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!

For more helpful disciplemaking tools for your people to use in their homes or via zoom, visit: https://www.merriellen.com/discovery

Pastoring in a Pandemic

My story out of Church Bondage and Into Freedom in Jesus!

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…

Audio: My story of freedom from the 4 walls (opens in new tab)

To you listening and reading this today…

I bless you with more of Holy Spirit! To walk forward in what God has for you today! 💕🙏🙌🥰 

If you resonate with this story and need some help, feel free to request a session with me. Learn more about me here.

The New (Old) Wineskin of The Church

Photo by Kaboompics from Pexels

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.

When Covid broke out in my area in March 2020, one of my life coaching & spiritual direction clients texted me:

“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.”

Since 2010 already while working as an institutional church pastor, the Lord poured out the phrase: “new wine” over and over for me. Here’s one of my old posts from 2010…

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…)

But, first…

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…

Luke 14:25-27 ERV

“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.

Matthew 19:29 NLT

“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.”

For many years, institutional church pastors have been taking this difficult road in leading their congregations into movement. If you’re a paid pastor, you need to learn about Roy. Roy Moran is one. In this post I share more about him.

What are your thoughts about where God is leading His Bride?

Please share below…

Women, have you been silenced?

 

silence-001My heart loves to walk with women who have been silenced.

Why? Because their voice holds a key to healing – their own healing and the healing of MANY others.

I have been coaching people since 2003 online in over 120 countries. I especially love walking women through this journey of being silenced.

If that’s you, I’d be honoured to meet with you.

To learn more, visit: www.merriellen.com

Your church is shut down – due to virus. Now what?

looking-out-the-window

Photo by Jesse Yelin from Pexels

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.)

This is Contagious but in a GREAT way!

A Pastor’s Confession

Because of Jesus ... I Am FreeThis is my confession.

I’m sorry… To all the people who I once pastored in an institutional church… I am sorry that I didn’t know then what I know now. My church and Bible school experience did not adequately prepare me to walk you to complete freedom in Jesus’ name. Nor did I disciple you how to do what I’m going to share below…

Today, if you read the Gospels and the book of Acts over and over, you most likely will notice that what happened in the Bible, does not happen in the lives of many church goers.

Back in 2016, when I rested from formal pastoral ministry, I began to ask God why the vast difference between what I read in the Bible and what I had experienced so far. I began to ask Him to show me more of who He is… out of the box. (Dangerous prayer. :D) He began to take me on adventures…

Today, my life looks so much different… When I pray, people are healed of cancer,  kidney disease, arthritis, or set free from oppression, from hearing multiple voices, from depression, anxiety, etc… often in a few minutes. 

Why? I pray differently than I was taught. I pray as Jesus did. I join with Jesus in what He is doing.

Miraculous things only happen when His followers step out in faith. I began to worry less about God’s reputation if I prayed and He didn’t come through in the way I prayed. I figured He could handle His own reputation. 😉

This was my past week….

Today, I ran again into the woman I prayed for this year who was healed of cancer. She threw her arms around me with the biggest smile. When I first met her walking on my street, she was discouraged and diagnosed with cancer. Jesus strongly spoke to me to command the cancer to leave her body. It did. We now have interesting conversations about Jesus.

Today, I walked past the house where my 6 year old neighbour was healed of juvenile arthritis after I taught her siblings age 8, 4 and 2 how to command her illness to go in Jesus’ name. The next day she woke up with no pain and now is involved in gymnastics!

One night this week, I prayed with a woman with multiple personality disorder. I led her through praying forgiveness over abusers. She was back to speaking in one personality. She heard Jesus say –  “It is finished!” 

Another night, a woman was delivered from Hindu worship 3,000 years in her family line. She felt anger, hopelessness, and voices laughing at her. She went through repentance of generational worshiping specific Hindu gods, practicing blood sacrifices. She coughed things out. Stuff went 3,000 years back in her bloodline and then she had a vision of Jesus with His arms reaching out and He said the house is clean! We prayed Holy Spirit to fill her and she was overcome with laughter and deep joy! She lingered with Jesus in His glory. She was powerfully transformed!

Another night, I prayed for a woman with chest and shoulder pain. As we prayed, Jesus took her to her childhood at age 3 when anger and bitterness first entered because of her parents’ actions. I led her in forgiving her parents and all the pain was gone! 

Another night, I led a woman through healing of panic attacks. We let Jesus take us to the root issue …all coming from a lie that the enemy told her years ago in a certain situation, that she was not safe. We dealt with that lie at the cross, and Jesus transformed the painful memory. Now, when she thinks of the memory, it’s minuscule and instead she has visioned Jesus there with His arms shielding her. Her panic attacks are now gone.

