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JL's Journal

September 29, 2014

THE MODEL NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH

“In the church at Antioch, there were prophets and teachers…”

(Acts 13:1)


I have the honor of standing with Rev. Murli Menon (India),
Bishop Trevor Manhanga (Zimbabwe), and Pastor Rodney Frazier
(Wakefield Family Church in Wake Forest, NC).

Dear Friends & Partners,

   What a full and exciting service for Patt and me this Sunday in Wake Forest, NC! We truly experienced the glory of the Lord as we worshipped multi-culturally and multi-racially. But before that report, let me begin with a brief study on the church. 

   It is impossible to be a committed Christian and not be committed to the Church – both local and universal. While the Church was born in Jerusalem on Pentecost, it matured and came of age in Antioch.

   Two truths about these two great churches …

   First, while the Jerusalem church was largely Jewish, the church at Antioch was largely Gentile. That’s because the Jerusalem church was primarily parochial – while the church at Antioch was more global. An authentic New Testament church must be both. 

   The true church of Jesus Christ must be firmly anchored locally but have its sails set globally. Otherwise, the church becomes ingrown rather than outgoing.  She becomes selfish and self-serving – rather than selfless and self-giving. 

   That’s the model of the church at Antioch. That first century church is the model church that we should seek to emulate and duplicate in the twenty-first century.

   One thing is for sure: Jesus is passionate about the Church – which is His Bride. He came to this earth with one goal in mind: “I will build My Church,Jesus proclaimed, “and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matt. 16:19). Over 2,000 years of church growth have proven Him true beyond any doubt.

   Jesus has an eternal love affair with the Church. She is His top priority and passion. So you can’t love Him without loving her! Jesus and His Church are one – they are inseparable and indivisible. To accept one is to accept the other. To reject one is to reject the other.

   Sadly, we have many who call themselves Christians today who have not “connected the dots” between Jesus Christ and His Church. Or they have sought to “disconnect the dots” from Christ to the Church. While they are believers, they are not “belongers” – which is a spiritual oxymoron! It’s a contradiction of terms!  It’s like saying: “I believe in marriage and love my spouse – I just don’t want to live with them!” Impossible!


Three spiritual powerhouses for the Lord Jesus:
Bishop Trevor, Pastor Rodney, and Reverend Murli.

   Second, the church at Antioch had a balance of “prophets and teachers.”  Note the plurality of both terms. A careful study of the names of these leaders clearly reveals that the church in Antioch was both multi-racial and multi-cultural.    There wasn’t just one “super-star” preacher, prophet or teacher who was expected to be the fourth member of the Trinity – to be everything to everybody all the time! Another impossibility. The Biblical model is a plurality of leadership – not “solo-leadership.”

   At Antioch, there was a Biblical balance of both. And balance is the key word here. As I often teach: “Prophets will ‘stir you up' while teachers will ‘dry you up.’ But as they minister side-by-side as twin graces and callings, they will ‘build you up.’” 

   So, through a consistent balance of the prophetic and didactic, the Holy Spirit will “grow you up” – so that He can then “send you out” – just like He did with Paul and Barnabas from the church at Antioch.

   It has been our joy and privilege through the years to help establish churches after the Antioch model in America and in other countries. It has been exciting to see this Biblical and ecclesiastical DNA produce strong churches in many remote corners of our world. But it has also been exciting to see God use this model to transform existing, tradition-bound churches from being exclusively local to inclusively global – churches that develop a balance of up-reach … in-reach out-reach.

 
Pastor Rodney Frazier, Founding Pastor, and his wife, Pastor Valerie, who
opened and led the order of worship for the Mission service.

   This past weekend, Patt and I were once again privileged to participate in a special Mission Sunday at the Wakefield Family Church in Wake Forest, NC. (www.wakefieldfamily.org), founded a decade ago by Pastor Rodney Frazier, along with his wife, Sister Valerie. Soon after his retirement from the NFL, he moved to the Raleigh area as a business entrepreneur. A mutual friend, Dr. Jim Seymour, brought him to visit me at NDI, where Rodney was deeply impacted by the global outreach with which God had graced us. 

   After making a number of mission trips to Africa through our “Ministry to the Motherland” initiative led by Dr. Seymour and me, “Pastor Rod” was forever changed. His vision and passion quickly encompassed the world! So, he built global missions into the DNA of his church from the very beginning. It has only deepened and widened since then!


Reverend Murli Menon and Bishop Trevor Manhanga.

   Two of our strategic national partners, Bishop Trevor Manhanga from Zimbabwe, Africa, and Rev. Murli Menon from Coimbatore, India, were a part of the service. And what a powerful and anointed service we experienced through the Holy Spirit! The Sunday morning service started at 10 a.m. and ended at 1:30 p.m. – 3 ½ hours long – and no one wanted to go home! That’s the way authentic spiritual worship impacts you. That’s why we read this telling verse about the church at Antioch: 

   “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said: ‘Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ So after they had fasted and prayed, they laid their hands on them and sent them off” (Acts 13:2-3).

   This past Sunday was truly an “African-Asian-American” church service – just like we will enjoy eternally in heaven! You too can have a similar service in your local church by inviting in gifted and anointed national leaders like Bishop Trevor and Murli.

  
The Wakefield Worship Team and the children led
the service with wonderful mission music and dance.

 
Pastor Rodney and Sister Valerie with Evangelist Elizabeth Strickland,
who has served the Lord through mission work around the world 
for 28 years, and is supported by Wakefield Family Church.

   
Murli brings greetings and a challenge from India. A new Kingdom
friendship and partnership has begun between Murli, Valerie, and Rodney.

  
Bishop Trevor preached a powerful message on accepting our position in Christ
as being loved by the King. In accepting that position, we can move forward
with confidence in our families, our church, our communities, and the world.

 
There was a great outpouring at the end of the service,
as almost the entire church came forward for prayer.


Pastor Trevor exhorted the believers to accept how
precious they are to God, and to fulfill their spiritual
destinies in Christ, both locally and globally.

 
The women of the church did a wonderful job in preparing and serving this
delicious "international buffet" with foods from around the world.
Murli went for the Indian vegetarian dishes first!


Patt enjoys this delicious meal that appealed to 
every palate ... another way to highlight missions!

   While Bishop Trevor has already returned to Zimbabwe, Murli will be here through the month of October, and still has some openings in his ministry schedule. He would be delighted to come to your area for church services, mid-week home fellowships, Bible Studies, businessmen’s luncheons, etc.  You can call or contact him through us: jl@jlwilliams.org, or directly at: murli_menon@usa.net.  He may also be reached by cell phone at 336-684-5103.


Patt and Sister Valerie, who has also traveled
to Africa to minister, will be returning in
November with her husband and two children. 

  Invite a national pastor to meet your church family and share his passion with them. You and your church will never be the same, and you will become more and more like the saints at Antioch!

In His Love for His Church, 



JL

P.S. For further study on missions, I recommend my book, A Strategic Paradigm in Missions.  This book outlines the strategic paradigm shift that needs to occur in the current thinking on global missions: so that instead of cross-cultural missionaries going "over there" to accomplish projects, they first and foremost focus on building relationshps.  Please click on the picture at right to order a copy.  

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