Reviews (18) Servant Leadership

Book Reviews

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An article in Renewal Journal 18: Servant Leadership:
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Renewal Journal 18: Servant Leadership
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Jesus on Leadership by Gene Wilkes (Wheaton: Tyndale, 1998)

Reproduced here from Renewal Journal 16: Vision – Book Reviews:
Jesus on Leadership by Gene Wilkes

Review from the Foreword by Calvin Miller.

Gene Wilkes knows the literature of leadership but that is not why this book is the finest of its kind in the marketplace.  There are four major contributors to Gene Wilkes’s greatness as a scholar and teacher.  These same four forces permeate this book and make it a must for all of those who want to become informed and capable leaders.

First, Gene Wilkes loves Jesus.  Please don’t think this a mere saccharine appraisal between friends.  This simplicity provides Gene his passion to serve both God and his congregation.  Further, this love for Christ carries a subtle and pervasive authenticity that makes Gene Wilkes believable.  Whether you read him or hear him lecture, you walk away from the experience knowing that what you’ve heard is the truth – the life-changing truth from a man who lives the truth and loves getting to the bottom of things.  All this I believe derives from his love of Christ.

Second, Gene is a practitioner of servant leadership.  When he encourages you to pick up the basin and towel and wash feet, you may be sure it is not empty theory.  He teaches others what he has learned in the laboratory of his own experience.  Gene is a servant leader, and even as he wrote this book, he directed his very large church through a massive building program.  His church leadership ability, which he exhibited during this writing project, does not surface in this volume, but it undergirds and authenticates it.

Third, Gene Wilkes knows better than anyone else the literature of leadership.  As you read this book, you will quickly feel his command of his subject.  Footnotes will come and go, and behind the thin lines of numbers, ibids, and the like you will feel the force of his understanding.  No one knows the field of both secular and Christian leadership like this man.  So Jesus on Leadership is a mature essay.  It has come from the only man I know with this vast comprehension of the subject.

Finally, Gene Wilkes is a born writer.  It is not often that good oral communicators are good with the pen.  But throughout this book, you will find the paragraphs coming and going so smoothly that you will be hard-pressed to remember you are reading a definitive and scholarly work.  Books that are this critically important should not be so much fun.  Gene Wilkes is to leadership what Barbara Tuchman is to history.  You know it’s good for you and are surprised to be so delighted at taking the strong medicine that makes the world better.

Here are the chapter headings:

Down from the head table:
Jesus’model of servant leadership

Principle 1: Humble your heart
Humility: the living example

Principle 2: First be a follower
Jesus led so that others could be followers

Principle 3: Find greatness in service
Jesus demonstrating greatness

Principle 4: Take risks
Jesus, the great risk taker

Principle 5: Take up the trowel
Jesus’ power – through service

Principle 6: Share responsibility and authority
How did Jesus do it?

Principle 7:  Build a team
The team Jesus built

And some great quotes from page 2:

All true work combines [the] two elements of serving and ruling.  Ruling is what we do; serving is how we do it.  There’s true sovereignty in all good work.  There’s no way to exercise it rightly other than by serving.
Eugene Patterson, Leap over a Wall

Above all, leadership is a position of servanthood.
Max Deere, Leadership Jazz

The principle of service is what separates true leaders from glory seekers.
Laurie Beth Jones, Jesus, CEO

People are supposed to serve.  Life is a mission, not a career.
Stephen R. Covey, The Leader of the Future

Ultimately the choice we make is between service and self-interest.
Peter Block, Stewardship, Choosing Service over Self-Interest

Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
JESUS, Luke 14:11

Reproduced here from Renewal Journal 16: Vision – Book Reviews:
Jesus on Leadership by Gene Wilkes

 

In the Spirit We’re Equal: The Spirit, The Bible, and Women – A Revival Perspective,  by Susan Hyatt (Dallas: HyattPress, 1998).

In the Spirit We’re Equal challenges our thinking about biblical womanhood, as does Susan’s report, “Women and Religions”, an article in this issue of the Renewal Journal.

“Susan Hyatt has an important message to convey: the Bible teaches an egalitarian relationship between men and women which was confirmed at Pentecost.  This volume is a valuable resource offering insightful understanding of the ‘real issues’, namely those of power and control,” says Professor Elizabeth Clark of the UK.

Susan Hyatt emphasises the following themes in her book.

What do Pentecostal/Charismatic people need to know about biblical womanhood and how might this theology be imparted to make a vital difference in the lives of God’s people?  This question arises in the context of the twentieth-century Pentecostal/Charismatic revival in which a biblically sound, historically informed, Spirit-sensitive theology of womanhood is needed to counter the Church’s traditional theology of womanhood and its hybrids.

Whereas the traditional theology, an hierarchical model, has a record of oppressing women, a Pentecostal/Charismatic theology, an egalitarian model, states that women are equal with men in terms of substance and value, function and authority, privilege and responsibility.

The starting point for such a theology is the message of Jesus as revealed by word and deed in the gospel record.  This harmonizes with the revealed will of God in the biblical record, particularly in the writings of Paul and in Genesis, accurately interpreted in terms of authorial intent.

This theology is also in harmony with the activity of the Holy Spirit, particularly in revival history as observed in movements such as the early Friends (1650-90), the early Methodists (1739-1760), nineteenth-century revival movements in America, and the early Pentecostal/Charismatic Revival (1901- 1907).

The Christian belief system must be constructed on the foundation of Jesus’ teaching and the Bible, accurately interpreted and confirmed by the activity of the Holy Spirit in history.  This is important because the practical implications of how people think theologically about womanhood affect everything from the fulfilment of the Great Commission to the issue of self-worth and to a myriad of topics in-between.  Clearly, the Church needs a way of thinking about womanhood that will result in biblical behaviour by women and toward women in all venues of Christian living.  This book explores that option.

This book offers men and women an opportunity to renew their minds according to the revealed will of God about half of the Body of Christ – the female members. Traditionally we have not done this, yet the Spirit is moving in our day to bring our thoughts in agreement with the will of God in many areas, including how we think about womanhood.

Susan Hyatt shows how this is important for many reason, not the least of which is the fact that, as we mature in Christ, we are to think more like him, and he taught that we are all created equal and unique before God.

It is also important that we renew our minds regarding womanhood because Jesus commanded us to go into all the world – to men and to women of all tribes and nations – teaching them to obey all that he commanded.  If we are not teaching his truth about womanhood, are we truly obeying the Great Commission?

As important as this is, however, we have a more important calling, and that is to know him.  As we abide in him, he gives us assignments.  But these assignments are only causes and must never displace the call.  The cause is not the call.

Susan observes: “One of the assignments God has called me to – much to my surprise – is to work with him to reform the way we think about womanhood.  God is wanting to answer the prayers of his people who are crying out for more – for more of him, for more revival, for more souls, for more!  His answer is coming to us in the opportunity to reform our thinking about womanhood.  He is asking us to come into agreement with his way of thinking about womanhood.  If we embrace it, we become deeper and wider channels for The River to flow deeper and wider into all the earth.  Won’t we take the limits off God in our lives and in the Church?”  (GW)

A Study Guide and teaching course using this book is also available from Hyatt Ministries:.

Links:
See Susan Hyatt’s article in this Renewal Journal: Women and Religions
Reference to Susan Hyatt in Sue Fairley’s article Women in Ministry..
International Women’s History Project and Hall of Fame
God’s Word to Women
Hyatt International Ministries
Eddie Hyatt’s book: 2000 Years of Charismatic Christianity – Review
Mailing Address: P. O. Box 3877, Grapevine, TX 76051 USA

Firestorm of the Lord by Stuart Piggin. 

Paternoster & Open Book, 2000.

Dr Stuart Piggin’s book makes scholarship on revival readily accessible with clear principles well illustrated from history, including recent history.  He writes as a renewed evangelical, unafraid to embrace the strengths of renewal and to warn against its weaknesses.  Australian readers will welcome his extensive use of our own stories of revival.

Stuart’s work as Master of Robert Menzies College and Associate of the Department of History at Macquarie University in Sydney includes being Principal of the School of Christian Studies and of the Centre for the Study of Australian Christianity.  He incorporates this rich research culture into his book.

The back cover summarises his approach and content:

Drawing extensively from the theology of Jonathan Edwards and Martin Lloyd-Jones, Stuart Piggin offers a systematic, biblical and pastoral study of revival.  He writes from the head and heart, with plenty of lively illustrations and real-life testimonies and quotations.  Piggin defines revival, looks at its biblical basis, identifies the marks of genuine revival and studies the phenomenon thoroughly across historical and denominational lines.  After laying his groundwork, Piggin offers much valuable and practical advice for revival.  Finally he explores the possibilities for God’s choosing to work in such a way again – in the next grace awakening.  Revival, he insists and proves, is a firestorm of the sovereign Lord through Jesus Christ in the power of the Hoy Spirit.

This book will enrich the library of any college, student or pastor, and provide ample material for evaluating a wide range of revival movements and phenomena.  Stuart rightly emphasises the centrality of Jesus Christ and his redeeming triumph on the cross in all things, including revival, when many people repent and find eternal life, or as Jesus said, have life and have it more abundantly.  (GW)

Early Evangelical Revivals in Australia by Robert Evans.

Open Book, Adelaide, 2001.  553 pages.

Reviewed by Dr Dean Drayton

This comprehensive study of surviving published materials about evangelical revivals in Australia covers the period 1776 to 1880.

Robert Evans has taken the initiative to place in reader’s hands reports of evangelical revivals in Australia.  Gallons of ink have been spilt telling us about revivals in other parts of the world.  Indeed for a long lime it was believed that there had been no revivals in Australia.

There have been many revivals in Australia.  The distinguishing feature is that most were local.  As Evans points out, Australia has never had a sustained revival involving many local congregations.

I have always been fascinated by the times when people became so aware of the presence of God that they were able to live with a new perspective for their life, a God centred perspective.  While at Salisbury in South Australia, I had the privilege of being present in a congregation when there was a time of renewal and conversion.  Once tasted this is never forgotten.

Having seen the reality of changed lives, one hopes the Church may discover we live in a time when the dam is empty, but flooding rains are on the way.  The proclamation of Jesus Christ as Lord has been the source of life giving floods of grace in many places across our country.  Here is direct evidence.  We need now to grow the expectation that the Holy Spirit has more than what we have received or accepted as the source of transforming power m human lives.

This book gives mostly the Methodist perspective up to the year 1880.  Only the Methodists seemed to have documented such events in that period.  Beyond 1880 the perspective widens into other denominations partly because other congregations discovered what could happen with special weekends and preachers opening up again the fountains of God’s holy love.

Here one discovers the importance of times of prayer and preparation, and the amazing accounts of the influence of California Taylor as he preached through the various states of Australia.  Robert Evans gives us a thoughtful analysis of the way as time passes the tendency is for the means of revival to come to centre stage rather than the message of the gospel itself.

One may ask, ‘Have revivals had their day?’ As one reads this book one discovers that the form of God’s renewal changes from age to age.  The question conies, ‘What is the way we can see again the power of God experienced in the life of ordinary folk?’  This book clearly sets out to let us know what has happened, to grow in the reader the expectation that God can do new things in our midst.  So, Holy Spirit surprise us, make us aware of your presence, bring us to our knees with the wonder of knowing you in our midst.

Available from Open Book, or though Christian bookshops.

Evangelical Revivals In New Zealand by Robert Evans & Roy Mckenzie.

Reviewed by Jeff Haines

If you are concerned about what God is doing in New Zea1and, or about revivals, or if  you want to consider New Zealand church history from a different perspective, then this is the book to challenge your thinking and move your heart towards God’s desire to see his people revived and the nation awakened.

This is the sort of book that has been needed for some time.  We have read about what God has done through reviva1s in many lands and now we have a well written history which reveals what has happened in revivals in New Zealand.

I have studied revival in New Zealand for some time now and I pleased that the authors have captured the essence of each historical period.  It is also the authors desire that this history will spur others to discover more fully the events surrounding the times, places and people involved.  The extensive bibliographies at the end of each chapter give plenty of scope for further study.

The book covers these three sections:

Introduction – which gives a clear definition of revival (a word which has many different definitions), and describes the purpose of the book.

Part 1 – A history of revival in New Zealand.  It has 14 chapters which cover the history of revival from 1814 to the present.

Part 2 – Some basic principles of revival.  It discuses the many principles of revival including the need for our involvement, social implications and theological aspects.

Evangelical Revivals In New Zealand is historical, theological and practical.  It is refreshing to read a book that presents the many dimensions of revival in an easy to understand manner.  The history is enriched by the theological reflection on revival.

Anyone interested in revival, and in the church in New Zealand should obtain a copy of this book.  You will discover want God has done in the past, learn the lessons of history, and take advantage of the practical advice plus the help offered in this book.  It will stir you to pray for God’s sovereign move in revival again.

$25 from the author Robert Evans, PO Box 131, Hazelbrook, NSW 2779 – bobevans@pnc.com.au

©  Renewal Journal #18: Servant Leadership (2001, 2012)  renewaljournal.com
Reproduction is allowed with the copyright included in the text.

