Thursday, January 17, 2019

OT Prophets

A common view is that the OT prophets became automatons controlled by the Spirit to write down his message as he gave it. That is not true. The language style of the various prophets is different, reflecting human influence. Because they were living prior to the cross, their experience of the Spirit was probably even less intense than ours. So the Holy Spirit had a difficult task getting them to write down what he wanted in the scripture recorded accurately. He probably had numerous attempts. And they probably recorded some of them, but the Holy Spirit ensured they were discarded, because they were not up to his standard.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Pastor's Wives

I notice that an increasing number of pastor-leaders are using their wives as a prophet to their church. Many women have greater openness to the spiritual realms than men, so this could seem like a plausible solution for a pastor.

I believe this is a dangerous trend, because a husband and wife are one. The wife may have a prophetic edge, but if she is one with her husband, she will be a pastor too.

A prophet can be pastoral, but they should not attempt be a pastor. A pastor can be prophetic, but they cannot be a prophet.

By getting his wife to be responsible for leading and developing prophetic activity in the church is a good way for the pastor to keep it under control, but it will also keep it tame.

In one situation that I have observed, the pastor’s wife has had some powerful visions, but the interpretations do not seem to do them justice. I presume that the interpretations also come through the lens of her husband, so they do not rock the boat.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Church Meetings

Most of the reasons given to justify church meetings are invalid.

  1. Worship. Most Christians think that worship is something we do on Sunday. This is not true. All our lives should be an act of worship. Worship in a large group is an encouraging bonus, but it is not essential.

  2. Teaching. There is nothing in the scriptures to suggest that Christians need to listen to an hour of good teaching each week for the rest of their lives. A new Christian who is serious about following Jesus can be taught the basics of the Christian faith in a few weeks. From there on, they can learn what they need to know by listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit. The main purpose of the weekly teaching format is to give the teacher a place to perform.

    If a Christian is stumped by an issue, they can search the scriptures, or look up the answer on the internet. Most modern Christians have had so much teaching that they are choking on it. What they need is a bit more doing, but they will not learn that at a meeting.

  3. Oversight. Most Christians know how to put on a holy mask while they are at a church meeting (I have done it for so many years, I can do it without thinking). The elders responsible for providing oversight generally do not have a clue about what is going on in their day-to-day lives. To offer credible oversight, an elder needs to see how a Christian functions in their family or at work. The best way to get insight into a person's spiritual state is to share with them in some service in the world.

  4. Training. Attendance at meetings trains Christians to be passive. The best training comes in the way Jesus trained his disciples. Take a few people with you into the world to do the Jesus stuff, so they can see how it is done. When they have watched for a while, get them to have a go, dealing with an easy case, with the leader ready to come in and help if things turn to custard. When they are competent, get them to start training others. That will really sharpen their ministry.

  5. Gifts of the Spirit. Some people may only get help when several people move in complementary gifts of the Spirit to get to the bottom of a holding them back. That could happen at the front of a meeting, but it will usually be less effective, because one superstar will be performing. Good stuff is more likely to happen and be more effective, if a group of Christians friends gather in a friend's living room. The Holy Spirit can really get to work when he has a group of people who love one another to flow through

  6. Learning the Gifts. The front of a meeting is not a good place to learn to operate in the gifts of the Spirit. A better is a place to learn is a friend's home with a few people that are trusted. Once the Christian has learned to move in the gifts, the next step is not to the front of a church meeting, but to go into the world with some friends.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Attend or Follow

When a person comes to faith in Jesus, the standard instruction to the new Christian is to join a good church. The unspoken assumption is that if they attend a church meeting each week, they will be fine (ie meetings save?) But they will not be fine. Millions of Christians have attended meetings for years and years, but remained immature and in ineffective. Issues that should have been resolved in the first few months of following Jesus continue to weigh them down for the rest of their lives.

Better advice would be to tell the new Christian to find someone to follow (this is Pauls approach). If the new Christian has a pastoral nature, they should find someone who is effective in that gifting and follow them around until they have become effective their ministry. If they have an evangelistic calling, they should find an effective evangelist and follow them until they have become an effective evangelist. If the new Christian has a prophetic bent, they should find an effective prophet and follow them until they have learned how to be an effective prophet. If they are confused about their calling, and choose the wrong person to follow, it will soon become clear. They can switch a different person to follow when their calling becomes clear.

Following a more mature Christian is a far more effective strategy for a new Christian wanting to learn the Jesus stuff, than joining a church and attending meetings. We should stop telling new Christians to join a church. Instead, we should say, "Follow me!" or "Follow Fred" or "Follow Freda".

Friday, January 11, 2019

Relationships

The relationships in the church should be circular. The "One Another Stuff" is more important than "Submission Stuff". Most of it will take place within pairs.

In contrast, in the conventional church, all the links go through the centre.
A good test of the quality of relationships is the amount of forgiveness that is taking place.
Forgive one another (Col 3:13).
If people are not interacting, there will not be much stuff to forgive. It is interesting that much of the offence among modern Christians is either against the pastor and worship leader, or against friends and workmates. The reason is that most interaction in the church is with the pastor and worship leader. Most Christians do not have enough interaction with each other to cause offence and need forgiveness.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Bureaucratic Leadership

The early church was structured like a family. The elders cared for their people in the same way as fathers care for their children. But once the church was successful and respectable, it moved away from this biblical model. It dropped the family form of government and took over the imperial form of the Roman Empire. Bishops ceased to be shepherds and became more like monarchs. This imperial stage of the church continued down to the Reformation.

