The evangelization of the world is a desperate struggle with the Prince of Darkness and with everything his rage can stir up in the shape of obstacles, vexations, oppositions, and hatred, whether by circumstances or by man. It is a serious task. It should mean a life of consecration.
– Francois Coillard, missionary to Africa
I don’t pray for milk biscuits (soft, buttery, flakey Christians), all cut to a pattern and stamped with a single decorus pretty stamp. So many churches, to judge by the results, seem to be great biscuit manufacturers and they turn out tidy boxes of biscuits. I pray for soldiers, not biscuits!
You are coming to a battlefield. You cannot spend too much time with God alone. So few are willing to pay the price of the knowledge of God on their knees. They play through life, even Christian life, even missionary life.
– Amy Carmichael
Earlier this week, the station manager of KKVV in Las Vegas (they broadcast our radio show) texted me this picture of a strip club near their studio:
The sign boasts that the strip club has been “Destroying Marriages for 30 Years.” Those words tell a story of the wedding rings on their customer’s fingers they see, some who are Christians. They exist to destroy the lives of the women who work for them and the marriages and families connected to the men who frequent their establishment.
But it’s the message from the Army of Darkness manipulating the human pawns who manage the strip club we must see. Satan has no fear of a prayerless modern church that doesn’t have the guts to talk openly about the sexual issues which many of God’s people are ensnared in, let alone equip them for spiritual battle. Our enemy knows the church is churning out milk biscuits; comfortable believers who are distracted with entertainment, ensnared in sin, or run ragged with the pace of life. Spiritual warfare? As we know from those who come to us for help, many churches don’t go there.
Satan is right up in the church’s face, saying, “You’re a bunch of soft cowards playing church who won’t fight back. I will continue to take your country and your church down. You’ve allowed me open access to your country, your churches, and your homes.”
Maybe you’re thinking, “That’s Las Vegas. What do you expect? We don’t live in Sin City.” A block away from our office in Arizona, a residence off the main street has been flying a large flag with a pentagram for months. Last year I shared a picture of a car we saw at a mall nearby with “Pornhub” emblazoned across the top of the windshield. Barnes and Noble promotes occult books out in the open in the main aisle of their stores. Christians watch sexually charged movies, porn, and horror movies on Netflix and other streaming services. Satan has been out in the open and in our face for years.
The modern church is not the spiritual powerhouse it has deluded itself into thinking it is. We haven’t equipped our people to be prayer warriors, nor are we living as if our home is not of this world. The signs that we’re in trouble have been surfacing at an increasing rate since the 1990s when the surveys showing masses of Christians viewing porn and youth exiting the church first came to light. Today there is a mass exodus from the church at every age group. Yet few will say that status quo Christianity has failed.
Imagine that God has set you down in Sodom. The culture is a moral sewer, and the one church in the city is saturated with sin. God appoints you as the pastor of that church and gives you one year to turn things around. If, after a year, everything is still as it was when you started, He’ll drop the hammer of judgement.
If you took God’s warning to heart, there’s no way you would keep doing the same things the churches in the other cities are doing. You’d jump right in and focus on only those things that bring results, now, with sense of urgency.
If given that church in Sodom, here’s what I would do.
I would immediately restore a standard of holiness; the church is now sacred ground. Don’t cruise into church on Sunday with your coffee cups and check your phone while the service is going. This isn’t a social club. Turn your phone off before you walk in or leave it in the car. In my first message I’m punching it. We must confront our sin, break free from it, and understand that we’re in the battle for our lives. John the Baptist, who Jesus called the greatest person who ever lived up to that time, said the following right out of the gate in Matthew 3:
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”… “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
John talked about sin and the threat of hell. I wouldn’t call people names, but they would know that we must not, will not, compromise with sin, nor will we avoid the hard topics. The consequences will be severe if we don’t take a stand now. This doesn’t mean expecting perfection, and we’re not the sin police, but each member will make a concerted effort to get help and break free from whatever bondage they may be in. A compromised church is not only lukewarm but useless, just another entertainment option. We don’t have a chance without holiness.
Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
I would probably lose a chunk of the flock that first week. If they’re not willing to aim for holiness, one of those big, comfortable churches in Laodicea City with the soothing messages and six-figure sound system would be a better fit for them.
In the following weeks I would bore into the sins God’s people were struggling with. I would stay away from messages with heady doctrine, or even prophecy. It’s obvious we’re living in dark times; I’m locked in on what we must do to take back lost ground. We want warriors, not intellectual spectators. Our church won’t be a good fit for those who want to bury their heads in Bible study and sit back and watch the show. We will be doers of the word, not deluded hearers (James 1:22).
