September 01, 2014

Nov 11   -  Peter Wagner

Image source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image source: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Author’s Note:

Last Passover, Chuck Pierce gave me an assignment which has taken me many months to complete.  You will read about the background in the essay itself. The more I thought about it, the more God seemed to bring to mind, so I decided to disregard the number of words it took me to express these thoughts.  I say this to apologize for the length of the paper.  I know that just looking at the size will discourage some from reading it, but I urge you to muster up the patience and endurance that God has given you and to take a look at it.

Blessings,
Peter


We now live in the midst of the greatest prayer movement in recorded history, both nationally and internationally. By saying this, I am in no way intending to trivialize the legendary prayer movements of the past, but the reality is that they did not enjoy the incredible means of communication that we now have with the Internet and other vehicles of digital technology. The multiplied facets of the modern prayer movement are now so widespread and rapidly developing that it is all but impossible to catalog them.

Significant Prayer Initiatives

My knowledge is obviously limited. Still, at the risk of leaving out some significant prayer initiatives that should be mentioned, I will list some that come to mind. Doris and I had the privilege of leading the AD2000 United Prayer Track during the 1990s which convened several notable international prayer gatherings and facilitated on-site prayer journeys to each of the 50-some nations of the 10/40 Window. This culminated in the October 1999 Celebration Ephesus event which brought together over 5,000 individuals from 61 nations in the amphitheater in ancient Ephesus where the silversmiths rioted against the Apostle Paul. The focus then shifted to the 40/70 Window with more international prayer gatherings and prayer journeys as well. Graham Power of South Africa soon launched the massive Transformation Africa prayer movement and the Global Day of Prayer on the Day of Pentecost which for several years found almost every nation in the world joining together for intercession. Momentum built until arguably the largest intercessory prayer gathering ever took place in a stadium in Jakarta, Indonesia May 17, 2012 with some 100,000 participating.

Narrowing our focus to the U.S., I could safely say that we are surrounded by more committed, proactive, prophetic intercessors per capita than ever before in our history. Authentic prayer ministries continue to mushroom from state to state. One of the highest visibility intercessory initiatives has been The Call, led by Lou Engle. Robert Stearns, Jack Hayford, and Paul Cedar have catalyzed an enormous international agreement in prayer for the “Peace of Jerusalem” the first Sunday of every October. Among the agencies that God has raised up to help coordinate this massive prayer effort are the Reformation Prayer Network led by Cindy Jacobs and the Heartland Apostolic Prayer Network led by John Benefiel. Each of them has coordinators in all 50 states, and they work closely together. The intercessors are using the prayer tools and methodologies which first emerged in the 1990s, combining them with ongoing revelation and experience on the front lines, all of which has greatly matured today’s intercessory army.

Discerning the Direction

I want to direct this essay toward the leaders of this unprecedented prayer force in America. To be personal and transparent, let me admit that I am no longer an active leader or even a bona fide player in these modern prayer initiatives. However, I did provide apostolic leadership in this field during the 1990s, and that has left me with a certain residue of respect. I now, at 82, find myself in a very enviable position in life. In 2010 I turned eight ministries which I had been leading over to my spiritual sons and daughters, and now I am in what I call my “Fourth Career.” I am aligned with Apostle Chuck Pierce in Global Spheres, Inc., and I am enjoying what Bobby Clinton terms Phase VI of leadership development, “Afterglow.” This means that I can sit back, keep my finger on the pulse of what the Spirit seems to be saying to the churches, and speak out when I feel I discern the direction that God wants us to take, moving into the future.

That is what I am attempting to do here. Look at the title of this essay: “The America of Tomorrow: How Shall We Pray?” I anticipate that the title will present a dilemma to many readers. The knee-jerk response to my question would be that we naturally want to pray for the “America of Tomorrow;” however on further thought it will occur to many that our prayer movements up to now have frequently been concentrating on the “America of Yesterday.”

The Prophetic Mandate

I had been thinking about this for a time, when I received a strong prophetic mandate from Chuck Pierce during the 2012 annual Global Spheres/Glory of Zion Passover Gathering. Chuck is the prophet with whom I am most closely aligned, so I pay special attention when the word of the Lord comes through him to me. I think it is important that I record most of this prophetic interchange.

