Vision, Point Of View: Deurteronomy 16:16


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

We have come full circle, literally. The Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ has offered us the vision and point of view of salvation, offering life and living to the dead and lost. He has offered us a restored relationship with the Godhead that was once lost, separated through the Gulf of sin but has been reestablished through the shed blood of Jesus on the Cross.  That Passover Spirit is the spirit of evangelism.

The Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ has offered us the vision and point of view for nurturing, growth, and maturity in Jesus Christ only obtained through proper care by being groomed in the Logos Word and living it out through the Rhema Word. That prophetic, teaching, and shepherding spirits are the Pentecost experience.

The Holy Spirit of Jesus Christ has offered us the apostolic vision and point of view of seeing the big picture of a believer’s spiritual journey from spiritual birth, justification, through the process of maturing in Christ, sanctification, to the passing from this world into an eternal relationship with the Godhead, glorification. It is a journey which needs brothers and sisters in the Lord sacrificially walking beside one another as peers in Christ, a Priesthood of Believers, the Church.

Our personal Passover, Pentecost, and Feast of Booths is tied to our “accepting” them by “faith” and our willingness to “receive” them. The kingdom of God does not have slaves, only willing servants. God never forces us to do anything; He sent his Holy Spirit to “convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.” (John 16:8-11) All we must do is be willing to accept all he has to offer. It is up to us.

Disclaimer: By accepting this offer, expect change.


The Art Of Governing the Church

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

Isaiah prophesied,  “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6) Really, what form of government is resting on his shoulders? Church government? If so, What is that to look like?

The secular political world is all about power and control. Agreement is rare, compromise is common, fighting and squabbling the norm. Corruption hangs around the corner awaiting opportunity, and position and titles are important, yet all claim to be “public servants”.  Today’s church government is patterned after the secular, for men are given titles, positions called offices, and claim to be servants to their congregation. Some churches are congregational where members hold the power, other churches have elder boards, and still others have strong senior pastors with full authority. Since churches are institutions, they are governed by secular guidelines, their own bi-laws, and legal paperwork to remain tax-exempt. The first century church was not governed this way.

The first century Church was governed by consensus among believers as peers in Jesus Christ. Consensus does not mean 100% agreement nor majority rule where 49% still disagree. Consensus was when every believer was willing to lay down his personal agenda and lay down their lives to serve one another allowing the Holy Spirit to guide the Church.

The Holy Spirit led the first century Church into accepting” diversity by making all believers peers in Christ. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28) Today’s church can no longer segregate itself by sex, race, title, economic status, or denominations. It has to learn to “accept” one another, not be judgmental.

In the five fold, no one person governs, the whole body does by trusting the Holy Spirit and each other. The “government rests on His shoulders.” Ironically, the Holy Spirit is not above” believers in a pyramidal paradigm, but indwells each believer. Gods Spirit is among His people for a consensus from the heart. If Church leadership is linear, every believer serves beside his brethren as an equal peer. No one stands alone or above others. All are “to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:15-16) That is how the Church governs itself; through body ministry.

Headship does not mean being “over” others, but beside one another as peers. Even in marriage, Eve came from Adam’s side, not his head or foot. Figuratively, they are joined at the hip! I believe that it is God’s will for believers to be “suitable helpers” (Genesis 1:24) as a wife is to her husband in order to be “one flesh” in the Body of Christ. If you are willing to ”lay down our lives for the brethren” and serve one another, people will naturally follow you, making you a leader.

Paul did not serve and govern the first century church alone. He had Barnabas, Timothy, Silas, Mark, Pricilla & Aquila, Tychicus, Onesimus, Aristarchus, Luke, Demas, Nympha, Archippus, Epaphroditus, Apollos, and many others who stood by him. Church leadership should be pluralistic. Ruling or lording over others creates church politics. Ruling by serving one another as a peer, as a brother and sister in the Lord, brings life. Life creates an organism. Properly governing the Church through Christ-like relationships is the only way the church will restore itself from being an organization to again being an organism. That is why the 21st century Church must address a new mindset of governing itself.


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!


The Pyramid Verses Flat World Views


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


Since the pyramidal, C.E.O. leadership model is so entrenched in our capitalistic culture, almost every American institutional system is patterned after it. The masses are its foundation; its strong leaders dictate from its apex. President Harry Truman cemented this mentality politically when proclaiming “the buck stops here.” Economically, the minimum waged masses produce the product while the C.E.O. gleans its massive profits.  The American dream is to gain wealth, prestige, and power by rising to the top of the pyramid.

American education, which once sported spinster teachers in one-room schools, now supports a myriad of school administrators who dictate school policy that is also known for not embracing change very quickly. The students, the foundation of this pyramid, are lost under this crushing pyramidal system and mandatory test taking.

