Friday, March 28, 2014

Two Related Conditions with One Solution: Preparing for Persecution, Part 2

I am convinced that there are two related conditions we have not experienced in the Western Church in recent days: rapid multiplication movements and persecution. These two conditions are directly related to one another though the sources of these results are quite opposite. 

I believe that we are not persecuted simply because our enemy is content with the way we currently are. Why would he want to mess up the church when we have done so for him with our selfish ambition, competitive spirit and greed? He’d be a fool to mess with that, and he is no fool. Our influence is marginalized in society and our reputation is of hateful and selfish people–the opposite of Jesus. Satan is quite content with a once a week, consumer driven, model of church that is a mere shell of what we are supposed to be.

The second thing we haven’t experienced in the Western Church is rapid multiplication and I believe that is not the enemy’s fault, but God’s. Frankly, God doesn’t want to multiply our current expressions of church because he doesn’t want more of them. He’s smart that way. Unhealthy things tend to become infertile and lose their ability to reproduce.

We must see these two factors change. The good news is that they will both change with only one solution: become a healthy threat to the darkness and God will want to multiply the church. That is something the enemy will attack. After years of traveling all over this nation and Europe I am delighted to say that we are finally on the verge of seeing these things happen.

The church is becoming healthier and more indigenous. I am seeing ordinary people empowered to carry the work of God’s kingdom out of the meeting place and into the market place where it is a threat to our common enemy. I believe multiplication and persecution are not far away.


Living Liminal said...

Re-blogged at Living Liminal

Mike Limmer said...

"Frankly, God doesn't want to multiply our current expressions of church because he doesn't want more of them. He’s smart that way. Unhealthy things tend to become infertile and lose their ability to reproduce." I guess this is why most home churches also do not reproduce. "Honey, I shrunk the church." In your opinion then, God is a slow learner as all other revivals have involved or given rise to "churches" as we know them. The "church" has done more to spread the Gospel throughout the world than any other means or method. In our own day, Reinhard Bonnke has won more souls to the Lord than many generations of Christians. So maybe we better tell him that God has a better way as the way he is doing it is no longer relevant. Or maybe we can stop dumping on the "church" and show that we are His disciples by unifying the body in humility. America and most other western nations are no different essentially today than they were during the Azusa Street revival. So maybe it is times and seasons as the Husbandman waits for the early and the latter rains. Yes, we are all desperate to see revival but no use slinging mud at the "church" and think that somehow we are pleasing God and being spiritled in doing so. I am heartily sick of the rants (not that you have ranted) from home church people. In my opinion,so many home church people are actually persecuting the "church" (yes,, in my opinion, it is that bad). Now if when we meet together in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, scripture says that He is in our midst, yes? Now if He is in our midst as we meet together in His Name, and this is what most churches do including Home churches, then maybe we need to be a little careful about throwing rocks as one does not really know who they are going to hit. It matters not where we meet, how we meet or how we arrange the chairs or how we address one another respectfully (as the early disciples/church did). Maybe we need to reinterpret the scripture that said that all men would know we are His disciples because we have (and demonstrate) love for one another. Maybe it needs a tag that only if you meet in certain places or arrange the chairs in a circle or sit on the floor or some other religious determination; One Blood, One Spirit, One Father, One Lord Jesus Christ the Savior of us all, and one body with one Head and different parts. We look for our differences instead of our unity. Neither is the home church perfect nor the institutional church because both are made up of people in the process of being perfected. We wrestle not against one another but against principalities etc. The devil just gets us to do his job for him so that we become distracted and ineffective with the Body consuming itself. Having been in the home church movement at an international level, I have some experience when I say that the home church movement as a whole is ineffective in western nations. Not to be disbanded but join in the war shoulder to shoulder with one another and in unity fight the good fight.

Jeff said...

Neil, this is so encouraging. As we adapt training for Trainers methods to America, we are starting to get a taste of what a Jesus centered rapid multiplication of churches looks like! !

Tom Marshall said...

I'm reminded of Revelation 2-3 and Jesus' issues with his churches. When I study about the church in Ephesus and Asia Minor (Acts 19; 20:13-38; Ephesians, Colossians and Philemon; 1 & 2 Timothy; 1 & 2 Peter; 1, 2, and 3 John, and Revelation) I'm amazed at how much information there is on how much the church changed from the mid 50's to the time of John's writing in the 90's. If Jesus has issues with his church, and we find parallel type behaviors in today's church, I don't necessarily call this dumping on the church, unless, of course, one's attitude and tone reflect that; but upon reading Neil's article I see an honest assessment, "our selfish ambition, competitive spirit and greed . . . Our influence is marginalized in society and our reputation is of hateful and selfish people." Maybe not in those words but my atheist friend would have to agree.

Jesus said, "You are lukewarm . . . wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked . . . Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die . . . You tolerate . . . (and) you have forsaken your first love"(NIV). But he also said, "Repent!" But some of the churches I've come into contact with where I live are not even aware they might be lukewarm or have forsaken their first love, because they have forgotten to study God's word like the Bereans in Acts 17. In some ways it appears the protestant movement has slipped into traditionalism like the Catholic church did over time, and the cultural shift today has only revealed what Christ knew to be true about his church within the first Century.

For me, it's not about dumping on the church but moving forward with making disciples. There is so much work to do and so few workers. And so, whether it is a non-believer, the church, or even an alcoholic, each must come to grips with their true state before they can move forward. We may have years yet to wait before most churches realize it.