Paul Keith Davis had just finished his message on April 6, 2012, and he began to prophesy. Among other things, he said, “And, Lord, I just release over this house that apostolic anointing, that model that we saw in Antioch, the one that gave us an interpretation of scriptures that transformed cities. May it be deposited here!”

At which point, Chuck Pierce stood up and said, “Now, Peter, I want you to hear that word because of what Anne Tate and I heard earlier this morning. The Lord said, ‘The Antioch door is now reopening over you.’ I have waited for that to be said. We heard it twice already today, and this is the third time. ‘The Antioch door is being reopened in this place.’ I have no idea what it means, but this is the third time it has come forth today.”

Chuck then faced me and continued: “Peter, I feel like I have to give you an assignment. I say this humbly to you, but I know you’re quite capable of doing this for us.  There was a word over you, and the Lord said to you, ‘Open your eyes for I will now reveal to you how the past has come to its closure and the new will begin to be expressed.’ While you’re here, you are going to get a message. I know you are capable because you’re a historian and you’ve got the best commentary on Acts that has ever been written because it makes Acts real today.  You are going to know what is really opening over us here. You’re going to understand how one church era is ending and a new church era is being established. You’re going to break us out of our nationalism. You’re going to cause us to see a kingdom expression in the days ahead that we have not seen. This is the last major assignment that the Lord is giving you and you’re going to reinitiate the open door that came into an expression in Antioch, but has never come into fullness for this church age.”

And then: “Lord, I loose this assignment. I feel like angelically you are giving it from heaven to be imparted to him. I know that he might be aged in years, but he is fresh in revelation. We decree right now that the last great message and paradigm shift for this generation’s alignment will now be released into Peter in Jesus’ name.”

I have been allowing this prophetic assignment to permeate my spirit, and I have been praying over it for several months. I now feel that I have enough of a grasp on what the Spirit is saying to the churches in order to begin conversation on the matter.

Understanding Antioch

First we need to start with the biblical Antioch, the capital of Syria, and the events which unfolded in that city. Let me say up front that I am making a long story short. If you doubt any of the statements I make here, please go my commentary on Acts that Chuck mentioned to get a full explanation. [1] 

Antioch, with a population of 500,000, was the third largest city of the Roman Empire. It hosted a colony of 25,000 Jews (5 percent of the population) who lived in segregated housing in the Jewish Quarter. Their contact with the 475,000 Gentiles was minimal at best.

The first missionaries to Antioch were Jewish believers who were driven out of Jerusalem. Acts says, “Now those who were scattered after the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to no one but the Jews only” (11:19). That means that when they arrived in Antioch, they settled in the Jewish Quarter and planted house churches among those who lived there. They would not have shared the gospel with the Antioch Gentiles. This continued for ten years.

Ten years later a second missionary team arrived in Antioch, assigned by God to preach, not to the minority Jews, but to the majority Gentiles. Acts tells us that “men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who, when they had come to Antioch, spoke to the Hellenists [i.e., the Gentiles - ed.], preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord” (11:21-22). These missionaries multiplied Gentile house churches. Although it might offend our current political correctness, the fact remains that there was very little interaction between these new Gentile house churches and the older ones in the Jewish quarter. Keep in mind that we are dealing with the first century, not the 21st century.

Whatever the social situation, these new Gentile believers in Antioch were part of the body of Christ, just as much as the Jewish converts were. The problem? The Gentile men were not circumcised and they did not keep the Jewish law. The word of this complicating turn of events got out to the church in Jerusalem, which, of course, was all Jewish. Acts says, “Then the news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch” (11:22). This was the new paradigm, and Barnabas turned out to be favorable to what was happening: “When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord” (11:23). Gentiles, according to Barnabas, could be believers without being circumcised! “The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch” (Acts 11:26)!

