I have read many similar stories, but this one exceeds them all.
I read the online edition and was blown away by the response of the Solomon Islanders to the power of the Holy Spirit. It was amazing, or should I say God-planned. Geoff has done well to not only be in so many places and seeing God at work, but also writing a book about it all. It’s as if it has all happened in a world apart, but the events in Brisbane show that it could happen in Australia also. ~ Barbara Vickridge (Perth, Australia)
Geoff Waugh’s life and ministry have influenced people all around the world. The story of his life and ministry will be of interest not only to those who know him – you will find yourself reflecting on your own journey with Jesus. Here is a personal journey with reflections that will enrich the lives of all readers. As he `looked to Jesus’ along the way he was opened up to many exciting new ventures in Australia and into countries where revival and renewal is vibrant, changing many lives. Although a biography, many others are involved. His reflections fit naturally, showing how his personal journey has relevance for others. (John Olley)
I have read many similar stories, but this one exceeds them all.
I read the online edition and was blown away by the response of the Solomon Islanders to the power of the Holy Spirit. It was amazing, or should I say God-planned. Geoff has done well to not only be in so many places and seeing God at work, but also writing a book about it all. It’s as if it has all happened in a world apart, but the events in Brisbane show that it could happen in Australia also. (Barbara Vickridge)
Book 1: Journey into Renewal and Revival
Introduction:Waugh stories – an overview
1. Beginnings: state of origin – growing up in NSW, Australia
2. Schools: green board jungle – learning and teaching
3. Ministry: to lead is to serve – theological college and pastorates
4. Mission: trails and trials – pioneering teaching in Papua New Guinea
5. Family: Waughs and rumours of Waughs – Family life in PNG and Australia
6. Search and Research: begin with A B C – exploring Israel and studies
7. Renewal: begin with doh rey me – charismatic renewal in Australia
8. Revival: begin with 1 2 3 – teaching revival leaders in many countries
These Study Guides are adapted from former Distance Education materials produced by Citipointe Ministry College, the School of Ministries of Christian Heritage College in Brisbane, Australia. Now they are adapted into these books for your benefit. The current courses use different and updated materials as part of internet resources for students.
For information about current courses, contact the Principal,
Welcome to this Study Guide on Renewal Theology 2.
This unit builds on Renewal Theology I. It develops the study of Christology, Anthropology, Pneumatology, and Soteriology. The simple words for these terms are: Christ, Humanity, Holy Spirit, and Salvation. The notes attempt to interpret these major themes from the perspectives of a Pentecostal-Charismatic hermeneutic.
As with Renewal Theology 1 the objectives are strongly linked with the notion that the learning of Theology comes out of ministry and practice. Therefore, the student must be constantly aware of the need to raise the question: What does this point or principle or insight mean for life and ministry today?
The topics have been prepared with a view to applications in Pastoral Ministry, Teaching, Mission and Evangelism situations.
Again, the student should be mindful that the material is not primarily intended for academic learning. However, mental exercise (one of our God-given functions) must become a willing servant under the tutoring of the Holy Spirit, so that the learning and the practising of Theology become a renewing experience.
The topics are grouped into four modules.
Module 1: Christology
Beginning with the idea of Divine Revelation and the need to have a transforming of interpreting the Scriptures we focus on the person of Christ. Christ is seen as both God and Perfect Man. The one person and two natures. We consider His Birth, Life, Death, Resurrection and Exaltation. Finally, we explore the truth of His rule and authority.
Revelation and Navigation. A Transforming Hermeneutic
Christ: God and Perfect Man. Two Natures. One Person
We now look at the theme of humanity, its creation, fall, and recreation. We consider the notions of being complete in Christ by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. We also discuss the problem of sin co-existing with righteousness.
A Biblical Anthropology: Humanity
The Human Fall: Consequences.
The New Humanity: Grace and Spirit-Filled
Module 3: Pneumatology
These topics look at Holy Spirit as Person both in the Old Testament and the New Testament. We then consider the Holy Spirit as gift to all believers and then the baptism with the Spirit with fruit and gifts. The module concludes with a focus on the activity of the Holy Spirit in the world as distinct but not separate from His activity in the church.
Holy Spirit as Person
Holy Spirit: Fruit and Gifts
Holy Spirit and the World
Module 4: Soteriology
You will study the origins of evil and sin, and against this background learn the meaning of the New Covenant. Central to it all is the importance of Christ’s atonement out of which we define and describe what salvation really means.
Soteriology: Evil and Sin
Being Competent In Doing Theology
We all can learn more together about effective ministry. That learning is enhanced and expanded rapidly when we share our experiences and learning together. The ‘teacher’ usually shares from his or her experiences, but others can do also. So the more that our ministry education fosters mutuality, the more we can learn from one another.
We call this open education or open ministry education. It is open to everyone and everyone can be involved. It is not just for leaders. Our leaders can help us, but their main job is to equip the saints for the work of ministry for building up the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12). We can do these things in classes, small groups, seminars, training courses and home or church groups.
These Study Guides are adapted from former Distance Education materials produced by Citipointe Ministry College, the School of Ministries of Christian Heritage College in Brisbane, Australia. Now they are adapted into these books for your benefit. The current courses use different and updated materials as part of internet resources for students.
For information about current courses, contact the Principal,
Welcome to this Study Guide on Renewal Theology 1.
This study examines the characteristics and methods of theology from a renewal perspective including its integrative and comprehensive approach to the whole of Scripture, the relationship of the Old and New Testaments, the study of the doctrine of God, the centrality of the themes of covenant and the kingdom of God, and their application to contemporary ministry and mission.
Theology provides a systematic study of biblical teaching in historical and contemporary forms. It is the intellectual process whereby all other theological and ministry studies are related to biblical studies. This introductory study of Theology is a systematic approach to themes and teaching of the Bible placed in historical and contemporary terms with a view to practical application in ministry.
This introductory study has the dual aim to teach methods and presuppositions of the study of theology including its hermeneutic, and to apply these methods to fundamental theological issues such as the study of God and revelation, including the seminal themes of the Kingdom of God, covenant and mission.
This study relates directly to all biblical studies, drawing on them for the formulation of theological concepts. It also undergirds all ministry and mission, providing a reference point for the development of applied theology in the practice of ministry.
Module 1: Theology and Biblical Hermeneutics
What is Theology? Why Theology?
How to Begin – Prolegomena (I)
How to Begin – Prolegomena (II)
Methods in Theology.
Module 2: Revelation and the Knowledge of God
God’s Existence and Being
The Trinity and Nature of God
Creation and Providence
Module 3: The Centrality of Christ
The Person of Christ
The Problem of Evil
The Kingdom of God
The Concept of Covenant
Module 4: Theology of Mission and Ministry
Mission : “The Mother of Theology”
Contemporary Theologies : Western and Non-Western
Doing Theology : Its Application
We all can learn more together about effective ministry. That learning is enhanced and expanded rapidly when we share our experiences and learning together. The ‘teacher’ usually shares from his or her experiences, but others can do also. So the more that our ministry education fosters mutuality, the more we can learn from one another.
We call this open education, or open ministry education. It is open to everyone and everyone can be involved. It is not just for leaders. Our leaders can help us, but their main job is to equip the saints for the work of ministry for building up the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:12). We can do these things in classes, small groups, seminars, training courses and home or church groups.
A lot of key passages and exciting developments get lost in the details of this book so I have highlighted passages in this book which bring some of those key revival passages together.
From Chapter 5 – Australia: Elcho Island (1994)
In that same evening the word just spread like the flames of fire and reached the whole community in Galiwin’ku. Gelung and I couldn’t sleep at all that night because people were just coming for the ministry, bringing the sick to be prayed for, for healing. Others came to bring their problems. Even a husband and wife came to bring their marriage problem, so the Lord touched them and healed their marriage.
Next morning the Galiwin’ku Community once again became the new community. The love of Jesus was being shared and many expressions of forgiveness were taking place in the families and in the tribes. Wherever I went I could hear people singing and humming Christian choruses and hymns! Before then I would have expected to hear only fighting and swearing and many other troublesome things that would hurt your feelings and make you feel sad.
Many unplanned and unexpected things happened every time we went from camp to camp to meet with the people. The fellowship was held every night and more and more people gave their lives to Christ, and it went on and on until sometimes the fellowship meeting would end around about midnight. There was more singing, testimony, and ministry going on. People did not feel tired in the morning, but still went to work.
From Chapter 9 – Philippines (1995)
During the class seminars, my students reported on various signs and wonders that they had experienced in their churches. Many of them expected God to do the same things now as he did in the New Testament, but not all! “We don’t seem to have miracles in our church,” said one student, a part-time Baptist pastor and police inspector. “You could interview a pastor from a church that does,” I suggested.
So he interviewed a Pentecostal pastor about miraculous answers to prayer in their church. That student reported to the class how the Pentecostal church sent a team of young people to the local mental hospital for monthly meetings where they sang and witnessed and prayed for people. Over 40 patients attended their first meeting there, and they prayed for 26 personally, laying hands on them. A month later, when they returned for their next meeting, all those 26 patients had been discharged and sent home.
From Chapter 9 – Ghana (1995)
When we arrived in the mountain town of Suhum, it was dark. The torrential rain had cut off the electricity supply. The rain eased off a bit, so we gathered in the market square and prayed to God to guide us and to take over. Soon the rain ceased. The electricity came on. The host team began excitedly shouting that it was a miracle. “We will talk about this for years” they exclaimed with gleaming eyes. We had clear days all that week, although it was in the monsoon.
My interpreter that night didn’t know a lot of English. I think he preached his own sermon based on some phrases of mine he understood or guessed, and apparently he did well. When we invited people to respond and give their lives to Christ, they came from the surrounding darkness into the light. Some wandered over from the pub, smelling of beer. They kept the ministry team busy praying and arranging follow up with the local churches.
At that point I left the work to the locals who understood one another. I just moved around laying hands on people’s heads and praying for them, as did many others. People reported various touches of God in their lives. Some were healed. Later in the week an elderly man excitedly told how he had come to the meeting almost blind but now he could see.
Each day we held morning worship and teaching sessions for Christians in a church, hot under an iron roof on those clear, tropical sunny days. During the second morning I vividly ‘saw’ golden light fill the church and swallow up or remove blackness. At that point the African Christians became very noisy, vigorously celebrating and shouting praises to God. A fresh anointing seemed to fall on them just then.
From Chapter 9 – Toronto, Canada (1995)
Over 100,000 a year flocked there from all over the world for well over a decade. The wide diversity of people from different denominations and countries there impressed me. Love and respect for others filled the atmosphere and testimonies. We joined the crowds of over 1500 each morning and night, enjoyed the low-key sensitive worship (knowing very few of their songs), appreciated the balanced teaching, and received personal prayer.
Both of us appreciated the gracious, caring way people prayed for us, and others. No rush. No hype. No pressure. Whether we stood, or sat in a chair, or rested on the carpeted floor, those praying for us did so quietly with prayers prompted by the Holy Spirit. Those praying laid a hand on us gently, as led, and trusted the Lord to touch us. He did. Warmth and love permeated us. We returned to our hotel after the meetings aware of increased peace and deeper assurance of the Lord’s love and grace.
After returning to Brisbane I noticed that people I prayed for received strong touches from the Lord, most resting in the Spirit on the floor. We needed people to be ready to catch those who fell, to avoid them getting hurt (then needing extra healing prayer!). Some of them had visions of the Lord blessing them and others.
From Chapter 13 – Nepal (2000)
After praying on the bridge we approached the Chinese officials to get a permission to enter Tibet. The first official refused but the second one nodded approvingly, taking the four Australian passports from my hand as security, and let us go free of charge! This could happen only by the supernatural intervention of our Almighty God, Hallelujah! We had good prayer inside Tibet, especially on those individual shopkeepers whom I would grab and pray on without any resistance from them!
On 21 April all the eight of Australians and I had a trip to Gochadda in west Nepal and held a three days conference over there at Easter. While driving toward the destination I shared the Word with the driver of the private bus and during the inauguration of the conference he approached the altar and accepted Christ as his personal Saviour. On the same day a Christian brother whose hand was partially crippled for six years was touched by the Holy Spirit and healed absolutely. He was shaking in his whole body and raising his hands, even the crippled one already healed, praising the Lord with all his strength, he glorified the Lord for his greatness, Hallelujah!
Out of about 200 participants in the conference by the grace of God 100 of them were baptized in the Holy Spirit praising the Lord, singing, falling, crying, and many other actions as the Holy Spirit would prompt them to act. About ten of them testified that they had never experienced such a presence of the power and love of God. Some others testified being lifted to heavenly realms by the power of the Holy Spirit, being surrounded by the angels of the Lord in a great peace, joy, and love toward each other and being melted in the power of his presence. Many re-committed their lives to the Lord for ministry by any means through his revelation.
On the second day of the conference the trend continued as the people seemingly would fall down, repent, minister to each other in the love of Christ, enjoy the mighty touch of the Holy Spirit, singing, prophesying, weeping, laughing, hugging, and all the beauty of the Holy Spirit was manifested throughout the congregation by his grace and love. One woman of age 65 testified that she never had danced in her life in any occasion even in secret, but the Lord had told her that she should now dance to him and she was dancing praising him with all her strength. For hours this outpouring continued and the pastors of the churches were one by one testifying that they had never experienced such a presence and power of God in their whole Christian life and ministry.
Some 60 evangelists from Gorkha, Dhanding, Chitwan, Butwal declared that they were renewed in their spirits by the refreshing of the Holy Spirit and they are now going to serve the Lord in the field wherever the Holy Spirit will lead them to be fully fledged in His service. In the last day of the conference while praying together with the congregation and committing them in his hands, many prophesied that the Lord was assuring them of great changes in their ministry, life and the area. While the power of God was at work in our midst three children of 6-7 years old fell down weeping, screaming and testifying about a huge hand coming on them and touching their stomachs and healing them instantly. After the prayer all the participants got into the joy of the Holy Spirit and started dancing to the Lord, singing and praising Him for His goodness.
Before leaving Gochadda while we were having snacks in the pastor’s house a woman of high Brahmin caste came by the direction of the Lord to the place, claiming that she was prompted by a voice in her ear to go to the Christians and ask for prayer for healing of her chronic stomach pain and problems, and that is why she was there. We prayed for her and she was instantly healed and we shared the Gospel, but she stopped us saying, “I need to accept Christ as my Saviour so don’t waste time!” She accepted Jesus as her personal Saviour being lifted in spirit, and even the body as she said she didn’t feel anymore burden in her body, and spirit, Hallelujah!
On 25 April we held another conference in Nazarene Church pastored by Rinzi Lama in Kathmandu. Ten churches unitedly participated in the two days gathering where about 100 people participated. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit continued in this conference refreshing many in their spirits and bringing much re-commitment. Some cases of healing were testified. …
On 27 April we held a one day conference in Hosanna Church where the touch of the Holy Spirit was tremendous and people blessed by the Holy Spirit and his might were manifesting his power and presence in the place. While people were worshipping and praising the Lord, a prophecy came and the Lord said, “What happened to the vision given to you six years ago? You have forgotten to pray about it but I have not forgotten what I have promised to you through the vision!” I was reminded by the Holy Spirit that I had seen a vision where I was taken over the highest mountains in this country with a few of my foreign friends and some of our evangelists and as we put our step on the top of the mountain it started shaking and melting and my friends and the evangelists started disappearing, then I cried out, “Lord where are my friends?” And He said open your eyes and see, and I saw all my friends and the evangelists were scattered all over the mountains and they were coming towards me with multitudes of people behind them. I started weeping and with a feeling which words cannot explain I was thanking the Lord for His goodness, I was laughing in the Spirit for the repetition of the vision which I could see again. Hallelujah!
