Yesterday, we looked at the operational CONTEXT of the 21st century church. We saw that we cannot operate outside the purview of the dispensations of God and that there are economic dispensations apart from spiritual dispensations. A dispensation is an epochal calendar of God. It divides God’s program for the Earth into epochs and ages.
It is important to understand the dispensations of God lest we tilt at windmills and our work becomes hard and frustrating. A dispensation constrains one. You can’t operate as a church outside God’s calendar and program; it is foolhardy to even think of attempting it.
The problem for the Church however is not a stubborn determination to act against the purposes of God, it is a problem of lack of technical knowledge. The Bible says there are signs of the times. In other words, we may not be able to fully discern the plans of God but we may latch on to the signs to get an inkling, just like the Sons of Issachar.
Let me state something critical. One of the clearest signs of the dispensational move of God is technology. Once you sense a disruptive technology, or a technological paradigm shift, it is a sign of the dispensational move of God. When God releases technological knowledge to mankind, he is signifying a forward shift to the next item on his calendar. Every time a radical technology is introduced we must ask ourselves, what does this portend? When the printing press was introduced what God intended was a radical democratization of the gospel unheard of in the annals of time. He wanted a bible in every home, in every hand, and cheap. That shift is why we’re here today. Through that technology God overturned the old order. The printing press gave us the bible as we ordinarily know it today.
Now let me say something that may be disconcerting to some but is nonetheless the truth: The printed bible is not the word of God. The word of God is not a book it is a personage. His name is Jesus. What God did was to articulate himself in numeracy and literary media to make himself accessible to mankind; to make mankind see the dimensions of God, his history with man, his program and his love for us. The bible is documentary evidence.
When he released radio technology he wanted those who could not read to hear his word. He wanted the word floating on airwaves to the far corners of the globe, expanding the horizon and authority of the Church. He soon merged audio with visuals in the television set; which he then progressed into satellite TV. Satellite was a major piece of technology. He didn’t release the knowledge so America and Russia could spy on each other. He released it for the democratization of his word. Technology always serves the purposes of God.
But how do we know these technologies are from God? Because God is light. And light is actually the electromagnetic spectrum. Television and radio waves are frequencies on the electromagnetic spectrum. There’s visible light and invisible light. We don’t see God the Father though he is light because he operates on the principle of invisible light. We saw Jesus the light of the world because he manifested on the principle of the visible spectrum of light. He will destroy the Antichrist using extremities of the invisible spectrum of light – gamma rays. 2 Thessalonians 2:8 says Jesus will annihilate him with the brightness of his coming. That’s extreme light technology. These technologies are manifestations of the wisdom of God. You can therefore imagine how God must have felt when his own Body rejected television and called it the “Devil’s box”. The Church must embrace technology. The primary purpose of technology is the democratization of the gospel. If you don’t understand that, you will work against the purposes of God. And when God finds that people are obstructive to his moves, he just leaves them and raises new people from outer field. He’s always done that. When the apostles were resisting democratization of the gospel despite the fact that God had expressly told them it was designed to be a global phenomenon, God raised Paul as for his international division. And Paul ran with God’s vision.
The Church has ALWAYS been behind the technology curve and that is a shame really. Today, the phone is the most fundamental technology available. It also operates on the principles of the electromagnetic spectrum. The Bible is now on phones, manifesting in immanent form. The word of God is not alphabets. It is spirit, it is virtual. It is actually more true to its identity on the phone than on printed paper. When the Word became virtual the cost of accessing it crashed. God wants to democratize his word.
The Church must take full advantage of the mobile phone. The Church must fit inside a phone. A phone is no longer just a phone. It is a technological platform. The word of God is code, algorithm. It is embedded with possibilities. The Spirit of God is the cryptologist. He knows how to unlock the code.
For us to unlock the possibilities in the word of God we need faith. When faith locks unto the code of the word of God it unleashes the creative energy of God. Eyes are regenerated, legs grow, businesses multiply, influence is manufactured, intellect is synthesized, barren wombs are bio-reengineered, lives reconfigured and modern biology takes place. Man becomes a part of the Christ.
