Making Your Church a Command Center of Prayer
Center Resource Kit
By Gary V. Whetstone Worldwide Ministries
Reviewed by John M. De Marco
Christians seeking to focus and deepen their prayer lives and more fully claim the authority Christ has provided will find Gary Whetstone's Prayer Command Center kit to be an intriguing resource.
Whetstone is senior pastor and founder of Victory Christian Fellowship in New Castle, Del., and founder of Gary Whetstone Worldwide Ministries, which offers a large degree of biblical training and multimedia resources such as radio and TV broadcasts. His new kit includes four teaching tapes; a book titled Make Fear Bow, released by Whitaker House; a dry eraser board intended for prayer requests and answers; a screen saver CD-ROM; and several identical bookmarks.
Aside from the tapes and the book, the kit consistently emphasizes the application of seven "Points for Prayer." These include praying for yourself; your family; your local church; governments and authority figures; for Jesus to send laborers; for people's hearts to be open to receive God's vision; and for the church to pray, "Come, Lord Jesus!" Each prayer point corresponds with a particular scripture, and each is found on the eraser board, screen saver and bookmarks.
Composing the crux of the kit, the tapes encourage Christians to accept their "position" in Christ, embracing the authority the Holy Spirit has given them. Jesus Himself is our foundation, not simply what we believe about Jesus. Our first desire in prayer should be for Christ to be revealed to us, not for a particular answer to an issue or problem we are facing, he says.
Christians struggle by "complicating" the gospel and remaining unable to accept grace, Whetstone asserts. He encourages Christians not to be reactionary but to be proactive in prayer--as Jesus was by covering the disciples ahead of time.
By R.T. Kendall
185 pages, paperback, $13.99
Reviewed by Pamela Robinson
Christians rely on the Bible for the definitive word on forgiveness, but they will want to study R.T. Kendall's Total Forgiveness to fasten the Word in their hearts.
Kendall embraces the Bible as he teaches about the healing that can come only from forgiving as God forgives--totally. Veteran pastor of London's Westminster Chapel, which he led into a deeper embracing of the Holy Spirit, Kendall describes this message as one that created a defining moment for him. He says learning to forgive totally transformed his life, and he believes the truths laced throughout the book can do the same for others.
He comments in-depth on the Joseph story, the Sermon on the Mount and Jesus' appearance upon His Resurrection to the disciples who forsook Him. In each case, total forgiveness centers on keeping no record of wrongs and, more, desiring blessing for those who caused pain. Loading his teaching with Scripture, Kendall marks the steps to total forgiveness and the attitudes present when total forgiveness has been reached. He notes several times that total forgiveness must become a lifelong commitment.
Kendall underscores how total forgiveness starts with self-interest. We as Christians forgive others so God will continue to forgive us, erasing all memory of our sins just as He did at our salvation. (Kendall makes clear this command does not mean we can earn salvation through forgiving others.) In giving the command to practice total forgiveness, God reveals the positive fruit of obedience to motivate His children to do what is right when saved.
Yet when we release bitterness, both by forgiving others and forgiving ourselves, we reach a spiritual state where we act unselfishly, he writes. We stop grieving the Holy Spirit and allow Him to work through us in a way impossible when we refuse to forgive totally. We also rejoice in the blessing of those we have forgiven.
In this fallen world, Christians need total forgiveness to experience full fellowship with God and others. Kendall writes as a trustworthy companion on the road to genuine peace, showing readers how to experience a life in which the Holy Spirit dwells in them ungrieved and is free to be "utterly Himself."
Instruments for His Glory
By Joyce Strong
224 pages, paperback, $12.99
Reviewed by Laura Joseph
Bible teacher Joyce Strong brings her passion for women in ministry alive through her book, Instruments for His Glory. She shares her vision of God as the "beloved Maestro," who teaches men and women to be instruments for His glory in a royal symphony.
Author of such books as Lambs on the Ledge and Of Dreams and Kings and Mystical Things, Strong teaches using an array of experiences and anecdotes. Her articles have appeared in several magazines, and she is a popular speaker at conferences and leadership seminars. In other words, she knows what she's talking about. She has experienced many of the obstacles women face as they try to be obedient before God.
Instruments for His Glory outlines a biblical approach to ministry, from the home to the pulpit. Strong takes a potentially volatile subject and lays it on the line, without sparing herself. She communicates in such a way that encourages women to be introspective rather than challenging in the area of leadership in the church. Women (and men!) will benefit from Strong's wisdom and effective plan for joining in His symphony.
The Apostolic Cell Church
By Lawrence Khong
Touch Ministries International,br> 223 pages, hardcover, $19.95
Reviewed by John M. De Marco
Lawrence Khong, founding pastor of the 10,000-member Faith Community Baptist Church in Singapore, shares his insights on this powerful contemporary--yet as old as the book of Acts--model for discipleship and evangelism.
Khong's strategy for church vitality through cell groups centers on four major factors that he says have contributed to the tremendous growth of Faith Community. These include a clear vision and strategy for growth; powerful visitations of the Holy Spirit in signs and wonders; one strong and anointed leader; and a cell-church structure. The majority of his book breaks these areas down in detail.
An insightful and encouraging word for pastors is Khong's view of the proper context for small groups in the local church. In his definition of "cell church," ReviewsKhong asserts that the cell is the church--"the cells, not just the worship services, become the open front door of the church. Every department of the church is designed to serve the cell ministry."
Each cell, Khong continues, multiplies or plants new cells by evangelism, and each cell is well structured for close supervision. Cells link together to form larger congregations, which then come together in "celebration" (such as Sunday worship services) under one leader.
