The ‘Good News’ without Supernatural Power is NOT Good News


I was reading this morning an account from a friend’s friend who has left the church after 20 years of serving in ministry and is near leaving his Christian faith. He spoke sincerely and vulnerably regarding the process of his deconversion from Chaplain to agnostic. His reasons for change are: 1) inside knowledge of the awful condition of [his] local church, 2) no clear examples in his life of pure, supernatural moves of God that couldn’t in some way be explained in humanist terms–that is, nothing separating what a Christian can do from what the non-Christian can do, 3) too many clear examples of wickedness being done in the name of Christ, and 4) the hypocrisy and fear-based/brain-washed commitment of the Christians around him. I really enjoyed his perspective so I hope I am relaying this accurately.

It’s my opinion that the large majority of Christians (in the States) are not practicing Christianity. I have seen first hand the sort of situation this man describes: the structure of religion and the academic declarations of theology (as good as this can be) without the supernatural power of a living and loving God (not to mention the rest of it..). But didn’t Paul the Apostle say, “my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit in power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God” (1 Cor 2:4-5)? And isn’t the New Testament full of supernatural accounts done by the Spirit through Jesus’ followers?! God has not changed (Mal 3:6, Heb 13:8). The purpose of the believer on the earth hasn’t changed–we are still strengthening the ‘bride’ and collecting the harvest until the day of our Lord’s return. Jesus is alive, and so is His Spirit!

When Jesus died on the cross, He paid the sacrifice of our sins once and for all. Every hurt, every pain, every struggle; everything that’s been done to you, and everything you’ve done that has brought destruction to yourself or someone else–it died with Jesus on the cross. He was resurrected, and the sin wasn’t; the bondage of sin has been taken care of. To become a Christian means to surrender to God and accept the free gift of perfect freedom, love, joy, peace, and so forth. He already bought the gift of freedom–for the whole world. It’s an acceptance of that gift to the point of full re-birth. People don’t go to Hell because they don’t believe in God, but because they’ve rejected Him. Everyone at some point has the choice to accept or reject Him; it’s a serious decision. When we choose Him we get to walk out of the bondage and straight into the Kingdom. Don’t you know, the Kingdom is at hand!?! And in the Kingdom are miracles galore! We are new creations, equipped with supernatural gifts. We do heal the sick and cast out demons and prophesy and do miracles, just as His first disciples did. We love God to such an extent that we can’t help show His love in demonstrations to everyone we meet. Heaven is a party and it starts now! And that’s GOOD NEWS! When Jesus returns to be King the party is only going to get bigger! YAY!!

There was a moment in my life (quite a ways after my decision to be saved, repentance, and water baptism) where God in His supernatural power and grace, immersed me with His Spirit and, in a moment, re-birthed me into perfect freedom. None of my old self was there. I became completely new. My thoughts changed, my moods changed, I stopped taking medication for my various psychological disorders because they were gone, I didn’t have to pretend to be happy because I really truly was (to an even greater extent today!), even many of my interests changed! I cannot describe the peace that’s in my spirit. Fear is gone!

If you haven’t experienced this level of joy, and peace–whether you’ve been a Christian for years or if you identify with a different religion all together–I want to say a short prayer for you:

May you encounter the very presence and being of God Himself through Jesus Christ the Lord, the people who live in His Kingdom, and the mighty restoration of the grace of His salvation!


Review of Small is Big!: Unleashing the Big Impact of Intentionally Small Churches by Tony and Felicity Dale, and George Barna


Genre: Church Planting and Growth/House Churches


Originally published as The Rabbit and the Elephant, this book is now updated and expanded. What makes Small is Big special are the personal stories of various simple (house) churches: how they were started, how they worked, how they expanded, and so forth. It’s also about evangelism and outreach, since most of the churches are started among non-Christians outside of church culture.

It is more balanced than many other house church books in that it speaks positively regarding both “simple” (organic) and “legacy” (traditional) churches. The benefit of this is that the pastor/leader of a traditional church could easily glean from the information given without necessarily reforming all of church structure. It’s also informative regarding the predominate move toward house and non-conventional churches, even in the Western world. Examples are taken from diverse movements within the church body, ranging from Iris Ministries in Mozambique (very organic and charismatic) to Saddleback Church (a program-lead mega church). It is a unifying resource.

