Jesus said “Go” – we prefer to “Gather”
The third great unchanging truth from the Great Commission is that Jesus said, “Go into all the world.”
Jesus said “Go.” We often stay. We prefer to settle.
Perhaps it’s fear driven, but it seems that most pastors and Christians obsess about accumulating, growing, gathering, when it seems Jesus tells us there is Kingdom power in going, sending and mission!
In Acts 1:8 Jesus said “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Amazingly the Spirit of God fell in Acts 2, but they stayed and enjoyed a Jewish revival for quite some time. In fact, in the end it was persecution that got them to rise up and go (Acts 8:1)!
You see dust settles, and we are made of dust. Our flesh is very good at settling, loving the familiar, accumulating power, people or wealth, but the Kingdom is a GO Kingdom! Something happens as we go!
The Church should feel like a movement, not a club. The moment it begins to feel like a club that exists to serve its members, divine power is leaking away. It IS better to give than receive. If we try to save our souls, we’ll lose them. But if we lose our souls, we will gain them!
The church I lead is not particularly overflowing with evangelists – in fact, historically we have been more of a worship and teaching centre, generally struggling to feel powerful in the area of evangelism.
But in response to a prophetic word from Jean Darnell, we planted 3 new locations in a single week. We took out 10 billboards, posted over 100,000 postcards through doors, pounded streets in prayer and reached out with everything from hot dogs to healing! The result? 300 responded to Jesus! Since then we have moved out to 6 locations, and whenever we do, a fresh surge of power from heaven flows in our 100 year old church!
When we build in God’s ways, we will receive God’s power. Even the non-evangelist will find themselves having great conversations, leading people to Jesus, praying prayers they never imagined possible, if they will just find some way to go.
The Paralysis of Over Analysis
I wonder if Pastors sometimes get stuck in the paralysis of over analysis, waiting for the perfect moment to plant a new church or reach out: “Perhaps we’ll do that when the church reaches a certain size” they say. This can be a deception – you actually get stronger by going. The more you wait, the more you may just become weak and self-obsessed. Comfort will cloud the soul of your church. Safety will stall your engine. That’s not where the Kingdom lives!
Again, the Kingdom is counter intuitive, the more you go, give, live with a generous pioneering heart, the more powerfully the Kingdom will come!
Jesus, our perfect pioneer, showed us all about living as fearless pioneers. After just 3 and a half years of teaching His disciples He “retired”, sat down at the right hand of the Father, and chose to empower His disciples from a distance! To many this would be WAY too soon! His disciples were far from mature and complete – but it was better that He went, as the power of God empowered the many to carry His Gospel of glory across the earth. (John 16:7)
In Church today we often find ourselves in roles for 20, 30, 40 years. We settle. We are no longer missional disciples and we are no longer going into all the world. We’ve plateaued and the power of the Kingdom no longer flows in our lives. Here’s why I think that happens:
The Enemies of GO
1. Caution Often we feel weak, personally or corporately. But it is a deception to think strength will flow by becoming static, other than for short healing and development seasons. Leaders are often aware of a lack of staff, but Kingdom strength comes from a generous spirit, confidence in God and creating divine vacuums for God to fill. Sometimes, like Peter, we have to step out onto the waters of lack, to see Jesus come through with a miracle! Go plant that new church or reach a new nation – there’s health and power in keeping your “Go” alive!
2. Age Neurological studies have demonstrated a cognitive shift, as we age, from right-brain creativity to left-brain memory. The danger? As we age, we stop leading out of imagination and start leading out of memory. When we are young we imagine the future and run towards it with passion. We can be anything – an astronaut, footballer, scientist. But as we age we change biologically. If we are not careful, after a certain point we are no longer leading from imagination, but rather we are repeating what we have seen in the past. This leads us to repeating safe patterns of ministry, rather than striking out into new territory in God. Let God renew your youth like the eagles!
3. Lack of Five-Fold Ministry Many churches who fail to recognise the reformation and restoration of the Five-Fold ministries in Ephesian 4 (Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers) fall into maintenance mode and stop pioneering. Unless we have powerful pioneering apostolic, prophetic and evangelistic ministries investing into our churches we will plateau and settle, as pastors and teachers tend to most easily settle around whether people are happy and taught the bible. This is not enough to change the world. Every church needs the evangelist to stir a passion for the lost, the prophet to be a catalyst to the imminent power of God, and the apostle to coach us into God’s masterplan to touch the globe! Make sure you are connected to apostles and prophets, or else the GO will depart from your church.
4. Too Busy Because some churches lack a discipleship culture, they can often be hopeless at ending projects that aren’t working – because no one can have truly honest conversations. The end result is we are busy doing things that aren’t working, and few people have the energy left to truly immerse, be disciples and embrace the mission to disciple the world! We must know how to stop old assignments, so we have the time to do today’s assignment.
5. Tabernacle Syndrome I have spoken several times before in my books about Tabernacle Syndrome. In Luke 9 Peter, James and John are experiencing God’s glory, and Peter says “Let’s stay here.” The bible says he didn’t know what he was saying, and Jesus marched them back down the mountain as there was divine work to do! Sometimes people of the Spirit want to stop in a place, a culture, a musical style or building when God moves. It is as though they equate everything with that outpouring season as “holy.” The result is that decades pass, they begin to look, feel and sound dated, and while the presence of God may be richly among them (as God’s presence moves where there is hunger), they often tell me tearfully “We have no young people left.” The work usually dies out with the aging congregation. This common problem among Pentecostals requires a very bold, counter intuitive missional mindset, that even Peter lacked; a mindset that is determined to keep going to the lost, and adjusting our styles to be “all things to all men” (1 Corinthians 9:19-23), so that the world may be reached.
The Church MUST retain her sense of movement and mission in these last days. Church should be gung-ho, pioneering, never settling in cosy communities and clubs.
The Church MUST be a training ground for world changers to be taught to carry God’s glory. We must be disciples who are after the Kingdom goal of a world touched with glory, and not simply devote our lives to playing at church roles to feed our need for significance.
The only way to do this is to be baptised and immersed in God, His Spirit, His Word, His Will. We MUST be a generation utterly surrendered to the Father’s love.