And so we can see God’s operative principle in technological shift: God wants to make his word accessible to the world in a very efficient manner by crashing the cost of distribution. He is very focused on internationalization of the gospel. He wants to be relevant to all generations. Every time you see radical technology, it is a generational move of God. What he does is that he genetically capacitates the target generation with technological prowess. He updates human genes, the same way software companies update applications on your phone. He just transmits data. Don’t forget we’re essentially data. Our genetic makeup is just numbers. We’re packets of data despite appearances. So God just uploads data into our system. And we give birth to generations that are naturally conversant with new technologies while we struggle. Suddenly you find the next generation being so technologically capable. They are not taught by their parents. The parents don’t understand the technology. Give a phone to a 3-year old today and he will naturally configure it. Give him a computer game and he’s playing. How did that come to pass? God uploaded capacity data, upgraded our genes.
There is a new dispensational move of God. It’s called social media and as usual the Church is behind the curve. Some ministries have even banned their youths from social media. I was addressing the campus leadership of a well-known ministry in this nation – about 5,000 youths, and I was shocked when I heard that some pastors banned youths from social media- that it’s evil! Doesn’t that sound familiar? The intellectual failure to distinguish content from platform will cost those youths. How can a 21st century kid not be on social media? Where else will he be? It’s his generational platform!
What the Church should concentrate on is creating content for technological platforms – especially cultural content. Twitter is not anti-gospel. Neither is Facebook, or Instagram, or Eskimi, or LinkedIn or To Go. They are mere platforms. They become dominated by darkness when those who bear the light fail to exercise their right to extinction of darkness.
In Psalm 68:11, we find the operational principle for this new technological dispensation: The Lord gave the word: great was the army or company of those that published it. As the pastor preaches from the pulpit the company of the Lord begins to disseminate it on mobile devices to the corners of the globe through Twitter, Facebook and other platforms. It’s way, way cheaper than television. Just the cost of data packet! Again, we see God crash the cost of evangelism in a bid to democratize his word.
The Church is a training school, it is not the theatre of operation. The theatre of operation for all believers is the world. God is intent on deploying an army of lay ministers. That is what these technologies have always been about, from the printing press to Twitter. And God wants to crash the cost of ministry too. At a certain number of congregants the cost of building a church auditorium becomes prohibitive and inefficient. To have a congregation of 70,000 the church must be the size of the National Stadium in Lagos. It seats 72,000. We can only justify the prohibitive cost however if we regard the church as a training ground for lay ministers, which is what the Bible teaches. The church is a university. The Bible says in Ephesians 3:10 that angels come to Church on Sundays to know the plans of God. But a pastor with just 25,000 followers on Twitter can reach two million people or more through the power of retweets. And I’m not pontificating theory. I’m talking from personal experience. I started engaging the youths on Twitter last year and within a year and a half, my followership grew to almost 50,000.
I’m sure you’re wondering what I talk about. I write about boyfriend-girlfriend issues. This has been a huge gap in the church. I focus on these issues, teaching the Book of Proverbs in applicative form. We hardly engage these kids until they’re knocking on marriage. That’s when we invite them for marital counseling. And by that time, most likely the mistake of choice has been made. And I teach principles of the Bible using their letters to me as case study. I teach the boys how to become gentlemen, I teach the girls how to be responsible women. But I make the teachings interesting, not didactic prolixity. I spice things up with interesting English words and grammatical construct. They get to learn the Bible, learn about life, and good English too. I expand their vocabulary, open up their intellect. In other words, I am creating cultural content. And the response has been most unbelievable. It is so successful that by 5am on Saturday they are already tweeting their anticipation of my 9am letter. (I post the letters every Saturday. The second letter is posted at 6pm). I use two thematic hashtags: #Letr2Jack, #Letr2Jil… You know, JacknJil.
I number the letters in verses, just like the Bible. I reckoned God essentially reduced the Bible to tweets by numbering them. A tweet is 140 characters. The average length of a Bible verse is 140 characters.
And you know what, sometimes in those letters I quote long passages in the Bible using the Message translation or other modern translation. I just want to make God accessible to this generation, to get them to know him. And they love the word of God. They retweet and retweet. Atheists, Moslems, Lesbians, Gays, Heterosexuals, Rationalists, Born-again Christians, Grandmothers, Professionals, Married, Single, Satanists, Darwinists, Scientists, Philosophers… All congregate and discuss on that timeline every Saturday. That taught me a very great lesson: the world wants the gospel. If only we present it non starchy correctly.
And then on Sunday I tweet a sermon and make an altar call. And they give their lives to Christ. And they re-dedicate their lives to God. Sometimes I minister hope, sometimes faith, sometimes I minister healing. I just explain to this generation the word of this wonderful God we serve in accessible language.