This, however, was not the end. Barnabas brought Saul (later Paul) from Tarsus to Antioch. They eventually added “Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch” (Acts 13:1) to their team. It is important to observe that none of these five was from Antioch. They were foreign missionaries, and because they came from the outside, they could build bridges between the Jewish house churches and the Gentile house churches, which they did. Saul, who was a Jew, even took a bold step and started eating with Gentile believers to symbolize that Jew and Gentile were “one new man.” We can assume that others did as well. This caused great controversy, as is the case with most paradigm shifts. Later Paul even got into a fight with Peter and Barnabas calling them “hypocrites” because once they ate with Gentiles, then they quit. You can read all about it in Galatians 2:11-14.

The contention about Gentiles not being circumcised continued to escalate for three or four years until the Council of Jerusalem, which was held in AD 49, decreed that Gentiles could remain as they were and still be legitimate believers (see Acts 15:19). But the paradigm shift began in Antioch.

In Chuck Pierce’s prophecy to me, he started with “the Antioch door,” and then said, “You are going to understand how one church era is ending and a new church era is being established.”  In Antioch the old church era admitted circumcised Jews only, but the new church era embraced both Jews and Gentiles, forming what Paul later called “one new man” (see Eph. 2:15).

How does this apply to what the Spirit is saying to the churches today? As I have prayed about this assignment, two paradigm shifts continue coming to mind. One involves our nation and the other involves the church.

The America of Tomorrow

The America of Tomorrow will not be the same as the America we have known. The 20th century, during which many of us received our personal formation, will undoubtedly go down in history as America’s century. America dominated the world in military might, scientific breakthroughs, educational attainments, missionary outreach, international economics, agricultural production, medical advancements, manufacturing, personal and familial prosperity, and many other indicators of national superiority. Christianity flourished. It was an enviable position for most of us Americans. Even those from other countries looked up to America enough to make it the destination of choice for those who were emigrating from their home nations.

I have just described the America of Yesterday. I know that will be a disheartening statement to many, and I regret having to say it myself. I earlier chronicled the massive and exciting prayer movement of our times, which is very good. However, as I attempt to track the objects of our prayers, I have observed that a good many of our petitions and proclamations have been directed toward reestablishing the America of Yesterday. Even many of our prayers for revival and awakening look nostalgically toward the past. We ask God to raise up a Wesley or a Whitfield, to bring us a Cane Ridge Revival, to bring forth another David Brainerd or Jonathan Edwards, to give us a vision for Lanphier and the Fulton Street Prayer meeting, to restore the Jesus People, to repeat Toronto or Brownsville, to allow us to taste a Welsh Revival, to reinstate Azusa Street, to pour out a Third Great Awakening, and on and on. I like to say that it’s o.k. to learn from the past, but not to yearn for the past. Am I the only one who perceives a great deal of yearning these days?

I believe we should begin looking toward and praying into the America of Tomorrow. Make no mistake about it - I am a patriotic American. I thank God for those like David Barton who remind us, with exquisitely minute historical data, that the roots of our nation are clearly Christian. My four-times great grandfather was Alexander Hamilton, a born-again Christian who was the closest confidant of George Washington and some historians say the father of our American government. I am a conservative both theologically and politically. I am a registered Republican. I want America to blossom and become everything that God wants it to be. I want God’s kingdom to come and His will to be done here in America as it is in heaven. Numerous bloggers on the Internet will take a statement like that and accuse me of being a “dominionist.” My response? Guilty, as charged!

The Election of 2012

I wrote the above paragraphs weeks before the American election of 2012 in which Barack Obama was reelected President for the next four years. This election provided us with the strongest statement on record so far that the America of Yesterday is a thing of the past. I believe it would be good for us to agree that God is not looking for yesterday’s America, but rather for tomorrow’s America. We have wonderful memories of the 18th, the 19th, and the 20th centuries of America’s history. But none of them provides a template for the America of the 21st century. Let’s not look back, let’s look ahead. This is part of the paradigm shift taking us from an old era to a new era.

What else did the election show us about the America of Tomorrow? It showed us that there will be no turning back. America’s demographics and American culture, for better or for worse, have changed forever. Obama received overwhelming support from African-Americans, Latinos, Asians, and the millennial generation. On the day after the election, conservative commentator Bill O’Reilly exclaimed, “We’re in a different country!” This means we are another Antioch. We’re dealing with a distinct culture. This time instead of seeking God’s ways of taking the gospel from the Jews to the Gentiles, we need to find God’s plan for taking the gospel of the kingdom from the America of Yesterday to the America of Tomorrow.

