Book Review: Megashift

QU 108: Apologetics & Evangelism Instructor: Grant Strachan

Donovan Neufeldt 19 March, 2008 Mailbox # 623

-2Megashift is a book that reports of the work of God worldwide in terms of the growth of His kingdom, and the reasons for why and how God’s kingdom has been expanding in the last few years. Expounding on the principle of “priesthood of the believer” (see 1 Peter 2:5,9) he also explains how we as Christians are to be liberated, empowered, proactive disciples who are actively building God’s Kingdom. We are not left with an empty commission though; Jim Rutz also gives practical advice on effective holistic evangelism, as well as on how to start planting scripture based, Holy Spirit lead house churches. The overall purposes of this book is to build faith and endurance, in addition to empowering, liberating, and commissioning believers to do the full work that God has in store for them. Jim begins by summarizing and listing many astounding modern day miracles, as well as mentioning hundreds of resurrections and other equally remarkable documented miracles. Jim believes that one of the primary purposes for miracles is for evangelism (they occur most frequently in the midst of proclamation of the Gospel), and they are attracting global numbers like no other movement has ever seen. From 1970 to 2000, the number of what Jim defines as “core apostolics” (born again Christians with a vision to reach out to the world) has been multiplied from 71 million to 707 million (Rutz 8). If the growth rate of this movement continues at the current average of eight percent per year, the world will be entirely core-apostolic Christians by the year 2032 (straight-line predictions are foolish to make, but nonetheless, this will have a worldwide impact). This movement is virtually exploding in many places across the globe, but the stagnant institutional western church will have to have to make a few changes and break free of some traditions in order to bring people to Christ with the same effectiveness. This begins with an empowerment of obedience, faith, and “ears to hear” what God is speaking. Jim mentions aspects of evangelism that many either do not think about or have never heard of. This includes spiritual warfare through prayer and spiritual mapping, which are used to

-3break off spiritual forces or demonic presence. Although we usually cannot see these, they are very real, and often hold authority over people and places, and needs to be removed. Intercessory prayer is pretty self-explanatory, but even I knew nothing about spiritual mapping till I read this. It usually has nothing do with maps, but basically consists of research aimed at discovering the spiritual history of a certain area, in order to find the most effective way to deal with the root cause of the problems. He also mentions the power that is inherent in reconciliation, identificational repentance, fasting, empowering “the laity,” tent making, short-term missions, rabbit teams (I’ll explain later), on-site prayer, and media evangelism. Chapter three basically covers what kind of disciples God is raising up today in order to maintain this major work of God. We are not called to be pew warmers, but disciples who know how to operate in the power of God, who are liberated and free to build the Kingdom, realize their identity as a saint and not as a sinner, and are responsible stewards. He also exhorts us to get connected with other believers, grow in maturity and understand the Gospel as good news about a person, not just empty doctrine or set of facts. One of the largest focuses of this book is on the effectiveness of unique, scripture based, Holy Spirit lead house churches that are quite similar to those of the early Christians. These churches incorporate proactive participation for everyone, are open to the Spirit’s leading, Christ-centered (rather than pastor centered), without a clergy-laity hierarchy, build on the foundation of scripture, and missional in nature. The characteristic that Jim stresses most often is that Christ should be given the microphone, not just the seat of honor. These kinds of gatherings are designed for freedom, versatility, and growth. After giving this great portrayal of what building God’s kingdom looks like Jim gives us fifteen concise directives to show us how we can become a part of this amazing work and start our own life-giving, self-multiplying church networks. He firmly believes that evangelism in not

