The global Church in 2009 exists in a different context than at any other time in history. Externally, the nations of the earth are beset by crisis, fear and destabilization – a reality that will worsen and intensify as we move towards God’s ultimate point of culmination. Events of the earth are assaulting the political, economic and social structures with perplexing problems and intense crisis. In the midst of upheaval and uncertainty, our lives must become more clear and emphatic, and we must embrace our responsibility to build a powerful Church that will thrive in the midst of the increasing pulsations of crisis that will appear upon the earth. We must move from an emphasis on blessing to a building dimension. When the Word of God refers to a building dimension it does so in the context of crisis and a destabilized world. It also makes a direct comparison between those who are fixated on inhabiting a world of ministry blessing vs. those who are committed to build that which meets the requirements of the Lord. There are two passages that speak directly to this issue and both involve the inability of a blessing oriented church system to sustain life during crisis. The first is in Matthew 7 and the second in Ezekiel 13, from which we can glean three key principles.
Principles of Building for a Time of Crisis
1. An incorrect “blessing emphasis” seduces and deceives people.
Ezekiel declared that the lack of a correct building dimension leads God’s people astray, since they lack the discernment to know the difference between a solid wall and that which only looks good on the outside. The deception is that ministry activity is going on and the people perceive it to be correct and acceptable: the prophets were prophesying good fortune for Israel in Ezekiel’s day, and the “many” which stand before the Lord in Matthew 7:21 produced acts of ministry which looked exactly like the prescribed activities. But this is ministry activity which lacks strategic correctness, or which does not take place within the nature and the ways of the Lord Himself. Jesus declared that He never “knew” these prophet’s, His ways were not conceived within their hearts through intimate relationship. As a result, His nature wasn’t embedded within their operations and their prolific ministry activity did not build Christ in the people. Lack of strategic building and overemphasis on blessing has produced a church in which: a) the people have frivolous spirits, their appetite is not for anything substantial and they have not been led into grappling with the profound issues of their life; b) they have superficial knowledge due to their demand for blessings packaged in the form of abbreviated and simplistic teachings that do injustice to the complexity of the Kingdom of God; c) they are not challenged to broaden their understanding of the changing world in which they live and the role of the Church in the midst of the global movements of God, and hence are left with a certain nationalistic myopia d) they have incorrect expectations of God and His Kingdom, requiring immediate answers and swift supernatural intervention while largely rejecting personal responsibility and neglecting engagement in a valid personal process. These are people who have experienced a large quantity of ministry (did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name cast out devils?), but they have experienced inadequate transformation through the Word of God. A blessing emphasis church is like the prophets of Ezekiel’s day who refuse to repair the breaks in the wall, and who are therefore complicit in building a Church unprepared for the assaults of darkness.
2. Moving from a blessing emphasis to a building emphasis places supernatural occurrences in their correct context.
We serve a God of the miraculous – accurate prophetic declarations do come forth and powerful healings occur, yet to build requires more than an immediate anointing or the authority of a supernatural gifting. Jesus made that very clear when, by declaring that we will know the true from the false by their fruit and then rejecting those with mighty miracles and accurate prophetic words, he invalidated the manifestation of spiritual power as the standard by which we measure correctness. The presence of miracles cannot be the standard because there are false signs and wonders, and even the immature can move in supernatural gifting while never correctly discerning the requirements for maturity. The body of Christ has had an incorrect focus on power primarily as the expression of supernatural signs and wonders, but that is being redefined and we are now obtaining the power to build correct life and execute the will of God even in the midst of opposition. We live in a time when countless prophetic utterances promise imminent revival and massive breakthrough, and multiple prophetic gatherings declare the next great move of God and the divine intention towards specific nations. However, entrance into the new thing does not occur and nations are left largely without divine impact. When prophetic utterances are not translated into building strategies, and when the resource which is required to bring to pass that which has been declared is unattainable, we have entered into a lawless prophetic order. The numerous revivals which have ended with a whimper, or worse those which have crashed to the ground with the exposure of its leaders as lawless, gives rampant testimony to the fact that once the temporal blessing has faded from the scene very little has been built. The body of Christ must stop being enamored by supernatural outpourings and become committed to building that which weathers the storms and which can withstand the lashing of the winds of economic downturn and the crashing waves of international instability.
3.Crisis reveals the true church from the false one.
