Monday, April 23, 2007

The ministry of Jesus

Re-discovering Jesus' ministry

Reflections from the Jesus-Ministry Conference Tacoma June 2005

The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good
news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for prisoners and
recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the
year of the Lord's favour. Luke 4:18&19 (NIV)

This paper summarizes my thoughts and impressions from a week spent at the
Jesus-ministry Conference in the Tacoma Convention Centre Washington State
led by Destiny City Church in June 2005.

Over the past six years, Destiny City Church (formerly called Clover Creek Bible Fellowship) has experienced a remarkable fresh move of God described as follows by their Pastor Mike Riches in a magazine article last year.
Sometimes God invades his Church and its leaders, to shake things up, seize our attention, and bring about radical change. That happened to us on January 30th 2000. God commenced an invasion that has radically changed me
personally and our church corporately.
1

In the article, Mike (who has been pastor of the church for nearly twenty
years) describes his church prior to January 2000 as a 'typical
non-denominational evangelical church.' They had vibrant children's and
youth work, contemporary worship and expositional preaching were the norm.
The church had seen significant growth over seven years from 170 to
1500-1700 people. On the face of it, they were successful and experiencing
God's blessing, but Mike felt a growing discontent, an awareness that they
knew the word of God but little of his power. God had new things in store
for the Church.

Within a period of 120 days, several extraordinary things happened which over
the past five and a half years have become the norm for the church. In this
period, hundreds have received physical healing and freedom from emotional or
spiritual captivity, and hundreds have come to faith in Jesus Christ.

The church now has around 1600 members spread between three congregations. There is a morning family congregation, an evening service in a Baptist church in downtown Tacoma consisting of around 800 eighteen to thirty five year olds, and a congregation which has emerged from a church ministry to vulnerable people.

As a result of God's new work in Destiny City Church, other churches have been
asking them to share their experiences and teach on what they believe God
has been doing. This has now become an international conference which this
year had seven hundred delegates from across the world. My wife Kate and I
were privileged to attend this in June.

What has been at the heart of this new awakening at Destiny City Church? In his article, Mike describes it under three headings

ABOUT REFORMATION
God is still reforming his Church. Much has been restored in the Church
since the Scriptures began to be recovered in the late 1300's to the mid
1500's. Luther was used to recover the essence of salvation by grace,
through faith in Jesus Christ in the 16th century. Reformation continued in
different dimensions of the Church over centuries since then, one of the
most notable in the UK being the Wesleyan Revival of the 18th century.
Reformation and renewal is still necessary in the Church today and Mike
Riches believes that what has been happening at Destiny City Church is just another
step in that process that God desires for his Church.

In the early days of this new move of God's Spirit when Mike was struggling
to come to terms with the upheaval, he sensed God speaking to him..
"What is my design for the Church? Are you faithful to the commission I gave
my Church, or had you succumbed to conventional expectations of man?" I then
heard the Lord say, "What is different about what I am doing in your church
than what happened while I ministered on earth? Were there not physical
healings? Did I not hear directly from my Father as to what he was going to
do and what he wanted me to do and say? Were there not demonic
manifestations wherever I ministered, whether in the Synagogue or out in the
streets and fields. Did I not demonstrate authority overall powers of
darkness and powerfully release those who had been captives? Was not all of
this part of people coming into my Kingdom? Was not all of this part of me
training and teaching my disciples how to do my ministry? Were not my
disciples commissioned to carry out the very ministry my Father sent me into
the world to perform? Did I not say that my disciples would do the very
works I have done and greater? Did I not pray for my disciples regarding
this work and not only for them but for all who would ever believe in me
because of their testimony?"
2

God was doing a work of reformation in Destiny City Church (then known as Clover Creek Bible Fellowship) alerting them afresh to truth they knew intellectually but not in practice. Together they were..

WAKING UP TO JESUS' MINISTRY
Mike and the church began to read the scriptures in a fresh way whilst, in
Mike's words, 'having our paradigm and practice of "church" change
dramatically.' During this time God emphasized the heart of Jesus' ministry
that he was calling the church to be engaged in from Christ's words in
Luke 4:18-19.. The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for
prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to
proclaim the year of the Lord's favour.