Doctors who once owned their “own practices”, did “home visits”, and carried their own little pharmacy in a black doctor’s bag, have been forced to join huge “Health Care Conglomerates” and become their employees. Even a greater pyramidal institution has developed through the Heal Care Insurance Industry and The Affordable Health Care Act, which you now must join by law.

The church has become another imbedded American Institution with the laity as its base supporting a professional leadership structure of pastors and priests.

Like their counterparts of the ‘60’s, the Millennials, today’s young adults, are challenging pyramidal structures through their Internet mentality. Their Facebook world requires you to be a “friend” in order to communicate. When “accepting” them as a friend, one becomes your peer, your equal. Your voice is as valid as theirs. Data and numbers are important to them, and the masses influence the Internet as the Wikipedia phenomena has exemplified.

The Millennial “unchurched” have trouble understanding the clergy/laity divide when they relate to each other as equal peers, have trouble with lectured sermons when they are use to a comment section to blogs on web sites, being told when to stand, sit, sing, financially give, and leave when they are learning to stand on their own. The Millennials leave with more questions than they get answers, and their voice is not validated. They just want to be accepted for who they are, but find church acceptance as being conditional. Millennials are looking for peers, not professionals.

The five fold model extends unconditional love and acceptance through grace; people who are committed and willing to lay down their lives for one another. Through the five fold they can find a way to be born again, nurtured in maturity, and accepted for their diversity.

As a believer in the faith, do I want to remain passive, in the protected safety of the status quo, institutionalized, pyramidal structures, or am I willing to accept and embrace change where my peers are my equals as I attempt to reach my generation for Jesus? The choice lies with each one of us, individually, and corporately as the Church.


The World Of Change And The Church

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Five Fold Is Already In The Church!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Storehouses, Deep Within

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Accountability Round Table: Hypothetical Situation


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Structure: Control of the Five Fold


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

Dr. Bill Hamon in his book Prophets and the Prophetic Movement: God’s Prophetic Move Today (Shippensburg, PA: Destiny Image, 1990, p.24) teaches that in each of the last five decades of the twentieth century, one of the five fold ministries has been reemphasized or restored:

Decade                 Five Fold Ministry         Movement/Revival

1950’s                     Evangelist                               Deliverance, Evangelism

1960’s                     Pastor/Shepherd                     Charismatic Renewal

1970’s                     Teacher                                   Faith Teaching Movement

1980’s                     Prophet                                   Prophetic Movement

1990’s                     Apostle                                    Apostolic Movement

 Each movement brought a spark of life back into the organism as believers flowed in the newness of the Holy Spirit. Mistakes were made during the learning process, so the organized church tried to bring correction and maintain control.  To stifled any movement of God through the laity, organized leadership gave themselves titles, created offices, and minimized the influence of the common believer.

Evangelist: Billy Graham brought accountability and respectability to the office of the evangelist in the 1950’s. Prior to Graham, large evangelistic crusades with huge staffs, large budgets, and gigantic tents bled local church funding who supported them. The Billy Graham Association brought stability and introduced the world to the “televangelist”, bringing world wide exposure into everyday homes through television. The Church was experiencing the gift of evangelism in new ways.

Pastoral/Shepherding: The Jesus and Charismatic Movements of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s were faced with an explosion of unchurched conversions as well as the rise of cult activity and chaos. The Fort Lauderdale Five, five respected pastors, formed a “shepherding” movement to maintain control. Unfortunately they later had to repent of leadership abuse in spite of their good intentions as the Church worked through the gift of shepherding.

Teacher: Every pastor, speaker, or teacher had their sermons “taped” on cassettes or “burned” onto CD’s during the ‘70’s Word and Faith Movement. Jesus Festivals and Full Gospel Businessmen’s Association meetings were famous for taping speakers. The Word Movement forced the church to adopt new technology as satalite dishes brought live “feeds” of teaching seminars to local churches, as the church embraced the five fold gift of teaching.

Prophet: Small schools of the prophets released the “gift of prophecy” through the Charismatic Movement in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s. Mark Virkler and Bishop Bill Hamon taught the laity how to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit and flow prophetically. When abuse arose, the organized church stepped in to monitor and correct any “weirdness”. In the twenty-first century, only mega-prophets with big ministries exist, as the church is still working through the prophetic gifting to the church.

Apostolic:  With the release of four of the five fold giftings who were dominant when released and with the misuses in figuring out how they worked, the organized church took control of each movement in an tempt to bring stability and order. The church has realized that the apostle, one who sees the church as a whole, was vastly needed. Unfortunately the “office” of the “apostle” has been institutionalized even before it could be released on its Priesthood of Believers. The Church is in the midst of working through the gifting of apostleship.

