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 9 – Everyone Multiplies, Hunter says: “Discipleship, defined by the behavior of most churches, is to have another Bible class to implant more biblical content in the minds of the people, expecting them to grow in their discipleship lifestyles. This approach simply will not work with Post moderns. It is not the biblical model Jesus provided. Discipleship, in the 21st century healthy church, will be multiplying through on-the-job training. This is, without question, an almost entirely lost art or practice in much of Christianity in the western world. As you read this today, over 100,000 pastors in North America will leave their church office, get in their cars, and drive to a hospital to make a “hospital call.” They will “minister” to someone in the hospital. Practically all of them will go entirely alone. They will not even think about taking someone with them to “disciple,” mentor, apprentice, train — to multiply themselves for hospital calls. This aberration of Ephesians 4 has somehow become the standard. Clergy- centered church represents the hierarchy of a modern era, but not the priesthood of all believers of the biblical world or flat world, or team approach, that is part of the 21st century.”
The mentality of the Church today is that we expect our church leaders to “do it”, not necessarily train us, the normal pew sitting saint. Our attitude is that we “pay” them, the clergy, the professional, to “do it”. “Isn’t that their job,” we think. So our clergy “does it” which enables us, so we do not have to do it! Look at what those attitudes have produced!
Ephesians 4 is all about “equipping”, training, developing others, the “saints,” the priesthood of believers, for the “work of the service.” Christian leaders are to “equip” by giving the tools needed to normal believers in Jesus so they can “serve.” Equippers have already done it, but are now “multiplying” their talents by training, nurturing, developing, and releasing others to serve.
Coming from a plain dressed, conservative Bible background, I was taught my lifestyle was my “witness.” I did not know how to verbally share the gospel with anyone. In fact, I felt shy when cornered to do so, not knowing what to say or do. How did I learn evangelism? I walked the streets of York with an evangelist and watched what he did, observed another evangelist lead a man to the Lord by stopping him riding his bike, looking him in the eye, and confronting him with the gospel, watched still another evangelist share the gospel with a young lady in a bar while drinking a milk, only to have them leave the premise, go to a safe place, and lead her to the Lord. In other words, when an evangelist and I walked side by side, I learned what evangelism was all about.
The same is with the pastoral shepherding skills we need to learn as believers in Christ. Through the Ilgenfritz family opening their home to over 350 people in 35 years, I too have been inspired to have an open door hospitality mentality too! In fact their efforts inspired me to write I Was A Stranger And…. published in the late 1980’s. The same is true with the teaching skills and prophetic skills that I have learned. The best way to learn is to “invest” in another believer and teach them what you know, then equip them with what they will need to do it alone, and finally “release” them to do it without you!
Ephesians 4 explains the purpose for this “multiplying” or “equipping” process to be helping believers to “mature” into the full image of Jesus Christ in their personal lives while allowing the body of Christ, the Church, to mature into the full image of Jesus Christ through unity in preparation for the Grooms return for his Bride, the Bride of Christ, the Church. If there is ever a time we need “mature” Christians, it is now. If there is ever a time that the Church needs to be united, it is now. I believe one of the ways that can happen is through the five fold paradigm of “dying to self” and “laying down your life for your brethren” through service and being served which brings accountability.
The Bible says we are to not only be “hearers of the Word, but doers.” Sermons tell us “how to do it”, but we need to get out of the pulpit, walk beside those we are disciplining, mentoring, preparing, and equipping, and walk with them through it, model it to them, experience their faith with them. We need to teach them how to be “doers” by “doing”, then “releasing” them to do it! Actually “forgiving” is more powerful and effective than giving another sermon “on forgiving.” We need more “releasing” Sundays of celebration, allowing the saints to do what they learned, like actually allow them time to forgive one another, love on one another, actually fellowship with one another, hear each other’s personal narratives of their faith journey, allow them to lay hands on the sick, pray for one another, give prophetic words of encouragement to one another, etc. than another sermon on the topic.
Kent Hunter is right on: Church, let’s start multiplying, not just in numbers, but in equipping one another in ministry, that is in works of service. If leadership did their job right, they would not have to be replaced professionally, but by those they have equipped, the priesthood of believers. That is the model of the 21st Century Church.