Done with church, done with Christianity?
Christians all over the world, including people I know, and probably others you know as well, are abandoning Christianity. They are fed up with God, or at least the way he’s represented. In reality, their anger–which is often quite explosive–is directed at people, usually church leaders. They are deconstructing and they aren’t hiding it. Many are loud and proud with their new found anti-faith.
Another sizable group wouldn’t admit to full-blown deconstruction. They are, however, equally loud and proud when announcing they have joined the leaderless cult called the “dones.” They are done with church, and just like those who are deconstructing, the prime motive is due to disappointing leadership and unfulfilling church experiences.
All who deconstruct are “dones” but not all “dones” have fully deconstructed. These two movements are uniquely related, however.
PASTORS, LISTEN UP
Being deconstructed or done isn’t an option and I implore those who have done so, or who are considering undergoing this faith-change operation in their lives, to fearfully reconsider. This decision is eternity crushing.
That being said, I absolutely understand some of the reasons people are frustrated enough to abandon the church.
Much of it is due to false expectations. People become jaded and disillusioned when leaders fail, when they feel rejected or when the church experience isn’t what they hoped for. However, we can’t abandon God or his glorious church due to this. I’ve had a front row seat to multiple national leaders dramatically and very publicly falling. It’s heartbreaking, but it cannot negatively affect our zealous love for God or his church.
While dealing with false expectations is the responsibility of the people, there is a good measure of responsibility that pastors have as well. Both need to do better.
Here are the bullet points from an article I wrote addressing this topic specifically:
Pastors, they are yearning for more. They can’t handle another perfectly crafted, wonderfully produced, humanly orchestrated mess with just a sprinkle of supernatural flavor for good measure. They are done.
Specifically, I believe the remnant is fed up with a few things that should be fixed, like yesterday.
Fear of man
Tired order of service
No revival emphasis
The prophetic is minimized
Focus on church growth
No supernatural activity
Restrictive and controlling leadership
No legitimate vision
Misplaced emphasis on worship
You can read that article in its entirety here.
DECONSTRUCTED OR CORRUPTED?
Let’s start with those who are deconstructing. I’m perplexed by the radical religious shift of friends and acquaintances who were previously burning white hot for Jesus. My brain explodes when considering the possibility that people who were sharply prophetic, invested in fervent and powerful intercession and devoted radically to the truth of Scripture could end up fading away. Yet, it’s happening. Over and over again.
Understand, I’m not talking about typical church goers. I’m referring to people who were transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. Their every waking moment was consumed by a passionate love for Jesus. They were continually provoked to awaken the sleepers and sound the alarm. These were end-time messengers who had a powerful anointing and a critical call on their lives.
Now they are done. Deconstructing. Fading.
Of course, many would retort that they aren’t done with God. They are deconstructing from what they’ve know as Christianity, and more specifically, the expression of it.
The danger is very real, however. When we get fed up with the way God’s leaders are leading or the direction the movement is headed, a golden calf is most often the result. While Moses, an imperfect man, was literally meeting with God in one of history’s most critical moments, the people decided they had had enough. They didn’t give up on God, per se, but they had given up on Moses’ version of God.
“When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”” (Exodus 32:1, ESV)
So, what did they do? They deconstructed and redefined God to fit their personal desires.
“When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it. And Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord.” And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” (Exodus 32:5–6, ESV)
They decided to focus on self and the experience that’s more authentic, more trustworthy and more sensical to them. They planned a feast to the Lord, but it was the lord of self, the lord of Egypt and the lord of deconstruction.
Then God said this to Moses, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves.” (Exodus 32:7, ESV)
This is what we are seeing today. Previously liberated people have had enough and, as a result, they have corrupted themselves.
TRADING “ORGANIZED RELIGION” FOR ORGANIC, RELATIONAL EXPERIENCES
One of the dones was interviewed by churchleaders.com and admitted, “I’m tired of being lectured to. I’m just done with having some guy tell me what to do.”
This is a prevailing complaint among those who have given up on church as we know it. Their idea of a New Testament church gathering looks more like an unmoderated circle of discussion and equalized interaction as opposed to primary leadership flowing through a single individual.
The problem? The church we see in Scripture is clearly led by God through specific individuals. We are supposed to be “lectured to and told what to do.” It’s called preaching. If it’s anointed, we should crave it and hate when it ends!
Five-fold leadership is non-negotiable. The church is less organic than many would like to believe. It’s strategic, militaristic and advancing. Like it or not, there’s rank and order. God calls individuals to gather holy soldiers to penetrate the darkness through intercession and Kingdom advance.
While there are healthy house churches, and we are sure to see biblically validated small and house churches explode on the scene, there’s a lot of wrong information on what is in fact biblical.
Many complain about the “institutional church” as restrictive. They expect to have a role in the service, as if that’s the ultimate platform for the expression of ministry. It’s not. Most minister outside of the church. A few minister within.
SHOULD EVERYONE BE ALLOWED TO ACTIVELY PARTICIPATE AS THEY DESIRE IN A CHURCH SERVICE?
A LEADERLESS MOVEMENT IS NOT BIBLICAL
THE RIGHT RESPONSE
STRATEGIC TEACHING DIAGRAM
Spiritual health demands that we are deliberate in focusing on three specific, strategic areas in our life: Known threats, unknown threats and our authentic identity in Christ.
- KNOWN THREATS include truths that we are fully aware of, but have failed to respond rightly to. This may include habitual sin, calls to consecration that go unmet, partial or full disobedience to Scripture or anything else that we know we should do (or not do).
- UNKNOWN THREATS often demand extra emphasis due to the fact that people are fully or mostly unaware. Teaching that results in revelation (the light bulb turning on) is critical if we are to live in victory. Unknown threats are different for everybody and can be quite diverse. The fact that they are unknown makes the threat, whether it’s to a victorious life or to our salvation, quite dangerous.
- AUTHENTIC IDENTITY is simply who we are in Christ because of what Christ did for us. Many don’t understand their authority, God’s love for them, their position in Christ or many other truths that relate to our born-again identity.
The diagram also highlights relationships between focuses:
- Known Threats + Authentic Identity: If we fail to grow in our identity in Christ while also refusing to deal with known threats in our lives, our identity becomes compromised. We can’t live according to our new nature because the old nature hasn’t been crucified.
- Authentic Identity + Unknown Threats: If we fail to grow in our identity in Christ while also not examining the unknown threats, confusion enters in. We can’t understand why we aren’t victorious, free, at peace, strong and living a supernatural life.
- Known Threats + Unknown Threats: If we fail to deal with both known and unknown threats, we are in great danger indeed. Our very salvation is at risk as we refuse to live consecrated lives or allow the Spirit of God to search our hearts.
A healthy spiritual life comes when we deal with all three areas. It’s important for pastors and ministers to deal with all three as well, though it won’t often be in equal measure.
In addition to a minister’s specific office, gift mix and vision which can dictate emphasis, the season the ministry is in will determine which focus is most timely and important to deal with.
We should all be reading books, listening to sermons and studying Scripture from the vantage point of all three perspectives. Majoring in one while neglecting another will result in delay or negative progress, or worse.
A massive falling away from the faith will be a mark of churches devoid of supernatural power.