What has been the result?
Let me read out my Twitter analytics for last month. The reach in the last month i.e. number of unique individuals who have seen the tweets:
#Letr2jil on Saturdays: 649,463 individuals
#Letr2jack on Saturdays: 425,749 individuals
#Illuminare on Sundays: 239,203 individuals
For all Leke Alder tweets: 2,752,534 (about 2.8 million) individuals were reached in the last month in 109 cities in 18 countries across 6 continents.
And I’m just an individual. No church auditorium can sit 2million people. This ministry has to get on social media if you want to reach this generation.
Is Satan on Twitter? You bet! He’s heavily represented. There are those who lie in wait every Sunday to attack the word of God and those who preach the word. The best response? Don’t engage them. It’s Satan trying to draw you out and mess up your message and testimony. There is a particular young man I know who’s so vitriolic towards God on Twitter. It’s like he’s possessed. He’s an atheist. He attacks in the company of other atheists from all over the world. They are like a pack of hyenas. Satan is all over Twitter. But darkness cannot overwhelm light. It is time for churches to get on Twitter and other social media platforms.
Will you suffer abuse and persecution? Yes of course. But they insulted Jesus too, and he wasn’t on Twitter! Twitter is not the problem.
Let’s talk more about this generation.
They don’t understand the notion of shame. There are things members of my generation would not dare voice out. But this generation will spill it out in the open without a trace of shame. Just a few days ago I was tweeted something about forgiveness. A young lady promptly responded and broadcast to all 47,000 people on my timeline that she finds it hard to forgive. And when she “forgives” she doesn’t forget. And she meant well. She was expressing her problem not vindictiveness. The older generation will never come out in the open to say that. In other words, we’re dealing with an Adamic generation. Adam did not understand the concept of shame. It was an alien concept to him. Until he sinned he never knew what shame was. And even then his utterance after sinning is befuddling. Eve was right there with him and he was referring to her in the third person: “The woman you gave me tempted me.”
And his son Cain learnt from him. The same spirit. Cain killed his brother and asked for state protection from persecution. Sounds like a Nigerian politician actually. The Adamic generation did not understand the notion of shame. Same with this generation. And if you’re looking for further evidence, look at the Big Brother Africa program on cable network. Once they have your confidence however, there is nothing they can’t discuss with you. Unfortunately they find the pastoral class condemnatory. It’s why they refuse to confide in men of God. That information came from a research finding. And so they come to Church but you can’t really minister to their needs because they’re not opening up about their real issues. We need to reconsider our approach to this generation. We can’t be so holy they can’t tell us their problems. Jesus wasn’t so holy that the Samaritan woman couldn’t tell him she was a serial matrimonial candidate. She had been married 5 times. We must demonstrate an understanding of the times.
Now here’s another thing we’re not getting right. We’re not making full use of the resources and potential of the Church. The order of Melchizedek is a double-sided order. It’s a priest-king equation, unlike the Old Testament Levitical priesthood which was one-sided- just priests. We rely so much on the priesthood side of the Order of Melchizedek but neglect or hardly explore the kingship- the intellectual and governmental resources of the Church. We’ve not fully grasped the import of this Order. It’s why some think intellectual rigour is anti-Spirit whereas it’s just an expression of the other side of our ministerial equation. Under the dispensation of the Order of Melchizedek, God wants us to combine all the resources available- spiritual and “secular” to deliver on his work. That combination is why Paul proved so effective. His intellectual sagacity made Peter comment that some of the stuff he wrote about can be difficult to understand. There was only so much God could do with the other apostles. That Spirit dimensioned intelligence is why Paul could create the administrative organogram of church ministry. That organogram is still in use today, 2,000 years after. That should tell us how sound it is. The best the earlier Apostles could do was separate the “helpers” (those who waited on tables) from the core preaching class. “It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables” they said. So deacons were appointed. It was Paul who came up with the very robust HR structure for ministry, incorporating what the earlier apostles did. He not only identified positions, he did job descriptions as well. He standardized the structure and applied across board internationally. He also created the basic model for church culture.
