Last evening I had the privilege to minister to a group of saints in a hotel meeting room. This group is led by dear friends of
mine who also happen to be my spiritual children, and that makes it even more special. Ramon and Tere Gonzalez have a
wonderful group of faith-filled believers that meets every Friday evening in the Holiday Inn Express meeting room. Ramon
stands in the ministry office of teacher. This is a fruitful teaching ministry that is now about two years old.
Amidst the teaching last evening I suddenly sensed a wonderful “flavor” in the atmosphere, it was somehow different than
usual. I liked the taste. Perhaps the difference was that I was ministering in a spiritual atmosphere of a teacher. As I consider
this I realize that most often when I minister somewhere other than my own church or in one of our apostolic conferences; I am
seldom in a teacher’s arena of ministry. I usually preach in pastor’s local churches or in the arena of an evangelist or prophet.
Each of these arenas of ministry “tastes” different to me because each is so wonderfully unique in its own rights.
There was one other difference in yesterday’s meeting; it was in a hotel meeting room. That fact alone sets that gathering in
a category of its own. When we locate a spiritual gathering of any kind outside the church facility there is a definite difference, a
distinct change in how things look and feel, or in my case, how it “tastes.” One thing is apparent and that is the Church is not
confined nor is it identified with a building or location. The Church is the people of God wherever they may be. So, we might say
that last evening’s meeting was literally ‘outside the box.’
A cursory study of the earthly ministry of Jesus finds that almost His entire ministry was outside the box. We find Him
ministering to people out in the desert, alongside the road, next to the well along with farm animals, in sinner’s homes, and out
in the garden around the campfire. Once in a while we see Him teaching and ministering in the temple or in a synagogue
somewhere, but that did not seem to be the norm for His ministry. Jesus’ outside the box approach to ministry is one of the
reasons for the persecution He faced continually from the religious leaders whose professional lives were preserving the box,
so to speak. Religion is the box.
The box was not created by God. The box is entirely man’s idea; Jesus refers to it as the “doctrines of men” and the
“traditions of the elders.” Even within the limitations of the Law of Moses we do not detect the religious rigidity demonstrated
by the Pharisees and scribes. It is apparent that Jesus was not to be denied His calling to minister to people, so He got out of
the box and preached the Kingdom of God.
The Church of Jesus Christ created its own “box” somewhere along the line when religion was introduced into it. For
centuries “the box” was the standard for all that was done in Church. The box was inflexible and unyielding, established on
certain carnal doctrines of men. It yielded little fruit, did nothing in the way of exalting the risen Savior, and managed to
incarcerate people spiritually suppressing the Spirit within them. Along the way from time to time, however, certain men and
women of God rose up and challenged the box. Most were persecuted, banned, and some burned for getting out of the box. As
time went on, more and more saints moved by the Spirit of God leaped from the box building momentum in a para-church
manner. The real Church was awakening and reforming into a mighty army of God apart from the box. The meeting at the Holiday
Inn Express yesterday was one such meeting. The box was nowhere to be found in that meeting. There was only faith and joy in
the Holy Spirit and truth flowing like a mighty river – religion was nowhere in sight!
Over the past thirty years tens of thousands of churches have been birthed by the Spirit of God. Oftentimes they have funny-
sounding names, they are located in shopping malls, school houses, or funeral homes, and they yield to no manmade
denomination. They are simple; they are dynamic. These churches do not look or smell or taste like traditional churches, but
they please Jesus because they are fruitful and because His love abounds there not being polluted by the traditions of men.
These wonderful traits exist in these churches because they are not “in the box.”
Some ministers and lay people fear the churches and ministries that are not “in the box” thinking they are frivolous or
shallow or ill-conceived or lacking in accountability to some “higher organization.” The truth is these new generation of
churches that have been birthed by God are stronger and deeper and far more fruitful than those who are burdened down with
stuff created by men. There is a dynamic shift happening in the Body of Christ around the world away from denominational
church structures to these churches that are not “in the box.” Saints can discern the Spirit in these places of worship and the
freedom they find there is refreshing and energizing. I believe Jesus is building His end-time Church outside of the box
because just as He discovered in His earthly ministry, the religious leaders oftentimes rejected Him so He turned His attention
to outside “the box.” Jesus is being glorified outside of the box by saints who love Him and serve Him even though they are
often rejected by religious people. I commend these believers for their courage and boldness, folks like Ramon and Tere
For the sake of balance and doctrinal accuracy I am compelled to give a word of instruction concerning this new generation
of churches and ministries. You have heard the axiom “don’t throw the baby out with the bath water”, that axiom is applicable
here. In our zeal to break free of religion let us not venture into judgment, rebellion, or isolation. Do not judge any church,
denomination, or minister. Any error they may be guilty of is between them and Jesus who still is the Head of the Church. Love
them and pray for them. Do not rebel against God-established authority in the church. Being outside the box is not synonymous
with ‘doing your own thing’ and accounting to no one. Jesus established the apostolic model for His Church and we are to
conform to that simple structure of authority. And lastly, stay connected to the Body of Christ. Outside the box does not mean
you are out there on your own; there is one Body and your church is only a part of the Body.
Jesus is coming soon for His Bride, and she will be ready for Him. Her dress will be spotless and white and she will be
glorious in His eyes. We (the Church) are getting ever closer and closer to that point of being glorious as we shed the ways of
man and obey the Word of God. Get out of the box and see what God can do through you!
|Outside The Box
By Bishop Randy Barnett