1) To help re-establish the Church as a sanctuary:
The LORD has established Zion, and in her his afflicted people will find refuge. (Isa. 14:32b)
"The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations." (Isa. 61:1-4)
Too many of God's precious little ones have been injured by some misguided pretender calling himself "pastor" and by frauds professing to be Christians. Therefore, these wounded sheep have become disillusioned with pastors, or church in general, and find it difficult to trust again. They, then, become left to the wolves, as it were, because they have no true shepherd to nurture them, protect them, and help them grow.
The church must first of all be a sanctuary; that is to say a place of refuge. She must, in this regard, be to believers what a fold is to sheep-- a place of rest and protection from outside forces that would seek to harm them. For this reason it should be the last place that one feels threatened or misunderstood. Above all, it should never be a place where one is mistreated in anyway. Instead, the church must be a haven of safety and a hospital of hope designed to promote healing for those who have suffered mistreatment.
A church must seek ways to bind up the brokenhearted. She must proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, or she will fail to be the church that God has called her to be. Instead, she will join the ranks of so many other churches who settle for being little more than social clubs.
";A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."- Jesus (John 13:34-35)
The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. (1Tim. 1:5)
The local church must be distinguished by an abundance of warmth, kindness, caring, nurturing, understanding, and unbounded joy. She must be a place of healing for the mind, body, and spirit. Plus, her love for one another must be evident to all. Indeed, everything that defines the character of Christ must be manifested in her assembly. Furthermore, the leadership must strive to not only lead by example, but also seek ways that would help to promote this kind of atmosphere in their mist.
2) To help re-establish God's design for leadership:
"The word of the LORD came to me: Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to the shepherds of Israel who only take care of themselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them." (Ezek. 34:1-6)
Jesus said to his disciples: '"Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin." (Luke 17:1-2)
A great misunderstanding has long been propagated by many in church leadership. It is the notion that the sheep exist primarily for the benefit of the shepherd and his so called "ministry." The motive behind this false teaching, whether done out of ignorance or cruel intent, is obvious. Their objective is to exploit the energy and finances of the church membership in order to obtain their own personal goals. In other words, these "pastors" use the resources that God's people provide to fuel their own personal agendas.
Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me? He answered, Yes, Lord, you know that I love you. Jesus said, Take care of my sheep." (John 21:16)
However, these shepherds do not, or simply wish not, to understand the true nature of the office of Pastor. God established this office for one primary purpose, which can be summed up in the words of our Lord. "Should not shepherds take care of the flock?"You see it's called a "sheep" not a "shepherd fold."
The point I'm making is unmistakable. The fold was created for the sheep and not for the shepherd. It then stands to reason that the shepherd was created for the sheep. This analogy holds true for the church as well-- the assembly of believers. A true God-called Pastor knows that his primary function in the body of Christ is to care for his flock.
"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." -Jesus (John 10:11)
"Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did." (1John 2:6)
Jesus is our pattern for pastoral leadership. The way in which he lived his life and the compassion Jesus displayed for hurting people all around him is our example of what a good shepherd is like. We in leadership must structure our lives, our conduct, and our ministry in ways that reflect the character of the Good Shepherd. Our goal must be to seek out ways to become more like Jesus in word, thought, deed, and in leadership.
The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. (1Tim. 5:17)
"Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ." - Paul (1Cor. 11:1)
The church will give respect and honor to a leadership like this. Submission to Godly leadership won't have to be demanded or coerced, as happens in many churches. Rather, it will be freely given by a grateful people.
3) To help re-establish the mission of the church as a soul winning station and a lighthouse to the community:
The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise. (Prov. 11:30)
Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matt. 28:18-20)
This passage is referred to as the Great Commission, not the Great Suggestion! If we would walk in obedience to our Lord, we must passionately present the gospel in a clear, understandable fashion.
According to the Lord's direction our mission is primarily three fold:
#1- Make disciples
#2- Baptize disciples
#3- Teach disciples
"I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some." - Paul (1Cor. 9:22b)
"And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others."- Paul (2Tim. 2:2)
The world is dying and we have the cure. Our mission is to use all possible means to reach as many as we can. We must use radio, TV, the print media, drama, concerts, the Internet, and old fashion street witnessing to accomplish the task set before us. Once people are converted, the church must then baptize them and then begin to teach and train them. Then after proper training, they will themselves become disciple makers.
However, in order to fulfill this mission we ourselves must be trained.