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Amazon – Renewal Journal 18: Servant Leadership
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All Renewal Journal Topics

1 Revival,   2 Church Growth,   3 Community,   4 Healing,   5 Signs & Wonders,
6  Worship,   7  Blessing,   8  Awakening,   9  Mission,   10  Evangelism,
11  Discipleship,
   12  Harvest,   13  Ministry,   14  Anointing,   15  Wineskins,
16  Vision,
   17  Unity,   18  Servant Leadership,   19  Church,   20 Life
Also: 24/7 Worship & Prayer

Contents:  Renewal Journal 18: Servant Leadership

The Kingdom Within, by Irene Alexander

Church Models: Integration or Assimilation? by Jeannie Mok

Women in Ministry, by Sue Fairley

Women and Religions, by Susan Hyatt

Disciple-Makers, by Mark Setch

Ministry Confronts Secularisation, by Sam Hey

Book Reviews:
Jesus on Leadership by Gene Wilkes
In the Spirit We’re Equal by Susan Hyatt
Firestorm of the Lord by Stuart Piggin
Early Evangelical Revivals in Australia by Robert Evans 

Renewal Journal 18: Servant Leadership – PDF

Revival Blogs Links:

See also Revivals Index

See also Revival Blogs

See also Blogs Index 1: Revivals

GENERAL BLOGS INDEX 

BLOGS INDEX 1: REVIVALS (BRIEFER THAN REVIVALS INDEX)

BLOGS INDEX 2: MISSION (INTERNATIONAL STORIES)

BLOGS INDEX 3: MIRACLES (SUPERNATURAL EVENTS)

BLOGS INDEX 4: DEVOTIONAL (INCLUDING TESTIMONIES)

BLOGS INDEX 5: CHURCH (CHRISTIANITY IN ACTION)

BLOGS INDEX 6: CHAPTERS (BLOGS FROM BOOKS)

BLOGS INDEX 7: IMAGES (PHOTOS AND ALBUMS)

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An article in Renewal Journal 18: Servant Leadership:
https://renewaljournal.com/2012/05/20/servant-leadership/
Renewal Journal 18: Servant Leadership
– PDF

Also in Renewal Journals Vol 4: Issues 16-20
Renewal Journal Vol 4 (16-20) – PDF

 

Divine Healing and Church Growth, by Donald McGavran


Divine Healing and Church Growth

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.  

Renewal Journal 4: HealingPDF

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Divine Healing and Church Growth, by Donald McGavran:
https://renewaljournal.com/2012/05/19/divine-healing-and-church-growth-by-donald-mcgavran/
Renewal Journal 4: Healing
Renewal Journal 4: Healing – PDF

Article in Renewal Journal 4: Healing – with more links to healing blogs

 

Also in Renewal Journals bound volume 1 (Issues 1-5)

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.

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Missionary Translator and Doctor, by David Lithgow

My Learning Curve on Healing, by Jim Holbeck

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Deliverance and Freedom, by Colin Warren

Christian Wholeness Counselling, by John Warlow

A Healing Community, by Spencer Colliver

Divine Healing & Church Growth, by Donald McGavran

Sounds of Revival, by Sue Armstrong

Revival Fire at Wuddina, by Trevor Faggotter

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Vision

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Almolonga, the Miracle City, by Mell Winger

Cali Transformation, by George Otis Jr.

Revival in Bogotá, by Guido Kuwas

Prison Revival in Argentina, by Ed Silvoso

Missions at the Margins, by Bob Ekblad

Vision for Church Growth, by Daryl & Cecily Brenton

Vision for Ministry, by Geoff Waugh

Book Review: Jesus on Leadership by Gene Wilkes

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Editorial

Vision for the 21st Century

A new millennium, like each new year, encourages vision.  New hope.  New possibilities.  New vision.

Christian vision remains grounded in God’s revelation of himself in Scripture, inspired and illuminated by his Spirit.  So the vision is both old and new.

The vision is old because Jesus Christ is the same, “yesterday, today and forever”.  God’s word hasn’t changed with changing times.  We have the same that God Abraham, Moses, David, Esther, Mary, Peter and Paul served.

They all served God in their time, their era.  Now it’s our turn, in our time, our era.

Ours is a very different world from their day.  We communicate rapidly, globally.  We fly globally for mission and holidays.  We spend billions of dollars in Kingdom business.

So is there a vision for the 21st century?

There must be.  Where there is no vision, the people perish.  Where there is no prophetic word the people cast off restraint.  See Proverbs 29:18.

This issue of the Renewal Journal looks at some visions, directions and implications for serving God in the 21st century.

The essentials remain the same.  God is.  Jesus saves.  The Holy Spirit moves in all the earth.  The church grows – with endless cultural and social expressions.  Yet still the Lord only recognises one church – his.

All over the world powerful expressions of the church have emerged at the beginning of the 21st century.  This is not triumphalism.  But it is war.  Jesus is still building his church and smashing through the gates of hell.

Mell Winger, missionary to Latin America, tells the astounding story of Almolonga, Guetemala, the “Miracle City”.  There the Christians have united in prayer and seen the powers of darkness dramatically overcome.  The four jails, once packed, are now empty – closed.  The curse on the land has been broken and they grow the biggest and best food in the world.  Families, once at war, are united in loving service.

George Otis Jr., producer of the vivid, prophetic video Transformations, tells how Cali, Columbia, has been transformed through united repentance and prayer.  Once the centre of billions of dollars in drug trafficking with a turnover of over 400 million US dollars a month, it is now transformed.  What global law enforcement agents could not do, God has done.

Guido Kuwas describes revival in Bogotá, Columbia – another transformations story.  A church is impacting the whole city and region by applying Jesus’ principles of discipleship.  Christian disciple just 12 people.  Very effectively.  They gather in huge areas to celebrate together.

Ed Silvoso describes dramatic revival in Argentina’s biggest prison.

Daryl and Cecily Brenton, now missionary translators in Papua New Guinea, comment on the world’s largest data base of church growth factors to draw conclusions about effective mission and evangelism.

I have condensed my research on the emerging church into an article surveying the dramatic and powerful global shifts going on in church life and ministry amid accelerating change today.

Gene Wilkes’ book Jesus on Leadership challenges our usual ideas of leadership in the church by examining how Jesus led.

We hope you find this issue of the Renewal Journal inspiring and informative, and that you can recommend it to your friends and your church!

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Jesus on Leadership by Gene Wilkes (Wheaton: Tyndale, 1998)

Review from the Foreword by Calvin Miller.

Gene Wilkes knows the literature of leadership but that is not why this book is the finest of its kind in the marketplace.  There are four major contributors to Gene Wilkes’s greatness as a scholar and teacher.  These same four forces permeate this book and make it a must for all of those who want to become informed and capable leaders.

First, Gene Wilkes loves Jesus.  Please don’t think this a mere saccharine appraisal between friends.  This simplicity provides Gene his passion to serve both God and his congregation.  Further, this love for Christ carries a subtle and pervasive authenticity that makes Gene Wilkes believable.  Whether you read him or hear him lecture, you walk away from the experience knowing that what you’ve heard is the truth – the life-changing truth from a man who lives the truth and loves getting to the bottom of things.  All this I believe derives from his love of Christ.

Second, Gene is a practitioner of servant leadership.  When he encourages you to pick up the basin and towel and wash feet, you may be sure it is not empty theory.  He teaches others what he has learned in the laboratory of his own experience.  Gene is a servant leader, and even as he wrote this book, he directed his very large church through a massive building program.  His church leadership ability, which he exhibited during this writing project, does not surface in this volume, but it undergirds and authenticates it.

Third, Gene Wilkes knows better than anyone else the literature of leadership.  As you read this book, you will quickly feel his command of his subject.  Footnotes will come and go, and behind the thin lines of numbers, ibids, and the like you will feel the force of his understanding.  No one knows the field of both secular and Christian leadership like this man.  So Jesus on Leadership is a mature essay.  It has come from the only man I know with this vast comprehension of the subject.

Finally, Gene Wilkes is a born writer.  It is not often that good oral communicators are good with the pen.  But throughout this book, you will find the paragraphs coming and going so smoothly that you will be hard-pressed to remember you are reading a definitive and scholarly work.  Books that are this critically important should not be so much fun.  Gene Wilkes is to leadership what Barbara Tuchman is to history.  You know it’s good for you and are surprised to be so delighted at taking the strong medicine that makes the world better.

Here are the chapter headings:

Down from the head table:
Jesus’model of servant leadership

Principle 1: Humble your heart
Humility: the living example

Principle 2: First be a follower
Jesus led so that others could be followers

Principle 3: Find greatness in service
Jesus demonstrating greatness

Principle 4: Take risks
Jesus, the great risk taker

Principle 5: Take up the trowel
Jesus’ power – through service

Principle 6: Share responsibility and authority
How did Jesus do it?

Principle 7:  Build a team
The team Jesus built

And some great quotes from page 2:

All true work combines [the] two elements of serving and ruling.  Ruling is what we do; serving is how we do it.  There’s true sovereignty in all good work.  There’s no way to exercise it rightly other than by serving.
Eugene Patterson, Leap over a Wall

Above all, leadership is a position of servanthood.
Max Deere, Leadership Jazz

The principle of service is what separates true leaders from glory seekers.
Laurie Beth Jones, Jesus, CEO

People are supposed to serve.  Life is a mission, not a career.
Stephen R. Covey, The Leader of the Future

Ultimately the choice we make is between service and self-interest.
Peter Block, Stewardship, Choosing Service over Self-Interest

Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.
JESUS, Luke 14:11

Supernatural Missions


Supernatural Missions,
by Randy Clark
(Global Awakening, 2012)

http://globalawakeningstore.com/Supernatural-Missions.html

 

Randy Clark has again blessed and challenged us with his compiled book Supernatural Missions.  It helps to fill a huge gap in mission literature, applying the theory and theology of mission in the Spirit’s power to world mission, including short term missions.   Randy’s accumulated wisdom and experience in doing supernatural mission around the world fills the book with convincing examples.  He demonstrates from many diverse countries how God moves powerfully on people, leaders and nations as we believe, pray and obey.

His book is enriched by similar applied theology from others involved in supernatural mission.   This includes Leif Hetland on reaching unreached people groups supernaturally, Bill Jackson’s survey of the biblical background to powerful mission, Peter Prosser’s overview of church history as mission history, Clifton Clarke’s examination of Spirit-filled and empowered mission, Roland and Heidi Baker on prophetic and loving anointing for awesome mission, Jonathan Bernis on the messianic mission of the Jews, ‘DJ’ a missionary in the Arab world on effective mission to Muslims, Bob Ekblad on holistic transformational mission, anthropologist Lesley-Anne Leighton’s call for incarnational practice in words and deeds, and Howard Foltz on current developments in mission.

You will be informed and inspired.  We have added this book to our mission text books in our degree program.

Here is the Contents of these inspiring articles:

Introduction
Chapter 1 – Why Power Makes a Difference in Missions, by Randy Clark
Chapter 2 – Finishing the Unfinished Task, by Leif Hetland
Chapter 3 – The Biblical Basis for World Missions, Part 1, by Bill Jackson
Chapter 4 – The Biblical Basis for World Missions, Part 2, by Bill Jackson
Chapter 5 – Missions Through Church History, by Peter Prosser
Chapter 6 – ‘Spirit-Filled’ Missions, by Clifton Clarke
Chapter 7 – Prophecy & Missions, by Roland Baker
Chapter 8 – Power & Muslim Missions, by D.J.
Chapter 9 – The Prophetic Destiny of Israel and Jewish People, by Jonathan Bernis
Chapter 10 – Power Evangelism in Short-term Mission Trips, by Randy Clark
Chapter 11 – Primacy of Love in Missions with Power, Heidi Baker
Chapter 12 – Holistic Transformational Missions at the Margins, by Bob Ekblad
Chapter 13 – A Weaving of Anthropological Insights, by Lesley-Anne Leighton
Chapter 14 – Izsues and Trends in Missions, by Howard Folts
Chapter 15 – Development Aid as Power Evangelism: the Mieze Model, by Don Kantel

©  Renewal Journal #16: Vision (2000, 2012)  renewaljournal.com
Reproduction is allowed with the copyright included in the text.

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1 Revival,   2 Church Growth,   3 Community,   4 Healing,   5 Signs & Wonders,
6  Worship,   7  Blessing,   8  Awakening,   9  Mission,   10  Evangelism,
11  Discipleship,
   12  Harvest,   13  Ministry,   14  Anointing,   15  Wineskins,
16  Vision,
   17  Unity,   18  Servant Leadership,   19  Church,   20 Life
Also: 24/7 Worship & Prayer

Contents:  Renewal Journal 16: Vision

Almolonga, the Miracle City, by Mell Winger

Cali Transformation, by George Otis Jr.

Revival in Bogotá, by Guido Kuwas

Prison Revival in Argentina, by Ed Silvoso

Missions at the Margins, by Bob Ekblad

Vision for Church Growth, by Daryl & Cecily Brenton

Vision for Ministry, by Geoff Waugh

Book Review: Jesus on Leadership by Gene Wilkes

Renewal Journal 16: Vision – PDF

Revival Blogs Links:

See also Revivals Index

See also Revival Blogs

See also Blogs Index 1: Revivals

GENERAL BLOGS INDEX 

BLOGS INDEX 1: REVIVALS (BRIEFER THAN REVIVALS INDEX)

BLOGS INDEX 2: MISSION (INTERNATIONAL STORIES)

BLOGS INDEX 3: MIRACLES (SUPERNATURAL EVENTS)

BLOGS INDEX 4: DEVOTIONAL (INCLUDING TESTIMONIES)

BLOGS INDEX 5: CHURCH (CHRISTIANITY IN ACTION)

BLOGS INDEX 6: CHAPTERS (BLOGS FROM BOOKS)

BLOGS INDEX 7: IMAGES (PHOTOS AND ALBUMS)

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Vision for Church Growth, by Daryl & Cecily Brenton

Vision for Church Growth

by Daryl & Cecily Brenton

Cecily & Daryl Brenton

Daryl and Cecily Brenton both completed their Bachelor of Ministry degrees at the Christian Heritage College School of Ministries and served as missionary translators in Papua New Guinea with the Summer Institute of Linguistics.  This article discusses their research findings from a huge database compiled by Christian Schwartz.

