Empowering Everyone’

Posted: June 7, 2018 in Chairman

This month I am visiting my family and spending time with my daughter in the USA.

Normally during such visits, I go to the public Library to find some good books, this time I’m reading about Saint Francis of Assisi. We Pentecostals normally don’t read about Catholic saints, but Francis’s story is fascinating. He was a rich young cloth merchant who had a radical encounter with Christ through a vision of the Cross in a small chapel in Italy in early 1200. He dedicates his life to preach Christ in a revolutionary way by imitating Christ’s words in Matthew 10:9:

“Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, nor bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is worthy of his food”.

Francis models a life totally committed to poverty with no material ownership and only preaching the Gospel; begging for food to eat, keeping no money received but giving all to the poor, working with lepers and sick people!

At a time when the Catholic Church was involved in material prosperity and political and military matters such as; setting Emperors in Europe, organizing Crusades against the Moslems – Francis’ movement with 12 followers called ‘Little Brothers’ caused a major stir to challenge and transform the Church. (Such revolutionaries are very much needed today in the Pentecostal Church which is focused on material blessing, power, property and prosperity).

Defying the norm that wealth and power are the means of influence, it is said that the ‘Poorest man on earth, caused the greatest transformation in Europe!’

Francis also had a “Lay People’s Order” consisting of ordinary people committed to live, to preach, to demonstrate the Gospel and they had the greatest impact. Some were farmers, tradesmen, knights, soldiers, businessmen and even kings. These Franciscans were distinguishable from other ‘Monks’ who were in cloistered asceticism and devotion inside monastery’s. The Franciscans, because their movement exhibited the true Christian life, ignited one of the greatest Evangelical movements in Europe. They actively participated in the world outside of their community walls; preaching the Gospel through vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.

The Lord really challenged my life through the simplicity and devotion of Francis and his Friars as I realized that the Sri Lanka does not need Christianity enclosed within our Churches, but people are looking for Christ ‘outside’ the Church.

I refer to this because it links us with our third aspect of our GREAT Mission: Empowering Everyone.

(Please read in the GREAT Mission Brochure on the 3rd aspect).

Why Empowerment?

Last month we focused on being ‘Revived and Filled with the Spirit’ as a movement.

The purpose of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit was to give power – or ‘empower’ everyone to be witnesses and show the world who Christ is.

Disciples were to prove or be witnesses of the ‘Living Christ’; not just a ‘historical Christ’.

Just as this required a supernatural power, Sri Lanka needs not a presentation of a ‘historical’ Christ through programs and events inside the Church; the whole Church must be empowered to present the ‘Living Christ’ in and through them.

Who can be empowered?

World’s Leaders fear to empower their followers because of insecurity, loss of power and position. However, Jesus introduced a different culture of Empowering saying to his followers that they will ‘do greater things than these’ (John 14:12).

Pentecost was that great Empowering Day! This is why we emphasize Pentecost!

Remember, not only the Apostles were filled with the Spirit, but all 120 were filled, which included all lay people, women etc.

Imagine if your church was the first Pentecostal Church in Jerusalem! You have 3 Senior Pastors, (Peter, James and John) and 9 assistant Pastors (Apostles) and 108 believers. How many do you want to be filled?

Pentecost came on ALL of them because Jesus intended the ‘Whole Church’ to be Empowered and not just the leaders.

Can you imagine who baptized the 3000 people who were saved on Pentecost Day?

If only the 12 ‘Pastors’ baptized them, they had to baptize nearly 250 people each which was not possible in one day. But all were empowered to Baptize and Disciple.

Since our first baptism service in the Nuwara Eliya church in 1987 I have not baptized anyone up do date. This is not only because it was cold water, but I wanted every believer empowered to Baptize and make Disciples.  

What does Pentecostal Mean?

Pentecostals believe that whatever the Holy Spirit did in the early Church can be done again in the modern Church. To be truly Pentecostal then, every believer in the Church must be empowered to do what Christ did.

2 Areas of Empowerment in AG:
  1. Releasing a Lay People’s Movement.
  2. Effective Discipleship Program.
A. Releasing the Lay People’s Movement.

‘Empowering Everyone’ begins by releasing every lay person in our churches and for this to happen, we must recognize the ‘Priesthood of every Believer’. Every Pastor must preach and encourage lay people to be involved in ministry.

  • The Monday Church:

Church meeting times: Monday to Saturday”

“So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house.” (Acts 2:46)

The true Church does not happen on Sundays inside a Church! Preparing the Believers for the ‘Outside Church’ is the role of every Pastor. If asked how many lay people are involved in ministry, many would be proud to mention those involved in the Sunday services such as; Sunday School teachers, ushers, worship teams etc. But the biggest challenge is to train them to be ‘ministers’ in the marketplace outside the church.

  • The 4 Gaps in our Churches.:
  1. Clergy – Lay gap. (The gap between the pulpit and people in the pews.)
    Pastors don’t recognize that lay people are equally important as Pastors.
  2. Sunday – Monday Gap. (Believers don’t know how to apply what they learnt on Sunday to Monday in the workplace.)
  3. Secular – Sacred Gap. (What happens inside the church is sacred and what is outside is secular). God wants everything we do ‘whether we eat or drink’ to become sacred for His Glory.
  4. Full time – Part Time gap. (Fulltime ministry is more superior than part-time ministry.)  We keep going back to the Old Testament Levitical priesthood and not the New Testament.

Only if we do away with these gaps can we empower everyone to be the salt and light in the world. Why not do a ‘gap check’ on your Church!

We have set up a National Committee of lay people to help develop ways and means how our believers can be effective in the marketplace. We want you to identify various professions and fields represented in your community through your lay people. Begin to see them as the key to reaching your community.

B. Effective Discipleship.

God’s role in Empowerment of the Church was to fill them with the Spirit, but the Apostle’s role was Discipleship. Without effective discipleship our believers cannot be truly empowered.

Jesus commanded to ‘Make’ Disciples, which means it will not happen automatically when people attend church or listen to sermons – they must be ‘made’ through a process.

We have decided to provide every AG church the material and the process to make effective Disciples. So, it does not matter which church or where you are, all AG believers will be made effective Disciples in a Bible based process.

In July we want to have a Discipleship Seminar where this material and information will be given to you.

Finally, like Francis we must transform our ‘Lay People’ from being ‘Monks’ inside the Church to becoming ‘Friars’ or ‘Disciples’ working in the ‘Monday Church’ outside in the community.

It is time to bring a radical ‘New Order’ of Lay People in the Assemblies of God.

Will you be a part of that Movement?

May the Lord Bless you,

Ps. Michael & Debi

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