The Rev Dr John McElroy wrote as senior pastor of Churchlands Christian Fellowship in Perth, Australia.
We must be cautious in the selection of leaders.
Our unity, especially in leadership, sparks revival.
The church must stay true to Jesus and obey him.
When I first heard some colleagues talk about the 1990’s as a ‘decade of revival’ I wondered if it was just more wishful thinking aimed at getting Australian churches to take evangelism seriously.
It is increasingly apparent, now, that we live in a ‘kairos’ moment – God’s time for us. Good and evil grow side by side at what appears to be an accelerating rate.
In these times of economic and social upheaval we have the potential of an almost unprecedented audience for God’s action. Our fellow Australians are seeking spiritual answers to life’s questions. Many do so for the first time. Others are seeking a place to belong and want healing from the wounds of life.
At a time of such obvious need and searching we agonize to observe some congregations experiencing decline and, in a few cases, apparent death. Yet, regardless of outward appearances, wherever God’s people gather in worship there is always potential for renewal.
God has a plan for the church. In the past God kept his promise. Even though it would appear whole generations lost a true knowledge of God, he sovereignly renewed his kingdom again when he found willing hearts. Today, God is looking for pure and willing hearts among those who would aspire to leadership in the church.
In preparation for revival and harvest, God is raising up leaders whose visionary zeal is matched by their integrity. Our Master is concerned not only about whether we reach the goal, but how we achieve it. Leaders today are wise to remember that the end does not justify any and every means of getting there. On earth, Christian leaders are servants of a God whose nature is integrity, justice, love and mercy. Our Lord wants his ambassadors to reflect his nature and character in the midst of providing leadership.
For some time I have noted that methods and standards vary greatly in the selection and guidance of church leaders. Within my denomination, I have often been called upon to give advice or rectify situations which are attributable to poor leadership decisions.
My intent is not to reiterate what others have written on issues facing renewal leadership. I would like, however, to underline three issues which I feel must be considered by those who desire to be leaders in renewal. These issues have come out of my experience as pastor and as convenor of the Christian Ministries Network of Western Australia.
Caution in leadership selection
Leadership is a key issue in renewal and revival. The apostle Paul warned against being hasty in the laying on of hands for leadership (1 Timothy 5:22). While this Scripture is often quoted, the importance of its implementation is often underestimated, much to the detriment of the church. Once a person has been placed in a position of leadership that person carries an authority and influence within the Body of Christ which either promotes or hinders its mission.
I have not yet discovered one elder, staff person or leader who, at the time of being selected, was fully mature in the Lord. That is normal. Jesus picked the disciples on the basis of their potential, not their perfection. Chapter three of 1 Timothy provides an essential list of considerations for spiritual leadership. In addition to this list, I often ask the following six questions concerning potential leaders:
1. Have they undergone a period of settling in and observation?
When new people decide to make our Fellowship their spiritual home, we invite them to undertake a minimum three to six months settling in and getting to know us. During this time we ask that they join a weekly home group but refrain from signing up for, or becoming involved in, any of the ministries of the church. During this period our leaders observe their character, gifts, and apparent maturity in the Lord. This brief time of waiting clarifies not only their suitability for ministry but whether the needs and vision of the individual fit our capabilities.
2. Have they dealt with sin or strongholds operative in their lives?
In other words, are they free of habitual sin or do they require ministry, healing, or counselling which will set them free from ungodly thoughts or behaviour? Do they give evidence of anger, unforgiveness, rejection, lust, pride, hurt, gossip, or any of the acts of the flesh noted in Galatians 5:1921? The presence of sin or strongholds does not indicate a person’s ultimate unsuitability for leadership, but it does indicate: not yet!
3. Do they show evidence of having gone to the cross?
Does the nature of Jesus, particularly humility, seem to be evident and growing? Going to the cross speaks of dying to the flesh and human cleverness in our attitudes and lifestyles. Such people will show traits of circumspectness, submissiveness, wisdom, compassion, transparency, patience and prayerfulness. They are humble, teachable, willing to be accountable, and allow others to speak into their lives.
4. Do they have a growing intimacy with God?
In John 15:5 Jesus said, ‘Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.’ To abide in Jesus speaks of an intimate relationship of prayer and communion; of two best friends who anticipate one another’s moods, mannerisms and responses. Abiding is the process of becoming like the company we keep. The result of intimacy is to bear certain recognizable fruit: the fruit of the Spirit, an ability to discern the Lord’s voice, and a growth in our understanding of God’s nature and the way he brings his will to pass.
5. Are they free of selfish ambition or worldly cleverness?
Selfish ambition is essentially the desire for recognition, power, and control. Worldly cleverness is the means of fulfilling ambition: intellectualism, deceit, power games, manipulation, partiality, and control. Some seek church leadership with hopes of lordship rather than service. Others have a mistaken notion that what made them successful in the business world translates identically to the church.
Our own enthusiasm can never substitute for godly wisdom in decision making, as stated in Psalm 127:1,
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain.
Unless the Lord guards the city, the guard keeps watch in vain.
Those suited to spiritual leadership acknowledge sooner rather than later that prayer, waiting on the Lord’s timing, and following his plan are the only ways to build God’s house.
6. Do they have the same spirit and vision as your team?
Are potential leaders on the right train? Are they willing to work in submission to the pastor and leaders of the local church? Do they hold views which mesh with ours, or are they at odds with our established vision, ethos, and mission?
For some reason, growing churches attract ambitious people aspiring to leadership who lack the discernment to choose the church God has actually selected for them. You must therefore look out for ‘cruisomatics’ flying from church to church looking for the perfect roost. Beware of those practising a ‘gift of correction’ or ministries which they proclaim will ‘get your church on the right track.’ These are the lone rangers, free spirits, and ultimately the self-inflicted wounded whose unrepentant hearts cause untold grief.
When selecting potential leaders it is always wise to narrow the front door, so to speak, by being cautious and getting as many facts as possible on the table. Good things come to those who wait and ask God’s discernment in the selection of leaders. I, and many others, have learned the hard way. It is much easier to refrain from placing a person in leadership than to admit a mistake and have to remove them later.
Unity results in synergy
Unity, especially among leaders, gives impetus to revival. It results in a Holy Spirit induced synergy. The Macquarie Dictionary defines synergism as ‘the joint action of two substances… which increase each other’s effectiveness when taken together.’ While synergism is most commonly thought of in the context of chemistry or metallurgy, it also applies to the church. When two churches and their leaders pray together, relationships bond, cooperation results and the net impact is greater than their previous effect as two separate entities.
The chances of revival taking place within a church, area, or city increase when there is unity within the leadership. John Wimber has noted that one of the signs of impending revival would be a call to unity. This call to unity is not an exercise of theological compromise or ecclesiastical carpentry but comes as the Body of Christ is touched by repentance, healing, and holiness.
Pat Robertson, in his book The Secret Kingdom, writes of eight principles arising from the teachings of Jesus which govern all of life. He calls these eight principles ‘the laws of the kingdom’. One of these principles, which Robertson calls ‘the law of unity’, presents both a challenge and promise to Christian leaders in Australia.
Essentially, the law of unity states that within the Trinity there has always been agreement and harmony. Consequently, unity and harmony in Christ’s Body are crucial to the unleashing of God’s incredible power among us. Great creativity and power for accomplishing God’s purposes are released where there is harmony.
A practical outworking of the law of unity is seen in Matthew 18:1920 where Jesus said, ‘Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.’
Here our Lord calls for agreement based on unity. Since Jesus was among them when they gathered to consider an issue, Jesus’ disciples would be expected to agree with him. As the central focus and inspiration of their fellowship, Jesus would bring his disciples to harmony if they genuinely laid aside their own preconceptions and centred on him.
The biblical accounts of life in the New Testament church further illustrate the power of unity. As the believers continued to seek the Lord together in prayer (Acts 1:14) the Holy Spirit added to their number and confirmed the gospel with signs and wonders (Acts 5:1216).
Early in 1990 I became aware of the existence of Christian networks of encouragement in Australia, England, the United States, and South Africa. These networks focus on unity through prayer and building relationships among leaders. I had the privilege of visiting networks in South Africa and in the U.S.A.
While the setting and composition of each network varied greatly, they had five traits in common:
1. They were built on relationships between church leaders.
2. Those involved had been renewed by the work of the Holy Spirit and believed the Spirit was raising up a strong church to take the land.
3. Those involved came from a wide variety of church backgrounds.
4. All shared a Bodywide vision, putting aside competition and empire building in favour of building up and encouraging the wider Body of Christ.
5. They showed evidence of the spirit of Joshua and Caleb, having the courage to dream and plan great exploits for God.
Inspired by what I saw, I returned to Perth and began to pray about God’s plan for networks of encouragement in Australia. Aware of similar moves under way in the eastern states initiated by the Rev Dan Armstrong and Kairos Ministries, I felt a need to bring leaders together across Western Australia. After inviting some colleagues (many of whom had worked together in organizing Vineyard Conferences) to join in prayer, the Christian Ministries Network WA was formed in 1990.
Recently I have observed a marked increase in the number of interdenominational prayer meetings and in fellowship activities aimed at building relationships between evangelical and charismatic leaders in Western Australia. Politicians, judges and heads of some Bible Colleges are among those beginning to come together for prayer and fellowship. There appears to be a warming of the spiritual atmosphere over the state, similar to the Greenhouse effect.
As the impetus towards unity increases and relationships are built, I am noticing a decrease in competitiveness. Leaders desire increasing cooperation. Pastors talk about such subjects as discovering God’s plan for taking our cities, networking with the wider Body of Christ, establishing the church of the city, and discovering and sharing each congregation’s redemptive gift. I have concluded that unity is bringing a synergy to the Body of Christ in Western Australia.
For further reading on developing strategies for bringing revival to our communities I recommend two excellent books, Taking our Cities for God by John Dawson (Creation House, 1989) and The House of the Lord (Creation House, 1991).
Revival foundations: Jesus and obedience
I believe that one of the reasons why God withholds revival is that he knows our nets are insufficiently strong or mature to contain the catch. Historically, revivals have lasted for about a generation for this reason. Eventually the nets broke down. In the coming revival I believe God wants us to pay attention to the foundation on which we build our nets.
