There is always a need to define, redefine, evaluate where we are concerning our position and our commission, in light of, scripture, history, and tradition. Therefore, I have decided to form The Global Conference of Bishops as a communion of episcopates uniting around true Apostolic tradition. I submit being a bishop is much more than merely looking the part, we must be the part. That means along with titles for status we need a character for example.
The normal responsibility and authority of leadership in the NT rested with the bishops – elders – pastors – deacons; but if we are interested in pursuing biblical patterns of leadership, we must be concerned to demonstrate observable growth not only in our grasp of truth but also in our lived discipline (1 Tim. 4:14 – 16) of the Truth. If you are not familiar with Church history, then you will go off on a tandem fighting everything by scripture only and not recognize the continual growth and pattern changes of the Church over time.
We must comprehend that spiritual leadership, far from lording it over others (Matt. 20:25 – 28), is a balanced combination of oversight (1 Tim. 4:11 – 13; 6:17 – 19; Titus 3:9 – 11) and example (1 Tim. 4:12; 6:6 – 11, 17 – 18; 1 Pet. 5:1 – 4) which, far from being negating are mutually reinforcing.
For instance, If you lived in the first four centuries of the church, being a bishop meant how well you were going to die for the Faith. Since most of the early bishops were martyred for the cause of Christ in this era. If you lived in the Middle Ages, bishops were defined as being both the civil and ecclesiastical authority of the known world. In fact, society functioned under both civil government and canon law during this period, which led to widespread corruption. In the Dark Ages and ultimately, the Reformation period, being a bishop was viewed as what corrupted the Church and represented the failed leadership of a glorious era of Church influence on the society of its’ day.
In our Modern-Day vernacular, being a bishop is almost like being a part of a new trend that rewards us with popularity, authority, wealth, and self-esteem. But are we fulfilling the mandate of Jesus Christ, our King, and leading a dark world to the light of His Glory by the light we shine on ourselves? I am not coming down on the episcopacy, just pointing out some abuses that affect all of us as leaders and hinder our effectiveness for evangelism and stability in the Church of Jesus Christ.
In the last 30 years, I have never seen so many people wanting to become some titled recognizable giant in the Kingdom. If they don’t ascend to the bishopric, it is by some other recognized title or self-appointed title that justifies who they are. Again, I beg, if you are not talking to God, how can you talk for God?
So, the questions are – Who really has the authority in the Church? Is it vested in titles or demonstration? Is it credentialed or simply proclaimed? Is it a product of supernatural sideshow tricks or simply the ability to proclaim through intellectual prowess? Is it based on gender or race? Does one have to believe a certain doctrine or worship in a particular fashion?
I really don’t know if we will settle the authority issues in the Church before Jesus comes or not. All I KNOW – is that we need to get a handle on leadership before the whole Church becomes too fragmented to reassemble and make herself whole.
First, the tradition of the episcopacy is so confusing that one must understand the difference in disciplines as the episcopacy unfolded. Historically, the Church developed what was termed collegiate episcopacy, based on a college of bishops governing the general body of Christ in different regions. As Christianity began identifying itself separate from its’ Jewish roots, it started embracing varying leadership models from the Apostolic leadership to the episcopal rule, beginning late first century on.
Along with the developing role of the episcopacy, also came the emerging role of the archiepiscopacy. Regarding its’ historical origin, some writers wrongly point to Timothy and Titus, the disciples of Paul, as to the first archbishops in the Church. Probably they were metropolitans in the wider sense of the term, one for Asia Minor, the other for the island of Crete. But it remains impossible to assign the exact date when archbishops, as we now use the term, were first appointed. It is true that metropolitans are mentioned as a well-known institution in the Church by the Council of Nicæa (325) in its fourth, fifth and sixth canons, and by the Council of Antioch (341) whose seventh canon is a classical passage in this matter.
It reads: “The bishops of every province must be aware that the bishop presiding in the metropolis has charge of the whole province; because all who have business come together from all quarters to the metropolis. For this reason, it is decided that he should, according to the ancient and recognized canon of our fathers, do nothing beyond what concerns their respective dioceses and the districts belonging thereto”, etc. But it cannot be denied that even at, this period the term “metropolitan” was used indiscriminately for all higher ranks above the simple episcopate. It was thus applied also to patriarchs and primates.
