Monday, December 27, 2010

Redeeming Disillusionment

Redeeming Disillusionment

Stephen R. Crosby

Disillusionment has always been a common malady for the Lord’s followers. The early church expected
the literal return of the Lord in their lifetime. When it didn’t happen, they needed the encouragement that
comes from a major adjustment in their expectation and understanding. Much of the NT was written to
psychologically encourage and theologically adjust the saints. The book of Hebrews is a great example of
a letter written to a people who were ready to “chuck it” because things had not panned out according to
their expectations.

The overwhelming majority of popular level media teaching and preaching is a set-up for disillusionment.
When all the promised temporal blessings for good behaving and promise claiming saints do not come to
pass, a crisis is inevitable. The first wave of human carnage surrounds us in those for whom the tired and
ragged remnants of Charismatic and apostolic-prophetic teachings have not produced the “promised”
results.i Disillusionment is saying it mildly. Many feel so betrayed, so misled, so the “fool,” for believing
another generation’s lightweight preacher talk, that they have turned into God-haters. It is but the first
fruits of a greater harvest to come. I get no joy in proclaiming so. My hope is to be there for folks when
the non-Calvary, simplistic promises and premises they have built their lives upon, come crashing down
around them.

The disillusionment phenomenon also influenced Israel of old, and God sent the prophets to encourage
and adjust them. Nowhere is this more prominent that in the return of the exiles from Babylon. Based on
their understanding of their past history, those who returned from Babylon had “land of milk and honey”
expectations for their return. What they got was the “land of ruin and desolation.” Rather than a “walk-intake-over” of houses and lands prepared for them, they were confronted with the charred ruination and
remains of another generation’s failures. Does this sound familiar?

When the exiles returned, they set up the altar of sacrifice, but the temple was not rebuilt due to the scope
of the task and the resistance they experienced from outside influences. The altar of sacrifice had to do
with their personal standing with God, but the temple was meant to be the testimonial habitation of God
in the earth. They settled for “personal” issues, while the greater issue of God’s testimony in the earth was
ignored. Again, the media airwaves are saturated with techniques on how to “get your blessing,” rather
than how to be the incarnation of the life of God in the earth, living effectively one with another.

God’s provision for Israel was to send Haggai (and others) to purge their romanticism, realign their expectations,
change their thinking, challenge them to faithfulness, and exhort them to a work that involved
something greater than their own interests. There are lots of applications for us today.

Many are disillusioned with organized and institutional forms of the faith and have embraced house
church and emergent church forms, only to eventually discover equal amounts of disillusionment in these
venues. I suggest that the problem is deeper than our meeting formats. Our message and methods have
been focused on: a) individual salvation (our individual ticket to heaven), b) the temporal benefits that are
mine, and c) giving our lives to build a “thing”- either the “church” as we have known it, or the “church”
as we think it should be. Either way, our expectation is in a thing.

We’re supposed to be building the temple-the spiritual temple that is, the Body of Christ, not just focusing
on the activities of the altar.

I believe that a prophetic call of encouragement, alignment, and correction is going out at this hour for
those who are His own, to step out of a self-aware and self-interest based Christianity (regardless of meeting
form) to get serious about Christ in us all . . . Christ in you, Christ in me . . . and give ourselves to the
that “building.” We have tried everything else. It has only produced frustration and disillusionment.

We must understand that our mandate is to build the body of Christ by exhorting to love, and good works.
We must understand that revelation does not come from the preaching ministry in the pulpit, but from our
“connectedness” together in the body. The unveiling of Christ that we desire is not related to a gifted orator
in a pulpit, or a gifted evangelist, or an anointed prophet or apostle. The unveiling of Christ we need is
directly related to our being knit together in love (Col. 2:2). That is where the “mystery” is revealed.

It has been my long persuasion that Jesus’ rebuke to the Pharisees regarding their inability to see Him until
they say “blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord,” (Matt. 23:39) has got nothing to do with
the details of His personal return. It applies firstly to the new creation, post-Pentecost apostles, and to
every recreated believer since. It is an absolute ban. Until we can say blessed is He who comes in the
name of the Lord, (the new creation indwelt, Spirit-filled, believer who comes in the name of the Lord),
we will never “see Him,” regardless of how “anointed” our various ministry expressions are or how “biblically
accurate” the structure of our meetings are.

