PART 2 - LEAVING the "OUT-OF-CHURCH" I got quite a lot of support - but also many people angry and upset over last week's "LEAVING" article. In fact, there seemed to be a "3-day war" over it on our Forum at Revivalschool.com . Oh, well! It was something I felt I had to write, and it had been coming for a long time. Some people seem to think that I am sending people back to "any old" church - whether 'dead' or hype-ridden or whatever. I have to ask- When did I ever say such a thing? The point I was really making is that it is totally unacceptable (in New Testament terms) to be without a 'Body' or 'Leaders'. -A simple fact straight out of the Bible. But how you put that into practice is totally between you and God. Do I myself belong to a 'local church'? YES! -But do I also believe that God is doing a "new thing"? -YES, I DO!! Hopefully my follow-up article below will shed more light on the whole thing: "RELATING to LEADERS - A TESTIMONY" -by Andrew Strom. The main "wilderness" period in my life lasted for seven years - from 1986 to 1993. A great 'crushing' and brokenness entered my life during those years, as God dealt with my pride, my self-righteousness and my arrogant attitude. In 1993 He led me to DEEPLY RENOUNCE these things and COMMAND them out of my life in the name of Jesus - at a deeper level than I ever had before. Rebellion, hurt, rejection - all these kinds of things were deeply renounced over a 3-day period. The transformation in my life and my whole attitude was amazing! A great number of 'strongholds' were suddenly broken. This brought an end to my "wilderness" years. -God could now trust me to be with His Body again. So after 1993 I no longer considered myself to be a real "Out-of- church" person - though I was certainly a strong supporter and sympathiser with that movement. Why did I support it for so long - even after I was back in church fellowship myself? Well, I could see that the church was in need of drastic "change" and Reformation - and I thought that these people, who had left 'religion' behind, might be the very ones that God could use to spark something. (-George Barna seems to have reached the same conclusion in 'Revolution'). Also, I remembered my own 'wilderness' experience - and felt that it had a positive impact on my life overall. It took me a long time to see that many of the 'Out-of-church' people I came across seemed to be making their 'home' in the wilderness. They were not about the 'Promised Land' at all - even though they said they were. Many were not interested in getting rid of their attitudes about 'leaders' and so-on. They were quite happy being "out" - and staying that way. There was a lot of 'TALK' in those circles about "New Testament church" and a New Wineskin, etc. -A new move of God. But after awhile I started to realize that most of it was just "TALK"!! Many of these people seemed honestly INCAPABLE of entering into a real move of God because of their attitudes about 'Body' and 'Leaders'. And most of them did not seem to want to change. After 1993, I have to admit that my own attitude toward leaders changed a lot. I now had an insight into the insidious nature of 'Rebellion' - how subtle it had been in my own life and how it plays out in our relationships with leaders and parents, etc. Very ugly. Very insidious. No wonder leaders have such a hard time! Most of us don't even realize the deep motivations behind our attitudes- "Who do you think you are - telling me what to do?"... "How dare you think you have any say in my life?", etc, etc. -Just like spoilt teenagers throwing a tantrum. How demonic. And how it dominates fallen human nature. I am a father of six children and also worked as a school-teacher for a couple of years (-teaching 11-12 year olds in secular school). I tell you, after 1993, there was so much that I saw related to 'Rebellion' that I had never had insight into before. A school-teacher can usually tell after the first day - who the rebellious kids in the class are. They just have an "attitude". Even if they try to hide it for awhile, it still comes out. There are several options for dealing with it. You can try 'discipline', you can try 'isolation' (-so they won't disrupt the whole class), you can try "managing" the problem, 'coddling' them along a bit. But sometimes you are stuck with a rebellious "problem-child" for a whole year. (As most teachers know, this is particularly true if the child has no father in the home. -The leadership vacuum there can affect all). So how does this apply to the church? Well, over the years I have seen many 'Out-of-church' people and "prophetic" people and 'hurt' people who exude exactly the same kind of attitude. Sometimes it is so strong that they might as well have these words stamped on their forehead: "I do NOT RESPECT AUTHORITY. I do NOT TRUST LEADERS. Therefore I will make TROUBLE". Or, just as common: "I have a REJECTION COMPLEX. I have been REJECTED BEFORE and I am waiting for you to REJECT ME." Sometimes it is so strong that you can pick up on it right away. But other times it is more subtle. Either way, the results are the same. -Many of these people are