Luke 19v10 became an important verse in developing what the church now
understands as 'Jesus-ministry.' Jesus stated that as 'the Son of Man' he
had come to 'seek and to save what was lost.' Mike noticed two things as he
read this passage through fresh eyes.

Firstly, Jesus came to save more than 'who' was lost (although personal
salvation is fundamental to Jesus' mission and ministry), but that he came
to save what was lost. There was much lost when Adam first sinned -
humanity's relationship with God, healthy relationships, God's plan for
marriage and the family, physical, mental and emotional heath, and so the
list goes on. In announcing the coming of God's Kingdom, Jesus came to begin
the restoration of what was lost; it was to go beyond salvation of the soul
to a comprehensive restoration of the person.

Secondly, in Luke 19v10 the Greek word for 'save' is sozo. This word has a
range of meanings. Sozo means to save, restore, deliver, heal and make
whole. In the New Testament it is used to describe a person being brought
into a right relationship with God through forgiveness of sins (Romans
10v9), a demon possessed man being delivered from his oppression (Luke 8v36)
and a blind man receiving his sight (Mark 10:52). The Church was discovering
that the ministry of Jesus was much more than simply speaking words of
salvation to others.

NOT JUST WORDS, BUT POWER
Another significant passage of Scripture for the church at this time was 1
Corinthians 4:19-20. Paul made a statement in reference to measuring the
work of church leaders. He was not coming to hear their words but to see
their power, for the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.
V20 (NIV) The church at Clover Creek had sound theology but little evidence of the
power of God at work. Mike Riches says.
He [God] asked us if we were willing to devote ourselves to himself in his
power, as well as his Word. It didn't take us long to realize that true
'Jesus-ministry' could only be done in and through His power, not through
understanding the strategies and limitation of this natural world and our
human understanding.
3

This fresh understanding of the need of God's power came as the Church were
reminded (very specifically in the early days through individuals under
demon oppression who visited the church) of the reality of the spiritual
battle. Paul's words in Ephesians 6v12 were brought to mind. For our
struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the
powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the forces of
wickedness in the heavenly places

Spiritual authority

In order to carry out Jesus' ministry, we require Jesus' authority and power as we struggle against the 'rulers, powers, the world forces of this darkness, against the forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.'

A distinction is drawn between authority and power. Simply put, authority is
about the right to do a certain thing;
power is the ability to carry it out.
To illustrate this point, the Prime Minister has authority because of his
electoral mandate to lead the country in a certain way but his power to do
so will be hindered if his party MPs rebel and vote against his proposals.

Throughout the New Testament, Jesus gave his disciples authority and power to do his
work. He called the twelve together, and gave them power and authority over
all the demons, and to heal diseases. As Jesus ascended to heaven he
commissioned his disciples to teach those who would follow him to do the
same...All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me, therefore
go and make disciples of all nations teaching them to do all that I have
commanded you and surely I will be with you until the end of the age. Matt
28v18-end
Jesus gives his followers the same authority and power today - his authority
is the source of their authority. Paul says in Ephesians 1v3...Blessed be
the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every
spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.

Re-discovering Jesus' ministry involves realizing afresh the authority and
power that is available to the people of God. Although every Christian has
this authority, its outworking can be obstructed in a believer's life. This
can happen because of habitual sin and unbelief, sin suffered by an
individual, sinful behaviour committed by families or communities over
generations or curses said over someone. Our authority as Christians is compromised when there is rebellion in the ranks.

Satan establishes a stronghold in the life of a Christian in every area
where the authority of Jesus is not being realized as it ought to be.
Even though a person belongs to God, Satan has gained a place to operate
because it has been granted to him. Paul warns against this in Ephesians
four. Ephesians 4v26 In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while
you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.


The Greek word translated 'foothold' in verse 27 is from the Greek word
topos. Topos literally means ‘place.' Further translations show
that it means 'the place someone takes' so in this context it could be
translated to mean 'a place in which one has gained rights.' Paul is warning
the church at Ephesus not to give Satan a place in their lives where he can
gain the right to hinder the work of God's Spirit. Satan is described by the
apostle Peter as 'a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.' Christians
are encouraged to 'resist him, standing firm in the faith.'

