Anatomy Of A Reformation

8 Feb

Something is changing!  Can you feel it?  

God’s Word hasn’t changed, but our understanding of it is.  Even our understanding of who we are in Him is changing.  Transforming revelation and empowering new perspectives of very familiar verses are launching a blasé church into dynamic new realities.  Lest we have an automatic knee jerk reaction against the new thing, we must remember that although the nature of God is the same yesterday, today and forever, the Kingdom of God is always advancing.

And of the increase of His Kingdom and of His peace there shall be no end.” (Isa 9:7)

If we are honest enough to acknowledge it, whatever we have been a part of, was also, at its inception, a radical departure from the status quo before it.  And so, the cycle continues.  Now we’re experiencing another shift in the heavenlies… the way we do business with God is morphing.  It’s becoming obvious that what was appropriate and fitting 50 years ago… and in some cases, even 5 years ago, is antiquated today.  The Church is waking up from her long ‘Rip van Winkle’ religious slumber!  A global reformation is taking place in the Church of Jesus Christ!

So what is the anatomy of a reformation?

Three phases of reformation

First – Holy dissatisfaction   This phase begins with a hunger for more reality in God.  What used to work for us, doesn’t work anymore.  Traditional church is not fulfilling a deep heart need. Some of us felt badly, not aware that it was God allowing ‘holy dissatisfaction’ to help us release our grip on what was once precious to us.  (E.g. A toddler let’s go of his beloved but unsatisfying binky in hopes that he can have the lollipop.)  Most readers will identify with this wave of dissatisfaction… and have probably experienced the rumbles in their own church?  This dissatisfaction motivates us to move out of feeling trapped or stalemated.

But, thanks be to God for a hungry heart!  “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, FOR THEY SHALL BE SATISFIED.” (Matt 5:6) (emphasis mine)

Second – Transition   Here’s where pioneers explore new trails in the Spirit.  These pioneers are the radicals of the dissatisfied ones.  Some are leaving church, but not because of cool hearts or apathy.  George Barna and James Rutz present empirical statistics in MegaShift which indicate that people are leaving church in order to find God.  That’s right… they want more of God.  And when they leave, they ‘rock the boat’ of the conventional norm.  Most don’t have a vendetta to ‘rock the boat’, they’re just desperate.  This results in ideological clashes, jostling of authority figures and even some schisms between those who feel they must maintain the status quo and those who are willing to ‘sell all’.  Because these frontiersman are usually unpolished in style and concept, their radical initiatives may have a high ‘mortality’ rate.  They will certainly pay a greater price for change than those who follow.  The rank and file may ask,What’s happening to my church?”  And for the insecure pastor, this transition is especially unsettling, as his flock isn’t nice and tidy anymore.

At first this phase looks and feels awkward… even spurious.  It’s the most uncomfortable part of the reformation process.  Serious resistance arises from those who fear they are losing the comfortable and predictable culture of their ol’ time religion.  Skirmishes arise occasionally which test the mettle of true believers who are at theological or stylistic odds with one another.  This phase tends to yield a hybrid of both the past and future.  It’s not the full or final change… it’s just a variation and upgrade from the old.  But at least it’s a start.  There is hope in the air now.  We realized that it’s OK to start the deconstruction of our traditional positions and take a fresh look at Scripture.  Bantering back and forth, blogs and Bible studies around relevant topics are the name of the game now.  New concepts are being tested and ‘fired upon’ to see if they can stand the strain of going prime time.  Then little by little mainstream Church’s talking heads begin to allude to the validity of the shift, which only pours gas on the fires of passion and resolution.  It’s a done deal now.  The rabbits have been let out of the cage… you’ll never get them back in.  The course has been set and confirmed.  Fine tuning and patience for God’s favor are the only prerequisites for certain success.

Third – Walking in the new thing   This phase impacts everything!  Radical new ideologies have sustained sufficient battles along the way so as to prove their enduring qualities. Abraham, Jesus, Martin Luther… all were radicals who defied the status quo and were resolute enough in lifestyle, word and actions to establish a permanent beach-head of new belief.  Of course the impetuous and impulsive ones who were in it just because they love a good fight, have probably ‘died off’ by now… and they may have ‘taken out’ a few good people in their unbridled zeal.  But despite the casualties, the fact is, this reformation is here to stay.  Anointed and skilled voices are now discovered and begin the rise to the top… they now promulgate the life and power found in this reformation.  The new ideology is not going away now… rather, it’s acceptance is expanding exponentially, for it is fulfilling not only Heaven’s new emphasis (and thus has Heaven’s favor), but it is answering the God-created ‘holy dissatisfaction’ felt early-on.  En masse men’s hearts eagerly leave the old and embrace the new.  Heaven’s favor is manifesting on many fronts which begins to change society’s ‘world view’ and the culture at large. 

