Based on a talk given by Tim Harrold at the All Saints Centre (TCF), John Street, Grays on Sunday 31 May 2015.
There are astounding stories of mulitple salvation and transformation coming out of Causeway Coast Vineyard in Coleraine, Northern Ireland. Since January, over 3000 people have come to faith in the town, mostly on the streets.
What is going on? How is this happening?
Pastor Alan Scott’s simple explanation is that, “Something has shifted”.
Can shift happen in Thurrock? Of course it can! So why isn’t it? Well, maybe it’s already begun – maybe the new things has already started to spring up. Some of us are seeing it, perceiving it – some of us are about to see it, are yet to perceive it.
So what is God shifting in Thurrock for these things to happen? How do we unblock the wells? How do we break open the aquifers? How do we release God’s fresh sweet-tasting refreshing water?
God is shifting the mindset
The most difficult step in bringing life to your city is to make your heart a discouragement free zone.
Those who carry a climate of courage in their heart create a climate of hope in their town. Alan Scott
In Judges 6, a fearful and frustrated Gideon is found threshing wheat in a winepress – Gideon doesn’t know his identity, except as being a looser on the losing side. But an angel turns up and declares him to be a mighty man of valour, a mighty warrior.
After a lot of self-doubt and questioning, Gideon discovers his true, God-give, God-ordained identity, and he becomes and lives out his calling as the mighty man of valour who is used by God to rescue Israel.
Similarly, Earth is groaning for sons of God to be revealed. The land on which we stand needs rescuing – and we are the mighty man of valour God has purposed to liberate our borough. We’ve come into the kingdom for such a time as this. The body of Christ, the church, is the vessel by which God is transforming Thurrock.
Romans 12:2 says, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Translation: let the Holy Spirit invade our thinking and shift that mindset that is still stuck threshing wheat in the winepress. Individually and together, we are made for greater things!
The fact that you are reading this is proof that God has begun to shift mindsets. And that God has begun to shift the mindet in you.
God is shifting the atmosphere
Changing culture takes time. Build slowly. Remember it’s a process. Love people. Cast vision. Heat values. Tell stories. Alan Scott
“Do not despise the day of small beginnings” – remember that down on the Thames, little tugs are used to turn around enormous ships, slowly. The church is pivotal – it is the pivot by which society can be turned around. It is the instrument by which the atmosphere is shifted.
The reason the political and economic landsacpe is as it is, is for the church of Jesus to become what it’s meant to be – the “Restoration of Manners”, as abolitionist William Wilberforce would phrase it. Society’s true pivot. The atmosphere’s true shifter.
Necessity will be the mother of invention and re-invention as we stand at the crossroads and return to the ancient path, the road less travelled. The land of Christian-founded causes and charitable institutions lost to the ‘nanny state’ of centralised government is being re-taken by Jesus. Shift is happening – nationally, and in Thurrock.
The culture is changing. It’s taking time. God is building slowly. It’s a process. It’s the beginning of what Heidi Baker calls the love revival. We have a vision to cast: God is using his church to shift the atmosphere. Heat up those Christ-centred values and Holy Spirit-led activities and shift the atmosphere over Thurrock. Tell the stories of salvation, redemption, healing, the miraculous, the naturally supernatural, justice and mercy, and the atmosphere will shift.
Foodbank and Treasure Hunting are just two of the ways the church can shift the local atmosphere. But they require constant perseverance and consistent peristence. The citizens around us will never see the kingdom if the kingdom is not like a city on a hill. In fact, it ceases to be the kingdom…
The world is waiting to see the unity, of the church. Only then will it begin to believe in God. Shift the atmosphere in the church and the atmosphere is shifted across the land. “… And I will heal their land.” (2 Chron. 7:14.)
The fact that you are reading this is proof that God has begun to shift the atmosphere. And that God has begun to shift the atmosphere over and around you.
God is shiting the revelation
The next great movement of the Spirit will not be a movement in the church. It’ll be a movement of the church. Alan Scott
Church is downloading a fresh revelation. The revelation of its place in the earth is shifting. Its walls and towers and bastions are coming down.
‘Jerusalem will be a city without walls because of the great number of men and livestock in it. And I myself will be a wall of fire around it,’ declares the Lord, ‘and I will be its glory within.’ (Zechariah 2:1-5.) The church without walls. The church’s revelation of itself has shifted – there’s nothing between ‘us’ and ‘them’.
