Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Carol and I have been in the ministry together nearly 30 years. Through the years we have always heard one particular cry from hundreds of people in various churches, para-church organizations, and prayer groups all over the country. There is a continual cry for coming together in unity.
We have heard many reasons offered in gatherings, meetings and conferences, as to why the Body of Christ can't seem to come together. Reasons like: unforgiveness, bitterness, leadership abuse, competition, envy, strife, ambition, greed, prejudice, racism, sexism, imperialism, hypocrisy, apathy, and the list goes on and on and on.
Of course, these observations have been quite accurate. We have been in and around the church world over 50 years, so we can tell you, first-hand, that this has been a legitimate complaint and issue against the Church in America and right here in south central Pennsylvania.
However, we're not writing to add to the complaint. Nor, are we writing to offer a one-size-fits-all solution to the problem. Yet, we're writing to offer another way of approaching the issue of unity. Perhaps we're offering another way of viewing what unity will look like.
In our experience, many who call for unity are usually calling for everyone to come and join with THEIR movement, cause or mission. And if everyone does not "come together" to fulfill what they believe God has called THEM to do, then the outcry is again, "No one wants to walk in unity!"
Our brother and ministry overseer introduced this explanation to us while he was training and mentoring us. He said, "This is how we often view the next move of God: When the vision is in MY heart, it's the will of God. But when that same vision is in another leader's heart, I feel they're walking in selfish ambition."
So, why would God tell scores of leaders to do the same thing? Is He actually calling every leader, in every church, every prayer group, and every para-church organization to pool all of their people and financial resources into one massive effort, under one group's banner?
Personally, we believe many leaders might be missing a critical point.
We believe the Lord is calling for us to come together in unity of PURPOSE, not necessarily, unity of PRESENCE (physically coming together all the time).
Now we must share a story to clarify our point. Another local pastor was constantly trying to get us to bring our congregations together for a unity gathering. We were very reluctant to do that because the type of people we were mentoring in that season, were not regular church-goers, and most had been burned out or even hurt by church people. For us, a unity gathering would have been disastrous for our people. However this wonderful, caring brother kept insisting that we needed to come together in unity.
A few months later, his ministry had a need for a van. We happened to have one that we no longer needed. So, we gave it to them. After we completed the transaction we told him, "This is what it means to come together in unity. We don't need a church unity service. You had a need. We met your need. That's what it means to come together and work together in unity."
As our nation continues to fall apart, many church and ministry leaders continue to call for unity, but most seem to think unity means always physically coming together for meetings and gatherings. But what is the point of such gatherings if there is no action that deals with our hearts and homes at fundamental levels?
Now, on the other hand, there are other pastors and ministries to which God has caused our paths to cross and we have physically come together to host prayer gatherings and street outreach efforts. However, we don't get together merely for unity gatherings. These have been providential connections that have led to genuine fulfillment of God's purpose.
Carol and I see the call for unity as a call for UNITY in the SPIRIT. It is a call for unity in GOD'S PURPOSE. We must stop confusing corporate gatherings as a sign of unity and TRUST the Spirit of God as He unifies us through CORPORATE DEPLOYMENTS.
Our military is the perfect example of this. Our military is deployed all over the world, not gathered together in one spot, on U.S. soil. They are deployed by different branches (Air Force, Army, Navy, etc.), so again, they're not all doing the same thing, in the same place, in the same way. However, they are deployed with a common purpose.
For instance, God has deployed us into the urban community, to deal specifically with the urban Believer's wounds that were inflicted by their family, friends and even church leaders. So we can't command and demand that every church, every prayer group, and every para-church group join with our calling, under our marching orders.
We can't command and demand that all inner city ministries unite with us and our strategy because some of them are called to deal with drug and alcohol addictions, while others are deployed to supply food and clothes to the community.
We must each do what God has called us to do and perhaps, we're just simply supposed to make other branches of the Kingdom Warrior military AWARE of our assignment. In some cases, like we did with the other pastor, we might be able to HELP meet some of their battle needs, or supply COVERING IN PRAYER over their deployment.
Sometimes, God's orders will cause our paths to cross and we will find ourselves "coming together" in certain sectors of the war zone. But that is something GOD must orchestrate, not us.
So, this is what Chris and Carol mean by, "coming together in unity." Some of us may never meet one another physically, on this side of eternity, but we still, will have worked together and come together in unity.
Everyone must follow the orders that the Holy Spirit is giving them and obey the assigned deployment that HE is giving them. We must understand that the UNITY we are looking for is in the SPIRIT of GOD because HE is commanding ALL of us.
As human beings, we've got to relinquish this fleshly, carnal need to be in control, always knowing what everyone else is doing. We must stop striving to pull everyone into one position, under our authority. We have to simply obey our orders from the Lord, knowing that HE is speaking to others, and trust that they are doing their part as well.
