesus a living organism.

Evangelist/Prophet: To prevent legalism, the evangelist needs a prophet whose passion is to draw near to God. Rather than relying on programs and events, the evangelist needs to rely on the Holy Spirit to produce creative, relevant ways to share the gospel to win the lost. Personal prophecy can be an effective evangelistic tool as Jesus demonstrated with the Samaritan woman at the well. Words of wisdom and knowledge can be beneficial to winning the lost.  Since the evangelist majors in birthing, who better to work with than a prophet who majors in the spiritual. Prophetic evangelism could revolutionize the way the Church does ministry.

Evangelist/Apostle: An evangelist has a narrow view of seeing only a lost and dying world that need Jesus. An apostle sees the big picture, the Church as a whole. The apostle sees birthing as only the beginning of a process towards maturity in Jesus, so he directs new converts to the right brothers or sisters to be nurtured, cared, taught, and spiritually guided. An apostle needs an evangelist to birth vision and projects the group as a whole will develop.


King Authur, Camelot, and the Five Fold

Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part XXV

The best way for me to understand the interaction of the five fold is to be a romanticist and travel back to the days of King Arthur and his round table in Camelot. When sitting around the round tables, all the knights were considered as equal, even to Arthur, when united. As long as they were willing to die for one another they remained united and stood strong. As soon as one knight felt strong enough to stand alone and oppose the others, the coalition would crumble into disarray.

That is also the picture of the Church historically who claims to be one body but has had a myriad of disapproving knights who have opposed the rest, bringing disarray and division to the Church. If there is such diversity and strong will among its ranks, how is the Church to keep the bond of peace and its commitment toward one another?

The Five Fold Round Table: ”For the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ…..  from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:12,13,16) The purpose of the five fold is to birth, build, and release a mature man in the image of Christ while uniting the Church. It addresses both individual and the corporate growth of the Church. In the upcoming blogs we will examine how the five can function relationally in practical ways, by supporting, encouraging, and releasing their passions through service to one another while receiving them reciprocally. This is the plan that can effectively draw the five fold into one.



Accountability Through Relationships

 Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part XXIV 

How can five distinctly different passions that brought division and sectarianism to the Church for centuries now be the glue to bring unity? That is a valid question. Like most of the gospel, the answer is simple: through relationships!

The five fold is about people, believers in Jesus, with different passions for service with different mindsets and points of view who are willing to “accept” one another as equal peers in Jesus by laying down their lives for one another. The five fold is about being in a committed relationship.

The twelve disciples were different individuals from different background with different passions, giftings, and personalities who even fought among themselves. During a crucial time of transition between Jesus’ death and resurrection and Pentecost, they did not abandon ship but trusted Jesus’ words to “Not leave Jerusalem, but wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” (Acts 1:4-5) They remained together and bonded into a committed relationship, a committed community. Once the Holy Spirit fell on them, they became different individuals with different passions but with the same unifying message: Jesus!

To understand the five fold, you must understand the vertical and perpendicular planes of the Cross. The vertical plane is God’s redemptive relationship “with” mankind (John 3:16); the horizontal plane is God’s redemptive plan “between” mankind (I John 3:16). If you do not have a proper relationship with the Godhead and a proper relationship between believing brethren, you have hay, wood, and straw, which will perish. If your relationship with the Godhead and your believing brethren has been redeemed through Jesus, you have streets of gold; you have eternity. Without these proper relationships, the five fold will not exist because the five fold is about the right passions, drives, and point of views that bring us together, equip us, and matures us in Jesus. Each is an extension of how we see Jesus, what passions we have to serve Jesus, and our mindsets of how we understand and experience Jesus.

How are believers with five different persuasions to unite in Jesus? By laying down their lives through serving one another, giving to one another, while receiving from one another. Strong relationships are reciprocal. Up to now the five have attempted to stand alone, often competing against one another producing thousands of Christian denominations and sects producing a fragmented Church. To have an united Church, the five will need to bond through “serving” those diverse passions as equal peers in Jesus! The strength of one is probably the weakness of the others, so each needs to support, encourage, and stand side by side so their weaknesses diminish and their strength as a whole produces unity in the Body of Christ, the Church.

