WHO RULES THE HEN-HOUSE?
Referenced from writings of Bill Britton
and Howard Barnett
The Local "Hen-House" Webster"s defines the word Ecclesia as an assembly, a congregation, a church. But a better likeness in today’s local church is a "hen-house", a place where every rooster and every chicken is vying to establish a pecking order that benefits themself. The local church, to be truly blessed of God and fulfill His purpose for the flock, the "Body of Christ", must function scripturally as well as spiritually. The church must be a visible assembly, a group of living people, spread across the face of the earth in local bodies here and there, but yet all members of one another. We must become the many-membered Body. A church whose cornerstone and all that it is built there on will come from Him. Jesus gave us the "gifts" of ministry (Ephesians 4:11)for the edifying of the body of Christ. And he is still ordaining elders just as in Acts 14:23. Because, no matter how modern we would like to make the church, He is the same yesterday, today and forever!
This local church is a place where young ministers receive their training and discipline. They won’t receive any of the world’s degrees here, but they will be in "Holy Ghost School", learning of the flow and the direction of the Spirit, while becoming qualified with the word. They will learn to submit to other God filled ministries and to be corrected by those whom God has set in authority by the Spirit. They will learn one of the hard blessings of the Lord, "Blessed is he that is not offended in me."
The Pecking Order
No one will argue the fact that some "pecking order must come to the hen-house". In the natural world of poultry, this does not always fall to the rooster. The "head bird" usually bullies it’s way to the top of the pecking order. In the local church bodies, the "top of the pecking order" usually begins with a pastor. A pastor is not an office to which you can be voted in or voted out. It is not a ministry that men call you to. Only Jesus can call you. A pastor does not have to be older, more educated or more intellectual than those to whom he ministers. He doesn’t minister education or intellectualism, he ministers the divine, inspired word of God. Therefore, he must be a leader in things of the Spirit. He must be willing to have his personal life put on the Cross, and be a living sacrifice for the sake of the Lord’s body.
Help with the Pecking Order
Throughout the new testament the emphasis is on a plurality of shepherds/ministers in each local body. This would certainly be a blessing to the church body. But today, we are hindered by the carnality of men who cannot give up the idea of being the ‘boss’. We must get it through our heads that Jesus is a ministry of servitude and that we are merely bond-servants of His Body. Then we won’t be so quick to object to having others helping us do the serving.
From the elders, that Jesus set forth in Acts 14, will come ministries necessary for the growth of the Body. These men will be subject and submissive to one another, yet they will know and recognize God’s flow of leadership in a service. This may be to the moving of the Spirit upon the ‘youngest chick’ or ‘smallest sheep’, as the Holy Ghost uses whom He will. These men will guard the truth of God and will protect the flock from the raging wolf or the roaring Lion - boldly taking authority over the evil spirits, false prophets, and the pride of the flesh that would invade their midst. They will teach the people to love one another and "travail to see Christ formed in them". These men will be an example, by loving and esteeming their fellow ministers more than themselves. They will suffer long and be kind. They will not envy others who are honored. They will not seek their own profit or benefit or will, nor will they be easily provoked, nor think evil of others. Instead, they will bring forth a church clothed with the Light of God.
The Whole Flock
To be a member of a flock of poultry must be a difficult existence. Continually jockeying for a position and scratching out your existence cannot be easy. Neither is it easy for the members of the local church "flock". The word ‘disciple’ is the same word for ‘disciplined one’, and it refers to one who is going through spiritual discipline, in preparation for a place in the Kingdom of God. It is not just one who listens to your preaching. Jesus said "no man can be my disciple, except he forsake everything, take up his cross and follow me." We can’t be a disciple unless we are willing to be disciplined, to forsake some things, and to be crucified. Galatians 5:20 tells us that emulation is a work of the flesh. So don’t try and emulate or copy another persons ministry. Don’t become a carbon copy of someone you admire or respect. Don’t become a parrot for another man’s message. God wants prophets, not parrots. God has a ministry, a message, and an anointing especially for you. Be sure you become one of God’s original works of art. Not a copy - but a masterpiece created by the Master’s hand.
Ordering from the Hatchery
Most farmers know that you need to order fresh replacements for your poultry flock from time to time. It doesn’t necessarily mean the older ones are thrown into the pot for soup. But some fresh blood, some new genetic strain can result in a stronger more productive breed of poultry. So it is with the church. There is a ministry (ministry of visitation) ordained and sent to the Body of Christ as a whole. These men are not "wandering stars" drifting about over the country sponging off the gullible. These ministries, themselves, are members of local bodies. For no one is a church unto themself. There is a need for a pollination of truth to be carried from one body to another, from one realm of teaching to another. These visiting ministries that go from group to group, fellowship to fellowship, are the spiritual "bees" who pollinate the Garden of God. These visiting ministries are subject to the authority of the church of visitation. If when they go in to a church and find things out of order, strife in the church, sin in the camp, or someone wanting preeminence, they have the right of bearing the rod of authority in meekness and love in healing the wounded. They must be received as the move in the Holy Ghost and God will witness to their ministry. This is Divine Government in operation. The Bible is full of examples of this type of ministry. Paul was never bashful about letting the church know that he had the authority of God to do the work of God, and if that meant dealing with error in their midst, then bless God, he would come to them with a rod. They received it from him, because he proved his love by pouring out his life for them. These are not ministries building a kingdom for themselves, but these are children, chosen of God, laying down their own lives for the building up of the Kingdom of God. They are not on the field to make merchandise of the people of God. These ministers aren’t setting at home waiting for invitation to ‘revivals’. They go, as directed by God from His voice in their prayer closet. These are foundational ministries putting the stones under the sacrifice in order that God might accept the spiritual sacrifice as obedience to His will.
Feeding Time in the Chicken Pen
What would chickens be without chicken feed? Skinny chickens. And thus, would the Body of Christ, without the word of God, wither away like the fruit of the vine. Likewise, you can’t bring your chickens in the house and turn them into dogs, cats or canaries. A chicken is a chicken and therefore needs chicken feed. Most missionary ministries have taken the gospel into the foreign fields and tried to give the people there our culture and customs, instead of giving them Jesus. To change local customs is not God’s purpose, he wants to see hearts changed. The true gospel will touch the hearts and lives of any person in any location. A good ministry is not about reconditioning custom or local honor. Their concern must be the leadership of the Holy Ghost in the services. Sometimes the Spirit will give one of the elders the leadership and the key for the service. Other times it will come forth by prophecy. And sometimes it will just flow as a great river of praise. There will be worship, manifestations and gifts of the Spirit in operation. There will be intercession and travail for souls. There will be testimonies of glorious healing and deliverance. There will be songs given with the understanding (prophecy) and songs in the Spirit. There will be revelations coming through different members of the Body. For these will be services where every member has a part and a responsibility. Sinful lives will be exposed, and wrongs made right. You won’t want to miss these services. For there is a variety as only the Holy Ghost can provide.
All Quiet in the Hen-House
To achieve quiet in the ‘cluck-cluck’ of a hen-house takes time, patience, and perseverance on the part of farmer and chicken flock. Likewise, true balance belongs in the Body of Christ. Each local church is sovereign under Christ, yet none is independent of responsibility to or from the rest of the Body of Christ and its ministries.
Who rules the hen-house? The answer is in Romans 14:7,"None of us liveth to ourselves, and no man dieth to himself, for whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s."