In 1 Corinthians 3:11, the Apostle Paul reminds us that ‘no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ.’
We do well to remember this. Many Christians and congregations are unsure of the implications of Jesus as the foundation. We have inadvertently confused Jesus with our doctrines, liturgies, denominational trappings, and social activism. These are forms or expressions of faith and may be valid, but they are not the one and only foundation: Jesus Christ himself.
Many Christians have built their identities and loyalties on the other building materials Paul alludes to in subsequent verses, not on a personal relationship with and loyalty to Jesus. These alternative building materials may look and feel substantial. In the final analysis, however, they do not stand the test.
What does it mean to build on the foundation of Jesus? It means being cemented into him. It involves being more Christlike as his disciples and obeying all he commands (Matthew 28:1820). To build on the foundation of Jesus is to build a church which is nourished in the love of Jesus and gives love in response (1 John 4:19). This kind of church will take the land.
John Dawson emphasizes that, ‘It is not primarily out of compassion for humanity that we share our faith or pray for the lost; it is, first of all, love for God’ (Taking our Cities for God, page 209). Love is the greatest power the world has ever known. As more of God’s love and light flood the world, darkness will be overcome.
This leads us to the vital question: What brings revival to a land? Revival is essentially a ‘soft spot’ in the heart of God, an act of God’s grace and mercy. God sovereignly determines when and where revival will happen. Yet within the scope of God’s sovereignty we can make a response. We see it in God’s word to Solomon in 2 Chronicles 7:14,
If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
Perhaps the first act of humility required of us is to ask ourselves: What is our goal in evangelism? Are we seeking to make people ‘churched’ as members of a particular denomination with a loyalty to our ethos and traditions? Or are we making disciples of Jesus? Will the fish we catch be appropriately ‘cleaned,’ that is discipled to become like Jesus and serve him? How do we help new disciples go back into the harvest field to bring others into his glorious light?
In Ezekiel 34:4 we find the tasks of God’s shepherds. They strengthen the weak, heal the sick, bind up the injured, bring back the strays, and search for the lost. When I consider each of these five traits I find there the sum total of what God appears to be training his church to engage in. Here is the culmination of what I understand to be power evangelism, personal evangelism, and making disciples who carry on the ministry of Jesus Christ.
Only Jesus Christ has the authority to draw everyone to himself. Only at his name will every knee bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Only as the sheep hear the Good Shepherd’s voice and sense his touch as ministered through his obedient servants will they be drawn to him in revival.
There are, no doubt, many issues crucial to effective leadership in renewal. These three, however, are foundational to fostering revival. We must be more cautious in the selection of leaders. Our unity, especially in leadership, will result in a Holy Spirit induced synergism which sparks revival in the land. The church must stay true to the right foundation of Jesus and obey him.
(c) Renewal Journal 2: Church Growth (1993, 2011), pages 43-51.
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6 October is remembered as the day when William Tyndale was martyred. For most of us, Bibles are easily accessible, and many of us have several. Having the Bible in English owes much to William Tyndale, sometimes called the Father of the English Bible.
90% of the King James Version of the Bible and 75% of the Revised Standard Version are from the translation of the Bible into English made by William Tyndale, yet Tyndale himself was burned at the stake on October 6, 1536.
Back in the fourteenth century, John Wycliffe was the first to make (or at least oversee) an English translation of the Bible, but that was before the invention of the printing press and all copies had to be handwritten. Besides, the church had banned the unauthorized translation of the Bible into English in 1408. Over one hundred years later, however, William Tyndale had a burning desire to make the Bible available to even the common people in England.
After studying at Oxford and Cambridge, he joined the household of Sir John Walsh at little Sudbury Manor as tutor to the Walsh children. Walsh was a generous lord of the manor and often entertained the local clergy at his table. Tyndale often added spice to the table conversation as he was confronted with the Biblical ignorance of the priests. At one point Tyndale told a priest, “If God spare my life, ere many years pass, I will cause a boy that driveth the plough to know more of the Scriptures than thou dost.”
It was a nice dream, but how was Tyndale to accomplish this when translating the Bible into English was illegal? He went to London to ask Bishop Tunstall if he could be authorized to make an English translation of the Bible, but the bishop would not grant his approval. However, Tyndale would not let the disapproval of men stop him from carrying out what seemed so obviously God’s will. With encouragement and support of some British merchants, he decided to go to Europe to complete his translation, then have it printed and smuggled back into England.
In 1524 Tyndale sailed for Germany. In Hamburg he worked on the New Testament, and in Cologne he found a printer who would print the work. However, news of Tyndale’s activity came to an opponent of the Reformation who had the press raided. Tyndale himself managed to escape with the pages already printed and made his way to the German city of Worms [famous for Luther’s stand at the Diet of Worms] where the New Testament was soon published. Six thousand copies were printed and smuggled into England.
The bishops did everything they could to eradicate the Bibles — Bishop Tunstall had copies ceremoniously burned at St. Paul’s; the archbishop of Canterbury bought up copies to destroy them. Tyndale used the money to print improved editions! King Henry VIII, then in the throes of his divorce with Queen Katherine, offered Tyndale a safe passage to England to serve as his writer and scholar. Tyndale refused, saying he would not return until the Bible could be legally translated into English.
Tyndale continued hiding among the merchants in Antwerp and began translating the Old Testament while the King’s agents searched all over England and Europe for him. Tyndale was finally found and betrayed by an Englishman. After a year and a half in prison, he was brought to trial for heresy — for believing, among other things, in the forgiveness of sins and that the mercy offered in the gospel was enough for salvation. In August 1536, he was condemned; on October 6, 1536 he was strangled and his body burned at the stake. His last prayer was “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes.”
The prayer was answered in part when three years later, in 1539, Henry VIII required every parish church in England to make a copy of the English Bible available to its parishioners.
Adapted from an earlier Christian History Institute story.
Bowie, Walter Russell. Men of Fire. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1961.
Daniell, David. William Tyndale, a biography. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1994.
Dictionary of National Biography. Edited by Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee. London: OxfordUniversity Press, 1921 – 1996.
Kunitz, Stanley L. British Authors Before 1800; a biographical dictionary. New York: H. W. Wilson, 1952.
Mozley, J. F. William Tyndale. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge; New York: The Macmillan company, 1937.
Sampson, George. Concise Cambridge History of English Literature. Cambridge, 1961.
“Tyndale or Tindale, William.” The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Edited by F. L. Cross and E. A. Livingstone. Oxford, 1997.
Wild, Laura Huld. The Romance of the English Bible; a history of the translation of the Bible into English from Wyclif to the present day. GardenCity, New York: Doubleday, Doran, 1929.
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1 Revival, 2 Church Growth,
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In the Spirit We’re Equal by Susan Hyatt,
Firestorm of the Lord by Stuart Piggin,
Early Evangelical Revivals in Australia by Robert Evans
The great Christian revolutions come not by the discovery of something that was not known before. They happen when somebody takes radically something that was always there –
H. Richard Neibuhr
Challenges facing the church, its leadership and each of us, have always been there – in Scripture, in Jesus’ call and commands, and in the Spirit’s persistent regenerating and renewing of people and communities.
One of the great challenges facing Christians is how we understand and exercise leadership. We all lead. It may be in the home, with our children or youth, in the community, and in the church. Leadership in the church is not just from the platform or pulpit. We’re all involved, and can all take initiatives such as contacting people by phone, over coffee, in home groups or in a huge range of activities such as taking food to the sick or bereaved.
Jesus demonstrated and insisted on servant leadership. To lead is to serve. We lead by serving. Kingdom leadership is fundamentally different from leadership in society. Jesus emphasised this when James and John wanted recognition or prominence (Mark 10:35-45). How do we demonstrate kingdom leadership here and now?
The timely, significant articles in this issue of the Renewal Journal explore some of these challenges in contemporary ministry facing us in the church. The articles were presented and discussed as papers in 2001 at the first annual Contemporary Ministry Issues Conference hosted by the School of Ministries of Christian Heritage College at Citipointe International Christian Outreach Centre, Mansfield, Brisbane.
This conference demonstrated many responses to current challenges. Keen to interact, teachers, students and visitors packed the seminar lounge at Rivers Café, an integral part of Citipointe Christian Outreach Centre at Mansfield. All the conference speakers are involved in leadership and ministry, not stuck in libraries. Most of them are so ministry and people-focused that their research is constantly tested in the lively interface of practice and theory.
Irene Brown examines the transforming power of the kingdom within: the kingdom of God is within you. We can be liberated from the prevailing bondage to Christian law, and made free to really love and serve one another. Jesus insisted on that as the true mark of his followers: “By this shall everyone know that you are my disciples, if you have love for another.” Irene emphasizes that approach in her Christian counselling courses.
Jeannie Mok challenges churches in multi-cultural Australia to embrace our changing context with courage and sensitivity. Our ethnocentric pride or prejudice can increase barriers between people when the churches should lead the way as radical bridge-building communities of compassion and equality. Jeannie co-pastors the multi-ethnic International City Church in Brisbane and is principal of the Asian Pacific Institute which offers a range of multicultural courses. These include the pioneering Pentecostal external studies from Manchester University in England to masters level.
Sue Fairley tackles some sacred cows enshrined in our church traditions. The place of women in ministry and leadership raises temperatures all over the world. Tradition easily suppresses fresh movements of the Spirit who calls and liberates women as well as men to be leaders, missionaries, pioneers, and equal partners in ministry. Many traditions need to be challenged, and Sue does so in her ministry as Principal of Trinity Theological College in the Uniting Church in Queensland. Her article may surprise you!
Susan Hyatt reports on a significant international conference on women and religions. She emphasizes a return to a biblical pattern of equality in ministry and service in her writings and speaking, including ministry with her husband in seminars and publications. Susan’s report provides further insights into the place of women in Pentecostal and charismatic ministry in addition to those quoted by Sue Fairley in her article.
Mark Setch, senior pastor of a progressive Uniting Church in Brisbane, applies his doctoral research on leadership to ministry. He takes seriously Jesus’ command to make disciples – not just make church members, pew sitters, or meeting attenders. Mark is also pro-active in united prayer and ministry among pastors and churches in the Redcliffe area of Brisbane where some leaders pray together regularly, some churches now gather for combined services, and some pastors exchange pulpits.
