Bethel School of Supernatural Evangelism

Bethel School of Supernatural Evangelism

Bethel School of Supernatural Evangelism

Monroe, MI

No Registration – There is no registration process or cost required to attend this school. Each night, there will be an offering taken in order to cover the expense of the school. Guests will be invited to contribute financially during the event.

Redeemer Fellowship Church
5305 Evergreen Dr.
Monroe, MI 48161
734.242.5277 ext 13
May 26-30, 2010

The Bethel School of Supernatural Evangelism will equip and empower both the seasoned and most timid believer to demonstrate the Kingdom of Heaven through love and power. If you hunger to see God move through you to display real power that touches lives with His love, you don’t want to miss this school.

Bethel School of Supernatural Evangelism is a school that will equip you to have a Kingdom mindset that empowers ordinary people to openly display the raw power of God in your own community. In this school, you will be trained and equipped by many of Bethel’s leaders who will help you develop a supernatural lifestyle of miracles, signs and wonders, salvation encounters, and deliverances. If you are a leader or individual who desires to move in the supernatural outside the four walls of the church, this school is for you. People have been transformed as a result of this training and equipping, and empowered to live their lives naturally supernatural. Featured speakers for this school are: Chris Overstreet, Chad and Julia Dedmon, Robby Dawkins, and Anne Evans.



Chris Overstreet is Bethel’s Outreach Pastor. He is passionate about an intimate relationship with Jesus, out of which flows a lifestyle of ministering the Kingdom of God around him. It is common for miracles, salvations, and life transformations to regularly take place as a result of Chris living his life naturally supernatural, while encouraging and equipping the Saints for the work of the ministry.


Chad and Julia Dedmon are graduates of the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry and have full-time pastoral experience working with youth and young adults. Julia Dedmon holds her Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from Azusa Pacific University. In 2008, Chad and Julia were both ordained as ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ by Drs. Rolland and Heidi Baker of Iris Ministries and Senior Leaders Bill and Beni Johnson of Bethel Church. Together as partners, Chad and Julia desire to see the manifestation of the Kingdom of God come on earth through the display of creative expression, healing and healthy relationships. Chad has an extraordinary gift of faith and healing and strong leadership abilities. He continues to captivate audiences with his poignant accounts of marketplace miracles. Julia has a distinctive intuitive nature drawing her to passionate worship, prophetic ministry, soaking prayer and inner healing. Julia and Chad currently reside in Orange County and travel as ministers, seeing His Kingdom come through healing, deliverance, and miracles in the nations.


Robby is a fifth generation pastor who was born to missionary parents in Japan. He grew up seeing lives transformed by the power of God in poor urban communities. Robby had served as a youth pastor for 12 years for churches between 50 to 10,000 members before he and his wife Angie planted a Vineyard church in the downtown area of Aurora, Illinois (Chicago area). They now have 5 boys and one on the way. 80 % of their church came to Christ at their church and 70% of that through Power encounters (Prophetic, Healing, Deliverance or feeling God’s presence). Robby ministers extensively as an itinerate minister (in the U.S. and in over 30 countries) equipping churches in Power Evangelism. He was most recently featured in the movie Furious Love in 2010.


Anne works with Kevin Dedmon as the administrator of the Firestorm Ministry which travels worldwide to empower and activate churches into a naturally supernatural lifestyle. She is an Overseer of the weekly Friday Night Strikes and Bar Ministry at Bethel Church as well as being a coach for Bethel’s Firestarters Class. She is a 3rd Year graduate of the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry. Anne has a passion for prophetic evangelism and regularly leads teams out into the marketplace to share the Father’s love. Her calling, as a mother to the body of Christ, is to help birth and raise up sons and daughters into the Kingdom through encouragement, prophecy, teaching and activation.

Fear and the Kingdom of the Inherited

Fear and the Kingdom of the Inherited

I am slow-reading through Howard Thurman’s Jesus and the Disinherited (JD). JD was published in 1949, a time when African-Americans were racially prejudiced against and persecuted. Chapter Two is called “Fear.” I was especially interested to see what Thurman had to say about this. The chapter shocked and humbled me.

I’ve read a lot of things about “fear.” There’s the fear of failing in the eyes of others, the fear of self-failure and God-failure, the fear of what other think about me, fears of an un known future, and many practical fears about family and friends with their jobs and illnesses and relationships. In some small sense I’ve become a student of fear, and been influenced, for example, by the brilliant and wise writings of Henri Nouwen, a man acquainted with fear. (Especially see Nouwen’s The Inner Voice of Love, Lifesigns, and A Cry for Mercy.)

