Sid: My guest Marc Lawson is red hot for the Messiah he is Pastor at Northgate Church in Woodstock, Georgia. And Marc had a cousin visit him a number of years ago, and he thought it was a drug deal but his cousin told him about Jesus, he got saved, he was prayed for the Holy Spirit to reveal Himself, and that was some prayer Marc. What exactly was your prayer and what happened?
Marc: Well, after my cousin came and left and he had to go back to work. We had been un-churched; we weren’t raised in the church so he was telling us how the Holy Spirit changes us from the inside out. And we and we heard that and could respond to that it about letting God come in and so we laid on the bed there getting ready to go to sleep, we held hands my wife and I Linda prayed, “Holy Spirit reveal Yourself to us.” And for a, He so revealed Himself to us we just sensed the presence of God, we started shaking and it was as if we were clean from the inside out with you know with comet. It was like somebody took a brush and just clean it, we just felt like we were glittering, a glimmering white with the glory of God. And then for days after the glory of God would come on me in such ways that I would have to pull over the car, I was hardly able to drive.
Sid: And I could see how God had His hand on you, he put you in a church where Benny Hinn and you became friends. He actually imparted to you what he knew about healing. But there was a dream that you had that changed your entire paradigm of Christianity and that’s where your book comes from. The title is “It’s the End of the Church as We Know It.” Tell me about the dream you’ve titled “Tenement.”
Marc: Well I had several dreams as we moved into this newer house that had never been occupied before and the land it was on was never occupied ever. And yet we had visions of it years before, I had three dreams about this house we moved into. And so one of the dreams I was carried in the Spirit to see a tenement, like you’d find a six, seven story building like you’d find the inner city Atlanta, Chicago, or any other area. And these are one of these old housing projects they built in the 50’s, 60’s or 70’s with the hope to pull people out of poverty, but unsuccessful. The building was run down with grafitti on the walls but as I’m carrying, I’m carried to this tenement like to a community area. I noticed people milling about but they all seemed to have filthy dirty clothes on. And I then noticed the floor, it’s an old gold shag carpet trodden down with years of neglect crushed in, food, drink, water very gross dirty, filthy. Signs on the wall tell people to clean up the recreation room after your use; pay your rent on time; take care of the property. But like the carpet nobody seems to be listening to anything that’s being said. No one seems to wants to use the bathrooms there. And I remember the saying coming to me in my Spirit as I’m looking at this everyone’s responsibility is nobody’s responsibility. And it’s as if all the signs about cleaning up and straightening up after yourself attempting to get everyone to do something, nobody was responding. So the lesson of that dream it was as if no one would lift a finger to deal with a problem that was right there before them. Another part of the dream there was like some dirty rags, they were left there and trampled over like they were part of the flooring, but no one would stoop down and touch them. And I said “Lord, what is this place?” And then I woke up and He took me to, the Holy Spirit took me to a scripture Isaiah 64:5 that says, “You meet him who rejoices and does righteousness, remembers your ways, you are indeed angry for your sins and in these ways we continue, but we all like unclean things all of our righteousness are like filthy rags we all fade as a leaf and our iniquities like the wind have taken us away. There is no one that calls on Your Name, who stirs them up to take care of you.” And I remember also Revelation “He who overcomes will be clothed with the white garments.” I remember that passage and so I’m saying “Lord, is this a vision or is this a real place, or is it Atlanta, is this the Church.” And I remember the Lord seemed to bring understanding that this is the Church, this is the condition of the Church that we don’t have understanding of our place. The thought that everybody is going to take care of everything for us just isn’t going to happen. The reason those tenements didn’t work, the sweltered type projects of the 60’s and 70’s is we assumed people would take responsibility for things that they didn’t understand was theirs. And I remember saying, “Lord what does this mean and He made it clear that neglect, in the dream, the tenement represents the habitation of God to the body by most of the forms of church that we see today. They’re offered a low rent place to dwell; they understand they can’t own it so they don’t take care of it. And neglect is the operative term. The tenement’s a vivid picture of an impeded Church where those at the top, the Landlord’s like most of the tenets take care of you only if you only live in their dwellings by their rules and accept their view of responsibility. But everyone’s responsibility enviably becomes no ones. And I think that’s what’s happened to the Church, that everyone assumes that somebody’s taking care of evangelism and doing all of this stuff, but nobody is really doing it. And I remember the word tentative comes from that word tenement and if we only offer the Body a position as a position as a tenet in a tenement we’re tentative about doing any ministry or taking responsibility. And that’s where the Church is today. It’s like nobody’s taking responsibility; we’re commanded to preach, we’re commanded to go into all the nations and to preach the good news and to bring the Kingdom to people, but we’re assuming somebody else is doing it for us. The Church needs and extreme Church makeover, it needs to be turned inside out and upside down. We don’t just need to tweak a couple of items, we need a whole new operating system. As well as, a whole new way of doing ministry that actually works and bears fruit so the body does the ministry not just a secluded few up at the top.
Sid: Okay, well you’re leading towards my next question. “How will the Church change?”
Marc: The first way that it’s going to change is we’re going to realize that right now churches are a lot like, a lot like that tenement; they’re a lot like situation where somebody else is responsible. We go to church, they do it, we watch. The Church in the book of acts was not a spectator sport, the church was a, everybody participated. It says “They all participated together.” They all gathered together, they all preached, the apostles did extraordinary miracles, and the prophets’ did that, the body did miracles and you had deacons taking responsibility. And Philip brought the gospel to the whole region that had never been taken to. He had incredible supernatural encounters; so we have to realize hey wait a minute I can’t just sit around and wait for somebody else to do my ministry for me. I have to take responsibility so the word is every believer has to take responsibility to do what God’s called them to do in whatever setting they’re in. I John 2: 3-6 says “We know that we have come to know Him if we obey His commands. The man who says I know Him but do what He commands us is a liar and the truth is not in Him, but if anyone obeys His Word God’s love is made complete in him.” This is how we know that we’re in Him, verse 6 says “Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.” So we have to take responsibility to do what Jesus said we’re called to do. And he says it real simply in Matthew 10, He says, “As you go,” Matthew 10:7, 8. It says, “As you go preach saying the Kingdom of heaven is at hand, heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons, freely receive, freely give. And as you go preach this message,” so it’s an as you go affair, preach, and the message is real simple, it’s seven words. “The Kingdom of heaven is at hand.” So we have simplified preaching, which is, we have been made to think that somebody else does preaching. But the Bible says, the body is to do preaching and the way they do it, and the way we do it, it’s simple. We tell people the good news of the Kingdom, we tell them, preaching means herald, say good news to cry out as a town crier, which is good news. All is well, and we say, “The Kingdom’s at hand.” So there’s seven words, the Kingdom’s at hand and then were done talking and what do we do? We act, we heal the sick, we cleanse the lepers, we raise the dead, cast out demons or whatever it needs to be done. And it says if you do that freely, freely as you’ve received that you can freely give it. And so as I was healed or touched of something in my life I can readily give out what I’ve been given from the Lord to other people. So we instruct our whole body to see this as a lifestyle, we can all preach. You say, “Well, pastor I’, a plumber.” Well, you’re in good company you can preach and do plumbing you know. We have soccer moms, we have grand-moms that do this, we have children that do this on the way to school. We have people that have Devine encounters in Wal-Mart and Target and the mall. And we take a group every Friday night out to football games.
Sid: But this isn’t just a core group this is the whole church, this is the way church is suppose to be.