Authors note: Radical for His Church should be considered a mini-book. There is a lot of content here. You may not want to try to read it all at once. You can make a .pdf file of it and save it to your computer by clicking on the .pdf button at the bottom of the page.
Basically, all of the references to leaders are referring to men. I am aware that there are women who serve in leadership as well and I fully support those that do. This is not an attempt to exclude the female gender, but to keep the content simple so I don’t have to add things like he/she or him/her, etc.
I may read this content on a video or podcast. I know some people like the listen instead of reading. I’ll keep you posted.
Radical for His Church Defined
I’m radical for His Church! Not just any church, but the true church Jesus builds. The church the Holy Spirit fills and empowers. In fact, every area of my faith is demanding that there must be a major change in the institutional church. According to Webster’s Dictionary, a radical is a person who holds or follows strong convictions or extreme principles; an extremist; one who advocates fundamental political, economic and social reforms by direct and often uncompromising methods.
Sometime during the first two years after my conversion, the radical nature began to take hold. He put strong convictions in me. Advocating change in His Church was my focus. Seeing how the man-made version of the church spread throughout the world, especially in the United States, is difficult to accept. I know Jesus is extremely disappointed, too.
The Hindrance and the Conflict
Now I promote change and teach the necessity of it to anyone who will listen. There are two things that hinder my work. One is that most current leaders don’t see there that is a problem and a need for change. The other is that a lot of people in the church are so comfortable with the system they belong to they think everything is just fine.
There are times over the decades when I chose to back off in some ways. Many times I worked in churches bound by some very traditional, non-biblical views. My only option was to fit in or go somewhere else. There really was no other place nearby at the time that embraced the concepts of the New Testament Church I learned in the Bible. So for a season, compromise became my friend, though it deeply bothered me to yield to it. I thought I had a good excuse. Boredom and loneliness consumed me. My spiritual gifts had no outlet, so I connected with some churches I didn’t really fit with. I thought that somehow, over time I could influence people and encourage change by presenting the biblical evidence when I had the opportunity. Well, that didn’t work. The system does not want to change, it wants to change me!
Looking Back – Learning from the Past
As I look back over my life I realize I should have maintained the radical for His church vision and been bold enough to exit situations sooner where I couldn’t encourage reform. When Jesus sent the 12 disciples out to minister He told them to leave a place if they were not received (Luke 9:1-6). Leaving is sometimes part of ministry! You may even have to shake the dust off your feet when you exit some places because you don’t want to carry anything with you from that experience. Jesus taught that so there must be some significance in doing it. I know I did it at least once.
So through various circumstances He lovingly designed, I finally got the message! I will not back off again! God’s truth must be spoken boldly today. The Church has serious flaws because Jesus is not the Head. When He builds His Church true life returns and the shallow counterfeit fades away.
So “Radical Randy” will now enjoy walking with Jesus free from the confines of the institutional church. I am done with it! Searching for hungry hearts that want to learn how to embrace His Church His way is my goal. I don’t know when or if other people will want to meet with me in my hometown of Mitchell, South Dakota. But as long as I can type, run a website, and post videos or podcasts I will present Biblical truths without compromise. I shall stay radical for His church. No more “U Turns”.
Do We Stay or Go?
During the early 70’s I was a super radical for His Church and for Him. I advertised it passionately. Bumper stickers were on my car, there was always a cross around my neck, patches about Jesus were sewed on my clothes and my Thompson Chain King James Bible was never far from grasp. The words, “Praise the Lord” tumbled out of my mouth every three or four sentences and I scoured the region for cool churches to visit and conferences to attend. My wife and I even spent our honeymoon, the first week of our marriage (1974), at a 40-hour seminar about Abundant Living. I still have the notebook!
My life was summed up in one simple statement. If something wasn’t about Jesus or God I wasn’t interested. People knew I was a genuine Jesus freak (that’s a 60’s and 70’s term if you don’t recognize it) and everybody knew it. My expressions of faith and choice of words were often weird and unwise. But then just how much wisdom does anyone have at the age of 19? I probably turned off more people in my zeal than I turned on, but finding Jesus was the most exciting event in my whole life. In my heart knew I needed to communicate His love and reality to everyone.
