Do You Know And Understand The
Of Your Life And Your Church?
By Rodney W. Francis
Over a good many years I've observed and been involved with a number of churches as a result of my pastoral and itinerant ministry. I have watched churches rise and fall. I have seen large numbers of disillusioned and frustrated people drop out of churches, and I ask myself, "What isthe cause of these things?" The answers, of course, are many and varied. But there is one area that I've become more aware of in recent years that has helped me to understand why so much negativity and heartache creeps into an individual's life, and also the life of a church. It is not an area that many seem to know about, let alone understand. So we need to look more closely at it. It is that of the "Prophetic Foundation" of our life and of a church. A Prophetic Foundation is summed up briefly as being "the purpose of God for one's life, or for a church." God does not change His mind on His purpose for our life, or for a church.
Every God-ordained church starts off on a Prophetic Foundation. The pioneering leader (or leaders) carries a vision and a conviction that God has called him (them) to fulfil a certain destiny. Whenever we build our life (or a church) on God's Prophetic Foundation, the blessings of God will become evident. The Prophetic Foundation determines the emphasis, direction, vision, rules and regulations, and "flavour" of the church, and people are attracted and drawn to it accordingly. The individual, the leader (or leaders), the church that knows its God-given purpose and seeks to fulfil that, is the one that accomplishes eternal results. From God's point of view a church is much more than a meeting, or a place where friends meet. It is a fellowship of people committed to fulfilling God's eternal purposes for it.
MOVING AWAY FROM THE PROPHETIC FOUNDATION:
The tragedy in church life is often that, over time, a church moves away from its God-given purpose. It "evolves" into something different to that for which it was raised up of God. Politics and "power seeking" taint the vision and the people. That is why it is so important to know God's purpose for that particular church, and to keep that church within the purposes for which God raised it up, which is its legitimate reason for existing.
The first church I pastored was built on a Prophetic Foundation of "Obedience to the Voice of God" and the promise of God was, "If we did what He asked, we would never lack financial supply." The church was never one that had great amounts of money in the bank, but whenever there was a need to have large sums of money, it always came in. Our testimony is that we were involved in two church building projects, and we paid cash both times. Not one cent of interest was paid! The church later moved away from that Prophetic Foundation and (as far as I am aware) has struggled financially ever since.
I recall spending some time with a group of elders in a church that had experienced a major hurtful division. The church leadership was "blaming" those who left as being "divisionary." When we took some time to talk through about the original purpose of God for the church, they began to see more clearly what the original Prophetic Foundation was. They then discovered that the church had moved away from its Prophetic Foundation into other things and that the "breakaway group" were actually running with the Prophetic Foundation. That realization brought about quite a change in attitude, because they could "see" the reason the split happened.
More recently we've watched a strong missions church lose its way, because (I believe) it got away from its Prophetic Foundation. If that had been understood more, certain decisions would not have been made that have led to the heartache and difficulties it now faces. Sadly, these "happenings" always create a lot of frustration, disillusionment and bewilderment as people see their church becoming something different to that which had "attracted" them to it. Today, numbers of churches are in decline, because they have not understood the importance of building on a Prophetic Foundation.
THE BIBLICAL FOUNDATION:
The Bible is not silent on this important subject:
"When the foundations ("bases, purposes") are being destroyed ("pulled down, or in pieces, broken, overthrown or ruined" - Strong's), what can the righteous do?" (Psalm 11:3 , NIV).
When there is a separating or moving away from the foundation, a downward process begins that can end in total destruction. It is that serious and we ignore it to our peril. When a foundation is undermined (or interfered with) the building can only go one way - down.
The Book of Haggai is a serious warning on how God "blows" on our efforts when we get away from the foundations He sets for His Church and His people. The priorities of the people changed, and they devoted themselves more and more to personal, selfish things, than to that for which God had called them. Therefore the word came out from the Prophet Haggai: "Give careful thought to the day when the foundation of the Lord's temple was laid. Give careful thought" (Haggai 2:18 , NIV).
According to Ephesians 2:20-22 the Church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus Christ Himself being the Chief Corner Stone. The Biblical Church is based upon believers being equipped and sent forth in the power of the Holy Spirit Ministry that glorifies Jesus as the Risen Head of the Church! One of the reasons why there is often a lack of power in churches today is because they have (generally speaking) gotten away from the foundation of the five-fold ministries (Ephesians 4 ) and the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12-14 ), all very necessary provisions of God for the maturing of the Body of Christ. There are no substitutes or alternatives to that which God has laid down. We cannot ignore the operation of the nine Spiritual Gifts (1 Corinthians 12 ) and the Five-fold Ministry Gifts (Ephesians 4 ) and expect the Church, the people of God, to come to fullness of maturity. God gave those gifts specifically to build the Church spiritually and supernaturally. The Holy Spirit must be listened to - and heeded to - if we are going to fulfil His purposes for the Church today.
1 Corinthians 3 is very clear about the absolute importance of being built upon the right foundation of Jesus Christ. If we build according to that foundation with "gold, silver and precious stones" we will glorify Jesus. If we build with "wood, hay and straw" then we will reap accordingly. Know and understand that the foundation does not change!