The same must be said of the term “archbishop” which does not occur in the present meaning before the sixth century, although the office of archbishop or metropolitan in the stricter sense, indicating a hierarchical rank above the ordinary bishops but below the primate and patriarch, was already substantially the same in the fifth century as it is today. A peculiar condition obtained in Africa, where the archiepiscopal office was not attached to a certain see, the metropolis, but where it always devolved upon the senior bishop of the province, whatever see he might occupy. He was called “the first or chief bishop”, or also “the bishop of the first or chief see”.
The history of the episcopate developed into at least five major divisions over time:
1. Catholic Episcopacy – Papacy
2. Orthodox Episcopacy – Collegiate order Patriarchal
3. Protestant – AME – Methodist Prelate – Presiding
4. Anglican – Episcopal Archbishop
5. Pentecostal – Convergence Apostles Prelates Presiders
Within the development and major styles of the episcopal office in the Church, it has become universally impossible to have a single code of ethics governing all episcopates. However, accepting uniform guidelines have given some structure to the office. Most of what we see today as episcopal has to established along doctrinal and liturgical practices to make them relevant. The GCOB will establish its’ own discipline and hierarchy for the development of this communion.
The mandate for unity and harmony in the body of Christ intensifies more today than ever before. It should be the mandate of leaders on the front line to focus on magnifying the charge for a counter-reformation of holiness and doctrinal soundness in the church for clarity and harmony. We all claim to have the same Holy Spirit but seldom agree on doctrine, fellowship, worship, or qualified leadership. Teaching diversity is not easy when so many of us are judging the book by its cover and not by its’ contents. The problem is we can’t all agree on how to interpret the foundation because we keep looking at 1st century examples through 21st century interpretations.
Since the quest for returning to foundational Christianity has been a distant memory throughout the ages, a cry for the true church of Jesus Christ is a dream instead of a reality. The Western church especially, is bathing in its’ own self success statements to build empires and have forgotten its’ mission call to spread the Gospel into the world, not market the Gospel in its own created spheres of influence.
The question is – “Can we overcome the prejudice and bitterness and misunderstandings that divide us?” Yes, we can. With God, all things are possible, and we know that unity is God’s will for His body. The real question is not, can we? The real question is, will we? That must be answered by each of us as leaders. What is your answer?
So while the level of spiritual warfare has changed to spread demonic activity in our churches through entertainment instead of true worship; and while corruption, deception, and selfishness pollute our worship week after week; what can be done to initiate change and restore the fire back in the church of Jesus Christ today?
Here are some suggested steps.
1. REDEDICATED LEADERS – Every great revival has been initiated by someone acting on their burden for holiness and walking against the grain, isolating themselves for the infilling of The Holy Spirit without measure. Creating a flame of passion for God, not just a touch from God. Let’s strip the image of a preacher and embrace the character of a servant-leader. Let’s abandon the need for recognition and embrace the yoke of compassion and strength to speak a “BOLD” word from the LORD.
2. REFOCUS ON PURPOSE INSTEAD OF PERSONALITIES – Let’s face it! We all have our opinions on who is or who is not qualified to be in charge or lead some movement. But at the end of the day, none of us have a “Divine” opinion. We need to stop worrying about what leaders call themselves and focus on the message they bring. That’s the judgment call. Is the message not just controversial, but is it transformational? Jesus did not fit the persona of any known leaders of his day, but he led a counter-religious movement that turned the world upside down. We can unite on the message, even if we can’t perceive the messenger is who we would chose.
3. REDICATION OF THE LORD’S HOUSE OF WORSHIP – Simply a reorientation of our vision and mission statements to reflect who we are and what our real purpose is. People will follow what you feed them. The sanctuary is not any pastor’s personal family business; nor your personal retirement program; nor your inheritage to leave. It is The Lord’s safe haven for the people of God. Contaminated use will lessen the power and weaken the structure.
