God is Building His Church

The Pioneer Spirit under attack

In the 1970's the discipleship and covering controversy became a big issue. The American independent, pioneer spirit came under attack. The problem of people fighting with the boss and walking out of their jobs, divorcing their spouses because things were not going their way, and changing churches because the pastor upset them, was becoming an epidemic. The church tried to deal with that problem through the discipleship program.

What started out as a desire by pastors and elders for people to be committed to their local church and come under delegated authority, eventually became abused by large numbers of church leaders. Many people were hurt, some were destroyed and thousands were disillusioned.

During that time, I traveled from England to the U.S. and visited many of those discipleship churches. I also met and spoke publicly and privately about my concerns with Derek Prince, Bob Mumford, Charles Simpson and Ern Baxter, who were some of the leading proponents of the movement. Eventually people like Pat Robertson of C.B.N. and Ralph Mahony of World Map began to voice their concerns. The end result was that some necessary adjustments to the movement were put into operation with some public repenting and a disbanding of the pyramid system.

The leaders could not commit amongst themselves what they were asking the sheep to do so they finally disbanded. The fallout from that movement caused many to never darken the church doors again. Gene Edwards book "Letters to a devastated Christian" (helping abused people in the Discipleship Movement became a best seller.

In spite of this, there has still continued other forms of the same movement. Even today, "covering" often rears its head, especially when there are revival stirrings. When God begins to move, the religious weeds come up to choke the spiritual flowers."Covering" comes in many forms, some moderate, some excessive, some more subtle. Derek Prince once said that 90% of all American church leaders operate in witchcraft. (Spirit of control) I personally do not believe it is anywhere near that many, but If part of that is true, then false coverings and religious manipulations, are still prevalent today.

Covering vs. Control

Let us first say that "covering" is scriptural, but it is not to be used to control people. "Woe to the rebellious children, saith the Lord that take counsel, but not of me; and that cover with a covering, (or devise plans) but not of my spirit, that they may add sin to sin:" (Isa.30:1). If you read the rest of the passage, you will find that the sin mentioned is about people using their own ways to strengthen their ambitions, and relying on the flesh, even religious flesh, rather than the Lord.

We must make sure that we have spiritual covering and spiritual authority. If we try to preach covering and authority as a legalistic take it or leave it ultimatum, it will work against us. Some pastors have said, "If you don't submit to our authority and covering, not only are you rebellious, but you will put yourselves under God's curse and Satan will destroy your life and family." This could be very close to spiritual blackmail or witchcraft. It is true that if we insist on continuing to rebel against God, these things can happen. We can take ourselves out of God's keeping power and grace. Some may say, "No, we believe that if we don't submit to God's delegated authority we are in trouble.

We need permission from our pastor or elders before we do any kind of ministry, if they say, ‘No' then we don't go ahead. They are our protection. We are not capable of making quality spiritual decisions without their approval. We need them to speak into our lives and monitor us. They are responsible for our souls." "Now to HIM who is able to keep us from falling (stumbling) and to present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy," (Jude: 24). "Him" mentioned in that passage is not your pastor, husband, wife, or parent, but Jesus.

The Power of Reformation

If this kind of delegated authority had been obeyed without question, thousands of men and women of God would never have fulfilled their destiny. Martin Luther, a German monk, disobeyed the Pope who had supreme authority over him, rocked the Roman Catholic church and brought in the Reformation. Latimer, Ridley, Hooper, Bradley and others stood against the traditional church and were martyred for their faith, but they brought back scripture as the final authority. John Wesley was thrown out of the Anglican church for preaching the gospel.

He then continued to preach in the open air which was against the law and started the Methodist revival. Gladys Aylward was advised by the missionary board that she was unqualified for the mission field, but went to China anyway, and led over 100 children into safety, because God called her. Maria Woodworth-Etter was the first woman Healing Evangelist who had one of the greatest moves of God in modern times. Her official covering "The Disciple Church" did not believe that women should minister, especially publicly, she says in her book, "Diary of Signs and Wonders."

