Remember the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal? What an amazing encounter and kingdom confrontation. It was clearly one of Elijah's most memorable feats and what many see as the high point of his ministry. Yet, when John the Baptist comes on the scene as a forerunner to the ministry of Jesus, he was said to have come in the spirit of Elijah. What was the purpose? It was to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to the fathers. This turning was seen as essential to the release of the ministry of Jesus Christ who would both teach and demonstrate the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.
After his great victory at Mount Carmel, Elijah experienced a demonic attack, sending him running in fear and despair to a cave with a death threat over his life. In his state of mind, Elijah felt alone, finished and hopeless. But God finally opened his heart to see that the most important influence he would have was yet to come. Elijah would then go on to form four schools of the prophets, and in particular, mentor a young man named Elisha. I believe this story represents something very important for the Church—the Body of Christ today. Jesus is leading many sons and daughters to glory as it says in Hebrews 2:10, and He is doing it in partnership with fathers and mothers in the faith who have been experiencing the glory of God in this present generation.
The Ministry of Elijah and the Ministry of Elisha
More was accomplished by Elijah pouring into the next generation than his own personal ministry exploits had recorded. So too, will more be accomplished by fathers and mothers in the Church by pouring into the next generation—helping them step into their calling with wisdom, support, and loving relationships to fall back on.
In this day and age of so much "fatherlessness" it is ever so crucial for the Church not to mirror our modern-day culture in this regard. So, here are some questions we must ask:
• What are some of the things we can do to help young leaders emerge and succeed?
• Is the Body of Christ aware of how many young leaders are already stepping into their callings with a great deal to offer now—not just in the future?
• Are we ready to put our money and time where we say our hearts are?
• Do we realize what a double portion really represents?
Although both Elijah and Elisha worked signs and wonders, Elisha was more prolific. Further, Jehu, a spiritual son of Elijah's ministry, brought down Jezebel—something Elijah was unable to do on his own. By the time Elisha came on the scene many other prophets were rising up into their callings—unlike Elijah, who was recorded as feeling all alone (although, in fact, he wasn't), showing us just how few relationships there were between Elijah and his contemporaries.
This was not so by the time Elisha received the mantle of Elijah and began to move in power and influence in the nation. Elisha was the most prominent of the spiritual sons of Elijah, and we notice that when Elijah was taken up, Elisha and many of the other prophets who received mentoring in Gilgal, Bethel, Jericho, and Jordan seemed to know each other. Elisha was clearly respected and already recognized as a leader in his generation—moving quickly into a ministry which carried double the miraculous power of Elijah.
I would liken the ministry of Elijah to that of John the Baptist, and the ministry of Elisha to that of Jesus. And it is the ministry of Jesus that we are really after—isn't it? There will always be a need for the forerunner ministry to call people to the next level. But as much as we love, thank God for, and honor the ministries of the saints of the past, we need to reach for the ministry of Jesus in His Body—in the fullness of redemptive character and power today. The entire earth is groaning in anticipation to see this type of ministry in the sons and daughters of God.
We can talk all about the next generation and tell them what they should become until we are blue in the face, but unless we commit ourselves to them and the cause that faces them today (not in the future), they will continue to be held back—or like many of us, try it alone. It's a long, lonely journey without fathers and mothers in the Church who really love and are committed to help you rise up into your calling. I am not suggesting this is not going on now to some degree, but I do believe it is certainly a now priority.
Tell the Youth "Elijah has Come"
I had a spiritual encounter in Germany while doing a conference with Steve Shultz for the first German ElijahList Ministries conference in 2005. My wife Ann and I were resting between sessions on Saturday afternoon. She was reading and I was soaking to worship music in our little room. Suddenly I sat straight up in bed thinking I had just awakened, and said, "Why did you wake me up?" Ann's response was, "I didn't wake you up." And then suddenly the vision I was in came right back at and into me. In the vision a man walked up to me and said, "Tell the youth, 'Elijah has come!'" It exploded in my spirit, awakening something within me.
I had no idea what this could mean at the time and asked Stacey Campbell that afternoon. She said, "Well, the Bible indicates he has come, and he will come. But I am not sure either." Over the next couple of years I watched young men and women intentionally looking and asking for mentoring—father and mother-type relationships in the Body of Christ. They want what Elisha had—relationship with those who have experience in their calling to help them step up and into theirs. They honor and want the experience of mothers and fathers.
They also want to go further than we have gone—but not without a safety net. It's amazing to me the quality and heart of these young leaders—not just their giftedness, which is also incredible. One of the saddest messages I ever saw was on the back of an RV. It said, "We are Spending our Kid's Inheritance!" How heartbreaking and unbiblical. Parents are to lay up for their children—not the other way around.
Freely You Have Received, Freely Give
My prayer for this year and the next few years is this: I pray that fathers and mothers will recognize the emerging leaders in the Body of Christ and reach out to them like Elijah did to Elisha.
Elijah made a commitment to help Elisha rise up into his calling, and Elisha stuck close to Elijah for as long as he could—serving, gleaning, and ministering alongside of him—and then received a double portion. It's time for the next generation to rise up and begin to step into their inheritance. If we do it right, perhaps they will do the same for the next generation. Sadly, Elisha did not. The result was his anointing went to the grave with him instead of being imparted to the next generation. Each generation has its own particular calling and anointing—but the next one needs what the former has.
What do you have that the next generation needs? Is it wisdom in business, a prophetic mantle, gifts of worship or a deep understanding of the Kingdom, etc.? Whatever it is, give it away and insure that it will multiply until we see the fullness of Jesus in His Body.
Denny Cline, Senior Leader Denny Cline and his wife, Ann, have pastored in Oregon for 20 years. With a team of 27 adults, they planted the Albany Vineyard in 1994, where Denny continues to serve as senior pastor. They have been privileged to experience several awesome visitations of the Holy Spirit, impacting youth and adults alike with healing, salvation, and deliverance. Denny is known and loved for his simple, compassionate, and yet extravagant approach to Kingdom life. A notorious "God-chaser," he has also led the Albany Vineyard in a bold direction that has birthed many developing ministries and produced a rich harvest of fathers, mothers and children filled with the zeal of the Lord.
Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Albany
Denny Cline and his wife, Ann, have pastored in Oregon for 20 years. With a team of 27 adults, they planted the Albany Vineyard in 1994, where Denny continues to serve as senior pastor. They have been privileged to experience several awesome visitations of the Holy Spirit, impacting youth and adults alike with healing, salvation, and deliverance.
Denny is known and loved for his simple, compassionate, and yet extravagant approach to Kingdom life. A notorious "God-chaser," he has also led the Albany Vineyard in a bold direction that has birthed many developing ministries and produced a rich harvest of fathers, mothers and children filled with the zeal of the Lord.