Finally, I don’t want this “IAB Unity Day” to become another “Dog and Pony Show.” We need to drop our pride and commit to a sacrifice of “Praise and Purpose.” The pattern is that true intercession comes from strong leadership and true power from unity in purpose and not in competition. The authority of the words of Christ is resting on the credibility of genuine representatives of the Gospel today, not cheap imitators of fashion and fame.
The modern concept of The Convergence Movement was inspired by the spiritual pilgrimages of modern Evangelical writers like Thomas Howard, Robert E. Webber, Peter E. Gillquist and others. It refers primarily to a move among evangelical and charismatic churches in the United States to blend charismatic worship with liturgies from the Book of Common Prayer and other liturgical sources.
This blending is the subject of great debate. What is really meant by convergence and what are the definitions of the major components? The Convergence Movement is not the Ecumenical Movement. Christian unity has been termed “ecumenical” from the Greek ‘oikumenikos’, ‘of the inhabited earth. This term means universal, worldwide in a common sense. So to have ecumenical interests is to have the interest of the worldwide church at heart. But for many in the three main divisions of Christianity, Catholic, Orthodox, or Protestant, the word is associated with the idea of compromise. It is assumed that ecumenism means finding the lowest common denominator of the Christian faith and having to give up the rest. It will continue to be, necessary for the various factions and denominations of God’s church to dialog and commence tearing down the walls of division and hopefully finding – “Christ” at the core of Christianity and daily becoming “Like Him” and not making Christ like us!
But convergence seeks a different path. The three major components of this particular blending are Evangelical, Liturgical, and Charismatic worship styles and practices. It is believed that each of these expressions of the Church serve some useful purpose in uniting the Church of Jesus Christ to an authentic Faith.
Let’s define the terms before we blend the concepts.
Evangelical refers to relating or belonging to any Protestant Christian church that emphasizes the authority of the Bible and salvation through the personal acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Evangelicals believe that each individual has a need for spiritual rebirth and personal commitment to Jesus Christ as savior, through faith in his atoning death on the cross (commonly, although not necessarily, through a specific conversion experience). They emphasize strict orthodoxy (following of established rules or traditions) on cardinal doctrines, morals, and especially on the authority of the Bible. Many Evangelicals follow a traditional, interpretation of the Bible and insist on its inerrancy (freedom from error in history as well as in faith and morals). The term Evangelicalism has been a source of controversy, and the precise relationship or distinction between Evangelicalism and Fundamentalism has been disputed.
The Charismatic Movement refers to that body of Christians seeking direct spiritual experiences. It describes worship characterized by a quest for inspired and ecstatic experiences such as healing, prophecy, and speaking in tongues. The individuals who make up the movement believe that they have been “filled” or “baptized” with the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands. The signs of this baptism include such spiritual gifts as speaking in tongues, or glossolalia, prophecy, healing, interpretation of tongues, and discernment of spirits.
Liturgy is a body of rites (or system of ceremonial procedures) prescribed for formal public worship. Although the term is sometimes applied to Jewish worship, it is especially associated with the prayers and ceremonies used in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, also known as Holy Eucharist. During the first three centuries of the Christian era, the rite of the church was comparatively fluid (or very likely changing), based on various accounts of the Last Supper. By the 4th century the various traditions crystallized into four liturgies, the Antiochene, or Greek, the Alexandrian, the Roman, and the Gallican, from which all others have been derived.
Christianity is a many layered Faith and many components have been introduced and battled over historically and biblically. We are always faced with tradition and revelation. The Convergence Movement though not new in concept is new in acceptance. I believe like everything, there is a time and season. If we accept that the concept of merging worship practices as a reality, then we can begin a new era in the Church.
A certain harbor in Italy can be reached only by sailing up a narrow channel between dangerous rocks and cliffs. Over the years, many ships have been wrecked, and navigation is hazardous. To guide the ships safely into port, three lights were mounted on three huge poles in the harbor. When the three lights are perfectly aligned and seen as one, the ship can safely proceed up the narrow channel. If the pilot sees two or three lights, he knows he’s off course and in danger.