A Look At Ephesians 4?


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

To understand the five fold, please read the entire passage of Ephesians 4:1-16.

The first three verses emphasize Christian character, which Paul qualifies as walking in “humility, in gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, and preserving the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”. Unfortunately, Christian attitudes are often judgmental rather than gentile, patient, and tolerant.

The next three verses Paul clarifies “preserving the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” as being “one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.” “Unity” and “oneness” is central to every believer and their trust in the Holy Spirit.

In verses 12 through 16 Paul explains “Christ’s gift” of “grace” by recounting how Jesus “descended into the lower parts of the earth” conquering sin and death, then “ascending on high”, taking with Him “a host of captives,” those previous saints who had waiting for their Savior while in the Bosom of Abraham. He not only raised the dead, but “He (also) gave gifts to men. He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.”

 What were these gifts? “ He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers.” I believe these gifts are believers who want to win the lost, to see rebirth, who want to shepherd the sheep, to nurture and care for them, who want the Logos Word, the written Word to become the Rhema Word, the living word, who want to not only draw near to God by hearing his voice, feeling his heartbeat, and being obedient to that voice, and who want to see His Bride as a whole entity, a living organism, the Church! His gifts to us, the body of Christ, are the passions, desires, and points of view of an apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastors (shepherds), and teachers that can indwell any believer in Jesus Christ.

Why? “For the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.” Jesus did not leave his believers on earth as orphans, but promised the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide and teach them. He also did not abandoned his believers but gave them gifts, the tools, to “equip” them for the purpose “of service” to “build up of the body of Christ,” to “attain unity in faith,” to “attain of the knowledge of the Son of God,” and “to mature man to the fullness of Christ.”

What are the results if the Church accepts these gifts? “We are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming.” Each of the thousands of different Christians sects have their “wind of doctrine” that defines their uniqueness. Each believes they have the elite truth of correct Biblical theology, and all others are in some kind of error. If one looks at the wide scope of Christian theology proposed by the hundreds of Christian colleges, universities, and seminaries just in the United States, one would be “tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine.”

We are to “speak the truth in love,” but with all this diverse theology, what is that truth? The first century Church had the Apostle’s Teaching, a simple gospel, a simple message of what they “have seen and heard”. They taught Jesus! They also warned of wolves in sheep’s clothes would come “by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming” and distort that truth. If there ever was a time the Church needs the “Apostle’s Teaching” it is today.

Paul admonishes us Christians in our faith to “no longer be children, tossed here and there,” but “to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.” CHURCH, it is time “to grow up”! To grow up, the church needs to embrace a spiritual metamorphosis, a transformation from structure back to relationships by which the Church was originally birthed! It needs to return to being a living organism.

One of the purposes of the five fold is to bring UNITY to the Body of Christ. The Church, “the whole body,” can “be fit and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, which causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.” What are those joints? They could be the Five Fold giftings, passions, desires, and points of view that are available for every believer.

There, in sixteen verses, Paul introduces and outlines five gifts, five passions that Jesus gave the Church upon his ascension into heaven to equip his Bride for His return to her!  All the Church needs to be effective and united are in those five giftings and passions. 


What is this Priesthood of Believers?


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

 The Priesthood of Believers is all about the “priesthood,” the body of Christ as a whole, the Church, not the priest, the individual believer. The organism is more important than the individual components. It is a community of faith composed of God’s people as equal peers who give and receive from one anther. Jesus Christ is its High Priest, and it is lead by the Holy Spirit. It is a diverse group of people with different giftings, drives, passions, and points of view who still can come to a consensus because they are willing to lay down their lives for one another.

The Priesthood of Believers has no divisive classes or domineering hierarchal leadership structure since it is linear relational. Accountability comes through the giving and receiving through peer relationships. Respected leadership is earned by one’s willingness to lead when walking ahead, protect when covering one’s back, and encourage and reassure when walking beside another believer.

Why is the principle of the Priesthood of Believers so important to revival? The Priesthood of Believers is all-inclusive, all believers in Jesus Christ. Acts 2:16-18 states: ”But this is what was spoken of old through the prophet Joel: ‘It shall be in the last days,’ God says, ‘That I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams;  Even on My bondslaves, both men and women, I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit and they shall prophesy."

God is “pouring forth My Spirit” on a lot of different people: “on all mankind, your sons and your daughters, your young men, your old men, even My bondslaves, both men and women". The Priesthood of Believes is an inclusive group through Jesus Christ. There are no class distinctions, sexual preferences, or elite groups. God’s Spirit is not just on the clergy, the professional, the ordained, or the privileged, but is IN “all mankind” who profess Jesus Christ, the Priesthood of Believers! Revival happens at the grass root level.

