The Forerunner Identity: Moving from Revival to Awakening Leadership

God wants everybody but He never starts with everybody. He starts with a remnant and remnant start with leaders. More specifically, He starts with Remnant leaders. Remnant leaders function as forerunners.

To identify the next season properly, we must identify the forerunner anointing preparing the Lord a people who will be ready to respond when that new season arrives. Because the remnant prophesies the “what-God-wants” of the next season that the forerunner and the remnant receives and releases. God will put something in you so He can release something through you: so, God puts what He wants everybody to have into a forerunner who prepares the remnant. 

The Forerunner Identity

Avoid the impression that the forerunner identity should become a brand name, a trophy design, and an oil painting over the fireplace or another chapter in “God’s Generals” someday. I mean, avoid the sense that forerunners have the right to make their forerunner identities into next season identities. The forerunner must sacrifice his or her identity to the next season in order to finish the work he or she was assigned. Forerunners cannot say, “See me? What you see tells you who I will be in the next season.” Because the forerunner and remnant prepare people for the next season, they are living the next season before it arrives; however, when the next season arrives, they must walk through the most challenging, gut-wrenching identity crisis of their lives.

Forerunners always say, “I must decrease as He increases.” 

When forerunners fail to understand their identities, they tend to speak, act, and lead in ways that say, “I must increase.” They assume, “I am a forerunner because that is God’s strategy to expand His purpose. Therefore, more of me will mean more of God’s purpose. I must increase in order to establish the next season.” Nope.

Reject immediately the perception and practice of good, wonderfully anointed leaders who assume that the strategy of the forerunner is “I must increase.” The move of God received must be the move of God released if it is to become what God has in mind: for revival to become Awakening, and a simultaneous, starburst, similar-but-distinctly-different, “I die to produce life” leadership must move the moment into a movement and feed the momentum of the movement with new leaders. These new leaders can do what the forerunner does and do greater because the next season will cause the things done in the forerunner’s ministry to accomplish much more.

When the next season arrives, the things done in the forerunner’s season remain in place but will be redefined by the next season.

John baptized in water. Water baptism would continue in the next season when Messiah Jesus was announced and revealed; however, water baptism would take on an expanded purpose when the One greater arrived with His baptism of Holy Spirit fire. Repentance marked John’s message and Jesus would preach that message with greater meaning and experience because the Greater One was preaching. And, when Jesus’ disciples – some of whom were formerly John’s disciples – preached the same message in kingdom reality, repentance produced an expanded experience of kingdom in those living and repenting in the next season. These are examples of the concept that the next season defines the season that produced it, not the other way around.

Immediately the forerunner says, “This is it. This is the source and resource. This is the fountainhead. This is the identity of the move of God. This is the DNA,” the forerunner has usurped the role of “the One who comes after is mightier.” And, fallen prey to the limiting assumption that “I must increase” will produce the next season.

The forerunner identity prepares and positions. The forerunner demands repentance – I change to be changed – and the behavior of repentance. The forerunner marks that transformation by the baptism a forerunner can administer in anticipation of the baptism of the fire that never goes out: that baptism marks the transformation available when the next season arrives. 

The Revival that Births Awakening

Awakening cannot be controlled by man or any particular kingdom leader. It immediately requires regional leadership that no one personality can provide. Awakening is the work of Holy Spirit upon and through the kingdom that raises the awareness of God and His purpose in the general population. While God uses the forerunner and remnant leaders to prepare the Lord a people, the moment the Awakening arrives, the identity of that forerunning leadership must radically shift. They must decrease during the season of revival in order for the leadership dynamics of the new season to increase.

Whenever revival leaders demand to increase instead of decrease, they may successfully expand revival without moving the moment into a type of spiritual momentum that can sustain an Awakening.

Compare the work of Holy Spirit upon the King in John’s baptism of Jesus to the baptism of revival. Can you discern a pattern in it that parallels moving revival into Awakening? The strategy for kingdom momentum that resets of the kingdom follows this pattern, to move the kingdom into greater expressions of restoration. Like John’s ministry preparing for King and kingdom, so revival prepares the Lord a people to restore kingdom.

