I have read many similar stories, but this one exceeds them all.
I read the online edition and was blown away by the response of the Solomon Islanders to the power of the Holy Spirit. It was amazing, or should I say God-planned. Geoff has done well to not only be in so many places and seeing God at work, but also writing a book about it all. It’s as if it has all happened in a world apart, but the events in Brisbane show that it could happen in Australia also. (Barbara Vickridge)
Book 1: Journey into Renewal and Revival
Introduction:Waugh stories – an overview 1. Beginnings: state of origin – growing up in NSW, Australia 2. Schools: green board jungle – learning and teaching 3. Ministry: to lead is to serve – theological college and pastorates 4. Mission: trails and trials – pioneering teaching in Papua New Guinea 5. Family: Waughs and rumours of Waughs – Family life in PNG and Australia 6. Search and Research: begin with A B C – exploring Israel and studies 7. Renewal: begin with doh rey me – charismatic renewal in Australia 8. Revival: begin with 1 2 3 – teaching revival leaders in many countries Conclusion: begin with you and me – looking ahead
These Study Guides are adapted from former Distance Education materials produced by Citipointe Ministry College, the School of Ministries of Christian Heritage College in Brisbane, Australia. Now they are adapted into these books for your benefit. The current courses use different and updated materials as part of internet resources for students.
For information about current courses, contact the Principal,
Welcome to this Study Guide for a Ministry Practicum.
Practicum subjects guide you in the actual practice of ministry. So most students love these units because they don’t just learn theory about ministry, but do it. You minister. Here ‘the rubber hits the road’.
What is the difference between what you are already doing in ministry and these practicum subjects? The main difference is that as you minister in a practicum, you are supervised, you receive regular and specific feedback, and you reflect carefully through what you are doing so that you can improve your ministry.
Our prayer is that God will impact you with faith and fire as you minister and study, that your vision will be great, and that you will be praying and believing for God’s purposes as never before. We are confident that the Holy Spirit will ignite you as you serve the Lord in ministry and are led by the Holy Spirit. He is your best teacher – by far.
Practicum units provide an opportunity for supervised, self-directed learning in the practice of ministry and mission. Practicum subjects explore essential aspects of ministry, the personal and spiritual formation of the minister, and the major areas of ministry including worship, preaching and pastoral care.
The Study Guide for a Ministry Practicum includes guidance on these practicum topics.
Topic 1: Learning Agreement. An overview of the practicum as planned.
Topic 2: Weekly Reports. Reporting to your supervisor each week.
Topic 3: Core Group. A small peer group for support, and evaluation.
Topic 4: Supervision. Your relationship with your supervisor.
Topic 5: Journaling. Reflections and evaluation.
We all can learn more together about effective ministry. That learning is enhanced and expanded rapidly when we share our experiences and learning together. The ‘teacher’ usually shares his or her experiences, but others can do also. So the more that our ministry education fosters mutuality, the more we can learn from one another.
We call this open education or open ministry education. It is open to everyone and everyone can be involved. It is not just for leaders. Our leaders can help us, but their main job is to equip the saints for the work of ministry for building up the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12). We can do these things in classes, small groups, seminars, training courses and home or church groups.
An event of some significance occurred in the early years of my episcopate. I had a feeling that the church as a whole was just plodding along. There were a few bright spots among the parishes, but on the whole I thought church growth was not exciting. What troubled me more was that not many clergy were over-concerned, and if they were anxious about the situation, they didn’t show it.
At the same time as I was experiencing these impressions, I was made aware of the ‘Holy Spirit’ movement. Pentecostal churches had been with us since the beginning of the century, but in the 1960s they had been showing a lot of vitality and considerable growth in adherents many former Anglicans and also former members of a number of other historic churches. I was interested to discover the reason for this new phenomenon. Books by Michael Harper, Colin Urquhart and David Watson, Anglican priests in England, helped me to understand this ‘charismatic movement’ (charisma here refers to the Pauline list of Spiritual Gifts).
I wanted to know about the ‘Power’ ministry, i.e. the Power of the Holy Spirit. I knew God had blessed the few natural gifts I had, but there was always so much effort on my part, and I got tired. There was not much ‘resting in the Lord’.
But I had a problem. My wife and I now lived in a fine house in Taringa Parade, Taringa, owned by the diocese. My wife knew of my growing interest in the charismatic movement, but was very apprehensive about this spiritual phenomenon. She said to me, ‘If you get involved in this movement, I’ll leave you.’ So I pulled back from the charismatic movement. However, an extraordinary event was about to unfold.
I went to a clergy retreat. While I was away, my wife went, albeit reluctantly, with a friend to a house meeting to hear an evangelist and spiritual healer. I imagine the friend was endeavouring to find support for my wife, who now had cancer. During the meeting, an invitation to go forward for prayer was given. My wife, who was really a very private person, was first to step forward. Later, she told me she didn’t really know what happened except friends were picking her up from the floor. She felt weepy, and asked to go home. She cried herself to sleep, not out of grief, but of joy.
The next day she had a strong desire to ring three women from whom she was estranged. Two were delighted that friendship was restored; the third, from whom my wife had not heard for months, got her phone call in first, and there was much rejoicing. In a real sense, I found a different woman in my home when I returned from the retreat. She of course looked the same, but she seemed to have grown ten feet tall spiritually.
With confidence now, I went to a conference in Sydney, led by Archbishop Bill Burnett of Capetown and Bishop Zulu, also from Africa. Archbishop Burnett was the Episcopal Father of the Charismatic Renewal in the Anglican Communion.
The conference was terrific and I ended up being elected chairman of the Anglican Renewal Ministries in Australia, a post I held for several years.
It was a joy to organize several Diocesan Renewal conferences at Camp Cal, Caloundra. Guest speakers at various times included Vernon Cohen and Dick Wallace, Anglican priests from Melbourne. It was a privilege to have Father Terry Fulham from Darien, Connecticut, USA, at another of the meetings.
Ecumenical Renewal services at St John’s Cathedral drew packed houses. The Rev. Geoff Waugh, from a Baptist-Uniting Church background, and a Roman Catholic priest, Father Vincent Hobbs, were co-convenors of these rallies, some of which were also held at St Stephen’s Roman Catholic Cathedral and the Albert Street Uniting Church. These were exciting times as lives were changed, Holy Spirit power was in evidence and healings took place. A small number of diocesan priests were blessed and their ministries enriched.
Proclamation of Jesus
However, it was not all plain sailing. Some clergy regarded me as a ‘weirdo’ but one thing they could not deny: The proclamation of Jesus and God’s gifts of salvation by grace through faith became key features of my preaching. I was reminded by Scripture that the work of the Holy Spirit is to glorify Jesus.
Of course, there are excesses in most spiritual movements. I have also known Anglo-Catholic and Evangelicals to go ‘over the top’, and I have experienced ‘charismatic Christians’ who have become quite unbalanced and fanatical.
I have been glad to have experienced the strong sacramental life of Anglicanism and the good order of liturgical worship. But liturgical worship need not be stiff. The warmth of the Spirit can melt the coldness of mere formalism. At times, ‘non-liturgical’ services, too, have a very helpful place in our churches.
I was invited to a conference of Evangelicals in Melbourne. I guess it was strange to have one brought up in a strong Anglo-Catholic tradition to be given this invitation. However, my role was to respond to a paper by Michael Cassidy on ‘Charismatic or Spiritual Renewal’. Michael has been well known in many countries as one of the leaders of African Enterprise an organization concerned with a two-pronged mission Evangelism and Community Social Development.
From Monday to Wednesday, the lectures had been superb, but more of the head than of the heart. I thought, in fact, that the mood of the delegates was quiet and subdued. So arrived my six minutes. The then Archbishop of Melbourne, Bob Dann, kept reminding me about the ‘six minutes’. I put away my prepared text and simply shared with the conference what spiritual renewal meant to me: how my ministry was enriched, how I came to understand and love Jesus more. The response of the delegates was very moving to me. They rose in acclamation. I went backstage and wept. God had done something beautiful.
As I had to leave the conference immediately and return to Brisbane, I could know only secondhand that the mood of the conference changed from that moment people were more open and friendly than before.
What has always amazed me is that Anglican leaders, yes, bishops, have almost acted as though Pentecostalism does not exist, especially when many Anglicans have moved into Pentecostal fellowships and especially since Pentecostalism is the fastest growing Christian expression in Australia. Either they are afraid to admit that Pentecostalism has ‘something’; or worse, they think Pentecostals are in some way outside the pale and not to be regarded as part of the Christian family.
Bishop Shevill once said, ‘The untaught truths of yesterday become the heresies of today.’ In other words, what the historic churches fail to emphasize, others pick up and go to excesses. Historic churches, by their partial neglect of the third Person of the Holy Trinity, have in part, only themselves to blame for the growth of many Pentecostal fellowships.
Before and after my adventure with ‘Charismatic Renewal’ I felt called to offer myself to any priest who would risk inviting me to lead a parish mission. I had no particular training in evangelism but I learnt something by doing.
During my time as an archdeacon and assistant bishop, I conducted parish missions or intense weekend teaching periods in a number of places within and outside the Diocese of Brisbane. The ‘local’ ones were at Stanthorpe, Pittsworth, Petrie (twice), Mt Gravatt (twice), Maroochydore, Bundaberg, Nanango, Ekibin, Inala, Yeronga and Ashgrove. Outside the diocese, missions were taken at Kurri Kurri in the Diocese of Newcastle, Glen Innes in the Diocese of Grafton, Stratford in the Diocese of Gippsland, Belgrave in the Diocese of Melbourne and Biloela in the Diocese of Rockhampton.
It was a privilege to be invited by the Bishop of Singapore, Ban it Chui, to take a mission in his Cathedral of St Andrew and also a clergy retreat. The visit to Singapore was a real eyeopener. In this diocese, the ‘charismatic movement’ has changed church life in many parishes. I saw churches filled especially with young people hungry for the Gospel. In one parish I visited, a cinema has now been acquired to accommodate the growing congregation.
One night while I was ministering in St Andrew’s Cathedral, a young man a Buddhist wandered in and was converted to the Christian faith. On one Sunday, I ministered to an all Indian congregation. For three hours, the whole congregation came singly or in family groups for the laying on of hands with prayer. A number were overpowered by the Holy Spirit and all the time I was praying over others, two women knelt on the concrete floor beside me, praying for me. With such enthusiasm for Jesus, it is perhaps not surprising that it was hard for me to leave Singapore.
Of course, it is difficult to estimate the effect of such parish missions. In one or two places, I suspect the missions were a complete failure. My own ministry may have been defective or maybe the preparation may have been inadequate.
However, in other places, according to the rectors, lives were changed, people were converted, people were physically healed. A former rector of Maroochydore, in the Diocese of Brisbane, told me that my mission was the most significant event in his long ministry in that parish. For that I praise God and give Him the glory.
Recently I met a businessman in Nambour who confessed that he had been converted at the mission in Glen Innes. I remembered this man well. He was the last to whom I ministered at that mission.
There have, however, been a few regrets. I have known people so changed and challenged by the in-flowing power of the Holy Spirit to be a real threat to parish clergy in parishes where I have ministered. These dear priests have not been able to cope with the enthusiasm of the newly converted and have found them difficult to cope with. Some of my missions have swelled the numbers going to Pentecostal churches.
It has been beautiful over the years to see wayward husbands come back to their wives and families, to see men and women freed from the burden of guilt which has plagued them for years, to see people with cancer have remission for a number of years, to know people so enthused that they form the nucleus of a new parish. I have been amazed over the years at the transforming power of Jesus in individual lives.
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.
Reproduction is allowed with the copyright intact with the text.
Now available in updated book form (republished 2011)
In January 1989 I began as minister of a thirty-five year old church at Beaumont in Adelaide that had suffered numerical decline. It had followed the typical pattern of an inner suburban church with its complex of buildings, a Sunday School of 350 children, and two packed morning services in its heyday of the boom years of Methodism in the fifties and sixties.
In those years the church was a buzz of activity. Its youth group grew as children entered their teens. Membership figures increased as the teenagers took confirmation classes. Church growth was natural and expected. It required no specific strategies. People looked for a neighbourhood church which provided worship, a Sunday School, youth program, and the accepted activities associated with church life at the time.
Gradually the neighbourhood became prime real estate. When the young people married they had to move out to newer suburban areas where land was cheaper. Predicably the congregation declined and grew older. By 1989 an average of 85 people attended the one service on Sunday and a handful of children attended the Sunday School. Many were concerned about the future of this single congregation parish, and the parish leaders had begun discussions with nearby congregations regarding amalgamation.
Regreening in the Spirit’s power
This became for me an experiment in turning a church around. Was it possible to arrest the decline and begin to build again? Would the church have a significant and effective future as well as a dynamic ministry in the name of Jesus Christ?
Early in my first year at this church I found I was also involved emotionally and could not separate my personal feelings from what I discovered and what I believed God had in store for us. Could I lead this church to new life and growth? I personally was most aware of my own need of God’s help and of my need to grow spiritually as the leader of this church.
I was fortunate to be nearing the end of doctoral studies in church growth and renewal. I had also been a consultant in the related area of evangelism for eight years. Hence I came with some knowledge and experience that I believed would help my leadership of this church. However, my experience of working at length with a declining congregation was minimal. I knew that I and they would be very dependent upon the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit.
In the interview before my appointment the nominating committee indicated they were seeking someone of my age and experience. They also emphasized their desire to be more effective evangelistically and to reach the neighbourhood for Christ. I intimated my bias for evangelism and sought to know whether they would be open to change and to embrace new directions I might initiate. They agreed, not knowing exactly what would occur in the years to follow.
New goals and direction
I began by getting to know the people and by learning their corporate history. Some had been in the church since its inception. Most had been there for ten or twenty years or more. Very few, if any, were new to the church in recent years. They considered themselves a friendly church but did not have in place ways of welcoming and assimilating new people.
Obviously pastoral work was important. I was led by the Spirit to visit people in their homes. In the first year I listened considerably. I also realized that the people were ready for change and much could happen in the first year. Indeed, some significant developments needed to occur as symbols of hope and as signs of God doing a new thing.
We were to engage in a stewardship program in June of my first year. Planning for this two year stewardship cycle had to begin early. So I talked with my parish council and elders about their aspirations and yearnings for the church. It was obvious there were no common goals, no specific direction, no vision to fire the imagination and to prompt people to give freely. Therefore in the April of 1989 we gathered forty people, key leaders and interested people for a seven hour session of reflection, evaluation, waiting on the Lord and goal setting.
We met on a Sunday afternoon and evening with a shared tea. At the end of the time we had established ten specific goals that we could work towards in 1989-1990. These became strategic in the life of the church and did much to harmonize people around a common direction. It gave purpose to the stewardship program which was successful and assured the church of financial resources for the ensuing years.
In the weeks preceding the goal setting I preached on the nature of the church using New Testament imagery such as the Body of Christ, the vine and the branches, and the picture of living stones given in 1 Peter 2:410. This supported the truth that theology is the basis of renewal.
Although there are simple practical strategies that are easily overlooked, true growth is biblically and theologically founded. It occurs through the Spirit of God renewing both people’s lives and the structures that enable us to live in community.
Theology of renewal
Theology became for us the very essence of renewal. How we understood and experienced God and the covenant determined our attitudes, expectations and actions. The term ‘the body of Christ’ became important as a description of who we were. It affirmed three main truths about the church:
1. There is to be corporate growth in unity and maturity.
2. Growth occurs as the variety of gifts of the people, given by the Spirit, are used in complementary fashion.
3. The church is a living organism with Jesus Christ in authority as the supreme head of the body.
Emphasizing a gift theology, inherent in the Uniting Church Basis of Union, we held a gift workshop in the spring of my first year. This examined the teaching of 1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12, and Ephesians
4. It had practical application and included a process by which the participants could begin to identify their special gifts for ministry.
In Ephesians, Paul describes a church in which all the members are to be equipped for the work of ministry. He does not envisage a church where only a few are engaged in ministry or where most are consumers rather than participants. Ministry is done by the whole church, by Christians working in concert. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Harmonious cooperation and the complementary use of gifts far surpasses the results of individual Christians working alone and independently. One of the priority tasks of church leaders is to help the members discover their gifts for ministry, to develop such gifts, and to channel them into effective areas of service.
Equipping people for ministry
To enhance the pastoral ministry of the congregation a Caring Committee was appointed by the elders council. This group believed that the ministry should be according to one’s spiritual gifts and not by virtue of the office one might hold.
We identified over thirty people gifted in pastoral ministry and called them together to discuss the ministry model we had in mind and to provide instruction on how to make effective pastoral visits. An eight week care workers course followed in the next year. The result is that we now have a team of people who visit members and others associated with the church. This provides a network of care in which no one need be overlooked. The visitors meet about three times a year to discuss their ministry and to review their list of people.
Another person, gifted in administration and with deep compassion, coordinates a special caring program whereby practical help is given to those with special needs.
In our church we no longer allocate each elder to a group of members. Some elders are not gifted pastorally but have other excellent gifts. Any elder is available to anyone according to need and relationships that are established. We work on the principle that the elders are responsible to see that visiting occurs and are there to release the gifts of those who can do it well.
Other gifts have emerged under this theology. We appointed an honorary administrator who retired from the business world but who obviously brought a wonderful gift in administration. His work of about ten hours a week has involved two mornings a week at the church office. I arranged to be at the office on those mornings as that increased efficiency and communication. Opening the church office on these two days improved the church’s profile and made its leaders more accessible.
Many music gifts lay dormant in our worship. We had a very good choir and a couple of proficient organists. The piano in the sanctuary, however, was rarely used. To cater for increasing numbers at worship we added an additional morning service in August 1989. This provided more options. The 9 am service became family oriented and only on occasions is the pipe organ used at this service. Instead, an orchestra sometimes numbering seven or eight has provided the music.