I continue to address our prayer leaders. The day after the election, prophet Chuck Pierce wrote, “I see a new prophetic intercessory movement ahead to help us make the shift into Kingdom alignment.” Notice the word “new.” He adds, “There is no need to pray for the America we have known, but we must pray and intercede to develop a New Wineskin America.” And then, “The new battlefields will not be the present battlefields.” He suggests that our prayer movements will need to address things like the IRS, the Electoral College, the health care structure, and the Federal Reserve System.[2] Are the leaders of our prayer movements prepared to launch out and pray into these areas and others which God will show us?

        I hope I do not hear that the reason American culture is changing, even embracing certain unbiblical values, might be because “we didn’t pray enough.” Please review pages 1 and 2 where I describe some of the unprecedented prayer movements in our nation and abroad, and believe me when I say that the intensity of prayer for America before the election of 2012 was truly amazing. I personally think that we did pray enough, and more besides. However, I do suspect that we, as a nation, might not adequately have humbled ourselves. Let’s remember 2 Chronicles 7:14: “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray . . .I will heal their land.”

The first step is to humble ourselves, but keep in mind that I said “as a nation.” We have individually knelt in humility, washed feet, done identificational repentance, confessed our personal and corporate sins. But, like it or not, America is still not seen by much of the rest of the world as a humble nation. Keep in mind that humility does not imply weakness. Humility is “power under control” just as Jesus exemplified. America is certainly a powerful nation, but our power has not always been accompanied by a humble spirit.

This was brought home by my friend, Wolfgang Simson of Germany, who wrote an essay the day after the election, “Our dear America - where do you go from here?” He begins with a picture of the cover of Der Spiegel (similar to America’s Time magazine) where Uncle Sam is in a hospital bed with an IV drip and the caption: “The American Patient: The Decline of a Great Nation.”  Where does humility come in? Here is a question that Simson raises:

Did you ever allow the thought that God in his sovereignty is using Obama like a pawn on his chessboard to humble the U.S. as a nation because he wants to show his grace to a nation gone completely self-sufficient? A nation that is so full of independence, individualism, nationalism and trusting a greed- and fear-based economy that there may be only one way open to heal it from its idolatry and re-align itself with the Kingdom of God: a crisis beyond anything that America has ever seen!

I know that you and I don’t like to hear things like this. But in his original prophecy to me regarding doing this paper, Chuck Pierce said, “You’re going to break us out of our nationalism.” I think that Wolfgang Simson gives us a clue to the solution when he says, “The problem of the current commotion and insecurity arises when even God’s people keep confusing the Kingdom of God with the United States of America.”[3] 

If this is the case, let’s look forward to taking a different course.

No Longer Number One!

What might this course be? It might even be beyond our control. Let’s focus on the bigger picture. One way that we may humble ourselves as a nation is to get used to the rather disturbing fact that the America of Tomorrow will no longer be the Number One superpower of the world. If not, which nation will? The answer is China. This transition will not happen overnight. At the moment China does not have the mindset to rule the world. But China has a significant advantage in not needing to deal with a record of imperialism. I am simply reporting what I see to be the hand of God moving the nations of the world toward His kingdom.

For a long time I have been teaching about the historical shifts of the center of gravity of world Christianity. The first center of gravity was Jerusalem, then it moved to Ephesus, then to Rome & Constantinople, then to Western Europe, then to North America, and now it has moved to the Asian-Pacific rim with China as the chief player in that region. In that area of the world we have been seeing the most explosive numerical growth of Christianity ever recorded. The church is taking new forms that will in all probability provide the template for the churches of tomorrow. Missionary outreach is becoming the strongest in the world, including the visionary Back to Jerusalem Movement. Finances for Christian causes are already reaching new levels. I began to learn this in the late 1990s when I was overseeing the building of the World Prayer Center in Colorado Springs. Some 70 percent of the funds that I raised came from Asia!

