Mark 2:22 “No one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the wine would burst the wineskins, and the wine and the skins would both be lost. New wine calls for new wineskins.”
It’s time for the Leadership of God’s Church to take the New Wine of the Holy Spirit and put into a New Wineskin of Leadership. Here’s why…
Once Our Lord had ascended into Heaven and left His Apostles here to continue His work it did not take long for old habits and ways of doing things to begin to affect the growth of the Church. It didn’t take long for things to stagnate… So, The Lord allowed persecution to afflict the Church and they dispersed throughout Asia Minor. Meanwhile, The Lord was stirring things up…
In Acts 10 we are told about Cornelius, an unsaved man who had an Angelic vision telling him to send for Peter and he would tell him what he had to do. Let’s look at this chapter:
Acts 10:9-48 (NKJV) 9 The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour. 10 Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance 11 and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. 12 In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. 13And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” 14 But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.” 15 And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” 16 This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again. 17 Now while Peter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant, behold, the men who had been sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate. 18 And they called and asked whether Simon, whose surname was Peter, was lodging there. 19While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are seeking you. 20 Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them.” 21 Then Peter went down to the men who had been sent to him from Cornelius, and said, “Yes, I am he whom you seek. For what reason have you come?” 22 And they said, “Cornelius thecenturion, a just man, one who fears God and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews, was divinely instructed by a holy angel to summon you to his house, and to hear words from you.” 23 Then he invited them in and lodged them. On the next day Peter went away with them, and some brethren from Joppa accompanied him. 24 And the following day they entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them, and had called together his relatives and close friends. 25As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. 26 But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I myself am also a man.” 27 And as he talked with him, he went in and found many who had come together. 28Then he said to them, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean. 29 Therefore I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. I ask, then, for what reason have you sent for me?” 30 So Cornelius said, “Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, 31 and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your alms are remembered in the sight of God. 32 Send therefore to Joppa and call Simon here, whose surname is Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea. When he comes, he will speak to you.’ 33 So I sent to you immediately, and you have done well to come. Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God.”
[Now listen carefully as Peter responds to this]
34 Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. 35 But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. 36 The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ–He is Lord of all– 37 that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. 39 And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree. 40Him God raised up on the third day, and showed Him openly, 41 not to all the people, but to witnesses chosen before by God, even to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. 42 And He commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. 43 To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.”
Peter preaches to them the KEREGMA… the Seed of the Gospel Merriam-Webster defines as: the apostolic proclamation of salvation through Jesus Christ”.
Now look what happened after this simple message…
44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. 45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, 47 “Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.
Peter had a vision for the Church… he was sure that he knew what to do but the Lord wanted to change some things so he gave Peter this vision telling him that he had to think about things differently. If Peter had not been confronted by the Lord about his lack of outreach he might never had recognized the necessity of obeying the words of Jesus to “Go into all the earth and preach the Gospel”…
Now, we need to move into Acts 11 and see the reaction in Jerusalem after Peters First “Missionary Journey”!
Acts 11:1-3 (NKJV) 1 Now the apostles and brethren who were in Judea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. 2 And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those of the circumcision contended with him, 3 saying, “You went in to uncircumcised men and ate with them!”
They were appalled that Peter went among the Gentiles!!! And, yet that was a part of The Great Commission! So, then Peter explains why he went and this is what happens:
Acts 11:15-18 (NKJV) 15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. 16 Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 17 If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?” 18 When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.”
Praise God! The blockage was removed! The Gospel could now begin to spread around the world!
Look at the very next thing that happened…
Acts 11:19-26 (NKJV) 19 Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only. 20 But some of them were men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists, preaching the Lord Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord. 22 Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch. 23 When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. 24 For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. 25 Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. 26 And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So, it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.
So, it was in Antioch that finally a Church grew that was filled with Saved Jews and Gentiles!!! It was here that the fires of reaching the lost began to burn… The model had changed… They were now going to do things the way that Jesus had intended for them to do them!
We have experienced a similar thing here… And, there are others that are experiencing it too.
Paul had called himself a “wise master-builder” (1 Corinthians 3:10) and he described what the Church was to be like and then he laid the foundation for it in people’s lives. He had received his vision from the Lord too.
Jesus had not done everything by himself and the Leaders in Antioch followed His model… Jesus had trained his disciples and then sent them out to do the work of the ministry. He welcomed others into the process of building the Church and so the Leaders in Antioch did the same thing. So it is there that we see the first Apostolic Team formed.
For many years now the role of the Senior Leader in the Church was to “The Pastor” … and the Pastor had to do it all! The Pastor was to be the charismatic builder who did it all. Recently some Churches have begun to call their leaders “The CEO”.They have modified the traditional role and styled it after the business models of todays corporations.
But today the Lord is casting a new vision to His Leaders. He is showing that “The Way of Jesus and The Apostles” is the best way!
Leaders today must become more of a visionary like Peter and Paul were rather than being like the corporate giants of today’s world. Rather than sitting in Board rooms and running the Church with this modern corporate style they need to be active in the Church looking for the next Timothy, Titus and Mark!
As the Early Church learned in Antioch, the Leaders of The Church today need to create Apostolic Teams made up of Gifted Servant Leaders who work together to “equip the saints of God for the ministry” of their daily lives.
This is the role I have been trying to fulfill as a Bishop. I have not been called “Pastor” for over 20 years now because I have been on a Journey learning how to build an Apostolic Team of Leaders to share the work of “Equipping the Saints”.
That vision and my work is now bearing fruit. There is a shared responsibility in this Apostolic Team here. I am no longer the “chief cook and bottle washer”. Today you see in our Church the fruit of my labors… There are others who now work alongside of me sharing the load of ministry.
Our common goal is found in Ephesians 4:11 – 13 (NLT)
“Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.”
We are raising up “Full Stature Christians” who resemble Jesus! That’s our goal… We minister according to our giftings and we impart to the Members according to their ability. The results are that we are seeing mature Christians who demonstrate New Testament Christianity to everyone they meet. This is the Vision and Mission of my Church and I hope you embrace it for yours too…
OUR VISION IS TO TRANSFORM each Church member into a true Disciple of Jesus and demonstrate the Kingdom of God in our daily lives.
WE ARE LED BY AN APOSTOLIC TEAM of Spirit Empowered Servant Leaders. The Team equips God’s People by nurturing them in the Word building Character and developing the Fruit of the Spirit. We endeavor to Identify and Activate each members Spiritual Gifts resulting in our Members having opportunities to Serve using their God Given Gifts, Talents and Abilities. We believe in the Abundant Life that Jesus spoke of helping us to prosper and live in Good Health as our souls prosper. Because of this, our Members move from Salvation to Discipleship.
“Not by might, nor by power but by My Spirit saith The Lord. [Zech 4:6]
WE WILL SEE GOD’S KINGDOM COME BY IMPACTING OUR CULTURE AND EVANGELIZING THE LOST. And we Raise our Children in a “Culture of Honor” [Exodus 20:12] and we desire to be a dynamic Church that meets the needs of everyone who comes to us.
WE BELIEVE IN THE RESTORATION OF ALL THINGS that the Prophets spoke of and the Return of Jesus as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. [Acts 3:21 & Acts 1:11]