"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." - Paul (2Tim. 3:16-17)
4) To help re-establish the giftings God has placed in local churches and to help each member find fulfillment in his or her calling:
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. (1Cor. 12:4-6)
As the old saying goes, "Waste not, want not." God has blessed each local church with many gifts. Many already have teachers, preachers, singers, psalmists, musicians, and helpers within their ranks, and many others are on the way. Without exception each of us has something to offer. Everyone in each church has skills that God has given them to use for the common good. None must go to waste. As a church truely grows everyone will find his or her place.
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.
The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body, it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body, it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, I don't need you! And the head cannot say to the feet, I don't need you! On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. (1Cor. 12:7-26)
The ground is level at the foot of the cross. In other words, there are no big I's and little you's in the body of Christ. Each believer serves in different capacities. We may wear different hats, but all are needed just the same. No one is better than or more important than the other. Each of us walks in the humility of knowing that it is by God's grace, and His grace alone, that we are called to fulfill our respective rolls.
"But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect." -Paul (1Cor. 15:10a)
Each pastor serves by the grace of God and by the will of the good people of the church. (Indeed, what is a pastor without a church?) I serve in my capacity because this is the call that God has placed on my life. I walk in that understanding everyday. Every time I stand before God's people and deliver the Word of God; I'm reminded of this indisputable truth. In addition, what holds true for me is true for all.
1) Forged in fire:
In the whole land, declares the LORD, two-thirds will be struck down and perish; yet one-third will be left in it. This third I will bring into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, They are my people, and they will say, The LORD is our God. (Zech. 13:8-9)
For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. (Isa. 37:32)
It's little doubt that SoaringWings Ministries was birthed in the fires of adversity. I have known the hammer and white heat. God has used fire and is continuing to use it to forge us into a mighty weapon that the Enemy will have to reckon with.
Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you. (2Cor. 6:17)
We have persevered through the testing and, by the grace of God, remained standing. It is my firm belief that God has positioned us at a strategic point in history. He wants to use SoaringWings Ministries to do great and mighty things for The Kingdom. However, it is up to us to respond to a calling out that He is issuing. Let me explain with an excerpt form my soon to be released book entitled The Death Grip Syndrome.
++++++++++++++++++++ The LORD looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, any who seek God. (Psalm 14:2)
Since the days of Adam, God has always had a people. Examine The Bible or study Church experience. You'll soon discover that a royal lineage of faithfuls can be traced throughout the pages of history. God has always had a remnant consisting of those who dared to forsake the norm; a people who were dissatisfied with the ordinary-- a breed of disenchanted saints who were fed up with the mind-numbing boredom of lifeless religion.
God has always had a band of radicals: those who have left the rank and file; a refined remnant who are no longer impressed by the worlds goods; those who resist being lured by the glitter of toys and refuse to be lulled into the common place; extremists who push beyond man-made boundaries, then press on and go for God. He has always had a crew who possessed a holy boldness in witnessing to the lost and a passion for one another.
God has always had a people: those who would dare to defy the traditions of men and speak the truth in spite of the cost. These are a people with-in his people-- a core of sold out saints who are ready to toss aside everything for the sake of seeking their God. It is through such as these that he demonstrates his greatest works.
God is on a worldwide quest. He constantly looks for that nucleus of believers within the Church that has concluded there has got to be something more to the Christian experience. His search is not limited by man's finite grasp of truth either. It spans across denominational lines and movements. He knows that there is a caliber of people that stand head and shoulders above the rest, not so much in the eyes of their contemporaries but in his eyes. Those who have got to know truth regardless of the price; those who want to know God at any cost. These are the ones he seeks.
++++++++++++++ It's my desire that SoaringWings Ministries will answer the divine summons to Come out from among them! I pray that we will endeavor to rise above the religious norm and seek to network with churches who are of like mind. My heart's cry is that above all we will be a ministry who hungers for God; that we will seek Him whatever the price; that we love one another with a passion, obey His commands without flinching, and seek the lost at any cost.
My desire is that we will be bonded by a love for one another and sustained by the unity that comes from the Holy Spirit. I pray that this unity, along with a common vision, will become an impregnable fortress that the Enemy cannot penetrate.
"I was not disobedient to the vision from heaven."- Paul (Acts 26:19b)
";For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you." - Paul (1Cor. 11:23)
Then the LORD replied: Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay. (Hab. 2:2-3)
I've done my best to share the vision I've received from the Lord. When God gives one a vision it's much like an onion. It comes in layers that are peeled off one layer at a time. As God reveals more, I will pass it on to you. Just remember, God does things only in His timing. It may not happen all at once, but be diligent and don't give up. It will come to pass. The revelation awaits an appointed time. In the mean time, we must be obedient to the vision as it unfolds,
Chaplain Rod Davis SoaringWings Ministries Chattanooga, Tennessee