The five fold is five diverse passions and points of view, when evoked separately, can be divisive and destructive, but when given and received as encouragement and support can be powerful tools bringing Christian maturity and unity to the body of Christ. When believers recognize their five fold giftings, they cannot “outsource” them to another. Every believer is responsible for what he has been given. There is no room for passivity.

A church unwilling to abolish the clergy/laity divide will not be receptive to the five fold as a grass root believers’ movement. They will want to retain their titles and offices while accusing the laity of not submitting to their authority. A church willing to end to its clergy/laity divide and willing to submit to the Holy Spirit as its authority will be willing to embrace a cocoon stage and be open to transition.

If God’s people are the Church, then God’s Holy Spirit must work through all of them, not just a select few. All of God’s people are called to respond to the Holy Spirit. That responsive, all-inclusive group of believers in Jesus Christ is the Priesthood of Believers.



The Rise Of The Professional Clergy

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

How did the clergy rise to power and create this divide?  Frank Damazio in his classic book The Making of a Leader (Portland, Or: Bible Temple Publishing Co., 1988, p.9) explains, “Another major cause of the Church’s unbiblical division between the ‘clergy’ and the ‘laity’ is the professional status the church accords to clergy. The process of elevating clergy to the status of ‘professional Christian’ follows a claim of logic that looks like this:

Since the:                              clergy          =   priesthood

and the:                                priesthood    =   profession

then:                                    profession     =    professional

  Therefore:                             clergy           =    professional.

Those considered to be in the clergy, therefore, were looked upon as ‘professionals’. Those who received a theological and ‘professional’ education were considered to be part of the clergy, or at least, well prepared for a particular denominational ordination. Neither of these ideas, however, are Biblical.”

Here we are in the twenty-first century still maintaining the belief that the only clergy can be professionals, those who have made a career out of what is called the “full time ministry.” Because they are paid out of the laity’s tithes and offerings, many in the laity feel they do not have to do ministry because “that is what we pay our pastor and staff to do,” so they outsource their obligations.  I have heard the Pareto Principle quoted that “20% of the people do 80% of the work.” I have no idea if that is valid, but very few of the non-clergy in most churches do very much of the work. The paid staff does it! Some believe the “lay” in “Laity” justifies being passive. I believe that clergy and laity want it that way. The clergy do not want to give up their pulpit, control, and power, and the laity enjoys being passive with no requirements placed on them except financial!

The hierarchal organizational church of the Dark Ages advocated the two class system: The clergy were educated and spiritual; most of the laity illiterate and secular. The clergy were set apart to draw near to God; the secular needed the clergy for confessions, the resolving of sins, penance, baptisms, marriages, and the giving of sacraments.  What brought the Church out of the Dark Ages? The invention of Guttenberg’s printing press, the Age of Enlightenment, and the Age of Reason when the laity learned to read the Bible themselves.

Martin Luther questioned the mother church’s institutional structure, power, practices, and doctrines that bred enormous wealth and corruption. His discovery of “justification by faith” and John Calvin’s “justification by grace” brought a spark of life back into the organism. As believers read the Bible for themselves, they began questioning official church dogma for interpretation, and life seeped back into the Priesthood of Believers.

Although Luther did not actually pen the term Priesthood of Believers, he did initiate the principle that all believers in Jesus were peers, equals in the faith, and could do many of the things that the organized church had prohibited them from doing. Ironically, as much as Luther advocated the concept of Priesthood of Believers, he felt forced to accept a hierarchal leadership model when State governments began to endorse State religions as Germany went Lutheran, the Czar went with Russian Orthodoxy, and England’s King Henry VIII formed his own church, the Anglican Church. Those rejecting State run religion fled to America where they placed the Separation of Church and State into their Constitution.


The Next Move Of God: Metamorphosis?

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

An infestation of caterpillars, multi-segmented, squishy-bodied, ravenous eaters who move in cumbersome, accordion-like fashions can kill foliage. Incredibly, they spin cocoons, havens of transitions, and emerge as a butterfly! I am not sure what happens in that cocoon, but metamorphosis transforms a caterpillar into a different bodied structure suitable for flying.

Two thousand years later, the church has become a multi-segmented body of hundreds of different sects and denominations that have become an infestation. If the Lord is to return to a Church without spot and wrinkle, a reconstruction is necessary if it is to fulfill its purpose of John 17, “I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity.” The Church will have to trust the Holy Spirit and embrace new mindsets.

