Blueprint for the Transformed Church
I believe in these days of transformation, where the effects of COVD-19 are being felt by all, and perhaps exposing our strengths and weaknesses, God’s is calling the church to necessarily refocus on the individual and the home, rather than largely the corporate gathering. This change is not just for several months but is becoming the new normal for church. This transformation should include the equipping of all to minister in the kingdom of God, rather than just the few. This change has been challenging but is part of God’s work to renew our wineskin, and to change us into new garments, through which He can do His new thing.
The Church is to be inside out, and so in line with the Christ’s headship and five-fold governance model and mission, with apostolic and prophetic leadership and vision, there is a strong sense the Lord is calling us to a model of equipping the saints to be the royal priests they are commissioned to be out in the world, supporting them in their ministries in the region and community, rather than focusing resources on drawing people into ministries inside the church building, or for the churches structure. Leadership seeks to coach and equip people into their destinies and encourages people to minister by the Holy Spirit in to all the aspects of the Kingdom of God, and His creation, in which people are placed. Workplaces, homes, schools, streets, shopping centres, government institution, aged care homes, hospitals, mothers’ groups, etc., all are our mission field, in and beyond the region, where the Lord places us, and calls us to go.
Our role is to help them to learn and practices use their God given gifts to minister where they are called, perhaps partnering others with them to support their vocation, and ensuring prayer support is aligned to their needs. As we honour the Creator, and perhaps foster creativity and innovation in our church, from artistry, music, toys (e.g. Lego), business innovation, and beyond, I believe God will bless all of us with wonderful insights in to our we can expand partner with Him to expand the Kingdom of God.
Our equipping work, ministry, and life, are to carry the hallmarks of the centrality and headship of Christ, strength in the Bible as the word of God, living in and through the prophetic word of the Lord, and allowing the full expression of the Holy Spirit.
The role of the Pastor, effective pastoring, and discipleship
As we have grown in my understanding of how Christ calls His saints minister and lead, it is clear that God calls the pastor/leader to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, and these saints are the royal priesthood of believers. Aside from being Christ like, especially as a leader and shepherd, true pastoring is not so much about the ‘Pastor’ being the one solely, or mostly, responsible for pastoral care, he or she is in fact there to equip all believers in to pastorally caring for each other, and particularly calling and encouraging up those with a pastoral gift. In addition, this person will help to bring in resources and giftings from across the body of Christ to help us all (for example counselor, psychologist and other specialists where required). As a leader we are: looking to equip other leaders and all members to be Christ’s disciples; facilitating the exercise of the many gifts God has blessed the body of Christ with through His believers; and, help build us all in to His children and ecclesia, the body of Christ.
Pastoring should be about helping to nurture and build saints in to devoted followers of Christ as they walk a journey of sanctification, supported by the family of God, and the leaders in the church. This support can come through love, the ministry of the word, and the Holy Spirit, and while best provided in more intimate settings such as one to one, and in small groups, is well aided through preaching and teaching in the Church.
I believe key to discipling is being fed by His Word, watered by His Spirit. Our equipping work for ministry, and life, necessarily then to carrying the hallmarks of the centrality and headship of Christ, strength in the Bible as the word of God, living in and through the prophetic word of the Lord, and allowing the full expression of the Holy Spirit.
The challenges are not small in adopting to the new emerging approach of church, and many will be challenged by the change. Leadership will be key in helping them to first develop a trust in their relationship with the Lord, assist in navigating the change, and would need them to can go out to the home gatherings, workplaces, and other areas where the saints are meeting and ministering, helping to equip them for their specific roles. As such helping leaders to equip others, and equipping them, is important. Encouraging them in their walk with Christ, with a heart for Him and His kingdom, being given to regular times in the prayer and the Bible, having a heart of love, and being loved is, at the core of this equipping work. From here moving to equip them to encourage people in to their individual calls, utilising the gifts of the Holy Spirit, walking in the fruit of the Spirit of God, while maintaining a childlike faith in their pursuit of their God given vision. Pastoral care skills and improvements in communications are also great tools to assist leaders not just in a church scenario, but in whatever direction life takes them in work or at home.
The principle model for pastoral care is our Lord Jesus Christ, He is the Good Shepherd. In addition, the instructions of the Apostles Paul, Peter, and John give us clear guidelines in ministry. The pastoral role is one of compassionate brother/sister, pray partner, one who ministers in the Holy Spirit and His gifts, healing the sick, binding up the wounded and searching for the lost. I believe as a leader it is also important to recognise those gifted as pastoral carer and encourage them to assist in the nurture and support of the church in informal and formal ways. Importantly, pastors (the shepherds of the flock) need to respect and honour those who are the church builders and visionaries, understanding that while the pastoral roles maybe more popular with the church members due to their personal nature, the apostles and prophets form the basis of the growth of the body of Christ.
