Our Unfaith – Part 2

The church in America is in stasis. Growth is offset by churches (and people) dying. We need to ramp things up if we intend to live as salt in the earth. A look at the earliest Christ-followers is revealing. We’ve become disqualifiers for ministry instead of equippers.

If you see the early church as an archetype, you must wonder “what went wrong?” The answer lays in where we place our trust… We disqualify most people from meaningful ministry by building hierarchies around education (and occasionally, proficiency). They were inclusive—everybody was a player.

I recently spoke with a pastor who juxtaposed the need to equip against the need to multiply. He told me that he hoped my desire to multiply would catch up to his desire to equip—trouble is those he equips don’t multiply. He sets the bar too high for anyone to reach. To me equipping and multiplication walk hand-in-hand. You equip people for ministry by letting them do ministry. My goal has always been to lower the threshold into leadership. Church history demonstrates that the higher the requirements for public ministry, the slower the growth of the kingdom of God. The converse is also true.

Paul’s Faith in Others

Paul displayed a model for church in his letter to the folks in Corinth, “When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up…33 For God is not a God of confusion but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:26, 33 ESV).

The key words in this passage are “each one” and “God is not a God of confusion.” It seems that everybody can share something while peace, not confusion, reigns. But this requires both faith and courage. You must trust the Holy Spirit in people along with the availability of the scriptures. If you don’t, you will revert to Christian-humanism, hierarchy and something very different than church as we read of it in the scriptures.

Raising Barriers is Catholic and Orthodox

A friend recently extolled the early church fathers for raising barriers into leadership. I reminded him that those barriers resulted in Orthodox and Catholic church forms which do little to evangelize in the forgotten corners of society. What they have is valuable–to those they access. But their lack of simple disciplemaking systems and their high threshold to leadership renders them incapable of reaching far and wide. To disciple the nations, we need to release ordinary, unschooled people to carry the good news into their unique communities. We must commission members to “go” rather than invite people to “come.”

Paul Pushes the Boundaries of Trust

Paul extends trust even further when writing to the church at Rome, people he had not yet visited. He writes, “I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another” (Romans 15:14 ESV).

We know our righteousness is as filthy rags in God’s sight, so people filled with goodness only get that way by an act of the Holy Spirit.

As to possessing all knowledge, these folks had written scriptures and they were taught by the Holy Spirit who would, “guide you into all the truth” (John 16:13 ESV).

Finally, Paul’s confidence in the ability of people he had never met to instruct one another can only be because they possessed both the Word and the Spirit of God.

My questions concern church forms which arise from our views of equipping the saints for works of ministry. If you trust the Word and the Spirit, you are more likely to view every believer as a player. If you see things otherwise, you are doomed to hierarchy and professionalism. You will disqualify, rather than qualify others for ministry.


How do you feel about what you just read? Others would benefit from your opinion…



14 thoughts on “Our Unfaith – Part 2”

  1. Unlike those early men and women fervently interested in keeping their eyes on Jesus, what He said, I think we are somewhat hindered — and hinder the move of the Holy Spirit — by our pragmatic reliance on the physical world, on what we can see with our eyes. But God is Spirit.

    And we are hindered in trusting Jesus by a) the fear of making a mistake and b) initially not knowing who His Spirit is, and finally by c) not seeing the great importance in taking baby steps in faith, which when validated by what the Holy Spirit tells us, overcomes our lack of “knowing” (“b”) Christ.

    I would guess the early Christians simply loved Christ so as to know Him in the back and forth of a relationship, a relationship that demo’d who the Creator if universes is — both Friend and all-powerful Creator.

    Small steps — ask about a parking stall in that crowded shopping center. Jesus is sitting next to the Father, but His Spirit is listening to your question. Know how that feels when He reply, you hear, and you park.

    Graduate to asking for someone’s healing. They will be healed and you will hear what it is God wants you to do.

    Between those two, we get to know Jesus, and therefore the Father, at which point when someone says “Holy Spirit” you know WHO that is — the Person who helped you, who answered you, who comforted you.

    Your virgin’s lamp will be filled with oil, and you will be “in communication”, in friendship with a concrete, knowable, intimate God-Creator of universes — ready to do the good works He imagined for you (us/the world) before time and space were ever created.

  2. Loren D Anderson

    I would call it anti faith, we create this fabricated “high bar into leadership not because we want to release leaders into the field of Kingdom work but because we want to duplicate ourselves,

    Matthew 23:15 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
    15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.