The Submissive Spirit

Having a submissive spirit is not just obeying your pastor or elder, but obeying God in a spirit of meekness. You must be open for God to speak to you through different people, as well as those that have the rule over you. Having a submissive spirit is heeding to delegated authority, providing it does not contradict (1). The character of God, (2). The Holy Scriptures, (3). Your own conscience.

If you cannot obey in good conscience and faith then you are in sin even if you obey. "But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith; for whatever is not of faith is sin." (Rom.14:23). It is our responsibility to hear God for ourselves, then check with those that have authority over us, but the final decision must rest with us.

In finality, we are responsible to God for our own walk. "So then each of us shall give account of himself to God."(Rom.14:12).

The Para-Church Ministries

Para-Church ministries, have always been a problem to many local churches. Because many of them are not sent out or controlled by a local church, they tend to stick in the throat of some pastors. Of course when they become big or successful enough then nothing is said. There are very few pastors who would complain that the "Billy Graham Organization" or "Pat Robertson's CBN" are in rebellion, even though they are not covered by a local church. Others may say that Para-Church ministries are not scriptural. but neither is division. Until churches recognize and welcome each other's ministries and allow them to cross over the denominational barriers, Para-Church ministries are here to stay.

Many Local churches tend to be mainly interested in their people, program and vision. The other churches in the area are often regarded as the competition. Para-Church ministries see only one church in an area with different local expressions. Their desire is not to favor one particular church or denomination with their ministry, but to try to be a blessing to all the churches, by bringing them all together, or imparting a vision to a number of different churches in the same city. If a Para-Church ministry comes under a local church or denomination, then it becomes an extension of that church and its denomination and it often ceases to be available to the whole Body of Christ. It is usually restricted to that stream only.

If the Holy Spirit says, "Go across all denominational barriers wherever the doors open," in many cases the ministry is not able to obey. That is a false covering. This also can happen in the Apostolic and Prophetic ministry where groups of Prophets may join together in apposition to other groups who don't move on their circuit.

God has called me to the Apostolic anointing for youth, children, parents and those that work with youngsters. This enables me to minister to hundreds of Pastors and Youth Pastors and Parents at National and International conferences. When local ministries are available, they are for the edifying and building up of local churches and outreaches.

Local churches should take advantage of para-church ministries when they are available. They should not feel threatened by them. A ministry is valid through its fruit and reputation and not only because a local church gives its approval.

"Do we begin again to commend (prove) ourselves? Or do we need, as some others, letters of commendation to you or letters of commendation (approval)from you? You (converts) are our letters (of approval) written in our hearts, known and read of all men;" (2.Cor.3:1-2)

Good News Ministries is a 20 year old International Ministry with Directors & Spiritual Advisers in the U.S. We also have many good relationships with church leaders in Hawaii, Australia, Alaska, South Africa, and Kenya. We not only minister in those places, but have also ministered in New Zealand, Canada, Surinam, South America, Guatemala, Jamaica, Bahamas, Aruba, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, Egypt, Ghana, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, France, Hungary, Russia, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Scotland, Hebrides, Ireland, Wales, and England.

Thousands of youth and children have been impacted. Pastors and parents have been given a new vision for their children and children's church and thousands of our books have gone all over the world. Dozens of churches have testified how their whole congregations have been changed by this ministry. Other para-church ministries have similar testimonies.

Benny Hinn's former church, "Orlando Christian Center," changed to "World Outreach Center." In the past, thousands came for healing and less came just for "church." Benny's specialized ministry took that church beyond just being local, to reaching the nations. Whatever our view is on particular Healing Evangelists, why suffer sickness when para-church healing ministries are available to the Body of Christ? Authority is a spiritual gift, not an ecclesiastical position. Submission is earned, not dictated. It comes out of the fruit of one's life. Years ago, self-styled apostles or even ones sent from other city churches would come into a town, saying they were the "Apostle" to the area and people need to come under their authority. As Pastors are not a Pastors to everyone in town, but only to those that are under their ministry, so Apostles are only Apostles to those who have been birthed under their ministry. "If I am not an apostle to others, yet doubtless I am to you. For you are the seal of my apostleship in the Lord." (1.Cor.9:2).