From Chapter 14 – USA: Pensacola
I liked the spontaneous bits best. Before Friday night’s revival service some people in the singing group of over 50 people on stage began singing free harmonies without music while they waited for the sound system to work, and we all joined in. It sounded like angels harmonizing in continual worship. Wonderful. No need for words!
Later, during the service Lindel Cooley, their worship leader, led spontaneously from the keyboard without other instruments, singing the chorus of an old hymn from his youth (and mine) – ‘Love lifted me’. All the oldies joined in, and then it went on to a verse sung from memory. It moved me deeply, from my own boyhood memories, especially as I had just then been asking the Lord for a personal touch from him.
A visitor preached, calling for faith and action. Their prayer team prayed for many hundreds at the ‘altar call’ – short and sharp, but relevant and challenging. The man who prayed briefly for me spoke about national and international ministries the Lord would open for me.
From Chapter 15 – Vanuatu (2002)
By Romulo: “The speaker was the Upper Room Church pastor, Jotham Napat who is also the Director of Meteorology in Vanuatu. The night was filled with the awesome power of the Lord and we had the Upper Room church ministry who provided music with their instruments. With our typical Pacific Island setting of bush and nature all around us, we had dances, drama, testified in an open environment, letting the wind carry the message of salvation to the bushes and the darkened areas. That worked because most of those that came to the altar call were people hiding or listening in those areas.The Lord was on the road of destiny with many people that night.”
Unusual lightning hovered around the sky and as soon as the prayer teams had finished praying with those who rushed forward at the altar call, the tropical rain pelted down on that open field.
God poured out his Spirit on many lives that night, including Jerry Waqainabete and Simon Kofe. Both of them played rugby in the popular university teams and enjoyed drinking and the nightclub scene. Both changed dramatically. Many of their friends said it would not last. It did last and led them into ministry and mission.
From Chapter 16 – Vanuatu (2003)
Significant events associated with the coming of the Gospel to South Pentecost included a martyr killed and a paramount chief’s wife returning from death.
Thomas Tumtum had been an indentured worker on cane farms in Queensland, Australia. Converted there, he returned around 1901 to his village on South Pentecost with a new young disciple from a neighbouring island. They arrived when the village was tabu (taboo) because a baby had died a few days earlier, so no one was allowed into the village. Ancient tradition dictated that anyone breaking tabu must be killed, so they were going to kill Thomas, but his friend Lulkon asked Thomas to tell them to kill him instead so that Thomas could evangelize his own people. Just before he was clubbed to death at a sacred Mele palm tree, he read John 3:16, then closed his eyes and prayed for them. Thomas became a pioneer of the church in South Pentecost, establishing Churches of Christ there.
Paramount Chief Morris Bule died at 111 on 1stJuly, 2016, the son of the highest rank paramount chief on Pentecost Island. After a wife of Chief Morris’s father died and was prepared for burial, the calico cloths around her began to move. She had returned from death and they took the grave cloths of her. She sat up and told them all to leave their pagan ways and follow the Christian way. Then she lay down and died.
Chief Morris’s son, Paramount Chief Peter, had an uncle who returned from Queensland as a Christian in the early 1900s. When he was old, after many years telling them about the Gospel, one day he called all his relatives to him, shook hands in farewell with everyone, and lay down and died immediately.
From Chapter 16 – Solomon Islands (2003)
Revival began with the Spirit moving on youth and children in village churches. They had extended worship in revival songs, many visions and revelations and lives being changed with strong love for the Lord. Children and youth began meeting daily from 5pm for hours of praise, worship and testimonies. A police officer reported reduced crimes, and said former rebels were attending daily worship and prayer meetings.
Revival continued to spread throughout the region. Revival movements brought moral change and built stronger communities in villages in the Solomon Islands including these lasting developments:
1 Higher moral standards. People involved in the revival quit crime and drunkenness, and promoted good behaviour and co-operation.
2 Christians who once kept their Christianity inside churches and meetings talked more freely about their lifestyle in the community and amongst friends.
3 Revival groups, especially youth, enjoyed working together in unity and community, including a stronger emphasis on helping others in the community.
4 Families were strengthened in the revival. Parents spent more time with their youth and children to encourage and help them, often leading them in Bible reading and family prayers.
5 Many new gifts and ministries were used by more people than before, including revelations and healing. Even children received revelations or words of knowledge about hidden magic artefacts or ginger plants related to spirit power and removed them.
6 Churches grew. Many church buildings in the Marovo Lagoon were pulled down and replaced with much large buildings to fit in the crowds. Offerings and community support increased.
7 Unity. Increasingly Christians united in reconciliation for revival meetings, prayer and service to the community. …
Children received revelations about their parent’s secret sins or the location of hidden magic artefacts or stolen property. Many children had visions of Jesus during the revival meetings. Often he would be smiling when they were worshipping and loving him, or he would show sadness when they were naughty or unkind. …
At Seghe the children and youth loved to meet every afternoon in the church near the Bible College there. The man leading these meetings had been a rascal involved in the ethnic tensions but was converted in the revival. A policeman from Seghe told me that since the revival began crime has dropped. Many former young criminals were converted and joined the youth worshipping God each afternoon. Revival continued to spread throughout the region. …
We taught in morning sessions about revival and answered questions. One mother, for example, asked about the meaning of her young son’s vision of Jesus standing with one foot in heaven and one foot on the earth. What a beautiful, powerful picture of Jesus’ claim that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him (Matthew28:8), seen in a child’s vision.
From Chapter 17 – Vanuatu: Pentecost (2004)
By Matthias: The deliverance ministry group left the college by boat and when they arrived at the Bungalows they prayed together. After they prayed together they divided into two groups.
There is one person in each of these two groups that has a gift from the Lord that the Holy Spirit reveals where the witchcraft powers are, such as bones from dead babies or stones. These witchcraft powers are always found in the ground outside the houses or sometimes in the houses. So when the Holy Spirit reveals to that person the right spot where the witchcraft power is, then they have to dig it up with a spade.
When they dug it out from the soil they prayed over it and bound the power of that witchcraft in the name of Jesus. Then they claimed the blood of Jesus in that place.
Something very important when joining the deliverance group is that everyone in the group must be fully committed to the Lord and must be strong in their faith because sometimes the witchcraft power can affect the ones that are not really committed and do not have faith.
After they finished the deliverance ministry they came together again and just gave praise to the Lord in singing and prayer. Then they closed with a Benediction.
From Chapter 19 – Vanuatu Pentecost (2004)
By Don: The night’s worship led by the law students started off as usual with singing, then spontaneously turned into a joyful party. Then Joanna Kenilorea gave a testimony about a very sad event in her family that brought the Keniloreas back to God. She was especially eloquent in her address and when finished, Geoff found that it had been so powerful that he had no more to add that night and made an immediate altar call for prayer. Almost as one, 300 high school students, teachers and others present rose from their seats and moved out into the aisle to the front of the hall. There were a couple of slow starters, but when it became apparent that Geoff could not possibly pray for each individually, even these moved up to the back of the crowd until everybody in that room had come forward. Geoff in all his years of ministry and association with renewal ministries and revival (and that was the subject of his doctorate) had never experienced anything like it. The most remarkable thing for Helen and me was we were there and part of it in such a remote and previously unknown part of our world! It was surely a night to remember.
From Chapter 21 – Vanuatu: Pentecost (2005)
Many of the older people attending these intensive teaching sessions had been involved in local revivals through many years. They understood the principles involved such as repentance, reconciliation, unity, personal and group prayer that was earnest and full of faith, and using various gifts of the Spirit. They were most familiar with words of wisdom and knowledge, discerning spirits (especially from local witchcraft), revelations, healings and deliverance.
I learned much from them, especially about the spirit world and humbly seeking God for revelation and direction. We westerners tend to jump in and organize things without really waiting patiently on God for his revelation and direction. Many westerners, including missionaries, find waiting frustrating or annoying, but local people find it normal and natural. Wait on God and move when he shows you the way. For example, you can seek the Lord about who will speak, what to say, and how to respond.We westerners often use schedules and programs instead.
“Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!” (Psalm 27:14)
From Chapter 22 – Kenya (2005)
Before the Kibera slum church moved into their corrugated iron shed they met in a community hall. I taught leaders there, and spoke at their Sunday service with about 30 people. We gave them real bread for communion, not just symbolic cubes. The Spirit led me to give them all the bread we had, just t loaves (not five barley buns as the boy had in Scripture).
“Can I take some home to my family?” asked one young man. That’s a hard question to answer in front of 30 hungry people.
“It’s yours. You can take some of your own communion bread home if you want to,” I answered.
Everyone then took a large handful of communion bread, and most put some in their pockets to take home later. We shared real glasses of grape juice in plastic glasses, thanking the Lord for his body and blood given for us. After my return to Australia I heard that the bread apparently multiplied, as those who took some home had enough for their families to eat. Some of them were still eating it two weeks later.
From Chapter 22 – Fiji (2005)
By Jerry:While we were praying and worshipping, the Lord told me for the first ever time to take the salt water and the land and give it back to God. And I told this brother that when we offered it to God the rain is going to fall just to confirm that God hears and accepts it according to His leading.
I told him in advance while the Lord was putting it in my heart to do it… this is the first ever time and I always heard about it when people are being led… now it has happened to me… I could not even believe it.
As soon as he brought the water and I brought the soil to signify the sacrifice, I felt the mighty presence of God with us and was like numb… and the sun was really shining up in the sky with very little clouds. This rain fell slowly upon us…. I still could not believe… my cousin was astonished and could not believe it… it happened according to the way the Lord told me and I told him. It was like a made up story.
It was the blessings of God and I told the Lord that I am waiting for His own time to rebuild the walls of my village… but the Lord already told me that He wants and has chosen me to rebuild the wall of my village like Nehemiah.
From Chapter 23 – Fiji (2006) re Tanna Island
The Director of the Department of Meteorology in Vanuatu was in Fiji for a conference and I met him there again. He is also a pastor (Pastor Jotham) at Upper Room church in Port Vila where many of the law students attended.
In May 2006 he had been on mission in Tanna Island where the Lord moved strongly on young people, especially in worship and prayer. Children and youth were anointed to write and sing new songs in the local dialects. Some children asked the pastors to ordain them as missionaries – which was new for everyone. After prayer about it, they did.
Those children are strong evangelists already, telling Bible stories in pagan villages. One 9 year old boy did that, and people began giving their lives to God in his pagan village, so he became their ‘pastor’, assisted by older Christians from other villages.
From Chapter 24 – Vanuatu (2006)
At sharing time in the Upper Room service, a nurse, Leah Waqa, told how she had been recently on duty when parents brought in their young daughter who had been badly hit in a car accident, and showed no signs of life – the heart monitor registered zero.
Leah was in the dispensary giving out medicines when she heard about the girl and she suddenly felt unusual boldness, so went to the girl and prayed for her, commanding her to live, in Jesus’ name. She prayed for almost an hour, mostly in tongues, and after an hour the monitor started beeping and the girl recovered.
The revival team, including the two of us from Australia, trekked for a week into mountain villages. We literally obeyed Luke 10 – most going with no extra shirt, no sandals, and no money. The trek began with a five-hour climb across the island to the village of Ranwas on ridges by the sea on the eastern side. Mathias led worship, and strong moves of the Spirit touched everyone. We prayed for people many times in each meeting. At one point I spat on the dirt floor, making mud to show what Jesus did once. Merilyn Wari, wife of the President of the Churches of Christ, then jumped up asking for prayer for her eyes, using the mud. Later she testified that the Lord told her to do that, and then she found she could read her small pocket Bible without glasses. So she read to us all. Meetings continued like that each night. …
Revival meetings erupted at Ponra. The Spirit just took over. Visions. Revelations. Reconciliations. Healings. People drunk in the Spirit. Many resting on the floor getting blessed in various ways. When they heard about healing through ‘mud in the eye’ at Ranwas some wanted mud packs also at Ponra!
One of the girls in the team had a vision of the village children there paddling in a pure sea, crystal clear. They were like that – so pure. Not polluted at all by TV, DVDs, videos, movies, magazines, and worldliness. Their lives were so clean and holy. Just pure love for the Lord, especially among the young. Youth often lead in revival.
The sound of angels singing filled the air about 3am. It sounded as though the village church was packed. The harmonies in high descant declared “For You are great and You do wondrous things. You are God alone” and then harmonies, without words until words again for “I will praise You O Lord my God with all my heart, and I will glorify Your name for evermore” with long, long harmonies on “forever more”. Just worship. Pure, awesome and majestic.
From Chapter 24 – Solomon Islands (2006)
Revival in the Guadalcanal Mountains had begun at the Bubunuhu Christian Community High School on Monday, July 10, 2006, on their first night back from holidays. They were filled with the Spirit and began using many spiritual gifts they had not had before. Then they took teams of students to the villages to sing, testify, and pray for people, especially youth. Many gifts of the Spirit were new to them – prophecies, healings, tongues, and revelations (such as knowing where adults hid magic artefacts).
The National Christian Youth Convention (NCYC) in the north-west of the Solomon Islands at Choiseul Island, two hours flight from Honiara, brought over 1,000 youth together from all over the Solomon Islands.
By Grant: “Most of a thousand youth came forward. Some ran to the altar, some crying! There was an amazing outpouring of the Spirit. There were so many people, Geoff and I split up and started laying hands on as many people as we could. People were falling under the power everywhere (some testified later to having visions). There were bodies all over the field (some people landing on top of each other). Then I did a general healing prayer and asked them to put their hand on the place where they had pain. After we prayed people began to come forward sharing testimonies of how the pain had left their bodies and they were completely healed! The meeting stretched on late into the night with more healing and many more people getting deep touches.
It was one of the most amazing nights. I was deeply touched and feel like I have left a part of myself in Choiseul. God did an amazing thing that night with the young people and I really believe that he is raising up some of them to be mighty leaders in revival.”
A young man who was healed that night returned to his nearby village and prayed for his sick mother and brother. Both were healed immediately. He told the whole convention about that the next morning at the meeting, adding that he had never done that before.
The delegation from Kariki islands further west, returned home the following Monday.
The next night they led a meeting where the Spirit of God moved in revival. Many were filled with the Spirit, had visions, were healed, and discovered many spiritual gifts including discerning spirits and tongues. That revival has continued, and spread.
From Chapter 25 – Solomon Islands (2007)
We held revival meetings at the Theological Seminary at Seghe in the fantastic Marovo Lagoon – 70 kilometres with hundreds of tropical bush laden islands north and west of New Georgia Island. Morning teaching sessions, personal prayers in the afternoons and night revival meetings, with worship led by the students, filled an eventful week in September 2007. That was the first time the seminary held such a week, and again we prayed for so many at each meeting, students and village people. Meetings included two village revival services in the lagoon. At the first, an afternoon meeting in the framework of a large new church building, everyone came for prayer, all 100, and 30 reported on pain leaving as we prayed for healings. Then we had a long evening meeting at Patutiva village, where revival started in Easter 2003 across the Lagoon from Seghe. That meeting went from 7pm to 1.30am with about 1,000 people! We prayed personally for hundreds after the meeting ‘closed’ at 11pm. Students told me they could hear the worship and preaching on the PA across the lagoon 1k away in the still night air, so those in bed listened that way! …
The week at Taro was the fullest of the whole trip, the most tiring, and also the most powerful so far. Worship was amazing. They brought all the United Church ministers together for the week from all surrounding islands where revival is spreading and was accelerated after the youth convention near here in Choiseul the previous December, where the tsunami hit in April. Many lay people also filled the church each morning – about 200.
Night rallies at the soccer field included the amplifiers reaching people in their houses as well. Each night I spoke and Mathias also spoke, especially challenging the youth. We prayed for hundreds, while the youth lead worship at the end of each meeting. The ministers helped but they preferred to just assist us, and people seemed to want us to pray for them. I involved the ministers in praying for people also. There was a lot of conviction and reconciliation going on.
