Unity – The Clairon Call

417457_10151051139758349_543927233_nThe mandate for unity and harmony in the body of Christ intensifies more today than ever before. It should be the mandate of leaders on the front line to focus on magnifying the charge for a counter-reformation of holiness and doctrinal soundness in the church for clarity and harmony. We all claim to have the same Holy Spirit but seldom agree on doctrine, fellowship, worship, or qualified leadership. Teaching diversity is not easy when so many of us are judging the book by its cover and not by its’ contents. The problem is we can’t all agree on how to interpret the foundation because we keep looking at 1st century examples through 21st century interpretations.

Since the quest for returning to foundational Christianity has been a distant memory throughout the ages, a cry for the true church of Jesus Christ is a dream instead of a reality. The Western church especially, is bathing in its’ own self success statements to build empires and have forgotten its’ mission call to spread the Gospel into the world, not market the Gospel in its own created spheres of influence.

The question is – “Can we overcome the prejudice and bitterness and misunderstandings that divide us?” Yes, we can. With God, all things are possible, and we know that unity is God’s will for His body. The real question is not, can we? The real question is, will we? That must be answered by each of us as leaders. What is your answer?

So while the level of spiritual warfare has changed to spread demonic activity in our churches through entertainment instead of true worship; and while corruption, deception, and selfishness pollute our worship week after week; what can be done to initiate change and restore the fire back in the church of Jesus Christ today?

Here are some suggested steps.

1. REDEDICATED LEADERS – Every great revival has been initiated by someone acting on their burden for holiness and walking against the grain, isolating       themselves for the infilling of The Holy Spirit without measure. Creating a flame of passion for God, not just a touch from God. Let’s strip the image of a preacher and embrace the character of a servant-leader. Let’s abandon the need for recognition and embrace the yoke of compassion and strength to speak a “BOLD” word from the LORD.

2. REFOCUS ON PURPOSE INSTEAD OF PERSONALITIES – Let’s face it! We all have our opinions on who is or who is not qualified to be in charge or lead some movement. But at the end of the day, none of us have a “Divine” opinion. We need to stop worrying about what leaders call themselves and focus on the message they bring. That’s the judgment call. Is the message not just controversial, but is it transformational? Jesus did not fit the persona of any known leaders of his day, but he led a counter-religious movement that turned the world upside down. We can unite on the message, even if we can’t perceive the messenger is who we would chose.

3. REDICATION OF THE LORD’S HOUSE OF WORSHIP – Simply a reorientation of our vision and mission statements to reflect who we are and what our real purpose is. People will follow what you feed them. The sanctuary is not any pastor’s personal family business; nor your personal retirement program; nor your inheritage to leave. It is The Lord’s safe haven for the people of God. Contaminated use will lessen the power and weaken the structure.

Finally, I don’t want this “IAB Unity Day” to become another “Dog and Pony Show.” We need to drop our pride and commit to a sacrifice of “Praise and Purpose.” The pattern is that true intercession comes from strong leadership and true power from unity in purpose and not in competition. The authority of the words of Christ is resting on the credibility of genuine representatives of the Gospel today, not cheap imitators of fashion and fame.

 

 

Convergence or Confusion

527675_359957237425791_261686721_nThe modern concept of The Convergence Movement was inspired by the spiritual pilgrimages of modern Evangelical writers like Thomas HowardRobert E. WebberPeter E. Gillquist and others. It refers primarily to a move among evangelical and charismatic churches in the United States to blend charismatic worship with liturgies from the Book of Common Prayer and other liturgical sources.

This blending is the subject of great debate. What is really meant by convergence and what are the definitions of the major components? The Convergence Movement is not the Ecumenical Movement. Christian unity has been termed “ecumenical” from the Greek ‘oikumenikos’, ‘of the inhabited earth. This term means universal, worldwide in a common sense.  So to have ecumenical interests is to have the interest of the worldwide church at heart.  But for many in the three main divisions of Christianity, Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant, the word is associated with the idea of compromise. It is assumed that ecumenism means finding the lowest common denominator of the Christian faith and having to give up the rest. It will continue to be, necessary for the various factions and denominations of God’s church to dialog and commence tearing down the walls of division and hopefully finding – “Christ” at the core of Christianity and daily becoming “Like Him” and not making Christ like us!

But convergence seeks a different path. The three major components of this particular blending are Evangelical, Liturgical, and Charismatic worship styles and practices. It is believed that each of these expressions of the Church serve some useful purpose in uniting the Church of Jesus Christ to an authentic Faith.

Let’s define the terms before we blend the concepts.

