"Many people assume that the main reasons for people leaving the churches must be that they have had a run-in with leadership. They have been "hurt" or wounded in some way, and that is why they leave. This is one of the few reasons that church people can understand - so they assume (often wrongly) that ALL leavers are bitter or "hurt".
But this is often NOT THE CASE AT ALL. As we have seen, there are a whole raft of much deeper reasons for people leaving churches than just "problems with the leadership". However it is a factor for some leavers, especially those who have come from more "controlling" environments. Sadly, particularly amongst Pentecostals in recent years, control and spiritual abuse seem to have become more and more prevalent. It is the mis-use of terms like covering, submission and authority that have often led to these problems.
A large number of the people who wrote to me mentioned how tired they had become of all the programs, church-growth techniques, building-funds and systems found in today's churches. "Where is God in all of this?" was a common cry. To them, it is almost as though the church has become a kind of 'machine' that grinds on and on, whether God is present or not. For many, this was a significant factor in their decision to pull out of the churches. In fact, quite a few of those who wrote had been former leaders who had fully participated in this "machine" themselves.
A number of Out-of-church people who wrote to me highlighted the fact that leadership in the Bible often seemed quite different to much of what we see today. They also noted that some of the teachings found in today's churches were making the problem worse." [By Andrew Strom]
Many of the prophets sense a change from today's church system. In other words, it is a move from the exclusiveness of local churches today. The system and way things are done are going to change.
A shift from the one-man emphasis in leadership to team leadership seems to one of the changes. This limits the abuse and brings stability to a church. However, team leadership also has its dangers and is dependant on the spiritual depth and condition of the individual leaders.
I believe that there needs to be a shift from accountability to man to accountability to Jesus Christ. At the end of the day, we do not give an account to any man but only to Jesus Christ. Leadership need to move away from this worldly spirit of 'lording it over' and to allow the people of God to exercise their God-given ministries. The spirit of control must go.
There is a spiritual principle: internal to external. Changing the external structure of a church does little if there has been no internal change.
And If the leaders have not been through the wilderness and have experienced the depths of Jesus Christ, the control and other problems will still be there.
"The church is NOT passing away - the systems are passing away.
In the confusion of the transition some think that anarchy and rebellion are coming against the church and attempting to throw off the leadership of apostle, prophet, evangelist, shepherd and teacher. If there are any such people out there I personally have not come into contact with them and they are definitely wrong. Let me assure you that the new paradigm will bring forth many times more gifted leaders than we ever had in the passing systems. The Holy Spirit will have freedom to bring forth multitudes of gifted men and women who have in the passing systems been relegated to pew sitting, or limited jobs within the system.
In recent decades many have become discouraged and have left religious systems in search of more reality of God. Often these pilgrims have spent years in a wilderness type experiences. Jesus spent 40 days in the wilderness before joining with others to fulfill his purposes. Moses spent 40 years in the desert before joining with others and moving toward the fulfillment of His life ministry. Paul also endured a wilderness season. Many scattered wilderness dwellers who had left the old are beginning to re connect and find their place in the ekklesia. For the most part they never wanted to leave God but had to leave the life limiting traditional clergy/laity structure. It is not the way of God to remain isolated from the rest of the body forever though the wilderness experience may have served a purpose and seasons of separation alone with God are often significantly used of God.
We are now coming to understand the difference between leadership and headship.
There is one head of the ekklesia. There are no people to stand as head over the ekklesia or to represent the head to the mature believers. The head is Christ Jesus flowing through the Holy Spirit and living in all his people. "From Viewing The Shift- By Ron McGatlin
We see apostolic teams emerging as the coming tidal wave brings with it the restoration of the the apostolic office to the body of Christ. The prophetic office has been restored by the emergence of the Prophetic movement and the final restoration is that of the apostolic office.
Note that this apostolic authority comes from God and not man.It is based on revelation in the wilderness years. This apostolic authority and anointing of the 'nobody's from the wilderness' will bring correction to the leadership of today's church. They will effectively expose the whitewash and the end-time deception which is necessary before restoration and revival in the lukewarm churches can begin. Once restored, churches will become effective in the end-time harvest.
The book 'Megashift' brings balance. Although there will be emergence of apostolic teams and five-fold leaders in the coming tidal wave, the general trend or emphasis in the end-time church is a shift away from clergy to the laity. There is leadership but headship belongs to Jesus Chrtist. This is summarised by Jim Rutz in 'Megashift':
JIM RUTZ: The MEGASHIFT of the World-wide Church
For 40 years Jim has been documenting an astounding phenomenon – the underreported explosive growth of the church worldwide.
“The world is changing hands – for the last time,” he says. “It is not a mere shift in power, but a total transformation in how things happen.”
For centuries tyrants and generals swept across the earth, crushing and raising empires. Jim believes 2003 probably saw the last war of massed armies. For the church, the 1700-year nightmare is over, and we are launching the final transformation of the Earth.
“Predominant power has suddenly shifted into the hands of us nobodies,” Jim says.
The Lord is working quietly, continually, and spectacularly. God has brought people back from the dead in 52 countries, mostly in the last 10 years. All documented – many through people Jim personally knows. Scores of cities plagued with crime and poverty are being transformed. Millions of miracles are happening through ordinary people.