It’s fascinating that we so often see powerful moves of God’s Spirit when all the churches and Christians unite together in worship and ministry. God blesses unity of heart and action, especially among God’s people. It always involves repentance and reconciliation.
In all these places people made strong commitments to the Lord, and healings were quick and deep. Both in Vanuatu and in the Solomon Islands the people said that they could all understand my English, even those who did not speak English, so they did not need an interpreter. Another miracle.
Saturday night was billed as a big meeting at Patuvita across the channel. This is where the revival started with children of the lagoon at Easter 2003. Geoff had previously visited this church in September 2003. The old church building has been pulled down and the foundations were being pegged out on an open ridge high above the lagoon for the new one, which will probably hold up to 1000 as the revival swells the numbers.
Again students led the worship. Most of the adults were traditional, but there were forty or so in revival ministry teams who pray for the sick, cast out spirits and evangelise. We joined the meeting by 8pm and finished at 1.30am!
Worship went for an hour. Geoff then preached for nearly an hour. In his words –
Very lively stuff. Only tiny kids went to sleep – 50 of them on pandanus leaf mats at the front. Then we prayed for people – and prayed, and prayed, and prayed and prayed, on and on and on and on! I involved the ministers (after praying for them and leaders first), and the students – and still people came for prayer – by the hundreds.
We prayed for leaders who wanted prayer first, then for their ministry teams, then for youth leaders and the youth, and then for anyone else who wanted prayer, and at about midnight Mark called all the children for prayer, so the parents woke them up and carried the babies. I guess I prayed for 30 sleeping kids in mother’s arms and for their mothers and fathers as well.
Then after midnight when the meeting “finished” about 200 remained for personal prayer, one by one. So I involved 4 students with me, and that was great on-the-job training as well as praying. We prayed about everything imaginable, including many barren wives, men whose wives were un-cooperative, women whose husbands weren’t interested, and healings galore – certainly many more than 100 healings. In every case, those with whom we prayed said that the pain was totally gone.
I doubt if I’ve ever seen so many healings, happening so quickly. At 1.30am there were still 30 people waiting for prayer, so I got desperate, and prayed for them all at once. I told them just to put their hands on the parts of their body needing healings, and I prayed for them all at once, while the students and some ministers still there laid hands on them, and I also moved quickly around to lay hands on each one.
They were all happy, and again reported healings. I wish I’d thought of that at midnight! But at least a few hundred had a chance to talk with us and be specific about their needs.
From Chapter 27 – China (2007)
I loved it there among such humble, hungry, receptive, grateful, gentle, and faith-filled believers. I was often in tears just being there, appreciating their heartfelt zeal in everything. I have rarely been so impressed anywhere. No concerts. No acting. No hype. Just bare essentials. What a big and wonderful family we belong to, and our Father is so proud of his family there, I’m sure.
I had the great honour of speaking at a house church. People arrived in ones or twos over an hour or so, and stayed for many hours. Then they left quietly in ones or twos again, just personal visitors to that host family. Food on the small kitchen table welcomed everyone, some of it brought by the visitors.
About 30 of us crowded into a simple room with very few chairs. Most sat on the thin mat coverings. They sang their own heartfelt worship songs in their own language and style, pouring out love to the Lord, sometimes with tears. The leader played a very basic guitar in a very basic way.
Everyone listened intently to the message, and gladly asked questions, all of it interpreted. There was no need for an altar call or invitation to receive prayer. Everyone wanted personal prayer. Our prayer team of three or four people prayed with each person for specific needs such as healing and with personal prophecies. That flowed strongly. I knew none of that group, but received ‘pictures’ or words of encouragement for each one, as did the others.
While prayer continued, some began slipping quietly away. Others had supper. Others stayed to worship quietly. It was a quiet night because they did not want to disturb neighbours or attract attention.
Most people in that group were new believers with no Christian background at all. They identified easily with the house churches of the New Testament, the persecution, and the miracles, because they experienced all that as well. Many unbelievers become Christians because someone prayed for their healing and the Lord healed them.
From Chapter 28 – Fiji (2008, 2009)
By Romulo (2008): “Inter-tertiary went very well at Suva Grammar School that was hosted by Fiji School of Medicine Christian Fellowship (CF). It was an awesome two nights of fellowship with God and with one another. The Pacific Students for Christ combined worship was a huge blessings for those that attended the two nights of worship. Pastor Geoff spoke on Obedience to the Holy Spirit – this being a spark to revival and power.
“Students came in droves for prayers and the worship lit up the Grammar School skies with tears, repentance, anointing and empowerment. The worship by Fiji School of Medicine students brought us closer to intimate worship with the King. It was a Pacific gathering and each and every person there was truly blessed as young people sought a closer intimate relationship with the King. We were blessed beyond words. Thank you all for the prayers, the thoughts and the giving.”
Roneil, a Fijian Indian, added, “It was all so amazing, so amazing that words can’t describe it. For me, it was obvious that the glory of God just descended upon the people during the Inter-tertiary CF. I’ve never seen an altar call that lasted for way more than an hour. I myself just couldn’t get enough of it. It was and still is so amazing. God’s anointing is just so powerful. Hallelujah to Him Who Was, Who Is and Who is to Come.”
By Romulo (2009): Two of the memorable highlights were the washing of leaders’ feet at RCCG Samabula and the worship service on Wednesday at RCCG Kiuva village. In fact I remember picking up the pastors on Sunday morning, and seeing Pastor Geoff carrying towels. I said to myself, ‘This is going to be fun.’ And fun it was.
God was teaching the church the principles of servanthood, demonstrated not just by words but by actions. It was a moving experience as Pastor Geoff on his knees started washing feet, drying them with a towel and speaking into the lives of leaders. Powerful also was the fact that Pastor Geoff’s leading was to wash the feet of leaders.
That Sunday former PM Rabuka, who heard of the Pastor’s visit, came to church for prayer. Of course, the leading for Pastor Geoff to pray for leaders meant Rabuka would get his feet washed too. One of the acts that will be embedded forever in my mind was seeing Rabuka sit on the floor, remove his coat and wash the feet of Pastor Geoff and KY Tan. He then dried their feet with his ‘favourite’ Fiji rugby coat (he played in their national rugby team). I was blown away by this act of humility, as demonstrated by Christ on his final night with the disciples before his arrest and execution.
On Wednesday night, (their last night in Suva), we were at Kiuva village in Tailevu. The powerful and angelic worship of young people and kids in Tailevu made the atmosphere one of power with a tangible presence of the Lord in the place. We saw a glimpse of revival and the power of God at work in such a simple setting. I was blessed to witness for myself the prevalent hunger in the body as lives connected with God. In all, it is purely refreshing being in the presence of God and being touched and filled by the Holy Spirit.
An event of some significance occurred in the early years of my episcopate. I had a feeling that the church as a whole was just plodding along. There were a few bright spots among the parishes, but on the whole I thought church growth was not exciting. What troubled me more was that not many clergy were over-concerned, and if they were anxious about the situation, they didn’t show it.
At the same time as I was experiencing these impressions, I was made aware of the ‘Holy Spirit’ movement. Pentecostal churches had been with us since the beginning of the century, but in the 1960s they had been showing a lot of vitality and considerable growth in adherents many former Anglicans and also former members of a number of other historic churches. I was interested to discover the reason for this new phenomenon. Books by Michael Harper, Colin Urquhart and David Watson, Anglican priests in England, helped me to understand this ‘charismatic movement’ (charisma here refers to the Pauline list of Spiritual Gifts).
I wanted to know about the ‘Power’ ministry, i.e. the Power of the Holy Spirit. I knew God had blessed the few natural gifts I had, but there was always so much effort on my part, and I got tired. There was not much ‘resting in the Lord’.
But I had a problem. My wife and I now lived in a fine house in Taringa Parade, Taringa, owned by the diocese. My wife knew of my growing interest in the charismatic movement, but was very apprehensive about this spiritual phenomenon. She said to me, ‘If you get involved in this movement, I’ll leave you.’ So I pulled back from the charismatic movement. However, an extraordinary event was about to unfold.
I went to a clergy retreat. While I was away, my wife went, albeit reluctantly, with a friend to a house meeting to hear an evangelist and spiritual healer. I imagine the friend was endeavouring to find support for my wife, who now had cancer. During the meeting, an invitation to go forward for prayer was given. My wife, who was really a very private person, was first to step forward. Later, she told me she didn’t really know what happened except friends were picking her up from the floor. She felt weepy, and asked to go home. She cried herself to sleep, not out of grief, but of joy.
The next day she had a strong desire to ring three women from whom she was estranged. Two were delighted that friendship was restored; the third, from whom my wife had not heard for months, got her phone call in first, and there was much rejoicing. In a real sense, I found a different woman in my home when I returned from the retreat. She of course looked the same, but she seemed to have grown ten feet tall spiritually.
With confidence now, I went to a conference in Sydney, led by Archbishop Bill Burnett of Capetown and Bishop Zulu, also from Africa. Archbishop Burnett was the Episcopal Father of the Charismatic Renewal in the Anglican Communion.
The conference was terrific and I ended up being elected chairman of the Anglican Renewal Ministries in Australia, a post I held for several years.
It was a joy to organize several Diocesan Renewal conferences at Camp Cal, Caloundra. Guest speakers at various times included Vernon Cohen and Dick Wallace, Anglican priests from Melbourne. It was a privilege to have Father Terry Fulham from Darien, Connecticut, USA, at another of the meetings.
Ecumenical Renewal services at St John’s Cathedral drew packed houses. The Rev. Geoff Waugh, from a Baptist-Uniting Church background, and a Roman Catholic priest, Father Vincent Hobbs, were co-convenors of these rallies, some of which were also held at St Stephen’s Roman Catholic Cathedral and the Albert Street Uniting Church. These were exciting times as lives were changed, Holy Spirit power was in evidence and healings took place. A small number of diocesan priests were blessed and their ministries enriched.
Proclamation of Jesus
However, it was not all plain sailing. Some clergy regarded me as a ‘weirdo’ but one thing they could not deny: The proclamation of Jesus and God’s gifts of salvation by grace through faith became key features of my preaching. I was reminded by Scripture that the work of the Holy Spirit is to glorify Jesus.
Of course, there are excesses in most spiritual movements. I have also known Anglo-Catholic and Evangelicals to go ‘over the top’, and I have experienced ‘charismatic Christians’ who have become quite unbalanced and fanatical.
I have been glad to have experienced the strong sacramental life of Anglicanism and the good order of liturgical worship. But liturgical worship need not be stiff. The warmth of the Spirit can melt the coldness of mere formalism. At times, ‘non-liturgical’ services, too, have a very helpful place in our churches.
I was invited to a conference of Evangelicals in Melbourne. I guess it was strange to have one brought up in a strong Anglo-Catholic tradition to be given this invitation. However, my role was to respond to a paper by Michael Cassidy on ‘Charismatic or Spiritual Renewal’. Michael has been well known in many countries as one of the leaders of African Enterprise an organization concerned with a two-pronged mission Evangelism and Community Social Development.
From Monday to Wednesday, the lectures had been superb, but more of the head than of the heart. I thought, in fact, that the mood of the delegates was quiet and subdued. So arrived my six minutes. The then Archbishop of Melbourne, Bob Dann, kept reminding me about the ‘six minutes’. I put away my prepared text and simply shared with the conference what spiritual renewal meant to me: how my ministry was enriched, how I came to understand and love Jesus more. The response of the delegates was very moving to me. They rose in acclamation. I went backstage and wept. God had done something beautiful.
As I had to leave the conference immediately and return to Brisbane, I could know only secondhand that the mood of the conference changed from that moment people were more open and friendly than before.
What has always amazed me is that Anglican leaders, yes, bishops, have almost acted as though Pentecostalism does not exist, especially when many Anglicans have moved into Pentecostal fellowships and especially since Pentecostalism is the fastest growing Christian expression in Australia. Either they are afraid to admit that Pentecostalism has ‘something’; or worse, they think Pentecostals are in some way outside the pale and not to be regarded as part of the Christian family.
Bishop Shevill once said, ‘The untaught truths of yesterday become the heresies of today.’ In other words, what the historic churches fail to emphasize, others pick up and go to excesses. Historic churches, by their partial neglect of the third Person of the Holy Trinity, have in part, only themselves to blame for the growth of many Pentecostal fellowships.
Before and after my adventure with ‘Charismatic Renewal’ I felt called to offer myself to any priest who would risk inviting me to lead a parish mission. I had no particular training in evangelism but I learnt something by doing.
During my time as an archdeacon and assistant bishop, I conducted parish missions or intense weekend teaching periods in a number of places within and outside the Diocese of Brisbane. The ‘local’ ones were at Stanthorpe, Pittsworth, Petrie (twice), Mt Gravatt (twice), Maroochydore, Bundaberg, Nanango, Ekibin, Inala, Yeronga and Ashgrove. Outside the diocese, missions were taken at Kurri Kurri in the Diocese of Newcastle, Glen Innes in the Diocese of Grafton, Stratford in the Diocese of Gippsland, Belgrave in the Diocese of Melbourne and Biloela in the Diocese of Rockhampton.
It was a privilege to be invited by the Bishop of Singapore, Ban it Chui, to take a mission in his Cathedral of St Andrew and also a clergy retreat. The visit to Singapore was a real eyeopener. In this diocese, the ‘charismatic movement’ has changed church life in many parishes. I saw churches filled especially with young people hungry for the Gospel. In one parish I visited, a cinema has now been acquired to accommodate the growing congregation.
One night while I was ministering in St Andrew’s Cathedral, a young man a Buddhist wandered in and was converted to the Christian faith. On one Sunday, I ministered to an all Indian congregation. For three hours, the whole congregation came singly or in family groups for the laying on of hands with prayer. A number were overpowered by the Holy Spirit and all the time I was praying over others, two women knelt on the concrete floor beside me, praying for me. With such enthusiasm for Jesus, it is perhaps not surprising that it was hard for me to leave Singapore.
Of course, it is difficult to estimate the effect of such parish missions. In one or two places, I suspect the missions were a complete failure. My own ministry may have been defective or maybe the preparation may have been inadequate.
However, in other places, according to the rectors, lives were changed, people were converted, people were physically healed. A former rector of Maroochydore, in the Diocese of Brisbane, told me that my mission was the most significant event in his long ministry in that parish. For that I praise God and give Him the glory.
Recently I met a businessman in Nambour who confessed that he had been converted at the mission in Glen Innes. I remembered this man well. He was the last to whom I ministered at that mission.
There have, however, been a few regrets. I have known people so changed and challenged by the in-flowing power of the Holy Spirit to be a real threat to parish clergy in parishes where I have ministered. These dear priests have not been able to cope with the enthusiasm of the newly converted and have found them difficult to cope with. Some of my missions have swelled the numbers going to Pentecostal churches.
It has been beautiful over the years to see wayward husbands come back to their wives and families, to see men and women freed from the burden of guilt which has plagued them for years, to see people with cancer have remission for a number of years, to know people so enthused that they form the nucleus of a new parish. I have been amazed over the years at the transforming power of Jesus in individual lives.
In January 1989 I began as minister of a thirty-five year old church at Beaumont in Adelaide that had suffered numerical decline. It had followed the typical pattern of an inner suburban church with its complex of buildings, a Sunday School of 350 children, and two packed morning services in its heyday of the boom years of Methodism in the fifties and sixties.
In those years the church was a buzz of activity. Its youth group grew as children entered their teens. Membership figures increased as the teenagers took confirmation classes. Church growth was natural and expected. It required no specific strategies. People looked for a neighbourhood church which provided worship, a Sunday School, youth program, and the accepted activities associated with church life at the time.
Gradually the neighbourhood became prime real estate. When the young people married they had to move out to newer suburban areas where land was cheaper. Predicably the congregation declined and grew older. By 1989 an average of 85 people attended the one service on Sunday and a handful of children attended the Sunday School. Many were concerned about the future of this single congregation parish, and the parish leaders had begun discussions with nearby congregations regarding amalgamation.