Without a doubt Paul had a spirit-enabled strategic skill set. That strategic skill set is very much in need in the Church today. We live in a very sophisticated world. In the Old Testament up to the time of the Apostles there were essentially three recognized genders. Now we have Heterosexual, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Pansexual, Transgender, Transexual Queer, Intersex, Intergender, Asexual, Ally, Androsexual, Binary Gender, Cisgender, Cis-Man, Cis-Woman, Salzikrum. And Facebook now gives you 51 gender options. The world is increasingly more and more sophisticated. Satan’s intellectual capability is in full gear. He’s majoring in media, culture and government. By culture I mean music, fashion, art, entertainment, technology. One of the greatest promoters of gay marriage is the very powerful and influential Economist Magazine. Every edition of the magazine carries a promotion of the agenda. The old way of doing things cannot evangelize this kind of world. We need to be open to the Spirit of God to give us fresh ideas to counter these forces. The gospel is fundamental but God is progressive. It would take a Paul to speak to the Greeks on their own turf. The Greeks were intellectuals. They loved debating concepts and ideas, just for intellectual stimulation. They came up with the concept of the atom – they called it atomos. They intellectually understood the concept of agape. To the Greek, the gods were so far removed from the affairs of men that nothing we do affects their disposition towards us. Isn’t that a modification of the concept of God’s unconditional love towards us? Who else could invent a god called Anonymous but the Greeks. You can imagine the intellectual rigour that went into the conception of such a god. This was avant garde paganism in an age of neo-paganism.
It is important for a ministry to engage its strategic skill set – the other dimension of the Order of Melchizedek. Strategy is not anti-Spirit. God is the most strategic personage you’ll ever come across. He does long term planning. The Lamb of God was slain from the foundation of the world, not when the Pharisees and the Roman authorities decided it was time. He was way, way ahead. Nothing catches God by surprise.
The problem with the Church is that we’re more tactical than strategic. We’re responsive rather than leading initiatives to define the rules of engagement. Tactics will solve the problems of today; they cannot anticipate the issues of tomorrow. Tactics never see the larger picture. Yet if we must work with God dispensationally, we must see the larger picture, and see far. Had they known they would not have crucified Jesus the Bible says. (1 Corinthians 2:8) In other words, they never saw the bigger picture and they never saw far. They made a strategic mistake. They didn’t know that in spilling the blood of Jesus they were seeding an army; that they were launching a liberation movement.
Without strategic focus we’ll always play catch up. And that’s why we’ve not been able to define and control our socio-political environment despite the enormous resources in the Church. We’ve allowed Satan to restrict us to moral instruction, and even at that we don’t head the Department of National Orientation.
One would have thought the Church by now would have established a School of Government akin to the Kennedy School of Government of Harvard University. The nation needs a school of government. We have the resources but we can’t see the larger picture.
If you want to define your environment you must control and influence government, not just governance. You don’t define a political environment by setting up seminaries, schools of ministry or school of theology. You do it with a school of government. That is not to say we shouldn’t set up schools of ministry but those are HR training institutes for the Church; their curricula are not designed for governance. We keep talking about “dominion” but we don’t strategize on political dominion. Dominion is a political term.
The strategic intent of a school of government is significantly different from that of a seminary. The Bible says those in government are also ministers of God. We have concentrated on training one set of ministers to the detriment of the other type of ministry. Yale, Princeton, Oxford and Harvard were Bible proclaiming schools. Harvard was Puritan, Princeton was Presbyterian. Indeed Harvard was named after a Christian minister. Yale was started by clergymen. Princeton’s crest still says” Dei sub numine viget” – “under God she flourishes.” Oxford was established by various religious orders. Cambridge was established by Christian leaders. Our worldview must expand. We must think beyond the four walls of a ministry. The work is not in the church, it is outside the church. We are trained in church to function on the outside. We are priest-kings.
Our nation needs institutional capacity. Without institutional capacity we cannot establish the standards of righteousness. And a Church that does not pay attention to governance risks persecution and obliteration. Islamic Republic of Iran was the same Persia ruled by Cyrus the Great – the same Cyrus in Isaiah 45. Most of what we call Turkey today was the missionary field of Apostle Paul. What happened to all his work? When Paul asked us to pray for those in authority he was in effect saying the socio-political environment of a nation has a direct impact on the work of God. Without peace in a nation the gospel of peace cannot be preached.
All I have been saying is that the Church must be relevant in her socio-political context. The challenge for the Church is the key phrase, Strategic Relevance. The Church cannot be insulated from society. The pastor must not be cut off from society. Jesus had the common touch. He interacted with the people. His political base was the people. It’s why the Pharisees couldn’t touch him for a long time, why they had to go for him in the night. We are the bridge between society and God. We are the administrators of God’s program on earth. The Church must be strategically relevant to the life of a nation, the life of the younger generation, the life of society. Without relevance we’re just doing our thing.