Implementation of Ministry
I believe God is revealing that implementing a care ministry arm into your city or region involves several aspects.
To equip and train all believers into their royal priesthood identity and to send them out, and support them, in the areas God has placed them, to care for the city. (i.e. the neighbourhoods, play groups, schools, universities, health care, businesses, government etc).
Secondly to focus on the business, retail, or relevant major environments of the city and ask the Lord to reveal innovative, creative, and effective ways to reach the city, by the power of his spirit.
A third and vital aspect is to minister as a part of the body of Christ in your region. We will not transform a city by ourselves. We need the whole body of Christ
My House a house of prayer – prayer culture
In these days of transformation, where the effects of COVD-19 are being felt by all, and perhaps exposing our strengths and weaknesses, the model of church necessarily needs to refocus on the individual and the home, rather than largely the corporate gathering. This change is not just for several months but is becoming the new normal for church. This transformation should include the equipping of all to minister in the kingdom of God, rather than just the few.
For the church I believe the focus is a call to the wider city or region in which they are planted, and ministering as the Body of Christ, encouraging His people to be lights for Christ in a dark world. Some may feel their call is beyond the region they are in, and even to the four corners of the world. It is essential to always be open to God’s leading in how you are to minister and pray, and see things from God’s perspective for you, rather than through our limited vision. God will honour the church as it seeks His mission and will continue to do so as we defer to Him and His will.
We need to spend some time seeking the Lord and allowing Him to identify and show us how to effectively minister into the needs of the city. Respectively, there have been many ‘soup kitchens’, but these soup kitchens are not transforming our city. (I serve in a soup kitchen, and they are vitally needed and biblically mandated in our care for the poor and hungry.) The Lord may be saying we need to focus on the business,
government, retail, or service sectors of your city, because that is where He has planted the Church. If you are in the city you need to connect with the very heart of urban and capital living in Australia, or maybe how you can help support those in the country. If you are in rural and regional areas, you can be sure that Jesus Christ has other focus for you.
Maybe we could start with gatherings of people who work/study in various areas coming together to pray for, listen to each other’s struggles, offer encouragement and support, and seek the Lord together for empowerment to minister onto the various workplaces. For example, those who work in health could come together, those who work in government, etc.
Also fostering an atmosphere of creativity and innovation with the church, perhaps exploring creative pursuits together (cooking, craft, photography ,song writing, storytellers fine arts, multimedia creatives etc) to honour the creator and seek him for an anointing for creative and innovative strategies for our city. I believe God will bless all of us with wonderful insights as we partner with Him to expand the Kingdom of God. This may lead outreach ministries such as workshops on innovation, cohesiveness, resilience, mental health care and strategies, and other things the business/government world is currently seeking help and solutions for.
A culture of prayer and family
The ‘my house a house of prayer’ concept, comes from the biblical precept that individually we are the temple of the Lord, we are his house now. Then we come together as living stones to be built into His dwelling place in our city. A house where the presence of the Lord dwells, where we can encounter his manifest presence, is vital for the transformation of our city. The Lord tells us his house is to be a house of prayer. As we are individually a house of prayer, then our homes should be houses of prayer. Not just prayer for our own needs, but prayer for our streets, for our neighbours, pray for the service station attendant down the street, pray as we go for our daily walk, or drive into work or university.
Encouraged by the actions God has orchestrated through the COVID-19 crisis, we are to build on ourselves and our homes being the houses of prayer. Saints should be encouraged to meet first in homes, sharing in the apostle’s doctrine, equipping, and nurturing each other, inviting in the unsaved as if to their home, and prayerfully supporting each as they are sent out two-by-two into the world. These homes, or gatherings inside a business, being places of accountability, and love. Places to experiment in the gifts of God, and to build each other up in the word of God. This is about ‘doing’ family and aligning to God’s family. Most of all, homes are to be personal sanctuaries of God, where we learn to commune with Him in prayer and worship. Such gatherings could include virtual and physical meetings, and move beyond the home, to connect people with similar professions and calling, e.g. regular gatherings of those working in business and government, teaching, or health professions. These groups coming together on Sunday as a broader expression of worship and love.