Understand how the Spirit of Individualism is weakening the Body of Christ
When people want to start a new ministry, I often hear the following statement: “It should not be linked to a certain church or in the name of an existing local church, so as not to cause offense”
To me the basis of this statement is fundamentally flawed. It is like someone is saying to their spouse: “let’s have children, but not name them, nor let them carry our surname, not to offend someone who may not like our family.” All churches are flawed, and has offended someone. Not even Jesus’ could please everyone, nor did all his disciples remain faithful. There is no local church or denomination that is getting everything right, yet we all need to be part of this family. God has one family of which He is the father. (Eph 4:2-6) So much focus has been given in the Charismatic era on the ministry of the individual, the gifts and authority of the believer, our identity in Christ. This emphasis is essential to get people to wake up to the fullness of their calling, inheritance and power in Christ. (Eph 1:17-21) Equally important is the truth that no man is an island, our growth is always connected with OUR growth in the body of Christ. (Eph 4:16) Essentially becoming a follower of Christ entails denying self and the taking up of our cross. (Mat 16:24) This refers to our obedience to Christ, even to the point of death.
For a person to grow spiritually, they have to eventually be part of a local intimate family. The pattern we find in Acts was either small group meetings from house to house the household of faith, or big gatherings or meetings drawing a crowd. We need to find the balance between these two activities, and see how they actually compliment the other. Why do we wait so long to initiate house churches? Should the outflow of big gathering not be to get the seekers into a local church, family, house church immediately? This solves the demand for follow-up activities after the meeting?
The DNA of church, God’s sanctuary is made up of three entities: The individual 1 Cor 6:19; the church in the Locality 2 Cor 6:16; the universal church 1 Cor 3:16 based on the context of these scriptures declaring that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. In the case for the individual Paul warns that man cannot have intercourse with a prostitute and not become one with her. (1 Cor 6:15-18) In the second instance Paul addresses the Corinthian Church not to be defiled with the witchcraft in the city. (2 Cor 6:11-16) Then he warns all believers in general to remain holy and sanctified, set apart for God. In is thus very clear that like an orange, a cell, within a cell, within a cell makes the orange the church is made op three parts. You cannot remove a part; A church where individuals are not born again that church becomes a lifeless institution like a social club. Individuals that do not partner and become part of the church in a location became rogue agents that do not submit to any authority. Local churches that separates them from the greater community of faith becomes Sects. We are all three at the same time, to become the habitation of the Holy Spirit in the Earth.
Traveling ministry is biblical and in essence apostolic. It was one of the primary roles of the apostles to visit the local church in a certain location and to align them to the truth. The goal was apostolic alignment to Christ, not to get a nice big offering. Surely we should not muzzle the ox where he has trotted, a minister is worthy of our honor and support. The premise and foundation is always family and relationship. When traveling ministries operate on their own, with out a given family, they tend to build and gather people around themselves. They inevitably build a family, yet without the nurturing and closeness that a true local family provides. Being a traveling minister can be glorified. You can preach your best 10 sermons from meeting to meeting, people treat you like some kind of celebrity and give you their best treatment. This is proper and right, but again not outside the context of family.
Kingdom & family is synonymous. Our King is our Father! The godhead is in essence a family. The purpose of traveling ministers is thus, to strengthen and build the local family. To come alongside the local leadership and assist, correct, admonish, rebuke and chasten the family to mature in Christ.
The mass gathering is a wonderful tool to strengthen the small group, making them feel they are part of a greater cause. Being faithful to the few is not easy. People begin to know another, nothing is hidden, accountability and correction can cause offense. The Large gathering does not produce this kind of inward growth. We need both the small group, household setting and the big large crusade setting.
At his point of time many people have become disillusioned with structured church, mostly because that Church has become alienated from the head which is Christ. But being a structured church is not wrong or intrinsically evil. It is when the structure migrate away from their original position in Christ. When this happens we need to question our loyalty to this church. Like most of the NT believers had to do the same, regarding their Jewish Faith upbringing. They had to decide to leave, and face persecution to become part of the new Jesus family. Today people are leaving church, but not connecting again with church. God has no plan B. Christ gave His life for His church. Some seek a new expression of church but they are not willing to pay the price of obedience to Christ to become and be that accurate Christ-like expression. It is easier to only criticize, point finger but not doing anything to help or better it.
God’s heart is always family. God is in essence family, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Starting a ministry on your own, not linked to any family, not being send or under supervision of any existing family is dangerous and arrogant. You will start this family without you knowing it, and soon there will be children, and without you wanting to be a family become a family – a church. You are going to have to deal with the mess of raising and disciplining children, or you going to abandon them like many ministers do.
We as people find it hard to follow someone else. It is in our human individualistic nature to always seek a new path, find our own way, do our own thing. This pioneering spirit is wonderful and God has used it to start wonderful ministries to reform another human trait, the ability to get stuck in the familiar. Both these traits need to come under the supervision and control of the Holy Spirit. When we submit and obey the Spirit, we will never get stuck in tradition for our tradition is obedience to the Spirit. Obedience to pioneer comes under His control for it to be properly mandated, else it can become mere ambition. This brings us back to family. A Family where God is the Father, and the fathers in the house submits and point everyone to the One and only True Father there will be no ambition, selfish interests, striving, competition, suppression and bondage.
This family has matured in Christ, and will cover the world with His Glory. The current exodus out of formal religion is understandable in context of the church loosing its life and soul – Jesus Christ. Yet the power of an Christlike family over generations cannot be underestimated! The God of Abraham, Isaac & Jacob! There is a generational power in a large family that helps the next generation, making it easier for them to move forward. The enemy knows this and has released the spirit of divorce, betrayal, division and strive in the church trying to stop this Godly momentum. You cannot build or plant a new church/family based on division. You have to live and remain in honor, to also receive honor.
There is wisdom and much benefit being linked to a greater extended family. There are more resources, help and support, and a greater doctrinal accuracy. It is evident that smaller separate groupings tend to enter into error more quickly. We need to learn to think WE and not ME. Jesus did not function on His own, he gathered friends (Disciples) around Him, he later called His family. (Mark 3:31-35) Paul always took an companion, and greets his Co-workers. (Acts 19:29; Phil 4:3; Philemon 1:24; Gal 2:9)
We do not have it all together, but together we have it all. (Michael Wood)
Even more so, having more than one apostolic father and the input of all the five Ascension gifts gives balance and depth. (Eph 4:11-16) Some ministers speak out against the local church, then they should also not expect support from the local church.
May God continue to reform the church, so that the church can reform the Land. (Andre Pelser)
We need to come out of old obsolete structures and systems who are keeping His body in bondage, but not at the cost of the true Church. I believe God has already preserved a remnant of true believers all over the World, that has kept true to His Word and the Spirit of Christ. Churches who seek to continue to obey and reform into His likeness in everything they do. The true church is build on a divine revelation of Christ. (Mat 16:18) This revelation installs an inward operating system that continually reforms and updates us to His present revealed truth.
Grace & Peace
Apostle Jan Oosthuizen