The World Transforming City Church Vision

Next year is the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. It is time for the Church to transform itself with a second Reformation to be the world transforming Church of the 21st Century.  Here are my preliminary thoughts on a suggested strategy of transformation.  Oh and don't forget June 6 when a large segment of the Dispensationalists expect the Antichrist to be unveiled (I kind you not!)

First the June 6 issue. I know most of you do not follow the various crazy things going on in our evangelical movement but I somehow feel the need to keep on top of all the latest dead end strategies the devil likes to infiltrate into the Church to get us off the Kingdom Agenda.

There is a large segment of the date setting Dispensationalists who have been eagerly following David Montaignes predictions in his books "End Times and 2019" and its follow up "Antichrist 2016-2019:Mystery Babylon, Barack Obama and the Islamic Caliphate".  I must admit I had fun reading them, lots of interesting little factoids but the overall message just another date setting dead end. Just for your information the idea is that the supposed 7 year Great Tribulation started at the end of the Mayan Calendar on 21 December 2012 and Jesus will return on 28 December 2019 and the mid-point of the 7 year Great Tribulation is 6 June of 2016 when Barack Obama will be unveiled as the Antichrist.  Frankly I think he would have been closer with Hillary as a candidate for his Antichrist (with her winning the June 6 California primary)....so we wait eagerly for next week to see what if anything unfolds.

I don't mean to sound cynical here. I am truly and deeply in sorrow at the state of the church and not just the false doctrines that creep in but also the bad dead end strategies and structures we are stuck with that are legacy institutions that no longer deliver the results that I believe the Lord is looking for.

I am a businessman and not a fulltime ministry leader.  But I think the church needs some structural redesigning to achieve its objectives better.  In my world all successful companies at some time call in management experts from the outside to do critical analysis of corporate performance and come up with strategic changes needed for greater success of the enterprise.  The church does not do this.

So here is my unsolicited advice on the redesign of the church of the 21st Century. Please note this is just a preliminary view but I will be returning to this in the next year as I prepare a teaching manual for The Second Reformation to be launched next year.

Here some basic business management principles that need to be injected into the Church:

1) Management by Objectives

Every enterprise needs a clear set of corporate goals and then you manage the enterprise towards those goals.

The objective of the Church enterprise is clearly set out by the majority owner of the Church, Jesus Christ, that all nations are to be discipled into His Kingdom and when you look at the last two chapters of His management manual the Bible you will see the objectives and means clearly set out:

- the nations of the earth are to be healed and reconciled to God
- it is His Church the New Jerusalem, the City of God that is to be the instrument of His world discipleship program.

Therefore:
- avoid all negative influences that would sidetrack or discourage the objective from being obtained such as: 'The Church can never do this, its the Jews who will establish His Kingdom; the devil/Antichrist will actually win the world; Judgment is coming and the Church needs to get out of the world" etc etc.
- start working on increasing the skill set of the Church to deliver on the enterprise objectives through training, motivation, teaching, networking etc.

2) Resource Utilization...the Unemployment Problem in the Church

All enterprises are bound to have the problem of underutilized resources, wasted resources, poor asset allocation, depreciation of assets etc.

In our churches sit numerous people all have received some gifting from the Lord for the blessing of His Church and for the utilization of the Church objectives.  The vast majority have never used their talents for the Church.  All that has been required has been their time to attend meetings and their finances to pay the bills....and their baking skills for church bazaar day.

The vision of total national and international world revival discipleship will require all the skill sets of every member.  The very current limited objective of current Church strategy which is to get people into heaven only requires meetings, with one man (or woman these days) preaching every Sunday to remind people how they were saved and how to stay saved does not need any further involvement by anyone. A professional minister is usually sufficient.

The result is the vast majority of Christians are actually unemployed with regards to the Kingdom objective of discipling the nations.

A total mobilizations strategy of utilizing all resources starts with a skills analysis who is there, what can they do, what are their needs, how do we increase their skills, how do we meet their needs, how do we network them into the enterprise and set them to work.

Every proper staffed HR department of any enterprise does this of necessity through proper testing procedures skills and aptitude tests to determine the best job fit for each person and what they can best contribute to the enterprise and its objectives.

3) Deliver a Quality Product

One of the critical issues of business success is the absolute necessity of delivering a quality product to the consumer.

Within the Church enterprise we are in the unique position in which the owner of the enterprise, the majority shareholder is also the major consumer of the enterprise products. And for that matter He has made us workers co-owners with Him and we are also the consumers of the output of the Church.

