The practical problems that may come when planting a new fellowship, and how to deal with them.
One of the first things to realize when beginning a new fellowship is that you are likely to draw a mixed group of people, who will come to join the group motivated by a variety of reasons. It is essential to take the time to find the reason why each individual wants to join the fellowship. Failure to do so will eventually results in them feeling disillusioned, because the fellowship did not deliver in their unique expectations.
I have in past experience found that people who joined the first fellowships we established, to join for some of the following reasons:
# Hoping to gain the opportunity to become respected leaders.
# Because they were angry with a local pastor and joined to make a statement of rebellion against the local church.
# Seeking the opportunity for ministry, because where they have previously tried to minister, they were prevented from doing so.
# Persecution and rejection.
# Being hurt by a local church or a pastor.
# Disappointed in the church as a whole.
# Desperate to learn more and to grow in God.
All, except for the last reason given, eventually left the fellowship, because it failed to deliver to their expectations!
It is imperative to share the Vision of the Fellowship with people who desire to become a part of it. They have to understand that it is a place of growing more intimately with God and with one another. That it is a place where they are coming to be led and taught. Where they will constantly be changed, and where they will eventually be equipped for service to the Lord.
Great emphasis must be placed on the willingness to be led and to have a teachable spirit. To understand that they will be students that will grow into a fuller Revelation of Christ. That there will be no opportunities for them to minister, until such a time as they will be released to minister to their own fellowship and group of people.
They have to understand that the Fellowship is not at war with the religious institution of church, but that we simply are following the “more excellent way” of being led in worship. Our focus is not in attempting to do better or to compete with the church, as it is known. We are in fact not even running in the same race, or even in the same stadium. We are competing for different prizes altogether!
Whereas the church is focused on building buildings, we are focused on building people. Where the church gathers to worship. We lead people into a lifestyle of worship. Where the church gathers to a building to have church. We are the church, gathering together in homes, in fields, in buildings or wherever we find the place and the opportunity to do so.
The differences are vast and we can carry one, and one in pointing them out. Mainly though one stands above all else – We lead people into a place of discovering a unique and intimate, personal relationship with Christ and to grow into becoming all that God has intended for them to become as individuals. This is done by personal impartation and care, something that is impossible to be achieved in the religious order known as “church” today.
So let us look at the do's and the don’ts when establishing a new fellowship.
*Identifying why people want to join the fellowship.
Although the meetings should be open for anyone to attend and visit at their will, there comes a time where you will identify individuals who will join themselves to the fellowship on a more permanent and committed level. Once these individuals are identified, make a point of having personal interaction with them. Find out what is in their hearts and why they want to join permanently. Listen carefully to what they say and allow the Holy Spirit to point out any potential agendas for joining, other than merely seeking to grow in their relationship with God.
Things such as –
* Being angry at the church.
* Being disappointed in a pastor.
* Feeling rejected by the church.
* Being ‘misunderstood’.
* Wanting to work for the Lord in ministry, but not being allowed.
* Not agreeing with the ways of the church etc.
These reasons may be 100% valid, as we all have come to know and experience the problems in the current religious system, and how it conflicts with the Holy Spirit, ourselves. Although these reasons may all be valid, they should not be the motivation for joining the fellowship.
All of these ‘reasons’ are trappings that can cause these same individuals to harbor the same feelings towards you and the fellowship, in time to come.
Those who join should want to join to draw closer to God and to grow in their revelation of Christ. If they join because the were indifferent in their opinion of what and how should has happened else where, they will walk with you until they become indifferent with something you are led to do or something the Holy Spirit may minister through you, and also leave, being disagreeable with you as well.
Many people are strong-willed and rebellious and as a result do not fit in anywhere. They are not about to change or be changed, but want others to change to their opinions and ideas. A lot of people sitting at home are not there purely because the “church is wrong”, but because they are rebellious and cannot fit in or work with anyone, except with those who will see things ‘their way’.
People in the fellowship should understand that God’s agenda for each one there will be change and constant change, they should join to be taught and to grow, and be willing to become clay in His hands, to learn new things they have never heard, and to unlearn a lot of things that has been rooted into them over many years that is dead wrong, that needs to be uprooted by the Holy Spirit, in order for as new planting of Truth to come from the Lord.
