Sid: My guest by way of telephone is Dr. Michael Brown President of Fire School Ministry in Pensacola, Florida and New York City, and in the fall the Pensacola School will move to Charlotte, North Carolina. I’m interviewing him this week on his book that is sure to stir up a lot of controversy and I believe that he didn’t write it for that sake he wrote it because this is what the Spirit of God is speaking to many people, but not many people are willing to be up front with this because when you’re up front sometimes you’re standing alone. The title of the book is “Revolution in the Church” subtitle “Challenging the Religious System with a Call for Radical Change.” What do you mean by radical change do you mean scrap what we have and start over?

Michael: I mean radical in two ways radical meaning large scale wholesale dramatic conflict and radical meaning back to the roots biblical. And what we’re doing if we’re following some map somewhere and the map doesn’t have any of the latest roads and it got us down the wrong way because the map is 30 years outdated well the things you do is to get yourself a new map and then if your “Oops I made some wrong turns I’m 50 miles out of the way.” You don’t keep going the wrong way you make a U-turn you go back and get things fixed. I’m not talking about reinventing the wheel, I’m not talking about scraping everything that’s gone before, I’m saying let’s be honest we’ve got some blind spots here. We’ve got some very serious lax there’s a reason why we’ve got 24 hour gospel television, 24 hour gospel radio, best selling Christian books, mega churches all around the country, well known Christian leaders in every facet of society and yet America continues to have a steady moral decline. Things that are acceptable in the homes of believers today would have been absolute abominations in the homes of our unsaved grandparents 2 generations ago, something is fundamentally wrong not just with our message but with our understanding of what church is and what it means and what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

Sid: And your book by the way explains things that unfortunately too few Christians understand. For instance, let’s talk a little bit about chapter 3 and the next few chapters, “The Church is Not a Building and the Family is not a House” explain that.

Michael: Well I use those terms “The Family is not a House” to try to draw people with the wrong terminology there. If I said “I want you to meet my family” and then I come and show you my house, I show you the yard and show you the…

Sid: I want to meet your family not your building.

Michael: Right because families are moms and dads, and sons and daughters, and brothers and sisters. Well… “Oh Sid we’ve got a beautiful new church, oh Sid we moved into the area so that we could be near the church, oh I go to church regularly.” See if the church is a building then it’s something I go to…

Sid: How about this the church is the house of God.

Michael: Well if I look at a physical building somehow it’s the house of God. See here’s the problem when Tyndale translated the Bible into English 500 years ago and he translated the New Testament into English and he came to the word ekklesia in Greek he properly translated it congregation. Jesus said “I’ll build my congregation. Jesus died for glorious congregation without spot and wrinkle.” What happened is the King James translated it’s one of the rules was use the all ecclesiastical words like church instead of congregation. And so now you have this misnomer that church can actually refer to a physical building as well. And as long as we have that mentality “I go to church.” As opposed “I am part of the church 24-7, we are the body, we are the congregation.” What happens is the major focus is going to be on a physical building and that we should meet together we should have meetings where we all come together as often as we can in small groups in homes and private fellowships and large corporate meetings I’m all for that I see it as the New Testament pattern. But we might say “We have a beautiful church” meaning we have a lovely building and it’s filled with dead men’s bones on the inside and society the world is not changed by someone going to church. We somehow think we get all dressed up or we come casual whatever the look is. We go to some building we sing a few songs, we collect an offering we preach a message we hear a message we go home we think that’s going to threaten the devil. That doesn’t threaten the devil in fact if we’re happy he’s happy because we’re now pacified with our religious fix. But if we see ourselves instead of the emphasis going to a meeting we see that we part of a revolutionary world changing movement that was birthed into this world by the Son of God. And we have a mission to go and change the world everything changes. And…

Sid: But in America and as you so well point out in your book it’s the whole professional and audience mentality versus everyman a worker.

