In the 1950s personal ministry was not a “thing” in most churches. Today it is.
On the one hand there is immense benefit for a host of people who need more than a one-size-fits-all sermon. On the other hand, it has had a hugely toxic effect on believers in general and on our nation as a whole.
Back in the day, all Christian maturity issues were supposed to be solved by discipleship, and most discipleship was a peer-to-peer arrangement between two to five people. Each person who needed help in their walk was expected to put together their own discipleship group and program.
And if it did not work you just did it again, harder, longer.
Two changes occurred in the 1980s which dramatically impacted the core values of Western Christianity.
One was the emergence of inner healing and deliverance (called personal ministry for the purposes of this article) and the other was the emergence of the “Fivefold Ministry” with the focus on apostles and prophets.
The combination of the two had devastating results.
On the Fivefold side of things, it massively established a two-tier Christian culture. To have an elite group, you have to have a non-elite group. When you have the group in power, there has to be a powerless group. When you have those who hear from God for others, there has to be the group that can’t hear from God.
This dynamic has recurred regularly throughout church history. There are always those who lust for power and always those who delighted in powerlessness because it justifies their lifestyle of dependence, and always those in the middle who go with the flow to be agreeable.
It is a viable milieu for the emergence, time and again, of first class and second class Christians.
But in the confluence of the Fivefold and personal ministry, we developed a much larger “upper class” than the usual clergy/laity split.
Now there is a small army of people who have supposed power with God or with demons, and still a substantial pool of people who are needy and go to the power people to get fixed.
And THIS is the core issue.
In Western Christianity today, if you have an issue and you ask a friend what to do, in most cases, the response will include the word “go.”
If you just go find the right prophet, or right deliverance ministry, or right inner healer, or, or, or . . . everything will be all right.
And that is the essence of the welfare spirit.
The welfare spirit is the assumption that we don’t have what it takes and that someone else DOES have what we need, and if that person does not resource us, we are stuck in powerlessness.
Is that true?
Of course – some of the time, but not most of the time.
Our culture of elite-Christians-with-power has of necessity bred a massive culture of powerless Christians.
And the church has led the nation. Today the majority of the political policies put forth by those on both sides of the spectrum involve the Feds doing something to rescue some group that otherwise would (theoretically) remain utterly, absolutely powerless.
Is there genuine powerlessness in some sectors of the culture? Of course. And there are definitely some things the Feds need to step up and handle.
But broadly, in the church and in the culture, the assumption that help is OUT THERE, in the hands of some other person or agency, is deeply imprinted in too many people.
On the heels of the welfare spirit comes the poverty spirit.
A wise elder in Africa once asked a visiting American pastor what poverty was. The American answered, “It is lacking food, shelter, clothing and medical care.”
The elder disagreed. He said, “Poverty is lacking opportunity.”
And that truth differentiates the poverty spirit from poverty.
The poverty spirit is the inability to SEE the opportunities that are before you.
And when someone has been infected with the virus of the welfare spirit, and they are sure someone else has the resources they need, they will be incapable of seeing the resources they have.
This is a relentless battle within SLG.
Too many people can clearly see that I have THE resources they need, and because I have them and they need them, they fail to consider the resources they have that could be used to make progress. And many become deeply offended at me, when I decline to resource them in the way they would like.
Now that I have moved to The South the problem is in my face more than ever.
In California there is less of the poverty spirit. Whether it is someone just over the border illegally, or the latest smart aleck who is going to go spin up a new company with OPM and then IPO by age 26 for billions, self-confidence (and chutzpah) abound.
Not so in The South. I am relentlessly met by people who patiently explain to me why it can’t be done. Everyone knows the barriers and the obstacles.
My biggest absurdity was when we approached one of the most high-profile financial institutions in town to open a business checking account. They vetted us thoroughly and flatly refused to do business with us because we had foreign customers!
What a horrifying concept. Who knows what terrible things might happen to their institution if someone from Australia purchased something on our website with a credit card charged in America dollars.
Simply too big a problem to even consider solving!
So! Since I am wired to buck the culture, that is exactly what I am going to do. I am fighting back against the poverty spirit that causes people to not see the resources they have and the welfare spirit that is sure I should be the resource center for SLG.
And boy do I have a plan that is going to work!
Once a month (or so) we will have Sunday afternoon meetings in Spartanburg for people within easy driving distance. I will teach on some topic relevant to Kingdom builders. And I will not record it for distribution and will not allow those present to record it on their cell phones.
Our Facebook post about the next event is already dripping with pathos from people who really, really want the material and are pleading with me to deliver it to them.