Like Israel of old we need to pull away from a sacrificial consciousness of my own personal sins being
forgiven, and move into a “temple building” consciousness that serves as an incarnational witness to the
world that God is alive . . . in flesh . . . in you and me. The New Testament temple, the New Testament
habitation of His presence, has to be built. Out of the ruins of a previous generation’s failures we must
engage in the divine agenda.

Here is my prophetic declaration. Those other methodologiesii are over. Done. Finished. They have been
tried, and have produced only rubble. We can continue to sing our songs, wave our banners, dance our
dances, preach our messages, and whatever it is we do. But if we are serious about a different future day
of God’s purposes in the earth, we must get serious about building the temple. We must discover and embrace
Body-Consciousness. We must recognize Christ wherever He is, in one another, and give ourselves
to the seeing of Him there, not out of heaven.

That is I live to die for you. You and I are the living sacrifices, and together we constitute the testimonial
temple of God in the earth. All that I am, all that Christ has put in me, is . . . for you . . . and for the
world. Together, we are the temple not made with hands that is to be the testimony in the earth that Jesus
is alive in resurrection. If we are content with our own “promises of blessing” rather than the hard work of
relationship building and the development of actually knowing one another so we can actually exhort one
another to love and good works, we will never see the days of God on earth that generations have been
preaching about.

Redeeming Disillusionment
Stephen R. Crosby

i “Breakthrough” is always just “one more faith-act of obedience” away.
ii Pulpit consciousness, ministry consciousness, gift consciousness, anointing consciousness, miracle consciousness, etc.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Global House Church Movement: Declaration #7

It would be tempting to post all of Rad Zdero's bold declarations published in The Global House Church Movement, but I will stop at 3. This one has become increasingly important to me. As we begin our 3rd house church in the Charlotte area, I find one of the biggest battles is helping people transition from sitting passively in their seats (and living passivity during the week) to full engagement in gatherings and body life outside of meetings. I believe what happens on Sunday clearly sets the tone for every other aspect of church life.

A famous radio talk show host jokes that he was made to do his talk show and you and I were made to listen. At least he's working in a secular realm. What excuse do we have for promoting such foolishness in the Church?

Declaration #7
We Declare Common Meetings vs. Holy Rituals

For too long, we Christians have been performing choreographed and polished ceremonies and holy rituals and calling it church. But, the tide is turning!  We now declare a return to the clear New Testament practice of having Spirit-led, open participatory, and interactive "common" meetings where everyone has the right and responsbility to use their spiritual gift for the benefit of others.

Whether it is the Catholic mass, the Orthodox liturgy, or the Protestant sermon from the pulpit, it is unfortunately still spectator Christianity. Instead, we affirm the apostolic practice of open and particpatory meetings.  "What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church." (I Cor 14:26 NIV, emphasis added, see also I Cor 12:7-12, 27-30, I Cor 14:36-38, Col 3:16, Eph 5:19-20, Heb 10:25).

The Spirit of God must be allowed to lead and speak to the church through the church. Jesus should no longer be the guest of honor in church meetings. he should be the Master of Ceremonies. No more one man shows.  No more active few participating for the passive many. No more spectator Christianity.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Shattering the Clergy/Laity Divide

As promised I'm posting another Declaration from Rad Zdero's excellent book, The Global House Church Movement
This is a subject near and dear to my heart: the deployment of ALL of the Body of Christ to do the work of ministry. This cannot happen under the current religious landscape that dominates the Western world. 

We Declare Common People vs. Holy Clergy

For too long, we Christians have promoted the professionalization of Christian leadership. This religious caste system has created a rift between so-called clergy and laity, often resulting in a lack of involvement by lay people.  But, the tide is turning!  We now declared a grassroots Christianity that rightfully and practically restores the biblical priesthood of all "common" believers ( I Pet  2:4-10).

All believers can discover, use, and sharpen their spiritual gifts, talents, and capacities for the benefit of the entire Body of Christ (Rom 12:4-8; I Cor 12:7-12, 27-30). All believers can facillate even the most sacred symbolic acts, namely the Lord's Supper and Baptism, traditionally carried out only by ordained clergy. All believers are ministers in the truest sense and have a  God-given ministry to carry out.  There is no such thing as a priest or minister, for all Christians are believer-priests.