It's time for a dramatic shift from seeker-sensitive churches to remnant-sensitive churches in our nation. There is an army of supernaturally-minded followers of Jesus looking for their tribe, and there are few churches that pass the test.
All that is natual or done in human power isn't bad by default. Mankind whether Christian or not can do much good simply by, well, doing good. We can feed the hungry, serve sacrificially, give extravagantly, smile, hug, encourage, befriend and do much good for mankind.
In the church realm we can pray for the sick, visit shut-ins, teach the Bible, pass out Gospel tracts, attend small groups and much more that doesn't necessarily require the power of God to accomplish. Of course, when we add God's power to any of the above, the impact is dramatically different.
NATURALLY DRIVEN CHURCHES ABOUND
When church-shopping, if people were honest, they would commonly admit they are looking for a variety of things. Topping the lists of many in search of a new church home are good children's and youth ministries, dynamic and skillful worship, excellent teaching, the ability to develop new relationships and a welcoming environment.
In fact, church growth strategies tend to be natural versus supernatural as they focus on how we can meet the demands of the customers (current and potential church members). An article on the Smart Church Management website titled 7 Keys to Church Growth zeroes in on what is humanly achievable. Again, all that is humanly possible isn't unbiblical or inappropriate. Natural methods, secular strategies and ideals found in the business world can, at times, be applied in the spiritual world.
Some of the keys to church growth mentioned in the article include creating an inviting atmosphere, creating a welcoming experience, care for church members and providing opportunities to serve. There's not a thing wrong with any of this, except that what matters most wasn't mentioned. Nurturing the supernatural manifestation of the presence of God didn't make the list.
Naturally driven churches abound from coast to coast in this nation. You'll hear a lot about great coffee, vibrant community and programs for the entire family. In fact, many err on the side of caution by downplaying the supernatural. The risk of alienating visitors or conservative members is too high to allow it. Tragically, the risk of alienating God isn't often considered.
CRISIS WILL OVERWHELM THE NATURALLY MINDED
You'll know a supernatural church when crisis hits. Supernaturally driven Believers will respond radically differently to crisis than those who aren't living, walking, praying and governing in the spirit. Without developing a history in God that's marked by fervent intercession, intense devotion, great faith and openness to the moving of the Holy Spirit, people will default to what makes sense in the natural realm.
Without a supernatural mindset, it will be impossible to respond to crisis as God intends. Natural strategies won't work. Panic will set in. Fear will dominate.
This will be followed up by lost faith and angry fists raised to heaven. A failure to live in the otherworldly, supernatural place of signs, wonders and miracles will result in a devastating lack of spiritual tools in people's toolbelts when they are most needed.
The church's failure to equip people in the Holy Spirit is more eternally costly than we can imagine. Satan is raging and there is no natural response that will slow him down. A powerless church births powerless Christians who are primed to be easily devoured by the hounds of hell.
THE DEMISE OF THE SEEKER-SENSITIVE CHURCH
If we put on our marketing hats, it makes sense to target the largest segment of society. Coke, Nike, Disney and other companies want their products or services enjoyed by as many people as possible. Pastors want people in the seats. The quickest way to make that happen, one would presume, is to target the largest segment of those who are most prone to visit. Seekers are everywhere and some will show up on Sunday morning if the services are welcoming, comfortable and definitely not weird. Eliminate the supernatural and they may come.
This strategy must end. The end-time church is a church on fire, not a comfortable living room where we can put up our feet, eat some snacks and watch the show. The Holy Spirit isn't drawing seekers into a tepid environment. He's not looking to ease people into a new life in Christ. God is calling all to the cross, to full surrender and right into the furnace of his presence.
When seekers are introduced to God in a way that's naturally understandable, the dive into the often bizarre, intense, all-consuming activity of the Holy Spirit is nonsensical to them. Such an experience becomes unnecessary if they, after all, have alread “said yes” to Jesus in a costless, comfortable environment.
Hearing God's voice, dreams, visions, encounters, being baptized in the Holy Spirit, spiritual warfare, casting out demons, moving in the gifts of the Spirit and so much more becomes unnecessary to those who “got saved” in a comfortable, non-threatening, naturally-driven church.
CHURCH ON FIRE ARISE!
The end-time church is a remnant church. It's time we stop appealing to the general population to build kingdoms of man and start calling in those who are ready to make a total surrender and advance the Kingdom of God. The remnant firebrands are desperately looking for their home base. They want to find their fellow soldiers who are ready to move ahead with precision against the wickedness in our nation.
They aren't looking for churches with trendy youth ministries, the best coffee shops or even great worship or teaching. The remnant is looking for the fire of the Holy Spirit. They want to know if intercession drives the ministry. A specific, world-changing, divine vision is crucial. The pursuit of the wonders of God is paramount. An extremely prophetic atmosphere is non-negotiable. Great faith and extreme devotion to the Word of God are critical. These end-time warriors refuse to play games and they won't stand for lesser things getting in the way of the greater mission. Coffee, friendships and programs become laughable as foundations to build on.
The time is now for a massive reset to come to the church. We have Ichabod churches dotting our nation and many others that do have a heartbeat yet refuse to dive into the depths of the fire. We need an Acts 2 church that is volcanic, supernatural and radiating in immeasurable power.
How does this happen? Become remnant-sensitive. Gather in those who are ready to lay it all down and contend with tears for God to move. Pastors must shift dramatically and refuse, ever again, to make decisions based on how the people will respond. The idolatry of filled pews must be repented of. The fear of offending the tithers must cease. The focus on keeping everybody happy can't continue.
We need the supernatural church to arise in these dire end-times. Without a prophetic mantle and the ability to advance in extreme Holy Spirit power, we have no hope. However, if we start training people in the fire and advance as a burning end-time army, kingdoms of darkness will shatter. And finally, we won't have to function as time-share salespeople, giving gifts and promising all sorts of benefits to those mildly interested in God if they sign on the dotted line. The seekers will witness undeniable supernatural power and the Holy Spirit will overwhelm them as they hit their knees and cry, “Holy!”
Originally published by Charisma Media.
Spirit-filled churches are increasingly falling into the trap of becoming a "typical church."
I've given leadership to revival-style churches and ministries for decades. It's grieving how few Spirit-filled churches are truly taking people unapologetically into the depths of surrender to Jesus. Instead, the preference is to grow wide and shallow in the hopes that the seats stay full, the money keeps coming in and the programs are staffed.
Of course, the majority of churches, Charismatic included, aren't pretending to be concerned about revival at all. The pursuit of a wild-fire, other-worldly, supernatural habitation of the Spirit of God never even comes to mind.
The cost is too high. The chances are too slim.
To most, it's not worth it.
The truth is, revival churches don't see dramatic impact, big crowds and overwhelming wonders in the early stages. The wells of revival must be dug. The hours of prayer must be invested. Repentance, consecration and a radical devotion of time must be constant. Few are willing to buy in at this level, and pastors know it.
The preferred church growth method is to create a "healthy, vibrant" atmosphere that's focused on meeting needs and fulfilling expectations. The shock and awe of God's glory is traded for a more naturally familiar environment that's sprinkled with some worship, teaching and fellowship. Nothing too deep, expensive or disruptive.
Of course, not every church has descended into what I'm calling a typical church. And, not every church will have done so on every point. Some are hanging strong in some areas while slipping on others.