unteachable, they take offense easily, they talk against leadership behind their back, etc. -All the usual hallmarks. Some of the 'Out-of-church' people that I have met are absolutely DRIPPING with this stuff. Quite a few 'prophetic' people too. Have you ever wondered why you sometimes meet a church leader and immediately it seems you are "rubbing him up the wrong way" without even saying much? -Sometimes the leader is at fault, but quite often they are sensing something inside you that is ringing alarm bells. Perhaps they can't put their finger on it, but there is a sense of "Rebellion" and 'Trouble' about you - and it is not just because you are "different". Often there really is something wrong. Just like a school-teacher, most leaders can pick up on this kind of thing. -So it is up to us to make sure that this darkness is GONE out of our lives, my friends. The fact is, some leaders may oppose you because of a "Saul- David" complex (ie. they are 'jealous' of you) - or perhaps they are 'controlling' or prone to 'pre-judge' people. Don't hang around those kinds of leaders!! But just as often, such opposition will be caused by 'strongholds' inside your life that make leaders uncomfortable around you. And I know a lot of "Out-of-church" people in this category. A good test of this is pretty simple: In every mid-sized town in America, I bet there are at least 3 or 4 good Christian leaders who are Spirit-filled, not into 'hype', preach Biblical doctrine, etc. I bet if you look hard, you can find them. I wonder how they would react if you start hanging around there? -If you go in without an "agenda" - without wanting to "reform" their church or thrust yourself forward into "ministry", etc. But just tell them you are into Revival and repentance and prayer. And simply hang around - praying and supporting - letting them see your heart. -I wonder what those leaders will 'pick up' about you? And I wonder if you can handle simply doing that, anyway? Are you up to it? A lot of 'Out-of-church' people I have met simply are not capable of this. There is something wrong inside them that will mess this whole thing up. And yes - it is something wrong inside THEM. It is not always the "system" that is at fault. There are 'strongholds' in their life and they desperately need to be FREE. I have explained before about "DEEPLY RENOUNCING" specific strongholds BY NAME until they are gone. As I have said before, a lot of us simply need to get alone with God, and RENOUNCE and RENOUNCE such things as 'hurt', rejection and rebellion until they are utterly gone. -We need to do it TODAY. My heart goes out to a lot of leaders - it really does. I truly believe there is a 'LEADERSHIP CRISIS' in the Western church, but I also see that leadership in Christianity is one of the most difficult jobs on earth. Dealing with human nature on a daily basis can be an absolute nightmare. The number of good-hearted leaders leaving the ministry year after year runs into the THOUSANDS just in America alone. A lot of these people got into ministry for good reasons and with a good heart. Some of them are leaving with their marriage in tatters - overworked and undervalued. Others have been seen off by "boards of deacons", where one or two members with an 'agenda' have made their life a misery. You can blame the "system" or you can blame the "unredeemed" state of much of the church. (-Certainly a big part of this!) But the fact is, even in a 'good' environment, leadership is a hugely challenging task. -Ask Joshua! Ask the apostles! Today I generally enjoy being around leaders - especially ones that have a true heart after God. We may not always agree, but we usually get on pretty well. In my early days I used to avoid leaders - but no longer. I guess that growing older has helped (-I just turned 40 recently). And also being a leader myself - seeing the challenges involved. But the biggest thing that has made a difference has been 'RENOUNCING' those dark strongholds out of my life over the years. Today I make sure to let leaders truly see my heart. -For how can "trust" be built up otherwise? -It is only by being completely open- hearted and being around people for periods of time, so a relationship can be built up. Don't hide your heart from people. Open up and let them get to know the real 'you'. -Only then can trust develop. In closing, the New Testament tells us to "honor" our Christian leaders - particularly good ones - and to support them financially. (1 Tim 5:17-18). It also likens the authority and respect that a father must have in his home, to a leader's position in the church. (1 Tim 3:4-5). All of this is undeniable, and if you have a problem with it then I suggest that you may have a stronghold of 'Rebellion' in your heart. Find good leaders and get around them, my friends! To hear in more detail my journey through a crushing "wilderness", my early battles with leaders and then the transformation in my life through 'RENOUNCING' these strongholds - please download my sermon "Deep Dealings of God" which is on the RIGHT at- http://www.revivalschool.com God bless you, my friends. Kindest regards in Christ, Andrew Strom.