Regreening in the Spirit’s power
This became for me an experiment in turning a church around. Was it possible to arrest the decline and begin to build again? Would the church have a significant and effective future as well as a dynamic ministry in the name of Jesus Christ?
Early in my first year at this church I found I was also involved emotionally and could not separate my personal feelings from what I discovered and what I believed God had in store for us. Could I lead this church to new life and growth? I personally was most aware of my own need of God’s help and of my need to grow spiritually as the leader of this church.
I was fortunate to be nearing the end of doctoral studies in church growth and renewal. I had also been a consultant in the related area of evangelism for eight years. Hence I came with some knowledge and experience that I believed would help my leadership of this church. However, my experience of working at length with a declining congregation was minimal. I knew that I and they would be very dependent upon the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit.
In the interview before my appointment the nominating committee indicated they were seeking someone of my age and experience. They also emphasized their desire to be more effective evangelistically and to reach the neighbourhood for Christ. I intimated my bias for evangelism and sought to know whether they would be open to change and to embrace new directions I might initiate. They agreed, not knowing exactly what would occur in the years to follow.
New goals and direction
I began by getting to know the people and by learning their corporate history. Some had been in the church since its inception. Most had been there for ten or twenty years or more. Very few, if any, were new to the church in recent years. They considered themselves a friendly church but did not have in place ways of welcoming and assimilating new people.
Obviously pastoral work was important. I was led by the Spirit to visit people in their homes. In the first year I listened considerably. I also realized that the people were ready for change and much could happen in the first year. Indeed, some significant developments needed to occur as symbols of hope and as signs of God doing a new thing.
We were to engage in a stewardship program in June of my first year. Planning for this two year stewardship cycle had to begin early. So I talked with my parish council and elders about their aspirations and yearnings for the church. It was obvious there were no common goals, no specific direction, no vision to fire the imagination and to prompt people to give freely. Therefore in the April of 1989 we gathered forty people, key leaders and interested people for a seven hour session of reflection, evaluation, waiting on the Lord and goal setting.
We met on a Sunday afternoon and evening with a shared tea. At the end of the time we had established ten specific goals that we could work towards in 1989-1990. These became strategic in the life of the church and did much to harmonize people around a common direction. It gave purpose to the stewardship program which was successful and assured the church of financial resources for the ensuing years.
In the weeks preceding the goal setting I preached on the nature of the church using New Testament imagery such as the Body of Christ, the vine and the branches, and the picture of living stones given in 1 Peter 2:410. This supported the truth that theology is the basis of renewal.
Although there are simple practical strategies that are easily overlooked, true growth is biblically and theologically founded. It occurs through the Spirit of God renewing both people’s lives and the structures that enable us to live in community.
Theology of renewal
Theology became for us the very essence of renewal. How we understood and experienced God and the covenant determined our attitudes, expectations and actions. The term ‘the body of Christ’ became important as a description of who we were. It affirmed three main truths about the church:
1. There is to be corporate growth in unity and maturity.
2. Growth occurs as the variety of gifts of the people, given by the Spirit, are used in complementary fashion.
3. The church is a living organism with Jesus Christ in authority as the supreme head of the body.
Emphasizing a gift theology, inherent in the Uniting Church Basis of Union, we held a gift workshop in the spring of my first year. This examined the teaching of 1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12, and Ephesians
4. It had practical application and included a process by which the participants could begin to identify their special gifts for ministry.
In Ephesians, Paul describes a church in which all the members are to be equipped for the work of ministry. He does not envisage a church where only a few are engaged in ministry or where most are consumers rather than participants. Ministry is done by the whole church, by Christians working in concert. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Harmonious cooperation and the complementary use of gifts far surpasses the results of individual Christians working alone and independently. One of the priority tasks of church leaders is to help the members discover their gifts for ministry, to develop such gifts, and to channel them into effective areas of service.
Equipping people for ministry
To enhance the pastoral ministry of the congregation a Caring Committee was appointed by the elders council. This group believed that the ministry should be according to one’s spiritual gifts and not by virtue of the office one might hold.
We identified over thirty people gifted in pastoral ministry and called them together to discuss the ministry model we had in mind and to provide instruction on how to make effective pastoral visits. An eight week care workers course followed in the next year. The result is that we now have a team of people who visit members and others associated with the church. This provides a network of care in which no one need be overlooked. The visitors meet about three times a year to discuss their ministry and to review their list of people.
Another person, gifted in administration and with deep compassion, coordinates a special caring program whereby practical help is given to those with special needs.
In our church we no longer allocate each elder to a group of members. Some elders are not gifted pastorally but have other excellent gifts. Any elder is available to anyone according to need and relationships that are established. We work on the principle that the elders are responsible to see that visiting occurs and are there to release the gifts of those who can do it well.
Other gifts have emerged under this theology. We appointed an honorary administrator who retired from the business world but who obviously brought a wonderful gift in administration. His work of about ten hours a week has involved two mornings a week at the church office. I arranged to be at the office on those mornings as that increased efficiency and communication. Opening the church office on these two days improved the church’s profile and made its leaders more accessible.
Many music gifts lay dormant in our worship. We had a very good choir and a couple of proficient organists. The piano in the sanctuary, however, was rarely used. To cater for increasing numbers at worship we added an additional morning service in August 1989. This provided more options. The 9 am service became family oriented and only on occasions is the pipe organ used at this service. Instead, an orchestra sometimes numbering seven or eight has provided the music.
Introducing new songs and installing a screen for use with overheads enlivened the worship and provided greater variety. Our work with musicians includes workshops for worship leaders. We have many unused gifts in this area that we wish to employ. The commencement of a regular 7 pm service has created other opportunities for lay leadership, especially by youth. By 1992 the aggregate number at worship had grown to about 200 and the average age is much less than it was in 1989.
We had demographic data available to us on that first planning day and we discovered that the surrounding community contained more younger people than was reflected in the church. Fifty per cent of the population in the parish area is under forty years of age. With this in mind, and trusting in God, we set about embracing the future with confidence. Now our Sunday School is growing, we operate a creche, and we have a growing youth movement.
Believing prayer is central to the renewal that is occurring. A prayer chain has operated in the church for many years. Its members, all ladies, meet over lunch once a month. Here prayer needs are shared. Another early morning prayer group has begun as a spin off from 7 am services on Wednesdays during Lent. A number decided to meet every Wednesday at that time and so a group of ten, including men, have gathered faithfully to pray for people and for the church. A focus of our prayer is the renewal of the church and for effective evangelistic ministry. Our church also offers prayer for healing, primarily during ministry time following services of worship.
Group life has also received attention. New home groups and Bible study groups have commenced to provide opportunities for people to engage in study, to offer and receive ministry, and to enhance fellowship. These meet according to needs and availability. They very from weekly to monthly gatherings.
At the heart of what is occurring in our church is our belief that God is continuing the renew us and, while giving ministry in the present, is preparing us to embrace God’s unfolding future. We understand that renewal is the ongoing renewing by God of the church. It is dynamic, never static. It is not an achieved state. It is not the end but the way. To be in renewal is to be journeying with God in the presence of believers.
The primary theological ground for renewal is the kingdom of God. Renewal is not the result of human effort although we are able to respond to God’s renewing activity in ways which appropriate such activity. Renewal is the work of God that points to the coming reign of God in the lives of persons and community.
The kingdom of God is neither entirely present nor entirely future. It is here now, is coming, and will come. This gives perspective to renewal. It enables the church to be a community of hope. This orientation points to what is to be as a reality greater than what has been. As such it is a very powerful motivator for Christian living and ministry. It creates vision which fosters hope and incentive.
Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit we have been led to preach that the church is a community premised on the promise of what is to be. We are not simply to adjust to present reality, nor only to patch up here and there or even seek to recover what was. Renewal points to transformation, embracing the new. Hence we pray ‘Your kingdom come’ (Matthew 6:10).
We believe that the ultimate purpose of the church is to glorify God and to be an agent of God in establishing the unity and wholeness of all things in Christ (Ephesians 1:910). The church is a servant of the kingdom of God.
In witnessing to the wholeness of God’s kingdom we seek to demonstrate unity, forgiveness, reconciliation and new relationships. One of the most important factors in our witness is the quality of our corporate life in Christ lest our words be empty and our theology barren. We endeavour to be spiritually renewed, our motivation enlivened by the Holy Spirit. We seek a genuine growth in holiness that releases the power of the Holy Spirit.
Our church is on the way. In some quarters we struggle with conservatism but we endeavour to listen to one another, recognizing the Spirit of Christ in us all. We also use appropriate practical strategies that can be learned from church analysis and church growth. We are down-to-earth and pragmatic. But we endeavour to place God at the centre knowing that unless the Lord builds the house we labour in vain. Renewed in the power of the Spirit we wish to be living stones, built into a spiritual house of God (1 Peter 2:5).
(c) Renewal Journal 2: Church Growth (1993, 2011), pages 35-42.
Reproduction is allowed with the copyright intact with the text.
Now available in updated book form (republished 2011)
Evangelism can lead to renewal and on to revival of the church. I have seen this in my experience in ministry in the last sixteen years as someone committed to the renewal of people and churches.
We need to release the dedicated and already discipled people of our parishes and churches into sharing their faith with those outside the church. This is a strategy for renewal that will lead to the revival of the church in the 1990’s.
Time and time again new converts begin the process of renewing the church and individuals in it. Their fresh approach to religion, their radical testimonies to the faith, and their enthusiasm to share the gospel and to live in its power, affect many others.
Does it work? Let’s look at one parish I know really well where I served for seven years.
Evangelism leads to revival
Margaret Matthews, a nurse and an elder in the Cobden Uniting Church Parish, gave this account at the Conference on Conversion Growth in Launceston, Tasmania, 1012 March, 1988. It describes her experiences of both personal and parish-wide renewal that started with evangelism.
Cobden is in the heart of a dairying district in Western Victoria, and a recent decision to expand the local factory has assured the future viability of the town. Our population of 1,450 is stable. We all know our neighbours. Our parish has two churches, both of which now have active Sunday Schools, youth groups and fellowship groups. Bible studies are an integral part of our life, catering for all levels of faith from 13 to 84 year olds. All participate in the leadership of worship. We started evening services with a more relaxed, informal worship style where newcomers felt more at ease.
Our growth story really began many years ago, when during a prolonged time of ministerial vacancy we were visited by an evangelist who challenged us to pray for revival in our church. A small group gathered together following the lines suggested: that we share the leadership, pray for the church and each other, and bring a name before the group and pray that God would prepare their hearts as we approached them and shared his Word.
We saw our prayers answered and we saw our fellowship grow to 2030 people who met under our first minister after the formation of the Uniting Church in 1977.
Like most of our generation, we clung to the concepts we had grown up with: preaching the gospel was the minister’s job and bringing newcomers to the church was no longer our responsibility. We lost our sense of purpose and our direction for several years. Our numbers began to dwindle and although we continued to pray that others might come to know the Lord, we were almost back to the original six or seven of us.
A new minister arrived. Hearing our prayer for revival and seeing us do nothing actively to bring it about, she organized an evangelism workshop for our Presbytery and persuaded eight of us to go to it. For myself, it was a real step of faith. I had forgotten how easy it had been, with the Lord’s help, to share my faith with friends, and now we were being asked to knock on stranger’s doors a terrifying thought!
It became our ministry to make those strangers into friends: getting to know people, listening and ministering to their needs, sharing their stories, sharing our story and God’s story, depending on God to do the rest.
We all came home from the workshop inspired to put what we had learned, into practice. We set aside one night each week to go visiting on a regular basis. We first met for prayer to ask the Lord to prepare the way and to go with us, and those of our group who did not go out joined together to pray for those who did. After our visit we returned to the church to talk it over, to learn from each other’s experiences, to get any hurts or knockbacks off our chests, and to share any blessings with those who stayed behind to pray.
To our surprise, after a few weeks, we realized we were enjoying this experience and started looking forward to it. We found that our little team of eight just couldn’t keep up with all the people who would like us to return for a visit. There was a great thirst out there beyond our church of people wanting to know more about the Lord, about the church, or wanting to share the hurt that took them away from the faith in the past.
About twelve months later, a second evangelism workshop was organized by our own and neighbouring parishes. Now many others in the church could see the importance of evangelism and most of our elders and several of our converts attended it. By then, I had begun a Bible Study home cell for some of the new converts who had no background of Christianity, but a wonderful new faith which was to change their lives, and lead me into a deeper faith commitment.
I didn’t start out to be an evangelist. I didn’t have that burning desire to share my faith with everyone I met, which I found among our converts. My visiting was an act of obedience to God’s will for us to share the gospel with all people. It was a stepping out in faith on the road that takes you from `What can God do for me?’ to `What can I do for God?’
Margaret, through the witness of her converts, later sought the infilling of the Holy Spirit and today not only continues to share her faith but is a mighty preacher and dynamic Bible Study teacher. From the witness of these early evangelists and those who were converted to the faith, the parish grew by 135% on their adherents roll and by 26% in four years (198387) in their confirmed members’ roll. In 1988, the 241 regular Sunday worshippers included 121 of the people who had faith for longer than ten years and 119 (49%) of the people having come to faith in the last five years (between 198388). In 1989, 94% of those converted to the faith were still regular attenders at worship (some now 6 years old in their faith).
Revival first started in this parish because an evangelist came and proclaimed the gospel. That gave others a hunger to do the same. It almost failed when a minister arrived during a prolonged vacancy and the people abdicated their responsibility to him, but it was later revived by another minister. As the converts grew in faith and hungered for a deeper expression of their faith, they sought, received and began to use their spiritual gifts. It led them into a personal encounter with the Holy Spirit. This influenced the established church to reevaluate itself and to also grow in renewal.
Renewal that brings revival
Our strategies in the church for bringing renewal have at times been wrought with force, causing judgment, mistrust and resistance. This resistance in the church can gravely hurt those in the renewal movement. So they have at times left the churches that would not accept their way or stayed in their church and developed a ghetto mentality of `we-they’ that made it harder for others to see renewal as an option for their lives.
In past years, the renewal movement often concentrated on changing worship to allow all the spiritual gifts to be prevalent and seen by sceptics and nonbelievers alike, thinking that this would aid in renewing others. Signs and wonders, although reaching some and exciting them to seek renewal, also frightened many more and turned them right off renewal.
A strategy for the renewal of the church needs to be more than just a change of worship where signs and wonders can be evident. Renewal demands a more radical lifestyle and call to ministry than this. When this change is seen in others, the people in the church do respond.
Here is an anatomy of renewal that I believe leads to revival:
1. Evangelists proclaim the message of salvation and people are converted to faith.
2. The converts grow in faith and hunger for a deeper expression of their faith. They seek, receive and use the spiritual gifts leading them into a personal encounter with the Holy Spirit which influences the established church to reevaluate itself and to also grow in the area of renewal.
3. The church then needs to understand and standardize the use of the spiritual gifts from good biblical teaching moving the people away from experience as the authority for the use of spiritual gifts to good theology about their use.
4. Converts and those who grew up in the faith examine their lives in light of God’s Word,
showing a desire for deeper service to the Lord and a hunger for righteous and holy living.
Evangelism renewal revival
The Reformation revivals of the 1500’s, the Great Awakening of the 1700’s, or the South Australian revivals in the mines at Wallaroo, Moonta and Burra at the turn of this century, follow this common pattern: evangelism renewal revival (in that order).
First, evangelists went out and proclaimed the gospel. The gospel they proclaimed emphasiszd a personal encounter with Jesus Christ and an individual religious experience rather than the doctrines of the church. Many people fell under the conviction of these evangelists’ proclamation of the gospel and received salvation.
