Our dominant Christian culture rewards beauty, fame, and success rather than wisdom, fruitfulness, and faithfulness. The following is a true story from someone who learned the hard way and too late that “successful Christian ministry,” based on money, size, acclaim, and fame is a dead-end illusion. Jesus said we should beware when everyone speaks well of us because the false prophets were popular in Israel. I pray young women and men reading this will heed and spare themselves unnecessary sorrow and heartache.
My friend, Steve Hill (Harvest Now in Ontario, Canada), does what I consider to be genuine and biblically sound “apostolic discipleship” around the world. He does it based on the values of Jesus in the Gospels (See his Luke 10 Manual), not Western values of success. He empowers local people in countries around the world to full kingdom functionality in their communities, without dependency on Western “experts” or money.
In this brief article he asks challenging questions regarding the emphasis (and cost) of maintaining millions, if not billions, of dollars in religious buildings, real estate, and property when the needs of others around the world are so demanding. It is my understanding that between 80-95% of all church budgets in the West are devoted to buildings and salaries. Is there not a better way to do “ministry,” a way with a global perspective and burden? I believe there is. I believe it is the Jesus-Way, and Steve and his coworkers are doing it. This article is reprinted by permission.
I have been a Charismatic believer for forty-two years. I was a weekly “worship leader” in Charismatic, “prophetic and apostolic” environments for thirty-five of those years. I get the picture as someone who has been on the inside for a very long time. I thoroughly understand the history, theology, values, beliefs, and practices behind Charismatic praise and worship expression. I also have had serious concerns and uneasiness about the theology and practice for a very long time.
I have been a follower of Christ for forty-two years. For thirty-four of those years I have been self-employed. Fewer things are more offensive to unbelievers, and more undermining to the Lord’s testimony in the earth, than vocally “Christian” business people whose true God is the love of money and whose business ethics resemble more of Bernie Madoff and Martin Shkreli than Jesus Christ. Being a Christian in business is more than having a fish sticker on the bumper of your business vehicle. It is having a Jesus stamp on your heart.
Have you ever met someone who was a walking-talking Bible encyclopedia, yet unlike Christ in very pronounced ways, lacking the aroma of Christ? Many erroneously believe (based on 2 Tim 2:15) that by studying the Bible we are somehow, “approved unto God.”
In today’s climate of heightened political rancor, some believers use the cleansing of the temple gospel narrative to justify all manner of egregious and even violent behavior toward others–“After all, Jesus whipped people.”—sic. The cleansing of the temple account is one of the favorite proof texts of those who want to try to deflect the potency of Christ’s clear ethical commands to overcome evil with good and to love one’s enemies. Those who proof text this passage to justify their behavior are betraying the scriptures and the Lord they profess to serve.
Prayer and intercession ministry can have some common pitfalls to avoid. I understand that not everyone involved in prayer and intercession has issues in the areas I am about to mention. However, many do. After having had exposure for over forty years to prayer and intercession movements across the world, I believe (and have seen) that those given to intercession can be uniquely vulnerable to the following harmful beliefs and practices:
So you believe in “city-wide” Church unity?
Saying you believe in unity is like saying you believe in gravity: It is self-evident and doesn’t mean much. It is in the making of unity where the real work lies. Programmatic and event-based attempts at church unity are at best temporary relief for our nagging conscience. They rarely produce lasting results. Why? As long as leaders and churches cling to their right to these things there will never be John 17-type unity:
What are some New Covenant “updates” that need to be considered when we approach the topic of prayer and intercession? I suggest at least four. If the significance of what Christ has wrought at the cross and in His resurrection and ascension do not form the foundation of all that we do in prayer, we will end up in with some very unsound beliefs about, and bizarre practices of — prayer and intercession.