Allow me to introduce you to the concept and developing organization called Grace Life Oasis, which is made up of leaders who have connected in spirit and have committed to walk together toward divine purpose. The concepts of apostolic networks and ministerial alliances have been around for decades, impressing on us the need to align vertically with apostolic covering and horizontally with spiritual fellowship. Grace Life Oasis incorporates both concepts and additionally places great emphasis on the need to function as the spiritual family that we are.
When Jesus laid the foundation for the church within the context of his closest disciples, a community began to develop consisting of disciples who related to Jesus, AND to one another. A spiritual family began to emerge as Jesus shifted their paradigm concerning leadership and ministry away from the influence of the culture around them, to Kingdom culture. He presented the idea of leadership as servanthood, as opposed to what they saw in those who ruled natural organizations.
Jesus emphatically said to them in Matthew 20:25-27, “…the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet IT SHALL NOT BE SO AMONG YOU; whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave.” The disciples of Jesus desired to rule in the context of Roman dominance. They weren’t thinking of serving in the context of family, the most prominent metaphor for church in the NT.
In local church gatherings, regional Kingdom activity and national/international networking, there is a great need to function like the family of God that Jesus envisioned, not like businesses, politics or entertainment. Gatherings of believers, and networks of leaders for that matter, cannot be facilitated like earthly institutions and be expected to obtain heavenly results. Organization is necessary to facilitate what God organically initiates, but I’m convinced we have all-too-often gotten the cart ahead of the horse in many spiritual organizations today including local churches, ministerial alliances, denominations and apostolic networks.
Grace Life Oasis exists to facilitate Kingdom activity through the power of relationships, allowing God to initiate, develop and transition relationships according to His desire. This is not a one-size-fits all organization. It allows for various types of relationships and ministry that flows forth out of them. It is a safe, refreshing place to connect and cooperate as the family of God. Whether you’re in full-time ministry, are bi-vocational or are a marketplace minister, Grace Life Oasis is designed to enhance who you are as an individual, develop you as a minister and increase the effectiveness of your ministry.
Truly, there are healthy priorities we should place on certain relationships. For example, greater emphasis should be placed on feeding your own children before feeding the poor. Or if you’re leading a church, greater priority should be given to those under your care than others in the community. In these examples, giving less attention to some is not a lack of love for them, it is a greater manifestation of love for those you’re committed to you in relationship. It’s this principle of prioritized relationships that Grace Life Oasis functions by. It’s a matter of maturity in various individuals and the nature of each relationship that determines how much attention should be given to it.
Friendships and spiritual relationships are valuable all by themselves. But when a little bit of structure and commitment is applied, progress can be ensured, or at least greatly enhanced. Take for instance your prayer life. Prayer in general is valuable, but making a consistent effort to spend time with God will greatly increase your relationship with God and ultimately your relationships with others and your ministry. Grace Life Oasis is no different. You will get out of it what you put into it. You reap what you sow.
The Lord has put it in my heart to spearhead Grace Life Oasis, but not to develop things in such a way so that everyone is dependent on me. It’s a family where everyone gives and receives, where responsibility is spread out to everyone, especially to the mature who desire to help others. This is not a relinquishing of responsibility on my part, but a desire for everyone to mature into the fullness of what God has called them to, which requires a family culture, not just the giftedness of one individual. It takes an Abraham to obey God, but ultimately all the families of the earth are blessed with a Kingdom family culture.
One person can only do so much. That’s why when apostolic networks hinge on a senior apostle with hundreds or thousands of sons and daughters, that spiritual father can’t possibly care for everyone. It’s like Moses trying to counsel the entire congregation of Israel, all 3 million of them, all by himself! Moses heeded the advice of his father-in-law to empower others to help him care for the people by training and releasing leaders over tens, hundreds and thousands. Jesus had the 3, the 12 and the 70 for a reason. He was establishing a family culture where the more mature ones would help the less mature ones. Even Jesus didn’t create a ministry culture where everyone was dependent upon himself!
Grace Life Oasis is not necessarily meant to take the place of existing spiritual fathers, relationships, denominations or other organizations in your life, but to supplement your current relational covering and to subsequently advance your own spiritual development and ministry impact. But for some it may be necessary to leave unhealthy relationships or a lack of relationships altogether in order to have proper covering in the context of family. The goal is to commit to consistent communication and cooperation in response to the Lord connecting us, and then to walk things out as the Lord leads. The fruit will speak for itself.
In the New Testament, there was always a plurality of elders in each local church and apostolic company. This means that the church is set up like a family, with both husband and wife working together to raise up children into maturity. With this in mind, covering is not supplied by only one person in your life, but by the entire family of God that is given to help with various parts of your spiritual life and journey. You can and should have a spiritual father, who should have the strongest voice in your life. But you can also have a spiritual mother, as well as uncles and aunts, big brothers and big sisters, brothers and sisters, etc., all of which play a part in your development, protection and provision for your spiritual calling.
