Generational Gap

Are Millennials Vertical Or Horizontal?

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

The current church leadership style of being built on pyramidal titles, positions, and professions can be a challenge to Millennials who are looking for linear relationships built on peer acceptance as equals. Millennials are not impressed with pyramidal leadership that has built organizations and institutions but are not effective in developing meaningful, intimate relationships as peers.

The perks of a pyramidal structure as a chance for advancement, providing a good health care plan or a secure retirement system are not as appealing to Millennials as finding relationships who will stand beside you, defend you, lead you, and walk out life with you personally. Why should they trust a Health Care System they are financing, a burdensome pension system they are paying for, and a Higher Education System that places them in deep debt without the promise of a job, or a banking system that pays them no interest on their savings but massive interest rates on using credit cards? When they come to church, why would they not be skeptical of yet another pyramidal scheme? They always lose! Is church just another institution that they have to finance? The pyramidal system benefits those on top at the expense of those below them. The investors are more important than the workers. Millennials are looking for meaningful relationships that will benefit them, not just being the base of a system financing the top.

Millennials are also facing an ethical and moral clash with older generations. Millennials are just trying to survive economically; so living with a roommate of another sex to pay the rent is no big deal. They aren’t looking for formal commitments, just the need to be “accepted”. Being “in a relationship” is important to a Millennial, but not necessarily a marriage relationship. Millennials are being conditioned to take care of themselves, since pyramidal institutions will not take care of them. It is more important to a Millennial to complete high school, get a college education, even if it puts them deep in debt, so they can get a well paying job, and establish a career before thinking of having children, a family, or getting married. Since they aren’t committing to marriage until later, they are sexually active longer as singles, which has produce a generation filled with single mothers, unwed couples, and dead-beat dads.

Before previous generations throw stones at Millennials, I ask, “Why would they embrace marriage when there are more divorces than successful marriages among their parents and peers?” Marriage looks like another institution that has failed them! To them birthing children does not equate to forced “shot gun” marriages, nor does having children outside marriage carry the same negative stigma it once had. The Puritanical days of having a “bastard” child as in The Scarlet Letter is history. Amazingly, the unchurched Millennial is not as judgmental about each other as their churched parents and grandparents are.

If secular and religious institutions have failed Millennials, what does the church have to do to draw them back into its fold? Answer: Accept them for whom they are, where they are unconditionally. Jesus always used unconditional love and grace, not the religious Law. They are looking for genuine relationships, not superficial structures. They are looking for people to walk beside them, not lord over them.

Millennials are looking for someone who is willing to step up, step forward, step beside them through loving relationships of service to fulfill Mathew 15:35-40:

“For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’”

Secular institutions have not fulfilled Mellennial’s needs; they have failed them. It is time for the Church, not as an institution but through personal relationships, to step up and serve, accept, win them to Jesus, and equip, nurture, and care for them in an effort to mature them into the image and fullness of Jesus Christ! That is the mission of the Ephesians 4 Church!


Home Grown Always Tastes Better Than Canned…


Developing Local Leadership For the Local Community– Part XV


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

Today’s church leaders emphasize developing disciples out of the laity, but they do not promote developing lay leadership that would replace them. Why? They quote the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19 which commands to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.” They equate disciples with everyday believers who are the laity, but they believe that leadership does not lay with the laity but with the clergy, thus laity does not “qualify” for leadership.

The five fold is drastically different. The purpose of the five fold is to equip the “saints”, the disciples, the laity, for works of service. Jesus had twelve disciples, who were not Pharisees, Sadducees, or Jewish leaders, but common ordinary laity, fishermen, tax collectors, etc. Jesus “equipped” them for “works of service” and empowered them with the Holy Spirits. Their “Acts”-tions proved them to be evangelists, shepherds, teachers, prophets, and apostles as they began to lead this new movement, first from their hometowns and Jerusalem eventually to all parts of the known world. They were homegrown boys raised and equipped by Jesus in their home country of Israel.

Later Saul of Tarsus, a Pharisee of Pharisees, gets literally knocked off his horse when confronted by Jesus, converts to becoming a believer, and spends time “deprogramming” his Pharisaical beliefs while “redirecting” his zeal, his passions, his drive into the five fold giftings of serving others through Jesus. He becomes an evangelist, a teacher, a shepherd, a prophet, and an apostle by the actions of service he does.

Paul goes into a city, visits the synagogue first trying to convert his fellow Jews, gets rejected and “redirects” his zeal toward the gentiles who receive him. He spends two years or less “equipping the ‘local’ saints for works of service”, then leaves them to begin a new work in another city. He develops homegrown people, new disciples in Jesus, into leadership to fully replace him when he moves on to a new location. He does not call in the “Big Boys” from the Church at Antioch” to come lead his new church as their “pastor”, their clergy, but raises local leadership from the local laity.

Jesus loved sowing and seed parables because he knew that once a seed was sewn, takes root, it grows if properly cared for, becomes mature and ripe, and is harvested.  Why hasn’t the church learned that once a seed is sown and takes root (a person accepts Jesus as his/her Savior), they too will grow if nurtured and cared for properly (through the five fold). A purpose of the five fold is to “mature” a saint into the image of Jesus and have him/her ‘grow up’ in the faith. When mature, ripe, ready for harvest, the local church needs to release them to do the works of service for which they have been trained.

It is the job of local church leadership to “care & nurture”,  “equip”, and “release” fellow peers, believers in the faith, the Priesthood of Believers to do their calling of “service” to others. It’s local leadership training and equipping hometown believers in Jesus how to “serve”; then allowing them to “serve”! Like the woman at the well, when she met Jesus and realized he was not only a prophet, but the Jewish messiah, she ran and told her hometown friends.  Even the demoniac, once released of his demons, wanted to also go with Jesus, but was commanded by Jesus to stay in his hometown.

Through the five fold, we can “equip”, train, care for, nurture, develop and release hometown people to more effectively reach their hometown friends for Jesus! 


Demolition Or Historical Preservation?


Part III: Demolition… Ka-Boom! There She Falls!

Isaiah 57:14-27:  It shall be said, “Build up, build up, prepare the way, remove every obstacle out of the way of My people.” For thus says the high and exalted One who lives forever, whose name is Holy, “I dwell on a high and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit in order to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite. “For I will not contend forever, neither will I always be angry; for the spirit would grow faint before Me, and the breath of those whom I have made because of the iniquity of his unjust gain I was angry and struck him; I hid My face and was angry, and he went on turning away, in the way of his heart. I have seen his ways, but I will heal him; I will lead him and restore comfort to him and to his mourners, creating the praise of his lips. “Peace, peace to him who is far and to him who is near,” says the Lord, “and I will heal him. “But the wicked are like the tossing sea for it cannot be quiet, and its waters toss up refuse and mud.  There is no peace,” says God, “for the wicked.”

I love historic sections of cities, the “old section” of town that is rich in heritage and history. What happens though when it turns into the “slum” of the city. Slumlords become tenant renters never fixing up their place, trash is strewn throughout the streets, crime, prostitution, and drug selling is found around every corner. At this time the section of the city gasps for life, shakes in fear, and loses hope. Soon “death” hovers over the streets instead of “life”. Something needs to be done when so much “life is lost”!  This is the time for renewal; cities call it urban renewal; churches call it revival.

Revival demands change: individual changed lives as well as structural institutional changes. If we keep the same institutions, we get the same results, and the slum mentality will remain in a new environment until it eats away at any progress that was made. Often total demolition is a necessity before renewal can be birthed or maintained.

Isaiah pointed out that to “build up, build up,” first “ remove every obstacle out of the way of My people,” needed to happen. Demolition to religious structures had to be done before renewal was to begin. The Tabernacle had to give way to a Temple when the nation Israel was established. The Temple eventually had to be destroyed, never to be rebuilt, when Christianity was birthed because Christianity professed that the believers’ bodies were the temples of the Holy Spirit, not physical structures. Old structures had to give way to new ones. The previous “Books of God” were now called “the Old Testament” giving way to the new “Books of God” called “the New Testament”. Old influenced the new, but a time came for the old to be old, gone, done away with, “Ka-boom”! It was replaced by something new, something better! That is how God has worked historically as recorded in the Bible, and will continue to do so!

I have written blogs in the past on excerpts of a manuscript I have written called “Metamorphosis” where I believe the Church is going from their current caterpillar stage into a cocoon stage that will “restructure” what a caterpillar looks like. In fact what comes out of that caterpillar will not look like a caterpillar at all; it will be a butterfly, a completely new structure. The old will be gone; behold the new!

What will this new structure look like? Well that is what almost 500 of these blogs have been written about.  I believe we will have a new structure build around the five fold as passions, beliefs, and points of views of average, normal believers in Jesus Christ who have linear relationships with each other of “laying down their lives for their brethren.” This sacrificial love will transform the way we do Church in function, worship, and personal relationships. It will be revolutionary in our thinking, because it will be a new structure. Old hierarchal clergy/laity structures will fall as well as institutional, organizational mindsets based on those structures.

If everything we do becomes relational, either vertically with the way we worship the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, or horizontally, the way we accept one another, it will force us to rethink how we do Church, what is the Church, and demolish old mindset while openly receiving new ones, new revelations as the Holy Spirit reveals.