Introducing new songs and installing a screen for use with overheads enlivened the worship and provided greater variety. Our work with musicians includes workshops for worship leaders. We have many unused gifts in this area that we wish to employ. The commencement of a regular 7 pm service has created other opportunities for lay leadership, especially by youth. By 1992 the aggregate number at worship had grown to about 200 and the average age is much less than it was in 1989.
We had demographic data available to us on that first planning day and we discovered that the surrounding community contained more younger people than was reflected in the church. Fifty per cent of the population in the parish area is under forty years of age. With this in mind, and trusting in God, we set about embracing the future with confidence. Now our Sunday School is growing, we operate a creche, and we have a growing youth movement.
Believing prayer is central to the renewal that is occurring. A prayer chain has operated in the church for many years. Its members, all ladies, meet over lunch once a month. Here prayer needs are shared. Another early morning prayer group has begun as a spin off from 7 am services on Wednesdays during Lent. A number decided to meet every Wednesday at that time and so a group of ten, including men, have gathered faithfully to pray for people and for the church. A focus of our prayer is the renewal of the church and for effective evangelistic ministry. Our church also offers prayer for healing, primarily during ministry time following services of worship.
Group life has also received attention. New home groups and Bible study groups have commenced to provide opportunities for people to engage in study, to offer and receive ministry, and to enhance fellowship. These meet according to needs and availability. They very from weekly to monthly gatherings.
At the heart of what is occurring in our church is our belief that God is continuing the renew us and, while giving ministry in the present, is preparing us to embrace God’s unfolding future. We understand that renewal is the ongoing renewing by God of the church. It is dynamic, never static. It is not an achieved state. It is not the end but the way. To be in renewal is to be journeying with God in the presence of believers.
The primary theological ground for renewal is the kingdom of God. Renewal is not the result of human effort although we are able to respond to God’s renewing activity in ways which appropriate such activity. Renewal is the work of God that points to the coming reign of God in the lives of persons and community.
The kingdom of God is neither entirely present nor entirely future. It is here now, is coming, and will come. This gives perspective to renewal. It enables the church to be a community of hope. This orientation points to what is to be as a reality greater than what has been. As such it is a very powerful motivator for Christian living and ministry. It creates vision which fosters hope and incentive.
Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit we have been led to preach that the church is a community premised on the promise of what is to be. We are not simply to adjust to present reality, nor only to patch up here and there or even seek to recover what was. Renewal points to transformation, embracing the new. Hence we pray ‘Your kingdom come’ (Matthew 6:10).
We believe that the ultimate purpose of the church is to glorify God and to be an agent of God in establishing the unity and wholeness of all things in Christ (Ephesians 1:910). The church is a servant of the kingdom of God.
In witnessing to the wholeness of God’s kingdom we seek to demonstrate unity, forgiveness, reconciliation and new relationships. One of the most important factors in our witness is the quality of our corporate life in Christ lest our words be empty and our theology barren. We endeavour to be spiritually renewed, our motivation enlivened by the Holy Spirit. We seek a genuine growth in holiness that releases the power of the Holy Spirit.
Our church is on the way. In some quarters we struggle with conservatism but we endeavour to listen to one another, recognizing the Spirit of Christ in us all. We also use appropriate practical strategies that can be learned from church analysis and church growth. We are down-to-earth and pragmatic. But we endeavour to place God at the centre knowing that unless the Lord builds the house we labour in vain. Renewed in the power of the Spirit we wish to be living stones, built into a spiritual house of God (1 Peter 2:5).
(c) Renewal Journal 2: Church Growth (1993, 2011), pages 35-42.
Reproduction is allowed with the copyright intact with the text.
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by Rowland Croucher
. The Rev. Dr Rowland Croucher wrote as a Baptist minister and was editor of the newsletter Grid. This chapter is adapted from the Summer 1986 issue.Also reproduced in John Mark Ministries
Charismatic renewal is not going way. According to David Barrett, editor of World Christian Encyclopedia, pentecostals and charismatics numbered an estimated 100 million worldwide in 1980. He says that number jumped to about 150 million by 1985 and 337 million by 1989.
The word charismatic (Greek ‘charisma’ – a gift of grace) is useful as an adjective but sometimes offensive as a noun. Here we will reluctanly use charismatic as a noun, and as an adjective, but with the understanding that every true Christian is charismatic.
We are now hearing about post-charismatics. They had assumed the experiences in Acts 2,8,10,19 and 1 Corinthians 12 to 14 were normative for all Christians for all times. Having sought an emotional high, they found that their version of the charismatic renewal promised more than it delivered.
Let us work through the myths or misconceptions in order.
1. Renewal is a fairly modern phenomenon
Those unfamiliar with the mistakes of the past, as Santayana said, are likely to repeat them. Movements of religious renewal are not new. That happens when something lost is found: the book of the law (Josiah), prayer and asceticism (Desert Fathers), simple lifestyle (Franciscans), justification by faith (Luther), sanctification (Wesley), spiritual gifts (Pentecostals).
Christian renewal emphasizes the church’s organic, communal nature and tends to idealise the primitive apostolic church. Static institutions are challenged to change and become dynamic.
Traditionalists are usually blind to the disparity between the institution’s claims and its ineffectiveness. Renewalists often have little, or an idealised, sense of history; God is on their side and against the institution. They don’t realize that they too will set up new institutions which will eventually settle down, preserve a status quo and be challenged again.
Howard Snyder and others have helped us formulate a mediating model of the church, which affirms history and expects renewal – both.
. 2. Enthusiasm is a sign of immaturity
Not necessarily. Stolid Anglo-Saxons may not approve of too much enthusiasm, but other cultures (Latins, Africans) like it. Two Israelite leaders, Eldad and Medad, got excited when the Spirit fell on them, so Joshua the institutional spokesman told Moses to stop them. Moses retorted by wishing the Spirit might similarly fall on the lot of them (Numbers 11:26-30)!
Experiences of some of the mystics (Richard Rolle, St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross), reveal an affinity to modern charismatic phenomena.
The Holy Spirit being manifested in a person, a culture or an age produces various attitudes: an ordering attitude, a praying attitude, a questioning attitude, and an attitude of receiving. Without the receptive attitude the other three dry up. Mark Hillmer says that without mystical experience, without an ongoing awareness of the presence of God, we do not live a full and rich Christian life. The charismatic renewal represents the re-entry into the world of the felt presence of God. It means that mysticism, the attitude of receiving, is being renewed for us.
In all renewal movements there is a predictable dialectic: a move far enough one way will cause the pendulum to swing back to the other extreme.
The sad history of enthusiasts illustrates both the dangers of unchecked fervency not centred on the revelation of Jesus Christ, and also the inadequacy of merely institutional or rational authority. The faith is endangered when Christians have to choose between this uncontrolled fervency and dessicated, authoritative, uninspired orthodoxies in Protestantism or Catholicism. The Spirit of God is the Spirit of love and community, the Spirit of reflection and control.
. 3. Pentecostalism is an ecclesiastical abberation that can be ignored
Not without reason has Pentecostalism been called the third force within Christendom. Pentecostalism teaches a necessary second stage in a believer’s relationship to the Lord – baptism in the Spirit – whose initial evidence is speaking in tongues. Its mission has been to restore spiritual gifts that had been neglected or opposed by the churches: tongues, interpretation, prophecy, faith, miracles, healing, wisdom, knowledge, and discernment (1 Corinthians 12:8-10).
. 4. Charismatic renewal in the 1960’s and 1970’s was indistinguishable from the older Pentecostalism
The Neo-pentecostal renewal began in a significant way in the historic churches in the 1950’s.
Catholic charismatic renewal (the term Neo-pentecostal soon went out of vogue) probably goes back to Pope John XXIII convoking the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), and his prayer that the Holy Spirit would renew the church as by a new Pentecost.
Charles Hummell uses a World War II analogy to explain what happened. Pentecostalists based their pneumatology on the Synoptics and Acts: wasn’t Jesus first conceived by the Holy Spirit, then later baptized in the Spirit? Didn’t the disciples receive the Holy Spirit when Jesus breathed on them, but were later filled with the Spirit at Pentecost?
Traditional theologies, on the other hand, were Pauline. They said you mustn’t build doctrines from these events in the primitive church, but rather ask ‘What do the New Testament letters to various churches teach us?’ And only once is baptizing in the Spirit explicitly referred to there (1 Corinthians 12:12-13). And so the battle-lines formed, and the troops became entrenched within their fixed positions.
It was something like the French Maginot Line facing the equally impregnable Siegfried Line. Each army was safe behind its ramparts but unable to advance. Suddenly the German panzer divisions moved swiftly around these fixed positions and rolled into Paris without a pitched battle.
So with our little theologies. We fight our wars, protect territory already won, and are often ill-prepared to take new ground. Hummell explains that for decades pentecostal and traditional theologies of the baptism in the Spirit faced each other along one major doctrinal battle line. Then suddenly the Holy Spirit moved around these fixed positions to infiltrate charismatic renewal behind the lines in mainline Protestant and Roman Catholic churches.
Catholic charismatic renewal has less emphasis on spiritual gifts and more on nurturing a personal relationship with Christ and on developing Christian community. In 1979 the Australian Catholic Theological Association said that through the movement thousands of Australian Catholic men and women were able to experience a deeper conversion to Jesus Christ; a renewal of faith; an introduction to a serious prayer life; a new appreciation of the Scriptures; an openness to the use of their gifts from the Holy Spirit; a commitment to evangelism.
. 5. Conservative churches are frightened to touch charismatic renewal because it is an all-or-nothing package
Peter Wagner, professor of church growth at Fuller Seminary has popularized the notion of a third wave of renewal experienced in many churches in the 1980’s. He says that many historians feel this century has seen the greatest outpouring of the Holy Spirit since the first century or two. The first wave came with the pentecostal movement. The second came around the middle of the century with the charistmatic movement. The third wave is more recent, having begun around 1980, with the same powerful, supernatural acts of the Holy Spirit which had been confined to pentecostals and charismatics now being seen in a growing number of evangelical churches.
Wagner goes on to talk about his ‘120 Fellowship’ that meets from 7.30 to 9.15 Sunday mornings. They see signs and wonders on a regular basis. They don’t teach a baptism in the Holy Spirit as a second work of grace but see the Spirit’s impact as a filling or anointing of the Spirit which may happen to a person many times. They do not permit themselves to be called Spirit-filled Christians, as if others in the church were something less than Spirit-filled.
They try to avoid the Corinthian error concerning tongues; they neither forbid nor stress it. They treat tongues as just another spiritual gift, not as a badge of spirituality. Many pray in tongues, but they do not encourage public tongues in their class.
Wagner sees the third wave of the Spirit as an opening of the evangelicals and other Christians to the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. He notes evidence of this in many mainline churches now incorporating renewal in their worship service, sponsoring healing services, or praying for healing and deliverance in their normal worship times.
. 6. There’s only one way to understand the term baptism in the Spirit
Baptism in the Spirit, in the pentecostal and charistmatic traditions, is an effusion of God’s Spirit upon a Christian with power for praise, witness and service. It is an experience which initiates a decisively new sense of the powerful presence and working of God in one’s life, and usually involves one or more charismatic gifts, observes Francis Sullivan. Pentecostals normally view it as a second work of grace. Charismatics have come to understand it as a deepening of the faith grounded in the new life received in Christ.
When a person becomes a Christian (and that can happen in many different ways), he or she never realizes all that has happened. A fuller understanding of justification, for example, may come much later. But it happened earlier. So we mustn’t put dogmatic strait-jackets on this experience. Conversion can be dramatic (if the person was running hard from God beforehand, for example), or quite matter-of-fact.
So with the Holy Spirit. Luke and Paul write about the work of the Spirit from different perspectives. For Luke the Spirit gives believers power for witness in the world – and that can be repeatable. Paul talks about the Spirit incorporating us into the body of Christ – that’s once-for-all.
Words can have different meanings in different contexts. Paul has perhaps five separate meanings for flesh. The Bible has many ways to describe the meaning of the death of Christ. Baptism is used in the Scriptures as a flexible metaphor, not merely as a technical term. I heard theologian Clark Pinnock say that so long as we recognize conversion as truly a baptism in the Spirit, there is no reason why we cannot use ‘baptism’ to refer to subsequent fillings of the Spirit as well’.
. 7. Regarding spiritual gifts, the best course is to be conservative (stick to the safe ones and leave the others well alone)
Every church ought to be open to the full spectrum of the gifts. Spiritual gifts are meant to create truly Christian community. Where there is love, there’ll be gift-giving. God’s gifts are love-gifts – God at work.
Gifts are given freely by the Holy Spirit. They can’t be manufactured by us nor is their presence or absence a sign of Christian maturity.
In a truly biblical fellowship the focus is not on the gifts, but the Giver. But that shouldn’t be a cop-out, ignoring the gifts we aren’t comfortable with.
Here’s a common problem: ‘I had the best hands laid on me, but nothing happened’. Well, what did you expect to happen? Faith-filled prayer believes you have received the Spirit: leave the rest to God’s timing. David du Plessis (Mr. Pentecost) says that baptism in the Spirit is always easy when Jesus Christ does it for you, but always difficult when you struggle to do it yourself or with the help of others. And Richard Lovelace comments that Christians act as though fellowship with the Holy Spirit were very hard to establish. Actually it is very difficult to avoid! He says all that is necessary is for the believer to open up to that divine Reality in the centre of consciousness which is the most fundamental fact of a Christian’s inner life’.
Western fundamentalism has been infected with dispensationalism which sees the activity in the Book of Acts as transitional; the canon of Scripture is now closed, and the curtain has been brought down on all this sort of thing. When Paul says tongues and prophecy will be with us until the perfect comes (1 Corinthians 13:10) they say Paul meant a perfect Bible. The rest of the church interprets Paul as referring to heaven, when we shall see face to face.
Prophecy is a direct dominical utterance (thus says the Lord) for a particular people at a particular time and place, for a particular purpose. The Divine Word also comes through Jesus, through Scripture, through circumstances, and through visions (more commonly in non-Western cultures).
Prophecy gives the church fresh insights into God’s truth (Ephesians 3) or guidance about the future (Acts 11), or encouragement (1 Corinthians 14:3, 1 Timothy 1:18), or inspiration or correction. It either edifies the church or brings it under judgement (God is in this place! – see 1 Corinthians 14:25). The biblical prophets combined judgement with hope.
. 9. Tongues is an ecstatic gift (for immature Christians)
The gift of tongues (glossolalia) is a quasi-linguistic phenomenon, not language in the normal sense of the term.
Tongues-speaking is not an indication of mental imbalance. After fifty years of research the consensus still runs, as with Virginia Hine over twenty years ago, that available evidence requires that an explanation of glossolalia as pathological must be discarded.
Two decades of research into the discrete functions of left and right hemispheres of the brain appears to show that the dominant cerebral hemisphere (the left, for 95% of the population) specializes in thinking processes which are analytical, linear, logical, sequential, verbal, rational. The right hemisphere normally shows preference for thought that is visiospatial, simultaneous, analog (as opposed to digital), emotional.
While speech has been seen to rise from mapped sectors of the left hemisphere, language-formation capacities are probably spread over both hemispheres. Glossolalia may be right hemisphere speech, sharing a location beyond – but not contradictory to – the usual canons of rationality. It is appropriate to think of glossolalic prayer as neither irrational nor arational, but rather transrational; when reason fails in prayer, the Spirit helps (Romans 8:26,27). It’s spirit to Spirit communication rather than mind to mind. (1 Corinthians 14:15).
Richard Beyer claims that there is a fundamental functional similarity between speaking in tongues and two other widespread and generally accepted religious practices, namely Quaker silent worship and the liturgical worship of Catholic and Episcopal churches.
. 10. What if they’re not healed?
Let’s look at the tough questions.
Does God want everyone healed? Pentecostalists usually say yes (and if you aren’t, the problem is with lack of faith – yours, or your praying friends’ or your church’s).
Most others would say no.
Francis McNutt offers a more balanced view. In general, he says, it is God’s desire that we be healthy, rather than sick. And since he has the power to do all things, he will respond to prayer for healing unless there is some obstacle, or unless the sickness is sent or permitted for some greater reason.
The church today surely needs less pride and prejudice in this area. ‘But what if we pray publicly and they’re not healed?’ is the kind of faithless question that stymies our maturing in this area. Our calling is to be faithful and obedient. It’s God’s business whether he heals or not!
. 11. Deliverance from evil spirits is a medieval or animistic idea. We’ve now outgrown all that.
Naturalism is a view of the world that takes account only of natural elements and forces, excluding the supernatural or spiritual.
This world view has influenced theology in this century principally through Rudolf Bultmann. He claimed that because the forces and laws of nature have been discovered we can’t believe in spirits, whether good or evil.
Against this, the biblical worldview holds that the universe consists of both visible and invisible creatures, angels, demons, and powers. As theologians like Gustav Aulen and Helmut Thielicke point out, the inbreaking of God’s kingdom in the ministry of Jesus Christ can’t be understood apart from its being a war against the principalities of evil. Emil Brunner says we cannot rightly understand the church of the New Testament unless we break out of the strait-jacket of naturalism and take seriously the dynamic manifestations of the Holy Spirit.
Someone has calculated that 3,874 (49%) of the New Testament’s 7,957 verses are ‘contaminated’ with happenings and ideas alien to a naturalistic world-view. Morton Kelsey noted that the only large group of Christians who take seriously the idea of a direct encounter with the non-space-time or spiritual world are the Pentecostals and the charismatics, and they have come in for derision from every side.
However, as C.S. Lewis and others have warned us, there are two opposite errors we must avoid: either disbelieving in the devil’s existence, or giving Satan more attention than he deserves. Cardinal Suenens similarly exhorts us to steer a safe course between Scylla and Charibdis, between underestimation and exaggeration.