To some, I am a spiritual father. To others, I am a spiritual mentor, a big brother or uncle in family terms. And yet to others, I am a friend or brother. And that’s ok. Relationships are damaged when we try to make everything fit into the father-son paradigm. The family of God is huge, and who are we to define and confine people in relationships that can and will change as people mature into their callings? Paul did refer to Timothy as his spiritual son well into his development, but how they related to each other and functioned in ministry together changed as he matured.
My heart is to help others with the spiritual resources at my disposal, regardless of how the relationship is defined. I want to see God’s Kingdom advance in and through the lives of those around me. Whether it’s wisdom I’ve gained through life and ministry experience, or a referral to someone who is more qualified than I am to help with a particular matter or resources that I can point someone to, I want to help others on their journey to be everything God has called them to be. This is not a political organization where you can just buy resources and connections, there must be true relationship where there is trust, love and honor.
Over the years, there have been extremes in the body of Christ in terms of discipleship, from cultish environments where the lives of people are micromanaged by controlling leaders, to loose-knit organizations where very little, if any, communication takes place despite money being transacted. Somewhere in the middle is the place where healthy relationships take place. Obligations, unrealistic expectations and heavy requirements (law) inevitably get in the way of heart-felt relationships that function by grace. True Kingdom relationships should be mutually beneficial, not one-sided. And as a result of being coordinated with the grace that comes from God for relationships, there is abundant life for all to enjoy.
Grace Life Oasis is a safe place to detox from dysfunctional relationships and organizations that are heavy on law and light on grace. Learning to live by the grace of God on a daily basis is the portion of every believer. Biblically speaking, we’re all called to mature in our capacity to be led by the Spirit, which is the equivalent of following the inspiration of divine grace. This is not a “Simon-Says” organization where blind obedience is expected. It is a network where everyone is learning to hear and obey the Spirit while helping each other receive and walk out purer demonstrations of God’s grace and love.
Grace Life Oasis is also a safe place to heal from personal challenges, whether one needs spiritual restoration due to sin, or to recover from persecution or difficulties in life. Healthy relationships form a great environment to be restored in, and a great foundation upon which one can re-engage in ministry. Religious institutions have discarded and given up on many ministers over the years that could’ve been restored by the grace of God. If God doesn’t give up on us by taking His gifts back, neither should we give up on one another, but love each other back into full engagement of the call of God on their lives.
A specific mandate was given to me to form a search and rescue mission to save leaders from spiritual abortions and spiritual euthanasia. This means locating and rescuing those who are being sucked into the religious system as well as those who have functioned there only to be kicked to the curb because they didn’t measure up to the standards of others. I believe Grace Life Oasis is a part of this mandate, a spiritual family that forms the basis for relationships and ministry that flow in God’s grace and brings glory to God.
Grace Life Oasis is founded upon the principle that Jesus gave the church 5 distinct grace gifts (Ephesians 4:11) that we all need. With this in mind, this network is a grace exchange, a place where you give and receive 5-fold grace through relationships and ministry settings. In regards to the development of ministers and churches, the goal is to equip you and connect people to you who can further equip you with the fullness of Christ, as this will protect you from the schemes of the enemy and provide for you what you need to fulfill your assignment.
Ultimately, Grace Life Oasis aims to form a bridge for cross-pollination in the body of Christ so we can all be coordinated with what God is doing in regions of the earth. At the heart of this organization is the desire to see a family culture developed and established in the local church, in regional Kingdom endeavors (city church) and across the body of Christ worldwide. It is designed to facilitate the expansion of God’s Kingdom, not build another man-made institution that glorifies a man, a gift or a particular truth. And it takes the grace of God to do this very thing.
With consistent effort to build relationships comes continual refreshment, encouragement and reformation, all of which positions us as the church to be the salt and light we are meant to be in our world. With a greater level of unity in the family of God, a greater level of maturity will be the result. And with a greater level of maturity comes a greater level of authority to see our world turned upside down. Walking in Kingdom principles and walking out Kingdom love as the family of God are the very things that qualify us to fulfill our dominion mandate in the earth. It all starts with family!
Of course, the local church is the central point from which all Kingdom activity flows in and out of. But there is also evidence of Kingdom activity in Scripture in the form of apostolic networks that help coordinate the development of new churches and leaders; the refreshing, strengthening and reformation of existing churches and leaders; and the reformation of society in the regions of apostolic Kingdom-minded churches. Two examples in Scripture of apostolic networks are modeled in the lives and ministries of Jesus and Paul.
