Friday 2 April 2010

How do we grow in a safe Church environment without the bustups and the Rifts?

If you think this is a safe post with a fairly predictable series of guidelines which are anyway taught in seminary, so you don't have to pay too much attention.......

Sorry. I do not have the answer. The question in the heading is a serious question which to date does not have an answer, but Jesus knew how to do it, and I guess He still knows how to do it. When He got His new physical body, I don't think He lost what He had learned to do on Earth. But to date, there is little proof, as we look at history. Maybe we are just not connected to Him enough.

I am speaking of two aspects of unity, or the lack of it.
I.Our character,gifting,personality and ministry differences.

1Cor12:14-26 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. 15If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 16And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. 17If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

21The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!" 22On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

Originally this set of scriptures was presented to us in a meeting context. That each person had a role to play. that we had to be completely open to the radically different ways of operating of the other members personalities, anointings, and giftings. Peter Stott said he tries to be sensitive to patterns of operation of other members in the Body in order not to stifle them. This is particularly important in open-ended meetings such as Key of David pattern meetings where literally anyone can have the anointing for leading at different times.

But ofcourse these scriptures go way beyond meetings. They describe the very real shunning of one another that is done on a weekly basis by evangelicals and charismatics.Female led settings against male led settings. By denominational mainstream versus denominational non-Conformist. By denominational and independent churches. By foreign national churches in the cities and their English counterparts. In one grievous nutshell: The Body of Christ is a Mess.

But quite apart from these frictions, this post is about the subject of this blog , the frictions caused by the stages of growth.
II. Differences and The Four Stages of Growth outlined by M.Scott Peck and Dave Tomlinson.
In speaking of four stages of psychological growth, the last three intertwine with the spiritual counterparts described in this blog. First the natural, then the spiritual. They are not the same at all, but they are not totally different either. Yup, that's the mystery of living as psycho spiritual beings on planet Earth who have asked Jesus into their life.
Before we get into Dave's passage from Chapter 4 of The Post evangelical published by Triangle, here is an Old Testament picture.
If we think of our life as a sacrifice to God as in Romans 12 and compare that with the different sacrifices in the Old Testament, there is a side of our lives that is an oil offering. It is an offering
more directly related to the sanctuary, to anointing, to the Holy Spirit, to worship. But one of the other offerings is a grain offering. It's drier. It speaks of the roughage of our daily lives, ground down and refined and poured out before God. A huge amount of the "electric charge buildup" and any authority for meetings comes out of the rather dry repetitive process of holding down a job tuning pianos. Sometimes I say to Peter that I'm going back to work to recharge. Something about this natural world in which we live and move is exactly right for working authority in the insides of our being. Something like the Proverb...the diligent shall rule.