In the upcoming blogs we will examine how the five fold works in a practical way, releasing each passion in believers to serve, yet be accountable to the other four. 


How The Five Fold Works Relationally

Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part XXIII 

If the five fold is to be a viable option for church structure, the Church will have to be a fluid, living organism for the Priesthood of Believers. The five fold must be viewed as passions, desires, and points of view by common believers in Jesus. Formal structures are not important; the building up and maintaining of peer relationships in Jesus is. If you pattern building a church solely on the blueprint of a five fold structure, it will fail, but if it is built upon the strength of five fold’s diverse passions who support, encourage, and stand by each other by willing laying down their lives for one another, the five fold will be an effective, powerful force of transformation unlike the Church has seen since the first century. Let’s examine each of the five passions, desires, and points of view.

Evangelist: An evangelist, who carries the weight of a sin depraved, dying world who needs Jesus, majors in “birthing”. They seek and serve to save anyone who doesn’t have a personal relationship with Jesus. Often new converts exhibit evangelistic zeal because of their newly found joy and peace in Jesus and want others to experience it.

Pastoral/Shepherd: The shepherd, who majors in nurturing and care, loves to do what Jesus told Peter to do, “Feed my sheep!” (John 21:17) Just like an evangelist wants to hang out with the lost, shepherds love to hang out with the sheep. They eat, sleep, walk, and talk to their sheep giving them guidance, directions, and keep them spiritually healthy to grow. They are people persons who think of others before themselves. There is no formula to be a good shepherd; all one needs is to care, love the unloved, hug the unhugable, accept the rejected, and invite the outcast.

Teacher: When we think of a Christian teacher, we think of a Bible scholar, but that is our Western mindset. The Jewish mindset is the Lamad method of “experiencing” what you learn from the heart, not the mind. Jesus taught the Lamad by walking with his twelve disciples teaching them how to “experience” the kingdom of God. That is why he taught in parables. Five fold teacher use both the academic and experiential approaches.

Prophet: A prophet’s desire is draw near to God, so listening to and being obedient to the voice of the Holy Spirit is central. He longs to be in the flow of the Holy Spirit in whom he has put his trust. He cherishes making the Logos, written, Word the Rhema, living, Word. The Word without spiritual life becomes legalistic, bringing bondage. Jesus gave his “life” in order to release the “spirit life” in man from any bondage.

Apostle:  An apostle majors in networking believers and “seeing over” what the Holy Spirit is already doing. Unlike hierarchal leadership, a believer with an apostolic passion is never “above” those he “serves”, but next to them as equal peers in Jesus. He is to never “lord over them,” but kneel in service by washing their feet. Jesus did this as an example for us. A believer with an apostolic point of view never controls anyone because he is never ‘in control”, the Holy Spirit is! He just “serves” as a shepherd to the Church!

In all five of these giftings, the Holy Spirit must be in control, for He does the work through us; that is what is unique about the five-fold.


Purpose & Mission of Five Fold: For Unity In The Body Of Christ


Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part XXII

To understand the five fold relationally, one must understand its purpose and mission. Is the five fold to be offices to govern the church or are they passions desires and points of view of believers in Jesus? Let’s continue to look at their purpose and mission.

For Corporate Unity in the Body of Christ

                  “…..Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:16)

The five fold is not only for individual maturity in Christ, but also corporate maturity as a Church, preparing itself as a Bride for its groom, Jesus! The “cocoon” stage of the Church’s transformation is its preparation as a Bride. Ephesians 5:27 states, “That He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. Paul is addressing marriage in this passage, but in verse 32 he clarifies his real intentions, ”This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.”

Over the centuries, as the Church has been transformed from an organism to an organization, it has become tarnished and wrinkled to the point of almost being unrecognizable between her and the rest of the institutional world. It is time to bring life back into her, transform her back into an organism, washing the stains through His shed blood and power of the Holy Spirit to bring back its whiteness and purity. Because of the heat of persecution and transformation that will iron out the wrinkles, a cocoon stage is warranted. When the Groom, Jesus, returns for his Bride, the Church, she will be alive, beautiful, holy, and blameless! Wow, that’s faith, for it is hard to picture that through my natural eyes, but God sees it through the supernatural! That is Godly vision!

