What is the Opportunity?
I believe 2015 is a year of rare opportunity for the Western Church. One might ask, Why not the entire Church? That is a valid question, and I am not saying that there isn't an opportunity for the rest of the Church. However, the Western Church has a history of awakenings and reformations in the past that have impacted developing nations.
European and North American awakenings have been seeds of great moves of God in developing nations for centuries. But most growth in the Western Church in recent history has not been from new conversions or making disciples. The opposite is true in developing countries like Africa, India, China, and countries in South and Central America. Still, the Gospel has spread faster than ever in the last century worldwide.
The main thing I really want to focus on in this article is this: The Western Church is in a new reformation, and it is badly needed. In spite of mega churches, media, and other efforts, the Western Church is down in attendance and relevance over the last several decades. It is way past time for another great awakening that leads to reformation in the Western Church. I believe it's up to us now.God is at the ready.
It's no secret that many in the Western Church have dropped out. Yet God is in love with the entire Church. He loves those who have left and those who have stayed. Both groups desperately want change. There is no time to point fingers, but there is time to get over the past and come together for a great awakening.
And thus, we seem to be at a tipping point. This is what makes 2015 a rare opportunity. We have an opportunity to see the Church become more powerful than the early Church and see nations where Christianity is in decline rise up in unity to become powerful again. That would include this nation, the United States of America.
I love that our nation's name begins with "United." The Church must lead the way if the obvious divide and brokenness of our nation is to be healed and restored so we can become a shining light again. It's not just Church groups that are divided; our entire nation is divided. A true reformation starts with the Church and then affects governments and society in general.
It Starts With Getting Our Priorities Right
Breakthrough, shift, or even awakening are only a beginning...not an end goal. This is a year of all three. As Rita Bear Gray told us recently in Albany, we need God-given endurance to see it through. The premise is exciting. There will be miracles. There will be sudden outpourings of Holy Spirit. There will be many who find Jesus or return to Him. But what will we do with what God gives? And what will those who come to Jesus come home to?
One of the biggest mistakes we can make when God pours out His Spirit again is think it is just for us. We would be wise to get strategies and divine order from Heaven this year. The harvest that awaits us is like huge fruit sagging on the trees waiting to be picked.
The Church is both an organization and an organism. Without organization there is chaos. Without organism, there is no movement. How good or mundane our Church gatherings are is not the measure of our impact. The Church has a purpose. It is to make Jesus famous and take action to make our cities better with the love, wisdom, and presence of God.
It is time to get back to making disciples even before they are born again. What do I mean by "before they are born again"? First of all, this was true of Jesus' disciples. They followed Him before His death, resurrection, and their own born again experience. I am not diminishing the charge to proclaim the Gospel. In fact, once people truly receive Christ on the inside by the Holy Spirit, it changes everything long term. However, as the Church, we need to think outside the box of getting people into the Church and, instead, as the Church, go out to make disciples as we "show and tell."
In the Book of Acts the apostles said to those outside, "We cannot help but tell of what we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:20). This statement reveals something valuable for us in the Western Church and worldwide. We as the Church should be telling and demonstrating the story of Jesus over and over again to those "outside the Church" with presence, power, and proclamation.
Movies like Furious Love, Father of Lights, and Holy Ghost are examples of what that can look like. Actually, these movies show what has been developing for decades in the saints. Thirty years ago when I first started investigating the claims of the Kingdom in power, there were not many places to look. Today there are many. We have an opportunity to make a major shift with what we already possess and teach a new generation along the way to do even more.
While we still have freedom in America, let's get outside the walls of our gatherings and demonstrate as well as tell His story with love to those who have not heard.
Two of the biggest false assumptions in the Western Church are these:
1. Everyone in the Church knows what the Gospel is,
2. Everyone outside of the Church has already heard the Gospel.
Both of those assumptions are false. After teaching in many schools in the Church, I am shocked that few students even know the purpose of being born again. It is not to be forgiven only, as that was accomplished on the Cross by Jesus. We receive it by grace through faith in His finished work. To be born again is an encounter with Him that allows us to see, enter, and do the works of the Kingdom.