And I won’t do it.
Because the resources are already there in your hands.
Intelligent people are coming. They can take notes, query me at the event, and learn the material.
Those who are offsite can arrange with someone onsite to share the material with them afterwards.
There is massive connectivity in the world today to make that possible easily.
When someone hears it and then teaches it, they learn it better – a big plus.
When the offsite people hear it in a dialog context, not a recorded monologue, they can drill down on the bits they don’t understand and get clarification and application – a big plus.
If the teacher does not remember something, or can’t explain an application, they can go back to social media and ask the others who were present to clarify, thereby enriching the discussion for all – a big plus.
In the process, community will be deepened as people have to work together to transfer the information widely – a big plus.
And the offsite people won’t have to spend money to buy an album – a small plus.
And all the offsite people will be praying fervently for the ears, brains and spirits of those onsite, which will certainly enhance the quality of the event for everyone – a big plus.
All of these things are doable with the brains, people and technology we already have in place. All you have to do is own the process of putting it together, instead of putting pressure on me to bring equipment, pay staff, record, edit audio, post somewhere, and inform you when it is done.
Besides, putting pressure on me to do that won’t work, because I am stubbornly focused on rooting out the welfare spirit and the poverty spirit from SLG and motivating the sons to look to themselves and the Holy Spirit for strategy first, not me.
And by the way, this is only the opening salvo.
This war will not be won in a couple of Sunday afternoons.
I have other ideas in the pipeline.
Thank you. Agreed. This is how I raised my children. Go get it! Opportunity is all around you. Blessings
I rarely comment, but I agree this is a big one, God bless you Arthur !
Thank you for your trail blazing spirit that continues to encourage and support me. SLG is life giving to me! I am grateful and honored, my spirit is excited at what you just announced!
I am in Greenville and would love to come to your once a month meetings. Could you send me info about it? Thank you
Replied by : Arthur Burk
Thank you! For this war you wage. So brave and true. Blessings!
Thank you for this! I have sensed this - and although I do treasure all you have shared and imparted, it is high time that we walk in the fullness of individual intimacy with the Lord - I have the sense that the Bride is being wooed - individually, not a group - but we are one, just not like we have experienced before. Extreme personal intimacy. OF course continuing the "word of our testimony that overcomes the enemy", but each one of us "knowing the Lord" for ourselves. Anyway, agreeing with you and Him!!!
This is great! Breaking the lazy co-dependency in the people of God who just want to glean from everyone else's work and insights and knowledge instead of working for it for themselves. I like the networking. I like that people have to be in community. And I like that people need to go to Father themselves to learn first from Him or to get clarification and understanding.
Absolutely brilliant! Let the discipleship flourish! I personally confess agreed with the spirits. I repent, Lord! I renounce agreement and turn my eyes to You, Lord, to rene mind and be transformed.
Lord, set Arthur and SLG free of these suffocating spirits of welfare and poverty. Lord God, I praise you for this wise and strong move not only against these mindset but toward true Kingdom discipleship. Hallelujah!
Right on. Thank you so much for sharing. This kind of behaviour (dependency on The selected few..) needs to be stopped. Sadly it is not just in the western Christianity, it is a global issue.
This article reminded me of one you shared on elder (ship) Last year.
I am so touched by your position on this. And Very inspired!
Bravo Arthur, I grew up in WV.The poverty spirit devastated families and communities. Often they look to the government instead of God. It is scary and sad. I love knowing that you are focusing on that issue. As you know it Partners with infirmity. Thank you for what you are doing.
...and by sitting in your office, listening to you (which is still good), we do not develop Community; just refer someone to the next piece of information, or website. My experience in church, unfortunately, is that we do not debate, discuss, study and pray together for new revelations anymore.
So thank you for sharing, Arthur, by NOT sharing!
I fully agree with your approach to dealing with the poverty and welfare spirit as explained in the article of same title.
In South Africa we see the manifestation of these spirits in the form of entitlement. Especially our youth seem to believe that because of a past they where not even part off, they are now entitled to have a great life and get everything without working for it.
I have been busy with a character building project as per your teaching on it and must admit that although you recorded the work, I have had to do a lot of my own research and pondering on many matters I have encountered therein. And what a blessing and profoundly enlightening journey it has been so far!!!
I am now on my fourth 42-day cycle and so many things have already changed in my life, relationships, view of the world and most importantly my engagement and relationship with God!!
Interestingly, I have found that as I progress with the project, and on looking back, I have built a picture of my soul, spirit and body and continue to embroider on this picture. What started as a rudimentary sketch is evolving into a rather colourful artwork!
