Monday, March 06, 2006

Pioneers versus Settlers.

A brief note: I was interested to note that there were a number of comments flying back and forth on the official report from the Shepherds Conference on "Evangelical Charismatics" given by MacArthur's research assistant. My good friend Don once again shared his invaluable and quite rare history within the confines of SGM there as well, so its worth a visist. The jist of the dilemma seems to be that there it is difficult to sketch out a "radical middle" (Gordon Fee) in the divide between 'continuationists' and 'cessationists'. They both preach and believe the same Word of God - yet can the same Word of God in one breath say that the gifts of the Spirit have ceased and in the other that they continue? Surely not. However the seminar of course went on to note that MacArthur and his people do not have a problem allowing a continuationist like Mahaney to preach from MacArthur's pulpit - so what is going on?

I however will resist getting bogged down in that debate. (I have deleted a number of drafts already!).

I wanted to use this entry to reproduce a very helpful table of comparison from Gerald Coates book (now out of print) entitled "What on Earth is this Kingdom?". This theme of "Pioneers versus Settlers" is really on my heart, particularly after reproducing Ern Baxter's notes on the "Kadesh Crisis" - and also with the upcoming Brighton Leaders Conference in mind. Pioneering is ALWAYS on the agenda at Brighton!

1. Are always counting and generally resisting the cost of change.
2. Giving themeslves to God to a degree, but it's calculated and is only 'upto a point'.
3. Doubleminded, afraid of making mistakes, continually stifled, their concerns are seldom translated into actions.
4. Using 'church' language - meetings, services, traditions, constitution, headquarters, balance, love (fear or sentiment in disguise), moderation, "we ought to", committees, reverence, "it can't be done".
5. Predictable, always on time, precise over tenth-rate issues, generally middle class, only relating to other middle-class folk and cautious to the point of immobility.
6. Eternal life is to be safeguarded and truth defended.
7. Concept of God - a perfect gentleman who never raises voice, never interupts plans already made (always agrees with and submits to the notice board), has a number of attributes some of which are better than others!
8. The Holy Spirit is talked about in a vague, often sentimental way. He is not actually expected to do anything and is often discouraged from doing so, hence the lack of miracles, specific answered prayers, certain gifts of the Spirit etc. He is regarded as being present at meetings and services, but in reality is only referred to when nobody knows what to do.
9. Sin is breaking with tradition, failing to observe cultural etiquette, abandoning cultural standards which are particularly offensive to middle-class, 'reverent' services/meetings. It often entails doing anything differently from the way it's been done for decades, even hundreds of years.
1. "Constant change is here to stay" is their motto. They understand that change is the essence of organic growth.
2. Daily giving themselves to God in total abandonment and utter dedication to God's known will.
3. Single-minded, unafraid of making mistakes, doers and not merely thinkers.
4. Using kingdom language. Moving on, devotion to Jesus, obedience to His Word, taking the Scriptures seriously, heartfelt worship, serving others, God's rule in all their affairs, honouring the truth, sharing what they have with others.
5. Unpredicatable, less concerned about time but reliable, unconcerned about class and cautious only when it serves God's purpose.
6. Eternal life is to be enjoyed and explored and truth released.
7. No static concept of God, having only a living voice. God is seen as gracious but not British, in the habit of interupting plans made in His Name that He has little or nothing to do with.
8. The Holy Spirit is the dynamic, active, powerful breath of God. He is God and is therefore to be worshipped and obeyed. He may be in danger of being made too much of, which is a reaction to not being made anything of among the settlers.
9. Sin is doing anything that makes God unhappy - turning back from the course God has set, failing to seek after and obey the truth. In fact a pioneer deliberately risks making mistakes so that the vision, firmly implanted in people's hearts, may be implemented.
Article Reference List of this website available here.


Don said...

How delightful to see, once again, the idea of pioneers vs settlers! Thanks for Gerald Coates's great comments, which ring so true.

It's probably from him that PDI got the "constant change is here to stay" motto that was used constantly in the 80s.

ollie said...

Interesting isn't it that now their motto is: "KEEP the main thing the main thing". And "We are NEVER going to move on past the Cross" ...

Don said...

excellent point, Ollie!

dave skip said...

