The Book of Revelation and Church Leadership, PV

The Lord's Day

The first vision!  Revelation 1: 9-11, 

 John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus

 What does it mean to you to shine before God? How does holding His true Truth help you shine and make Him known in a dark world?

Jesus is proclaimed as the Priest, Judge, King, and Ruler of the Church. This is not theory, rather, reality with which we must connect. This is also our template how we view, understand and undertake the management of His Church. That He IS, and what we do is for Him.

The context is that John is getting his people ready for his visions. To do so, John is demonstrating humility, making a connection to his people so they can have hope and endurance by the sharing of his sufferings and experiences and they will know he is still with them in spirit and in understanding. This is what we are doing as we disciple and proclaim the glory of our Lord.

John was not living the good life while his people were being persecuted; he was in the frontlines of it all. He was a leader who led by example by going first to the destination to which he was leading others. Now that he has set a tone, he tells them of his incredible vision of Christ and His call to the leadership of the Seven Churches. Jesus is speaking to him in vivid imagery, commanding him to write it all down so it can be shared and used to further the Kingdom.

This means we lead from the front. Not in the rears barking orders or giving suggestions that we have no experience or intention of doing.

John is addressing all Christians, not just the seven churches, because the seven means “completeness” and represents us all. John is making it personal and caring, yet forceful in function. He gives a call to remain faithful and keep our trust in Christ no matter what comes our way in sufferings or temptations. In so doing, we are to focus on His Way, even in persecution and stress (Rev. 2:2-3, 13, 19; 3:10; 6:11; 13:10; 14:12; 16:15; 18:4; 20:4; 22:7, 11, 14).

Let’s see what the Word has to say with these key words:

The Lord’s Day” was a covert term to mean when the Early Church met for worship. It refers to the day of worship, Sunday, where Christ’s resurrection, victory, and Last Supper were celebrated. Many Christians were Jews and still participated in the Sabbath observances, too (John 20:19; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2; Rev. 19:1-10).

“In the Spirit” means “spiritual exaltation,” possibly as in charismatic worship. However, John did not solicit this vision; God gave it to him. The Holy Spirit provided John the visions and took him to places he could actually see. Thus, he is recording authentic images he saw in reality; this was no dream (1 Chron. 25:1-6; Ezek. 2:2; 3:12-14, 24; 8:3; 11:1, 24; Acts 10:10; Rev. 4:2; 17:3; 21:10).

Loud voice” refers to the power of Christ and our duty to reverence Him (Job 37:5-6; Ezek. 1:24; 43:2; Dan. 10:6).

Trumpet” means God is preparing to give a command or the pronouncement of His Word (Ex. 19:16). 

“Seven churches.” These are not allegories, but rather real, actual churches in Asia Minor (Modern Turkey) whose tangible problems are the representation of the ones we still have with us today. There were many more churches in Asia Minor at that time, as seven is symbolic for completeness, and thus applies to all churches in all.

In the Old Testament Tabernacle that Moses built and where the Jews first worshiped God, there was one lampstand with seven branches (in practice some Jews use six to nine branches, so not to duplicate anything that was in the Temple). This is now called the “menorah,” a prime symbol of Judaism today and used in “Chanukah.” This Menorah had seven branches that symbolized the assembly of believers and how God’s light shines to us and how we are to be the ‘shine’ in others’ lives (Ex. 25:31-40; Isaiah 42:6; Zech. 4:1-6; Matt. 5:16; Phil. 2:14-16).

 The Bottom-line of how we are to lead and manage the church from the precepts of Revelation, is that it also points us that it is God’s power that leads, not our ways or trends.

The essential framework to build a healthy church is to understand that its prime purpose is to glorify Christ, not to please our comforts or ideas. Or bow to a personality, giving a dog and pony show. We are to shine before Christ by holding His truth, and shine for the Lord, making Him known in a dark world!

Who is Christ in your life? How is He reverenced in your church? (Not so much in worship, but in the attitude of veneration in the leadership.) This would mean, how Jesus is adored in the reality of relationships, attitudes, and daily functioning of how we are conducting our lives and church. This can be the indicator if you are on the right track or lost in pride.

 

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Other Significant Growth Factors that come from these top Seven

That God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5: 19

8. Healthy churches that are growing in Christ have leaders who focus on Christ and serve Him. Their leadership style is not by will; it is by being a servant. “Servant Leadership” is modeled and practiced.

9. Healthy churches that are growing in Christ have people that are disciplined and growing in Christ. This is the reason they are loving and caring, practicing the “one another” passages. They are enamored by God’s presence in their church and life, and thus place Christ first, acting on His character and call! They are not selfish or inwardly focused, but care for others and focus on their community and world.

10. Healthy churches that are growing in Christ have a system of pastoral care. They train their staff and leaders to immediately respond when they hear of a church member in need. They hire licensed, qualified people and/or train and assign trained deacons or care workers; also, a key person is in charge.

11. Healthy churches that are growing in Christ have effective evangelism, stewardship, and discipleship. These programs come from those top seven factors! As people are transformed, they can be taught and motivated. They also tend to spend at least one-third of their resources of budget and talent in outreach and missions.

12. Healthy churches that are growing in Christ have a well thought out, biblically empowered vision and mission statement. This is clearly defined by a purpose that points to Christ, and strategies on what God has called them to do and be. In addition, the people know this and are willing to act on it. It is one thing to write it out, but another thing to act it out. The vision does not lead the church; rather, it s a motto that encapsulates the work of the Spirit and the precepts of Scripture that calls, empowers, and employs the church. A vision is a sign to show what is happening and help others see the direction of the church so they know where to go. A vision will not motivate or lead, just as placing a label for soda on a can of water does not make it a soda.

13. Healthy churches that are growing in Christ tend to organize and mobilize their people according to their Spiritual Gifts! The people are more content and motivated so serve in a team manner when they serve in their area of their giftedness. The quarrels and apathy will dry up as the energies are redirected and channeled in a godly way. People will function less in their own strength and more in the power of the Holy Spirit.

14. Healthy churches that are growing in Christ empower the people in their care. They are training, discipling, recognizing, and encouraging their people, especially those in critical roles. They do not see or use volunteers just as helpers or as people to control and manipulate, but as the essential tools and prime resources with which to glorify God, enablers of the goals of missions and needs to be reached. These churches see the pastor as the trainer for the congregation. If the senior pastor feels they do not have the gifts and abilities to equip and train others to do ministry (what the biblical principle of a “pastor” is), the church hires or build teams around them that do! If the training is not done, the church will fail! Some pastors are great teachers, but cannot do anything else. A pastor must operate in his gifted area, and encourage others who will compensate for him in the areas where he is weak or does not have the time.

15. Healthy churches that are growing in Christ are willing to and do confront sin, evil, gossip, slander, manipulators, and heresy in the church—immediately! The leadership puts down gossip and solves conflict quickly. Healthy churches move ahead in purpose and unity.

16. Healthy churches that are growing in Christ have pastors who are real, joyful, and authentic, and lead healthy, disciplined lives. Their leaders are learning and growing in community with one another, willing to go beyond their prejudices and fears and embrace Christ. They are willing to publicly repent, apologize for past mistakes, make improvements, and change. They do not have thick skin as much as loving hearts, and they give people grace and room to grow. They are not afraid to step on the toes of others, but remain loving, listening, and firmly uncompromising to the Word.