Sam Hey has been researching and teaching about biblical renewal and revival movements which confront the secularising pressures on all Christian institutions. He applauds Harvey Cox’s conversion from The Secular City thinking of the sixties to the Fire from Heaven thinking of the nineties! A longer version of Sam’s article is available in the Contemporary Ministry Issues Conference Papers, 2001 ($20 including postage). There he gives a slice of his current Ph.D. research with 80 footnotes. Here we reduced that paper considerably, with only 30 footnotes!
Global Reports continue to highlight current developments in revival worldwide and the Book Reviews cover three author-published books which all contain detailed discussions of their renewal and revival themes.
This issue of the Renewal Journal provides inspiring, informative articles which we pray will help you understand and embrace what the Spirit is saying to the contemporary church.
© Renewal Journal #18: Servant Leadership (2001, 2012) renewaljournal.com
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From the Foreword by Rev Prof Dr James Haire
In this very helpful and timely book, the Rev Dr Geoff Waugh takes up the implications of these issues and applies them to ministry within and beyond the church, the Body of Christ. As the framework above indicates, Dr Waugh’s analysis, evaluation and application of the theology of the living Body of Christ inevitably is no less than truly revolutionary, as is his analysis, evaluation and application of the theology of the living Spirit’s work.
Dr Waugh has had a long and distinguished mission career, especially in education, in addressing the central Christian issues outlined above. It has been my honour and my privilege to have served alongside him for eight years (1987–1994) in Trinity Theological College, in the Brisbane College of Theology, and in the School of Theology of Griffith University, in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. He has been a dear and valued friend, and especially one who day-by-day in his life has lived out what he taught. Moreover, he has had vast experience in his long teaching ministry, not only in Australia, but throughout the South Pacific, Asia, and in Africa.
His work is thus very important reading indeed for us all.
From the Preface to Part 1: Body Ministry,
by Rev Dr Col Warren
by Rev. Dr Colin Warren, Former Principal of Alcorn College, Senior Pastor of Rangeville Uniting Church before retirement and founder of Freedom Life Centre, Toowoomba.
In this brief Preface, I acknowledge that Geoff has had a very big impact on my life, both by the witness of his own life and by the quality of his teaching. I pray that you and your church will be greatly blessed as you read and put into practice these basic biblical principles to reach and bless the people who are searching for the living Christ but often do not know what it is they are searching for.
Geoff and I have worked with students and on mission enterprises together over many years. His writing has come from years of practical experience and a vast amount of prayerful study. He has pioneered a work the results of which only eternity will reveal. He has never sought recognition for his tireless and faithful service in honouring the Lord, in continuing to teach and to live in the power of the Holy Spirit. He writes out of varied experiences.
He was the inaugural Principal of the Baptist Bible College in Papua New Guinea (1965-1970). He has taught at Alcorn College and Trinity Theological College (1977-1994) and at Christian Heritage College School of Ministries (from 1995). He is the author of many books, mostly in Christian Education with the Uniting Church, but also on Renewal and Revival.
In this important work, Geoff explores the ministry of the whole body of Christ when Holy Spirit gifts are recognized and are encouraged to be exercised. Then the artificial division between clergy and laity or pastor and non-pastor is removed. At the same time, there is the recognition of Holy Spirit endowed leadership gifting such as that between Paul and Timothy. This means that Kingdom authority is expressed through Divine headship. His emphasis on body ministry thus becomes a reality.
Geoff illustrates this clearly with his Case study Number 2 on page 34. There the church no longer consists of passive pew sitters but participants in fulfilling the command of Jesus, empowered by the Holy Spirit to preach repentance, heal the sick and cast out demon spirits, having the certain knowledge that He is with them as He promised: “to the end of the age”.
Geoff points out that if the church is to live and grow in today’s world, it must recognize the need to emphasize relationships and adapt to change. This change will include such simple things as the way men and women both old and young dress, and allow others the freedom to dress differently as they attend places of worship in a non-judgmental atmosphere.
There is, too, the need to realize the reality that many are affected by a global sense of fear of nuclear destruction and of accelerated and constant change and uncertainty. The church can provide an atmosphere of security through rediscovering the unchanging gospel in a changing world.
Denominations that once were able to be exclusive and hold their numbers in rigid theological disciplines, have been invaded via cassettes, CD’s, DVD’s, and the internet that have widened the thinking horizons of their often theologically bound members, resulting in communication at spiritual levels not possible previously.
Geoff points out that if we are going to fulfil the Great Commission, we must first live the life of Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is only then that we can do the work of fulfilling Christ’s command to go.
I commend Body Ministry for you to read. All Christians will benefit greatly from reading this insightful book.
From the Preface to Part 2: Ministry Education,
by Rev Dr Lewis Born
By Rev Dr Lewis Born, former Moderator of the Queensland Synod of the Uniting Church in Australia and Director of the Department of Christian Education.
Body Ministry and Open Ministry Education come at the right time for adult education, gospel communication, and the growth of the church.
Open Education promises to become the most commonly used adult educational methodology of the new millennium. The demand is likely to increase. This indicates that the work of Geoff Waugh is a significant contribution to the current educational enterprise. It is particularly valuable to Christian Educators. The author’s orientation is theological and his target audience is the faith community, its nurture, growth and outreach.
To this point in time the educative process has been inhibited by dependence on structured courses, the classroom and qualified teachers. Accelerated technology, as Mr Waugh observes, has made modern resources commonly available to individuals, churches and schools in every village community. By this medium Open Education for the first time in history is able to offer high quality education from the world’s best teachers to people in their own lounge, church or local group meeting place.
All this coinciding with the renewal movement has stimulated interest in theological learning to an unprecedented degree in the history of Christendom. The incredible numerical religious revival in the illiterate Asian and Latin church has been stimulated and served by modern technology.
This gives Open Ministry Education and therefore Mr Waugh’s work a global relevance, which he has applied in the Australian context.
As a fellow Australian I am appreciative. My appreciation is greatly enhanced by a deep respect and affection for the author. He is a competent teacher, an excellent communicator, an informed, disciplined renewalist and an experienced extension educator.
All these qualities combine to commend the author and his work.
Author Geoff Waugh has been generous by providing several books encompassing body ministry. Each has a different flavor but all draw you closer to the concept of what today’s ministry needs to entail. Whether in church or in home groups all must center, he states, on relationships and using the varying gifts of the body to build up God’s kingdom. Just like Jesus taught on kingdom living we too need to break out of comfortable tradition, dissolve the gap between clergy and laity, and not conform to the world but be an agent of transformation to the world.
Servant leaders, Waugh believes, are called and anointed to equip others for ministry. It is not about position, hierarchy, or authority but a question of function and service. As the order of service is dictated by the Spirit’s outpouring, there are new songs in worship that can emerge as well as inspirational insights to edify the body.
The contrast given between traditional leading and 21 st century servant leadership is very informative. It allows pastors and leaders to evaluate the way things are done and help them lead in supportive ways.
The media and educational access via technology have allowed information at our fingertips and Waugh shares how the purpose of education has changed and what adult learners most appreciate today. This resource will be of benefit to all ministry leaders and teachers. I recommend it for positive change and for allowing the Holy Spirit, the Great Teacher, to have full reign.
Part 1: Body Ministry
I. Body Ministry with II. Body Organization
1. Kingdom Authority with 6. Divine Headship
2. Obedient Mission with 7. Body Membership
3. Mutual Ministry with 8. Servant Leadership
4. Spiritual Gifts with 9. Body Life
5. Body Evangelism with 10. Expanding Networks
Part 2: Ministry Education
11. Open Education: From narrow to wide
12. Unlimited Education: From centralized to de-centralized
13. Continuing Education: From classrooms to life
14. Adult Education: From pedagogy to self-directed learning
15. Mutual Education: From competition to co-operation
16. Theological Education: From closed to open
17. Contextual Education: From general to specific
18. Ministry Education: From pre-service to in-service
Foreword: Prof Dr James Haire
Prologue: Change Changed
Part 1: Body Ministry
Preface to Part 1, Body Ministry: Rev Dr Colin Warren
Section I. Body Ministry: From few to many
Chapter 1. Kingdom Authority: From meetings to ministry
1. Church and Kingdom
2. Signs of the Kingdom
Chapter 2. Obedient Mission: From making decisions to making disciples
Chapter 3. Mutual Ministry: From spectators to participants
Chapter 4. Spiritual Gifts: From limited to unlimited
Chapter 5. Body Evangelism: From programs to growing churches
1. Program Evangelism
2. Power Evangelism
Section II. Body Organization: From some to all
Chapter 6. Divine Headship: From figurehead to functional head
1. The Written Word
2. The Living Word
Chapter 7. Body Membership: From firm to flexible structures
1. The Organism
2. The Organization
Chapter 8. Servant Leadership: From management to equipping
2. Equipping for ministry
Chapter 9. Body Life: From passive to active
1. Concern for People
2. Concern for Task
Chapter 10. Expanding Networks: From maintenance to mission
1. Congregational Structures
2. Mission Structures
Case Study: China miracle
Part 2: Ministry Education
Preface to Part 2, Ministry Education: Rev Dr Lewis Born
Introduction: Ministry Education in the Body of Christ:
From traditional to open ministry education
Chapter 11. Open Education: From narrow to wide
1. Open Ministry Education
2. Distance Education
Chapter 12. Unlimited Education: From centralized to decentralized
2. Problems and Solutions
Chapter 13. Continuing Education: From classrooms to life
1. Increasing Change
2. Increasing Choice
Chapter 14. Adult Education: From pedagogy to self-directed learning
1. Aims and objectives
Chapter 16. Theological Education: From closed to open
Bases for Change in Theological Education
Chapter 17. Contextual Education: From general to specific
1. Theology in Context
2. Ministry in Context
Chapter 18. Ministry Education: From pre-service to in-service
1. Body Ministry
2. Servant Leadership
Epilogue: The Unchanging Christ
Body Ministry is compiled, updated and expanded from these two books:
This educational book is reproduced and expanded from chapter 5 of The Body of Christ, Part 2: Ministry Education and chapter 15 of Body Ministry: The Body of Christ Alive in His Spirit.
