Authors: Todd Hudson
Tags: #Religion, #Christian Life, #Spiritual Growth, #book, #ebook
After the trip to Dallas and the men’s conference, I was on fire. I went back to the church I was serving and began to teach our leaders what I had been learning. I began to teach our church about the kingdom and the work of the Holy Spirit today. I thought I was going to steer this church of 4,000 people to be hungry for the supernatural; to see signs, wonders, and miracles; to use all the gifts of the Spirit; and to see the kingdom of God in our church.
I even convinced our church leadership to hire my friend who had taught on the kingdom to help us implement the supernatural gifts of the Spirit into the life of our church. Some of our leaders were excited and ready to go. Others were not so sure but they hesitantly agreed.
One of the first tasks I assigned to this new staff member was to teach our staff about the supernatural gifts of the Spirit and how those gifts were given to us to advance the kingdom in power through signs, wonders, and miracles. We did this as a voluntary lunchtime class. I was shocked that almost every staff member came every week. I was so excited because it seemed as though they were really excited to be learning about the supernatural. The class lasted a few months. Shortly after the class ended, I began to hear some rumblings of disgruntled staff members. So we decided to give the staff the opportunity to give us feedback through an anonymous survey. Given the chance for anonymous feedback, the staff felt safe enough to express their concerns and problems with this teaching. Many of them were completely blown up. They only came to the class because they figured they would lose their jobs if they didn’t get on board with the senior pastor’s agenda for the church. This was way out of many of their comfort zones and for some even outside their theological beliefs.
After discovering the general feeling of the staff, I decided we needed to slow down. If we were going to turn this big ship, we would have to do so slowly. I backed off of pushing the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit so hard. Some of us who wanted to begin to operate in the gifts and advance the kingdom began doing so behind the scenes as we would meet with people and pray for things like freedom from demonic oppressions and supernatural healing. We experienced demonic manifestations and deliverances. We saw people miraculously healed. But we didn’t really push the agenda in the church.
The next spring I went to a School of Healing with Randy Clark and Bill Johnson and I saw God move in amazing ways. I saw a little boy, who had been pulling himself around on crutches all week, walk for the first time in his life. I saw a woman with a severed nerve in her ear hear again. This was actually a creative miracle in which God recreated the nerve in her ear because there was no other way she would have been able to hear again unless that had happened.
I was so fired up after attending that school. Then the next weekend at church I had an amazing personal encounter with Holy Spirit. During one of our church services we were singing Chris Tomlin’s song “I Will Follow,” and during that song the Holy Spirit came on me and I began to weep. He clearly asked me, “Are you willing to go where I want you to go and do what I want you do?” Then the line in the song that rocked my world was this, “If this life I lose, I will follow You.” I knew that the Holy Spirit was asking me, “Even if this life as a mega church pastor with all the perks and benefits and prestige, if you lose all of those things, will you still follow Me?” I said, “I will.” That was an amazingly powerful encounter. Holy Spirit spoke to me so clearly.
My response to that encounter initially was to believe I was being called to move forward aggressively in the things of the Spirit and help our church move into the fullness of kingdom ministry accompanied by signs, wonders, and miracles. I knew we needed to implement all the gifts of the Spirit into the life of the church. And I thought that meant I was to push this forward, even if that meant it ultimately resulted in me being fired, because this was the call God that was placing on my life.
A short time later the friend I had brought on staff to help implement the gifts left our staff and our church. That sent me reeling. I had lost the one guy on staff who I knew believed the same way I did and wanted to see the kingdom come in power, so I backed off yet again.
That summer was a rough one for our church. We started experiencing some decline in attendance and offerings. Because of the decline we started the discussion at the leadership level concerning who we might have to lay off. As we were discussing this one day during our leadership meeting, I looked at the team and said, “What about me? Put my name on the list.” They said, “Stop joking around like that.” I told them I was serious. We had been working on a new vision for the church and no one seemed willing to implement the kingdom and the accompanying power of signs and wonders and miracles into the vision for our future ministry as a church. I told them, “I think maybe it’s time for me to move on. I just can’t do ministry as usual any more. I know there is so much more!”
Honestly, I shocked even myself to hear those words coming out of my mouth. They told me to go home and talk with Tricia, pray about this decision for a couple of days, and see if I was really serious about this. I went home and told Tricia; her response was, “It’s about time. I thought this was going to happen at some point. I know this is what we are supposed to do.” Within days I had resigned as the senior pastor of a mega church with no job and no real plan on the horizon, but I had a clear belief that God was calling me on an exciting adventure that would involve so much more than I had ever experienced up to this point.
A month before I resigned, we had invited a local charismatic pastor to speak at our men’s conference. I didn’t really know him, but I had heard him lead worship and I loved his heart for God. We hit it off the weekend of the conference. Little did I know that a month later I would resign my position. I thought I was going to transition the church into the supernatural gifts of the spirit, not transition me out of the church! But when I resigned God spoke to me clearly and told me this new pastor friend had something to do with my next steps. So I called him and set up an appointment to meet with him. The next day we sat down in his office, and I proceeded to tell him I had resigned from my ministry the night before. He looked at me incredulously and said, “You did what?” So I told him again, and I proceeded to tell more of my personal journey over the past couple of years and how I couldn’t do ministry any longer without advancing the kingdom in signs and wonders in miracles and implementing all the supernatural gifts of the Spirit.
