Peter Wagner has had a large influence on the church over the past several decades from his focus on church growth to prayer movements. While we might argue the merits of how some of his thoughts have shaped the contemporary church, he is, nevertheless, a senior voice at 82 years of age.
I would like to quote part of a recent article in which he looks at “The America of Tomorrow” and the future of the church.
“We are now experiencing the most radical change in the way of doing church since the Protestant Reformation. Notice the words, “doing church.” We are not talking about a change in the theology of the Reformation. We believe in the authority of Scripture, justification by faith, and the priesthood of all believers as strongly as did Luther or Calvin. However we are talking about the ways in which the church is beginning to live out these theological convictions day after day…
“In fact, of all the radical changes characteristic of the New Apostolic Reformation, I consider this the most radical of all: The amount of spiritual authority delegated by the Holy Spirit to individuals. Notice that the operative words in this statement are “authority” and “individuals.” We Protestants are not accustomed to individuals having much spiritual authority. Traditionally, the final authority in our church bodies has resided in groups, not individuals. That is where we get such ecclesiastical terminology as “deacon boards” or “synods” or “sessions” or “congregations” or “general councils” or “presbyteries” or “vestries” or “state conventions” or “monthly meetings” or any number of similar terms-all referring to groups as over against individuals. The inevitable implication? Individuals cannot be trusted with final authority in the churches.
While I do not envision this “New Apostolic Reformation” the same way that Wagner does, I certainly agree with him on two fronts:
1. The church is re-defining Biblically what it means to be the church and, thus, what it means to ‘do church.’ There is no going back. The implications of this are far reaching as more and more people truly understand that we are the church… period.
2. Spiritual authority is becoming highly decentralized (not non-existent) and we will have to step into the new wineskins in order to see how God will orchestrate His leadership throughout the whole body.