Because the transformation in a cocoon is relational, everything will have to be taken back to the Cross. The Cross is a painful place, so transformation will not come without pain. Through the Cross the Holy Spirit is teaching Christians how to “engage” with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit through righteousness (John 3:16), and how to “engage” with one another relationally (I John 3:16) by “laying down your life for your brethren.”

Three stages make up the metamorphic cocoon process: the caterpillar stage, the engagement period, and the butterfly stage. To see how this works, let’s take the caterpillar church mentality of “You Must Believe And Behave In Order To Belong.” To become a member of most local churches, you must sign a statement agreeing with their professions of faith, theological beliefs, church bi-laws and behave like a Christian and fit in to church culture to be accepted as an official member by church leadership.

Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” challenges that concept. Before we even had a relationship with Jesus, he accepted us and paid the price for our sins on the Cross. As fallen man, we can be redeemed through Jesus, reinstating a right relationship with the Father. I John 3:16 states, . “We know love by this, that He (Jesus) laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” We are now called to lay down our lives for others. That is a new mindset because we have not thought of that relationally. Jesus never accepted sin, yet he died for the sinner. Jesus accepts mankind in both his fallen and redeemed state; it is man’s decision to accept being in a right relationship with the Godhead and his fellow man!

To understand the butterfly stage, you have to understand the social networking generational mindset of “acceptance”. To become a Facebook friend, you need only to push the “accept” button. This opens the door for further communications, which leads to sharing, accepting, or rejecting each other’s belief systems. Rather than behaving to be accepted, accepting Jesus will bring a supernatural change  in a person that naturally happens. In the butterfly stage, “Belonging Begins A Relationship That Produces Believing And Behaving,” which is completely opposite of the way the church currently thinks.

In the dating game, boy asks girl for a date (Caterpillar Stage). She accepts. They begin building a relationship and trust while discussing their belief, goals, and dreams. They get “serious” about their relationship (Engagement Period). After working through tough issues, final acceptance comes in a life commitment of marriage, now belonging to one another (Butterfly Stage).

What transition (Engagement Stage) is needed to change mindsets towards acceptance instead of judgment, tolerance rather than being demanding, be relational rather than structural, being an organism rather than an organization? These transitions are not easy. These transitions will not come without pain, anguish, and self-searching. They can only come if we are willing to ask the tough questions without being offended or defensive and seek those answers through relationships through the Cross.


The Next Move Of God: Metamorphosis or Urban Renewal


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

I personally have witnessed grass root revival through the Jesus and Charismatic Movements of the last century. I have witnessed the rise of CBN, Christian Broadcasting network, and the fall of the PTL empire under Jim & Tammy Faye Baker. None of these movements were birthed through the institutional church, who became its critics. In fact the organized church still does not fully embrace the Baptism of the Holy Spirit with the gift of tongues. They stifled prayer and praise meetings held in believers homes claiming they needed “proper oversight” by pastors, elders, and church leaders, taking the control out of the hands of the laity. Today, “mega-churches” with enormous budgets and staff expect the Holy Spirit to bring revival into their exclusive facility among its members. It just doesn’t work that way! Revivals have always originated outside of institutional church structures.

Sixty years after Jesus’ death and resurrection Jerusalem would be destroyed, Israel would cease as a nation, the Levitical priesthood would be dissolved replaced by a rabbinical system. Revival meant “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. [II Corinthians 5:17]” The Torah became known as The Old Testament, all things new in the Holy Spirit became The New Testament. Two thousand years later, Israel would be restored as a nation, but not their Temple or form of worship. What was once the new movement, the Church, now has become the organized religious institution as their believers flocked to enormous church buildings under a professional hierarchal structure of pastors. Will this repeated pattern again lead to its destruction, or will God chose to move within this already established framework to rework and recreate a new form or structure? Will the church embrace an urban renewal approach to revival where old buildings, old structures, have to be condemned and demolished before new structures can be reconstructed, or will it experience a metamorphosis, an internal restructuring done in the secrecy of a spiritual cocoon?

Although unprecedented in history, can revival, for a change, actually occur within the current structural framework of the church rather than outside it? In our next blog, we will examine the possibilities of a metamorphic change in the church.


The Clash Of Cultures: Traditions or Relationships


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

A friend of mine wished to host a Biker BBQ in a church parking lot as an outreach to the Biker community. Monies raised would support a Christian orphanage in Guatemala. His dilemma was the church’s “Sunday Worship Service” overlapped the time of his Biker BBQ.  The church at first embraced his endeavor having a “Biker Sunday” featuring a Harley Davidson motorcycle on the church platform. This exposed the clash of cultures as Christian bikers and church people participated in the church activities inside the building while the non-Christian bikers party hearty in the parking lot.