He asked me if I had any ideas at to what I would do next. I told him I didn’t know but God told me he had something to do with my next steps. He wasn’t sure at the moment what that meant, but he agreed he would pray about it. He asked me what I would like to do. I told him that I really love Colorado and would love to stay in the area and plant a church that would bring the kingdom of heaven to earth and move in the power of the Holy Spirit. I explained to my friend that when I resigned I told the leadership of my former church about my desire to plant a church in the area but I also told them I would not do this without their blessing. I didn’t want it to look like a church split. I had seen too much of that over the years, and I knew it would do no good to advance the kingdom. It dishonors Christ and His church and I wanted no part of it.
My pastor friend asked me to keep in touch and let me know what the leadership decided. A few days later, I received word that the leadership wanted to bless me to plant a church, but they specified that it could not be in the same town. They didn’t want to make it too easy for people to follow me. I called my pastor friend and told him the news. He proceeded to tell me a very interesting story. He explained that God had told him a year prior to this that his church would be involved in a church plant before the end of 2011 (it was now November of 2011) and he had been having his staff prepare for this by writing descriptions of how they would implement their areas of ministry into the life a new church.
This all led to my friend and his church coming alongside us and blessing us as we began planning for this new church. A partnership was formed and they become an integral part of our church plant. They poured into us by allowing us to come and participate in their pastoral staff meetings and build relationships with their staff. They mentored us as to how to develop supernatural ministry into the life of the church. They allowed me to speak at their church and took up a special offering that covered almost all of our start-up costs for the church plant. They also supported the church financially during the initial start-up period. Isn’t that just like our God to orchestrate all of these events so perfectly and to provide for us before we ever had the first thought that we would be leaving and planting a new church?
We are now leading a brand-new, kingdom-minded church. We operate in all of the gifts of the Spirit as a church, and we are seeing the Holy Spirit confirm the gospel message with many signs and wonders. We are seeing the Book of Acts come to life and it is life-giving! I am finding out there really is so much more! This journey all began by coming to an understanding of the kingdom.
S A PERSON
who has had an opportunity to teach almost every week, sometimes to thousands of people at a time, I am very concerned about making sure I very clearly communicate the message God has given me. There are certain things that God teaches me through His Word or lays on my heart that are very significant and must be communicated well. When I first was taught how to preach in Bible college, one of the first lessons I learned is that you need to begin with a thesis statement or a big idea that encapsulates in one sentence what you are trying to communicate. Then the rest of the message should simply build upon that by supporting, illustrating, and repeating that central thesis. So when communicating something of significance, the best way to communicate that message is to boil it down to a simple statement, support that statement, illustrate that statement, and repeat that statement, so that when people walk away they know exactly what you were trying to communicate. When this doesn’t happen, when the thesis statement is not clearly in place and communicated, there is a tendency to get off track and run down rabbit trails that have nothing to do with the primary message that the speaker is trying to communicate.
Jesus was a master teacher. Teaching was like breathing to Him. He did it wherever He was. He never missed an opportunity for a teaching moment. When we read through the Gospels, we see that He taught on many different ideas and topics, but there was one central thesis to His message that everything else He taught flowed out of. He began His ministry by clearly communicating this primary message and went on to talk about this message more than any other topic.
So what exactly was Jesus’ primary message? Let me put it another way; what message did Jesus start His ministry with and what message did He preach about more consistently than anything else? I think many of us would respond by saying it had to be salvation. Surely salvation had to be the first and most consistent message that Jesus taught. Most people, believers and many unbelievers as well, are well acquainted with what is probably the most widely recognized verse from all the Bible; John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” The verse is clearly speaking of salvation and the opportunity to believe in Jesus and receive the gift of eternal life. And I think every Christ follower would agree the message of salvation is indeed a critical message for us to know, believe, respond to, and then proclaim to others; because without a personal belief in the work of Jesus on the cross, there is no salvation. But as significant as we would all agree the message of salvation and receiving eternal life is, it was not the first message Jesus taught and it was not the most consistent message that Jesus taught.
If it wasn’t salvation, then what else might it have been? Perhaps some would respond that it was the message of love. One day Jesus was asked, “What is the greatest commandment in the law?” He responded by saying,
“You shall love the L
your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.
Love God and love your neighbor. Jesus said this was the first and greatest commandment. But as important as this message of love was, we need to ask ourselves if this was the first and most consistent message Jesus taught. Again, there is absolutely no doubt that when you study the teachings of Jesus and you watch the way He lived His life to model for us what a life of love looks like, we see He placed a premium value on love. However, the message of love was not His first message and it was not His most consistent message.