This is a somewhat rambling post, inspired by a couple of things I’ve read during the week but starting on a tangent.
A lot has been written and said about Todd Bentley and the Lakeland Outpouring/Revival in Florida along with it’s associated offshoots in Dudley and elsewhere. Now, I will admit to knowing next to nothing about this whole thing, but if you want to read more, then Peter Kirk has lots of positive things to say about it, but he keeps an open comment policy so you can read a whole spectrum of views on his blog. Try this post for starters.
For my own part, I do find it hard to get excited out this whole thing. Yes, it seems that God is at work through Todd Bentley and lots of people gaining a deepened sense of the presence of God and the working of the Spirit through the miraculous – this is great and I’m very happy for those involved. However, the lasting legacy of any Christian movement must be measured in its impact, not on the lives of individual believers involved, but in its equipping of the Christian community as a whole to bear witness to presence of the Kingdom of God in our midst. This goes way beyond exciting meetings with all sorts of miraculous things happening and involves the Spirit’s empowering for the nitty-gritty, sometimes rather unexciting, work of witnessing for Christ and working for justice in our communities. It is this, not the exciting stories that we are hearing today, which will ultimately prove the long term worth of what is happening in Florida.
How do you know if your church is succesful?
1. The number of cigarette butts in the church parking lot.
2. The number of adoptions people in the church have made from local foster care.
3. The number of pictures on the church wall of unwed mothers holding their newborn babies in their arms for the first time.
4. The number of classes for special needs children and adults
5. The number of former convicted felons serving in the church
6. The number of phone calls from community leaders asking the church’s advice
7. The number of meetings that take place somewhere besides the church building
8. The number of organizations using the church building
9. The number of days the pastor doesn’t spend time in the church office but in the community
10. The number of emergency finance meetings that take place to reroute money to community ministry
11. The amount of dollars saved by the local schools because the church has painted the walls
12. The number of people serving in the community during the church’s normal worship hours
13. The number of non-religious-school professors worshiping with you
14. The number of people wearing good, free clothes that used to belong to members of the church
15. The number of times the church band has played family-friendly music in the local coffee shop
16. The number of people who have gotten better because of free health clinic you operate
17. The number of people in new jobs thanks to the free job training center you opened
18. The number of micro-loans given by members in your church
19. The number of churches your church planted in a 10 mile radius of your own church
There is nothing in here about Christian character, but perhaps it is implied by the others.
Reasons to Leave the Church
5. My pastor hasn’t had a relationship with a non-believer in over 10 years
4. The leaders of my church are workaholics and I find it hard to believe they have a healthy relationship with the Lord when they don’t have the time for their family
3. I’m sick of it being about one man. Be that the pastor, or the musician or whatever, I want to see them raising up other people and sending them out, content to have many small churches instead of one mega church
2. There are 1,000 people who attend my church. I know 50 and only care about 20 of them. I attend a small group to go deeper with those I care about, but I have no reason to remember the name of the guy whose hand I shake between worship and the sermon
1. There is no place to really do ministry, the leaders will not let go of control. I want to pray for people, bless people, watch out for people, be there for people. I want to be invited to do what the Lord has called me to do.
I’m not saying that these things apply to any particular church I’m associated with (or to Todd Bentley for that matter) – but it seems to me that thoughts and ideas like these are the ones we should be using to judge the effectiveness of Christian ministries – not the usual measures of ‘bums on seats’ or ‘popularity and media impact’.