From my perspective, the Church may have started the first phase of ‘holy discontent’ back in the early to mid 90s.  This was evidenced by a shift of emphasis toward house churches and less formalized church gatherings.  Ralph Neighbors’ book’Where Do We Go From Here’, and Larry Kreider’s house church network, Dove International, and others, were some of the first evidences of substantial discontent with formalized religion.  In fact it was in the mid-90s when I first heard the phrase ‘holy discontent’ coined by Rick Joyner.  Most people who found themselves a part of this phase, had it ‘up to here’ with pew-sitting and thus began a search to find God.  Note: their motives were to FIND GOD!  That was the first phase… awareness of a problem. That was nearly 20 years ago.  

The second phase started out kind of ‘maverick’ and tenuous. Sincere hearts were done with status quo and were going to try something… sometimes anything… sometimes nothing… because we just couldn’t stay where we were.  Even DC Talk expressed agreement in their song which says “God is doing a ‘Nu Thang‘.”  I think the Church at large is in the second phase, and may have been there for the last 5 or so years.  Just take look at some of these recent dramatic shifts.

~ Our understanding of our identity and position in Christ is changing
~ The goodness, grace and love of God is exploding in our understanding
~ ‘Heaven now’ – many of Heaven’s realities are available now – no need to wait
~ Classic eschatology has sustained an intense ‘hit’… and is still radically shifting
~ Kingdom mindset and expectations of a victorious future are changing
~ ‘Kingdom’ and ‘Grace’ are being heralded from many streams in the body of Christ
~ Our vocabulary and prayer posture is being forced to keep up with our new found realities in God

These are glimpses into the third phase where the answers to our dissatisfied hunger and quest will be experienced as the new norm.  Looking at the evidence around us, we see signals that this phase may not be that far away.  Be prepared, where we’re going would probably shock us if we could define it now… but if that disturbs us, ask ourselves how much we’ve changed in just 5-10 years.  The body of Christ is waking up and growing up into Christ.  Momma Church was good.  She has been and will always be good.  And we’ll visit Momma’s House frequently… but the apron strings to Momma have been cut.  We’re finding out that the Church Family is everywhere we find them… not just at Momma’s House.  We’re discovering how to be sons led by the Spirit (Rms 8:14) in our Father’s kingdom.  This third phase will bring real UNITY OF THE FAITH (Eph 4:12-16)… where we are transformed by the faith OF Jesus Christ (Rms 3:22; Gal 2:16) and our minds come into unity WITH God’s views of us.

Reformers, this is a most exciting time to be alive!  Get ready for the ride of your life. 

(The above perspectives are a reflection of my own journey, observations and convictions mixed with gleanings from Mel Wild’s blog ‘In My Father’s House’, Graham Cooke and others.)

— MLH

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6 Responses to “Anatomy Of A Reformation”

  1. Mel Wild February 8, 2014 at 4:33 PM #

    Amen, bro! I believe your three phases pretty much nailed this reformation thing right on the head.

    I really like what you said, “Be prepared, where we’re going would probably shock us if we could define it now… but if that disturbs us, ask ourselves how much we’ve changed in just 5-10 years. ” So true. Like Jesus said, we can’t handle all the truth at once (Jn.16:12-15) but the Holy Spirit is an able Guide. He moves the proverbial piano across the room a little at a time until we find ourselves where He wants us–transformed!

    The Kingdom is advancing….let’s get on the freedom train! Amen.

    I may need to re-blog this in a few days. Too good not to spread around. 🙂

    • marklhen February 8, 2014 at 4:48 PM #

      Jesus, “I have many things to tell you which you can not bear…(yet).” He just gets us to sign on the dotted line… and doesn’t bother to tell us the fine print until later… after we’re already too far in to turn back. It’s all good because He’s a good God!!! He wouldn’t do us wrong. I’m in for the ride on the freedom train.