Within the church the gift of discernment of spirits is very important. The Scriptures suggest various tests to discern the spirits: Is Christ glorified (John 16:14)? Is the church edified? Are others helped? Does it accord with Scripture? Is there love? Is Jesus Lord of the person’s life? Is there submission to church leaders – allowing others to weigh what is said or done?
. 12. It’s all so divisive that we ought to leave charismatic issues well alone
Divisiveness would head anyone’s list of the issues confronting us in the modern charistmatic renewal.
My observation, however, is that divisiveness is not a function of the presence or absence of certain spiritual gifts, but of insecurity, fear (charisphobia), insensitivity (charismania), or lovelessness on one or both sides.
David Watson talked about tidy churches, with piles of papers neatly in order. The windows are opened, but the fresh wind of the Spirit blows the papers about, so the elders scurry around collecting them all again, and close the windows. You’ve got tidiness, even stuffiness.
That’s the picture of many a church, he suggests. He wants to have the windows open with a fresh breath of the Holy Spirit blowing. Untidiness with life is preferable if the alternative is tidiness and death. One of the tidiest places you can find is the cemetery.
Let us beware of the error Gamaliel warned about (Acts 5:33-39). If this is of God, we must take the movement seriously.
Certainly the swift stream of renewal often throws debris on to the banks. Old wineskins can’t cope with new wine without bursting. When the Spirit is at work, the devil will be sowing weeds among the wheat.
. 13. Experience-centred and Word-centred theologies won’t mix
The success of an experiential theology must be judged by the ease (or lack of ease) with which it moves from Spirit to Word. If Word and Spirit can be held in dynamic union, then experiential theology has the possibility of becoming definitive for the life and witness of the church today.
Too often Word takes the place of Spirit. Our traditional theologies run the risk of being rationalistic, contrived conceptual schemas. The Holy Spirit is the subject of a sterile pneumatology, with little openness to an experience of his power.
But, again, an experience-centred theology sometimes stays there. Sometimes there’s an unhealthy identification of truth with a prophetic leader, or a great experience; everything else derives validity through reference to these. Or else the Bible is used as a sanction for one’s independent feelings and experiences. Or perhaps we are not open to the whole of experience.
Thus an unhealthy individualism and a pervasive subjectivism often accompany pieties of personal experience. As Russell Spittler has put it, individualism is a virtue when it assures conscious religious experience, but becomes something of an occupational hazard for Pentecostal-charismatics. Add in some dominant personality traits, take away an acquaintance with the church’s collective past, delete theological sophistication, and the mix can be volatile, catastrophic.
Let us beware of inhabiting simplicity this side of complexity, or complexity the other side of simplicity, but rather move to simplicity the other side of complexity!
The security of the slogan is easier than the hard work of discovering the truth. Much of what is written in pentecostal/charismatic books is what Kilian McDonnell calls enthusiastic theological fluff – pink hot air in printed form.
There is a great need for a thorough-going charismatic theology. For example the juxtaposition of the ideas of baptism in the Spirit and the release of spiritual gifts may be seen to be a most significant contribution to twentieth-century theology, but a lot more work has to be done on it yet.
. 14. In the church’s worship you can’t mix charismatic elements with traditional forms
Probably, in retrospect, it will be seen that the pentecostal movement will have made its most important contribution in corporate worship, in the sphere of liturgy and preaching, and not in the sphere of pneumatology, as is constantly and quite wrongly supposed, suggests Walter Hollenweger.
Aspects of pentecostal/charistmatic worship are invading traditional churches with a rush! It’s becoming more common for worshippers of all kinds to raise their hands in adoration, as they sing scripture-songs in their morning worship-services. However these songs are as limited as is charismatic theology. There are very few about mission and justice, for example. They’re mostly ‘God loves me and I love God’ songs. Nice, but there’s more; love issues in a life of witness and obedience in a hostile world.
The way forward ultimately is to integrate the unique insights and results of charismatic renewal into the full life of the church, with a submission to the order, tradition, doctrine and spirituality of the church as a whole. It’s not helpful to go underground. Every special movement needs the whole church body to give focus, direction, discernment and correction; it needs to be tested, evaluated, encouraged, improved and admonished. As Cardinal Suenans says, to be most useful, the charismatic movement must disappear into the life of the church.
. 15. The problem of elitism should eventually go away
I’m pessimistic on this one. We enjoy sorting others out according to false hierarchies of value. There have always been ‘haves and have-nots’ in the church. Only the categories change. In one era a priestly caste takes special prerogatives to itself and we have the evil of clericalism. In others there are heresy trials with the orthodox removing the heterodox. In the charistmatic renewal, experience is the watershed: those who have ‘arrived’ have been ‘baptised in the Spirit’ in a discernible experience subsequent to conversion, and speak in tongues. But the New Testament mostly uses ethical rather than experiential categories to define stages of Christian maturity. For example, Barnabas was spirit-filled; that is, he was filled with goodness and faith (Acts 11:24).
. 16. Magic isn’t a problem if we’re ministering in Christ’s name
It is possible for a miracle-centred theology to become theurgical (Greek ‘theourgia’ – magic). An openness to signs and wonders can easily degenerate into miracle-mongering.
Miracles are not just for show. Jesus resisted the temptation to work miracles to dazzle people or to seduce them into believing in him, notes Alan Richardson. He refused to give the Pharisees a ‘sign from heaven’. He did not want to be sought after as a wonder-worker.
Magic involves repeating formulas (vain repetitions). It’s wanting blessings more for my sake than God’s. It’s manipulating deity for my ends.
. 17. The charismatic renewal is ecumenical
If it is charismatic, it’s ecumenical, says Mr. Pentecost, David du Plessis. But he adds that there has been a dangerous tendency by pentecostals/charismatics to criticize the church, leading to the formation of schismatic, independent groups:
The more schismata the less charismata (1 Corinthians 12:25,26), he would say. This humble Pentecostal pioneer had a passion for unity because the prayer of Jesus was for unity, that the world may believe. He saw little hope for the world unless unity comes to Christianity.
. 18. Charismatic renewal and mission
Christians are commissioned to do in their world what Jesus did in his: bringing salvation (wholeness, the reign of God), where there is pain, sickness, lostness, alienation, oppression, poverty, war, injustice. So the church’s mission has three dimensions: evangelism (preaching good news), works of mercy (relieving persons’ pain), and works of justice (addressing the causes of pain). It uses three instruments: word (what we say), deed (what we do) and sign (what God does).
Pentecostalists/charismatics have brought the church back to signs and wonders and they have generally done evangelism better than others.
But pentecostal/charismatics churches are weakest of all in the justice area. There’s more in the prophets than Joel’s promise of the Spirit on all flesh. The prophets cried out for justice, the redress of wrongs done to the poor.
. 19. Being baptised in the Spirit is an antidote for antinomianism
It isn’t. Antinomianism (living carelessly and lawlessly) is as much a trap for pentecostals/charismatics as for anyone.
. 20. Conclusions: the way forward
Sherwood Wirt noted that the most important gift God has given to the charismatic renewal is a fresh outpouring of love. Not joy, not ecstasy, not tongues, not miracles, not even martyrdom, but love.
And there’s something else the cautious ought to be more afraid of: attributing the work of the Spirit to the devil. That’s a very serious sin, Jesus warned.
Paul sums it up: ‘Pursue love and strive for the spiritual gifts’ (1 Corinthians 14:1).
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Biography of Jim Waugh by his eldest daughter Elaine Olley.
Elaine Olley gives us a lively biography of her dad, a man ahead of his times in many ways, building church halls and houses across NSW, Australia, and pioneering in many country towns as an innovative Baptist minister. This is not your stuffy story of a country parson, but a get-your-hands-dirty and dusty hands-on story of building churches and helping people.
Migrating from Scotland as a four year old, Jim left school at 11 years of age. A feisty young man, he could turn his hand to anything. But God claimed him to serve as a Baptist pastor dedicated to country churches in New South Wales. He loved fast driving, open air evangelism and missions and cared for people in distress.
Wherever he went he grew congregations, built church halls and manses. His friends were willing to uproot and follow him when he needed them and his children remember times with a relaxed fun father.
Above all he had a profound impact on many lives who testify to this fact today.
By all means James Alexander Waugh proclaimed the God he loved above all else.
1 Early Days
2 Arncliffe 1941–47
3 Griffith 1947–51
4 Tamworth 1951–55
5 Gloucester 1955–61
6 Orange 1961–65
7 Toronto 1966–73
A Son Remembers Ministry
Tribute to Dad―his children remember
Jim’s Children Today
Tribute to Dad―
His Children Remember
Jim loved each of his nine children and prayed without ceasing for them. Each child remembers the Scripture readings at the table after meals which set a foundation for their lives. Holiday times were remembered with great fondness as their Dad was a fun person to be with, enjoying fishing as a relaxation or in the very early days in the Blue Mountains at Hilda’s parents’ holiday house. His love is reflected in the family’s continued closeness despite geographical distance. His faithful prayers have seen all nine children claim Christ as their own and become active in the various churches they attend.
To have a rounded picture of Jim we need to add his children’s memories.
Dad was a strong family man as well as a strong Christian leader.
He was always repairing the things we used, like bikes, cars, toys, and house repairs. Dad often made toys—like the big plane he made me that was too big to fly around much, but I did sit on it. He supervised our jobs, such as at Griffith with veggies and chooks, and collecting eggs. We all moved through the washing up and drying up chores. I used to stir the family’s porridge on the gas stove after it had soaked all night, and Dad insisted on no lumps.
As small children we played lots of imaginary games—inviting Jesus for tea with the tea sets. We always seemed to have some kind of cubby house somewhere. I preferred to climb trees and read borrowed comics there.
I remember riding my bike a lot—great to develop leg muscles I used as in PNG, walking over the hills, and in the South Pacific in retirement! I remember building the family caravan with him from a trailer chassis, with timber frames and aluminum screwed onto it—thousands of screws! We used it for the last family holiday with Mum in January 1955, from Tamworth across to the coast and down the north coast—and I drove with Dad in the black Chev to Gloucester, as he prepared to move there that year.
‘Blue Hills’ was a lunch time ritual—we rode home on our bikes for lunch (except at Griffith). We had pets, mainly dogs, needing feeding and walking. Baths were often with the chip heater—so that involved chopping chips and lighting it, and doing the same under the copper for washing on Mondays.
Though Dad was strict about no talking at the table (ruler always handy), once food was finished any questions were okay. I learned heaps about the Bible at home as well as at church, and enjoyed telling my siblings imaginary stories based on Bible facts—one way to get through washing the dishes and drying up happily! We would also sing choruses and hymns, sometimes alphabetically—from ‘Away in a manger’ to ‘Zacchaeus was a very little man.’ I think Q and X stumped us! We were all encouraged to get involved in church life from an early age—so developed a lot of leadership, and Bible knowledge. I remember teaching Sunday School, leading Junior Christian Endeavour, acting in church dramas, and preaching, all before finishing High School.
He was proud of his family, often commenting on any of our achievements to others, but rarely complimenting us so we wouldn’t get ‘big heads’ and often telling us we could achieve whatever we set our minds to do.
Generally life was happy, relaxed, and meaningful. Always there were things to do, and we all had chores fitting our age, but plenty of time to play. Dad encouraged creativity and trying things out, and taught us to ride bikes and drive cars and answer the phone and run messages. A good life. I am grateful for the strong love, strong discipline, and strong Christian values Dad gave us all for strong foundations in our lives.
My memories go back to Arncliffe and the free life before school began. I had a bad start at school because I would not eat, therefore Dad had asked the teacher to make sure I ate my lunch. However the teacher was too tough on a five year old. I ran away from the school and Dad had to cycle all over Arncliffe to find me as I had crossed the overhead bridge on Princes Highway. I remember Dad’s arm around me tightly as I sat on the cross bar of the bike on the way home but I did get punished when we were home. Punishment was there but love was there also so it was no big deal.
We older two had our tonsils out while at Arncliffe and it was Dad who was at the hospital with us when we woke, Hazel must have been a baby at that time. He had promised we could have an ice-cream, a very rare treat then, if we were good. I told him I was good and got my ice-cream.
Dad as well as having chooks for eggs in Griffith, also killed and plucked them at times, laughing at my disgust as he plucked those poor chooks. I never saw them actually killed, he kept that from us. He once made me a pram and as he was making it he told me it was a chook feed bin. I however knew what it was, so to save his face I went along with it. Dad also hid in the church hall two bikes he was doing up for Hazel and myself for Christmas, but somehow we knew and pulled ourselves up to the hall window to have a look. It didn’t lessen our excitement one bit.
In Tamworth I used to have the freedom to ride my bike wherever I wanted and often went to the roads outside the town and lay on the grass making daisy chains and finding pictures in the clouds. We older three were allowed to go to the swimming pool together which was some distance from the house. We had bonfires in the back yard at Tamworth with Dad buying fire crackers and Catherine Wheels for the fun of it. I stuck to sparklers. Bonfire night was Graeme’s birthday and the night of his birth we had had to sleep in the car outside the Leeton Hospital. I selfishly only thought of the fun we were missing. Some time during the Tamworth era Dad stopped tucking me into bed at night. I loved him doing that as he made a boat bed. I guess it was the right time as the teen years were catching up with me, but I regretted this passing of my childhood.
I became aware in Tamworth that finances were very tight as we had mostly second hand clothes, our cousins’, which were really nice. Dad mended our shoes and I had one white dress, from the mission box I think. Each week I took the hem up for tennis, and let it down for school cooking classes. I had one school tunic which I was responsible for cleaning and ironing each weekend. I was aware that if it had not been for the fresh produce given to us by the farm families things would have been more difficult. This fresh produce, and one time I can remember a turkey, reflected the love these farm people had for Mum and Dad. However we were not ever made aware of the tight circumstances as a terrible thing, just part of life. We learned that God would take care of our needs.
The one time I remember Dad being really angry occurred when he was able to buy a fridge to replace the old ice chest. There was criticism from some in the church, despite most people already owning fridges. Mum was in tears because of this criticism as she had been so proud of her new fridge. Dad declared never again would he allow a church (I am sure it was only the minor few who spoke the loudest) to dictate what the Pastor could have in his own house. Mum had only a copper for washing with wringers in the tubs but times were changing.
Dad had a radio program in Tamworth and once he included Hazel and me singing a duet. It sounded lovely until we heard it on the radio—I was too close to the microphone and it blurred, very humiliating yet Dad who was fussy about good programming said ‘never mind’. I was baptized by Dad in Tamworth—a special time where I felt Dad and I were cocooned with God.
Dad was proud of his kids. Even though most of us went through the horrible teen times and did our rebelling, he worked through those stages with us.
Even though Geoff was only thirteen months older than I was, Dad and Mum made sure he was able to do things before I could, giving him the sense of being older.
When Mum died Dad must have been so devastated but he comforted us kids. I remembered him pulling me, a sixteen year old, on to his knees and holding me tight. He understood (with the house full of visitors at that time when I should have been a hostess) that I didn’t want to talk to anyone.
Our mother was too nervous to drive a car. Dad therefore seemed to think I would be the same, so I was sad that he was no longer around when as a mother of two children who needed to be driven to school, I did learn to drive during our Home Assignment from Hong Kong, and drove in Hong Kong! Dad walked me down the aisle on my wedding day. A first for him, so special for me. I wanted only a father that day, not the pastor he had been for most of my life.
An important God-given time for me was when we were on Home Assignment from Hong Kong. It was NSW Baptist Assembly time and I was to speak at the Women’s Day at the Central Baptist Church. Unbeknown to me, Dad was listening out the back, so proud of his daughter. He then took me to the Chinatown, behind Central Baptist, for a Chinese meal. I guided him in his food choice and he loved his first and last Chinese meal, lemon chicken. He died just days later (not from the food!).
Looking back, it was meal times I enjoyed so much as we could talk as we grew older and we had lots of discussions and always ended up with the bible (King James in those early days) being read at the table. Sometimes we would spend hours still in the dining room after a Sunday lunch, always with others who were there for the meal. Our lives were enriched by our parents’ open house policy. The opening of the Scriptures at the meal table set a pattern in John’s and my family life although by that stage there was more child-appropriate material around and I see this passed down as our grandchildren enjoy their children’s Bibles.
My earliest memories are of Arncliffe where I was born. A special memory is Sunday School Anniversaries when tiered platforms would be erected way up high. I longed for the day when I would be one of the big kids and could sit up towards the top. They went out of vogue before I got to that age though.
I loved to play in the church yard and remember marching around singing, ‘Stand up, stand up for Jesus; ye soldiers of the cross’. Even at a young age I knew the difference between earthly armies and spiritual. I think the devotional times around the meal table and Sunday School models to reinforce visually truths learned are a testimony to parents whose passion for Jesus would see all nine children make the same choices.
I almost cut off my tongue when playing on some bricks and slipping while my Dad was doing some brickwork on a fence at the front of the house—I remember clearly the look of deep concern yet calm control as Dad scooped me in his arms and rushed me to the hospital. The doctors said they could not stitch it, and I would either lose the end of my tongue or it would knit. Dad took me home and sitting on a kitchen chair at the table he held me under his arm in a vicelike grip—no hope of moving—while he physically held my tongue in place until it started to knit. I still have a very deep scar diagonally along my tongue with the worst part in the middle which sometimes still bleeds. My Dad was determined I was not going to lose my tongue if he had anything to do with it.
I remember the train trip to Griffith and the Church Secretary meeting us at the station with the car with a ‘dicky seat’ at the back. There was a bag of fresh almonds which we were allowed to help ourselves to. Soon after we arrived at Griffith I was in hospital with pneumonia and Dad was always right there. He came with a bag of boiled lollies one day and encouraged me to share them right around the children’s ward which I was very happy to do until I started to see those lollies disappearing. However when it was my turn there was just one left (that was one for everyone). I thought it was the most wonderful lolly in the whole world and determined to make it last as long as possible.