A person can come into town and preach with great authority about submission, but the proof of his ministry is the fruit. If a pastor has a church of ten people and most are his family, then his ministry is unproven. If he has a valid teaching on submission, then many will be under his ministry and willing (not coerced) to follow him as he follows Christ.

Don`t make a religious show!

A pastor may have a large church where submission and covering is preached, but if the people are just doing their own thing and come for the religious show, and his children and the youth are worldly and rebellious, then his ministry is unproven, no matter how well the finances are and how big the building is.

"Likewise you younger people submit yourselves to your elders. Yes all of you be submissive to one another and be clothed in humility, for God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble." (1.Pet.5:5). This speaks of children and youth submitting themselves to older wiser ones. It then says that we are to submit to each other:- this means that we should submit to the spirit of Christ (or anointing) in others, however exalted or lowly they may be. We must be humble enough to submit to the "Word of the Lord" even if it comes through a child, if God chooses to use such a one.

The covering of God`s grace

If our covering is God's grace, which is given to the humble, then we surely are covered. We are kept by His grace. If we get into pride, then the fall will come. God resists the proud. Pride will take us out of the grace covering of God, leaving us open to sin or deception, our nakedness will be exposed, and we will fall. "Pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall." (Prov.16:18).

Apostolic Instructions

Speaking as a leader, we cannot insist that people come under our authority or submit to our dictates. We are to disciple people to Christ, not to ourselves. "For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake." (2.Cor.4:5). The fivefold ministry gifts mentioned in Eph.4:11. Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers, are not given to control the saints, but to equip them, that they may do the work of the ministry and so build up the Body of Christ.

If we can impart to Christians a vision for God's awesome call and purpose on their lives; If we can unfold to them their divine destiny and assist them in fulfilling that purpose, no matter what the cost, then they will gladly submit to our vision. We must desire and hunger for fresh anointing, for the Spirit will draw them. The Spirit of Christ will capture their hearts. We can make them conform on the outside by our rules and regulations, but their hearts will still be rebellious. We cannot change their hearts, only God can do that.

"Then I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh." (Ez.11:19). "For this is the covenant that will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God and they shall be my people. None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying 'Know the Lord,' for all shall know Me, from the least of them to greatest of them" (Heb."8:10-11. "But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you: but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him" (1.Jn.2:27).

People do not need to be pushed or pressured into joining a church because a few Pastors or Elders are under pressure themselves to keep church members. Some of these sheep are already battered through years of subtle spiritual abuse. Some people feel they have been manipulated through religious sounding terminology which is not really scriptural. They are not in a big hurry to jump into another pool. They want to make sure the water is clear and clean. God will show them as they feel free to hear God for themselves.

One thing is sure, these people will run when they feel that they are being pressured. Of course we are not so naive as not to realize that there are numbers of "Religious Mavericks", the "Charismatic Cruise-Amatics"; who never settle anywhere and will not submit to anyone. Unfortunately every town has them. I guess they are waiting for the perfect church. let's hope they don't join it, otherwise it will be spoiled.

Jesus is the Shepherd!

Jesus is the Shepherd, He laid down His life for HIS SHEEP. They are His.

They can hear His voice.(see Jn.10:2-5). We are to be careful not to interfere with that. He is jealous over His possession. The friend of the bridegroom does not steal the affection of the Bride.

About fifteen years ago, the Lord gave me a vision. I saw the sun setting low in the sky. A man was standing in front of the sun and his long shadow was being cast upon a crowd of people. All they were seeing was his image through the shadow.

The Lord said, "I am as the sun. The man is church leadership, and the people are my flock." He said, "Too many of the pastors are blocking Me off from My people by casting the shadow of their own personality." I said, "Lord! do we remove the leadership?" He replied,"No! watch and see." Suddenly the man became transparent and the Lord shone right through him. He was still there, but you could barely make out his outline, and now the people were basking in God's glory. The Lord said, "My true pastors will manifest My presence and not their own, that is true ministry."

David Walters