 

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An article in Renewal Journal 16: Vision:Much has been written about Church Growth since McGavran’s seminal book Understanding Church Growth was first written in 1980.   However, the ‘fog’ surrounding Church Growth still exists.  What are church growth factors that are truly necessary to the growth of local churches, and by extension, to denominations and the Kingdom of God as a whole?

Church Growth Research

McGavran made much of accountability in church growth.  The main reason for energy and resources being wasted on unproductive ventures was what he called ‘the fog’, an imprecise evaluation of mission effectiveness.  Many times decisions are not converted into disciples and sometimes hard to reach groups were preferred to those that are more receptive (McGavran, 1990, p.36).

Christian Schwartz tackled this predicament.  His desire for an objective evaluation of church growth principles prompted him to start a worldwide survey of churches from every continent.  Designed by a social-scientist/psychologist, this project has generated a database of over 4.2 million responses, allowing for a statistical analysis of one hundred and seventy variables that were thought to affect church growth.  Such a database allowed for an objective search for principles that transcend culture and theological biases (Schwartz, 1996, pp. 18-19, 33).

Any effective approach to analysing church growth must distinguish between models derived from specific churches and principles that have been distilled from many examples (Schwartz, 1996, pp.  16-17).

Christian spirituality, either individually or collectively, has two seemingly disparate poles.  On one hand, church growth is seen as totally dependent upon God’s sovereign action.  On the other hand, human programs and organisation are seen as essential to facilitate church growth.  Emphasis on one of these poles at the expense of the other leads to erroneous paradigms.  Concentration on God’s sovereign ability tends to a ‘spiritualistic’ view that undervalues, or indeed, opposes methods and organisation.  The danger of the other extreme is that God’s role is minimised and church growth is considered as just human endeavour that God automatically approves.

The writings of the Apostles on the life and structure of the church cover both of these aspects (see 1 Peter 2.5; Ephesians 2.21, 4.12; 1 Corinthians 3.9).  The action of the Spirit constantly stimulates the organisation of programs, rules and institutions (Schwartz, 1996, pp.  84-85).  This is analogous to the growth of the skin and bones of a person that are formed during gestation and are completely replaced every month of life.  Schwartz maintained that the dynamic pole produces the organisational aspects of a church, which in turn encourages spiritual formation in the people.  Like a spiral staircase, this dynamic has both a cyclical and a vertical movement (Schwartz, 1996, pp.  96-97).

There are some aspects of church life that can be developed and there are some that are in the hands of God alone.  This is much like the case of a farmer who ploughs, plants, weeds and irrigates his crops but has to rely on the weather and the life force in the seed to form the desired crop (Schwartz, 1996, p98-99).  Understanding the dynamic of Christian spirituality allows one to become a junior partner with God in church growth.

Essential Ingredients

One of the most difficult tasks of church growth is to isolate those factors essential to church growth.  To be able to tell which of the multitude of social, environmental, historical, demographic, or various other influences are the real influences can be overwhelming.  This is evident from the multitude of lists of such factors by church growth authors.

Schwartz’s survey results give an unprecedented opportunity to analyse what factors are trans-cultural and independent of personal theologies.  Covering over one thousand churches in thirty-two countries, this survey was designed by a social scientist to avoid bias in the analysis of the resulting data.  Many pastors have been disappointed, having adopted a model of church growth from a successful church without considering the various differences in culture and environment.  Schwartz approached the issue by analysing the results to distil those abstract principles that are relevant for all churches and then to individualise those principles in a plan for a particular local church (Schwartz, 1996, pp.  16-19).  Denominations could also benefit from this course of action to develop policies for the growth of their local congregations.

Many authors assume that an increase in attendance at worship services is church growth.  However, those churches that were committed to raising the quality of their congregational life were found to experience numerical growth on a more consistent basis.  When the quality of Christian spirituality in a congregation improves dramatically, church growth is almost a ‘by-product’ (Schwartz, 1996, p.  42; cf.  Peters, 1981, p.  23; Patterson, in Winter, 1981, p.613).  It is important to identify those qualities that directly affect the growth of a congregation, both numerical and spiritual.

Empowering leadership

Much church growth literature assumed that a task oriented leadership style was a characteristic of churches that are growing.  However, this was not shown to be the case.  Growing churches were shown to have pastors who were usually more relationship oriented than task focussed.  Rather than losing themselves in friendships however, these pastors were partnership oriented.  They typically have a mindset that views non-clergy as people to be served, trained, equipped and supported in participating in the work of the ministry.  These leaders have realised that they can empower themselves by: empowering others; discipling; delegating work; and multiplying leadership to do many times more than their own individual efforts.

The church must train believers in body ministry skills according to the Holy Spirit’s giftings. Thus leadership will be in the position of being able to invest time and effort into the making of disciples, bringing overall growth to the church and denomination (Schwartz, 1996, pp. 22-23).

Gift oriented ministry

One of the major tenets of the Reformation is still unrealised in German-speaking Europe.  The ‘priesthood of believers’ was one of Luther’s most radical doctrines, with the potential to transform the life of the church of his times.  However, a bureaucratic paradigm prevailed.  Volunteers are mostly sought to fill the positions determined by the pastor.  Allowing Christians to work with their God-given gifts releases them from human striving to an unprecedented degree.  This usually results in an increase of cooperation with the Holy Spirit.  A correspondence between this gifted ministry and the personal contentedness of such Christians was also seen in the survey results.

As Christians serve in the area of their giftedness they are more likely to function under the power of the Holy Spirit instead of their own strength (Schwartz, 1996, pp.  24-25).

Passionate spirituality

A vibrant and contagious expression of faith was found to be more important than a charismatic persuasion or otherwise or whether one practiced spiritual warfare or used traditional liturgies or other such issues.  A passionate spirituality is found wherever Christians express their faith with a contagious enthusiasm and practical expression.  This is the opposite of a moralistic legalism.

This is a quality that separates the growing from non-growing churches.  A growing church will always be able to answer “Yes” when asked: “Are the believers in this church ‘on fire’, living prayerful, committed lives with joyful and enthusiastic faith?” (Schwartz, 1996, pp.  26-27)

Functional structures

This quality basically assumes that any structures that are put in place are designed to see that the other qualities are promoted (Schwartz, 1996, pp.  28-29).  This will sometimes mean the restructuring of previous structures to fulfil their purpose.  Rather than forming a rigid exoskeleton like a crab’s shell, functional structures are more like a human skeleton, which is renewed regularly and increases to accommodate the growth of the body.  Functional structures require a balance between the extremes of an overly spiritualised approach and that of a technocratic, ‘super pragmatism’.

Life and form both spring forth when God breathes His Holy Spirit into formless clay.  A creative act occurs when structure and form knit together in God’s hands.

Inspiring worship service

Such innovative strategies as using seeker sensitive services, did not show up as church growth principles.  Issues of whether to use traditional terminology and liturgy or a casual and modern approach were not seen to be particularly important.  The deciding factor was shown to be whether the service was inspiring to the participants.  It is the concrete impact of the Holy Spirit’s presence that is ‘inspiring’ and draws people to the services without the need for pressure tactics (Schwartz, 1996, pp.  30-31).

Though seeker services are a method of evangelism and worth consideration, they make no difference to overall church growth. If the presence of the Holy Spirit can be felt/seen permeating the church then the service and worship are most certainly going to be inspired.

Holistic small groups

A holistic group is one that goes beyond just studying the Bible.  It must allow Christians to discuss issues of personal concern to provide the natural place for Christians to learn to serve others with their spiritual giftings.  Through the multiplication of these small groups, leadership is trained in a ‘hands on’ situation.  Discipleship is more fully developed in this sort of situation than in any large group discussions (Schwartz, 1996, p.  32).

Different teaching methods have various effects on those who are listening.  Kraft determined that monologues, that is, sermons/lectures, have little impact on the hearer and result in an increase of knowledge but little change in lifestyle.  Small group discussion has great potential to produce changes in thinking patterns, due to greater interaction.  However, it was life involvement or individual discipleship that had the potential to transform total life patterns (Kraft, 1991, pp.  140-141).  It is of great benefit to Christians to note in what situations that Jesus used these teaching methods and why.

Small groups are the pillars of church growth. Their multiplication could be seen to be the ‘most important’ factor of all eight characteristics.  Small groups can overcome cultural and personality differences often found in many large churches. The needs of the people can be met in the small group situation.

Need oriented evangelism

Closely related to the previous quality is the need for church leaders to identify those Christians who are particularly gifted to be evangelists.  Schwartz’s research verified Wagner’s thesis that only ten percent of all Christians are specifically called to be evangelists.  Identifying these people and empowering them to function as God intended them to, frees the other ninety percent from the burden of trying to accomplish what they were not gifted to do and allows those so gifted to maximise their efforts (Schwartz, 1996, pp.  34).

A major benefit of this strategy is that it allows those who are not called to be evangelists to use their gifts to support evangelistic efforts, for example, in follow up, discipling converts and maintaining records for future evaluation of these efforts.

To release the gift of evangelism it is essential for leadership in a church to identify and empower those believers possessing this Holy Spirit inspired gift.

Loving relationships

Closely related to the importance of small, holistic groups is the state of unfeigned practical love among the Christians.  Analysis of the research data showed that such variables as seeker services, evangelistic crusades or even spiritual warfare should not be deemed as principles of church growth.  It is primarily, practical Christian love that generates a drawing power more effective than any program that relies only on verbal communication.  Indeed, love is so important that it’s lack was found to be the factor most likely to limit the growth of churches with over one thousand members.  Wherever churches were lacking in this Christian love, their development was found to be held back (Schwartz, 1996, p36-37).

The magnetic power of unfeigned, practical love generates more growth than any evangelistic program ever shall.  A church full of laughter and loving, caring relationships will have both quality and growth

Integration of the qualities

In natural church development our point of departure is not outward manifestations of growth, but the qualitative causes. …. Quality produces quantity.  (Schwartz, 1996, p.42-43)

These qualities are not just individual factors that work independently.  For an example of this interconnecting web of influences, just consider how functional structures relate in the area of empowering leadership.  One of the goals of this kind of leadership is to develop individuals to fulfil their calling and to multiply a leadership that can delegate.  A structure that, for example, institutes departmental heads to develop co-leaders through discipleship allows the pastor to delegate areas of service to others.  This offers the opportunity for intimate cooperation and the determination of the giftings of those individuals.  In turn, this will promote a passionate expression of faith as these individuals function in their calling and allow them to support the church’s need oriented evangelism.  Moreover, with training and encouragement they will be able to replicate this system within the existing congregation as well as in establishing new churches.

The way that these qualities interact is like the balance of the four essential minerals in agriculture.  It is common knowledge among farmers that the soil in their paddocks needs to have a balance of nitrogen, lime, potash and phosphorus to be viable (Schwartz, 1996, pp.  54-55).  Deficiencies in one or more of these minerals, or an imbalance between them, can spell the difference between success and failure of the crop and potentially of the farmer’s finances as a whole.

The growth of a local congregation is a self-organising phenomenon.  When the right principles are put into practice, numerical growth seems to be automatic.

Concentrating on raising the spiritual health of the congregation in the areas of community (that is, in fellowship and organisation) and its practical, enthusiastic expression has some unforeseen benefits.  It allows for the breakdown of a seemingly overwhelming job into small, discrete goals.  Strategies to improve each quality can prove to be very simple, even mundane.  For example, an effective way to improve the occurrence of loving relationships could be as simple as encouraging members to invite each other home for a meal or for coffee.  Very few members would feel competent to raise the love quotient of their home group, but most could easily provide some hospitality.  Such achievable tasks generate enthusiasm.

The task of the church is to fulfil the Great Commission.  On at least five occasions, Jesus commissioned his disciples to be his representatives (John 20.21; Mark 16.15; Matthew 28.18-19; Luke 24.46-48; Acts 1.8).  The primary command in Matthew 28.18-19 is the imperative, ‘make disciples’.  This is confirmed by the use of participles for the other three instructions.  Evangelism that leads to conversion but not service, is sub-Christian.  Disciples are followers, pupils or apprentices in the Christian faith.  A ministry that truly disciples people will include aggressive evangelism (going), building converts into the community of faith (baptising them into the name) and showing them how to live as Christians (teaching to obey).

Perhaps the greatest weakness in discipleship in most Western churches is the lack of what Eims called the principle of association.  Jesus chose his disciples to be with him.  Thus, any Christian wishing to disciple someone must be willing to share his/her life with that person (Eims, 1978, p.33).