I sat for my first Sunday School exam at Griffith. I still remember the verses I had to write down from John 14:
Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
I walked out of the room (one of the last to finish) and burst into sobs but Dad was right there to comfort me. I was terrified I would fail so still ‘practiced’ the verses in case I had to write them again. Those words of John 14 are precious to me to this day, having first started to penetrate at the age of 7 or 8.
At Tamworth I loved Church and everything to do with it, except the effect of some critical folks—and long sermons! Actually, compared to today’s ‘climate’, Dad’s sermons were always 20 minutes to the second and he would bring up his arm in smart military precision to check periodically. I used to love to watch that, but I learnt how to switch off by reading (singing in my mind) hymns, or reading my mother’s Bible (I wasn’t going to listen to sermons!). I soon learnt that I wouldn’t get into trouble by reading the Bible or the hymn book. One hymn I loved was ‘The day Thou gavest Lord is ended’—and when I would get to the line ‘Thy praise shall sanctify our rest’ tears would come and I couldn’t stop them. Once I looked up through my tears and could see the soft look in the back of Dad’s eyes, and I think after that I started to listen to sermons, because I realised I couldn’t ‘pull the wool over’ my Dad’s eyes. That was a favourite expression of his. That soft expression deep within his eyes would also be there when he sang with the congregation himself: ‘Turn your eyes upon Jesus’, ‘Have Thine own way, Lord, Have Thine own Way’, ‘Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me’, ‘When I survey the wondrous cross’ (often during communion).
Another saying he often came in with was, ‘Paul made tents, you know’. He certainly led by example in not expecting anyone to do what he wouldn’t do himself. Whenever we had a lot of visitors staying over (usually guest speakers), Dad would pull two armchairs together to make a cot like bed, and we loved to snuggle up as he would pull the blankets very tight making a boatlike bed. I used to do that with my own children, telling them that my Dad used to do that when I was their age. They too loved ‘to rock in their little boat’.
‘Blue Hills’ at lunch time was a daily non-negotiable happening, but I loved it as well and couldn’t wait for the next episode. Actually I expect that none of us were ever late for lunch! I remember us all crowded in the hall in the manse at Tamworth around the big radio listening to the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth. It was a great event and exciting to be allowed to listen to it all.
Easter camps, excursions to Sydney to major Christian events, whether Evangelistic Crusades or Youth for Christ or BYF, were never missed whichever town we were in.
It was at Gloucester that my athletic ability started to surface and I did very well for my school. Dad used to tell me that if only I would put in the same effort in my scholastic study I would do well. What I later found out was he would proudly boast about my athletic ability to other people. New relatives in Gloucester, particularly Hazel Yates, would always find a way to tell us.
Orange: Dad was extremely watchful over his kids when they were choosing their lifelong partners, incredibly strict and protective and a great support and ‘safe’ sounding board. Even at the age of 21 I still had to be in by 11 pm. He also cared as much for all his flock and was a safe sounding board for many people. In our home we all saw that, and it had its place in nurturing us all as well.
In January 1955 when I was 6 ½ years old my Mum died. A few weeks later Dad, the older three children and the youngest child, Daphne moved to Gloucester while Heather and I went to stay at Griffith with Dad’s friends, the Jarvis family, until the new manse at Gloucester was built. The trauma of these events has seriously affected my memory of day-to-day events throughout my life. I have no memories of anything before Gloucester, not even of my Mother.
Some of the things I remember about Gloucester were walking to school, sometimes barefooted (Graeme’s choice) and doing the hot foot shuffle on the bitumen assembly area with a lot of other kids in a similar state of dress. I sometimes had to walk the cow on a lead to feed it on footpaths, etc. during dry times. One time when that cow had a calf, I was helping Dad while he was building a holding pen for the cow or calf and he asked me to get a length of timber from across the yard. As I walked between the cow and her calf, the cow charged me, and as I was running for cover, Dad grabbed the nearest stick of timber he could find, intercepted the cow and gave it a bit of a hiding. It was during my Primary school years in Gloucester that I started building things, and at times destroying other things to get the parts I needed to build my contraptions. Dad allowed me to use the tools necessary to build, but I got more than one belting for destroying other items. In those days Dad believed firmly in ‘spare the rod and spoil the child’. There were two things that I remember Dad bringing home from Papua New Guinea. One was a toy boat called a Lakatoy, and the other was a wicked looking cane with knobs up both sides. I think the sight of this was supposed to deter misbehaviour. It didn’t work. Geoff once created a label to place across the corner where this cane stood saying, ‘I need thee every hour’, in fun I think.
In Orange I rode a bike to school, usually with my best friend David Christie, a deacon’s son. All my friends went to the Baptist church where we were involved in Sunday School, Christian Endeavour and Boys Brigade and I sang in the Church choir. It was in Orange that I went to my first inter-church youth camps. I started work in Orange and remember a particular life lesson at that time. Dad said on the date of my first full-time pay packet, ‘You are a working man now and have to pay your way. Mum will get weekly board from you whether you are in work or out of work, so stay in work.’ He helped me buy my first car when I was still on L-plates and used to lock it securely when he and Mum went out of town together. I don’t know if he ever discovered that I became a good hand at picking locks, hot-wiring cars and then driving illegally without a license. I suspect, knowing he had a lot of spies in town, he may have known but never let on.
When the family moved from Orange to Gwandalan, I was working mostly away from home with Martin Bamby on rural sheds. My time off was spent in Gwandalan and I remember this as a relaxed time of my life, swimming in the lake and rowing Dad’s timber rowing boat from Gwandalan to Belmont and back—got very frightened being caught in storms a couple of times doing that.
We moved to Toronto and it was there I started my building career. I became active in Sunday School, Christian Endeavour, choirs including BYF choir and Inter-church youth camps. It was at a camp leadership meeting that I met Alison. Dad also collared me to use my car or his at times to do pick up and return home runs for some elderly church members and young people for various meetings. I believe at times he had to deal with irate parents who felt the courier drove too fast. I used to enjoy using his car with that magic clergy sticker as there was less chance of getting pulled over by the constabulary. It was at Toronto that I became aware of Dad’s interest and knowledge of current affairs and world events. Illustrations in sermons often included references to these events. He had quite a sense of humor with most sermons including some joke or funny story somewhere along the line.
It was as a carpenter myself that I discovered how good Dad could be with hand tools, although he could also be rough when in a hurry. One day Phillip Latham and myself, both apprentice carpenters, were trying to construct some implement that required a hole drilled right through the centre of a long stick of timber. We both continually failed with the large boring bit continually protruding through the side of the stick before it got to the other end. Dad came into the shed, saw all the failures, asked the purpose of the exercise and immediately decided to show us how it was done. He took a new stick, stuck it in the vice, grabbed the brace and bit we were using and proceeded to punch a 20mm hole lengthways through a 38mm square stick about 250mm long at full speed and came out dead centre the other end first go. To this day I have never been game to test myself to see if I can match it.
Although Dad repeatedly told me I should never own a motor bike because I drove too fast, when my finances were tight as I was on an apprentices wages and I could not afford to keep the V8 Ford I had, he helped me buy my first road bike. He may have considered it safe as it had a sidecar and there might have even been some nostalgia involved, as he once owned a bike and sidecar himself. However, I got the bike and so it must be his fault I still ride them today. Dad was very handy with motors and he taught me most of what I know about working on them. We used to use the large tree behind the manse at Toronto to lift motors out of cars using pulleys permanently attached to a high branch on that tree.
It was when Alison and I married and I moved away from home that Dad and I became mates. Until then I had been probably the most rebellious member of the family and Dad was forever having to deal with that part of my nature. Dad sometimes came onto my building projects when I needed a hand and we worked well together. He was there the day I cut my hand with a power saw and I am sure no car Dad ever owned went faster than the old ‘beetle’ did that day getting me to a doctor. We worked on the house at Gwandalan together when Dad decided to re-clad the external walls and he helped me win a contract to extend the Toronto Church hall, and then worked on it with me.
I have no memory of my mother or of her passing, however I guess it must have affected me greatly as I remember having a fear of losing Dad. When he went to New Guinea I was scared he would not come back and in early growing up years—at least from Gloucester—I hated him travelling anywhere and was always worried about him not returning.
Dad was very strict on one hand but soft on another. I always knew he loved me, no matter what I got up to.
He was at times like a big kid, e.g., when we went on a holiday (I don’t remember where but it was up north) and he liked to fish. One morning the beach was full of dead fish washed up on the sand and Dad collected them in loads and piled them all over the sand in a bunch and then stood with his fishing line and had his photo taken as if he had caught them all! I think I have that photo still.
Then there was the first year we were in Orange and that first winter it snowed. When I came home from school and walked up the driveway Dad jumped out and hit me with a snowball. I think he hid and did the same for each one of us coming home.
Another example was when Elaine and John went to Hong Kong and he bought the tape recorder and had great fun trying it out and was very excited when using it to record our messages to them.
Then there was the mini-transistor radio Elaine sent him from Hong Kong. He was so excited with this little transistor and put it proudly on his bedhead to listen to while he was in bed.
Dad was also very protective. Even though I was a rebellious teenager and wore mini skirts and the like which he didn’t approve of, he was quick to stand up for me if anyone from the church criticised me.
Also, not long after I had my first motor bike, I went to work one day and during the day a pretty strong storm developed with a fierce wind and when it came time for me to come home I put on my wet gear and started home battling the wind, especially crossing the Fennells Bay bridge where some other bikes had stopped to wait it out, but I wanted to get home so kept going leaning into the wind. I got home safely and Dad drove in after me—he had come over to where I worked at the Lake Macquarie Shire Council in Warners Bay (about 20 minutes away) and followed me home out of sight to make sure I could handle it.
I was always sad that Dad passed away before I was married with children as I remember watching him with his grandchildren who he loved dearly, just like his kids.
I don’t remember my mother as I was thirteen months old when she died.
Probably the best memory I have of Dad is up in the pulpit singing with all his heart, total enthusiasm. Even now sometimes a hymn is sung in church and tears come to my eyes because all I can see is Dad up there in the pulpit singing it. And of course there were times when he was listening at home to hymn music and being ‘a conductor’.
Sunday mornings we would often be woken up with Dad singing hymns with gusto, coming in and telling us it was a ‘wonderful day’ and time to get up. He would pull back the curtains and tell us it was time to ‘rise and shine’, singing ‘rise and shine, and give God the glory, glory’!!
Then there were the times I handed him the tools while he was under the car, quite a few times actually.
Dad loved the Islanders singing and brought tapes home of them singing in harmony. This was after he went to New Guinea I imagine.
In Orange Dad brought me ice cream when I had my tonsils out. He also taught me how to ride a push bike by taking me up the back yard and letting me go (down hill) until I fell off because I didn’t know how to stop, of course yelling out instructions along the way.
The family tradition was to open our ‘stockings’ before church on Christmas Day, but to wait until after the Church service to open the family presents (this I imagine was so Dad could be part of all the family festivities after the service)–a tradition we followed through in our own family.
I used to stay awake until Dad was home and in bed (at Toronto Mum and Dad’s bedroom was next to ours)—there was that comfort and security to hear Dad’s deep voice as he and Mum talked together.
I also have vague memories of him remodelling the house at Gwandalan, my general feeling being lovely relaxed family times holidaying there.
Dad put me through Newcastle Business College when I left school, then I got work pretty well straight away. When I talked about travel, he insisted that if I was to move away I was to go somewhere where one of my older siblings lived so they could keep an eye on me!!! Geoff was in Brisbane so I chose to start there.
When he put me on the train to Brisbane, Dad gave me an envelope that I wasn’t to open unless I wanted to move back home. Of course I opened it as soon as I got onto the train―it was money for a return ticket if I wanted it or needed it. He wrote at least once a month while I was there, just a small page but those letters were so special.
One special memory is of sitting out in the sun in the back yard at Toronto just talking with Dad as he talked a little about our mother, for the first time in my life. I was about 17 years old, not long before I left for Brisbane.
Dad loved to explore and learn. I can’t remember much of a holiday trip to Canberra with the old caravan, except Dad’s enthusiasm to see ‘everything’ at the War Memorial and to read all the detail. We kids were sick of it all way before he was. We had a few family holidays in the caravan, mostly at beaches but sometimes ‘educational trips’ like Canberra and Adelaide.
At Toronto because the church had a big debt, Dad found a practical way to make money. He was always ahead of everyone in ‘alternate’ things (such as all the vitamin pills we used to have to put out for him at the table—kelp and other strange health tablets). He discovered that the paper mills bought old paper waste for recycling. So he proposed that the church collect the paper waste from the shops in Toronto and pack it in wool bags and sell it. This involved a bit of work as it needed to be collected each day form the shops. He made up frames the wool bags hung on and the shops just dropped their paper and packaging in it.
The job of collecting these bags of course fell on him and thus me as well. He borrowed the church secretary’s milk van and off each afternoon after school we would have to go and collect each full bag from about 3 or 4 shops. This wasn’t so bad as often damaged goods that were OK to us were in amongst the paper. We especially loved the shoe shop as often one week one shoe would be discarded and then its matching pair the next. The girls at this shop left their old Coke bottles out as well, so we could take them back for the 5c recycle claim.
These bags were then off loaded in our back yard (the manse right next to the church) in a fenced off area Dad had made. Then every Saturday the men from the church were on a roster to sort out the paper from waste and pack it tightly into wool bags and tie them up. They were stored there until a full semi-trailer load was accumulated, then it was loaded on the trucks to go to the Sydney mill. Often these bags got very wet and thus heavy in the rain while waiting—this caused some funny incidences of bags ripping open while being loaded and truck’s loads slipping as they tried to leave our back yard (as it was sold by weight, wet paper can make some money).
I remember one particular trying load that happened to cause so much trouble it was still being loaded late at night. One man had the big hook that gripped the bags to lift them with, go through his hand. The load shifted as the top layer went on and only our old fence was holding it up—it had to be unloaded and loaded again. This late night happened to be a Boys’ Brigade night so Dianne and I didn’t mind as some of the young men of our church offered to help. Dianne and I happened to be sleeping in the caravan outside at the time (no room in the house) so, even though a very harassed father ordered us to bed, it was easy to lean out the windows and carry on conversation with certain young men! I think this was the same load that the semi driver jack-knifed the truck on the way to Sydney. I think the load was too heavy.
After a while the men of the church got tired of spending their Saturdays sorting through paper and rubbish so it looked like this source of income would dry up, but then Dad got another brilliant idea. If we gave up carting their rubbish away, how would the shops get rid of it? Pay someone of course. So he negotiated with the shops and continued to take away their rubbish for a fee and straight to the tip. I of course had to help (he was fairly old by this time and Phillip was too young—how Dianne missed out I don’t know). It was the embarrassment of my teenage years as often at school someone would say, ‘I saw you at the tip’ !!! I knew all the old scavengers by name and Dad would often come home with ‘something’ useful! We went so often to the tip I didn’t even notice its smell after a while. Anyway I think we finally got out of debt and it probably became too much for Dad, but it certainly left some memories for me.
The disciplining was always shared between Mum and Dad. When Dad registered my birth he put down that day’s date not my actual birth date, hence my birth certificate is wrong. Mum said he was busy getting ready to go to New Guinea and had a lot on his mind.
Dad’s nickname for me was Blockhead because of my large head (I loved it). Once when he was handing out awards at a Sunday School Anniversary, he called me out as Blockhead!
Until I was 22 I never realised that pastors had a set day off during the week. To my knowledge, Dad never did.
I remember Dad speeding one day and saying that it was OK because he had a clergy sticker on the car and the police would let him by.
Dad always wore a hat and when he came to Toronto High to teach scripture a lot of kids thought that he was a detective. He was a pretty cool Scripture Teacher, maybe because he had teenage kids. He read us ‘In The Twinkling Of An Eye’ (which had great results) and the kids thought that was much better than everyone else’s boring scripture lessons.
Dad hated TV because he said he would visit people and they always left the TV on and he felt they weren’t giving him their full attention. He hired one for us kids though when we had a holiday at Gwandalan and he had to spend a majority of the time renovating and cladding the house.
He hated Vegemite (blackjack) and tomatoes and loved passionfruit ice cream in a cone—that was a treat reserved for holidays. He also loved listening to ‘Blue Hills’ and we weren’t allowed to talk while that was on. He was really into alternate health—kelp tablets, carrot juice, apple cider vinegar, and he took me to a chiropractor in the early ‘70s when most people hadn’t even heard of them.
He was very protective of his children and believed that he should minimise the chances for them to get into trouble. We had to walk to school even though we were eligible for a free bus pass (it was healthy for us), but we were only allowed to leave home at a time that gave us just enough time before the bell went. As teenage girls Lyn and I had an 11pm curfew and we were never allowed to go to school dances. I remember Hazel talking Dad into letting Lyn go to the school formal.
Dad loved fishing, boats, and the beach. Our holidays always revolved around those (unless it was visiting family). Mum and Dad used to go for walks on the beach holding hands and we weren’t allowed to go with them. That was their time together.
We always ate meals together at the table and without fail we had family devotions after tea each night. If a visitor called, Dad invited them in, saying it was feeding time at the zoo. He always asked them to join us for devotions and never cut it short.
Dad the builder. He was not just a preacher who used big words. Rather he had a garage full of interesting tools and knew how to use them. Hours spent playing while Dad worked on something in the garage is a special memory. Dad was a ‘roll up the sleeves’ kind of guy. Toronto Church needed funds for buildings so Dad took an afternoon job collecting cardboard waste from the supermarkets, compacting it by physically jumping on it, and storing it till we had a semi-trailer load to sell. Needless to say if Dad had a job then we kids had it too. One morning Dad got the girls up extra early because there was a load to compact and store. With many complaints they dressed and traipsed out into the morning chill to find an empty yard. They stormed back in the house complaining and Dad asked them what day it was—it was 1st April.
