Is COVID-19 Killing 'Clergy'?
7 Minute Read
Over the past weeks, there have been many articles announcing the death of pastors who have died from the coronavirus. One denomination has been hit very hard with several of their bishops dying. From the articles I have read, this has impacted several denominational streams. Catholic, Pentecostal, Baptist, Nondenominational, Charismatic, have suffered losses of ministry leaders. No group can claim its doctrinal stance protected them more than some other group.
Is there something we need to understand? Is God saying something that we refuse to hear? My own thoughts on this run the gambit. I have learned however, that my opinions mean nothing outside of the Word of God. Therefore, I want to approach this delicate matter from what I can glean from scripture.
A pastor’s death is newsworthy. It makes good headlines in a secular society when a prominent pastor dies. But let us put this in perspective.
There have been over 56,000 deaths attributed to the coronavirus as of this writing. Pastors, ministers and Bishops are only one segment of the total. I would suggest they represent much less than one percent of the total deaths. There have also been doctors, nurses, policemen, schoolteachers, postal workers, military personnel, and other such categories that have suffered their share of COVID-19 related deaths. Singling out ‘clergy’ simply makes for good headlines.
At the same time, as believers, the death of a ministry leader hits home. It strikes at the soul of religious hierarchy. Suddenly our iconic view of them becomes distorted in an unspoken way. . Something in our hierarchal pecking order makes this feel out of place.
I am reminded of Isaiah who saw the Lord after Uzziah died (Isaiah 6:1). Please, please, please don’t think that I am suggesting that ministers who have died were willfully drawing people after themselves. In fact, the opposite is true. Most of these ‘clergy’ leaders would point their congregation to Jesus Christ.
My point is that the church system as we know it has elevated the role of ‘clergy’ to the point that people subconsciously see their pastor as invincible. Thus, when a pastor dies, people suffer a dual loss. First, there is the loss of the leader. Second, there is the loss of emotional contact. Not only is the leader gone, but also the ability to lean on them for ‘spiritual’ support.
Is COVID-19 killing ‘clergy’?
The reality is that this has taken the lives of some ministry leaders. I am saddened like everyone else about this. Yet, the question to be answered is whether COVID-19 is killing ‘clergy’ – not Bishops, pastors or ministry leaders. Confused? Let me explain.
In Chapter three of my book, Leaving Church Becoming Ekklesia, I outlined five necessary transitions that will impact ‘church as we know it’. This chapter I titled Necessary Transitions, dealt with the coming changes to the infrastructure of the ‘church’ system. In chapter five, I presented six characteristics of a major transition. I wrote that this was written so that you don’t have to be blindsided by the coming changes.
What is changing, and what are we transitioning to? I believe we are entering the early stages of ‘the day of the saints’. There is a coming shift when God will raise up ordinary believers to impact the earth from the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 6:10; 16:18-19). Remember, the ministry gifts in Ephesians 4 were given to equip the saints for the work of ministry. When you read all of Isaiah 61, the passage Jesus read in the synagogue (Luke 4:18-19), it declares a people called ‘trees of righteousness’. More importantly, they are empowered to build, raise up and repair (Isaiah 61:3-4).
This transition has a direct impact on what we have called ‘clergy’. The church as we know it today has two classes of people, the clergy and the laity. Greg Ogden wrote in his book, Unfinished Business:
Like ekklesia was mistranslated as church, by the 12th century, the ‘clergy’ became a word erroneously used to denote a class of people who were more spiritually astute than the so-called laity. Today we refer to Bishops, pastors and ministry leaders as clergy.
However, a study of the Greek word that clergy was supposedly translated from, reveals a different story. Kleros in Greek never implied a distinction between an upper and lower class in the kingdom. Kleros conveys the full inclusion of the Gentiles as equal partners in the benefits of the gospel. Kleros refers to the inheritance in all the saints (Acts 26:18; Colossians 1:12; 1Peter 5:1-3).
COVID-19 has shaken the ‘church system’. More and more believers are waking up to the reality that God has design and purpose for them. The concept of ‘clergy’ has begun to slip. The hierarchal system that sustains the contemporary clergy concept has suffered a powerful blow. As the Lord’s ekklesia rises, leadership will become aligned with divine patterns. As the Lord’s ekklesia rises in the earth, clergy will shift from being a spiritual upper class to kleros, which is a body of believers who have inherited the benefits of the Kingdom of Heaven. Are you ready for this transition?