And, it should also be said that legitimate revival churches can fail on some points that typical churches are stronger in. However, I do believe the comparison is generally valid.
What follows are some differences between typical churches and revival churches in graphic form. I'll keep adding points as they come. Share one or all, or this entire article.
Let's contend for authentic revival in the cities of the earth!
What are some key differences between typical churches and revival churches?
Are you part of a NEW WINE ARMY that is DONE with church as usual?
I wrote this several years ago as a traveling preacher. My viewpoint has not changed now that I have planted a new church in Branson, Missouri:
I know I carry a critical message in this end time season. There is a desperate need for awakening and activation, and I desire to be a part of that.However, I have no desire to leave my family and travel to various churches if those churches aren’t ready for the deposit I’m called to leave.
I’m done with nice Sunday services where the people resist the depths, are reluctant to contend and are more interested in getting out on time. I’m done.Pastors, train your people to groan in the Spirit. Turn Sundays into prayer meetings. Blaze the trail toward revival.A quick, one hour sermon just won’t cut it. A little worship and a nice prayer is laughable. Cultivate services where people never want to leave! Where are the revivalists? The intercessors?Church as usual is over and I have no desire to come to your church to preach if you are still trying to build an old wine skin.
Where is my tribe? Where are the burning ones? I’m ready to find those pillars of revival fire and contend together for an outpouring.
Church as usual is coming to an end—and prophetic churches must emerge to fill the void.
Among them are people who are bellowing out that they are “DONE with church as usual,” but, for some strange reason, refuse to shift into the new.
The firebrands are few who are truly willing to break out of the old wine skin and enlist as soldiers who are absolutely reliant on the new wine of the Holy Spirit. This is a rare breed, indeed.
“As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the Lord, because the glory of the Lord filled the Lord’s house. When all the people of Israel saw the fire come down and the glory of the Lord on the temple, they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”” (2 Chronicles 7:1–3, ESV)
An Old Testament experience with the power of God should cause all of us New Covenant Believers to be troubled. Why isn’t God moving like that in our church?
The supernatural activity of the Holy Spirit today should absolutely blow away the encounters prior to the cross and resurrection of Christ and the Acts 2 awakening. Yet, here we are, struggling to break out of typical, familiar, comfortable and tired church life.
For decades, I’ve been looking for pavement people. Hungry, desperate Christians who are no longer looking for personal comfort in their church experience, but rather are ready to pay whatever price is necessary to see God manifest in overwhelming power.
To them, church as usual is dead. The old wineskin will no longer suffice. It can’t. The new wine they are yearning for demands an entire new model and they refuse to live another day bound up in the old.
Pavement people, as we saw in 2 Chronicles 7, weren’t interested in anything but the glory of God. God’s glory filled the house so powerfully that nobody could enter. That didn’t stop these fiery zealots. They hit the pavement and declared the goodness of God.
Literally nothing else mattered. They didn’t demand a certain order of service. They couldn’t care less about comfortable seats. They weren’t looking for friends or position or promotion. Air conditioning, greeters, programs, child care, predictable services and most everything else does not matter to these end-time, new wine warriors.
They want God.
A NEW WINE CHURCH EXPERIENCE
Pavement people have no patience for church experiences that aren’t fueled by deep, continual intercession. The glory of God has no comparison. The pursuit of wide-spread revival is the goal that causes them to burn white hot. Their devotion results in many sleepless nights as they weep over their city and cry out for the Holy Spirit to move.
When intercession and glory become the driving pursuits of people craving the wildfire of the Spirit of God, very little else becomes necessary in the church experience. In fact, they are so sensitive to the mission that they refuse to embrace anything that threatens the primary purposes of the new wine church.
As an example, at Revival X in Branson, Missouri, we are intentionally staying laser focused. This means we currently have no need to implement many things that are expected in old wine skin churches.
Live worship, children’s ministry, youth ministry, small groups, etc. aren’t currently important in the church plant. What is? Prayer. Intercession. Glory. Fire. Equipping. Deliverance.
Will we implement some of this in time? Possibly. Probably. Eventually. It must be done with great care so as not to distract from the primary purpose of the church. Additions will only come as they reinforce, support and give strength to intercession and revival.
The call is for all to pray as wild men and women, consumed with the fire of the Holy Spirit, allowing dreams, visions and a strong prophetic spirit to emerge. We must be trained in the fire, by the Fire, the Holy Spirit.
If you are “done with church as usual,” then get risky. Get out of the boat. Quit expecting “needs” of old to be met. Break out of old patterns and systems.
Don’t expect the new wine church to look anything like the old. The programs and purposes are going to shift dramatically. You will have to go deep in the Spirit, deep in intercession and develop a radically consecrated, holy, on-fire life of surrender. Literally nothing else will matter in comparison with your pursuit of God and revival.
A key reason pastors don’t steer their churches in this direction of Spirit-driven, prayer-fueled, revival-focused and risky ministry is they know few will respond positively.
What would happen if your pastor suddenly cancelled everything they do except for prayer and equipping?
What if they eliminated live worship and let the worship team get renewed in prayer for a year?
What would you do if there was no longer children’s ministry or youth ministry?
What about eliminating programs and ministries that you feel are extremely important?
How would you handle the shift? Would you take on your call to pray without ceasing? Would you go deep? Would you become the revivalist you were born to be?
Or would you complain, gossip, get frustrated, question leadership and look for a new, comfortable, old wine skin church?
I pray you’d accept nothing but the new wine. You’d be part of a very rare, special, end-time, remnant army that the world is waiting for.
Could you not pray for one hour? ~Jesus
Prayer doesn’t typically come naturally. Actually, it comes supernaturally, but even so, there is a learning curve.
At Revival X, I am excited about the opportunity to help train hungry people in the art and science of impactful, fiery, powerful and supernatural intercession. Once we are struck by the shock and awe of prophetic prayer, we will crave interacting with God night and day.
Could you not pray for one hour? The obvious answer is no. The couldn’t. Or, actually, they didn’t. They could have. They should have, but the impetus was not there. The passion had faded. The urgency was gone. Carrying the burden of another requires we are impacted by the Spirit of God at a pretty deep level. This is what makes an intercessor.
This isn’t an involved teaching on the matter (that will come on Tuesday nights at Revival X!), but these are some simple tips and truths that will help make intercession much more enjoyable and meaningful. We’ll want to pray, without ceasing, as Scripture directs.
Eleven tips: How to engage in impactful, supernatural, prophetic and addictive intercession
ONE: UNDERSTAND THE ASSIGNMENT
Burdens for intercession become weighty and tangible when we understand, adopt and own the assignment. What is the purpose of your intercession? Is that purpose captivating you? If not, go to battle over your mind and emotions and avail yourself to the Spirit of God.
The assignment might be naturally obvious, like praying for someone to be healed. Or, it may be sudden and unexpected. There are times I’m awakened in the night with a celebrity on my heart. It’s typically someone I never spend time thinking about, and I know the Lord has asked me to stand in the gap for them.
Understanding God’s assignments in prayer will also relieve us of other prayer focuses that aren’t as pressing or timely on God’s agenda. It takes some discipline to stop praying for what we want to focus on to make room for what God is doing. Doing so is the first step toward intercession that’s fueled by God’s supernatural grace.
When we become “assignment-driven” instead of “issue-driven” in our lives, our prayer lives tend to erupt.