A NATURAL HOUSE:
In the building of a natural house, the kind of foundation used is all-important. The structure, size and effectiveness of that house is all dependent upon what foundation is laid. If, say, with a single-storeyed house, one wants to add a second or third storey later on, there will have to be major work done on strengthening the existing foundations (those existing foundations are always there). If that is not done, then the house is in danger of suffering a major defect, or even falling over. If that applies in the natural, how much more does it apply in the spiritual?
Jesus summarized the whole of His Sermon on the Mount with an illustration of the difference between a wise and a foolish man. The only difference was to do with the foundations. The wise man built on obedience to the word of Jesus, dug deep and laid a good foundation for his house. The foolish man did not see the importance of a solid foundation. No matter how good his house looked, when it came to the testing times (they come to us all), he crumbled because he didn't understand the principle of a good foundation! He lost everything!
A Prophetic Foundation is listening to Jesus and doing what He says. His word to us will stand every testing and trial. Listen to Jesus:
"So why do you call me 'Lord' when you won't obey Me? But all those who come and listen and obey Me are like a man who builds his house on a strong foundation laid upon the underlying rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against the house, it stands firm, for it is strongly built.
"But those who listen and don't obey are like a man who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it crumbles into a heap of ruins" (Luke 6:46-49 , TLB).
It is folly to keep changing the foundations of anything in the natural. It is likewise folly to change the foundations of that which is spiritual - that which God has ordained. Churches are no exception to this. No matter how big or small a church is, once it moves away from its Prophetic Foundation - its God-given purpose - it has no defence against the negative elements that attack it. And every church worth its "salt" will be tested at some time or other.
THE VULNERABILITY WHEN LEADERSHIP CHANGES:
Churches, especially, are vulnerable to moving away from their Prophetic Foundation when there is a change of leadership. If the new leader coming in does not know or understand the purpose for why God raised that particular church up, then "the new leader with a new vision" can quite ignorantly take the church down a pathway to reduced effectiveness, or even oblivion. It is vitally important that church leaderships know "their roots," the purpose of God for that particular church. When it comes time to call a new pastor, they should know God's purpose sufficiently to call a person who can build on that Prophetic Foundation. If they don't, then the church is headed for a "rocky future." Perhaps, worst of all, we need to realize that once an individual or church moves away from God's Prophetic Foundation for us, He (God) is no longer "duty bound" to bless, or "prop it up." God does not bless disobedience! Nor does He bless ignorance. So much of what goes on in church life today is the result of ignorance and disobedience to its Prophetic Foundation! Once that happens, the blessing has gone. As the saying goes, "We're flogging a dead horse!" And dead horses don't win races!
BE WHERE YOUR CALLING CAN BE FULFILLED:
For us, individually, we need to know God's will and call on our life, so we can then know where He wants us church-wise. If you know God is calling you to a missions emphasis, you need to be in a missions church. If He is calling you to develop your life in Holy Spirit Ministry, then you need to be in a church where the Gifts and Ministries of the Holy Spirit are allowed and encouraged. God's purpose for church (as we know it) is to enable us to get where we should be going, according to His will for our life. Church is about releasing us into God's purposes, not restricting us in the accomplishing of those ends.
A PROPHETIC FOUNDATION ENDURES:
"The GFM" Ministry has existed for many years. It still runs according to the Prophetic Foundation given back in 1964. In 1995 strategy was received from God for some major additions to it. These have been incorporated into the existing Prophetic Foundation to make "The GFM" a much more impacting Ministry than before. We minister in a wider variety of operation these days. Because we're running in what God has asked us, we're seeing His provision to us to finance the increased operations.
For me, personally, I still base my preaching ministry upon the Prophetic Foundation God gave me way back in 1960. He spoke into my spirit very clearly, saying, "If you will get to know My voice, and do what I ask you, there is nowhere in this world where you and I cannot gotogether and we not be successful." That's my testimony. There have been times when I started to drift away from that Prophetic Foundation, and my ministry suffered accordingly. Now, it is the motivation of my life - I feel I've never been more effective.
DO YOU KNOW AND UNDERSTAND?
" . . . Do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is" (Ephesians 5:17 , NIV).
"Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you fulfil it"(Colossians 4:17 , KJV).
There is nothing more fulfilling than knowing God's call, will and purpose for your life - and walking in that. God comes through for you. It's great to know that God doesn't change His mind on you. He does not make mistakes and He does not "set us up" with false hopes.
OPTIONS IN A REALITY CHECK:
It is the same for a local church. Once it gets away from knowing God's call, will and purpose for its existence, then from a spiritual perspective, it has one of three options for its future:
There is a whole lot more to life and church for Christians than meetings. We need to know and understand the Prophetic Foundation of God, so we can be workers together with Him, to fulfil His divine purposes for us, and to experience the wonderful satisfaction of knowing He wants to use us to fulfil His will in the earth today.
Please do not take these things lightly, but rather give serious consideration to the importance of God's Prophetic Foundation for your life, and the life of the church you fellowship in. Your ministry effectiveness and future depends on being where God has placed you.