Back in those days many of us were struggling with our denominational church roots (I was a Lutheran). The control, the professional clergy, the lifeless traditions and repetition left us feeling empty and frustrated. We wanted more, but we wrestled with two conflicting ideas. Should we stay in our churches and be a witness or come out and join one of the new non-denominational churches that were forming all around the nation? I eventually came out in 1977. I became totally committed to the new move of God on the earth.
Starting a New Testament Church
It wasn’t long before I connected with believers of like mind who left the denominational church to follow Jesus. Two years later, in 1979, I partnered with my best friend Paul to start a church in Amsterdam, NY. We were very radical for His Church. We knew what to do for the most part, because of what we read in the Bible. But we also knew that it was very unusual for the time we lived in. Even so, we pressed on. We wanted a church that functioned like what we saw in the New Testament, the church birthed by the Holy Spirit through the first apostles.
The locals, who were mostly Catholics, called us a cult, but we knew Who we were connected to! Almost all the new non-denominations churches of the day were called cults because of Jim Jones and the murder/suicide on November 18, 1978 of 918 of his followers in Guyana.
Paul and I taught the people that all believers are called to serve God and are gifted by the Holy Spirit to do so. We also taught that our primary purpose as ministers of the Gospel was to train them to do the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11-16). We also helped them understand that every church should be led by a team of servants who “wear” no titles but functioned in their gifts with the attitude of Christ, which is in humility, gentleness, love, and grace. That was and still is, a pretty radical teaching, but it’s in the Word if you read it the way God wrote it! It took me a few years to grasp the humility part because I had been trained to be a professional, in charge leader. But it was something Jesus worked deep in my heart over time.
Paul and I were fortunate to meet leaders from a strong New Testament church south of Albany that that taught these principles. We eagerly received their teaching and passed it on to the people in Amsterdam. We were a small church in a small town, so we didn’t make a big impact, but for several years our core group was passionate for Jesus and wanted His will for their lives.
The Next Step
Paul eventually married and moved away. In 1990, after 11 years in Amsterdam, God showed me it was time to move on. The first year my wife and I found a more traditional non-denominational church to attend. It was part of a Bible School and I hoped someday to be able to teach there. We could not locate any other New Testament based church nearby.
At the time we were actually praying about moving back to the Midwest to be near our parents. Then one day I met a friend at a convenience store who used to attend the Amsterdam church. She attended a church in a nearby city. She invited us to visit and we did. We liked the worship and the preaching so we decided to stay.
It wasn’t long before the pastor learned of my leadership gifts and past experience. He eventually asked me to be part of the ministry there, but he was not radical for His Church the same way as me. He was quite knowledgeable of the traditional leadership structure in a church and built that ministry accordingly. I could see how things were, but I let the possibilities of working in a church sway my heart. I put my passion on the shelf and concentrated on adapting to the church.
Time to Move On
Serving there was mostly rewarding and I got to know some great people. Over time, however, some issues arose with the senior pastor. There was no way to adequately deal with them because he insulated himself from all challenges with his authority. He always made it clear he was in charge. He claimed that his “submission” to an apostolic covering (more about that topic below) validated his actions. But I could see there was no local accountability, no one “above him” who lived in the area and knew him personally. There is no way to truly have accurate insight into the situation. Of course, I had insight, but mine didn’t count. I was the underling. The “apostle” did not show any interest in my concerns. There was nothing I could do so I realized it was time to move on.
Over the next several years I ended up repeating the same, or similar, cycle no less than five different times. I continued to sacrifice being radical for His Church in order to have a job in the institutional church. I finally decided to stop it. There was no real reward in compromise. Every new place became a problem, not a blessing. I chose to go back to my roots and be faithful to what God taught me. I will be radical going forward, even if I have to walk the journey alone.
Warning – This Content May Make You Radical for His Church
Now that you understand more of my background, let me briefly present some specific things that are the foundation of my radical biblical concepts. Warning!! This material might plant in you a desire to be radical for His church. This can cause frustration with the circumstances of your present life and stir in you a desire for something better. If you like the status quo, if you want to be comfortable in your church, then I strongly advise you to stop reading now.