Strategies for Local Churches

Petersen noted that the church has had, ‘thirty years of discipleship programs, and we are not discipled’ (Petersen, 1993, p.15).  If the commission of the church is to make disciples, then this is a serious charge indeed.  It is at the level of the local congregation that discipleship occurs, therefore, it is imperative that local congregations should give attention to providing an environment that will encourage this vital interaction.  Schwartz identified holistic small groups as the most practical place for Christians to develop discipleship (Schwartz, 1996, p.  32).

The church is a transforming community of believers, followers of Jesus in fellowship with him and each other.  Scripture often refers to it as the family of God.  In the doctrine of the Trinity, we see that God is a community of interrelating persons.  It is only in relation to each other that we can differentiate each person of the Godhead.  The Father and the Son are only so in relationship to each other, for Scripture declares that the Father and Son are co-equal and the Spirit is also known as the Spirit of God and as the Spirit of Christ.

This communal aspect is paramount in understanding what it means for us to be made in the ‘image of God’.  Community is an integral part of our make-up.  It is as both male and female that God created us in his image (Genesis 1:27).  This understanding makes sense of Jesus’ statement that all his commands were encapsulated in the decree, ‘these things I command you, that you love one another’ (John 15:17, NKJ).  It is in reflecting the relationships of Father, Son and Spirit that this community is maintained.

This love is intimately connected to keeping the commands of Jesus (John 14:15, 21, 23-24; 15.10, 14).  This is the link between the command to love and the Great Commission.  It is in small, holistic groups that ‘teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you’ (Matthew 28:20a) is naturally carried out.  Small groups that allow dialogue and one on one discipling are the only truly effective means of changing the total behaviour of people (Kraft, 1991, pp.  140-141).  This is exactly what it means to teach them to obey all that Jesus commanded them to do.

With this aim firmly in mind, it is then possible to concentrate on strategy.  Schwartz presented a ten-point plan to develop an individualised program for a church that wants to grow.  This plan was designed with the results of the survey in view and was designed to be applicable to all types of congregations.

Firstly, it is important to inspire a new devotion to Jesus.  Without this driving passion, no amount of teaching church growth principles will push-start a church.  There must be spiritual momentum (Schwartz, 1996, p106-107).

Secondly, there is a need to identify those problem areas that are limiting the spiritual quality of the church.  Here it is important to have a reliable diagnostic tool, as it is often possible for a group with high expectations in a certain area to identify their strengths as the limiting factors due to past disappointments (ibid, pp. 108-109).

With that, the third step is to set qualitative goals.  These are steps that result from asking, ‘What can we do to increase all eight qualities’?  A qualitative goal, within a time frame, becomes a great motivator for improvement.  It provides an achievable goal with a specific, measurable outcome (ibid, pp. 110-111).

Fourthly, it is important to realise that there will be resistance to some of these measures.  These should be identified and dealt with in a loving manner (ibid, pp. 112-113).

The fifth step is to determine to use what Schwartz termed ‘biotic principles’ (ibid, pp, 62-82).  These principles maximise the effectiveness of programs by using integrated thinking patterns (ibid, pp. 114-115).

Sixthly, it is important to exercise the church’s strengths.  This concentrates on those strengths that are found in that church’s ‘spiritual culture’.  These strengths are thus improved and can then be directed at strengthening those qualities that are limiting growth (ibid, pp. 116-117).

The use of materials that apply these biotic principles is the seventh step.  These are directed at improving the spiritual health of the congregation with its accompanying benefits (ibid, pp. 118-119).

Step eight involves regular monitoring of the qualities and what measures will be needed to maintain spiritual health (ibid, pp. 120-121).

This allows for the ninth step: updating the program to meet changes in strengths and minimum factors.

The tenth step is the result of all healthy growth and maturity – reproduction.  A healthy church should be able to start other congregations after a suitable time.  Needless to say, that this offspring should have an awareness of those principles that brought it into being and be able to reproduce them in its daughter churches (ibid, pp. 124-125).

Then the vision becomes the reality.

References

Eims, LeRoy. 1978. The Lost Art of Disciple Making. Grand Rapids, USA. Zondervan Publishing House.

Kraft, Charles H. 1991. Communicating with Power. Metro Manilla, Philippines. OMF Literature Inc.

McGavran, Donald A. 1990. Understanding Church Growth. Grand Rapids, USA. Wm. B. Eerdmans.

Peters, George W. 1981. A Theology of Church Growth. Grand Rapids, USA. Academie Books.

Petersen, Jim. 1993. Lifestyle Discipleship. Colorado Springs, USA. NavPress.

Schwartz, Christian A. 1996. Natural Church Development. Carol Stream, USA. ChurchSmart Resources.

©  Renewal Journal #16: Vision (2000, 2012)  renewaljournal.com
Reproduction is allowed with the copyright included in the text.

Renewal Journals – contents of all issues

Book Depository – free postage worldwide
Book Depository – Bound Volumes (5 in each) – free postage

Amazon – Renewal Journal 16: Vision
Amazon – all journals and books – Look inside

All Renewal Journal Topics

1 Revival,   2 Church Growth,   3 Community,   4 Healing,   5 Signs & Wonders,
6  Worship,   7  Blessing,   8  Awakening,   9  Mission,   10  Evangelism,
11  Discipleship,
   12  Harvest,   13  Ministry,   14  Anointing,   15  Wineskins,
16  Vision,
   17  Unity,   18  Servant Leadership,   19  Church,   20 Life
Also: 24/7 Worship & Prayer

Contents:  Renewal Journal 16: Vision

Almolonga, the Miracle City, by Mell Winger

Cali Transformation, by George Otis Jr.

Revival in Bogotá, by Guido Kuwas

Prison Revival in Argentina, by Ed Silvoso

Missions at the Margins, by Bob Ekblad

Vision for Church Growth, by Daryl & Cecily Brenton

Vision for Ministry, by Geoff Waugh

Book Review: Jesus on Leadership by Gene Wilkes

Renewal Journal 16: Vision – PDF

Revival Blogs Links:

See also Revivals Index

See also Revival Blogs

See also Blogs Index 1: Revivals

GENERAL BLOGS INDEX 

BLOGS INDEX 1: REVIVALS (BRIEFER THAN REVIVALS INDEX)

BLOGS INDEX 2: MISSION (INTERNATIONAL STORIES)

BLOGS INDEX 3: MIRACLES (SUPERNATURAL EVENTS)

BLOGS INDEX 4: DEVOTIONAL (INCLUDING TESTIMONIES)

BLOGS INDEX 5: CHURCH (CHRISTIANITY IN ACTION)

BLOGS INDEX 6: CHAPTERS (BLOGS FROM BOOKS)

BLOGS INDEX 7: IMAGES (PHOTOS AND ALBUMS)

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An article in Renewal Journal 16: Vision:
Renewal Journal 16: Vision PDF

 

Vision and Strategy for Church Growth, by Lawrence Khong

Vision and Strategy for Church Growth

by Lawrence Khong

Dr Lawrence Khong led his Baptist church in Singapore from 350 to a weekly attendance over 8,000, with a strong emphasis on expository preaching and the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit.   This article is reproduced with permission from Chapter 14 of The Transforming Power of Revival edited by Harold Caballeros and Mel Winger.

Renewal Journal 15: Wineskins PDF

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An article in Renewal Journal 15: Wineskins:
https://renewaljournal.com/2012/04/12/wineskins/

On August 17, 1986, I stood on the platform in a rented auditorium in Singapore to preach in the first worship service of a brand new congregation.  As I approached the pulpit, the Holy Spirit spoke clearly to my heart: “Son, today the new baby is born!”  Then the words of Haggai 2:9 flooded into my mind: “The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house, … And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord Almighty” (NIV).

I was too emotionally worn out to be excited about the “greater glory.”  I simply took comfort in the fact that in this new church there will be peace.  I had just emerged from more than a year of leadership struggle in my former church.  I had grown up in this church, a Bible-believing congregation that had been growing consistently.  This had been my spiritual home throughout my teenage years.  The leadership of the church had clearly and lovingly affirmed my calling into the ministry.  They sent me to pursue my theological training in the United States.  I returned to be the pastor of the church.  Within five years, it grew from 350 to 1,600 under my pastoral leadership.

A career-changing experience

During the fifth year of my pastorate, I had an unexpected encounter with the Holy Spirit that opened my heart to the reality of God’s power.  In that encounter, I began speaking in a new tongue.  It was something I had always told my congregation would not and should not ever happen in this day and age.  I clearly taught them that this particular gift, together with other power gifts of the Holy Spirit, had ceased at the end of the apostolic age.  I taught them so well, in fact, that the leadership of the church rejected the validity of my experience and its theological implications immediately.  I realized they were doing the very thing I would have done if I were in their shoes.

I was confused.  My experience completely devastated my neat and tidy theology.  I could not at that point give a clear biblical understanding about what happened.  On the other hand, I could not deny the reality of that experience without compromising the witness of the Holy Spirit in my heart.  Meanwhile, my ministry began failing apart.  Before long, theological differences within the leadership degenerated to attacks on my personal integrity.  After many months of painful struggles, I was finally asked to relinquish my role as the senior pastor of the church.

In the midst of this agonizing process, the Lord gave me a clear word from Scripture: “A woman, when she is in labour, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world” (John 16:21).

The lord told me He was bringing forth a “new baby” in my life that would launch me into a new ministry.  The painful struggles I was going through were the labour pains needed to bring forth this new birth.

The new baby is born

When the Lord said, “Son, today the new baby is born!” on August 17, 1986, Faith Community Baptist Church (FCBC) began.  It brought unspeakable joy to my spirit.  Since then, the promise of God has been true.  The glory of this ministry has far exceeded what I would ask or think.  Indeed, in the last 10 years of our church, there has been peace.

As I am writing this (1998), the baby has grown considerably.  The attendance in our weekly worship services has reached close to 8,000.  In the past 10 years, we have baptized more than 6,400 new believers.  During the same period, some 16,000 persons have made professions of faith for the first time.  Most significantly, in my mind, almost every person who worships with us is also part of a cell group ministry during the week.  In these small groups, we train every member to be a minister of the gospel, calling forth a higher-than-average level of commitment.

As I reflect upon the grace of the lord in Faith Community Baptist Church during the last 10 years, the Lord has impressed me with four major factors that have contributed to the phenomenal growth in this local congregation.   These four factors include

(1) a clear vision and strategy for growth;

(2) a cell  church structure;

(3) a reliance on the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit;  and

(4) one strong and anointed leader.

A clear vision and strategy for growth

During the first 12 months of FCBC, I had the leaders of the church join me in seeking the Lord for a clear vision and strategy for growth.  We were determined not to be another church that religiously maintained traditional programs.  With all our hearts, we sought the Lord for a blueprint that would enable us to take our city for God.  The Lord showed us that to do this, we must move in unity, we must share a common vision and we must agree on the appropriate strategies to fulfil the vision.  As early as 1987, we developed  a three-part vision that has guided our programs ever since.  This three-part  vision has seen refinements through the years.  Today, it stands as follows:

By God’s grace, we will,

(1) establish integrated ministries of  outreach, discipleship and service that encompass the whole of Singapore;

(2)  be a model cell group church that provides quality pastoral training and  equipping resources for transitioning cell group churches in Singapore and around the world; and

(3) establish 50 cell group churches around the world by sending out teams to reach hidden or responsive people groups.

To achieve this vision, we have adopted the following strategies:

1.  Develop an exciting and meaningful celebration every Sunday through music and the pulpit ministry;

2.  Minimize committee meetings by decentralization of operations to full-time staff;

3.  Commit to active staff recruitment to establish a multiple-staff ministry.,

4.  Establish a discipleship network for evangelism, prayer and Bible study;

5.  Provide lay leadership training for all leaders of the church;

6.  Develop and establish specialized ministries of outreach;

7.  Train, equip, send and fully support missionaries from the church to the mission field;    8.  Build a “Touch Centre” consisting of an auditorium seating some 3,000, including other ministry facilities for both the church and the community;

9.  Develop within every member a deep commitment to regular, disciplined and intense warfare prayer for spiritual revival in Singapore and around the world;

10.  Strengthen the family so as to provide a solid base for reaching the unsaved with the love of Christ.

From the beginning, we were filled with a sense of excitement that God was going to fulfill these visions among us.  In FCBC, every one of us is given a corporate challenge to fulfill the vision the Lord has given us.  We believe that “everybody’s job” becomes “nobody’s job.”  Members of FCBC believe that if no one else will do it, we will assume the responsibility of winning our nation to the Lord.  Before long, most of us would begin to realize that we could no longer possess this vision.  Rather, this vision has now totally possessed us with a consuming zeal from the Lord!

Completely structured as a cell group church

In the last five years, FCBC has organized an annual “International Conference on Cell Group Church.”  Thousands from around the world have come to learn the principles and operations of a cell group church.  Every year, I begin the conference by proclaiming a statement that has become a major landmark of my teaching about the cell church. My statement is:

There is a heaven and earth difference; an east and west difference between a CHURCH WITH CELLS and a CELL GROUP CHURCH.

Just about every church in the world has some kind of small groups.  Some of these groups are Bible study groups, fellowship groups, counselling/therapy groups, prayer groups and many others.  However, these are churches with cells and not cell churches.  The major difference between the former and the latter is a structural one.  Hence there is a fundamental, not a superficial, difference between them.

In a church with cells, the cell ministry is only a department within the total ministry of the church.  Members of the church have many options.  They can choose to serve in the missions department or the prayer department or the Christian education department or the fellowship department.  They can choose between the Sunday School or the adult fellowship.  The cell ministry is just another one of the options.

