I attended Transformation Northfield‘s monthly Praise and Worship breakfast (called Northfield Marketplace Ministry) Thursday morning in the lower level of the Archer House. (I requested and was given permission to attend as an observer.)
I’m interested in the group because part of their mission involves local public institutions (cities, public schools). But it’s not clear to me what that mission exactly entails and how they go about trying to achieve it.
See my concerns at the bottom of this post.
Local public officials who have acknowledged (there may be others) their involvement with Transformation Northfield (TN) include:
- EDA member Jack Hoschouer
- At-large Northfield City Councilor Rhonda Pownell
- Northfield School board member Jeff Quinnell
Leadership of TN is coming from Rejoice! Lutheran Church pastor Dan Clites and Northfield businessman Brett Reese (Archer House, Rebound Enterprises, Northfield Automation Systems, Northfield Real Estate Fund).
In January, Rejoice! Lutheran Church pastor Dan Clites wrote a column for the Alliance of Renewal Churches titled God’s Heart for City-Nation Transformation. Citing the city of Elk River, MN, Clites wrote:
Marketplace miracles, like those in Elk River, are occurring every day all around the world. Focused on Jesus’ calling to “make disciples of all nations…” the heart of Harvest Evangelism is birthed from Jesus’ instructions in Luke 10. He is instructing his followers how to effectively evangelize a city and a nation with the biblical purposes and principles of God…
From this core group who share a heart for Northfield, we have invited various other marketplace folks from around town to join us in a Bible study created by Greg Pagh, the lead pastor of Christ Church in Otsego, MN. The study is called “Faith Beyond Belief.” I have used it as a small group teaching tool for both my congregation and for local business people, government servants and school officials outside my congregation!
The goal of TN, according to its page on the Rejoice! website, is:
To see the cities of Northfield-Dundas serving the kingdom of God! That’s the goal of Transformation Northfield! Inspired by the movement of the Holy Spirit in Elk River, Minnesota, and other cities around the globe, a group of Northfield Christians are coming together on a weekly basis for a movement of the Great Commission. The biblical goal is to constantly pray over the city in order to bring the transforming faith of Jesus Christ into all corners of the marketplace (our schools, government, businesses, homes and neighborhoods)…
Is it working? Indeed, we are already seeing the fruit of marketplace ministers serving in their various spheres of daily influence. People are getting excited about living their faith like never before. They are establishing and taking responsibility to lead all sorts of new kingdom ministries; everything from prayer walking the neighborhood streets, to building playground equipment on the school grounds, to running for various local government and school leadership offices, to one business owner dedicating his business as a “kingdom company” for the Lord’s work.
TN is part of a larger movement, according to Clites:
I am now networking with Ed Silvoso and Harvest Evangelism, attending both the international and North American conferences. I didn’t go by myself, though, instead I have taken dozens from Northfield with me so we can all catch and grow into the vision!
Harvest Evangelism founder and president Ed Silvoso was the featured speaker at the annual Northfield Prayer Breakfast in April, 2007. Silvoso also heads up the International Transformation Network (ITN).
In his book, Transformation: Change the Marketplace and You Change the World, Silvoso tells the story (p. 165-170) of how a Filipino taxi driver named Joey, after attending a seminar on transformation, intervenes in the life of the manager of a bar who “… was a homosexual who doubled up as the pimp for 35 prostitutes. He was also a drug user and a drug dealer, the latter a practical necessity to subsidize the former.” After many days of Joey’s ministering to and praying for the manager, “the manager invited Jesus into his heart.”
Consequently he took his new convert to the beach and immersed him three times, once for each person of the Trinity since he had also ready that it had to be done in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
As soon as the now ex-gay man came up from the waters, he was struck by the power of God, evicting the demonic forces that had controlled him for so long and rewiring his psyche correctly to enable him to feel like a man again.
Since the 2007 incident when some TN members were allowed to pray in the office of then City Administrator Al Roder, I’m not aware of anything that TN members have publicly said or done that in my judgment, is inappropriate. I’ve engaged with Jack, Rhonda, Jeff and Brett in a variety of civic and business-oriented activities over the years and they seem to be as community-minded as I am.
But my radar is up on TN for three reasons:
1. Public policy problem-solving and decision-making
We have also discovered that I have spiritual authority in the city as well as civic authority. I have stood, in the spirit, against things that I believe God does not want in my city, and I have also opened, in the spirit, the city gates to things that I believe God wants in the city. This has had powerful results.
It seems to me that for a public official to assume that he or she knows what God wants and doesn’t want for a city, it makes it less likely that they’ll be open to other points of view, be willing to negotiate, be willing to admit mistakes.
If Jack, Rhonda or Jeff have beliefs similar to Klinzing’s, they need to be confronted if and when those beliefs get in the way of constructive public policy problem-solving and decision-making. (Klinzing was defeated in her bid for re-election last fall and is now blogging here.)
2. Rejoice! Pastor Dan Clites
Clites had this to say about those who opposed Rejoice! Church’s plan to move the Cleland family graves as part of their expansion plans:
As mentioned in our December 5th worship service, we have recently come against principalities of opposition (Ephesians 6:12). Why should we expect anything less? When a church serves in the Light of the Holy Spirit, darkness will not like it.
Most of the opposition has come from a local family that doesn’t want us moving the Cleland grave site 50-feet and into the northend cemetery. They believe it is disrespectful to the dead. Our Building Team believes the most respectful and historic thing to do is gracefully move the remains and the headstones so they are not in the way of our important expansion.
Clites puts his actions above reproach because his “church serves in the Light of the Holy Spirit,” whereas those who disagree are labeled “principalities of opposition” and “darkness,” clear references to the devil. (See my Dec. 14, 2010 blog post and subsequent discussion for more.)
This tactic, if deployed in the public sphere, can be even more polarizing and disruptive to constructive public policy problem-solving and decision-making.
3. LGBT issues
For TN to be connected to Ed Silvoso and his organization is ominous.
Any message, direct or indirect, that homosexuals, bisexuals and transsexuals are somehow under the influence of demonic forces, is not only hurtful and destructive but dangerous. It can have a corrosive effect on the morale of LGBT employees who work for the city and school district.
And for any LGBT youth in our schools who are struggling to come to terms with their sexual identity, it can exacerbate their pain, lead to depression, or worse.
It concerns me that some teachers and coaches who are members of TN might convey this belief to the youth they work with. And it concerns me that some of the youth involved with TN, who are urged to live their calling in the marketplace of school, could fall into demonizing other youth.
Jack, Rhonda, Jeff and Brett: I applaud your civic engagement. Please be on the alert for how elements of TN might be inadvertently detrimental to the Northfield community that I know you love.