As a pastor I have been involved in political, economic and social issues in order to be holistic in ministering to the needs of our community, as well as functioning prophetically to influential elected officials. In this context, I have observed how many leaders also involved in holistic ministry have “behaved themselves” in regards to speaking out prophetically on major biblical issues. My opinion is that we are all called to be prophetic—especially preachers of the gospel (1 Peter 4:11)!
The Evangelical church has been in flux the past several decades—going from one extreme to the next—and in many respects losing its center. Thus it is really hard to define what an Evangelical is today except for the very ambiguous definition of a person who believes the Bible is the word of God (there are even varying degrees of this within Evangelicalism) and in salvation through the vicarious death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
We in the Charismatic expression of the Body of Christ have had much teaching on prophetic ministry since the 1980’s, including some good teaching that brought clarity and balance but also some other teachings that may have been extreme.
All in all, when examining Scripture I find one area of lack regarding prophetic emphasis has been the narrow focus of prophetic ministry to only the realm of the church. There has been some powerful prophetic ministry via preaching, exhortation and sharing what people have heard from God’s heart, either for individuals and/or for the nation. But most of it has only been heard by other church people and it rarely, if ever, goes outside the four walls of a church building or church-related functions.
The greatest sin in the Bible by far is the sin of idolatry. Idolatry is when we violate the first of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20), which is “You shall have no other gods before me.” It is when we put something or someone first in our lives before the living and true God. Idolatry is the root cause of all other sins, which is why the first two commandments deal with this.
Can you imagine a time when key apostolic leaders—both in the church and marketplace—would come together to exert strong influence over cities, communities and nations, with or without the cooperation or partnership of local church pastors and congregations? A time when the local church would almost be irrelevant when it comes to societal transformation because leaders would form their own ecclesia that would be mobile and not nuclear in nature? A time in which the local church would be relegated merely to shepherding our families, pastoral counseling, and Sunday school for our children?
As we examine the New Testament, we see that Jesus called for the formation of the ekklesia in Matthew 16:18. In Greek culture an ekklesia was the ruling body that governed the polis or city state. Thus Jesus didn’t create a new word but borrowed from a common political word to describe His goal for those who would be His disciples: that they would represent His kingdom will on earth with binding and loosing powers that would govern the heavenly principalities (Ephesians 3:8-10, 6:10-18) and thus transform earthly communities where each ekklesia was established. This is a great difference in function from the typical congregational idea of simply assembling together as found in Hebrews 10:25.
Perhaps the biggest need I have seen in the Body of Christ since entering full-time ministry in 1980 is the lack of male church attendance. This is especially true in Charismatic/Pentecostal churches in North America.
In many churches, male attendance comprises only 15% of the Sunday gender demographic. There are some exceptions to this: In our local church male attendance is typically 35%-40%, and Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, New York has a male church attendance of about 51%.
I. Congregations wish their pastor would preach messages relevant to their daily needs and struggles
1. Many pastors out of seminary are answering questions no one is asking.
2. Many pastors are preaching over the head of the average believer.
3. Many pastors are preaching abstract truth not easily applicable in the lives of the congregation.
4. Much preaching is too idealistic and not realistically taking into consideration the humanity of the believer.
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