There is No Clergy Class or Titles in the Bible
Learn this well: Jesus did not create a special class of people called the clergy to run the church. It’s a human invention from the third century that religious organizations use to control the people. The term clergy is nowhere in the Bible. Clergy, the professional ministers, elevate themselves above the masses into an untouchable place of prominence, privilege, and power. Have you heard the term laity before? It means the masses. It’s the common people the clergy minister to. You can’t find that in the New Testament either!
The clergy class uses many titles to identify themselves. Most leaders love their titles and expect the people to use them. Do you know Jesus specifically told the disciples not to call one another Father, Rabbi or Teacher? In other words, there are to be no titles for leaders. Why? Because all the glory and honor goes to God and His Son Jesus, not to men (Matthew 23:1-12).
The One Word Job Description
So how has the church responded to the teaching of Jesus regarding titles for leaders? It has done the very opposite. It created lots of titles! It’s a never ending list that grows in proportion to the creativity of the people in charge. There is the senior pastor, lead pastor, assistant pastor, associate pastor, youth pastor, executive pastor, pastor emeritus, pope, father, your holiness, monsignor, bishop, apostle, prophet and by the time this is published there will probably be ten more.
Now some of these words are actually in the Bible (pastor, bishop, overseer, apostle, prophet) but they are not titles. Jesus specifically said, “Don’t call anyone on earth” by any title. We are not to label people with the title of their gift. In the church, there are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers, but they are simply identified by Paul throughout the New Testament as the elders of the church (Ephesians 4:11-13). There are also the deacons (1 Timothy 3:8). There is no ranking of any of these gifts. They are simply labels to identify a function, like a one-word job description. Understanding this is critical to becoming radical for His church.
Control of the Church
So what happens when you set up a class of leaders you call clergy and give them elegant titles to wear in front of their names? It can lead to a real power trip. Many believe they have all power over all aspects of the church. They act like the church is their own personal business and that they can run it any way they want. I have even seen some who pass on their church to their children like it’s a company store. The main leader often controls the money, sets the vision, and controls the worship service. These leaders are basically church dictators with pulpits and the people let them get away with it.
Unfortunately, the whole concept of clergy rule gets taught from generation to generation because people are comfortable with it and the clergy loves it. It gives them their desired place of authority. In the early 1980’s I went to a seminar for “spirit-filled”, non-denominational pastors about this very topic. The main speaker was trying to encourage the pastors to lay down their control and become servants without titles. All over the auditorium pastors slammed their Bibles shut, put them under their chairs, folded their arms over their chests and disengaged from the passionate speaker. That really shook me! I could not believe what I was seeing. That attitude is still just as strong for probably most ministers. You can’t be radical for His church when you are in love with your power and control.
Some Love to be First
3 John 1:9-11 NIV I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us. (10) So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, gossiping maliciously about us. Not satisfied with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church. (11) Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.
Some leaders just love recognition. They love to be first and they are often very exclusive. They don’t usually interact with other ministries and encourage their people to only attend the events of their own church. Diotrephes, the minister of one of the first churches, rejected John, an apostle, the best friend of Jesus, and his ministry team. John called that behavior, along with his malicious gossip, evil. He judged it as evidence that the man had not even seen God. Can you understand this attitude is not godly? It is the opposite of true biblical leadership. Be radical for His church. Make the church all about Him not all about you.
Brainwashed Believers May Want to be Ruled
The clergy and the institutional church have convinced most believers that their supreme rule is God’s plan for the church. It is not now, ever been, or will be. Read the New Testament the way God wrote it and you will see the truth. When you look at it with the eyes of a humble, yielded child of God, rather than through the eyes of tradition, you can see what the Holy Spirit actually wrote. Then you won’t have to interpret it based on what you have been told to believe.
I must also tell you that some weaker believers actually want a leader to rule over them. They like it when someone stands in the gap between God and them. Why? I see two main reasons. One is so they don’t have to approach God on their own. The leader can go seek God for them. The other is so the leader is to blame when there is a failure in their life.
What does God think about the clergy concept? Well, He believes church leaders are no different than any other believer. He gives leaders different responsibilities but He never intended that they be above the people. What He wants is servant leaders who work together with the people. They lead by example, not by command and control. Those who are radical for His church do not exalt themselves above others.