“Ka-boom”! Another structure falls, another organization, but in its place a butterfly, an organism suitable for flight into the heavenlies, replaces it, a better structure, a better form, a re-form, a newness: revival!


Organization or Organism



Part I: Can We Keep An Organism From Eventually Becoming An Organization?


Definition: noun, plural: organisms  (Science: Biology) - An individual living thing that can react to stimuli, reproduce, grow, and maintain homeostasis. It can be a virus, bacterium, protist, fungus, plant or an animal.  Supplement - Word origin: Greek organon = instrument. 
Related forms: organismic (adjective), organismal (adjective), organismically (adverb). 
Synonym: living thing, living being, individual. (

or·ga·ni·za·tion noun \ˌor-gə-nə-ˈzā-shən, ˌorg-nə-\

1) a company, business, club, etc., that is formed for a particular purpose 2) the act or process of putting the different parts of something in a certain order so that they can be found or used easily 3) the act or process of planning and arranging the different parts of an event or activity

Full Definition of ORGANIZATION - 1  a :  the act or process of organizing or of being organized;  b :  the condition or manner of being organized 2  a :  association, society <charitable organizations>  b :  an administrative and functional structure (as a business or a political party); also :  the personnel of such a structure.

It is so easy to go from being an organism, “a living thing, a living being, an individual, to becoming an organization, an administrative and functional structure. We discover how to bring life or a solution to a problem, then immediately want to organize it to make it more “efficient”.

For example, many hospitals were birthed as a “living” effort to reach out to the sick, especially those who are poor, but once established it becomes an organization to improve its “efficiency” which has brought us to America today where we have developed entire “conglomerates” whose bottom line is the business model of dollars and cents rather than for care for the poor. What started as a good cause, became an efficient system, that eventually becomes all consuming and overwhelming where the organization becomes more important than the original cause. An example is the YMCA, originally a British Christian outreach program for physical health and cheap housing, who now has lost the “C” and is known strictly as the “Y”, and is memorialized by the Village People propagating the gay population in San Francisco in their hit song, “YMCA”.!

This phenomenon also happens with the Church. A person shares one-on-one the gospel producing fruit with several others now believing. As they share their faith, the group grows in size. As it does, they soon believe they can meet more needs if they organize resources to make it more efficient, thus structure and order is formed. Soon structure and order leads to tradition, and we begin to lock in our organization standards which eventually become set in stone, and the movable, fluid, organism is stifled, if not crushed. It is also the dream of some churches to organizationally grow into “religious conglomerates” known as mega-churches where maintaining the huge system becomes an albatross to the effectiveness of the ministry.

We, the church, spend so much time and effort into organizing structures, services, and activities to be more efficient, believing that is the definition of “good stewardship”, rather than spending it on relationships and personal one-to-one contact with our neighbors and other believers. Soon we are willing to “invest” our finances to hire a professional staff to fill organizational positions to perform religious activities rather than staying personally involved in one-to-one relationships, and we wake up discovering we have also become “the institutional church”, though we tend to deny that truth. 



Diversity Is Mandatory


Diversity Is The Strength Of The Five Fold

Churches are known for producing “look-alikes”, replicas. People who come in our church doors are as diverse as the weather conditions around the world. They come in all shapes and sizes, races, nationalities, talents, and interests. They leave packaged! Usually packaged by denominational standards, by moral codes, often by the way they dress, their appearance. In the American political world we label one as a Republican, Democrat, or Independent. In the Church world we too have labels: Roman Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, Baptist, Pentecostal, Mainline, Organic, Missional, Independent, etc. Each group has their own organizations, their own seminaries and educational institutions, their own hierarchy of leadership. Though they may have different doctrines in theology, the people they produce under their banners are looking pretty generic. That is a good thing, for it is ripe for revival!

In the past diversity in the church usually meant future church splits, division. Paul wrote several times, “I heard there are divisions among you.” Often they were caused by the polarization of the diversity present. In this next major revival, the five fold will restore unity as part of its wave or movement. The purpose of the five fold as outlined in Ephesians 4 is “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 the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”

The Lord doesn’t want to stifle diversity; He wants to actually use it for the good of the Body of Christ. Every local church needs the evangelistic spirit, the nurturing caregiver, the grounded Bible teacher, the prophetic insight, and the apostolic over sight, the five fold, five different passions, drives, points of view that are in individual believers in Jesus Christ. If each of those five operate out of the I John 3:16 principle of “laying down your life for your brethren,” by unconditionally serving the others and allowing the others to serve them, a unity will be bonded like the Church hasn’t seen in centuries.

Unfortunately, when sitting through most church services, you do not see the diversity among the saints, the common believers, arise because of the preplanned, orchestrated service which renders God’s people to be inactive, passive. In I Corinthians 12 Paul explains how the body has many parts, relying on each other, and the significance of each diverse part. At the end of the chapter he lists some of the diversity amongst the Corinthians: apostles, prophets, teachers, doers of miracles, healers, administrators, etc. There is diversity among them. Now allow the Holy Spirit to mold them into one body, one voice, one purpose, that is not generic, nor sterile, but vibrant, alive, and unique to each individual local church body.

We, the Church, need to get back to recognizing the diversity among us, and begin “accepting” that diversity as a gift from God, not looking at it with fear and trembling. “Acceptance” of one another is a key component in the success of the next revival.

We, the Church, need to recognize each other as “peers” in Jesus Christ, equals in Christ, all capable of following the leading of the Holy Spirit while being grounded in the Word and living the Word. No group is better than the other. No individual believer is above another in stature or in spirit. “The Priesthood of Believers” is also another key component in this revival.

We, the Church, need to allow the Holy Spirit to orchestrate this next revival. A good orchestra has much diversity in its instrumentation. The greater the diversity; the richer the sound. Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to be the conductor, bringing out unique, diverse solos when needed, but bringing all the members of this orchestra to play in harmony, together, at once, in the richness of a new sound to glorify Jesus and bring unity. If we don’t, there will be no revival! God’s symphony will remain silent. The Holy Spirit is tapping his baton, signaling that He’s ready to lead God’s orchestra in the symphony of the ages.


A Look At Past Revivals And Present Realities


What Mess? Let’s Have Some Soup!

I attend a local church who fifteen years ago emphasized equipping the saints, teaching each individual Christian to read the Word of God and dig for its truths themselves, to listen to the Holy Spirit themselves, to learn to be obedient to what the Word and the Spirit was telling them individually and corporately.  From a passive onlooker’s point of view, it looked rather messy.  Different people with different passions with different understandings with different points of view all extending their faith in different directions with different giftings, etc., etc. It looked like there was no single purpose for direction. I have been through the Charismatic Movement which released individual believers in Jesus Christ to be priests of the Holy Spirit which exploded in diverse ways, looking extremely messy. Freedom released often looks messy! Revivals, being free in the Spirit, for some reason, always turn out messy!

Since then, the church has been struggling with “how to clean up the mess” as they focus on the mess, but they can not lose sight of the creation that the Lord is brewing.  When I make beef vegetable soup, it is quite the process: preparing a stock of rich beef broth with a touch of chicken broth for diversity and taste, cutting beef into small chewable size chunks, dicing carrots, celery, zucchini, and string beans, mincing onions, slicing tomatoes, trimming broccoli and cauliflower into edible size morsels, adding pinches of salt, oregano, and pepper, thinly slicing mushrooms, dumping in a complimentary size portion of peas and corn, and adding the right amount of olive oil, then letting it cook while simmering, allowing all the juices, all the ingredients, all the special flavors to infiltrate each other into a marvelous concoction that only my soup spoon can handle when finished. As I step back to inhale its intoxicating rich aroma while it simmers, I am shocked at the condition of the kitchen: a TOTAL MESS!  Although I now spend up as much time cleaning up the mess as in preparation of the soup, I CAN NOT loose sight of that cooking masterpiece on my stove, still simmering, still blending, still in the process of being a culinary masterpiece.  Good soup takes time!  Unfortunately, the church often looks and works at cleaning up the messes and looses sight of the pot, still cooking, still simmering, still in the process of making a masterpiece: delicious soup!

Do you stop the pot of soup from cooking? Do you turn off the dial that brings the heat that causes the chemical creations of all those diverse vegetables and broth to blend together? No.  The soup is not ready yet! Only when there is a think layer of “oil” floating on the top created from the blending of the entire creation do you know that the soup is thick, the soup is blended, the soup is ready to eat! Get out your soup spoon, but not before it is done or you will miss the richness of properly blended soup!  We need to “wait upon the Lord” until the “oil” of his Holy Spirit is upon the finished product before we, as humans, mess with it again!  If we want the richness of what the Lord is doing, we must be patient, allow His process to work towards its completion!

It is alright to clean up the mess around the creation that we made for its preparation, but it is not wise to mess with or abort the project when it is simmering, stewing, going through the laborious process towards completion. God is still at work! He is the creator; let’s not mess with his creation, only clean up our messes! 

