Important Oct. 2006 update:Please see the amazon description of this published book: Authority, Accountability, and the Apostolic Movement by Stephen Crosby This is the only printed book on this subject that I recommend. It is useful for all groups. See my amazon review of it!
The NAR and Churchquake reviews
I have not read the book, 'Churchquake' although others I know have. From the reviews I have read on the internet, many of whom were very positively slanted or even glowing, I believe it is safe to put aside the positive-only, and say a few things about some problems in Churchquake and C. Peter Wagner's New Apostolic Reformation (NAR).
Over-all, it is clear from the reviews that Wagner speaks of the Vineyard churches as past successes of their time, and as one of the models from which to learn from. Yet also, when he predicts the churches of the future, he in essence describes the Vineyard church. Vineyards and NAR's seem one in the same, and I have not read anything in the reviews that seemed otherwise. Here is a quote from the 6/4/99 religion column by Don Follis, about Churchquake and the NAR:
"The local Vineyard Christian Fellowship, one of these new apostolic churches, has 8 staff members, none of them seminary trained."This is only one example. Again, all reviews I have read, essentially describe Wagner describing the Vineyard church as the 'new' NAR, whether it was said to be Vineyard-like or not. In addition to that, I have also noticed Vineyard teachings and ideas throughout the reports from NAR conferences, along with of course, a great deal of Vineyard support.
Compare and contrast contradictions (i.e., It's apples and oranges, and it's oranges now, and yet when describing the orange, it sounds much like an apple even though it is called an orange), need to be watched for. There are a number of instances where this appears to happen in the NAR.
Take a look at quotes from an article about Wagner/Churchquake/NARCs, which is was a transcript of a message delivered by Jim Bevis of Christians Seeking Renewal, to a Shoals Promise Keepers Meeting (link no longer functioning):
"God is restoring His government for His church in these last days, according to Ephesians 4:11-14....if God designed us to function on "five cylinders" what makes us think we can be all He wants us to be, functioning on "two"?... Furthermore, I find no Biblical evidence that God ever changed His mind or decided to go with only two-fifths of the pattern... The new apostolic movement consists of those churches and individuals who are seeking to embrace, and walk in the reality of the five-fold leadership offices as revealed by the Holy Spirit in Ephesians 4:11...If Ephesians 4:11 is God's plan and if we have neglected these vital truths then they, along with many other truths, need to be restored to the life and practice of the Church of Jesus. This should not surprise us in light of Acts 3:19-21. THIS IS THE SEASON OF RESTORATION."Here we see a common theme of the NAR which says it so well that I have included it, even though it is not a quote from Wagner's 'Churchquake' book. According to this, God never changed His mind and so never had a two-fifths pattern (pastor/teachers, excluding apostles and prophets), and yet at the same time, apparently He also has had this two-fifths pattern, because now the two 'missing' offices have to be 'restored'. Usually, this conflict is resolved by explaining in very nice terms that Church has not 'allowed' the operation of some of the five-fold, and so the NAR will help that come about by encouraging it as a 'win-win' situation for everyone.
One of the main problems with this is that none of what the NAR teaches as new, is really new. Pentecostals taught multiple leadership of the five-fold, including apostles and prophets. Don Basham and Derek Prince taught plurality of elders in the Discipleship movement (infamously later called, the 'Shepherding movement'). The Restoration idea was taught as well throughout some portions of all of these groups, along with the promise of a better functioning Church and revival once the 'restoration' happened. That was 25 years ago, yet apparently they failed and we are again in the 'season of restoration' in a 'third wave' that is promising the same things. What happened?
Unfortunately, NAR enthusiasts may not know the history of those prior to them and just how much they sound like them. This is why they genuinely think they are different. Yet sadly, they need to know, because before they make promises of establishing the 'right' kind of church government which will lead to revival, they need to address this question: Why did others before us fail, whereas we will succeed now?