As these converts grew in faith, they began to hunger for a deeper expression of their faith and began seeking, receiving and using the spiritual gifts God uses to build the church. That led them into a personal encounter with the Holy Spirit. This greatly influenced the preaching of the evangelists and their message.
When revival got to this second stage evangelists like John and Charles Wesley shifted from their basic salvation message of the early days of revival to sermons on a deeper discipleship and on walking in the power of the Spirit of God. This led to them establishing Bible studies, encouraging lay people to take up leadership roles in every giftedness of the Spirit, and it eventually led to the established church of their day reevaluating itself and growing in renewal.
This process also happened in the Reformation revival where the reformers shifted from the basic salvation message of their earlier days to deeper discipleship which led to the established church (the Catholic Church) reevaluating itself and having a revival itself influenced by such people as St. John of the Cross and Theresa of Avila, some 40 years after the Reformation.
This leads to the third phase of revival. In every succeeding generation when renewal comes, the church all over again, needs to learn how to understand and use the spiritual gifts given to them by God. So, the next phase of revival seems to be standardizing the use of the spiritual gifts and how they are to be ordered and used in the life of the church. Every new generation of revivalists find themselves in unchartered waters. So it takes time to sort out problems with the use of spiritual gifts and ensure that there is sound Biblical teaching on them.
Often those in the renewal movements, excited to experience the power of their faith, rush into using the gifts (and having `the experience’) rather than doing serious biblical study in order to bring others with them in good understanding. The `experience’ is not enough. We need good renewal theology that is strong enough to be debated.
The last phase of revival seems to be an inner desire of both converts and those who grew up in the faith to examine their lives in light of God’s Word, a desire for deeper service to the Lord and a hunger for righteous and holy living. This was very evident in the Great Awakening revival where evangelists later in the revival clearly shifted their proclamation of the salvation message to the preaching on holiness and righteous living (such as the sermons of the American revivalist of the early 1700’s, Jonathan Edwards).
The history of the church, shows long periods (which sadly follow great revivals) where the gospel is reduced by many in the church to narrow relativism. Pragmatism is rife. This leads to a suspicion of the supernatural, and for a while the church loses the power of its faith from lack of belief in the Holy Spirit and the Spirit’s gifts. The church in this condition seldom goes out to do evangelism but is content with social work and political statements.
Therefore, for renewal of the church to be effective today and for it to issue out into revival, we must first start with evangelism.
Revival involves mission and ministry
The following comments show how the personal encounter of the Holy Spirit by converts led the church to reevaluate its life, moving them into renewal. It caused them to explore the use of spiritual gifts by good Biblical teaching and discipleship. That moved people away from experience as the only authority for the use of spiritual gifts to good theology about their use.
These quotes are from talks that Cobden people gave at the Launceston 1988 Conversion Growth Workshop sponsored by the Uniting Church Assembly’s National Mission and Evangelism Committee.
Barbara Cowley, the Cobden Parish treasurer and a mother of two, says, “I have always believed in God and have attended Sunday School and church most of my life. In our courting days, my husband used to come to church with me, but after we were married he always found himself too busy to come. Our two children were baptized and attended Sunday School regularly, our daughter especially so, and our son until the age of 10 when he rebelled about going.
“When my daughter finished Sunday School and didn’t want to attend church anymore, I went to church by myself but my attendance started to drop off. At about that time my husband started exploring his faith. This encouraged me and we started attending church as a family. Since then, both our children have made decisions for the Lord at different times.
“Since being baptized in the Holy Spirit, my eyes have been opened to the workings of the Lord. Even though I had been involved in attending church all my life, it’s only in the last couple of years that my faith has come alive in attending our Bible Study group, which has helped me grow in my walk with the Lord.”
Hazel and the late Norm Maskell, dairy farmers, church elders, and Cobden Parish’s original evangelists in their mid70’s, led cell groups. Hazel and Norm said, “Why did we form study or cell groups? We believed that the church would not or could not grow until our people came together to study God’s Word, understand his gifts and to build each other up in faith. Those we brought to faith needed nurturing and encouraging. So our study groups came into existence one by one.
“These converts were more teachable than some of the older folk in the faith. Being eager to learn, they were wide open to Bible teaching and getting to know the Lord in a real way. Their growth was astounding, causing our growth too! We have seen miracles happen and now we see many of these new Christians taking leading roles in our church life alongside of us. I have found that new Christians pray out loud, share faith, and learn far more easily than we who have been in the church for some time, because they have no preconceived ideas. Almost any Bible Study member in our church will pray on the spot publicly. They thank God for various things, confess their own shortcomings, and pray for others. Now almost half the congregation will participate in prayer or the leading of worship whenever asked to do so. The result of these Bible Study groups is that our church has not only grown in numbers, but more importantly, we understand the Holy Spirit so much better and know the Spirit to be working in our church. We older folk have learned so much and grown closer to the Lord.”
Sometimes there may be difficulties for the church when it tries to assimilate not only new people into the life and especially the leadership structure of the church, but also starts reevaluating itself in light of the testimonies of these new converts and their walk with the Lord.
Most people within our church will say ‘we need new blood, some fresh faces and especially we need more younger folk to keep us going.’ However, once there is new blood, fresh faces, and younger folk coming into our churches, many old-timers may feel that the ‘new folk have taken us over and have made so many changes that we don’t know what’s going on anymore, so we will just stay at home and let them run it!’
Church growth in evangelism and renewal means that we, too, as individuals have to grow and be renewed. Many people resist this. Sometimes, church growth can only happen by berthing a new church that’s separate from the established church. This happened both in the Reformation and Great Awakening Revivals and it did most recently in the 1970’s and 1980’s. However, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Although the Cobden Parish had some battles and upheavals from its evangelism and renewal, division was averted by hospitality fellowship, Bible Study and shared worship. The leadership shared in hospitality fellowship, that is, intentionally inviting old-timers in the church to meals and gatherings with converts and helping them to get to know and to interpret their faith journey to each other.
The Bible Studies started out to disciple converts. Then, as people in the church started to reevaluate their faith journey through their contacts with the converts and hungered to know more, Bible Studies were set up for them too. Later, converts and those of long standing in the church merged many of their separate Bible Studies together where they learned to pray and care for one another.
Another important aspect of the Bible Studies, was the curriculum the Parish wrote to train people about the infilling of the Holy Spirit and the proper use of the spiritual gifts. When members discovered their own spiritual gifts, they were encouraged to take up their ministry roles within the life of the church. For converts this usually occurred by the end of their first year in the faith.
Shared worship took the form of setting up eight worship teams of six people each, chosen across generations and from each of the worshipping congregations. Each member of the team had a designated area of leadership: prayers, music, administration of the team, children’s sermon, the sermon, the organisation of the service sheet, announcements and the Bible readings. They had to listen to each other’s needs and they developed a style of worship that all were happy with and that was open enough to be able to evolve, as the parish needs changed.
We see that evangelism starts the process of renewal which brings revival. Renewal leads to a personal encounter with the Holy Spirit as the converts of the church’s evangelistic outreach grow in faith and hunger for the power of their faith, seeking, receiving and using the Spiritual gifts. This renewal leads to the established church reevaluating itself and either blockading and resisting renewal, or growing in it.
Renewal leads to discipleship training in and standardizing the use of the spiritual gifts with good Biblical teaching and the development of an articulate theology that can be debated. Discipleship leads to a radical lifestyle where one has a desire for a deeper service to the Lord, a greater knowledge of God’s Word and a hunger for righteous and holy living.
When the church misses one of these parts revival doesn’t happen. For instance, in studying several charismatic churches, I have discovered that if a church tries to bring in renewal before it does evangelism, it often gets a huge amount of transfer growth from other churches which leads to divisions and it eventually goes into decline.
If renewal doesn’t follow on into good discipleship, the church folk often get stuck on the experiences of the Holy Spirit and cannot articulate a clear enough theology so that they can take others into the experience with them in good understanding. Often these churches can become quite ingrown and in a denominational structure be quite divisive.
If discipleship does not produce a radical lifestyle, the church does not benefit others. Then it runs the risk of not only privatizing a person’s faith journey, but also of making one’s experience the only test of the validity of other people’s faith. It also means that the church remains at the level of signs and wonders instead of moving into a deeper discipleship with Jesus where one is sold out to him in complete sacrifice in holy living.
Jesus said to the doubting Thomas, ‘Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe’ (John 20:29). Signs and wonders are for nonbelievers (1 Corinthians 14) but a radical lifestyle of a disciple is for the mature Christian.
Many church leaders spend so much effort in renewing a congregation from within. I firmly believe that a congregation should be renewed from without, through evangelism and the converts that receive their message.
Then evangelism will lead to renewal and revival in the land.
(c) Renewal Journal 2: Church Growth (1993, 2011), pages 23-33.
Reproduction is allowed with the copyright intact with the text.
Now available in updated book form (republished 2011)
Whole communities transformed by God now give witness to his power to heal the land and the people when we repent and unite in obedience to his requirements.
Fiji now has significant examples of effective community transformation, based on honouring God.
The 2005 documentary report titled Let the Seas Resound, produced by the Sentinel Group (www.sentinel.com), identifies examples of transformed communities in Fiji, featuring reconciliation and renewed ecosystems. The President of Fiji, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, and the Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, include their personal comments in this video and DVD report, now distributed worldwide.
Essential components of this community transformation include these elements.
1. Honouring God. Community leaders acknowledge that God creates and sustains life. They rededicate their land and their people to Him. This approach transcends doctrinal divisions, emphasizing the universal laws of God that apply to all people of all nations.
2. Honouring people. Community leaders acknowledge the importance of respecting all people. This results in personal and public reconciliation. It is both compassionate and inclusive, transcending division through mutual respect and unity.
3. Honouring justice. Community leaders consult widely with diverse groups to identify and address injustice. Issues are complex, and solutions not simple, but a common commitment to God’s justice with mutual respect can open the way for community transformation. God’s inclusive justice transcends sectarian divisions and conflict with reconciliation and unity.
Many examples illustrate these global principles. The following brief examples provide powerful case studies of community transformation. Often a crisis, such as escalating crime, ethic conflict or a political coup, becomes the motivating catalyst for change. For example, community and church leaders may be motivated by the crisis to act. However, communities can be transformed without waiting for a crisis to motivate change.
Fiji, South Pacific
In September 2004, 10, 000 people gathered to worship together in Suva, Fiji, drawn by reconciliation initiatives of both government and church leaders. Only four years previously such unity among government and church leaders was unimaginable. Ethnic tensions flared in the attempted coup of May 2000, when the government was held hostage for 56 days, and violence erupted in the streets of Suva.
The President of Fiji, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, called the churches to unite in repentance and prayer for the nation. At a united rally in 2001, Laisenia Qarase, later elected as Prime Minister, confessed: “Our efforts in building the country will come to nothing if they are not rooted firmly in the love and fear of God. I ask Him to forgive me for the times I have been neglectful and cold in my relationship with Him. With Your guidance Lord, this sinner will renew himself; will find new purpose in the pursuit of Your will. Lord, I entreat You, again, to forgive me, to save me, to capture my heart and hold my hand. I honour You as the King of Kings.”
The Association of Christian Churches in Fiji (ACCF) emerged as one structural response to this desire for reconciliation and unity among Christians and in the community.
As people of Fiji unite in commitment to reconciliation and repentance in various locations, many testify to miraculous changes in their community and in the land.
Three days after the people of Nuku made a united covenant with God, the water in the local stream, which for the previous 42 years had been known as the cause of barrenness and illness, mysteriously became clean and life giving. Then food grew plentifully in the area.
Fish are now caught in abundance around the village of Nataleria, where previously they could catch only a few fish. This change followed united repentance and reconciliation.
Many people of Fiji acknowledge that these changes in reconciliation, unity, and in the eco-systems confirm God’s promise in 2 Chronicles 7:14 – “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, I will forgive their sin, and I will heal their land.”
The town of Almolonga in Guatemala in South America, typical of many Mayan highland communities, suffered from economic depression, inebriation, and crime. The four gaols were full this town of 19,000. Many criminals had to be transported to gaols in the capital city.
Guatemala City pastor Harold Caballeros reported that, “the town suffered from poverty, violence and ignorance. In the mornings you would encounter many men just lying on the streets, totally drunk from the night before. And of course this drinking brought along other serious problems like domestic violence and poverty. It was a vicious cycle.”
Donato Santiago, the town’s chief of police, said, “People were always fighting. We never had any rest.” Now with crime dramatically diminished and the gaols no longer needed, police chief Santiago, says with a grin, “It’s pretty uneventful around here.”
A few Christian leaders began regularly praying together from 7 pm to midnight in the 1970s. As they continued to pray in unity, increasing numbers of people were being healed and set free from strong demonic powers or witchcraft. Churches began to grow, and the community began to change. Crime and alcoholism decreased.
Within twenty years the four gaols emptied and are now used for community functions. The last of Almolonga’s gaols closed in 1994, and is now a remodeled building called the ‘Hall of Honour’ used for municipal ceremonies and weddings.
The town’s agricultural base was transformed. Their fields have become so fertile they yield three large harvests a year. Previously, the area exported four truckloads of produce a month. Now they are exporting as many as 40 truckloads a day. Farmers buy big Mercedes trucks with cash, and then attach their testimony to the shiny vehicles with huge metallic stickers and mud flaps declaring, ‘The Gift of God,’ ‘God is my Stronghold’ and ‘Go Forward in Faith.’
Some farmers provide work for others by renting out land and developing fields in other towns. They help people get out of debt by providing employment for them.
On Halloween day in 1998, an estimated 12, 000 to 15, 000 people gathered in the market square to worship and honour God in a fiesta of praise. Led by the mayor and many pastors, the people prayed for God to take authority over their lives and their economy.
University researchers from the United States and other countries regularly visit Almolonga to investigate the astounding 1, 000 percent increase in agricultural productivity. Local inhabitants explain that the land is fertilized by prayer and rained upon with God’s blessings.
Columbia in South America has been the world’s biggest exporter of cocaine, sending between 700 to 1, 000 tons a year to the United States and Europe alone. The Cali cartel controlled up to 70 percent of this trade. It has been called the largest, richest, and most well organized criminal organization in history.
The drug lords in cartels ruled the city through fear. At times 15 people a day were killed, shot from the black Mercedes cars owned by the cartels. Car bombs exploded regularly. Journalists who denounced the Mafia were killed. Drug money controlled the politicians.
By the early 1990s the cartels controlled every major institution in Cali including banks, business, politicians and police.
The churches were in disarray and ineffective. “In those days,” a pastor recalls, “the pastors’ association consisted of an old box of files that nobody wanted. Every pastor was working on his own; no one wanted to join together.”
A few discouraged but determined pastors began praying together regularly, asking God to intervene. Gradually others joined them.
A small group of pastors planned a combined service in the civic auditorium in May 1995 for a night of prayer and repentance. They expected a few thousand people, but were amazed when 25, 000 attended, nearly half of the city’s evangelical population. The crowd remained until 6 o’clock the next morning at this the first of the city’s now famous united all-night prayer vigils held four times a year.
Two days after that event in May 1995, the daily newspaper, El Pais, headlined, “No Homicides!” For the first time in anyone’s memory, 24 hours had passed without a single person being killed. Then, during the next four months 900 cartel-linked officers were fired from the metropolitan police force.
By August 1995, the authorities had captured all seven of the targeted cartel leaders. Previously the combined efforts of the Columbian authorities, and the American FBI and CIA had been unable to do that.
In December 1995, a hit man killed Pastor Julio Ruibal, one of the key leaders of the combined pastors’ meetings and the united prayer gatherings. 1, 500 people gathered at his funeral, including many pastors who had not spoken to each other in months. At the end of the memorial service, the pastors said, “Brothers, let us covenant to walk together in unity from this day forward. Let Julio’s blood be the glue that binds us together in the Holy Spirit.”
