by Wolfgang Simson
Many people involved in various types of house church seem to have appreciated the insight from Wolfgang Simson (author of “Houses that Change the World”) in a talk he gives on the 5 steps of apostolic migration. It seems that for many christians who have made the journey out of ‘organised’ church into something else, these 5 steps describe something of the journey they have been on.
People reading this will be at various points on this journey. Some may be at Wolfgang’s -2, where they are happy with ‘normal’ church & question whether this journey really exists, or if so, why anyone would bother going on it … If so, this article probably won’t make sense to them personally, but might give some insight into the journey that other people have been on ….
For those that are anywhere from -1 onwards, hopefully this will be of some benefit – it already has been for many people, who feel it has ‘turned lights on’ & helped them gain greater understanding of what they have been through ……
Note – this is Maurice Smith’s written version of Wolfgang’s talk – if you want to hear Wolfgang directly, there is an mp3 version available to buy at https://www.cmaresources.org/detox_wolfgang-simson
Taken from a summary by Maurice Smith.
Wolfgang Simson describes as an “Apostolic Conversion” of a new generation of leaders who need to be set free from “the reproach of Egypt” (the failed church practices & traditions of the past) and whom God wants to unmistakably set apart for leadership in His new season.
For this reason, I want to share a section from my new (and almost completed) house church equipping workbook where I talk about the need for this “Apostolic Conversion.” I believe that house church will indeed begin to “take off” when we have a generation of leaders who understand and fully grasp the EPIC (for you Leonard Sweet fans) paradigm shift which house church represents.
The Problem of Shifting From Old to New Paradigms
A “paradigm shift” of historic and biblical proportions is under way as the shaking of the old gives way to the rise of the new. There is both good news and “bad” news in this new paradigm shift that God is now bringing about. The good news is that God is moving, raising up new paradigms to accomplish His Kingdom purposes, and He invites us to move with Him. The “bad” news is that not everyone who “should” move will move. And there are present leaders of the old paradigm who believe that with a few minor adjustments they can become leaders of this new paradigm. But this is not true. Keepers and tenders of public church swimming pools are totally unprepared for the uncontrolled “wildness” of life along God’s River. Leaders of the old paradigm cannot move into this new paradigm (much less lead it) without experiencing a profound “death” to self and to the old which is now passing away. Wolfgang Simson has created a diagram which illustrates and helps to explain this dying process. He calls it “The 5 Steps of Apostolic Migration.” It is Wolf’s thesis that an “Apostolic Migration” (what I call a “paradigm shift”) from old paradigms to new paradigms is sweeping across the Church, a migration (or “paradigm shift”) which is being led by apostles and prophets whom God is calling out and raising up for this new move. I have re-created this diagram and I want to explain the diagram in an effort to help you come to terms with where you are on your own personal journey into this new paradigm of New Testament house church and the Kingdom of God .
The heart of this diagram consists of two mountain peaks. The peak on the left represents what Wolf (following Martin Luther) calls the new and present “Babylonian Captivity of the Church.” The present day church is being held captive to programs and paradigms which no longer serve God’s purpose of restoring authentic New Testament Church . Church as we know it is now preventing Church as God wants it. So, we have labeled this peak “B”. The mountain peak on the right represents the “Promised Land” of house church and a restoration of authentic church as seen in the New Testament (in such passages as Acts 2:41-47). I have labeled this peak “P”. The line/arrow going from Peak “B” directly to Peak “P” represents the mistaken belief on the part of some people that they can migrate directly from the old paradigm to the new paradigm with few (if any) significant changes. This is a false view which seeks to avoid the personally painful process of dying to ourselves and to the old in order to give birth to the new.
Wolfgang Simson ’s “5 Steps of Apostolic Migration”
Lets examine “The 5 Steps of Apostolic Migration” from the old into the new!
Point – 2: This is where most Christians are today as this new move of God unfolds. This is the point of “happy clappy” churchianity where most people are content with where they are in their church experience. When you talk to them about the need for a new paradigm their response is basically, “I have no idea what you are talking about.”