Satan has established strongholds in the lives of many people; the good
news is that Jesus' ministry involves 'proclaiming freedom for prisoners.'
Christians have the authority to dismantle Satan's strongholds in their
lives as we see in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.. 3 For though we live in the
world, we do not wage war as the world does.
4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the
contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.
5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the
knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to
Christ.

Victory over the enemy

We see the reality of spiritual battle in the devastation and brokenness in many lives and communities in our world. Satan’s handiwork is all around us. Christ came to set the captives free, to heal the sick and to mend the broken-hearted. By the Holy Spirit, he continues to do so today.

Language of warfare

In the desire to be politically correct, the institutional church has largely turned its back on the language of war which fills Scripture. Much of the Old Testament only makes sense if it is read as a story of battle, battle for the land. We need this language of warfare. While we are to turn our cheeks to attacks from physical enemies, the church must take up its mighty weapons against the great spiritual enemies of sin, the flesh and the devil.

To many in secular Britain, the church appears passive, bound and insipid. While we need to take care with our words in the present climate of terrorism, we must be active and not passive, unafraid to use the language of war as we face spiritual battle. This is not a call to ‘muscular’ Christianity but a call to step out in our weakness and humility, trusting in God’s almighty strength. At the beginning of Luke’s Gospel, John the Baptist’s father Zechariah speaks confidently about God’s plan of salvation through his coming son. The Lord has come and has redeemed his people …….. To rescue us from the fear of our enemies and to enable us to serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. (Luke 1:74)

The victory is won but we have to appropriate it in every part of our lives, confident that sin cannot rule. Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57) is Paul’s faith-filled assertion.

What are the key strategies for living in this victory, for dismantling Satan' s strongholds and enabling Christians to live as God intends them to?
Destiny City Church identify two areas:
1) The importance of repentance, and
2) An active prophetic ministry in the church

1) REPENTANCE

A precious gift to the church
Repentance has always been central to Christian faith and yet the word
somehow sounds outdated, bringing pictures of crackpots with billboards
prophesying doom. In their teaching, Destiny City Church emphasise that Scripture
says that repentance is a precious gift from God to the Church. Speaking
about Jesus to the Sanhedrin, Peter in Acts 5:29 says…

God exalted him [Jesus] to his own right hand as Prince and saviour that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel.

Why is it that reactions to the word repentance often conjure up negative and harsh pictures? It is many times neglected, ignored, causes fear and is misunderstood. We need to rediscover this precious gift of repentance.

An unwanted gift

A gift of a lifejacket is greatly appreciated if you know you are drowning
but not so wonderful if you are safe on dry land. To many, repentance
appears as an unwanted solution to an unrecognised problem. Even those who attend church sometimes view their initial act of conversion as sufficient, a form of insurance, a life-jacket kept in hand in case of a flood.

Repentance and confession has always been a central part of Anglican heritage yet can sometimes appear to have little power to change lives. There seem to be two
problems..

We don't recognise the greatness of God‘s saving power

We don't recognise our sin.

So great a salvation


The work in Clover Creek Church began with a recognition that there was more
to the Christian life and salvation than they were experiencing. Many
church leaders would have been more than content with Clover Creek church as
it was 6 years ago: a vibrant evangelical church with an attendance of more
than 1600 people. However, the pastor, Mike Riches, felt a growing
discontentment and began to seek God.

A new expectation

What began to emerge at Clover Creek was an understanding of salvation as the
restoration of God's original design. In the Garden of Eden there was no
death, fear, shame or condemnation. God's purpose in Jesus was to recover
what was lost in Eden. What did God have in mind when I was conceived in my
mother's womb? We were all designed for freedom. Jesus came to restore
what was lost through sin, to make us what he intended us to be. This work
will be finished in heaven but begins when a person repents and turns to
follow Jesus.

Repentance must be ongoing

There is a first step of repentance, that initial step of faith that ushers
us into God's Kingdom and through Christ secures our place as a child of God forever.
Repentance is the threshold by which one enters into the power and joy of a
transformed life; it is the key which unlocks the door to God's treasured
destiny for us. One of the first answers in the Anglican baptismal service
as an adult or child is welcomed into God's family, is 'I repent of my
sins.' As Leanne Payne in her book The Healing Presence says.
In the Judeo-Christian understanding…the soul finds in God the grace to
make a radical decision concerning sin, and so he puts it away. He dies to
sin and then is himself resurrected.
4

In the Christian life, we make a great first step of repentance, but
conversion is only the beginning of a life of repentance. We read in
Hebrews 10:14 that we are perfected forever; through Christ our initial repentance secures our unchanging status as children of God.

