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Heaven on Earth

31 July 2014

Blessed600I have just come back from a three day European Christian Leaders Conference in Harrogate along with 3000 other Christian leaders. This was a real time of encouragement and perspective as to what heaven on earth can look like. Hosted by Harrogate New Life church and led by the leadership team of Bethel Church, Redding California; sessions were led by Bill Johnson and other senior leaders. The main message was that God’s purpose for the Church is not to get as many people in our doors as possible and “make them more like us.” God’s purpose for the Church is to be an agent of God’s transformation of the world, in our individual lives, cities and nations. We are not here to suffer whilst we wait for heaven, but to seek and see more of heaven on earth, more of the Kingdom i.e. good news for the poor, freedom for prisoners, sight for the blind, release for the oppressed and the year of the Lord’s favour.

As a Baptist Minister it is difficult not to have a desire and focus on “getting more people into church.” Is that not what we are here for?? But one thing is sure, the size of our churches means nothing if they are not humbly and faithfully listening to God, following where He leads and
ministering through the power of His Holy Spirit. Otherwise we are doing religion in our strength, not church as God intended. We don’t primarily want to get people into church (anyway you can’t, the church is a community not a building; we want them to meet Jesus). We are not here to give people religion (they had enough of that in the Old Testament and it didn’t get them very far). We don’t want to give people “the answer” just because we have it (relationship with Jesus transforms, not an “answer”).

Some are critical of Bethel, but this is a church that God is using to bless others. No doubt many would debate their theology, healings, miracles, partnering with civic authorities; but I heard no triumphalism or prosperity teaching, just a love for people and a humble desire to serve their community. The only legitimate debate some may have is how much of the Kingdom can we expect before or after Jesus returns? To me the debate is academic and fruitless. God is working to renew and restore his creation, that is what the word “salvation” is best described as. Our best response is to pray and seek more of the Kingdom now and trust God to respond in His own way. Personally I think Bethel is being blessed because they have a kingdom focus and take church outside the four walls to minister to the world outside. They seek to be blessing to others, as Abraham was called to do, Israel was called to do, as we are all called to do.

As the senior leaders of Bethel rightly reminded us “we are here to introduce people to the King and the Kingdom.” What greater privilege and calling is there in life? This isn’t just for Ministers. It’s for all of us. May your kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven. AMEN!

Pete Jorysz

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