I see this generation who has seen the mess created by past movements of God fearful to let go and release again that same spirit that might bring more mess, especially right after a clean up. I understand; I hear you, but don’t forget: the pot is still simmering, stewing, blending, ….. The preparation work is done; the clean up is done; now is the time for waiting for that “oil” to rise from the project to signal its time of maturity.  If you are patient, you will benefit from all the preparation, the mess it created, the clean up, and the long cooking time. Remember: WITH PATIENCE YOU GET TO EAT THE FINISHED PRODUCT! REJOICE! Get your soup spoon ready!

I would be devastated if my wife came into the kitchen when it had its mess and tried to shut it down and throw my creation away. She would remind me, point out, and emphasize the mess, MY MESS, that I made! She would demand CONTROL back of HER kitchen because of MY mess! She may get angry, may raise her voice, or may give me the “evil eye” that only mothers and wives can give at precisely the right moment to get their poignant point of their displeasure across! She may even continue to NAG me about MY mess even while I am cleaning it up! And if really angry, if really feeling intolerant, if really feeling offended, she may take the lid off the pot, complain about the “film” of “oil” that is floating on top, and throw all its contents away!  After all the mess is cleaned up, after all the emotions are deescalated, after emotional damage has occurred to all involved, there will again be an immaculate clean kitchen, but NO SOUP!

That is how most churches have handled the mess of change caused by the Holy Spirit which we call revival. They choose to throw the Godly workings of that revival out because of the mess that was created. The Church still wants the benefits of revival, but without the mess.  The benefits of revival is the soup, but after throwing the soup away, you can not get it back!

Church, let’s be patient. Many in the past have “prepared” that which is brewing, stewing, bubbling in our midst today. We need to recognize that there was mess in the preparation, and it is OK to clean up after making our messes, but please, please, please, don’t throw out the pot of soup, God’s product, or it will be forever lost! Instead rejoice together by getting out your soup spoons in preparation of the “feast” the “banquet” that the Lord has prepared for us to enjoy TOGETHER!  


If We Could Only Be Like Little Children

The Faith Of A Child; The Theology Of An Adult

An inquisitive event occurred at the church I was attending on Sunday.  The Pastor gave a sermon on Justification By Faith.  In an attempt to show an unbiased look both sides of the “Once Saved Always Saved” versus “You Can Lose Your Salvation” arguments although he let you knew what side he favored because “it was his responsibility to portray the ‘truth’”, a woman broke into the flow of debate, not to ask a question, nor to give an opinion.  She wanted to share a testimony.

Her testimony was that she had had headaches and back pain during the service.  Someone from the children’s department asked if she would come and let the children pray for her.  She complied. The teacher of the children’s class had been teaching the children how to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit themselves. As the children honed in on that still small voice, they began to minister to this lady. By the time they were done, she was pain free.  Here she was now telling the adults about this experience as the children released their "child like faith".

That is the beauty of being a child: having child like faith. Adults were discussing “faith”, debating theology, trying to figure out how faith works while justifying their theological positions. The children? They just practiced their faith!  The adults came to no conclusions that united them while the children produced results, a healing!

When is the adult church going to allow the passions of the children of God to arise, that of an evangelist, a shepherd, a teacher, a prophet, and an apostle, and release the children of God to freely exercise them?  The Holy Spirit resides in the temple of God, the bodies of believers in Jesus Christ. Church, let’s allow that spirit to arise, manifest itself, and be released in resurrected life and freedom! 

When is the adult church going to learn it doesn’t have to be theologically correct or kosher all the time; they just need to have faith in Jesus and listen to his Holy Spirit speaking?  Every religious sect thinks the theological “truth” has been revealed to them, and the rest of Christendom is incorrect or missing an element of that truth? Why does the adult church feel it has to “justify the truth” rather than live by the principle of “justification of faith”? Faith in what?

If we have “faith” in Jesus’ power to heal, then let’s just do it: heal!  If we have “faith” in Jesus’ power to forgive, then let’s just do it: forgive!  If we have “faith” in the body of Christ, then let’s just practice IJohn 3:16 and “lay down our lives for our brethren”: let’s just do it! If we have “faith” in “rebirth”, then let’s allow the Holy Spirit to rebirth! If we believer in sanctification, then let’s allow the Holy Spirit to lead us in caring, nurturing, and developing our fellow believers into the image of Jesus Christ!  If we “faith” that God speaks to his children, then let’s listen and be obedient to what we have seen and heard.

When, as adults, are we ready to scrap our prearranged, highly organized, well orchestrated, music and oral ensembles we call worship services, and allow the children of God who attend to just be “children” who want to play, to romp, to sing, to dance, to be free to skip around bear footed, even puddle hop, and maybe even make mud pies while getting dirty instead of always appearing pristine clean? When are we going to allow their passions in Jesus to arise, to help “develop” towards maturing in Christ-likeness, and to release them to be free in the destiny God has for them instead of prohibiting them, holding them back, and controlling them?

I recently observed a parent, who when haggard by their children’s noises of just being kids, playing, sibling rivalries, vying for parental attention, and being fidgety under the strains of having to be in an adult world while still being kids, completely shut down their activity to have “order” for the sake of adult sanity, suppressing any child like life in them for quietness and control. As adults, we do that all the time to our children rather than joining them.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come unto me,” and “unless you are like a little child, you can not enter the kingdom of heaven.”  I want to enter the lifestyle of that kingdom; I want to be a child again; I want to be able to come and jump into the lap of Jesus! Then I got to divert back to my spiritual childhood with child like faith. I got to quit debating, quit trying to be correct, quit trying to always be a portrayer of truth to prove that I am righteous, and just be a kid again!  In an adult world kids are never right; in a kid’s world they just want the adults to join them in experiencing life.

I just want to heal, to forgive, to love, to respect, to honor, to worship, to grow, grow up to be like Jesus! I just want to experieince continual rebirth, to care, nurture, and develop others, to walk our the Word of God in my daily life, live it, to develop my inner ear to hear the still small voice of the Holy Spirit, to be able to envision the Church as a bride without spot or wrinkle prepared for its wedding day.  As a kid, I want to play, imitating my Father. Ironically, as an adult I have learned to “play church”, but as a child I want to be the church; I just want the freedom and release to just do it!


If It Ain’t Relationships, It Got To Be Religion


Religion Is The Absence Of Relationships

For a belief system based on relationships, Christianity can easily become a religion.  On forms and questionnaires they ask for your religious preference: Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, or other.  It has become a way of identifying different beliefs system, categorizing them for institutional purposes, but what would happen if they would just be relationships.

The center of Christianity is the Cross; the center of the Cross is a relationship between a supernatural God and natural man.  At the core of Christianity is the miracle of restoration of rebirth: a broken relationship between man and his Godhead due to sin and the restoration of that relationship through Jesus, God’s son, hanging and dyeing on the Cross to amend the sinful nature of man.  It is a message of hope to the hopeless and life to the dead. The cross conquered death: “Death where is thy sting?” It restored and offered a “living” relationship to man with his Godhead now guaranteed through eternity, never to be broken again.  It is when we, the believers in Jesus Christ, chose to back away from that relationship or sever that relationship that begins to make one’s faith a religion where one “practices his religion”, that is, goes through the motions.  It is all activity, all image, with little if any substance.  I have found myself falling into that category during my life, and often see the church doing the same.  It must have been awkward for Jesus to visit the Temple that no longer had the Ark of the Covenant, God’s Presence, in it, yet its priesthood still “practicing” the customs of Moses, still going through the motions. God’s Presence through His Son Jesus was in their midst, yet their “practice” prevented them from a relationship with their living God, thus the verbal venom Jesus displaced with the “woe to you scribes, Pharisees, and lawyers” of his time who were “practicing” their religion rather than developing relationships.

The other relationship restored in the Cross was the horizontal relationship between mankind.  Ever since Cain and Able man has been fighting one another.  There is always a war somewhere on this planet bringing devastation between mankind. The Cross was the beginning of the end of that broken relationship, for the New Jerusalem, the new heaven and the new earth, eternity in Jesus is pictured as the lion laying beside the lamb, the cobra beside the ox, enemies now brothers.  Where is this restoration to be birthed? I believe in the Church, for we have a Savior who, while hanging on the Cross, proclaimed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Jesus stopped mankind from playing the “blame game” the core of most conflicts; He extended grace, mercy, and unconditional forgiveness in relationships to, through, and from mankind to one another.

So churches (we) need to stop blaming other churches (them) as not being true to the Christian faith because there is little if any relationships between “opposing” churches in the Body of Christ.  Jesus’ prayer in John 17 is for the unity of the body of Christ, not its demise.  Churches need to do more than “network” and “tolerate” one another, but lay down their lives for each other in relationship.  Within local bodies of Christian faith, believers in Jesus Christ must begin to lay down their lives for one another in relationship if their faith is to produce life.

What better way to do this than through the five fold, where you have different points of views, different passions, different voices, but when “laid down” in “sacrificial, unconditional love” are the very things needed to bring unity and life into the Church!  Evangelism through birth or rebirth comes through a relationship between a believer and nonbeliever in Jesus Christ. Shepherding develops nurture, care, and spiritual growth through relationships between believers.  Teaching thrives on the “experiencing” of one’s living faith rather than just “knowing about it”.  The prophetic develops the relational communication skills needed between God and His people, and the apostolic is all about relationships, tying together, networking, and releasing all this different points of view, passions, and voices in one direction in unity for the spiritual development of its believers into the image of Christ Jesus and for the unity of the entire body.

