God asked me a series of three questions. First, He asked what my ministry mission was, and I said, “In a nutshell, we defeat the works of the enemy in the family room.” He asked me how I do that, and I replied, “By helping parents connect to Him and how to play in His Kingdom.” Lastly, He asked me what the biggest thing that resisted my labor was. I began to weep and said, “Parents who have been hurt in the church and feel so disempowered.” Guess what? The next generation suffers the most when people get hurt in the church because parents parent from that place of being disempowered, shut down, and stuck in their journey. If leaders in the church want to impact the next generation and the future health of their church, go after the parents because they will naturally parent from those unhealed places or through their freedom, wholeness, and revelation of who they are. Children reap the fruit either way. Every adult sent out of a pastor’s office has children at home learning something about God’s house.
STEALING FROM THE CHILDREN
When a culture of honor becomes a culture of silence it is no longer serving the right kingdom.
There are so many people struggling with the church right now. It can be a very confusing and unusual thing to steward. They love Jesus but have no taste for the church. I am seeing this in adults, young adults, and even children who are saying they don’t want to return. God calls us to come together and not give up the habit of meeting together. Something happens when we become a Body worshiping, connecting, and seeking Him together. Our bodies are wired to be together. I think it is important to realize what is at the root of pulling away from church because it can be a slippery slope if not understood. I saw a picture of a snake shedding its skin. The skin represents the ‘old church’ and the things that are being shed off, but the actual snake is still the church. You know that was a vision from God because I do not speak well of snakes, and it was such an odd animal to use to describe the church, but the shedding of the skin is an unusual process. The skin represents the man-made rules that have entered the house of God, the operating systems that are to serve man, not God, and the impurities that violate the righteousness of God. He is purifying the church by shedding off the old skin to make room for the new skin that is emerging. Let the old skin GO, but do not reject the church. This requires some intentional time with the Father to seek and understand what He is doing.
As a parent, how does this story make you feel? Johnny walks up to his younger sister, minding her own business, punches her, and then tells her she doesn’t belong in the family. OUCH! What if mom walked in and got all the other siblings against Johnny, making him feel like the outsider, as if his bad attitude meant he no longer belonged? This is the recipe for some serious family dysfunction and pain. Johnny’s behavior clearly needs to be addressed because it is not in alignment with God’s heart, but he is operating out of being an orphan and needs the love of a Father, not rejection. This would not be okay in our family and should not be okay in God’s family. Can’t you see? It is not a gay/straight, John/Beth, He said/She said, Kanye/Church, Pastor/Flock issue. This is a dividing issue from the enemy bent on destroying God’s family. DO NOT PLAY THE GAME. Do not pick sides. Do not pick a winner because if there is a winner, there must be a loser, and we do not treat family that way.
There are only two camps of people – those who are Sons/Daughters and those who are still operating as orphans (even Christians can be orphans). If Johnny does not have eyes to see his sister’s worth, then he needs a revelation from God. The Bible says people cannot see because they have scales on their eyes. Isaiah 44:18 reads, “They know nothing, they understand nothing; their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see, and their minds closed so they cannot understand.” Your prayers that the scales from a brother’s eyes be removed will be more effective than your social media posts against him. If you are taking sides and have not prayed for the scales to be removed from his eyes, then you could very well be just as guilty of participating in dividing God’s family. We are ONE family. ONE Body. If a brother and sister argue, they need love, not sides. I ache over the words spoken against family members, but I want to be an agent of restoration (through prayer), not further division. Which side are you on? Neither! We are on the same side, serving the same God as ONE Body.
God is saying that the first HARVEST is what HE has sown into the lives of His children. Before there is a mass harvest of lost souls INTO the church, there will be a harvest of His children BACK into the church. God so passionately cares for His creation who do not know Him. And He has much to say about those who have come but have been sent away. Decree and declare today that our family – our brothers and sisters – would return back to Him.