Let me illustrate this point. Prince Charles will always be a prince. He may decide one morning when he wakes up never again to fulfil any royal duties. He would remain a prince but would rightly be known as a lazy Prince. As Duke of Cornwall he might decide to raise the rent on the land he owns by three times its present rate. He
would still be a prince but he would be a greedy prince. If he became this
irresponsible it wouldn't affect his position as a prince but he would not
be living his life to its full potential and would be bringing great
disrepute to the Royal Family. His actions do not affect his status but the integrity of the family into which he was born.
5

We have been perfected forever in terms of our status but as the writer to the Hebrews continues, God is still making us holy. Our initial act of repentance, turning to God brings us all the benefits of heaven and the status of being God’s children but we need ongoing repentance to see God’s saving work in our lives today. Too often church members seem little different to those outside it. Too often we lose expectation that God is in the business of transformation.


When we turn to follow Jesus Christ this is the first great step to a new
life in Christ. But it is only the first step because God wants us to enjoy
the full privileges of being his child on earth, and so that we might
continue Jesus' ministry as his physical body on earth. Like any physical
body, a body that does not respond to the instructions of the head is
disabled and does not fully represent the wishes of the head. An ongoing
process of repentance is necessary for us as individuals and as Christ’s church.
6

A biblical definition of repentance

1) Returning to God
How do we understand repentance? In the Old Testament, repentance is
understood as 'returning'- returning to the Father and his plans for our
lives. Israel often strayed from God's ways into disobedience. God's call for Israel to return to him is typically illustrated in his words to Israel through Isaiah.

In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength. (Isaiah 30v15). This could also be translated 'In returning and rest is your salvation,' as
Israel had strayed again from God's will.

2) A change of mind
The story of the Prodigal Son in the Luke's Gospel echoes this understanding
of repentance as the son, full of remorse, returns to his Father whom he had
disgraced. This same parable also draws on a further understanding of
repentance in the New Testament. The Greek word translated repentance in the
New Testament is the word metanoia. It literally means "a change of mind."
True repentance has radical implications, for it turns us from something,
toward something different. It is like turning 180 degrees. But repentance
affects more than one's mind, it has life ramifications. It changes one's
life, one's values, one's attitudes, and one's actions. The prodigal left
behind his reckless life in the far country and turned around to come home
not expecting anything, but he received generous mercy.

Destiny City Church underlines that repentance is an ongoing process. It is
not a single act or thought, it is not done once and forever accomplished. It
is not enough to once feel sorrow over sin. True repentance affects the
whole person and alters the entire lifestyle. The repentant person turns
from all that displeases God towards that which pleases God. True repentance will lead to different behaviour. In the New Testament it was natural to Zacchaeus, after he had been touched by the mercy of Jesus and had repented, to repay those whom he had cheated.

Repentance requires humility

The Bible often underlines that humility is essential for those who seek God . ‘He opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble’. Humility embraces personal responsibility in a radical challenge to our culture. Brennan Manning writes:

If we say we have no sin in us, we are deceiving ourselves and refusing to admit the truth” (1 John 1:8). We live in a society that luxuriates in the therapeutic and exculpatory, condemns judgement as authoritarian, dismisses acknowledgment of sin as an assault on self-worth, and resists discernment of spirits as the imposition of arbitrary standards. The devastating consequence of these societal shortcomings is the perennial gnostic retreat from personal responsibility. 7



Repentance brings freedom


In his allegory The Great Divorce, CS Lewis paints a number of remarkable
pictures of the sinful nature we need to repent of - the 'old man' we need
to die to. The thesis of the book is that Heaven and all that it contains
is of such solid reality that those who refuse repentance (and have by
default chosen self and hell) can never be at home in it - they cannot stand
the utter reality of heaven

In one picture, the 'old man' appears as a seedy old actor. Into the
picture appears a lovely bright spirit, Sarah Smith 'and she lived at Golders
Green.' On earth Sarah had been the wife of this pompous character, Frank. As she
runs over the green fields on the outskirts of Paradise, 'the invitation to
all joy' sings 'out of her whole being like a bird's song on an April
evening.' She is in stark contrast to the shadowy ghost she has been sent
to help. He appears to lead a tiny dwarf ghost, but we realise that the
tall theatrical figure is simply his impression of himself. The tiny dwarf
is all that is left of the man who was her husband and he holds a chain attached to the collar of the tall one.

