It is Time to Sound the Trumpet!
By Paul Anderson
In July of 2003 Jim Anderson, a pastor friend of mine, said to me, “I’m waiting for you to sound the trumpet. You haven’t blown it yet.” We had started our seminary, the Master’s Institute (MI), and the Alliance of Renewal Churches network (ARC), but most of our Lutheran Renewal constituency wouldn’t be connecting personally with those ministries. Jim was saying that we at Lutheran Renewal (LR) had a relational equity built up over years of service, and people trusted us. We just had not given them something compelling enough to follow.
God began to stir in our hearts during the Feb. 19-20, 2004 Equipping Conference like we had not experienced in the nine years I had been at LR. The Lord seemed to say to me that a new day was upon us, and the staff was in strong agreement. (And understand-I had never heard that word before.) Then a day later at our roundtable meeting of eleven local leaders the word came that a new day was not coming-it was here. The birth of a child to one of our leaders on that day was seen as a prophetic picture of a new birthing in the Spirit.
At the end of this conference, another pastor friend handed me this word: “I will lead you into the Land now. I will take you and cause you to burst forth into a new thing. It will not be exactly like you’ve seen before, just as a plant bears little resemblance to the seed…Don’t say any longer, ‘When the time comes…’ the time is now. Set your sails. Prepare to break forth. Go into the Land when I call.”
God was getting our attention. We have been praying since the end of February with much expectancy. A month later at a meeting of city leaders, Pastor Jim Rickard gave this word as he looked out on a lake thawing under a March sun: “A powerful revival is as close to us as the melted ice on the lake.” My heart rose up to greet that word with a strong, “Amen!”
In April of 2004 Jim Anderson gave a prophetic word to LR, and our staff felt that God was speaking to us. He said, “Now is the time for embracing new directions, having a clear focus, and trumpeting straight talk.” He said that the time of transition was ending: “The Lord wants you all to shake off the husks of the vision that has grown inside you and hold the kernel, the new seed in your hand…Boldly plant it in the soil of a new decade and watch it grow into a plant perfectly fit for the day in which we now live. However, the conditions for planting this seed will only be right for a short time. If not planted in the sowing season, it will not grow at all.”
A few days later, I decided to ask the Lord if it was time to sound the trumpet, not knowing what that meant. I jumped the creek, separating our house from Northwestern College. Two minutes after arriving at my prayer place, the tornado horn blasted throughout the city. I smiled and said, “God, you’ve made your point again.”
Since then the urgency has only grown stronger, and all the leaders we have consulted with, including the pioneers of Lutheran Renewal, have confirmed this word of a new day and a new empowering. On a twelve-day trip to Finland in May to connect with a revival in Nokia, Markku Koivisto, leader of a significant move of God, exhorted me to sound the trumpet internationally in countries with a Lutheran presence. He said that we had the call to do it and that people would listen. God is confirming this word by opening doors for international ministry in an unprecedented manner. So I hope you can understand our sense of timing in the Spirit with this letter.
We have been praying for clarity on what it means to sound the trumpet. In the Scriptures, the trumpet was blown for many reasons. Often, the trumpet was blown to gather the people for worship or for war. The sound was a rallying call that brought unity of purpose and courage. It was not blown casually, and it always brought a response from the people. I have not sounded the trumpet before, nor has it ever occurred to me. But now I am blowing it, and with the trumpet blast comes this call for worship and for war:
This is a time of unprecedented opportunity and opposition. Pastors who take a bold new step now to bring spiritual vitality to their congregations will experience the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit in a new way. Pastors are sometimes timid because of their concern over potential splits. I am calling you to lead, not concede, even when it is difficult. This means being bold but not brash. It means radical obedience to the Spirit of God. Your inheritance is not yours until you step into it, like stepping into the waters and watching them part. The transformation of congregations into Christ-honoring and Spirit-empowering centers is not optional. Open the door and let the wind of the Spirit blow in. Go for it-like never before! Many pastors have neglected or even denied their spiritual heritage. They have not used the gifts of the Spirit imparted for empowering and service. Repent-and step into a new day. Speak and sing in the Spirit like your ministry depended upon it. Stir up your spirit until boldness comes. Then be ready to bring others on board. Don’t stay in the closet. Acknowledge publicly your surrender to the Spirit and your desire to see others join you. Expect prophetic gifts to be expressed when you are preaching, teaching, counseling, and praying. Give people opportunities to be filled-often. If you’ve never had an individual or team from Lutheran Renewal, consider having one soon. Networking with like-minded pastors builds courage because courage has a relational component; but meeting with pastors who are cautious or resistant to the Spirit brings indifference or discouragement.