The basic error in the restoration thought is that certain 5-fold 'offices' (a phrase coined over 20 years ago), have gone missing and must be 'restored' and/or are now reappearing. Dr. Bill Hamon and his book, "Apostles, Prophets and The Coming Moves of God," is mostly responsible for this 'restoration theory' injection into the NAR, and his proposal is that the 'prophets' have been restored in the 1990's with the 'apostles' are coming next. Is this really the case, since Eph. 4:11-14 says God gives them all along (as they themselves acknowledge)? No, it is not. It is not really scriptural by the NAR's own interpretation of Eph.4:11-14.
C. Peter Wagner alludes to the fact that he doesn't really believe Dr. Bill Hamon's time scale, since he states in his GI Newsletter Jan/Feb 2000 that his interviews with prophets show that many of them were wounded during the infamous 'Shepherding' movment. That is a good 20-30 years ago, which makes it way before 1990. So, these prophets did 'exist' prior to 1990. Perhaps this theoretical conflict is resolved in thier minds by saying the prophets really were there all along, but the teachings of the Shepherding movement kept them back, and now they have been 'restored' in the 1990's. I do not know.
The problem is, Dr. Bill Hamon's time scale include more than just prophets and apostles. He believes we have had an on-going restoration of all of the '5-fold' since about 1950, and he puts the 'restoration' of the 'pastors' right at the time of the Shepherding movement. Since this Shepherding movement was the only thrust of the late 60's and 70's to claim to 'restore' the 'true' pastoral role in a similar restoration theory as Dr. Hamon's, this has to be what he is referring to. Apparently he believes something good came out of it, and yet this Shepherding movement destroyed or nearly destroyed many people's lives. Indeed, the teachings of then may be partly responsible for the sudden rise of psuedo-Bible cults at the same time, all across the U.S., since new Christians were improperly doctrinated regarding the authority scope of the pastor and so were ill-prepared for full-blown cults. Since this is the case, then why give them credit for a so called 'restoring' of the pastor? Younger Christians will not know this little fact about this particular 'restoration' time frame that Dr. Bill Hamon immortalizes in such a positive way, but older Christians will. And then C. Peter Wagner wonders why the 'prophets' are more than a little cautious, when his friend Dr. Bill Hamon (he promotes his books), teaches as if the 'restoration' of the pastors (the Shepherding movement- the only restoration-of-the-pastors-movement of its time) was a good thing?
Whatever the case, it is clear from his GI Newsletter Jan/Feb 2000 that C. Peter Wagner sees himself as someone who can pull together the prophets and the apostles, to reach the ideal state of the 'types' of ministers working together. He plans on doing this by downplaying the negative. He states in the newsletter: "...I try to give a positive interpretation to different streams and different styles of implementing the apostolic and prophetic movement rather than setting a standard and criticizing all those who don't meet the standard that I have set. That in itself gives me a rapport with various different streams that others don't have." TheDon Follis article stated "Wagner argues that the current reformation is not so much against corruption and apostasy, as was true in the 16th century, as it is against irrelevance."
I would agree with this statement about the NAR not concerning itself with corruption or apostasy, because I have already observed the fact that Wagner and group do not focus on these things. They keep on the upbeat and build-up (their ads about how 'historic' 'anointed' and 'powerful' their conferences are, in addition to their revival promises, very upbeat and positive sounding) and do steer away from the 'negative' (like corruption and apostasy). The problem is, if no one confronts or examines the present-day 'old' System, just how 'radical' or different does NAR really propose to be? Where's the standard-- the one that Wagner is supposedly not setting? How can anyone have an New Apostolic Reformation without a standard? And again, if no one examines the real roots of trouble that caused prior 'restoration' streams to fail miserably (and one of those 'roots' may just be that most of the restoration idea is in essence, Biblically unfounded and unproven) how does C. Peter Wagner and group propose to be different?