On the other hand, it’s not as specific or detailed regarding the “theology” of house churches so to speak. For the reader who has specific questions regarding communion, giving, five-fold ministry, and so on, I recommend: The House Church Book by Wolfgang Simson, and Corinthian Elders by Jack Fortenberry. Small is Big is an encouraging and simple book about simple church, not a complete work on the ins and outs of the house church movement.

I received a complimentary copy of this book as a part of the Tyndale Blog Network.


Review of The House Church Book by Wolfgang Simson


Recommended: A prophetically relevant book and great resource–but read with care.

I really enjoyed this book, but in researching the author, started running into sketchy material–not with him per se, but in those who connect themselves with him.  That said, don’t read this for it’s theological views (it’s not a theological book anyway), but for his knowledge and gracefully written comparisons of the modern church to its New Testament counterpart.

Simson engages in controversial ground as he reveals how far the church has drifted from its Biblical model.  He then gives general advice and encouragement on how to go back to an emphasis on New Testament values without further control of the church.  In other words, he is very clear that it doesn’t work to “make exact copies of a New Testament church.  Rather [we should] take these New Testament principles and values seriously, as God-given essentials” (33).

Although Simson speaks specifically with the creation of house churches in mind, many of his findings will be of interest to those church leaders who simply want to strengthen their circles of the body in a more ‘organic’ or family-like atmosphere with God at the center.  I especially appreciated his discussions of the roles of the five-fold ministry.  This is a cutting edge resource for any Christian in active leadership.


The Five Key Positions of Christian Ministry


I’m reading an excellent book: The House Church Book by Wolfgang Simson.  It goes through the Bible and history to show and critique the structure and progression of the church (how it was, is, and should be), and provides one of the best explanations I’ve seen of the five-fold ministry.

Here is my shortened version of what Simson describes:

Pastor: the pastor is the shepherd of the flock.  He’s right in the midst of his people, making sure that the flock functions as a family.  He is internally and relationally oriented (making sure the sheep connect with God and to each other).  It’s also his job to defend the flock against false prophets.  And since he is so intimate with the flock, he may have trouble seeing the big picture.

Prophet: the prophet is always so far ahead of the flock that few understand him.  He’s on the lookout, listening to God’s voice and seeing visions of the future.  He’s so radically different from the pastor that they usually don’t get along as well.  While the pastor defends the status quo, the prophet is always questioning everything and wanting immediate action.  His job is to provide spiritual intelligence, cast personal and corporate vision, and exhort people according to God’s calling.

Apostle: the apostle is like the ‘army commander’.  He’s away from the flock (but not so far as the prophet) so that he can see the big picture.  Most concerned with strategy and missions, he is the problem solver and talent spotter of the team.  He unites the group (working hand in hand with the prophet) but is constantly running around so much he has no time to stay one place very long.

Teacher: the teacher is most concerned with ‘truth and nothing but the truth’.  He is detail oriented and thorough, focusing intently on the parts of the whole rather than the big picture.  He sits right outside the flock so he can discern how they’re doing.  He is passionate that his students learn to understand, explain and defend their faith.

Evangelist: the evangelist circles the flock closely, but is far enough away that he won’t smell like the sheep pen.  He introduces a healthy outward focus to the church and disciples new believers.  He’s passionate about the depth of conversion and the retention rate of new disciples, and wants everyone to find Jesus.

These positions of the five-fold ministry come from Eph 4:11: “He [Jesus] gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers.”  All Christians are commissioned to evangelize (demonstrate the Christian lifestyle), prophecy (hear from God), disciple (strengthen and deepen the faith of other believers), et cetera, but the five-fold ministry describes ‘offices’ or ‘positions’ within the Christian community that are necessary for the church to function as the body of Christ.

Unfortunately, I’ve noticed that many churches have too many pastors (internal relational people), and even more sheep.  This makes many churches very family oriented, safe, and encouraging places to be (assuming the pastors are fully fulfilling their roles), but doesn’t show believers with other giftings how to naturally grow and enter non-pastoring roles.  Worse, those working in these roles (particularly, the apostolic and prophetic) aren’t usually encouraged to participate in the church.  Consequently, many sheep are either not interested or not prepared to take on an active role in the body of Christ.