While the kind of fears I normally deal with are important, the kind of fear Thurman writes about is different in its oppressive, relentless pursuit to dispossess and marginalize. The fear Thurman talks about is the concrete, real presence of political and religious powers who use their powers and religion to crush the spirits of people. He writes: “Fear is one of the persistent hounds of hell that dog the footsteps of the poor, the dispossessed, the disinherited… When the power and the tools of violence are on one side, the fact that there is no available and recognized protection from violence makes the resulting fear deeply terrifying.” (36-37) And: “There are few things more devastating than to have it burned into you that you do not count and that no provisions are made for the literal protection of your person.” (39)

There is a fear that strikes the people of this world who, in terms of their political and religious situation, “count.” Then there are those who do not “count.” For these disinherited ones, fear is their constant companion. I have never experienced this kind of fear. Yet Jesus’ audience knew it.

Of course not all fear is bad. God made us so to fear the tornado that spins on the horizon, heading our way. Not to fear this is not to care about friends and families. This is fear as, says Thurman, a “safety device.” (46) But when the tornado spins on your doorstep, whether you are awake or asleep, the fear this engenders “finally becomes the death for the self.” This renders a normal life of eating, sleeping, playing, and loving impossible. Such is the kind of fear the marginalized and dispossessed always live with.

Thurman asks: “The crucial question, then, is this: Is there any help to be found in the religion of Jesus that can be of value here?… Did Jesus deal with this kind of fear? If so, how did he do it? What did he say?”

First of all, Jesus came into a fear-filled world of opporessed and captive peoples. He quoted from the book of Isaiah, and implied that the Spirit of the Lord was upon him and had anointed him to do such things. In the “Song of Mary,” Mary sings, in wonder and amazement, that God has now come to scatter the proud in the imagination of their hearts, to put down the mighty from their lofty thrones, and to exalt the dispossessed.

Jesus then tells us who to fear and who not to fear, in Matthew 10: “Don’t fear those who can kill the body but are not able to kill the soul.”

In his Sermon on the Mount Jesus tells us to not worry about our lives, since God cares for us. These words of Jesus become crucial for Thurman, who says that the “core of the analysis of Jesus is that man is a child of God, the God of life that sustains all of nature… This idea – that God is mindful of the individual – is of tremendous import in dealing with fear as a disease.” (49) He continues: “The awareness of being a child of God tends to stabilize the ego and results in a new courage, fearlessness, and power. I have seen it happen again and again.” (50)

I love this next quote from Thurman, in its entirety:

“A man’s conviction that he is God’s child automatically tends to shift the basis of his relationship with all his fellows. He recognizes at once that to fear a man, whatever may be that man’s power over him, is a basic denial of the integrity of his very life. It lifts that mere man to a place of pre-eminence that belongs to God and God alone. He who fears is literally delivered to destruction. To the child of God, a scale of values becomes available by which men are measured and their true significance determined. Even the threat of violence, with the possibility of death that it carries, is recognized for what it is–merely the threat of violence with a death potential. Such a man recognizes that death cannot possibly be the worst thing in the world. There are some things that are worse than death. To deny one’s own integrity of personality in the presence of the human challenge is one of those things. ‘Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do,’ says Jesus.”

In Christ there is no social hierarchy, no honor-shame continuum. When one is in Christ, one is taken out of the Kingdom of the Disinherited into the Kingdom of the Inherited. And all of this gains its force in the reality of our dark, hierarchizing world systems. This is important to remember. It’s not about some kind of idealistic, platitudinous piety. It’s real life stuff. As the great African-American theologian
James Cone, in God of the Oppressed, writes: “Jesus was not an abstract Word of God, but God’s Word made flesh who came to set the prisoner free. He was the ‘Lamb of God’ that was born in Bethlehem and was slain on Golgotha’s hill. He was also ‘The Risen Lord’ and ‘The King of Kings.’ He was their Alpha and Omega, the One who had come to make the first last and the last first.” (50-51)

Holly Benner’s New Worship CD

Holly Benner’s New Worship CD

Our worship leader, Holly Benner, will be recording her live worship cd June 4 & 5 in the evenings at Redeemer, plus on Sunday morning June 6.