In answer to that, NAR does tend to give promises of good intentions. Here are some further quotes from the same article about the NAR by Jim Bevis on his website. Again, I post it because it is a typical example of the things said by or about the NAR, by their supporters or teachers:
"It should be said that when we speak of the "five-fold offices" and the "New Apostolic Reformation" we do not mean certain things that strike fear among God's people. 1. We do not mean apostolic succession. I am convinced that our Roman Catholic friends are wrong on this matter. We are not talking about direct, literal descendants of the Apostle Peter or any of the Twelve. 2. We do not mean that we would position any of us with apostolic callings in the same category or on the same level with the twelve "Apostles of the Lamb." (See Matthew 19:28 and Revelation 21:14)...3. We do not mean heavy handed authority, ungodly control or lording over anyone. (2 Corinthians 1:21)...The New Apostolic Reformation is not the only thing God is doing and maybe it's not even the most important thing, but it certainly is a place where God is moving."Yet, instead of teaching Catholic Pope succession, it appears C. Peter Wagner teaches that we should expect a pastoral succession-- to his family descendents. Here is one of the quotes that bear that out, from a REVIEW OF "CHURCHQUAKE" which was once at http://members.christweb.com/availablelight/churchquake.html:
"Chapter four is quite disturbing in the trend where pastors form churches and expect lifelong rule and treat the churches as family businesses to automatically be handed down to their children automatically." ...Citing from a favorable review of the New Apostolic Reformation by J. Scott Pedersen, (Pedersen's review is also no longer posted on the site where it was found):
"In summary, an excellent book for resource info, but a poor book of original thought. The author fails to show us any original thought. Instead, the author thrives on using quotations from other church growth books and adds his two cents to the opinions and the research. If the author had some original insights, the book would have been more meaningful, but the author chooses instead to rehash other author's thoughts and research. The author also subscribes to the "pastor for life" concept where a pastor forms a church, pastors it for life, and then makes his son the leader by royal family status. The Kingdom of God is the kingdom, not the family business."
"Dr. Wagner observes “We are seeing a transition from bureaucratic authority to personal authority, from legal structure, from control to coordination and from rational leadership to charismatic leadership. This all manifests itself on two levels: the local level and the translocal level” (The New Apostolic Churches, p. 20)"Having been in many Charismatic, non-denominational churches, over the years, and then even one Vineyard, in which there was no board and all of which operated exactly as described above, again I say this is a not a new concept that has not been done before. In each church I have been in which believes and functions from the premise that the pastor should operate from 'personal authority' and choose all vision or purpose of the church, as well as delegate all according to his discretion (don't let the fact escape you that this is a managerial practice), the results have been disasterous.
"Pastors of the new apostolic churches cast the vision, major in leadership and minor in management, and make top drawer policy decisions and delegate the rest. They build a solid and competent management team, are called for life, and often choose their successors (Churchquake, pp. 86-96)"
"New apostolic churches experience very few financial problems. Generous giving is expected. Tithing is taught without apology. Giving is beneficial, not only to the church and its ministry, but to the giver. Giving is cheerful (pp. 23-24)."
Generally, the pastor's requirement is that everyone support those things he deems worthy as manager of the church vision, and there is no thought that anything else can be 'congruent' or function alongside his vision peaceably. Too often, there is a perception of malice and competition projected onto anything or anyone 'different' than the pastor's vision, leaving everything to be treated as a threat to this vision or even to the pastor himself, personally. Is there Biblical basis for a local fellowship to cast a specified or narrow 'vision' into stone anyway, as if all the Gospel itself does not make room for variety? The answer to this is no, and this may be why churches whose pastor casts the vision for the church, fail to be healthy ones.
