To Understand One Another, The Generation Gap Linguistically Will Have To Be Bridged At The Cross
Revival usual occurs at the grass roots of the church out in the open, not behind their closed doors. When it occurs, it produces tension between the “established” church and its mindsets with the “new movements” and what appears to be new mindsets. The key for true, effective, powerful revival is to bring the two sides together. In the 1700’s, Wesley misunderstood Whitehead’s attempts to go “out” to the coal mines to preach to the miners as they left work, criticizing him for not having them come “in” to the church to hear the gospel. When the misunderstanding was cleared by Wesley not being able to deny the fruits of Whitehead’s endeavors, he embraced the new movement and took the lead in creating the outdoor Camp Meeting movement that revolutionized evangelism in America and help spearhead America’s Great Revival. If the misunderstandings are not cleared up, then the rival brings schism, division, and conflict in the body of Christ.
I recall the enthusiasm many of us in our twenties had when returning from an outdoor Jesus Rally in the mid-1970’s after hearing some inspirational teaching from a speaker who tried to encourage his youthful audience to grow in Jesus toward eventual church leadership. He quoted the passage from Timothy that “it is good to aspire to become an elder.” When our local pastor heard of it, he was shocked, offended, and threatened, thinking we were going to try to usurp his power and authority as pastor. That was his pyramid, hierarchal mindset at the time. That was never our intention since we were only thinking horizontally, relationally, but that “misunderstanding” effected how we were allowed to “minister” at the local level.
I can see the possibility of this same misunderstanding occurring during this next revival because of the generational gap at how each looks at leadership and accountability in the Church. The “established” church thinks hierarchal like a business model while the “new thinking” group looks linear, horizontally relational. Today’s many independent and megachurches have developed high control, low accountability models. The church leadership has tight control of those “under” them with not much of an umbrella, if any, accountability above them, especially if they follow a “strong pastor” format. This is why my generation has seen so many “spiritual giants” fall from ministry. This “turns off” many in the new movement who think linear, building relationships with other Christians, not caring about dogma, doctrine, and labels as much as “fellowshipping” with their peers, the living saints, under the banner of Jesus. The rigid horizontal, pyramid church structure always collides with the vertical, relational, reform structure. Only if both camps allows the other to intersect it (the horizontal and vertical), then you have THE CROSS. Only at and through the CROSS of Jesus Christ can love, understanding, acceptance, and unity be found.
As I have wrestled over the five fold ministry of Ephesians 4 over the last two decades, I always wondered how there could be unity from five completely different passions and points of view which historically always brought division. In my 20th century church mentality I could not ever see or imagine how that could happen. The vertical, pyramidal, 20th century church structure would not permit it since they made each of the five fold ministries “offices”. Senior Pastors now obtained the title of “apostle” or “prophet”. How else would the church see it since the pyramid, hierarchal church structure was embedded in the church? With this new wave of thinking horizontally, stressing relationship, I can see some daylight that there is a possibility for unity in the five fold if they are looked upon as points of view or passions for every believer in the priesthood of believers in Jesus Christ. If relationships are built so strong in Jesus between members of the body of Christ that they are willing to embrace I John 3:16 of “laying down their life for the brethren”, then the groundwork would be laid.
In the pyramidal, hierarchal structure that I have lived through, I can truthfully say that I do not know any brother or sister in the Lord who would actually lay down their physical or spiritual life for me, nor I for them. I would “feel obligated” to do it for my “superiors”, my pastor and staff, but never for each other. In the linear, vertical structured based on I John 3:16, it would become natural in building a deeper relationship with those in the body of Christ. Through reciprocal “serving” of one another, trust would be built, and accountability would be established which the vertical, pyramid structure of leadership would not understand nor embrace, thus the conflict, misunderstanding, and division that revival normally produces.
It is my prayer and desire in these blogs to help bridge the gap between the old, 20th century vertical structure with the new, 21st century horizontal structure by having them “intersect” making a CROSS. At that point of intersecting, at that point of allowing the supernatural vertical relationship with God the Father through His Son, Jesus, with the nurturing of the precious Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ, can the miracle of unity be found. Both different points of view, different mindsets, different understanding can realize and understand that they are saying the same thing in Jesus, only linguistically different, for the kingdom of God principles are the same for both groups or camps. That is why I think this upcoming revival which we are only feeling the birthing pangs, the beginning contractions, here in America, will be the birth of the Church maturing individually and corporately in Jesus Christ, the fulfillment of Ephesians 4.