This is not so in a cell group church.  In a cell group church, the cell is the church.  No menu of options is open to every member except that they be in a cell group.  Every department of the church is designed to serve the cell ministry.  Departments do not have any constituency of their own.  All are designed to support the ministry of the cells.

In FCBC, every believer is assimilated into cell groups, similar to military squads.  Each cell is trained to edify one another and to evangelize so that it will multiply within a year to a maximum size of 12 to 15 people.  These cell groups are not independent “house churches,” but basic Christian communities linked together to penetrate every area of our community.

Approximately three to four cell groups cluster to form a sub-zone, and a volunteer zone supervisor pastors the five cells and its cell leaders.  Five sub-zones cluster to create a zone of about 250 people pastored by a full-time zone pastor.  Five or more zones cluster to form a district, and a seasoned district pastor shepherds as many as 1,500 people.

From the start, we created zones that were geographical (north, east, west) and generational (children, youth, military).  Later, we added our music zone for those participating in our choirs, bands, orchestras, drama and dance.  Even these music cells are constantly winning people to Jesus Christ.  Every year, more than 2,500 make first-time decisions for the Lord in the cells.

Foundations for ministry

In the early years, we worked hard to create the foundations for our ministry.  Pastors who had no previous experience with cell church structures were trained and cell leaders were equipped.  Nonexistent equipping materials had to be written.  Soon we had a nickname: “FCBC-Fast Changing Baptist Church”!  Every experimental step helped us learn how to equip and evangelize in the new paradigm.  We were determined to discard anything that did not help us achieve our goals, so we revised our strategy again and again as we gained experience.  Indeed, we are still doing so!

Like other cell churches, our life involves three levels: the cells, the congregations (a cluster of five zones) and the celebration on Sunday.  We quickly had to go to two and then three celebrations of 1,000 people to accommodate the growth in the cell groups.  We presently have one evening service on Saturday and four services on Sunday of two hours duration each.  A completely different congregation of people worships in the Saturday evening service.  We have studiously avoided advertising “seeker-sensitive services,” choosing instead to grow through the ministries of our members in the cells.

Our cells are seeker-sensitive, but our celebration is not.  For us, the celebration is an assembling of the Body of Christ rather than a means of attracting the unconverted.  Nevertheless, many profess faith in Jesus Christ as a result of the intense anointing that comes through worship, as well as my pulpit ministry that focuses on down-to-earth life issues.

The Year of Equipping

What we call “The Year of Equipping” has become an important part of our cell group life.  Each incoming member is visited by the cell leader, who assigns a cell member to be a sponsor for the new person.  A “Journey Guide” is used to acquaint the cell leader and sponsor with the spiritual condition of the person.  Guided by private weekly sessions with the sponsor, this person will complete a journey through the “Arrival Kit” and then be trained to share Christ with both responsive and unresponsive unbelievers.

Another major part of The Year of Equipping consists of three cycles of training for evangelism and harvest meeting in the cells throughout the year.  One such cycle begins in January, where new members of the cell are sent for a weekend of evangelism training.  This is followed by further practices during the cell meetings, leading up to the Good Friday weekend.

In these months, every member of the cell is asked to pray for unsaved people whom they would invite to a special Good Friday evangelistic cell meeting.  On that one Good Friday evening, we will have as many as 4,000 unsaved people in all our cell groups spread throughout the city.  More than 10 percent of them will give their lives to the Lord for the first time.  In that meeting, every member of the cell shares the gospel with unsaved friends.  We do this three times a year.  In this way, equipping for evangelism is an ongoing lifestyle of every cell.  It is my intention that every cell becomes a fit fighting unit in the army of the Lord!

Community service

Because of our strong desire to penetrate the society around us, we have formed the Touch Community Services.  This is the neutral arm of our church designed to relate to the community.  Through this separate corporation, we conduct childcare, legal aid services, after-school clubs, marriage counselling, a workshop to train the handicapped and many other social ministry areas.  This has earned the respect of unbelievers around us and has provided openings for the gospel we would not otherwise experience.  It has established good will for us among the many racial groups that live together in harmony in our nation.

Our community services have found so much favour with government authorities that much of our service ministry is actually funded by the government.  As of now, the juvenile courts make it mandatory for their offenders to seek counselling from our youth counselling services.  The registry of marriage has invited us to conduct premarital counselling for all who are getting married in Singapore!  This is our “root system” into the unconverted world.

Reliance on the supernatural works of the Holy Spirit

The structure of the cell church is nothing but a conduit for the power of the Holy Spirit.  Unless the living water flows, the cells are lifeless.  A major spiritual breakthrough came for us in those early years as we began to recognize the place of the gifts of the Holy Spirit in our midst.  As our cell groups were confronted by the need for spiritual power in caring for people, we saw a gracious outpouring of His presence in our midst.

I shall never forget a certain Sunday when the Lord visited us powerfully.  We were then conducting four worship services in a rented auditorium that seated about 800.  On that particular Sunday, I preached a message about repentance.  Many came forward to repent of their sins.  As I prayed for them from behind the pulpit, the Holy Spirit came into our midst.  Most of them fell under the power of the Spirit.  This was something we had never experienced in our church.  It surprised everyone in the auditorium, especially the people who found themselves lying on the church floor for the first time in their lives, completely unable to move.

The presence of the Lord was so overwhelming that by the beginning of the third service, members who were just walking into the auditorium for worship fell under the power of the Spirit, having no idea what had been happening in the preceding services!

This visitation of the Holy Spirit brought about a six-month period of deep repentance among the members of the church.  The anointing of the Spirit filled every cell meeting.  The sick were being healed.  The demonized were set free.  The church grew rapidly as our cell groups learned to minister in the power of the Spirit.

One strong and anointed leader

At the risk of misunderstanding me as being arrogant, I have always told audiences around the world that one of the main factors that has contributed to the growth of FCBC is the gracious gift of leadership the Lord has entrusted to me.  FCBC has grown rapidly because of my strong and anointed leadership.  In the early years of the church, the leadership team carefully studied a chapter written by Oswald J. Smith in his book Building a   Better World.  He began his chapter with these words:   “Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people” (Isa. 55:4).

God’s plan is that His flock should be led by a Shepherd, not run by a Board.  Committees are to advise, never to dictate.  The Holy Spirit appoints men.  To Bishops and Elders is given the care of the churches, never to Committees.  They are to be the Overseers, the Shepherds.  Each one has his own flock.  Because men have failed to recognize this, there has been trouble.  When God’s plan is followed, all is well.

The cell group church is vision driven.  It needs a strong leader to rally the people toward a God-given vision.  It is also structured like the military.  It calls for a strong commander to instil a sense of strict spiritual discipline needed to complete the task.  At the inception of the church, my core leaders asked,   “Pastor, what sort of leader will you be?”

My answer was unequivocal, “I believe I will be a strong leader, one who believes what the Lord wants me to do and who pursues it with all my heart.”

Traditionally, the church has been suspicious of strong leadership, especially when it is centred in one person.  As a result, many man-made systems of checks and counterchecks have been built into traditional church polity to ensure that there can be no one-man rule.  Although I agree that there is a need for mutual accountability, these checks have more often become major roadblocks for God’s appointed leaders to lead His people into victorious ministry.  Many lay leaders have expressed great fear of so-called   “dictatorship” behind the pulpit.  After 20 years of ministry, however, I must say that I have seen more “dictators” sitting in the pews than those standing behind pulpits.

What is leadership?

One day I was praying about this issue of leadership and the Lord impressed upon me to write down these words about leadership:

Leadership is not dictatorship

Leadership is rallying people to pursue a vision.  A leader successfully instils in those he is leading a deep desire to fulfil that vision.  He gains the trust of his people by virtue of his character, his integrity, his resourcefulness, his zeal, his good judgment, his people skills and, most importantly, his anointing from God.  As a result, the people grant him the freedom to decide and the authority to supervise and control.   Such leadership can never be provided by a committee or a board.  If, indeed, such leadership is provided by a group, it is because within that group someone can provide such strong leadership first to the group and through that to the rest of the people.

We often talk about New Testament leadership as if it is completely different from Old Testament leadership.  I believe that biblical leadership is consistent throughout the New and Old Testaments.  Whenever God wants to do a work, He chooses a man.  We have leaders such as Moses, Gideon, David, Elijah and others in the Old Testament.  In the New Testament, we have leaders such as Peter for the Jews and Paul for the Gentiles.   In FCBC, I assert my clear leadership in three areas:

Casting the Vision

I lead the people by casting a clear and concrete vision for the church.  In the early years, I spent countless hours sharing, discussing, praying and formulating the vision and strategies of the church.  I realize that a vision is only powerful when it is fully owned by the people.  Our vision and strategies were clearly set by the third year.  Since that time, I have constantly shared and reinforced this for my leaders and members.  I speak to every new member of the church about this vision in our new member orientation called “Spiritual Formation Weekend.”  I challenge every member to consider seriously our vision before joining our church.  If someone is not able to subscribe to the vision, I strongly recommend that the person join another church.

Once the vision and strategies have been forged, I expect every leader in the church to support them.  This is especially so for pastoral staff.  They are selected on the basis that as lay cell leaders and group supervisors they have demonstrated their commitment to the vision of the church.  Today, the church has a paid staff of almost 200.  In the last 10 years, we have had a staff turnover of fewer than 10 persons.  There is a tremendous sense of unity on the team.  The reason for this is that I have clearly provided leadership in casting for the people a clear vision and articulating specific strategies from the Lord.

Creating an environment for Growth

As leader, I am concerned about creating an environment conducive to growth.  We have written a clear mission statement and we have agreed upon specific core values that define the uniqueness of FCBC, both in terms of belief and of practice.  I will reproduce the mission statement here:  We seek to fulfil God’s role for us in bringing the gospel to the world by developing every believer to his full potential in Jesus Christ within a vision & value driven environment and a God-centred community.

Preaching and Teaching from the Pulpit

The main vehicle by which the growth environment is established comes through dynamic teaching and preaching during the celebration.  Some think that the cell church consists of only cells.  This is not true.  Although the cell is the church, the church is more than just cells.  The cells come together in the celebration meeting, absorbing the apostolic teaching that shapes the direction, commitment and spiritual atmosphere for the whole Body.  The church in Acts 2 met in homes, but they came together to listen to the   apostles’ teaching.  I spend some 20 hours every week preparing my sermon.  The sermon each week is more than teaching the Bible.  Every sermon conveys a passion for God and communicates His purposes for His people.

There is no doubt that the growth of FCBC is the result of God’s special grace in and through my life.  As long as I walk humbly before the Lord in intimacy, the Lord will lead us from glory to glory.  I realize that as I promote and support strong apostolic leadership, there is always the danger of abuse.  It is altogether possible for apostles to abuse the authority God has given us as His apostolic leaders.  Nevertheless, this apparently is a risk God is willing to take with us because, in His grace, He has chosen to do just that.  God is more than able to bring down His erring servants just as quickly as He raises them up.  Meanwhile, I believe in affirming God’s appointed leadership over   His people.

Affirmation with humility

I believe that God’s leaders need affirmation and encouragement as they agree to take positions of leadership.  Yet they must have the humility to serve.  Strong leaders have often been misunderstood to be dictatorial and proud.  For my part, though, I would rather affirm them, pray for them and release them to become a blessing to the Body of Christ.

When FCBC started, my heart was completely shattered by the rejection of the leaders of my former church.  The issues that finally brought about the split of the church turned personal.  I was attacked for being controlling, dictatorial and even dangerously influential.  At the inception of FCBC, I had lost my confidence to lead.  Thus I became laid back, relinquishing the leadership to my core leaders who, together with me, started the church.

In the beginning of 1987, a few months after the church had started, we invited Pastor Bill Yaegar from the First Baptist Church of Modesto, California, to speak to us about leadership.  Pastor Yaegar was in his 60s and since then has retired.   In his visit with us, Bill Yaegar noticed how discouraged I was.  I could never forget his parting words to me at the Singapore airport.  He said, “Son, I was praying for you this morning.  The Lord told me He was giving you a new name.  Your name shall be called ‘Ari.’  This is a Jewish name that means ‘lion.’  Lawrence, the Lord tells you that you are the ‘Lion of Singapore.’  You are to stand up and roar.  And whenever others forget that you are the ‘Lion of Singapore,’ stand up and roar again!”

No one had ever previously affirmed me that way.  It was an extremely important moment in my ministry career.  I realized in that instant that through all my years of Christian ministry, people were constantly warning me to go slower, to be more cautious and to be more “humble.”  This was the first time a seasoned servant of God had actually encouraged me to take charge, to lead and to press on.  Something burst forth within the depths of my spirit.  I have been roaring ever since for the glory of God and the advance of His kingdom!

© From Chapter 13, “A Vision and Strategy for Church Growth”, in The Transforming Power of Revival edited by Harold Caballeros and Mel Winger (Peniel, Buenos Aires, 1998), excerpted from The New Apostolic Churches edited by C.   Peter Wagner (Regal 8ooks, Ventura, 1998), used by permission.

