I’ve been noticing the trend lately, amongst the charismatic/pentecostal circles to focus on something our movement has ignored for quite some time: service. Full Gospel denominations and movements have had their voices overshadowed, intentionally or not, by the mega-preachers. The Benny Hinns, Creflo Dollars, Joyce Meyers, and (God help us) the Joel Osteens of the world. I’m calling it today, and we’ll reconvene in a few years to see how right I am (Hint: very). While we’ll probably see Benny’s giant hair, Joyce Meyers man-pants, and Joel Osteen’s impossibly large teeth for on TV for quite some time, I believe their influence on modern churches is waining.
Recently, I was encouraged to hear Dutch Sheets really ripping into modern churches today, and he said something I found incredibly interesting, “It’s my goal to keep as many people out of the pulpit as possible . . . from what I do . . . it’s my goal to ordain lawyers, and doctors . . . to go out into the world and share Jesus.” According to Matthew 11:10-13, we are a kingdom at war. We’ve always been at war, and we will continue to be, until Jesus returns, sets things right, and hands the Kingdom over to his father (1 Corinthians 15:24-26). We can’t win a war with the troops sitting around marveling at the equivalent of super-solders showing off their strength by ripping phone books. We win a war by training and equipping soldiers to fight, and then sending them out to defeat the enemy.
I believe this celebrity-focused Christianity we’ve experienced thanks to TBN and the like over the last few decades has created a dangerous set of circumstances in the church. We have people praying for hours, to get deep revelations, just for sake of praying for hours and getting revelations. To impress friends and church members. To share with other Christians, who are also sharing their “deep revelations” to the same group. Never leaving the church… never venturing outside to a world in need of salvation. We have more and more dramatic church services, with people being slain in the spirit, getting one deliverance after another. It’s bred an inwardly-focused body of Christ. This is clearly not conducive to gaining new converts, winning the lost, or impacting this world for Jesus.
But, during this time, I’ve also noticed a movement among young people and college students towards what I’m calling here, “new-radicalism.” They have an understanding that the ministry is not about being in a pulpit. That revelations are practical knowledge from God for one purpose: to aid in preaching the gospel to the utter-most parts of the earth. These young people are embracing something I did several years ago: you don’t have to have a ministerial license, or a theological degree, to be in the ministry. We’re in the ministry because we’ve accepted Jesus Christ, and have committed our lives to serving him, and spreading his Gospel everywhere we can. I work in the business world . . . a place many traditional preachers can’t reach. I meet people regularly with very comfortable lives, who are seldom confronted with the Gospel. How do you show someone a need in their lives, when they believe they have every need met, and plenty more laid up in store? A preacher can’t . . . but one of their own can. Doctor’s are notorious know-it-all’s. But who can reach a doctor? A better doctor.
So, while I’m boldly proclaiming that the era of Mega-Preachers is over… I do expect to see them on the Television for several years to come. But always catering to the same crowd…an aging crowd…a self-indulgent crowd. And as they die out, and retire to their mega-mansions and yachts, I believe we’re going to see a movement dramatically rise to fore-front of Christianity that is starting right now – a movement of regular people, in regular jobs, who are sold out to God. A movement of regular people who boldly preach the Gospel on streets, brokerage floors, board rooms, hospital rooms, court houses . . . the list can go on forever. I believe this is a group that won’t compromise with the seeker-sensitive movement, and will call sin sin. I believe this group will be empowerd by God to do greater works than the televangelists ever thought about. I expect healings, miracles, signs, and wonders to happen…in ordinary lives, in ordinary circumstances . . . through extraordinary and yet totally average people.
The next time you see Joel Osteen’s grin…the next seeker-senstive service you attend…the next time Joyce Meyers tries to make you believe it’s okay for women to look like men…just smile and realize that they’re on the way out. A revival of a church similar to the Book of Acts is happening. And I’m joining in. Are you?