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Book Jacket

0830732780
Hardcover
248 pages
Aug 2004
Regal Books

Changing Church: How God is Leading His Church Into The Future

by C. Peter Wagner

Review  |   Author Bio  |  Read an Excerpt

Excerpt:

Chapter Eleven

History Makers

There are a number of different ways that people regard history:

    • Some ignore history.
    • Some read and study history for the enjoyment of knowing more about the past.
    • Some analyze history with the goal of deriving lessons from thepast that can be applied to the future.
    • Some love history and try to relive it.
    • Others make history.

I want to be a history maker, and I know that there are many others out there who agree. If you are a believer, there has never been a better time for you to make history. In the Second Apostolic Age, we are already living through the most radical change in our way of doing church since the Protestant Reformation.

In each chapter of this book, I have highlighted and analyzed a number of these changes in some detail. In conclusion, I want to summarize what has been said and to restate some of the major thoughts in a simple and concise way. New Wineskins

A biblical analogy that I have used throughout to help us to understand our history-making task more clearly is Jesus’ picture of old and new wineskins.

Old wineskins are strongly appealing. They offer a great deal of comfort and security. Jesus said, “No one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says ‘The old is better’” (Luke 5:39). Therefore, the majority of people will never desire to move into the new wineskins of the Second Apostolic Age. Consequently, they will never join the ranks of history makers. Why do they resist? Moving from an old wineskin to a new wineskin seems to be too much of a risk!

History makers, on the other hand, have always been risk takers. Those who hear what the Spirit is now saying to the churches get excited about change. World changers will not tolerate the status quo.

The Corporate Spirit of Religion

A major train of thought running through this book relates to the activity of the corporate spirit of religion. In order to refresh our memories, here is my definition of the spirit of religion: The spirit of religion is an agent of Satan assigned to prevent change and to maintain the status quo by using religious devices.

In most of this book’s chapters, I pointed out how the corporate spirit of religion attempts to keep leaders from moving into God’s new wineskins. In this concluding chapter, let me summarize what I have said.

The last thing that the spirit of religion wants you to be is a world changer. It would like you to be so comfortable with the past that, for the rest of your life, you would prefer to keep doing the things you have been doing.

How does the spirit of religion attempt to maintain the status quo in the Church today?

    • The spirit of religion would love to maintain the status quo of denominational leadership, which prevents apostles from ministering in their God-given apostolic authority. It does this by casting a spell that convinces denominational leaders that final decisions affecting what the Church does must always be made by groups, not by individuals. In many cases, it has succeeded in elevating the notion of democratic church government to a level usually reserved only for essential doctrines.

    • Thirty years of attempting to pour the new wine of the power of the Holy Spirit and of theological orthodoxy into decaying old wineskins of denominational structures has now been seen as a well-intentioned but fruitless effort. The spirit of religion would like reform-minded leaders to do the same for another 30 years, rather than take the bold step of moving and establishing separate apostolic networks.

    • A growing number of believers are beginning to realize that what they are doing in the workplace six days a week can be considered as legitimate a Christian ministry assignment from God as what they do in their local congregations. The spirit of religion sees this as a threatening development to its evil purposes. It therefore tries to block the idea that the people of God in the workplace constitute a legitimate segment of the true Church and that this extended Church is founded on apostles and prophets just as the nuclear Church is.

    • In the past, family heritage has been one of the strongest factors in determining a believer’s church affiliation. Today, many church leaders are perceiving that affiliating with churches of other denominations in a given city can produce more effective ministry than restricting their contacts to those with their same heritage. The spirit of religion tries to discredit this change by convincing denominational power brokers that they should preserve the traditions of the elders at all costs.

    • Church leaders in the Second Apostolic Age are now looking beyond enlarging their congregations, although this remains important, to penetrating all levels of society with the values and principles of the kingdom of God. The spirit of religion attempts to keep this vision bottled up because it knows that if it is applied, Satan will end up with much less control of society and finances than he has now.

    • The spirit of religion is strongly attempting to create a Christian antiwar movement, persuading believers that if they do spiritual warfare and attempt to confront the devil and his principalities and powers, they have a good chance of becoming casualties. Christian pacifists make the spirit of religion happy.

    • Despite the fact that research shows that traditional theological education does not necessarily produce competent church leaders, the spirit of religion persists in trying to make seminary and Bible school training a prerequisite for ministerial ordination.

    • The unity of the Body of Christ is very important for the fulfillment of God’s purposes on Earth. It is no secret that differences in doctrine have contributed to a great deal of division. Doctrine, however, is becoming less divisive in the Second Apostolic Age, and the spirit of religion is trying to thwart this trend.

    • The devil can make more progress against a Church populated with less-than-holy believers than he can against a Church of holy believers. It would be to the advantage of the spirit of religion to preserve the mind-set that in this life we can never be holy.

Renewal of the Mind

The remedy for being under the spell of the spirit of religion in every one of the above scenarios is a new way of thinking. In chapter 1, I explained that the Hebrew word belaw characterizes the tactics of the corporate spirit of religion. This word means to wear out the victim in a mental sense. How do we defeat the enemy in this arena? We become transformed by the renewing of our minds as we are told to do in Romans 12:2. To move ahead, then, we need a paradigm shift.

My purpose in this book is to help us change our minds so that we can be history makers, not mere maintainers of the status quo. God has given us the power to overthrow the spirit of religion. Greater is He who is within us than he who is in the world (see 1 John 4:4).

Do you want new wine? Do you want to fulfill God’s destiny for you in this life? If you do, I recommend that you

    • tune in to what the Spirit is saying to the churches,

    • resolve to catch the wind of the Holy Spirit and

    • agree to pay whatever price is necessary to become an active part of the new wineskin—including renewing your mind.

The new wineskin is the Second Apostolic Age. If you are a part of it, you can count yourself in the company of history makers!