As we progress to the 3rd level, sort of akin to the fourth mentioned here, we can become intensely frustrated with the plastic rather manipulated feel of the charismatic scene. You become aware that many ministries, if they are any good, glide from Conference to Conference, but their lives can be impoverished because they never live much in this 3D natural world that God created for us to grow in. To work in. To touch,feel,taste. To raise kids in. To have fun in. To share together in. The thought that you can experience Jesus as you in your form continually, as you grow in sensitivity kind of boggles them. Because they think they have to pray 3 hours. Or attend so many conferences. Or...or... a thousand and one harrassing laws the devil gets them under pressure to do.
Stages of Personal Growth - section of Chapter 4 from The Post Evangelical by Dave Tomlinson
It is now well understood that people pass through different stages in their personal development, and these stages have been analysed in different ways.1 I have chosen a fairly straightforward example which seems to have a lot of common-sense behind it: that of Scott Peck's four stages of spiritual growth, discussed in his book The Different Drum.2
In his psychotherapy practice Peck noticed an interesting phenomenon: that religious people who came to him in pain and trouble frequently left the therapeutic process as atheists, agnostics or at least sceptics. On the other hand, atheists, agnostics and sceptics often left therapy as deeply religious people. Same therapy, same therapist, and each of the cases successful in their own terms, and yet with utterly different outcomes from a religious perspective. After puzzling over this for some time, he concluded that the different reactions were connected to the different stages of personal development in each
patient undergoing therapy. He also concluded that these stages of personal development, which are common to us all, form an identifiable pattern of progress throughout our lives. It follows from this that just as it is a positive thing for some patients to adopt religious faith, so it is equally positive for others to reject it. Why? Because their faith is more an expression of conformity than a fully independent choice. Hopefully they will rediscover their faith at a later point, but this time as a more enlightened decision. Not that the earlier experience would be invalid; it would have been a genuine expression of what the person felt at the time.
Like any model Peck's is an over-simplification, and most people fit somewhere between the stages. I have changed some of his wording slightly, since I find his rather ambiguous:
STAGE I: Self-obsessed STAGE II: Conformist STAGE III: Individualist STAGE IV: Integrated
Stage I is the normal state of most children, though Peck reckons that around 20 per cent of all adults are also still at this stage. When the shift from Stage I to Stage II occurs in adult life, it often appears sudden and dramatic. It might well be linked to a religious conversion, but it could equally happen through another experience which creates a sudden shift of attitude, like getting married or having a child, or through a close encounter with death, or deciding to resolve a drink problem by joining Alcoholics Anonymous, or whatever. Many dramatic conversions to Christianity take place in people who need a shift from Stage I to Stage 11. Others of us who, for example, are already in Stage II before becoming Christians, will probably have a much less dramatic experience – and consequently feel inferior, because we interpret the drama of another person's experience as a sign of greater divine power at work in them.
Peck maintains that most believers and churchgoers are in Stage II of their development, which he calls 'formal', since they become attached to the forms (as opposed to the essence) of their religion. They will vigorously oppose any attacks on, or attempts to change, its canons, liturgies or traditions, which they
We all regress through earlier stages of our development in certain situations.
The model is not pejorative. It describes stages we all pass through and, to some extent, continue to pass through. There is no 'right' or 'wrong' about being in a particular stage.
0 People become Christians at each of the levels and this inevitably has a bearing on the kind of conversion they experience, as well as on the perspective they have on the Christian life and faith in general.
Peck comments that Stage IV men and women will frequently enter religion through an attraction to mystery, whereas Stage II people enter religion to find concrete answers. When we discussed Peck's model at Holy Joe's, one man was brave enough to admit that he wanted a more conformist experience of Christianity and that he struggled when faced with too much uncertainty and ambiguity. Thankfully, the group resisted any temptation to argue him into a different position, and simply reassured him that his feelings were perfectly valid.
I think, in a very approximate way, a lot of post-evangelicals are people who are moving from Stage 11 to Stage III. This does not make them any more intelligent or clever than those who remain contentedly in Stage II, and their next steps can be varied, as our two opening stories show. Incidentally, some people who appear to be post-evangelical are actually regressing to Stage I and, not to put too fine a point on it, might be better described as pre-evangelical.
The more important question is why so many folk who progress to Stage III or IV feel the need to move
on from evangelicalism to some other expression of the church, or to abandon formal churchgoing altogether. It seems as though the sociological (to say nothing of the theological and spiritual) environment of evangelicalism does not accommodate people at these stages as effectively and easily as it does those at Stage 11. Perhaps this is because of the definitiveness of evangelical faith, with respect to both its theology and morality. An environment which can comfortably accommodate Stage III people, for example, has to be much freer with its definitions and expectations, and to the average evangelical that smacks of liberalism!
There is another point, however, which Peck does not explore, but which undoubtedly complicates this process even more. It is the way in which people who are otherwise in Stage III or IV seem to regress to Stage II when it comes to the religious part of their lives. Peck's model, which concentrates on a straightforward progression through the stages, is not geared to deal with this phenomenon, so for this we shall now turn to a different model which specifically deals with the way that we switch from one pattern of behaviour to another, depending on the situation.
Dave then shares findings from "Games People Play", a very influential book in the 70s by Eric Berne. It describes different types of personalities we adopt, and roles we adopt in different circumstances.
So why is this all important?
The second level of Christianity is when we take on board what Christ has done for us at the Cross. We begin to reckon ourselves dead. What then begins happening to us can so shock us, that many leave the church. Truly it can be like the sound of thousands of dead rattling bones. Our own ones, and those around us, who we thought were very much alive just now!!!! What happened. It is also when Church kids, or kids of pastors, solidly raised from a young age on born again church life...appear to freak out. Appear not to be interested any more. Whatever ,whatever. It can be hugely alarming.

One main Derby pastor suddenly found his daughter with illegitimate child, and seriously went to hand in his notice as a complete failure.
III. The evangelism Tension
This is a subsection of the second point above. It is such a thorny subject. It divides Pentecostal churches from charismatic independent churches. It divides Grace Churches from longer established Spirit-filled Churches.

