July 2013

A Tentative Overall Model for Ministry

Series: An edited adaptation of the book Prayer, Power, and Proclamation by C.L.Peppler published by Chrispy Publications in 2009 (ISBN 978-0-620-43583-3). Chap 5:

How should we harmonise the three dynamic elements of ministry that I have been posting about in this series? As I have already mentioned in a previous post, one passage of scripture which brings all three elements of proposed ministry models together is the account of the transfiguration. Luke 9:28-29 records how Jesus “took Peter, John, and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.” Jesus prayed to the Father, and the Holy Spirit imbued with supernatural power. The account continues after Jesus and his three closest disciples had come back down the mountain. A man approached them and claimed, ‘“I begged your disciples to drive it out, but they could not.’ ‘O unbelieving and perverse generation,’ Jesus replied, ‘how long shall I stay with you and put up with you? Bring your son here.’ Even while the boy was coming, the demon threw him to the ground in a convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the evil spirit, healed the boy and gave him back to his father. And they were all amazed at the greatness of God.” (Luke 9:40-43). Later the disciples asked him why they had been unable to cast out the demon and heal the boy, and Jesus replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.” (Mark 9:29) Jesus had been up the mountain praying, and probably fasting, but the disciples at camp had been doing neither. They attempted to cast out the demon and to heal the boy without first praying and asking for anointing. This seems to be the most reasonable explanation of what Jesus was indicating. What else makes sense? Can Jesus possibly be saying that the Father will only cast out certain demons if we abstain from food for a protracted period? This makes no sense to me, and certainly has no scriptural precedents. Jesus commands us to drive out demons. Mark 16:17 records that one of the signs that accompanies a disciple is that we “will drive out demons.” Deliverance is an authoritative act of power. We do not ask God to drive out demons; we ourselves drive them out in Jesus’ name. This requires both authority and power.

In this account, the three elements of ministry come together – prayer, the receipt of power, and proclamation.

Here is a repeat of the diagram.

The P3 Model

This model presents several challenges, each with definite implications, for the individual Christian and for the church as a whole.

Without prayer, there is no receipt of power from on high. Without proclamation, there is no release of power into the world or the lives of others. Without receipt of power (anointing) there is nothing to impart other than ideas and physical actions.

In my experience, most prayer meetings tend to polarise at one or other ends of a continuum. Either they are quite well controlled affairs where people pray in turn, or they are rambunctious happenings with much communal praying in tongues, loud warnings to the devil, and so on.

Perhaps we, particularly in the more conservative churches, need a new vision for prayer meetings.

Envision a meeting where the group starts its time of prayer with worship, praise, and adoration. Some pray in tongues, individually or simultaneously. Someone leads in a well-known song of worship. One after another, the members express the group’s concerns and hopes to Almighty God, agreeing with each other and adding to the prayers already offered. Someone reads out a text, another expresses the corporate desire for direction and revelation, while yet another describes a vivid mental picture that he/she feels has relevance. Slowly, but with a sense of certainty, those in the group become aware that the Holy Spirit is directing them in a particular way, and so they unite their minds, hearts, and prayers to this end. Let’s say that they determine that the Lord wants them to intercede for a particular young man in the local church who is preparing for a missionary visit to a distant country. The sense is that he is doubting and becoming discouraged, and that the required finances are not yet in place. They call out to God and ask him to fill them again with power from on high. They present themselves before the Lord and, in faith, believe that they are receiving an anointing which will enable them to act in Jesus’ name. A member of the group says that he feels that two of them should go to the young man, lay hands on him, and encourage him. Another confirms this. Two volunteer, and the others lay hands on them and send them off with prayer. Those remaining in the meeting start to proclaim aloud, but at normal volume and inflection, that God has dominion over all the affairs of humanity. They declare the authority which God has delegated to the church. They address the dark spiritual forces which may be blocking the flow of finances into the young man’s life. They address potential donors as if they were present, and they bless them and profess their openness and obedience to the Holy Spirit.

What I have described is by no means a new experience for some churches. In my opinion, however, much of what takes place in prayer groups where this sort of scenario takes place is relatively uninformed. The members tend to conduct their meetings roughly along the lines described, not because of theological or biblical conviction, but because it is part of their particular tradition. I contend that we should purposefully embrace the three elements of prayer, power, and proclamation as the example set by both Jesus and the early church. We should guard against making it a thoughtless tradition, and we should resist incorporating humanistic or emotionally driven practices. For instance, I find no evidence of Jesus shouting so that the powers and principalities could better ‘hear’ him. Nor do I find evidence to suggest that we need to speak out the exact words of scripture as found in the King James Version.

In my next blog post I will be describing what I think could be done differently.

