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Peter Wagner: Churchquake


C. Peter Wagner, Churchquake!: How the New Apostolic Reformation Is Shaking Up the Church As We Know It (Ventura, CA: Regal Publishers), 274 pages, ISBN 9780830719181.

I started reading Peter Wagner’s books soon after he began to be published, and I took his class on ‘Signs and Wonders’ at Fuller Seminary. I recall some of his early writing when he confronted things such as: the obvious impact of the uneducated, unpolished, and under financed Pentecostal preachers who came to Bolivia, found an empty lot for their raggedly tents and drew large enthusiastic crowds. Those things made no sense to Missionary Peter, who thought back then, thought that he was doing all things the right way.

Peter had to confront that his right way was not necessarily God’s way, and that confrontation led to a career in the Christian world in which Peter has become one of the ‘experts’ in church growth and the work of the Holy Spirit.

When Peter started off 45 years or so ago, the church world was far different than the one to which we have become accustomed. There were no Willow Creeks, Saddle Backs, and Church on the Ways or any other seeker sensitive megachurches. People were just starting to hear about Pat Robertson, John Osteen, and all of today’s leaders. The largest churches in the world today were still forming and in their infancy.

The wave that washed over the church world back then carried a challenge to allow the Holy Spirit to take His rightful place in the kingdom of God and the kingdom of your heart. Much of that early effort was forged by the FGBMFI, which was headed by an Armenian dairy farmer from Southern California.

Forty years ago the church world was told to seek the Baptism of the Holy Ghost, which was evidenced by speaking in tongues and would endue the recipient with power from on high that would produce the ability to touch the world for Jesus. When that wave washed ashore it caught many of us and permeated the church world. One result of that wave is a world dotted with megachurches, most of which, to Wagner’s study, buck and rebel at the restraints of denominationalism.

Peter’s book is an upbeat review of how and why these megachurches function so well in today’s otherwise declining North American church scene. Peter spends much effort defining or naming the movement that best fits these churches with an apostolic connotation.

Once named, Peter examines the administrative structure of these new megachurches. He presents charts that look like the organizational charts I created when seeking new consulting work from clients who were impressed with that sort of thing. Peter finds that much of the success of these churches is the chief executive role accorded the Senior Pastor, a role that allows the casting and fulfilling of God given visions. Peter compares the failure of the congregationally ruled church to the more theocratic one-person rule model. This is contrasted to a pastor who picks his board and keeps only those who are on the team, this is the pastoral team model.

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Category: Ministry, Summer 2000

About the Author: H. Murray Hohns went home to be with Jesus on November 28, 2012. He was on staff at the largest church in Hawaii and served on his denomination's investment committee from 1999 until his death. Hohns held two degrees in Civil Engineering, an MA in Theology from Fuller Seminary, and served as an instructor at Foursquare's New Hope Christian College (formerly Pacific Rim Christian College) in Honolulu. He wrote six engineering books and hundreds of articles in every type of newspaper, magazine and journal.

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