Posted at 4:00:00 AM
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Last year, we received a phone call from someone who was searching for a church. We had none of the things on their wish list. Unlike times past, the fact that we could not meet their requirements did not discourage us or make us feel like we were lacking in some way.
Instead, a fresh revelation came to us. We didn't have what this person was looking for because that's not what we were placed in Harrisburg to do. We're not here to meet the needs of church-hopping Christians. We're here to build people. We're here to build families. We're here to fulfill the great commission. We're here to make disciples of all nations. We're here for the people who have a desire to be part of those things.
Then the Holy Spirit quickened our thoughts with the realization that over the last ten years, we've been more like a ministry training center. But we're not a ministry training center in the clergy sense of training.
We are literally a FAMILY MINISTRY training center. We're equipping Believers to minister to their families, friends, neighbors, coworkers and classmates. Most of the people that attend Urban Life's prayer gatherings will not stand in a pulpit. They will simply be servants of God in their homes and neighborhoods. They won't be famous or well known, but they will be effective in their circles of influence. They will be mighty warriors in the Kingdom of God, in everyday life.
After that phone call, we updated the official ministry description to:
URBAN LIFE is a family-focused, New Testament ministry that equips Believers to do the work of the ministry. This weekend gathering of Christian Believers meets in an office building, for worship, prayer, fellowship, conversation and practical instruction that teaches them how to give their time, talents and treasure into the fulfillment of the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.
The unique strategy of offering a family atmosphere with engaging conversation, provides the preparation and tools that empowers Believers to minister to their families and friends. We believe change can come to the urban world with the love and power of God flowing through households and families every day.
Urban Life Family Center is dedicated to the restoration of the urban community through the healing of hearts and homes.
This narrative best describes the mission, vision and strategy God has given us in this era in America. After making a serious attempt to start a church, restart a church, and then settling into a weekly prayer gathering in the Pennsylvania United Church Center, we have surrendered to the molding and shaping of the Holy Spirit.
It's amazing to look back over the last 5 years of hosting sessions in a cafeteria and various conference rooms, and seeing how God simply would not allow us to venture into the traditional or the modern methods of holding church services. So far, we haven't been able to establish a worship team, a children's ministry, a youth ministry, a men's group, a women's group, adult small groups or do any of the things that are supposed to draw people to a church.
It has become very clear that God was not structuring us in the traditional or contemporary understandings of a church. He had obviously drawn very specific people to this ministry and it was obvious that He was drawing us together for something other than what we had in mind.
Why is it important that we talk about these things in this week's email? Mainly, because this understanding will bring greater unity and agreement as we each discover and lock-in to the various roles and responsibilities each of us must embrace as we take the church back into our homes.
Through the years, we have ministered to and released several individuals and families. Earlier this year, we had a Sunday session in which we prayed for and commissioned every family to move forward in this family-building mission. Since that prayer session, each family has had incredible challenges, but God is using them to be salt and light within their households and extended relatives. Even though most of families that we released that day, can no longer attend the weekly Urban Life sessions on a consistent basis, the point is that they are moving forward in the will of God, having been equipped and prepared.
Through these experiences, we have come to understand our apostolic role in this city. God sends people to Urban Life to be equipped for ministry outside of the church building. Even as they are being equipped, we are required to release them. That's why we are seeing the revival of our house church ministry. We have a wonderful opportunity to make a difference in someone's life through this FAMILY-MINISTRY mission that the Lord has placed in our hands.
Posted at 12:12:00 PM
Wednesday, May 13, 2015
This book that I'm currently writing will be addressing some of the spiritual and practical changes that will be coming to the structure and expression of the church. Trust me, it will shock our nation severely. Those who hold on to a structure or a ministry, instead of Jesus himself, will not be willing to go where God is leading.
I call this the ancient and emerging church. Ancient because it's rooted in scripture; emerging because the biblical structure has been largely forsaken. What will this ancient and emerging church look like?
Here's just a small peek into a grand shift in the structure of the church:
1. Services will become more like prayer meetings.
2. Personal need will give way to personal mission.
3. Teaching will be minimized while instruction is emphasized.
4. We will gather together most days of the week.
5. Worship will be supernaturally driven.
Carol and I are asking you to read the entire article at
http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/49416-ancient-and-emerging-5-major-changes-coming-to-the-church . After reading this article, please come to Friday's gathering prepared to talk about it and pray about how we can continue to adjust our hearts and homes to accommodate this new move of His Spirit.
As you know, we've already been operating in the things listed in this article. That's why we can identify with the writer in the following:
"Over the last 24-plus years of ministry, one of the most difficult challenges I've faced has been effectively communicating just what changes are coming to the church.
