Thursday, May 8, 2008

Taking Our Cities For God

Abmo over at Windblown Hope has added another layer onto Heather’s original post that has already stirred so much good discussion. He asks this question about the phrase that we all proclaimed in our charismatic services about how we were going to, “Take our city for Christ.” He poses this question after discussing how utterly hard it is to try to even describe what this might mean.

He says, “Then a thought hit me over the head. How would a town/city look like when it’s been won for Jesus? What kind of a town would it be? This could be fun. What do you think a town/city would look like, if it’s been won for Jesus?”

I have two paragraphs. My first paragraph is what I think they (the churches that I participated with) meant when they said this. The second paragraph is my answer to what I think it would mean if I ever saw a city “Taken for Jesus.”

My CLB (church left behind) was BIG on government. So one of the first evidences to them that our city had been “taken for Christ’ would be if all the churches in the area came under the governmental rule of one Apostle. (Usually this apostle would be speaking of himself as "The Apostle") This would be unity of the brethren that they believed the Bible talks about. But not only the churches. The businesses would also have apostolic men in them that were ranked under the key apostles. The police department, the hospital, the mayor’s office, all would have godly men submitted to the men that God had placed above them. (The Apostle) They believed that then and only then could the Kingdom of God be brought into a city. We were taught that when God’s government was in place then the power of God would be released in a city to experience the glory of his presence. People’s lives would be changed. They would become Christians and be involved in our apostolic churches. Even other denominations would see the unity and want to come under this covering. One City, One Church, One head – the Apostle. Godly government would release prosperity. It would release the favor of God on the city. The city would be under apostolic covering and so it would be protected from the ravages of the enemy. It would become a kind of a utopia. A city of refuge. Crime would decrease. Corruption would not be found and Jesus’ prayer that God’s will would be “done on earth as it is in heaven” would have come into being.

This is what is being preached in more and more churches across our nation and now into the world. C. Peter Wagners’ New Apostolic Reformation and the International Coalition of Apostles believe this. Most of the men preaching this believe that they or a very small handful of men like them are the ones who should rule and reign with God’s blessing over the cities and churches in an area. If you hear the words used like Apostle, covering, governmental, apostolic authority, or any thing like this, stop and ask some questions. In my opinion it is a structure being erected by men (some well meaning – some in it for their own power needs) to build their own kingdom. It has the potential for spiritual abuse like no other system since the crusades. Already, if you do not agree with the Apostle’s agenda you are demonized and called rebellious – not only to the man preaching – but to God himself. They are speaking in behalf of God and his will for you and this earth, and that my friend is just downright dangerous.

I therefore would not use the phrase “Take our city for Jesus.” I don’t believe it will happen until the physical rule of Jesus is on the earth and I have NO idea how that will ultimately happen or how it will look.

That said, let me say this; I do believe that there has been and will be awakenings in cities and regions before He comes. I believe that through the divine hand of God there will be times where the Spirit awakens those in a single region or city to an awareness of the Grace of God in Jesus. Many will turn to Him. If it is a real move of the Spirit it will result in Grace being poured out to the poor and the broken. The key financial aspect of it will be that of sharing with each other as in the move of the Holy Spirit in Acts. The only covering done will be that of one brother to another in forgiveness and reconciliation. The only government will be that of Grace and Mercy to our fellow man/woman. The only refuge will be in each others homes and hearts to those who need a place that is safe. The only unity will be that of love. It won’t be controlled, ruled over or manipulated. The leaders will not find them selves having more power – just more of their own lives to lay down. The city will not be “taken for Christ.” Christ instead, will be received into that city – received into the hearts and minds of individual people who will be changed – thus changing their surroundings.

I would love to hear and read about what you think about this phrase. Please consider yourself tagged. You can answer anything you want about what it means to you when you hear the words, “take our city for God.” But I kind of already know what those whom I read will answer. I already know their hearts and have read their writings enough to know I will be encouraged by their answers. The people I would love to hear from are those who lurk around these sites who read and never write anything. So if that is you today, consider yourself tagged. If you don’t have a blog to link to in the comments section just leave it as a long comment and be sure to tell people over at Windblown Hope that you are chiming in on this one.



Jeannette Altes said...

Hmm... some may think me cynical, but to me, this phrase conjures up the idea of the church needing more money. So, they want more people in the pews - giving. It was a method to 'stir us up' to be more involved in H.E.L.P.S. and dragging people into the building. ;-)

I think evidence of Jesus 'taking a city' (He would have to do, we can't do it for Him) would be visible first in the homeless shelters and the bars... long before it would be evident in the churches.

Heidi W said...

I could SO see the main apostle thing. Am I the only one that gets the creeps from the "covering" thing?

Love ya!

Fred Shope said...

I blogged

Sarah said...

Great post Barb, and I liked Co_heir's post too! I blogged about it too.