While forgiveness of sins through Christ and being born again might seem inseparable, we must get beyond thinking the Gospel is the gospel of forgiveness alone. It is the Gospel of the Kingdom that is meant to change the way we see, think, live, and impact the world around us with abundant life. That comes through being born again of water and Spirit, as Jesus said in John 3:5. Then, as we see, enter, and demonstrate the Kingdom of Heaven, many will want to find why and how. Whether we preach the Gospel first and then demonstrate, or demonstrate and then tell why and how, is not the issue. We just need to do both.
Reformation is Re-formation
Reformation means getting back to the original design in modern times, but not with a different Jesus or a Church He never built. The great commission has largely been pushed back as a priority in most of the Church, however it meets or whatever it calls its vision. Gathering, equipping, exercising the gifts, worship, and community all have inherent good, but are not the eternal purpose of God.
God's dream is to have a great big family like His Son, Jesus. We are His inheritance. So we must get the priority of the great commission of winning and making disciples of Jesus again as a top priority in the Church. He wants a big, beautiful Bride – not a grumpy, emaciated one. Sorry about that. I just don't think only 2% of the population of the earth are bound for Heaven and the rest for Hell.
Jesus died for all who will come to Him. Billions are waiting to know Jesus died for them, not just those who go to Church. Even those who don't know Jesus long for true community.So while we work on that inside the Church, let's not forget those who are broken and looking for family outside the Church.
This year we have an opportunity for a real "turnaround." It's a year of the open door and no more delay. It will require humility and courage from everyone. We need each other.The key to revival is the restoration of family. We have had enough covenant breaking from family, church, and government to divide us for a long time. But now it's time to recover and restore. With God's help and our cooperation we can and we will.
Awakening has begun. Let's make sure it is awakening unto restoration and revival, not just another critic of who we have been. It's not hard to see our faults. Guess what? It's not hard to see our potential greatness either; if we choose to look for it in each other, if we forgive, and look for the best in one another. Everyone has been hurt at some time. But it's a time to look forward to the promises that are rushing toward us. Throw away your rearview mirror. This really is a new year with limitless opportunity for those who will wash one another's feet. No one achieves their dreams without helping others achieve theirs. It's time to find something worth living for not just dying for. Don't miss this opportunity to be a part of the Church arising to shine.
Coming in 2015
Here are some of the bullet points of the Elijah List conference held at our church, "What God Is God Saying for 2015?":
1. Steve Shultz: Angels are at the ready. It's okay to contend with God like Abram, Moses, Daniel, and others. We might even want to up our authority and appeal to the Father in Jesus' name to activate them.
2. Dutch Sheets: A year of turnaround, clarity about our revelation, a young generation is ready, power evangelism. The Church will arise and shine this year.
3. Jane Hamon: A year of turnaround, no more delay, clarity about our revelation, again a young generation is ready, power evangelism. This is a year to step into your dreams.
4. Chuck Pierce: A move of God coming to the NW. New structures. People that will align themselves together in covenant can be a force. Revival and Awakening and New Baptisms of the Holy Spirit, i.e. freshness of Pentecost. We have the opportunity to step into it this year and see it last seven years. His grace will give us the strength to process true revival, which is life coming up where it has gone away.
5. Denny Cline: Awakening has begun and will pick up momentum. Three keys for that to happen are: A. Unity in the Body by people choosing to get a fresh understanding of covenant; B. A year of divine order in priorities; C. Staying with it till we bear fruit.
Denny Cline is founding pastor at Jesus Pursuit Church in Albany, Oregon. He is hosting awakening meetings for the region every fourth Friday of each month this year with special guests, including Dutch Sheets and Don Potter at a Northwest Reformation Summit, April 23-25, 2015. He is available for schools, events, and networks that want to see awakening and Kingdom advancement. For more information go to jesuspursuit.org
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Denny Cline's Itinerary:
Note: Events are subject to change at the ministry's discretion. We suggest you always check first with the event contact listed here and/or directly visit their website for latest updates on each event.
Every Fourth Friday of the month (7pm)
Jesus Pursuit Church
2110 Santiam Hwy SE, Suite 102, Albany, OR
April 23-25, 2015
Northwest Reformation Summit
with Dutch Sheets, Don Potter, Denny Cline, Emily Tedrow
Jesus Pursuit Church
2110 Santiam Hwy SE, Suite 102, Albany, OR