Godly vision for us may come through the five fold. God’s evangelistic vision sees the Bride “reborn” into a new image without “spot or wrinkle” but “holy and blameless.” God’s shepherding vision is “presenting to Himself the church in all her glory” by nurturing and caring for her. Jesus did not leave her as an orphan, but sent the Holy Spirit to her. He then ascended, giving “gifts to men” by forming them into “apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers to nurture His Bride. God’s teaching vision gave life back into the Church by making the Logos, written, Word a Rhema, living, Word, so that the church would be an organism again.  God’s prophetic vision allows the Church to see itself as He does, a Bride without “spot or wrinkle”. Finally, God’s apostolic vision allows the Church to see the “Big Picture”, God’s Eternal Purpose, the reason and purpose for God to created mankind “in Our image, according to Our likeness”, and God’s desire to restore a fallen man and commune with him. If God can restore a fallen man, He is also capable of restoring a fallen Church!



Purpose & Mission of Five Fold: For Individual Christian Growth


Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part XXI

To understand the five fold relationally, one must understand its purpose and mission. Is the five fold to be offices to govern the church or are they passions desires and points of view of believers in Jesus? Let’s continue to look at their purpose and mission.

For Individual Christian Growth

…..until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.  ….. we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,” (Ephesians 4:13, 15)

The second purpose of the five fold is for individual maturity, the growing up “in all aspects” into “fullness of Christ.” Paul wrote in verse 14, “We are no longer to be children, tossed ….. and carried,” but we are “to grow up,” to learn to stand and walk as “a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”

Evangelical churches that emphasize “birth” are usually weak in Christian growth. They see large numbers get saved, but later move on to more nurturing congregations. Pediatricians help with your birth and early childhood development, but if you go to one as an adult, you got a problem. Pediatricians are for children, not adults! Christians who often chose to stay with their spiritual pediatrician, the evangelist, remain childlike in their faith, never quite maturing. They will always prefer milk over meat. Physically we are destined to grow as humans, but that is not true spiritually. We grow only as much as we allow the Holy Spirit to penetrate our lives. Spiritually we can choose to be babied by our professional church staffs, or we can stand and learn to walk in the Spirit. It is our choice!

How do we learn to grow? Churches offer Bible studies on discipleship telling you “how” to grow. The five fold has brothers and sisters, relationally, walking out your growth with you, standing with you, teaching you to take a stand in your faith walk by experiencing it with you. As younger siblings look up to older siblings, Paul exhorts younger men and women to “hang out” with older men and women for just this purpose: to grow by example! Youth offers zeal, but if tempered with wisdom and experience from an older brother or sister will see mature growth.

The purpose of the five fold is “to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.” We measure our growth by how much we portray the image of the Father, the Son, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. In Genesis 1:26, “God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” We are to be God-ly, Christ-like, and obedient to the Holy Spirit. It is an awesome task which can be attained because Jesus modeled it! He hung out with twelve ordinary men, stood by them, led them, covered their backs, accepted them, nurtured and cared for them, and eventually died for them, all for the purpose of drawing them closer to his Father to make them “godly”. “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30) When you read about these same twelve in the book of Acts, your see totally transformed men who are “godly” and “Christ-like” in so many ways! The four gospels are about their five fold relational walk with Jesus, and the book of Acts is about their “growth” in becoming a “mature man” in the “image of Jesus Christ”.

That is the goal of the five fold: to mature the saints, to help them “grow up” into the image of the Godhead!


Purpose & Mission of Five Fold: To Equip The Saints…


Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part XX

To understand the five fold relationally, one must understand its purpose and mission. Is the five fold to be offices to govern the church or are they passions desires and points of view of believers in Jesus? Let’s look at their purpose and mission.

                  To Equip The Saints…..

“….. for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;” (Ephesians 4:12)

One purpose for the five fold is “for the equipping of the saints”. If it were for the structuring of the church, it would read “for the equipping of the staff,” but it doesn’t say that. It is not a “professional development” tool.

One definition for “equip” is “to prepare mentally for a particular situation or task.” For what situation are we preparing our believers in Christ? For evangelism? It takes a special mentality to infiltrate a hostile world that rejects Jesus and share the gospel. What “necessary supplies for a particular purpose” do we, as a Church, “equip” them with? One of the greatest tools we can give them is to “release” and “send” them with our blessing.