Now over 200 pastors have signed the covenant that is the backbone of the city’s united prayer vigils. What made the partnership of these leaders so effective are the same things that always bring God’s blessings: clean hearts, right relationships, and united prayer.
As the kingdom of God became more real in Cali, it affected all levels of society including the wealthy and educated. A wealthy businessman and former mayor said, “It is easy to speak to upper-class people about Jesus. They are respectful and interested.” Another successful businessman adds that the gospel is now seen as practical rather than religious.
Churches grow fast. One church that meets in a huge former warehouse holds seven services on a Sunday to accommodate its 35, 000 people. Asked, “What is your secret?” they point to the 24-hour prayer room behind the platform.
A former drug dealer says, “There is a hunger for God everywhere. You can see it on the buses, on the streets and in the cafes. Anywhere you go people are ready to talk.”
Cali police deactivated a large 174-kilo car bomb in November 1996. The newspaper El Pais carried the headline: “Thanks to God, It Didn’t Explode.” Many people noted that this happened just 24 hours after 55, 000 Christians held their third vigilia – the all night prayer vigil that includes praise, worship, dances and celebration mixed with the prayers and statements from civic and church leaders.
City authorities have given the churches free use of large stadium venues for their united gatherings because of their impact on the whole community, saving the city millions of dollars through reduced crime and terrorism.
Teen Challenge, America
Illicit drug abuse and addiction create social and personal devastation internationally. Federal dollars in USA allocated for drug treatment climbed from $120 million in 1969, to $1.1 billion in 1974, to $3 billion in 1996, even though the number of illicit drug users by 1998 was half the number of the same group in 1979. However in spite of massive government spending on drug rehabilitation, concern remains about the low cure rate of programs funded by public dollars.
Research published in 1999 included comprehensive statistical analysis comparing drug rehabilitation success rates for Teen Challenge (130 centres and 2885 beds) with public funded and insurers’ funded programs, particularly the popular Short-Term Inpatient (STI) drug treatment programs of one to two months. The study surveyed key areas of rehabilitation including freedom from addictive substances, employment rates, productive social relationships and better quality of life.
Evaluation of the Teen Challenge program conducted by the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) in 1975 found that 87% of former abusers were abstaining from Marijuana seven years after completing the program, and 95% of former heroin abusers were abstaining from abuse seven years later. Similarly, the 1999 research found that 86% of former abusers were abstaining from drugs after their Teen Challenge rehabilitation. No public funded program showed such success rates. Most research showed that less than 10% still abstained from drug abuse five years after treatment.
Research identified the following factors as the most positive, helpful and effective dimensions of the Teen Challenge rehabilitation program, in this order of importance:
Jesus Christ or God (the NIDA report called this the “Jesus factor”).
Schooling, teaching or the Bible
Advisor, staff, love, encouragement.
Fellowship, unity, friends, living with others.
Discipline, structure, work.
Graduates of the program identified other helpful factors as seeing lives changes, self-motivation, prayer, outings, helping others, forgiving self, changed thinking, hope and good food.
A powerful dimension of the Teen Challenge program, particularly relevant to this article on community transformation, is the significance of the inter-cultural, inter-faith and inter-racial communities in Teen Challenge. These communities transcend racial barriers, such as noted in these comments: “I loved to be around these people from different places, I wished I could have got their numbers; it was a beautiful thing, living with them with no prejudice or racism. We loved one another. It was a beautiful thing. We all learn something from each other; I still learn from them today.”
These brief sample case studies of community transformation provide hope for change and a way ahead. It is possible. It is happening.
The conclusion may be stated in words from the timeless biblical record, spanning many millennia and diverse national and cultural communities:
Then that honour me, I will honour (I Samuel 2:30).
If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked way, then I will hear from heaven my dwelling place, and will forgive their sin, and heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14).
What does the Lord require of you? To do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God (Hosea 6:8).
Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added to you (Mathew 6:33).
 Information from the Sentinel Group 2005 video/DVD, Let the Seas Resound (www.sentinel.com).
 George Otis, 2000, “Snapshots of Glory” in Renewal Journal, Issue 17 (renewaljournal.com) and the Sentinel Group 2000 video/DVD report Transformation.
 Information from George Otis, 2000, “Snapshots of Glory” in Renewal Journal, Issue 17, reproduced in renewaljournal.com.
 Information for this section on Teen Challenge is from the article “Teen Challenge’s Proven Answer to the Drug Problem” in a review of a study by Dr A T Bicknese titled “The Teen Challenge Drug Treatment Program in Comparative Perspective” on www.teenchallenge.com/tcreview.html.
Accelerating change is changing us and the church. Already the one hour (11 am to noon) hymn-sandwich church service held in a ‘typical’ church building with wooden pews and an organ which stands empty most of the time, is looking like ancient history – and very bad stewardship. It may not be wrong (and God can use anything), but it’s not in the Bible, and it’s fading into history.
Nearly 2000 years ago Jesus gave us our job: “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth, so go and make people my disciples … and I am with you all the way even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).
His final promise told us how we would do that: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you will be my witnesses … to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
That’s still our job, and we can only do it by the power of the Holy Spirit – as Jesus did. However, the context and the way of doing the job changes constantly.
There’s nothing there about buildings, pews, spires, bells, organs, clerical garb, status (except witnessing servants.
Change has changed. It is speeding up. We live in accelerating change. Change changes our ministry, and us. We think, feel and act differently from all previous generations. We perceive each day in new ways now. We plan and do more. Cars, phones, microwaves, TV and the internet have changed us.
Church has changed. Church people walked to the services and socialised together on Sundays for most of history; now millions drive cars, and fill Sunday with many other activities. Church life for most of history involved time with extended families; now families are widely scattered.
1. Accelerating social change
Alvin Toffler wrote about the Third Wave in sociology. He could find no word adequate to encompass this current wave we live in, rejecting his own earlier term, ‘super-industrial’, as too narrow. He wrote:
In attempting so large-scale a synthesis, it has become necessary to simplify, generalise, and compress. . . (so) this book divides civilisation into only three parts – a First Wave agricultural phase, a Second Wave industrial phase, and a Third Wave phase now beginning.
Humanity faces a quantum leap forward. It faces the deepest social upheaval and creative restructuring of all time. Without clearly recognising it, we are engaged in building a remarkable new civilisation from the ground up. This is the meaning of the Third Wave.
Put differently … we are the final generation of an old civilisation and the first generation of a new one … [living] between the dying Second Wave civilisation and the emergent Third Wave civilisation that is thundering in to take its place.
Think of church life during those three waves.
1. Churches for most of 2000 years of the First Wave agricultural phase were the village church with the village priest (taught in a monastery) teaching the Bible to mostly illiterate people, using Latin Bible parchments copied by hand for 1500 years. Worship involved chants without books or music. These churches reflected rural life, with feudal lords and peasants.
2. Churches in 500 years of the Second Wave industrial phase (co-existing with the First Wave) became denominational with many different churches in the towns as new denominations emerged. Generations of families belonged there all their life and read the printed Authorised (1511) version of the Bible. They have been taught by ministers trained in denominational theological colleges. Worship has involved organs used with hymns and hymn books. These churches reflected industrial town life, with bureaucracies such as denominations.
3. Churches in 50 years of the Third Wave technological phase (co-existing with the Second Wave) are becoming networks of independent churches and movements, among which people move freely. They tend to be led by charismatic, anointed, gifted, ‘apostolic’ servant-leaders, usually trained on the job through local mentoring using part time courses in distance education. Their people have a wide range of Bible translations and use Bible tools in print, on CDs and on the internet. Worship involves ministry teams using instruments with overhead projection for songs and choruses. These churches reflect third wave technological city life.
Some churches, of course, mix these phases, especially now with the second wave receding and the third wave swelling. For example, some denominational churches, especially those ‘in renewal’, may have a gifted ‘lay’ senior pastor not trained in theological college. Some independent churches have theologically trained pastors with doctoral degrees in ministry. Some denominational churches function like independent churches in their leadership and worship styles.
The huge changes we live through now can be compared to a clock face representing the last 3,000 years, since people recorded history, so each minute represents 50 years. On that scale the printing press came into use about 10 minutes ago. About three minutes ago, the telegraph, photograph and locomotive arrived. Two minutes ago the telephone, rotary press, motion pictures, automobile, aeroplane, radio and emerged. Less than one minute ago television appeared. Less than half a minute ago the computer and then communication satellites became widely used, and the laser beam seconds ago.
A former General Secretary of the United Nations, U Thant, noted that “it is no longer resources that limit decisions. It is the decision that makes the resources.” He saw this as the fundamental revolutionary change, the most revolutionary social change we have ever known.
Other writers focus on the problems involved in accelerating change.
We live through problems never experienced before. No nation and no aspect of life can escape their pressure. These include: the expansion of population, the burst of technology, the discovery of new forms of energy, the extension of knowledge, the rise of new nations, and the world-wide rivalry of ideologies.
Accelerating change produces uprooting which causes rootlessness in society through:
1. the repeated moves of so many families (e.g. scattered relatives);
2. the disruption of communities through urban sprawl (e.g. moving to new churches) ;
3. the increasing anonymity of urban life (e.g. the lonely crowd);
4. the disruption of shift work (e.g. longer hours); and
5. the fragmentation of the family (e.g. divorce now common).
We live and minister in this revolutionary ‘post-modern’ era of rootlessness and changing values. This context gives us increasing opportunities for loving, powerful witness and revival.
2. Accelerating church growth
Not only is the world population exploding. So is the church. By 1960 the world population had passed 2.5 billion and in 30 years from then doubled to 5 billion. By 2000 it passed 6 billion. However, in most non-Western countries the growth of the church already outstrips the population growth.
About 10% of Africa was Christian in 1900. By 2000 it was about 50% Christian in Africa south of the Sahara. In 1900 Korea had few Christians. Now over 40% of South Korea is Christian. By 1950 about 1 million in China were committed Christians. Now estimates range around 100 million.
Every week approximately one thousand new churches are established in Asia and Africa alone. Places such as Korea, Ethiopia, China, Central America, Indonesia and the Philippines are dramatic flash points of growth.
What kind of church is emerging? Over 500 million Christians are pentecostal/charismatic.
The movement of the Holy Spirit across the world in the twentieth century has far eclipsed the marvellous beginning of that same movement in the early church. It continues to spread. Churches change and grow in power – along with persecution.
Modern developments provide the church with amazing resources. Already reports of radio ministry into China and Russia tell how God uses this medium powerfully, along with spontaneous expansion of the church through signs and wonders. Preachers now reach into the homes of people through television. Millions are being won to Christ through The Jesus Film now translated into over 500 languages. Similarly, cassettes and video tapes proliferate, much of all this being closely related to dynamic ministry in the power of the Spirit.
Some fundamental principles now change how we function as a church. These dynamic changes recapture basic biblical principles. They include:
Divine Headship – from figurehead to functional head.
Servant Leadership – from management to equipping
Church Membership – from institutional to organic
Dynamic Networks – from bureaucracy to relationships
Body Ministry – from some to all
Spiritual Gifts – from few to many
Obedient Mission – from making decisions to making disciples
Power Evangelism – from programs to lifestyle
Kingdom Authority – from words to deeds
Divine Headship – from figurehead to functional Head.
A Catholic prayer group in Texas realised that none of them had ever obeyed Luke 14:12-14. They had not fed and clothed the poor who could never repay them. A loving prophetic word from the Lord through a charismatically gifted Sister called them to do that. They all agreed it was from the Lord. So they took enough food for 120 people working everyday (including Christmas day) at the city garbage dump just over the river in Mexico, and they all had Christmas dinner together there in the dump where the people were working. Over 300 people turned up to eat. The food multiplied. People brought relatives and everyone ate. The eight carloads from the prayer group ate. They had enough left over to take food to three orphanages.
Now a lively church exists there. The sick are healed. Everyone at the dump had TB originally. Within four years no one had it. Charismatic doctors see people healed through medicine, prayer and miracles. At regular meetings, not just on Sundays, people have more fun dancing in church than in any dance hall. Their worship involves everyone in singing, dancing, and praying for one another.
If Jesus is really the functional head of his church, not just the figurehead, how does that work? Basically we listen to him, and just do what he says, in any group, anywhere.
The disciples found it almost impossible to conceive of the kingdom of God without equating it with the world’s kingdoms. So do we. We also find it almost impossible to conceive of the church without equating it with our human societies.
We tend to run the church according to social patterns. Church structures look like social structures. The word ‘church’ often refers to some social expression of the church, or to a building, neither of which are biblical. So we have great difficulty with the apparent lack of interest in the New Testament for institutional models of the church.
The New Testament church grew, rapidly. It could be counted: 3,000; 5,000; and great multitudes. This was undoubtedly the church of Jesus Christ, with all its faults. He lived in the midst of his body.
The written and living word express the Lord’s headship in his church.
1. The Written Word
All scripture is the inspired word of God; God-breathed (2 Tim. 3:16,17). Scripture communicates the word of Christ to his church.
The headship of Christ in his church is eroded or denied when scripture loses its authority. Conservative churches including Charismatic and Pentecostal churches believe the Bible. They believe in miracles, then and now. They believe God answers prayers, then and now. That does not make all they do or say right, but it does preserve what’s right – God’s Word.
Although church structures and traditions vary, the Word of God provides an anchor and an objective measure of faithfulness or aberration. Jesus was very clear in what he said!
Always there is the unexpected. God’s purposes may be known, and yet are unknowable. We continually discover that we have missed large slabs of the total picture. We have the scriptures, as did the theologians of Jesus’ day, and like them we often fail to see what is there. It must be divinely revealed and illuminated to be known.
2. The Living Word
Scripture and prayer provide a means of communication with Christ our head. Yet, like all means, they are a vehicle of communication, not the communication itself.
Speak to Him thou, for He hears, and Spirit with Spirit can meet –
Closer is He than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet.
The body of Christ is a living body, just as the Head is a living head.
Institutional forms and organisational expressions should yield to that. The living body of the living Christ must give substance to that reality. Then the inward union with Christ finds expression in the outward dimensions of church life.
Unless we grasp this, we will continue to secularise all we do, including ministry. A secularised church functions like any other secular society: voting, electing leaders, keeping minutes, and running a bureaucracy. That can easily bypass the Holy Spirit.
Jesus Christ, the living Head changes all that!
For example, obedience to the Great Commission comes not from mere outward observance of the written word, but naturally from the dynamic life in Christ.
The Living Word transforms the letter into life. “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life,” said Jesus (John 6:63), and Paul added, “the letter of the law kills, but the spirit gives life” (2 Cor. 3:6).
Then the Bible comes alive, anointed and empowered by the Spirit who inspired it. Preaching becomes prophetic words from God as we wield the sharp two-edged sword of the Spirit. Teaching lights fires in minds, hearts and wills. Serving gives Christ’s love and healing through his responsive body, the church. Prayer is transformed into intimate communion and sensitive response to the Lord, our Head. Faith grows bold and strong. The church grows with unleashed power when Christ is no longer the figurehead or absentee land-lord but sovereign Lord with kingdom authority.
Carl Lawrence gives an outstanding example of this in his book The Coming Influence of China.A full account is reproduced in Renewal Journal No. 12: Harvest.Two teenage girls ‘just prayed and obeyed’ as they were led by the Lord. They established 30 churches in two years on Hainan Island in China. The smallest had 220 people, and the largest nearly 5,000 people.
That kind of radical obedience to Christ the Head of his church produces a radical biblical kind of leadership in the church.
Servant Leadership– from management to equipping
Leadership in the body of Christ, as in the kingdom of God, is very different from all other leadership in human society. Authentic Christian leadership is Spirit-filled, Spirit-led and Spirit-empowered, hidden and charismatic, yet manifested in power and visible institutionally.
Bishop Stephen Neill notes:
There has been a great deal of talk in recent years about the development of leadership … But is the idea of “leadership” biblical and Christian, and can we make use of it without doing grave injury to the very cause that we wish to serve? . . .