Point – 1: This second point or step in apostolic migration represents people who are no longer satisfied with “happy clappy church” as they have known it. These are people who have heard from God about more authentic expressions of church. They have begun to move in their spirits, but their bodies and their money have not yet moved. They are frustrated pilgrims. Some will move to the next step, while others will not.
Point 0: Welcome to the wilderness. This third step represents frustrated pilgrims who have finally left the old paradigm and are now “out of the system,” but they do not yet know that there is a new paradigm to move into. And there is a reason for this. God knows that it is easier to get a person “out of the system” than it is to get the old system out of the person. For this reason God engineers the wilderness as a place of “spiritual death” to the old, a place of“religious detoxification” where God deals with our “baggage.” It is in the wilderness that God seeks to heal our hurts, wounds, bitterness, anger and other personal “baggage” left over from our journey out of the old. Not everyone “survives” the wilderness experience to emerge healthy at the next Point. Some people are unable to “let go” of the past (past wounds, hurts, betrayals, etc.) in order to embrace God’s future plans. Like the Israelites in the wilderness, some long to return to Egypt , while others perish in the wilderness. But for those who allow God to do his work of “religious detoxification” they begin to experience an alignment of their spirits, both with what God is doing and with other people in whom He is doing it. And soon, it’s time for them to emerge from the wilderness and to step into the next stage of their journey.
Point + 1: This is the stage or point at which people choose to leave the past and the wilderness behind and to “cross over the Jordan ” into the new paradigm of what God is doing. This requires both a leaving (of the old) and a cleaving (to the new). It requires us to “uncovenant” with what has gone before, and to make a new covenant with God’s new unfolding paradigm. It is often at this point that a person’s commitment or lack of commitment to the new paradigm is revealed through statements like, “You mean I must do house church exclusively?” Such a response reveals that the person hasn’t yet caught the vision of God’s new paradigm and is still trying to “straddle” both worlds (the old versus the new). It means they aren’t quite ready to emerge from the wilderness because they haven’t yet fully died to themselves and to the old. In the words of psychologist Dr. Phil McGraw, “You either get it, or you don’t.” This refusal to die to the old while embracing the new can be illustrated from the life of David & Jonathan. In 1 Samuel Chapter 20 David and Jonathan entered into a covenant of blessing with one another and their descendants. Jonathan, the son of King Saul, was the rightful and appointed heir to the throne of Israel . Both he and David knew this. But David was the one anointed by God as the next King. Jonathan saw the future and recognized that the future belonged not to him but to David. David would be King and the reign of the “house of Saul” would soon end. For this reason Jonathan covenanted with David for the future blessing of his descendants (1 Samuel 20:42 ). But the chapter ends with this statement, “Then he rose and departed, while Jonathan went into the city.” In other words, even though Jonathan had recognized the future and covenanted with David, he had not “uncovenanted” from Saul and his system. Jonathan returned to the old and died with his father Saul. When it comes to the new thing God is doing, the new paradigms He is raising up, we must both enter into a covenant with God for the future and “uncovenant” ourselves from the past.
Point + 2: Welcome to the house church movement and the new paradigm that God is raising up in our day. At this point you have died to yourself and the past and have embraced the new thing God is doing. Your work isn’t over. In fact, it’s just beginning.
New Paradigms Arising
So, where are you on this “Apostolic Migration” into God’s new paradigm. Can you place yourself on one of these five “Points”? The simple yet profound truth is that a fresh wind of God’s Spirit is beginning to blow, and it is beginning to challenge the “listening and available” church with new paradigms for the future. The “new thing” God is now unfolding is not simple an “upgrade” of the old. It is a radical shift or change from an old wineskin to a new. Welcome to the house church movement, the new channel through which the River of God ’s Spirit is preparing to flow. When this conversion is complete and a new group of leaders has been prepared, then the River of God’s Spirit will flow . . . and yes, house church will “take off” in ways we cannot yet imagine.