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Reflections from England
Rev. Sandy Millar and Mrs Eleanor Mumford of London comment on current refreshing from the Lord being experienced in England.
Reminiscent of Revivals
Rev. Sandy Millar (Now Bishop), then Vicar of the prestigious inner-city Anglican church, Holy Trinity Brompton, comments on renewal and refreshing which commenced in May 1994 in their church.
The manifestations themselves are not as
significant as the working of the Spirit of God
in the individual and the church
This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel! (Acts 2:16) Or, as the old version puts it: ‘This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel.’
This … is … that!
The immediate responses to the pouring out of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost included amazement and amusement. Some, Luke tells us, made fun of them and said, ‘They’ve had too much wine’ (v. 13). Why would anyone who wanted to be taken seriously suggest they’d drunk too much? Presumably because they looked drunk, sounded drunk and generally behaved as though they were drunk!
It is interesting that St Paul too in his letter to the Christians at Ephesus links and contrasts the effects on the body of alcohol (‘Do not get drunk with wine which leads to debauchery…’) with the effects of being immersed with the Spirit of God (‘… but be filled with the Spirit’) which leads to ‘speaking to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Ephesians 5:18-20).
Paul wasn’t at Pentecost but many times he’d seen people genuinely filled with the Spirit. Indeed he seems to have been able to tell pretty quickly whether disciples were or were not filled with the Spirit!
He may have been thinking of his visit to Ephesus described in Acts 19 when he asked what we would think of as a rather direct question: ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ To which he got back an equally direct and honest answer, ‘No we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit. And, as we all know, ‘on hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus and, when Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied’. Luke adds that there were about twelve men in all.
Since about Tuesday of two weeks ago, we have begun to see an astonishing outpouring of the Spirit of God upon our own church and congregation. It seems to be a spontaneous work of the Holy Spirit and there are certainly some very surprising manifestations of the Spirit very excitingly reminiscent of accounts of early revivals and movements of God’s Spirit.
Some of the manifestations include prolonged laughter, totally unselfconscious for the most part, and an inexpressible and glorious joy (1 Peter 1:8). For some it is prolonged weeping and crying with a sense of conviction and desire for forgiveness, purity and peace with God. For others it seems to be a silent reception of the Spirit of God sometimes leading to falling down and sometimes standing up, sometimes kneeling, sometimes sitting.
There are great varieties of the manifestations of the Spirit. They are breaking out both during services and outside them in homes and offices. At times they are easy to explain and handle, and other times they are much harder and more complicated!
We had been hearing for several days of the movement of God’s Spirit in the Vineyard Church in Toronto, Canada, and a number of people have come to us from there telling us about what was going on and of what they thought it all meant.
For that reason Jeremy Jennings and I decided to go to Toronto at the beginning of this month just for two and a half days to see what we could learn and what conclusions, if any, at this stage it was possible to draw. The manifestations are quite extraordinary and would undoubtedly be alarming if we hadn’t read about them previously in history.
That’s really why I started where I started in this article. You don’t get accused of being drunk just because you speak in tongues. And many of the manifestations of this modern movement of the Spirit of God carry with them many of the symptoms of drunkenness. Laughter, swaying about, slurred speech, movements which are difficult to control … all sometimes continuing for long periods of time.
The manifestations themselves of course are not as significant as the working of the Spirit of God in the individual and the church. The manifestations are the symptom and therefore of course it is to the fruit that we look rather than the signs.
Times of refreshing
The church in Toronto first experienced these symptoms on January 20th (1994) and since then they have been ministering to an increasing number of outside people: ministers and church members from all over America, Canada, now Europe and even further afield.
Meetings go on night after night (every night except Monday) and include a pastors’ meeting on a Wednesday from 12 to roughly half-past three in the afternoon. Their understanding is that God seems to be pouring out his Spirit, refreshing his people and drawing them closer to himself, revealing his love to them and a deep sense of preciousness in away that kindles their own sense of the love of God, their love for Scripture, and their desire to be involved in the activities of the Spirit of God today.
So this is primarily a movement toward God’s people. Naturally we expect it to flow out and over into a movement that will affect the rest of the world but for the moment it’s God’s deep desire to minister to his church – to refresh, empower, and prepare them fora wider work of his Spirit that will affect the world to which the church is sent.
Charles Finney (1792-1875) – one of history’s greatest evangelists – records his experience of the Holy Spirit immediately following his conversion:
The Holy Spirit descended upon me in a manner that seemed to go through me body and soul. I could feel the impression like a wave of electricity, going through and through me. Indeed it seemed to come in waves and waves of liquid love… And no words can express the wonderful love that was shed abroad in my heart. I wept aloud with joy and love; and I do not know but I should say, I literally bellowed out the unutterable gushings of my heart. These waves came over me, and over me, and over me, one after another until I recollect I cried out ‘I shall die if these effects continue to pass over me’.
During the ministry of Jonathan Edwards in the 1735 revival in New Hampshire, he described some of the effects of the spontaneous work of the Spirit of God. ‘The town seemed to be full of the presence of God,’ he wrote. ‘It was never so full of love, nor of joy, and yet so full of distress, as it was then.’
He describes something which happened during one of his sermons in New Jersey on March 1st 1746: ‘Toward the close of my talk, divine truths made considerable impressions upon the audience, and produced tears and sobs in some under concern and more especially a sweet and humble melting in sundry that, I have reason to hope, were truly gracious.’
During the Cambusland revival in Scotland in 1742, Doctor Alexander Webster described some of the effects of the preaching there: ‘There were two kinds – the outcrying and trembling among the unconverted and the ecstatic joy among believers… indeed such joy was more a part of this work than the sorrow over sin. It appears that many believers found themselves so moved by a sense of the Saviour’s love to them and, in turn, by their new love to him, as to be lifted almost into a state of rapture.’
I could go on and on – and probably you could add your own accounts that you’ve read about in history. There are more than one in the Acts of the Apostles.
I think it’s important that we should stay close to the Lord and be grateful for every sign of his grace upon us. Don’t let’s get too caught up with the symptoms of his Spirit, but more with him and his love for us.
Let’s encourage those who think they have experienced nothing (it may or may not be true) – and let’s above all continue to pray that through this outpouring of God’s Spirit he will build a church worthy of him: holy, equipped, and full of love and grace towards him and the outside world.
Meanwhile let’s pray that it may continue. And continue to pray for one another.
Mrs Eleanor Mumford , wife of the pastor of the South West London Vineyard church, comments on her visit to Toronto in this edited version of her message at Holy Trinity Brompton on Sunday morning 29 May 1994.
This whole move of the Lord
is all about Jesus
I have just been to a church in Toronto in Canada. I heard that there were things going on. I wanted to go and get into the middle. I went because I knew I was bankrupt and that I was longing. And I went with a spirit of tremendous expectancy.
So the first night I went forward and this delightful pastor said to me, ‘Do tell me who you are and what you’ve come for.’
I said, ‘I’ve come for all that you’ve got. I have two days and I’ve come from London.’
So he looked at me with a glint in his eye and then proceeded to pray for me on and off for the next two days.
At the same time there was a young Chinese pastor who arrived at Toronto from Vancouver where he was pastoring and he came fasting. The darling man looked as if he’s spent his whole life fasting and he was the most wonderful and godly man. As he arrived at the church the Lord spoke to him clearly and said, ‘You can forget about your fasting. This is a time for celebration.’
Indeed it was.
An ordinary little church
The Airport Vineyard church in Toronto is a funny little place. It’s just a very ordinary little church set in an office block on the end of the runway of the airport. Even that in itself, I thought, was gracious of the Lord because so many of us can get there so easily. It takes 10 minutes from the check-out to the church!
It was a very ordinary place. I was reminded when I went in there of how the people in the crowd said at Pentecost: ‘Are not these Galileans? Are these not just terribly ordinary people?’
I went in and I thought, ‘Well, God bless them, these are just ordinary people like me.’
It’s just to do with Jesus, and yet the attitude and the sense of expectancy was enormous. As the worship leader strummed his rather tuneless guitar, he stood up and said, ‘What have you come for?’
We all said, ‘We’ve come for the Lord. We’ve come for more of God.’
And he said, ‘Well, if you’ve come for God you’ll not be disappointed.’
From that moment on that was the truth.
There was just a beauty on those who were ministering there – the leaders and the pastors and the worship leaders – the sort of beauty that I guess the people saw in Acts when they looked at the disciples and they said, ‘These people have been with Jesus.’
These Canadians were just men and women who had spent 130 days in the company of Jesus who was pouring out his Spirit on them. They shone with faces like Stephen. It was beautiful to see.
I saw the power of God poured out in incredible measure and it was all accompanied by phenomena.
Jonathan Edwards, a great man of God during the eighteenth century who was part of the Great Awakening in America, wrote this in his journal of a similar outpouring of the Spirit of God at that time: ‘The apostolic times seem to have returned upon us, such a display has there been of the power and grace of the Spirit.’
He wrote of fear, sorrow, desire, love, joy, tears, and trembling, of ‘groans and cries, agonies of the body and the failing of bodily strength.’
So I thought, ‘Well, none of this is new. It may be unusual but none of it is new.’
Edwards also wrote, ‘We are all ready to own that no man can see God and live. If we see even a small part of the love and the glory of Christ, a foretaste of heaven, is it any wonder that our bodily strength is diminished.’
That is indeed what happened to many of us despite ourselves.
The truth is that this whole move of the Lord is all about Jesus. I was there for only 48 hours. I never heard anybody talk about the devil. I never heard anybody talk about spiritual warfare. I never heard a principality or a power mentioned. We were so preoccupied with the person of Jesus that there was really no time. There was no space for talk of the opposition because there was just a growing passion for the name of Jesus and for the beauty of his presence among his people.
So I went scurrying back to the Scriptures and scurrying back to church history and it’s all happened before. It’s all in the book and there’s nothing that I saw – however strange or unusual – that I haven’t since been able to read about in the Bible.
