As the Lord continues to build His Church many of our old ministerial associations (with agendas) are being torn down. Many are waking up to the reality that some of the relationships we had were not worth as much as we once thought.
God is restructuring His Church and realigning His people to manifest a unity that has yet to be modeled before the lost. I believe the reason for all this change is because there are many great things that only a people with one heart and one mind will be able to accomplish.
As economies plunge, finances get tight and time becomes more valuable we have to make choices concerning how and with whom we will spend our time. God is allowing all this to purify His Church as the true motives of our hearts are being revealed. Whether you call it Apostolic Alignment or simply knowing who your real friends are, ministerial associations are being questioned, tried, and tested. The Holy Spirit is in charge and relational alignments are being called into a new order.
Toxic Ministry Associations
For many years I have witnessed and participated in what turned out to be unhealthy alliances. I have viewed the problem from both a national scope and an international scope. It has become obvious to me that relationships based on human agendas drive and divide God’s people. I have seen young ministers reaching for validation and financial assistance while established leaders prey on them to help fulfill their own dreams and aspirations for their own earthly kingdoms. Perhaps your circle of influence calls these agendas “Vision” or the “Vision of the House”. But what it really translates into is manipulation of your call and vision – what can you do to help me (the established leader, denomination, governing entity) further my vision. While Jesus prayed we would be one and unity is admirable, the result of the kind of relational alliance I’m speaking of here is often less than God’s best.
Some things we do are done in pure ignorance because we humans tend to follow the model set before us. If we were used and abused by leaders who were committed to their vision, then when we become leaders we can easily follow that model. Unfortunately, at other times, things are done very deviously with full understanding that earthly kingdoms are being built at the expense of others. But it is not always leaders who are at fault. Many a servant of the Lord has sold his soul to the company store in hopes of promotion, position, titles and financial prosperity. My heart aches over the whole mess because at the root of most of these vices has been the exchange of money.
Recently, God has been exposing these practices and will continue to do so in the days ahead. People (we sometimes call them members) are not the leaders assets; they are and will always be the Lord’s sheep. It is our privilege to help them become what God has called each of them to be.
There is no doubt that when the Lord created His Church He created an interdependent body. We need each other to do our best work. Jesus Christ modeled a love which would form the basis and the foundation of the Overcoming Church that He would build in the last days. The Old Testament speaks clearly to the need for and the value of this love-based unity;
Eccl 4:9-12 Two are better than one, Because they have a good reward for their labor. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, For he has no one to help him up. 11 Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? 12 Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Lev 26:8 Five of you shall chase a hundred, and a hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight; your enemies shall fall by the sword before you.
Judg 20:11 So all the men of Israel were gathered against the city, united together as one man.
Christians are no longer the majority and our values and morals are not shaping this culture. If we ever needed to stand together it is now. In a team unity is positional and you are paid to play. In the Church unity costs us all something. The bonds of love and trust sometime take years to form.
Don’t get caught in the trenches of life with a leader who offers nothing more than a relationship built on a business model because when the going gets tough this kind of leader will abandon because you are of no profit. It’s all about the bottom line with them. But a leader with who keeps God’s kingdom in mind will love you and will demonstrate that love with his or her actions in the middle of your mess – and they will do it at their own expense. They will cry with you and they will care for you because you are family. They will stand with you until you get the victory.
Christians of all generations are tired of words without corresponding action. The world is waiting for action. They want to see God’s love in action outside the four walls of a building where real life is experienced. They are not interested in the Sunday morning theatrics we call a “service”. They want, need and deserve more than a “service.”
How can we fix all this? How do we break free from codependent and toxic religious associations? How can we begin to build on the solid foundation of relationships forged in the fire of daily life together in response to the prayer of Jesus in John 17:21 – “Father make them one.”
1. Ask any doctor or psychologist and they will tell you that the first step in being healed is to realize that we are sick.
2. Ask the Lord to reveal the motives of our heart. Why am I in a relationship with this leader or this fellowship? Why do we do what we do and why we go where we go?
3. Come into agreement with the Lord as to what real ministerial success is and how it is achieved.
4. Refuse to sell your soul to the company store. This happens in so many ways. I will leave the Holy Spirit to reveal how this might be happening in your particular case. Here is a clue: It’s usually a trade-off – an exchange; If you will _____, then they will _____.
5. Refuse to be branded. Refuse to be marked as property of a particular church or ministry. If all you do for the Lord is done under a particular flag you are already branded and controlled at some level. Consider that you may be submitted to your leadership and still be a million miles from the Kingdom.
6. Refuse to be used. Is your name used to solicit funds from a list of donors? Are pictures of you used to advertise their work? Do they ask you to stand in the front as they take up an offering for their ministry?
7. Be careful of promises. You will be able to travel with us. We will be able to send you money. We will ordain you after you have proven yourself. We will give you an official title (with photo and membership card). On and on it goes!
8. Avoid the Loner Complex. You are not the 21st Century Messiah! You are not the only real Christian left. Everything will not fall apart without you, and if it does, what you were doing probably was not of God in the first place.
9. Find a brother to walk with. Find someone you can open up your heart with and who will love you enough to get in your face. Find someone who has access into your daily walk; not someone 3000 miles away to whom you “report”.
10. Get into a Family. Look for people who will care for you, not those who know what the back of your head looks like. If your only relationship within a group is with the leader you are in a sick association. Avoid groups with clicks where birds of a feather flock together. You need to look for a people who serve King Jesus and not men! If you are patient and wait the Holy Spirit will let you know when you have found a home.
11. Praying with you doesn’t produce unity. I don’t have to love you to pray with you or attend a unity event with you. Someone can pray for unity till the cows come home, but until he or she begins to pay the price to love you and walk with you, nothing will happen to substantiate your relationship together. Together in one place is not UNITED and the enemy doesn’t fear our pseudo-associations. Unity is a heart thing!
12. Get off the “think alike” bandwagon! People don’t become one because they think the same. God is not in the cloning business and His leaders shouldn’t be either. They become one because the same Spirit bonds them in love for one another.
There is a “city not made with human hands”. That is the place we are headed. The family of God is the New Jerusalem that is coming down from above even as you read this article. Even though this city is invisible when she fully comes together there will be visible results.
Here are a few of the things we can expect;
1. A family that walks together is better able to care for the needs of those that are part of that family (Body).
2. When a family comes into an “All for One and One for All” mentality the resources they have collectively can reach farther than the reach of any one of them individually.
3. A family united and working together can go through great stress and together be stronger during a time of trouble or crisis.
4. The deeper the relationships in the family the stronger and purer the alignment process will be for each individual in that family. Surface relationships can’t handle deep adjustment.
5. A natural by-product of that family will be a visible manifestation of Kingdom love that will draw the lost and make jealous the Jew.
I don’t know where you are in your associations. But I would encourage you to ask the Father to give you wisdom as you make choices. A family is being formed but we must be watchful. Ask the Father to give you the grace to love others beyond what you have seen so far. God is challenging us to be a family, to be a body, to be one. So I challenge you to do as Star Trek’s Starship Enterprise was commissioned to do and “Go where no man has gone before”!
Rom 8:19 For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.
Jose Bosque, with Wes Schoel
Jose Bosque is Editor in Chief and founder of Viral Cast Media which oversees GodsLeader, JaxChristian now ViralChrist and 15 other websites. He has ministered in Jacksonville since 1987 and served the city since 1992 as a citywide servant leader. Jose is considered a resource and a spiritual father to many leaders in the city and in the 54 nations where the Lord has sent him to serve.
Originally born in Cuba, Jose has resided in Jacksonville since 1966.
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