In effect, although the Body of Christ includes variety of giftings and dispensations, in this type of local church all members of the local fellowship are expected to have the pastor's personal vision or spiritual purpose and leading of the Spirit superimposed upon theirs. If this does not magically happen, they are expected to not be able to fellowship in the unity of the bond of peace. Commonly, the issue is forced by the insecure or religious, and the most aggressive wins their place, as long as they give a nod to 'the vision'. Unity is found in the 'vision' and in the person of the pastor who directs the vision, and not in Christ, so an 'anything goes' attitude--of course for the sake of the vision--become common place.
As a result of uniformity for the purpose of one vision only, the message in these churches is always self-limiting. Even when pastors try to express it positively in spiritual speak (we are doing you a favor), the all-too-often messages are: "Get on board or get out.." "Fit in to our 'family,' or find another one out there." Spiritual abuse methods can be used and then justified, like this: "If shunning and ignoring doesn't work, then we can spread false rumors about you or even ban you secretly, so that you feel no choice but to leave. No matter how much it tears you or your family up to be 'excommunicated' and separated from your friends, it is really no big deal because there are lots of churches out there with a different vision. You just have to find a church that 'fits' you".
In these fellowships, just as has been implied or taught by some NAR (usually Vineyard) participators, the pastor would take cues from 'prophets' or other visionaries, yet only as under advisement and often without the knowledge of members of the fellowship (a mistake on the part of the 'prophet.' Words that are meant to the congregation should be given to the congregation, since one man is not the congregation. A possible new direction or additional direction can be discerned publicly rather than secretly). In these 'one vision' churches, the local pastor (Sr. Pastor) is really the local prophet with the vision for everyone else, the local apostle who manages the tasks which he delegates, and the 'shepherd' besides. All authority has been given onto him when all roles are assigned to him. After that, can we expect him to really perceive a 'need' for the '5-fold'?
As someone who has been in these churches, listened to their rationalizations, and observed or known the 'fruit' of the bottlenecking and exclusionary practices, I can say that what is described in the 'Churchquake' review, is not at all a description of a multiple leadership who are allowed to function autonomously, even though the NAR seeks to 'restore' all 5-fold to their true functioning. What we have here too easily lends itself to spiritual re-building of the tower of Babel, according to the blue-prints of one man and his 'personal authority'. Kings and kingdoms come about too easily when we use spiritual-sounding rhetoric to end up the same CEO managerial positions and practice as the world in business.
In contrast to the fast turn-overs in churches which result in wandering Christians hoping they will fit in somewhere, or hoping to find a mature and secure pastor at the helm instead of an insecure one, we could take note of successful practices in the business world. That is, extremely successful businesses with a low turn-over rate include these aspects: Mission statements are extremely broad, goals are changeable and flexible, and the regular cog in the machinery-- the 'employee'-- is valued for their creativity, rather than treated like a mindless, soulless individual who takes orders and contributes minimally. As many people as possible are included in goal setting and decisions, and individuals are given some lee-way and support in trying out their own generated ideas for company success. Also, the customer is always listened to, and things are always tailored to their needs, so that they will want to return and be repeat customers, never disillusioned by the companies attitude, activities, or integrity.
I believe the success of these businesses is due to the fact that they borrowed from tenets of Christian functioning and leadership, whether they meant to or not. They copied how Jesus defined the Church with a broad, inclusive, 'mission statement', how He directed that the most important church decisions involve everyone in a concensus of agreement and action (the most serious matter of Church business is 'judgment'-- in other words, who is excluded from the fellowship, yet Jesus put this final step in the hands of everyone of the church, in the Matt. 18 process). These businesses valued the employee like we are told to value the members of the Body of Christ, so that everyone does not end up being the hand, or all are one eye, telling others who are not like them, "I have no need of you".
Also, in the Bible, the 'customer' is considered the unbeliever and not the believer, with the believer in the Church making it genuinely appealing to the ultimate 'customer.' According to the testimonies and instructions of Jesus and the apostles, this is accomplished by the Church having something to offer that is different than the world. Also, it is important to not be obscene to the world in matters of cultural practice, in a way that would detract or dishonor the Gospel (the 'product'). This need for difference from the World is why Jesus himself did not 'lord it over' as the Gentiles did. After he instructed the apostles to be like Him before His death, the idea of one man delegating all in the local assembly (or even outside of it) was not a practice known in early Christianity.
