Written by 2:03 pm Theological Discussions

4 Core Values of every local Assembly

What does a biblical Pentecostal ministry look like? A lot of people have different ideas but I have spend quite a bit of time researching and praying about it. The expanded version of this would the 20 hallmarks of the Apostolic believer. However, I think these four are the big ones.

Core values are the fundamental beliefs of a person or group of people. These guiding principles dictate behavior and can help people understand the difference between right and wrong.  also help groups to determine if they are on the right path and fulfilling their goals by creating an unwavering guide.

“Your goals and the tasks you choose to accomplish your goals either align with dream and core values or they don’t. It’s that simple.” – Julie Connor

Core Values are what believers, especially Pentecostals call “personal convictions.” When people have they have a “conviction” about this or that; they are really just using Christianese to say it is a core values that governs their lives.

That is on a personal level but what the convictions or core values of a local Assembly? How should a gathering of the faithful conduct themselves? These are the 4 things that should not up for debate.

Pentecost!

Outside of the salvation experience, there is nothing more important that having the Acts 2 experience. In theology, this is called the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. As Pentecostals, we hold the initial physical evidence of the experience is praying in unknown tongues. We know this because every time someone was filled with the Holy Spirit in Acts, they prayed in tongues or prayed in tongues and prophesy.

With the issue of the initial physical evidence of the Holy Spirit being tongues aside, any biblical assembly should have at the core of all they do to be Spirit driven, led and empowered. It is true and I have said it many times: Without the Holy Spirit, we are nothing and we have nothing. 

It is a shame that many churches have turned Pentecost into an event six weeks after Easter (or Resurrection Sunday). Every Sunday should be Pentecost Sunday in our churches. There should never be a time that the faithful gather and every grace of the Spirit (spiritual gifts) is not in operation among the people. This should grieve us that this is not the case.

It has been said that we must be Pentecostal people but I want to ask if we are people of Pentecost or just Pentecostal people? One is how we identify ourselves and the other is how we live our lives. Being people of Pentecost happens on Tuesday morning in the office just as much it does on Sunday morning in the church.

Valuing Pentecost is also more than just praying in tongues. As important as that is for us, it should not be the end all of spiritual life. Having a value for the experience is about the presence of the Holy Spirit is us, on us and through us.

In Acts, the presence of the Spirit was critical to every area of spiritual life. It was not just something on a statement of faith but the power of the Spirit was a reality for all matters of life. They did not do anything without first seeking the Holy Spirit.

It was the reality of the Holy Spirit that changed regions. We read in Acts 19 about how the a dozen people received the Spirit and the region was rocked with revival.

When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all….This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord. (Acts 19:6-7,10)

Church life is not possible without the hope of the Spirit in our lives. Nothing is more critical that having Pentecost touch every area of our being. This is what the apostolic church believed, lived, and understood. As believers, we must follow their example as well.

Pray for the reality of Acts 2 in your life and in your church today.

 

Encounter

Being people of Pentecost leads us to encounter. It is clear that the apostolic church valued personal encounter with the Spirit. We see this all through the book of Acts.

“Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” (Acts 3:6)

As Daniel Kolenda once told me, “You can not give what you do not have.” Just like if you walk into a restaurant and try and order something they are out of stock, you will be told they do not have what you are asking for. The same is true spiritually. You can only impart that which you have experienced.

Peter and John did not give them the begger great theology or a bible lesson on the atonement when they encountered him. They could have explained to the man Isaiah 53 but they didn’t. They valued encounter and they gave to the begger an encounter as well.

The life of the man who received that encounter was transformed as well. He did not stay there begging and living the same he did before he had encountered the reality of the Holy Spirit.

He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God…. they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. (Acts 3:8,10) 

The Pentecostal Church has nothing that will change the world if all we have is great theology or sound doctrine (as important as that is). Our right to exist in this world depends on releasing the encounter of the Spirit to the broken world around us. This is the model of the apostolic age.

As much as I love theology (and studied in bible college), I question that people who their theology does not lead them into encounter with the Man, Jesus. The word theology is study of God. You can also say it as the pursuit of God. If your study does not end with an experience with God, something failed somewhere along the way.

There is nothing wrong with emotional experiences in God. We are to renew the mind and have the soul operate from a repented state. The Greek word, μετάνοια for repent means to, “a change of mind, as it appears to one who repents, of a purpose he has formed or of something he has done.”