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Sustained focus in prayer

Series: An edited adaptation of the book Prayer, Power, and Proclamation by C.L.Peppler published by Chrispy Publications in 2009 (ISBN 978-0-620-43583-3). Chap 4; part 5: 

Let me use the analogy of a laser gun yet again (see this post on the Function of Words in prayer, power and proclamation for more background). The weapon has an energy store (battery), a trigger, a mechanism for focusing the energy into a laser beam, and some sort of aiming apparatus. I have already used the trigger as an analogy for faith, and have exploited the battery idea to the limit. However, the laser gun analogy yields two other important components. Firstly, it should be self-apparent, but the direction in which the gun is pointed is of fundamental importance. Point it inwards, pull the trigger, and you are fried! For the weapon to be successfully deployed it must be pointed away from the user, towards its intended target. Imagine that this particular laser gun has a unique property in that its laser beams heal instead of wreaking havoc. This, however, is only true if the object you aim at is at least a few metres away. If the target is too close, then the ray is destructive in its intensity. Because of this characteristic, it has a safety mechanism which will not allow the gun to discharge if the target is too close. This means that the bearer cannot use it on himself. I believe that in the spiritual realm a similar condition exists. If we aim our laser ‘blessings’ gun at ourselves, it refuses to discharge. We have to direct it outwards at someone or something else. The kingdom message is one of giving. Jesus gave his life for us. Jesus calls us to give and not to seek a return for our giving. One of the problems I have with the name-it-and-claim-it doctrine is its inwards directional orientation. The spiritual ‘laser gun’ is designed to bless others, not the user. To put it another way, God has designed us to bless others, not ourselves. Spiritual energy flows outwards, not inwards

The second component I want to return to is the aiming mechanism. If we just wave the gun in the general direction of the target and pull the trigger once, then, with luck, we might hit the object of our intentions with a short burst of energy. It is most likely though that we will miss entirely. If, on the other hand, we take careful aim and then pull, and continue to hold down the trigger, the object will receive a direct and prolonged stream of energy. I call this sustained focus.

If we want to bless people, heal people, or alter the reality of the physical world around us, then we need to focus outwardly and we need to maintain that focus over time. Matthew 6:22-24 records something Jesus said about this. “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good (single focused together on one thing), your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” The words used describe a boss-eyed person compared to one who is able to focus both his eyes on one thing. The next verses state that a person cannot serve two masters. Focus is the issue. The application in this passage of scripture is God versus Mammon, but the principle is one of single-minded focus.

We live in a world obsessed with materialism (Mammon) and immediate gratification. We are encouraged, even programmed, to focus for very short periods. If we do not immediately receive what we expect, then we move on to something else. In the Matthew 6 passage, the word translated as ‘bad’ comes from a Greek root word meaning ‘to toil’. Our eyes are always ‘toiling’, moving from one brief point of focus to another. Note how directors construct television dramas nowadays. Programmes like Law and Order and CSI always have at least two story lines in each episode. They take us back and forth between the stories. They never expect us to focus on one thing for more than a few minutes.

Sustained focus is a key spiritual principle. In order to apply the spiritual disciplines of prayer, power, and proclamation successfully, we need to focus, and continue to focus. In prayer, we need sustained focus until we hear from God. To receive power from on high we need sustained focus until we receive from the Holy Spirit. In the area of proclamation, we need sustained focus to fully discharge, in word and deed, the conviction and the anointing we have received from God.

Matthew 7:7-8 reflects this principle: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” The Greek tense indicates a continued action. Ask and keep on asking, seek and keep on seeking, knock and keep on knocking. Ask in prayer with sustained focus. Seek power from on high with sustained focus. Knock on the door of effective action through sustained and focused proclamation.

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About Me

My name is Christopher Peppler and I was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1947. While working in the financial sector I achieved a number of business qualifications from the Institute of Bankers, Damelin Management School, and The University of the Witwatersrand Business School. After over 20 years as a banker, I followed God’s calling and joined the ministry full time. After becoming a pastor of what is now a quite considerable church, I  earned an undergraduate theological qualification from the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa and post-graduate degrees from two United States institutions. I was also awarded the Doctor of Theology in Systematic Theology from the University of Zululand in 2000.

Four years before that I established the South African Theological Seminary (SATS), which today is represented in over 70 countries and has more than 2 500 active students enrolled with it. I presently play an role supervising Masters and Doctoral students.

I am a passionate champion of the Christocentric or Christ-centred Principle, an approach to biblical interpretation and theological construction that emphasises the centrality of Jesus

I have been happily married to Patricia since the age of 20, have two children, Lance and Karen, a daughter-in-law Tracey, and granddaughters Jessica and Kirsten. I have now retired from both church and seminary leadership and devote my time to writing, discipling, and the classical guitar.

If you would like to read my testimony to Jesus then click HERE.