-4simply about making converts, but nurturing disciples. This is something much simpler than we would have ever of thought, and Jim does a great job at imparting the faith and desire to stop dreaming and start doing. Power evangelism (providing people with a sense of peace and miraculous answers to prayer when we preach) and starting house churches, appears to be the easiest and most effective way to effectively build God’s kingdom, which makes sense, as these methods were used by Jesus and the apostles. If we think we can improve on Jesus’ methods, we better have substantial proof to back that up; however, the greatest church growth in history has taken place in the days of the apostles, and in today’s “core apostolic” movement. Megashift was a book that exited me a lot, and it definitely stirred my faith a lot to see what God has been doing in His kingdom worldwide, and how I can be a part of it. As I see it, the New Testament (especially the life of Jesus and the apostles) is what we ought to be striving for in our own lives. This book proposes a church/evangelism model closer to that of the early Christians than any I’ve heard of to this day. The first chapter opened my eyes to the raw power inherent in preaching the Gospel with signs, wonders, and miracles, like Jesus and the early Christians. This is power evangelism, and I could not dream of a more effective way for God to draw people to himself. When people see the lame walk and the blind see, all cultural and ideological differences have been transcended; people are listening, and ready to hear the Gospel. Acts 8:6 tells us that the reason that the crowds listened to Phillip so attentively was because of the miracles he did. Acts 14:3 also shows us that the credentials of the apostles’ preaching were the power the Lord had given for them to perform signs and wonders. Through classes I have also been informed of the fact that church was done in houses, very similar to the model suggested in Megashift. Something else I appreciated and found helpful was the copious amounts of citation and references on all his stories and statistics. Even the endnotes were exciting to read.

-5Sometime in the future I would like to do missions in areas where the Gospel has never been preached, and I believe that the holistic evangelism as discussed in the second chapter will be the most effective way to go about it. I learned a little about the necessity of spiritual mapping, identificational repentance, on-site prayer, prayer warfare, and fasting to prepare for the heavy tasks of ministry. Other evangelistic tools included reconciliation (like repenting to Muslims for the crusades), media evangelism, and leadership teamwork. The most practical thing to me, however, is the radically biblical idea of what Jim calls rabbit teams. These small teams of missionaries go into an area and ask God to show them a “man of peace” (see Luke 10). When the Holy Spirit points out a certain house and reveals specific unknowable things about the occupants, the team then speaks peace over the household and meets their pressing needs through things like healing the sick and providing miraculous answer to prayer. At this point the Gospel is preached, they are given Bibles in their language and a house church is planted right there. These new converts are immediately empowered to begin introducing the gospel to their neighbors, making for quick multiplication. Remember that it is neither fancy words nor seminary degrees that bring people into God’s kingdom, but the power of the Holy Spirit (they are not told that God retired from supernatural ministry long ago). The part of the book that I believe is the most important to implement into my life is how to become an overcomer… a disciple, ready and empowered to build God’s kingdom. Some of the advice includes: learn to enjoy life, enjoy daily quiet time with God, get prayer support, study the Bible, take steps of faith, and get used to the growth cycle of conviction, repentance, obedience, and joy. We are also exhorted to keep commitments, read, join or start an open fellowship, use spiritual gifts, practice spiritual disciplines such as fasting and prayer, focus on the Lord, and become others-centered rather than self centered. I think Jim made a great point when he said that the most effective kingdom builders know their identity in Christ, are

-6empowered, responsible, free, actively participating in a small open fellowship, and have achieved a great level of maturity. I had never really thought of the house church model he presents before, but after reading this, I can definitely see that there are many any benefits to it. This book sometimes seems kind of melodramatic, which makes the author sound somewhat like a door-to-door vacuum salesman, although sometimes it seems appropriate simply because of how phenomenal the material is that he is presenting. I also didn’t really agree with a section where it stated that the best way to worship (musically speaking) is through singing hymns a-cappella. I can understand where he is coming from based on his old age, but I disagree with him, because I find that the anointed playing of instruments often has a deep impact on me. I can honestly say that Megashift is among the top two or three books I’ve ever read (excluding the Bible), and I would recommend it to anybody and everybody. I cannot imagine anyone bored or not captivated with the stories and reports in this jam-packed, exiting book. It is also an amazing empowerment for those who desire to build God’s kingdom here on earth.

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Works Cited Rutz, James. Megashift: igniting spiritual power. Colorado Springs, Colorado: Empowerment Press. 2005.

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