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)

Compassion

We do not preach a social gospel. However, as people of faith and Pentecost, we do value reaching people at their point of need. We are called to people of compassion and empathy in their brokenness.

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)

The Lord was moved with compassion because he saw the work the devil had done on people. He wanted to see them set free from the works of the enemy. Jesus came to destroy the devil’s hold on humanity. He witnessed the harassment of the people by people that left them helpless. It touched him on an emotional level.

The answer was always spiritual, not social. He did not come so they have better lives but still go to hell. It can not be overstated that we do not preach the social gospel that is really just another gospel. (Gal. 1:8) Humanism is never the answer for the people of faith. It must be rejected and condemned by the people of Pentecost.

There is a demonic trinity that destroys lives: addiction, domestic violence and poverty. The people of faith must have an answer to these three demonic realities that torment the sinner day and night. Our response to these will directly impact our ability to see the captives set free.

We thank God for biblical response to addiction such as Teen Challenge that has seen hundred of thousands of people set free from all forms of addiction. Broken people do not have to stay that way. The role of the Pentecostal church is to see people set free by the power of the gospel and become vessels of deliverance to the people that they once associated with.

Domestic Violence is on the rise in America culture. Every minute of the day, up to 20 people will be the victim of some form of abuse from someone close to them in their own home. By the time you have read this article, hundreds of people across the country have been hurt by people who care about them. The gospel is the answer and the Church must preach it.

Poverty is not demonic in and of itself but being poverty is a sign of spirituality either. Both of these views are extremes. However, poverty keeps people in bondage. We can not preach the “prosperity gospel” but we have be faithful in seeking to allow the gospel bring people out of poverty.

This is where we seek to keep a biblical witness to the world while also being vessels of compassion to the people around us. We can not set quiet but must be the Pentecostal witness that God has called to be.

The harvest is before us, we must engage the fields of humanity.

Fijian woman worshipping in Nadi, Fiji camp meeting.

Prophetic Worship

Worship is how you live, not what you do on Sunday morning. With that said, I want to focus on that hour on Sunday morning where we sing together to the Lord. It is just worth saying that worship is much more than our singing Way Maker and Chain Breaker.

The heart of the Lord is often revealed in the time that we set apart for “worship.” The truth is that the longer we linger in the Spirit, the more revelation that we will receive as a corporate community. It is to our discredit that we rush through worship to get to the message from the pastor. If we sing for 10 minutes in order to hear an hour of preaching, something is off. If anything, I would prefer to see church linger in worship and go short on preaching if needed.

My philosophy is the words of Solomon, “You are in Heaven and here I am on earth. Let my words be few.” (Ecclesiastes 5:2) I am not suggesting that sermons are not important. I am suggesting that we put too much emphasis on them because this is what we are taught to do in bible college. Acts paints a very different picture.

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.  All the believers were together and had everything in common….They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere heartsthe Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47) 

Teaching was part of the apostolic experience but it was not the only thing that matters. Church was not a seminary course. The emphasis of the early church was on fellowship, breaking of bread, being together, having encounters corporately and seeing people added to them. Fellowship and breaking of bread was the overflow of their intimacy with the Holy Spirit, the Comforter and Baptizer.

One of the most valuable things the Lord has blessed me with is my time at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City where I learned the importance of having extended times of worship with no aim but to be like Mary of Bethany: sitting at the feet of Jesus.

It is past time for the church that preach Pentecost to put a strong emphasis on prophetic worship that is about the anointing flowing from Heaven to the people. I am not talking about having a gospel concert but true anointed worship that leads people into encounter with the Man, Jesus and they truly become people of Pentecost.

Revival came when we value the touch of God more than we did our watches. -Lindell Cooley

A hallmark of true Pentecostal revival is always extended worship where we linger in the thick presence of the Spirit. In fact, there has never been a revival that did not emphasize this, Pentecostal or otherwise.

Living for revival

As a student of revival, I have seen these four core values as normal is every move of the Spirit. If one of them is not in place, you end up with a “Bless me” gathering. This is happening. We do not deny it. However, bless me “churches” do not change the world and they don’t even really change the church culture.

It is true that a ministry may move in one of these values more than the other and they will change from time to time. There might be a season where they focus more on compassion than they do worship for example. That is natural. However, they completely disregard worship in the name of evangelism; the evangelism won’t be that effective and revival will not become the norm for them.

 

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