If the body of Christ is going to walk in fullness–as is prophesied must happen before Christ’s return (Eph 4:13)–then every member has it’s part, both in office, and in gifting.  So, if you’re a Christian, which position most fits you?


Have you noticed the changes in the church?


Some of you may have heard about or noticed a transition in the church–a “new breed” of Christians that are arising (especially out of the pentecostal type churches).  Well, there are actually two transitions: some of the church is beginning to adopt New Age doctrine (the emergent church), others of the church are moving into a greater move of the Holy Spirit (we’ll need this outpouring in order to fight the spiritual battle at hand; Acts 2:17-21).

The two transitions seem alike without prudent discernment of the spirits.  Many in the fundamentalist churches are confused or mad about the changes.  The high percentage of Christians throughout the denominations, I think, haven’t even noticed.

I want to make it clear that the Lord freed me FROM New Age thinking.  As a result, I recognize it seeping into the church more clearly than most, and I’m not about to fall back into that movement.  That said, God has power (much more power than the enemy!) and He wants to work through His people as a demonstration of His glory.  I’m sure I’ll discuss both sides in more detail in the future.

What the church needs is to be fully opened to the Holy Spirit, and fully closed to the multiple deceptive spirits.

Fortunately we know that when we ask God the Father to reveal Himself to us that we may know and love Him more, He will not give us deceptive spirits but His Holy Spirit in abundance (Mat 7:11, Luke 11:13).  As long as we’re plugged into the right God, we’ll have the right Spirit.  If you love the Lord, there is no reason to fear what He has for you–He loves you too!

On the other hand, some personalities are so good at being open to new things, that they willingly trust and want whatever friends, family, pastors, etc advertise as being excellent ways to connect to God.  When it comes to spiritual matters, we should never trust anything but the Word of God (Psalm 146:3, Jer 9:4-6, Mic 7:5, Acts 17:11, Prov 3:5).  There are already many false prophets in the world, so it’s very necessary that we test every spirit to know whether or not it’s from God (1 John 4:1-6 and 2 Cor 11:3-4, 13-15).


Review of Real Church: Does it Exist? Can I find it? by Larry Crabb


I don’t recommend Real Church, although the title certainly caught my attention.  While Crabb asks very relevant questions with interesting discussion and surprising vulnerability, his vision of the ideal church misses the mark.  Despite all the struggling variations of churches, it seems he wants to create yet another one–a better model, perhaps, but still another man-made plan of action.

What it comes down to for me is that church isn’t ‘working’ because the Presence of God (the Holy Spirit) isn’t truly invited.  We’ve reduced Jesus and His gospel to what is humanly possible.  It isn’t possible for us to walk the way Jesus commissioned us to walk–that’s why we need Him to lead the church.  We’ve got to give up our control, stop complaining things aren’t right, and start giving our hearts to the Lord that we may know Him, hear Him and follow Him.

I admire Crabb’s honesty and his fervor to want a desire for the things of God, but his writing doesn’t reflect the leading of the Spirit.  Crabb has excellent insights into many of the church’s problems, he just doesn’t connect that the full invitation of the Holy Spirit is the bridge to us walking as Christ intended.


Moving without the Spirit?


A friend of mine started going to a new church and invited me to check it out with her.  It was a pretty charismatic church: passionate speaking, dancing, and singing.  The atmosphere was intimate, warm, and intense.  I mostly enjoyed myself.

There was one problem: I personally had a really hard time connecting with the Holy Spirit.  And I began to realize that just because the people were moving and singing and loudly proclaiming blessings over themselves, didn’t mean that the Holy Spirit Himself was moving through them.

This isn’t to say that it wasn’t a good church (maybe I was having an off day?) or to criticize any type of worship (we have so many personalities and each connect to the Lord best in our own ways).  It is important to remember though that when the Holy Spirit moves it happens in the hearts of the people first and overflows in various personalities, so loudness and physical movement aren’t necessarily an indication of His presence.