Evangelical refers to relating or belonging to any Protestant Christian church that emphasizes the authority of the Bible and salvation through the personal acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Evangelicals believe that each individual has a need for spiritual rebirth and personal commitment to Jesus Christ as savior, through faith in his atoning death on the cross (commonly, although not necessarily, through a specific conversion experience). They emphasize strict orthodoxy (following of established rules or traditions) on cardinal doctrines, morals, and especially on the authority of the Bible. Many Evangelicals follow a traditional, interpretation of the Bible and insist on its inerrancy (freedom from error in history as well as in faith and morals). The term Evangelicalism has been a source of controversy, and the precise relationship or distinction between Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism has been disputed.

The Charismatic Movement refers to that body of Christians seeking direct spiritual experiences. It describes worship characterized by a quest for inspired and ecstatic experiences such as healing, prophecy, and speaking in tongues. The individuals who make up the movement believe that they have been “filled” or “baptized” with the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands.  The signs of this baptism include such spiritual gifts as speaking in tongues, or glossolalia, prophecy, healing, interpretation of tongues, and discernment of spirits.

Liturgy is a body of rites (or system of ceremonial procedures) prescribed for formal public worship. Although the term is sometimes applied to Jewish worship, it is especially associated with the prayers and ceremonies used in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, also known as Holy Eucharist. During the first three centuries of the Christian era, the rite of the church was comparatively fluid (or very likely changing), based on various accounts of the Last Supper. By the 4th century the various traditions crystallized into four liturgies, the Antiochene, or Greek, the Alexandrian, the Roman, and the Gallican, from which all others have been derived.

Christianity is a many layered Faith and many components have been introduced and battled over historically and biblically.  We are always faced with tradition and revelation. The Convergence Movement though not new in concept is new in acceptance. I believe like everything, there is a time and season. If we accept that the concept of merging worship practices as a reality, then we can begin a new era in the Church.

A certain harbor in Italy can be reached only by sailing up a narrow channel between dangerous rocks and cliffs. Over the years, many ships have been wrecked, and navigation is hazardous. To guide the ships safely into port, three lights were mounted on three huge poles in the harbor. When the three lights are perfectly aligned and seen as one, the ship can safely proceed up the narrow channel. If the pilot sees two or three lights, he knows he’s off course and in danger.

Maybe there is a need to align these streams to prepare for a united church and maybe this is the beginning of more confusion. Whatever the flow we must reclaim historical Christianity and maintain scriptural integrity. I maintain that balance is the word that must be embraced. Like that harbor which needs all the lights to align to give direction, hopefully the Church can discern the majesty of the Glory to be revealed through combined worship.

The Quest For Unity

English: A Protestant Church altar decorated f...
English: A Protestant Church altar decorated for Pentecost with red burning candles and red banners and altar cloth depicting the fire and sound of blowing wind of the Holy Spirit. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The spiritual climate of our nation is increasingly dry concerning a fresh move of the Holy Spirit. It is the mandate of committed church leaders to speak out against abuse, violence, and evil wherever it begins to flourish. It is our duty as leaders to pray for our government and to help alter policies that would hinder the church and society at large.

The continuing struggle in the Christian world today is unity. Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17, echoes the passion of Our Lord as He prayed for unity among His disciples, the world, and the Godhead. We are so divided over doctrine, government, worship, and Christian living that it will actually take a miracle to unite us back together. No wonder discipleship has become a thing of the past as the new past time is marketing and recruitment for entertainment, not conviction for change. It’s as if we have given up on bringing people into the church anymore. Instead we want to shift people around church circles and compete for the best gifts.

It is my desire to develop this group into a well-defined order that understands that being a Church Leader entails more than just getting vestments, documents and appointments. There are also standards of excellence and accountability that comes with the promotions sought after. With different fractions in the church debating bout legitimacy and order, where can we rest among the varied opinions being offered? Meaning, are we as doctrinally sound as we look and claim?

The foundational glue in the church world today has to be the teaching ministry. Without it we can’t grow or mature. Unless we can unite prophets and teachers, we will never unlock the revelations yet to come. The prophetic announcements of promised prosperity and blessings mean nothing if we don’t embrace the regulations that are required to enjoy all these great blessings.

If churches today are continually divided over doctrine, worship, and government, what can we be united by? Let’s examine. Two of the most polarizing doctrinal issues today are “Baptism” and “Communion.” What should be the two pillars that strengthen the Christian Faith has become the most divisive topics in the church world today. Just these two topics have caused splits, fueled debates, and ignited reformations and rebellions worldwide.

I want to start discussion on these two issues and hopefully come to some sort of unity statement. While I do believe we will never come to grips on some unified consensus on doctrine, I do remain hopeful that we will approach truth with a open mind and heart to begin to comprehend where we are and where we are going.