Both Jesus and Paul developed a family culture in their respective networks. Personal relationship was a requirement to be in the network. They weren’t taking applications. In fact, for those with political agendas, Jesus made it difficult to get in. Their focus wasn’t to increase the quantity of leaders in their networks, it was to build up the lives of ministers God connected to them, who would then be a blessing to the entire church. And those in their networks had multiple relationships within the network, not just with their senior apostle. That’s because they were primarily families, not organizations.
There was a sense of hierarchy, but it wasn’t based on positions and titles, but on spiritual maturity and divine grace. Jesus had Peter, James and John. Then he had the 12 disciples. Then he had the 70 disciples. It wasn’t a pyramid scheme, it was a family where everyone received and gave based on their maturity and the unique relationships within the family. As Jesus told them, “freely you’ve received, so freely give.”
It was the same with Paul. What may have looked like strong hierarchy was really a family with multiple levels of maturity. It was with this understanding that Paul told Timothy in II Timothy 2:1-2 “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
Four generations are listed in this one verse of Scripture. This is indicative of a family culture where everyone is receiving and giving, not a business/political culture where a senior apostle oversees hundreds of sons directly. I believe this family culture in churches and networks should be the Kingdom cultural norm, flowing together as one to glorify the name of the Lord and expanding Kingdom influence all over the earth, to all generations. But unfortunately this is the exception and not the rule.
When Paul instructed Timothy and Titus to qualify leaders in the churches before ordaining them, he listed a number of qualities that I believe serve as a foundation for successful relationships and ministry. Today, it seems that giftedness is prioritized far above character. This has caused a lot of damage to the body of Christ, and to the ministers and families of those who have fallen, all because gifts were promoted before character was tested. I believe that true covering through a family culture will not only gauge when you’re ready to move into new ministry endeavors, but will also through consistent relational accountability, keep you from being tripped up by issues of the flesh.
Being led by the Spirit to initiate relationships is important, as is being led by the Spirit to develop and restore them, if need be. But another important aspect of covenant relationships is what I call preventative maintenance. Through consistent communication, areas of a ministers’ life that need attention can be discovered before they get out of hand. Truth is, nobody walks in perfect prophetic perception or a complete word of knowledge. We all know in part, even the best of spiritual fathers.
For this reason, Grace Life Oasis is structured at a minimum to have monthly interaction for those who relate to me as a father, quarterly interaction for those who relate to me as a big brother and yearly interaction for those who relate to me as a brother. Whether there is an emergency or not, these periodic checkups are important to make sure little problems don’t become big problems and to ensure forward movement in life and ministry through divine wisdom. And of course, in between these times of consistent interaction there will be additional communication, prayer, counsel, etc. when necessary.
My prayer is that Grace Life Oasis, along with many other divinely-inspired networks, can help pave the way for a purer Kingdom expression of relationships and ministry that is coordinated with Kingdom purpose, as opposed to causing further division by developing another religious empire. If we organize around organic relationships, we can facilitate, protect and propagate Kingdom activity. But if we mix financial and political agendas with family culture, we greatly minimize Kingdom impact in relationships and ministry.
One thing that I don’t want to do is grow this network beyond our ability to properly care for the members. If it increases for the Kingdom’s sake then that’s great, but I don’t want it to get bigger for ego or financial sake. That’s where the “disconnect” begins and the relational priority shifts to carnal priorities. That would be like parents having more children than they have finances and time to properly raise, causing the whole family to suffer. Healthy growth will be monitored so ministers and churches are properly cared for to ensure forward progress.
In addition to the relational aspects of this network, I also envision the coordination of team ministry efforts both in international and US missions. Through genuine relationships, ministry opportunities beyond existing responsibilities will emerge. And as things develop, there will also be opportunities for ministry placement according to the needs at hand. This means coordinating the grace of ministers with churches that need that grace, both on a short-term itinerant ministry basis and on a long-term assignment basis.
If at all possible, I would like to minister in churches of Grace Life Oasis members once per year to ensure forward movement. If it’s not feasible for me to come, perhaps one of the other key leaders can minister on my behalf. I just think it’s important to have consistency in relationships and ministry to effectively progress in the things of God. In time, there will also be a yearly conference for members of Grace Life Oasis to come together for a time of relationship building, spiritual refreshment and encouragement, leadership training, prophetic preaching, etc.
If Grace Life Oasis seems like a good fit for you and your ministry, please understand that we’re not taking applications, but we are open to relationships developing that can lead to connecting on a network level. Perhaps get more acquainted with my ministry, make it a matter of prayer and consider scheduling a consultation session with Grace Life Consultation, an organization aimed at giving wisdom for specific situations and decisions. This is a way to access wisdom for your life as well as get to know me and vice versa. It could be a way to see if the Lord is leading us to commit to an ongoing relationship in Grace Life Oasis. For more information on Grace Life Consultation go this link: gracelifeint.org/gracelifeconsultation
For more information on Grace Life Oasis, send us an email.
Grace Life Oasis