I invited a gal to join me for the classes I was leading and knew she was hungry to serve and minister, so I looked for ways she could take steps and grow. She has a fierce prophetic anointing mixed with a breaker anointing. When she would give people words, she was so direct it was offensive. Thank goodness the people received from her okay, but I saw this and realized she could really hurt someone if she didn’t see how it was coming across. The following week we met for dinner before class. I thanked her for joining my classes and blessed the gift God has given her. I gave her positive affirmations, as there was much to point out that she was going great at. I said, “Would you be open to some feedback?” At that point, she was like a wet noodle having someone see and believe in her. I said, “I really love the way you hear God and have the confidence to share it. You see it so clearly and aren’t afraid to call it as you see it. When you said _____, it could have come across like you were exposing them and making them feel vulnerable in front of others. I would love to help you come up with ways you could say it to make sure the person can receive from you.” She got emotional and said that her whole life, she has encountered speaking the truth and people turning on her.
Look, as a leader, either you love them enough as God’s sheep to help them grow mighty in their gifting, or you don’t. If there are parts of you operating in fear of man, fear of rejection, fear of conflict, or simply do not know how to give the gifts of a mother or father, then you need additional encounters with the Father so that you can increase your capacity in leading well. But to remain in a leadership position and refuse to help His sheep is like a parent who fails to train a child in an area they are struggling in. You can either do it in a proactive, loving way that communicates care about their growth, or you can clean up the mess later when they have hurt others because you failed to address it. This isn’t about doing it wrong. It is about helping them to do it right. I tell parents not to wait until their child sees porn to teach them about it. Help empower them so that the door is never opened. Help people in their gifts, weaknesses, and blind spots in the time of peace so that it doesn’t turn into a time of strife or conflict with others down the road.
The truth sets you free – it’s time to give your heart a voice.
This is going to sound really odd, but what if the intimacy we are all craving is found in conflict? I am not saying we should host a create-your-own-conflict party and see how messy everyone can be. I am saying that the conflict is already there, and it is what we do with it that becomes the issue. What if instead of just having an inner healing team that helped people with their issues, we had a CONFLICT RESOLUTION MINISTRY that helped the choir director with their issues with the youth group leader? Or the children’s pastor and the mother? Or the head pastor’s wife and the janitor? What if those places of conflict became the greatest places of intimacy-producing healing? What if instead of walking around pretending to get along, we actually did get along because our relationships, even our conflict, sharpened us, refined us, and made us more like Him? I was connecting with a friend starting a church plant, and I asked him, “What are you going to do with the conflict?” He replied that he knew it would be there, BUT… At this point, I interrupted him and suggested maybe it was time the church did conflict as the main event instead of preaching a good talk but never learning how to walk it out in reality. No one has to tell a church leader about conflict any more than a parent is aware of sibling conflict. In conflict, there are two healthy solutions – allow the pain and discomfort of the present situation to reveal what inside you needs to be healed and aligned with Him OR allow the pain and discomfort of the present situation to make you more like Jesus as you learn to love people who are challenging, messy and wounded. The people who have hurt me the most are the ones God has used to bring greater healing. They aren’t the enemy, the devil is, but as promised, God uses it for good.
Orphan Parenting = the number one reason for hurt in the family.
Orphan Leadership = the number one reason for hurt in the church.
When those in authority do not know who they are, they are going to operate out of the wrong kingdom.
Years ago, God showed me that I was still operating in a position of shame, like a black sheep (even though I know I am not one). I saw myself with black fur on me and was processing with the Lord how to get the black fur off of me. I figured He would show me how to come out from under it since it was a false garment. Instead, I had a vision where Jesus came to me like a rugged Australian sheep farmer and began to shave all of the wrong-colored wool off of me. When He was done, I was naked and automatically ran into the midst of all of the older sheep who had thick white wool. There was a sense of being protected and safe amongst them. I asked the Lord why He shaved me. He said, “You need time to grow your wool.” It is okay to be naked and vulnerable to shed our old position, operating systems, mindsets, and behaviors. It is already finished, but I was walking out my revelation of it. We need to be protected amongst healthy leaders and safe environments in our down-to-the-bone nakedness.