Found this in an article by Bryn Jones on "The Restoration of Apostles and Prophets":

"Apostles rejoice and respond in every sovereign move of the Spirit that comes to refresh the body. They realise that each refreshing enables the people of God to find the strength and faith to continue their pilgrimage to fullness. Peter, for example, clearly shows the purpose of the ‘times of refreshing’; they are short seasons of divine renewal that lead the people of God toward the longer seasons of times of restoration (Acts 3:20,21). In the seasons of refreshing, apostles - by the wisdom of God– help the people of God see that the season of refreshing is a transition, and not the terminus. They keep the people moving in blessing, and will not allow them to settle in that blessing."

(By the way, I myself am not sure yet about the place and role of apostles today; I'm trying to grapple with these issues somewhat at the moment.)

Don said...

What an excellent quote, Dave. I'm going to follow your link to the full text.

It also helps me appreciate better what CJ Mahaney did at the height of the 94-96 renewal in PDI. In 1994 -- when the renewal experience was at its strongest, the sweet manifest presence of the Spirit filled the building, and people were laughing, crying and falling like stacks of downed trees during ministry times -- CJ researched the Great Awakening and gave powerful sermons at Covenant Life Church supporting the reality and grace-filled effects of the manifestations we were seeing.

He truly was trying to do what so few pastors do during these times, which is to teach and pastor the flock through the renewal/revival experience, so we are not afraid or ashamed of the manifestations, but also don't focus on them as *proofs* that the person being affected is specially blessed by God.

His emphasis was always on demonstrable *fruit* of the gifts of the Spirit. Whether or not someone "manifested" during prayer time, or during worship or a sermon delivered during a Spirit-drenched meeting, was not important -- what was important was: how have you become more like Christ, as explained in Scripture, as a result of your encounter(s)?

He brought up many people to testify about the work of God in their hearts and lives after being "hit" by the Lord. This provided great encouragement for many, otherwise timid, people to seek boldly more power and anointing from the Spirit during that time.

CJ also read to us many quotes from writers during the Great Awakening, to point out both the blessings and the excesses of revival experiences -- as well as the shameful practices of people who speak against such moves of God, without seeing for themselves the demonstrable fruit resulting from authentic encounters with the Holy Spirit (no matter the illogical, potentially embarrassing "messiness" of the encounters).

At the Celebration East PDI conference in 1995, CJ gave a message called "keeping in step with the Spirit," in which he tried to give his view of how one should personally embrace this work of God -- avoiding excesses, not ignoring sound doctrine, and seeking experiences with the Spirt "as biblically defined."

He even quoted from Bryn Jones: "This present season of refreshing will yield its richest rewards to those who understand why it is happening and line up with where it is going."

Unfortunately, as was so often the case when he got excited on a topic, he never completed teaching through his 13-page outline, and didn't come back to it in a later session. But I believe he was trying to serve the flock during this period, by shepherding us through this time of powerful and intimate "open-heaven" experiences with the Lord.

However, how CJ made the leap from what the Spirit was doing in renewal in 94-96, to focusing on The Cross Alone immediately after and ever since, was never explained clearly to the Sunday morning audience. He had, however, made the following remark during the "keeping in step" message that gave a hint of his thinking on his roots, and on the future change of direction: "We [PDI] do not identify with the anti-doctrine attitude and approach that characterized the Charismatic Movement and seems to characterize many who are experiencing this time of refreshing."

It appears this belief won out in CJ: to identify with the renewal met traveling with believers having an "anti-doctrine attitude," and so to end the renewal in PDI was preferable to identifying with the renewal. Else why would PDI pastor Craig Cabaniss have stated in a public debate in the late 90s, that PDI consciously embraced "Geneva" rather than "Toronto"?

As a result, due to the focus on "sound doctrine," the renewal was remembered wistfully for a time at CLC as "a time of refreshing," rather than as a time of transition to a *greater* outpouring of the Spirit's power for witnessing with signs & wonders, healing/deliverance, etc., as seen in the early Acts church.

Instead of "keeping the people moving," per the Bryn Jones statement that Dave quoted above, there was a retreat from what He had just poured out -- not a pressing-in through the admitted difficulties of pastoring revival, to what might have been the next stage. That seems to be their transition from "pioneer" to "settler," as they turned back to defend 500-year-old, Reformation-time revelations and "sound doctrine," instead of affirming those revelations while continuing to move forward toward Restoration revelations. They did not follow Jones's quoted advice, "and line up with where [the renewal was] going!"