© Renewal Journal #15: Wineskins, renewaljournal.com
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1 Revival,   2 Church Growth,   3 Community,   4 Healing,   5 Signs & Wonders,
6  Worship,   7  Blessing,   8  Awakening,   9  Mission,   10  Evangelism,
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CONTENTS:  Renewal Journal 15: Wineskins

The God Chasers, by Tommy Tenny

The New Apostolic Reformation, by C. Peter Wagner

The New Believers, by Diana Bagnall (The Bulletin)

Vision and Strategy for Church Growth, by Lawrence Khong

New Wineskins for Pentecostal Studies, by Sam Hey

New Wineskins to Develop Ministry, by Geoff Waugh

Book and DVD Reviews:
Pentecostalism, by Walter Hollenweger
The Transforming Power of Revival, by Harold Caballeros and Mell Winger
Transformations 1 and 2 DVDs (The Sentinel Group)

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The New Apostolic Reformation by C. Peter Wagner

The New Apostolic Reformation

by C Peter Wagner

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Prolific author of over 40 books, C.  Peter Wagner, describes the emerging church wineskins for the twenty-first century.  This article is reproduced with permission from Chapter 14 of The Transforming Power of Revival edited by Harold Caballeros and Mel Winger.

I will soon complete 30 years as a professor of church growth on the graduate level.  During these 30 years, I have studied countless Christian churches of all sizes, in all kinds of locations, from new church plants to those hundreds of years old, spanning virtually every theological tradition, and rooted in varieties of cultures on six continents.  I have reported my research the best I have known how in an average of one or two books a year.

I have never been more excited about a book dealing with church growth than I am about The New Apostolic Churches, from which this chapter is reprinted.  I will begin with a personal testimony of how God has brought me to the place where I am now; it will explain why I am so excited.

Seasons of Research

During my decades as a scholar, God has seen fit to focus my research energies on certain aspects of church growth for certain periods of time.  As I have done that, I have tried to use what I have learned to develop new courses for my students at Fuller Theological Seminary, and many of the lessons eventually become books.

My mentor in church growth research was Donald A. McGavran, the founder of the whole field of church growth.  He is now with the Lord, but for years I have had the singular privilege of carrying the title of the Donald A. McGavran Professor of Church Growth.  One of the most basic lessons I learned from McGavran was that the best way to discover what makes churches grow is to study growing churches.  As a result, my first season of research, spanning the 1970s and into the 1980s, was spent doing exactly                                that.  In retrospect, I now look at this as researching the technical principles                                of church growth.

During that time, I began to notice something I obviously did not have the mental equipment to understand or to assimilate into my analysis of church growth.  I noticed that the churches worldwide that seemed to grow the most rapidly were, for the most part, those that outwardly featured the immediate present-day supernatural ministry of the Holy Spirit.

My mentor for helping me make a paradigm shift into what I now call the spiritual principles of church growth was John Wimber, founder of the Association of Vineyard Churches and Vineyard Ministries International.  This began my second season of research, focusing first of all on the relationship between supernatural signs and wonders and church growth, then on prayer and spiritual warfare.  This began in the early 1980s and continued to the mid-1990s.

My third season of research is now focusing on the New Apostolic Reformation, the subject of this chapter.  I am very excited because the new apostolic churches, better than any I have previously studied, combine, on the highest level, solid technical principles of church growth with solid spiritual principles of church growth.  I will tell more about that later.

Unity + Gifts = Growth

One of the most explicit Scripture verses about church growth is Ephesians 4:16, which says that the Body of which Jesus is the head, “joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body” (italics added).  A formula for growth, then, is: Unity (joined together) + Gifts (every part does its share) = Growth.

Paul tells us in verse seven that each one of us has a “measure” of grace, just as Romans 12:3 says we have a “measure” of faith, the measure being our spiritual gifts.  Then Ephesians 4:8 says that Jesus, when He ascended, “gave  gifts to men,” and it goes on to tell us that He gave gifted people to the Church on two levels:

(1) the government level (apostles, prophets,  evangelists, pastors, teachers) in verse 11, and

(2) the ministry of the saints in  general in verse 12.

When the government is in its proper place, biblical unity  of the saints emerges and “every part can do its share.”

How do these biblical principles unfold in real life?  For 2,000 years, the Church of Jesus Christ has grown and spread into every continent.  Jesus said, “I will build My church,” and He has been doing it.  As we review those 2,000 years, however, it is quite obvious that Jesus does not always build His Church in the same ways.  He did one way in the Roman Empire before Constantine;  another way after Constantine; another way in the Middle Ages;  another way following the Reformation;  another way during the era of  European colonization;  and yet another way post-World War 2, just to name  a few.

Growth: a Story of New Wineskins

Every time Jesus began building His Church in a new way throughout history, He provided new wineskins.  While He was still on earth, He said that such a thing would be necessary: “Nor do they put new wine into old wineskins, or else the wineskins break, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined.  But they put new wine into the new wineskins, and both are preserved” (Matt.   9:17).  The growth of the Church through the ages is, in part, a story of new wineskins.

Because this is the case, a crucial question not only for professors of church growth, but also for Christians in general, is this: What are the new wineskins Jesus is providing as we move into the twenty-first century?

Four Crucial Questions

My experience as a church growth scholar has led me constantly to ask four crucial questions:

1. Why does the blessing of God rest where it does?

2.  Churches are not all equal.  Why is it that at certain times, some churches  are more blessed than others?

3.  Can any pattern of divine blessing be discerned?

4.  Do those churches that seem to be unusually blessed have any common characteristics?

As I have tried to answer these questions, it is important to realize that I am a very traditional Christian.  For decades I have been an ordained Congregational minister, and I still am.  We Congregationalists came over on the Mayflower!  I find myself in one of the oldest wineskins on record.  Furthermore, I am a conservative Congregationalist (ordained in the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference).  This was definitely an obstacle to my early church growth research because while I was a missionary in Bolivia I was anti-Pentecostal, and the fastest-growing churches in Latin America at the time happened to be Pentecostal churches.   I finally overcame my biases, however, and, in 1973, wrote Look Out! The  Pentecostals Are Coming! (Creation House).  At that time, Pentecostal churches were one of the new wineskins, and their growth was showing it.

Wineskins of the 21st Century

That was back in the 1970s.  What, however, are the new wineskins of the 21st century?  Where does the blessing of God seem to be resting today?  The answer to this question began coming into focus in 1993.  As a professional missiologist, I had picked up certain bits and pieces of information through the years, but until then, at least in my mind, these bits and pieces were unrelated.  Then, however, I did begin to see a pattern among  three amazing church growth movements:

1. The African Independent Churches.  These roots go back to the turn of the century when large numbers of contextualized African churches began breaking away from the traditional mission churches.  Throughout the century,  the growth of the independent churches in Africa has far exceeded the growth of the traditional churches.

2. The Chinese house churches.  Particularly since the end of the Cultural Revolution in the mid-1970s, the multiplication of house churches under a  hostile Marxist government in China has been a missiological phenomenon.

3.  Latin American grassroots churches.  During the past 20 years, the largest churches that have been launched in virtually every metropolitan area of Latin America are largely those that are pastored by individuals who have had no formative experience with foreign missionaries or mission-initiated institutions.

I would put these three together with the rapid growth of the American independent charismatic churches I researched for the Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, published by Zondervan in 1987.  My article, entitled “Church Growth,” pointed out that this was the fastest-growing segment of Christianity in the United States in our times.

What happened in 1993, then, was the realization in my mind that, indeed, a pattern of divine blessing today on certain identifiable groups of churches is discernible (Question #3).  The next question then becomes (Question #4): What are their common characteristics?

A Churchquake!

In the balance of this chapter, I will outline the nine most common characteristics of these churches I have been able to discern to date.  My exposition and comments about each will, of necessity, be brief so as to keep the size of this chapter proportionate to the others in this book.  I am simultaneously working on my textbook about the subject, which will provide abundant details.  The title I am considering for the textbook is Churchquake!, which, to me, reflects the magnitude of change these new wineskins are bringing to the Body of Christ.  In fact, I am sure we are seeing before our very eyes the most radical change in the way of doing church since the Protestant Reformation.  Let’s take a brief look at nine components of the new wineskins that are shaping the Church for the twenty-first century.

1. A New Name 

When I began researching the Pentecostal movement years ago, it already had a name.  This new movement, however, did not have a name.  Because I was planning to teach a seminary course based on it, I needed a name for my course.  For a couple of years I experimented with “postdenominationalism,” but strong protests from my denominational friends persuaded me that it might not be the best name.  Besides many of the new apostolic churches have remained within their denominations.  “Independent charismatic” does not seem to fit either because (1) these churches see themselves as  interdependent, as opposed to independent, and (2) they are not all  charismatic in orientation.

The name I have settled on for the movement is the New Apostolic Reformation, and individual churches being designated as new apostolic churches.  I use “reformation” because, as I have said, these new wineskins appear to be at least as radical as those of the Protestant Reformation almost 500 years ago.  “Apostolic” connotes a strong focus on outreach plus a recognition of  present-day apostolic ministries.  “New” adds a contemporary spin to the name.

Although many people were begging for a definition of the New Apostolic Reformation from the beginning, I resisted formulating one until I believed I had a more mature grasp of the movement.  Now that I have taught my first Fuller Seminary course about the subject, I believe it is time to take the risk of a definition, hoping that it will not have to be revised too frequently in the future:

The New Apostolic Reformation is an extraordinary work of God at the close of the twentieth century that is, to a significant extent, changing the shape of Protestant Christianity around the world.

For almost 500 years, Christian churches have largely functioned within traditional denominational structures of one kind or another.  Particularly in the 1990s, but having roots going back for almost a century, new forms and operational procedures are now emerging in areas such as local church government, interchurch relationships, financing, evangelism, missions, prayer, leadership selection and training, the role of supernatural power, worship and other important aspects of church life.  Some of these changes are being seen within denominations themselves, but for the most part they are taking the form of loosely structured apostolic networks.  In virtually every region of the world, these new apostolic churches constitute the fastest-growing segment of Christianity.

Infinite creativity seems to be the watchword for assigning names to local churches.  The “Crystal Cathedral” and “Community Church of Joy” are among the most prominent congregations in our country.  “Icthus” churches are multiplying in England.  On a recent visit to the Philippines I came in contact with “The Warm Body of Jesus Church.”  One of my favorite churches in Argentina is “Waves of Love and Peace.”  In Kenya, Thomas Muthee pastors “The Prayer Cave.”  A friend told me of a church in Zimbabwe called the   “Dodge the Devil and Go Straight to Heaven Church”!

2.  New Authority Structure

In my judgment, views of leadership and leadership authority constitute the most radical of the nine changes from traditional Christianity.  Here is the main difference: The amount of spiritual authority delegated by the Holy Spirit to individuals.  I have attempted to use each word in that statement advisedly.  We are seeing a transition from bureaucratic authority to personal authority, from legal structure to relational structure, from control to coordination and from rational leadership to charismatic leadership.

This all manifests itself on two levels: the local level and the translocal level.   On the local church level, the new apostolic pastors are the leaders of the church.  In traditional Christianity, the pastors are regarded as employees of the church.

It is a question of trust.  New apostolic congregations trust their pastor.  Traditional congregations trust boards and committees.  The difference between the two is enormous.  The most passionate description of this difference I have yet seen is Lawrence Khong’s chapter in this book [also reproduced in this Journal].   On the translocal level, one of the most surprising developments for those of us who are traditionalists is the growing affirmation of contemporary apostolic ministries.  Our English “apostle” is a transliteration of the Greek apostolos, which means one who is sent out with a commission.  This is an  important dimension of what we are seeing, but the more surprising feature is the reaffirmation, not only of the New Testament gift of apostle, but also of  the office of apostle.

3.  New Leadership Training 

Although new apostolic pastors are fervently dedicated to leading their churches, they are equally dedicated to releasing the people of their congregations to do the ministry of the church.  A characteristic of many new apostolic churches is an abundance of volunteers.  Church members are normally taught that part of being a good Christian is to discover the spiritual gifts God has given them and to minister to others through those gifts as well as through any natural talents they might also have.

Members of the paid pastoral staff of typical new apostolic churches are usually homegrown.  As all the believers in the congregation become active in ministry, certain ones tend to rise to the top like cream on fresh milk, and they are the ones who are then recruited for the staff.  Because for many this involves a midlife career change, the possibility of their enrolling for two or three years in the residence program of a traditional seminary or Bible school is extremely remote.  Therefore, academic requirements for ordination, so long the staple in traditional churches, are being scrapped.   New apostolic ordination is primarily rooted in personal relationships, which verify character, and in proved ministry skills.

Continuing education for leaders more frequently takes place in conferences, seminars and retreats rather than in classrooms of accredited institutions.  Little aversion is noticed for quality training, but the demands are many for alternate delivery systems.  A disproportionate number of new apostolic churches, especially the large ones, are establishing their own in-house Bible schools.

One of the most notable features of new apostolic churches, which traditional church leaders soon discover to their amazement, is the absence of nomination committees (to place lay leaders within the congregation) and of search committees (to locate and recruit new staff members).

4. New Ministry Focus

Traditional Christianity starts with the present situation and focuses on the past.  New apostolic Christianity starts with the present situation and focuses on the future.

Many traditional churches are heritage driven.  “We must get back to our roots.  We need to pray for renewal” – meaning that we should once again be what we used to be.  The founders of the movement are often thought of as standing shoulder to shoulder with the twelve apostles.

On the other hand, new apostolic church leaders are vision driven.  In a conversation with a new apostolic senior pastor about his church, I once asked, “How many cell groups do you have?”  I think that was sometime in 1996.

