Article # seven: The Takeover
A takeover is when one takes over. A takeover is a controller scoring big-time. He has nabbed the controls and now is content.
There is not going to be a takeover in evangelical churches; everything is so controlled. But a house church is a different matter. Takeovers are common.
He (she) is more vocal than the rest, his laugh a little louder. He has an opinion about everything and slings verses like a pro. Weeks pass. Months go by. Eventually conversations are directed at him. He becomes the hub of the group. His opinions are sought, his approval coveted, and eventually his permission required. He runs the show. Takeover complete.
Not to say controllers are bad people. I know a controller, an evangelical, who loves Jesus more than most. This brother couldn’t stop controlling if his life depended on it. He is only at peace when he has everything under control. It’s a sickness. A high percentage of christians with whom I am acquainted are strong controllers. Controllers are often pastors of evangelical churches because they wouldn’t stop climbing until they gained top position. Perhaps it’s safe to say most of us have a control problem, big or small.
Beware of chronic controllers. Takeovers in house churches are frequent. Now this is of little concern unless you have a keen desire for your church to be under the lordship of the Holy Spirit. If you want great results you must be under Him. You cannot allow a controller to take over your house church!!
A pulpit can help prevent a takeover.
Make this a rule: No person speaks except from the pulpit. No exceptions. I believe if you enforce this simple rule you will be protected. That puts controllers at a disadvantage. He can’t just vocalize at whim. He must wait his turn and get the okay from the coordinator. Time at the pulpit can be regulated. No one has more access to the pulpit than another so words will come from several, not one or a few.
Words. Words are powerful. satan’s words usurped authority from man. Words brought you into the family. Words can heal and words can destroy. Words unite and divide. Words heard by the group will determine their outcome. Pure words of the speaker benefit the listener. Words can draw you to, or pull you from, intimacy with Jesus Christ.
Please understand, it usually takes lots of words to take over a house church. It’s hard to ask a controller to stop talking so much but easy to regulate his access to the pulpit. Those with shady motives will soon move on.
Have a dedication ceremony. Dedicate the pulpit to the Holy Spirit. Doesn’t have to be much, a couple of boxes stacked on top of each other. Maybe a music stand. An X on the floor. Whatever. From here only do words go forth.
Now everyone knows where to direct their faith and prayers – at the pulpit. Anoint it with oil. Often. Pray over it. Often. Recommit it to the governorship of the Holy Spirit. Often.
To all there is clarity: Protecting the pulpit is protecting the lordship of the Holy Spirit. Protecting the pulpit is protecting your house church. Protecting the pulpit prevents a takeover by the religiously ambitious. He who controls the pulpit sways the group, captures the hearts. You want the Holy Spirit to sway, to impact, to capture loyalty. Only the Holy Spirit can cause branches to abide in the true vine. Only He can make Jesus lord in fact. Most house churches have meager success because most house churches, like their evangelical counterpart, are under the control of man.
Do not allow your house church to come under the control of anyone other than the Lord Jesus Christ – who will, if given preeminence, direct and govern through the Holy Spirit.
Before closing this article and this series, a few stories you may find interesting:
Azuza Street. I will relate, by memory, an account I have read in Frank Bartleman’s Azuza Street which I have read at least five times. There were powerful Holy Spirit directed meetings in the earliest years of the last century at an old warehouse on Azuza Street in Los Angeles, California. Those in charge refused to go to the pulpit except by the leading of the Lord. This left an empty pulpit. One of the preachers in attendance thought, “An empty pulpit? Just what I need to display my spiritual adeptness,” and to the pulpit he goes. But he couldn’t speak. The Spirit wouldn’t let him. Another ‘gifted’ preacher gives it a try. Fell to the floor. Couldn’t move. Broken. And another and another. Same thing. Their takeover failed.
Catholic Charismatic Prayer Meetings. !970’s. What started out pure ended in disarray. Soon the group made themselves subservient to teachers they never met, book writers and conference speakers. “Stay within catholicism.” “Obey the church.” “Be an example to other catholics.” “Blossom where you were planted.” Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. After about a year the takeover was complete.
One more thing: God bless you!!
C ha l l e n g e : Do not be limited by the expectations of others. Give yourself over to the lordship of Jesus Christ. Trust Him alone to bring about His preferences for your life. Enter into deeper realms of commitment and loyalty. There is more for those gutsy enough to go for it.
P r a y e r : Father, in Jesus’ name protect each of us from takeovers. May we never capitulate to distractions, to self-love, to religious leaders. And precious Father, anoint this article. Use it for Your glory. (And hopefully the reader says, “Amen!”)