We , therefore encourage a shfit away from the unbiblical, professionalized, hierarchical, and money-draining clergy system, whether pope, cardinal, bishop, priest, minister, pastor, or senior elder. We suggest instead, a return to New Testament forms of leadership, namely local teams of co-equal elders (volunteers) and traveling apostolic teams (financially supported when needed) (Acts 13:1-3, 14:23, 17:9-15; 20:1-6, 20:17, 33-35; I Cor 9:1-18; Titus 1:5-9)  These are grassroots leaders who have been trained and approved by the Body of Christ.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Global House Church Movement

Since our local journey began, I quickly learned what the Lord is doing here is neither isolated nor a "flash in the pan" experience. Our walk has connections to the very infancy of the New Testament Church, and there's a trail of history, often untold, that confirms a continuity of house church/organic church life that continues to this day. There's also ample evidence that the Lord is up to something massive here in the 21st Century: restoring true New Testatment life and function around the globe.

In the growing collection of excellent books on the House Church Movement, I've come across a real gem:
The Global House Church Movement  by Rad Zdero.

Rad does a phenomenal job of covering the history of house churches and helping to envision disciples for life in this new, yet old context. And there is one chapter that really set me on fire: Chapter 5, Radical Principles, 10 Declarations of the Radical Church. I cannot resist sharing a few of these with you. But I will do so in small daily doses. Here is the first of my 3 favorites.

We Declare the Citywide Church vs. Denominations

For too long, we Christians have been seperated from each other and divided along denominational lines like corporations, organizations or political bodies with branch offices in various towns, cities, and nations. But the tide is turning!  We now declare a grassroots Christianity that works together strategically as a citywide church in order to effectively reach that city or region as was done in the New Testament era (Acts 9:31, 15:36, 20:17; Romans 1:7; I Cor 1:2; 2 Cor 1:1; Gal 1:2; Eph 1:1; Philip 1:1; Col 1:2; I Thes 1:1; @ Thes 1:1)

Denominationalism, unfortunately has historically often served to fragment Christians into different camps even within the same geographic locality, effectively crippling them from reaching out as a united Body of Christ. Fortunately, God is working mightily today to break down many of these barriers to unify Christians to maximize their efforts to disciple their city for Christ.

Therefore, as grassroots radical Christians, we in the house church movement encourage efforts that prioritize citywide church efforts over any existing denominational ties.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Dead to Sin

Articles, December 15, 2010

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Organic Leadership and Life

Since delving into the Organic Church world in 2009, I've lost count of the divine appointments the Lord has brought about to advance His kingdom. One such connection: Kenny Russell. My local connection with Kenny only lasted for a little over a week before he moved to England. But from that connection and his website, Organic Church Today, I've made a number of other connections with people seeking to walk with the Lord and His people organically. Some of them are now in the fellowship groups we're working with here in the Charlotte area.

Thanks to technology, I had the opportunity to fellowship with Kenny face to face again over Skype last night. After that talk I listened to one of Kenny's podcasts. He interviewed Neil Cole, the author of "Organic Leadership". I believe Neil addresses some very critical issues that help to "set the table" for the life Jesus wants to live through His people. I hope you will take some moments to listen and let the Lord speak to you. Just click anywhere in the box below to listen.

Gottalife Radio Capture The Moment - Organic Leadership with Neil Cole

Monday, December 6, 2010

Kingdom Connection: Apex, NC

I was intrigued when Steve Crosby invited me to join him as he paid a visit to friends he connected with through his writings.  I did not know what to expect.  What I experienced was warm hospitality and deep fellowship from the time we arrived to the time we left.  Though we went to encourage these new friends, we truly sense that this was an example of true mutuality that characterizes genuine Kingdom life.

I asked Steve to sum up what he saw in the people we connected with in Apex.  May the Lord multiply these qualities in values in all of us:

Personal security (a good sense of identity and place in the kingdom-comfortable in their own skin)

Not trying to impress or be impressed

Not position seeking, nor impressed with those who have position


Open themselves, and appreciating openness in others

Kingdom alignment in values versus local church alignment in values

Risk takers... faith adventuresome

Not looking for security

Willing to follow the Lord no matter what... even without full understanding

A readiness to listen and receive instruction incarnationally, not just informationally