He replied, “We will have 600 by the year 2000!”  I can’t seem to recall ever finding out how many cells he did have in 1996.  As far as the pastor was concerned, though, that apparently didn’t matter at all.  In his mind, the 600 cells were not imaginary, they were real.  The 600 was what really mattered.

5. New Worship Style

With only a few exceptions, new apostolic churches use contemporary worship styles.  Contemporary worship is the one characteristic of the New Apostolic Reformation that has already penetrated the most deeply into traditional and denominational churches across-the-board.  Many churches that would not at all be considered new apostolic are now using contemporary worship in at least one of their weekend services.

Worship leaders have replaced music directors.  Keyboards have replaced pipe organs.  Casual worship teams have replaced robed choirs.  Overhead projectors have replaced hymnals.  Ten to twelve minutes of congregational singing is now 30 to 49 minutes or even more.  Standing during worship is the rule, although a great amount of freedom for body language prevails.

As you scan a new apostolic congregation in worship, you will likely see some sitting, some kneeling, some holding up hands, some closing their eyes, some clapping their hands, some wiping tears from their eyes, some using tambourines, some dancing and some just walking around.

“Performance” is a naughty word for new apostolic worship leaders.  Their goal is to help every person in the congregation become an active “participant” in worship.  Frequent applause is not congratulating those on the platform for their musical excellence, but it is seen as high tribute to the triune God.

6.  New Prayer Forms 

Prayer in new apostolic churches has taken forms rarely seen in traditional congregations.  Some of this takes place within the church and some takes place outside the church.

The actual number of prayer times and the cumulative number of minutes spent in prayer during the worship service of new apostolic churches far exceed the prayer time of the average traditional church.  Worship leaders weave frequent times of prayer into singing worship songs.  Many of them argue that true worship is, in itself, a form of prayer, so blending the two seems natural.  A considerable number of new apostolic churches practice concert prayer, in which all the worshipers are praying out loud at the same time, some in a prayer language and some in the vernacular.  At times in some churches, each one will begin singing a prayer, creating a loud, harmonious sound not unlike the sound of the medieval Gregorian chant.

New apostolic leaders have been among the first to understand and put into practice some of the newer forms of prayer that take place in the community itself, not in the church.  For many, praise marches, prayer walking, prayer journeys and prayer expeditions have become a part of congregational life and ministry.  For example, 55 members of one local church, New life Church of Colorado Springs, recently travelled to Nepal, high in the Himalayas, to pray on-site for each of the 43 major, yet-unreached people groups of the nation.

7.  New Financing

New apostolic churches experience relatively few financial problems.  Although no vision-driven church believes it has enough resources to fulfill the vision adequately, and although financial crises do come from time to time, still, compared to traditional churches, finances are abundant.  I think at least three discernible reasons explain this situation.

First, generous giving is expected.  Tithing is taught without apology, and those who do not tithe their incomes are subtly encouraged to evaluate their Christian lives as subpar.

Second, giving is beneficial, not only to the church and its ministry in  kingdom of God, but also to the giver.  Tithes and offerings are regarded  seeds that will produce fruit of like kind for individuals and families.  Luke 6:38, which says that if we give, it will be given to us in greater measure, is taken literally.

Third, giving is cheerful.  It is not yet a common practice, but I have been in new apostolic churches in which the congregation breaks out into a rousing, athletic-event kind of shouting and clapping the moment the pastor announces he is collecting the morning offering.  They are cheerful givers and  they want everyone else to know it.  I rarely hear the complaint in new apostolic churches I often hear in traditional churches: The pastor talks about  money too much.

8.  New Outreach 

Aggressively reaching out to the lost and hurting of the community and the world is part of the new apostolic DNA.  The churches assiduously attempt to avoid the “bless me syndrome” as they try to live up to their apostolic nature and calling.  They do seek personal blessings from God, but usually as means to the end of reaching others.  A worship song I frequently hear in new  apostolic churches says: “Let your glory fall in this room; let it go forth from  here to the nations.”

Planting new churches is usually an assumed part of what a local congregation does.  The question is not whether we should do it, but when and how.  The same applies to foreign missions.  One of the more interesting developments for a missiologist like me is that a large number of congregations are becoming involved, as congregations, in foreign missions.  This does not mean they are necessarily bypassing mission agencies, especially new ones such as Youth With A Mission, but it does mean that they are expanding their options for influencing their people to participate in a  more direct and personal way in world outreach.

Compassion for the poor, the outcast, the homeless, the disadvantaged and  the handicapped is a strong characteristic of most new apostolic churches.   Many other churches do a lot of talking about helping unfortunate people, but new apostolic churches seem to find ways to actually do it.  The Vineyard  Christian Fellowship of Anaheim, California, for example, distributes almost  $2 million worth of food to hungry people in their area every year.  The Cathedral of Faith in San José, California, has constructed a rnillion-dollar warehouse facility and it has become one of the largest food distribution centres in the state.  Other local churches are doing similar things.

9. New Power Orientation

I mentioned earlier that the New Apostolic Reformation seems to be combining the technical principles of church growth better than any similar grouping of churches I have observed.  Even those new apostolic churches that do not consider themselves charismatic usually have a sincere openness to the work of the Holy Spirit and a consensus that all the New Testament spiritual gifts are in operation today.

The majority of the new apostolic churches not only believe in the work of the Holy Spirit, but they also regularly invite Him to come into their midst to bring supernatural power.  It is commonplace, therefore, to observe active ministries of healing, demonic deliverance, spiritual warfare, prophecy, failing in the Spirit, spiritual mapping, prophetic acts, fervent intercession and travail, and so on in new apostolic churches.

A basic theological presupposition in new apostolic, as contrasted to traditional, churches is that supernatural power tends to open the way for applying truth, rather than vice versa.  This is why visitors will frequently observe in these churches what seems to be more emphasis on the heart than on the mind.  Some conclude from that that new apostolic churches are “too emotional.”

Conclusion

The more I have studied the New Apostolic Reformation during the past few years, the more convinced I have become that we have a major transformation of Christianity on our hands.  Don Miller titles his excellent new book on the subject Reinventing American Protestantism (University of California Press).  By extension, I believe we are witnessing a reinvesting of world Christianity.  If that is the case, it is all the more reason to give God thanks for allowing us to be alive and active in His kingdom in these enthralling days.

© From Chapter 14, “The New Apostolic Reformation”, in The Transforming Power of Revival edited by Harold Caballeros and Mel Winger (Peniel, Buenos Aires, 1998), excerpted from The New Apostolic Churches edited by C.  Peter Wagner (Regal 8ooks, Ventura, 1998), used by permission of Regal Books and the author.

© Renewal Journal #15: Wineskins, renewaljournal.com
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1 Revival,   2 Church Growth,   3 Community,   4 Healing,   5 Signs & Wonders,
6  Worship,   7  Blessing,   8  Awakening,   9  Mission,   10  Evangelism,
11  Discipleship,
   12  Harvest,   13  Ministry,   14  Anointing,   15  Wineskins,
16  Vision,
   17  Unity,   18  Servant Leadership,   19  Church,   20 Life

CONTENTS:  Renewal Journal 15: Wineskins

The God Chasers, by Tommy Tenny

The New Apostolic Reformation, by C. Peter Wagner

The New Believers, by Diana Bagnall (The Bulletin)

Vision and Strategy for Church Growth, by Lawrence Khong

New Wineskins for Pentecostal Studies, by Sam Hey

New Wineskins to Develop Ministry, by Geoff Waugh

Book and DVD Reviews:
Pentecostalism, by Walter Hollenweger
The Transforming Power of Revival, by Harold Caballeros and Mell Winger
Transformations 1 and 2 DVDs (The Sentinel Group)

Revival Blogs Links:

See also Revivals Index

See also Revival Blogs

See also Blogs Index 1: Revivals

GENERAL BLOGS INDEX

BLOGS INDEX 1: REVIVALS (BRIEFER THAN REVIVALS INDEX)

BLOGS INDEX 2: MISSION (INTERNATIONAL STORIES)

BLOGS INDEX 3: MIRACLES (SUPERNATURAL EVENTS)

BLOGS INDEX 4: DEVOTIONAL (INCLUDING TESTIMONIES)

BLOGS INDEX 5: CHURCH (CHRISTIANITY IN ACTION)

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The Spirit told us what to do, by Carl Lawrence

The Spirit told us what to do

by Carl Lawrence

Carl Lawrence & David Wang

Two young women set off to plant churches without plans or training because “Jesus said to ‘go.'”
After we prayed, the Holy Spirit would tell us exactly what to do.
We would keep praying and he would tell us what to do,
and we would do it.
Then we prayed and then he would tell us what to do.
We would do it and keep praying.

*********************************

Reproduced from  Great Revival Stories

Great Revival Stories – PDF

and Renewal Journal 12: Harvest

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The Spirit told us what to do

Several high-ranking church leaders from Europe visited a pastor in Hong Kong. The pastor took them to visit some of the Three-Self churches. They found them inspiring, and uniquely Chinese, but they wondered aloud if perhaps they weren’t seeing the real church.

On the final day of their visit, the pastor hoped to show them what they wanted to see. He knew they would not really be satisfied unless they met a real church planter. As it turned out, they saw something incredibly beyond what they ever expected to find in China.

At their last stop, the pastor discovered that two young women had just returned from their mission station for a short visit, so he asked them to come to the hotel late, to meet the visiting church leaders.

These young ladies had both become Christians as teenagers while listening to radio broadcasts, and they each had immediately felt the call to be a missionary. The pastor had met with them and attempted to teach them how to witness right where they were.

“No,” they insisted, “the Bible you gave us says Jesus said to go to into all the world. We want to ‘go.'”

“But,” the pastor argued, “you have only been Christians for six months, and you are so young.”

They replied, “Pastor, we have read everything Jesus said and nowhere does he ask people how old they are. We want to go.”

Smiling, the pastor asked them, “But can you give me an exegesis of the five classical appearances of the Great Commission in the New Testament?” Their disappointed faces made him feel ashamed. “Very well. We need some workers on Hainan Island.”

“Hainan Island, we have never heard of it.”

The pastor said, “It is an island off the mainland. The people there are fishermen. It is very rough. There are no Christians there. For young ladies it might be very dangerous.”

Excitedly they responded, “How soon can we go?”

“Well, I have to go back to Hong Kong and make arrangements. There will be . . . “

They interrupted him, “Oh no, no, we must not wait. Our Lord said ‘go,’ not sit around and plan. We will go to this place – what did you call it?”

“Hainan. Hainan Island.”

They looked at each other, “Hainan, yes Hainan. That is where the Lord wants us to go.”

They had been there for two years and were now back for a short period of time to try to get Bibles and other literature for their new churches. The pastor had not seen them since the day they insisted that they ‘go now’!

After the arrangements were made, he went to the lobby at the appointed time and waited for the ladies to arrive. He watched the bellboys in their crisp, tailored uniforms, and the tourists who attempted to be casual in their designer clothes. Then he spotted the two young women. Oh no, he thought as they walked in.

Their black pyjamas and broad-brimmed fishermen hats stood in stark contrast to the appearance of the sophisticated hotel receptionist making her way towards them.

The pastor moved quickly to intercede. “It’s all right, they are here to see me.” Several people stood staring as he greeted them as politely as possible without drawing too much attention. “Come, we will go to my room to meet some people from Europe.”

Once in the room, the two European church officials graciously greeted them. He proceeded to ask the young ladies questions, interpreting for his guests as he went along.

“Pastor, ask them how many churches they have established on Hainan.”

The women put their heads down and answered, “Oh Pastor, we have only been there two years . . . yes, two years. Not many. Not very many.” Their voices were apologetic.

“How many?”

“Oh, not many, not many. We have only been there a short time. The people were not very friendly. . . Sometimes they became very vicious. Yes, sometimes they told us they were going to drown us in the ocean . . . several men threatened us . . . . Oh my, and because we were so young, even some of the other ladies did not like us. Yes some even called us terrible names . . . so not many churches . . . no, not many. . . .”

The pastor interrupted and slowly repeated the words, “How many? How many?”

There was a moment of silence, then one of the women looked up with embarrassment and anguish, as though confessing to a crime, “Only . . . thirteen. “

The pastor looked astonished and interpreted for the guests, “Thirteen.”

One of the guests repeated the number, “Only thirteen, only – my goodness. I haven’t planted that many churches in my lifetime.”

One of the pastor’s assistants interrupted, “No, Pastor, she did not say thirteen. She said thirty.”

The pastor looked at the two young women and asked, “Thirty?”

“Oh, yes, not many, we have done very poorly. Only thirty . . . .”

The two guests could only mutter, “Thirty churches in two years . . . my word. . . .”

Again the women began to apologize when the pastor interrupted to ask another question, “How many people are in the churches?”

“How many? . . . Oh, not many. . . . ” Again both heads went down, apologizing for their failure. “Not many. “

The process repeated itself until, again, the pastor looked like he was ready to shake them and practically yelled, “How many?”

“Only two hundred and twenty people. Not many, no . . . not many. “

Quickly multiplying in his head, the pastor said, “Two hundred and twenty in thirty churches?”

“Oh, no, in only one, but that one is a very small church, very small. There are bigger ones. . . .”

As the pastor interrupted he heard the numbers repeated by his guests: “Two hundred and twenty is small? Dear Lord, I wish I had some that large.”

“Ask them how many are in the big churches.”