TWO: UNDERSTAND YOUR AUTHORITY
Prayer becomes a frustrating exercise of futility if we don’t understand our authority. If we don’t know without question that we cause things to happen simply by declaring and decreeing, commanding and enforcing, then we’ll fizzle out after just a few minutes of tiring prayer.
However, when we acquire a revelation of just how potent and powerful our words are, and how atmospheres and enemies have no choice but to submit to our Spirit-revealed directives, everything changes! We become super-charged, supernatural agents of the King.
We move mountains. We cast out demons. We war in the Spirit. We dictate breakthrough. We condition atmospheres. We truly are seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
THREE: PRAY IN TONGUES
Bold tongues originating from the depths of our inner man should be erupting out of us from the beginning of the intercession session to the end. If I had to put a percentage on it, I’d say 95% tongues, 5% English. The Spirit knows exactly what needs to happen through our legislation. The most efficient way for him to move is praying in tongues. There is no comparison.
The Bible talks about groans “that can’t be uttered.” These are overwhelming spiritual unctions that overwhelm and overtake us as we take on the Holy Spirit’s burden. There is no need for words and there is no need for intellectual understanding when this occurs. We can rest easy knowing that God is actively, literally and immediately moving. Faith explodes through tongues and groans.
FOUR: DECLARE SCRIPTURE
The Bible is true. It’s mandatory that we absolutely, without any doubt or hesitation, fully and completely believe it. We must never condition Scripture with our experiences, disappointments or personal insights. The Word of God rules.
When we believe Scripture at this level, our minutes of prayer can easily launch into hours.
Grab hold of a single scripture or a passage and decree it. Declare it. Enforce it. Meditate on it. If you aren’t seeing a particular biblical truth manifest in your life or in a situation, go to battle. Proclaim the truth to the enemy. Proclaim it to yourself. Command your mind and emotions to align with it.
When you are done, find another scripture and do it again. Another hour will pass before you know it.
FIVE: KNOW WHAT GOD’S WILL IS
It’s safe to say that a lot of prayer that’s offered up every day, possibly the majority, is little more than asking God for stuff as we wonder if he’ll answer. This is a recipe for intercessory failure. Our faith plummets. Our hope fades. Our relationship with God is negatively affected because we don’t truly understand his desire for us.
The easiest way to know God’s will is through the Word of God. If he wrote it, he means it. Review the previous point and get excited about all of the promises in Scripture that are chiseled in stone. God means what he says.
In specific situations that the Bible may not cover (like what job to take or how to spend our money), the next point will help. Suffice it to say, intimacy with Jesus is key. As we learn to hear God’s voice, our prayer time will take a dramatic shift. No longer will we gaze up into heaven wondering where God is and what he wants. We’ll move right past that point and have great confidence in our prayer. It will shift direction from asking God to commanding situations. We will be a walking, breathing, supernatural command center, enforcing God’s will, not aimlessly wondering what it is.
And, during the “in between,” the times between our intercession and the clear revelation of God’s will, pray in tongues and declare Scripture. Enjoy Jesus. Develop intimacy. Correct wrong theology (like God is resisting you, or that he doesn’t love or like you). Simply know that Jesus is interceding for YOU nonstop!
SIX: DISCOVER THE PROPHETIC
Prayer that isn’t infused by the Spirit of prophecy is doomed. It really is. We must learn how to receive revelation. This is a massive topic that can’t be even summarized here. However, we need to know that God is talking and the things he’s saying are weighty. Our job is to receive the transmission and respond accordingly.
It’s critical to flow prophetically during intercession so we get the right job done the right way. We don’t want to pray for something that God is actually opposing. We don’t want to focus on a point that God says to put aside. This is where tongues helps (a lot). God will suddenly and overwhelmingly impact us with skyrocketing faith on a matter. He will tell us what to decree and how to contend. His will becomes obvious. What’s on his heart in the moment overtakes our heart. When the prophetic meets intercession, miracles happen. This is where the realm of wonders exists.
SEVEN: EXPECT SIGNS, WONDERS AND MIRACLES
When we pray, and when the prophetic is hot, miracles, signs, wonders, healings, revelations and great faith result. They become quite normal.
The key is that we must stimulate our faith and develop extreme expectancy. Tongues helps. Scripture helps. Prophecy helps. Embracing our assignment helps. When all of this is working with synergy, the Spirit of God will often manifest.
A prayer-life without unwavering expectation of supernatural activity of the Holy Spirit is a prayer-life that’s truly on life-support.
EIGHT: FIGHT THE ENEMY
When all of the above points are in play, they will ultimately expose the activity of the enemy. When that happens, we must fight!
Understanding our authority will make this an obvious next step. It becomes clear that the enemy has been working hard behind the scenes (and often right on stage) to steal, kill, destroy, disrupt, discourage and stop God’s activity in our life and situation.
The prophetic is an invaluable tool as it shines a bright light on the darkness. The enemy can no longer hide. However, it’s absolutely critical that we engage in serious warfare. The enemy doesn’t like the light, but he’ll gladly stand there exposed if he knows we aren’t going to do anything about him and his schemes.
NINE: COMMAND VS. PETITION
If there anything that will kill a life of prayer it’s petition.
Yes, there are times to petition God. Scripture is clear about this. However, when we become petition-dominant in our prayer, our faith plummets. So much of what people petition God for has already been settled and revealed in Scripture.
So much more would be made known prophetically if we had fine-tuned that spiritual skill. Remember, part of our responsibility in prayer is to discover what God’s will is. Very often, his will is ready to be revealed, or at least the part that we need to know in the moment is. We just need to find it. Most often, petition is not the quickest way there.
TEN: FOCUS OUTWARD NOT INWARD
If I had to guess, nine times out of ten people pray about themselves or issues that directly impact them. There’s a time for this, but it’s certainly not ninety percent of the time.
Intercession demands we take on the issues on God’s heart. Keep in mind the assignment most usually will be mission oriented. Our call is to pray for souls, to contend for revival, to push back the enemy, to stand in the gap for others, to invade the darkness, to heal the sick, and on and on.
Intercession that’s focused outward is exponentially more potent than prayer for ourselves. Again, there’s a time to pray for our own situation. Even daily we can give time and energy to this. We can go to God with our desire for personal growth, concerns, questions and other such communication. We just need to know that staying in that place will drain us and weaken our faith. We were created to advance and to fight for others.
This is one reason why I personally feel prayer meetings at church shouldn’t focus much on their own church. Church growth, church needs, church challenges, etc. can be hit briefly in prayer, but don’t dwell there. Camp out on intercession for the city, for revival, for transformation and for regional and national issues.
ELEVEN: JUST DO IT
No matter the struggle, no matter how silent God seems to be and no matter how ineffective you feel your prayer is, do not stop. Go deeper. Go longer. Pray more deliberately. Intercede with passion.
You have to practice prayer continually in order to break through into new realms, new experiences, new victories and new revelations of how God moves through our intercession.
Simply know, God absolutely, without question, hears you, is moving through you and is training you as a mighty warrior of atmosphere-shifting intercession!
