It was a delight to interview Kelly Young from Teen Challenge on what happened for her recently in learning to encounter Jesus in a whole new way. We discussed compassion fatigue and church and pastoral ministry and what has shifted. May you be encouraged too…
Notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach.This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them!
I loved that Jesus began to teach several stories including this one to show the religious leaders their arrogance…
Parable of the Lost Son (Part 1)
from Luke 15 (NLT)
11 …Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons.12 The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.
13 “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living.14 About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve.15 He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs.16 The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.
17 “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger!18 I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you,19 and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’
20 “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.[b]’
22 “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet.23 And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast,24 for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.
What do you notice about the father?
Once the son came to his senses, the father welcomed him with mercy, love and compassion. There wasn’t any shaming or lecturing. He didn’t require him to work as a slave to pay back the money. He gave his son the best and threw him a party!
What does this tell you about the true nature of God?
Once we repent, and turn to God, He immediately welcomes us with open arms and throws a party – giving us only the best!
Is there something in your life that holds you back from going to God?
Do you feel guilt or shame? Take it all to Him. He will only welcome you with open arms.
God is that good! It is religious arrogance that would shame you and guilt you. Run far from that. Run to God instead.
I shared this video back in April 2020 on how pastors are being forced to pivot and throw all their methods out the window. This video continues to be VERY relevant.
If you are a pastor, here is the current shift happening I see as I coach pastors, missionaries, and congregants. Pastors, you can do this with the help of your elders and ministry co-leaders.
If your people have been mostly relying on your sermons to grow, it’s now a very exciting time to equip your people to feed on God’s Word and His Holy Spirit in greater measure. Praise God! Jesus is drawing His Bride in deeper intimacy!
This casual conversation recorded on a rainy day in November, may challenge you, offend you, or resonate deeply with you.
I remember once judging others for ‘leaving the church’. Sadly, I didn’t get it at the time. These days, I walk multiple people a day through healing from ‘church’ and religious abuse and showing them who Jesus truly is.
I’m learning to make disciples who multiply and make disciples while at the same time walking people through deep inner healing and deliverance sessions, or simply learning how to hear God speak.
My heart is for Jesus and I love Him more than ever before. I lead pastors, elders, missionaries and lay people out of ‘church’ burnout, laying down heavy yokes, and learning what easy yoke living with Jesus truly is.
I see more breakthrough in one day than I did in 10 years as an institutional church pastor. God is calling us back to the basics of BEING the church, sharing the love of Jesus, healing the sick, casting out demons, and raising the dead! He called EVERY believer to know how to do this and to enjoy a fruitful journey with Jesus!
Read: John 15, Matt 11:28; Matt 10:8
These days, I enjoy sharing Jesus on the street and in coaching & spiritual direction sessions for those who desire this. God is calling His Bride to get ready! God is calling His people to draw close to His heart, in order to experience His true nature.
Interestingly, others pastors are coming to me more and more for help on how to pastor in these times. When they do, I help them seek Jesus on what His heart is for their church family. What Jesus is showing pastors is beautiful! (I share some posts in this blog on what institutional pastors are doing to help set their people free.)
(Sorry for the poor audio. It starts 7 seconds in and you will need to turn up the audio at the start…)
Thank you for taking the time in advance to hear my story…
If you’ve been following this blog or my story, you will know that since 2016 the Lord called me out of the institutional church (I see now he had been warning me of this since 2010) and told me to ‘circle the wagons’ and unlearn a few things before stepping forward. After some healing and resting, the Lord took me back to the basics of church of meeting in homes and being active on the streets.
“Oh my goodness! Did you prophesy the home church movement?”
Interestingly 2,000 years or so ago, church began as an organic house church movement. It wasn’t until a few hundred years later that it became an institution under the Roman Emperor Constantine. It went from the priesthood of ALL believers to professionalization of pastors. Today, you will find that the majority of ‘believers’ do not know how to do what Jesus called us to do.
Matthew 28:18-20 ERV
“So he came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth is given to me. So go and make followers of all people in the world. Baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach them to obey everything that I have told you to do. You can be sure that I will be with you always. I will continue with you until the end of time.”
Matthew 10:7-8 ERV
“When you go, tell them this: ‘God’s kingdom is now very near.Heal the sick. Bring the dead back to life. Heal the people who have leprosy. And force demons out of people.”
Then, in 2018, the Lord started partnering me with pastors, missionaries around the world who were needing coaching support. I heard their frustrations and desire for Holy Spirit to lead them. I kept my own journey to myself. When I began to ask them questions, I began to hear their hearts respond with similar statements that sounded familiar. When I shared with them what God was doing through Disciplemaking movements around the world, they were floored. In 2019 in my area, two Lead Pastors of large institutional churches admitted to their congregations that what they were doing was all off.