The process began, but with a more reverent inquiry: “And how many in the big churches? You know, the biggest one?”

“Oh, not many . . . .”

“I know, ‘not many.’ But, please, ladies, how many?”

“Oh, less than five thousand. Only four thousand nine hundred . . . . Yes, less than five thousand. We have just started.”

From behind the pastor came the sound of weeping: “Dear Lord, forgive us.”

“What did they do? How did they do it? Ask them what they did?”

When asked, they looked astonished. “What did we do? Why nothing. Yes, we did nothing, nothing.”

“You did nothing? You have thirty churches – the smallest with two hundred and twenty people, the largest with almost five thousand new Christians! And you did nothing?”

“No, nothing. We just prayed.”

“I know you prayed, but what else did you do?”

“After we prayed, the Holy Spirit would tell us exactly what to do. We would keep praying and he would tell us what to do, and we would do it. Then we prayed and then he would tell us what to do.  We would do it and keep praying.”

“Dear Lord, they just prayed . . . and the Holy Spirit told them exactly what to do and they prayed. . . . “

The pastor laid his hands on the shoulders of the two sisters. Behind him his two guests, on their knees weeping, joined as they ‘just prayed’.

Dawn Report, August 1998. Source: Church Planting Canada, the Church Planting arm of Vision Canada. Originally published by Carl Lawrence, The Coming Influence of China. Gresham: Vision House Publishing Inc, 1996, pages 186-192. 1

China reports in Mission Index

Asia’s Maturing Church (David Wang)
The Spirit told us what to do (Carl Lawrence)
Revival in China (Dennis Balcombe)
China’s House Churches (Barbara Nield)
China – New Wave of Revival
Chinese turning to Christianity
Revival breaks out in China’s government approved churches
China: how a mother started a house church movement
China – Life-changing Miracle
China’s next generation: New China, New Church, New World
China: The cross on our shoulders and in our hearts
George Chen – In the Garden: 18 years in prison

This article is a chapter in Great Revival Stories

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A 2 Reign of JesusA 7 LionThis article is also an Appendix in

The Lion of Judah (2) The Reign of Jesus

and in (7) The Lion of Judah in one volume.

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11  Discipleship,
   12  Harvest,   13  Ministry,   14  Anointing,   15  Wineskins,
16  Vision,
   17  Unity,   18  Servant Leadership,   19  Church,   20 Life

Contents: Renewal Journal 12: Harvest

The Spirit told us what to do, by Carl Lawrence

Argentine Revival, by Guido Kuwas

Baltimore Revival, by Elizabeth Moll Stalcup

Smithton Revival, by Joel Kilpatrick

Mobile Revival, by Joel Kilpatrick

Australian Reports – Aboriginal Revivals

Global Reports

Book Review: 2000 Years of Charismatic Christianity, by Eddie Hyatt

Renewal Journal 12: Harvest – PDF

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GENERAL BLOGS INDEX

BLOGS INDEX 1: REVIVALS (BRIEFER THAN REVIVALS INDEX)

BLOGS INDEX 2: MISSION (INTERNATIONAL STORIES)

BLOGS INDEX 3: DEVOTIONAL (INCLUDING TESTIMONIES)

BLOGS INDEX 4: CHAPTERS (BLOGS FROM BOOKS)

BLOGS INDEX 5: CHURCH (CHRISTIANITY IN ACTION)

BLOGS INDEX 6: CHAPTERS (BLOGS FROM BOOKS)

BLOGS INDEX 7: IMAGES (PHOTOS AND ALBUMS)

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Harvest

Renewal Journal 12: Harvest

Renewal Journal 12: Harvest – PDF

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Renewal Journal Vol 3 (11-15) – PDF

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See also: Reinhard Bonnke – 1940-2019

See also: Reinhard Bonnke’s final crusade in Africa – November 2017

All Renewal Journal Topics:

1 Revival,   2 Church Growth,
3 Community,   4 Healing,   
5 Signs & Wonders,   
6  Worship,   
7  Blessing,
   8  Awakening,  
9  Mission,   10  Evangelism,
11  Discipleship,
   12  Harvest,   
13  Ministry,
   14  Anointing,   
15  Wineskins,   
16  Vision,   
17  Unity,
   18  Servant Leadership,  
19  Church,   20 Life

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Contents: 12 Harvest

The Spirit told us what to do, by Carl Lawrence

Argentine Revival, by Guido Kuwas

Baltimore Revival, by Elizabeth Moll Stalcup

Smithton Revival, by Joel Kilpatrick

Mobile Revival, by Joel Kilpatrick

Australian Reports – Aboriginal Revivals

Global Reports

Book Review: 2000 Years of Charismatic Christianity, by Eddie Hyatt

Renewal Journal 12: Harvest – PDF

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Editorial

White for Harvest

This issue of the Renewal Journal focuses on a little of the enormous harvest currently being reaped around the world.  Much of this harvest is being reaped at great cost in personal sacrifice and even martyrdom.  Often, the most faith-filled and faithful church is the church suffering persecution, precisely because of the persecution.

We live in a time of harvest.  The fields are white, ready for harvest.  One aspect of this growing harvest is the increase of revival around the world.  Revival has many expressions and varies from culture to culture.  The constant elements of revival, however, remain the same everywhere, as summarised in 2 Chronicles 7:14 – God’s people getting humble, praying, seeking God, repenting, and God moving in grace, forgiveness and power, bringing multitudes into his kingdom and healing brokenness in people’s lives and in the community.  God can do in a moment what we can never do with all our effort.

As we look on the harvest we can all participate in vital ways:

We can ask God for a great harvest as we pray.  Often.  Alone.  Together.

We can believe God.  He is able to do far more than anything we can ask or even think about.

We can commit our way to God who is the Lord of the harvest.

This issue of the Renewal Journal is full of stories of the current harvest.

Two teenage girls in China saw astounding results in two years which they recount in their testimony “The Spirit told us what to do.”

The Argentine Revival continues to reap untold thousands right now.

Local churches continue to experience visitations of God in increasing numbers, especially where they humble themselves and pray and seek God together and with others.  Toronto in Canada, Brompton in London, Sunderland in England, and Pensacola in Florida became well known sparks for global revivals.  Thousands have been converted there, and tens or hundreds of thousands filled with the Spirit in new ways, igniting new ministries.  Places such as Baltimore, Smithton and Mobile reported similar revivals with lasting impacts of the Spirit of God.

Australian reports include stirrings of revival in the Kimberleys, and in the national expressions of reconciliation with Aborigines and the British.  Accounts of individual churches experiencing a fresh move of God continue, as with Christian Life Centre at Mt Annan.

Global reports continue to tell of the mighty works of God.  As he promised, he is pouring out his Spirit on all people.  Much of that is very different from our traditional forms of western Christianity!  It challenges us to rethink what we do.  Essentials are the biblical patterns.  Non-essentials include our structures, denominations, buildings, musical preferences, orders of service, and culture Christianity.  The church in many countries now looks and sounds rather like the New Testament church, persecution and all, empowered by the Spirit, with regular conversions, healing and signs and wonders.

We need to do what Jesus commanded us to do – to pray that the Lord of the harvest will send out workers into his great harvest.  You can pray.  We never know how God may answer that prayer – including answering it in and through us!

(c) Renewal Journal 12: Harvest, 1998, 2011.

Reproduction is allowed with the copyright included in the text.

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11  Discipleship,
   12  Harvest,   13  Ministry,   14  Anointing,   15  Wineskins,
16  Vision,
   17  Unity,   18  Servant Leadership,   19  Church,   20 Life

Revival Blogs Links:

See also Revivals Index

See also Revival Blogs

See also Blogs Index 1: Revivals

GENERAL BLOGS INDEX

BLOGS INDEX 1: REVIVALS(BRIEFER THAN REVIVALS INDEX)

BLOGS INDEX 2: MISSION (INTERNATIONAL STORIES)

BLOGS INDEX 3: MIRACLES (SUPERNATURAL EVENTS)

BLOGS INDEX 4: DEVOTIONAL (INCLUDING TESTIMONIES)

BLOGS INDEX 5: CHURCH(CHRISTIANITY IN ACTION)

BLOGS INDEX 6: CHAPTERS (BLOGS FROM BOOKS)

BLOGS INDEX 7: IMAGES (PHOTOS AND ALBUMS)

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Discipleship

Renewal Journal 11: Discipleship

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All Renewal Journal Topics:

1 Revival,   2 Church Growth,   
3 Community,   4 Healing,   
5 Signs & Wonders,   
6  Worship,   
7  Blessing,
   8  Awakening,   
9  Mission,   10  Evangelism,
11  Discipleship,
   12  Harvest,   
13  Ministry,
   14  Anointing,   
15  Wineskins,   
16  Vision,   
17  Unity,
   18  Servant Leadership,   
19  Church,   20 Life

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Contents: Renewal Journal 11: Discipleship

Transforming Revivals, by Geoff Waugh

Standing in the Rain: Argentine Revival, by Brian Medway

Amazed by Miracles, by Rodney Howard-Brown

A Touch of Glory, by Linell Cooley

The “Diana Prophecy,” by Robert McQuillan

Mentoring, by Peter Earle

Can the Leopard Change his Spots? by Charles Taylor

The Gathering of the Nations, by Paula Sandford

Book Review: Taking our Cities for God, by John Dawson

Renewal Journal 11: Discipleship – PDF

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Editorial

Make Disciples

 “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20).

We know the Great Commission well.  The closing verses of Matthew give Jesus’ commission to his followers during a resurrection appearance on a mountain in Galilee.  Usually we hear it used, and have used it ourselves, as an evangelistic mission mandate.  It is that, and much more.

The focus is not merely on the task, but on the reason for the task – the reason for the “therefore”.  “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me,” Jesus announced.  “Go, therefore, and make disciples.”  This commission concerning discipleship stems directly from who Jesus is as Lord of all.  We are commanded to make people his disciples.

Not make converts – though conversion is integral to the task.

Not make decisions – though life-changing decisions are involved in the task.

Not make church members – though incorporation in the church is essential to the task.

But make disciples.

Jesus’ disciples are to make disciples from all people groups – ta ethna from all the ethnic groups – from all the nations.  They are his disciples, baptized into him, and obedient to him.

Jesus’ discipleship commission does not focus on information but on formation; not on teaching knowledge but on teaching obedience: “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

Naturally that involves knowing what he taught them but the great commission, the final command, is to obey.  That’s breathtaking!

What did he command them to do?  Love God totally.  Love others.  Repent.  Forgive.  Serve.  Pray.  Believe.  Heal the sick.  Cast out demons.  Proclaim the astounding good news of the kingdom of God.  The reign of God has broken into this world, shaking everything, transforming everything.

The great commission is the strongest evidence against a cessationist theory – that what Jesus did and what his disciples did was only for the establishment of the church or only for the first century.  Jesus’ final instruction to his disciples is that what he did and what they did must not cease, but must be passed on to all generations – to the end of the age.

Impossible?  Certainly it is impossible through our own resources:  “Without me you can do nothing.”  Hence, the incredible final promise “I am with you always – to the end of the age.”

Disciples of Jesus

Discipleship, then, is the total process of making disciples of Jesus who are obedient to their living Lord.

That involves evangelism, mission, and equipping those new disciples for obedient mission.  This issue of the Renewal Journal looks at a few of those tasks: evangelism, mission, making disciples of Jesus who make disciples of Jesus.

I reproduce reports on transformation in the South Pacific in the 21st century.

Brian Medway applies lessons learned from revival in Argentina to the Australian scene.

Rodney Howard-Browne talks about God doing what he said he would do.  Lindell Cooley describes the impact of revival on his own discipleship and that of others.

Robert McQuillan surveys fresh moves of God’s Spirit across England.

Peter Earle examines mentoring as it relates to discipleship.

Charles Taylor reflects on the meaning of discipleship.

Paula Sandford reports on a gathering from among the nations – the ethnic groups – seeking to obey the Spirit in one body.  Stephen Milstead provides an overview of John Dawson=s approach to discipling cities, an approach well illustrated in Argentina today as indicated in the first article in this issue.

Nothing is so radical as making disciples of Jesus.  Jesus and his early disciples proclaimed and demonstrated the reign of God in all of life.  The kingdom of God has broken into this fallen world through Jesus, God’s Son, the Anointed One.  His life, death, and resurrection change everything.  The first are last and the last are first.  The least are the greatest and the greatest are the servants of all.

This issue of the Renewal Journal only begins to explore such radical changes.  The great commission still confronts us all with the implications of Jesus’ authority in heaven and on earth – his total Lordship.

As you read, pray with us the prayer Jesus taught us, including, “Your kingdom come.  Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

What can be more radical than that?

(c) 2011, 2n edition.  Reproduction allowed with copyright included in text.

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GENERAL BLOGS INDEX

BLOGS INDEX 1: REVIVALS(BRIEFER THANREVIVALS INDEX)

BLOGS INDEX 2: MISSION (INTERNATIONAL STORIES)

BLOGS INDEX 3: MIRACLES (SUPERNATURAL EVENTS)

BLOGS INDEX 4: DEVOTIONAL (INCLUDING TESTIMONIES)

BLOGS INDEX 5: CHURCH(CHRISTIANITY IN ACTION)

BLOGS INDEX 6: CHAPTERS (BLOGS FROM BOOKS)

BLOGS INDEX 7: IMAGES (PHOTOS AND ALBUMS)

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