Monday 20 April 2009

A Third-Level Approach to Ministry IV - Frank Viola's Blog - and my take on "America The Beautiful Franchise Corp."

Frank Viola not only writes good books, but here is his blog and in the present post he talks about The Divine Commodity.

"I always enjoy meeting the people who write the books I read. It adds a certain texture to the experience.
Last month, I was in a two-day meeting in Chicago that drew various Christian leaders from around the country. Skye Jethani was present at this meeting, and it was the first time we met in person.
Skye attended with some other folks on the Christianity Today staff, Marshall Shelley and Kevin Miller. I’ve been reading Shelley and Miller for years, as I’ve been a devoted reader of CT since I was in my early 20s (I, of course, am only 29 now, but that’s beside the point).
Meeting these men in person was a neat experience. Shelley and Miller were delightful, and as can be imagined, they were both incredibly sharp and insightful.
I was also impressed by Skye. And I’m not *only* speaking of his fantastic hair cut — which is striking in its own right (may his tribe increase!). But what he brought to the table in our meetings resonated very strongly with my own heart.
On the last day of the event, Skye handed me his new book, The Divine Commodity.

Two things stood out immediately. First, the cover - it’s absolutely gorgeous. Hardback with a killer design imprinted instead of on a paper sleeve (I never liked those sleeves).
Second, the endorsements. When influential authors like Greg Boyd, Alan Hirsch, and Brian McLaren all endorse the same book, you’d be very wise to take notice of it. And you’d be wiser to secure a copy and read it.
I began reading the book on the plane on my way back home.
Before I plunge in here, people who know me can testify to the following. 1) I’m not easily impressed. In fact, I’m the guy who airs on the side of being monumentally UNimpressed by most things in the Christian world today. 2) I’m not inclined to be complimentary unless I feel it’s deserved. You won’t find me pouring butter all over anyone (the exception being Mr. Lobster).
I’ll leave it to the other bloggers to write a blow-by-blow review of the book. Instead, I’d like to make a few observations on how the terrain looks from my hill, a few personal reactions, and then my question to Skye.

1. The writing style. It’s excellent. Skye’s book scores well above average here. It’s well written, clear, and holds the attention of the reader. That latter part is not easy to do with someone like me. I’ll shamelessly admit that I move into ADHD mode whenever a book is in my hands. It takes A LOT for a book to grab me … and even more for it to keep me.
2. The subject. Hugely important and so little talked about. I’ve been saying it for years: The church of Jesus Christ is dying for a lack of creativity and imagination. We Christians, as a whole, are the most unimaginative people on the planet. The creativity and imagination of Divinity is resident within us, but it’s rarely expressed as a whole. I believe there’s a hidden obvious reason for this (which I’ll discuss in a minute), but in short, it’s a problem of huge proportions. Especially since our God is the most creative Person in the universe.
3. The point. Skye does a great job unfolding the problem and identifying some of the nuances surrounding it. He makes great use of quotations by other authors, and uses van Gogh as a template for each chapter. You will learn a lot of things you didn’t know before reading this book, and it will provoke you to think.
4. The rating. I give it 5 stars, and I hope that both of my blog readers will go out and purchase a copy of the book. You can get it from any Christian bookstore or from I suspect that Amazon has the best prices (click on the book cover).
Beyond enjoying the book, I want to state what I believe to be one of the greatest obstacles and hindrances to unleashing the creativity and imagination resident in the Body of Christ today.
It’s the perfunctory way that most of us do church. The 500-year old Sunday morning Protestant order of worship has been set in concrete for the last five decades and most Protestant and evangelical churches simply will not change it.
To my mind, this is one of the most uncreative and unimaginative things that’s been invented by the minds of mortal men. I realize that some pastors may think they’ve broken with it by substituting pews with chairs, having the worship team sing 5 songs instead of 10, trimming down the sermon from 50 minutes to 20 minutes, having coffee before the service starts, not using bulletins, etc. etc.
But let’s be honest. These are minor tweaks. The fact is, this ritual renders most of God’s people passive for the entire event. (And God’s people call it “going to church.”) The ritual is more akin to a spectator sport than anything else. Yes, you can worship God and sing songs in your pew or chair, but beyond that, there’s little to no participation. The creativity of the Body is quite limited as a result.
I live in a world where God’s people gather for church meetings that have endless variety in them. Open participation is present in these gatherings. It’s the norm, not the exception. And the kinds of meetings to express Jesus Christ are endless. There’s no static ritual that the churches are stuck in. The variety is as vast as the unsearchable riches of our Lord Himself. Further, the creativity of God’s people is constantly encouraged and watered. And the results are exciting, dramatic, and often unpredictable.
I’ve discovered that to the average church going Christian, what I’ve just said above has no points of contact with their experience. They can’t even imagine meetings like this. (That’s the confession of many whom I’ve talked with by the way.)
The reason: They’ve been given only one experience of “church,” and it’s the only grid through which to understand the meetings of God’s people. That, or a Bible study or prayer meeting. And those are fairly typical as well.
Of course, there’s a price to pay for having the kind of rich, open-participatory church meetings I’ve described. It requires that every member put their hands to the plow and prepare spiritually for their gatherings and take responsibility to express their portion of Christ in them.
Attending a typical church service with the 500-year old order of worship in place is far easier and much more convenient. Nothing is required except showing up. The show will go on nonetheless.
I realize that many people enjoy the Sunday order of worship. And that’s fine. But we’re talking about *hindrances* to the creativity and imagination of the church of Jesus Christ. And we shouldn’t be afraid to face this one question head on:
“Is it POSSIBLE that the way we typically do church has hindered the creativity of God’s people to think outside the box?” Is that possible?
Last month, I was speaking at George Fox Seminary and I made the following statement: “I think we should take the Sunday morning order of worship out behind the barn and shoot it.”
To my surprise, the audience began to applaud.
Point: There’s restlessness in the Body of Christ today. There’s a certain boredom that a significant number of Christians are experiencing with the typical way church is done today. And lack of imagination and creativity = boredom. And there’s nothing boring about Jesus Christ when He’s being expressed in His fullness by His people. He’s anything but boring.
That said, I believe Skye’s book will help to show us the problems in our lack of creativity, and it will help us to begin to explore new and fresh ways to be church in this generation. And hopefully, to take the risks of thinking outside the box and doing church differently than it’s been done over the last 500 years.
Not to put too fine a point on it: The church of Jesus Christ is the most glorious woman on the planet. Right or wrong, I see her in the main today hiding her glory under a bushel. Her spiritual instincts, which includes her creativity, have been largely deadened. As a result, she has been veiled to most of us.
If we can entertain the possibility that there just may be a better way to unleash the native creativity in the church of the Lord Jesus Christ today, then I believe the Lord will be able to gain more for Himself and His eternal purpose. And He will be able to express His glory through His much loved Bride in multi-splendid ways. Or to quote Paul, “that the multi-splendored wisdom of God (which is Christ Himself) might be made known through the church …”
Note those last three words … “through the church.” "