Without these relationships we can fall in to “practicing our religion”, just going through the motions where one has lost their passion, feel their point of view has been snubbed, and who thinks they have no voice.  I find much of the church “practicing” their “religion” when they corporately meet on Sunday mornings, for there sure isn’t a lot of relationships going on vertically or horizontally, but a lot of “practicing”, going through the motions.

Without relationships we end up with religion. Church let’s quit “practicing our religion” but live out our relationships with our God and with our fellow brothers and sisters in the faith, for Jesus has made a way for that to happen. Church, let’s begin listening to the Holy Spirit in how to “work out our salvation” with our God and “work out our relationships” with our brothers and sisters in the faith. When we are serious about doing this, we will witness true revival, rebirth, and renewal through relationships.




The Five Fold Build On Communal Relationships

In the last two blogs we have looked at a young girl’s cry for a relationship in church she called “life together.”  This life would be a horizontal relationship of community among peers, not a hierarchal community of professional and nonprofessional people.  The church has created “offices” out of the five fold, nouns, titles.  The five fold is usually adjectives describing what believers are doing, verbs.  What today’s generation is looking for is not professional titles and offices, but a vibrant, living community of faith built on horizonal relationships among peers, Christians.

If we begin to look at the five fold relationally, we can see the passion and point of view of a spiritual gifting that is unique to the individual, but can be supportive, supplemental to the other four to fulfill their callings.  There strengths are usually the individual’s weakness, and together they can fulfill the “full” calling of Jesus Christ.  It is a relation built on peer acceptance and peer service, one giving to the other and accepting what the other has to offer.  It is a reciprocal relationship, that over time builds an accountability system of trust, honor, and respect.  It is far better to do something and accept discipline out of trust, honor and respect as nurtured in a horizonal relationship verses out of fear because of one holding power above another.

The church needs to recognize the power of five very strong passions of birthing, nurturing, instructing, guiding, and overseeing, and how, if they work together on a horizontal plain of acceptance and trust can be a very powerful and effective tool of ministry in the maturing of the saints into the fullness of Christ (individually) and bring unity to the body of Christ (corporately).

Up to now, the church has not allowed the five to “live together”, opting for their confinement and separate callings, offices, professions, and institutions, thus bringing division among them and division to the church.  If the five fold was looked upon relationally as five different, strong passions and points of view that were willing to lay down their lives for the other four by serving one another as well as receiving from one another with grace and humility, a bond of trust, honor, and respect would be developed.  We would experience a community, a fellowship of faith of “life together.”  This would produce a “full life” in Jesus Christ, a maturity of being in his image individually, as well as a “full life together” as a unified body of believers, a holy priesthood of believers.

That “full life together” that birthed the church in Pentecost under the guidance and leading of the Holy Spirit needs to be renewed and “released” back into the church.  The church needs the “full life” of an evangelist who gives, receives, and submits to a shepherd, teacher, prophet, and apostle; the “full life” of a shepherd who gives, receives, and submits to an evangelist, teacher prophet, and apostle; and so forth.  This giving, taking, and submitting creates an accountability of trust, honor, and respect with the obedience of the leading of the Holy Spirit that would create a true Christian community of “life together.” 

The gifting and calling of each of the five fold will take on a different look than it has under a structural institutional church format, for it will be based on horizontal relationships of laying down one’s life for one another for the sake of “life together” in Christ.

I know it is a different mindset than from the past, but we as Christians, owe it to the Father, his son Jesus, and to the precious Holy Spirit, for redeeming the Church vertically, but now we need to allow them to develop the Church relationally horizontally among the brethren.  This is the cry of the young girl in my previous blogs, and the cry of my own heart personally.



Reaction to “The Generation Of Contrast”

Recently, when reading a Christian blog page about the five fold ministry, a comment by a young lady to the article caught my attention.  It read:

"The church that I attend is unusual in that it teaches organic community, but it seems to me that the only organic community that is happening is with the staff who are together just about everyday. They are the ones who get to do “life together”. Sure we have small groups, but, none of the small groups that I’ve been apart of have ever actually done “life together” which is difficult meeting just once a week or twice a month. I’ve tried to “do life together” with people, but everyone is so consumed with their individual lives, work, family, etc. I often wonder ‘do I HAVE a life?’ They all seem perfectly okay with meeting once or twice (1 week day for small group & Saturday or Sunday for church) a week.

I was being discipled by one of my pastors and we used to meet once a month. But we haven’t met on a regular basis since last August. I wondered why, until I saw that she was “doing life together” with a couple of staffers at the church. I was becoming jealous because I wanted that, too. But, reading your blog, I just realized that what I am really longing for is organic community where I can know and be known completely without the titles of pastors, leaders, etc."

Ephesians 4 exhorts the church to “equip the saints” for the work of “service”, not “equip the staff.”  In the above excerpt, I could not help but to hear this young lady’s cry for meaningful relationships through her church, not sporadic, professional, set a weekly or monthly appointment, relationship with a “staffer”.

It did not take this young lady long to realize that in a huge mega-church, it is hard to establish meaningful “life together” relationships. In reality, she could only get a professional/client relationship.   She also realized that since the staff saw each other daily, their relationships reflected that.  She too seeks a relationship that is not just sporadic: a Sunday morning worship service where there are only casual relationships is a huge crowd, or in a small group that probably was more of an organized Bible study than a group to build meaningful daily relationships.

This young lady’s need for “life together” relationships exemplifies the desire of this generations need for horizontal, linear, and meaningful relationships.  Staff to laity/congregant relationship is looked upon as “doing church” rather than a horizontal, relation of “life together”.  I have witnessed a situation where a need was shared to a senior pastor who began to look for a solution as a “human resource” perspective of which staff member should become involved rather than looking to the saints within his church to minister horizontally to each other.

What this generation is looking for is not a “professional” relationship when it comes to church fellowship, but a cordial relationship among peers that would deepen with time and commitment, a sense of community.




Reaction to “The Generation Of Contrast”

Recently, when reading a Christian blog page about the five fold ministry, a comment by a young lady to the article caught my attention.  It read:

The church that I attend is unusual in that it teaches organic community, but it seems to me that the only organic community that is happening is with the staff who are together just about everyday. They are the ones who get to do “life together”. Sure we have small groups, but, none of the small groups that I’ve been apart of have ever actually done “life together” which is difficult meeting just once a week or twice a month. I’ve tried to “do life together” with people, but everyone is so consumed with their individual lives, work, family, etc. I often wonder ‘do I HAVE a life?’ They all seem perfectly okay with meeting once or twice (1 week day for small group & Saturday or Sunday for church) a week.

I was being discipled by one of my pastors and we used to meet once a month. But we haven’t met on a regular basis since last August. I wondered why, until I saw that she was “doing life together” with a couple of staffers at the church. I was becoming jealous because I wanted that, too. But, reading your blog, I just realized that what I am really longing for is organic community where I can know and be known completely without the titles of pastors, leaders, etc."

During the first century, the church broke break daily, integrating their daily lives culturally, economically, and socially through their new found faith in Jesus Christ.  It was all about “relationship”, a community of fellowship of faith, daily, seven days a week.  Christians met in homes, shared what they had, sold lands to help those in need, etc.  There was no hierarchy of leadership and power yet, only leadership through horizontal relationships of service and hospitality.  Somehow throughout history, the church has lost doing “life together”, at least that is how the young adult generation of today sees it. 

This generation is hungering for relationships.  Not only are they looking for future mates, spouses to share “life together”, but communal, corporate relationships with peers their own age and older.  This generation so drastically wants “to belong.” 

When my one son reached his late teens and through his twenties, he cried out to the church for an older male to “mentor” him, but few older men could afford the 24/7 demands and late nights that are part of hanging out with twentysomething life style.  Today’s young adults are looking for relationships that go beyond just Sunday morning services with their hand shakes and pats on the back, or a young adult church program that meets once a week. 

My daughter drives me nuts because she is a social creature who wants to “hang out” with someone every moment she gets away from her strenuous, daily, demanding job that is helping her to become self sufficient.  She yearns for fellowship, but finds herself swallowed up in her job, her work, in order to pay her bills at the price of a “social life”.  Opting to work on Sundays for financial reasons of survival, she has lost contact with the local church, who has not reached out to her.  She sees that the expectations is that she is to “go to church”, not the church “go to her”, particularly when she is in need. Like the girl above, she too yearns to find a church whose believers practice “life together”. 

The institutional church has tried to target young twentysomething adults through ministries and programs.  A church plant in a movie theater targeted this group, but when relationships among these twentysomethings began to be entangled, and became a breeding ground for dating, then break ups, causing strained relationships because everyone was in their twenties, “life together” crumbled.  How does the church face the mindset of “hanging out” of the later teens and early twenties age group to become “life together” corporately to young struggling adults who are trying to find meaning in life, direction in life, and acceptable peers in which to share relationships. 

So the battle of these mindsets, and the desire for “life together”, and the need for social acceptance has caused this age group to questions the validity and definition of what is “church”.  They wish to keep their faith in tact, their personal religious convictions, but struggle in how to do it corporately.  It is hard enough for them to find an individual to spend “life together”, but they are also finding it extremely difficult to find a group corporately to spend “life together”, which they would redefine as “church”.