Jonathan Edwards’ wife had an intimate acquaintance with her carpet for 17 days during the time of the Great Awakening. For 17 days she was unable to make their meals or take care of the family or look after the visitors.
She said after 17 days that she had a delightful sense of the immediate presence of God – of ‘his nearness to me and of my dearness to him.’
I thought to myself when I came home, that’s what this is about. It’s about his nearness to me and my dearness to him.’ Wonderful, wonderful things are going on.
During the time I was there I saw all sorts of people coming and going. There were many very weary pastors who turned up with their even more weary wives, and they were so anointed by the Lord.
There was one very sensible middle-aged man who’d been in pastoral ministry for years and when he spoke to us after having been there for several days he was just behaving like an old drunk. It was funny. Once he stood up and talked about the intimacy that he’d gained with Jesus. Then the leading pastor said to him, ‘Well thank you, Wayne, for telling us about this. May we pray for you?’
He said, ‘I’d be glad for you to pray for me.’
They prayed for him and down he went and he rolled on the floor for the next two hours and no-one took any notice. He just continued to commune with his God.
I saw another young pastor who talked at the pastors’ seminar that I went to. He was a very all-together young man – quite serious minded and godly and thrilled with everything but very much in control and very anxious when he came and not at all sure of what he’d come to.
For a day or two he just watched and he just basked in the presence of the Lord. After a day or two he started to twitch and he was a little embarrassed. Then he started to shake and he was very embarrassed. Then after a while of shaking and laughing in the presence of the Lord he decided, ‘Who gives a rip? Who cares what people say?’
A verse in Psalms says, ‘gladness and joy shall overtake me.’ This young man had been overtaken by the gladness of the Lord. But he had a sense of responsibility and felt, ‘I’ve got to keep my church on the road.’
So he decided that the obvious thing to do was to go into the office and to type out the church bulletin, the news sheet.
‘Someone’s got to keep a grip round here,’ he said to himself.
So he went to type out the bulletin and as he got to announcing the seminar. The title of it was ‘Come Holy Spirit’.
He typed, ‘Come Holy Spirit’ and fell under the power of God.
There was another young man who was a youth worker who arrived and he was worn down with ministry. His wife had said to him, ‘Why don’t you go to Toronto?’ She thought he was getting far too straight and serious.
So he came to Toronto and arrived the night that I did. That night he fell on the ground and he laughed and laughed. I thought he would have died. The next day he spoke about what God had done for him and the refreshment that had come to his soul. Then they said to him, ‘Would you like us to pray for you again?’
He said, ‘I think so.’
So we prayed and down he went and just laughed his way through hour after hour of the pastors’ seminar.
And you think to yourself, ‘What is this?’
But this is just the refreshing of the Spirit of God. It talks in the book of Acts about times of refreshing from the Spirit of the Lord, and that’s what God is doing.
He’s pouring his Spirit out upon us. He’s sending his joy and he’s refreshing our spirits just because he loves us.
I’m not even sure that he’s equipping us. I’m not even sure it’s all about being better this, better that, better ministers. It think it’s just his love for us. It’s about his nearness to me and my dearness to him.
Joy and refreshing
I could tell you heaps of stories. There are stories about people who are ringing one another up and getting led to Christ over the phone.
There was a story about a young woman who’d lain on the floor and laughed for two hours. Then she got up and decided she was peckish and went off to a little fast food restaurant. She sat down. Opposite, she saw a whole family sitting at a table and, completely out of character, she went to them and said, ‘Would you like to be saved?’ And they all said yes! The whole family was led to Christ.
I went to the Dolphin school [a Christian school in Clapham] the other day and talked to them about what the Lord had been doing and I prayed for them. The Lord fell on those children aged five years old and they were laughing and weeping for the lost and crying out to the Lord. The teachers were affected and the parent were rolling around.
I thought, ‘God, this is a glorious thing you’re doing. This is fantastic.’
Jesus is breaking down the barriers of his church because he’s coming for a bride, and he wants his bride to be one.
We’ve been meeting with Baptist pastors this week. We’ve been meeting with New Frontiers pastors. We’ve been meeting with the Anglicans. And God is pouring his Spirit out on us all and it’s a glorious thing.
I was reminded of that verse in the Psalms (133:1,3), ‘How blessed it is when brothers dwell together in unity … for there the Lord commands the blessing.’
He doesn’t just invite it, or suggest it. He commands a blessing on us when we dwell together in unity – when we love one another and we love one another’s churches and we bless one another’s people.
So God is moving, not just on this funny little church at the end of the runway. He’s moving across the denominations. He’s moving across the land. He’s moving across London and England in a fantastic way. And he’s moving across the world.
Greater love for Jesus
What are the perceived results so far?
For myself, there is a greater love for Jesus than I’ve ever known, a grater excitement about the Kingdom than I ever thought possible, a greater sense that these are glorious, glorious days in which to be alive. I’m thrilled about the Scriptures and I’m going back to the Word and finding that it’s all been there from the very beginning.
I’m excited about church history. I have a heightened sense of what’s been going on up to this point.
I have an ever stronger sense of the whole church than ever before. The Lord said to them in Toronto right at the beginning, ‘This is not about the Vineyard; this is about the Kingdom.’ This is not about any one church. This is about the Kingdom, and about the Bride of Christ. Right across the church Jesus’ passion for his Bride is beginning to be understood.
I’ve also discovered that I’m desperate to give this away. I haven’t had this appetite for ministry for years. I mean, I’ve always been enthusiastic but I’ve not had this passion before. I’ve just found that there’s a greater recklessness in me than there’s ever been before because God is coming upon us, and the joy of the Lord is coming on the church and Jesus is restoring his joy. And his laughter is like medicine to the soul.
In our church the people are getting freed and the people are getting healed. We’ve got people who have gone down on the floor and got up healed. Nobody ever knew they were sick and they got better without us even naming the words.
The Lord is coming with mercy and kindness.
The prodigal son went to look for parties but he discovered that the best party was in his father’s house. Isn’t that the truth?
(c) HTB in Focus, 12 June 1994, the monthly paper of Holy Trinity Brompton Anglican Church in London. Renewal Journal #5 (1995:1), pp. 24-31.
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Bart Dornweerd wrote as a Dutch missionary with Youth With A Mission, working in Holland.
openness to the promptings of the Spirit
led to some powerful times of ministry
In the summer of 1985 I was leading a four week Youth With A Mission (YWAM) training school for some fifty students in Holland. I had quit my job as a civil engineer and joined YWAM in 1977. A friend, and former YWAMer, Paul Piller from the Philippines, contacted me and offered to speak for a few days when he visited Holland.
I consented, although I wasn’t thrilled about his subject: healing. I knew one had to watch out for people who only wanted to talk about healing, faith, miracles, and demons.
I trusted Paul, but you never know what can happen to someone who has spent five years in the U.S. Paul had brought some others along: young fellows in T-shirts, blue jeans, and sneakers. I wondered why they had come. Were they going to sing or perform a drama?
As Paul began speaking, I relaxed. No screaming, no emotionalism. After the lecture, he and the young fellows moved around the group praying without saying much. One word stood out: ‘more’.
‘More of you Lord!’ They seemed unperturbed as certain things I was unfamiliar with started happening. Someone started weeping, others collapsed on their chairs, someone else stood shaking. After three days the place was turned upside down. People were filled with joy, received healing, delivered from demons, released from grief. I had hundreds of questions! I had tasted the new wine and I wanted more.
Paul suggested I go to a conference in Sheffield, England, led by a man named John Wimber. Off we went, with a number of YWAMers. I was ready for anything. My ‘holy frustration’ had reached a point where I was willing to let God do whatever he wanted.
I had been warned to get ready for change. God had spoken to me through the story in the second chapter of John’s Gospel – the wedding in Cana – where Jesus performed his first miracle of changing water into wine. Interestingly, the servants at the wedding were allowed to participate, because they filled the jars and took the newly transformed wine to the leader of the feast. Somewhere between the jar and the lips of that man, the water changed into wine.
The application for me of that story is that God is looking for people who want to co-operate with him in bringing this about. I had run out of wine, and now I wanted to see the Lord bring out his best vintage. I wanted God to restore my joy, and fill me with the Holy Spirit.
The conference was life-changing, even though I didn’t have any spine-tingling personal experiences or visions of ecstasy. Nevertheless God gave me a deep inner peace and an affirmation that the teaching I heard, and the ministry I was observing was from his hand.
Giving the Holy Spirit room
My wife and I and others returned home with a clear sense of purpose. Like the servants at the wedding in Cana, our part was to obediently draw out the water and faithfully carry it to others. God would change it into wine.
During the following months, I discovered how exciting life becomes when we give more room to the Holy Spirit! I tried to cultivate a greater sensitivity to God’s voice. My goal was to listen better to what he was saying, and act upon that in faith.
As John Wimber likes to point out, another way to spell faith is R-I-S-K. This new openness to the promptings of the Spirit led to some powerful times of ministry. My emphasis during individual counselling changed to less talk and more prayer. We also learned that demons are for real, but we have been given authority to drive them out (Matthew 10:8).
Though this new realm of ministry was exhilarating, we needed people from outside to help, advise, and direct us further. We invited people like Barry Kissel from the Anglican church in Chorleywood, England. He imparted to us much in the way of ministry skills.
At a certain stage in this new development I sensed the Lord said: ‘It’s time for you to begin modelling the ministry, like I did.’ After much hesitation, I announced we were going to start a training class with worship, teaching, and practical application. For the first lecture I had John Wimber on video. I led the practicum. The Holy Spirit ministered in a lovely way to a great many of the sixty who showed up. Some received comfort; others were healed. We decided to have a whole Saturday every month with those ingredients: worship, teaching, and ministry.
By word of mouth alone the group grew to about 350 after eight months. The team working with me had grown to about 30 persons. After each training day we evaluated, prayed, and discussed. I had learned the importance of multiplication. Your team can’t be big enough!
Passage to India
For the first two years of our marriage, my wife Marianne and I had worked with YWAM in Nepal, a country located between China and India, astride the Himalaya Mountains. For some time we had felt God was leading us back to that part of the world. In early 1989 we left for India with our three children. We ended up living in Bombay for almost four years. From the start I knew I was to invest myself in people. I constantly asked myself, ‘How can I give away what God has given me?’