Pretend Accountability is a Failure
A pastor who is the supreme leader of a church will find himself eventually in a situation where he fails in some way. Every leader I’ve met has problems from time to time, involving a sin, a doctrinal issue, a bad attitude, an ego problem or a love affair with their perceived authority.
Most supreme leaders pretend to be “accountable” to some other leader in an organization that he belongs to. He claims to submit to this as his covering. This group may be located dozens or even hundreds of miles away. When a “covered” leader is faced with one of these issues, he can make a phone call to the bishop (or apostle). The apostle, who usually only knows the leader’s side of the problem, generally gives full support to the local leader. Why? Because the organization recognizes him as God’s man of faith and power in that church and recognizes his authority over all situations that arise.
The leader’s church may also be tithing to the organization and that can keep him secure in his power, too. Why? Because money carries influence. So in this type of situation, the local minister escapes any form of confrontation and correction. The problem at the church is not adequately dealt with and the leader is not set free from his sin.
Team Ministry – Leadership is Plural
God actually built in safety mechanisms for each local church by making leadership a team responsibility. Even a casual reading of the New Testament, which records the birth and early history of the church, always refers to biblical leadership in the plural. There are more than one. They work together as a team of servants, not as mini-lords or dictators. They are qualified to watch over and one another because they know the personal life and ministry of each one on the team. That is much more valuable than “submission” to an organization far away.
Each one of the gift ministries listed in the Bible is spoken of in the plural. God’s desire is multiple ministers, not just one, in every local church. So who is in charge if there are multiple leaders? Well, it’s pretty clear if you just read it and act on it. Jesus is the CHIEF or Senior Shepherd of each local church (1 Peter 5:1-4). He is the Head of the church. (Colossians 1:18) That title belongs to no man.
The elders and deacons don’t rule, they serve. Jesus specifically told His disciples that they were not to exercise authority over others like the gentile leaders do, but rather to model His example by being a servant (Matthew 20:25-28). We need to let Jesus run His church. The rest of the leaders need to work together, follow the direction of the Chief Shepherd – Jesus – and serve the people. That’s how you stay radical for His church.
Team ministry can also provide some protection for the people. When the leaders have an open relationship with each other and speak freely to one another, doctrinal error and spiritual abuse will be suppressed or even eliminated. This also keeps the individual leaders humble so no one on the team falls into arrogance and a sense of entitlement. I have seen those things ensnare the life of many top dog leaders that I have observed over the years.
The Body of Christ is not a Monster
One thing I’ve often heard from Senior Pastors who reject the team concept of local church leadership is that there can only be one head. Anything with two heads is a monster. I agree with that statement, but not in the way a Senior Pastor applies it. The Bible always identifies Jesus as the Head of the church. When a man tries to be the head of a church, He does create a monster, because Jesus is already the Head. You can’t stick a second head on the Body of Christ.
Many Senior Pastors actually believe they are the head of the local church. In their minds, Jesus is the head of the Universal Church. Well, that is a man-made term that basically originated with the Catholics. In fact, the word catholic means universal. It describes the church made up of all believers in the whole world. So modern leaders let Jesus be the Head of that group. They believe He has chosen them to be the head of the local church. When you start attaching the heads of all these local churches to the ONE Body, it does look like a monster.
While the Bible clearly identifies Jesus Christ as the Head of the church (Ephesians 4:15-16), in most churches, He is simply the honorary head. He has the title but no real authority. The leaders usually plan and run everything, so He doesn’t have much to do. This needs to change! We need to let Jesus do His job. The responsibility of the servant leaders, even the whole church, is to seek Him and respond to the Holy Spirit. He will move spontaneously and powerfully in the church. He will do amazing things if we will get out of His way!
Doesn’t the Bible Teach that Leaders Rule in Church?
In 1 Timothy 5:17 we are told to give double honor to the elders who rule well. Is that a contradiction to what I’m presenting here? Do elders rule? Should we honor them with titles and set them above the rest of the church? No! The Apostle Paul wrote this in Greek. A more accurate translation is, “Let the elders who perform (their duties) well be considered doubly worthy of financial support, especially those who labor faithfully in preaching and teaching.” It’s about money, not rank! In God’s Army, we are all the same rank but we all have different jobs.