REVELATION DRIVEN PRAYER
Game changer! The most incredible, instructive and distinctive reading on prayer I’ve experienced in a long time. The writing is simplistic, refreshing and applicable. Every faithful Christian should read this to be renewed and empowered! ~Walkbyfaith
If, throughout the Bible, God causes men and women to do things that defy human logic, why do we default to common sense when making decisions in our lives? If God told Gideon to secure only 1% of his army to go into battle, which obviously defies solid and time-tested military wisdom, why don’t we consider that God may also cause us to advance in our lives via nontraditional and even bizarre means?
Job 11:7 “Can you search out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limits of the Almighty?”
The message of Revelation Driven Prayer will help launch you into the unusual and deep things of God that he has prepared specifically for you.
HOW CAN WE LAUNCH CITY-WIDE REVIVAL?
What follows is a step-by-step process to starting revival in your city.
The cost is great and those who are willing to pay that price are few. While many are willing to enjoy the fire, it’s a rare breed who are ready to ignite the flame.
From my book 20 Elements of Revival, based on Acts 2:
ELEMENT ONE: AGREEMENT
We must be radically locked in to the mission and running with love and passion with others on the team.
Schisms, gossip or a casual commitment are not an option in this first step. The call is to the upper room of radical intercession as we contend together for an outpouring.
Acts 2:1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
Joel 2:5-9 (ESV) 5 As with the rumbling of chariots, they leap on the tops of the mountains, like the crackling of a flame of fire devouring the stubble, like a powerful army drawn up for battle. 6 Before them peoples are in anguish; all faces grow pale. 7 Like warriors they charge; like soldiers they scale the wall. They march each on his way; they do not swerve from their paths. 8 They do not jostle one another; each marches in his path; they burst through the weapons and are not halted.
ELEMENT TWO: RADICAL DEVOTION OF TIME
As God develops city churches across the planet it will become normal for believers to be together most every day.
This is not for fellowship alone, but rather for strategic planning, prayer, warfare and other works of Kingdom advance.
I find it amazing that Churches are eliminating services in response to a very demanding American lifestyle.
If we are to experience revival, we must fight that spirit and once again, as in the previous generation, be in the Church every time the doors are open- and the doors should be open night and day!
Acts 2:1 (NKJV) When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
ELEMENT THREE: EXTREME SPIRIT-FILLED ATMOSPHERE
This is not a seeker sensitive movement, but rather a believer driven ministry of extreme Holy Spirit activity in the HOUSE OF PRAYER.
The unusual manifestations of the presence of God will be expected when he comes as he is and does what he wants! To tone down the atmosphere is to, in effect, ask the Holy Spirit to settle down and give us control of the environment.
Acts 2:2-3 (NKJV) 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.
ELEMENT FOUR: EVERYONE IS FILLED
This is a clear indicator of God’s desired function and atmosphere for his church. It is a Holy Spirit driven entity and the model based on this chapter in Acts shows that every person was filled. The baptism of power should not be deemphasized, but rather it must be a primary focus.
Acts 2:4 (NKJV) And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
ELEMENT FIVE: INTERNATIONAL FOCUS
The focus of participating in an international outpouring of the Spirit of God will keep us broken, bold and intentionally filled and refilled with power.
To be presented with an international responsibility simply demands that we discover the power of lengthy, persistent prayer. Revival launching here will be felt internationally!
Acts 2:5 (NKJV) And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven.
ELEMENT SIX: IT WILL BE MESSY AND CULTURALLY BIZARRE
As we take everything that has preceded this point in ministry–all of the fire and agreement and prophetically established plans of action–we can expect people to look at us with wild confusion.
When it goes public, it will be a strange and unique invasion into their world.
Acts 2:6 (NKJV) And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language.
ELEMENT SEVEN: A DECLARATION OF GOD’S WORKS
As we are consumed with the Holy Spirit, declarations of God’s goodness, his power and his works will bellow from deep within us night and day. This will come not from intellectual knowledge but rather from revelation experience of his infused power.
You’ll notice that up until this point in the establishment of the first Church that there has been no mention of the ministries that we identify with the local Church experience. No teaching, no evangelism, no Sunday school, no small groups. It hasn’t been time for them. It has been premature.
Remember, the development of a Church must be established on the presence of the Holy Spirit, prayer and an intensely prophetic focus. Everyone must be filled, endowed with power and boldness and ready to move out.
I can imagine based on the next element that they were so full of the power and life of the Holy Spirit that they were stumbling and groaning and stuttering and crying out as mad men and women! It wasn’t a teaching environment at this stage, but it was a time of declaration!
Acts 2:11 (NKJV) …we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.”
ELEMENT EIGHT: MARVELING AND MOCKING
Do we expect conflict? We should if God is doing strange and wonderful things through us. A message of reformation, power encounters, extreme challenge, opportunities for offense and visibly uncomfortable moves of the Holy Spirit will draw many and repel many.
This is where the rubber meets the road. Do you see now why an attempt at relevancy at this point actually works against the biblical flow of Church development? If what happened in the previous element was as earthshaking as it should have been, then what will be experienced in this element will be a great evidence of being on track. You will start to see people coming to you with extreme excitement on their faces.
These people will be thrilled to have found someone who has the guts to initiate true reformation. The flow of the Holy Spirit will be amazing and people’s lives will be tangibly touched in dramatic ways. However, you must prepare yourself for great resistance–again from both Christians and non-Christians. It will possibly be the very people that you crave affirmation from that will distance themselves from you.
Acts 2:12-13 (NKJV) 12 So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?” 13 Others mocking said, “They are full of new wine.”
ELEMENT NINE: BOLD PREACHING AND TEACHING
To attempt to start a ministry at this point doesn’t make sense when we understand what Peter was doing. He was using the unique move of God that exploded out of the upper room as an opportunity to explain it and the Kingdom of God to everybody who witnessed it.
So, when ‘revival’ has broken out, and God is showing up in an unusual way, we will have the opportunity to teach and explain all that is happening to those who are listening.
Acts 2:15-16 (NKJV) 15 For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel.
ELEMENT TEN: PROPHECY, DREAMS AND VISIONS FOR ALL
We are all to prophecy, dream and have visions. An extreme atmosphere of Holy Spirit activity day after day in the city church will result in very easy experiences in the supernatural. Angelic visitations, revelations, declarations and other experiences and encounters will be normal.
I find it interesting that the first sermon that the people heard was one on the ‘extreme supernatural’. Most beginner classes, or pre-believer messages, seem to stay far and wide of any such focus. However, the first Church was birthed supernaturally without apology.
Acts 2:17-18 (NKJV) 17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. 18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy.
ELEMENT ELEVEN: PREACHING SALVATION
It is appropriate to hold off on mass evangelism strategies until this point is reached. When the Holy Spirit is moving powerfully, the supernatural is experienced continually, revelation is clearly received and the prophetic flow of God is exploding in and out of us, the message of salvation will then be preached with the necessary power and effectiveness. Many will get saved at this stage of a city church plant.
Acts 2:21 (NKJV) And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved.’
ELEMENT TWELVE: REPENTANCE
Only a powerful move of the Holy Spirit can cause mass repentance in a city church. The result of following the order of the establishment of a church in a city is mass repentance, healing, deliverance and freedom!
This step should flow naturally out of what everybody has experienced thus far. An extreme move of the Holy Spirit simply results in a great fear of God, a craving of holiness and a continually repentant heart. The difference between the lost and those who are flowing in the Spirit of revival will be extreme- more so than black and white.
