Today I want to begin to address the function of leadership in the local church setting. The principles presented in this instruction are more important than any single form used to implement those principles. There are many forms of governing that can work both biblically and effectively. For over twenty years I have led the administration of a form of governmental expression that implements key New Covenant principles that can be applied in many forms of church operations. The main focus of any form of New Covenant governmental function must be the New Covenant life of God. Structure does not produce life, but life will create structure. Any proper form of function of leadership must seek and submit to the Holy Spirit’s ability to speak to the human heart. Leaders must seek to hear God and to create an environment where every member is inspired to hear God himself or herself. That hearing will be for both individual connection with God and for corporate direction as a body of purpose in Christ. The significance of any New Covenant expression of governing is measured in its ability to activate, facilitate, and release the members of that church expression in hearing God to manifest His word, will, and way. It must facilitate the priesthood of the believers. This function will always include the grace gift of leadership and diverse gifts of body membership given by God to provide the governing function of the Church. This is never to mean domination or control of leadership over the saints. No leader of the New Covenant has a responsibility to hear God on behalf of others. Every leader has the responsibility to aid and assist each member in hearing God and responding to His will. The New Covenant function of government is always one of activation, facilitation, and release. With the same consideration, church government is not a form of manipulation. It is never the will of the people over the direction of leadership. It is always the direction of God through leadership, with each congregation member bringing his or her responsible contribution to the process of hearing God in the local church. It is important to note the basic elements of any form of New Covenant government. Those elements must include the substance of New Covenant life.
I believe that God gathers people together in a local church expression for a specific purpose of Christ’s testimony in the earth. This can be clearly seen through a spiritual experience in my own life that set a foundation for an expression of the body of Christ in the city where I live. One morning over twenty-five years ago I had a vision. In the vision I was standing in my city were there is often a gathering of young people. Above me I could see a principality and he had three large chains extending from the ground to three sides of his body. The chains were each stretched tightly as the principality stretched them to his place of standing in the air. He was shouting out belligerently. He declared, “There is no God!” “There are no absolutes!” Then I heard someone say, “Pull him down”, and some began to focus on him and try to pull him from his place of standing. Then I heard God say. “I don’t want him down. I want him out of here!” I turned with my side to the principality and I lifted my hands and began to worship God. I saw thousands of young people stand with me and they raised their hands in worship to God as well. Jesus began to come down in bodily form in the midst of the people. As He did, I could hear the breaking of the chains holding the principality. The presence of Jesus was dispossessing the ability for the principality to be held to the ground. God was revealing to me that the way to destroy the power of the enemy was to fill the place of its standing with an expression of the body of Christ. Jesus in bodily form was the secret to bringing freedom to the place of the stronghold of the enemy. This vision has proven to be true in many areas of my life, but it was a key to a corporate expression of Christ that God authorized me to facilitate over twenty years ago.
My journey of seeking to understand the principle revealed in this vision has not been perfect. Not many years after that vision I was part of a ministry in our city that engaged in the classic form of spiritual warfare often attempted by the church. Our focus was to assault the principalities in the hope of transforming our community. Back then I was known as the prophet whose nose could cut diamonds and my task was to identify the powers of the air in our region. I discerned that the two major powers of our area were those of greed and religion. We staged a warfare conference and I confronted those powers with a challenge of removing them. One month after that confrontation we found ourselves in shambles as the church split and great destruction swept the congregation. The senior leader left and I was left with a handful of bleeding, wounded people.
It was out of that experience that God spoke to me concerning His plan in the city. He told me that we had challenged greed and religion, when we ourselves were also greedy and religious. We had no authority to dispossess the powers of greed and religion. God said, “You tried that your way, now we will do it my way.” He made it clear to me that His process would not be instant, but would take some time. He told me that he would give me a handful of people who were a part of the greed and religion of the community and that He would write a spiritual letter of generosity and freedom within their lives. The effect of His spiritual letter would break the chains that held greed and religion to the region. An expression of Jesus in bodily form would dispossess the strong holds of the enemy. He told me to name the expression of this letter “Abundant Life”. “Abundant Life” would become an expression of the life that Jesus came to give and it would bring liberty to the former places of greed and religion in the region and beyond. For twenty years I was the senior leader of that letter and I watched as God miraculously transformed human lives and it affected the community and even the nations. Today my son Jonathan continues to lead the furtherance of the spiritual letter.
New Covenant government must activate, facilitate, and release each member of the local church body to function within their God-given grace of ministry. God joins members in the expressions of His body that contribute to the stature of Christ revealed in that expression of His eternal Church. In the letter of Abundant Life God has added many expressions of diversity to bring the expansion of His liberty. God wants to write many spiritual letters in the earth, but they begin with a handful of people joined together for God’s purposes. God takes that gathering of people and writes a spiritual letter revealing His purpose and will. The foundational strength of the letter is God’s connection to the leader, the leadership team, and to each member of that corporate gathering.
2 Corinthians 3:1-3 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some, letters of commendation to you or from you? You are our letter, written in our hearts, known and read by all men; being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
In my time of leading Abundant Life, God has spoken to us corporately and individually. We have watched as a body of people has increased in generosity and the freedom of life. There has been a continued increase in the liberty of the Spirit, the liberty of the soul, and a liberty in life. Leadership has had to model generosity and freedom while each member has learned to respond to the leading of the Holy Spirit in the writing of this spiritual letter. The congregation is not the same as it was in its conception. I have also watched changes come into our community as a result of the influence of God’s Spirit among us. Many may not even be aware of what has happened, but the proof is in the influence happening as a result of God’s New Covenant expression among us. God chooses leadership and body membership to write a spiritual letter to bring about changes in the earth!
Food For Thought,
Ted J. Hanson