This last week unemployment in the U.S. topped 8%, and the stock market hit lows not seen for decades. Some blue chip stocks have been reduced to ridiculously low levels, going from $50-$60/share to a present value of .95 cents. Hundreds of billions of dollars of value have evaporated, and there is real concern that the bottom hasn’t yet been reached. While each one must navigate through the economic crisis in terms of their job and career, we must also realize that it is not a coincidence that the series of crises which are impacting the earth are occurring at the same time that God is resourcing His Church with more functional understanding of the apostolic dimension. The effective release of ministry through credible apostles has produced immense renovation in the body of Christ and created a dramatically different framework for the global Church to function within. The greatest contribution we can make to correctly navigating through the crisis is to work within the present Apostolic Reformation, a move of God which has crafted a world in which apostolic realities are resident and living within an entire host of Kingdom communities joined by God from across the earth. There are five characteristics that describe the prevailing reality resident within those churches engaged in ongoing efforts to build within this present speaking of God. These characteristics can also serve as a prophetic description of a preferred future for those churches relating to the Apostolic Reformation as an emerging reality. The first one is: a de-emphasis upon the validity of personal blessing and ministry driven by individual preference, and an emphasis on building and architecture.
Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.” (NIV)
There is a subtle undercurrent which runs through much of the church world of a demand for personal blessing on behalf of those who come to our churches. People have individual preferences, and because they haven’t fully died to self these preferences are exerted either subtly or overtly, and they corrupt our ability to build. At their most intense, people who put a demand on God and the church for personal blessing are operating from the same drivers – greed and self indulgence – as the values which brought on the economic crisis. Success in this world is measured in bodies, buildings and bucks, but when the spirit realm looks down into the earth a blessing church of 10,000 members and multiple campuses may well look like a dilapidated shack with a leaky roof and holes in the alls. The system of individual demand and personal entitlement is equally corrosive, whether the demand is for more home than one can afford or for personal blessings delivered to me in a church.
My Own Experience
This system of personal demand has shaped the church more than we would like to admit, to the point that it has become a systemic reality that is unconsciously embraced by good and well meaning people. For many years I went into churches with good leaders and good people, and the prophetic ministry shared with them was encouraging and accurate, but when I would return to the same church 1-2 years later nothing had really changed. On the next visit more prophetic ministry and teaching was given because that is how we measured success and that is what the system demanded – good meetings, powerful manifestations and immediate blessings. I came to realize that a good thing – the prophetic – could be misused if in the incorrect context. Therefore, the need was for a change from a context of blessing and personal demand to a context requiring accurate building, even i f that meant deemphasizing personal prophecy in some settings. Some believed that I had rejected the prophetic, when in reality what I had rejected was the ineffective system in which the prophetic was being delivered – a key difference. Because it was a system that I had personally participated in building, a deep internal process of amending certain values, heart positions and mentalities based on a new sight of God was required within me.
As the process effectively changed me and the prophetic function within me, correct architecture and accurate building replaced previous standard of measurement, and a new power to build within the prophetic was released within me. Assisting people to effectively respond to the speaking of God and build in the earth that which He requires has become more significant, and the operation of the prophetic has become more strategic and corporate. Assisting churches in building correct architecture became possible due to relational proximity to the apostolic, and those architectural platforms are now part of the training for those we have identified as having a prophetic calling upon their life. This has allowed pastoral leaders and prophets to work more effectively together based on common standards of building. God has a definitive blueprint that He requires to be built into the earth, and the declaration of Christ that “I will build my church” is actualized with new authority in the apostolic power to build, and has released powerful faith in the churches that are related to the apostolic.
Haggai 1:2-4 This is what the LORD Almighty says: "These people say, 'The house to be built.'" 3 Then the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai: 4 "Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?" (NIV)
Haggai was raised up in a generation of people whose dominant positions opposed the purposes of God, and who merely wanted to engage in a self indulgent or personal blessing lifestyle. They were bound by cultural and religious strongholds that prevented them from completing divine purpose. The people were paralyzed and bound by darkness, which expressed itself as self-indulgence and lack of building power. The prophet then declared the requirement to build the house of God and he began to effectively overthrow the oppositional purposes of the enemy (Haggai 1:1-15). Because of their self-indulgent ways, the people had been frustrated and resisted by God. Haggai’s prophecy of you earned money but put it in a bag with holes in it applies to the modern financial crisis without modification. Haggai went on to tell the people who were consumed with their personal blessing but neglected building the house of God: “you have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink but never have your fill. You put on clothes but are not warmed” (v 7-9). We could paraphrase Haggai’s words for our time:
you have eaten the Word of God at church and numerous conferences, but when you leave you still find yourselves empty; you have put on the clothes of new models of ministry but you are still cold towards the present purposes of God.
The lack of deep fulfillment arising in the hearts of many across the broad reaches of the church is an indication that the apostolic building dimension is yet to be fully embraced. Haggai declared from God that “I am with you,” which moved people towards a different position. A new sense of partnership with God was initiated through Haggai as an agent of change and transformation, and the building of the house of God moved towards completion. Haggai’s ministry teaches us that a prophet must refuse to accept that which is presented to him unless it agrees with movement towards fullness of divine purpose. If persons, churches or nations present themselves before the prophet in contradiction to divine purpose, the prophet has the authority to reject the incorrect shapes and disconfirm the false spiritual positions which they occupy, and to move them towards correctness.
Churches that cater to human preference and the demands of a convenient faith have proven unable to produce the purposes of God, especially during the time of crisis the earth finds itself in. That is why believers have grown frustrated with the carnal and selfish operating systems endemic to the present Church world, and are responding to the longing placed in their heart by God for an accurate people to be raised up who represent the values of the Kingdom of God. Ministry and church activity which is oriented towards personal blessing and which caters to individual demand produces people who are underdeveloped and unprepared, and is largely irrelevant to the purposes of God as crisis besets the earth and God looks for a properly built people who can thrive in difficultly.