Sometimes it would be a project too far. One day Dad had the idea of painting the old Volkswagen beetle car. Of course he could do this himself with some amazing spray painting kit that would work off nothing more than Mum’s vacuum cleaner. Mum was less than enthusiastic about his idea, and very reluctantly parted with her treasure. Only when Dad told her not to be silly, nothing would happen to it, did she surrender it. By the time the poor Dub was eventually painted Mum was the proud owner of a new vacuum cleaner. The old one paid the ultimate sacrifice. I also remember the delight in Dad’s eyes when he could finally buy Mum an automatic washing machine.
Dad the preacher. It must be said he was rather old school, stern and scary when he wanted to be. He could inject a misbehaving son’s name into the middle of a sentence in full preaching flow. I remember a night he stopped to tear strips off a group of unruly teenagers. They didn’t twitch the rest of the night.
He used to be able to still a room full of restless school scripture students with one stern gaze. Yet I never had a doubt that underneath that stern façade was a completely soft heart that could usually be manipulated to the desired end.
Dad was a believer in corporal punishment. A thick leather strap hung within sight of the meal table and if a dinner was being refused his eyes would rise dramatically in that direction. Having said that, it was rarely used. I can never remember Dad hitting me in anger. Instead I would have to collect the strap and bring it to him. This, I suspect, gave him time to cool down and be more dispassionate in his discipline.
I remember one day when I and some friends were playing chicken, seeing how closely we could brush against cars travelling at full speed on the local road. I made the mistake of doing this with Dad’s car. He did not even stop but drove home and told Mum to send me to him with the strap when I arrived. When I received the news I knew it was serious but did not know the offence till I arrived in his study.
Many old school preacher’s kids complained that their fathers were never there for them. I never had this sense, instead I had a constant awareness of both my parents’ attention. Perhaps the only exception to this was one morning when I woke with a searing pain in my side that turned out to be acute appendicitis. Neither Mum nor Dad were on hand to assist as they were at an early morning Church prayer meeting. That was the longest prayer meeting of my life.
Dad was ahead of his time in his ecumenical outlook. When another Church, perhaps Seventh Day Adventist, opened up in town, Dad helped them out in some practical and encouraging ways. He had very good relationships among the local clergy at a time when that was a bit suspicious. It is still a common experience for me to have pastors and senior denominational figures confide to me that they had appreciated something that Dad had done for them by way of encouragement and mentoring
To really understand Dad, there is one scene, often repeated, that comes to my mind. An alcoholic hobo would knock on the door and be warmly invited in to tell his story of woe. Perhaps an hour would be spent listening to this poor man’s story and then would come the inevitable appeal for money. The appeal was never rejected. Not only was it listened to but enough money would be given to buy a family a week’s groceries. The hobo would depart with many thanks and Dad would track him, with tears in his eyes, all the way straight to the local pub. Next week he would do it again. It must be said that it took a special lady to be married to him. I suspect both mothers had to be prepared to feed drop-ins at the drop of a hat.
I have to laugh when I read about how strict Dad used to be with the older kids. No talking at the table indeed. By the time I came along we had collectively ground that sort of thing out of him. I guess all parents are a little tense at first, but as I was number 9 Dad had had plenty of time to relax a bit by then. He could still be an intimidating figure though. I remember a time when Heather was my CE leader and I gave her a hard time in the class by misbehaving. To my horror Heather told me to go home and report to Dad. I refused of course, so my determined sister grabbed me and dragged me from the Church to see Dad. I could not believe she could send me to a fate so terrible. On the other hand he could amaze me by just laughing at me when Mum caught me with my illicit stash of cigarettes.
Dad never went to the movies. Graeme and Alison, when ‘The Sound of Music’ came out offered to take us all to see it. Dad agonised for a week but couldn’t bring himself to break a lifetime habit of avoiding the excesses that movies indulge in. He knew it was a good film though, so he sent Mum and the kids along. When holidaying at Gwandalan one year Dad hired a TV set. He so enjoyed it he actually began to talk about buying one. All my Christmases were coming at once it seemed. Then an ad came on for the show ‘Alvin Purple’, featuring topless women. The TV went straight back.
I remember the look of joy on Dad’s face the night Heather and I went forward at a Gene Jeffries Crusade. I remember the pride he showed when Geoff came to Toronto and preached up a storm. I remember the pride he had that at least Graham had inherited his practical ability and there was someone in the family who could speak his language and argue about the best way to truss a roof. Elaine had made it to the mission field. Hazel was a success in business, Heather was a gung ho secretary who Dad would proudly repeat that he had been told could work wherever and for whoever she desired. Daphne, Lyn, Dianne and I were the young ones that were the apple of his eye.
Dr Donald McGavran was the founding Dean of the School of World Mission at Fuller Theological Seminary. His seminal books Bridges of God (1955) and Understanding Church Growth (1970, 1980) pioneered church growth research. This ground-breaking paper, was presented to the Christian and Missionary Alliance Missionaries at Lincoln, Nebraska in 1979.
The problem of church growth faces all of us. Many of us are working where we have had little growth. Wherever our churches are sealed off, ethnically, economically, or educationally, the people from other classes of society do not ordinarily join us. This very common problem affects not just the Christian and Missionary Alliance. You have less of it than some other missionary societies. This problem has faced me. For the last 25 years I have been thinking of this on the world scene. For 25 years before that I was thinking of it in the Indian context. So for about 50 years I have been considering this difficulty.
As I have been reviewing church growth around the world, I have seen that it frequently correlates with great healing campaigns. That is why I am speaking about Divine Healing and Church Growth. Where the church is up against an insuperable barrier, there no matter what you do, how much you pray, how much you work, how much you organize, how much you administer for church growth, the church either does not grow, grows only a little, or grows from within, not from without. Under such circumstances, we need to lean heavily on that which is so wonderfully illustrated in the New Testament, namely the place of healing in church growth. You remember the two villages of Lydda and Sharon where it is recorded in the book of Acts that all Lydda and Sharon turned to the Lord. Two whole villages in a day! When did that happen? When Aeneas was healed by Peter. This great ingathering was preceded by a remarkable case of divine healing.
American missionaries, who have grown up in a highly secular society, usually take a dim view of divine healing, considering it mere charlatanism. After long years of sharing that common opinion, I now hold that among vast populations, divine healing is one of the ways in which God brings ruen and women to believe in the Savior. Missiologists ought to have a considered opinion on the matter. They should not brush it off cheaply and easily. Administering for church growth in part means arranging the stage so that divine healing can take place. Look at the evidence of divine healing. Withold judgment until the evidence has been reviewed. There is much more evidence than I am able to present in one short address.
My considered recommendation is that missionaries and Christians in most populations ought to be following the biblical injunction to pray for the sick (James 5:14-15). When notable healings have taken place, great efforts should be made to multiply churches. When healings have taken place in your denomination or any other denomination, when the Pentecostals mount a great healing campaign, then say to yourself, “This is the time to strike, while the iron is hot.”
I now lay before you a few cases of divine healing that have come to attention from various sources. The first is a case of healing carried out by American Presbyterian missionaries. I quote a report from India about the operation of these ministers, visiting India for a brief period.
Everyday there was preaching in the evening and teaching in the morning. They lived with us as brothers. They visited and preached in 24 of the 278 churches we have. The work of the Holy Spirit was experienced throughout the preaching ministry. Reverend Little was blessed with the gift of healing power. All those who came to the gospel meetings with a rea.1longing for healing were wonderfully healed. Every night Reverend Little had to minister for more than 4 hours. People who were healed came forward and witnessed about their healing. Hundreds of people were healed. Thousands were able to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord. People were made whole physically, mentally and spiritually. Some of our pastors were healed from serious illnesses, including Rev. J. Thompson, Rev. S. Yesunesan, Rev. E.J. Victor and Rev. Moses Israel. Those who were suffering from chronic diseases were healed. A woman who was suffering from asthma for 21 years was healed. A man who was deaf for more than 40 years was healed. So many blind people were able to see. Lame people were healed. People who were suffering from bleeding were healed. Reverend Wilson shared how more than 2 weeks after Little and Wallace had departed, he would visit a church and find people still praising God for the healing they had received. He discovered that there were a number of Hindus who had received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour among the thousands who experienced salvation. It was customary for Dick Little to ask the people to renounce their gods before repenting .and accepting the Lord Jesus into their lives. Apparently a number received their healing as Christ Jesus came into their hearts.
The second case comes from the CMS Newletter. This is written by the General Secretary of the famed Church Missionary Society whose headquarters are just across the Thames from Parliament Building in London. Here is what is published:
Perhaps there is no more impressive example in recent years of healing than Edmund John, younger brother of the Archbishop ofTanzania, with his great healing mission over a 3 year period of ministry form 1972 to 1975. Not only were vast numbers of people healed, exorcised, moved to open repentance, led to or brought back to Christ in great gatherings, but also in quiet, ordered proceedings. All that happened was related to the central apprehension that Jesus is Lord; and amazing response for the lax Christians and the newly drawn Muslims alike. John’s death at the end of the astonishing blaze of ministry to his people left behind in many places a church spiritually and numerically strengthened.
The third case is from Bolivia, from a United Methodist. This man studied at the School of World Mission in Pasadena and went back to Bolivia a convinced church growth man. His letter is addressed to me personally. In it he says:
It is most striking that the district of our church which has really broken new ground in growth is our very own Lake District where we have worked for 16 years. This is the rural Aymara Indian district. This growth really began to gather momentum during our absence and has been strongest during the last year. So new is this that we do not yet have proper statistics on what has taken place. The mother church of the district in Ancoraimes, our mission station, has increased its Sunday morning attendance six fold. They hold week meetings that have usually average 250, this year have averaged over 600. For the first time in the history of our work, a majority of approaching consensus has turned to Christ in a single community, practically the whole village became Christian. This was shown dramatically on May 31, 1973, the traditional fiesta date, when the community celebrated their first community Christian Fiesta. Of the 170 families, 160 have turned to Christ; five our of six zones of the community, which is called Turini. The lay pastor of the Ancoraimes church, Juan Cordero, was the key man in this movement. Mum’s the word, please do not say anything about this. Dr. McGavran; mum’s the word on the following factor. Preaching has been accompanied by healing. Over and over this has been the case. The lay pastor has been practically mobbed on occasion, but he has stood his ground and has virtually obliged interested persons to hear him out on the gospel before he will pray for healings.
The fourth case of healing followed by growth is one in which the gift fo healing was exercised by a layman, a recent convert, not by the minister or missionary. In Tamilnadu, India, the Evangelical Church of India, planted by OMSI of Greenwood, Indiana, has grown from a few hundred in 1996 to more than fifteen thousand in 1982. During 1983 the church expects to plant fifty more churches – one a week.
After 1970 growth was accompanied by healings and exorcisms. What convinced multitudes to follow Christ was that with their own eyes they saw men and women healed by Christ’s mighty power. Evil spirits were driven out in His name. The Holy Spirit was at work.
The fifth case is from the Mekane Yesus Lutheran denomination in Ethiopia.
Eighty three percent (83%) of our congregations give healing from illness and exorcism as reasons for their growth.
In summary, it is clear from these five cases and much more evidence that the growth of the Church has often — not always, but often — been sparked by healing campaigns.
There are 200,000 East Indians in Trinidad. In 1950 a couple thousand were Christians, the sons and grandsons of people converted by Presbyterian missionaries. Except for those, very few Hindus or Moslems then living in Trinidad had become Christians. In the late fifties there was a healing campaign, and when the educated Indian community, which had scorned Christianity, saw their own people healed in Jesus’ name, they said, “Here is power!” Hundreds became Christians.
The seventh case is a remarkable one from India. Suba Rao was the headmaster of a government school –a member of one of the middle castes and a wealthy man. He had laughed at baptism. He had hated missionaries. He had thought of the church as an assembly of the low caste.
One of his near neighbours and close friends fell sick. For two years his sickness was not healed and gradually wasting away. He went to many doctors to no avail. One night while Suba Rao was asleep, the Lord Jesus appeared to him and said, “Will you will go and lay your hand on that man’s head and pray in My name, I will heal him.” Suba Rao woke up and laughed, thinking, “What a funny dream” and went back to sleep. The next night the Lord Jesus stood by his side and said, “If you go and lay your hand on that man’s head and pray for him to be healed, I will heal him.” Suba Rao woke up; he didn’t laugh this time and he didn’t go back to sleep, but he didn’t lay his hands on the sick man either. He said, “That’s impossible!” The third night the Lord Jesus appeared to him. He got up at once and went to his neighbour. He laid his hand on the man’s head, prayed for him, and in the morning the man said, “I feel much better. Do it again.” the man was healed. Suba Rao threw out his idols. He started to read the Bible. He started a Bible study class among his neighbours. But he still ridicules baptism. He has not joined and church. But he proclaims himself a follower of the Lord Jesus. The healing of people in Jesus’ name became his chief occupation. Joining the church, which there is composed very largely indeed (98%) of the lowest castes of Indian society is, he thinks, an impossible (and perhaps an unnecessary) step for him. Still the Lora Jesus heals men through him (Mark 9:39).
What do healings of this kind — repeated thousands of times — mean for us, living in the world today? “Like a comet blazing across the skies, this faith healer suddenly appeared among the small churches planted in this land in the last 20 years.” News notes to this effect have reached sending churches in America again and again in last 20 years, from many different lands and many different denominations. The biblical saga continues. In one congregation of none, under the faith healer’s prayers, marvellous cures occurred, crowds gathered, thousands attended, members of important wealthy families were cured, the press carried front page articles on the events. Night after night discarded crutches were gathered. Night after night the testimonies of the blind who now see, the paralyzed who now leap, the deaf who now hear were most impressive. Faced with the enormous power of the riser and reigning Christ, men and women in increasing numbers confessed Christ, turned from sin and other gods, were baptized and incorporated into new and old churches. A new era developed, churches began to multiply in many denominations. Baptists grew, Methodists grew, Lutherans grew, Pentecostals grew, and on and on. The evangelization of this country took a great leap forward. Events like these occurring in many lands have caused heated discussion among American Christians.
During the last 100 years, Western Christians have been heavily secularized and saturated with scientific thinking. They believe diseases are caused, not by God’s will, but by germs. And these diseases are cured by drugs; malaria by quinine, colds by Contac, atherosclerosis by open heart surgery. As Christianity has spread throughout the world, missionary physicians have proved enormously more effective than the mumbo jumbo of witch doctors, herbalists, faith healers of the animist world. The missionary doctor gave the patients penicillin and offered prayer to God for their cure. They were cured.
The Christian doctor would say it was not by unaided prayer but by using the medicine that God has given to mankind. This Christian interpretation of the healing process and the part played by unaided prayer and faith differs from the rationalists view, and yet it holds that, as a matter of fact, God does not act independent of physical means. That, my friends, is the atmosphere in which we all live. Secular man believes that there is no God; the causes of illness which can be measured and manipulated by men are the only reality. These causes can be physical, chemical or psychological.
To such 20th century thinking, faith healing is at best mistaken and at worst charlatanry. The faith healer is either a self-deluded enthusiast or a clever manipulator of men. If people claim to be cured, maybe they were not really sick in the first place, or have temporary feelings of well being induced by the excitement of the moment due to crowd psychology. The “healed” may even be planted t the faith healer to build up his reputation. The power of hundreds of thousands who believe alike and express their belief vividly is a real factor in human affairs and has been used by politicians. merchants, priests, and magicians from time immemorial. Westerners and Eastern secularists are highly sceptical about any power available to man other than what man himself generates by one mean or another, Faith healing causes lifted eyebrows and superior smiles.
To most people in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, however; disease is inflicted by spirits. It is cured by super-human powers regardless of what people in America think.
Witches eat up the life force of other men. An angry neighbor casts an “evil eye” on a woman and she grows weaker day by day. A wandering evil spirit devours a baby and the baby dies. A demon causes an illness which no medicine can cure. Western medicine may help some people, but Africa is full of mysterious powers which the white man does not know, and only those who know the secret source of black power can heal African affliction. These evil powers must be overcome by superior powers.
In Spanish America the Curandero has great power. His incantations, potion, sacrifices, and medicines marvellously heal the sick. In Asia, Africa, and Latin America, perhaps 98 out of 100 persons believe that superior power drives out inferior power. In Europe and North America the impersonal, mechanistic system of scientism fails to satisfy millions. Therefore, they, too, eagerly believe I the occult, extra-human powers. Satan worship flousrishes. The mysterious influence of magic words, rites, robes, stars, yogis, and gurus fascinates many people in Europe and North America. Christians in North America and Europe have a special problem with faith healing. Why? Because their religion wars with their science.
Faith healing unquestionably occurred in biblical times. The New Testament Church rode the crest of a tremendous, continual manifestation of faith healing. One of the may passages reads as follows:
Now many signs and wonders were done among the common people and by the hands of the apostles, more than ever, believers were added to the Lord. Multitudes, both men and women, so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and pallets, that, as Peter came by, at least his shadow might fall on some of them. The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with evil spirits and they all were healed (Acts 8:12-16).
Yes, Christians have a problem in the Western society. Their sciences war with their Christian faith. Divine healing was an essential part of the evangelization as churches multiplied across Palestine and the Mediterranean world. What are we Christians to make of all this? Is there something here that we can use?
Many educated Christians have been more secularized than they realize and are antagonistic to divine healing. They write it off as superstition and fraud; it leads people away from sound medicine and counts many as healed who are still sick. They say divine healing is a massive deception. They think that divine healing is using God for our own ends.
Some educated Christians say that in addition to the human mechanism and material means which God uses, He sometimes acts in sovereign power. He retains the right to act outside His laws which we know in order to use higher laws which we do not know. He ordinarily operated through His laws, but He is not bound by them. When it pleases Him, He intervenes. Such Christians hold that the best possible world is one in which most of the time a just and loving God rules through laws. But occasionally, when He sees fit, He uses a higher law. Such Christians view healings in the name of Christ as demonstrations of the power of God.