An unapologetic call to holiness, repentance and hunger for the purity of God will consume the atmosphere. A radical John the Baptist type of call will resound- Repent! The Kingdom of God is at hand!
This is not a seeker sensitive movement at all–but quite the opposite. It’s aggressive, confrontational and prophetic.
The previous preparation of the atmosphere that started picking up speed in verse one of Acts Chapter Two will result in and demand nothing less than a declaration of death to self, the embracing of a bloody cross and the brokenness of a desperate soul as he looks upon the face of Jesus.
Acts 2:38 (NKJV) Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
ELEMENT THIRTEEN: POWER ENCOUNTERS
Salvation will be quickly followed by baptisms in the Holy Spirit. People will encounter God in extraordinary ways.
Acts 2:38 (NKJV) Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
ELEMENT FOURTEEN: GROWTH
Teaching is a necessary part of continual personal and corporate growth. It’s a perpetual need for strategic advance, maturity and equipping. Teaching will enter into a more important role at this stage of church growth.
Now it’s time to teach! Why? There are new soldiers awaiting their instructions. Up until this point, the ‘upper room team’ was made up of maturing and intensely focused people. While there should certainly be an element of training at that stage, it will be very narrowly focused. In the early stages with the upper room team training sessions are more like strategy meetings than traditional teaching services. You teach on what you need to accomplish in the next mission.
It may seem like the supernatural activity of the Holy Spirit is de-emphasized in this phase, but whatever you do, don’t allow this to happen! Not only must this phase result in a school of learning, it must be a school of burning! Gather together the flock and teach them to be fire-breathers! Training in everything from prayer to the prophetic to holiness to who they are in Christ must be continual here.
Acts 2:42 (NKJV) And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
ELEMENT FIFTEEN: FELLOWSHIP
We must avoid the mistake of birthing a city church on relationship instead of mission. Fellowship is a consequence of a Holy Spirit birthed church, not a strategy to build the church. It is a wonderful atmospheric reality as opposed to a foundational support system.
It’s unrealistic to presume a social structure can grow a Church. To attend a conference on small group strategies and then attempt to implement that strategy with the expectation that church growth will suddenly explode is unrealistic. Small groups cannot be a propellant for explosive growth, but they can be a net to catch people who come in as a result of explosive growth.
Acts 2:42 (NKJV) And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
ELEMENT SIXTEEN: PRAYER
Along with teaching and fellowship, prayer is a common daily activity both corporately and personally. At this stage, every believer should be maturing rapidly in disciplined prayer, fellowship and growth in the Word.
Here’s a critical barometer for you. If you have done a good job following God’s original design for the launching of a Church, you will see everybody in prayer all the time.
If you don’t, there has been compromise and impatience somewhere previously in the process.
Again, let me state this very clearly–in the ancient and emerging model of the City Church based on Acts Chapter Two, it will be absolutely normal for literally every person to be involved in ten, twenty or more hours of prayer every week!
If we are filling our seats with people who don’t crave God in prayer, it’s a failed mission.
I find it sadly interesting that a majority of Christians shrink back when the topic of prayer is discussed. I believe we have done a poor job of explaining the idea of salvation to people.
Saved people don’t crave principles, ideas or methods for successful living. They desperately crave encounters with their Lover.
Acts 2:42 (NKJV) And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.
ELEMENT SEVENTEEN: FEAR OF GOD
This is a critical barometer for a church. If the church was birthed in fire, and was maintained in fire with an international focus and an extreme mandate to facilitate an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the fear of God will permeate every part of the ministry.
If the fire and the fear is absent it may be necessary to cancel programs, eliminate special events and call the body together nightly for intense intercession and pressing into God’s presence.
Jesus modeled an expressive and all consuming prayer life. “Vehement cries and tears” were offered to his Father. These days we don’t hear such emotion in our Churches as much as we should. When this type of atmosphere rules Sunday, many people may not come, or maybe they will, but one thing is certain–the job will get done.
Acts 2:43 (NKJV) Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.
ELEMENT EIGHTEEN: SIGNS AND WONDERS
Another barometer. Contending with passion, declaring the Word and stepping into impossible missions will result in a regular flow of signs and wonders. Anything less will compromise the mission as the mission will require a continual miraculous flow through everybody involved.
I often hear people ask why we don’t experience signs and wonders to a greater degree here in the United States. After reading this book, I believe the answer becomes much clearer. On a national level, we are still in the very early parts of Acts Chapter Two.
We haven’t arrived to the “signs and wonders” part yet. It’s when we are praying 24/7, unified, together continually, filled with the Holy Spirit, experiencing the manifestation of the presence of God and all of the other important elements of a City Church, we will then experience a regular flow of signs and wonders. Signs and wonders are primarily for the lost–to prove to them that this crazy lifestyle depicted in this book is the way to go! Being with God continually with other zealots is the plan of the ages!
As the power of God explodes out of a people who have paid the price of extreme participation in a missional society, others will have no choice but to look and crave!
Acts 2:43 (NKJV) Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.
ELEMENT NINETEEN: EVERYTHING IN COMMON
What started in unity in verse one has resulted in community. An intentional devotion to the city church body will be a mark of a healthy and growing church.
Acts 2:44 (NKJV) Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common…
ELEMENT TWENTY: DAILY PARTICIPATION CORPORATELY
A reformation of participation is needed in the church. If we start a church correctly, with everybody in one accord and in one place, we will continue correctly. We must ensure ministry continues night and day. We will find ourselves, along with our friends and families, so consumed with the mission of Kingdom advance that most everything else will be reprioritized. It will be normal to be together nearly every day or night of the week to pray, to worship, to minister and to participate in the strategic advance of the church. As with revivals of old, people will line up hours in advance just to find a seat for the service. If this is to be the end result of a city church, it must be started this way–together continually experiencing the presence of God and receiving his instruction for Kingdom advance around the world.
Acts 2:46-47 (NKJV) 46 So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
The Coming Church will look nothing like the church we know today. Here are some of the significant changes on the horizon.
Over the last 22+ years of ministry, one of the most difficult challenges I’ve faced has been effectively communicating just what changes are coming to the church.
The current church paradigm is so prevalent and saturating in our culture that people just can’t seem to wrap their minds around the shift that is coming. It seems nonsensical, threatening or just plain bizarre. They wonder how their ministry stream or focus or gift fits in that structure. The reality is that it may not, or it may be radically redefined. The discomfort level will be quite high, and it will take a radical remnant to truly sign up for the reformation—for the revolution of the church.
The disciples of Jesus had an idea of what it would look like in Acts 1, but Jesus radically violated their dreams, plans and comfort zones by leaving—and commissioning them to establish what they hoped Jesus would build!
Acts 1:6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, jwill you at this time krestore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, l“It is not for you to know mtimes or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive npower owhen the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and pyou will be qmy witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and rSamaria, and sto the end of the earth.” 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, the was lifted up, and ua cloud took him out of their sight.
The Coming Church
This book that I’m currently writing will be addressing some of the spiritual and practical changes that will be coming to the structure and expression of the church. Trust me, it will shock our nation severely. Those who hold on to a structure or a ministry instead of Jesus himself will not be willing to go where God is leading.
I call this the ancient and emerging church. Ancient because it’s rooted in scripture, emerging because the biblical structure has been largely forsaken.