The China Prophecy

        I recently wrote a report of a mission trip I took to China, and I am going to excerpt some thoughts from it. It relates to a remarkable prophecy from Chuck Pierce that he recorded in his book God’s Unfolding Battle Plan. [4]  This is a word concerning China that he received in 1986, back when China was far from a respected member of the international community. Here is the prophecy, along with some comments:

1986. The Chinese government would begin to change from its oppressive policies. (This year the student revolutions began that led to the Tiananmen Square event.)

1996. The government of the church will begin to shift toward an apostolic model. (Reportedly, the beginnings of the greatest “leadershift” in the Chinese church can be traced back to 1996.)

2006. China will come into the world picture. (This is the year when preparations began for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games which put China on virtually every TV screen in the world.)

2016. The economy of China will be second to none, and the US will become an ally of China. (This is the next date for us today, and I will comment on it later.)

2026. “The Chinese people will be the most dominant and influential people on earth, and China will have the principal role of bringing in world harvest” (p. 212). (For more than ten years, by the way, I have been prophesying that by 2025 China would be sending more foreign missionaries than any other nation.)

The prophecies for 2016 and 2026 clearly imply that in the 21st century, China will become Number One. Some of us have been basking in what has been called “American exceptionalism,” and it has been a well-deserved label for the America of Yesterday. But I could imagine that some of my Chinese friends might be considering “Chinese exceptionalism” as a slogan for tomorrow, and it would be hard to deny. Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m an American, and I like to be Number One. In the 2012 Olympics we still earned more medals than the Chinese, but not by as much as in the past. Please catch these words: in this essay I am trying to deal with the is, not the ought!

Back to 2016. When Chuck Pierce prophesied in 1986 that thirty years later, in 2016, China’s economy would be second to none, most informed observers tended to ignore it at best and ridicule it at worst. However, let me quote from a piece by Brett Arends from MarketWatch of the Wall Street Journal dated April 25, 2011:

IMF bombshell: Age of America nears end
Commentary: China’s economy will surpass the U.S. in 2016

The International Monetary Fund has just dropped a bombshell, and nobody noticed. For the first time, the international organization has set a date for the moment when the ‘Age of America’ will end and the U.S. economy will be overtaken by that of China. And it’s a lot closer than you may think. According to the latest IMF official forecasts, China’s economy will surpass that of America in real terms in 2016-just five years from now.


I had a chance to discuss this with an outstanding kingdom-minded Chinese economist, and he told me that his data points to the date 2020, not 2016, when China’s economy will be Number One. But he also suggested that Chinese thinking (as contrasted to Western thinking) would regard 2020 as close enough to validate the prophecy. We shall see. But no matter what the date might be, America needs to humble itself and be a good Number Two.     
 
A Surprise?

Yes, this is a stunning surprise to many Americans, including some American prayer leaders. But let me point out that it is not a surprise to God. Otherwise, why would God reveal this to us through His prophet many years ago? I believe He revealed it in 1986 because He wanted His people prepared for this historic change. The Bible says that if we believe his prophets, we will prosper (see 2 Chron. 20:20). The knee-jerk reaction of some will be to cry out to energize the intercessors to a new level so that this does not happen and that America remains as Number One. They yearn for the America of Yesterday! I don’t think that is realistic. Instead, let’s believe the prophets and pray that God will allow America to develop into a Number Two that advances the kingdom of God in every way. More recently, Chuck Pierce gave this further word from the Lord:

The Dragon and her children, other Asian nations, will arise to unprecedented control of the economic systems of the earth. . . China is creating a society to advance the kingdom of God. The House Church system there is the strongest in the world. Their call to Israel is amazing.[5]


Due, at least in part, to the attempted eradication of Christianity under Mao Zedong and the subsequent ruthless persecution of house church Christians, many Western believers have a bitter taste in their mouth when they think of China. This is understandable, but things have changed. Just as we attempt to view America realistically, we must learn not to focus on the China of Yesterday but the China of Tomorrow. For the record, the greatest national harvest of souls ever recorded in history has taken place in China over the past 30 years. All three major branches of the Chinese church are flourishing: the government-sanctioned Three Self Church, the traditional rural house church movement, and the new “third church” or urban house church movement. It may well be that the form and function of the churches of the urban house church movement will furnish the most important new template for the worldwide church of the 21st century. Among kingdom-minded believers, we have a consensus that the ultimate measurement of successful societal transformation would be the elimination of systemic poverty. The Chinese government has succeeded in lifting over 300 million individuals (roughly the population of the USA) out of systemic poverty through their urbanization program.