The organizational church tried to keep William Booth in his pulpit, not in the streets, and would not release him to evangelize. He resigned, went for it alone, and founded the Salvation Army. Unfortunately, many believers with an evangelistic passion find themselves alone because the church won’t bless their “independent” endeavors.

Evangelists do not have to be alone when embracing the five fold because they have others supporting and encouraging them. A believer with a shepherd’s heart, standing with him, he can nurture and care for any new convert. Another believer with a passion to teach could share the Logos Word and help make it a Rhema Word in a new convert’s life. A prophetic believer would seek the voice of the Holy Spirit for guidance. A believer with apostolic vision would network this new convert with others to strengthen his walk. What greater gift can we give an evangelist than release him to, “Go do your thing; we got your back covered”?

A believer with an evangelistic passion often gets burned out and discouraged if they don’t have the support of their local church. But in the five fold an evangelist has a shepherd to nurture, a teacher to instruct, a prophet to draw near to God, and an apostle to “see over” what the Holy Spirit is doing in his life. That is equipping!

If we would approach equipping through the Lamad method of experiencing a faith journey with a brother or sister rather then academically instructing them, we would be more effective in discipleship. Am I willing to “lay down my life for my brethren” by literally being beside him in a 24/7 relationship? Jesus did it! If so, this five fold will work. If not, I will be inclined to outsource it to a professional, which is our current structure. It is all about intimate, sacrificial relationships!

The same is true with the other four passions. Equipping means standing by each other while “laying down” your agendas, passions, and opinions “to serve” one another!

As a church we have no idea what equipping means until we “experience” it! When we “invest” in one another, believers to believers, “equipping” will flow naturally as it did in the first century.


Prophets and Apostles: Five Fold As Passions, Desires, & Points of View


Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part XIX

What is a prophetic passion and point of view? Prophets desire to draw near to God! Old Testament priests were created so man could draw near to God. Today, because the Temple’s veil being rent at Jesus’ death, any member of the Priesthood of believers may draw near to God at any time at any place!

A prophet also desires to hear the voice of the Spirit. Since every believer in Jesus has that capability, the challenge lies in being obedient to what one hears. The Holy Spirit constantly spoke in the book of Acts when the Church was an organism, but obedience is required. Ananias and Sapphira sold a parcel of land but fell dead after lying to an apostle. Their offense? “Why is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? (Acts 5:9) The five fold prophet knows not to toy with the Holy Spirit, but be obedient.

The desire to draw all men to God can be a bond between a prophet and an evangelist. Jesus used the prophetic to draw the Samaritan woman to the living water he offers. People have criticized the prophet for being too heavenly minded to be any earthly good. Being heavenly minded is their passion; the no earthly good may be their weakness, so they need a shepherd or teacher by their side.

What is the apostle’s passion? Seeing the big picture of the Church as a whole. He loves networking the other four passions to bring unity and Christian maturity. Being an apostle has nothing to do with administration or governing people. It has to do with serving people through relationships with one another; it is the ebb and flow of the Holy Spirit.

Even an ordinary mother can qualify as an apostle if she sees the big picture and experiences all five passions and point of view in her life. She has experienced birthing, has nurtured and cared for her family, has taught her children, wants every family member to draw nearer to God, and often sees the big picture of the family as a whole while networking family members to serve each other rather than bickering and fighting. What my mom? Yes!

The institutional church has apposed women in leadership over men because they look at it hierarchally, as a question of authority. The five fold is not about position or structure; its about relationship. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise. (Galatians 3:28-29)” Relationally, all are members of the Priesthood of Believers, equal peers. If a mother has experienced making her family a living organism, why wouldn’t she be able to do that with her Church family?

A five fold apostle can relate to his peers since he/she has also experienced the five passions in his/her past. He/She understands the different points of view through the lens of their passions, and can network the five together. He/she allows one to lead while the other four passions support and encourage that leader by serving through their own personal passion while laying down their life for one another. The apostle knows about networking because it is all about relationships.

