Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Networking Church


System Countdown
P.E.A.C.E. is mobilizing a civilian force of compassion using the worldwide distribution network of local churches.
[This announcement used to be posted at]

“We have what we call our ‘20/20 vision’—10 million churches with 100 million small groups mobilizing 1 billion disciples for the PEACE Plan by the year 2020. . . .

“The Church is the body of Christ, but it has been a body without hands and feet. When you look for the places where the hands and feet of Christ are at work in the world, you get a glimpse of the radical transformation we will see when all God’s people begin to systematically attack the giants. . . .

“For too long, the Church’s hands and feet have been amputated, so we’re just a mouth. It’s time to reclaim those hands and feet and start living out the Great Commission and Great Commandment.”
[Rick Warren, “Interview With a Missions Leader” emphasis added]

“Warren plans to add two additional 40-day programs: The third will be 40 Days of Vision focusing on missional and structural renewal. It will incorporate a lay version of The Purpose Driven Church currently under development.

“The final series will be ‘40 Days of P.E.A.C.E’ which will focus on the cultural aspect of renewal, and will move people into ministry and mission. . . .

“. . . P.E.A.C.E. is not a program but a paradigm. It is reproducing disciples. . . . [to] fulfill the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.’

“The goal is to reduce the time between spiritual generations from decades to months to perhaps hours.
[“Summary of the P.E.A.C.E. Briefing for Mission Agencies", Nov. 6-7, Atlanta, GA. Emphasis added]

“P.E.A.C.E. is not a program; it is a new paradigm.”
- Lance Witt

Transforming the church -- and the world mission movement -- into a gigantic networked system of spiraling linked groups will conform the global church to the global governance model discussed in the previous series of posts. This is indeed a paradigm shift!

This idea is very appealing to those who have been trained in the networking “systems” model. Networking is all about transforming organizational structures, logistics, methodologies and applications of organizations. It also involves a transformation of the human mind and how we think.

When networking is applied to the church a new “organism” is created. It creates a new “body” with “hands and feet” that can do the will of one centralized source. This could be achieved by connecting the technology of a computer database to the literal arms and legs of one billion “foot soldiers” for a quasi-religious cause of "P.E.A.C.E." It requires re-formatting the entire global church into a networking systems “community.”

Hence, the emphasis on the small group structure. The small groups – or “cells” as they are often called – are part of a networking structure that is top-down. Upon this cellular base, the New Apostolic Reformation builds a hierarchical authority structure of “apostles” and “prophets,” who claim to be invested with special powers to usher in heaven on Earth.

The networking is also horizontal, working outside of the church and expanding the definitions of “ecclesia” to include the community. Crossing over into the “spheres” of society, it intermingles for the ultimate purpose of dominionism. Hence, the emphasis on marketplace transformation, coalitions, networking partnering, collaborations, spheres, etc.

Once the church conforms to the networking structure of global governance, it is easy to network it into other systems in the 3-legged stool – the Corporate marketplace and the State.

Small group “cells” aren’t usually marketed to the church as a networking plan. Restructuring the church into a small group structure has been presented as a church relationship-building endeavor that will produce better results and meet “felt needs.” Very seldom has the top-down nature of the hierarchy been revealed. The people in the pews have been kept in the dark for several decades about this. But now that apostolic groups are becoming more organized, they’re beginning to spell out their purpose as in this recent “Apostolic Councils Arise!” attributed to Mike McClung:

“Apostles are foundational to the body of Christ, both in ministry and person. The word "apostle" was the only one of the five-fold ministry that was not taken from a "religious" terminology. The etymology of the word ‘apostle’ goes back thousands of years before the first advent, and it meant a "general" who led an army or armada into battle.

“The word ‘ecclesia,’ translated "Church," came from a classic Greek word that described elected magistrates who made and decided on the policy of a city or locality. They declared war and made peace, treaties, and alliances. They were responsible for military actions and raising finances to support the work. The Church and its leadership is supposed to be ruling and reigning through intimacy, worship, and prayer (priestly function), hearing strategy (prophetic function), then training, equipping, mobilizing, and supplying the carrying out of the strategies (apostolic function).

“Apostles, apostolic ministries, and councils are arising, which means the Lord is calling the body of Christ to war. And this is not a war we will lose, but win, if we get in place, submit to God's order, and obey the strategies He will release as He takes His seat as Judge over cities, regions, and nations. The power of the enemy will be broken and transformation will quickly come! (Luke 18:8).”

This article goes on to proclaim that “The Army must be gathered!” and that as “these apostolic councils begin to arise and seek the Lord together, warfare will be engaged as the Lord begins to seat Himself and His authority over their cities, states and regions.” The foundational doctrinal heresy that comes with this new apostolic structure is that God is:

“. . . waiting on us to come into alignment with Him and His purposes. As we do, what is in Heaven will break into earth realm. The Lord is ready to be seated over entire cities, regions, and nations if the saints will adjust and align themselves.” [emphasis added]

“Alignment” is a word bandied about that means to "restructure the church into the networking cell/apostolic model." The plan for small groups, cells, or “New Testament”-style churches has come in from every possible doctrinal quadrant. There are different logos or brand names of the various leaders, denominations, and eschatological camps. But it is still the same plan. In fact, there has been networking amongst the leadership for years, including the Coalition on Revival and Leadership Network (note the idea of networking is embedded in the names of these two influential groups).

The restructured church then networks with the greater society via mission activities. But this new shape of mission work isn’t about the old-fashioned evangelism that saves souls through the proclamation of the Gospel message that Jesus shed His blood on the Cross to save you from your sins. The new goal of mission is about transformation of society by building the “Kingdom of God” on Earth. Luis Bush, highly influential in the evangelical missions world has identified: “Mission as transformation has emerged as a new paradigm at the beginning of the twenty-first century.” In this key article, in which Bush described 5 major evangelical transformation “streams,” he described this networking transformation:

“An effort to define a comprehensive approach to transformation must be ‘rooted in the theology of the mission of the Kingdom of God, and seeks to express the Lordship of Jesus over every aspect of life, economic, religious, personal, political.’ . . .

“As the head of the church Christ initiates and His body responds – as one body. Transformation associates are now gathering to contemplate then seek to cooperate with the beauty of God’s movements. The basic idea behind ‘transformation coordination’ is that, not only can we do more together than we can separately, but we move to a new ministry realm which operates on entirely new laws of input and output.” [emphasis added]

Leadership Network, a frequent topic on this blog, devoted an entire issue of its publication NEXT to the topic of “Kingdom Collaboration” (Vol. 4, No. 6, Sept./Oct. 1998)”, i.e. networking:

Kingdom collaboration can take two paths: single churches taking the initiative to impact their city, or groups of churches, other non-profits and organizations partnering together to target a region. The underlying focus, within both strategies, is to claim the entire city for God. . . .

"Local churches, partnering with community groups, government agencies, denominational bodies and businesses, are making an impact across the country. . . .

“’Twenty-first century churches will need to make a profound paradigm shift from “inside-out” thinking to “outside in” thinking, from simple “church growth” to “church multiplication”,’ explained Jim Montgomery of DAWN Ministries. We will have to change our frame of reference from just increasing the size of our own little turf and begin making plans for the discipling of whole cities, counties, states, regions and, ultimately, the whole nation. This will call for the whole Body of Christ, in these geographical entities, uniting in the vision of filling them with growing cells of believers capable of impacting their whole environments.” [emphasis added]

(To be continued, Lord willing . . . )

The Truth:

"Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above:" (John 19:10-11a)