On Facebook I have been sharing from Song of Solomon. Here is the conversation:
Chris Welch:Song of Solomon 5:2-6. The delay in going out to "them". See Jamie's blog post.
Chris Welch:The love relationship never changes,but its form does.I suppose I am being bold to declare that the time of the charismatic movement worldwide is now over.It is now time for the Third Level in all the Earth.Where we learn to walk Him as me in my form upon the mountains and in the suffering places, the places of myrrh.Nothing forced Norman Grubb to start learning this level faster than a spell out in the Congo. He then spent the next 65 years defining how it works precisely for this coming generation. It was always there in scripture but somehow apart from a brave handful absolutely no one seems to know about it, less still,articulate it for others.
Paul Noble I think the charismatic movement has been over for at least 10 yrs! Trouble is, people of the generation that grew up in that revival are finding it hard to transition and leave the old behind ( especially leaders). Thats how I got into trouble at LCC when I shared a vision of the church that God was building in Gosport. People just stone the ... See moreprophet because God isn't building church their way. What I have found in family church is interesting because its not particulary "charismatic" but it is reaching the lost ( 65 people saved in a month) and touching the young effectively.

Chris Welch Family church is interesting, like a lot of numerically growing churches. I like that Andy Elmes spent some time getting zapped out with Vaughan Jarrold in New York State in His Early Days. Traditionally evangelistic churches haven't been good at growing people. I felt God put it on my heart that He wants to change that in these days. Although it will be a true miracle. Jesus moved simultaneously with the the three levels of children young men and fathers in His ministry. This is where John got it from (1John2)This is in the Spirit not age.
And in recent years the three stages keep themselves to themselves. They don't mix very well.But as it becomes more normal to have a 3 level church again, I believe that is the challenge God is giving us.People like Ed Miller have had to stay in the backrooms up until now, because the people in the first two levels cannot take them. This happened to Jesus halfway through His ministry, when He started explaining about fusion..."You must eat my body and drink my blood" and nearly everyone cleared off.
Chris Welch Immature people don't like fusion. They like God at arm's length.This way if they sin, they can still say they are poor miserable sinners and what else can you expect? So the challenge of Song of Solomon 5 is that here is a prepared people, that know Christ is their life, but rather like sticking around in worship and praise, and is it really necessary to go out among all those nasty people?

By now I am sure you are starting to understand what is behind the heading of this post.
And this is the background. I visited another small church the other Sunday with Ben and Christine which is being led by a friend of ours from Emsworth days. For a greeting I felt Jesus put this challenge on my heart for them while we were all worshipping.

That they find a pattern/patterns of ministry that would simultaneously meet the three level need of believers. Because right now, most evangelistic churches leading huge numbers of students/young marrieds and singles/and youth to Jesus, don't even know of the existence of the third level of growth. Unless you actually meet one of the worthies that appear in many of the bookstores, you simply have no idea of their existence.
One shattering meeting with Richard Wurmbrand or Mother Basilea or to a certain extent Mother Teresa completely put paid to that. Especially if you are a poet/musician type who tends to see below the surface of everything that is uttered.
After that, everyone you hear in a normal UK church is like a little Black and White TV set, which didn't matter before...

BUT NOW you've just seen HD 3D Colour Flatscreen Sony TV....and well...what are you to do?
But a lot of the grace church people will never have met a 3rd leveller. So to them, evangelism is just about going out, getting a druggie to stop doing drugs
prostitutes to stop selling themselves
crooks to stop thieving or getting into prison and for all these to get zapped into the Kingdom, both saved and filled with the Holy Spirit. And you know what, that is God's plan! And He never wants people to lose that stuff, and resort to being people that the apostle Paul would write to and say "Who has bewitched you foolish Galations....having begun so well in the Spirit do you now put your trust in the flesh!"
And I really hope Andy Elmes, who was radically saved in Bognor Regis Bible Week in the 80s near here,left for a spell in New York and sought God intently for his life, and genuinely came back empowered for ministry....I never want him to lose that....

But I want everyone to realise that Jesus life is even more real than that....
so real, that by the third level you can practically reproduce Jesus Life in someone else by them just being in your presence for an hour or two. This happened to Norman Grubb with Jessie Penn Lewis. This happened to Rheinhardt Bonnke with George Jeffries the Pentecostal pioneer.
This happened to thousands that had anything to do with Madame Guyon, Fenelon and Brother Lawrence in the 1600s.