For the Church not to be obscene or offensive in matters of practice, Paul and other apostles gave specific instructions to not offend the sensibilities of their time (cultural honor). They were passionate against shameful sin for Christians, such as immorality or hating one another. Christians who loved one another and who were holy (obeyed His commandments) were as a result, known and identified as 'Christians'. Others were not. Even cultural nuances of the day such as whether to wear a headcovering or not, were considered important enough for the apostles to address, depending on the present-day circumstances. Regardless, apostles and preachers were not to peddle the gospel for financial gain, or even for the honor of men (John 7:18). Impure motives (hypocrisy) as well as the 'appearance of evil' (merchandising their oratories) compromise, hobble, or make nil the message (or 'power') of the Gospel.
It is not too difficult to project these same principles to our contemporary setting in America. Earlier, the United States was beset by numerous T.V. evangelist scandals involving the greed of large amounts of money and/or immorality. The expensive NAR conferences of today ($175-$300 a person, usually, no matter what the rallying topic. $90 for the full audio set and $275 for the video set, sold by Fresh Publishing, if you missed the May 2000 National School of the Prophets of Global Harvest Ministries at New Life Church, Colorado Springs, Co.), is likewise of grave concern.
This is because thanks to prior scandals of various kinds, secular people already have the idea of the con-man preacher who is out for money, and Christians who pay the piper because they are fanatical fools. Yet even without these prior and recent U.S. religious embarrassments, any secular person is bound to wonder at the sanity of anyone willing to pay to learn to be a prophet in the first place, since they all know Moses was called by God in the Cecil B. DeMille movie, "The Ten Commandments" and he just obeyed the Almighty and did it (and in obeying, became a prophet). If you can explain this to them, and then explain why it is $200 a pop for each lesson---hundreds to a thousand of people at each conference ($200,000 to $2,000,000, but I am just guessing at the numbers of people in attendence) numerous times per year all over the U.S., then you can probably explain it to me. Until then, I see this trend of the NAR as blatantly anti-gospel and even anti-prophet, in its practical application or manifestation.
Away from the practices of the NAR and back to the book (theory), called Churchquake. Below is an interesting review posted at Amazon (October 15, 1999 Reviewer: firstname.lastname@example.org from Auckland, New Zealand), who compliments yet acknowledges the weaknesses of this book to answer certain difficulties:
This book does an excellent job of capturing the essence of this worldwide phenomena. His observations were well researched and interestingly presented.According to his GI Newsletter Jan/Feb 2000 interview with C. Peter Wagner himself by his pals at Generals of Intercession, Wagner or his network or associates, do have a plan in place to provide the 'proper oversight' to these individual churches with their one-vision pastors. Again we have the same problem. The potential of a Bishop going from a local church elder to the Papacy and absolute authority is very real. A tightly controlled, 'hierarchy' was never found in early Christianity either, and so one can never state 'proper oversight' as a solution without defining exactly what that means.
Wagner correctly notes the outstanding issue of potential absence of proper oversight may be the point of greatest concern in large churches which he perceives is not fully addressed in this book.
Church pastors following this model of church leadership risk becoming cut off from the wisdom of other mature Christians in the church. Sometimes their perception of their intimate walk with God takes them far away from their members. In such a situation, they may feel that any words of caution is a personal challenge to their leadership and therefore a threat to the Body of Christ in that place.