Sarah addresses the dwarf that was her husband and for a moment the light and love of
Christ shining from her increases his size….

For one moment, while she looked at him in her love and mirth, he saw the absurdity of the Tragedian. For one moment he did not at all misunderstand her laughter….But the light that reached him, reached him against his will. This was not the meeting he had pictured; he would not accept it. 8
Frank chose to refuse the invitation of Christ and with this choice he is gradually consumed into his inflated illusion of himself forever.

In our modern culture where addiction is such an issue more than ever before
we can see that sin binds us and that we need freedom, freedom from habits
of fear, guilt, rejection, inferiority, worldliness, greed, bitterness, the
list goes on. Repentance is about changing our minds to see freedom break
in.

Actions and Attitudes

It is helpful to recognise that we can sin not only in action but also in attitude. Often Christians recognise that they commit sins and omit to do things they should be doing; the focus tends to be on actions rather than attitudes. We may see that an attitude of un-forgiveness is sin but fail to acknowledge that other attitudes can be sinful. It can appear healthy to accept every feeling we have, however negative. The Bible challenges this approach. We need to recognise that where feelings may be an appropriate initial response to a situation, it is wrong to allow such attitudes as anger, fear, rejection, condemnation and wilful unbelief to rule us. In so doing, we deny God’s provision of grace and forgiveness. The result of persistent sinful attitudes is eventually sinful action. We need to address sinful attitudes and ‘change our minds.’


More than the power of positive thinking


When we talk about having a change of mind, it can sound remarkably like the
power of positive thinking. Repentance is far more powerful. The power of positive
thinking says "I will not think that way anymore". The power of Christian
thinking says, "Because Christ is my Lord, the old way of thought cannot
rule me anymore". In this understanding, repentance is not a self-pitying
wallowing in sadness over sin but a triumphant and joyful renunciation of sin
in the power of the risen Christ.

Repentance is the key to entering into salvation. The Catholic theologian Father Raniero Cantalamessa writes of the mystery that God needs our repentance in order to come to us with forgiveness and change:

When the three thousand asked Peter’ “What should we do?”

He answered, “Repent” (Acts 2:38).

It is in repentance that the encounter takes place between grace and freedom. 9



How can we enter into this repentance?

At Destiny City Church they believe prayer is the answer. When we pray with each
other, people are released to be as God always intended, continuing Jesus' ministry on
earth. James writes, Confess your sins one to another and pray for each other so that you may be healed. (James 5v16)

A new model


The church has devised a simple model involving two or three people praying
with one person. The time begins with the pray-ers listening to God in
response to questions like 'How does God see 'Chris' and how does he wish
to use him?' Then, 'what is hindering 'Chris' from embracing this view and
fulfilling his call?' Those who are praying for Peter then submit what they
believe God might be saying to him.

My own experience was that there was much encouragement from what was offered. It was immensely important to begin with a reassurance of God‘s good purposes for my life. This is the prize that makes repentance worthwhile; it is the love of God and the promise of change that enables us to face our sin. Brennan Manning again….

To knife through our pretence, cowardice and evasions, to see the truth about ourselves and the true state of our souls before God - this requires enormous courage and ruthless trust in the merciful love of the redeeming God. Put simply, sin must be acknowledged and confessed before there can be forgiveness and real transformation. 10

In dealing with what might hinder Chris from realizing his full potential as
a Christian the pray-ers lead him through a simple model based on James
4:7-8. The verses read...Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil
and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you.
Wash your hands you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double minded.

Firstly,
he is encouraged to repent and receive. Out loud with those praying
for him he is encouraged to repent of sins he has committed or wrong
attitudes he has held; of the reactions to sins committed against him and
for sinful patterns passed down over generations or through curses. He is
then encouraged to thank God for the forgiveness that is offered to him
through Jesus.