Why do churches feel you have to enter their culture before they will accept you? Why do Christians expect non-Christians to come into their unfamiliar church world rather than infiltrating the culture of the non-Christian? And they call this “outreach”? Only a handful of believers with an evangelistic passion were willing to skip “church” to serve chicken to the bikers and hang out with them, speak their language, and accept them for who they are, not what we, as Christians, wish them to be. Only after “church” was over did the church people filter to the parking lot to buy chicken, often sitting in their own clusters.

When is the institutional church going to realize that programs in their own facility is not the most effective way to evangelize the non-churched? One-one-one relationships built daily with friends, neighbors, and casual acquaintances in their familiar territories will build trust and open doors to share Jesus. Meeting them at their level is far more effective.

When Dr. Anthony Campolo of Eastern College spoke to a group in York, PA, he asked, “How many of you got saved through a mass Crusade, like Billy Graham’s?” One or two hands were raised. He continued, “How many of you were saved through radio or television?” Another couple hands were elevated. “How many through a church service? A dozen or so hands were raised. “How many of you met Jesus through one-on-one contact with another believer?” Eighty-five percent of those present raised their hands. The passion of individual believers to evangelize is far more effective than organized church programs. The organized church will spend a massive amount of money to support an evangelistic crusade program believing it is worth it if only one person gets saved. Common believers can do that daily at minimum cost just by building one-on-one relationships with people they know.

Maybe as a church we need to reexamine how we do evangelism. Only a change of mindset can take the church out of their culture into the world to be light and salt to it!


Offices Or Passions, Desires, and Points of View?


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


Should we envision evangelists, shepherds, teachers, prophets, and apostles of Ephesians 4:11 as church offices and leadership titles, or are they diverse passions, desires, and points of view found in common believers in Jesus Christ?

Ephesians 4:7 & 8 reads, “7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it says, ‘When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, and He gave gifts to men.’”

He gave ”gifts to men’” to equip the saints for works of service. These saints will worship by giving back their gifts to the Lord and to other saints that will build up the body of Christ to attain unity of the faith and acquire the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature the brethren into the fullness of Christ. . That’s receiving and giving; that’s being fluid.

The gift of evangelism became prevalent in the 1950’s as “You must be born again” became a popular theme, but the church opted to train their clergy to become professional evangelists rather than equip the saints to evangelize.

The 1960’s introduced communal living as believers tried to nurture and care for one another, but five respected Christian pastors formed the Fort Lauderdale Five in an effort to bring stability. Instead their influence became too controlling and dictating for which they had to repent of spiritual abuse.

The 1970’s was the decade of the teacher, and I think every professional clergy thought of himself as a teacher whose cassettes and CD’s could be purchased. Unfortunately the laity who bought all those tapes, did all those Bible studies, and earned Biblical degrees became frustrated when the clergy refused to give up their pulpit or gave them no outlet to release their teaching voice or passion.

The prophetic movement of the ‘80’s began as a grass root movement among believers but quickly turned to super pastors now not only being evangelists and teachers but also prophets. Again the prophetic voice among the laity became silent.

By the end of the century, many mega-church pastors, overseers, and bishops bestowed the title of apostles because they oversaw networks of independent churches or denominations. I have never met one of these apostles who were laity because only clergy were qualified, yet I have met many believers who see the big picture of the Church and network believers in serving one another.

The purpose of the five fold, “for the equipping of the saints for the work of service,” has been lost. A fluid, fivefold church would have emphasized giving and receiving among the saints. One’s weakness is another’s strength. All five NEED to RECEIVE from EACH OTHER and GIVE to ONE ANOTHER. The fluidity of giving and receiving is central to building relationships through the five fold.

I ask, “Who is your church investing in?”

The data of your local church budget will reveal that answer. Most church budgets support the building and maintenance, and salaries and professional development for staff, and program needs. It feeds the organization, not builds up the organism, the believers. Is your church investing in you and your fellow believers or in the building, programs, and the professional staff?

The five fold is about relationships which bring Jesus into believer’s lives. It is for birthing, feeding, nurturing, and caring for the organism through “service”, not for keeping the organization solvent and running smoothly.



Is My Church Fluid Or Structured?


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

 Is my church fluid or structured?

I have a simple definition for worship: “Worship is giving back to Jesus what He has already given you.” We, as believers in Jesus Christ, are only stewards here on earth, so giving back to Jesus, worship, should come natural. Worship is the ebb and flow, the giving and receiving. The Holy Spirit receives from the Father and the Son and gives it away to the saints, the believers in Jesus Christ. Jesus, as a man, did the same while on earth as an act of worship to His Father. As believers we are to do the same.