The current church paradigm is so prevalent and saturating in our culture that people just can't seem to wrap their minds around the shift that is coming. It seems nonsensical, threatening or just plain bizarre. They wonder how their ministry stream or focus or gift fits in that structure.
The reality is that it may not, or it may be radically redefined. The discomfort level will be quite high, and it will take a radical remnant to truly sign up for the reformation—for the revolution of the church."
Urban Life family, God has kept us on the cutting edge of this spiritual revolution and we are amazed. Over the years HE has been giving us directives that made no sense to our natural minds. However, today, we are discovering a few of the things that He was preparing us for, in this region and around the world.
Posted at 12:07:00 PM
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
Recently, we were at a crossroad regarding our life and ministry here in Pennsylvania . My job of nine years, abruptly came to an end. After 10 years of leading a small group of Believers, we were ready to pack up and return to the Midwest, having seen very little growth after more than a decade of labor.
However, the Lord sent prophetic words through some dear Believers from Israel, western Pennsylvania, and a local church family in Mechanicsburg, who had no idea what was going on in our hearts. Let's just say that God made it clear that we were to STAY because HE is moving behind the scenes.
Now we are in the midst of another season of transition. As part of our response in submitting to the Word of the Lord, we have spent some time in personal prayer and consecration. From these prayer times, God is speaking to us and taking us back to simply serving people. He reminded us of some areas where we established a foundation, but we had no idea that God was actually building on those foundations all along.
One of the foundations we are bringing back to the forefront is the Fruitful Life Network of Ministries. At the same time that we completed the paperwork and incorporated Urban Life Church, Inc, we also established the Fruitful Life Network, Inc. For all of these years, The Network has been the background entity responsible for all of our books, videos, internet, social media, and speaking engagements.
On the Urban Life side of the ministry, we have launched an all-out prayer campaign that we call the Family Prayer Room. Every week we gather for fellowship, connection, encouragement, and worship. On some weeks, we go online to pray for, exhort, and challenge the Body of Christ in these perilous times. While we stand before a video camera and share with our online audience, the Urban Life Prayer Team is sitting right there in our internet studio, interceding for us. Our last two prayer sessions have already produced several week's worth of Facebook, Twitter and Google+ postings that will help carry our social media outreach through the rest of the Spring and Summer.
While God leads us in this Urban Life global prayer campaign, HE is also showing us the many areas of service that HE has given us through the Network which includes the books and songs HE gave us to help families. It includes serving couples through the Marriage and Family Enrichment and Resiliency ministry called the PACT. It includes a family and social issues webpage that houses videos and a BLOG called One Concerned Father. It includes three online video channels called Fight 4 Your Family, Unlocking the Dream Within and 100 Nuggets of Wisdom.
Through the Fruitful Life Network we have fully accepted and embraced the opportunity to serve in the Pennsylvania Apostolic Prayer Network, where we are intercessory prayer leaders over Dauphin County in Pennsylvania. This is the county in which the city of Harrisburg resides.
We have also joined in partnership with Abby Abildness (Healing Tree International). We have agreed to serve them in their web and social media outreach. As you recall, last year, we teamed up with Healing Tree and several other ministries in this region for a special prayer conference called Unite to Restore America. We're also serving in a new prayer movement called Unite to Restore Africa.
The Network also includes connections with several ministries all over the world, and all we know is that we consider them all partners and friends to this ministry. We're not trying to force a spiritual movement, "make things happen", or call them to rally with us on any projects. We're just acknowledging that God is doing great things between us and among us.
And finally, the Network includes the speaking engagements and soon-coming opportunities to serve in overseas missions and travel ministry. It is in this particular aspect of the ministry that we are requesting your prayers and humbly asking you to consider sowing financially to help us. The aforementioned, Unite to Restore Africa prayer conference will be held in Nigeria in October. We have been asked to come as missionary-pastors to minister. Therefore, for the first time, we are asking our many friends from across the United States, to help us go to Nigeria and serve the Body of Christ in that nation. We already have a Missions Fund specfically designated for this purpose and you can give directly into it by clicking HERE.
We share all of this with you because we are very excited as God's plan continues to unfold for us. We came here to SERVE and God is positioning us to become better servants to families here, across the country, and other parts of the world. The Fruitful Life Network is our simple way to build, equip, and launch hearts and homes into God's purpose and plan. Now, more than ever, we identify with Jesus. We didn't come to be served. We came to wash feet.
All this week, we are meeting key people and even making reconnections with others. Something special is happening and we just want you guys to know that your prayers for us have been quite fruitful. In fact, they've been so fruitful that God has brought forth and revived the Fruitful Life Network of Ministries, that is quickly becoming a global network of service to families around the world.
It's all for the harvest,
Chris and Carol Green
Posted at 7:00:00 AM