Some people who work hard get a financial reward for what they do. Others get their reward in eternity. But everyone who serves gets rewarded for what they do in His Name (Ephesians 6:7-8, Colossians 3:23-24). When you choose to be radical for His church you will not seek rank or reward. You will seek Jesus, the Head of the Church and let Him lead you as you serve.
The Manipulation Tool
The clergy, a one person rule leadership style, is very prevalent in many churches. Its strength comes from the constant teaching on submission. They boldly present their interpretation of a collection of vague and unrelated scriptures to illustrate their favorite point. They boldly proclaim God requires you to submit to the leadership or you won’t grow in God or receive his blessing. If you have a problem with a leader you must understand that God wants you to stay in the church, be quiet, submit and trust Him to straighten out the leader. It’s a great manipulative tool, but God didn’t design it that way.
Now there is a principle of voluntarily yielding to a godly leader who serves the people, models the character of Christ and doesn’t lord his authority over them. Is it really voluntary? Yes! The word “submit” in the Bible literally means, to yield under. Yielding is different than allowing control. When I drive my car and see the yield sign at the intersection I allow the other car to go first, but I don’t surrender my car and its control to the other driver. So we can yield to leadership by letting them go first and lead the way. However, they must be approachable and open to correction and rebuke if they are not driving the church well or if their attitudes or behaviors have crossed a biblical line.
Understand this, a God placed leader is responsible “to watch over your soul” (Hebrews 13:17) and deserves your respect and your “yieldedness”. But any time that verse, or any other, becomes a tool to persuade people to obey their leaders at all cost, they have been led astray. Biblical leadership doesn’t manipulate. I’ll emphasize it again, only Jesus has absolute power and authority over the church, not any man. If you are radical for His church, you must never be a manipulator.
Jesus Wants His Church Back
My plea to those who lead the church by position, control, and false authority is simple and direct. You need to realize that its a new day and we who love the Spirit filled, Spirit led true church, aren’t going to follow those who don’t walk in biblical leadership. There’s an exodus taking place. People are leaving the man-centered church and are following the Holy Spirit as He restores the Church and gives it back to Jesus. Men took it over and steered it far from its roots, but the time has come for the Head of the Church to be back in power again. God himself shall birth a much-needed spirit of revival, but those who want to stay in power will call it a spirit of rebellion.
It was such a blessing to be part of the move of God that led people out of the denominations in the 1970’s and into the “independent, full gospel” churches He raised up. I never thought I would see the day, only 40 years later, when many of those “new” churches would fall into the same trap of church politics, people control and spiritual death that existed in the denominational churches we came out of. But that has indeed occurred in many places. Do you know when the decline began? The moment leaders started trying to structure the church into submission to the leadership.
Extreme Discipleship and Covering
In the late 70’s and early 80’s the biblical concept of discipleship came into the church. It became an extreme teaching, stretching far beyond God’s purpose. It became a system of controlling individual lives and local churches. Here’s how that system works. Your pastor is God’s representative, God’s voice on the earth for you. You have to get permission from him before you can do anything. You need his permission to marry, to relocate, or change jobs. Whatever the shepherd says is God’s will.
Next came the teaching about “covering”. The ministers made charts that had a bunch of umbrellas on them, laid out from top to bottom in order of authority. God is the big umbrella that covers everything. Under that were smaller umbrellas to represent the area “big shots”, the apostles and prophets. Under them was an umbrella for each local pastor. Then each pastor’s umbrella was “over” the umbrella that represented the husband of each family. Under that was the wife and then the kids. Singles appear as little umbrellas under the local pastor.
If you are under all the umbrellas you are safe. You are in God’s will. You are under cover. To enjoy the benefits of covering, you have to submit to each of the umbrella authorities over you. And, oh yes, you have to tithe to them, too.
So the family tithes to the church, the church tithes to the apostle and so it goes on up the umbrella chart. I don’t know who the guys at the top tithe to. Maybe they throw their tithe money up in the air and figure God will take what He wants. Then whatever comes back down they can keep.