Instead of isolation among the five diverse passions in the church which brought division, destruction, and devastation, the apostolic believer can bring his diverse brothers/sisters together to function in unity as a body, as a Bride, as a Priesthood, as a Church. It is all about relationships; all about trusting one another; all about trusting the Holy Spirit; and all about laying down your life relationally for each other. 


Teaching: Five Fold As Passions, Desires, & Points of View


Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part XVIII

We who have been molded by Western thought may have to view the five fold passion for teaching from a different mindset. We believe teaching to be academic, mental, and intellectual. Educational degrees are essential for advancement up the hierarchal ladder. A pastor of a large congregation is expected to have a Doctor of Divinity degree and be able to orate high quality sermons and extensive theological exegeses.

The first century church embraced the Jewish Lamad method of teaching from the heart through experience. David, “a man of God’s own heart,” learned to experience God. The 12 disciples were not Jewish theologians, but only reported “what they had seen and heard” when “hanging out” with Jesus.

Westernized theologians do not trust experience over “correct” Biblical doctrine, so they minimize a believer’s experience that may look contrary to their personal theology. They are skeptical in trusting the leading of the Holy Spirit among laity, advocating trusting church leadership and their Biblical interpretation over the leading of the Holy Spirit. This mindset is contrary to the book of Acts where the apostles reported only “what they have seen and heard.”

In America it is important to “know” data about something rather than experience it. Students are tested and evaluated on facts and measurable data rather than on their experiences. As a teacher, I know field trips are far more effective than lecturing. “Experiencing” a lesson gives insights academics can’t, yet the church still teaches mainly through sermons which leaves no room for inquisitive questioning for understanding. It is a proven fact that a well prepared, practiced sermon can be highly entertaining but not very effective in impacting the lives of passive pew sitters.               

As a public school teacher, I have changed my method of teaching according to the age of my students. You should do one method of teaching for each minute of a person’s age up to eighteen. Kindergarteners last five minutes or less. A senior focuses no longer than eighteen minutes. A good teacher changes approaches, styles, and methods of activity often during a class period to keep interest and productivity. Almost every sermon that I have heard in my fifty years was longer than eighteen minutes. As a pew sitter I have found myself losing concentration, focus, and even fighting sleep.

Sermons, as academic exercises, can be “about” forgiveness without anyone “experiencing” forgiveness. Peter learned forgiveness from Jesus after denying Him three times. Jesus allowed him to reaffirm his confession three times asking, “Do you love me?” Peter replied, “Yes, I love you.” Thomas never doubted again after Jesus let him experience touching his wounds and scars. The Samaritan women experienced Jesus as living water and being the messiah.

The Lamad method of experiencing, which has been aborted by Western intellects, must also be embraced if we are to understand the five fold as a living organism. The Church is still working on the teaching mindset.


Shepherding: Five Fold As Passions, Desires, & Points of View


Why Should/Shouldn’t My Church Embrace Change? Part XVII

What is the passion of the shepherd?

A shepherd is driven to nurture and care for his sheep. He lives, sleeps, and eats with his sheep who intimately knows his voice and become obedient to it. Human newborns are helpless, self-centered, and demanding. Their life is consumed by eating, sleeping, and pooping! “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. (II Corinthians 5:17)”  Everything in Christ is new and unfamiliar. Guidance, nurture, care, and education is needed in this new faith walk called Christianity.

Jesus spent three years living, working, and walking with only twelve men to nurture, care, and prepare them for the future. He did not send them to a rabbinical school, a Torah College, or a Jewish seminary. Because He personally nurtured, cared, and taught them, they “experienced” Jesus. Jesus “invested” in them by taking His own personal time to walk and talk with them.

The “personal relationship” with Jesus as my Savior and Lord has become known as my “salvation experience” because it came from the evangelistic point of view. A shepherd would emphasize the continuation of this “personal relationship” in order to grow into a mature man in the image of Christ.

Jesus manifests himself through His Church, so “personal relationships” need to continually be established with an evangelist, shepherd, teacher, prophet, and apostle to maintain spiritual growth. Every Christian needs his peers, the Priesthood of Believers, the Body of Christ around him/her to assure that growth! The five fold is about building relationships to take one from their spiritual birth to being released as a mature man in the image and fullness of Jesus Christ!