Reaction to “The Generation Of Contrast”

I found reading “The Generation of Contrast” in Relevant Magazine (Issue 53, Oct. 2011, pages 80-87) very insightful, for it was written about trends among the current young adult generation. Under the subhead “Faith” David Kinnaman & Aly Hawkins writes:

“Which brings us to our generations’ turbulent relationship with the church. More than half of the 18-to-29 year-olds with a Christian background say they are less active in church than they were at age 15. Dropping out of church has, for our generation, become the norm.

The first, and smallest, group of dropouts have left the faith entirely. You probably know someone who fits this scenario – he was a passionate Christian coming into college. Then he heard facts that challenged his paradigm and made him question his faith. Or maybe he saw some of the harmful ways Christians have sometimes addressed broken people. Either way, he came to the conclusion that his Christian faith was impossible to hold on to.

For most young Christians, however, walking a way is more like going on walkabout. About 4 out of 10 twentysomething believers are not sure how important church is for their lives but are not ready to sever all ties with Christianity. This is the person who was active in church and youth group during high school but has kind of drifted away. She’s not anti-church – its just that it’s hard for her to see how its relevant to her daily life. Plus, she’s so busy doing work – good work – at her secular job, it’s difficult for her to understand where God is in all that.

A third group is struggling with church involvement for more nuanced reasons. This group is driven by passionate faith to question the priorities, assumptions, and methods of the established Church. (It probably goes without saying that these questions, however well intended, are not always appreciated b y the church.)

These people often feel stuck between the safe world of church and the broken world they feel called to change. This is your friend who serves 3 times a week at the homeless shelter & has Matthew 5 memorized but doesn’t come with you to Sunday services because, in his words, “It makes me crazy.” He deeply invested in the redemption mission of the Church, and can’t understand why so many other churchgoers doesn’t seem to share his drive to help.”

Why are we losing our youth whom many churches have heavily invested in through their youth groups and youth programs? I’ve seen youth groups and youth conferences be “Rah-rah Sessions To Win Their School For Christ”, yet never teach nor equip their youth in how to do that!  What do church youth groups do for Senior High School students to prepare them for culture shock they are about to experience as college freshmen?  What do they do for those who do not go to college to prepared them from going from their pristine, protective church environment into the culture of the work place with profanity, vulgarity, and in appropriate sexual and racial slurs and innuendos?

Three things are very important to this young adult generation: their culture, relationships, and peer communications.  Most church structures fail to train and prepare their youth to be launched into the secular culture, opting to believe that they will maintain to stay in the safe church culture that protected them. That is not happening to over half of them.  At their age, they are looking for relationships, but are finding them outside the protective shell of the church, wanting to reach out and be part of their culture rather than being a Christian introvert apart from their culture.  They also seek peer communication through their Smartphones, IPads, tweets, texts, emails, blogs, etc. not just to their Christian friends, but to an expanded “world” available to them. 

The church has also failed to nurture a true sense of community to their youth.  Youth group was a place to “hang out”, “be cool”, “be accepted”, not a place that taught the values of true community, thus when a young adult is thrust out into the world, into a foreign culture from their youth experiences, they struggle for the relationships that true community has to offer.

Today’s young adults dream of impacting their world, a changing world politically, economically, and socially, but are not allowed to “challenge” the church who also needs to face change, so in frustration they leave it and focus on the changes they feel they can be a part of, then fail to understand why the church isn’t by their side facing the same issues.

This generation has been told that they “are the church”, but are tired of “playing” or “doing” church, while looking for the meaning of “church” in their lives, trying to redefine “church” in their culture and relevant to their generation.  They are facing change and challenge, but do not see the institutional church doing either, thus questioning the church’s validity.  If the church wants to “recapture” the glory of “its youth”, those young adults in their midst, they need to be willing to make changes and face those challenges.  If not, more will be lost.



 The Clash Of “Mindsets”: Structural Versus Relational

The way one looks at church, structural verses relational, will effect they look at missions.

Most of us, who have grown up in the Church, look at missions as a place “missionaries” go or a thing do.  Missionaries are people who go around from church to church to raise (actually forced to beg for) money, so that they can be a “professional”, having an income to free them financially while “ministering”.  Unlike Paul, who was a tent maker on his missionary endeavors, a missionary goes forth as a paid professional.  What he builds is a kingdom that depends on him, for he usually remains atop of the pyramidal structure he creates.  A true missionary, like Paul, would move one, allowing those he “equipped” locally to maintain the new work, freeing himself to move on and start, plant, or birth a new work.  A good way to tell if missionary endeavor is relational or pyramidal in structure is by seeing who is leading.  Is the missionary over them, or are the natives ministering relationally to their native neighbors, brothers and sisters, families, and communities.  If missions were structured as a pyramid or hierarchy, the structure will want to stay to keep its structure and maintain its positions.  If the structure is relational, then there is no need for a hierarchal, pyramid, institutional structure because spiritual life flows horizontally among the participants.  The banned underground Church in China is an excellent example when placed beside the institutional Church in China that the government permits.  There are no westernized missionaries “overseeing” the spiritual life of the Chinese Church today, yet it is a vibrant, living organism rather than a highly structured organization partially due to persecution.   A persecuted church is often forced to abandon its structure for survival.

As a person growing up in the American church, I believe that missionaries eventually open up either missionary hospitals or Bible Schools.  The Bible Schools are to train future “pastors” to go out and start, develop and maintain new churches.  That is structural religious thinking.  Relationally, I believe, Ephesians 4 outlines how we are to “equip the saints”, not “equip a staff”, for the work of “service”, not necessarily paid professional service, to bring “maturity” to the saints in being more Christ-like, into the image of Jesus, and to bring “unity” to the body.  Bible Schools preach the doctrine of the churches that finance the endeavor and propagate their uniqueness and correctness of theology doctrine compared to other “sects” of the Church, bringing division in the Body of Christ.

If someone came in and relationally developed and released those believers in the body of Christ to be evangelistic, reaching those in their culture who are lost to find Jesus in terms that their culture understands, to be shepherds, caring physically, mentally, and spiritually to the context of their cultural community, to be teachers of the Word, the Bible, by not only interpreting, but applying the written word to their culture world (in a way like Wycliffe Bible Translators do today), to be prophets so the native people in their own land can hear the voice of God for themselves and claim God to be the God of their nation, region, and community, to be apostles releasing their own people according to their spiritual gifting to their own people in the culture of their own country but under Biblical principles, written and living.  Someone has already done that: Paul, and how he did that is recorded in most of the books in the New Testament after the four gospels.

Saul, like us, first went to where he was familiar when entering a new town, a new culture.  He went to any existing synagogue, to God’s people like his own, only to be rejected by most of them, often thrown out, even stoned by some thinking him dead.  Rejection forced him to then look to the native culture, the gentiles, who accepted his evangelistic message, received and developed his pastoral, shepherding care towards one another, got grounded in the written scriptures of his day through the unified message of the “apostles’ teaching”, grew in the intimacy of a personal relationship with their God through Jesus prophetically, and acceptance the “seeing over” what the Holy Spirit was doing through the apostolic.  Then as one of their “apostles”, Paul “released” them to do the work “of service” for which he had trained and equipped them and moved on.  Other “apostles”, “prophets”, and “teachers” in the body of Christ would pass through to help to continue to “equip” THEM and “release” THEM.  Never did Paul nor any other apostle, prophet, teacher, etc. rule over or control them, or remain there to dictate “apostolic oversight” that controlled a pyramidal, hierarchal, institutional structure, contrary to what the Roman Catholic, pyramidal, institutional church claims.

Paul set up relational “networks” throughout his known world at his time with whom he loved, nurtured, encouraged, and longed to see and be with, but whom he never “controlled”, opting in allowing the Holy Spirit to flow freely and birth, develop, and maintain His Church in a culture through those living in that culture.  The “relational” mission mind is far different than the “structural” mission mind, and the Church needs to allow the Holy Spirit to “teach us all things” in how to birth, maintain, and develop such endeavors through His people in His/their locality.



Caterpillar to Butterfly: Voice By Position TO Voice By Your Identity To Jesus

From Caterpillar to Cocoon to Butterfly – Part XVIII

In this series we have been asking the question, “What happens with metamorphosis during the cocoon stage?”  How, structurally, do you get a butterfly from what once was a caterpillar? In my Aug. 20, 2011’s blog, I listed several forms of transformation that I see occurring inside the cocoon of change for the church.   Today we will look at the principle: Identity lies in who or what you are in the system (Caterpillar) TO Your identity lies in who or what you are in Jesus individually & corporately (butterfly).

Caterpillar: In the church today, position means political influence.  Who you are, or better yet, what you are in the church’s pyramidal system determines the influence you are allowed to have in the institutions programs, development, and leadership structures.  In every church, the youth have a voice, but usually not influence in the affairs of the church.  Those older too have a voice, but also have influence because of financially supporting the church system.  Often the lack of vision, and not listening to the voice of youth bring decline, decay, and eventually devastation to the local church.  One of the greatest frustrations among laity is that they have a voice, often are allowed to voice it, only to be ignored, snubbed, or rejected.  Those in “position” have the power of influence, affluence, and supposedly become the “voice” of the church, forgetting that those there are preaching to also have a voice. 

