Most Christians are tired of defending the religious ideologies
that must depend on pride and self-righteousness and have only
prolonged divisions in the body of Christ. Iím not talking about
important, fundamental doctrines, but peripheral issues that are
really of minor significance in the great scheme of things.
Phil ~ You've been at this for almost two decades. What have you seen take place?
Francis ~ Hmm, itís been three decades, but whose counting? I think there are ways we look at each other as pastors that are much different today compared to the seventies and eighties. The church sees itself as larger, more united on the main truths, even if we still have stylistic or ministerial expressions that are different. We should be different, but just not divisive. Also, I think pastors have come to emphasize prayer more as opposed to simply teaching about it. And I think the focus on the city and nation has definitely become a higher priority. It used to be that we just thought, well, the end of the world is near, so why bother to care about the city. But as doctrinally sound as that may have seemed, it was really just an excuse for a loveless, faithless heart. Leaders are "owning" their cities with greater frequency.
I also think leaders feel, in general, the responsibility to "get out the vote." We are more apt to be politically responsible. At the same time, I think we can put too much weight down upon the political process. Our strength is really in revealing Christ. On one level, this means we are compassionate, loving agents of reconciliation and redemption in our communities (we let our light shine so men will glorify God). But I personally think we must go deeper. We must also proclaim the advance of the kingdom of God.
The core of the kingdom, of course, is conformity to Christ: His love and character. But I also mean His power with miracles, signs and wonders. I know when I say "signs and wonders" that most people simply "sigh and wonder" at what goes on in the church. Iíll admit there are a lot of shallow, false, vain attempts at staging miracles and creating impressions of power, without having power. But just because there are false or immature manifestations, that does not give us the right to give up on the true unveiling of Godís power. We need this. The power of God was a central part of the ministry of the early church, and it should be part of the last days church as well.
So, I say, letís continue to show the love of Christ, but also expect miracles to accompany our lives. Letís be a house of prayer, but also a power plant for healing and deliverance. Letís be the real deal in all ways.
Phil ~ How does your recent release, When The Many Are One, offer hope and specific direction on how leaders with a citywide vision can serve together?
Francis ~ We have been privileged in Cedar Rapids to experience the many positive benefits of uniting in Christ. It has been an awesome journey, with the Lord giving us insight and revelation that transformed our relationships. Those insights have been compiled and presented in this book. This book will remind the reader of the scriptural basis for our unity and give very practical steps to establishing unity in the city.
Phil ~ Francis, please write a prayer each reader can pray with you for their pastor and for the pastors of their community and city . . .
Francis ~ Lord Jesus, we cannot help but recall Your prayer in John 17. We clearly hear Your heart in this prayer for our oneness.
Master, You have been the one answer to our many prayers; let us to be an answer to Your prayer for our unity. Give us insights into establishing trust between ourselves and other leaders. Show us how to humble ourselves and serve one another. Lord, inspire us to love others as You have loved us, that men may know we are true Christians by our love. In Jesusí name. Amen.