When I began to cut out relying on merely my familiar church tradition a few years ago, I began to truly grow in my level of faith. Since walking in doing what Jesus did in the Bible, and what He invites me to do, I am discovering what it really means to follow Jesus.

Please forgive me. If I only knew then, what I know and do now… you may be unstuck today.

I invite you to re-read the Gospels and the Book of Acts with fresh eyes, without your glasses of church tradition.

It is a beautiful thing to follow Jesus, not merely believe in His teachings. He walked in the supernatural and then called His followers to do the same. He didn’t command them to walk any different. Jesus didn’t ask us to teach information and that’s it. It’s one thing to believe in Jesus, it’s another to follow Him.

These days, I have the honour of meeting with people who are reaching out and asking for me to lead them through healing and freedom and to disciple them in what I have been learning and doing. They are on fire and hungry for more! Many are prayer walking around churches and neighbourhoods to also join the fire! Will you?! It’s truly amazing! 😀

A few responses below…

“I will not accept the apology because it is not needed, not to me. You did not stop leading and inviting me into deeper relationship with Christ when you left traditional pastoral ministry. I am sorry that this is an accurate representation of the state of my and so many churches and of my own faith experience. I know it isn’t right and yet I dont know how to get out of it. I was struck again by the need we have to see Jesus in action during (Bible Study) this week where we studied Acts and Peter could NOT keep quiet about the things which they had seen Jesus do. I feel like a person who understands Jesus but does not believe in him (not fully it would seem) because believing in something means you go beyond knowing to acting on that knowledge. If I believe that God can save an eternal soul, a physical body should be nothing to him and yet I do not trust enough to pray aloud for that healing because I have not seen it. Thank you that you DO pray this way and that you keep inviting me to see it more for myself… this semester has been hard as my soul cries for THAT Jesus and my time is instead devoted to knowing a Jesus constrained to paper. Please do not apologize but continue to pray – and to act – that I can make the leap of faith to belief that shows in my life, my time, my choices, and my actions if trust in him.”

And another…

“Thanks for sharing your walk with the Lord wherever He leads you and what He is doing in and through you. I’m glad you have found the freedom Christ offers and are sharing it with others. I have never felt lead astray or that you were not meeting any expectation. I have been encouraged by your leadership and enriched by our friendship. Your humble servant attitude is evident and I love that you are allowing the Holy Spirit to guide you and use you to reach out and be God’s hands and feet. Blessings my sweet sister in Christ!” 

And another on a similar journey…

“Makes me think of a vision one lady shared with me- The Lord was leading her down a long hallway of people sitting along the walls and she wanted to stop and help every one! She could see each of their needs clearly! But the Lord said… ‘Don’t!! Don’t even touch a door knob that I don’t specifically instruct you to touch.’ As she neared the end of the hallway she looked back down the hall to see many many behind tending to those she was asked to pass by.  Possibly they are someone else’s assignment!!? Bless your heart … that you would want to make all things right…”

I am blessed by these initial responses. God is stirring! I have released the burden to Jesus – our Ultimate Burden Bearer…

May each of you reading this… listen to His voice and follow Him on sweet adventures He has all planned for you… even it takes you ‘out of the box’! 😀

Persuasive Words of Men?

jesus heals

If your faith is based on the persuasive words of men, your faith will not go deep. 
When life difficulty comes, your faith will fall.
 But, if your faith is based on the power of Holy Spirit, 
the kingdom of God in your life will be unshakable.

Jesus didn’t merely share information, nor motivational speaking. Jesus always brought the power of His kingdom. He is relational, not informational. Jesus does not rely on the persuasive words of men to reveal Himself to the world. Instead, He invites us to declare and show the world who He is. Yes, there is power in Jesus’ words. But, He calls us to live out His words and demonstrate His power.

“When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith would not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.” – 1 Corinthians 2

First, be with Jesus.
Hear His voice.
What He invites you to do, go and do.
Not by your own strength, but in His.
AND, do it according to His timing.
Show the world, Jesus is very real and alive. 🙂 Like this…

Just over a month ago, I led 3 neighbour kids to pray for their sister with juvenile arthritis… well, this past weekend I ran into the mom and kids. Mom said that the next day, her 6 year old daughter had no pain!! They went for an MRI and it’s completely gone!! Jesus is our healer!

We had her siblings all put their hand on her ankle and we prayed for Jesus to heal. Beautiful. Absolutely precious.

She said she saw Jesus as we were praying – and everything was filled with a flood of light.

