First Draft Date: March 7th, 2015
The Bible starts off with God seeing a world without “form”. God’s response to the void and formlessness was to provide form–but a form with life.
It is very easy for the prophetic people of God to forget some of God’s fundamental principles. In this case, that God works through form, structure, a plan, a process, and even discipline to carry it all out to His good pleasure.
As of this writing, I am a senior leader in our capability practice called Methods. I have always found it useful to take what I have learned in the natural world and allow the Spirit to apply it to the spiritual. In many cases, my role is to look at current practices in corporate America and compare their current state in a given area to a best-practiced structure or method, and explain the gap. Further, my role requires a roadmap to apprehend the way of best-practiced methodology. The result? Reduced corporate costs, improved profit margins, and increased revenue.
As I have observed the church for the last three decades, the Lord put a revelation in me of how he expects the Church to function–how the structure of the Temple should be set. Thus, the Temple Builders message has always been about laying the proper foundation, and building to Jesus, the Blueprint, Who is the perfect Structure. It is not just about the act of building, but the form of what is built as well.
When I look at the form within most churches, I see the gap. When I look at most sermons or prophetic teaching, I still see the gap. In reality, we serve a progressive God. He progresses us through this journey, always ensuring that we are confronted with new choices for change, including the very methods we have used our entire Christian and church life. Whether corporate America or the typical church, the normal response is avoidance of much change unless the party is hungry for that change, or at times desparate. Yet, for a Third Day Church, that change is inevitable. Period. Whether we make evident the gap and show the contrast or not, whether that roadmap is detailed and clear or not, it will still happen.
The message to God’s Third Day Church is to embrace it. Hunger for it. Seek it out. And journey on the roadmap that will contrast your life from the Second Day Church.
The Structure of Church
Structure and methods by themselves can easily be law that produce little fruit. For starters, the spiritual structure in this article starts with self-evaluation–an evaluation that starts with the question of “am I doing church today a certain way because that is how I have always done it?” What does the scripture really say about the structure of the churches we attend? It would surprise most that the scripture that says “forsake not the assembling if yourselves. . .” is not fulfilled by most that go to church every Sunday without fail. Why? Because you need to read the rest of the scripture:
HEB 10:24, 25
. . .let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.
There is little stimulating of one another to love and good deeds, or real encouragement in Sunday morning services, other than an edifying sermon. Folks really do not have an environment to fulfill Hebrews 10:24, 25. However, their conscience is eased through the attendance because of ritual satisfaction. So what is the new paradigm, then? Simply put, all churches must transform to fulfilling this scripture by really getting to know each other. In reality, most church attendees know other parents at the kids’ sports or activities, or ones they work with. In the case of my wife, other homeschool moms provide fulfillment of the scripture in their periodic field trips, or mom’s night out events. The church is poor at accomplishing a basic form of God’s intention. Many sit in pews and get a hug or handshake and no other meaningful encouragement or stimulation to love from the body. This will change in the Third Day Church!
When I say Third Day, we are talking about an end-time church like none other. What will look different is not just the temple that is built individually, but the Church form in their gatherings. The great gathering of the Lord will be imitated in the church before His appearing.
The Structure of Leadership
I have said for years how the one pastor system will not be a part of a Third Day Church, and after many years I see it no differently. The church must come to understand that in ministry you have 5 gifts, not offices or positions, of Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor, and Teacher. These gifts are genderless. In contrast, there is a plurality of parallel elders leading in church government, in consensus. That government gives the gifts form. It is not a CEO, it is a plurality of leadership, with some who possess gifts in the 5-fold, as God sees fit. Whenever I see a strong lead Pastor, I see a Second Day Church. There is a gap. I am not saying to move out now into the right model. I am saying recognize the gap, and know one day the gap will be closed. God will stand up perfect order, and end-time structure.
When I go into a corporate setting, many times I see the gap right away. Though tempted to try to move them to a mature state, I always keep myself in check, though I learned this the hard way. Corporations have a readiness state for change, and many times they are not ready, or they are ready for only spoon-fed progression steps. Churches are no different. Many times a Pastor does not have a peer in the body. So, we exercise patience and form a plan, even a long-term goal, to ready peers that can lead. I was blessed once and was part of a home church body who started off with four elders, though they did not assign the title. They took turns teaching; they led equally. They were fulfilling the model without knowing there was a model. Today they are in a building, but continue the model. As well, they started off spending all Sunday afternoon after the service with fellowship and lunch. They were fulfilling 2 places in the model. Even in the building church, they figured out the logistics and still prepare a large lunch that serves the entire congregation. Essentially, the kids grew up together, with some marrying each other. The model works, even over many years! People find time when it’s ordained of God.
Structure is Multifaceted
Structure can apply to other areas of church gatherings as well. Sometimes God’s structure is tearing down our heavy-laden or complex structure and replacing it with something much more agile and light. We do this frequently in the corporate world. Do we really need Sunday School? Do we really need the ceremonial congregational shaking of hands if little fruit comes from it. God is into what is effective, not ritual or ceremony. A good case and point is the congregation that holds their Bibles in the air, making the ceremonious proclamation of faith. Maybe that is good for the Second Day Church, but never for a Third Day Church who walk as the living epistle of Christ.
In conclusion, timing is everything in implementing new methods. We might hear the voice of the Spirit revealing the paradigm change, but now we must lean on His wisdom in when to apply it. We should not esteem ourselves as anything special for seeing it. This simply means that we see it because we have an obligation to share it, to assist in implementing it. I pray that the grace of our Lord Jesus is with us as we build His temple, and help to enact change in the modern day church.
John Robert Lucas
Temple Builders Ministry