Some people want to join the fellowship because they are hungry to work for God, and seek to be developed to do so. In principle there is nothing wrong with this, however, you should change their vision from wanting to do something for God, to wanting nothing more than God, and HIS WILL for their lives! When they come into the right alignment in this way, they will desire that God will change them, until they are formed and ready to follow Him and His will for them, irrespective of what that will may be, or may entail!
When people learn to seek God first, and not to do things for Him, you will find that they will fall deeply in love with Him. Out of that relationship and fellowship true ministry will come – Guided, led, and commissioned by the Holy Spirit Himself.
*The trap of wanting to everyone to join and chasing numbers.
Understand from the very beginning that the fellowship will not be for everybody. It will be for those who will grow ears to hear and who will have a spirit that can be taught, shaped and molded by the Holy Spirit to become exactly what He desires for each one to be. Don’t fall into the trap of wanting to bring everyone to the fellowship in the hopes that they will join to stay.
Don’t run after numbers, allow the Holy Spirit to add daily to the congregation as He draws and brings the right people, in whom He will be able to deposit and impart His Truth. Welcome those who He joins and bless and release those who leave never to return. Never run after people or try and convince them to stay.
Remember that it is impossible for you to change anyone, that it is a pure work of God’s grace and that it can only be done by His Spirit alone! Don’t attempt to do God’s work for Him, follow Him and allow Him to lead; He knows what He is doing, whom He will reach and who will be unwilling to follow Him.
As a conclusion to this point, remember that it is not about how many joins the fellowship, but rather, how deeply God can impact those in the fellowship. He seeks individuals whom He can form, mold and change, not 100’s of bench sitters who never change. Allow Him to work in each one, whether there are only 12 or 120, He will make them into what He needs them to become and He will sow the Seeds of the Kingdom in them, that will produce great harvest through them.
Let Him determine who needs to stay and who needs to go, and let His Word and the working of His Spirit clean the threshing floor from all that is not meant to stay.
*Watch out for Jezebel and others influences that are looking for the opportunity to find a platform.
There are many people seeking to find a platform, who had been unable to successfully do so in other places. Some have tried in traditional churches and were prevented from doing so, and as a result have left those churches.
When something new like this appears on the horizon, that seems as though it has not yet been set in its foundations, it becomes a very attractive prospect to these individuals who are seeking to make their voices heard. They suddenly see the opportunity for themselves they never had before! Here is a place with a potentially group of younger Christians who will be impressionable by someone who has held the ropes for longer than themselves, and who appear to be more spiritual and knowledgeable than themselves. In their eyes, an ideal audience, and an ideal platform from where their ‘ministries’ may finally feature.
This is extremely dangerous, as you may have already gathered!
Such people are not joining the fellowship to learn or to be molded, nor to change – They see themselves as teachers, as spiritually mature and as being on a higher plane than everyone else there, including the leader!
They are people filled with the flesh and with self pride and self confidence. They are unable to submit, and unwilling to be taught.
Now it is important to understand that these individuals never approach the fellowship with this kind of attitude. At first, they appear to be most humble, godly and very, very spiritual and spiritually discerning. In fact, most of them will most likely come under the guise of being ‘prophetic’, seers who have unique and special experiences in the spirit and who have the gift of being able to see and discern the present and future in the lives of other people. They use this ‘gift’ to begin controlling the lives of others around them and to bring them under their own power and submission. Jezebel is all about control! As long as this spirit controls and manipulates and rules, all is well.
In meetings these individuals will also most likely draw attention to themselves to highlight their heightened sphere of ‘spirituality’, by seemingly extravagant experiences as the Holy Spirit moves among others. They are likely to jerk, make strange noises and movements, and so on, for the sole purpose of showing off and making others aware of how ‘special’ and ‘intensely close’ their walk is with God.
These individuals almost always attempt to align themselves very closely with the current leader of the fellowship. They will become your best friend and will constantly assure you of how ‘greatly God is going to use you’. They will also continually assure you of their undying support and noble allegiance. They are likely to be very good to you and will rally the rest of the people to come together to ‘bless you’ in some way or another, openly expressing their deep gratitude for you, and so on.
Beware: These are all tricks of their trade.
In the process they gain more and more respect and love from the people for themselves, and in they coordinating these ‘blessing events’, they are slowly but surely beginning to gain control by taking charge over the people and having a greater degree of influence over those who they now employ to work with them.