Again, she is 6, and now enjoying being a 6 year old including being in gymnastics!
Her siblings are 8, 4, and 2! 😄💗🎉

Another amazing thing happened this past weekend in my city… 2 pastors from 2 different churches confessed to their congregations that the way they have been doing church is all off. That followers of Jesus are ALL called to be pastors and should be going out as Jesus taught, not bringing people to church programs and relying on a human to feed them, but rather Holy Spirit to teach and lead them out. Wow! Sounds like a great shift is going to happen in institutional churches in our city!

Church? Spectators vs Participants

baseball-stadium

Dear Church,

Are you a spectator or a participant in building God’s kingdom?

Years of sitting in traditional church has not prepared us to be the church in the manner described in the New Testament.

We have been taught to come.

To sit.

To watch and listen to what others have prepared.

(Someone described it as “sit, soak and sour”.)

This is Spectator Church. And it is no way to train believers to be priests.

By contrast, the churches described in the Bible engaged in Participatory Church. This kind of church requires preparation on the part of all of it’s members.

This is new.

We haven’t been taught how to do this.

Therefore, some retraining is in order.

Read: John White’s article –  How to Prepare for Simple Church

Theology: Are you a Settler or Pioneer?

pioneer wagon

This is from Brennan Manning’s book: “Lion and Lamb: the Relentless Tenderness of Jesus.”

There are two visions of life, two kinds of people. The first group see life as a possession to be carefully guarded. They are called settlers. The second group see life as a wild, fantastic, explosive gift. They are called pioneers.

These two types give rise to two kinds of theology: Settler Theology and Pioneer Theology. According to Wes Seeliger in his book, Western Theology, the first kind, Settler Theology, is an attempt to answer all the questions, define and housebreak some sort of Supreme Being, establish the status quo on golden tablets in cinemascope. Pioneer Theology is an attempt to talk about what it means to receive the strange gift of life. The Wild West is the setting for both theologies.

In Settler Theology, the church is the courthouse. It is the center of town life. The old stone structure dominates the town square. Its windows are small and this makes things dark inside. Within the courthouse walls, records are kept, taxes collected, trials held for bad guys. The courthouse is the settler’s symbol of law, order, stability, and—most importantly—security. The mayor’s office is on the top floor. His eagle eye ferrets out the smallest details of town life.

In Pioneer Theology, the church is the covered wagon. It’s a house on wheels, always on the move. The covered wagon is where the pioneers eat, sleep, fight, love and die. It bears the marks of life and movement—it creaks, is scarred with arrows, bandaged with baling wire. The covered wagon is always where the action is. It moves toward the future and doesn’t bother to glorify its own ruts. The old wagon isn’t comfortable, but the pioneers don’t mind. They are more into adventure than comfort.

In Settler Theology, God is the mayor. He is a sight to behold. Dressed like a dude from back East, he lounges in an over-stuffed chair in his courthouse office. He keeps the blinds drawn. No one sees him or knows him directly, but since there is order in town, who can deny that he is there? The mayor is predictable and always on schedule. The settlers fear the mayor, but look to him to clear the payroll and keep things going. Peace and quiet are the mayor’s main concerns. That’s why he sends the sheriff to check on the pioneers who ride into town.

In Pioneer Theology, God is the trail boss. He is rough and rugged, full of life. He chews tobacco, drinks straight whiskey. The trail boss lives, eats, sleeps, fights with his people. Their sell-being is his concern. Without him the wagon wouldn’t move; living as a free man would be impossible. The trail boss often gets down in the mud with the pioneers to help push the wagon, which often gets stuck. He prods the pioneers when they get soft and want to turn back. His fist is an expression of his concern.

In Settler Theology, Jesus is the sheriff. He’s the guy who is sent by the mayor to enforce the rules. He wears a white hat, drinks milk, outdraws the bad guys. The sheriff decides who is thrown into jail. There is a saying in town that goes: those who believe the mayor sent the sheriff, and follow the rules, they won’t stay in Boothill when it comes their time.

In Pioneer Theology, Jesus is the scout. He rides out ahead to find our which way the pioneers should go. He lives all the dangers of the trail. The scout suffers every hardship, is attacked by the Indians. Through his words and actions he reveals the true intentions of the trail boss. By looking at the scout, those on the trail learn what it means to be a pioneer.

In Settler Theology, the Holy Spirit is the saloon girl. Her job is to comfort the settlers. They come to her when they feel lonely, or when life gets dull or dangerous. She tickles them under the chin and makes everything okay again. The saloon girl squeals to the sheriff when someone starts disturbing the peace.

In Pioneer Theology, the Holy Spirit is the buffalo hunter. He rides along with the covered wagon and furnishes fresh meat for the pioneers. Without it they would die. The buffalo hunter is a strange character—sort of a wild man. The pioneers can never tell what he will do next.

