Steve Uppal

Reformation: A changing landscape

We are in an age of reformation! Everything is shifting and changing. The world and the Church are undergoing a major shaking and reforming. It is uncomfortable, awkward and daunting. The path before us leads to unfamiliar territory. Some are fighting to go back to what they are comfortable with, ways they are used to traversing.

The question before us is: will we hold onto the familiar, will give in to the pull of the pragmatic or are we willing to take the hand of the Shepherd and embrace paths new! (Jer 6.16)
True pioneers, people of courage and resolve are cut from another cloth. Rooted in a different Kingdom, the Bible refers to these burning ones as, ‘foreigners and strangers on earth... looking for another country ... God is not ashamed to be called their God ... the world was not worthy of them...’ (Heb 11).
These are less common, often forged in the fire of adversity and trial. Living with their eyes on the King, aware more of eternity than of temporal things. With tears in their eyes, callouses on their knees and weight in their words, men and women anchored in another world.

These people are changing the shape of things to come. These alone will shut the mouths of lions and quench the fury of the flames. They will birth the new through travailing, prevailing prayer. they are preparing the way of the Lord ..

What is the new?
Many people have asked the question: ‘What does the new look like?’ We are seeing glimpses of the new and at the same time have felt the warning of the Holy Spirit not to finish His sentences for Him. We are not to complete a sentence if He only gives a word nor a paragraph when he reveals a sentence. We must go low in the place of humility and go slow, patiently waiting on the Lord. Whilst the full picture is still emerging, there are several phrases God has been highlighting to us about what the new will involve.

Restoration of the Fivefold
The 40’s and 50’s saw a restoration of the Evangelist; the 60’s saw a restoration of the Pastor; the 70’s saw a restoration of the Teacher; the 80’s saw a restoration of the Prophet and the 90’s saw a restoration of the Apostle.  But we are yet to see a maturing of these gifts and of fivefold ministries working together in the fullness.

I believe that the restoration of apostles working alongside prophets is critical as a foundation empowering the fivefold ministries in Ephesians 4. In turn these ministries when functioning in a true biblical manner will bring reformation and restoration to the Church. (Ephesians 2:19-20).

In 1 Corinthians 4:15, Paul talks about the importance of spiritual fathers in the Church. Over the past few years, many churches have asked to be part of the All Nations family so as to gather within apostolic covering. I believe that more and more, churches will join together to form apostolic families.
I see it happening across the world already and I believe more is coming. It will be in the unity of these wider families that the Church will be empowered to advance further than she has before. This is not about building brands or names, it is not about changing theology or compromising truth. This is about the Church coming together to accomplish the Great Commission. We must not underestimate the power of a united church.

Disciple-making and Church Planting
Disciple-making will be a hallmark of the new that God is doing. Jesus didn’t commission the disciples to get people into buildings, to raise their hand or to say a prayer and yet somehow modern Western Christianity has placed the emphasis on these things. We have sought to make converts rather than disciples.

As a result, our churches have more consumers than contributors. Disciples are learners and followers obeying everything the Father commands; as we become disciples who make disciples, we will see many coming into the Kingdom of God.

We read in Acts that the Early Church grew daily with three thousand being added to their number on the day of Pentecost alone.

Effective discipling reproduces more disciples and results in churches planted. Jesus commanded us to make disciples and that he would build his Church and yet many times we build the Church and hope he turns those that come into disciples.

In our own context we are embracing smaller missional communities or Home Churches as a key part of the coming exponential growth. There is a place for large gatherings but the smaller groups of believers, praying, studying the Bible with a missional focus in their neighbourhoods will bring societal transformation. Whilst we are not advocating this approach for all churches, I would encourage every church leader to seriously consider whether the way they are doing church facilitates the making of reproducing disciples.