This was one of the principles I wished to document in the book, The Spirit and Power of Elijah. This Elijah forerunner anointing remains available in the earth, a mantle for the preparation of a people ready to respond to the Lord when a new season arrives. Once Elijah brought the people to Carmel for the showdown between Jehovah and Baal, Elijah had an identity crisis about his leadership after the general population saw God’s fire and the people of God said, “Jehovah, He is God! Jehovah, He is God!”

It took Elijah so long to get to the mountain, to bring down the fire, to heal the wounded altar of covenant worship, to cleanse the land, to kill the prophets of Baal, that Elijah had some difficulty with his leadership function. The next season for which he had prepared Israel demanded the greatest shift in his leadership, and Elijah ran from his place and position at the very time he should have embraced the new season his leadership was designed to produce.

The forerunner identity sets the forerunner up for the most intense, personal, sacrificial, personal betrayal, Gethsemane perspiration, and “Father, into Your hands” period of his life. In order to be successful he must be a forerunner. In order to walk in the season for which he was prepared and prepared others, like John the Baptist, he must “lose his head” and embrace the new identity that Awakening alone can bring him.

The forerunner identity demands that the move of God that is “next” be exactly like the revival that produced the Awakening. The forerunner demands people reject the very thing for which the forerunner prepares them if he or she rejects the personal identity transformation required to lead in the next season. If they maintain the “I must increase” strategy they thought would expand revival, they will be functioning in the opposite spirit a forerunner should maintain.

The Forerunner Identity Crisis

The spirit and power of Elijah prepares the Lord a people. It never prepares the forerunner a people. The forerunner always assumes “something greater is coming because Someone greater is coming.” The very process that prepares and positions people for “what’s coming next” also moves them out of the preparation and positioning of the forerunner, at some point, and into the “greater.”

Elijah was a forerunner. John was a forerunner. Both faced the greatest personal crisis of identity after producing a great turning of the hearts in their respective generations. Then, Elijah ran and John was offended. Each seemed disappointed with God after the revival produced Awakening, so to speak. Elijah thought the remnant was gone and he alone remained because he was still trying to define remnant with the definitions of what brought the culture to Awakening. John was offended because He thought Jesus would produce a very different outcome in his generation; instead, he was in prison and would soon lose his head.

You say, “Wow! I surely don’t wish to be a forerunner. John lost his head.”

Of course, you want to be a forerunner and lose your head! First, you want to experience both because anything else would grieve God. Second, because you have the passion of the Father for the revelation of His Son. Third, because you won’t literally have to lose your head when the Awakening occurs.

You can walk through the identity crisis, receive the burning immersion that purifies the harvest of the season, and become part of the plowing and planting of that harvest for a season of double harvest! When Awakening comes, Awakening will redefine the revival that produced it and redefine the forerunners and remnant leaders who birthed it.

In the new season, the forerunner doesn’t physically die, merely wishes he or she were before he or she really does die spiritual! The identity crisis is so severe forerunners experience their own Gethsemane and Cross before an identity Resurrection resets their entire lives and ministries.

If the forerunners reject personal transformation, they move their ministry into a prison and may lose their heads to a Jezebel they were designed and destined to destroy! The forerunner doesn’t have to physically die when the Awakening arrives, but the forerunner must embrace the greatest, scariest, deepest, and most personal season of transformation they have ever had! If the forerunner begins to experience a crisis of identity when the move of God matures, he or she should cheer up at that moment! It is going to get worse!

To paraphrase Jesus in the context of our metaphor for forerunning identity: “No one born of woman had what the forerunner had, but the least in the Awakening season will be greater than the forerunner.”