(What's interesting is that now SGM is having to defend the arguable doctrine of "continualism" among their new friends the evangelical cessationists, rather than simply defend biblical "sound doctrine" among those who embraced the renewal and were moving forward in its power -- power given, I must add, by the Holy Spirit of Jesus Himself as He broke into the time in which we now live. How sad not to recognize -- and thus like Jerusalem to miss -- "the time of your visitation!" Luke 19:44)

We can look at what Randy Clark (, Heidi and Rolland Baker (, and Bill Johnson (Bethel Church in CA -, and Lou Engle (first The Call and now Justice House of Prayer at have accomplished by partnering with the Spirit in terms of post-renewal, power-accompanied evangelism and Elijah-style intercession, to see what God might have intended for PDI had they stayed the course. PDI might have made friends with renewal supporters and influenced them with "sound doctrine," much as PDI/SGM has maintained its close relationship with Newfrontiers International.

NFI seems not to have made that turning-away decision in the late 90s, from my very limited knowledge. It would be interesting to learn more about how they did this, and what has been the ongoing fruit of continuing to partner with the Spirit in an unashamed way.

Baxter's Boy said...

Thanks so much for this quote Dave and again for sharing so relevently Don! I just love reading this history and learning from the churches that we know and are interested in. Regarding how Newfrontiers handled the Toronto Renewal - there is an excellent and very interesting video on my library shelf called "Rumours of Revival". It was organised by Gerald Coates and he went around interviewing key leaders around the world on their view as to what God was doing. This included Terry Virgo, my own pastor Dr Stanley Jebb, Dr R T Kendall, Paul Cain and John Arnott and Bryn Jones.

Terry Virgo and R T Kendall were of particular interest to me. Terry focused on the fruits of the renewal that were evident at Church of Christ the King in Brighton. The fact that young people were desiring prayer meetings. That people bound by sin were being set free. That new love - first love indeed - was evident in people who had perhaps grown cold. He didn't call it "revival" - but he called for an appreciation of what God was doing. Furthermore another useful resource was the series that Terry gave at Stoneleigh 1994 when the Toronto thing broke out. He was great at urging people to look past the phenomeon and look to Jesus Christ - to fall more deeply in love with Him. Very Edwardian really!

I might dig out that material and write more on it, because it really helped me clarify my feelings on what God did during those years.

Don said...

Please do tell us more of what Terry was speaking on, Dan. What we at CLC/PDI heard was only his taped message that took off from the Acts account of the Spirit's falling on Cornelius' household.

If there was more given to us then, I don't recall or have access to it. I doubt the Cornelius message was his strongest statement on what the Spirit was doing among NFI in the mid-90s.

thebluefish said...

Been thinking on this settler/pioneer thing... just sits uncomfortable...

Historically yes the gospel has to keep moving, but there's also nothing wrong with settling - I wonder if some of this is the way that people (culturally) no longer settle anymore - everyone moves around...

Do we under value maturity, order? Do we under value theological clarity? I don't think these are opposed to flexibility, humility and concern for the Spirit's work - though it often seems to be portrayed that way...

Don said...

I like to think of the pioneer/settler idea biblically:

1) there were Israelites in the desert who grumbled when the cloud lifted and began to move, but each new upsetting move indicated God's move closer to the Promised Land.

2) Jeremiah wrote the exiles to Babylon to buy homes, plant gardens. But after 70 years, it was time to leave all that and go home, together with the manifest presence of God. Yet only a remnant went back to Jerusalem! The ones who remained in Babylon -- comfortable and prosperous -- didn't move with God and were never heard from again.

God gave Moses the Law while on the move. God gave the first century Church the finished revelation of Jesus while they moved from city to city, spreading the gospel. There is no necessary contradiction between being a pioneer and receiving/appreciating/teaching proper doctrine.

Baxter's Boy said...

I will indeed devote some time to what Terry had to say on the renewal - it's well worth hearing, and gives some excellent principles should God move again in our day.

Great to see that you are grappling with the apostles and prophets question Dave - I don't know if you saw some of the articles that I posted? To me the controversy over the existence of apostles and prophets today VASTLY decreases once you establish that the canon is SECURE and FINISHED - come what may! And then the next step is to identify that apostles and prophets are given by the ascended Christ to aid mission and bring the Church to maturity.

Maybe it would be good to look more in detail at that issue again - its one of my favourites!

thebluefish said...

Secure canon certainly helps us think clearer on apostles/prophets.

I guess the problem is that most people's canon theology is based on that nothing more can be written cos there are no apostles....

Besides, its not like all apostles wrote scripture, or that any spent all that much time actually writing scripture.

dave skip said...

Good stuff guys, cheers for the helpful thoughts!

ollie said...

Yes that's a good point that many miss! Writing canonical Scripture actually wasn't a task given to all. But what was given was to father and found churches!