So all these layers of imaginary authority are there to “protect you”. After all, your leaders have a direct line to God so that’s a benefit for you. Well, listen to this! Since the death of Jesus on the cross, all believers and all leaders have equal access to God. We can all hear from Him, too. Layer upon layer of spiritual authority (covering) is not biblical leadership. It’s religious control and usurps the authority of Jesus Christ over His Church. If you are radical for His church I encourage you to run from these doctrinal errors. I made the choice to do that years ago and will never go back.
After causing huge divisions in the church, the discipleship movement lost a lot of its influence. But a spirit of control, which was so prevalent in that age, never completely left the church. In its place came a different teaching a new label, apostolic authority, which is similar to the doctrine of covering. The basic premise is that every pastor needs an apostle. This is not necessarily a bad thing but as we saw with the teaching on covering it can become a form of control. I’ve seen apostles organize many pastors together into what they call a network. What I call it is a denomination. It has all the signs. Now those involved are smart enough not to call it that because they promote their church as non-denominational. But here are some characteristics that identify it as a denomination to me.
- The network usually works only with their own “brand”.
- A hierarchy is established in the network allowing leaders to rule over one another.
- Network pastors become ultimate authorities over all things in their local church.
- Leaders who run the network encourage participating churches to tithe to them.
- They provide ordination papers for participating church leaders. But they also cancel those papers if you leave the network or, in some groups, stop tithing to it.
If it acts like a denomination, it is a denomination. Just be truthful with your label and don’t creatively disguise what you are really doing. Be honest with the people in the church.
Today, some in the church are taking yet another dramatic step down from biblical leadership. Many church leaders are starting to embrace “celebrity” status. There have been big name TV preachers for decades, but now it is getting ridiculous. Today we have the creation of the satellite church, also known as a video campus. What’s that? That’s when a church opens up multiple locations and broadcasts the pastor’s message live or prerecorded to the other affiliated churches on a screen. These superstars have not figured how to be in more than one place at a time in person yet so they use video projectors to speak to the people.
Now I believe there is a great value to broadcasting the gospel on television to the world. But when you go to church and have to watch your pastor on a screen, that’s over the top. That’s a characteristic of the superstar syndrome! This is one of latest inventions of the confused church.
Where are Your Trained Leaders?
I want to talk to leaders of those big churches for a moment. Pay attention to this, it’s important. If you have grown a church to a point where it needs multiple locations (i.e. hundreds or thousands of people), why haven’t you trained others to go minister in person in those affiliated congregations? Are your importance and anointing so amazing that you are the only one who can minister the word of God effectively to the people? Have you convinced the people to believe that having you appear in church on the screen is better than not having you there at all? It’s time to ask yourself an honest question. “Have I done my primary job?” which, according to Ephesians 4:11 is to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry”.
Now look brother, if I have to watch you on a TV screen, I might as well stay home and watch a TV preacher. I know you have live worship at your other sites, and I can’t experience that at home, but gee, if you can raise up multiple worship teams to minister at your sites, why can’t you raise up multiple ministers to serve the people? I know most of you have installed “campus pastors”, but for some reason, in your mind, they aren’t good enough to preach. They just do the grunt work you don’t want to do or don’t have time to do.
Invest Yourself in Others
So why do you really do things this way? Be honest, now. Does this feed your ego, your sense of self-importance and your sense of celebrity? Do you believe that these people are all there because of you? They should be there because of Jesus! He should be the real star!
Consider this, multiple church pastor, the most incredible, awesome thing you can do is invest yourself into the lives of other men and women who can go forth and spread the gospel throughout the earth, in person. We don’t need Kingdom Stars, we need servants, who will humble themselves under God’s mighty hand and minister to His people. Train the “campus pastors” and turn these other locations over to them so they can be autonomous local churches. Then focus on your own local congregation. Yes, you will lose control of all the money from those satellite churches, but you will be building God’s Kingdom the way He designed it, not your own. You don’t need to make a name for yourself. You need to lift up Jesus! Then He will bless you in ways you can’t even imagine.
So dear leader, don’t let deception creep into your life and ministry. The way you’re building is not God’s best. It’s not biblical leadership. It has nothing to do with being radical for His church. This speaks of someone who is radical about their own church, their own ministry.
