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-- © GodSpeak International 2005 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <copyright@godspeak.org> --

Author: Rodney Hogue <rodhogue@aol.com> http://www.icgrace.org
Editors: Teresa Seputis, Earlene Bown
Transcribers: Sharon Farris, Rita Joyce, Erma Kummerer, Fred Pekkonen

Prayer-School Course #32

Grace and Christian Values

By Rodney Hogue

Lesson 10
Penetrating The Systems

I began to share in our last lesson how the church's job is to penetrate the various systems of the world and transform them for God's kingdom.

Jesus did this when He lived on this earth -- He affected everything around Him for the Kingdom of God. When He traveled throughout Galilee, He went into the synagogues, preaching everywhere the good news about the kingdom and healing people who had every kind of sickness and disease. You can wrap Jesus' life into two things. He simply declared the kingdom of God and He demonstrated the kingdom of God. Sometimes, he demonstrated and declared it. Both of those things were taking place.

The same things should be taking place day to day in our lives as well. For example, when the community has an event like a fair or local festival, we can participate in it and advance the Kingdom. We can set up a prayer booth, and when someone sits down in front of you, you can begin to prophesy into their life, into their life vocation. You do not even know what they do for a living, but you say, "I see you driving. What do you do?" They answer, "Well, I'm a driver." Again, we're ministering to somebody and I say, "Well, I see you teaching. What do you do?" They say, "Well, I'm a teacher." I say, "I see you're very creative." They respond, "Well, I teach cosmetology." When we do this, we are speaking into these people's lives very specifically and very clearly. Those are seeds being planted in that person that God knows. We demonstrate the kingdom of God. Then we can declare to them the source and the origin, the power that is doing it. It is the kingdom of God!

Do you know that you can penetrate any system because you are carriers of the kingdom rule and reign of God? That it is bigger than the darkness! And, you don't have to travel to do it. You can actually do it all this week. Do you work? Most of us do and that means we have contact with people at work? Does anyone at your work have a need? Does anyone there need prayer? Does everybody live in a house or apartment? Most of you do. Does anyone have neighbors? Do your neighbors have needs? There you go. Perfect! Opportunities! Does anybody go shopping? Has anyone been to the mall recently? The grocery store? Been to Costco? Walmart? There are always opportunities to bless somebody, or just to pray. We are on the winning side!

There was a disposition for advancing the kingdom of God. Jesus said in Matthew 1:12, "From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing and forceful men lay hold of it." This is the disposition. However, I have to tell you that the church is not there, at least not the church in my country, the USA.

Let me give some statistics that speak to that, from George Barna, who leads a research group. They just research. He pulls together statistics, like the Gallup poll. They are like the Gallup poll of Christianity. Here are some of his conclusions that he came up with about a year and a half ago. He said this, "First of all, we have to recognize that the church really hasn't changed much over the years. In fact, the church is not really advancing. The church is absolutely declining here. The reason is that as society moves on the church has not been able to stay relevant."

Occasionally I hear someone say, "I just love it. I can just kind of go the church and it will be like this nice safe little place. You know, I am protected from the world."

I want to say "well, I'm glad that ministers to your need but that's not the role of the church. We are supposed to be out there changing the culture. Either you are going to be relevant, impacting the culture, or the culture is going to impact you!" The the church has not done a very good job of being relevant.

The second thing Barna says is that the evangelicals have declined. Who are the evangelicals? That is most of us! We have not been advancing. We simply have been declining. What has happened is that we simply have fallen asleep. Because of that, we have not been relevant, because we have not penetrated everything around us. Here are the rules: If you do not advance, you decline!

The church just was not advancing. We were not penetrating the government. We weren't penetrating the judicial system. All of a sudden, we woke up and said, "Oh man, we can't pray anymore? When did that start? We were able to pray the first 200 years. What happened?"

There is only one truth out there. Everything else is false or an imitation. And the only truth is the Word of God. This is it. Yet the Bible is only a resource book for so many people. I mean, for the past 25 years we have been trying to sell the Bible. We just have not been able to sell what is in it. People just kind of pick and choose whatever kind of Bible contents they like or are comfortable with.

Barna would say that despite literally billions of dollars spent on evangelism and Christian education in the past quarter century, the true message of the gospel has failed to penetrate the minds and hearts of most Americans. And, that would be true. We have a costless faith. It is just a costless faith. Barna also says this, "That currently only half of the adults who say they are Christians contend they are absolutely committed to the Christian faith."

Where are the other half? Well, would you admit to that? "I'm a non-committed Christian?" Most people won't admit it, but sadly that is true in many cases. Christianity becomes about our convenience. We take what fits comfortably into our lifestyle and we ignore or throw out the rest.

For example, there is a misunderstanding of the supernatural in a lot of Christian circles. Six out of ten adults do not believe there is a real devil. Do you know who believes in a real actual devil? The younger people believe it more than the older, probably because they have encountered some things in the spirit realm. In fact, the statistics say that the older you are the less likely you are to believe in the realm of the supernatural. (If you are reading the GodSpeak lessons, then this probably does not apply to you, but you are the exception to the rule.)

You cannot win a war if you deny the existence of your enemy. You would not even try to win if you did not think the devil is real or that he is to be taken seriously. Similarly, you cannot win the war if you refuse to use your primary weapons. We have created an army of isolationists.

There are 300,000 protestant churches in the United States and another 20,000 non-protestant churches. Now, that is a lot of churches! They outnumber post offices six-and-a-half to one. You do know that the post office is able to reach every home. There are 91,000 elementary and secondary schools. The church outnumbers the schools over three to one. You would think that with all of these outposts, we could cover the territory. Right? There are more churches than McDonald's or Burger King's. We should be able to cover the territory, right? With are all of these outposts out there, we should be able to penetrate the whole nation.

What then is our problem? We isolate from each other. Not only do we isolate from other churches but we compete with other churches. We think that they are the enemy. Why? Because they are not building the kingdom. They are building the church.

The last thing Barna says is that "We are the leaders." With most churches, the major objective is to fill their pulpits with good communicators, not with effective leaders. Most pulpit committees, whenever they are looking for a pastor, don't say "Give me the names of a few people that you've discipled and brought into leadership. Who are the people that you have equipped that are transforming their sphere of influence? Give me their name and phone number as a reference. I would like to speak to them."

Most pulpit committees never even go that far. What they ask for is, "Send me a tape. Let me hear a sermon. Let me hear a message. Let me hear a teaching," because that's what they're going for. Their mentality is that if we get good communicators in the pulpit, we should be able to change the world. Now that we have good communicators inside the four walls of the church, that's going to change everything outside? Hello? That does not seem to be working.

As the church, we need to be relevant and we need to begin to penetrate the key world systems, like business and government and education and such. And in order to do that, we need to be raising up leaders instead of raising up pew-sitters. We need to train and equip those in the body of Christ to fulfill their God-appointed destinies in advancing the kingdom of God in every aspect of life.

-- © GodSpeak International 2005 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from copyright@godspeak.org --

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