God has many ways of resurrecting the dead: At a Reinhard Bonnke meeting in Nigeria, Daniel Ekechukwu, dead for two days, was brought to the lower level of the meeting in his casket. He’d already been injected with preservatives when his wife brought him there. Cameras were rolling when life came back into his body, and he rose up. This miracle was featured on The 700 Club in May 2002.
In Duad- India, Manu and other church members of the Indian Pentecostal Church in Dunger, Northern India, simply prayed in Jesus’ name and placed their Bibles on the body of a six-year-old boy who was near to being buried -- whereupon he opened his eyes.
One missionary in Guatemala read all of Isaiah 53 over and over to a circle of Indians silently mourning the death of a boy until he came back.
Arjun Dass of Delhi, India, was electrocuted in April 2001. A team of five led by Savitri prayed for him, and God resurrected him 10 hours after his death.
One Chinese church leader Wang Xin Cai, who’d been imprisoned for 13 years for his faith, was meeting with seven other leaders to unify the Chinese church. Just prior to leaving for the meeting, his three-year-old daughter fell three stories and cracked her skull. He picked up her remains and laid her on the couch. Brokenhearted and weary, he told God that if this unity meeting was of Him, He had to heal his daughter. It was too tough otherwise. He returned home the first day and her skull was back together; the second day she was breathing; the third day when church unity was reached, he arrived home to a healthy, bubbling baby girl.
THE POWER HAS SHIFTED
Jim says time is up; God is taking over. In 1960 there were 24 nonbelievers for every believer in the world. Now there are only six. There are many testimonies of the Lord Himself appearing to Muslims in visions and dreams. In 1960, even the best part of the church was growing slowly as the rest of the world. Now we are growing almost seven times as fast. “When I was a kid in Sunday School, I was really impressed that 3,000 people were saved on the Day of Pentecost,” he says. Now that happens around the globe every 25 minutes. That adds up fast. By tomorrow, there will be 175,000 more Christians than there are today in 238 nations around the world. At a 2000 Reinhard Bonnke meeting in Lagos, Nigeria, 3,400,000 registered decisions for Christ of the six million that came. Campus Crusade for Christ estimates we’ll see a billion new converts in the next 10 years.
Any way you look at it, the Kingdom is expanding at a heart-pounding rate. From 1970 to 2000, core apostolics doubled every nine years. From our vantage point in Europe and North America, where church membership is going nowhere, these numbers sound fantastical. This is the biggest megashift in history. But as national bholds of sin are dismantled and pits of misery cleaned up, the true purpose of God for many nations will be revealed. We are in the early stages of a total transformation of our planet.
A 30-year-old farmer lives in the flat part of China – all the better to see the police coming from a long way off. This gives him ample time to take his prayer list off the wall and hide his cell phone – his gift of technology. When asked, the interpreter thought he’d misunderstood the farmer when he said he had 30,000 Christian workers in his church network. Through this missionaries he ministered to an astounding eight million believers. This number pales in comparison to those of “The Heavenly Man,” known as Brother Yun, who provides leadership for China’s largest network of house churches, totaling 60 million. In his best conservative estimate, Jim says we are looking at a dedicated Spiritual Army of 707 million missionaries. How is the enemy going to stop that Army?
THE OPEN CHURCH
In His takeover of the Earth, the Lord has many avenues to work from. Jim says the Open Church or Open Fellowship is a viable, vital option. The “open church,” like the early church, is characterized by three freedoms– pure worship, true sharing, and free ministry. In open worship, everyone presents at a service can participate whether it is singing a song, or offering prayers of praise or adoration to the Lord. Open sharing includes testifying to God moving in one’s life, briefly expounding on the Word, or exhorting fellow believers. In open ministry, believers have opportunities to practically help others as needs are expressed. For example, if during this part of the service someone says he is looking for a job and another has some job leads, they will get together. Of if someone has an idea for new ministry outreach, he can explain his idea and ask if others are interested. In an open fellowship, you are not only allowed to share, but prodded, coaxed, and trained to share. A Spirit-driven meeting is an unscripted drama that unfolds before your eyes, and the team players are there to lay. In open meetings, God is free to do as He wants. He has, in theory, total control of the agenda and choice of participants. Today there is a rapidly spreading awareness that the real matrix of growth and change is the small group, whether it is the independent house church, a cell (subdivision of a traditional church), or some other goal-oriented task team.
How does an open church look different from a traditional church? Most of them meet in homes, offices, schools, and restaurants. A bigger difference: they aren’t once-a-week affairs. They offer a 24/7 support community that’s somewhere between a volleyball team, college fraternity, etc. They don’t have programs. Projects sometimes, but not programs. Their meetings are highly participatory. The good ones are viral -- what baseball calls expansion teams. Jim promises a network of interactive fellowships meeting in homes worldwide without pastors, programs, or sermons where members will take a giant step up to a whole new level of life. Instead of sitting once a week on Sunday, they can be active participants in what God is doing. They shed their problems. They get a solid, dedicated team behind them, one that will stand by them no matter what, and enable them to reach their goals. They become a key person in the exploding Kingdom of God and have a lasting impact on the world of the future. Most importantly, they will have a much closer heart-knowledge of God.