Butterfly:  Voice is also important to those seeking a relational, horizontal, peer accepting linear church structure.  In fact that is what their whole social networking world is about, having a voice that is as valid as everyone else’s voice.  This linear flow of communication has no hierarchal filters to limit it, control it, dictate to it, nor censor it.  Freedom of Speech is a legal right in American because of the Bill of Rights, but the internet is expanding the scope of that freedom to go beyond America’s borders to a world wide audience.  Your identity “on line” will not be by office or position, but in who you are.  How will you conduct yourself among your “peers” of believers in Jesus Christ and your peers of non-Christians who are also “on line”?  How can relationships be established beyond surface communications on line to deeper levels of serving others and receiving back from them? 

The Differences: Old Mentality:  Voice determines who and what you are in the church system.  Who “speaks” from the pulpit, or “speaks” with power and influence a church board meetings, is determined by position and office, not relationships.  In a pyramidal structure people do not want to give up their voice, for fear they will lose it and become with those who have no voice, thus fighting to retain power.  New Mentality: Having “voice” gives one the power of persuasion, dialogue, and distributing facts which is what the linear, horizontal peer relationships are all about with social networking through the internet.   

Implications Today: Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?”  I would ask, “Who are you?” One thing this linear communication does is expose who you are through your biography, photos, Facebook comments, tweets, texts, emails, and blogs.  If you are a Christian, I would ask, how do you portray your self individually as a believer in Jesus Christ and corporately as a member of “the priesthood of believers”?  If you don’t have a hierarchy over you, then how do you conduct and portray yourself as a Christian?  How are you presenting the gospel (the Great Commission) to your peers relationally?  How can you project your “voice” to be corporate as a member of the body of Christ, the priesthood of believers through the internet?

Conclusion:  The way a Christian uses his/her “voice” is dramatically changing the church scene of who and how the gospel is presented.  The “voice” of the church, historically, came from those in power and influence, not those in the pews with little power or influence.  With the social media and networking world, “voice” is now defined by anyone and everyone on a linear, horizontal plain.  With that new freedom also come the responsibility to every believer, every member of the priesthood of believers, to speak properly, effectively, and with the gospel of truth through Jesus Christ.  There is now a new challenge for every believer to fulfill the Great Commission by sharing their faith stories, telling their faith journey, and networking with others in their efforts to walk out their walks and journeys, creating their own stories.



Caterpillar to Butterfly: Systematic Definitions– TO – Relational Definitions

From Caterpillar to Cocoon to Butterfly – Part XVII

In this series we have been asking the question, “What happens with metamorphosis during the cocoon stage?”  How, structurally, do you get a butterfly from what once was a caterpillar? In my Aug. 20, 2011’s blog, I listed several forms of transformation that I see occurring inside the cocoon of change for the church.   Today we will look at the principle: Definitions that have been created by scholars (caterpillar) TO the Wikipedia phenomenon (butterfly).

Caterpillar: The institution has defined one’s belief systems over the centuries.  Councils, church leaders, scholars, historians, patriarchs, and others have labored over their tenants of faith, attempting to place on paper what they believed.  The Jewish faith wrote the Talmud to interpret the Torah, their central text of faith.  Christianity has filled libraries with commentaries and theological dissertations to interpret the Bible, their central text of faith.  The Bible, a collection mainly of letters, poems, proverbs, and historical works, became books, chapters, and numbered verses for the purpose of organized scholarly study.  Many versions of the Bible have been translated from Latin, Greek, and Hebrew to be used in present day culture.  The westernized influence of producing learned scholars has fueled the need for Bible colleges and seminaries throughout Church history.  Denominations script official “church papers” to define their beliefs and stands on many social, cultural, and religious matters.  During sermons you will hear the pastor quote great church theologians.  Definitions of what you believed defined the difference between different religious groups or sects.  You knew if you were a Calvinist or Armenian, a pre-, post-, or mid-tribulationist, a pacifist, a predestinationalist, a fundamentalist, or an evangelical, or Pentecostal, or main line denomininational, etc. by how you “defined” your statement of faith.

Butterfly:  With the linear, horizontal, relational internet crowd of today, peer communication and linear acceptance is the norm.  This has affected the world of “definition”, no longer controlled by unabridged printed dictionaries and volumes of encyclopedias.  The “Wikipedia” phenomenon has hit where definitions are presented, not just by scholars, but by anyone.  Footnotes at the bottom of pages give the text some validity, but a slanted scholarly approach is not set in stone as “the” definition, as others with personal experience and personal knowledge on the topic can also add to the definition.  As an educator in language in the public school system, I warn my students of the accuracy and authenticity of Wikipedia, but students go their first because of electronic convenience.  I tell them that Wikipedia is a “starting point” for internet research to other websites, passages, links, blogs, etc. to dig deep into the true meaning of the definition.  Today, this linear crowd of peers not only relies on Wikipedia for their definitions, but helps define them.

The Differences: “Definitions” use to be compiled in printed dictionaries, abridged if shortened, unabridged if a large volume.  Definition of words were compiled by “scholars” of language, linguistic, etymology, etc. The “highly educated” P.H.D.’s did the defining for us.  We only had to look up their definitions in dictionaries, something everyone owned.  Today “scholars” are still fighting for literary and historical accuracy by citing sources, but definitions through Wikipedia, an –ebook compilation of definitions from various sources, also allows average individuals to be part of the defining process in helping to define words, events, famous people, etc. from a personal, or cultural level. Today, Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, has over 3,724,00 different articles or definitions in its unabridged source. The question becomes “who is the authority” in the process of defining?

Implications Today: I feel the Wikipedia phenomenon has a huge impact on the way people will look at Bible interpretation in the 21st Century.  For centuries the masses of believers have counted on the interpretation of scriptures from their pastors, priests, rectors, parsons, etc. as the official “word of God” as delivered from their pulpits or from scholarly interpretations from the great theologians of their day.  Interpretation of belief was always dictated to the laity from the clergy.   Today, believers in Jesus Christ, can read for themselves the Bible, while relying on the Holy Spirit for interpretation of how those scriptural truths need to be applied and activated in their daily lives rather than just being a academic exercise.  Sharing beliefs, relationally, horizontally, through written form, verbally, or electronically, now holds weight.  My interpretation is looked upon as being as valid as yours as we communicate them back and forth to one another.  We can share our experiences that have come out of our scriptural studies and how it has affected us culturally, personally, and corporately.  Collectively we, together, have begun to “redefine” our definition. 

Conclusion:  I believe we, as a church, are in a process of change where what we believe and how we are to live it out will not be dictated systematically from those in leadership above to be followed without question or opposition.  The “priesthood of believers”, those who believe collectively in Jesus Christ, will begin to “redefine” much of what has been historically instructed to us hierarchally, flushing out dogma in a quest to simplify the gospel and go back to the roots of simplicity of the apostle’s teaching. Instead of every wind of doctrine being blown around us by every different theologian, pastor/teacher, or religious group claiming their point of view to be “THE” truth, there will be an united, corporate effort for simplistic truth, shedding religious interpretation of the past. This will be a radical transformation, a radical reformation in the way we will build our corporate belief systems. I personally believe that the points of view of the five fold (evangelist, pastor, teacher, prophet, apostle) will be a powerful in the way we teach, apply, and oversee our beliefs, as well as preserve scriptural “truth”.  Redefining will keep the truths of its historical past, but will add a flavor of the “culture” to which it is impacting.  Paul “redefined” many beliefs as he traveled throughout different cultures in his known world during his time period. The same is about to happen today, but on a grandeur scale.




Caterpillar to Butterfly: Developing “Pharisees” – TO – Developing Disciples

From Caterpillar to Cocoon to Butterfly – Part XIV

In this series we have been asking the question, “What happens with metamorphosis during the cocoon stage?”  How, structurally, do you get a butterfly from what once was a caterpillar? In my Aug. 20, 2011’s blog, I listed several forms of transformation that I see occurring inside the cocoon of change for the church.   Today we will look at the principle: Develops “Pharisees” (caterpillar) TO Develops Disciples (butterfly).

Caterpillar: I must confess: “I am a recovering Pharisee!”  I truly believe that the longer you are in a religious system, you can’t help but become a Pharisee of that system.  A Pharisee is one who becomes a zealot of their religious faith, who does “everything right” according to their religious code, and takes their religion seriously, effecting every area of their life.  I grew up as a church kid, active in the church youth group, went to a church sponsored college, and have been active in many different ministries in my life. Jesus’ most severe criticisms were directed to the “church” people of is day, the Pharisees, comparing them to infected yeast. (See earlier blogs)  Pharisees fervently supports a religious system. They appear squeaky clean; Jesus called them “white washed tombs”. 

