Last week I wrote in regard to God’s desire for ministries to be established as written letters of His Spirit at work in the hearts and minds of men and women in the communities of the earth. Today I want to present a personal testimony from a book I have written, New Covenant Leadership. For some of you this will be a reminder to what I have written before, while others will find this a testimony for the first time. This is a lesson from my past meant to inspire an embracing of all the Holy Spirit wants to write in the corporate expressions of His community in the earth.
For twenty years I was the senior pastor of a local church in an area that was affected by and saturated with self-focused and self-concerned people. In 1990 God revealed to me that one of the strongholds of our city was a spirit of greed. It appeared to me that this influence of greed upon the hearts and minds of people caused the community and its members to often exhibit actions of what I call ‘small minded thinking’. People were often concerned with themselves and little effort was ever given to meet the needs of others. This was especially true in the late 80’s and early 90’s, when I first started ministry in the area. In those days we would call a church potluck dinner and would usually have to send out to Kentucky Fried Chicken for more chicken and run to the local market for all the other ingredients of an established meal. Those who came to eat simply came to get what was being offered, but they had little concern for giving to the needs or desires of others. The mindset of the people was not one of ‘generosity’. This was a mindset found in the general public of the community. Our church body was just a common expression of the community. It was merely a piece of the pie. It was just a slice of the common ingredients found in the general population. One of the things that God began to have me do was to address the strongholds of the hearts and minds of the people in regard to a spirit of generosity and hospitality. God instructed me to schedule outside guest speakers to minister in our church on a monthly basis, to whom we sowed generously in offerings. When the people didn’t give, I would set the example with personal giving and corporate sacrifice in order to be a blessing to those that God had sent us. God began to change the hearts and minds of the people by the influence of His Spirit. We eventually became known as the ‘hosting church’ of the community. When we called for a potluck dinner, the leftovers were enough to feed plenty more. The spirit of generosity had overtaken the spirit of greed as God had written a corporate letter in the hearts and minds of the local body of believers. For many years we hosted a monthly prayer gathering of leaders in the community and fed them a feast fit for a king. We hosted an annual conference for fifteen years and received numerous comments in regard to the hospitality and generosity of the church body. A corporate gathering of poverty minded people became a corporate expression of God’s generosity and abundant life. I believe it also affected the spirit of the community. The credit is to God and His work of government in the church. This influencing force of generosity could only be effective through God joining of individual members for this corporate cause. Strength and power of change is found in the force of God’s corporate letter being written. God gathers a people together for His purposes in the earth and then He writes a letter of life upon their hearts and minds to bring change.
This aspect of corporeity in the Church is not only seen in the changing of the character of the Church, it is also seen in the administration of the Church. In order for us to understand the equipping, governing, and functioning aspects of church government, it must first be understood that God’s Church is a corporate Body and that Body is knit together in fellowship, purpose, and destiny.
As a local church, our church experienced a continual increase of diverse expressions of ministry among its members. We had teams that ministered prophetically, teams that ministered healing, and teams that ministered in the spirit of counsel. In worship we had those who sang, those who played instruments, those who danced, those who painted pictures, and those who wrote poetry by the leading of the Holy Spirit. We had various expressions of prayer ministry with people who saw visions, had dreams, and those who saw visually into the realm of the spirit. Every year we saw new expressions of ministry added to the local body as God continued to write His letter among us corporately. This testimony of diversity has carried on to the next generation of our church under the leadership of my son Pastor Jonathan Hanson. It has continued to take on more spontaneous and organic expressions of those things written in the days past, but it is the Holy Spirit that writes the letter of life in the expression of community in the Church.
God desires to write a spiritual letter through divinely joined members of the corporate Church. Unity in the letter comes from the common value in the letter. The letter written by the Spirit of God is diverse in its expression, but single in its purpose. The substance of the letter is written with the heavenly values God desires to bring into the earth. Those values come from a corporate purpose and plan from heaven. God desires to unify each expression of His Body and fulfill a common purpose upon the earth. Leaders have a responsibility to embrace God’s way and purpose in that expression and all of the members of the community are responsible in their response to the letter being written by the Spirit of God.
Food For Thought,
Ted J. Hanson