Awakening Redefines the Forerunner

To understand how a forerunner should respond when the preparation season is ending, we must fully embrace the spirit and power of Elijah and fully overcome the spirit of Jezebel. These spiritual strategies and conditions are ancient – God’s strategy and hell’s response – but they remain the way God works and hell reacts. Forerunners may assume “the fire falling” will deal with Jezebel and may become disenchanted when she gets stronger at the very moment they expected her to fold her tents and slink away.

Jezebel manifests intimidation and manipulation. However, we do not fully overcome Jezebel by overcoming her intimidation and manipulation. We need to eliminate her! To fully function in the preparatory leadership of a forerunner, we need to kill Jezebel. Fully function in the spirit and power of Elijah and fully overcome Jezebel.

Jezebel says, “Trust me. Let me get you what you want.” Moreover, at the very moment a forerunner sees the outcome of his or her leadership reaching a point of Awakening, Jezebel will rise up with her greatest influence. She will offer the substitute. She will say, “Let me get you what you want.” But, her substitute offers the forerunner the option of increasing what the forerunner has been doing to position God’s people for Awakening when he or she should be in a position to decrease so the Awakening can define the move of God.

The substitute for a proper prophetic anticipation of a forerunner’s success is a perverted prophetic projection the forerunner’s identity.

A false oracle reidentifies God’s purpose in a way that falsely defines the revival. If hell cannot keep us from God’s purpose, hell will work to limit the fulfillment of God’s purpose. The method of hell is to distract and substitute, to turn the move of God toward the fulfillment of the wrong purpose, to move us toward the “anything but that” sidetrack. Many moves of God sidetrack nearly as soon as they begin: the leaders embrace a false oracle of the purpose of the move of God that opens them to distraction and substitution. It remains a move of God, but it moves toward an “anything but that” destination. It doesn’t produce Awakening.

The forerunner experiences the battle thoroughly, personally, and completely. The forerunner’s identity crisis, when it appears they have reached their highest in leadership, becomes his or hers greatest preparation and positioning for leadership so they can continue to lead when the Awakening arrives. If you are a pioneering forerunner, get ready for the greatest identity crisis of your life and ministry!

Your pride will demand that people respect and receive you upon the basis of your forerunner identity, and you may resist change in your own leadership and life. You may resist change in the sights and sounds of the move of God.

However, it is not your role in the Awakening to repeat the process but to provide blueprint leadership to the Awakening about how to continue the preparation and positioning of Awakening leaders. That is why you experienced the process so thoroughly, deeply, and personally, so you could understand the process that others will experience. They may receive an outcome that took you fifteen years in just fifteen days! They will need the reidentified forerunner to be a father in that moment!

You become an expert in the strategy of leadership development so you can provide leadership in the new season. Your leadership will shift dramatically. You will not recognize yourself. You will wonder if the process of identity crisis isn’t the devil instead of “the One who comes next.”

Therefore, immediately the revival the forerunner leads bursts into flame, pride will be invested in the leader so that pride can be used to limit that leader’s ability to embrace his personal Gethsemane, Calvary, and Resurrection. It will be the third temptation: “You can get what you want without the pain.” The hiss of Jezebel’s voice: “Trust me to get you what you want.”

God doesn’t want you to get what you want. God wants you to get a people ready to get God what God wants.

Even a casual reading of revival history will back up what I’m saying. Moves of God destined to be Awakenings became denominations, doctrinal idols, devotionalized duplicities, and personality cults. So few became Awakenings because forerunners kept demanding the “I must increase” strategy be implemented. They wished to define the Awakening by the revival that produced it. They wished to put the Glory on a cart so the Glory could ‘go on tour.’

So, the leaders that carry a forerunner assignment will experience as much of the “what not to do” as the “what to do.” Unless the forerunner leaders obey completely – Gethsemane – submit completely – “Father into Your hands” – and transform completely – Resurrection – they will not be available to identify the difference between “what not to do” and “what to do.” The Awakening may degenerate into a charismatic Woodstock instead of maturing into a Reformation.