Or to quote Paul"that the multi-splendored wisdom of God(which is Christ Himself)might be made known through the Church..."

My note to all this.

I'd be interested in reading this book. I just get slightly scared of Americans having great big-scale vision , then using Henry Ford production plant techniques to roll it out into the whole world. Give an American a great idea and he will franchise it- even while you are still working on the blueprint. "But we're not finished yet- we're only at the 2nd level" "That don't matter pardner, we'll pick up the pieces later!!When we roll out the next edition." This in a nutshell is my take on Morris Cerullo and Rheinhardt Bonnke, though ofcourse Rheinhardt is German!

What Americans have largely failed to realise....but hey they got 100 billion miles further than anything in England!!! that the third level is its own roll out mass production technique...containing its own built-in creativity and's called Fatherhood replica reproduction...and one man at this level...St Paul ..... seemed to roll out hundreds of churches or subchurches in less time than it took for Henry Ford to develop his product fully. (I'm not by this, recommending one man ministry again- but rather my focus is that we co-work with God to see teams of 3rd levellers raised up.But this last sentence shows what can happen when just one third leveller like Paul shows up)

Now as the Catholic Church will seek to impress on you, as if they had anything to do with it....(they kind of claim sole legal right to owning anything before they invented their setup).... anyhow they will talk of the Desert Fathers: Third level men of great wisdom, power and spiritual stature in the early church.

Is it not an affront to the name of Christ that we see American ministries striding the Earth solo and under their own banners.

Are we saying by this that a.) we are only into Kenneth Copeland. Morris Cerullo. Benny Hinn. Rheinhardt Bonnke........and dare I say it.....the transitional ministry Rob Rufus......Or are we building the Body of Christ? And I know saints, that all of the above will freely point out that they are all building the Kingdom of God. Morris always but always says

"this is not the work of a man, but the work of the Holy Spirit..."

And I know and believe all these men. But what happens when however much you point to God...your ministry pattern is basically 2nd level. You are a talking head in a symbiotic relationship with an idolising crowd- there to do wonders like a performing poodle. The whole pattern creaks under the strain these days.

Are we also saying by this b). By accepting these ministries as status quo...that Jesus is not powerful enough to build His own Body thankyou very much. We are saying, while John Wimber was good, encouraging the saints to minister namelessly....the real power is in the "power ministry names of the few"!!!

Well I do not believe this. I really believe that once people have walked with the principles in this blog, such that they each become third levellers....we can BEGIN TO see teams...not only of the pattern in the Philippines with Mel Tari....yoked together in the gospel, ministering in power...namelessly....

but, because that was short-lived and a kind of first fruits a whole bunch of us who

understand what went wrong in Genesis 3

who minister as teams

who each in our own right is a "Father " ministry as laid out in 1 John 2

who as individuals , but incredibly more so in teams, move in the Power of God.

See, right now.....Rob Rufus could take a whole load of City Church into the mainland of China(visas permitting) and there is enough anointing collectively for them to see great signs and wonders.

But they are not 3rd levellers yet. Rob's on the way...but he hasn't really seen the "independence thing" full on at the core of his being yet. His people are just at the beginning stages of taking the reckoning verses of Romans 6 on board. The full holocaust has not hit them yet....after which the church, if it stands it, will move from being a 2nd level "Rob and his flock" type thing to being a full orbiting 3rd level affair. But maybe that's not his vision. perhaps he just wants to be a Morris Cerullo type of huge mega church where he is doing bigger and bigger miracles in the centre.

Well .That's not my vision. I want St Paul size miracles but in a "Propulsion unit type ringburner setting."

I actually believe Rob wants this too.

Further background reading on:

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