Michael: You see here’s where we miss it so greatly the civil rights movement had a great impact on America and brought about a lot of positive change because people did not merely go to a civil rights meeting they became part of a movement and they all went out and got involved. Or if you look at something that’s brought negative change for America there’s more freedom right now in your average secular high school for a homosexual to freely speak. A homosexual teacher about his or her views on homosexuality and things like that than there is for an evangelical believer to talk about God and the scriptures. How is it that there is more freedom of speech for homosexuals than for Christians true believers in our schools? The answers very simple Homosexuals who we pray for and want to see saved and made whole and made right by God the homosexuals do not go to a gay meeting one hour a week, they are not gay one hour a week they lead a gay lifestyle. And because of that even though they are a tiny percent of the society they have great impact. Here in America half of American’s attend church services at least once a month. A third go to a religious services once a week and yet we’re not changing America, America is changing us. Why? Because we have this mentality that the church is a building that I go to and I put my money into it and if we can build a nice enough building then somehow we’re doing something for God or we’ve accomplished something we’ve arrived. And then in that setting I go and I’m now part let’s say I’m not in leadership I’m now part of the audience. I’ve heard preachers say this from the pulpit many times well meaning “All of you out there in the audience.” Well if there’s the audience then the one preaching the leader that’s the performer. So I perform I put on a good show, you go there you like the show you give some money you know and you got it…well I like the show better over there because they let you out early yeah, but the childcare over here’s better and yeah but there’s no parking and we’re kind of like we’re choosing which restaurant connoisseur Christians in a gourmet gospel. And we wonder why things are not being changed when the fact is audiences don’t change the world, audiences don’t start revolutions, audiences are not a threat to the devil. About the best you can get from an audience is active audience participation. God puts leaders in the body and leaders have important roles but there’s no clergy, laity distinction.

Sid: Well where did that come from?

Michael: Well that’s just a latter tradition and in this case Gentile tradition that came in, Jewish tradition went one way Gentile tradition went another way both in many ways departed from scripture.

Sid: So what was the what was the scriptural tradition?

Michael: The scripture tradition is that every believer is a priest. See the reformation addressed this but then it really didn’t live it out because he he’s still going to a building and the people walk up like 10 – 20 feet to this high lofty pulpit and have special titles and have these long robes. Well hang on, if they’re wearing robes how come everybody’s not wearing robes if we’re all priests where nobody should be wearing them. In other words we all have equal access to God, we are all equally part of the body we are all equally…

Sid: Yes but they have time to study and keep themselves sanctified where were working, we’re parents, we’re husbands or wives, we’re trying to get enough money so that we can retire. We don’t have time for things like this Mike it’s a busy life.

Michael: Well see there are two sides to this. First leaders that are called to the ministry of the word ought to spend a lot of time in prayer and in the word so that they can equip God’s people with the time they’ve had with God to help them teach and instruct so that God’s people can now go out and do God’s work. It’s not the role of the pastor…

Sid: Can’t I just give money to someone and then I don’t have to do God’s work?

Michael: Well not according to the scripture (Laughing) you see everyone is called to be a disciple. See just say “I am a Christian” doesn’t cut it. Saying I am a believer that term occurs 26 times in the New Testament 13 times in Acts we’re called Believers. That’s good but if I tell someone on my job I’m a believer they might say “Oh yeah I am too I call the psychic hotline every day I’m a real believer.” So the word that separates us and it’s a very costly word it’s the word disciple every one of us is called to be a disciple of Jesus. That word…

Sid: I know the disciple of Jesus would ever call something that the scriptures condemn like a psychic hotline but go ahead.

Michael: Well you see we are called disciples in the New Testament that term occurs over 250 times. Over 25 times just in Acts we are called disciples, people should look in the mirror and say “I’m a disciple of Jesus.” What does that mean? I wonder if the mirror would talk back to us and say “Who are you fooling?” See if we’re disciples of Jesus then we have the same radical call that Peter and Matthew and the others did. No not be apostles, no not to write part of the New Testament but we are called in the same way to leave everything and join this radical revolutionary cause. And so much of our America gospel that just says “Well, what’s in it for you, or how you can just have a better life, or Jesus died to make you rich?” It’s not that every line of that is wrong and heretical, but the focus is wrong and heretical.

Sid: What’s the focus?

Michael: The focus is not how to save your life and how to have a better more prosperous life. The focus is how to give your life to go and change the world that’s the revolutionary calling of Jesus, that’s the normal New Testament faith. And what the world calls for fanaticism and much of the church calls extremism God calls normal. We need to get back to the understanding of the church being the family of God sent out into this world to make it an impact. Every believer is a priest and has access to God and that leaders are to be honored and appreciated and respected, but leaders do not stand over the believer between them and God as if they have access to God that believers don’t. Believers lead the way to lead the believers out to war to go out and change the world that is our revolutionary commission.

Sid: Mike we’re out of time.

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