You can pre-order her cd by calling 734-242-5277 and placing your order.

The cds should be in hand when Holly leads worship at our June 27-July 2 conference with Randy Clark.

We estimate the costs of recording + printing to be, minimally, $6000.

Thanks to the many of you who support what God is doing through Holly!

(Holly teaches at Redeemer Ministry School.)

The “Game With Minutes”

The “Game With Minutes”

I first became aware of Frank Laubach’s “Game With Minutes” through reading Richard Foster. Now, as I’m reading Greg Boyd’s Present Perfect, Greg suggests trying Laubach’s “game” as a way of practicing the presence of God.

The game’s challenge is this: try to bring Christ to mind at least one second of each and every minute within a designated hour. Laubach suggests choosing “an uncomplicated hour” to do this. Boyd writes: “The basic idea is that we need to become accustomed to remembering Christ when our mind has little to do before we can learn how to remember Christ with any consistency in situations that require more attention.” (38)

Playing a game like this can be used by God to overcome the secular mentality deep within us. When we are brainwashed by the secular worldview “we habitually exclude [God] from our awareness. Because of this we go about our day-to-day lives as functional atheists… So thoroughly are we brainwashed by the secular mind-set that the very suggestion that we could routinely experience the world in a way that includes God strikes us as impossible.” (29)

If we were like branches continually connected to Jesus the True Vine then Laubach’s “game” would be silly. It would be like saying “Let’s play a game where we breathe every few seconds.” Or: “Let’s play a game and pretend the Pope is Catholic.” In other words we wouldn’t need to play Laubach’s game since we’d be fully God-connected 24/7. But is that possible? Boyd, following in the footsteps of many Jesus-followers before him, thinks it is, or is at least approachable. The reason is: constant God-awareness is the normal Christian life.

Rather than wait for special God-moments to come, God is present in every moment, in every “now.” Because God is present now and in every moment, we can surrender ourselves in every moment to God. We don’t have to wait for special worship services to do this. Indeed, to wait for the next worship service to come around shows that we’re living more in the prevailing secular world than in the Kingdom of God.

Boyd writes: “As foreign as it is to contemporary Western Christianity, and as impossible as it may seem to many contemporary Christians, practicing the presence of God lies at the foundation of “mere Christianity.”” (37) And: “Branches don’t visit a vine once in a while on special occasions. Rather, branches are permanently attached to their source of life. So too, followers of Jesus are to take up permanent residence in Christ, remaining attached to him at all times as their source of their Life.” (34)

This challenge can only be met one moment at a time.
Right now is the time to surrender.
Right now is the time to seek first the Kingdom of God.
Right now is the time to remain in Christ.
Right now is the time to live in the Spirit.
Right now is the time to pray.
Right now is the time to take every moment captive.
As Jesus taught, tomorrow will worry about itself. (Matthew 6:34; cf. Boyd, 37)

God Has Plans That Dwarf Yours in Comparison

God Has Plans That Dwarf Yours in Comparison

One of the devotional books Linda is now reading every day is Henry Blackaby’s Experiencing God Day by Day. (You can access these daily devotionals online here)

She just read today’s entry to me. It’s so good and on target that I’m posting the entire thing. Read, ponder, take to heart, enjoy.

(Surfer, Torrey Pines, California)

“So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’ ” (Luke 17:10)

The servant carries out the master’s will. The servant doesn’t tell the master what to do. The servant does not choose which tasks to perform for the master, nor does the servant suggest days or times when it would be convenient to serve the master. The servant’s function is to follow instructions. The master, on the other hand, gives directions. The master does not tell the servant to develop a vision that will guide the master. The master is the one with the vision; the servant’s task is to help fulfill the master’s purposes.

We are the servants; God is the Master. We tend to try to reverse this! God’s revelation of Himself, His purposes, and His ways depends directly upon our obedience. He may not reveal today His intentions for the next five years, but He will tell us what our next step should be. As we respond to God’s revelation, He will accomplish what He desires, and He will be the One who receives the glory.

Our fulfillment comes from serving our master.

The world will encourage you to strive for positions of authority and power. God wants you to take the role of a servant. As God’s servant you should have no other agenda than to be obedient to whatever He tells you. God does not need you to dream great dreams for your life, your family, your business, or your church. He simply asks for obedience. He has plans that would dwarf yours in comparison (Eph. 3:20).