Since we are free to worship anywhere at anytime, one does not need a formal structure or a designated place in order to worship. Unlike the organizational church structure where you are told when to stand, sit, sing, be reverent, pray, greet one another, give financially, take notes, listen to the sermon, respond through an altar call, and leave after the benediction, worship flows naturally among His people. If you are given an original song, sing it; a Biblical insight, teach it; a word from the Lord, prophecy it; an urge to pray for some one, lay hands on them, or give them a word of encouragement, just do it!  Obedience to the Holy Spirit is the key to being fluid.

The majestic mystery that drives a fluid service is found in the thread that is sewn through the tapestry of worship by the Holy Spirit who speaks with clarity. You can always find a message, theme, or lesson taught by the Holy Spirit, which brings awe, anticipation, excitement, and a reverence among those participating.  

A fluid service of worship builds and reinforces relationships, strengthens believers’ faith, and taps into the heart of the Father. That which is unseen that is birthed in faith and released among God’s people strengthens the Church. Jesus allowed Thomas, who doubted, to physically see and touch his wounds to boos his faith. That single act sealed their relationship for eternity.

Relationships among peer believers are also strengthened by being fluid. Confession to one another brings healings and repentance. The laying on of hands can produce powerful results, for the “touch of faith” can produce a powerful bond. God’s love flows through personal touches! That flow from the river of life is being fluid.

 In a fluid service, what the institutional church reserves for only the clergy can be done by any believer in Jesus. Any believer can participate in baptisms, share in communion, pray, and share the Word of faith with one another. It allows the flow of Jesus, the flow of the Holy Spirit, to bring life to the organism. It encourages the giving and receiving among the saints as a body called the Church. If brothers and sisters in the Lord are willing to “lay down your life for your brethren” (I John 3:16), then the flow of God’s love will administer to and threw his believers and become a natural thing to do.

There is life in being fluid that produces an expectancy, anticipation, and assurance that the Holy Spirit will speak, flow, and move! The organized church says, “No way!” to the saints being fluid fearing they may lose control, swing from the chandeliers, bark like dogs, fall on the floor, speak in tongues, etc. The organized church believes that stability can only be achieved through proper leadership being in control, so they stifle the flow among the saints in an effort to control. As the tap of control is tightened, the flow is reduced to a drip and finally one last drop.

So I ask, “Can you as a believer in Jesus Christ trust the Holy Spirit, or must you trust only the control of your church leadership?


Is My Church An Organization Or An Organism?


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


The Church in the book of Acts is active, alive, vibrant, moving, expecting the unexpected, walking in faith, and led by the Holy Spirit. It is a narrative about men figuring out this new Jesus movement. Although founded in Judaism, “Behold, all things are new.”

Acts and Paul’s Epistles reveal the Jewish faith as being stagnant, ruled by tradition and self imposed laws, cautious and highly organized, while governed by a top heavy hierarchy. It was slow, cumbersome, avoiding the unexpected while demanding control, seeking a Messiah, and persecuting this new Jewish sect called the Way. Acts also records life being birthed amongst this highly regulated religious world. Without God’s Presence in their Temple, they were just going through the motions. Spiritual life in their system was lost, but God was birthing a new spiritual organism in their midst, the Church. God majors in birthing, and He gave new life to a faith that had lost its way. He gave them their promised Messiah, Savior, King, and High Priest in Jesus, yet they rejected him.

Organisms have life; organizations provide structure. Organisms have movement while organizations, often stagnant, live off the benefits of their structure. Organisms build peer relationships and multiply; organizations use hierarchal leadership to support their structure. Unfortunately, organizations often stifle organisms in an attempt to control. It is easy, yet unwise, for growing organisms after multiplying to seek organization and structure. Structures rise, and structures fall. The Twin Towers that rose above the New York’s skyline have proven that.

I ask, “Is my church an organism built on relationships, or is it an organization built on structure?” Of course, I want to answer, “organism built on relationships”, but I know better! The Church is relational, saints as equal peers growing into the image of Jesus Christ, but in actuality, it is often all about structure and organization.

We seek safety, comfort, and stability from structure, but usually at the cost of personal relationships with our peers.  We often are willing to sign covenants agreeing with stated tenants of faith, theological proclamations, rules and regulations, and agree to disciplinary procedures in order to become members of a religious institution rather than working on building intimate peer relationships with other believers in the faith.

The clergy/laity divide is evident in this struggle. Laity, as an organism, thrives on building relationships with other believers while the professional clergy thrives on elitism through organizational, hierarchal structure for leadership. The clergy demand for laity loyalty and financial support to maintain the organization has often sucked the life out of the organism.

Throughout church history, the organization often snuffed out sparks of organism life, calling them heretical. They have opposed almost every movement of God outside the sphere of their control, but since the Great Reformation, the sparks eventually became flames of revival that caused change and brings the organism back to life.