Bureaucratic Government
The Reformation substituted a bureaucratic form of church. The elders sat as boards and committees, ruling over the church. They were more like bureaucrats than pastors. Individual attention was given only to those with special needs. This form has continued up to the present time.

The modern church is often more of an institution than a people, or a community. Christian life is expressed in various activities and projects carried out in a church building. The result is that elders become more concerned with the institution than with people. Their leadership consists primarily in administration, decision making and opinion forming. Their time is spent in meetings organising programs and activities.

The authority of elders extends over the institution, but not over the lives of the church members. These remain private. The result is that elders have very little influence on the way that Christians actually live. Christian growth is limited, and very few strong relationships are formed.

The bureaucratic form of government has severely weakened the church. It has also left elders frustrated, because they are unable to fulfil a true spiritual ministry.

Corporate Management
In recent years the church has begun to copy the corporate management model has become pervasive in the business world. "Electric Jack", the CEO of General Electric has been held up as an example for church leaders. As churches have grown larger the corporate model seems more relevant.

Massive growth in the size has brought tremendous benefits to business through economies of scale. This growth has been made possible by the emergence of the corporate management model. This model has provided a method of controlling complicated and divergent processes. A body of literature has developed to encourage leadership within this model.

However, the corporate model is not relevant to the church. The primary goal of the corporate model is to control complicated processes to achieve quality and efficiency. Quality and efficiency are not important goals for the church.


Activities where there are benefits from size

Activities where there are no benefits from size


Celebration

Teaching

Finances/Resourcing

Specialisation



Discipleship

Fellowship

Evangelism

Charity

Prophetic

Love



The really important things for the church seem to be in the right-hand column. Most of these are very hard to achieve in a large corporate model. All these things need to be done in a personal way in the anointing of the Spirit.

The church wanting to be big so that it can have a greater impact on the world has succumbed to the spirit of the beast. The beast says, "We must come together and pool our resources to achieve more and make a name for ourselves" (Gen 11:1-4).

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Institutions

The modern church is a bewilderingly complex array of structures and activities. There will usually be national, regional and local organisations. At each level there will be a variety of committees, dealing with all sorts of activities. There is a complicated range of ministries: bishops, cardinals, ministers elders, deacons, pastors, priests, administrators, etc.

The church produces magazines, minutes, agendas, vision statements, strategic plans, tenets and doctrinal statements. It owns worship centres, halls, office blocks, training colleges, cars and superannuation funds. And the scene is further complicated by the duplication of all these activities across the various denominations. On top of all this, there are a wide variety of para-church organisations specialising in missions, youth work, children's work, evangelism, Bible distribution etc. The modern church is a large, unwieldy and complex organisation.

Most of the activities and structures that make up its complexity are not necessary for its essential work. The church has become so complicated that people cannot see the wood for the trees. And yet we find it hard to imagine a church without all these things. We need a radical change in our understanding of the church.

The institutionalisation of Christianity has severely weakened the church. It has also left elders frustrated, because they are unable to fulfil a true spiritual ministry. Fortunately, this form of church is dying, and people are instinctively going back to meeting in small groups in their homes.

The main responsibility of the church is to bear witness to Jesus Christ. However, all the peripheral structures and activities of the church stop people from seeing Christ. For most non-Christians, a church building is part of a strange institution, which they do not understand. They will only go into it if they really have to. In contrast, they will be quite happy to go into another person's home. If churches go back to meeting in believers' homes, people will feel free to join them. To be successful in evangelism, the church must meet in the homes of believers.

More in Being Church.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Two Reasons

If the Holy Spirit is not moving powerfully in a church, there are two possible reasons.

  • The people have grieved the Spirit or are rejecting his leading.
  • The leaders are refusing to make the changes that the Holy Spirit needs.
God is never the problem. He is always wanting to move.

Monday, January 07, 2019

Righteous in Romans

As I have been reading Romans, I am struck that we no longer use some of the key English words used in the translation of the letter. This makes the message hard to understand.

Righteous
Paul declares that God is righteous. The problem is that we do not use this word much anymore. No one speaking of another person says “He is a righteous man”. Rather we would say, “He is a good man”. We sometimes use the expression “self-righteous”, but in a negative context, to describe someone who thinks they are better than they are.

Describing God as righteous is not very helpful in the modern world, because the word has become anachronistic.

A better option would be to say that God is good.

The righteousness of God might be better described as “moral integrity”.

The letter to the Romans says that we have been “declared righteous freely by His grace” (Rom 3:25). What does that mean?

God has put us right. We are okay.

Justified
The other common statement in Romans is that we have been “justified”, usually by faith. This is another word that we do not use much. When a person says that “their actions justified”, they usually mean they had good reasons for doing what they did, even if other people did not approve.

Being justified means “being right with God”.

In a legal context, it means being declared “Not guilty” by a judge. The technical term is being “acquitted”, but that is too narrow for Romans. In that context, we should think of it as being “made right with God”.

Upright is close, but it is also a bit anachronistic.

Innocent is probably too strong.

However, "as if we are innocent" could work,

or "as if we never sinned".

Friday, January 04, 2019

Nones

Josh Daffern on Why the ‘Nones’ Are Walking Away From Church.

People come looking for community and we give them a program.