The church as we know it will be drastically different in the next few years. You don't have to be blindsided by the changes.
Many churches were blindsided by the coronavirus.
Learn what hundreds have already discovered!
Be prepared for the powerful changes coming to church as we know it!
Get your copy of LEAVING CHURCH BECOMING EKKLESIA today!
8 Minute Read
Adversity brings out things often hidden in the heart. The coronavirus pandemic is exposing some dangerous things in an already divided ‘church’.
Before the pandemic and the subsequent lock-down, the church as we know it was already divided by three things.
Ideology – this is the division created by churches who follow conservative or liberal politics. Churches have lowered themselves to follow Democratic or Republican views. Many have become the mouthpiece for political candidates rather than the Kingdom. The result is a ‘church’ divided by religious groups bowing to worldly thoughts.
Race – In some ‘churches’ this is blatant as some pride themselves as catering to a specific racial group. Others speak of racial unity, but every week they worship in services predominately filled with one particular race. Some congregations are more integrated than others, but isn’t is sad we are still referencing today’s churches as predominately Black, White, Hispanic, or some other racial group.
Doctrine – At Antioch, the believers were first called Christians to identify them as separate from the world. Today, we call ourselves Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Pentecostal and the like to separate ourselves from each other. In the first century, the only thing that divided believers was geography. Today we camp around our doctrinal positions and defend them against intrusion from other belief systems
At Antioch, the believers were first called Christians to identify them as separate from the world. Today, we call ourselves Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Pentecostal and the like to separate ourselves from each other.
Even within the categories of ideology, race and doctrine there are deeper divisions too extensive to cover in this blog.
As this coronavirus pandemic has spread, it has awakened another line of division created by pride masquerading as faith. Many states have issued ‘stay at home’ mandates. Nationally social distancing has become a new phrase previously unheard of. This shuts down places where large amounts of people gather. Schools, restaurants, bars, casinos, shopping malls, factories, and of course ‘churches’ have been impacted.
n the midst of this, there are church leaders who have chosen to continue to have their regular services. I am not here to judge their decisions, but I do want to highlight a new form of division further fracturing the Body of Christ. There are three categories I have noticed in the past few weeks.
First, there are the ‘faith’ groups. These are churches who continue to meet as usual claiming their faith in God protects them from the coronavirus. Implicit in what they claim is that churches that do not gather are lacking in faith. Even within the churches that continue to meet, some of their parishioners chose to stay at home. Unfortunately, they found themselves being referred to as having a lack of faith, weak, or at worst disobeying their leadership.
The second group are the politically defiant. They believe the government has overreached its authority when churches are required to limit their gatherings. I have heard such proponents of this line of thinking claim a myriad of political views to justify their beliefs. Like the faith group, the politically defiant imply that those who follow anything suggested by the government are acquiescing to governmental control.
The third group are those who are following state and local guidelines. They choose to ‘social distance’. Because of this, the surge in use of some social media platforms has quadrupled in the last few weeks. Pastors who were never on Facebook before are now broadcasting LIVE every Sunday. ZOOM, Free Conference Call and the like have added thousands of new subscribers. Outdoor drive-in services are being held all around the country. In other words, this final group is looking for ways to ‘gather’ within the guidelines given. But this group is also succumbing to a form of division. Some are claiming that by following the social distancing guidelines, they are proving to be ‘wiser’ than those who don’t. In other words, they have subtly made themselves an elite group of people who have faith, understand government, but who use ‘common sense’.
The coronavirus pandemic has added more division to an already weak and divided church system. It really saddens me to hear one side demonizing the other.
Finger pointing proves that it is both structurally weak and far off its foundation in Christ. You may ask me, “What would Jesus do in this situation?” I don’t have a perfect answer to this, but one thing I do know, the growing divisiveness in the ‘church system’ created by this pandemic is not of God (1Corinthians 1:10-13). Something is amiss when all these fractions are claiming their view is the Godly response. Somebody, somewhere has missed it.
When we read Matthew 12:25, our focus is usually on the results of division in the kingdom, city and house. But I took note of how this passage began. “And Jesus knew their thoughts...” In John 2:24, Jesus did not commit Himself to those following Him because “...he knew all men”. And we know that the Word has the ability to discern between the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).
