I have posted three of four excepts from my upcoming book release, Changing the Way We Do Church: Seven Steps to Purposeful Reformation. Here are the first three parts if you missed them. I will include the last paragraph from the third excerpt and then pick it up from there in this final part.
THE DYNAMICS OF CHANGE IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
Dr. John Stanko
An excerpt from John’s new book,
Changing the Way We Do Church: Seven Steps to Purposeful Reformation
This story [from Acts 6:1-7] epitomizes what I refer to as Holy Spirit chaos, for the ministry idea bubbled up from the bottom, or from among the membership. It did not come from the top. When you make room for the Holy Spirit working in the people, the Spirit does not have to follow any predetermined rules, strategic plan or vision. Leaders who want to control the process can do that easily, but they are then restricted to what they alone can see instead of accessing all that could be.
I promised a second passage, which is found in Acts 13:1-3:
In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.
Barnabas had played a key role in the revival that was taking place at Antioch and had brought Saul in as his assistant. At some point, the leaders took time to minister to the Lord in prayer and fasting, and the Holy Spirit spoke that it was time to send Barnabas and Saul out as missionaries. The Spirit did not ask permission; He did not seem to care what Barnabas and Saul were doing in the Church at that point or what their absence would mean to the team left behind. The Spirit spoke and the people were expected to respond. I am not sure this mission was part of the church’s vision, but that didn’t matter once the Spirit had “spoken.”
In the first example from Acts 6, we saw how a problem created a need for a whole new level of leadership. In this second example, we see how the Spirit moved people around according to His own plan and purpose. You can see how “chaotic” this kind of ministry can seem to those who want to plan their work and work their plan. Yet purpose creates just this kind of disorder, if I can refer to it as such, for which God does not apologize.
Please note that this kind of disorder is not the same as confusion. There was clarity of direction in both instances, but the direction was a shift from the way the church had been conducting business. From a human perspective it could appear to be chaotic, but from God’s perspective it made perfect sense. This is why leaders and followers learn to live with and respond to what I refer to as Holy Spirit chaos.
Responding to this kind of chaos requires constant change and adjustment. As I have said to many audiences, the church should eat change for breakfast, for we are the Spirit-led people. Yet I have found that the Church is not particularly adept at managing change, and it starts at the top.
Years ago, I heard Peter Drucker, father of modern management studies, say, “The only way to manage change is to initiate it!” We should not have change imposed on us but rather have the courage and faith to seek and initiate it.
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Changing the Way We Do Church: Seven Steps to Reformation is due to be released July, 2009 by Evergreen Press. To order your copy, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.