Secondly, he is encouraged to rebuke and renounce. So, for example Chris might proclaim that fear cannot rule him because Christ is Lord. This is possible because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ where Christ emerged sinless and triumphant over all the powers of evil. In the authority given to him by God, Chris is encouraged to
renounce any lies believed about himself, God or others (I found there was
great power in speaking out the truth of Scripture for myself in this
process).

Thirdly, he is encouraged to replace and renew. Next Chris is encouraged to
come near to God through washing his hands of sinful behaviour and duplicity
in his devotion to God. He replaces it with devotion to God and obedience.
Then he is encouraged to ask God to renew his whole being through the power
of the Holy Spirit.

Fourthly, he is encouraged to receive and rejoice. Finally Chris receives in
faith the empowering presence of God as he is filled again with the Holy
Spirit. Often the pray-ers will join in this during this stage, thanking
God with Chris for what he has done.

Four things appeal to me about this model:

1) The person being prayed for is actively involved in the ministry process.
They have to take responsibility for their sin and exercise the authority
that is theirs as a Christian. This model is not simply dependent on others doing the praying for them.

2) It has a healthy focus on what Jesus achieved for believers through his
death and resurrection.

3) It follows closely the promises made by candidates in the Anglican baptism service and has echoes of promises made by Christians down the ages.

4) The pray-ers are encouraged to listen to God.

2) THE PROPHETIC
In their teaching a fundamental premise of Destiny City Church has been that a
chief tactic of Satan has been to rob the Church of its capacity to hear
God's voice today. There are so many examples of God speaking to his people
throughout Scripture and the promise of Pentecost was that God would live
within his followers and speak to all who listened to him. On the Day of
Pentecost Peter quotes the prophet Joel. 'In the last days, God says, I will
pour out my Spirit on all people..I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.'
(Acts 2:17)

The theologian Wayne Gruden defines prophecy as, 'telling something God has
brought to mind.'
11 God speaks today and any Christian can hear his voice.
This is qualified by the fact that the Bible and the church community
is always the reference point for anything we believe God is saying. If what
we understand to be from God contradicts the Bible and is not received from
the church as God's word then it is to be disregarded.

What is the purpose of prophetic ministry in the Church?
Mike Riches lists the following:


1) To strengthen, encourage and comfort.

This is God' s greatest intention for this gift.

Often we find ourselves unable to hear God’s good purposes for our own lives. How we need those who will listen to God on our behalf. God is for us; we can be for each other, believing in God’s good purposes for each others lives. Paul says in Romans that God called those things that were not as if they were and so they came into being. Just as Jesus looked at doubting Simon and saw Peter the Rock and spoke this into being, so we can speak God’s good purposes over each other. This is the role of the prophetic as outlined in 1Corinthians 14v3,

But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort.

2) To demonstrate God's love for people. God loves to speak specifically of
his love for people.
3) To give direction and courage. God wants to speak to us about the detail
of our lives.
4) To prepare for difficult times. When God speaks to us about difficult
times ahead we will take comfort that he knows and will give us grace to
cope.
5) To reveal Satan's strongholds and enable repentance to happen. God wants
his people to live in freedom as he always intended - he is keen to show us
how Satan hinders that freedom and how by repentance there can be new
beginnings.
6) As a means of evangelism. God longs to reach those who do not know him,
and when he speaks to someone directly about the circumstances of their
lives through a third party the effect is powerful.

How does God speak to the church today? From Clover Creek's experience he
speaks through Scripture, impressions, dreams, visions, angelic revelations
and on occasions by an audible voice.

What are the components of prophetic ministry?

Revelation - knowledge we receive from the Lord in the form of an
impression, vision, inner sense, dream; what we see, hear or receive.
Interpretation - meaning or understanding of revelation we have received.
Application - How and when we implement what we have received.

A number of things impressed me about how prophetic ministry operated in the
church at Destiny City Church.

1) The gift was a key part of prayer ministry as those praying listened
carefully to what they believed God was saying for the individual. They
then offered this sensitively as a way forward for the prayer session. In
my experience the prophetic was not used as a means of controlling other
people in a 'thus says the Lord' fashion but was offered for individuals to
consider and accept, or dismiss. It is clearly essential that prophecy is submitted in this way or there is dangerous potential for manipulation.

