Circles, Circuits, Cycles

Notes by Bryan Bishop from Loren Cunningham’s message at the Global Leadership Forum, San Antonio del Mar, Mexico, December 2011

Below the line, Loren wrote "Local." Above the line, he wrote "Global" and "Circles of Relationship," "Circuits of Geography," and "Cycles of Time."
Below the line, Loren wrote “Local.” Above the line, he wrote “Global” and “Circles of Relationship,” “Circuits–Geographical,” and “Cycles–Time.”

In the Tower of Babel story in the Old Testament, they used bricks, not stones; they used tar (a product of death) not mortar (like the earth from which Adam was created). God called them to use stones, not bricks, when creating altars.

In the corporate world, you are only a number, like bricks. In the database of government, you are a constituency. The “bottom line” is all about numbers of dollars. Numbering. Remember when David wrongfully numbered his people as a source of pride.

Peter 2:5 says that you are living stones God is building into His spiritual temple. In the body, the back can move in many directions. Our body structure has flexibility. If, like Joseph, you no longer have God’s worldview, you have Pharaoh’s worldview. This view leads everyone into slavery–even Israel, from which Joseph was delivered.

All of us are not local, all of us are not global, all of us are glocal.

We’re not to be bricks, and we are not to look at the people God has given us as “bricks.” It’s the fear of flood, though God said it wouldn’t come again. In a controlling spirit, we want everyone to line up as bricks, so we don’t fear. But it’s altars we are to build, not towers.

Everything below the line is local. Everything above the line is global. Below the line, “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s but to God the things that are God’s.” You pay your taxes, even if you don’t agree with what they are used for. Jesus said to Pilate that war and defense and capital punishment were given by God to the realm of government.

In Canada, I was invited to speak on the difference between Islam and Christianity. Many Muslims attended. I spoke on the love of God, but afterward I was asked, “What is the role of war?” The TV cameras were rolling and I could sense the tension in the air. I responded, “God gave the government for justice and church for mercy – now ask me a mercy question.”

The first domain of authority is the individual. When you use authority, you should use it very sparingly. When you do, you should use it as a father or mother, mostly using your influence. Labels, through the pressure of society push you from one sphere into another. For example, Billy Graham was pressured to run for president, to become an “authority.” He stuck with his sphere of church–that was his realm of authority.

Satan became the “prince” of this earth. Through our sin, we followed him, giving him our God-given authority. Jesus said “I have been given all authority.” He claimed it back from Satan. Satan has no authority, and he has influence only through people.

Your spiritual authority gives you human influence as well. The individual, family, and church all have authority. We could become an exclusive club. Regarding status quo: there’s a status that has to do with pride, with powers. That’s not the kingdom of God. It’s circles that go out like ripples from a pebble in the pond. Jesus was rock, and we’re a part of the circles that go out from His life.

After the YWAM 50th Anniversary travels in 2010, we took time off after Christmas. I took four weeks off for first time in my life. I thought God would have us relax. But the very first morning, He gave me a download: Circuit Riders! Some young leaders were sensing this too. I had gotten two old books on Weslyan beginnings and their impact on societies. With such a great influx of people, they didn’t have enough leaders. Pastors would go by horseback in a circuit to preach, teach and to set their elders in order. I had the understanding that God was going to pour out His Spirit in such a powerful way.

In the Jesus movement, so many were ready to receive Christ, but the Church was not ready to receive them. In meetings leading up to our gathering in Fortaleza, Brazil, thousands of commitments to Christ were made. There were people from every gang in the city coming to church. Some churches didn’t want to accept them. In the Jesus Movement, millions made commitments but many felt rejected by institutionalized church.

God wants us to keep moving in circles of relationship. It’s circles around gifts, callings, ministry, vision, passion. There are many words for the same concepts, all categories of purpose. In this room, there are several: U of N, mercy ministries, regional/geographical, and demographic.

During this “download” from the Lord, I received revelation that I originally thought was just for Kona. All year, I wondered if it should be adopted beyond, as it has to do with all of YWAM and church life. Eldership should receive not only revelation but right interpretation and application. I think this could be revelation for all of us if we get the right interpretation. It’s not that we get smaller, but we expand our leadership. So it’s not GLF (Global Leadership Forum) but GLFs.

Maybe in coming times our travel will get harder, with visas or a collapse in the economy of some parts of the world. God is giving technologies to serve His people. I was able to buy for another organization a whole hospital for USD$10.00. It’s a virtual hospital, led by Dr. Carl, a leading pancreatic transplant doctor who is the head of the medical area for Call2All. They are going to serve frontline primary healthcare workers, and serve doctors and nurses worldwide.

We are trying to upload all of the teachings in all the languages we have. This is happening in Kona, with cloud technology. Global Virtual Studios is linking the arts worldwide. We are expecting to be able to communicate, have alternate energy and water resources globally in and beyond YWAM.

Why are we getting these revelations? I believe God wants us to stay close to each other in communication. But we are far away from each other. How do we geographically stay close to each other? That’s in circles of eldership and spheres of influence. Use your influence, but don’t use your authority unless you have to.

I have only asked five people to leave YWAM in 50 years. I realize there is a time when you have to do that. You have a legal right at the local level to do that. But only local “fathers and mothers” can do it with love. We tried to set up an international justice system. It would have cost $1 billion a year to run it. Don’t try to use authority if you’re not a father. It’s like a neighbor spanking your child.