What will this ancient and emerging church look like? Here’s just a small peek into a grand shift in the structure of the church:
- Services will become more like prayer meetings. One of the greatest indictments on the church today is that prayer is not the driving force. Today, people tend to choose churches based on the appeal of the teaching and the worship instead of the fervency of prayer. If the church was a house of teaching, or a house of worship, that would make sense, but it’s not. The church is a house of prayer for all nations. Every person in the church will function as a burning intercessor and the services will be marked by this unified groan of fiery prayer.
- Personal need will give way to personal mission. Today, churches are often more like organic, socially driven hospitals. People tend to use the church as a way to meet their personal needs instead of serving it as a minister of God. This is going to change. Of course, there will still be personal ministry and true needs will be addressed. However, instead of the church functioning as a hospital, it will once again function as a mission-driven military. The mission will take precedence. The saints will be equipped for service, not for personal survival. In this ancient and emerging model, their will be MASH units that will take very good care of the wounded with the primary purpose of getting the soldier back into battle. Apostles will again lead with governmental authority and pastors will be seen as the main leader less and less as they focus more on shepherding and less on primary leadership.
- Teaching will be minimized while instruction is emphasized. Teaching is mostly for personal edification while instruction is mostly for corporate assignments. Today, most churches focus on teaching principles of scripture, providing truths that will help Believers navigate through their lives and giving nuggets of biblical info. While there will still be important Bible teaching, apostolic instruction will emerge as a necessary new ministry. There is enough Bible teaching online, on CD’s, in books and on video to turn every one of us into personal spiritual giants. We need to take it upon ourselves to grow. What is lacking, however, is apostolic leaders, military commanders, who give instruction, assignments, to a ready army. Teaching is personal growth based while instruction is a call to corporate action for the sake of mission fulfillment. An example of apostolic instruction is this: The apostolic leader gives a corporate assignment for everybody in the church to fast for a week and then show up together to prayer walk through the city streets. It’s a corporate call to action vs. biblical study. It’s mission focused vs. personal growth focused. Personal growth will be largely our responsibility between services so we can be ready to respond to the corporate instruction where we will receive our assignments.
- We will gather together most days of the week. The 24/7 church will again emerge as the church drives culture instead of reacting to culture. Cares of life will lose their power as we simplify our lives and put corporate prayer and mission ahead of most everything else. This may be the most challenging change for Christians. Today, Sundays are the days to set aside for corporate worship while we give precedence to our ‘normal lives’. In The Coming Church, the very reason we live will be to pray on fire together every day, receive apostolic assignments and then move out into our lives as Kingdom ambassadors. It wouldn’t be surprising if a tithe of our time is what became the standard. Two to three hours a day, whether it’s in the morning, afternoon or evening, or even in the late night hours, will be given by every Believer to praying on site together with others, ministering, and giving ourselves to intercession fueled Kingdom ministry. Of course, much of what we have been giving ourselves to will have to be eliminated so we have the time necessary to devote.
- Worship will be supernaturally driven. There is a new sound coming to worship, and it’s not simply a new style. There is a supernatural, otherworldly groan of intercessory worship that will explode out of the entire body as a new breed of trembling worship leaders lead the way into the shock and awe of the glory of God. We will no longer simply sit in a pew or stand with a raised hand while a familiar worship song is sung. The prophetic, groaning sounds of Holy Spirit facilitated worship will make it normal to shake and fall to our faces as we cry Holy! The natural, logical sing-a-longs will be no more. We will have a hard time standing as God’s Shekinah and Kabod glory resides in his church. Worship teams will practice less and pray in the Spirit with tears in their eyes more.
Of course, this is an extremely limited glance into the many, many changes that are coming. I wanted to share this to provoke you to preparation. There is much that you and I enjoy in the church, or that is comfortable to us, that we will have to let go. Again, the coming church will be troubling and shocking, but it will result in the power and life that we have been crying out for.
God is about to answer that cry.
I strongly recommend that you read my book 20 Element of Revival. That book reveals much of the shift that we must embrace right now. If you truly take in all that it has to say, you’ll never participate in the church the same way again.
Revival X Vision of WILDFIRE REVIVAL in Branson, Missouri
Revival X in Branson is a NEW CHURCH ON FIRE with a massive vision of extreme Holy Spirit outpouring in the region.
Join us each week as we facilitate a powerful, prophetic atmosphere where the Spirit of God is free to heal, deliver and empower!
Learn more at www.revivalx.tv and www.burton.tv.
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Many are working hard to attract the wrong crowd on Sunday—and the result is an Ichabod church.
We soon won’t be able to define going to church the way we do now. God is coming to reform, to crush structures of old for what is to be introduced very soon. Our call isn’t to stand strong until the shift comes, it’s to prophetically sound the alarm and awaken those at risk! God is coming! The force from Heaven, the celestial asteroid, is going to impact the Church, and most pastors and people will resist with everything that’s within them. Man-made support systems will be removed. People’s financial and relational structures will be threatened by this strange new spiritual invasion. The human wisdom and natural common sense that have been involved in the development of the current church structure will not be usable in the new. Those who walk by sight are in danger. ~The Coming Church, John Burton
I’ve met countless pastors and others who say they are focused on revival, but who are misguided on exactly what it is. Their focus is on attracting people to the church, on people getting “saved” and on other church growth strategies.
The problem? The foundational pursuit of revival has nothing to do with church growth or the lost. It has everything to do with the church awakening, contending in intercession and attracting the fire of the Holy Spirit.
The lost didn’t show up in the upper room. Marginal followers of Jesus were repelled by the upper room.
Revival isn’t marked by a full house. Revival starts in a room that reveals the remnant. The revival that erupted in that roomful of remnants resulted in explosive church growth and kingdom advance.
Premature church growth will result in a multiplication of lukewarm, dead and dying people who have no idea what it feels like to have tongues of fire igniting over top of them.
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like a mighty rushing wind came from heaven, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. There appeared to them tongues as of fire, being distributed and resting on each of them (Acts 2:1-3).
Visitors Should Be Shaken by What They See in the Church.
The pure Christian message of surrender, repentance, holiness, intercession and rescuing souls from hell has been replaced by a self-centered gospel that boldly affirms a focus on benefits without cost, on personal gain without sacrifice, on freedom without consecration. The Church has been unapologetically and boldly focused on how to have faith to receive while forsaking the call to have faith to give. The spirit of the age infiltrated churches long ago—and now, all too often, that demonic spirit is the primary counselor. ~The Coming Church, John Burton
It’s time self-focused, semi-interested people are no longer given the opportunity to demand what they are looking for in a church. It’s time to close up the welcome centers and put away the welcome gifts. When presented with the unmistakable burning only a supernatural church can offer, their decision to stay or leave will be immediate. I’ve often said that one indicator of the Holy Spirit moving in power is that bystanders will do one of two things. They will either marvel or they will mock.
They were all amazed and perplexed, saying to each other, “What does this mean?”
Others mocking said, “These men are full of new wine” (Acts 2:12-13).
When naturally minded people walk into a furnace of intercession, a place that is electric with supernatural activity, they should be radically unsettled, yet so many church assimilation teams today attempt to make the environment as familiar and comfortable as possible.