But at the moment THERE IS NO RECOGNITION of the different levels in the Body. Only friction. The above passage helps to explain some of the problem psychologically. But spiritually, the other problem is this. The closer we fuse with Jesus, the more our light begins to show up darkness that others may or may not want touched. Ed Miller describes the process as suddenly turning on the light for people. And like lifting up a stone, you are suddenly aware of the horrible creatures scurrying about that you had no idea were there. And for some, the shock is too great, and they prefer to switch the light off and remain in denial.

So what is the answer?Somehow Jesus ministered simultaneously to
THE SOLD OUT 12 disciples.
Yup simultaneously! We learn one trick. He used parables...and for those who really wanted to know, He filled them in later. But at least they were all in the same place.
We have division after division, belief system after belief system,
and seminaries, that far from being the answer, just train people intellectually
to fully arm them in their ability to utterly alienate other believers.
At least Morris Cerullo tries his best to empower people in the Spirit in a few days.
Seminaries spend three full years destroying any Holy Spirit relationship believers ever had.
Morris needs to wake up to what God is doing, and to the stages of growth.
Seminaries just need to wake up full stop.
But a total answer to this post, I am afraid I do not have. But by at least airing the question, may be we can open ourselves to God for Him to bring the answers.


Chris Welch - 07000INTUNE said...

various replies have been coming in including a couple from my friend Paul Noble. My replies seem to have been lost in the Facebook ether...

here's Paul:Yes Chris I like the allusion to three stages of growth. Three is an interesting number in scripture. I think that there are not many Fathers in the body of Christ and so many people get stuck and don't grow beyond a certain point. I'm trying to understand where we are at the moment (FC) because I was very interested in the growing Simple Church movement which seems the opposite model! Maybe all these expressions are valid though - your fusion? Here is a thought - three primary colours mixed together?"
I replied to the effect that he had answered his own question by creating a circular loop and that the injection of the third level into this loop would break the cycle.
Paul Noble:"The only problem is what is the third level really? Trouble is over the years I have heard so many new fads that God's people chase after and then end up where they started! Look at the Toronto blessing, Tod Bentley etc. Nothing wrong with any of it but I know the only thing that changes and brings real fruit is the word of God & the Holy Spirit. The big problem for most of the UK church is we are not reaching the lost which has got to be a major weakness. "
To which I replied I thought well...but ermmm it's gone anyway....about the process the disciples went through : used from the off to reach people by means of declaration with signs following
and that was just the first week of meeting Jesus or so.

But I made the distinction about what happened to them when Jesus was accused and died for us. Each had to taste to the full disillusionment as they saw their false "selfhood" inner picture shatter into tiny pieces. As we all do. "I will never forsake you etc...."

After this Jesus rebuilt them in mercy, and they were ready for the "third level" what Pentecostals consider the second level: Acts 2.

The third level is where we know on the inside of our being that He is living His life out as me, as my personality, in my body shape.

That the whole concept of a separate me, before or after becoming a Christian was not true at all.

Chris Welch - 07000INTUNE said...

Bonnie Morris:
"We don't. Another move of God is on the way. An outpouring of love...the only thing the world has not experienced from His body. God will do it, just as He has outpoured in every other need that we have had. We will experience another realm in Him and the world will know that God sent Jesus."

Chris Welch - 07000INTUNE said...

Ilona Smith Do you mean in a building or the church of Jesus Christ cos sheep are much happier out in the field x
6 hours ago · Chris Welch Jesus first church was out in the field.
6 hours ago · Chris Welch well his prototype version-the disciples
6 hours ago · Then that is a good pattern Chris ask each one what they think their gifts are which will reveal itself in how they taught then send them out to use their gift and if the teaching has been good they will have a guide in seeking God 4 themselves and the workers will be many ! Instead too many look 4 position in church buildings and that's what is ... See morewrong only a few break free and make a difference 4 Jesus I pray we stop debating and take some risks now we need 2 stop bickering and wanting someone elses gift bless the church
RISE UP! We are the head and we act like the tail !

Chris Welch - 07000INTUNE said...