How far is the conception of “leadership” really one which we ought to encourage? It is so hard to use it without being misled by the non-Christian conception of leadership. It has been truly said that our need is not for leaders, but for saints and servants. Unless this fact is held steadily in the foreground, the whole idea of leadership training becomes dangerous.
Jesus raised these issues also. They touch on the fundamental dimensions of servanthood and equipping for ministry.
The radical nature of Jesus’ leadership, what he demanded of his followers, is best expressed in his words:
In Matthew 20:25-28, in response to the request of James and John for leadership or prominence in the coming kingdom and in answer to the other disciples’ reaction to this request, Jesus said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant – and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
Jesus insists that the world’s concept of leadership must not operate in his church: “Not so with you.” Leadership is not about position or hierarchy or authority; it is a question of function and of service. The greatness of a Christian is not in status but in servanthood.
Jesus underscored his revolutionary teaching: greatness comes not through being served, but through serving. In God’s kingdom the standard of achievement is found not in exercising power over others, but in ministering to them and empowering them.
Jesus dramatically illustrated this teaching by washing his disciples’ feet. Then he told them to do just what he had done: “If I, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, so you must also wash one another’s feet” (John 13:14). That lesson was so important that he gave it to them a final act of love just before he died.
Jesus rejected both political and religious authority. He established Kingdom authority – serving others. His rejection of earthly power is so revolutionary that his disciples continually missed it. So do we.
What pain we could save ‘the church’ and what awful church-split sins we could avoid if we understood and obeyed this basic biblical principle! Church splits don’t happen where people love, serve, and truly forgive one another. You may be ‘right’ (in theology or practice) but if you split the church then you are very wrong.
Where would Jesus fit in our traditional church patterns today? Would he savagely attack the political power plays and status seeking leadership? Would he call our divisions sin? Would he denounce in scathing terms the religious pomp and ceremony? Would he absolutely reject hierarchical positions, titles, and garb. Once he did.
Even more fundamental to the nature of the kingdom and the ministry of the church are other questions. Would he disturb the meetings? Would he cast out demons? Would he heal? Would his preaching so provoke his hearers that they would oppose him? Would he be more at home outside our religious systems than within them? Would he so threaten our systems that we would denounce, expel or ignore him?
Leaders in many persecuted churches, where the church grows powerfully, face all that now. That’s where you see servant leadership most clearly!
“Who serves?” is a very different question from “Who leads?”
Does this do away with leadership? Yes and no. It does away with the world’s kind of leadership. It requires the Kingdom’s kind of leadership, which is servant leadership led by the Spirit of God.
Terry Fulham (in Miracle at Darien) demonstrated that kind of Kingdom leadership in an Episcopal church in America. He accepted ‘leadership’ on the basis that no decision would ever be made by the elders (or board) until they were in total unity in the Spirit. No vote would ever be needed. They believed Jesus could lead his church. So they required unity. If unity could not be attained, they waited and prayed till it was.
The New Testament regards all Christians as ministers and servants. Body ministry must be servant ministry. If leadership is a legitimate term for kingdom life and body ministry, it must be servant leadership.
It is both a radical leadership style among other styles and also the life-style of every Christian. It is the ministry of every member of Christ’s body. The great leaders in the Kingdom may be the least obvious – humbly and courageously serving others, unnoticed.
2. Equipping for Ministry
Some servant leaders are called and anointed to equip others for ministry.
In one sense we are all called and anointed to do that. Some as parents, raising children. Some as carers, showing others how to care. Some as team leaders, serving and inspiring the team and empowering them for service also.
Among spiritual gifts there are different ministries including leadership and administration. Our problem is that those words carry so much political and hierarchical freight that we can hardly use them without distorting them.
Leadership in Christ’s body means service, ministry, and being least or last, not greatest or first. The first shall be last, and the last first, Jesus said. Leadership is a spiritual function of serving and empowering, dependent on spiritual giftedness, not just on human ability.
Jesus Christ, not personality or achievement, makes leaders. The Ephesians 4 passage is a clear statement of that kind of giftedness. He appoints some to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers in his body to equip (by serving) the members of that body for their ministry.
Michael Harper summarises their function as:
Let my people go – the apostolic function of the Church
Let my people hear – the prophetic function of the Church
Let my people grow – the evangelistic function of the Church
Let my people care – the pastoral function of the Church
Let my people know – the teaching function of the Church
Go to my people
Speak to my people
Reach my people
Care for my people
Teach my people.
Leadership gifts in the body of Christ equip that body for ministry. Again, using such loaded terms, it needs to be stressed that this is quite different from mere human ability to lead; it is spiritual giftedness. Like other spiritual gifts, it may find expression in and through natural ability, but it is then natural ability anointed in Spirit-led power.
The amazingly diverse, flexible nature of spiritual leadership needs emphasis. No one model has it all, even though we all are called to be servant leaders.
Paul’s way of developing leaders was to recognise and encourage the special gift and role of each person, especially elders. Paul was undoubtedly a leader, a servant leader in the strong sense of the term. He served with his apostolic gifts. He equipped the body for ministry.
The term servant leader recaptures essential dimensions of the equipping ministry. So long as ‘leader’ is understood charismatically as spiritual giftedness, it becomes stronger than ever. Christ, head of his body, gives that kind of equipping leadership to members of his body. Enormous authority is vested in that understanding of servant leadership, precisely because those leaders serve others, and equip others for ministry.
This specific equipping ministry in the body applies especially to leadership of large churches. As a church grows larger, it is vital that the pastor be an equipper. The ministry will be done by the whole body, not just the ‘leader’. No one person can do it all.
Body ministry requires leadership which is both humble and powerful, leading by serving. All spiritual gifts need to function this way, especially leadership gifts. Powerful leadership grows from humble service.
Church Membership– from institutional to organic
We are members of Christ’s church; that sounds institutional.
We are members of Christ’s body; that sounds organic.
In fact, the two can be one!
The church must find its expression in human society, so it must have institutional characteristics. They may be as simple as a home group gathering regularly together, or as complex as a multi-million dollar denominational agency. As the institutional forms grow more complex, their vested interests become more binding and conformity to the world usually increases.
The Holy Spirit cannot be confined by institutionalisation. He never has been. He continually breaks free of human limitations and blows where he will. Christ, by the power of his Spirit is building his church.
Instead of a dictatorship or a democracy, God has chosen to make the Body of Christ an organism with Christ as the head and each member functioning with spiritual gifts. Understanding spiritual gifts, then is the key to understanding the true organisation of the church.
The charismatic nature of the church as Christ’s body will be expressed through the spiritual gifts of its members. So both the charismatic dimension and the institutional dimension co-exist in the church; the former being its essence, the latter its cultural or social expression.
1. The Organism
The body of Christ is an organism, a community, with interpersonal relationships, mutuality and interdependence. It is flexible and leaves room for a high degree of spontaneity. The Bible gives us this model for the church: the human body (1 Corinthians 12).
The charismatic dimension in both ministry and organisation does not do away with professional abilities and functions but fills them with the active, powerful presence of Christ by his Spirit and so transforms them from being merely professional to being charismatically gifted as well as professionally competent.
For example, a professional counsellor may be less effective than a non-professional friend who ministers love and care in the power of the Spirit of God. The dynamic power of charismatic ministry lies in the active presence of God’s Spirit filling that ministry or at least guiding it. However, a Spirit-filled, Spirit-led professional counsellor draws powerfully on both gifting and training.
Implications for church organisation are enormous. Although the professional tasks and organisations will probably continue, the ministry of the whole body will require very flexible forms which allow and intentionally foster body ministry. Counselling, teaching, preaching, social care and evangelism are all transformed by the Holy Spirit guiding and empowering those activities.
Charismatic Anglican David Watson gives an example of this from his own experience. As the church he pastored in York grew into fuller expressions of charismatic life it needed restructuring to provide adequate pastoral care through elders who were charismatically gifted as pastors not just elected to fill an institutional role of leadership. They cared for area groups, especially mentoring the group leaders.
Watson emphasises that where Christ is central and head of his body, he will provide charismatic leadership through gifted elders who in turn lead or care for the whole body, especially through pastoring and teaching gifts in the small groups or cells of the body. An organic model of the church expresses the real headship of Christ in his body and his ministry through the spiritual gifts of his people in body ministry.
Revival in Bogotá (see article in this issue) tells that kind of story dramatically in 2001.
Paul was clear on this. Within the body of Christ apostles, prophets, evangelists and pastor- teachers equip the body for ministry so that the body members, using their spiritual gifts, can do the work of ministry (Ephesians 4).
Paul’s three main passages on the church as the body of Christ give basic lists of spiritual gifts for charismatic ministry. Others could be added. The Ephesians 4:11-12 list refers specifically to charismatic leadership in the church, given by Christ, the risen and ascended conqueror, to equip the members of his body for the work of ministry. Aspects of that equipment are included in the various lists of spiritual gifts. Each passage emphasises the importance of ministering in love and unity.
2. The Organisation
In times of accelerating change and exploding church growth, the institutional model of the church needs to be flexible and responsive to its environment. Further, if it is to allow a truly charismatic ministry to function with strong spiritual gifts, it must be sensitive and responsive to the Holy Spirit, all the time.
The early church gives a startlingly clear picture of such a flexible institutional model. They were constantly led and empowered by the Spirit. They were very human, with typical faults and problems. The New Testament authors wrote mostly to fix those problems, especially in the epistles.
They met in many house churches, still as the one church in one place, inter-related. It was extremely flexible, needed everyone’s involvement, and could multiply anywhere. The church in China today, and in African villages, and in Latin American communities, uses this same organisation.
The institutional model of the church then was a house church model. That model has been repeated all through history, and in many parts of the world today is the means of flexible rapid church growth. Most large churches use this model in home groups.
Organisational membership often involves attending the meetings, paying the dues, abiding by the rules, and possibly being elected or appointed to office. Any society can do that. Most do.
Organic membership of the body, however, functions by living in Christ and ministering in spiritual gifts.
These two kinds of membership need to be differentiated when discussing church membership. Usually “church membership” means club membership; it is an institutional expression of the church. Usually “body membership” means the organic functioning of the members of Christ’s body, and its members being united by the Spirit of God in the one body, the church.
Organisational habits can reverse their meaning over years. Calvin in Geneva, for example, refused to identify with clerical pomp and wore the poor man’s cloak when preaching, but in time that turned into the Geneva gown, a clerical institution. Francis of Assisi also wore a poor man’s cloak, which has now become a religious uniform quite unrelated to what the poor now wear.
Those quirks are minor compared with the massive maintenance programs of large religious institutions. Denominations which came into being for mission, often breaking away from hardened institutional forms, in turn become maintenance-oriented and lose the very vision which gave them birth.
The organisational form of the church needs to be continually responsive to the Head of the church, or it becomes secularised and the Spirit of God is quenched. Leadership in the church must be especially responsive to the Spirit to avoid this.
Organisational life in the church can remain flexible and responsive to the Head of the church as it keeps its organic life alive in the power of the Spirit.
Dynamic Networks-from bureaucracy to relational groups
Networks of groups increasingly replace bureaucracy. Short term task groups replace committees. Networks of independent churches and groups are replacing historic denominations.
Spirit-filled groups or communities give one simple example, now affecting multiplied millions of people. People relate in home groups, house churches, mission groups, independent churches, and renewal or revival movements everywhere. So your home group may have people who were Catholic, or Anglican, or Methodist, or Baptist, or Hindu, or New Age.
Second Wave churches, for example, in earlier days could insist on loyalty to the denominational bureaucracy and policy lines. Now people choose from networks of the ecclesiastical smorgasbord. Television, mobility and education all shift our consciousness and increase our awareness and choices, including church life. That is how renewal and revival have been spreading.
A current example is the grassroots spread of charismatic renewal and revival.
In First Wave rural villages with little outside influence, little change occurred – “We’ve always done it this way.”
In Second Wave town churches ‘renewal’ could be kept outside the denomination by being banished to another bureaucracy, and therefore ignored – “Join the pentecostals and don’t rock the boat.”
Third Wave society opens new networks of information and experience. Our increasing mobility brings us into contact with renewal and revival. Our extended education opens our minds to these new insights. Our television portrays the power of God in healing and our worldview begins to shift. Our friends give us paperbacks to read or cassettes to hear and videos to see, and conviction or hope grows within us. Our visitors or home group leaders tell of their experiences and we seek what they’ve found. Our friends pray for us and God releases his Spirit more fully in our lives. Yet all of this happens outside the denominational bureaucracy; or it may do so.
So Wagner’s “third wave” of renewal is carried on Toffler’s Third Wave of social change into all church structures. Our friendship networks become ‘the bridges of God’ into our churches and out into the lives of others. Significantly, no pastor or minister may be involved. People witness to people. People now have the Bible tools, education, and friendships to check it out.
Those changes catapult us into new expressions of ministry.
Body Ministry– from some to all.
Body Ministry involves the biblical pattern of ministry in the church, the body of Christ.
Body Ministry is the ministry of the whole body of Christ. It functions through the use of spiritual gifts in all the members of the body. The unity of the Spirit of God finds expression in the incredible diversity of spiritual gifts and ministries.
The Reformation rediscovered the authority of the Bible and the wonderful gift of God’s grace in providing salvation by faith in Jesus. Unfortunately it failed to free the church from the rule of the priest or pastor, so carried that form of leadership into the Protestant church, producing a drastic clergy-laity division. Spiritual gifts in the whole body of Christ were largely ignored.
Body ministry, then, is not limited to church meetings, although the meetings need to express body life as well. That ministry is total. It finds expression in all of life.
Ray Stedman popularised the term “body life” in his book by that name thirty years ago. He used body life services in which people could share needs or testimonies. Bodylife becomes body ministry as people apply their spiritual gifts to those needs in the church and in society in ministry.
Body Life teaching opened the way for a fuller apprehension and use of spiritual gifts in shared life and ministry. That in turn has opened the way for a fuller discovery of the dynamic power of body ministry in Kingdom authority.
Spiritual Gifts– from few to many
Body ministry requires spiritual gifts. The body of Christ ministers charismatically. There is no other way it can minister as the living body of the living Christ. He ministers in and through his body, by the gifts of his Spirit.
Charismatic gifts of the Spirit differ from natural talents. We can do much through dedicated human talent, but that is not body ministry through spiritual gifts. Natural talents do need to be committed to God and used for his glory. They can be channels of spiritual gifts, but may not be.
Spiritual gifts constantly surprise us. God uses whom he chooses, and chooses whom he will. Spiritual gifts often show up with great power in unlikely people and in unlikely ways.
A common misunderstanding, for instance, is that those with an effective healing ministry must be especially holy people. They may not be. Gifts of the Spirit are given by grace, not earned by consecration. Young, immature Christians may have powerful spiritual ministries, as they discover and use their spiritual gifts. Many do. That is no proof of consecration or maturity, even though to please God we need to offer ourselves to him in full commitment.
Romans Chapter 12 gives a surprising example of this. The well known first two verses challenge us to offer ourselves fully to God and so discover his will for our lives. Paul then explains that knowing God’s will involves being realistic about ourselves and our gifts. If we know and use our God-given gifts, we fulfil God’s will for our lives.
Body ministry, then, depends on the use of spiritual gifts, not just the use of natural talents dedicated to God. Both are vital for committed Christian living, and both will be present in the church. However, the church is not built on committed natural talent, even though churches often seem to operate that way. Body ministry involves the use of spiritual gifts.
For example two people may have the talent of beautiful singing voices. Both will sing in worship and even on the platform in ministry. One, however, may be anointed with a prophetic gift in song, and the other may not be. That gifting will move hearts and wills in the power of God’s Spirit. Christ gives those gifts – we don’t create them. Some of these gifts of God’s Spirit, received for ministry, will be blessed in ministry in and through natural talent as well, but the key to body ministry is not the talent. It is the spiritual gift.
