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Building Our Church Life - The Book of Revelation
Week 24, 2018
We finished last week’s word by asking what we need to do to be prepared for the coming harvest. We all see in part and know in part, so I do not have the whole picture, but I do have part of it. The first two points are:
1) Build our church life first on small groups
2) Build on koinonia before ecclesia
To build our church life on small groups first does not mean that large churches and gatherings do not have a place. What was modeled in the first church in Jerusalem was to have a large gathering in the temple to hear the apostles teaching, and then to meet from house to house in smaller groups. However, our primary connection to church should be the small group. For example, our hand is a part of the whole body but it is not directly connected to every part, but rather to the wrist and arm. One may identify with the message and leadership of a large church, but how is real connection to the body possible if we just go to the big meetings? It is the small meetings, the home groups, where direct connections to the body are made. This is why the strongest churches producing the strongest Christians have both large and small group meetings.
I was shown in the vision of the harvest I had in 1987 that small groups would grow at times when they would see a thousand or more people added in a week. In the same vision, I was shown large churches only adding a few dozen new people a week. This seemed counterintuitive, so I inquired how it could be like this. I was told that small groups tended to build on people more than programs, and large churches tended to build on programs more than people. Therefore, it was in the small groups that most of the leaders were being prepared for the harvest. Small groups are where many of the equipping ministries will be recognized and developed that will help gather the multitudes into the powerful church they are called to be.
Point two above refers to the mistake of trying to build on ecclesia, the structure and government of the church, first rather than on koinonia, the fellowship and bonding together as the family we are called to be. The church is called to be a family first, not an organization. It is much more difficult to start out as an organization and then try to be a family than it is to start as a family and add organization as it is needed.
We must keep in mind that our main purpose is to love God and then one another. So our main purpose is relational, not organizational. Organization is important, but it is not the main purpose. When we become more of an organization than a family, then we have departed from being what He will dwell in. Those who seek to build on ecclesia first will tend to have more in common with the institutional “old wineskin” church than with His living church. No doubt ecclesia is needed, but to put it first is to put the cart in front of the horse.
Throughout the last wave of the Holy Spirit, church planting networks were a main strategy. Many of these did help provide a “net” for that ingathering. I think many of them have done much to help prepare for the coming wave, if they don’t fall to the same trap that previous movements have and start to resist the next wave and the differences in leadership in each new move.
Since the end of the last great wave, just about every prophetic person I knew was saying that “small is God’s next big.” Hardly any of them knew what this meant or how to apply it, but they knew they had heard it from God. I think this foretold a coming emphasis on small groups that will be essential for the church to be prepared for the ingathering that is now unfolding.
Eventually, the church model built mostly on a single person’s preaching or teaching gift will be rare, if not extinct. There is only one foundation that will withstand the coming shaking, or the stress of the huge ingathering of new believers. A direct relationship to Jesus Himself is the foundation of the church. The purpose of all ministry is to lead the people closer to Him. The leadership He gave to His church is a team, and He is the Head of that team. Most of the present church structure is so far from the way He designed it that most cannot even imagine what this really looks like. However, we can expect to see this demonstrated and quickly become the norm for church in the last great harvest that is the end of this age.
next week 25