    In the process we homogenize church leadership culture to such a degree that most of the worlds population cannot even relate much less desire to follow. I am so grateful for the emerging “New Wineskins” of church structure and leadership in our day and only hope I have not become so familier and comfortable with the old that I will practically say in my church membership and personal obedience “the old is good enough”

    Let the Lord’s people marvel and praise for He is still creating the world thru HIs Spirit and church

    Daniel 2:34-36 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

    34 You continued looking until a stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and crushed them. 35 Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were crushed all at the same time and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away so that not a trace of them was found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.
    44 In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever. 45 Inasmuch as you saw that a stone was cut out of the mountain without hands and that it crushed the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold, the great God has made known to the king what will take place in the future; SO THE DREAM IS TRUE and its interpretation is trustworthy.”

    1. Wow!
      “duplicate ourselves,” pride!
      “homogenize church leadership,” sterility.
      “the old is good enough,” no room for innovation or revolution.
      Thank you!

  3. “You must trust the Holy Spirit in people along with the availability of the scriptures. If you don’t, you will revert to Christian-humanism, hierarchy and something very different than church as we read of it in the scriptures.” – Ralph Moore Having to read through Acts it’s interesting how effective the Church was in evangelizing not just their own (Jews) but eventually the outside nations. Very organic in that there were no real organized centralization, no payroll, no professional clergy but simply having an edge propelled on the idea that Jesus is Lord, a love for their neighbors and having no restrictions for creative and strategic ministries. They were simple, ordinary, yet mission-oriented people obedient to the commission and as a result formed creative and diverse ministries that eventually transformed an entire empire with the gospel. Sounds like a movement to me….Because really, the gospel is the core DNA of the Great Commission – everything (communities) are transformed to build around that. This, in my opinion, has nothing to do with a structured religious system that choked the life out of the Church that was originally called to commission outside of ourselves.

  4. Great word, Ralph. My understanding of Ephesians 4:12 (equipping) is the means of growth into maturity. II Timothy 2:2 is the basis for that equipping. I have an International Bible Study that is targeted for new converts, and for Christian leaders in third world countries, and I acually issue a Certificate of Completion and a Teacher’s Credentials to teach others the course. It is used in thirteen nations, and in two of those countries, is used in some of the public schools. My greatest experience of this truth of sending was when eighteen of the members of the church I pastored in Escondido, with a congregation of two hundred, in one year, responded to the call and challenge of the ministry. They went on to be church founders, missionaries, and teachers, scattered from here to Australia. I recall a statement the late Billy Graham made once when he said, ” I have complete trust in Christ, but not in the church.” If we trust the Holy Spirit, joined with a distribution of the Word (now availble in 26 translations via BIBLE HUB), the expotetial growth of the Body of Christ will be unimaginable. If we continue in the traditions we will miss out on the GREAT AWAKENING that is in store for these days and this season. Blessings, my LIFE BIBLE COLLEGE friend. Billy Falling, Pastor and Headmaster, The Internet Church, International.

  5. I think God trusted me and gave me permission to make mistakes. I have learned many of the big lessons through my mistakes. Those are life lessons.
    They also allow me to look with empathy rather than judgement.
    Seems like this is a big part o f the process.

  6. Hi Ralph – I understand your points about the limitations that hierarchy and reliance on “professionals” places upon the advancement of God’s kingdom. It’s hard to multiply when the “church” is not even adding! However, I am also interested in your insights on the limitations that “American culture” itself places upon the “church” in general and more specifically upon the individual believer’s motivation to fit in to society as opposed to proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with boldness and without hindrance (Acts 28:31).

  7. Randall Ishida

    Thank you again for the wisdom of multiplication!
    I had an interesting couple of hours with a Pastor that wanted (and really needed) to hear more about “Micro Churches”.
    I explained that it’s really part of a bigger picture of multiplying Kingdom Building and not just one Church.
    It’s really about breaking down the “paradigm paralysis” that the 21st century church suffers from. Maximum equipping and knowledge based education is single handedly stopping church expansion.
    Church growth that targets bigger is better is killing the spread of the gospel. All pastors aspire to be famed based mega leaders. It’s in all the books that are popular from “successful church leaders”

    I explained the whole purpose behind discipleship .. and where I learned that from.

    This Pastor leaned back and said, “ Now I understand the diffence of being a CEO of a church and being a catalyst (or Barnabas)
    You cannot multiply with a CEO mind set”
    But he went on to say, “it’s all I knew, my mentor was all about hierarchy and being a CEO, it’s how I was taught and raised.. and I believed it’s how things should be. Your mentor is the opposite”
    This Pastor now wants to learn about the importance of discipleship vs knowledge based teaching.
    And by the way.. I left his church some years ago, stepped down from the staff to seek the dna of a Church that does equipping by trusting leaders with ministry … giving permission and releasing them to “go make disciples”
    I could no longer agree with the denomination’s terms. But now Id like to be a catalyst for my former pastor and church for multiplication.
    I cannot explain the exuberance I felt..

    Instead of looking for the rabbits we look for the elephants.. credit for that quote goes to my mentor along with my working theology through hands on observation of his missions teaching and believing in me when most churches if not all would pass on me ever being a pastor.

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