I continue to get pastors and missionaries asking me my perspective. Recently, a Lead Pastor sent me this:
“Hey Merri Ellen, What do you think the way forward looks like for discipleship and sharing the gospel under Covid restrictions? Just curious about your thoughts as I hear what ‘churches’ are identifying what they think is the way forward.”
It was a great question and I love that pastors are more and more hungry to find an answer in this unique season.
The beautiful thing about Covid restrictions is that it forces us to get back to the small few, the organic. One can easily meet with a few people, or use technology (in an interactive way).
I think the bigger hang up is are we willing to give up our paid pastoral positions and expensive buildings that could be keeping us from fulfilling the Great Commission? (If you’re a paid pastor, be encouraged. There’s some help below…)
Recently, I read this article: The Death of Sunday Morning written from a perspective of what God has been doing far on the other side of my world. It forces us to ask ourselves, “Am I willing to leave an old wine skin behind in order to follow Jesus and share His Good News?”
Here’s one perspective…
“Many people were traveling with Jesus. He said to them, “If you come to me but will not leave your family, you cannot be my follower. You must love me more than your father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters—even more than your own life! Whoever will not carry the cross that is given to them when they follow me cannot be my follower.“
“And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life.”
There are 4 traditional approaches to discipleship that actually lead to bondage:
Osmosis: Get people to attend church and serve faithfully.
Academics: Teach information about the faith.
Behaviour: Establish performance expectations for church members.
Church: Train people to invite others, serve, and join a small group.
These 4 things above may have good elements but without an actual relationship with Jesus, you will soon feel like an imposter or impersonator – you look like Him but you don’t actually know Him. You most likely become stuck in perfectionism, anxiety, legalism and other bondage.
While traditional discipleship tends to focus on the outside, heart-focused discipleship deals with what is going on inside of you!
Following Jesus is about relationship!
It starts with hearing His voice. 🙂
(I was asked this question yesterday by my students just before leading an interactive group coaching class online…)
I first pointed them to Ephesians 4.
Take a moment today to read it. I’ve seen the enemy get a foothold in people’s lives WAY too may times – as this passage explains.
Secondly, read 1 Corinthians 13.
If you find it difficult to put your name in the place of ‘love’, that is a GREAT indicator.
Thirdly, read Galatians 5.
If something jumps out in conviction for you there, listen to Holy Spirit…
Ask God, where you need to repent, forgive, etc.
Invite Holy Spirit to come and fill you to lead you in the way God has for you instead!
“16 But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.17 For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.18 So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.” – 2 Corinthians 3:16-18
This past year, I had the joy of walking with a woman coming out of the New Age movement. In fact, she had once been a New Age teacher. We started with Scriptures in our sessions and took our time before we began asking Jesus questions. Her heart now was so beautifully hungry and thirsty for Truth instead of where the other road had led her to. What Jesus did for her was beautiful. She was set free!
On the other extreme, around the same time, I also walked with a woman so hard on rules from a very religious church tradition and who had very little openness to Holy Spirit. Yet, Jesus led us through healing to remove those blocks and she too experienced some incredible freedom!
We are to worship God in BOTH SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH.
“For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” – John 4:24 NLT
If we worship God without Spirit, we become legalistic, religious Pharisees.
If we worship with spirit and NO Truth, we go down the road of the New Age.
See both extremes??
Here are some things to remember with Biblical interpretation:
1. The Holy Spirit bears witness withinwhen you hear the truth – The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, Who proceeds from the Father, will cause a witness within your heart when you hear truth (Jn. 15:26,27)
2. The Holy Spirit guides you into truth – The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, guides you into all the truth, disclosing things of the Father to you (Jn. 16:13-15).
If you have and keep God’s commandments, you love God, and are loved by God, and God will abide with you and disclose Himself to you through the working of the Holy Spirit, Who will teach you all things (Jn. 14:21,23,26).
3. You will only see what you can handle – God will only reveal to you what you are able to bear. There is more to say to you, but He will wait until you can bear it (Jn. 16:12).
4. You cannot interpret the Bible on your own – Know that apart from Jesus you can do nothing, which includes interpreting the Bible correctly (Jn. 15:5).
5. Pray for God to open your heart – Pray that God opens your heart to respond to Him, and the hearts of those to whom you preach to respond to your preaching (Acts 16:14).
Excerpt above from the short ebook by Mark Virkler…
What do you do when your church is shut down due to the Corona virus or persecution?
The systems may crash, but…
There is actually new opportunity! I see the church shifting in beautiful ways…
***This link below was originally posted in Feb 2018.
Notice the title of the post?
Since the Corona Virus, this has become even more valuable to use in BEing the Church… (and you can EASILY do this interactively via phone or video chat during quarantine as I have been doing with my fellowship groups.)