Crossing the Line: When the Church Becomes a Non-Prophet Organization — Rev. Mike Ruhl

church planting 2Rev. Mike Ruhl, the Director of Training for the Center for U.S. Missions, writes in Mission Moments (June 1, 2016):

But some churches can easily’ cross a line’ by degenerating into a non-prophet organization. This happens when the role and message of prophetic ministry is marginalized, ignored or denied altogether.

In both the Old and New Testament eras, the role and message of the prophet was / is central to the multiplication and health of the church. In the Old Testament, the prophets – Godly servants like Moses, Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah – focused their ministry by calling the People of God to (1) Repent of drifting away from the covenant stipulations of grace which the Lord had made with them and (2) Encouraging the People of God to remain faithful to the Word of God and (3) Value and mobilize their calling to a light to enlighten the nations with delivery of the Messianic Faith. While it is true that some of the prophets were perceived by the churched culture as ‘rogues’, ‘political outsiders’, and ‘counter corruption critics of the established religious organization’, their message was pivotal to the fulfillment of their God-given destiny.

In the New Testament age, we see people like John the Baptizer, preaching to Church People (members of the religious establishment) and urging them to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ – even to the point of calling these a brood of vipers because of their addiction to tradition and mindless ritual and blindness to God’s covenant of grace in Jesus Christ.

Peter’s famous Pentecost Sermon cut people to the heart and called them to repentance, faith in Jesus Christ and water baptism – resulting in the planting of the great Jerusalem Church.

It is significant that the Apostle Paul lists prophetic ministry as one of the five ‘function-gifts’ that would define and drive the New Testament Church: It was he (Jesus Christ) who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up … (Ephesians 4:11-12a). Even our own Lutheran confessional writings describe the Lord Jesus as PROPHET, Priest and King.

In a recent blog post, Missiologist Stephen Gray wrote a prophetic message, firmly but
lovingly calling Christian congregations and denominations to repent (get a new mind – metanoia) of not heeding God’s call to the priority of new church reproduction (church planting). If we Christians and congregations are to heed Jesus’ gospel-imperative of Acts 1:8 to be witnesses in Jerusalem (locally), Judea (regionally), Samaria (cross-culturally) and to the Ends of the Earth (globally), how can that ever happen without the planting of new and culture-contextualized Christian churches?

What we all need to realize is that church planting is a call from God to all churches, everywhere, even new congregations.

Gray lists five common reasons why so few Christians and congregations become engaged in new church reproduction (church planting):

To read the rest of the article, visit: Mission Moments.

Rev. Mike Ruhl is the Director of Training for the Center for U.S. Missions. You may contact him at mike.ruhl@cui.edu.

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