“…how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house…” ~ Acts 20:20
20/20 Vision is considered perfect sight, in my case it is my Lord’s perfect conclusion to this process. Acts 20:20; may it constantly be my balance and my heading.
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BUILDINGS AND HOUSE TO HOUSE
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE CHURCH AND MINISTRY!
IN this process of understanding the church, I have finally come to a wonderful balance in my own personal life and the ministry Jesus has called me to. This chapter is designed to show how Jesus worked with me, going from one extreme to the other to actually find His balance, in this day!
IS IT THE CHURCH OR IS IT MINISTRY?
The whole idea of leaving one Church to go to another Church has bothered me for over 30 years. Now I understand why. Jesus’ Church is one body in the whole earth, there is no other Church to go to. I have already stated in a previous chapter that a definition not based on the standard of the Word of God is an open door for confusion.
The truth is that we can leave a denomination, and join another. For example; if we were Catholic and then accepted Jesus and became born again, we might leave and join the Baptist denomination. If we began moving in the gifts of the Spirit and started speaking in other tongues, we might leave the Baptist and join the Assembly of God denomination. We can also leave the influence of a particular preacher or particular teaching and follow another.
This last one, leaving a “ministry” was the hardest to separate. When we use the term ministry and Church with the same definition; confusion, defeat, rejection, division and abandonment all have the opportunity to come into “play”. Again, the truth is that you can’t leave the Church and join another but you can leave a ministry and join another. The Church is who we are; “The Called-out Ones”. Ministry is what we do, the way we present the Gospel.
One ministry might go to the streets handing out water in the name of Jesus, another might be preaching the salvation of Jesus to Kings in other nations. Some types of ministry will remain until Jesus comes back for us, like the Ministry of Reconciliation found in 2 Corinthians 5:18. Some will end sooner because of a scandal or simply because it was only for a certain season like praying for the soldiers in the Civil War. Lastly some will change because of continued revelation that moves a certain ministry into a different look or direction. We can leave a ministry, there is a protocol to leaving but the point is we can leave a ministry and join another. We cannot leave the Church and join another.
We must separate the definition of ministry and Church to move forward in this prototype. Ministry can take place in a building because it is what we do but let’s not confuse the ministry by calling it the Church. Let’s not confuse the Church by calling it the ministry.
FIRST EXTREME- BUILDING MINISTRY
From the time I was five years old I would get up early Sunday mornings before my parents were awake and watch the ministers; Rex Humbard and Oral Roberts on our black and white television. Both of these powerful ministers were breaking new ground in two areas; using media for evangelism and building resource centres that they called school campuses. Even though they were trying to be a “new wineskin” for the “new wine” they were experiencing, they still called the building the church. At age five, not knowing Jesus yet, an unquestioned belief was established in me that the church was the building.
I entered into a “church building” at the age of fifteen because I had a belief that the church “building” was where God was. Now I did in fact find God there as I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I prayed the salvation prayer, received water baptism, was filled with the Holy Spirit, spoke in other tongues, joined the youth group and became a member of that denomination; all inside that building. I was then raised into leadership at an early age and promoted the denomination with all of my being, the whole time thinking that I was promoting Jesus and His Church.
I committed my life to this way of thinking to the point of going through their Bible College. The problem was that at the same time I was having my own blinding “Saul-on-the-way-to-Damascus” vision; “Joseph, Joseph, what are you promoting?” I was seeing and asking about the many inconsistencies, abuses and competition in this denomination. I was quickly labeled as rebellious because I questioned everything, even my own salvation. I then realized by harsh answers and accusations of being disloyal, that this denomination-system-church was beyond contestation. The message was loud and clear; shut-up and tolerate.
Finishing Bible College I took five different “religious” staff positions in three different denominations until I was so “seeped” in bondage that my religious boat of supporting a “building ministry” was ready to capsize, it was leaning so far sideways and off the mark that I was drowning.
SECOND EXTREME- HOUSE TO HOUSE
I was fired from my last religious denominational position because I thought; if the boat is capsizing on one side then we should try to “fix” it and get it upright. My new great strategy was every one run to the other side of the boat to get it upright and balance it out. I know this is only a book but I can hear some of you laughing. Are you laughing at me or because you too have tried this gruelling strategy yourself?
Everyone running to the other extreme meant that we were to only meet in houses and to never enter into a religious building again. Not only did we become prideful and isolated from much of the Body of Christ but this move also left us with a boat that was now capsizing on the other side. Through this process I became a world class professional on the subject of the worldwide religious system and on the “elite” House Church system.
BALANCE THE BOAT?
With this knowledge and a thirty year process, how can we help the 21st Century Church (especially in America) walk in unity?
Here is what we have learned:
- We face a 1700 year old unquestionable religious practice that enforces the doctrine of the building being the Church and professional clergy are to handle all ministry.
- We also realize that the world of unbelievers know that when they want to find God they believe He will be found in these “Holy” Buildings with a cross on top called; “Such-and-Such Church”. It has become our culture.
- It has also been proven that the world will flock to these buildings in times of trouble.
- At the same time, the call to establish, or in our case re-establish the much needed intimate House Church freedom with Kingdom Government is a current day calling from Jesus that cannot be ignored.
MY LAST PROTOTYPE IDENTIFIED
“END TIME” TRANSITIONAL MODEL
Remember we started this chapter with the goal of 20/20 vision, trying to minister with “perfect sight”!