Some would add that the healings are a mixture of God’s acts and man acts, thus we see many incomplete healings, and failures of healings, due to lack of faith or sincerity.
Some hard-headed Christians, who would normally be highly sceptical about divine healing, have gradually come to accept healing campaigns upon seeing he great numbers who throw away crutches, plus those healed of deafness and blindness and cured of heart disease. They have seen large numbers of recent non-believers rejoicing at Christ’s power, singing His praises, hearing His word, and praying to Him. The facts overwhelm the hard-headed.
Finally, some Christians believe that God has called them to actively engage in healing the sick, exorcising evil spirits, and multiplying churches. They deliberately use the vigorous expressed faith in Christ which abounds in a healing campaign to multiply sound churches of responsible Christians.
All Christians ought to think their way through this matter and realize that here is a power which a great many of us have not sufficiently used.
Healing campaigns have occurred in Buenos Aires with Tommy Hicks in 1954 and Guayaquil, Ecuador, in the mid 60’s. The latter was a very interesting case. The Full Gospel Church had three mission fields with growing younger churches in Brazil, the Philippines, and Panama. In their other fields converts were not being won, congregations were not multiplying. In the late sixties in Guayquil healings took place in a small way. Immediately, a big tent was flown in from Los Angeles and pitched right where the crowd gathered. For the next six weeks every night in that tent faith healing followed the preaching of Christ. Twenty branch churches were planted in various parts of the city. Guayaquil became a mission field where churches multiply.
In South Africa there is an Indian community of about 800,000 that has been solidly opposed to the Christian faith. Very few Indians became Christians. About 20 or 25 years ago through a series of healing campaigns, two Pentecostal denominations began to grow among the Indians. One of those Pentecostal churches is now 25,000 and the other 15,000. They got their start in healing campaigns in South Africa. Healing campaigns are occurring today and they will occur tomorrow. They are a part of today’s context. When one talks about contextualization, healing campaigns should be mentioned.
Christians, especially missionaries and missionary societies, must ask, “What is the biblical response to divine healing campaigns? What do Christians do when faced with the excitement and faith-heightening of a divine healing campaign?” Many for the first time become able to hear the Gospel with the inner ear.
What ought we to do after a campaign when many decide to become Christian? The following answer was formed in my mind when I was in the Christian Missionary Alliance field in Ivory Coast, at Yamoussoukro. A church growth workshop sponsored by the Evangelical Churches and missions was being held. This amazing story was told by the Ivory Coast pastors and American missionaries gathered there to study the growth of their churches and to find ways of proclaiming the Gospel more effectively. It illustrates very well the problems and opportunities which healing campaigns bring.
The Church in Ivory coast was typical of many countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Ivory Coast has about 4 million people with the Roman Catholic Church numbers about 30,000. The Methodist Church dates from 1924 and has 60,000. Seven small Protestant denominations, with a total baptized membership of about 11,000, have arisen because of the faithful work of American missionaries. They have a growing rate of 70% per decade, led by Ivory Coast ministers. About 100 dedicated American missionaries are helping these churches and are doing a multitude of good deed.
Pastor Jacques Giraud, a French missionary tot he West Indies, arrived in Ivory Coast in March, 1973, to dedicate and Assemblies church building in Abidjan. As the meetings progressed, people began to be healed. The crowds grew and the meetings were moved to the stadium. Truck loads of people came from all parts of Ivory Coast. The papers were full of the event. The radio broadcast daily concerning it. Leading government officials and their wives flocked to the stadium. Pastor Giraud would tell of one of Christ’s miracles and preach for an hour on God’s mighty power to heal. Then he would say, “I don’t’ heal; God heals. I ask Him to release His power. Put your hand where it hurts and join me in prayer.” He would pour out his heart in believing prayer to God for healing. After a half hour of prayer he would invite those who God had healed to come to the front; crutches were thrown away, bent and arthritic persons stood erect, blind men walked forward seeing, scores and sometimes hundreds came, some hobbled, some limped, some saw ‘men like trees walking’ but they believed. God had given them at least a measure of healing. Thousands were also not healed.
After several healing sessions, Pastor Giraud would begin preaching salvation, repentance, atonement, and sanctification—straight from Bible preaching. A blind pagan from 600km north promised his fetish a sacrifice if he was healed. He went by bus to the Giraud meeting. At the meeting he saw for an instant, but then darkness returned. He stayed on and heard the gospel. When he returned home, he burnt his fetish and declared himself a Christian, saying, “I was not healed, but I heard the gospel and I am sure that God is the real power.”
This incident illustrates the truth that a healing campaign has dimensions far in excess of the healings. Groups of men and women seeing he power of Christ and hearing the message under favourable conditions declare their faith in Christ. Theirs in not an illumined faith but it is strong enough for them to burn their fetishes. They can be incorporated into existing congregations and formed into new ones.
After the Abidjan campaign in the very southern tip of the country, a high government official, who had been greatly blessed by the meeting, arranged for Pastor Giraud to hold a healing campaign in his home town of Toumoudi. He directed the leading government administrator there to arrange, at his expense, a place for meetings, and lodging and food for pastor Giraud and his party. A campaign similar to the Abidjan campaign was held. Radio and newspapers again broad- cast the huge nightly meetings. The next meeting, again on the initiative and expense of leading government officials, was held in the city of Bouake in late August of 1973. Then at Yamoussoukro, another campaign with Giraud was held. Pastor Giraud conducted healing campaigns in many towns and cities of the Ivory Coast.
Although he was a minister of the Assemblies of God, it is his practice to direct converts to the local churches and missions for shepherding. At Toumoudi he had the Alliance missionaries and ministers on the platform with him. He said to the people, “When you place you faith in Jesus Christ, call these men to baptize you and shepherd you.”
Reverend Fred Pilding, a missionary of the Christian and Missionary Alliance working in Ivory Coast fills in some details in the Alliance Witness, Sept. 26, 1973.
The crusade began in Bouake June 18th and continued for three weeks. Morning attendance averaged about 4,000. From 6 to 15,00 turned out in the evenings with a high of 25,00 one Sunday. The sick were seated on the grass on the playing field and all the others occupied the grandstands. As the evangelist presented Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever, people became aware of His continuing power today, through a healing receptive place. It became easier for them to trust Him as Saviour. A hunchback came to the meeting, grovelling in the dirt, under the influence of demons. The demons were exorcised in the name of Jesus and he was instantly healed. The next day he attended the meetings nicely dressed, perfectly calm, and gave his testimony. Whenever those who were healed testified, witnesses were asked to verify each healing. Pastor Giraud again and again cited Mark 16:15-18 as every believer1s commission and emphasized that in Christ’s name they were to cast out devils and lay hands on the sick and they shall recover. He refuted vigorously the title of healer. His ministry, he said, was to inspire faith in the gospel. “It is in the name of Jesus that people are healed.”
After the Toumoudi meeting, groups of converts from 81 villages around Toumoudi sought out the Alliance missionaries and ministers, begging them to come and make them Christians. After the Bouake meeting, responses were received from over 100 villages. A hundred and forty cards were filled out from one small town alone. From one village near Bouake 10 cards had been received. The missionary went to visit this village. Seeing him, one of the men who had been healed rushed off to get some of the pagan village elders. While waiting, the missionary said to the children, “Do you know Pastor Giraudls song?” Immediately they broke into joyful singing, “Up, up with Jesus, down, down with Satan, Alleluia!” People carne pouring out and the missionary preached and then asked, “How many will follow God and leave their old ways?” More than half immediately said, “We will.” In another village the Chief said, “Fetish is dead, we shall all become Christians.” The pastors and missionaries were faced with great opportunities. The challenge was to take advantage of this enthusiasm, which could dissipate rapidly, and channel these people into ongoing responsible churches of Christians who know the Lord and obey His word. Nothing like this had happened in their experience in the Ivory Coast, and they were naturally fearful, lest the excitement prove transient as it very well might.
What are Christians to make of faith healings and exorcisms? Missionaries, other church leaders and evangelists all over the world face many different situations, populations, oppositions, and opportunities. In some places mission is very largely good works and proclamation of Christ which very seldom .is followed by open acceptance of Jim as Lord and Saviour. In other places multitudes are accepting Christ and becoming members of multiplying congregations. In places the entire work is carried on by national pastors and their comrades. In other places, the missionary is the chief agent. He recruits, trains, employs, and deploys the national pastor and their comrades. In other places, the missionary is the chief agent. He recruits, trains, employs, and deploys the national evangelists and pastors. each of these men -missionaries and pastors -face a unique situation.
In view of all the evidence, missionaries in training in the (rapidly multiplying Schools of Evangelism and Mission now found in many parts of the world must ask themselves:
WHAT PLACE OUGHT WE TO GIVE TO FAITH HEALINGS AND EXORCISMS?
It would be foolhardy to attempt a single answer which would be equally true for all pieces of the vast mosaic of mankind. But certain truths may be emphasized.
First, God does give a few Christians the gift of healing. This is the clear statement of Scripture, and the convincing witness of history. It would be both unbelieving and foolish to disregard the massive evidence. It would be unscientific, if you please, to close one’s eyes to the facts of faith healing. It would be unChristian to deny those parts of the Bible which tell us clearly that on occasion, in response to faith, God does heal in miraculous ways. Biblical faith requires faith in miracles. If we cast them out, we cast out the whole Bible, or adopt a system of hermeneutics which destroys while it interprets.
Second, many healings in Christ’s name are incomplete, temporary, or even contrived. The facts are clear. Some faith healers are charlatans, and do it for the fame or money they receive. But this fact must not destroy our ability to see that God does heal in response to faith and prayer.
Third, when healing in Christ’s name has gone on and has attracted wide attention, multitudes can hear the gospel and many will obey it. This is the convincing witness of the New Testament and of modern history in many parts of the world, including the Western World. God wishes us to recognize white fields. When the disciples were saying, “No one will believe. The harvest you speak of is four months off. We are just sowing the seed or ploughing the field,” it was exactly then that the Lord Jesus said, “You are wrong. Lift up your eyes and look on the fields which are white to harvest. Pray God to send labourers into the ripe fields.” Pastors of congregations, missionaries at work in new populations, executive secretaries of mission boards, professors of missiology – all ought to practice and teach that healing campaigns are frequently accompanied by periods of great receptivity. It is required of Christians that they recognize these periods and multiply congregations in receptive populations.
Fourth, God’s man is sometimes faced with highly secular company of Christians who do not believe in faith healings or any other miracles, and who would be put off by any advocacy of them. They would turn away from something which, to them, seemed impossible. Facing such an audience, what should God’s man do?
He should do what thousands of ministers and missionaries have been doing during the past century. He should commend Christ in ways which that audience will accept as commendation. He should recognize that faith healing claims will turn some people away from Christ. When God sends him to minister or to evangelize to such people, he must present the gospel in terms which they understand and which raise up no insuperable obstacles before them.
I would hope, however, that even to this audience some of the facts of faith healing could be and would be presented at suitable times. As modern secular Christians give themselves utterly to Christ, and as they accept the full authority and infallibility of the Bible, they will come to the place in which they too will believe that with God nothing is impossible
Reproduced with permission from MC510: Healing Ministry and Church Growth class notes, Fuller Theological Seminary, 1983, a course taught by John Wimber.
The task Jesus gave us is still the same.
The context of that task keeps changing.
Accelerating change is changing us and the church. Already the one hour (11 am to noon) hymn-sandwich church service held in a ‘typical’ church building with wooden pews and an organ which stands empty most of the time, is looking like ancient history – and very bad stewardship. It may not be wrong (and God can use anything), but it’s not in the Bible, and it’s fading into history.
Nearly 2000 years ago Jesus gave us our job: “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth, so go and make people my disciples … and I am with you all the way even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).
His final promise told us how we would do that: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you will be my witnesses … to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
That’s still our job, and we can only do it by the power of the Holy Spirit – as Jesus did. However, the context and the way of doing the job changes constantly.
There’s nothing there about buildings, pews, spires, bells, organs, clerical garb, status (except witnessing servants.
Change has changed. It is speeding up. We live in accelerating change. Change changes our ministry, and us. We think, feel and act differently from all previous generations. We perceive each day in new ways now. We plan and do more. Cars, phones, microwaves, TV and the internet have changed us.
Church has changed. Church people walked to the services and socialised together on Sundays for most of history; now millions drive cars, and fill Sunday with many other activities. Church life for most of history involved time with extended families; now families are widely scattered.
1. Accelerating social change
Alvin Toffler wrote about the Third Wave in sociology. He could find no word adequate to encompass this current wave we live in, rejecting his own earlier term, ‘super-industrial’, as too narrow. He wrote:
In attempting so large-scale a synthesis, it has become necessary to simplify, generalise, and compress. . . (so) this book divides civilisation into only three parts – a First Wave agricultural phase, a Second Wave industrial phase, and a Third Wave phase now beginning.
Humanity faces a quantum leap forward. It faces the deepest social upheaval and creative restructuring of all time. Without clearly recognising it, we are engaged in building a remarkable new civilisation from the ground up. This is the meaning of the Third Wave.
Put differently … we are the final generation of an old civilisation and the first generation of a new one … [living] between the dying Second Wave civilisation and the emergent Third Wave civilisation that is thundering in to take its place.
Think of church life during those three waves.
1. Churches for most of 2000 years of the First Wave agricultural phase were the village church with the village priest (taught in a monastery) teaching the Bible to mostly illiterate people, using Latin Bible parchments copied by hand for 1500 years. Worship involved chants without books or music. These churches reflected rural life, with feudal lords and peasants.
2. Churches in 500 years of the Second Wave industrial phase (co-existing with the First Wave) became denominational with many different churches in the towns as new denominations emerged. Generations of families belonged there all their life and read the printed Authorised (1511) version of the Bible. They have been taught by ministers trained in denominational theological colleges. Worship has involved organs used with hymns and hymn books. These churches reflected industrial town life, with bureaucracies such as denominations.
3. Churches in 50 years of the Third Wave technological phase (co-existing with the Second Wave) are becoming networks of independent churches and movements, among which people move freely. They tend to be led by charismatic, anointed, gifted, ‘apostolic’ servant-leaders, usually trained on the job through local mentoring using part time courses in distance education. Their people have a wide range of Bible translations and use Bible tools in print, on CDs and on the internet. Worship involves ministry teams using instruments with overhead projection for songs and choruses. These churches reflect third wave technological city life.
Some churches, of course, mix these phases, especially now with the second wave receding and the third wave swelling. For example, some denominational churches, especially those ‘in renewal’, may have a gifted ‘lay’ senior pastor not trained in theological college. Some independent churches have theologically trained pastors with doctoral degrees in ministry. Some denominational churches function like independent churches in their leadership and worship styles.
The huge changes we live through now can be compared to a clock face representing the last 3,000 years, since people recorded history, so each minute represents 50 years. On that scale the printing press came into use about 10 minutes ago. About three minutes ago, the telegraph, photograph and locomotive arrived. Two minutes ago the telephone, rotary press, motion pictures, automobile, aeroplane, radio and emerged. Less than one minute ago television appeared. Less than half a minute ago the computer and then communication satellites became widely used, and the laser beam seconds ago.
A former General Secretary of the United Nations, U Thant, noted that “it is no longer resources that limit decisions. It is the decision that makes the resources.” He saw this as the fundamental revolutionary change, the most revolutionary social change we have ever known.
Other writers focus on the problems involved in accelerating change.
We live through problems never experienced before. No nation and no aspect of life can escape their pressure. These include: the expansion of population, the burst of technology, the discovery of new forms of energy, the extension of knowledge, the rise of new nations, and the world-wide rivalry of ideologies.
Accelerating change produces uprooting which causes rootlessness in society through:
1. the repeated moves of so many families (e.g. scattered relatives);
2. the disruption of communities through urban sprawl (e.g. moving to new churches) ;
3. the increasing anonymity of urban life (e.g. the lonely crowd);
4. the disruption of shift work (e.g. longer hours); and
5. the fragmentation of the family (e.g. divorce now common).
We live and minister in this revolutionary ‘post-modern’ era of rootlessness and changing values. This context gives us increasing opportunities for loving, powerful witness and revival.
2. Accelerating church growth
Not only is the world population exploding. So is the church. By 1960 the world population had passed 2.5 billion and in 30 years from then doubled to 5 billion. By 2000 it passed 6 billion. However, in most non-Western countries the growth of the church already outstrips the population growth.
About 10% of Africa was Christian in 1900. By 2000 it was about 50% Christian in Africa south of the Sahara. In 1900 Korea had few Christians. Now over 40% of South Korea is Christian. By 1950 about 1 million in China were committed Christians. Now estimates range around 100 million.
Every week approximately one thousand new churches are established in Asia and Africa alone. Places such as Korea, Ethiopia, China, Central America, Indonesia and the Philippines are dramatic flash points of growth.
What kind of church is emerging? Over 500 million Christians are pentecostal/charismatic.
The movement of the Holy Spirit across the world in the twentieth century has far eclipsed the marvellous beginning of that same movement in the early church. It continues to spread. Churches change and grow in power – along with persecution.
Modern developments provide the church with amazing resources. Already reports of radio ministry into China and Russia tell how God uses this medium powerfully, along with spontaneous expansion of the church through signs and wonders. Preachers now reach into the homes of people through television. Millions are being won to Christ through The Jesus Film now translated into over 500 languages. Similarly, cassettes and video tapes proliferate, much of all this being closely related to dynamic ministry in the power of the Spirit.
Some fundamental principles now change how we function as a church. These dynamic changes recapture basic biblical principles. They include:
Divine Headship – from figurehead to functional head.