I was impressed at how accurate people were on different occasions as they prayed for me, particularly in pinpointing what might be hindering God realising his
purposes for my life.

2) Every member of the church was encouraged that they could hear from God,
prophecy was not for a few celebrity super-saints. Different people prayed
for me ranging in age from their twenties to their sixties and although some
were more experienced than others, on every occasion God spoke to me through
the individuals who were praying.

3) The love and humility with which this gift was used was impressive.
During the week of the conference one hundred teams of three people were
available to pray for the conference delegates. Many of these folk were
working during the day and others gave up a week's holiday to pray for three
to four hours each evening for delegates. Prayer ministry was not just for five
or ten minutes but usually lasted for at least thirty - forty minutes as the
teams listened to God and encouraged the delegates to respond to him. At
all times they prayed with love and humility.

4) Being a member of the church. It was regularly stressed that no-one
could function in isolation and that those who prayed for others and used
the gift of prophecy should be accountable to others. The potential for
abuse of this gift is clear if those who use it are not willing to open
their own lives for regular scrutiny to others.


In summary then, in the teaching of Destiny City Church an active prophetic
ministry is key to enabling Christians to live as God intended because it
underlines the truth about what God says about them and helps them to identify the obstacles to God’s purposes.

Two questions might be asked at the conclusion of this paper.

1) How can churches that encourage the prophetic and take account of demonic
influences on believers avoid the abuses to which they are vulnerable?

Churches embarking on this ministry need to be candidly aware of the
potential pitfalls - mistakes through a process not adequately thought out
can be costly to a church's reputation.

Destiny City Church have a comprehensive teaching programme which all those who
wish to engage in this ministry are required to complete. Accountability
structures are clear and no-one can operate independently of others. Those
who pray for others must be willing to regularly be prayed for by others.
This includes the leadership team of the church who are fully accountable to
each other and the church which they lead.


2) Is there a danger that this ministry could lead to introversion and shift
the focus of the Church away from mission?

It is conceivable that if this ministry drifted off on a tangent that the
church could become introverted, but the fact that Destiny City Church believes God
has been helping them re-discover Jesus' ministry as outlined in Luke 4
re-assures me. It is also re-assuring to see the priorities they have as a
church and to hear about countless lives changed though the
ministry during this period of reformation. Mission at home and overseas
are high on the agenda of the church - they support people working overseas
and have a growing church and staff at home. Many people are becoming
Christians through the Living Free Course as well as Christians having their
faith renewed. There is a flourishing work among children, youth and young
adults. The church owns a property which houses and supports vulnerable
people including single parents and those with addictions. This ministry is
growing so fast that a congregation ministering to them in particular has
now formed.

One of the texts that God brought to Mike's attention at the time when
change was happening was 1 Peter 3:15, Always be prepared to give an answer
to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.

Before 2000 Mike felt that few people asked him about the hope he had
because there was little evidence of it in his life or the life of the
church. Now people outside the church are asking about their 'hope' because of the manifest presence of Jesus in their corporate life

In concluding I offer some compelling reasons why I believe this is a
genuine work of God:

  • The many stories of transformed lives we encountered whilst we were there
    (not least the transformation Kate and I experienced).
  • The centrality of repentance to Destiny City Church which echoes a similar emphasis in previous revivals.
  • The extraordinary hospitality we received.
  • The humility and integrity of those in leadership.
  • The commitment of the whole church to be engaged in Jesus' ministry.

It was a privilege to attend this conference in Tacoma and to witness a re-discovery of Jesus’ ministry which I believe will have an impact on the wider Church.

The Church website is www.destinycitychurch.org

Trevor Patterson Richmond Summer 2005


Appendix

1 Article from Radiate magazine July/August 2004

2 ibid

3 ibid

4 The Healing Presence p202 Leanne Payne

5 Thanks to David Grant for this illustration

6 The subject of corporate repentance deserves to be the subject of a further paper!

7 Ruthless Trust p170 Brennan Manning

8 The Great Divorce p106 CS Lewis

9 Ruthless Trust p171 Brennan Manning

10 Come, Creator Spirit p125 Raniero Cantamelessa

11 Systematic Theology: an Introduction to Biblical Doctrine Wayne Gruden






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