In 1985 I attended a signs and wonders conference at the Anaheim Vineyard Church. I was in my 3rd year of Bible College and was getting ready to graduate and enter into ministry.
The leader of the conference was named John Wimber. He shared his personal testimony at that conference and in that testimony was his recollection of what happened when he first gave his life to Jesus. Here is his daughter-in-law’s recollection of that testimony.
“A professional musician who played the Las Vegas circuit for 5 years, John later signed with the Righteous Brothers. When John was gripped by God in 1963, he was a “beer-guzzling, drug-abusing pop musician, who was converted at the age of 29 while chain-smoking his way through a Quaker-led Bible Study.”
He soon became a voracious Bible reader and after weeks of reading about life-changing miracles in the Bible and attending boring church services, John asked a lay leader:”
“When do we get to do the stuff? You know, the stuff here in the Bible; the stuff Jesus did, like healing the sick, raising the dead, healing the blind – stuff like that?”
He was told that they didn’t do that anymore – only what they did in their weekly services. John replied, “You mean I gave up drugs for that?”
John’s testimony resonated with me. I was formerly a professional musician who binged drank on the weekends and didn’t find a drug I didn’t like. I too wanted to know when I would be allowed to “do the stuff.”
After Bible College and doing a pastoral internship at my uncle’s church, I moved back to my hometown of Gresham Oregon. Things had changed.
My first pastor, Jerry Cook, had suffered a heart attack and had to resign due to health issues from the church I first started in. A different man with a different philosophy of ministry took the reigns of Easthill Foursquare Church. His name was Ted Roberts.
I scheduled an appointment with Ted and told him that I was back from college and that God had called me into ministry. He looked at me and told me, “you might as well sit down. People won’t listen to you until you are at least 40 years old.” I was 27.
Needless to say, that was discouraging. And it is that mentality that I want to address today.
Equipping The Saints For The Work Of The Ministry
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,Eph. 4:11-12
Notice in this passage that the role of the pastor is to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry or in other words, “do the stuff.” In many of today’s churches, the roles are reversed. It is the saints that are expected to enable the pastor to do the work of the ministry. We have an unhealthy idea that ministry is best relegated to professionals.
This has led to the problem that many churches have people who attend church on Sunday but have never led a person to Jesus, never laid hands on and prayed for a sick person, and never share their faith in the public arena.
How Did We Get Here?
I could go through a long history of how this mentality became so prevalent in the church today but I won’t bore you with a long history lesson. Suffice it to say that that it can be boiled down into three issues that I believe need to be corrected.
- God’s Man Of Power For The Hour. Starting with the Roman Catholic Church and filtering down to the latest craze of modern-day Apostles and Prophets, the mentality exists that there are “holy men of God” who God uses in one way or measure more than He uses ordinary believers. The power and anointing reside with the “title” or “education” or “special ability.” This causes the average everyday believer to think that they will not or could not be used by God to do the stuff Jesus did. They are not part of that special “inner circle.”
- Just A Sinner Saved By Grace. Every believer is a sinner saved by grace. The problem is that the emphasis is placed on the sinner part rather than the grace part. You see, once a sinner accepts the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, the grace of God changes their identity. They are no longer a sinner, even though they may still struggle with habits, hurts, and hangups also known as sins. They are given the identity of saint. When people emphasize the sinner part, they never believe that God would use them. This is wrong. God used sinners time and time again in the Bible. In fact, He even used Balaam’s donkey. If He will use Balaam’s donkey He will use you. And you are no longer considered a sinner in God’s eyes. He sees Jesus and His righteousness, not your lack of righteousness.
- Not Believing You Have Been Empowered By God. We cannot do the stuff Jesus did in our own power. We all know this. However, the Bible teaches that we can if we will receive the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. The problem is that most people either do not know there is empowerment available or think they have to keep on seeking to be empowered rather than believing that they have been empowered. Thus they do not believe that they can do the stuff or they keep on waiting for a sign that they can do the stuff. It has been my experience that once I have asked to be empowered, then the stuff happens when I step out and act as if I believe my prayer is answered.
“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 11 If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? 13 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”Luke 11:9-13
It was because of my belief in the saints being able to do the work of the ministry that at age 28, I started my first church. For over 30 years I have been teaching people to do the stuff and that is what we are doing at Mesquite Worship Center. We enjoy doing the stuff. It is what I gave up a career in music, gave up drinking to excess, gave up drugging for and I am glad I did.