I itinerated as a teacher in the discipleship training schools (DTS) which YWAM runs in different parts of the country. The theme that developed in my teaching was: ‘How to minister like Jesus.’ The teaching was simple, with lots of examples of how we should pray. After the lecture phase of the DTS, the students would go out for three months of outreach, usually involving evangelism and church planting. They came back with some amazing stories. For example:
The students were sent … to five different villages. At the end of two months they had established three fellowships in three different villages. Half the village where they stayed is ready to follow Jesus as Lord. Within the next three weeks 68 believers will be baptised. Despite all religious strongholds, barriers, Hindu militants and oppositions, God showed his mighty power through healings, and signs and wonders. Some people saw visions of Jesus hanging on the cross and showing them how much he loves them.
In that area the crops suffered from a disease. The farmers came and asked the team to pray to Jesus. The very next morning the people went to the field and discovered the disease had been totally wiped out. They came with great joy to confess their belief in Jesus since he had heard their prayers.
Once, while I was leading a small seminar, a local pastor named Garry walked in while I was praying for someone in front of the class. He left thinking, ‘I can do that.’
The first person he prayed for when he got home was his Hindu brother-in-law. For many years severe back pain had cost him many sleepless nights. The next day the brother-in-law returned, declaring the Lord Jesus had healed his back. He had slept through the night without waking up once.
Garry, who later became a good friend, had been having discussions with a strong Muslim about the Bible and the Koran. The argument always stopped where one would say ‘The Bible is the word of God’ and the other ‘The Koran is the word of God’. This time Garry took a different approach.
‘Can I pray for you?’ he asked, when he met the man again. Because Indians are among the most religious people on earth, this man, like almost everyone in India, was glad to receive prayer. As Garry put his hand on the man’s head and started praying the Muslim fell down and stayed on the floor for quite a while. Garry was puzzled! What next?
When the man got back on his feet, he shared what happened. While he was lying on the floor, he clearly heard a voice saying, ‘The Bible is the word of God!’ He went home with a Bible in his pocket.
Garry was on a roll. Wherever he went he prayed for people: in church, in the home groups, and especially in the streets while evangelising. In the time we worked together, several churches took root in the slums. People came mainly because they saw Jesus was more powerful than their own gods. Now Garry is going around equipping others to ‘minister like Jesus’.
‘Will this work?’
More and more I began to see the power of multiplication: invest yourself in a few people next to you and then let them go and do the same thing to others. You may never know the result until heaven, but it could be more powerful than the biggest healing crusade!
After a three week course, 25 YWAMers went back to their bases in different parts of the country. God had meet with us in special ways during those weeks, as we met together or as we went out to visit people and pray for them.
As two brothers went back to Varanasi, the holy city of the Hindus, they wondered, ‘Will this work back home?’ The first time they went into a Hindu village after their return, they started to worship Jesus. They intended to start a church there. Immediately the Holy Spirit started to come on people; demons manifested and were driven out. People saw the power of God and wanted to know more, providing an excellent opening to preach the Word of God.
While walking along the bank of the Ganges River, one of the brothers began talking to a Hindu priest. After a while, the Brahman complained about his headaches. Again, being highly religious, he was willing to receive prayer, even if it was offered in the name of Jesus. Under the power of God he fell down and after he got back up, his headache was completely gone. He sure wanted to know more about this powerful God!
Respect for God
India is more a continent than a country, with almost 900 million people who speak 1,600 different languages. Patrick Johnstone, in Operation World, estimates evangelical Christians comprise one per cent of the population, but the number is growing. Two thousand people groups have not been reached with the gospel yet. India must be reached by the spiritually equipped Indian church, but for a while non-Indian partners can help train and support Indian workers.
In YWAM, we have mixed teams of Indians and foreigners who plant churches, evangelise, and minister to the poor in various ways. Hindus and Muslims have great respect for God. The Hindus have millions of gods. Most Indians, especially the poor, are open to spiritual reality, and exercise great faith, upon hearing about a loving God who sent his Son to this world. In evangelism, miracles happen quickly and open many doors to preach the gospel.
I first experienced this in Bhopal, a city where some eight years ago a gas leak at the chemical plant killed at least 2,000 people. Today many still suffer the effects: eye problems, mouth sores and breathing difficulties. With a small team we visited the site where the calamity took place.
As some people gathered, one of us shared briefly who we were and our purpose for coming. One person was prayed for and got healed. More people came who wanted prayer. Some invited us to enter their huts to see those too sick to come out. We were busy for the next two hours to bless, comfort, and encourage. Many people received physical healing, saw visions of Jesus, were blessed with peace. We left many friends in this mainly Muslim community.
Of course, the nature of kingdom warfare is ‘attack – counter-attack’. The gospel does meet with opposition. Militant Hinduism is experiencing a revival. The north of India is hostile toward the gospel and to Western influence. To make one convert there is like making a hundred in the south.
An Indian friend of mine desired to work in Bihar, a state in the north, also known as ‘the graveyard of missionaries’. He had worked with me for sometime and learned more about how to minister in power evangelism. In Bihar, near the border of Nepal, he rented a home where he invited people. He shared with them, prayed for them and taught them how to pray for others. Many were blessed, healed, delivered, and came to salvation. A small church was established.
Across the border in Nepal, the spiritual atmosphere was different. Tremendous openings existed. Within a year almost a hundred people attended the newly started church! Approximately 50 churches have been planted in India by YWAM-trained workers through power evangelism.
More than eight years have passed since the visit of Paul Piller and since the conference with John Wimber in Sheffield. I have seen thousands of people who ran out of wine partake of ‘the best wine’ as I willingly brought them what I have: just plain water.
(c) Equipping the Saints, First Quarter 1994, pages 11-14. Used with permission.
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The Rev. Dr Colin Warren wrote as the Uniting Church minister at Rangeville, Toowoomba and Founding Director of Freedom Life Ministries. This article is adapted from his doctoral dissertation with Fuller Theological Seminary.
Main line churches in Australia reach mainly the middle class. We need to recognise there cannot be a dogmatic ordering of the church with respect to forms of worship, language used, and leadership style, if we are going to minister meaningfully to the poor, the rich, and all between. A homogeneous target population must be determined, and different methods of presentation used to meet the needs of each group.
Unity, not uniformity
The particular homogeneous group we are reaching consists mostly of well educated people. When people come from other social levels, they are welcomed warmly. A few remain; mostly they drop away. We despair for allowing this to happen, but I see it as axiomatic that this should occur, unless we analyse why it is happening and do something constructive to alter the situation.
It does not matter how much those from a different homogeneous group are welcomed, they will feel that they are square pegs in round holes. They have different types of conversation, different interests, speak differently, watch different TV programmes, and the children relate differently to their parents. To reach different homogeneous groups, we must develop a diversity of approaches, recognizing different needs in the areas of fellowship, preaching, and concentration span, and tailor our approach to meet the need.
It is quite reasonable for the leader of a highly educated or mentally alert group to lead from behind, using inductive methodology, but a group that does not have the same mental capacity will prefer to be with one who leads them more directly. Similarly, when counselling the first group, non-directive methods could be used more successfully than with the second group, who frequently would be helped more by a directive counsellor.
All of this indicates the need for diversity of approaches, and the need to recognize that to have unity in the church, we do not need uniformity.
Yet, denominations geared to a parish system often prohibit planting unique styles of churches if it infringes on another parish’s boundary. We need a radical change that permits forward looking parishes to exercise vision that allows for obedience to the commission that Christ gave to the church.
We are organizationally geared to a maintenance ministry, not a growth ministry. This means that our churches try to encompass different homogeneous groups within the one congregation and then feel despair when they cannot hold them.
Is there a way through this dilemma without causing division? I believe there is. It lies in the concept of the home church that was so successful in the apostolic days. Historical research indicates the probability, that as the Jewish synagogue was a gathering together of a group around the Torah, so originally there was a gathering of house churches around the synagogue, with persons to have oversight of these house churches.
In the New Testament, oikia and oikos are virtually used synonomously, and have the same range of meanings as in secular Greek, and the Septuagint. The most frequent use is in:
a. The literal sense of house (Matthew 2:11; Mark 7:30).
b. The metaphorical sense of family, household, or family of God (Matthew 13:57; John 4:53; 1 Corinthians 1:16; 2 Timothy 1:16).
In the primitive Christian community, the family of God concept can be seen as a strong possibility in the house churches that were established, where the family of God was seen to include slaves and other workers who belonged to a Christian household and formed the nucleus congregation of a house church, where the house was the meeting place (Acts 11:14, 15, 16, 31, 34; 18:8; 1 Corinthians 1:16).
It is important to recognize that it was a missionary situation, and the establishment of house churches was of great significance for the spread of the gospel. The early church took over the natural order of life of the community.
In a similar way, churches today in our secular society are in a missionary situation. The crucial thing is to spread the gospel. There has to be an organizational structure for the church, but that structure must be subservient to the spreading of the gospel. Pragmatic needs require that the church will always be living in the paradoxical situation where it is an anti-organizational organization. Its structures must not hinder people from being brought into the Kingdom of God.
Circumstances alter cases. The message of the church has not and will not change, but the way we package that message must change to meet the existential situation. In Australia, we seem to have reversed this process. We have changed the message to accommodate the beliefs of our society, and have considered to be suspect anyone who seeks to change the status quo with respect to the method of presentation.
Church Growth studies show that there are homogeneous people groups in any society. Churches have frequently disregarded this reality, which at first glance appears to run counter to the scriptural teaching that in Christ we are one (Galatians 3:28).
The homogeneous unit principle does not deny this, but recognizes that within this oneness, there is also diversity due to many factors which can inhibit close and lasting intimate relationships. A series of home churches can be commenced by a mother church which caters for specific groupings of people who always feel that they are on the fringe of the normal grouping for that particular location.
An example could be where evangelism wins young people who have been involved in the alternate life scene and have experienced the drug, occult, permissive sex culture. Parents of ‘straight’ young people have a natural and legitimate fear their sons and daughters may be attracted to the permissive culture before the old habit patterns of the alternate life style young people have been broken.