He scares the hell out of the settlers. He has a big black gun that goes off like a cannon. He rides into town on Sunday to shake up the settlers. You see, every Sunday morning, the settlers have a little ice cream party in the courthouse. With his gun in hand the buffalo hunter sneaks up to one of the courthouse windows. He fires a tremendous blast that rattles the whole courthouse. Men jump out of their skin, women scream, dogs bark. Chuckling to himself, the buffalo hunter rides back to the wagon train shooting up the town as he goes.

In Settler Theology, the Christian is the settler. He fears the open, unknown frontier. His concern is to stay on good terms with the mayor and keep out of the sheriff’s way. “Safety first” is his motto. To him the courthouse is a symbol of security, peace, order, and happiness. He keeps his money in the bank. The banker is his best friend. The settler never misses an ice cream party.

In Pioneer Theology, the Christian is the pioneer. He is a man of daring, hungry for a new life. He rides hard, knows how to use a gun when necessary. The pioneer feels sorry for the settlers and tries to tell them of the joy and fulfillment of life on the trail. He dies with his boots on.

In Settler Theology, the clergyman is the banker. Within his vault are locked the values of the town. He is a highly respected man. He has a gun, but keeps it hidden in his desk. He feels that he and the sheriff have a lot in common. After all, they both protect the bank.

In Pioneer Theology, the clergyman is the cook. He doesn’t furnish the meat. He just dishes up what the buffalo hunter provides. This is how he supports the movement of the wagon. He never confuses his job with that of the trail boss, scout, or the buffalo hunter. He sees himself as just another pioneer who has learned how to cook. The cook’s job is to help the pioneers pioneer.

In Settler Theology, faith is trusting in the safety of the town: obeying the laws, keeping your nose clean, believing the mayor is in the courthouse.

In Pioneer Theology, faith is the spirit of adventure: the readiness to move out, to risk everything on the trail. Faith is obedience to the restless voice of the trail boss.

In Settler Theology, sin is breaking one of the town’s ordinances.

In Pioneer Theology, sin is wanting to turn back.

In Settler Theology, salvation is living close to home and hanging around the courthouse.

In Pioneer Theology, salvation is being more afraid of sterile town life than death on the trail. Salvation is joy at the thought of another day to push on into the unknown. It is trusting the trail boss and following his scout while living on the meat furnished by the buffalo hunter.

However, this image below is key…

“Some people want to be slaves…”

…and what it means if we are not yet experiencing freedom…!

(Read the whole page below…)

IMG_7226

______

 

Lion and Lamb: the Relentless Tenderness of Jesus, Brennan Manning, Chapter 3, Fleming H. Revell Company, Old Tappan, NJ, 1986.3

Letters to the Church – Francis Chan

Francis Chan – Letters to the Church ( #paradigmshift )

letterstothechurch.francischanA few quotes from Francis Chan that will get you thinking…!

“God designed the Church to be much more than what the majority of us experience in America. There are many of us who believe this and want change. The good news is that God wants this change even more than we do.

The early church didn’t need the energetic music, great videos, attractive leaders, or elaborate lighting to be excited about being a part of God’s body. The pure gospel was enough to put them in a place of awe.

If you think that sitting back and letting the church staff feed you will bring you the most fulfillment, you are so wrong. God promised that those who give will be most blessed (Acts 20:35).

When the Bible describes the power available to you, doesn’t it sound like hyperbole? It seems so extreme, yet we see so little of this in our own lives and in the Church. The discrepancy could challenge your faith in the Scriptures—how can the Bible promise things we never experience in real life? But are you willing to consider that the Bible is accurate and the Church has domesticated us to the point where we doubt our power?

Church, the answer is not to build bigger and nicer cages. Nor is it to renovate the cages so they look more like the wild. It’s time to open the cages, remind the animals of their God-given instincts and capabilities, and release them into the wild.

Alan Hirsch said, “In so many churches the mission of the church has actually become the maintenance of the institution itself.”

It’s time to train people to live in the wild again.

There are elements of modern churches that on the surface seem like good ideas, but they can actually keep us from the biblical vision of unity, true fellowship, mutual love, and pursuit of the mission. Too many look at these elements and insist you can’t have a church without them.

I believe God is leading a movement in this country toward simple, smaller gatherings, and I long to see this movement gain greater traction. I get so excited when I dream about the Church spreading in small, invigorating expressions that look and feel like the early church. My goal is to get you dreaming about this as well.

My hope is simply to convince you that there are compelling ways of living as the Church that look nothing like our traditional models. My goal is to get you dreaming, to keep you from settling, to affirm that nagging sense you can’t shake that God wants something more for His Church than what you’re experiencing.”

Learn more about the book: ‘Letters to the Church’ by Francis Chan