Drafted since 2012-06-23
Recently, there are a number of people thinking of joining our church. Some are from traditional church and some are from a charismatic church background. Some just joined without hesitation. (I also heard some are thinking of whether to stay. And some are thinking if they will never be disappointed again if they stay.) And there are some who just come and see.
In <John 1:39> Jesus told the curious disciples of John the Baptist, “Come,” He replied, “and you will see.” (A food for thought: did Jesus “steal” sheep from John?) Now, these 2 disciples were asking where Jesus was staying, not only where He was passing through. Of course, this must be taken into context of the situation right back then, but to us believers 2000 years later, this actually also means a place of stay – a church where the head is Christ.
A Church-Centered life is the most important aspect of a believer. It is in this place that we get to know our identity, gives us perspective on everything in life, meet our loved ones, have eternal hope, get our inheritance, and receive increasing power and wisdom in everything we touch and do. In simple words, you have to choose a church that can shepherd you. This means that the church must be able to bless you more and more of what you thought can pastor you.
There are also quite a few things to pray about, as entering into a church involves moving from your culture of deliverance, speaking of tongues, or the other side of strict reverence in worship but yet in receiving quiet grace. Some are already leaders and cannot start from scratch if they know our message. However much I may have lack the experience of staying in charismatic church environment, this can be ironed out and understood if you understand our church leadership.
Many think that our church “The Life Church and Missions” has a very firm church leadership. Where there is much authority, there may be cases where voices of unfairness arise. I will give two views to this first from <Num 12-20>.
1) Where authority is concerned, we place the authority of the “pulpit message” above everything else. If you understand what this means, you will understand why our church emphasizes on four times meetings above all else. Why meetings? Because the church believes in prayers not of one person, but prayers that cause spiritual earthquake when brothers and sisters gather, communicate, and compile the perfect will of God at any one time. We believe in answers of prayers for all things, especially when two or three come together. For those who see value in serving because they saw no other value but for their own inheritance, shall leaders disregard them? Of course not! Is coming for more gatherings a responsibility? A brother told me that he came for the prayer meeting because he saw that he had nothing to do back at home. Some were weak, therefore they did not come. But there were those who knew the real face of their weakness, therefore they continued to come.
What is the difference? Is this the work done by the hands of men? Why do they come? Is it not to hear the word of the Lord from the leaders of the church? Understanding this, the highest form of serving is preaching the word of God at the pulpit and the pastoral ministry. This is why even the elders serve the pastors, preachers and the pulpit messages. The ministry of the pulpit is so important that God emphasizes it so greatly in <Num 12> where Miriam and Aaron opposed Moses, <Num 13-14> where the people of Israel rebel after exploring Canaan, and especially in <Num 16-17> where fire from God and earthquake gobbled up Korah and his assembly when they became insolent with Moses and Aaron. Yet, in all these passages, God’s compassion is over all of Israel through prayers of healing <Num 12:13-15>, supplementary/unintentional offerings and reminders by tassels on garments <Num 15>, and especially water of cleansing for priests and all <Num 18-19>.
By having this whole spiritual and grounded perspective, this is why serving is given or has happened to those who come for more gatherings in church. You beat them up and tell them to go away and they still want to serve. This is because they see value for themselves, their own crown of inheritance in serving the Lord and in washing the feet of others. For such a person, God recognizes him and will exalt him, even if men may not see them.
No one comes to serve all at once at the top. Various roles are determined by position, roles and area of serving. You may not earn a lot or have good education because of family background, but you may be a leader position, with role as an overseer of maintenance of church premise, but your area of serving is in cleaning. With that of a leader position, everyone will be touched and that is living out the fullness of Christ. Frankly speaking, does the Lord Jesus still keep him in a cleaner job all the rest of his lives if he continues to serve faithfully resolving all conflicts through Christ, relying on the Helper God to do things? I believe people like Ruth and Joseph received the highest crown, even though they were different by the standards of the world. At the right time, God will move him to better position, role or area of serving, though the person just seeks to remain in his area of serving to serve God and people to the full.
2) Yes, leaders also need prayers to know how to oversee and delegate the church by God-authority. If you read <Numbers 20>, you will see that even Moses can do wrong at an instant in disbelief too. And yes, leaders will admit there are consequences of disbelief. And the whole of Israel was not hidden in Moses’ mistake when he was just supposed to “speak to the rock”, but he struck the rock (representing Christ) two times, and it was known to Israel that Moses could not enter the land of Canaan. (<Exodus 17> was God asking Moses to strike the rock once for the people who just came out from Exodus 40 years ago. <Numbers 20> was for the new generation (remnants) that had grown up in these 40 years. It is a good read here: http://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/Ted_Hildebrandt/OTeSources/04-Numbers/Text/Articles/sawyer-FallLeader-CBTJ.htm)
It is different between those who cannot believe and those who are weak in faith. For those who come to our church, they saw some “difference” in the pulpit messages in various local churches so that they could pastor them. If so, we need to treat them as “remnants”, if the very message (Spirit of the Lord) that has captured them is the yoke of Christ – the gospel that desires their life. They need to be guided to see God being hallowed in the presence of them. They need to see that they cannot obey the Lord out of their strength. They need to see Christ dying and resurrecting for them and they be willing to die and resurrecting with Christ. This is the work of leaders to pastor them so that they can see the abundant work of God upon them, so that the leaders become less than the Work of God Himself. Leaders are like fathers to children. <Col 3:21> says, “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.” This verse is meant also for leaders to the church members.
Till now as an elder, I still come with fear and trembling before the Lord if I have not looked up on people and have withheld serving for people in church just because I cannot see His perfect will. Please really pray for the leaders of the church, so that when we make decisions by hearing from God, we may be firmly assured of the guidance of the one God guiding us all. Now, this is important, so that we also be courageous to proclaim it whether there is opposition or not. Then everyone can be led by Christ Himself, not by leaders. The Leadership of the Holy Spirit in the Church of Jesus Christ shall then be revealed by the collective Holy Spirit in each and everyone’s hearts.
Okay, so leaders are important. But are leaders vulnerable? Yes. But is there no way to confirm the absolute leadership of Christ the God-head in the church? No. In fact, the Lord has shown us the most perfect blueprint of His Holy Spirit in the church through the non-failing mystery of “dying and resurrecting” of the church with Jesus Christ. I cannot say that I am perfect, but I can say that I am beginning to believe that there is a church system that will never fail, because once there is a tinge of failure, the bad fruits show immediately. And if there is yeast, the church will see it and “die and resurrect” again in greater grace than before. The complete victory of Jesus Christ shall guarantee it.
For this perfect mystery, I hope I can explain this in greater detail by the grace God has given our Christ Life Churches through a series of blogs that will show us how to pray in starting a church life, migrating to a church, or a prayerful resolution to make a church the center of your life. It might not be as long as how much I took, and I surely pray that all the mistakes and learning I had in my past will all quicken your great leaps of faith in admission and resolution.