We were meeting at New Life Church on Sunday Nights. Charles was the main preacher. We were also meeting at New Life on Tuesday nights (I think) and Tom was preaching. Tom’s service was called “The River” and worship was very good. The Holy Spirit was moving and people were free. We had people with flags and some dancing off to the side. Sunday night was different. Charles’ messages were pretty good, but worship was much more conservative. They were trying to blend in hymns and cotemporary songs. In Julia’s and my opinion, it wasn’t working very well. I am prophetic, but it didn’t take a prophet to see that things were going in different directions. It didn’t take long to realize that there were really two different churches under the same banner. (This is not a chronological history. If fact this one post might cover at least a year or more. I’m just hitting highlights, or lowlights, as I remember them.)
If I had been in leadership, I would have stopped the Tuesday service before it got started. That would have forced all the people to come to the same service and get on the same page. But fortunately, I wasn’t in leadership. God had other plans. Here we are, some 600 – 800 strong. We are all wanting a church, but there are probably at least five models and visions that are vying for attention. Don’t ever plant a church with people whose only common vision is what they don’t want; it shouldn’t work, it should blow up. WF didn’t blow up, but it almost did. This was the period that was hardest for Julia and I. We weren’t in leadership and all we could do was pray. So that is what we did, and I know that is what Papa wanted us to do. Under the radar we were beginning to pour into different people. All of our old friends were wanting more, and we were teaching them all that we knew. Whenever there was a prayer time we were there. Sometime during this season, Julia began to teach on intercession. Many prayers were going forth for the church. They were all needed.
Some time during this early season I asked Tom if we could have Ministry teams at the alter for prayer after the sermon. I got his OK and we started the first ministry teams for the Tuesday night service. Eventually they would spread to the Sunday night service but it took a while. Worship at both services was going in two different directions. Neither group was willing to embrace totally the other’s vision. The worship wars had officially began. Some people still wanted choirs. Other people wanted mostly hymns. Others wanted totally Spirit led music. This war, as it was, over worship would eventually cause many to leave the church.
About this time I got a book by Graham Cooke. The book was “A Divine Confrontation – Birth Pangs of the New Church”. It was about what God was doing in the Church today and how the church was in transition. It spelled out almost everything we were going through, or would go through. I read and reread this book for over two years. I got a copy for Tom Tanner and he and Melissa read it to. As I read it over the years, I would cry as I saw what was about to happen, or was happening with us. I would underline passages, only to see them fulfilled. It was a guide to what we were going through, and I truly believe that God used that book to help us weather the worst of the transition.
It’s really hard to stay pure in heart when you are totally against someone else’s vision, and they are totally against yours. There were many times when I was so frustrated that I just wanted to leave. Julia was my rock of stability as usual. She would just double down in prayer and point out that our job was to love, It was His job to change hearts and allow vision to come forth. But that really didn’t help me any. I truly believe that I am a warrior by nature, and as much as I don’t like confrontation, there are certain things that I am willing to fight for. My problem sometimes is that I want to fight people when instead I should be fighting spirits. But with Julia’s help, I managed to maintain my purity of heart, although many times it was hard. The question was still in the air, “Which Vision would win out?” I knew that if the vision of a Spirit led apostolic church didn’t win, I couldn’t stay. I really didn’t want to leave. This tug of war lasted for a long time.