It appears that the pressure of this pandemic has exposed the hearts of many in the church world. It has exposed those who are shallow, prideful, and fearful. We all need to examine ourselves, but more importantly allow the Lord to examine us (Psalms 26:2; 2Corinthians 13:5).
Where does the ekklesia fit into all this? I believe this pandemic is training ground for the emerging ekklesia – the Lord’s original intent for His people. Rather than taking political, religious or prideful views of our choices, we must sit at the feet of Jesus. When you consider the authority entrusted to the ekklesia to bind and loose – to prevail over hades – and to have use of the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven – this is a perfect moment for the ekklesia to have impact. The ekklesia must learn to be the voice of the Lord in this difficult time. Is it possible? I believe it is
Don’t be blindsided by current events. Learn more about the ekklesia and God’s plan for you!
5 Minute Read
Church as we know it’ will not be the same when this is over. The question is, ‘should it remain the same’? Regardless of the ‘source’ of this virus, it has served to shake thie foundations of economic, social, political and religious structures. This is something I have been sharing (in writing) since 2010. We need to take a good look at 'shaking' according to the Word of God. It has some interesting and possibly uncomfortable ramifications.
Think in terms of Noah for a moment. What he built had the capacity to float in the flood. Remember, the flood was not sent by the devil, and that God gave Noah the design of the ark he was to build (Genesis 6:13-17). The ark was not of Noah’s design. Today we are facing a ‘virus flood’ that many church systems are finding it difficult to stay afloat. If the existence of what we have built in the past is being challenged in this crisis, it may suggest that what we have built was not designed for the flood we are in.
I believe we are in the early stages of a global realignment of the church as we know it. I struggle with trying not to sound like a doomsayer. I am really a positive guy. The reality is that I believe the coronavirus is the first of several global things that will unravel the church system as we know it. It is time to set our eyes on the purpose and design of the Kingdom. It is the only source of stability we can depend on in the days to come (Hebrews 12:28-29). Blessings!
Don't be blindsided again!
I can honestly say that I love the people serving in what we know as ‘the church’. But the fact remains that Jesus never said or intended to build a church.
Even now as some read this, I am sure there are questions as to why this is such a big deal. This writing cannot delve into the depths of this subject, rather this serves to alert us to an issue that must be addressed. For deeper study on this subject,
I encourage you to check out some of the Study Starters on my website www.TheEkklesiaCenter.org,
or get a copy of my book LEAVING CHURCH BECOMING EKKLESIA.
Here's my point...
God was not caught off guard by the coronavirus. The current pandemic in the earth has served to expose the flaws in many earthly systems – religious and secular. The inability to gather has impacted churches around the country. Many are scrambling to survive. What will happen when this is over? Will the church go back to business as usual? Or, is it time to revisit what Jesus actually said and meant when He declared He would build His ekklesia? Maybe it's time to rethink what we know as church! Blessings!
The coronavirus blindsided the church. As a believer, you should never be caught off guard. Don’t be blindsided.
The coronavirus blindsided the church. As a believer, you should never be caught off guard. Don’t be blindsided.
A Guest Blog...by Frederick Tobun
This weeks blog post was written a year ago by my friend, Frederick Tobun. His perspective of the nativity is poignant and relevant to the 21st century. I am honored to provide his contribution to you this week.
After reading this post make sure to visit his enlightening website RESTORE CITIZENSHIP.
At a time where countless numbers of people celebrate Christmas, it is placed upon us the responsibility to preach in and out of season the purpose and intent of the miraculous birth of the Son of God.
Within fellowships, communities and churches the proclamation of the prophet Isaiah will be read in the hearing of many. During this reading many minds will visit the scene of the nativity to reflect upon the baby born in the manger, the appearing of the heavenly host, the visits of the shepherds, the star at night and the wise men from the east.
For some enshrined before them will be the statues of the nativity, whilst for others a theatrical piece played out by ardent followers. This will be followed by music, dancing and merrymaking.
WHAT DOES NATIVITY MEAN?
The word nativity means “the event of being born” or the circumstances in which a child is born. Hence the word requires us to consider all the events during the birth of a child.
The reading of Isaiah 9:6 and the record of the nativity found in the gospels of Matthew and Luke provides us a revelation of the events taking place. These events together collectively describe a child being born and a son being given.
Many moons ago whilst reading this text I came upon the revelation which is so clearly distinguished by the prophet Isaiah. This began a journey from the child of the nativity to the son of the nativity. From a childrens story to history.