Yes, some of the work and the framework for it has been recorded, but I am glad that not all of of the detail has been included. Had it been my voyage of discovery and learning would not have been so profound nor would I have been able to really make it my own and build a picture onto myself.
Thank you Sir for not recording everything and allowing us to use our own God given resources to discover and enhance our intimate relationship with the Father!
May the fruit of this glorious pushback exceed your wildest expectations!
Thanks. I love how you push back to make us learn and grow. Keep at it.
It costs to show love. And you love. Thank you. Jilly
Much appreciated sir, I am sending this message from South Africa. Arthur thank you for not feeding this welfare-entitlement critters, you have done a lot for us, in terms of resourcing the body of Christ with vicious tools, that if applied, breaking forth is simultaneous ,and no barrier we stand on the way.
I have been doing that with your materials since 2016, when I got exposed to your ptophetic relentless teachings, it is a game changer, I was even excommunicated from the Christian organization I was working with, but guess midianites demons were already destroyed, me and my wife launched a ministry and flourishing as Kingdom sons and Daughters.
I use to think I need help from outside, not knowing that according to His divine power everything has been given to me which pertains life and godliness.
A million thanks it works.
Fighting as a son.
Thank you Arthur. What you have explained re poverty spirit is right on. How I learn is to teach materials I learned with the help of the Holy Spirit and run with it. I learn big that way because along the way, God gives me additional revelation. Love your blog. God bless..
I live in Broken Arrow OK, If anyone in the group attends these Sunday afternoon meetings I would appreciate hearing from you. I hope this does not mean that you won't be producing teaching tapes in the future because I have been so blessed to purchase them and hear them. I put them in my car and listen to and from work, I share them with my friends who borrow them and listen and then we discuss with each other what we learned and how we think this will work in our personal life. We are very blessed to hear your teachings.
I trust the Lord is working in you to implement this plan for the good of us all. So be it.
And thank you~
Requiring sons to do son stuff. BAM!
Please share your notes from these Sunday meetings in a common spot. Let me know where the discussion will be! Right here? This really makes you reach out to other people for sure.
Poverty Spirit guilty as charged. I have miss many an opportunity staring me in the face with the mindset, this cannot be an opportunity meant for me. I am always saying; "Here, this must be an opportunity for you not me." HAHA!
I have only four people to share the notes with at this time. Hopefully connections will grow with this mindset of by message of computer mail instead of by word of mouth. :)
Thank you for writing this. I needed this today.
Arthur you are always delightful and real! Trusting you will see the results and that His will will be done on earth as it is in heaven as you prod through this latest irritant! Blessing and multiplication.......
Oh, how I love it! I love that those who do attend, who are genuinely interested will be in community with others who are genuinely interested. I love that this weeds out the "tea-party Christians" and creates a stronger space. I love that you are willing to offend the leach. What a refreshing attitude.
Thank you for being bold enough to call out the backwards thinking and the elitism so effectively. I needed that correction.
I am really glad Arthur that you have been playing hard ball baseball for so many years!! It's great for you, for all of us and especially for the Kingdom of Heaven impacting the Earth.
Be strong and courageous as you always have been.
Your friend and brother,
Love your articles. This really resonates with me because people will sometimes come for prayer but what they really need is truth, and I direct them to the truth, the persons of Holy Spirit and Jesus. I do pray for them that Christ will be fully formed in them and they come to deep understanding of who they are in Christ, and transformed into love. It has caused people to feel like I am behaving insensitively but I refuse to agree with the deception. I won't leave them in darkness.
Thanks for your honesty.
Oh I am just cracking up! Even though I know I’m probably deeper into this than what I realize, I am coming out, God has given me everything I need for Godliness and life!
I am mentoring two young ladies and this has been the topic of conversation for weeks, and I am not their source!
I am cheering you on for rooting this out of us all!!! NAT
Arthur, in corporate and personal repentance, I ask your forgiveness for those who have taken their pain out on you. Their pain can be genuine, but that doesn't make it right to take it out on you. In learning about sowing and reaping from John and Paula Sandford, I recognize that using their pain to justify, to feel entitled to tear into you, to cause you pain is doing to you, what they judged some abuser for doing to them. An abuser can be in real pain, but that will never justify taking that pain out on another. Now I'm asking if there is someone in the community who would be willing to share their notes of the monthly Sunday afternoon meeting with me. I commit to sharing those notes on my end, from Juneau, Alaska. [email protected] David Brown
Press on my friend!!