When talking and praying about revival, or lack of it, it often sounds like we are blaming God. When we say the Holy Spirit is going to move next year, it implies that nothing happened this year, because he had not moved. Taking offence at God is a dangerous game.

We need to take responsibility for our situation. This should have been a marvellous season. New Zealand experienced the Charismatic renewal in the 1970s. Waves of spiritual refreshing have come regularly ever since.

New Zealand has been visited by anointed speakers. The church has plenty of money. The government tolerates the church. We have the freedom to preach the gospel openly. We have good theological education. Social media has provided new modes of communication. Yet despite everything, the spiritual decline has continued unabated. Something is seriously wrong.

God is not the problem. Jesus has done everything needed for salvation. The fullness of the Holy Spirit has been poured out on the church. Cannot do any more than he has already done. He can't do more next year. We can blame the people of the church, but that does not seem to be fair. They respect their pastor-leaders and do what they say; perhaps not as fervently as the pastors would like, but they do what they are asked to do. The leaders of the church must take responsibility for the spiritual decline.

Key Problems

The following table shows some important differences between the New Testament church and the Modern Church Model.

New Testament Church

Modern Church Model

Jesus took his disciples on the road with him and showed them what to do. He got them started.

Pastors tell people to come to church where they sit and listen to a preacher telling them what to do.

This encourages passive observation. People only stand up to worship.

Worship is a response to victory

Worship has become the main event (due to a false belief that worship releases victory). Vigorous worship has become a substitute for victory.

Churches are led by a group of elders who submit to each other. Their different ascension gifts complement each other.

The church is led by a senior pastor. The other ascension gifts do not fit easily.

An elder watches over each new believer to ensure that they grow and are released into their ministry.

Pastors dominate, but there is very little shepherding, so the church is full of emotional and physical pain

New believers are taught to listen to the Holy Spirit and obey him. Once they can do that, they just need watching from a distance.

New believers are put on a program.

Elders replicate their ministries in those they are watching over. An evangelist releases evangelists. A prophet releases prophets. Multiplication of churches creates a need for a continuous supply of new leaders.

There is no pathway to ministry, because all the good roles are taken by people who are not going anywhere. Becoming a pastor takes years of training.

Growing churches multiply by sending out apostles to take new territory in a different neighbourhood.

Churches grow by getting bigger, which requires more paid administrative staff.

The best people are sent as apostles.

The church has no role for apostles. Apostle has become a title for a super-pastor.

Jesus disciples carried the Holy Spirit into the world. The world could see people being healed and demons being cast out.

Pastors assume that the Holy Spirit can do most of what he wants to do in the church, usually at the front of the meeting (mostly by the pastor or visiting speaker).

Things happen when people go to where the Holy Spirit is moving

Things are expected to happen when a visiting speaker is in town.

People see the things being done and choose to follow him.

Often nothing happens, because the gift of healing and the authority to cast out demons is primarily for the lost, not the church. Christians take offence at God because they feel that he has let them down.

Followers of Jesus gathered together in one place to take territory for him.

The modern church is not interested in territory. Followers of Jesus are scattered through enemy territory, where life is tough.

Jesus taught that the Kingdom of God is near.

Kingdom has become an adjective attached to whatever the church does: kingdom conference, kingdom leadership.

You can quibble about some of these points, but the fact remains. What the modern church is doing is not working. Turning the situation around will need a radical change in the way that it operates. More of the same will not crack the problem.

Leading Change

This change should be led by the leaders of the church, but that might not be possible. They have been doing the old thing for so long that they will find it hard to do a new thing.

The first attempts to implement the new strategy will probably have to be led by leaders who have been in the wilderness and are not stuck in the old ways. Once they have done the first round, existing leaders might be able to see what they have done and follow their example and start operating in the same way.

If leaders cannot change, then God might need to remove them. When Graeme Cooke visited New Zealand, he said,

And these are days when the Lord is beautifying the church in this country. Days of purification. Days when the hand of the Lord is going to be heavy upon us for transformation. Days when the Lord is doing a quickening work in our midst. And I see a storm coming into this nation. A storm that will sweep away a religious spirit. A storm that will sweep through the body of Christ in this nation. And the Lord says that churches … some will be swept away by that storm. And others will find themselves standing on a rock that is the Christ. And the Lord is saying He will send a storm on this nation and He will sweep away that which does not own His name, that which does not pursue His Spirit He will sweep away. But this storm also will cause us to be swept along in a whole new time of power and anointing unprecedented in this country's history. But these are days of grace when God will set things anew and create things aright, when God will set in order that which belongs to heaven and that which belongs to the earth in this country... And we will see a new order of the Spirit emerging and rising in this country.
It might take this storm to bring a transformation of the leadership of the church in this nation, so God can do what he wants to do. Those who cannot change will be swept away, but those who are part of the new order of the Spirit will find themselves standing on a rock of Jesus.

Changes We Need

  1. Different Leadership Model

    Plurality of leaders

    • All with all ascension gifts amongst them
    • Complementing each other
    • Submitted to each other.
    • No senior leader
    • Balanced ministries

    Get evangelists going
    • Healing the sick and casting out demons in streets and market places.
    • Work in power pairs.
    • Replicating their ministries in new evangelists.

    Get pastors growing the new disciples.
    • Teaching them to listen and obey the Holy Spirit
    • Helping them get rid of their junk.
    • Watching over them and praying
    • Modern pastors spend most of their time with the most mature people.

    Release prophets to encourage, challenge and confront,
    • Strong relationships with people who can test their words.

  2. Serious discipling of new Christians

    Stop preaching—it is a redundant method for discipling—challenging messages miss most people and hurt the vulnerable

    Teach disciples to listen and obey the Holy Spirit

    • Encourage them to move in the gifts of the Spirit.
    • Build strong relationships with followers of Jesus.
    • Teach them to do the One Another Stuff.
    • Watch over them from a distance and pray for them
    • So they grow quickly into fullness of the Spirit and peace.

  3. Leaders replicate their ministry

    In the people they are discipling:

    • Pastors produce pastors
    • Prophets produce prophets
    • Evangelists produce evangelists

    The leaders will be able to go out and start new churches because there are people ready to step into their place as leaders.

  4. Develop Real Relationships

    Going to church will not produce a revival.

    We must build real fellowship based on strong relationships with other Christians.

    • The Holy Spirit prefers to move in the body.
    • God cannot force us together, so we must choose to relate to others Christians.
    • We will need to live closer together.
    • We must become the church where we live.
    • Love means doing the One Another Stuff:
      • Carry each other's burdens.
      • Forgive one another.
      • Submit to one another.
      • Live in peace with each other.
      • Be kind to each other.
      • Encourage one another daily.
      • Offer hospitality to one another.
      • Serve each other.
      • Pray for each other

  5. Focus on Territory

    Live together in houses close to each other.

    • Close to a person of peace.
    • Love one another as Jesus loved us.
    • Serve each other and their neighbours.
    • Heal the sick.
    • Establish territory where the Holy Spirit is free to work
    • Build Kingdom Communities.

  6. Send out Apostles

    Send out the best.

    • Others will step up into their place.
    • Send a team with balanced giftings, ie pastor-teacher, prophet, evangelist.
    • A couple of Timothys, who are being discipled, might go with them.

    Take a fully-functioning group (with half a dozen members) to a new place

    • Carry on loving and serving each other
    • Doing the stuff that Jesus did.
    • People see the gospel from the get-go.
    • People will see how discipling works.
    • Keep listening and obeying the Holy Spirit
    • and he will keep doing his stuff.