Circles of Relationship. Circuits of Geography (multiplication). Cycles of Time management. We are all to be part of at least one local circle. Every YWAMer and especially leaders need to be a part of a local YWAM community for your personal accountability and your leadership authenticity. Being rooted locally gives you spiritual authority for teaching and leadership beyond the local. Then you stay relevant.

YWAM has no corporations above the local structure. In the legal battle Kona faced, we were able to prove that in YWAM one corporation isn’t led by another as a legal precedent for the USA. At a local level, we have local labels and we have local elderships over legal boards that “render unto Caesar.” Let’s move in the spiritual protection we have and that’s eldership. We can do all of this from a local level. The President’s Gathering for the U of N, that too is a circle of elders.

Someone tried to explain YWAM. They said, “they are not an organization or an institution; they are ‘swarms.’” This term was coined by Justin Long. Swarms are visionary, collaborative, sustainable, adaptable, voluntary, open, and multiplying. That’s what our swarms do. This because we are open and other bees come. All of this is true about YWAM when we are really living and moving as we should.

Creating a pyramid isn’t the key. We are not to transition out of leadership. We are to enlarge or expand leadership. I don’t believe we are to transition out of the GLF, but we are to enlarge this body of elders – fathers and mothers of YWAM. We will enlarge by creating circles. We can also create virtual conferences, so we aren’t always flying.

With global eldership, we are able to meet virtually because we do also have times when we can be together and embrace. We need those. Then there are other times when we don’t have to be together. Like we did last night, sharing with the Africa group around this table, it’s an important part of who we are. Let’s not make it smaller;  that leaves people out. As we honor our fathers and mothers, that 5th commandment is for us in YWAM. Let’s enlarge and multiply our elderships and enrich and secure the YWAM movement which is spiritual, not a legal entity except at individual operating locations.

In the next season, pray for all the circles we have in YWAM and those we should have. Think of the circles we could have. What about a circle for all the cooks in YWAM? Circles in every sphere; we are working on a SphereView Bible. When a businessman and his family went through DTS, it changed his life: David Lindsey then started Companies With A Mission (CWAM). We want to start “sphere ministries.” We want to have people in government and all the spheres who relate to us at a vision level and spiritually–NOT legally or politically.

As these things happen, it brings multiplication as we have circles for every one of the seven spheres. Have a circle for Bible distribution. We can have circles in every category in YWAM. I pray we will receive a check or wisdom or anointing so we can receive the great influx that is coming. We need to have the trenches dug, so it can become a movement generated by the Spirit of God.

Who are elders? Think of the five-fold ministry gifts of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. Elders are to be apt to teach. You use the influence of your life and teaching. How do you correct someone when you are apostolic and not the director? Jean Patrick said he lost authority when he became regional director. He’d had a fatherly role before. Matthew 18:15-20, bring it to individual, then original witnesses, then the congregation. Keep it within the place and level where you are. That’s important for maintaining relationship. We see many ministries thrive and die because they don’t honor the 5th commandment. Honor your fathers and mothers in the faith.

For your legal board, 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 works well with people you can trust: a combination of global YWAMers, local YWAMers, and representatives of donors from business and legal spheres blends well and gives a strong board, especially in troubled waters and seasons. One-third represent local donors (not pastors); one-third are YWAM elders beyond the local; and one-third from leadership on the local base. You want to have relationship as associates, not authority.

We are grateful that there have not been major schisms in YWAM throughout our history. If there is a situation with a leader, we do not want to destroy the ministry to discipline the leader. It would be like the like the Old Testament story of cutting the baby in half. Find another path for discipline. You will destroy the ministry if you don’t trust people. You do put safeguards in place and you give teaching.

A geographical eldership is one of the circles. We are not saying to do away with geographic eldership. But the church mission (religion) platform has been held up above the others. This must change to include all seven spheres. We must not say geographic leaders are above everyone else; it’s just one of the circles. They have a legitimate role, but don’t lord it over others because they are “above” you. Have circles over each and every Omega Zone, and then neighborhoods. Granularity will allow us great growth.

An ending challenge from Loren:

It is God’s vision to YWAM and to the whole body of Christ to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” Gen 1:28. It’s time to not only plan for 4K, it’s time to commit and do it: a YWAM operating location in every Omega Zone. Let’s get an organic relational eldership foundation that will allow for the spiritual tidal wave that’s coming. Pray for it! Plan for it! Work for it! Adapt and change for it! We must be prepared or we will be left behind when it comes. Even now, come in power and strength, Lord Jesus!

* * *

David Hamilton’s highlights from Loren’s message:

–We are called to build with stones not bricks. We value the uniqueness of every individual. We do not pump people out in mass production. We are called to build altars not towers.

–Loren spoke about spheres, not domains. He highlighted individual, family, church, government, and covenental associations (eg: legal entities that render to Caesar things that are Caesar’s). When we resort to authority as our mode of leadership, we tend to lose influence. The labels we use to describe our positions have authority implications. Is there other language? It’s not dis-empowering but understanding what God has called us to be.

–We are not in a time of transition but expansion. Our entities are not to be smaller but to be enlarged. We’re not to have one global leadership forum but many and more inclusive forums.

–Circles, circuits and cycles. Circles is about the demographics (people), circuits about the geographics (space), cycles about chronology (time). Most important is the circles, which are relational, purposeful. Apostolic communities.

–Glocal. We need to be involved locally and serving here and now, especially as we minister globally.

–Swarms: visionary. Circles within circles. Ezekiel 1: wheels within wheels.

–As we move forward, it’s the honoring of our spiritual fathers and mothers that gives us multi-generational life.

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