This meant that the typical characters and props associated with the meaning of the nativity changed from being just the foreground of religious christmas traditions into a sharper picture disclosing the richer understanding of God’s kingdom.
Why would the prophet make two statements about this monumental event? Why in one breath state a child is born and in another a son is given?
WHERE DO WE BEGIN?
The Old testament prophecies provide supporting evidence for these distinctions.
Numbers 24:17 states "I see him, but not now: I behold him, but not near; a Star shall come out of Jacob; a Scepter shall rise out of Israel"
Numbers 24:17 states "I see him, but not now: I behold him, but not near; a Star shall come out of Jacob; a Scepter shall rise out of Israel"
Two sight’s are mentioned, I see him! The first natural and relating to the child's legitimate inheritance within the economy of Israel. I behold him! The second spiritual the revelation of who this child is as the Son of God and chosen King.
The writer goes on to state that what he saw was prophetic, what he wrote was a foretelling of future events. Hence this text would have been part of the inspiration of Isaiah's words.
To begin with we must come to appreciate the words used to introduce the distinctions. “Unto us” forcefully impress the relevancy and impact of the event on we who are in this world.
For whether the child is born or the son is given, both are unto us and drive home our responsibility to respond accurately. No one born from the line of Adam can disassociate themselves from the impact of the fulfillment of prophecy.
In addition the events recorded within the gospels pertaining to the prophecy provide ample guidance and teaching on how to approach the child, the son.
A STORY TOLD IN PARTS…
The significance of the nativity relates to appreciating all of the events which took place without reducing the narrative to a cliche of theatrical pieces. One thing I have learned is that history does not narrate well and there is a mastery involved in relaying history accurately from one generation to the next.
For many of us we have grown up with the nativity which focuses on the “birth of the child”. This majors on: baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph, manger, angels, shepherds, star, wise men and gifts.
This nativity guided by the limitations of tradition creates an immature view which we haven’t as yet altogether grown up from.
The nativity that reflects the son has an altogether different approach and parallels the exodus and nativity of Moses. This majors upon:
- The occupation of Israel under foreign rule.
- The corrupt overlord King Herod.
- The religious and governmental suppression of the people.
- The tragic dumbness of Zechariah the priest.
- The agony of Elizabeth’s labour for John.
- The burden of census taking and taxes.
- The shame of the “virgin” birth upon Mary’s household.
- The damaged reputation of Joseph as a result of a perceived adulterous wife to be.
- The danger of losing a daughter (Mary) to stoning.
- The hostile sixty eight mile journey by foot from Nazareth to Bethlehem.
- The shunning of Joseph in his hometown of Bethlehem.
- The unplanned exodus for the family to Egypt.
- The infanticide of children up to two years of age by King Herod.
These events tend to stand in the background of the first nativity and hence as a result reduce the importance and significance of the son being given.
THE WHOLE STORY TOLD…
When we step back to see the nativity in its entirety we cannot afford any longer to hold onto the immature romanticised perspectives of our traditions, but are forced to grapple with the gritty reality of faith by both “seeing” and “beholding”.
We are forced to come to terms with the fact that the christmas we know is not the christmas they experienced.
We are forced to come to terms with the fact that the christmas we know is not the christmas they experienced.
Faith in keeping with the Kingdom provokes us to see things as they are, whilst beholding what will be: Read Isaiah 60:2: “See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but (behold) the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you”
Here the prophet again provokes both the natural sight and the spiritual sight coming into harmony. We are not to ignore either, but rather ensure both are framed by the word of God. The shepherds and the wise men experienced what the prophet stated.
The shepherds were commanded by the angels to seek for the sign. They subsequently sought for a baby in a manger. Once found they testified to all of the savior's birth.
The wise men were commanded by prophecy to seek for a sign. They subsequently sought for the shining star which would lead them to the King in Bethlehem. Once found they gave gifts unto the King.
Both the shepherds and the wise men encapsulate the rich experience of encountering the fullness of Isaiah 6:9 and serve as an example of how to respond.
On the one hand the shepherds provoke us to testify of the savior's birth signifying the hope of waiting on the Lord for his promises. On the other hand the wise men provoke us to recognise the realization of the promise by practically honouring and serving the Lord with the fruit of our obedience and substance recognising his authority, divinity and sacrifice.