The Dark Ages Seeking to Return
You know, this downward spiral of the “modern” church is so similar to what led to the downfall of original Christianity. When I was in college I took a course on Medieval History. Seeing how politics, corruption, and evil spread through the church was very insightful. Many members of clergy even had influence and control over local governments. What was the result of this power grab? It ushered in a period known as the Dark Ages.
During this time, the clergy was involved in the murders of spiritual reformers. Numerous religious trials took place. People were excommunicated, tortured, burned at the stake, and killed in every gruesome way imaginable. It was very similar to what it was like when Jesus was brought before the Sanhedrin for His crimes against God. Religion killed Him, too, but He didn’t stay dead. He rose, went to heaven in His physical body, poured out the Holy Spirit and started His Church.
After the Dark Ages, the Catholics and the Protestants evolved into such strong institutions that they openly oppressed those who didn’t yield to their power. Seeking to escape that environment brought believers to the New World. Religious tyranny always produces spiritual refugees. The United States was birthed because of clergy that did not follow New Testament teachings and abused the people.
Today the U.S. church is in decline and it mirrors in many ways the deterioration of the church in old Europe. Unchecked power corrupts churches. Many of the churches are being swallowed up by darkness because of the dysfunction of the Body of Christ and the control of the leadership class. We need a rebirth of New Testament Christianity. We must be people who are “are radical for His church!”
Every Believer is a Priest
So now, once again, just like in the 1970’s, I’m encouraging people to grasp the truth about the New Testament Church. I’m telling them to come out of the dead church and look for the Spirit-led Body of Christ. Back then we who wanted more of Jesus had to come out of their dead churches, too. Many “full gospel” churches were born because of that move of God. Unfortunately, many of those same churches now need genuine revival. Greed and power have gripped its ministers. Many of them act like royalty.
Here is a simple, powerful truth. Jesus loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood. He has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve God. He alone is to receive all the glory and power for ever and ever! (Revelation 1:4-6). So get this truth into your heart today. We are all priests, every single believer. Our calling is to minister to Him and to one another. There is no distinction between God’s people except for job description.
If you want to be radical for His church, do yourself a favor, minister of God. Write down the following statement and tape it to your bathroom mirror: “I am a minister, not a monarch. A disciple, not a dictator. A leader, not a lord. A servant, not a superior”! Understand the true revelation of these principles and you and your church will thrive and lives will experience change, all for the glory of God.
Join Me – Let’s be Radicals for His Church Together
So I just shared with you an important part of my journey. Hopefully, you understand why I had to come back to being radical for His church. I will spend the rest of my life sharing the truth of the Word wherever He puts me. I’m not sitting back and ignoring His truth anymore.
God gave me insight into the biblical New Testament church in the 80’s. I put it on the shelf various times so I could have a church job, but that’s over. No more holding back. As God’s people leave the institutional church in droves I am glad to learn that most are looking for the biblical solution to this sad situation. You can be sure that Jesus will restore His church. He’s just looking for those who will yield to His leadership and forsake those things that are shallow substitutes for a genuine move of His Spirit. It’s time for radical change. Will you be a part of it?
So this is a teaching, an exhortation, and a testimony. Spiritual abuse, wrongly judged, misunderstood, isolated, and ignored are part of my past. Maybe you experience that, too. But let me encourage you to press on. You may have to come out like I have, but Jesus will bring hungry hearts together at just the right time. Don’t give up. Pray for, expect and get spiritually ready for the new move of God that’s coming.
Where do I go from here? Instead of quietly going along with the clergy system that perpetuates abuse and control, I have chosen to participate in the recovery. I will continue to be radical for His church and teach others to be the same. Backing down from the truth is not an option. Instead, patiently seeking Him and waiting for Him to bring people into my life that want the same thing shall be my goal. Let’s go down that road together.
Randy Hartwig (c) 2017 – All rights reserved
- If you would like to read some excellent teaching about this topic, check out the following resources:
Unchurching: Christianity Without Churchianity by Richard Jacobson
Beyond Church: The Lost Word Of The Bible- Ekklesia by Steve Simms