For some, especially those with memories of the Cold War, a major stumbling block to acknowledging the fact that China is destined to become Number One is that it is not a democracy, but has a one-party government, namely the Communist Party. The fact that under this Communist government China has blossomed into one of the world’s most capitalistic societies, even owning a great deal of our current American debt, must not escape attention. Some things that seem contradictory to us may not seem contradictory to the mindset of other cultures. And the good news is that recently some kingdom-minded Chinese believers who have felt called to help transform the Chinese government mountain have chosen to join the Communist party. Reports I am receiving indicate that their faith is known to their colleagues and is respected. One of my friends in the party projects a “30-30 Vision,” namely that by 2030, China will be 30 per cent Christian. He foresees that the China of Tomorrow will experience “transformation with the Cross!”

It might be a good thing if some of our American prayer movements would join with our Chinese brothers and sisters in asking God to bring about this kind of transformation and that God would begin to show us what role the America of Tomorrow will have in this new chapter of world history. Let’s keep in mind Chuck Pierce’s prophecy about 2016 where he says that once China achieves the top world economy, “The United States will realign itself with China and they will be allies.”[6] Some of my Chinese friends have begun calling this a new “G2.” If so, let’s pray that through this G2, God’s kingdom will come on earth as it is in heaven!

The Church

You will recall that Chuck Pierce prophesied about “the Antioch door,” pointing out that in Antioch, one church era ended and another began. He then assigned me to make an application of that principle to our present situation. When he did, I mentioned that two paradigm shifts came into my mind. The first had to do with the nation, and I have just set forth the big picture of how I see the America of Tomorrow, especially in relationship to China. If the nation of America was involved in the first paradigm shift, the church is the subject of the second one.

The paradigm for the church of the future may well be found in what many are calling the “New Apostolic Reformation” (NAR). This paradigm shift has already begun. Consider these words carefully: We are now experiencing the most radical change in the way of doing church since the Protestant Reformation. Notice the words, “doing church.” We are not talking about a change in the theology of the Reformation. We believe in the authority of Scripture, justification by faith, and the priesthood of all believers as strongly as did Luther or Calvin. However we are talking about the ways in which the church is beginning to live out these theological convictions day after day.

This is not the place to attempt to catalog all the differences between what we might think of as the old wineskin of the church and the new wineskin. Some of them, however, are more important than others, and I will try to highlight them. I think I am correct in contending that the most important distinction between the old and the new is the governance of the church. In the new wineskin, apostles, in the New Testament sense of the word, head up the government of the church.

Authority

In fact, of all the radical changes characteristic of the New Apostolic Reformation, I consider this the most radical of all: The amount of spiritual authority delegated by the Holy Spirit to individuals. Notice that the operative words in this statement are “authority” and “individuals.” We Protestants are not accustomed to individuals having much spiritual authority.  Traditionally, the final authority in our church bodies has resided in groups, not individuals. That is where we get such ecclesiastical terminology as “deacon boards” or “synods” or “sessions” or “congregations” or “general councils” or “presbyteries” or “vestries” or “state conventions” or “monthly meetings” or any number of similar terms-all referring to groups as over against individuals. The inevitable implication? Individuals cannot be trusted with final authority in the churches.

Churches of the NAR do not follow that traditional line of reasoning. They take seriously scriptures such as Ephesians 2:20 which tells us that the household of God (the church) is “built on the foundation of apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone.” And also, “And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers . . .” (2 Cor. 12:28). Apostles, properly related to prophets, are those who are intended to govern the church and to have the final authority. While all NAR churches recognize the function of the apostolic leader, some of them, for various reasons, have chosen not to adopt the title “apostle” as yet. I mention this only to help some from being sidetracked from recognizing apostolic governance because other leadership titles might be used. As an example, some of the most powerful apostolic leaders of our generation have been leaders of the Chinese rural house church movement. It has been reported that these individuals have had up to tens of millions of believers aligned under them. Their preferred title? “Uncle!”

