Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Networking Church: Part 2

Restoration Through Transformation

“You need to be aware of the signs of possible spiritual awakening in America. We’ve had two great awakenings in the history of America, and we’re a hundred years over due for the next one. If there is a second Reformation in the Church and a third spiritual awakening in the world or in American, it will come through two words – small groups.”
-- Rick Warren, Ministry Toolbox #219 [emphasis added]

“The church itself will need to go through a metamorphosis in order to find its new identity in
the dialectic of gospel and culture,..."

Cameron Crabtree, “Church Growth Scholar Advocates Radical Change in New Millennium” [emphasis added]

The small group concept is usually sold as a formula. Here is how changing the church structure into small groups usually works:

1. The “old wineskin” is bad, ineffective, inefficient, unbiblical, etc. For examples, see C. Peter Wagner has written extensively about this as have many others apostolic leaders in his New Apostolic Reformation. A classic example of this can be found in the book The Open Church by Jim Rutz.

2. Therefore the “new wineskin” of cells/small groups is said to be more biblical or a better “New Testament” model. And it promises big dividends for a global harvest. But the pattern is the "systems" networking model that has been discussed in previous Herescope posts, not a genuine biblical idea. Below is an example from Stacy Campbell, "Changing Times, Changing Seasons – A Harvest of Billions!” The "bricks" refer to the cellular structure.

Great Transformation:

 There's a great transformation going on in the Body of Christ in the globe. And the forms and the structures--they're coming down from the old wineskin, and a new wineskin is being built, but it's very hard to discern.

". . .A Harvest of Billions: There is a harvest coming that is so big, millions and millions and millions. Yea, a billion souls harvest that will need stone joined with stone, joined with stone united, and not divided!

"Discerning the life in the brick! The jagged bricks; the old, old, smooth bricks; the grainy bricks all fitting together to form a container for HIM. For HIM! For HIM! For HIM! And for Him, let it be on earth like it will be eternally in Heaven!" 

. . .“Let it be on earth just like it is in Heaven!” [emphasis in original]

3. Networking cells and organizations, by “partnering” collaboratively across the 3-legged stool (Church, State and Corporate), produces a “synergy” which “advances the kingdom” or helps to “fulfill the Great Commission” and/or the “Great Commandment.” Note the dominionism in the statements from the recent URBANA 06:

“Urbana 06 director Jim Tebbe called on the students to integrate political action and missions for the sake of God’s Kingdom.

“'Our need to leverage for greater influence in the structures and systems in this world may not be the message you were expecting at a missions conference,’ Tebbe said. . .”

“'The history of the church is full of examples of those whose faith in the risen Christ compelled them to exercise authority for the sake of the Gospel,’ Tebbe said.”

“Citing tremendous power in global partnerships, Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church, spoke to the students during the conference’s ‘Community Night.’ Warren presented them with a catchphrase for their generation: ‘whatever, whenever, wherever. . . .’

“Warren invited the students to begin a reformation of missions. ‘We don’t need to move the church forward; we need to move it back to the first century and do it the way Jesus did,’ he said. ‘You are the reformation generation. You must be those who bring in the reformation in world missions.’”
 [emphasis added]

4. Once the church is properly “aligned” with this new “apostolic” top-down networking authority systems structure, there is a promised restoration and a worldwide spiritual “awakening” for building this "Kingdom." Note the new theology in the statements below:

“Reaching the Nations – A networking of leaders, churches and ministries for a total invasion of the land and the establishing and advancing of the Kingdom of God for the reformation and restoration of all things.” (WVCOM Christian Mandates for Africa) [emphasis added]

“. . . Heaven cannot release Christ to return until the ‘times of refreshing, recovery, and revival’ have restored all truth back to the Church, and until the ‘period of the great Restoration’ has been accomplished in the Church. . . Jesus cannot be released from Heaven to return to Earth to set up His literal kingdom until His Church (His spiritual kingdom) has been fully established and perfected. . . .

“The Church will be the instrument that will move in the power and spirit of Elijah, restoring all things which have been spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began, releasing Jesus from the Heavens and bringing about the Second Coming of Christ.” (Bill Hamon, The Eternal Church [Christian International Publ., 1981], pp. 133, 136) (bold emphasis added)

“[W]e believe God is preparing his Church for a worldwide spiritual awakening.

“We also believe God is creating a network that will include millions of local churches – congregations that will impact our world as they fulfill God’s five purposes for his church.” (Rick Warren, Ministry ToolBox Issue #200, 3/30/05) (emphasis added)

5. Once the church is properly restructured into this networking systems model, accelerated conversion rates and an outpouring of spiritual signs and wonders are supposed to occur. Some even claim to have accelerated the time it takes for discipling. Because of the urgency of the hour in building this "Kingdom" on Earth, it is deemed acceptable to incorporate the spiritual practices of the occult into this new structure to jump-start these phenomena. The term "missional" is descriptively used to indicate this systems model. For example:

“The leadership style in a missional congregation is primarily transformational, casting a vision of what can be, and marching off the map in order to bring the vision into reality.” (“Becoming A Missional Church vs. A Maintenance Church”) [emphasis added]

“The goal [of P.E.A.C.E.] is to reduce the time between spiritual generations from decades to months to perhaps hours.”
[“Summary of the P.E.A.C.E. Briefing for Mission Agencies", Nov. 6-7, Atlanta, GA. Emphasis added.]

“Your church friends will help you to understand the cultural context so that you can begin to assessing the evil giants in the area.

Prayer-walking will give your small group a vision to see the people with spiritual eyes.” (From "EXPERT ADVICE" about P.E.A.C.E., describing the global mapping activities of the short-term mission groups.)

(This series to be continued. . . Lord willing. . .)

The Truth:

"Israel is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself: according to the multitude of his fruit he hath increased the altars; according to the goodness of his land they have made goodly images." (Hosea 10:1)