Looking past our traditions with their set times, places and events and beholding the truth of the nativity I wonder what this would be like today? Could the riches of Christ’s commonwealth be so manifest that it makes redundant the need for a Christmas day?
The famous carol written by the English hymn writer Isaac Watts and based on Psalm 98 conveys within the first and second verse the spirit of our worship.
Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King;
Joy to the world, the Lord is come! Let earth receive her King;
Frederick Tobun is the founder of Restore Citizenship and serves as a community elder of the Islington fellowship. A digital communications professional, Frederick is passionate about reaching out with the message of kingdom citizenship and seeing the development of the Ekklesia within local communities.
From Church to...?
I do a lot of talking about the ‘church as we know it’. If you follow my blogs, books, live teaching and other media, you hear me say that the ‘church’ will not be the same in a few years. It is in transition. But the question must be answered, ‘Where is it transitioning to?
I also speak often about the Greek word ekklesia. Sometimes I share it as though people thoroughly understand what I am talking about. In my excitement to show that Jesus never said He would build a church, I failed to clearly articulate His intentions. Within the framework of His intent is the revelation of where the coming transition is taking us.
It all began with the simple declaration, “upon this rock I will build my ekklesia”. Jesus had other word choices besides ekklesia. He could have said He would build His heiron, which is the Greek word translated as temple. Everybody in Jesus day would have identified with the temple. He could have also declared that He would build His synagogue. Both words would have been acceptable to the religious minds of that day. The temple and the synagogue were centers of Judaic religious activity.
Jesus used a word that had no religious connotations...
Jesus used a word that had no religious connotations – ekklesia. It was known in that day as an arm of the Roman government. He did not say He would build a church. Understanding this gives us a glimpse of where the church is transitioning.
The ekklesia was given specific authority by the government it represented. The Roman ekklesia could legislate, confer or deny citizenship, set policies and elect officials. Likewise, when Jesus declared He would build His version of the ekklesia, a similar authority would accompany it. Rather than representing the Roman government, His ekklesia would represent the Kingdom of Heaven. The authority it had would be a clear threat to the kingdom of darkness (Matthew 16:18-19).
The devil’s tactic to disrupt the Lord’s intent was to change the identity of the ekklesia. When the instructions were given to insert the English word church for ekklesia, the Body of Christ shifted from having an impact in the world, to an audience in a building. The Body of Christ took on a completely different identity. It was never intended to be a church.
...the Holy Spirit is bringing emphasis to the ekklesia the Lord originally proclaimed
Maybe this will give you a glimpse of what the coming transition is intended to produce. Over the past 400 plus years, the Lord has restored many things that had been stripped from His ekklesia. Critical doctrines and the ministry gifts were restored in preparation for this time. Unfortunately, they were restored and encased in a system totally foreign to their original purposes. Today, the Holy Spirit is bringing emphasis to the ekklesia the Lord originally proclaimed. Ekklesia is being restored. Its restoration will bring back the kingdom authority it originally had.
This is the first part of the coming transition. Church will be restored to ekklesia, and there is much more to come. Once we realize our identity, we can move into doing what is expected of it. Binding, loosing and establishing the footprint of the kingdom in the earth will once again become the norm. The gates of hades will not stand a chance against what Jesus said He would build.
If you are like me, you are looking forward to this powerful transition. Jesus is still building His ekklesia, with believers like you. Get ready, there is more to come.
P.S. Watch the latest episoded of 'Good Morning, Ekklesia!' Currently we are doing an indepth study on Ekklesia In The Word.
Roadblocks or Giants
Transitioning from one thing to another can at times be challenging. When you see something beyond your current place, there becomes and inward drive to reach it. Between you an that destination you may encounter both giants and roadblocks. There is a difference between these two obstacles you must understand.
Roadblocks are inanimate deterrents to your destination. Imagine yourself traveling from one city to another and halfway there you encounter a sign that says the road you are on is closed. This is a roadblock. The sign did not tell you to discontinue your journey. Its presence only indicated that that road you were travelling was no longer available to you. A roadblock is clear indication that you must take another route.
Roadblocks are the loss of a job, an ally leaving you, an unexpected death, or some other trauma. As difficult as they may be, they do not mean the end of your journey. These events alert you to the need to pursue other paths to reach your destination. Simply put, roadblocks don’t stop you, they redirect you.