      • Mel Wild February 8, 2014 at 5:09 PM #

        Amen. I want a seat in the observation car with all the windows where you can get the panoramic view. It’s the Kingdom, it’s glorious! 🙂

  2. Mel Wild February 10, 2014 at 1:06 PM #

    Reblogged this on In My Father's House and commented:
    This is another insightful post from my friend, Mark Hendrickson, on the anatomy of a reformation. Beloved, whether we realize it or not, we are in the midst of a fresh wind of Spirit, a new reformation that’s transforming lives, bringing God’s children into the freedom Christ paid for. God is again “shaking what can be shaken,” so that only what is of Him remains (Heb.12:27), bringing us further out of the orphan mindset of post-Medieval gospel paradigm, while retaining the firm foundation of that reformation. bringing us further into the heart of the Father as His sons. Be blessed!

  3. nancyteague February 13, 2014 at 10:20 AM #

    A hearty ‘Amen!’ to your thoughts, Mark. I can relate to the three step journey you describe.

    My ‘holy dissatisfaction’ began in the mid 2000’s – the Holy Spirit dropped the question in me – “What is church?” What unfolded was the beginning of Him questioning my answers! Comfortableness and familiarity are two huge obstacles when it comes to discovering there is so much more than we could ever imagine.

    The ‘transition’ involved a lot of detoxing from established religious traditions. Quite unsettling, and back then lonely at times. Yet the internal stirring could not be ignored or easily dismissed. His questions and His answers exploding within me brought overwhelming gratitude as I began to discover the true kind intentions of His will for us.
    ‘Walking in the new thing’ has been a wondrous joy-filled adventure. So many a “Wow!” and “Oh my goodness!” to the Truth that indeed sets us free. Free to ‘be’ who He really made us to be before time began (1Tim 1:9) and free to ‘live’ in incredible fullness (Jn 1:16).

    Amen to the ultimate “Unity of the faith” you speak of. Oh to grasp that union is indeed what we were made for – union in Him and in each other. Talk about fullness!

    Thank you for pointing to the ‘ride of your life’! God really is winsome and loves to play! How we need to get free from all the seriousness and demands of religion – things not from God.

    I am so thankful that His Spirit of Grace is on a global move to set ALL free indeed! Thanks Mark, for being one of these – how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news and glad tidings!

    Mark, I do have a question for you. Is what the Spirit doing a “reformation”, or is it more a “revolution”? In a reformation, there is action or a process of reforming aspects of an institution or practice. A revolution is radical and results in a complete change or replacement of what was established. How can one truly walk in the fullness of grace without going through a personal revolution from what was so demanding and controlling? The pure gospel is radical and revolutionary! Religion might allow some reforms but it will absolutely resist a revolution that threatens its core values and teachings. I feel like I have not been reformed, I have been revolutionized! What say you? 🙂

    • marklhen March 31, 2014 at 3:33 PM #

      Nancyteague
      Thanks so much for your comments, insights and affirmations. I love this journey and the pivotal timing that we are in history. Sounds like you do too!

      Regarding revolution versus reformation: Although I’m not a historian or a word authority, I think that the answer to that question is determined by the scope of our perspective. Using your definitions of revolution and reformation (which are good as far as I’m concerned), if we’re looking at shorter time perspective (50 years ago till 50 years from now), we would probably have to call what we’re experiencing, a revolution. If we’re looking at the big picture, we may have to call it a reformation.

      Let me explain by first looking at the radical change that happened from BC to AD. The introduction of the New Covenant was radical and revolutionary if we were to look at the changes that occurred over the short span of Jesus’ lifetime. BUT if we look at Jesus’ statement that He didn’t come to abolish the Old Covenant but to fulfil it we might call it a reformation.

      Matt 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”

      In the big picture of mankind’s history since creation, we’re actually getting back on track with God’s original purpose and finding that the Grace that the New Covenant introduced paved a way for us to return to our original status and position in God. From that perspective, we might have to call the change, a reformation. Re-formed back to the original.

      Now, in our day: If we look at the last 10 years and the radical changes that are happening to our theology and definitions of Christianity and Church, we’d have no problem labeling these changes as revolutionary. But if we look at the grand scope of God’s plan for mankind and see this change as getting us back on track with ‘real’ Christianity… and a better realized and understood relationship with God… then we might have to call this transition, a reformation.

      So in my view, I can go either way. History will likely label it one way over the other, like it has all the other outbreaks of Heaven among mankind. In any case, I’m a ‘happy camper’… I love what’s happening.

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