Be A Voice, Not an Echo!

I recently read an article on pastoral leadership, and as I was reading it, it just seemed inauthentic, and at the same time a little bit familiar.  So after a little time with Google, I found out this article was actually two other articles, both penned by experienced pastors, both of which I had already read – but they had been joined together by this guy as part of his blog.

Sometimes people come to our church because someone else told them we are an Andrew Wommack-church, or a Kenneth Copeland-church, or a Dave Duell-church.  They are soon shocked because I am not Andrew Wommack, Kenneth Copeland or Dave Duell.  I am Ben Conway, and I am very different from those three people, even though I love and honour all of them.  

A lady who was coming to our church on Sundays was starting her own church on Fridays, around the corner, trying to use our church as a base for inviting people to her church.  She used to take the teachings I wrote for my elders to teach and pass them off as her own teachings, even passing off my testimonies as her testimonies!

All three of these things have a similar link: and that is that church leaders can often be much more of an echo than a voice.  People find something that is popular and instantly try and emulate it, copy it, or in the worst cases – just simply rip it off.  It’s lazy, it’s inauthentic and it ultimately does not work.

Now, there is nothing wrong (IMHO) if you have been studying let’s say healing for the last year or two, to take one of T L Osborn’s sermons on healing and preach it.  It’s a great outline – it works, and it will be authentic because you are in the Word and know the Scriptures well, and understand the message for yourself.  Kenneth Copeland started off preaching Kenneth Hagin messages – and most people know that, but they forget that he soon stopped doing that and started preaching his own messages, and his ministry has gone a very different direction to Rhema because Copeland is not a rip-off of Hagin, he is a prophet and teacher in his own right.  Imagine how many great revelations and sermons would be lost to the body of Christ if Copeland was still teaching Hagin’s material.

There comes a day when you have to stop being an echo and be a voice.  People coming to the Tree looking for an Andrew Wommack church are often disappointed in me.  Some because they don’t know Andrew except as a voice on the TV, and are looking for a church that is nothing more than a voice on the TV where you watch and sometimes buy a DVD and are shocked when we speak about church things like culture, and serving, and punctuality, and dreaming and planning.  They are looking for a TV show and got upset when they found a church.

Other people are upset the first time they find out I don’t agree 100% with Andrew’s opinions on EVERY SINGLE VERSE!  Sorry, cloning hasn’t been invented yet – I am my own man with my own verse.  They are looking for an echo, but they found a voice.  But the truth is that I have a unique voice, and I have helped people in ways that other people could not – if I was still being an echo, the body of Christ would be diminished.

You have to find your voice.  If your blog is just other people’s posts and your Facebook is just what you share, how will people ever know what you give a damn about, what you love, what you hate, what matters to you.  Your voice needs to be heard.  John the Baptist was a voice, he knew what God had called him to do and was doing it.  That’s how you become a voice – you find out what God has called you to do and do it.  

Echos fade away, they are easily misunderstood, you can’t stop an echo and clarify.  If you are teaching sermons you could not answer questions on, you are an echo.  If you are always having to use other people’s testimonies to back up your point, you are an echo.  If you have to cut and paste other people’s blog posts and change the words slightly to appear wise, you are an echo.  

If that’s you, go and lock yourself in a cupboard somewhere with a Bible, get on your face before God and ask Him: What is my message?  Why am I in the body of Christ?  What have you called me to do?  It’s time to find out – we need voices in the body of Christ, and we need them now.

 

Spirit Filled

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It’s not enough for one man to be Spirit filled and flowing in the gifts. 
It’s not enough for there to be a man of God to come to and bring people to when emergencies and problems arise.

The fivefold ministry must return to its Biblical purpose and mandate and equip people to minister and serve supernaturally. We must be releasing people into the baptism in the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We must be enabling people to walk into the callings and destinies that God has given them even from inside the womb. 

The world is never going to stand back and say “what an awesome man”, “what a glorious prophet”, “what an anointed apostle”. But if the awesome man, the glorious prophet and the anointed apostle do what God called them and designed them to do and equip and inspire and challenge the Christians to live in love and peace and life, and minister supernatural life and deliverance and healing everywhere they go, then the world will stand back and go “what an awesome church”, “what glorious Christians”, “what an anointed co-worker”… and then we will impact the world in such a way that Jesus will be able to return in our generation.

That is why one of our unmovable, unshakable pillars at Tree of Life Church – in every Tree of Life Church – is “full of the Spirit”. Not just the pastor, not just the Conways, but every single person full of the Spirit. 

We need to ensure our churches have gateways where people can receive the Spirit on a regular basis (different people – let’s not fall for the old “we leak and need top up” nonsense) and we need pathways in which people can understand the gifts and how to flow in them.

We have a two week course called “Prophetic Workshop” in which we get people baptized in the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues, interpreting tongues and prophesying. I am currently writing an 8 week course on how to discover your giftings in the local body of believers. This is something we are going to do deliberately, intentionally because it is how we want our church to look.

When you decide that your church needs to be like this: you need to decide the gateway and pathway for yourself.  Will you give altar calls for the Holy Spirit baptism on Sunday mornings?  In the small groups?  If so, why?  If not, why not?  Think about these things in the light of your situation – there is no right or wrong answer as long as there are gateways.

We have one month every year in which we preach and teach on the Holy Spirit and His gifts.  Then we will give public appeals to be filled with the Spirit each week.  We will then have further open appeals in the week.  I am in the process of ensuring all our small group leaders and lead someone in the baptism of the Holy Spirit in a quiet, calm, no-nonsense manner.  Your situation may be different, but you have to have a plan.

A gateway is the way in, but a pathway is the way along.  Some people may come to your church from a church where tongues is a swear word – or (even worse) a kooky charismatic church where tongues was misused and prophesy was abusive.  How are you going to teach and train those people how to flow in the gifts in a way which is encouraging, comforting and edifying to the entire church?

The way you do this must be deliberate – it cannot be haphazard.  Take some time this week to make a plan – a God-inspired plan – and then when you are confident with it, communicate it to your leadership and put it in place.

Every pastor should be able to answer these two questions succinctly and accurately:

1. How can I be baptized in the Holy Spirit?

2. Where can I learn more about the gifts around here?

Selah!