Slowly we’re making our way through the power packed conference here in Charlotte several weeks ago. This was not a new subject for me, but the emphasis was very different. Foundational in organic church “construction” is the Headship of Jesus Christ. Wolfgang Simson traveled from Germany to provide a valuable and unique perspective on the mission of the Kingdom. Here’s more information on Wolfgang from his own blog:
Who is... Wolfgang Simson
As form follows function, my life and existence is best described by the vision that has me. As a result, I have three passions:
the reshaping of the Church of Jesus Christ to accurately reflect the design of its author and King;
an economic reformation by returning to Kingdom Economics, the messianic principles of money and work;
and a reformation of unity, that will happen as the Body of Christ repents of its human fragmentization and returns to it´s original design, the smashingly attractive Bride of Christ.
No one will see these goals reached on behalf of any one single ministry, church or network. The primary vehicle by which God will see those goals reached - with or without us - is a global Holy Spirit guided synergy and partnership that is obedience-driven, not convenience-oriented. One of these partnerships - the Starfish Partnership - is a flat-structured global apostolic network born out of the fresh organic movements that are emerging everywhere
The messages during the conference (with the exception of Frank Viola’s) were not recorded. But I will do my best here to convey what Wolfgang Simson shared with us. His topic: INCREASING OUR GRASP ON APOSTLES AND PROPHETS FUNCTIONING TOGETHER AS THE FOUNDATION OF WHICH JESUS IS THE CHIEF CORNERSTONE
Amos3:7 “For the Lord GOD does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets.
Wolfgang Simson began by reminding us of how the Lord works. He first reveals what He will do through His prophets.
Simsom discussed how the Lord positioned Paul for his apostolic work. He brought him to a place of dying to self. It takes time to make an apostle, but it also takes time to “break” an apostle. He had to be broken before the Lord fully used him.
An apostle needs to listen prophetically and act apostolically. We need to be on the lookout for people who can also reproduce this in others. Prophetic people see vision. Apostles work with them to make it happen.
Wolfgang talked about our tendency to see prophetic ministry as something for the church. But truthfully God wants to take the prophetic into the world. Simson believes we’re about to move into what he calls “the inspirational age”. It will be a time marked by the Lord inspiring His people to invent things that succeed and fund the mission o the church. He referred to “industry prophets”, but added it will take the body to bring those inventions to fruition.
How Do We Build?
Church as we know it prevents Church as God wants it.
God provides His love, His grace, and His blessing. The blessing part is conditional. We must walk in holiness…which means within the confines of God’s word.
Prophetic ministry helps to remove the masks. It helps to bring us out of our cages and be real before God and others.
Form follows function. The church must be designed this way from its inception.
Simson believes we’re in the middle of the largest reformation in the history of the church. The group that hears this with a clean slate can go for it and see amazing blessing.
In this era we will see:
Kingdomization: We all move into the kingdom, the domain of God’s uncontested rule. We remain by obedience.
Building principles: Founding by apostles and prophets. But if apostles start selling their ministry they end up lonely.
Money: grasp radical economic principles. This will release the church. The only plans God blesses are his own.
House/organic church growth. A typical house/organic church has 15 people. If they grow by multiplication, 100,000 becomes 200,000. At this rate it would take only 13 years to reach half the planet. Simson compared the organic church to a “starfish”. If you cut a leg off, it becomes another starfish. The church must function under Jesus’ headship. He will build His church. We need to learn to listen to Him collectively. We seek God individually for “our piece” and bring those pieces together to discern the mind of the Lord.
Prophets must be honored. Sometimes prophets are made to feel like “dogs” as “apostles” use them for their purpose. We must be obedient to the Lord and the patterns he reveals. And we must be clean vessels for Him to use.
We also have another stark choice: we can ask for God’s blessing, or we can do what God is blessing. We have to come to a place where we proclaim: “I don’t have a vision. His vision has me”
Chinese Christians have learned well that quick and costly obedience advances the kingdom. What most of us are accustomed to is cheap decision making.
But ultimately we will fall into one of 3 categories as churches:
Revolution: a new work
Reformation: Start with something and learn to listen to the Lord to change
Retirement: these are made of people who don’t obey
We must burn our individual purpose statements
Many of us are building on wrong foundations: we’re giving consumers what they want.
We must also beware of vultures. There are rich people who want to control things. They “buy” people if they need to. Fathers and grandfathers must build a fence of protection around God’s work.
If you’re not sure of what to do, stop! Don’t let money or habit keep you. God has to immobilize us before he can mobilize us.
This is a time of Apostolic Transitioning. We are getting recalibrated in the kingdom.For years we’ve experienced Babylonian captivity of the church. It’s been market driven. We see the mountains of the holy land and painfully realize we’re on the wrong mountain! We have to come down the wrong mountain and go through the desert to get to the right one. Simson likened our state to that of the ship Paul sailed to Malta. The people were saved, but the ship was not.
This is a time of religious detox. We have to learn to exist without religious things. We can leave the system but the desert helps us get the system out of us.
After Wolfgang Simson’s presentation, other panelists and others in the room offered comments. I’m posting just some of those
-What God wants to do will likely be advanced by people who don’t mind being insecure. Often He leads us to go past the point of no return… there’s no fuel to get back to where we were. The challenge for us is when things get tough that we resist the temptation to go back
-Greg Austin added: we need to torch the bridge along the way. We must have passion in our hearts instead of just principles in our heads. There must be an impartation of the Holy Spirit.
-People infected with “the system” will try to discourage you. Security is intoxicating. This panelist continued with this disturbing characterization of Jonathan, Saul’s son. He died in the wrong war on the wrong battlefield with the wrong people. Jonathan covenanted himself with David but did not “uncovenant “ himself from Saul. This was his undoing.
-God builds with the King, but also with a royal family. But he’s building His kingdom, not our little empire
-There are 2 kinds of churches
1. Reactions to reactions, ad nauseum
2. Kingdom churches. A lot of Christians are not in the kingdom but in church. The goal is to build kingdom shaped churches where Jesus is not only my Saviour but also my Lord. Words are simply not enough
-A change of values must happen first or we will default back to what’s familiar and comfortable. We must destroy and avoid “programs”
-I build but not I, Christ builds in me
-Our Father does not want us to love things of Him more than Him. Some people love the form more than God. Every new season requires repentance. The last season of God is often the biggest challenge to the next one. We must present our body as a living sacrifice. Our first move is Godward, not manward. Don’t be conformed (which much of the institutional church is) but be transformed by the word of God, so you can prove what is the acceptable will of God. He will give you the option to obey or he will let the circumstances “kill” you to the point you’re ready to obey.
I’ll end with a favorite line from Don Atkin. The first time we met last month he said “church is not what you do, it’s what you “be”. On this day he summed it up well: We must stop doing and start being. If we abide in Him, He will accomplish His purpose in us.