The Sacrament of the Present Moment

The Sacrament of the Present Moment

(Railroad tracks – Monroe County)

I just returned from my oral surgeon’s office where I had a molar extracted. A few weeks ago a gold crown that adorned this molar came off. The tooth under the crown had developed a hairline crack which, over time, dislodged the crown. Because of the hairline crack the tooth could not be salvaged; hence, the extraction. So, exactly two hours ago I was sitting in the dentist’s chair. Now, I’m sitting at home. The novocaine is slowly wearing off. I’ve got some pain meds in case I need them. And it is well with my soul.

Ps. 118:24 reads – “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Increasingly, I find this scripture to be important. It’s a motif found throughout the Bible. Like…

  • Today is the day of salvation… 
  • Now is the time to worship…
  • This is the day the Lord has made…

Arguably, this moment… right now… is the moment of all moments. It is not to be avoided (as if we could) or gotten-past because we are on to better things. I like how Greg Boyd puts this:

“God is the God of the living, not the God of the already-past or the not-yet-present. He’s the great “I AM,” not the great “I was” or the great “I will be.” He’s been present for every moment in the past, for which we can be thankful, and he’ll be present at every moment in the future, which gives us great hope. But he’s only alive and active now, in the present – which is the only thing that’s real.” (Present Perfect: Finding God in the Now, 15)

Now, for example, God loves you. This core Jesus-truth is meant to be not a mere theoretical truth but an experiential reality. This is cool because it is experience, not theory, that breeds conviction. So right now, “remind yourself that you are submerged in God’s love.” (Ib., 19) Dwell with God who makes his dwelling place in you 24/7. God is in the house of “you” right now. Why not say “Hi?”

Those who practice attending to God in every now-moment are the ones who will do great things for God in the future. Non-attendance now means failure tomorrow. And, God could grant one of those watershed-life-changing now-moments… now. Read history to verify the truth of this last statement. Therefore attend. Raise your hand and say “Present, Lord.”

Boyd says that “now is where God lives.” (Ib., 21) Missionary Frank Laubach encourages us to “Make a new beginning.” Boyd writes: “Wake up to God’s presence in this moment now.” 17th-century monk Jean-Pierre de Caussade called this “the sacrament of the present moment.” We attend to God now so we can know God now, and so we can be different in the next moment.

As I was sitting in the dentist’s chair and the oral surgeon was about to drill he told me, “You’ll now feel some vibration.” I decided not just to hang on and long for this particular now-experience to be over. I don’t believe that God said, in that moment, “Excuse me, I’ll be back when the tooth is out.” Instead, my ever-present God suggested that it would be good to take this time to pray for some other people that He had on his mind, and that now would be a good time since I had nothing else to do. So, I prayed for some specific friends that I care for very much.

If you are like me, you need God now and not in some distant future. And while it is very good to recount our past experiences with God, it is better to experience God now. God is not like some person we used to live with but is no longer with us. Nor is God living in some far-off land but making plans to visit us in a few years. God calls himself “Emmanuel.” God with us. God with you. In the now.

Do Everything In Love

Do Everything In Love

When Jesus stands in front of Pilate and says “My kingdom is not from this world” an entire universe of meaning is unveiled.

“Kingdom” means: the rule or reign of a king. The “dome” of kingly rule. The dominion of such rule. Pilate, as prefect of the Roman outpost-province of Judea, has dominion over this tiny province. Jesus’ dominion, on the other hand, is vast. Jurgen Moltmann says that Jesus’ kingdom “embraces the whole of creation, heaven and earth, the invisible side of the world and the visible side too; so it is both in the next world, in heaven, and in this one, on earth.” (Moltmann, Jesus Christ for Today’s World, 20) Jesus’ outrageous claim is to be king over all. “Pilate concludes that Jesus is a deluded quack whom he can banter with but not take seriously.” (Ben Witherington, in Andreas Kostenberger, John, 528, fn. 40)

Jesus’ kingdom is not “of” this world, in the sense of coming from it… originating from it. N.T. Wright says: “When I lecture about this, people will pop up and say, “Surely Jesus said my kingdom is not of this world.” And the answer is no, what Jesus said in John 18 is, “My kingdom is not from this world.” That’s ek tou kosmoutoutou. It’s quite clear in the text that Jesus’ kingdom doesn’t start with this world. It isn’t a worldly kingdom, but it is for this world. It’s from somewhere else, but it’s for this world.”