These are important distinctions for those still caught in the trap of trying to lead a church with small groups instead of a church of small groups. The cell group is not one of many menu options a church offers, but is the heartbeat and structure of congregational life itself and the launching pad of all ministries.
Khong notes that "rigid and inflexible church structures cannot easily expand to receive the fruit of this new spiritual outpouring" God is giving the churches. Like the cells in our bodies, cell groups are living and multiplying. Khong's book is a reminder of the new work that the Lord is doing in the church today and provides a road map for pastors who want to stay the course of what God is blessing.
By William Chadwick
192 pages, paperback, $12
Reviewed by G. Sean Fowlds
Subtitled, "The Church's Hidden Problems With Transfer Growth," Stealing Sheep identifies one of the stealth practices responsible for robbing the church of substantive and sustained growth.
Citing personal experience with the practice of stealing sheep--from both sides of the fence--author and pastor William Chadwick argues against transfer growth. A graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Chadwick is a self-described church-growth pastor, but one who has come to count the cost of members hopping from one church to another.
Acknowledging "much good in the principles and methodologies" of the church-growth movement, Chadwick nonetheless maintains that sheep stealing "highlights a perennial failure of the movement and the evangelical community in general." As proof of its damaging influences, Chadwick identifies what he calls the seven deadly sins of transfer growth: the crippling of churches, the killing of church leaders, the loss of an ecumenical spirit, the loss of biblical morality, the denial of conflict, the domestication of the evangelistic spirit and, finally, a weak foundation.
One antidote that he prescribes for the malady of transfer growth is a "covenant of pastoral integrity," whereby local pastors form a healthy network of churches and affirm a non-transfer-growth policy. And for the skeptical, he cites several such cases of clergy cooperation.
Chadwick concludes by likening today's church to a vintage roadster he is in the process of restoring, saying "it has spark but no gas." He suggests that given the necessary maintenance, the church will finish its race with flying colors. Stealing Sheep is a must-read for pastors and other leaders who've grown weary of the recycling method of church growth.
The New International
Dictionary of Pentecostal And Charismatic Movements
By Stanley M. Burgess, editor;
and Eduard M. van der Maas,
1,278 pages, hardcover, $49.99
Reviewed by Adrienne S. Gaines
Even those who have been involved in the Pentecostal and charismatic movements for years may get stumped when asked about obscure streams and personalities. And though many are aware that Pentecostalism is the fastest growing segment of Christianity, few can rattle off global statistics with ease.
That's why Zondervan released its New International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements. Complete with surveys of Pentecostalism in almost every region of the world, as well as encouraging global statistics, the dictionary covers movements, issues and personalities ranging from K.E. Abraham, the 20th century leader of India Pentecostal Church, to Jakob Zopfi, a leader in the European Pentecostal movement.
The book defines such topics as anointing with oil and the gift of healing, explores revival movements including those in Pensacola, Fla.; Topeka, Kan.; and Toronto, and discusses such movements as Zion City, the new apostolic reformation and the discipleship movement. Contributors include a host of respected scholars, including missiologist David Barrett, Lutheran seminarian Larry Christenson, the late Church of God in Christ Bishop Ithiel Clemmons, church growth specialist C. Peter Wagner and historian Vinson Synan.
It has been said that those who refuse to learn history's lessons are doomed to repeat them. Comprehensive historical works such as this can help today's leaders learn from past mistakes and appreciate the contributions of those upon whose shoulders they stand. It could make a significant addition to a charismatic or Pentecostal minister's library, especially if he or she is new to the movement.
Songs of Hope
By Vineyard Music
Reviewed by Margaret Feinberg
The latest worship project from Vineyard Music UK--the same folks who contributed to Winds of Worship 12, Surrender and the best-selling album Hungry are back with fresh, modern flavored praise and worship songs.
Breaking away from stale worship albums that re-record the songs we've all heard a hundred times, Holy carries 14 new songs, most of which are excellent. The opener, "Thank You for the Cross," written by Brenton Brown, takes a slightly edgy, upbeat sound reminiscent of Matt Redman. The drum-laden "Holy" is full of vigor and punch but still able to be sung in a church service. With an easygoing flow, "Let My Life Be Like a Love Song" is an absolute standout with its prayerful cry and may well become a church standard.
While the album carries numerous reflections on the cross, the underlying current and tone are ones of hope, redemption and a joyful embrace of all Christ has done. There are great songs on this album. Don't be surprised if popular artists pick up some of them for their own albums. If you're a fan of Hungry, Vineyard or just plain old good worship, this is a need-to-own album.
By Dorinda Clark-Cole
Reviewed by Brittney N. Elston
There is a little something for everyone on the solo debut of Dorinda Clark-Cole. From the opening "If It Had Not Been for the Lord" to the hidden track, "Need Him," Clark-Cole is high-octane.
Recorded live at Bailey Cathedral in Detroit, Clark-Cole uses a variety of styles to cross barriers. She stays true to her traditional gospel roots with the toe-tapping "You Can't Hurry God" and "Nobody Like Jesus," and shows her versatility with the upbeat sound of "I'm Coming Out," a song of praise and perseverance.
Her sisters join her on "Show Me the Way," showcasing the group's unique sound and harmony. "No Not One," featuring Karen Clark-Sheard, seamlessly blends the hymn "No Not One" with the Clark Sisters' classic "Angels."
A high-energy mix of traditional and contemporary songs that will appeal to a variety of musical tastes, Dorinda Clark-Cole is the kind of release music directors will want to hear to draw inspiration. Songs such as "Can't Take My Joy," You Can't Hurry God" and especially "I'm Coming Out" would be great tracks for gospel choirs to sing.