The relearning of behaviour patterns often involves a long education process. New Christians do not necessarily drop their former behaviour patterns immediately. In many cases, they are fourth generation pagans and have known no other behaviour in terms of role models. A home church can conveniently bring together such groups of people and begin the discipleship process to a Christ-like way of life.
Another example may be a group of business executives. These are often under enormous pressure in the work situation and these pressures can produce difficult dilemmas in terms of ethical decisions and can involve them in serious family problems when work pressures destroy familylife. They need to be able to talk to those who know and understand their needs. Because of the responsible position they hold that affects the lives of many people under them, total confidentiality must be maintained. They can only share their burdens with those who can be trusted. Often this can only be with those who carry similar burdens and who can adequately support them in these situations.
The home church can provide a setting for the fulfilment of this need. Many other groupings of people do not fit into the normal church in Australia and so do not attend worship, but frequently would like to do so. Their position on a resistance-receptivity scale would change, if given the right opportunities.
Paul spoke with greater relevance and meaning to the community of his day than we do to people from the counter culture, and other unreached groups. Paul as a social thinker has much to teach us about reaching those yet untouched by the church. He revealed much about the internal dynamics of his communities. They lived alongside the philosophical schools of his day and the mystery religion communities. There was nothing novel or unusual about the appearance of the Christian communities, as communities. Their novelty was their message and the radical freedom they offered.
Robert Banks (1979:65) identifies three major components in Paul’s idea of freedom:
1. Independence from law, death, and alien powers.
2. Dependence on Christ and the Spirit.
3. Interdependence with others and the world.
The purpose of that freedom was so that the Christian could live a life of righteousness, conforming to the way of Jesus, which was the way of the cross (Luke 14:25-27).
Paul led his converts into a personal relationship with one another. He showed that the gospel had a shared communal aspect to it so that to embrace the gospel, was to enter into community (Rowthorn 1986:9).
The converts gathered together in private homes and shared community (Romans 16:5). It is because Paul saw Christians as belonging to both a heavenly church and a local church that he saw them as being in a continuing personal relationship with one another which was far more important than an institutional relationship. These churches had their roots in the household unit and took some of its characteristics.
Paul emphasized their unity with Christ, and refers to the church as the body of Christ. For Paul, worship involved the whole of a person’s life, every word and action, and was inclusive of the whole of a person’s time on earth. The purpose of the church was for the edification of its members through ministry to one another.
If we in our day can catch this vision, the need for increasing the size of buildings with the coming of new converts would be minimized. We could have a central church, sending out suitable lay persons to win and disciple in their homes those who find it hard to fit into the church scene.
Paul saw the gifts of the Spirit as being for the community and they were set in a frame work of love (Ephesians 4:12, 1 Corinthians 12:7). The community of believers had at its centre the key of fellowship expressed in word and deed. For him, the focal point of reference was the relationship between the members of the body.
In our situation, this could best be accomplished in the informal, intimate relationship of a home. In Paul’s day, distinctions along national, social and sexual lines were becoming blurred. A broadening in the notion of citizenship was taking place. He thought more in terms of the things that unite people than the things that divide them.
Paul saw women functioning differently from men, but he saw them as full members of the Christian community. Although he placed some restrictions on them, he also accorded them prominence, particularly in the teaching and exhortation areas. He recognized functional diversity within the community.
Paul dissolved traditional distinctions between priests and laity. He emphasized corporate responsibility, at the same time allowing inequality in the Christian community within unity. His communities were theocratic in structure. Because of the different gifting of each person, each was able to participate with authority in its activities.
The churches recognised a diverse distribution of gifts, but no hierarchical or formal structure. There was leadership, but there was also the freedom under that leadership to exercise the Spirit’s gifts. The body as a whole determined whether behaviour was in order (1 Corinthians 4:29) within the fellowship of worship. Paul’s communities were participatory societies, where authority was distributed throughout the whole group.
Rather than set himself over these Christian communities, Paul stood with them in all that he did. His authority was God’s gift to him, given in his Damascus road experience. It was an intrinsic authority from the Holy Spirit, evident to all. It did not need to be legislated.
This is the authority that I believe God the Holy Spirit will invest in the people who will lead home churches. They will be chosen in the same way that Paul and Barnabas were chosen, as the Spirit led the church (Acts 13:2).
We tend to forget that those whom Jesus sent out to evangelize the world were trained on the apprenticeship model, not in theological colleges. Neither should be denigrated, but it should be recognized that both can successfully be used when operating in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Rangeville Uniting Church has been training a group of lay persons in preparation for sending them out, in the same way Jesus sent out his disciples. In Jesus’ day, they were called out from ordinary occupations. We can expect God to do the same today.
The great commission has not changed and if we truly believe that God is going to win the world, there will not be enough clergy to handle the harvest. In our situation, the church buildings are now inadequate. We do not want to invest further resources in buildings, but in people. We are ready to send out lay persons to plant churches in their homes.
The desire is to target those groups not being reached. If some consider that lay persons would not be theologically adequate for the task, we need to remember that the first prominent theological thinkers on behalf of the church were lay persons of great ability; men like Tertullian, Cyprian, and Augustine. It is good to remind ourselves that revolutionary movements like the Cathars, the Waldensians and the Lollards were spearheaded by the laity. They developed a great preaching activity and urged a return to the Bible.
The Reformation in Europe, like the previous Conciliar movements, was mainly a movement of the laity, as was the Reformation in England. In the middle ages, the urge for reform sprang mainly from the laity. In the Reformation on the continent, it was the laity who provided the main driving power.
John Calvin was one of the most conspicuous examples of a layman who was a self made theologian. Many other examples could be given of the key role of lay persons in the significant advances of the church. The church government needs to see the laity as an essential part of the church, rather than an insufficiently tapped source of cheap labour.
To treat ordinary church members as immature, is to keep them immature. The laity, more than the minister, are immersed in a hostile world and can minister out of a first hand knowledge of the current pressures on the ordinary person. The clergy must allow themselves to be taught by the laity.
Some would say that the counselling role of the home church pastor requires that a person be trained. What if the candidate has not filled this expectation? That would be the preferred option, but many clergy have little counselling training also. Untrained, caring support can be effective. We must use the tools available. Carkhuff (1969:10) states that: ‘While professional programmes have failed to produce tangible evidence of their translation to client benefits or, indeed, evidence that they are concerned with researching their training efforts, assessment of lay training programmes have yielded positive results.’
He goes on to point out that lay counsellors appear to have a greater ability to:
1. Enter into the milieu of the distressed.
2. Establish peer like relations with people being helped
3. Take an active part in the client’s life situation.
4. Empathize more effectively with the client’s style of life.
5. Teach the client within the client’s own frame of reference.
6. Provide the client with an effective transition to higher levels of functioning within the social system.
In the helping professions, the key ingredient for an effective helper is the capacity to empathize with the one seeking help. The counsellor who protects him/herself by remaining clinical, may be able to handle a greater number of clients because of less stress, but his/her effectiveness will be minimized.
The preparedness for self disclosure and making oneself vulnerable breaks down barriers in the one who is seeking help. I have found that those we would appoint to a position of lay pastor have already been trained in counselling to the level necessary to be very effective. They have already proved this.
I am not advocating a technique or a gimmick, but I am urging a new approach to taking advantage of results of Church Growth studies on homogeneous groups, and the use of God given gifts of the Spirit among the lay people of our church, who are prepared to recognize and come under duly appointed authority.
The structure that I am proposing to link the mother church with satellite home churches is one which I believe suits our particular case, given the rules and regulations under which we must work in the Uniting Church of Australia.
Other situations may adapt these principles in other ways. I suspect that modifications would be necessary to suit specific cases.
The laity have a ministry to the world, and a ministry to the church. In the home church model, they can exercise both of these roles. To do this, they need the support of the whole church, which includes the clergy who can assist them to release their Holy Spirit gifts.
Banks, Robert (1979) Paul’s Idea of Community. Lancer.
Carkhuff, Robert (1969) Helping and Human Relations, Vol.1. Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
Rowthorn, Ann (1986) The Liberation of the Laity. Morehouse-Barlow.
© Renewal Journal 3: Community (1994, 2011) pages 66-74
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Adrian Commadeur comments on charismatic renewal and Christian communities. This account of his discoveries, following eight years as a Redemptorist student, is adapted from Chapter 4 of his book The Spirit in the Church.
each has a sense of belonging,
plays a significant role in the community,
and is accountable to someone else
The gift of the Holy Spirit, with accompanying charisms, has the purpose of empowering the Christian to witness to the death and resurrection of Jesus.
This has been the experience of many in the charismatic renewal, both to desire and to be able to share the good news of Jesus Christ within the Christian community and to the world. While it belongs to the very nature of the church to proclaim the gospel, I grew up with the notion that the church was there to keep Catholics fervent, and reach out to the pagans in Africa or Asia to evangelise them.
Since the coming of the Holy Spirit in a fresh personal Pentecost, the call to evangelisation has stirred me strongly. At times I have responded according to my ability.
Life in the Spirit seminars
One of the early leaders of Renewal in the United States, Steve Clark, developed a series of
teachings in 1971. It was based on early Church practice of introducing catechumens or serious inquirers into the community of faith.
On the basis of the perceived needs of those seeking the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the series consists of seven weekly sessions of teachings and discussions and prayers. Life in the Spirit Seminars have been used worldwide to bring people from either unbelief to faith, or from belief to deeper faith and the release of the Holy Spirit.
The seminar is an effective means of spiritual growth through teachings on basic Christian themes and daily biblical reflections between weekly sessions. A participant’s book including daily Scripture readings and prayers is made available to each person. More than one million copies have been printed.
For the team presenting the Seminar a Team Manual was prepared, showing in detail the method of conducting the seminar and the contents of each of the teachings. By 1974 already 100,000 copies were in use.
The Life in the Spirit Seminar has been, and continues to be, a most effective way of bringing people into a new and personal relationship with Jesus Christ by means of the release of the Holy Spirit. It is a marvellous way of renewing faith, clarifying the basics of doctrine, incorporating people into a community of faith and love, and introducing them to the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit which enables them to become more effective witnesses to the risen Jesus.