I’ve often heard pastors admit they hide the pre-service prayer (for those who have pre-service prayer at all) in a side room instead of filling the sanctuary with groans of intercession because they don’t want to freak out the soon-arriving visitors. I’ve heard that many, many times, and I was grieved every time. There are a few legitimate reasons why prayer might not work in the sanctuary prior to the service in some churches, but that’s not one of them. If we are attempting to introduce people into the wonder of a supernatural encounter with Jesus, why would we, at the same time, work so hard at shielding their eyes? I propose bringing the fire and the groan right into the heart of the Sunday service. Those who remain will be the laborers you need to fulfill your mission.
Many years ago, when I first started Revolution Church in Manitou Springs, Colorado, I worked hard at assimilating visitors. I would excitedly connect with them and share just how much they would enjoy making our church their new home. It didn’t take long for me to start feeling like a used-car salesman: dirty, compromised. My strategy grieved my spirit. The truth was that our atmosphere and our vision were called by God to be driven by intercession and marked by a strong prophetic emphasis. The messages were intense. Revolution Church was not designed for those who would be marginally committed (as no church is}. The “Sunday go to meeting” Christians would, by choice, not remain for long.
The reality was, that by attempting to attract those types of people, I was compromising the vision. The church needed the remnant who would lock in and pray, who would contend for revival and who would endure with great strength. A large group of non-remnant people would be a distraction. Years would be lost. Lives would be at risk. Eternities would be in danger.
So, I shifted. I started literally trying to scare people away from our church.
To the dismay of those who simply want to hear a little worship and listen to good (and short) teaching, services will become more like prayer meetings. This is one of the most critical and most upsetting shifts that will come–and it must come now. Today, most of the energy church leadership teams expend is usually on attracting and keeping visitors instead of training and engaging intercessors. ~The Coming Church, John Burton
A Church on Fire
America doesn’t need another bed-and-breakfast church that comforts our flesh (our natural desires). Our nation needs a church with a volatile atmosphere that explodes, burns human flesh and shocks our culture. —The Coming Church, John Burton
I knew we were called to lead a church on fire, and that just wasn’t possible with tepid, resistant, lukewarm people.
I know your works, that you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain but are ready to die (Rev. 3:1-2).
I was confident that, if I clearly shared the wild, costly, other-worldly vision that God had given us, and how people at our church were called to invest into that vision, that those who would not be interested in such a lifestyle would not return. Understand, my invitation for them to run with us was genuine. Our door was wide open. When I say “I tried to scare them away” I mean I was simply authentic. I stripped off the suit of a salesman and shared my raw, passionate dream of God to advance with a team of zealots for Jesus. Such an invitation was all I needed to see who was deeply hungry for revival and who was not. I would do my best to help those people connect in another local church. I’d give them the names of some churches they might enjoy. While I truly wanted the very best for them, it always broke my heart when they decided against adopting a lifestyle of intercession and revival. That lifestyle is not for a specialized few. It’s for all.
This resulted in a confidence that those who remained were, in most cases, part of our remnant, firebrands who would dig in and assimilate with our tribe of revivalists.
When you spend energy attracting the mildly committed, you compromise your entire vision. Simply, you need soldiers to become equipped and ready to lay down their lives and fight for the freedom of souls in the region.
I believe it’s core to the mission of the church to give opportunity for people to clearly evaluate their commitment and to give room for them to leave. The intensity of the truth demands it. We must call people out of a natural life and into the supernatural, out of a casual place and into radical surrender.
It is the Spirit who gives life. The flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit and are life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray Him. Then He said, “For this reason I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it were given him by My Father.”
From that time many of His disciples went back and walked no more with Him.
So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?”
Understand, similar to the way Jesus ministered in the above passage along with other key examples in Scripture, the Upper Room served as a filter. It filtered out those who weren’t radically devoted. Most were repelled by the call to pray. The agenda did not change in the hopes of assimilating more people. The disciples loved them as they went their way, and then they turned the world upside down with the few who remained as a result. What filters do you have in your church, pastor, to call people to a transparent, genuine place of soul searching and decision? You must start and continue with an Upper Room atmosphere and an offensive, flesh-crushing Gospel message.
It’s important to remember that the ekklesia, the church gathering, was not designed for the lost. So many pastors get derailed on this point alone. The church is a house of prayer for all nations. The predominant church activity should be white hot intercession with tongues of fire atop everyone, with groans filling the atmosphere. It’s a remnant ministry. This call is for all who call themselves Christian.
If you build a church with people who won’t devote themselves to the prayer room, you build your church with those who are disinterested at best and lukewarm at worst. Your church will be a low-water-level church. It will be a place where the fire can’t rage. It will be naturally familiar with distant, elusive, marginally supernatural dreams. Pipe dreams.
Christians who aren’t invested in fervent, supernatural prayer will be enticed by the natural familiarity of Ichabod churches (where the glory has departed). —The Coming Church, John Burton
What About the Seekers?
A question I hear from very good-hearted people is this: What do we do with people who are seeking? Do we just turn them away?
We absolutely don’t turn them away! We invite them into the furnace. We do not turn down the fire. We turn it up! Those who are hungry for God must not be introduced to a tepid, natural environment with an image of God that looks just like themselves. Reveal the glory of our mysterious, fiery, living God and watch them collapse to their knees in desperation.
However, as I have stated already, many will choose to leave at the sight of something so alien and costly. That’s a choice they themselves have a right to make.
Again, we must faithfully reveal the cost of following Jesus. We don’t come on our terms. We come on God’s. Too many are interested in warming their flesh by the fire instead of their flesh being consumed by the fire.
When he heard this he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich. When Jesus saw that he became very sorrowful, He said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
Those who heard this said, “Who then can be saved?”
He said, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”
Peter said, “Look, we have left everything and followed You.”
He said to them, “Truly, I tell you, there is no man who has left his home or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life.”
Many will turn away sad. Even the most devoted will feel the severity of a life devoted to Jesus. They will cry out, “Then who can be saved?” That tension will result in a church that is sober and on fire and something that true seekers will give themselves to. Pretenders will certainly go away sad as the remnant church is revealed.
My lifelong commitment in ministry is this: I refuse to tone down the activity of the Holy Spirit out of respect of those less hungry.
That commitment requires everything I do to have the smell of smoke. In fact, pastors, one reason even the most devoted people aren’t coming to your prayer meetings is simple—they are dead, humanistic and boring. They are logically driven. They are simply a rehashing of what the natural mind can discern. As someone who comes alive in prophetic, prayer-fueled environments, I aggressively avoid powerless prayer meetings that are driven by lists of needs and human understanding. I don’t want my soul activated. I want my spirit to burn! I think tired, powerless petition-driven prayer meetings can do more damage than good much of the time. Do your prayer meetings have the smell of smoke? Are tongues of fire resting on everybody? If not, don’t be surprised when the even the most devoted disciples are no-shows.
We need a church on fire today more than ever. The lost are being introduced into lukewarm, natural, Ichabod religion instead of a supernatural shaking that can only come from the Great I Am. They are convinced they are saved as they are assimilated into a community of likeminded quasi-spiritual people who would love to see God manifest in their natural realm—yet have no interest in manifesting in the spiritual realm where the Holy Spirit broods.
My challenge to pastors is simple: Risk everything. Allow your church to dwindle, if necessary, to a few remnant people who will live, pray, walk and advance in the Spirit. The world is waiting for them.