And therefore it is time that we honestly appraise ourselves as to the quality of our work product. Here is my concern:  The objectives of the professional management of the enterprise, the ministers, I suspect do not always have the same metrics for measuring the success of the enterprise as the majority shareholder.  Because today so much of what passes for success as to do with numbers and money there seems to be an overemphasis of how many people to we have and what is our income....all rightfully justified by the obvious need to win the lost and the need for finances to meet the needs of the church.

But I suspect that we can do better to start to really measure: To what extent are our people growing in Christ? By what measure to we measure that? By lets say the 9 fruits of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, goodness, meekness etc. How do we do that? Well we have psychologists in our churches who can design testing procedures to give us indications of where our people are at. How are our people's finances? Are we using our financial experts to teach on proper budgeting and investment or are we just listening to preachers on "tithing"? How are our kids doing in school? Are they excelling? Do we have maths experts in our churches to help with extra classes?  How are our marriages doing? How are our families doing?

We need to be able to do critical analysis of our problem areas in our church communities and start mobilizing the resources in the church to meet those needs. And frankly that does not mean we can just rely on one man every week to preach what he feels is important on his heart.  

4) Drop the Hierarchy Structures....Go Horizontal and Network!

The current denominational structure of the Church is very much structured like a business franchise model.  Take a food franchise model.

Every town has its KFC, McDonalds, Steers, Dominoe's etc.  The franchise model works because people trust the brand for the quality or the kind of product it delivers.

Current church structures operate on this principle.  It is a hierarchical structure. It works for everyone.  The consumer, the churchgoer knows what he is getting from the brand. He moves to another town and he can "shop" at the same franchise.  The franchise management is secure as they have head office back up and structured career paths. They get proper training, they get marketing support, brand loyalty and financial support when needed.

This model has worked quite well up to now.  The Economist magazine when it did a special report in 2006 on the incredible growth over 100 years of the Pentecostal movement from an ignorant black preacher in the poor area of Los Angeles in 1906 to 100 years later 500 million people it made an interesting comment as to why they think it was so successful. Their reasons:
- It delivered a product that people wanted...eternal life for free.
- It delivered it they way people like it....with lots of singing and happy people.
- It had low barriers of entry to be a franchise owner...anyone who could open a Bible and talk can start a church as opposed to more traditional churches that needed 7 years of college and seminary and Catholics needing vows of poverty and celibacy.
- They think it is obvious why the Pentecostal movement is thriving in the Third World...it is the quickest way for anyone to set up their own franchise operation and get a paycheck!

Ouch!  Ok I know we are driven by the power of the Holy Spirit but lets be honest, how much of a lot of our growth has to do exactly with these factors?

This model may have served us well but the Church of the 21st Century needs a new model.  The old model frankly has reached a dead end.  Too often it has devolved into the "seeker friendly" what does the church goer look for and what can our church franchise do to entice him to join us?  Better music? Lifestyle coaching? Success formulas?  Its like new menu's at the food outlets, try our new breakfast menu!

The Church of the 21st Century will be structured as follows:

- It will be a city church structured on the vision of the New Jerusalem of Rev. 21-22.
- It will have Jesus in the centre on the throne and round about are the 24 elders and there are 12 gates to get into the city even though Jesus is the only gate.  What does that mean to me?
- In one city there are Baptist gates, Pentecostal gates, Reformed gates, evangelicals, independents.
- All these churches and their ministries are valid expressions of the will of God for His people and all meet specific needs of the church. Every five-fold gift ministry in the church is a valid elder seated around the throne of Jesus.  But the difference is this: The days of one man ministry in the church is coming to an end. Jesus is the centre and everyone else finds their place according to where He has placed us.
- The constituents of the City Church are the former churches who all competed with each other for members and never met.  They now have formed a covenant relationship with each other to be the Church of Jesus Christ in Cape Town or Pretoria or the West Coast.
- Their primary commitment is not to a denominational hierarchical structure but to their fellow elders in the city church to build the local church. each recognizes that each church movement brings new perspective and value to the Body of Christ and that we all need each other and our separate giftings.
- When we come together as a City Church we find that among our various congregations we have an enormous talent pool of people able to teach, conduct business, pool savings and investments, employ fellow Christians, teach our children, heal the sick, help the poor....in fact be the expression of the love of Christ for a dying world that needs the healing that flows from this New Jerusalem.
- This great movement is going to start first with a few church leaders in various communities who are going to take the plunge.  They are going to surprised at how wonderfully ordinary Christians are going to welcome this move. Ordinary Christians who by the way have long lost any total loyalty to a denominational brand and just want to be a part of the wide Body of Christ and find a place where they can make a contribution with their talents and abilities and in return receive the kind of comprehensive ministry for their family needs that can only come from a multiplicity of ministry inputs in their lives rather than just one person every Sunday.

The Second Reformation is Coming.....  

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