Chris Welch: Although ofcourse there are all shades in between in today's church there are only 2 main ones. The man made root which takes its legitimacy in exams and seminaries, and the build it quick I'll just follow the Holy Spirit route. Both are immature.The former because leader's never leave human apron strings. The latter because in reality an ... See moreindividual will only follow the Holy Spirit as far as death on the Cross.They don't like verses like "Unless a grain of wheat fall into the ground it abides alone..." so in reality Holy Ghost people like Morris Cerullo,Benny Hinn,Andy Elmes (our local bod) remain alone...on the platform. Now contrary to other voices who now shriek "Aha...we must take a middle course". Well since when was there a middle course about dying then? Half-dead perhaps. Nope...I am saying there is a way of the Spirit that involves death but also involves increasing power in the Holy Spirit...and INCREASING linking with those others who have died!!!!!Not after the flesh in some organization, but organically and Spirit led. If this sounds like a rallying call in the Spirit it is! Don't reply to me. Reply to the Commander who sends people into the harvest!

Chris Welch - 07000INTUNE said...

Stephanie McEntire: I have learned a lot about the body as a nurse. I am no authority but I see how and why "the body" would be a great way to describe the Ekklesia...My lungs breathe..I don't have to tell them left hand works in cooperation with my right hand...I don't have to "rally" it together to get it going. My body functions as an organism filled with... See more life...sometimes life I do not see..but I certainly get to experience it. I believe that Daddy is a good farmer. Those things in me that do not bear fruit..he will prune and cast into the fire. The tares that grow with the wheat in my mind..we will weed through them and plant more seeds that fall into the ground and die. The sheep and the goats that run together in my life are in a constant state of being separated. This is the work of the Spirit in my life. It is my responsibility is to look around at the ground I am in...cares of this world? Is my ground dried up and hard unable to hold a seed? Does my life involve so much of my "ego" that my seeds are picked off before more love can grow in me...whatever you think you think your gifts are and how to cultivate them, if you don't got got nothing. I have found this body of mine..can function in all those capacities of the Spirit as Paul used meager human words to describe...I can be Pastor..I can be teacher..I can be evangelist ..and on and on...whatever the worker..he is paid the same one gift over the other..if all were "allowed" to believe that God is all in all..meaning able to do through you whatever needs to be done in whatever capacity "first" cultivating the ground and thoughts you are in...the world would be a better place. Thanks for listening to me ramble.

Chris Welch - 07000INTUNE said...

Chris Welch :You ramble the best! Christine is doing her access course year towards the nursing Uni course next Sept. I get the gleanings of her physiology revelations. She says how oftentimes she'd like the lecturer to pause a little to allow for worship!It is a phenomenon our body! And makes a lot more sense of how church now is.Institututional versions ... See morereflect Madame Tussauds very well! In the 70s Maurice Smith,Gerald Coates,George Tarleton,John Noble produced a magazine called "Fulness".The illustrations were done by now famous children's book authors Mick Inkpen and Nick Butterworth. They were preaching on grace, and every day life in Jesus, and the naturally supernatural things that you describe. They were saying:What's the point of leading people to the Lord and getting people saved...if none of us look very saved! So Fulness was all about exploring how this Jesus life worked.Then they hit a wall. Some went beyond,some stayed. We can do all this natural stuff...and remain in all this natural stuff. Their fellowships are testament in part to this rut 30 years later. In the end it's who do we believe we are? Which was too simple for our intellect at the time, so we looked for other answers and got stuck in the mud. Jesus said our work was "believing".Believing that I am living by a different life. In the end we betray what we believe. As soon as we say scriptures, there are two voices:the verbal level which most people hear, and the believing level underneath the words as we speak them. Those that move on have believed the scriptures, have eaten them, they are them. The others sound like English dry as dust.By the way, could some of you Americans come over to Britain for a while and explain to them that communication is more than consonant and vowel sounds...that you can actually believe the stuff too! That would be really cool!

Chris Welch - 07000INTUNE said...

Stephanie McEntire Bwahahahaha...that was funny Chris. i totally agree with Christine...during Human and Anatomy and Physiology classes I was in tears most of the time.l

Chris Welch - 07000INTUNE said...

Ilona Smith: the harvest is christians missionxxx whether you are a commander or a bugle blower we all have our place in the last push to paradise.... lets take as many with us as we canxxx yay.... He is alive and calling rise up and move out.... lets go peeps.... or at least move around a bitxxx