Maybe there is a need to align these streams to prepare for a united church and maybe this is the beginning of more confusion. Whatever the flow we must reclaim historical Christianity and maintain scriptural integrity. I maintain that balance is the word that must be embraced. Like that harbor which needs all the lights to align to give direction, hopefully the Church can discern the majesty of the Glory to be revealed through combined worship.
The spiritual climate of our nation is increasingly dry concerning a fresh move of the Holy Spirit. It is the mandate of committed church leaders to speak out against abuse, violence, and evil wherever it begins to flourish. It is our duty as leaders to pray for our government and to help alter policies that would hinder the church and society at large.
The continuing struggle in the Christian world today is unity. Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17, echoes the passion of Our Lord as He prayed for unity among His disciples, the world, and the Godhead. We are so divided over doctrine, government, worship, and Christian living that it will actually take a miracle to unite us back together. No wonder discipleship has become a thing of the past as the new past time is marketing and recruitment for entertainment, not conviction for change. It’s as if we have given up on bringing people into the church anymore. Instead we want to shift people around church circles and compete for the best gifts.
It is my desire to develop this group into a well-defined order that understands that being a Church Leader entails more than just getting vestments, documents and appointments. There are also standards of excellence and accountability that comes with the promotions sought after. With different fractions in the church debating bout legitimacy and order, where can we rest among the varied opinions being offered? Meaning, are we as doctrinally sound as we look and claim?
The foundational glue in the church world today has to be the teaching ministry. Without it we can’t grow or mature. Unless we can unite prophets and teachers, we will never unlock the revelations yet to come. The prophetic announcements of promised prosperity and blessings mean nothing if we don’t embrace the regulations that are required to enjoy all these great blessings.
If churches today are continually divided over doctrine, worship, and government, what can we be united by? Let’s examine. Two of the most polarizing doctrinal issues today are “Baptism” and “Communion.” What should be the two pillars that strengthen the Christian Faith has become the most divisive topics in the church world today. Just these two topics have caused splits, fueled debates, and ignited reformations and rebellions worldwide.
I want to start discussion on these two issues and hopefully come to some sort of unity statement. While I do believe we will never come to grips on some unified consensus on doctrine, I do remain hopeful that we will approach truth with a open mind and heart to begin to comprehend where we are and where we are going.
Grace and Peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!
This communication is to give a Clarion Call for you to attend an ecumenical “ High Church Worship Service” on Saturday, August 24th, 2013 at High Noon with The International Alliance Of Bishops in Raleigh, NC.
It is my desire as patriarch of this body of leaders to see to it that we get combined exposure to Theological, liturgical, and High Church order to propel Church leaders into a deeper relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
We will be focusing on restoring the “Awe” of God back into worship. We are requesting all clergy come fully vested for the occasion and bring your congregations for a sacred “Mass Communion.”
I don’t want merely a parade of vestments but a sacredness of purpose as we make a statement about worship that captures both mind and spirit in the region and hopefully will impact a return to real intimate love for God expressed in corporate worship.
This letter is to express my opinion and expertise in observing the need to express both High” and “Low” styles of worship. “High Church in Anglican worship stresses the sacerdotal [priestly], liturgical, ceremonial, traditional, and Catholic elements in worship. “Low Church” is a neutral term that simply describes a type of worship that does not follow a prescribed order of service, and does not follow certain liturgical patterns, and does not make use of developed ritual, ceremony, or worship accouterments like vestments.
Christianity is a many layered Faith and many components have been introduced and battled over historically and biblically. We are always faced with tradition and revelation. The Convergence Movement though not new in concept is new in acceptance. I believe like everything, there is a time and season for spiritual growth. If we accept that the concept of merging worship practices as a reality, then we can begin a new era in the Church. Convergence Theology means to me an understanding of liturgical elements in the Church linked with supernatural magnifications of the presence of God as we practice the typography of elements and manifestation of Grace in our worship. In other words, a blending of common styles and practices to achieve a common goal.
