What made you want to write this book?
I had a vision of myself standing in the middle of a vast orchard of trees. Each tree represented a church and the branches were the individual believers. You could see more than one season on more than one tree. Some trees were very fruitful, others very barren. Some had a lot of showy leaves but little fruit.
This vision went on regularly for a period of several months. The Lord was saying he wanted to see every tree in the orchard prosper – every tree to be full of fruit. The purpose of the book is to address what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. The kingdom lifestyle is what God calls the Church to live by. This is very different to what you often see in churches today.
Can you give an example of where churches aren’t living the kingdom lifestyle?
Just about every church would say they’re a people of love but that doesn’t mean everybody is loving one another as Jesus has loved us. It doesn’t mean everyone is laying down their lives for their friends.
What we’ve done experientially in the Church is to reduce the level to what we consider to be acceptable. We’ve come to accept as the norm something that to God is subnormal.
The book is sub-titled ‘God’s Charter for Reformation’ because God said, ‘I want you to write a charter for reformation, about the lifestyle I want to see in the churches. It mustn’t be negative or critical.’ Although God sees so much that is below the standard he wants to see, he doesn’t judge his people. He wants to encourage, bless and enable his people to be who he wants them to be.
How practical is the book?
Every section of the book is practical. Every aspect of this book I’ve seen outworked in my own life. It was very tempting in each section to say, ‘I’ve lived this, I’ve seen this.’ But God said to me, ‘This isn’t about your ministry. This is what I’m saying to every believer in every church.’
I know it’s all do-able. It’s not some idealistic look at what God intends. This is what he will work out among us in practice if we have the heart for it.
Much of your ministry over the past 50 years has focused on revival. Do you still believe a large-scale revival that changes the UK will happen?
I believe that’s why God asked me to write this book. It is for every Christian and every church – in this nation and beyond. If we all took the teaching of this book seriously, we would have a serious impact on the spiritual state of this nation. But it’s not going to happen simply by praying, unless we’re prepared to put our lives on the line and live the kingdom life that God is calling us to.
The Lord’s Orchard: God’s Charter for Reformation (New Wine Press) is available now