The church lets Jesus get on with the task of building the church. The disciples of Jesus get on with making disciples. And so the revelation shifts.
(Shifting is movement. The movement of God is a state of constant shift. The streams of the church should be in constant movement, always shifting and being shifted, never becoming stagnant…)
Revelation doesn’t stay the same – it unfolds. As each stage is uncovered, a new level is revealed. It’s like CS Lewis’ image of an onion being peeled – but as each layer gets stripped away, the onion gets bigger, not smaller. So it is with the church as it engages more fully with the kingdom to which it rightfuly belongs. As Lewis said elsewhere, “Further up and further in.”
As the revelation shifts, the onion’s flavour gets richer. The onion’s existence gets harder to ignore. The onion becomes more and more irresistable.
Jeremiah 33:3 says, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” Paul’s prayer to the Ephesians stresses a God who goes beyond our imagination. It’s all shifting, exanding, deepening revelation.
The fact that you are reading this is proof that God has begun to shift the revelation. And that God has begun to shift your revelation.
God is shifting the focus
God is more interested in our obedience than our influence. Alan Scott
We can’t be an influence in the place we’re not called to. We may be an influence for good, but not for God – which makes our influence not the best When we’re in the place that obedience has led us to, then our influence is not our influence, but God’s influence.
The focus has shifted from doing towards to being from. The focus has shifted from Martha in the kitchen to Mary at the feet of Jesus. The focus has shifted from performance-for-your-approval to action-beacuse-I’m-loved.
“Obedience is better than sacrifice,” says the Bible. “Obedience liberates divine power,” said Ethel Jones. “If you love me, you will obey my commands,” says Jesus – not as an order, but as a consequence of love and freedom.
God is shifting the focus of his church. Individual believers are having their focus shifted from work to play. The church’s focus is shifting from church to kingdom. The focus is shifting from conversion to discipleship. And the focus is shifting from fearfulness to joy-full-fillingness, because, as Alan Cass says, “Behind the fear is the fruit.”
When the focus shifts, “the world will see.” (John 13:34-35 & 17:20-23.)
The fact that you are reading this is proof that God has begun to shift the focus. And that God has begun to shift your focus.
God is shifting paradigms
God is shifting our paradigms – the way we’ve seen things, done things and believed things is being shifted
We’re being shifted from the place of the institutional yoke to the place of freedom in Jesus, because “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Therefore, do not put on again a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1.)
It’s in the very nature and being of Father, Son and Holy Spirit to bring this shift about. It’s The Great Escape. It’s the Get Out Of Jail Free card. The door of the cage is open! (Psalm 124:7.)
God is shifting the mindset. God is shifting the atmosphere. God is shifting the revelation. God is shifting the focus. God is shifting paradigms – our perspectives, viewpoints, positions.
3000 people can come to faith in Thurrock – because shift happens in Thurrock. Shift is happening right now. Around you. In you.
Smith Wigglesworth was a paradigm shifter. He said, “If the Spirit does not move me, I move the Spirit,” and “Faith is an act.”
What is our vision for Thurrock? What still needs to shift in Thurrock for these things to happen? How do we unblock the wells? How do we break open the aquifers? How do we release God’s fresh sweet-tasting refreshing water?
Thurrock Christian Fellowship’s vision used to be hung on the wall at the All Saint’s centre in Grays. It said, “The least of you will become a thousand.” (Isaiah 60:22.) Who says that this vision is dead? As R Russell Bixler says, “A vision from God must often first die, and then the Lord resurrects the vision from its ashes.”
Is such a vision the identity of a fellowship? Or the identity of an individual? No: identity, individual and corporate, is found in Christ. It isn’t a vision of God, but it is a vision from God. Its not destiny, but it is calling.
Someone pointed out that maybe they cannot become a thousand until they have been reduced to the least – the remant. Gideon was the least. He then ‘became’ a huge army; and then a not-so-huge army; and finally a small band of brothers. But, reduced to the least, Gideon and his hand-to-mouth-water-lappers did the most. Mighty man of valour.
“You shall do greater things than these…”
Shift happens in Thurrock. Shift is happening in Thurrock. Thurrock is shifting.
The least of you will become a thousand, the smallest a mighty nation. I am the Lord; in its time I will do this swiftly. Isaiah 60:22
When God whispers His dreams into your heart, He is not just GIVING you a dream… He is MAKING you a dreamer. Some of the dreams that will change the destiny of your community are deposited inside you.