God in these last days is restoring the church to the glory she was birthed into. During this Christmas season we all have been reflecting on the events that brought the Christ child into the world. I have found myself looking at John the Baptist. It seems that I have “happened” upon this and that passage related to “the prophet of the Most High”.
It is, as if a key part of the Christmas story starts with a father and priest who has a visitation from Gabriel concerning his son who would be birthed by his wife who was barren. John is born and his father Zachariah gets his voice back and prophesies this amazing word over his son in Luke 1:67-69.
His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers.-Malachi 4:6
John the Baptist came in the spirit of Elijah and I believe carried and birthed this message pertaining to fathers and their children. The middle eastern culture of the Bible was a patriarchal culture, so naturally Jesus called and commissioned 12 men to be founding fathers of The Way. This article in no way is singling out men from women and the role as fathers and mothers. Jesus honored women in leadership and ministry. When I refer to fathers and/or mothers I am referring to their lead or vision carrying role in the church. There has been an effort culturally, maybe just in the western church, to keep women in a lower place and out of leadership of God’s church. I do not think that this practice is supported by scriptures. I will not take time in this article to break down my view point on this.
In the charasmatic/pentecostal world there has been a movement to demonstrate the scriptures in a literal since, in relation to the Apostolic church model given in Ephesians 4:11. The church that my family was a part of for many years prior to coming to New Bethel Church was not from either of the streams mentioned above, yet the leaders that God gave us represented nearly every one of the “graces” mentioned in this passage. We had an apostle, prophet, teacher and pastor. These men would never have received being recognized as such, yet they walked in the grace of these callings. I am simply sharing my history in a non-pentecostal church setting, to suggest that God is restoring His church back to her original order, and with that greater power and authority to accomplish the Kingdom purposes on the earth in these last days. My church would have struggled with the titles and names associated with the Apostolic, yet they were operating in it. I am sure that there are many other churches doing the same. It is not the titles or names that we use to associate with this move of God that matters. It has everything to do with God’s people being open to the way God is at work in this hour.
I think that everyone reading this will agree that Jesus Christ is the Chief Cornerstone and foundation of His church. He chose to give some very important gifts to continue and sustain the foundation that He laid. These gifts we know to be the Apostles, Prophets, Teacher, Pastor, Evangelist. Jesus ascended back to Heaven and has set up a structure that when utilized would perpetuate His Kingdom culture on the earth. This culture turned the world upside down in a good kind of way, we read in Acts.
Here we are in the 21st century with churches everywhere, while culture seems unaffected. To be fair, there is a remnant that have been or are beginning to be a force for transformation in our society.
Back to Fathers and Mothers; I would like to continue this article in a little different direction. To our discredit the church has become known for its divisiveness. I am happy to say that I am seeing this change in my lifetime. God has had me on a path since I was a young teenager, grooming me to be a part of a generation that would work to see the Body of Christ express her unity and celebrate our diversity. While being raised in a “white” traditional evangelical church, my parents placed my brother and I in a private school that was pentacostal and majority of black students. I began to see quite a contrast from my home church and my school. I loved my black brothers and sisters as we were in class together and played sports together, sang in chorus together. This was the beginning of my longing to see the end of a segregated church. There are other stories in my testimony of how God was grooming me for where I am now, but I will save those for another day.
I was the pastor a small church for many years, until God directed us to close it down in 2014. During those years I realized that it was really important for me as a pastor to connect with other pastors so that I would feel connected to a Greater work outside of our little church family. Our church needed to connect with others outside of our small fellowship, while at the same time we accomplished our family mission. Larger churches can become so, that their members are inwardly focused in such a way that there is no connection to the Body of Christ outside themselves. Churches can swing to all extremes of this.
We all have our “pet” ministry that we support. There are so many para-church ministries these days doing amazing work across the globe. It is likely that most of these ministries that we support came to us through the churches that we were part of in the past. When we move on to another church we continue to support that work.
You are probably thinking, “what does this have to do with Fathers and Mothers?” Well…I’m about to make the connection. If you know my heart, you will understand that my intentions are not to offend. God is in this hour restoring His church back to what He originally intended it to be. He is rallying His people around Fathers and Mothers in the last days before His return. These Fathers and Mothers are actually Christ’s gifts to His church. God has given these Fathers and Mothers a vision and mission.
I believe God is looking for those whom He is rallying, to honor and trust the vision and mission of these Fathers and Mothers. In this last season of the “church” age, God is empowering Fathers and Mothers to again totally rearrange cultural thinking to align with the ways of His Kingdom. I believe that the Fathers and Mothers of my new church New Bethel Church have such a vision and mission.
There are many churches like this one, who are seeing so many church transplants; those who were once part of another church family. As I said earlier, we all have our ministries we support, from past church connections. We are finding home and healing from our wounds. It is beautiful to see people “coming home” and finding healing, peace and joy.
I would like to suggest that part of finding home in your new church fellowship is to step up your level of commitment by submitting to the vision and mission of the Fathers/Mothers of your church. This may mean that you prayerfully stop supporting ministries from the past and embrace the ministries that your new Father and Mothers are embracing. I mentioned above how we can be so connected to ministries outside of our church family that we are not properly connected to the family He has planted us in. Since becoming a member at NBC, I too have had to re-evaluate the places I spent my time in serving that was connected to my past, to give greater focus to the vision and mission that God has lead me to serve under. You may think you can do it all, and maybe you can for a while, but sooner or later your health or the quality of your serving will suffer.
The family unit was God’s first creation among mankind. It is part of being in His image. While we are connected to the greater family of mankind or the greater family of God, we are not very healthy if we are out there hap-hazardly making this and that connection. I believe this is why the writer of Hebrews exhorted the church to “not neglect our meeting together.” It was not some religious gathering, but it was the way healthy family was to exist. While we have a responsibility to the Whole family of God, we must be properly grounded by being submitted to and in real relationship with Fathers and Mothers whom God has commissioned to lead local family of believers.
I believe that what God is doing in these last days is causing His people to honor and support the vision and mission of Fathers and Mothers in local church families. These local Fathers and Mothers are seeking God for ways to see their church families connect and minister alongside other church families to display unity and see transformation in their surrounding communities. You can read the results of such work in Acts. Far too long the church has displayed disunity that has resulted in powerlessness and unchanged communities. This is changing and I am over-joyed to be watching it happen before my eyes. The spirit of Elijah, that John the Baptist carried and birthed in turning the hearts of Fathers to their children and children to Fathers is again being demonstrated…”and God is adding daily to their numbers those who are being saved.”