The kingdom of God does not have its roots sunk into this world. The kingdom of God did not grow out of this world. This kingdom gets no nourishment from this world. It is not sustained by this world and what happens in this world. The kingdom of God comes from God. If it didn’t come from God it couldn’t heal the sick world. To say that Jesus’ kingdom comes from another place is to say it comes from the being of the Triune God. It issues forth from love, since the being of God is love.

This contrasts sharply with worldly kingdoms. If Jesus’ kingdom were of this world then his followers would have picked up the sword and waged war against Rome. Such violence is not the way of the kingdom of God. The way of the cross is the way of love. “The telltale sign that one is a member of Jesus’ kingdom is that they do not fight like everyone in the world does.” (Greg Boyd, The Myth of a Christian Nation)

Listen to this other-worldly-kingdom stuff, written by the extraterrestrial apostle Paul:

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen… Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:29, 31-32) Is that different from the ways of this world, or what? It’s so other-worldly it’s even different from all the intra-church rivalry, slander, and hatred going on around us. 

In my studies this past week I cam across one of the shortest verses in the Bible – 1 Corinthians 16:14, which says, simply and clearly: “Do everything in love.” Everything we do — including all our thoughts and speech – is to be done in love. Take those four words and tattoo them on your frontal lobe. They will be more than enough to live your life by. And as you do, you’ll look like some alien wacko from another planet who’s come to subvert this world’s kingdoms. You might even get crucified for it.

I’m talking about the other-worldly kingdom of Jesus. It is, essentially, a kingdom where love rules and love lasts and the greatest thing is love and the greatest command is love because the very essence of God is love. A mark of the people of God’s kingdom is that they do not fight against other people, but rather fight for them. Paul expresses it this way in Ephesians 6:12: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Greg Boyd says: “If it has ”flesh and blood,” it’s not someone we’re to be fighting against. Indeed, if it has “flesh and blood,” it’s someone we’re to be fighting for. They may intend us and our nation harm. We may hate their lifestyle, politics and religion. But if they are human, we are commanded to love them, serve them, do good to them, pray for them, and fight for them (Lk 6:27-35). And a primary way we fight for them is by resisting the principalities and powers that seek to oppress both them and us — including fueling the universal fallen human tendency to identify other people as the enemy! Our counter-cultural Jesus-looking lifestyle, including our willingness to love and serve enemies, is our warfare on behalf of enemies.”

Now you must admit that this kind of talk is not from any earthly kingdom, but is truly not from this world. But while it is not from this world it is truly for this world. Moltmann again: “Through the cross of Christ the kingdom of God is ineradicably planted on this earth. With the resurrection of the crucified Christ the rebirth of the whole tormented creation begins.”
So let the tormented rejoice! Heart-pray these words: “God, let your kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven.” Since the “dome” of the King extends over you, receive God’s rule over your heart. Let God’s love rule and reign in you. It’s “from another world,” from the very being of God, staked like a wooden cross of love in the fertile soil of your soul. Rest in this truth. As it becomes your very being, the Pauline injunction to “do everything in love” will be your experience.
In regard to the other-worldly nature of the Real Jesus I love these words of messianic Jewish scholar Michael Brown:
“Jesus was, and still is, the embodiment of the anti-Establishment mentality – when the Establishment is anti-God… The gospel is subversive. It is the ultimate revolutionary message. It is the supreme countercultural philosophy. It says this world is not our eternal home and this world’s system does not rule or govern us. We are governed by a higher authority, ruled by another power, at home in a different world. This is the message we spread. This is the mind-set we hold on to.” (Revolution! The Call to Holy War, 84)

Howard Thurman On the Almighty Clarity of Jesus

Howard Thurman On the Almighty Clarity of Jesus

I’m on my back porch reading, which is a very good sign. Linda and I love to sit out here in this little world of sun, trees, birds, and warmth. In my hands is the book Martin Luther King is said to have often carried with him: Jesus and the Disinherited, by Howard Thurman. Thurman is the great African-American mystic-scholar, who writes out of a spiritual depth that can only be gained from years and years of meditation and prayer in the presence of God.

Thurman writes these words about Jesus.