For nonbelievers, especially young people who have not heard the gospel (even though it may have been presented to them either at school or in church), it is an introduction to Christianity. For those who have been lukewarm in faith, or uncertain of their beliefs, it is a renewal, especially through an introduction to the person of Jesus. To those who search for a deeper life of faith and prayer, it is a fulfilment of the heart’s desire. For all, the Life in the Spirit Seminar is a fulfilment of the promise of Jesus, `You will receive power, when the Holy Spirit has come upon you’ (Acts 1:8).
Prayer Groups are a wonderful means of evangelisation and introducing new people to a fuller life in Christ and the Spirit. There are approximately 450 Catholic charismatic prayer groups around Australia. They meet in churches, church halls, meeting rooms, school rooms, chapels and homes.
They range in numbers from as few as three or four, to around 300. The average size of the 90 groups in the Melbourne Archdiocese in 1991 was 25 participants. On special occasions like a healing Eucharist, there can be twice the normal number in attendance. If a conservative estimate of 20 people per meeting were accepted, then some 10,000 Catholics meet every week in charismatic prayer groups around Australia. Some 20,000 could be said to be active Australia wide.
While Covenant Communities are the major alternative, prayer meetings are the normal local expression of the Catholic charismatic renewal. This means that the prayer meeting should be a significant place for evangelisation into the local church community.
Across the spectrum of the Church there are now a number of exciting examples of renewed parishes where people flock to join in worship, fellowship, Christian formation and service. One of the major tensions that Catholic Charismatics must resolve is their commitment to their prayer meetings and to their parishes.
On the one hand, the prayer meeting often provides for warmth of fellowship, ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit, strength and conviction in praise and worship, and teaching that is based both on Scripture and on the spiritual experiences of the speaker. In addition, there are times of social activities and regional and national conferences, retreats, seminars and similar `celebrations’.
On the other hand the parish provides for Sunday and weekday Eucharist, the sacraments such as reconciliation, and pastoral care in sickness. Parish activities are multifaceted and provide for schooling, caring, sporting, social and adult education activities. In this way the different needs of the charismatic parishioner are met.
Ideally both these needs should be met in the parish that is renewed in the Spirit, in which there is a spiritual vitality that can attract others to its worship and lifestyle. On the one hand, people are satisfied with a deeper spiritual journey through the prayer meeting. On the other, the necessary and the obligatory elements of the faith are satisfied.
Certain principles apply in all parish renewals. It seems that there needs to be a sovereign
initiative of God and a parish clergy and leadership open to the Holy Spirit. One of the principal methods seems to be the formation of the Parish Group (Cell) System, to enable informal formation at a personal level.
The pastor at St Boniface’s, Fr Michael Eivers, outlines six factors that are keys to the success of the cell system.
* The cell system must initially be directed by the pastor and continue to have his support.
* Cells are community related, and reach out to people in the members’ neighbourhoods and work environments.
* Cells are selfmultiplying groups.
* The cell system is the parish way of life, not just another program.
* Cells are highly evangelistic, missionary groups.
* Continuous training and motivation of cell leaders is critical (Perini, p. 9).
I hope that in Australia there will soon be parish priests with their parish teams, who will dare to renew the sacramentalized and evangelise unbelievers in the power of the Holy Spirit and through the cell system.
One eloquent expression of the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in charismatic renewal has been the formation of Covenant Communities.
Covenant Community is a group of Christians who have been led by the Lord to bind themselves to Him and also to one another in the form of public commitment. Its call is to live a Christian lifestyle, in family and single life, through openness to the charismatic gifts, worship and prayer, sharing and teaching, and support for one another (Emmanuel Covenant Community, Brisbane).
As early as 1971 the first members of prayer groups in the USA felt the call to bind themselves together in a shared lifestyle. It may have been relatively easy to do so for students and graduates of the various universities. They had both the idealism and the freedom to commit themselves to one another, without such other commitments as family or mortgages.
Some of the earliest communities were True House, led by Joe Byrne, and People of Praise, led by Kevin and Dorothy Ranaghan and Paul de Celles, in South Bend, Indiana, near the University of Notre Dame, and the Word of God, led by Ralph Martin and Steve Clark and others, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, around the University of Michigan.
On visiting them in 1973 I was impressed by the strength of numbers and commitment to the cause of renewal of the Church through a return to the lifestyle of the early Christians. Even within each community there seemed different levels of commitment. Many lived in households and some shared their goods and possessions, including their socks!
A number of Covenant Communities have developed within the charismatic scene in Australia. They range up and down in numbers and influence. If some have a lower profile they still have qualities shared by most other communities. There are also signs of new or renewed religious communities which give rise to hope for new sparkling life and ministry of the Church in Australia.
The Brisbane based Emmanuel Covenant Community was formed in 1975, with four men and their families responding to the call to bind themselves together in Community. First members and leaders of the Community were Brian Smith and John Carroll, with their wives, Lorraine and Penny, and their families. As early as 1976 Emmanuel became affiliated with other communities, notably in the United States, and later to others around the world in an International Brotherhood of Communities (IBOC), and in The Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowships (1990).
Associated with Emmanuel in Australia are a number of Communities that have been helped by them in their establishment. These include Bethel in Perth, Hepzibah in Canberra, Melbourne and Adelaide, and Disciples of Jesus in Sydney and Melbourne. Other communities include many small groups of people who have committed themselves to the Lord and to one another, but have not grown in strength or numbers. Although the membership of most Communities includes a majority of Catholics, a number of Communities could be said to be ecumenical such as Servants of Jesus in Sydney.
Membership of Catholics, Anglicans, Protestants and perhaps some Pentecostals requires sensitive leadership and acceptable common activities. Within ecumenical Communities, Catholic fraternities have at times been structured, to enable a specifically Catholic identity to be expressed, especially in the liturgical life of the Community.
Communities commit themselves to be of service in the Church and to the world. At times they do outstanding work either through large organised groups such as the National Evangelisation Team (NET) or through small teams of evangelists who travel within or outside of Australia to preach the gospel. Many Communities have developed a specific ministry such as to the poor, for unmarried mothers, or visiting the lonely.
Charismatic community lifestyle
Most of the Communities share a basic lifestyle which is expressed in certain practical ways. Membership of the community is demonstrated by participation in:
* general community gatherings.
* smaller groupings for discussion, sharing, and support.
* a Christian formation program for family and single life.
* informal gatherings for social activities.
* teaching and evangelistic outreaches according to the opportunities offered or initiated.
* leadership exercised by a group of elders, the number of which is determined by the needs and size of the community and supported materially and financially by the members.
* members seek to live in close geographical proximity for easier fellowship and support.
* traditional Eucharistic and liturgical prayer.
Communities are making a significant contribution to the renewal of the spiritual life of the
church. They promote a commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ and a mutual love of members of the community. Extensive teaching programs and pastoral oversight have strengthened the life of faith and sharing among their members. Numerical strength and the pooling of resources have been made possible. This has enabled leaders to be constantly in touch with leaders worldwide and so have maintained bonds and standards of renewed community life.
Fraternity of Covenant Communities
On 30 November 1990, a significant event occurred in Rome. On that date the Pontifical Council for the Laity promulgated the decree which inaugurated the Catholic Fraternity of Covenant Communities and Fellowships. The decree noted that Covenant Communities from Australia, Canada, France, Malaysia, New Zealand and the United States were ‘motivated by the desire both to assure greater dialogue and collaboration among themselves and to deepen their communion with the Successor of Peter as an essential element of their Catholic identity.’
The decree recognised the Fraternity as a Private Association of the Christian Faithful within the Catholic Church. It expressed the hope that this recognition would consolidate and promote the Catholic expression of the charismatic movement, might increase its spiritual fruits and encourage intensified apostolic activity in the work of evangelisation.
At the inauguration, Brian Smith from Brisbane, was elected President of the Executive of the Fraternity. He noted that the declaration was the most significant event in the history of the charismatic renewal since the 1975 Holy Year international conference and the acknowledgment it received from Pope Paul VI at that time. He said, ‘It is the first time that the Renewal has had formal, canonical recognition by the Vatican.’
Communities of life and service
A further expression of the charismatic renewal has emerged in the church. Groups of committed people have established themselves as communities of life and service. These include the establishment of houses of prayer, teams of service, or new religious houses or communities of lay people married or single with a focus on such ministry as street kids or contemplative prayer. Localised and adapted to cultural and religious circumstances, these communities add greatly, but often unobtrusively, to the life of the church at large. All of them would consider themselves to be part of the main stream at the heart of the church.
One of these communities of life and service is the Holy Spirit of Freedom Community. Frank and Lu Feain lead this community with three houses in Melbourne and Perth, have a circle of collaborating tertiaries to support them financially, materially and spiritually and work for homeless `street kids’. This community brings the love of God to drug users and victims of domestic abuse, through `friendship evangelism.’
Another group is the House of Prayer at beautiful Carcoar, NSW, conducted by Helen and Neville Bowers and serving both the charismatic renewal and the local diocese. The ministry includes the provision of retreats, seminars and days of prayer.
Another significant development over recent years is the number of Schools of Evangelisation. Young people especially, receive formation in mature Christian living, and practical training in the skills of sharing the gospel with others.
The church exists to evangelise
All of the expressions of Catholic charismatic renewal demonstrate the creative activity and
ministry of the Holy Spirit. While some may judge one form or lifestyle or expression superior to another, all expressions of charismatic renewal aim to assist in the growth of personal holiness and to serve the church and world with the proclamation of the gospel.
In conclusion, the experience of successful prayer groups and communities shows that a dynamic lifestyle where each has a sense of belonging, plays a significant role in the community, and is accountable to someone else best attracts new believers, and keeps them as effective members of the church community.
Blum, Susan (undated) ‘A Parish Where Everyone Evangelizes’ in New Evangelization 2000, issue 5.
Perini, Pigel (undated) ‘New Evangelisation in an Ancient Basilica’ in New Evangelization 2000, issue 7.
(c) Adrian Commadeur, 1992, The Spirit in the Church. Melbourne: Comsoda Communication. Used by permission.
© Renewal Journal 3: Community (1994, 2011) 35-44
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