Giants are the voices that come to discourage and intimidate you. These are often people that accentuate your weaknesses and shortcomings. “You don’t have enough money!” “You don’t have a good education!” “That has never been done before!” “What makes you think you can do this?” “This is more than you can handle!” I am sure you can add your list of such discouragements you may have heard.
Giants cannot stop you. If you allow them, they will discourage or intimidate you to the point that you choose to quit. Giants must be destroyed. Goliath taunted David and tried Him, but David killed him. You too must kill the giants that try to stop you. It may mean separating from some friends. You may have to stop discussing your plans with naysayers. It means you will have to be selective from whom you get advice. You must destroy the voice of the giant.
I believe the church as we know it is in a time of transition. More and more people are awakening to the reality of ekklesia. Undoubtedly both roadblocks and giants will appear as we journey to the place God intended for us. The response to these obstacles will be your choice. I believe you will move forward in the power of the Lord! Follow these three steps:
1. Keep Your Sight In The Word of God It is easy to get distracted and potentially confused. The Word of God is your compass that will keep you moving in the right direction. Yes, you may zig when you intended to zag, but the Word of God will keep you on the right path (Psalms 17:5).
2. Listen To, But Don’t Embrace Your Critics Those who criticize you have no loyalty to your feelings. In their criticisms, they may reveal deficiencies you may need to address. Rather than allowing their negative words to stop you, correct the issues and move forward as a stronger, better you (Psalms 5:8; 27:11).
3. Pray On Your Feet I strongly believe in prayer. Scripture commands us to ‘pray without ceasing’ (1Thessalonians 5:17). To be in constant state of prayer suggests that many times we pray in motion. Even the idea of waiting on the Lord is not to suggest you are dormant. It means we increase our worship as we anticipate His direction (Isaiah 40:31). As you seek to transition, remember the words of the Apostle Paul “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14 KJV). Pressing means you are pushing forward.
Leaving church to become ekklesia can be achieve only as we keep our eyes on Jesus Christ. I believe you are among those who will demonstrate what Jesus meant when He declared “…upon this rock I will build by ekklesia...”. The Ekklesia Center is working diligently to provide you with additional tools to help you navigate this journey.
Can you Un-Church the Churched?
“How do you unchurch the church? How do you kill religion and tradition and stop it from spreading? How do you unteach the sound of the Hammond organ [that make some believe it is the presence of God]?
This is my paraphrase of a question recently asked on a Facebook post.
As a product of the church, I am very familiar with the ins and outs of its system. I have been a church musician from 10 years old, and I have served in nearly every capacity. Most recently, I have served as the pastor of a traditional church. I know church. I love the many wonderful relationships I have gained and still maintain.
Currently, I am leading the ‘church’ I have served for 28 years into becoming a network of house gatherings. I have experienced first-hand what it means to unchurch the churched. It is actually an attempt to recalibrate the mindset of people. Anybody can leave a sanctuary and meet in a living room. However, if WHAT we do is not infused with WHY we are doing it, then all we have done is change locations with no real purpose. The reality is that you can’t effectively unchurch anyone who still holds to a church mindset.
...you can’t effectively unchurch anyone who still holds to a church mindset.
Harriet Tubman is reported to have said, “I freed a thousand slaves – but I could have freed many more had they known they were slaves”. The church system has so clouded the minds of its
adherents that they believe they are correct in what they do. They use scripture to support traditions created by man (Mark 7:13). Their experiences are touted as spiritual validation (John 4:20). Emotionalism is confused with the real presence of the Lord. Becoming unchurched begins when you receive the revelation that Jesus is the Christ, Son of the Living God!
The churches that appear to be growing have found a way to put on a bigger and better performance than the other churches in their vicinity. They draw in the crowds with polished praise teams, crisp musicians, dance troops and preaching that appeals to the senses. Their growth is more transfer evangelism than winning new converts. When their appeal wanes, the people go looking for the next spiritual thrill. I would like to offer 3 ways this can change.
1. Pray that believers see the truth
Paul prayed for the believers at Ephesus that “The eyes of [their] understanding [would be] enlightened… (Ephesians 1:18). Once a person sees the truth – they cannot un-see it. Once they experience the presence of the Lord without the filters of religious pageantry – they will want no substitutes. Once they get the revelation that Jesus is the Christ, Son of the Living God – they will run from sectarian depictions of Him.
