Editor’s note: upon re-reading this post, I felt it necessary to state my hands are far from clean in regards to my own level of discernment, and I am hardly one to claim I have all the answers to these issues. I’m as guilty of falling into error as the next guy. We can all benefit from swallowing some of our spiritual pride and bowing before the Lord in seeking forgiveness and wisdom and counsel.
OK, that does it. I’ve decided to suspend my usual weekly schedule (the Monday Light and Emerging as God’s Children series in particular) in order to begin a period of regular blogging regarding revival, church culture, the mission of Jesus, Kingdom life, the nature of ministry, and all that good stuff. There’s just too much crazy turmoil going on right now to pretend it’s not happening, especially if you are (like I am) heavily involved in the apostolic-prophetic/charismatic wing of Christianity.
The latest, and very interesting, development in the whole Lakeland fiasco is a new letter written by Dutch Sheets, a well known apostle, teacher, and prayer movement leader in charismatic circles. In this letter, Dutch makes it very clear that (a) he has some severe criticism for how some of the leaders involved in the Lakeland revival at its height conducted themselves in light of what happened subsequently, and (b) he is deeply sorry and repentant on behalf of the whole body of Christ that things progresses the way they did and how the lack of discernment and the error of celebrity worship created an environment conducive to this sort of implosion.
I appreciate everything he had to say in this letter, and in all humility it sounds very much like what I would have written were I in his position. It cuts me to the quick that leaders that I greatly admire and respect, even now, are in a position where their credibility is suspect due to their link with Todd Bentley and Lakeland, and that it’s uncertain whether this fragile situation can be satisfactorily resolved at any point in the near future.
The larger question behind all of this is pretty simple and pretty disturbing: why should we not expect this sort of situation to repeat itself again, and again, and again? Lakeland was supposed to be the prototype of a new massive, continuing revival that would sweep America, and the highly-publicized “apostolic alignment” was supposed to reassure us that the errors of past revivals would not rear their ugly heads this time. So what happened? Why did the whole thing fall apart regardless of the safeguards that were supposedly put in place? Given all the hype and hoopla, the speed at which the revival self-destructed is rather staggering.
I think it’s time to say something rather unpleasant. I think it’s time to say that ministry is destroying ministry. In other words, the way is which “ministry” is being conducted as a concept within certain circles of the Church is actually getting in the way of genuine, Christ-centered, fruitful ministry which includes all members of the body of Christ and exalts the works of God over the works of men. Somehow, we’ve gotten into a habit of thinking a “ministry” is an organization built around the singular vision of a charismatic (as in personality) leader who is placed in a position of unbelievable clout and responsibility. This ministry looks a lot more like a corporation bent on material ideas of success than a group of people committed to pursuing the selfless mission of Jesus Christ together regardless of personal comfort or welfare.
The big picture here isn’t Lakeland or Todd Bentley or apostles or doctrines. It’s how we “do church” in general. Something is terribly wrong, and I think few people realize just how deeply we’ve fallen into the grave we’ve dug for ourselves. It’s time for a new definition of ministry and what it means to become a “minister” who does the works of the Kingdom.