Now let’s do a link up to our discussion from yesterday. Let’s hook up today with yesterday to arrive at tomorrow.
Yesterday we established the role of branding in this dispensation. We established that we are in the 3rd economic dispensation prophesied in the Book of Genesis.
We need to pay heed to the brand of the Church. The brand profile of the Church is at an all-time low. And our brand communication is reprehensible. We speak in languages nobody understands yet we say we’re speaking to the world. We use very technical terms: crusade, fire, power…
There are two types of advertising corporations do. There is what we call corporate advertising, and there is product advertising.
Corporate advertising promotes the corporation itself. It sells its name, attaches wonderful brand attributes to the name. It promotes the mother-brand.
Product advertising on the other hand tries to push sales of products.
If we apply this framework to the Church you will discover that most of our advertising is product advertising. We push products: healing, prosperity, salvation… Usually on an event platform. To be honest some of those adverts are hard sells that beggar credulity. And so the Church comes across as desperate, opportunistic and exploitative of the poor.
We see the “product adverts” of churches but where are the corporate adverts of the Church? Where are adverts promoting the Jesus brand? That brand name is the most valuable brand name in the world. It is the name above all names. It is worthy of our praise. We build our ministries but forget to promote our mother-brand. I am yet to meet a church ministry devoting a portion of its advertising budget to the corporate promotion of the brand called Jesus. Yet he is the pedestal of our ministries.
We must ask ourselves some questions: Why is the Church being pilloried despite all we do? Why are other faiths not blasted?
Part of the problem is a lack of strategic approach- a deficient application of the inherent principle of the Order of Melchizedek. Churches often lack communication strategy. Neither do they have public relations strategy. And this despite the fact that many church ministries rival major corporations in size. The primary work of the Church is public relations. How can the Church be deficient in public relations?
The Nigeria Church is the social security system of Nigeria. It is the Church that takes care of orphans, the area boys, the prostitutes, the widows, the sick, the outcasts, the criminals, those in prison, the jobless, the visionless… But nobody talks about these. Instead ministers and ministries are vilified for prosperity. Why? Because the news about the prosperity overwhelms the news about the good works. The devil is taking advantage of our lack of strategic skill set. Corporations would categorize all the good works of the Church as “social responsibility”. Multilateral institutions like the UN would call them “social justice initiatives”. If the Church must respond to the challenges of public relations it must take another look at its communication programs.
Perhaps however the greatest danger posed to the Church is generational disconnect. God said something very important in Genesis 18:17-19. Please permit me to read it from the Message translation:
“Then God said, “Shall I keep back from Abraham what I’m about to do? Abraham is going to become a large and strong nation; all the nations of the world are going to find themselves blessed through him. Yes, I’ve settled on him as the one to train his children and future family to observe God’s way of life, live kindly and generously and fairly, so that God can complete in Abraham what he promised.”
In other words, God could confide in Abraham because Abraham would train his children to observe God’s way of life. If you want revelation from God you must be dedicated to passing on the oracles of God to the next generation. If you want God to complete those promises that seem to have gone into arrested development, pay heed to the next generation. The quality of the children’s church has a great impact on release of revelation therefore. So is paying attention to youths in particular.
Satan has a plan for the next generation. And the program is disingenuous. He can’t abrogate the Order of Melchizedek. He knows the equation is powerful. The priest-king equation is powerful. What he has decided to do is to remove the hyphen (-) in the priest-king, such that the children are either priests or kings. As kings they control the political environment but they will be without responsibility to God; neither will they serve God. They will acknowledge Satan as master. He will take them to the pinnacle, show them the glories of the world and promise them kingship if they will bow down and worship him.
The other half, the priests will have no political authority. They will just be priests serving in the temple. They will be teaching moral instruction, have no bearing on their politico-economic environment. Nobody will listen to them in those spheres. In essence, Satan wants to separate church and state. But he does not separate mosque and state or shrine and state.
I was brought to this convention to challenge the status quo, to expand our worldview, to make us appreciate the imperatives. That is why God brought me here.
Can you see the larger picture?
Thank you and God bless!
Delivered at Victory International Church, Ibadan, Oyo State
Friday, October 17, 2014
© Leke Alder | firstname.lastname@example.org