Reproducing is more strategic than producing. Look at the potential for raising up leaders and planting churches. Be creative with new Biblical paradigms of what the church looks like. Evangelism and missions must be a main component of this present work of the Spirit. Instead of telling them to come, we are urging you to go. We meet them on their turf, not ours. Planting churches where they are is one way to do this.
If you wait until you are big enough, you will probably never do it. The time is now!
One word of caution: to say “yes” means that you will pay the price. When James and John asked to sit next to Jesus, He didn’t say, “What a stupid idea!” He said, “Do you know what you are asking?” There is a price to pay to be a spiritual leader. Jesus paid it-James and John paid it, and so will we. Some pastors have gone so far, then stopped. The price was loneliness or rejection by friends or trouble with the synod office or a congregational split, and they didn’t want to pay that price, so they quit leading. We must obey God rather than man. I urge you to pay whatever price you must to bring your congregation into its God-appointed destiny.
We want to bring courage to your heart, not fear. If you desire, we’d like to walk with you. When you are on the front lines, the fight is ferocious. We need each other. That can happen in informal ways or it can happen through formal networking, such as through the ARC, LCMC, etc. This isn’t about staying or leaving-it is about advancing. But if staying means blunting your witness, then it is about leaving.
Pastors and Spiritual Leaders
- It is time to be bold. One pastor said, “It is not that congregational renewal has been tried and found wanting-it has never been tried.” While some pastors have attempted to bring renewal in the congregations, others have held back to avoid conflict. Now is the time for new courage. God won’t bless our excuses; He will bless divinely inspired risks. Go for it!
- It is time to break the idols of careerism, the hope for a smooth and easy retirement, and decisions based on financial pressure. I was proud of a pastor friend who told his council after they said they were sorry they couldn’t pay him more: “God is my ultimate provider, not you.”
- It is time to pay the price. If you have backed off in order to play it safe, you cannot walk in God’s favor. I would rather have a church split because I followed the Lord than have it stay intact because I listened to the resisters. Sometimes drawing the sword is more godly than calling for peace (Matt. 10:34).
- It is time to think “bottom line.” Renewal is not for renewal. The gifts of the Spirit are for those not yet in the kingdom. Jesus started a kingdom movement through the gifts of the Spirit. We must treasure every gift, because they are not for us, they are for “them.”
- It is time to get out of the way. Pastors are the number one bottleneck to seeing the laity released into their ministry. Empowered leadership is empowering leadership. After all, Pentecost was a lay movement!
- It is time to think “new wineskin.” The Spirit not only brings new power-the Spirit brings new structures. Transformation of congregations includes the transformation of wineskins. When the Formation Team of The Master’s Institute considered a formal relationship with another seminary, a consultant told us, “You cannot start a new paradigm out of an existing paradigm.” We are glad that we listened. Pastors, be willing to leave old wineskins that can no longer carry the new wine of the Spirit. This often includes outside consultation.
The window of opportunity that we are sensing may not be here a year from now. If you have ever thought to “take the land” (Josh. 1:3), do it now. If you ever thought to be radically dependent upon the Spirit, so that you could lead many into spiritual renewal, do it now. “Then” will never come.