Bethel 101: Leadership (Part 3)

So we are about half way through our time here at Bethel. We have only actually been in the environment for about 3 months now but we are about half way through the time. It has been an incredible adventure so far and with our mission trip to Kenya coming up in March it is sure to only get better. We feel the culture and relationships renewing our minds and changing our perspective on so much. A number of people have asked us what is so special about Bethel so I thought it might be fun to share some observations. Why would we travel 5000 miles from home to be part of things here? Surely there are churches and bible schools in the UK? The church has a number of core values and experiences that are fairly unique and exciting. I thought I would share some of what we have discovered so far about this place. I have broken it up into a few short blog posts to make it easier to digest. This part is all about the vital role leadership has played within Bethel.

What is so special about Bethel?

Leadership

The environment here is not something that has just naturally occurred. The leadership team here, led by Bill Johnson, have been really intentional in learning from past revivals, their own experience and there has also been a lot of experimenting. Bill in particular has been hugely influential in his steadfast desire for Gods presence. He has (and continues to) overcome much persecution and trial, mainly from within the church. At times he has risked everything to the point of seeing the church half in size soon after he arrived. Risk has a large value here and they often share the John Wimber quote “Faith is spelled R-I-S-K“. An environment without risk provides less opportunity to see God do the impossible. As an apostle Bill Johnson has both the ability to take risk and pioneer whilst keeping a heavenly perspective that always expects God to make heavens resources available.

The leadership team at Bethel very much follows the five-fold ministry model (apostle, prophet, teacher, pastor and evangelist) and these offices are all very evident in strongly gifted individuals within the core leadership. Bethel advocates the ideal environment puts the apostle with oversight and the other offices all working together to bring direction, health and growth. By working closely together each is able to make use of the gifts of the others. The most obvious difference I see in their approach is that it is not a pastor or teacher in charge. Due to their gifting most pastors and teachers are fairly adverse to taking major risk, not a criticism just an observation. Churches led by pastors and teachers tend to have a focus on church members and doctrine, an emphasis we see throughout most of the wider church.  An apostle however redirects the church’s focus towards heaven and encourages risk. We definitely need both but there are parts of the church that do not even recognise apostle as an office within the church still. Here are the most obvious offices within Bethel but there are many more.

  • Apostle – Bill Johnson (Senior pastor)
  • Prophet – Kris Vallotton (Associate pastor)
  • Evangelist – Chris Overstreet
  • Pastor – Danny Silk
  • Teacher – Dann Farrelly

These are some of the fundamental things that have struck me about Bethel. It is an exciting environment, full of life, freedom, hunger and miracles. Christians are discovering their identity and learning to live as powerful and self controlled sons and daughters.

Part 1Part 2 | Part 3

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4 thoughts on “Bethel 101: Leadership (Part 3)

  1. Thanks for this Neil – really interesting and thought-provoking observations. My view is that, currently, the main religious institutions are purposed and designed principally to develop teacher/pastor leaders so it is no surprise that local churches are consequently led this way. Thankfully, there are many good ones, such as those who lead us. What do you think needs to happen for Apostles to either emerge or be nurtured to lead? Put another way, what needs to change about the way we resource local churches?

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    1. Thanks for your thoughts Derek. I agree the church is primarily setup to develop pastors and teachers. I can’t say I have an answer really just some early thoughts that are still formulating. One of the scriptures used to suggest a more prominent role for apostles and prophets is 1 Cor 12:28 which appears to be an ordered list. I suspect as a wider church we could do better at nurturing all types of giftings and offices. Many people are unaware of the health found within the fivefold ministry in leadership. What apostles need are examples to follow and spiritual parents to lead them. Is it coincidence that the gifts which are seemingly less prominent within the UK church are the ones requiring more risk? The protestant movement itself was born out of a desire for good teaching and sound doctrine and perhaps this emphasis has negated the importance of other offices? I suspect many prophets and apostles leave the body of the church because of their desire to pioneer without realising the body needs them within to bring health and authority. An environment full of miracles, healings and the prophetic can make pastors and teachers nervous because of their (healthy) desire to explain things and keep people safe. The different offices of the five-fold need to be really sensitive and committed to each other in order to harness their best. I wonder if an environment that encourages the supernatural will attract apostles. Still thinking about all this. What are your thoughts?

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