I have taught discipleship/intimacy in many countries as well as here at home, in many denominations, House Church networks, Discipleship networks, regional pastors meetings, a few bible schools, and gatherings of all kinds. It is interesting to me that I find the same questions no matter the group I am with. People are always trying to categorize me with one group or the other. They want to put a title on me. they want to place me in a place that they will be comfortable with my presence and what I bring. Some do not like me because I do not attend “traditional church” every Sunday. Other’s do not like me because I attend traditional church, others do not like me because I work with Church outside traditional church. Other’s want me to be a prophet or pastor or apostle… Are they looking to be inclusive or exclusive?
I am Neil. I belong to Christ. I am one of His younger brothers and Father’s son. I am a part of THE Church not A church. I belong! Some say I have no “covering” so am out of order, Others say I should not be supportive of one or other of the denominations, the baptists or the Pentecostals or the charismatic etc… exclusiveness!!
When asked what church I attend I know what people are looking for, what persuasion do I represent?. I tell them all that I belong to my Father’s Church. They usually reply, “Oh your father is a pastor”? I say, “no, that is my eldest Brother’s position”. They will reply, “ Oh your whole family is involved in ministry”. I answer, “YES…”
Jesus lived for others… He was about Father’s need and man’s pain.
Jesus was very inclusive but we seem to lean the other way, toward exclusion. In our “services” we have a division of clergy/laity, front and back, the anointed and the spectator/supporters. Jesus did ministry amongst the people and Peter says (of leaders) that we are to be an example to those amongst us. We demand the people to come. Jesus and the apostles tended to go where the people lived. We advertise for people to come! If we do go it is a bit pushy; instead of being what people need, we tell them what they need. Jesus equips and edifies, we say “you must conform, submit or be out of order”. Jesus is about freedom, but we seem to be more about control and manipulation. Many leaders, like in Jesus day, tend to use guilt or peer pressure to get people to go with their desires. Jesus brought and lived scripture, we “use” scripture many time as a manipulative tool to further our agenda. The Church was not “given” to the leaders, leaders were “given” to the Church according to Jesus and Paul! Jesus died for the need of The Church, they did not die for His need. That is a whole different perspective. We, as leaders, are to be about the desires of and need of The Church – the church is not to submit to ours.
Are we really willing to look at what we do or will we continue to “fool ourselves” following our traditions and neglecting The Truth?
If we are not rousing and impacting people, edifying them, encouraging them and equipping them with Christ’s provision (tools) and passion, then where are we taking the people hungry to be like Jesus; Religion, control, manipulation and works that will lead to frustration and complacency?
So a Person comes to Christ through an evangelistic event or someone’s witness outside the building, (an inclusive event), and enters the door of “a” church, (an exclusive environment). Within a short time they will become submissive to a very strict system or be very frustrated at what they have found and be out the door! The Jesus they came to outside the building is not the same as the one they will likely encounter inside. The one who found them made them feel free and loosed them from bondage’s or hurts in a moment. Now the one they find in Church, through those inside the walls, is a lot more restrictive and not near as inclusive. They find rules everywhere. You can’t pray as you are not trained, you can’t usher as you have not become a member of the “church”. You must go through membership classes, healing classes and must show how well you submit by sitting before you are allowed to participate. Your giving is scrutinized and attendance is monitored. Guilt and shame are used when you do not conform or attend enough of the “meetings”. Fellowship of the saints is found to be attendance at meetings you can not contribute to other Than by clapping, singing, or giving money at. Meeting at your house is not considered fellowship, and in some ways if it is done on meeting days or evenings, will be used to make you feel badly for your misconduct.
Reality…how does the Church find a “new” path or way in the midst of all we have learned through tradition? Leaders are only doing what they have been taught. I feel bad for many of them as it is hard for them to break down walls that produce exclusiveness without being ostracized by their peers and the religious community that trained them.
How do we include all the people when we have lights in the front that separates the front row and stage from the rest or the people.? We say we have “trained” intercession people which inadvertently tells the rest that they are not good enough to pray or intercede. By what we do, we teach Exclusion rather than inclusion . Everything we want we actually stop with our traditions and control. We separate rather than include by having classes when most have worked all day and then have family to take care of or spend time with – the same time we have classes. So we inadvertently tell them that “Church” is more important than family. Though we tell them family first, we fill all their time off with meetings and requirements for what they want to be used in. We tell them they must sacrifice for “our convenience” without meaning to. Attendance at church meetings dictates how much they actually get to “ participate” in ministry.
Who prays in our meetings, who speaks, who intercedes, whose voice is heard… where does it say “preach” to the Church? I am more convinced than ever that we must turn leadership upside down. It is not about “our” vision but about OTHERS visions and dreams. The least in the body must be more important than our need to be heard.
When we pray for new and different, how do we know that the Lord has sent the new unless someone from outside brings it?. Yet for the most part we will not receive from “outsiders. We fear their motives. We do not know how to judge by the Spirit nor do we actually think that God is answering our prayers because they bring something different… (what do we expect; We expect the same, but it should produce different results). We do not know how to receive that which we have prayed for because it is – Different.
New is unknown and someone must be sent with new ideas.. for the most part we cannot think outside of what we already know… It generally takes an outside influence to change what we can perceive, that causes us to reach beyond what we have known. We must learn to listen to HS without walls or expectations because of what we have already learned.
We all need a change in identity, perspective and position! We need to become about impartation instead of information. I think we may need to remember that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and also knowledge. We need to stop looking back and see what we are capable of if we are wiling to see from a fresh look at the purposes of God. Father, through Jesus has given us all we need to be and do all He needs.
We need a fresh focus on the simplicity of His love and commandments and then a persistence and sacrifice to further His Kingdom worthy of the cost Jesus paid for our freedom and companionship. Jesus brought and bought an inclusiveness, (the whole world) to replace and exclusiveness, (the Jewish nation). When Truth enfolded in Love encounters power, power loses. We must look beyond the false truths found in some of our church traditions, which take a lot of work to maintain, to find The Truth. Exuberance and volume do not display or produce authority.
Preaching declares a word — discipleship/ mentoring places the same word into the right place in believers hearts with the ability to then be lived, carried and given to another. . Preaching is Giving some one a fish. Discipleship/intimacy teaches them how to fish and gives them tools to fish.
I pray to receive not to hear myself speak.
I pray to find answers therefore, I must listen more than I speak!
His answers are more important than the abundance of my words. I do not need to convince Him of anything. I need to respond to Him. He wants salvations, disciples, Kingdom. He wants deliverances and healing to be manifest. I do not need to try to manipulate Him with my words or through scripture Quotations to try to get Him to do what He declares is His will!
A group that meets at 3 Springs where we live was studying Mt. 28:18-20 and one of the participants rewrote the scripture in His words;
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, Because I AM Love “All authority (all power of rule) has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. So, abiding in Love through Truth, ( your peace & equality, stability, certainty, and assurance in love), Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe, divinely hear and obey all things that I have commanded you, as a house of prayer (perpetually, uniformly, and on every occasion). And lo, I am with you always, to see divinely behind walls, to declare the purpose of My Father, to reveal things for the afflicted and to heal, and to foretell what is required, even to the [very] close and consummation of the age. Amen (so let it be).
Inclusive or exclusive, who are we? What is our focus and goal?