Jesus’ “message focused on the urgency of a radical change in the inner attitude of the people. He recognized fully that out of the heart are the issues of life and that no external force, however great and overwhelming, can at last long destroy a people if it does not first win the victory of the spirit against them. ‘To revile because one has been reviled – this is the real evil because it is the evil of the soul itself.’ Jesus saw this with almight clarity. Again and again he came back to the inner life of the individual. With increasing insight and startling accuracy he placed his finger on the “inward center” as the crucial arena where the issues would determine the destiny of his people.” (Jesus and the Disinherited, 21)

Wow. Slow down and chew on that for a few years. Thurman is saying:

  • Jesus wants to capture the hearts of people.
  • Out of the heart come the issues of life.
  • First be cured in one’s own soul.
  • The human soul is the arena where the destinies of people are determined.

To focus on changing external circumstances without gaining victory in the hearts of people is like putting duct tape over a bullet wound. Physician – heal thyself. Or rather: Physician – first be yourself healed.

What is really needed to today is more deep people, not people with more information, and with mostly trivial information at that. The Real Jesus wants to get at your soul and start ploughing so as to plant seeds that will take deep root. The kind of fruit the Spirit will produce is seen in spiritual oak trees like Howard Thurman.

Ernie Harwell & the Power of Humility

Ernie Harwell & the Power of Humility

I’m reading Mitch Albom’s beautiful memorial tribute to Detroit Tiger broadcaster Ernie Harwell. It’s making me feel sad, and inspired. It’s about the nature of true greatness.

Albom writes that among Harwell’s achievements included personal dissatisfaction with his life in the 1960s that brought him to a Billy Graham crusade where he became a devout follower of Jesus. Throughout his life Ernie’s ego decreased, while Christ in him increased. Albom writes: “I can tell you that whenever a new sportswriter or broadcaster came to town, Ernie would greet him as if we were lucky to have him. He never played the kingpin. Never acted like a boss checking out the new kid. Not with journalists. Not with players. He made humility his calling card, he shook hands and drawled, “Welcome to the Tigahs” or “Good to have ya here,” and it usually would be someone else who would nudge the new guy and say, “Do you know who that is? That’s Ernie Harwell. THE Ernie Harwell.””

I love and admire and honor the fact that Ernie loved his wife Lulu. “For 68 years, they were together, acting like kids on their first date. The last time I saw them both, a few months back, in his modest residence at a senior center in Novi, he said, “Lulu, how about some of that butter pecan ice cream?” And she brought us some and we ate it together. I don’t know why I remember that line. “How about some of that butter pecan ice cream?” It was just so innocent, so happy, a man in his 90s, asking for a treat. I don’t even eat ice cream. I ate it that night.”

People loved Ernie Harwell because Ernie Harwell loved and honored people above his own self. You’ve got to be a free person inside to be able to do that. Albom says: “An outsider may wonder why so many fans today are singing Ernie’s praises, but it was largely because he never sang his own. In a sport full of big egos, Ernie’s was invisible.” The freedom of personal invisibility. It’s rare.

Dallas Willard on Breaking Free from Institutional Measures of Success

Dallas Willard on Breaking Free from Institutional Measures of Success

Dallas Willard’s interview on measuring spiritual growth among Jesus-followers is prophetic and subversive. Here are some of the things Willard says:

  • Many churches measure the wrong things, “like attendance and giving, but we should be looking at more fundamental things like anger, contempt, honesty, and the degree to which people are under the thumb of their lusts.”
  • Why don’t many churches measure spiritual effectiveness by these things? Because these qualities are “not worth bragging about.” “We’d rather focus on institutional measures of success.”
  • Not every Christian wants to be assessed by these spiritual things.
  • Many people in today’s American church are suffering, especially pastors and their families, because “much of North America and Europe has bought into a version of Christianity that does not include life in the kingdom of God as a disciple of Jesus Christ. They are trying to work a system that doesn’t work. Without transformation within the church, pastors are the ones who get beat up. That is why there is a constant flood of them out of the pastorate. But they are not the only ones. New people are entering the church, but a lot are also leaving. Disappointed Christians fill the landscape because we’ve not taken discipleship seriously.”
  • Churches, and Jesus-followers, must change their definition of “success.”
    “They need to have a vision of success rooted in spiritual terms, determined by the vitality of a pastor’s own spiritual life and his capacity to pass that on to others. When pastors don’t have rich spiritual lives with Christ, they become victimized by other models of success—models conveyed to them by their training, by their experience in the church, or just by our culture. They begin to think their job is managing a set of ministry activities and success is about getting more people to engage those activities. Pastors, and those they lead, need to be set free from that belief.”

God, thank you for Dallas Willard, and for these clarifying words of truth.