Similarly, spiritual gifts are not Christian roles or tasks. All Christians witness, but only some are gifted in evangelism. Every Christian has faith, but some have a gift of faith as well. All must exercise hospitality, but some are gifted in hospitality. Prayer is for all of us, but some are gifted in intercession.
Spiritual gifts operate in unity with diversity.
Paul’s passages on spiritual gifts all emphasise unity expressed in diversity (Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4).
Without that unity expressed in love, the diversity destroys the body’s ministry causing chaos, division, sectarianism, and impotence. This is Paul’s theme in 1 Corinthians 12-14.
The Corinthians did not need teaching on the reality of spiritual gifts nor on their diversity. They knew that. In fact, they abused that. So Paul had to correct the fault by emphasizing the unity of the body, bound together in love. Gifts are not to be a source of division and strife, but an expression of unity and love. Unless rooted and grounded in love, the gifts are counter-productive.
Unity in the body of Christ allows that body to function well, not be crippled. No one has all the gifts. We all need one another. No one should be conceited about any gift that God has given. No one must think his or her gift the most important, and magnify and exalt it at the expense of others. All gifts must used in humility and service. We do not compete. We minister in harmony and co-operation.
Paul’s great theme, “in Christ,” expresses the unity essential for body ministry. In Christ we are one body. In Christ we live and serve. Love lies at the heart of body ministry. The body is one, bound in love. The body builds itself up in love (Eph. 4:16). That is why 1 Corinthians 13 is central to Paul’s passage on spiritual gifts in the body of Christ. “Make love your aim,” he insists, “and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts” (1 Corinthians 14:1).
Jesus insisted on love. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all mean will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).
Our unity is not based on doctrine, or methods. Our unity comes from who we are, the body of Christ. Paul states this as a fact, not a hope. We are one in Christ. We are one in the Spirit. God has made us one. That unity is expressed in body ministry.
It shows in our attitude – in humility, kingdom thinking, and love. It smashes competition and critical spirits, especially between different people and groups with different gifts.
Breathtaking community transformations are now happening around the world where we live this truth in united ministry. See articles in this issue of this Journal!
That unity is expressed in the diversity of gifts. There is one Spirit; his gifts are incredibly diverse.
The point is developed in all the body passages of Paul. Diversity is to be celebrated, not squashed; encouraged, not smothered; developed, not ignored.
The church may be two or three, or two or three hundred, or two or three thousand. Different sizes will have different ministries or functions, such as cell, congregation or celebration, but all are the church. Christ is present in his body. So are his gifts. Again, different gifts will be appropriate for different expressions of that body’s ministry, but it in one body.
Body ministry will use these gifts. God’s Spirit moves among his people in power to meet needs and minister effectively. Those gifts need to be identified and used, and in the process, as in Jesus’ ministries, special anointings will come.
Preaching, for example, will often become prophecy as it is anointed by the Spirit of God. That prophetic ministry may happen unexpectedly in the process of a sermon. It may also be given in preparation as a word directly from the Lord.
Compassionate service and healing administrations will at times be anointed powerfully by God’s presence in signs and wonders to heal. Role, gift and anointing then merge into strongly focused spiritual ministry.
So role, spiritual gift, and anointings cannot be clearly divided. Indeed, as the Spirit of God moves in still greater power among all members of the body of Christ, the ministry of that body will be increasingly anointed.
Then the professional is swallowed up in the spiritual; natural ability is suffused and flooded with supernatural life; the human is filled with the divine.
Jesus lived this way. No one need envy another’s gifts or ministry. All are needed.
Obedient Mission– from making decisions to making disciples
Christ himself, head of his church, clearly stated the church’s mission. He did so on many occasions between his resurrection and ascension. The powerful dimension of the Great Commission has often been overlooked. Jesus himself emphasised our mission couldn’t be done without the power of his Spirit. That is the point of all the power promises in the Great Commission:
Matthew records it: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me . . . and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt. 28:18-20).
Mark records it: “These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover” (Mark 16:17-18).
Luke records it: “I send the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49).
John records it: “He breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit …’ (John 20:22).
Acts records it: “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8).
When empowered and led by the Holy Spirit (who is the Spirit of Jesus and the Spirit of God, Gal. 4:6), mission is powerful. Then we do not make plans and execute them in human wisdom and strength, but seek divine wisdom and strength.
Empowering by the Spirit of God and being led by the Spirit of God are central to obedient mission. We cannot claim obedience to the Great Commission when we do God’s work in our strength or our own ways and wisdom.
The Great Commission is not merely an external command to hard to obey. It is an internal compulsion, ignited in us by the Spirit of God. The Spirit has been given to the Church because it is her essence and nature to be a witnessing body.
Consequently, a church which is not evangelistic, nor missionary, nor empowered, is an apostate church. We begin to see the magnitude of our apostasy when we compare our churches with the biblical norm. We only need an evangelical movement or a missionary movement or a charismatic movement because we have fallen so far.
Body ministry, then, will obey the Head of the body, move in his authority, filled with the power of his Spirit. The Great Commission begins with the absolute authority of Christ in his church and all the cosmos; it issues in obedient mission, exercised within that authority, and exercising that authority in powerful ministry.
Powerful body ministry flows from obedient disciples, who, individually and as a body, obey their Lord.
The Great Commission calls for this total task of ‘making disciples’ in terms of becoming disciples in the body of Christ and growing in discipleship. It is one process. The kind of evangelism required for church growth and stated in the Great Commission is evangelism which makes disciples, not merely gets people to make decisions. Those decisions may be inadequate and fail to make disciples.
Wholistic evangelism and conversion can be summarised as involving:
Priority One: Commitment to Christ.
Priority Two: Commitment to the body of Christ.
Priority Three: Commitment to the work of Christ in the world.
Jesus would not turn aside from his redemptive mission. He lived fully in the kingdom realm. He did only his Father’s will, not his own. So everything he did was mission. Within that mission, his evangelism was not meetings or a program. He saved. Those he touched were made whole when there was faith. He said, “Follow me.” That was his program. He still calls us to follow him in obedient mission.
Power Evangelism– from programs to lifestyle
Spiritual gifts can release body ministry for effective power evangelism. The New Testament pattern of evangelism is always Kingdom words combined with Kingdom deeds.
A major shift in evangelism always evident in revivals, and increasingly evident now moves from program evangelism to power evangelism as a lifestyle of all members of the body of Christ, as John Wimber reminded us.
1. Program Evangelism
Programs of evangelism can be effective. Crusade evangelism has won thousands to Christ. Saturation evangelism, especially in Latin America, has reached every home in target communities with the gospel message. Personal evangelism such as door-to-door programs have reached many people. Some churches have focused on seeker services or outreach services aimed at reaching the unsaved, and often done so effectively.
All of these programs and many more have been significant means of evangelism. So, we thank God for so much evangelism which has won thousands to Christ.
However, we must also recognize that thousands and even millions of dollars spent on evangelism programs and all the time and work involved do not always bear abundant fruit.
Wagner, for example, noted that ‘Key 73’ in America touched over 100,000 congregations without any noticeable change in patterns of growth across the board.
Win Arn reported on ‘Here’s Life America’ noting that only 3.3% of those who recorded decisions became active members of any church, and 42% of them came by transfer. After polling over 4,000 converts Win Arn discovered that 70% – 80% of them came into the church through relatives and friends, whereas less than 1% came as direct result of city-wide evangelism campaigns.
Lyle Schaller similarly discovered that 60 – 90% of people involved in the church were brought by some friend or relative.
Programs are not as effective as body evangelism through the local church. Body evangelism involves more people in the church than many programs do, is the natural way most people are brought into the church, and can be the focus of church life in a lifestyle of evangelism.
Program evangelism may be useful, but it needs to link strongly with the local church and be a natural expression of that church’s life and witness. Program evangelism, however, falls short of the biblical model. It is needed because the church fails to be what the church should be! Body evangelism calls for more. It requires the involvement of the whole body of Christ in the power of his Spirit.
2. Power Evangelism
The biblical model goes beyond program evangelism. It is depth centred in Jesus’ promise: “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses …” (Acts 1:8).
John Wimber emphasized the importance of power evangelism:
Power Evangelism … transcends the rational. It happens with the demonstration of God’s power in Signs and Wonders, and introduces the numinous of God. This presupposes a presentation accompanied with the manifest presence of God. Power Evangelism is spontaneous and is directed by the Holy Spirit. The result is often explosive church growth. …
The issue is not what the church is doing. The issue is what the church is leaving out! Where is the promised power of Acts 1:8? Where are the demonstrations of the manifest presence of God that we see illustrated throughout the book of Acts? Were they only for that day? Do they occur today? If so, can we get in on it? Is it possible for you and me to work the works of Jesus?
Power Evangelism is still God’s way of explosively growing His church.
In one area where there were 4,000 Christians before the revolution, the number has now increased to 90,000 with a thousand meeting places. Christians in the region give three reasons for the rapid increase: The faithful witness of Christians in the midst of suffering, the power of God seen in healing the sick, and the influence of Christian radio broadcast from outside.
(b) John Hurston, associated with the world’s largest church, Full Gospel Central Church in Seoul, Korea, where David Yonggi Cho is pastor, attributed the phenomenal growth of that church to “the constant flow of God’s miracle power” from the beginning.
(c) A third example is from Wagner’s observations:
In Latin America I saw God at work. I saw exploding churches. I saw preaching so powerful that hardened sinners broke and yielded to Jesus’ love. I saw miraculous healings. I met with people who had spoken to God in visions and dreams. I saw Christians multiplying themselves time and again. I saw broken families reunited. I saw poverty and destitution overcome by God’s living Word. I saw hate turn to love.
Power evangelism fulfils the biblical pattern of body ministry and evangelism. It goes beyond programs to the mighty acts of God in the midst of his people. Christ is alive in his church by the power of His Spirit.
The church is true to the kingdom of God when, like Jesus, the signs of the kingdom are manifest in powerful ministry.
The church spontaneously expands through power evangelism. It is one facet of dynamic body ministry; a natural result of a healthy body, filled with the life of God. That transformed body will explodes in mission. It is already in many countries.
The emerging church in the 21st century is increasingly involved in power evangelism under the Kingdom authority of Jesus himself.
Kingdom Authority– from words to deeds
Christ is king. In Paul’s later writings he emphasises this dimension in relationship to the church as Christ’s body. He reigns in and through his body, the church. Yet that rule is also cosmic, of which the church is now a part and therefore directly involved in cosmic principalities and powers. Kingdom authority is integrally part of the church’s life and mission as the body of Christ.
In Colossians 1, Paul explains that Christ alone is ‘the image of the invisible God’ and is pre-eminent over everything and everyone (v. 15). This includes being ‘the head the body, the church’ (v. 18). He is not just another divine being but in him alone ‘all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell’ (v.19). In his death and resurrection he triumphed not merely over sin and death but over the cosmic powers also (v. 20).
In Ephesians 1, Paul emphasises that Christ is pre-eminent over the cosmic powers. He is ‘far above all rule and authority and power and dominion’ (v. 21) and ‘head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all’ (vs. 22-23). Paul then explains how this applies to the church which is his one body, not many different bodies (4:4). The ascended Head of the church gives spiritual gifts to his church, all of which come from Christ (vs 7-8). These include spiritually gifted leaders to equip us all ‘for the work of ministry’ and to build up the body of Christ (v. 12).
These passages from Paul lift the concept of the church as the body of Christ way beyond a cosy club of personal support and encouragement. Support and encouragement must be in the body, but any human society could give that if it’s members care for one another.
The body of Christ is something more. It is the body of Christ the King. Like the kingdom of God, Christ’s rule has been established and is yet to be realised fully. So the ministry of the body of Christ is his powerful ministry.
The ascended, victorious, all powerful Christ, having conquered sin and death and hell now reigns supreme. He is the head of his body, the church. He gives gifts to his church, specifically those called under his authority to exercise authority in the church as leaders so that all God’s people may be equipped by him for his ministry in and through us. That is body ministry.
Signs, wonders and fantastic church growth characterised the early church as normal Kingdom life burst out in the powerful ministry of the body of Christ. Body ministry demonstrated kingdom authority. As in Jesus’ ministry, the early church ministered in signs and wonders (Acts 2:43), prayed for signs and wonders, and expected more signs and wonders (Acts 4:30; 5:12-16).
Granted, the church is often weak. Kingdom life often lies untapped. Christians, and the church, corrupted and weakened by disobedience or faithlessness (the lack of faith which results in sin), may fail to manifest kingdom Life.
However, accelerating church growth in the power of the Spirit of God point to the greatest demonstration of kingdom life and power the world has even known. Yet, as in the life of Jesus, it can remain hidden from those who, seeing, will not see, and hearing, will not hear (Isa. 6:9-10 Mt. l3:14-15; Mk. 4:12; Lk. 8:10; Jn.12: 40; Acts 28: 26-27).
The kingdom is manifest, yet hidden; revealed, yet concealed. Those who ask, receive it; whose who seek, find it; to those who knock, the door of the kingdom is opened. And the church has the keys!
The Kingdom of God was the central message of Jesus. That message was in powerful words and deeds. Christ, the Messianic King, incarnate in his human body, proclaimed the kingdom of God as immanent. He called for response in repentance and faith Mk.l:15). His parables described the mysteries of the Kingdom. His miracles displayed its power and authority (Mt. 12:28). You cannot separate, in the evangelistic ministry of Jesus, proclamation and demonstration, preaching and acting, saying and doing.
Similarly, Jesus gave that authority and power to his disciples: “preach as you go, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons” (Mt. 10: 7,8).
This same message and powerful ministry were normal in the early church. Throughout the whole of Acts, in almost every chapter a demonstration of the Kingdom accompanies the proclamation of the gospel.
The clash of kingdoms emerges as a strong theme in the epistles also. The church contends against the principalities and the powers, the world rulers of this dark age, the spiritual hosts of wickedness (Eph.6:12). Each member of Christ’s body, then, has been redeemed from captivity and set free by Christ to serve the King.
The body of Christ must be seen as the agent of the kingdom of God, where Christ rules in power and still proclaims that reality through his church, both in living word and dynamic deed.
The kingdom of God is much more than an evangelical ‘born again’ experience, or a concern for social justice, or a communal interest in loving relationships, or a charismatic quest for personal victory. It is all these and much more. It is the cosmic clash of kingdoms. It is the church smashing the gates of hell to release the captives. It is the spreading reign of God in Christ upon the earth. It is the eternal purpose of God being fulfilled in restoring and reconciling all things in the universe to himself.
God reigns. Christ is King. His Spirit endues his church with kingdom life and power. Jesus himself declared the kingdom charter, quoting from Isaiah 61:1-2: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord (Luke 4:18-19).
Body ministry, then is powerful ministry by the body of Christ. It must include the signs of the kingdom as well as the words of the kingdom. Spiritual gifts, imparted by the victorious Christ through his Spirit, empower Christ’s body for authentic mission in the world.
 Toffler, A. 1980. The Third Wave. London: Collins, pp. 20, 25, 28.
 Adapted from Postman N. & Weingartner, C. 1969. Teaching as a Subversive Activity. London: Penguin, pp. 22-23.
 Toffler, A. 1970. Future Shock. London: Pan, p. 23.
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 Schaller, L. 1975. Hey, That’s our Church. Nashville: Abingdon, p. 23.
 Laurentin, R. 1986. Viva Christo Rey! Waco: Word.
 Barclay, W. 1958. The Mind of St. Paul. New York: Harper & Row, p. 122.
 Lawrence, C. 1996. The Coming Influence of China. Gresham: Vision, pp. 186-192.
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 Watson, D. 1978. I Believe in the Church. London: Hodder & Stoughton, pp. 292- 293.
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