I would dive into sexual issues, bitterness, apathy, a lukewarm spirit, PRIDE, fear, suicide, abortion, and how entertainment rots us spiritually. I’ll challenge them to shut entertainment down, including Christian entertainment, so they can make more room for God and experience the abundant life. We will go all the way into these issues and help people heal or recover from them. Our goal is always restoration, never condemnation.
I’m not spending time with non-essentials such as when the tribulation is coming, and I’m not doing chapter studies where we trudge through a book of the Bible and hope we run into the verses that will equip people in the areas they struggle in. My mission is to equip people to be overcomers and warriors; we must give them the whole counsel of God. The Bible calls this making disciples. We don’t do cheap cliches. Yes, we get the victory at the very end, but today we have an intense war to fight.
We will look at spiritual warfare, big time, and marriage. Marriages are under severe attack today and need help.
Do you believe in the power of prayer? There are many Christians who do not. They think prayer is a good thing, and they believe that it sometimes does wonders, but they do not think that prayer—real prayer—is always successful.
My own’s soul’s conviction is that prayer is the grandest power in the entire universe. It has more omnipotent force than any other force known to mankind.
– Charles Spurgeon
He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”
We will be a house of prayer. We will pray together as a church during every weekend service. Once every two months or so, we’ll devote an entire service to prayer.
We will have prayer meetings 7 days a week. Everyone is expected to participate in at least two prayer meetings a week. As I know from experience, once you’ve attended a prayer meeting or two where you encounter the presence of God, you’ll be hooked. In time I won’t have to nudge anyone to attend our prayer meetings, they’ll want to come.
Every believer will be challenged to have a personal prayer life that is vital, fervent, and alive.
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
We will be devoted to the same areas the early church was, including fellowship. We will eliminate isolation from our church. During our weekend services we’ll break everyone up into small groups to share and pray for each other. In part, this is where people receive healing and support in their struggles and sin. No one leaves our church on Sunday without being cared and prayed for.
We’ll lose a few more people who don’t want their comfort zone upset, but that’s okay. I’m not chasing the lukewarm. There are plenty of other churches they can attend where they can sit, watch, and go home. I’ll take a small church of 100 prayer warriors and overcomers over a modern church of 5,000 every time.
“Prayer, communion, fellowship, and Bible reading don’t attract large crowds. So we started adding elements that will attract people… but it is the wrong goal.”
– Francis Chan
As our people step into their God-given roles as overcomers and prayer warriors, Satan will probably attack our church. This will keep us on our knees and strengthen our bonds to one another; we’ll get even stronger. We will rejoice in our trials and suffering as this shows we’re on the right path. There will be genuine joy (not the fake smiles we see so much of in the modern church) and we’ll develop strong bonds of Christian love. We will support, help, and encourage each other.
The Bible describes worship in physical terms. The root meaning for the Hebrew word we translate worship is “to prostrate.” The word bless literally means “to kneel.” Thanksgiving refers to “an extension of the hand.” Throughout Scripture we find a variety of physical postures in connection with worship: lying prostrate, standing, kneeling, lifting the hands, clapping the hands, lifting the head, bowing the head, dancing, and wearing sackcloth and ashes. The point is that we are to offer God our bodies as well as all the rest of our being. Worship is appropriately physical.
—Richard J. Foster
And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him.
There will be no worship band. We will worship on our knees, with periods of silence and prayer, without the external stimulation of a loud rock band. We will treat our holy God with the fear, awe, and reverence He demands of those who would draw near to Him.
As we meet for prayer and ask God to give us souls and expand our territory, He will show us the next steps for what He wants us to do. We won’t rely on human wisdom or books such as “10 Steps on How to Take a City.” We will do everything His way, and in His timing, which is why prayer is so critical.
That church, my friends, would be a spiritual powerhouse.
“My goal in shepherding has changed so much. Long gone are the days when I am content with a bunch of people who sing loud, don’t divorce, and give to missions. I now want to know I can drop off any member of my church in a city and that person could grow in Jesus, make disciples and start a church.”
– Francis Chan
If you live in the greater Phoenix area and would be interested in attending a church like this, should God open the doors for us to move forward with it, please contact us.
I encourage all of you to hit your knees in fervent prayer and ask the Lord to provoke pastors everywhere to take the steps outlined above. Status quo Christianity has failed. Song and sermon services have missed the mark and we must change our approach by returning to the example we see all through the book of Acts.
Ask God what He wants you to do. May you cry out, as Isaiah did, “Hear I am, send me!” (Isaiah 6:8) Pour your life out into that which has eternal significance until the end.
“Our most pressing obligation today is to do all in our power to obtain a revival that will result in a reformed, revitalized, purified church. It is of far greater importance that we have better Christians than that we have more of them.”
– AW Tozer
If you’re hungry for more of the way of the Rogue Christian, see https://theroguechristian.com/.