The piece below is written for people in smaller towns or smaller churches. People who sometimes wonder why the big conferences are so far away and hard to get to and whether they are worth attending or not. It does seem, doesn't it, that some are falling prey to commerce and the cult of celebritydom? Do we need to import more speakers into rural areas and small towns, and if we tried, would they come? Can't we raise up leaders from within us?

The Indigenous

Indigenous - native, originating in and characteristic of a particular region or country.

In 1898 the Agriculture Department began aggressively and systematically importing thousand of foreign plants to the United States primarily for the purpose of reforesting the "barren" American West.

Many of the plants were beneficial. One strain of Russian wheat has been credited for helping the allies win World War One. But many of the plants were destructive. Often, what was a useful plant in Europe or Asia was a noxious weed in America. Today millions are spent trying to eradicate those plants and scientists wring their hands, lamenting what their forebears wraught.

That indigenous plant species are better than man's importations suggests Providence -- the distribution of fruit, grasses, and herbs according to His wisdom.

An understanding of indigenousness has given rise to a writing style known as bioregionalism. Popularized by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Wallace Stegner, bioregionalism is the notion that knowledge and custom are particular to place.

This morning while in prayer with Debra the Lord gave me a new term: zoe-regionalism.

"Bio," of course, refers to physical life.
"Zoe", is spiritual life.
Hence, zoe-regionalism is the notion that spiritual knowledge and custom are particular to place. This doesn't mean that truth varies, but that its ministrations may vary.

For the past 20 years of Christendom large national and international conferences have produced an explosion of knowledge, spiritual growth, and impartation. This is zoe-nationalism and zoe-internationalism.

The trend now is toward zoe-regionalism. Large conferences may continue to exist, but the thrust of the Spirit is toward regional networking. Gatherings as strategy for a specific area's needs with an emphasis on revealed tactics, not on personalities or attendance rolls.

I respect those who travel the world in full-time itinerant ministry and count several as close friends. International travel is not going to diminish, in fact, it will multiply, but spiritual seed will no longer be broadcast by tossing it to the wind. It will be drilled. Seed drills are calibrated specifically for the soils of a region.

Large conferences was like the broadcasting of seed to the wind.

In many cases, these international ministries came into large local churches and dispensed the same knowledge and revelation. Most of this was good.
But it was hardly complete.
And in some cases, it probably sowed weeds.

For we are God's fellow-workers; you are God's field..." 1 Cor. 3:9

God does his own planting. In our highly-mobile world we seem to have lost understanding for how the Lord plants people in an area and develops them specifically for His purpose. This is particularly true in the American West and other rural areas. The word pagan for example, literally means country-dweller and its origin is religious. The birthing of the Christian Church occured primarily in cities while rural residents continued practicing ancient fertility rites. Due to the slow modes of communication and transportation, they were the last to hear of Christ. Therefore, they were long considered heathen.

It was necessary then for apostles to be sent out from urban centers to smaller towns, or, that the country-dweller encounter the Word while on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

This same pattern is still in existence.

But, I believe with the birthing of the Third Day Church this is going to end.

Large national and international conferences may still have their place, but, to a great extent their time is done. They have too often given way to a cult of celebrity, the massive marketing of books and tapes, repititious messages, and the legislation of unfunded mandates. An unfunded mandate, you may recall, is when the federal government passes a law down to the states but does not supply the provision to implement or enforce it. Large conferences can sometimes impart mandates to people without the resources to put these programs into effect. Or, they can assume authority without responsibility. I have heard internationally-known ministers come into an area, for example, and name the principality or power that rules the region. But, a day or two later, having kicked that dragon awake, that minister is on a plane headed for another conference somewhere clear across the globe. They presumed the authority to allegedly name the enemy, but did not accept the responsibility to stay until the enemy was dethroned.

God has his indigenous people. They are His field. His planting. The root of the word humility is the word humus. Humus is the rich, fertile soil that is formed by the decomposing of plant and animal matter. Or, spiritually speaking, the dying of the flesh. Regional spiritual authority is often more "down-to-earth" and closer to the humus.

Regional authority knows the soil of their land and the hearts of the people. And they know the wiles of the territorial enemy. The international and national ministries were valuable for equipping, but now having tools, the harvest field belongs to the indigenous laborer.

Regional gatherings may soon give way to trans-local. Trans-local to local. The finer the netting the greater the harvest.

You are His field. Wherever you are planted, you are His planting. It has now been proven that the stoutest grasses in the world were indigenous to the American West where the Bison had thrived in the millions. Selective importation may have been helpful, but the arrogance of considering a land barren that He had fashioned with His own hands has left us reaping weeds and bad fruit. In every locality and region there are apostles, prophets, evangelists, teachers, and pastors to be raised up.

God's plantings are being restored. And local laborers will reap local fields.

"Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land, full of large fish, a hundred
and fifty three; and although there were so many, the net was not torn." John 21:11

Let's change analogies from farming to fishing.
The big ministries have performed a vital work in laying the main cords of the net of world harvest. Large conferences in the world's mega-cities are knots in this main cord. But this cord is meant to be primarily a support. The gaps between the cords are too great to effectively catch fish. Regional conferences with home-grown ministers will begin to draw the net finer and eventually, local and trans-local gatherings will make it finer yet. The finer the net the greater the harvest.
The regional conferences must be careful to avoid the pitfalls of celebritydom and commercialization. The closer you get to ground zero of local community, the more down-to-earth the people are and the less they are impressed with fanfare. We must avoid spiritual ambition if we are to retain our legitimacy. Plain ole folks see through hype. Our goal must not be promotion but concentration. We must thread the nets tighter, not looser. Spiritual fish at the local level are not as likely to escape through the net as they are to burst it if the cords are not integral. We think of integrity as meaning strength of character, but it also means wholeness. A metal has integrity it has not been flawed or tainted and a building has integrity if it is structurally sound.

Integrity in ministry is more accurately judged at the local level than the national. No one knows you like your neighbor.
All parts of the net must be united if we are to pull in Peter's endtime harvest of 153 fish. This also means that the large cords must be in relationship with each cord of descending size and the tying knots must be secure. In other words, it is time for some of the large ministries to begin to truly hear from the local and regional level. We need the large well-funded organizations that effectively evangelize Third World nations and other difficult areas in the world. But the big organizations need the spiritual common sense, the humus, of the heartland.

When I was young and anxious to drift my mother tried coaxing me home with the old adage "bloom where you're planted."
She wasn't so very wrong.

John L. Moore