Why did God confuse the ancient builders so they could not congregate in a tower that reaches the sky?
Big is good, but it is not the definitive calling for the church, said conference speaker Rev. Dave Gibbons in JECPP’s National Church Planting Convention this June 2013 at Cebu City. Pastor Dave has just confirmed JECPP’s God-given direction of birthing “rabbit churches”. Compared to a mega elephant church, a rabbit is a fairly small but lithe and fertile creature that produces many young. These little agile ones can swiftly roam the land and reach nook and cranny of the harvest fields.
Pastor Dave cautioned the church to remember the Tower of Babel where God’s people thought they could dominate the earth through a massive structure. God’s calling, he said, is not for the church to go up and reach the sky. “We are called to spread and fill the whole earth. We are called to be free.”
The stark imposing tower represents man’s prideful idea of what a great and successful ministry is. One problem of this belief is when it reduces the minister’s focus to activities inside the church building, putting too much emphasis on control, structure and numbers.
“Man’s direction is to be famous. We thought the bigger the buildings, the more people attending the services, the better. We thought that if we have to reach the city, the church has to be in a prime location. But what would the church look like if it’s not placed on a piece of land?” said Pastor Dave, referring to the misplaced importance on established order instead of people.
Another Tower of Babel mentality, according to Pastor Dave, is when the minister has become oblivious to unique God-given dreams to individuals in the church. “We believe that people in our church are there to carry out our vision? Where is that in the Bible?”
When the church does not welcome individuality and differences, people are placed in a box. “When we are kept in a box, we start to act weird. We look and sound the same,” he remarked. “We think we are so cool, yet we are just one box.”
He challenged pastors to release people and affirm the destinies and dreams God has placed in their hearts in their own communities. “Our job is to empower people to follow their own calling so they can have an impact right where they are. Why are we taking much of their time coming to a building?”
Pastor Dave said that the church must recognize every member as an ambassador, and believe that God gives each believer wisdom to reach his or her world. He cited a “borderless” church called “The Legends” made up of more than a hundred fashion icons, business executives and artists who meet every Thursday night in their own offices to pray for New York City. “They are not meeting in a church building, but they are a congregation too,” he explained. Two years ago, three individuals from the top fashion industry decided to meet weekly to pray for the city. This calling is now catching fire.
Aside from the calling of the church to free people, another key point shared by Pastor Dave is for the church to bless the whole earth. “When you face your congregation, do you see a crowd or you see faces? Blessing is seeing them and knowing their stories.”
When God disrupted men’s massive masterpiece, there was disorder and misunderstanding. Eventually, however, the people were forced to scatter on the face of the earth as how God intended them to be. “Chaos, criticism and confusion are context for creativity,” was Pastor Dave’s encouragement to the JECPP spiritual leaders and pastors. Recently emerging from last year’s turbulent organization crisis, JECPP is now at the crucial juncture of healing and restoration.
“If you’re not being criticized, then something must be wrong with you,” was Pastor Dave’s straightforward cheer to the more than 200 JECPP workers who responded with laughter. “It’s normal for warriors to feel hurt,” he said.
Again, God’s boundless re-imagination for JECPP continues this year and for years to come ‘til His return.