The New Apostolic Reformation began with the African Independent Church Movement around 1900. It continued through the Chinese house church movement, the Latin American grassroots church movement, and the U.S. independent charismatic movement, to name only some of its most visible components. This is not insignificant. These new wineskin churches, the NAR, represent the largest megablock of non-Catholic Christianity in the world, and the only megablock of Christianity growing faster than the world population and Islam.[7] 

This will allow us to see, simply in terms of ecclesiastical demographics, why it is reasonable to consider the New Apostolic Reformation as a possible template for the new church age in worldwide Christianity.

Affiliation and Accountability

I will conclude this essay by mentioning two important characteristics of NAR churches other than governance. The first has to do with church affiliation. In the old wineskin the most common vehicle for affiliation among churches was denominations. Denominations served the body of Christ very well for hundreds of years, and some still do. However most denominations have been in a pattern of decline over the past 20 years, and significant turnaround seems unlikely. The new vehicle for affiliation is apostolic networks, led not by some person or group of persons elected through a democratic process, but rather by a mutual recognition of the gift and office of apostle on the part of the affiliated churches. The apostle, properly related to prophets, is the final authority for the life and ministry of the network.

Denominations typically are structured around a constitution and bylaws, and they operate through legal structures. Some denominations as a whole and/or judicatories under the denomination are also territorial. They can function only within certain geographical boundaries. On the other hand, apostolic networks strive to avoid both legalism and territorialism. The glue that holds them together is relational. Affiliation with an apostolic network is voluntary and is conditional upon the relationship of the church’s pastor with the apostle. The pattern is for apostolic networks to be very stable because pastors are typically grateful for the value that the apostle adds to their lives and ministries.

The final characteristic of NAR churches that I want to mention is alignment and accountability. If the apostle is the recognized leader of the apostolic network, obviously the pastors are aligned with the apostle and are accountable to him or her. But what about the apostle? Where is the accountability? The accountability is established when the apostle, by mutual consent, aligns with another peer-level apostle outside of the network and becomes accountable to that apostle. By way of illustration, if I may be personal, I lead a closed apostolic network of 25 apostles called Eagles Vision Apostolic Team. Each of these apostles, some of whom enjoy high public visibility, is accountable to me. Although it is rare because of the relatively high water level of personal integrity among EVAT members, I have been called upon more than once to arbitrate disputes and even to receive and process accusations against EVAT members, which I am pleased, and hopefully equipped, to do.

Conclusion

I think it is clear that we are now in the midst of one of those historic Antioch seasons in which God is transitioning us from old paradigms to new paradigms. These changes will not go smoothly unless the players are covered with a blanket of sincere, informed, and powerful intercession. The enemy will attempt to block God’s new season in every way possible, but prophetic intercession can neutralize his power and clear the way for the America of Tomorrow and for the church of tomorrow. My hope is that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven!

Works Cited

1. C. Peter Wagner, The Book of Acts: A Commentary (Ventura CA: Regal Books, 2008), pp. 220-238.
2. Personal correspondence from Chuck Pierce, November 7, 2012.
3. Wolfgang Simson, “Our dear America-where do you go from here?, November 7, 2012, emailed from .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).
4. Chuck D. Pierce, God’s Unfolding Battle Plan: A Field Manual for Advancing the Kingdom of God (Ventura CA: Regal books, 2007), pp. 211-216.
5. Chuck Pierce, “The Sleeping Giant Awakens.” Email from Glory of Zion International, July 25, 2012, p. 1.
6. Pierce, God’s Unfolding Battle Plan, p. 212.
7. David B. Barrett and Todd M. Johnson, World Christian Trends AD30-AD2200 (Pasadena CA: William Carey Library, 2001), p.543.

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Author

Peter Wagner

C. Peter Wagner is widely recognized as a leading authority in the fields of church growth and spiritual warfare. Wagner is cofounder of the World Prayer Center and is chancellor of the Wagner Institute in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He is the author or editor of more than 50 books, including Churchquake! and Acts of the Holy Spirit. Peter Wagner and his wife, Doris, live in Colorado Springs.