Butterfly:  Jesus chose twelve uneducated men from different secular trades to train and develop into what would be the foundation of his kingdom.  For three years he built a relationship with them, training them, nurturing them, instructing them, and revealing His Father to them.  They become known as his disciples, his followers.  Every good rabbi had a following of disciples.  Amazingly, when push came to shove, with Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion, they fled with Peter actually denying that he knew him.  After Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, He sent His Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, and the Holy Spirit transformed 12 disciples into apostles who would “see over” what the Holy Spirit was about to do.  After the four gospels, the next book is the “Acts of the Apostles”, recording the actions of the apostles as they followed the leading of the Holy Spirit.  This would be the pattern of this newly birthed church built on relationships vertically with the Father, through Jesus Christ, by the leading of the Holy Spirit, and horizontally among the believers of Jesus Christ, the Church.

The Differences: Again, the difference between the two is established in where one’s loyalty lies: in an institution or in relationships with others.  Pharisees are zealots about what they believe, think, and do.  They are driven to follow the law or code of their group to achieve acceptance of advancement.  Saul, the Pharisee of Pharisees, had followed every Jewish code possible and even lead the zealous crusade to rid Judaism of this new “sect”. That would all change when he literally gets knocked of his horse, and meets Jesus. With that relationship, his life is changed, and the rest of his life is now dedicated to his vertical relationship with God and his horizontal relationship with the other believers in Jesus.

Implications Today:  How did I know when I became a Pharisee?  When I became defensive, justifying my every action and belief. I always believed my way of thinking was the correct way.  When the Holy Spirit brought it to my attention, my first defensive response was, “prove it to me.”   We care not to admit it, but today’s church is filled with Pharisees who follow their church codes to a tee and are zealous for what they believe.  Listen to Christian radio some time, and you will hear dozens of different preachers all preaching their own doctrine, some times the opposite of one another.  Pharisees nurture division just by their words, attitudes, and actions.  The Church will never be united, one body, as long as the Pharisees get their way. 

Conclusion:  Where is your loyalty: to the religious institution to which you belong or to relationships with the priesthood of believers?  Pharisees always line up with their institution’s guidelines and code of conduct, yet they were the targets of Jesus’ most severe criticisms.  He attacked their mindsets and established traditions calling them “traditions of man.”  On the other hand, the priesthood of believers is all about equality of position and influence, linear, horizontal relationships where one believer has to “lay down his life for his brethren”, another believer.  Pharisees never lay down anything, only defend what they are holding on to!  Are we willing to lay down our traditions, our past, and our very lives, those things we hold on to, at the altar, at the feet of Jesus, before our very brethren for the sake of relationships that the Lord wants to establish in our individual lives and corporately as a priesthood?



Caterpillar to Butterfly: Having Church Property– TO – No Need For Church Property

From Caterpillar to Cocoon to Butterfly – Part XIII

In this series we have been asking the question, “What happens with metamorphosis during the cocoon stage?”  How, structurally, do you get a butterfly from what once was a caterpillar? In my Aug. 20, 2011’s blog, I listed several forms of transformation that I see occurring inside the cocoon of change for the church.   Today we will look at the principle: From Owning all church property (caterpillar) TO Has no need for church property (butterfly).

Caterpillar: In its hay days, the church built cathedrals, supposedly monuments to their faith but at a drastic cost to its constituents. Today, the church still builds mega-structures at a huge cost to their constituents.  Buildings and Grounds and their maintenance occupies a large part of most church budgets.  As buildings age and congregations dwindled, especially in urban America where entire communities built around church buildings are crumbling under economic conditions, slums are birthed.  Buildings often become albatrosses tied around a congregation’s neck when they become aged, huge, old, in need of repair, and empty and the congregation does not have the needed financial resources any more.  Those hallowed halls may be filled with history, but are empty of people, but strapped financially.  The building often becomes the center of focus, which we even call the “church”, for we attend “church” in a building.  It even becomes central to church activities and church life.

Butterfly:  Relationships are important, not physical facilities.  Relationships are not built around physical building, but in individuals meeting, communicating, and networking with one another.   In the past social life developed around the church building and its activities.  In the future it could revolve around the culture where the church, the people who believe in Jesus Christ, live and are active.  Church will be fused more with community and local culture.  Church could meet in Starbucks because that is where their people drink coffee (with out “doing” church by producing a church service there).  It could meet in the park by the swing sets, at the grocery store, at school, work, etc.  Any place god’s people are, where Christians hang out, technically that is where the “church” is meeting.  It is built on relationships, not location nor buildings.

The Differences: In the past, much of the church’s financial resources turned toward building projects, magnificent cathedrals throughout Europe, beautiful architectural mega-churches in the United States, etc. As buildings age, their financial demands for maintenance can strap the financial resources of the church, those Christian individuals who meet there, and become an albatross around their necks, eventually forcing them to close their doors or sell their facility. On the other hand, if the church is built on relationships among its believers in Jesus Christ, technically, a stationary building is not needed.  All one needs are “two or more” believers in Jesus Christ to gather, hang out, communicate, and you got Church.

Implications Today:  Personally, I have seen where a denominational church office threatened to take away the land and building of a local congregation over heated controversies, because in their charter, the denominations technically owns the building, not the local constituents.  Eventually the denomination backed down, but the ugly head of pyramidal, hierarchal “control” raised its political head.  Many churches today face huge mortgages and paying staff and benefits as the majority of their budget.  I have seen mega-churches build facilities, only to see them emptied in a flick of the eye when a scandal hit their staff or their pastor falls, now leaving those who faithfully remain to face a difficult financial dilemma.

The best example of the church currently built on relationships rather than real estate is the underground church in China, where they can get arrested when relationally meeting together in a house, in a barn, in a park, wherever. The communist party dos not want unauthorized groups to meet; they know the power of assembly.  In China there is an pyramidal, hierarchal, institutional church sanction by the pyramidal, hierarchal, political institution that is allowed to build buildings if approved, but it is a known fact that there is very little spiritual life in that setting.  On the other hand, the church built on relationships, anywhere they can meet, usually hiding in safety, is a vibrant, Spirit led church filled with spiritual life.  In order to understand this phenomenon, we need to look to the underground Church in China to give us Westerners advice in how to live in community of faith and relationships.

Conclusion: God has never requested any permanent structure to be built in his honor; His structures were always moveable as His Spirit moved.  He wanted a mobile tabernacle that could move whenever He chose His Spirit to move or to stay, but the Jews built a permanent structure, the Temple. In fact they have build several of them, but all have been destroyed  Today there is no physical temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, only an empty grave at its base. Paul preached, “Do you not know that your bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit?” God has chosen mobility, humans who believe in Jesus Christ, for His place of occupancy, not permanent built structures that decay and someday lay in ruin if not maintained.  If the Church is to be fluid, to be mobile, to be penetrating cultures throughout the world, them MUST be built on relationships, not physical structures.  Bottom line: ownership identifies control.  When the church “owns” structure, they seek to control them.  When the church again realized they were bought with a price, Jesus’ blood, that they are now under his ownership, then they will head more to the leading of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and be free to minister through relationships. What is your religious life wrapped around, the building you call “church” or the relationship with those who meet at not only that location, but also at the mall, the grocery store, the park, etc.? That is the mindset of the butterfly, ready to soar in flight, not tied down by any cumbersome structure.



Caterpillar to Butterfly: Pyramidal Leadership “over sees” Church Activities– TO – Relational Leadership “Sees Over” What The Holy Spirit Is Already Doing

From Caterpillar to Cocoon to Butterfly – Part XI

In this series we have been asking the question, “What happens with metamorphosis during the cocoon stage?”  How, structurally, do you get a butterfly from what once was a caterpillar? In my Aug. 20, 2011’s blog, I listed several forms of transformation that I see occurring inside the cocoon of change for the church.   Today we will look at the principle: Pyramidal leadership “over sees” church activities (caterpillar) TO Relational leadership “sees over” what the Holy Spirit is already doing. (butterfly).

Caterpillar: We discussed the influence of “power” in a structural governmental system in a previous blog.  With “power” comes the issue of “control”.  In a pyramidal structure, power always comes from above.  It is important for those in power to “oversee” what is happening below them.  Their position is kind of “all knowing” or “all informed”.  The Papal and Cardinal influence in the Roman Catholic Church is an example of this kind of power structure.  Papal Bull is the official communication from above in that structure.  Protestants often have “official papers” passed at their “annual conferences” to issue their decrees to be implemented by their clergy to their parishioners.  In large churches, senior pastors “oversee” how their institutional structure operates.

Butterfly:   I believe the relational linear five fold model will allow everyone to function on an equal plain of influence. The apostle is only one of the five and does not “head” nor “lead” them.  His passion is to “see over” what the Holy Spirit is doing and “release” those passions that would be most effective toward ministry at hand at that moment.  He doesn’t do it, nor control it, only “seeing over” it.  The apostle’s passion is his vision or point of view of seeing “the big picture”, the body of Christ as a whole, thus giving him the “sight”, the “vision” of what the Holy Spirit is doing relationally in the midst of His people with His people to His people.

The Differences: Currently, under the hierarchal, pyramidal, institutional structure, power and control are dictated from top down.  This has also developed the clergy laity split over the years.  On the other hand, the linear relational structure evens the plain, encourages giving and taking from peers, and has apostles who “sees over” what the Holy Sprit is doing among them, encouraging them by “releasing” them in the passions to do what they do best.

