A Look at Kent Hunter’s “The Future Is Now: How God Is Moving In The 21st Century Church
I came across an ebook by Kent R. Hunter of Church Doctor Ministries entitled “The Future Is Now: How God Is Moving In The 21st Century Church.” I would like to quote from this source since it is so good, and then add a few of my analysis to it.
From Chapter 7 – Church As A Movement, Hunter says: “Ironically, most modern churches operate from a position of high-control and low-accountability. With boards, committees, votes, nominations, and meetings, many churches represent a very high-control posture. Some denominations represent the epitome of high control. They are disasters waiting to happen, with an extreme level of organizational bureaucracy.
At the other end of the balance, most present modern-era churches reflect low-accountability. People can gossip frequently and no one will hold them accountable. Many feel an independent isolationism from one another in the church. They have inherited an environment in which “your fellow Christian’s sinful behavior is none of your business.” This is the exact opposite of the New Testament approach to church culture, which is low-control, but with high-accountability. The New Testament teaches we should “speak the truth in a spirit of love” (Ephesians 4:15). Jesus taught that we should follow His teaching in Matthew: confront one another privately; if that does not work, take a witness; if it continues, take it to the church — or church leadership (Matthew 18:15-17).
The reemphasis of proper balance in control and accountability explains why many of the new and cutting-edge movements of Christianity include accountability groups.”
Hunter advocates low control, high accountability as keys to the effectiveness of the 21st Century Church. In old Charismatic jargon, one might ask how to keep the flow flowing in each believer. During the Charismatic Movement many spiritual gifts that had been dormant for centuries began to again to surface in the Body of Christ. But often “freedom in the Spirit” was directly opposed by the high control of the hierarchy of the institutional Church which eventually capped this freedom of flow by control. Independent Prayer And Praise Groups that sprung up everywhere producing spiritual life, increased prayer life individually and corporately, and encouragement for regular believers to grow in Christ were eventually controlled by the institutional church by becoming “home groups” or “small groups”, closely and heavily monitored by the institutional church. Anything outside their doctrinal code or comfort zone was diminished.
The key to the success of the five fold in the 21st Century Church is the Church’s willingness to “equip” then “release” these five giftings, passions, and points of view. Those in leadership have to allow the saint whose passion and point of view is to evangelize to evangelize. To allow the saint whose passion and point of view is to shepherd, nurture, care, and develop to be pastoral in his gifting and passion. To allow the saint whose passion is to bring the Logos Word, Biblical interpretation to become a Rhema Word, an experiential living out the Word. To allow the passion of the saint whose desire is to commune with God to be prophetic. Finally, to allow the saint who sees the big picture, the body of Christ, locally or nationally, to be able to “release” the others, in freedom, to do it without control, only “seeing over”, not “overseeing” what the Holy Spirit is doing in their lives. That is low control.
High accountability comes when the believers of faith, those in communion as the local body of Christ, are willing to practice I John 3:16, knowing love as being willing “to lay down your life for your brethren.” In the five fold, that accountability comes in “serving” the other four out of your passion, gifting, and point of view, but it also means “receiving” the “service” from the others whose strengths are your weaknesses. Only when one “dies to himself” can he become “alive to the service of his brethren.” This concept is so foreign to the current Church, but I believe will become a cornerstone in the 21st Century Church as it develops. The five fold could be the ultimate accountability group for the Church in this century.
Unlike today’s institutional church leadership structure where Board meetings, Pastor/Parish Committee Meetings, or Elder’s Meetings become business meetings, often featuring a strong dose of church politics, the five fold structure is not built on a power structure of oversight, but on a “service” structure to and from each other through relationship and laying down ones life for each other. I have never experienced a church leadership meeting of death, everyone dieing to themselves for the sake of serving the others, though I have attended some dead leadership meetings where everyone pushed their agenda, opinion, or power position.
Low Control and High Accountability are keynotes to the five fold structure of “equipping the saints for works of service.” (Eph. 4)