Another key sign is that they will continue to assure you of their own submission to you, asking you to speak into their lives if anything should appear to be out of order. Be sure that they do not mean this at all. The first time you correct them, they will be at war with you!
This is all Jezebel's traits and a part of the the modus operandi of this spirit. This spirit knows how to manipulate and how to align itself with the powers at hand in order to gain control herself.
As these individuals become more comfortable and sense that they are winning the confidence of the people, they will begin moving towards their goal of leading the pack.
Slowly but surely you will begin to recognize how these individuals will become more emboldened in meetings, taking advantage in freely speaking their opinion, being indifferent with others who have heard of God, and even becoming indifferent with you as the leader of the fellowship! They will begin doing what they say they ‘are led to do’, disregarding your authority and acting by their own. They will pray for others and make a big fuss over a ‘miracle’ that supposedly just occurred, making sure that everyone else knows that they were instrumental in being used by God. When you pray for people, they will go to pray for them again, ‘sensing that you did not bring them through all the way’. Slowly but surely these are all attempts to point the people to themselves as being spiritually superior, more ‘sensitive’ and ultimately more ‘mature’, strategically setting themselves up to assume leadership.
God however is faithful, and a time will come where the Holy Spirit Himself will expose these people and bring their true colors to show in the eyes of all!
Once Jezebel is challenged and exposed, they will instantly withdraw from the fellowship, taking as many as they have come to exercise authority over, with them!
HOW DO YOU IDENTIFY A PERSON CONTROLLED BY JEZEBEL BEFORE DAMAGE IS DONE?
Begin at the individual’s home. If it is a woman, see who controls the home. Who is in ‘charge’ and running things? How is this individual at work? Are they controlling and manipulative in their home environment and at work?
If so, these are the first signs of someone possibly being under the control or influence of a Jezebel spirit.
This spirit mostly operates in women, although I have encountered it being prevalent in men also.
The natural way God has made a woman, and the fruit that a woman is truly Spirit controlled, is evident in her natural submission to authority. I have never come across a truly Spirit filled and Spirit led woman who has sought to be controlling, or who has not been naturally submissive.
Why is this so?
Because it I the way God created a women to be! Her glory is in her submission! There is nothing more attractive and more beautiful than a woman who walks gently and softly and who naturally follows the leading of her husband or her spiritual leaders. She displays the very glory of her creation and reflects the beauty of fulfilling her role and destined position in Christ!
Rebellion looks quite the opposite. A rebellious spirit pushes and demands to be in charge! In a woman's case, this can be subtly done, without a man ever even realizing that he is being manipulated to do as he is led to do! This is Jezebel's way! When this does not work, all hell breaks loose. When she can’t have her way, there is hell to pay!
It is for this very reason why Paul states that he refuses women to be in a position of authority or to teach men. He full well knew that women who seek to be in such a position are those who live out of the Diviner order of their natural creation. The danger in such cases are that they, being in rebellion to such a statement and demanding the same “rights” as men, are possessed by another influence lifting it’s heel against God and His Divine order in creation!
It is very important to note here that Paul did not refuse women to be in “ministry”, but that he refused them from interfering in meetings, questioning leaders and leadership in meetings, and being disturbance in meeting by exalting their own opinions above those who were teaching them. In other words there were some of these women who were not living in subjection to the Holy Spirit, or to their own husbands, who sought to bring their rebellion into the meetings and who were disruptive, openly challenging the leadership in what they were taught and questioning them in such a subtle way that it would bring confusion and mistrust in the leader’s ability to teach and to lead – A typical manifestation of Jezebel being at work!
He refused them from speaking up in the public meetings, telling them to submit themselves in quietness and to ask their own husbands at home to explain to them what they did not understand! He was disciplining them and taking control of people who sought to be control!
The issue then was not whether women were supposed to be in ministry. The issue revolved around submission! A women may live out her full purpose in the Lord and be in ministry, provided that she does so within the Divine spectrum of who God created her to be, as doing so from a the spirit of being subject to authority.
Irrespective whether dealing with males or females, be quick to identify someone who is controlled by this spirit, and be bold enough to cut them down at the first sign of the manifestation of this spirit for the sake of the well being of all the others.
Finally, when others leave along with a person controlled by Jezebel, let them go and do not try and convince them to stay. This spirit is ‘dirty’ and pollutes the hearts of those who come under its influence.
Allow God to separate them and to keep those pure who remains with you.