2. Remain steadfast in your resolve
Those of us who say we have been delivered from churchianity, the burden on us is to live it out. This is more than rhetoric – it is our responsibility. There is a great temptation to give up when you are faced with conflict, ridicule and accusations. Hold fast and in time, the Lord will vindicate you.
Since we began the process of transitioning four years ago, we have been misunderstood and at times mischaracterized. Yet, by remaining steadfast, those among us are growing in both the Word of God and in covenant relationships. We were greatly encouraged when in the last year, two other ministries in our area have embraced what the Lord is doing in us. We are prayerfully coming together with them under the headship of Jesus Christ. It is clear that the Lord is orchestrating a regional network of believers. By remaining steadfast, we are seeing Jesus build His ekklesia His way. Everyone involved is committed to Him more than the traditions of the past.
3. Know that you are called
You are called out to impact the world you live in. You have a significant place in the Lords ekklesia. People are watching you. Walk worthy of the vocation that you are called into (Ephesians 4:1-3). Remain humble before the Lord. Stay focused. Enjoy this wonderful season of growth in your life.
The ministry of The Ekklesia Center is to help guide believers into a firm understanding of what Jesus is building in the earth. Visit our website often to get more insights to help you in your journey.
Don't Come Out
I recently read a Facebook post where 2Corinthians 6:17 was quoted. “…come out from among them, and be separate, says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.” The writers implied that those who have received the ‘revelation’, must separate themselves from those who are still in the institutional church.
The writer further implied that anyone in a traditional church was not only ignorant, but unclean, too. If this post was isolated, there would be no cause for alarm. However, when I saw the many ‘likes’ he received, and the numerous supportive comments that followed, my heart was broken.
Most ‘believers’ I know were saved in a traditional or institutional church. For those few who were not, they often looked for a traditional or institutional church to connect with after receiving Christ. The concept of ‘church’ is deeply engrained in the psyche of most believers.
Some of us have recently been graced by God to see something fresh. We have learned that Jesus never came to build a church, but rather an ekklesia. We have learned that ‘church’ and ekklesia are not the same. We have learned that Jesus intent is to give the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven to an earthly ruling council with the authority to bind and loose on earth, whatever heaven has already bound and loosed. God has given authority His ekklesia to affect every facet of human existence. Unfortunately, everyone does not see this. Most believers only know the ‘church system’ that has been prevalent for nearly 1,700 years.
I have served as a traditional or institutional ‘church pastor’ for nearly twenty-five years. I see and embrace what God is doing in the Body of Christ today. What do I do with those I have served all these years? Do I leave them because my revelation shows me something that is incompatible with the traditional church? Do I ‘come out from among them’ and abandon them because they seem to still like traditional church?
No. I will not abandon them. Many are still trying to comprehend the difference between church and ekklesia. I suspect that there are some reading this blog who still have not comprehended the difference.
I am determinedly working to transition from ‘church’ into ‘ekklesia’. I am weaning myself, and helping to wean those around me from the system we have known all our lives. I am teaching those I have served to gather interdependently from house to house.
To use 2Corinthians 6:17 to imply some spiritual superiority over other believers is pure spiritual arrogance.
What about the many relationships I have gained with other existing traditional pastors? Do I ‘come out from among them’ implying they have allegiance to some evil entity? Have they become ‘unclean’ because God has allowed me to see something different? Will God receive me and reject them? To use 2Corinthians 6:17 to imply some spiritual superiority over other believers is pure spiritual arrogance.
Many are trying to build their own kingdoms, based on a ‘we’re right – you are wrong’ platform. Instead of fostering covenant relationships, they are creating
What you build must have focus and purpose and above all revelation.
an atmosphere of ‘us versus them – good versus bad, and right versus wrong’. You can never build something new based on being an antithesis to something else. What you build must have focus and purpose and above all revelation. Jesus said that He would build His ekklesia with those who have the revelation that He is the Christ, Son of the Living God (Matthew 16:16-18). We are workers together with Him (1Corinthians 3:9; 2Corinthians 6:1)
Those of us who have been given a glimpse of the Lord’s ekklesia, have been entrusted by Him to bring this truth into the earth. We must seek to be an example of God’s will and way before our brothers and sisters. We need to spark their interest by the way we love them and one another (John 13:35), assemble with each other (Acts 2:21-47), and impact our community (Acts 16:20; 17:6). When they come asking what is going on, it gives us an opportunity to share (1Peter 3:15).