Based on outward observation there is no difference between the lawless and the righteous—both are fulfilling the works of ministry ordained by God. One is correct and beneficial to perfecting the body of Christ; the other is manifesting powerful supernatural activity but it has not embraced the requirements to build and it is therefore rejected by God. Before the storm people were unable to tell one house from the other although they were built on very different platforms. Likewise the people of Ezekiel’s day were unable to discern if the wall being built was solid and substantial or filled with rot covered over with whitewash. The idea here is of an external appearance that looks very correct, but which is revealed as deficient when it is tested by storms. When the wall collapsed people’s eyes were opened to the deficiency of its building and they asked “where is the whitewash you covered it with?” Today is a time of opening people’s eyes to correct building, and the present crisis is an opportunity for those who may not have been engaged in building correctly to come into fuller understanding of the requirements of the Lord.
Sustained Building Activity
People in our churches are losing their jobs and houses are being foreclosed on, but we cannot be bound by fear, nor can we whither in the face of unemployment and economic downturn. The metaphor of building a house that weathers the storms indicates building which can withstand the assaults of darkness over time. True ministry is that which builds correctly over the duration of one’s entire life, and which passes down correct patterns for generations to come. “He who stands firm to the end” suggests the ability to stay upright and to endure, and to properly build structures that will stand in spite of the storms which seek to ravage and destroy it. We are a people who are not growing cold or being destabilized by crisis, but who are fervently and steadfastly building.
Q&AI’m not sure I understand your point about ‘building’ creating a correct context for supernatural manifestations. Are you saying that you do believe in miracles, or that you do not?
Jesus said plainly that we are to “watch out for false prophets”—false because of their lawless internal state, not because their utterances are incorrect or they are bereft of the power or speaking of God. Some who wrongly believe that all miracles have ceased use these warnings to try to debunk any modern supernatural manifestation or to declare that there is no such thing as contemporary prophets—positions that are clearly contrary to the Word of God. So in telling us to be on guard, Jesus warned of a much more subtle deception in which those who correctly believe in His supernatural reality and power must reject inward lawlessness and bring our systems, organizations, families, and understandings under the government of God. In addition to Matthew 7 there is a second reference to lawlessness and the miraculous, this one in 2 Thessalonians 2:9 where we are told that the coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders that leads to deception. I absolutely believe in and personally experience the present day power of God, and I also assess all supernatural ministry and reject that which is not presented in the nature and character of Christ. I would not walk across the street for some of the meetings that are publicized globally and which people flock towards, but which over time are proven false when their leaders are exposed as lawless, the networking as relationally deficient and the ethic of the ministry as self-promoting and not flavored with death to self.
Can you provide a practical application of what you mean by “moving from the blessing to the building dimension?”
I think the best way to do that would be to provide an example of how we function in the prophetic specifically, which is strategic and purposeful rather than simply a desire to bless the people. I recently led a team of prophetic ministers (we call them Apprentice Prophets) into one of the churches joined to us in divine purpose with the intention of providing prophetic ministry over the wider membership. Before arrival we provided a set
of teachings via DVD that the church viewed together so that all of the people would have a common series of understandings about the New Prophetic Dimension. There are also post visit sessions that deal with how to manage and follow-up on the deposit of divine resource which came into each life with the speaking of God. The format of the actual visit was to break up into prophetic teams and minister prophetically, laying on of hands, healings, etc. but the core driver of all the activity was not a blessing emphasis. The visit was strategic and building on several levels, including: a) continuing to forge a relationship between myself as a leader in our network and the church leaders for our common building operations b) significant divine resource was deposited into the church which will aid them in building the specific things they are mandated by God to do c) a team of emerging prophets were further equipped and their development overseen as they grow into fuller authorization d) the follow-up process will leverage the leaders into more effective management of the growth and development of their people e) a deeper sense of community and relationship was built among the church itself and also with the team f) we conducted a debrief that included the senior leadership of the church and the prophetic team to assess our effectiveness and to consider further building strategies and future initiatives.
Is this the model of ministry you think should be adopted in the prophetic?
I am very disinclined to advocate a particular model for anything, since far too often we as humans take away a series of actions steps rather than reconnecting with the divine mind ourselves and thus our own development is aborted. This is certainly NOT the only way for prophetic meetings to be conducted, God is too filled with creative strategies to limit Him to one approach, even a very effective one. I do believe, however, that the principles which undergird this particularly strategy are transcendent and can therefore be applied to many different strategic approaches that may be given by the Lord: a) relational connectivity and collaboration between leaders b) seeking to build correct mentalities in the people in order to maximize their ability to receive the delivery of divine resource c) a commitment to walk with the people through a process of development that ensures they will reach the accurate destination of maturity in Christ d) equipping a next generation of prophets and ministers e) a release of prophetic ministry that is not divorced from a correct teaching and pastoral dimension, etc. The embracing of these principles has certainly produced much greater fulfillment and higher levels of productivity in the discharging of my own prophetic ministry from that which I understood in the past.