This may be so even amongst the people who have stood with the pastor from the beginning and supported the movement of the Holy Spirit in the growth of the church for many years. To challenge any teaching or ideas as unscriptual is projected as a personal attack on the pastor and disloyalty. A rejection of a teaching which is perceived by a member as non-biblical is seen by the Pastors as not moving with the Spirit or even is tantamount to the rejection of the Holy Spirit. Sadly, in one church in Auckland this has seen the rejection of the wisdom of the elders who were relaying the concerns of the members. These elders who were previously raised up by the pastor and as close friends of the pastor were always supportive in all things in the past were put outside. Then other new elders are raised up who are more prepared to agree or remain silent.
Wagner notes that many large church pastors say that the Pastor, who is the Shepherd, should not listen to the sheep. Such a situation has meant that the church ceases to grow as thinking, mature Christians rather than enter into conflict leave.
The NAR sometimes makes reference to how important it is to not be hierarchal or controlling. We have seen this in the one instance above in our quoted by Jim Bevis, and I have read this intention in other sources. Yet how do they plan on going about that? So far, the actual descriptions are too vague and fall short. We need to listen to whether NAR 'mission' statements of the ideal type of spiritual authority, and the practical applications they propose, realistically match. When they don't fit with one another or contradict one another, we have the potential of a very poor outcome. Many people do not really examine the link between one and the other (ideal promises versus practical application), and so end up following a frustrating pipe-dream (this includes pastors who genuinely desire something different).
As for 'proper oversight,' or 'covering,' there has been implied in past set-ups the promise that their pastors of spin-off churches are 'accountable' to their denominational headquarters or main person, thus avoiding irretractable problems. Yet, I have never once witnessed this to mean any real accountability, in most situations, denominational or otherwise. I have decided that this occurs when the 'congregation' is not empowered (kept in the dark), not actively involved (kept from participating), and not treated as if they have a chance in the world to rise to the occasion (kept as children). The apostles Paul, John, and Peter addressed false Christians openly. They also rebuked congregations who neglected their own 'oversight' capabilities and 'empowerment' (discernment with the action of rejecting the false leader), when they knew better than to put up with it. The apostle Paul was utterly sarcastic toward those every-day Christians who engaged in passive acceptance. At the very least, all the apostles challenged the every day believer with with the facts of how to grow up and become 'equippers' just like they, and then they had the audacity to expect these Christians to act like people who were perfectly capable of being mature! Sometimes they sounded pretty brutal about it, according to today's American culture of 'politeness' and excuses for misbehaviors, failings, and helplessness (irresponsibility).
In closing, in the reviews I have read of Churchquake, Wagner's observations in his book about the current crises amongst denominations are appreciated by many as extremely valuable data. It sounds like he has correctly and skillfully identified the desperation felt to either change, or lose your candlestick. People have indeed become cynical to church, and are tired of the same old things that do not meet their needs (irrelevent to them). Some are so desperate in fact, that they are ready to fork over $200 just to be told that there are better things to come by charismatic leaders, not thinking about what it means to have to hand it over in the first place. This is very sad indeed.
Regarding authority practices, the NAR gives mixed messages in many different forums, including from Wagner himself. Since the NAR proposes to put in place the 'real' church government so that God can work through the local church better, including give revival, I believe this problem area of ethereal theory versus pragmatic application (theory realized, or actual theory) cannot be overlooked as inconsequential. Tragically, when Wagner and his troupe are already describing prophets and congregations giving away their autonomy and deferring their gifts to ultimate pastoral control and supervision, and then suggest outside (undefined) 'oversight' as the solution to the problems that always occur when this happens, I don't anticipate the NAR as holding the promise of being much of a 'reformation' at all.
Just So You Know: Regarding some 'Apostolic
a synopsis of what the Wagner gang taught at a January, 1999 conference, gathered from informal internet reports that were compiled mostly by people who obviously either felt blessed enough to make their informal reports, or just that it was important enough to pass on. This is representative enough of what is taught at these conferences.
Also: To New Wave?Apostles/Prophets
page This is where it
all 'seemed' to begin-- In prophecy
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