“…how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house…” ~ Acts 20:20
This prototype is an “End Time” transitional model. It has developed out of hundreds of hours of prayer, discerning, reading and talking with other believers who are praying for the same understanding. Discern the times and the signs with me. In 2008 the people of the United States of America had two options: elect a Christian President and have four more years to repent of not following God in our country (especially with over 50 million murdered babies) or do what they did. In 2008 the people of the United States of America voted a non-Christian President into office. In a few months that President announced that the United States of America was no longer a Christian Nation and began to publicly destroy Biblical Standards. The people of the United States are no longer united and are under “Mandatory Tolerance” for hundreds of issues clearly stated as sin in the Word of God. Christians will be persecuted by non-biblical laws protecting; abortion, evolution, lesbians, gays, bisexuals and trans genders. To preach:
” ‘If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.”
~ Leviticus 20:13
…will be considered a “Hate Crime” punishable by law. The government is moving into Socialism: “…advocating an end to private property and the exploitation of workers…the stage… when a society is changing from capitalism to communism.” [Encarta ® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1998-2004 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.] Yes we are in the “Church Age” but at the end of the Church age. We are in the seventh Church, the last church season, the Church of Laodicea.
“… the church in Laodicea write: … I know your deeds… because you are lukewarm…I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. …Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” ~ Revelation 3:14-22
This is the hour where Christianity will no longer be tolerated. We have had an image of Godliness with no power for so long that we are only seen as conservative moral people who can’t obey their God therefore making their God powerless. Christian institutions (church buildings/ministries) speaking against the “rights” of others will no longer be popular and the government will control every denominations voice. The Church will be forced underground in America to which I say; “Praise the Lord”! But until that is completed here is a transitional model.
This prototype is for such a time as now and will work in a larger city setting; covering a larger geographical area, crossing several county lines which may include several smaller towns. Following the basic House Church prototypes already mentioned we would balance the vision with what we do with the buildings. We already know that the building is not the Church and the building is not Holy but we can still use it in our overall strategy. Keep meeting in the building as you do but teach at every public meeting the true definition of the Church and that this building is NOT the Church. Highlight what has happened in the homes the previous week. Have everyone that was born again in a House Church stand and Celebrate together, let the music begin! Do you get the new picture? It is simply shifting the importance to what is primary which is living the Christian Life everyday not just two hours on a “Holy Day”. Remember there will be a time to leave, so at least start practicing meeting at home NOW!
Then Share that the building is only:
- A training center; where people are trained, taught and sometimes cleaned up to be sent out to do the work of the ministry.
- A place of resources; loaded with ministry gifts, books, tapes, Bibles, even food and clothing if necessary.
- A lighthouse in the community; an evangelistic center that stays open for the stranger needing help who knows nowhere else to go.
- A prayer station; free prayer all the time!
- A place of Celebration; for what happens everyday in our homes. Define your Discipleship track and the training sessions can be conducted in the building with qualified teachers and the ultimate goal of housing and staffing “five-fold” ministry gifts. The follow-up or the organic part is always celebrated in the homes. Ask a new believer in your small house meeting: “What did you learn in your training session this week?” and your time will be ignited with a fire! The following foundational things should be studied in the Word of God, prayed over and agreed upon before launching into this vision:
- Habakkuk 2:2 – Work together to write the vision down. With this type of prototype the vision could possibly take 3 to 5 years to see the results of getting houses in order and multiplying sideways. Possibly graduating a new House Church every 6 to 8 months.
- Chapter two in this book – Jesus is the; Foundation, Door, Structure, and Head of His Church.
- Mathew 16:18, 28:19 – Jesus said He would build His Church our job is to disciple all nations.
- 1 Peter 2:5 – The Church is the people not the building.
- Ephesians 5:31-32 – The Family is the core unit of the Church.
- Ephesians 2:20, 4:11 – Kingdom Government is essential, what ever gifting you have available.
- 2 Corinthians 5:18 – Understanding the difference between The Church and ministry.
- Acts 7:48 – The current building can be used for anything, it is not a Church nor Holy.
WRITE THE VISION DOWN – Habakkuk 2:2
If you are currently in a “traditional church building” and you have a strong Sunday emphasis but weak in your small groups, first recognize your ship is leaning and then make a plan and write a vision to balance your ministry. In this day and age the vision must include scriptural definitions for all words; church, Kingdom Government, Lord’s Supper, Celebrations, ministry and the purpose of buildings.
To strengthen the Families, Home Meetings, or House Churches simply sharing the vision is the place to start. Share the vision verbally at every public assembly. Write the vision down and mail it to everyone you know. Start an email campaign, highlight the vision on your web-site, help your staff understand how this vision is for the entire ministry.
Once you have the vision in place it will take some tangible steps to strengthen the House Church side of the ministry in the “natural”. Think about the amount of resources you spend to make your strong Sunday emphasis happen. Even though this will involve finances, I am also talking about time, staff people and new ministry gifts like Apostles and Prophets. There is a measurable investment to be made to balance both public ministry and House to House. May Acts 20:20 always be our “heading”.
I am convinced that the freedom of the Church will come full circle and finish where she stated; in the home. The most important thing you can do is start. Just start! Start right now, ask your Lord Jesus the head of the Church what the church is and what you should do to get in order.
What have we discovered in Chapter Fourteen?
74. Acts 20:20 perfect vision.
75. Discern the Times.
76. Two extremes; Buildings and Houses.
77. End Time transitional model.
78. Using old religious buildings today!
79. Vision, Vision, Vision.
80. Church or Ministry?
81. Making the investment to strengthen Homes.
Personal Journal Insert
I find myself:
- Driven to strengthen dads, moms and families. Driven to encourage leaders to make things simple again and enjoy the freedoms we have in Christ.
- Driven to unfold the timeless riches in the Word of God to the Church.
- Driven to establish an army of prayer warriors, battle ready to influence cities one person at a time, one family at a time.
- Driven to prepare the Body of Christ for the return of Jesus for His Bride.