Today, would you classify your church as an organism or an organization? If your answer is an organization, but you wish it to become an organism, your only option is to embrace change!


Is Changing Church Culture Really That Difficult? Yes!


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

 The American church finds itself numbed by affluence. “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing.” (Revelation 3:17) Yet it is experiencing spiritual decay, complacency, severe apathy, and has become ineffective.

Today, the health clinics and hospitals founded by the church to meet the needs of the poor have become huge private, for profit, health conglomerates. Even the government’s efforts through the Affordable Health Care Act have dwarfed any of the church’s attempt.

Churches were known for taking care of the poor, but now the secular government has taken on the cause. Soup kitchens have given way to the Federal Food Stamp Program. Orphanages replaced by Children’s Social Services. Caseworkers and probation officers replaced Christian ministries while the homeless and mentally ill have been abandoned by both the church and the government.

The prophetic voice of Revelation 3:17 cries out, do you “not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.”  In spite of this warning of revelation, the church is still slow at embracing change and being relevant.

I have been a product of Christian church culture all my life by being raised, attending, and being active in church. I know nothing else. What scares me is that I find myself leery to embrace change the older I get, yet after experiencing abusive church leadership several times, I find myself currently not attending any form of institutionalized church. Instead my wife and I met with another couple around a round dinner table while experiencing a time of healing, spiritual revitalization, and trust building. The Lord is showing us the power of building relationships in Jesus with each other. After much discussion, crying on one another’s shoulders, praying, seeking the Lord, and just hanging out, we have learned to allow the Holy Spirit to teach us his written (Logos) and living (Rhema) Word. We have again been challenged to “trust the Holy Spirit,” something we had lost when enabled under abusive leadership. Because of embracing change, I now feel like a bird in flight, freed from his cage of religious security, while soaring into a new faith adventure with others.

Not only is the church slow to embrace change, but so am I, because change produces challenges, conflicts, transitions, uncertainty, unexpected surprises, and unpredictability. It forces you to forfeit control to faith in Jesus and the leading of His Holy Spirit.

I thought this blog was about the church, but it is also about me personally, for the church and I are interchangeable if it is built on relationships, which are central to the gospel. After a life centered in church culture, I find change also difficult. Yes, changing church culture is a big deal, its personal, and can be difficult.




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

We seldom run towards change; we flee from it. Why? Stability and comfort are found in the familiar.  Fearful of the unknown, we seek control. Historically, the church has disciplined, expelled, and even burned at the stake those who advocated drastic change.

The church still sings hymns by composer dead for over 150 years. The order of worship has remained the same for hundreds of years. For centuries the church celebrated mass in Latin, a dead language no longer spoken by anyone except the church.

Traditions are part of religion’s tapestry. Tradition and oral history still rule the day in the Jewish faith. Even in Jesus’ day in a Temple with a functioning priesthood who celebrated festivals and feasts God’s Presence was missing, so they relied on their traditions to bring stability. They still do today!

The church was skeptic of the Jesus and Charismatic Movement that impacted my spiritual life, opposing the principle of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit, and speaking in tongues.

The older one gets, the more one resists change. When set in one’s ways, one leans on the dependable and avoids the unpredictable. This mindset usually opposes change and a spirit of revival.

What would happen if a movement of God affected the church as it did to Judaism in Jesus’ day? 60 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection, the Temple and Jerusalem would be in ruins, and Israel would be a scattered, homeless, persecuted people for 2,000 years. Rabbis, not priests, would maintain oral history, holidays, and hold on to their traditions to maintain their faith. Judaism looks nothing like it did in Jesus’ day.

Revival produces change that often destroys existing structures while building new ones. During revival the doctrine of the Priesthood of Believers has challenged the clergy/laity structure of the church. Martin Luther advocated the Priesthood of Believers but was unwilling to change existing church structure when revival did occur.

Since the 1800’s, the five fold has reemerged in the church through revivals but has been opposed by the clergy who later embraced them by making them hierarchal offices of leadership. Can the church embrace the possibility that maybe evangelists, shepherds, teachers, prophets, and apostles are not offices or titles but diverse passions, desires, and points of view found among normal believers in Jesus? What would happen if the church took seriously the call of Ephesians 4 to “equip the saints for works of service”? That would require a tremendous amount of change and new mindsets!

Would my local church embrace such a metamorphic change? Could it lay aside old structures that once were effective and useful for newer structures that would be built on peer relationships? These are the questions we will ask and attempt to address in upcoming blogs. Is this all hypothetical theology and paradigm prognostication, or should we be taking the question of “Should or shouldn’t my local church embrace change?” seriously?