Implications Today:  Personally, I have been under the leadership of a pastor who wanted to know everything that happened in the small groups “under” his leadership which became a control issue.  Later he wondered why no one would stay at his church.  I have another Christian friend who fell under a strong control pastor.  He said that when you see him, he was like a majestic steam roller, gleaming in the sun light, and as long as you ran beside him you were fine, but don’t fall in front of him. He fell! The CEO business model most American churches follow functions on a trickle down power/influence pool from the top down which fosters “control” with oversight where you report to those above you. Unfortunately, I have seen church denominational higher up officials threaten their congregations with taking away their church property and entitlement if they did not follow dictations handed down from the denominational leadership, another sad example that control can create.

Conclusion:  It all depends on the “point of view” and what one does with it.  If one “oversees” those under them from a superior position with power, control, and influence, the creativity and freedom for the Holy Spirit to operate becomes stifled because the “system” will not give up its control.  With a linear relational point of view using a five fold model, the plain is equal, each giving and taking, and the apostle “sees over” what the Holy Spirit is activation while releasing the others in their passions. It all depends how you see it!   Can you trust the Holy Spirit and relinquish control and be content to just “see” what He is doing, or will you want to hold onto the control you have which will quench the Spirit. The choice is yours.



 Caterpillar to Butterfly: Government Run By Boards, Committees, and Hierarchal Leadership– TO – Government Run On Relationships Of Give And Take In A Five Fold Format

From Caterpillar to Cocoon to Butterfly – Part X

In this series we have been asking the question, “What happens with metamorphosis during the cocoon stage?”  How, structurally, do you get a butterfly from what once was a caterpillar? In my Aug. 20, 2011’s blog, I listed several forms of transformation that I see occurring inside the cocoon of change for the church.   Today we will look at the principle: Government is run by boards, committees, and hierarchal leadership (caterpillar) TO  Government is run on relationships of give and take in a five fold format (butterfly).

Caterpillar: In the past church “government” has bred “church politics”, often power struggles.  Schisms and splits have occurred over the choice of the color of carpet, organ or no organ, youth involvement, salaries, housing, order of worship, etc., etc. Some local churches are governed through congregational meetings and voting, some by boards of deacons, elders, some by church councils, some by pastor/parish committees, and some dictated by strong pastors.  Often pastors have had to yield what they have felt as strong callings, convictions, directions, and discernment to governing boards who oppose what they are doing.  Many a discouraged pastor and/or parishioner have left the church when being caught in this political vice.

Butterfly:  Government will be built on relationships that will breed respect, honor, and accountability.  IJohn 3:16 of “Laying down your life for your brethren” will be the foundation of “serving” one another, giving and taking from each other because of linear relationships as peers, as being just Christians.  An example would be the five fold where the five very different passions and points of view would be united through the leading of the Holy Spirit as each of the five gives to the other four of their talent, ability, and passion, and willing receive from the others who are so different from them.  One’s strength will support the others weakness, and each will “release” the other to follow their passion. 

The Differences: Old and current governmental church structures nurtured and wheel power and support a pyramidal hierarchy structure, while the new governmental church structure would foster respect, honor, and accountability through linear relationships of service, through laying down ones life in sacrifice, not in position of authority.  

Implications Today: This process will be one of the most difficult things for the church to transition because it will be attached by the very “power” it opposes.  Unless led by the Holy Spirit and taken to the Cross of vertical and horizontal relationships the Church will not wither the storm.  The disciples were rebuked when arguing over who would be on Jesus’ left and right in the kingdom when they felt standing by his side would be a noble political cause, but they fled and would be replaced by two thieves to be on Jesus’ left and right when hanging on the cross on that infamous day. Those three on their crosses faced the same fate on a horizontal plain of suffering and death.  None of the disciples hung there nor were there. They would have to rethink their whole kingdom of God theology before changing the world.   

Conclusion: We, the church today, have to rethink our theology on church government, for church isn’t about politics, nor church government about power.  The Bible states that “the government shall be upon his shoulders,” referring to Jesus’ shoulders.  That government is built on service and sacrifice, for Jesus “came not to be serve, but to serve” and “to lay down his life for his brethren,” showing us how the kingdom of God is to be governed.   Church government the way we think of it today is about to undergo a transition that will take it from a power struggle to one of service and accountability.  Oh, if we could only see how this is to all work out inside the cocoon of change.



Positions Determined By Office– TO – Positions Determined By What We Do

From Caterpillar to Cocoon to Butterfly – Part VIII

In this series we have been asking the question, “What happens with metamorphosis during the cocoon stage?”  How, structurally, do you get a butterfly from what once was a caterpillar? In my Aug. 20, 2011’s blog, I listed several forms of transformation that I see occurring inside the cocoon of change.   Today we will look at the principle: Positions are determined by offices (caterpillar) TO Positions are determined through service, what you do, not who you are (butterfly).

Caterpillar: Pyramidal, hierarchal institutional structures major in positions and titles. You position’s title is suppose to identify what you are to be doing or in charge of.  It supposedly defines your sphere of influence.  The higher up the chain, the greater potential for some one having someone below you “do” what needs to be done because of your directives due to your power by title or position.  Those at the top don’t really do much physically to get things done, but has those under their “leadership” do it making them look good and effective.  In corporate America you work hard to ascend the pyramid at the expense of those below you.  The American church is no different, professionally. In some camps you become an evangelist working so that some day you will get “your own church”. Other camps have the progression from Youth Pastor, to Associate Pastor, To Senior Pastor.  Often one starts in smaller churches working their way to churches with larger church attendance.  Then some work their way from pastors, to superintendants to bishops, etc.  With each step are financial benefits. You know who is “in charge” by their title.  Often laity is exempt from their hierarchal structure because they aren’t professionals.  The height of their titles would be elders or church board members. Those with titles are identified as “leaders”; no title, you are considered a “follower”. Ie. worship leader (title), worshiper in the pew (no title, only a follower).

Butterfly:  On a linear horizontal plain there is no one “over you” as everyone is perceived as equals or peers.  Here the “Priesthood of Believers” is practiced, where all are priests, peers.  The only hierarchy position is that of High Priest, who is Jesus Christ.  Being a “priesthood”, corporate ministry is central, so the church will experience a new definition of what ministry by the believers in Jesus Christ is individually and corporately.  “What you do” defines who you are.  If you do lead people to Jesus Christ, you do evangelism, so you are an evangelist.  If you take care of people, nurture them, help develop them, you are shepherding them: action not title.  You share from what you have learned by studying the Logos Word, the Bible, and practiced those truths in your life, the Rhema Word, the living word, then you are “teaching” people. What you do, determines the adjectives describing your actions.

The Differences: Institutional structured produce titles and positions to identify what one is suppose to be doing and giving them authority to have it accomplished, even if at someone else’s expense.  It establishes a “power” structure or grid of “authority”.  Relationally actions produce adjectives to describe that action, not nouns to identify the office.  An “evangelist” by title is hired, through offerings, to come in and “evangelize” anyone who comes to their meetings. They are “in charge”.  An “evangelist” relationally tells others about Jesus Christ, the Gospel, the good news verbally and through the “actions” of their personal lives.  They can’t help themselves; they just “do it”.  It is their passion, the way they see things, their point of view. Anyone, and everyone, who does evangelism, ie. telling “their stories”, their “faith journeys in Jesus” can be identified as evangelists because of what they are doing.

Implications Today:  Whenever the Holy Spirit moves, what he “does”, the institutional church will institutionalize by making that action, that movement, a position.  Let’s look to the 20th Century Church as an example.  In the 50’s through 80’s, the Church institutionalized evangelism to the extent that they could fill stadiums and draw large TV audiences as shown through Billy Graham Crusades, the C.B.N. and T.B.N. Christian TV networks, and televangelists like Jim Bakker & Jimmy Swiegart.  In the ‘70’s, with the release of the Charismatic Movement, the need for the pastoral was needed, thus the institutionalizing of it that produced the Shepherding Movement. The 70’s featured tremendous “teaching”, as the gift of teaching was released, & the Church institutionalized it through the Word Movement, producing more teaching tapes than my cassette recorder could run.  The prophetic spirit was released in new powerful ways in the ‘80’s, and the institutional church promoted their pastors to prophets. The culmination came with the apostolic being released in the ‘90’s, where people were now getting to see the big picture of the Church, but the church institutionalized it by entitling their “super pastors” of large mega-churches as apostles wanting smaller churches to follow their lead.  By the end of the century, the institutional pyramidal, hierarchal church had “structured” professionally within their ranks every movement of God during that century as an office, so today they think of the five fold as offices.

Conclusion: To become a butterfly, the church needs to change the way they think of structure. Relationally, evangelism, teaching, pastoral nurturing and caring, prophetically insight, and apostolic vision are all ACTIONS when released among the “priesthood of believers” by the priests, the believers in Jesus Christ to other believers by laying down their lives for each other in service.  When God moves, the cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night, the Church needs to know how to “move”, ACTION, and respond to the moving of the Holy Spirit, not try to “fit it” into their current structure by institutionalizing it through entitlement, titles, and positions in order to be “in control”.  Positions and titles are for control. The Church needs to let the Holy Spirit be in control.  They need to settle the question, “Can you trust the Holy Spirit?”