Barb said...

Katherine, I loved this line, "would be visible first in the homeless shelters and the bars... " Now that is a takover huh?

Heidi, were you also in an "apostolic" kind of church situation? The covering thing was one of the first things I researched when I left. I found it had absolutely NO basis in the Bible at all. Came from Gothard and for my group from the Shepherding Movement. Such a controlling doctrine.

Co_heir - on my way over to read.

Sarah, you too.

Anonymous said...

Barb, wow...
Excellent questions
My first response would be…
I can’t help but lean toward a very pessimistic and cautious attitude toward the phrase, primarily because in those circles where the idea is promoted, passionately, I’ve seen a few common themes;

1- The ones who preach this with ‘fire’, seem to have little interest in broken, nameless, faceless people

2- Sister to the ‘taking the city for God’ cause, is often the ‘transference of wealth from the wicked to the righteous’ thing… (How nice for us)

3- Jesus’ name is rarely heard except when ‘it’ is used, to make God do something.

I realize there are people who genuinely want to see His kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven, but I wonder if, in our zeal, we forget that Jesus made it very clear what it is we must do to inherit ‘the kingdom’… and it has nothing whatsoever to do with taking over.

I heard it put this way by a friend; “…when they tried to make Jesus ‘a king’, He fled”
He could have come here and made everything perfect. He could have taken over the government and forced ‘Christian laws’ into place…
But there’s a problem

Jesus is the KING and He didn’t do those things.

I have to assume that the LORD of the universe knows what He’s doing.
The best plan was executed, and there is nothing more to add to it.
Jesus + anything else…is not only foolish, I believe it’s dangerous.

There’s this really cool book called the bible, it’s all in there 
Gods’ heart is for people. He gave us a covering already.
Christ shed His blood and paid for the earth and everyone in it.
Our impatience for heaven is not the same as the longing to be with Him that lives on the inside when we accept once and for all how much He really loves us.

I believe this teaching has more to do with being dissatisfied with the gospel. We want drive through experience of His ways, as we see it, and we want it now! And if our cities we’re heaven on earth, we wouldn’t have to continue learning to live in the biblical tension set before us that calls us to be IN the world and NOT OF it.

Ooh Barb, this has turned into a full-on rant, sorry, I couldn’t help it

Jeannette Altes said...

Reading the comments...

Our church was not into the "Apostolic Movement" (although some associated with it were). Our pastor could never submit to someone else, so....

But he was very into the 'pastoral covering' and the shepherding thing. Used these things to try and scare me into staying... bleah!

Heidi W said...

My church was like Katherine's... our pastor wasn't about to submit to anyone else... but the covering thing (his control) was a huge thing. He used it to keep anyone from doing anything he didn't approve.

But I've had some experience with the apostolic thing.

Actually, the church network we are in for now has 5 fold ministers, but I think they handle it so much better.

Anonymous said...

From '7Dogz',

I'm 7catz sig. other! Had to say that I would,nt go near that city. If I were Jesus, I would run as fast as I could, as far away as I could. No matter how you look at it, the feeling trailing in behind the spirit of that idea is Oh so wrong! So to the people over at Windblown Hope, I'm chiming in on this one.
God Bless!

Don said...

I was in a group that talked humility while at the same time believed their group's churches were better than anyone else's. They didn't think their Apostles should be controlling anyone else -- they simply ignored any Christian congregations or ministries not part of themselves. Yet, they used the same kind of hype-y language contained in your example.

I believe the people looking to "take the city for Christ" will never be satisfied with what God actually does do within their lifetimes. The wheat and tares grow up together: true Christians will probably always be a minority; power structures will likely remain corrupt to some extent, despite specific individuals with power turning to Christ.

What I consider "taking a city" involves what Bill Johnson calls "making it hard for someone to go to hell" there. By that I mean: some congregations working/praying together; an increase in the number of people actually on the streets leading people to Christ; healings and salvations actually becoming easier and easier to accomplish.

Davida said...

i am amazed how many people are experiencing this whole whacked out shepherding crazy apostle spiritual abuse.

and don...i think we were in the same group...sounds very familiar. haha!!!

Don said...

A follow-up to my earlier comment: I think the "government of God" will also be seen primarily in our own lives, as we submit to the loving Spirit of King Jesus and the Father.

While the first "main thing" is getting people saved into the Kingdom of God, the second "main thing" must be the transformation of these people into true worshipers & disciples of Christ who begin to think and act like Jesus (because the Spirit renews their minds).

I say this because most christians in the USA stop their spiritual growth just inside the door of salvation, either through lack of solid teaching on maturing into Christ, lack of examples of godliness to pursue, continuing demonization, or perhaps all three. People like this are never going to "take their city for Christ" -- they're barely taken themselves.

@davida - perhaps we were in the same group: does "SGM" mean anything to you?