It is not that we don’t know that convergence has never taken place in the Bible. Observe the history and development of Tent to Tabernacle to Temple worship in the Old Testament. It was a type of convergence that never got rid of elementary rituals while it advanced to more sophisticated forms of worship in the Temple proper. The Charismatic outpour in the Temple dedication of Solomon should be proof enough that both liturgical and Spirit manifestation can be merged.
The word ecumenical comes from the Greek ‘oikumenikos’, ‘meaning universal or worldwide. So to have ecumenical interests is to have the interest in the global church Body. But for many Christians, Catholic or Protestant, the word is associated with the idea of compromise. It is assumed that ecumenism means finding the lowest common denominator of the Christian faith and having to give up the rest. We have tried everything to unite the Church for over 2,000 years. We are still begging arguments with dead scholars and criticizing and rejecting worship practices that we never experienced or like. It’s as if we are aware of the problems but can’t agree on the solutions.
The word “liturgy” comes from the Greek (leitourgia) – and it means public work or duty, work of the people. Liturgy is the spiritual work of all God’s people. Liturgy is structured common prayer. It can be shared, common worship precisely because it is structured. In fact all churches and individuals structure their spirituality. Ecumenically there has been much growing together around liturgy and lectionary.
Regardless of your denominational or theological position, let’s unite on this day with the common goal of lifting up Jesus until His Glory fills the house and we are so consumed with worship that no one else getting the “Glory” but Him who sits on the Throne as “King of Kings” and “Lord of Lords.”
I am calling for a 18 hour sacred period of Fasting and Prayer among the leaders who would participate leading up to our High Noon celebration from Friday, August 23rd at 6:00 pm – Saturday, August 24th at 12 noon. Seven periods of Prayer should observed beginning on Friday, August 23rd at 6:00 p.m. and continued on a every 3 hour interval until Saturday, August 24th at High Noon.
Venue – Mt Sinai Holy Church Of America
301 S. Swain Street
Bishop Bruce Rogers, Host Pastor
This morning I was catching up on some of my emails and ran across a long apology letter from a ministry that had solicited a date for me to minister next year at a major conference. To my surprise I had received an earlier email I hadn’t opened yet from the same ministry requesting a credit report and a criminal back ground check to qualify me to be considered.
As it turned out the email was sent in error by a staffer for potential employees of the ministry’s daycare staff. But it made me think, it is obvious that the day is coming, with so many scandals in ministry today, that this might possibly be a real requirement for speakers, as well as, pastoral candidates.
Ministry is becoming big time business and those providing it are yielding huge profits if their gifting is productive. Notice I said productive, not effective. Most of what many churches want today is someone who can draw crowds and raise offerings. What many speakers expect is a substantial payday for services rendered. Evangelism is an archaic term and is replaced by marketing strategies and entertainment hype about expectations of harvest and production. I wonder sometimes how we all got here.
The emphasis started out with the message being the most important agenda, especially if it was a fresh word from the Lord. The messenger was merely the agent of communication for some important issue. In the final analysis not many remembered the messenger, but the impact of the message carried the weight. Somehow, we have mistaken ministry for entertainment and worship for fun and games. Now this dilemma is not new nor creative. Some of these church games is what led up to the 15th century Reformation in Europe and the 19th century Holy Spirit explosion in America.
However, the real issue today is that as leaders in the Church, what mandate do we have as vessels to purify our messages with holy lifestyles? Becoming both a mouthpiece and an example. What responsibility does the church have to provide sound teaching and not merely entertaining orators? Protecting the sheep, instead of robbing the pews. How can we find a happy medium between costs for presentation and expectations for financial gain? There must be a balance somewhere.
I share all of this not to poke fun but to call attention to the lack of credibility and responsibility on both sides of the fence. I receive roughly 200-300 request a year for appointments, but only take around 30 a year. Why? Because I need time for family, rest, study, prayer, and reflection. I also have a business for my personal expenses which leaves me free for real ministry.
Part of our mandate as leaders in the church should be accountably. Becoming submissive to a particular governing influence should keep one balanced and disciplined for correction and caution. Also recapturing the impact of worship is a key to moving in the right direction. Turning the focus from self-glory to giving God all the glory through Jesus Christ, our Lord.