Servant Leadership – from management to equipping
Church Membership – from institutional to organic
Dynamic Networks – from bureaucracy to relationships
Body Ministry – from some to all
Spiritual Gifts – from few to many
Obedient Mission – from making decisions to making disciples
Power Evangelism – from programs to lifestyle
Kingdom Authority – from words to deeds
Divine Headship – from figurehead to functional Head.
A Catholic prayer group in Texas realised that none of them had ever obeyed Luke 14:12-14. They had not fed and clothed the poor who could never repay them. A loving prophetic word from the Lord through a charismatically gifted Sister called them to do that. They all agreed it was from the Lord. So they took enough food for 120 people working everyday (including Christmas day) at the city garbage dump just over the river in Mexico, and they all had Christmas dinner together there in the dump where the people were working. Over 300 people turned up to eat. The food multiplied. People brought relatives and everyone ate. The eight carloads from the prayer group ate. They had enough left over to take food to three orphanages.
Now a lively church exists there. The sick are healed. Everyone at the dump had TB originally. Within four years no one had it. Charismatic doctors see people healed through medicine, prayer and miracles. At regular meetings, not just on Sundays, people have more fun dancing in church than in any dance hall. Their worship involves everyone in singing, dancing, and praying for one another.
If Jesus is really the functional head of his church, not just the figurehead, how does that work? Basically we listen to him, and just do what he says, in any group, anywhere.
The disciples found it almost impossible to conceive of the kingdom of God without equating it with the world’s kingdoms. So do we. We also find it almost impossible to conceive of the church without equating it with our human societies.
We tend to run the church according to social patterns. Church structures look like social structures. The word ‘church’ often refers to some social expression of the church, or to a building, neither of which are biblical. So we have great difficulty with the apparent lack of interest in the New Testament for institutional models of the church.
The New Testament church grew, rapidly. It could be counted: 3,000; 5,000; and great multitudes. This was undoubtedly the church of Jesus Christ, with all its faults. He lived in the midst of his body.
The written and living word express the Lord’s headship in his church.
1. The Written Word
All scripture is the inspired word of God; God-breathed (2 Tim. 3:16,17). Scripture communicates the word of Christ to his church.
The headship of Christ in his church is eroded or denied when scripture loses its authority. Conservative churches including Charismatic and Pentecostal churches believe the Bible. They believe in miracles, then and now. They believe God answers prayers, then and now. That does not make all they do or say right, but it does preserve what’s right – God’s Word.
Although church structures and traditions vary, the Word of God provides an anchor and an objective measure of faithfulness or aberration. Jesus was very clear in what he said!
Always there is the unexpected. God’s purposes may be known, and yet are unknowable. We continually discover that we have missed large slabs of the total picture. We have the scriptures, as did the theologians of Jesus’ day, and like them we often fail to see what is there. It must be divinely revealed and illuminated to be known.
2. The Living Word
Scripture and prayer provide a means of communication with Christ our head. Yet, like all means, they are a vehicle of communication, not the communication itself.
Speak to Him thou, for He hears, and Spirit with Spirit can meet –
Closer is He than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet.
The body of Christ is a living body, just as the Head is a living head.
Institutional forms and organisational expressions should yield to that. The living body of the living Christ must give substance to that reality. Then the inward union with Christ finds expression in the outward dimensions of church life.
Unless we grasp this, we will continue to secularise all we do, including ministry. A secularised church functions like any other secular society: voting, electing leaders, keeping minutes, and running a bureaucracy. That can easily bypass the Holy Spirit.
Jesus Christ, the living Head changes all that!
For example, obedience to the Great Commission comes not from mere outward observance of the written word, but naturally from the dynamic life in Christ.
The Living Word transforms the letter into life. “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life,” said Jesus (John 6:63), and Paul added, “the letter of the law kills, but the spirit gives life” (2 Cor. 3:6).
Then the Bible comes alive, anointed and empowered by the Spirit who inspired it. Preaching becomes prophetic words from God as we wield the sharp two-edged sword of the Spirit. Teaching lights fires in minds, hearts and wills. Serving gives Christ’s love and healing through his responsive body, the church. Prayer is transformed into intimate communion and sensitive response to the Lord, our Head. Faith grows bold and strong. The church grows with unleashed power when Christ is no longer the figurehead or absentee land-lord but sovereign Lord with kingdom authority.
Carl Lawrence gives an outstanding example of this in his book The Coming Influence of China.A full account is reproduced in Renewal Journal No. 12: Harvest.Two teenage girls ‘just prayed and obeyed’ as they were led by the Lord. They established 30 churches in two years on Hainan Island in China. The smallest had 220 people, and the largest nearly 5,000 people.
That kind of radical obedience to Christ the Head of his church produces a radical biblical kind of leadership in the church.
Servant Leadership– from management to equipping
Leadership in the body of Christ, as in the kingdom of God, is very different from all other leadership in human society. Authentic Christian leadership is Spirit-filled, Spirit-led and Spirit-empowered, hidden and charismatic, yet manifested in power and visible institutionally.
Bishop Stephen Neill notes:
There has been a great deal of talk in recent years about the development of leadership … But is the idea of “leadership” biblical and Christian, and can we make use of it without doing grave injury to the very cause that we wish to serve? . . .
How far is the conception of “leadership” really one which we ought to encourage? It is so hard to use it without being misled by the non-Christian conception of leadership. It has been truly said that our need is not for leaders, but for saints and servants. Unless this fact is held steadily in the foreground, the whole idea of leadership training becomes dangerous.
Jesus raised these issues also. They touch on the fundamental dimensions of servanthood and equipping for ministry.
The radical nature of Jesus’ leadership, what he demanded of his followers, is best expressed in his words:
In Matthew 20:25-28, in response to the request of James and John for leadership or prominence in the coming kingdom and in answer to the other disciples’ reaction to this request, Jesus said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant – and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
Jesus insists that the world’s concept of leadership must not operate in his church: “Not so with you.” Leadership is not about position or hierarchy or authority; it is a question of function and of service. The greatness of a Christian is not in status but in servanthood.
Jesus underscored his revolutionary teaching: greatness comes not through being served, but through serving. In God’s kingdom the standard of achievement is found not in exercising power over others, but in ministering to them and empowering them.
Jesus dramatically illustrated this teaching by washing his disciples’ feet. Then he told them to do just what he had done: “If I, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, so you must also wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14). That lesson was so important that he gave it to them a final act of love just before he died.
Jesus rejected both political and religious authority. He established Kingdom authority – serving others. His rejection of earthly power is so revolutionary that his disciples continually missed it. So do we.
What pain we could save ‘the church’ and what awful church-split sins we could avoid if we understood and obeyed this basic biblical principle! Church splits don’t happen where people love, serve, and truly forgive one another. You may be ‘right’ (in theology or practice) but if you split the church then you are very wrong.
Where would Jesus fit in our traditional church patterns today? Would he savagely attack the political power plays and status seeking leadership? Would he call our divisions sin? Would he denounce in scathing terms the religious pomp and ceremony? Would he absolutely reject hierarchical positions, titles, and garb. Once he did.
Even more fundamental to the nature of the kingdom and the ministry of the church are other questions. Would he disturb the meetings? Would he cast out demons? Would he heal? Would his preaching so provoke his hearers that they would oppose him? Would he be more at home outside our religious systems than within them? Would he so threaten our systems that we would denounce, expel or ignore him?
Leaders in many persecuted churches, where the church grows powerfully, face all that now. That’s where you see servant leadership most clearly!
“Who serves?” is a very different question from “Who leads?”
Does this do away with leadership? Yes and no. It does away with the world’s kind of leadership. It requires the Kingdom’s kind of leadership, which is servant leadership led by the Spirit of God.
Terry Fulham (in Miracle at Darien) demonstrated that kind of Kingdom leadership in an Episcopal church in America. He accepted ‘leadership’ on the basis that no decision would ever be made by the elders (or board) until they were in total unity in the Spirit. No vote would ever be needed. They believed Jesus could lead his church. So they required unity. If unity could not be attained, they waited and prayed till it was.
The New Testament regards all Christians as ministers and servants. Body ministry must be servant ministry. If leadership is a legitimate term for kingdom life and body ministry, it must be servant leadership.
It is both a radical leadership style among other styles and also the life-style of every Christian. It is the ministry of every member of Christ’s body. The great leaders in the Kingdom may be the least obvious – humbly and courageously serving others, unnoticed.
2. Equipping for Ministry
Some servant leaders are called and anointed to equip others for ministry.
In one sense we are all called and anointed to do that. Some as parents, raising children. Some as carers, showing others how to care. Some as team leaders, serving and inspiring the team and empowering them for service also.
Among spiritual gifts there are different ministries including leadership and administration. Our problem is that those words carry so much political and hierarchical freight that we can hardly use them without distorting them.
Leadership in Christ’s body means service, ministry, and being least or last, not greatest or first. The first shall be last, and the last first, Jesus said. Leadership is a spiritual function of serving and empowering, dependent on spiritual giftedness, not just on human ability.
Jesus Christ, not personality or achievement, makes leaders. The Ephesians 4 passage is a clear statement of that kind of giftedness. He appoints some to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers in his body to equip (by serving) the members of that body for their ministry.
Michael Harper summarises their function as:
Let my people go – the apostolic function of the Church
Let my people hear – the prophetic function of the Church
Let my people grow – the evangelistic function of the Church
Let my people care – the pastoral function of the Church
Let my people know – the teaching function of the Church
Go to my people
Speak to my people
Reach my people
Care for my people
Teach my people.
Leadership gifts in the body of Christ equip that body for ministry. Again, using such loaded terms, it needs to be stressed that this is quite different from mere human ability to lead; it is spiritual giftedness. Like other spiritual gifts, it may find expression in and through natural ability, but it is then natural ability anointed in Spirit-led power.
The amazingly diverse, flexible nature of spiritual leadership needs emphasis. No one model has it all, even though we all are called to be servant leaders.
Paul’s way of developing leaders was to recognise and encourage the special gift and role of each person, especially elders. Paul was undoubtedly a leader, a servant leader in the strong sense of the term. He served with his apostolic gifts. He equipped the body for ministry.
The term servant leader recaptures essential dimensions of the equipping ministry. So long as ‘leader’ is understood charismatically as spiritual giftedness, it becomes stronger than ever. Christ, head of his body, gives that kind of equipping leadership to members of his body. Enormous authority is vested in that understanding of servant leadership, precisely because those leaders serve others, and equip others for ministry.
This specific equipping ministry in the body applies especially to leadership of large churches. As a church grows larger, it is vital that the pastor be an equipper. The ministry will be done by the whole body, not just the ‘leader’. No one person can do it all.
Body ministry requires leadership which is both humble and powerful, leading by serving. All spiritual gifts need to function this way, especially leadership gifts. Powerful leadership grows from humble service.
Church Membership– from institutional to organic
We are members of Christ’s church; that sounds institutional.
We are members of Christ’s body; that sounds organic.
In fact, the two can be one!
The church must find its expression in human society, so it must have institutional characteristics. They may be as simple as a home group gathering regularly together, or as complex as a multi-million dollar denominational agency. As the institutional forms grow more complex, their vested interests become more binding and conformity to the world usually increases.
The Holy Spirit cannot be confined by institutionalisation. He never has been. He continually breaks free of human limitations and blows where he will. Christ, by the power of his Spirit is building his church.
Instead of a dictatorship or a democracy, God has chosen to make the Body of Christ an organism with Christ as the head and each member functioning with spiritual gifts. Understanding spiritual gifts, then is the key to understanding the true organisation of the church.
The charismatic nature of the church as Christ’s body will be expressed through the spiritual gifts of its members. So both the charismatic dimension and the institutional dimension co-exist in the church; the former being its essence, the latter its cultural or social expression.
1. The Organism
The body of Christ is an organism, a community, with interpersonal relationships, mutuality and interdependence. It is flexible and leaves room for a high degree of spontaneity. The Bible gives us this model for the church: the human body (1 Corinthians 12).
The charismatic dimension in both ministry and organisation does not do away with professional abilities and functions but fills them with the active, powerful presence of Christ by his Spirit and so transforms them from being merely professional to being charismatically gifted as well as professionally competent.
For example, a professional counsellor may be less effective than a non-professional friend who ministers love and care in the power of the Spirit of God. The dynamic power of charismatic ministry lies in the active presence of God’s Spirit filling that ministry or at least guiding it. However, a Spirit-filled, Spirit-led professional counsellor draws powerfully on both gifting and training.
Implications for church organisation are enormous. Although the professional tasks and organisations will probably continue, the ministry of the whole body will require very flexible forms which allow and intentionally foster body ministry. Counselling, teaching, preaching, social care and evangelism are all transformed by the Holy Spirit guiding and empowering those activities.
Charismatic Anglican David Watson gives an example of this from his own experience. As the church he pastored in York grew into fuller expressions of charismatic life it needed restructuring to provide adequate pastoral care through elders who were charismatically gifted as pastors not just elected to fill an institutional role of leadership. They cared for area groups, especially mentoring the group leaders.
Watson emphasises that where Christ is central and head of his body, he will provide charismatic leadership through gifted elders who in turn lead or care for the whole body, especially through pastoring and teaching gifts in the small groups or cells of the body. An organic model of the church expresses the real headship of Christ in his body and his ministry through the spiritual gifts of his people in body ministry.
Revival in Bogotá (see article in this issue) tells that kind of story dramatically in 2001.
Paul was clear on this. Within the body of Christ apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastor- teachers equip the body for ministry so that the body members, using their spiritual gifts, can do the work of ministry (Ephesians 4).
Paul’s three main passages on the church as the body of Christ give basic lists of spiritual gifts for charismatic ministry. Others could be added. The Ephesians 4:11-12 list refers specifically to charismatic leadership in the church, given by Christ, the risen and ascended conqueror, to equip the members of his body for the work of ministry. Aspects of that equipment are included in the various lists of spiritual gifts. Each passage emphasises the importance of ministering in love and unity.
2. The Organisation
In times of accelerating change and exploding church growth, the institutional model of the church needs to be flexible and responsive to its environment. Further, if it is to allow a truly charismatic ministry to function with strong spiritual gifts, it must be sensitive and responsive to the Holy Spirit, all the time.
The early church gives a startlingly clear picture of such a flexible institutional model. They were constantly led and empowered by the Spirit. They were very human, with typical faults and problems. The New Testament authors wrote mostly to fix those problems, especially in the epistles.
They met in many house churches, still as the one church in one place, inter-related. It was extremely flexible, needed everyone’s involvement, and could multiply anywhere. The church in China today, and in African villages, and in Latin American communities, uses this same organisation.
The institutional model of the church then was a house church model. That model has been repeated all through history, and in many parts of the world today is the means of flexible rapid church growth. Most large churches use this model in home groups.
Organisational membership often involves attending the meetings, paying the dues, abiding by the rules, and possibly being elected or appointed to office. Any society can do that. Most do.
Organic membership of the body, however, functions by living in Christ and ministering in spiritual gifts.
These two kinds of membership need to be differentiated when discussing church membership. Usually “church membership” means club membership; it is an institutional expression of the church. Usually “body membership” means the organic functioning of the members of Christ’s body, and its members being united by the Spirit of God in the one body, the church.
Organisational habits can reverse their meaning over years. Calvin in Geneva, for example, refused to identify with clerical pomp and wore the poor man’s cloak when preaching, but in time that turned into the Geneva gown, a clerical institution. Francis of Assisi also wore a poor man’s cloak, which has now become a religious uniform quite unrelated to what the poor now wear.
Those quirks are minor compared with the massive maintenance programs of large religious institutions. Denominations which came into being for mission, often breaking away from hardened institutional forms, in turn become maintenance-oriented and lose the very vision which gave them birth.
The organisational form of the church needs to be continually responsive to the Head of the church, or it becomes secularised and the Spirit of God is quenched. Leadership in the church must be especially responsive to the Spirit to avoid this.
Organisational life in the church can remain flexible and responsive to the Head of the church as it keeps its organic life alive in the power of the Spirit.
Dynamic Networks-from bureaucracy to relational groups
Networks of groups increasingly replace bureaucracy. Short term task groups replace committees. Networks of independent churches and groups are replacing historic denominations.
Spirit-filled groups or communities give one simple example, now affecting multiplied millions of people. People relate in home groups, house churches, mission groups, independent churches, and renewal or revival movements everywhere. So your home group may have people who were Catholic, or Anglican, or Methodist, or Baptist, or Hindu, or New Age.
Second Wave churches, for example, in earlier days could insist on loyalty to the denominational bureaucracy and policy lines. Now people choose from networks of the ecclesiastical smorgasbord. Television, mobility and education all shift our consciousness and increase our awareness and choices, including church life. That is how renewal and revival have been spreading.
A current example is the grassroots spread of charismatic renewal and revival.
In First Wave rural villages with little outside influence, little change occurred – “We’ve always done it this way.”
In Second Wave town churches ‘renewal’ could be kept outside the denomination by being banished to another bureaucracy, and therefore ignored – “Join the pentecostals and don’t rock the boat.”
Third Wave society opens new networks of information and experience. Our increasing mobility brings us into contact with renewal and revival. Our extended education opens our minds to these new insights. Our television portrays the power of God in healing and our worldview begins to shift. Our friends give us paperbacks to read or cassettes to hear and videos to see, and conviction or hope grows within us. Our visitors or home group leaders tell of their experiences and we seek what they’ve found. Our friends pray for us and God releases his Spirit more fully in our lives. Yet all of this happens outside the denominational bureaucracy; or it may do so.
So Wagner’s “third wave” of renewal is carried on Toffler’s Third Wave of social change into all church structures. Our friendship networks become ‘the bridges of God’ into our churches and out into the lives of others. Significantly, no pastor or minister may be involved. People witness to people. People now have the Bible tools, education, and friendships to check it out.
Those changes catapult us into new expressions of ministry.
Body Ministry– from some to all.
Body Ministry involves the biblical pattern of ministry in the church, the body of Christ.