Finally, it is interesting that the admonition to forsake not the assembling is preceded by provoking one another to good works through love (Hebrews 10:24-25). I personally do not believe that I have the right to bash another system if I have not exampled the love, power and purpose emanating from mine.
Pride or Fear
Gideon’s defeat of the Midianites with 300 soldiers is a familiar story of faith, obedience and the strategic power of the Lord. When the Lord called him, Israel was already outnumbered.
Then the Lord began to whittle down his troops. It is interesting that the first thing God identified that would hamper Gideon was pride. If Israel had defeated the Midianites with the 32,000, God knew they would take the credit for the victory. They would claim that it was by their hand that they had won. So how did God sort these prideful people out?
And the LORD said to Gideon, "The people who are with you are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel claim glory for itself against Me, saying, 'My own hand has saved me.' "Now therefore, proclaim in the hearing of the people, saying, 'Whoever is fearful and afraid, let him turn and depart at once from Mount Gilead.'" And twenty-two thousand of the people returned, and ten thousand remained. (Judges 7:2-3 NKJV)
Gideon was instructed to ask those who were afraid to leave. Twenty-two thousand admitted to their fear and left. Isn’t that interesting? God said that their issue was pride, but fear is what identified it. This reveals to us a truth we need to consider today. It answers why some continually resist ekklesia out of fear of repercussions. It explains why many attach themselves to religious traditions, while feeling that there must be more. It explains why some will deny the truth, even though they have the facts in front of them.
Pride attempts to mask their limited understanding of ekklesia, while fear reveals their unwillingness to venture beyond the status quo. Pride maintains an outward persona of confidence, while fear exposes their anxiety of potentially losing position and status. Pride portrays a ‘we are better than others’ in the church world, while fear grips their hearts with emotional instability.
The future of ekklesia will be contingent upon a pure cadre of believers who are fully committed to its advance.
Israel hated how they were treated by the Midianites. As soon as their crops were harvested, the Midianites came and took their goods. They were deeply impoverished (Judges 6:1-6). Today, many sense they are impoverished in the church system. They are being robbed week after week by sectarian doctrines and religious traditions. They want out, but don’t know where to go. Then along comes ekklesia. It is refreshing. It appears to offer a way to real spiritual growth. But it comes with a price. You must address your fears that have been masked in pride.
As important as ekklesia is to the Body of Christ, imagine the concern of the Father. Potentially too many people are pursuing it. Specifically, many are pursuing it with the wrong motives. They are found in three categories.
- First, many like to be the first to adopt some new revelation. They are like the Athenians who ‘spend their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing. (Acts 17:21). They attend all the conferences and learn the lingo but are easily distracted when the next new thing appears.
- A second group understands ekklesia but try to pour this new wine into the old wine skins. They find safety trying to sew new cloth onto old garments (Mark 2:21-22). They can’t see the damage they cause by following this practice. Ekklesia gets reduced to a program or an event in their church that they can promote or eliminate at will.
- The last group simply follow the crowd. They attach themselves to the most popular group, without ever becoming loyal to it. They are the first to abandon it when trouble, confusion or conflicts arise.With all these groups, some form of pride lurks in the background. When you expose their fears, many will ‘go home’ to the safety of their religious traditions.
God is looking for the 300 who will win the battle. He is calling out those who are not afraid of losing friends. He will use those who aren’t shaken when some label them as a cult. God wants a people who are more interested in divine purpose than they are in positions and titles. The 300 do not fear losing any perceived status for the cause of Christ. The future of ekklesia will be contingent upon a pure cadre of believers who are fully committed to its advance.
Are you among the victorious 300?
Ekklesia is rising. The Ekklesia Center’s three-point plan to establish, develop and release believers can equip and prepare you for what the Lord is doing in the earth today. You can walk in faith. You can walk without fear. You can walk in confidence knowing that what Jesus is building, He is building with believers like you. Blessings.
Learn more about being established, developed and released. CLICK HERE
About The Author
Tim Kurtz is the Founder of The Ekklesia Center. The purpose of this blog/vlog is to explore subjects that show how the mistranslation of ekklesia to church has impacted the Body of Christ. He has served in ministry over three decades amd is the author of several books. He and his wife Carolyn have been married 46 years and live in SC Michigan.