Body Ministry is the ministry of the whole body of Christ. It functions through the use of spiritual gifts in all the members of the body. The unity of the Spirit of God finds expression in the incredible diversity of spiritual gifts and ministries.
The Reformation rediscovered the authority of the Bible and the wonderful gift of God’s grace in providing salvation by faith in Jesus. Unfortunately it failed to free the church from the rule of the priest or pastor, so carried that form of leadership into the Protestant church, producing a drastic clergy-laity division. Spiritual gifts in the whole body of Christ were largely ignored.
Body ministry, then, is not limited to church meetings, although the meetings need to express body life as well. That ministry is total. It finds expression in all of life.
Ray Stedman popularised the term “body life” in his book by that name thirty years ago. He used body life services in which people could share needs or testimonies. Bodylife becomes body ministry as people apply their spiritual gifts to those needs in the church and in society in ministry.
Body Life teaching opened the way for a fuller apprehension and use of spiritual gifts in shared life and ministry. That in turn has opened the way for a fuller discovery of the dynamic power of body ministry in Kingdom authority.
Spiritual Gifts– from few to many
Body ministry requires spiritual gifts. The body of Christ ministers charismatically. There is no other way it can minister as the living body of the living Christ. He ministers in and through his body, by the gifts of his Spirit.
Charismatic gifts of the Spirit differ from natural talents. We can do much through dedicated human talent, but that is not body ministry through spiritual gifts. Natural talents do need to be committed to God and used for his glory. They can be channels of spiritual gifts, but may not be.
Spiritual gifts constantly surprise us. God uses whom he chooses, and chooses whom he will. Spiritual gifts often show up with great power in unlikely people and in unlikely ways.
A common misunderstanding, for instance, is that those with an effective healing ministry must be especially holy people. They may not be. Gifts of the Spirit are given by grace, not earned by consecration. Young, immature Christians may have powerful spiritual ministries, as they discover and use their spiritual gifts. Many do. That is no proof of consecration or maturity, even though to please God we need to offer ourselves to him in full commitment.
Romans Chapter 12 gives a surprising example of this. The well known first two verses challenge us to offer ourselves fully to God and so discover his will for our lives. Paul then explains that knowing God’s will involves being realistic about ourselves and our gifts. If we know and use our God-given gifts, we fulfil God’s will for our lives.
Body ministry, then, depends on the use of spiritual gifts, not just the use of natural talents dedicated to God. Both are vital for committed Christian living, and both will be present in the church. However, the church is not built on committed natural talent, even though churches often seem to operate that way. Body ministry involves the use of spiritual gifts.
For example two people may have the talent of beautiful singing voices. Both will sing in worship and even on the platform in ministry. One, however, may be anointed with a prophetic gift in song, and the other may not be. That gifting will move hearts and wills in the power of God’s Spirit. Christ gives those gifts – we don’t create them. Some of these gifts of God’s Spirit, received for ministry, will be blessed in ministry in and through natural talent as well, but the key to body ministry is not the talent. It is the spiritual gift.
Similarly, spiritual gifts are not Christian roles or tasks. All Christians witness, but only some are gifted in evangelism. Every Christian has faith, but some have a gift of faith as well. All must exercise hospitality, but some are gifted in hospitality. Prayer is for all of us, but some are gifted in intercession.
Spiritual gifts operate in unity with diversity.
Paul’s passages on spiritual gifts all emphasise unity expressed in diversity (Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4).
Without that unity expressed in love, the diversity destroys the body’s ministry causing chaos, division, sectarianism, and impotence. This is Paul’s theme in 1 Corinthians 12-14.
The Corinthians did not need teaching on the reality of spiritual gifts nor on their diversity. They knew that. In fact, they abused that. So Paul had to correct the fault by emphasizing the unity of the body, bound together in love. Gifts are not to be a source of division and strife, but an expression of unity and love. Unless rooted and grounded in love, the gifts are counter-productive.
Unity in the body of Christ allows that body to function well, not be crippled. No one has all the gifts. We all need one another. No one should be conceited about any gift that God has given. No one must think his or her gift the most important, and magnify and exalt it at the expense of others. All gifts must used in humility and service. We do not compete. We minister in harmony and co-operation.
Paul’s great theme, “in Christ,” expresses the unity essential for body ministry. In Christ we are one body. In Christ we live and serve. Love lies at the heart of body ministry. The body is one, bound in love. The body builds itself up in love (Eph. 4:16). That is why 1 Corinthians 13 is central to Paul’s passage on spiritual gifts in the body of Christ. “Make love your aim,” he insists, “and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts” (1 Corinthians 14:1).
Jesus insisted on love. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all mean will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).
Our unity is not based on doctrine, or methods. Our unity comes from who we are, the body of Christ. Paul states this as a fact, not a hope. We are one in Christ. We are one in the Spirit. God has made us one. That unity is expressed in body ministry.
It shows in our attitude – in humility, kingdom thinking, and love. It smashes competition and critical spirits, especially between different people and groups with different gifts.
Breathtaking community transformations are now happening around the world where we live this truth in united ministry. See articles in this issue of this Journal!
That unity is expressed in the diversity of gifts. There is one Spirit; his gifts are incredibly diverse.
The point is developed in all the body passages of Paul. Diversity is to be celebrated, not squashed; encouraged, not smothered; developed, not ignored.
The church may be two or three, or two or three hundred, or two or three thousand. Different sizes will have different ministries or functions, such as cell, congregation or celebration, but all are the church. Christ is present in his body. So are his gifts. Again, different gifts will be appropriate for different expressions of that body’s ministry, but it in one body.
Body ministry will use these gifts. God’s Spirit moves among his people in power to meet needs and minister effectively. Those gifts need to be identified and used, and in the process, as in Jesus’ ministries, special anointings will come.
Preaching, for example, will often become prophecy as it is anointed by the Spirit of God. That prophetic ministry may happen unexpectedly in the process of a sermon. It may also be given in preparation as a word directly from the Lord.
Compassionate service and healing administrations will at times be anointed powerfully by God’s presence in signs and wonders to heal. Role, gift and anointing then merge into strongly focused spiritual ministry.
So role, spiritual gift, and anointings cannot be clearly divided. Indeed, as the Spirit of God moves in still greater power among all members of the body of Christ, the ministry of that body will be increasingly anointed.
Then the professional is swallowed up in the spiritual; natural ability is suffused and flooded with supernatural life; the human is filled with the divine.
Jesus lived this way. No one need envy another’s gifts or ministry. All are needed.
Obedient Mission– from making decisions to making disciples
Christ himself, head of his church, clearly stated the church’s mission. He did so on many occasions between his resurrection and ascension. The powerful dimension of the Great Commission has often been overlooked. Jesus himself emphasised our mission couldn’t be done without the power of his Spirit. That is the point of all the power promises in the Great Commission:
Matthew records it: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me . . . and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt. 28:18-20).
Mark records it: “These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover” (Mark 16:17-18).
Luke records it: “I send the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49).
John records it: “He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit …’ (John 20:22).
Acts records it: “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8).
When empowered and led by the Holy Spirit (who is the Spirit of Jesus and the Spirit of God, Gal. 4:6), mission is powerful. Then we do not make plans and execute them in human wisdom and strength, but seek divine wisdom and strength.
Empowering by the Spirit of God and being led by the Spirit of God are central to obedient mission. We cannot claim obedience to the Great Commission when we do God’s work in our strength or our own ways and wisdom.
The Great Commission is not merely an external command to hard to obey. It is an internal compulsion, ignited in us by the Spirit of God. The Spirit has been given to the Church because it is her essence and nature to be a witnessing body.
Consequently, a church which is not evangelistic, nor missionary, nor empowered, is an apostate church. We begin to see the magnitude of our apostasy when we compare our churches with the biblical norm. We only need an evangelical movement or a missionary movement or a charismatic movement because we have fallen so far.
Body ministry, then, will obey the Head of the body, move in his authority, filled with the power of his Spirit. The Great Commission begins with the absolute authority of Christ in his church and all the cosmos; it issues in obedient mission, exercised within that authority, and exercising that authority in powerful ministry.
Powerful body ministry flows from obedient disciples, who, individually and as a body, obey their Lord.
The Great Commission calls for this total task of ‘making disciples’ in terms of becoming disciples in the body of Christ and growing in discipleship. It is one process. The kind of evangelism required for church growth and stated in the Great Commission is evangelism which makes disciples, not merely gets people to make decisions. Those decisions may be inadequate and fail to make disciples.
Wholistic evangelism and conversion can be summarised as involving:
Priority One: Commitment to Christ.
Priority Two: Commitment to the body of Christ.
Priority Three: Commitment to the work of Christ in the world.
Jesus would not turn aside from his redemptive mission. He lived fully in the kingdom realm. He did only his Father’s will, not his own. So everything he did was mission. Within that mission, his evangelism was not meetings or a program. He saved. Those he touched were made whole when there was faith. He said, “Follow me.” That was his program. He still calls us to follow him in obedient mission.
Power Evangelism– from programs to lifestyle
Spiritual gifts can release body ministry for effective power evangelism. The New Testament pattern of evangelism is always Kingdom words combined with Kingdom deeds.
A major shift in evangelism always evident in revivals, and increasingly evident now moves from program evangelism to power evangelism as a lifestyle of all members of the body of Christ, as John Wimber reminded us.
1. Program Evangelism
Programs of evangelism can be effective. Crusade evangelism has won thousands to Christ. Saturation evangelism, especially in Latin America, has reached every home in target communities with the gospel message. Personal evangelism such as door-to-door programs have reached many people. Some churches have focused on seeker services or outreach services aimed at reaching the unsaved, and often done so effectively.
All of these programs and many more have been significant means of evangelism. So, we thank God for so much evangelism which has won thousands to Christ.
However, we must also recognize that thousands and even millions of dollars spent on evangelism programs and all the time and work involved do not always bear abundant fruit.
Wagner, for example, noted that ‘Key 73’ in America touched over 100,000 congregations without any noticeable change in patterns of growth across the board.
Win Arn reported on ‘Here’s Life America’ noting that only 3.3% of those who recorded decisions became active members of any church, and 42% of them came by transfer. After polling over 4,000 converts Win Arn discovered that 70% – 80% of them came into the church through relatives and friends, whereas less than 1% came as direct result of city-wide evangelism campaigns.
Lyle Schaller similarly discovered that 60 – 90% of people involved in the church were brought by some friend or relative.
Programs are not as effective as body evangelism through the local church. Body evangelism involves more people in the church than many programs do, is the natural way most people are brought into the church, and can be the focus of church life in a lifestyle of evangelism.
Program evangelism may be useful, but it needs to link strongly with the local church and be a natural expression of that church’s life and witness. Program evangelism, however, falls short of the biblical model. It is needed because the church fails to be what the church should be! Body evangelism calls for more. It requires the involvement of the whole body of Christ in the power of his Spirit.
2. Power Evangelism
The biblical model goes beyond program evangelism. It is depth centred in Jesus’ promise: “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses …” (Acts 1:8).
John Wimber emphasized the importance of power evangelism:
Power Evangelism … transcends the rational. It happens with the demonstration of God’s power in Signs and Wonders, and introduces the numinous of God. This presupposes a presentation accompanied with the manifest presence of God. Power Evangelism is spontaneous and is directed by the Holy Spirit. The result is often explosive church growth. …
The issue is not what the church is doing. The issue is what the church is leaving out! Where is the promised power of Acts 1:8? Where are the demonstrations of the manifest presence of God that we see illustrated throughout the book of Acts? Were they only for that day? Do they occur today? If so, can we get in on it? Is it possible for you and me to work the works of Jesus?
Power Evangelism is still God’s way of explosively growing His church.
In one area where there were 4,000 Christians before the revolution, the number has now increased to 90,000 with a thousand meeting places. Christians in the region give three reasons for the rapid increase: The faithful witness of Christians in the midst of suffering, the power of God seen in healing the sick, and the influence of Christian radio broadcast from outside.
(b) John Hurston, associated with the world’s largest church, Full Gospel Central Church in Seoul, Korea, where David Yonggi Cho is pastor, attributed the phenomenal growth of that church to “the constant flow of God’s miracle power” from the beginning.
(c) A third example is from Wagner’s observations:
In Latin America I saw God at work. I saw exploding churches. I saw preaching so powerful that hardened sinners broke and yielded to Jesus’ love. I saw miraculous healings. I met with people who had spoken to God in visions and dreams. I saw Christians multiplying themselves time and again. I saw broken families reunited. I saw poverty and destitution overcome by God’s living Word. I saw hate turn to love.
Power evangelism fulfils the biblical pattern of body ministry and evangelism. It goes beyond programs to the mighty acts of God in the midst of his people. Christ is alive in his church by the power of His Spirit.
The church is true to the kingdom of God when, like Jesus, the signs of the kingdom are manifest in powerful ministry.
The church spontaneously expands through power evangelism. It is one facet of dynamic body ministry; a natural result of a healthy body, filled with the life of God. That transformed body will explodes in mission. It is already in many countries.
The emerging church in the 21st century is increasingly involved in power evangelism under the Kingdom authority of Jesus himself.
Kingdom Authority– from words to deeds
Christ is king. In Paul’s later writings he emphasises this dimension in relationship to the church as Christ’s body. He reigns in and through his body, the church. Yet that rule is also cosmic, of which the church is now a part and therefore directly involved in cosmic principalities and powers. Kingdom authority is integrally part of the church’s life and mission as the body of Christ.
In Colossians 1, Paul explains that Christ alone is ‘the image of the invisible God’ and is pre-eminent over everything and everyone (v. 15). This includes being ‘the head the body, the church’ (v. 18). He is not just another divine being but in him alone ‘all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell’ (v.19). In his death and resurrection he triumphed not merely over sin and death but over the cosmic powers also (v. 20).
In Ephesians 1, Paul emphasises that Christ is pre-eminent over the cosmic powers. He is ‘far above all rule and authority and power and dominion’ (v. 21) and ‘head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all’ (vs. 22-23). Paul then explains how this applies to the church which is his one body, not many different bodies (4:4). The ascended Head of the church gives spiritual gifts to his church, all of which come from Christ (vs 7-8). These include spiritually gifted leaders to equip us all ‘for the work of ministry’ and to build up the body of Christ (v. 12).
These passages from Paul lift the concept of the church as the body of Christ way beyond a cosy club of personal support and encouragement. Support and encouragement must be in the body, but any human society could give that if it’s members care for one another.
The body of Christ is something more. It is the body of Christ the King. Like the kingdom of God, Christ’s rule has been established and is yet to be realised fully. So the ministry of the body of Christ is his powerful ministry.
The ascended, victorious, all powerful Christ, having conquered sin and death and hell now reigns supreme. He is the head of his body, the church. He gives gifts to his church, specifically those called under his authority to exercise authority in the church as leaders so that all God’s people may be equipped by him for his ministry in and through us. That is body ministry.
Signs, wonders and fantastic church growth characterised the early church as normal Kingdom life burst out in the powerful ministry of the body of Christ. Body ministry demonstrated kingdom authority. As in Jesus’ ministry, the early church ministered in signs and wonders (Acts 2:43), prayed for signs and wonders, and expected more signs and wonders (Acts 4:30; 5:12-16).
Granted, the church is often weak. Kingdom life often lies untapped. Christians, and the church, corrupted and weakened by disobedience or faithlessness (the lack of faith which results in sin), may fail to manifest kingdom Life.
However, accelerating church growth in the power of the Spirit of God point to the greatest demonstration of kingdom life and power the world has even known. Yet, as in the life of Jesus, it can remain hidden from those who, seeing, will not see, and hearing, will not hear (Isa. 6:9-10 Mt. l3:14-15; Mk. 4:12; Lk. 8:10; Jn.12: 40; Acts 28: 26-27).
The kingdom is manifest, yet hidden; revealed, yet concealed. Those who ask, receive it; whose who seek, find it; to those who knock, the door of the kingdom is opened. And the church has the keys!
The Kingdom of God was the central message of Jesus. That message was in powerful words and deeds. Christ, the Messianic King, incarnate in his human body, proclaimed the kingdom of God as immanent. He called for response in repentance and faith Mk.l:15). His parables described the mysteries of the Kingdom. His miracles displayed its power and authority (Mt. 12:28). You cannot separate, in the evangelistic ministry of Jesus, proclamation and demonstration, preaching and acting, saying and doing.
Similarly, Jesus gave that authority and power to his disciples: “preach as you go, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons” (Mt. 10: 7,8).
This same message and powerful ministry were normal in the early church. Throughout the whole of Acts, in almost every chapter a demonstration of the Kingdom accompanies the proclamation of the gospel.
The clash of kingdoms emerges as a strong theme in the epistles also. The church contends against the principalities and the powers, the world rulers of this dark age, the spiritual hosts of wickedness (Eph.6:12). Each member of Christ’s body, then, has been redeemed from captivity and set free by Christ to serve the King.
The body of Christ must be seen as the agent of the kingdom of God, where Christ rules in power and still proclaims that reality through his church, both in living word and dynamic deed.
The kingdom of God is much more than an evangelical ‘born again’ experience, or a concern for social justice, or a communal interest in loving relationships, or a charismatic quest for personal victory. It is all these and much more. It is the cosmic clash of kingdoms. It is the church smashing the gates of hell to release the captives. It is the spreading reign of God in Christ upon the earth. It is the eternal purpose of God being fulfilled in restoring and reconciling all things in the universe to himself.
God reigns. Christ is King. His Spirit endues his church with kingdom life and power. Jesus himself declared the kingdom charter, quoting from Isaiah 61:1-2: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord (Luke 4:18-19).
Body ministry, then is powerful ministry by the body of Christ. It must include the signs of the kingdom as well as the words of the kingdom. Spiritual gifts, imparted by the victorious Christ through his Spirit, empower Christ’s body for authentic mission in the world.
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