Listen carefully: the water baptism of John continues to prophesy the new behavior of new life, but the prophetic sense of his baptism compared with the baptism that completely cleanses the harvest should never be forgotten. The greater One will bring a deeper work that redefines the identity of the previous work. Water baptism received an expanded definition when functioning in the next season. The spiritual language that many adopted like a Boy Scout patch to prove they were “Pentecostal” had much more power, meaning, and purpose in the Awakening season than could be understood sidetracking that gift into an identifier within a doctrinal system. The doctrine could be legitimate, absent exaggerations, but the meaning and application would be limited in its use to define the revival instead of being defined by the Awakening.

Revival births Awakening but immediately gives way to a greater identity because Awakening redefines the revival that birthed it. When revival demands to define Awakening, the Awakening morphs into something foreign to its spiritual DNA. Awakening redefines the DNA of revival, not the other way around.

Forerunners tend to keep the baby instead of birthing the baby so they can continue to be the source of revival. Forerunners assume they will name the baby once its born but will be shocked when the baby turns around to rename them!

A Forerunning Region

God’s strategy is kingdom. Kingdom strategy is leaders. Leadership strategy is discipling. Discipling strategy is fathering.

Awakening is a kingdom strategy led by kingdom leaders. The preparation and positioning of kingdom leaders is the measuring standard of revival growth and maturity, not anointing, manifestations, activations, visions and dreams, or demonstrations of power, miracles, signs, and wonders.

Beware the subtle sidetrack that redefines leadership as “people who can do the stuff.” A little finger can do the stuff, but a whole Body of little fingers does not grow and mature. Beware the tendency to measure Awakening by miracles, signs, and wonders. Beware the immaturity of measuring maturity by the scrapbook photos of who laid hands upon you and your most memorable “experience of God” as if the fire falling is a finished work. Beware the tendency to want to experience another pregnancy and birthing process merely because you enjoyed the attention, acceptance, and anticipation of the previous one. After you have given birth, you have to get on with the business of maturing the baby you have. The next babies you birth will all benefit from the maturity you learn in making a champion of your firstborn.

What I mean is this: the manifestations of a revival should produce maturity in leaders so those mature leaders can have greater influence and impact in the season of Awakening. Not so those manifestations can become a monument to a moment. God will punch a move of God in the belly when it starts becoming a destination instead of a distribution center. The manifestations only produce maturity when they are part of a fathering and discipling process that prepares and positions people to produce purpose.

Therefore, a revival should produce apostolic and prophetic foundations, a fathering leadership dynamics for dramatic, deep, disturbing personal transformation. The leaders a revival produces are not merely prepared so they can go light more fires as if “I must increase” is the measurement of a move of God. The leaders must be prepared to lead at the next level when revival becomes Awakening.

Beware the tendency to stop with “you will do what I do” in leadership development. This is more of the “I must increase” mentality that limits revival to remaining a revival instead of preparing and positioning revival leaders for the spiritual momentum of Awakening. Be certain of this, revival will not become Awakening until forerunners prepare and position Awakening leaders (not revival leaders) no matter how strong the manifestations, activations, and demonstrations.

Recognizing the Forerunner Identity

The very word, “visitation” means “accountability.” The word, “visitation,” translates the root from which history developed the title “bishop.” The misunderstandings invested into that word through church-anity, blending spirit of the world definitions of leadership into the church, misses the point of the term, a foul ball that hits the crowd in the face. The term means, “oversee, bring to account, inspect.”

Jesus says, “You didn’t recognize your season of accountability.” Amazingly, few translations or commentaries mention the meaning of the word or the context of Israel as a forerunner culture and region. They rejected Messiah when He arrived because He didn’t fit their descriptors and presuppositions, but the context of Jesus’ words is much greater than that their immediate rejection of His Messianic claims. Israel was God’s forerunner culture: God put something in them so He could release something through them. They failed to fulfill their forerunner purpose even though they accumulated people and provisions.

We have redefined “church” as “the accumulation of believers.” Because of this faulty definition, we also put intercessors, prophets, and apostles into that paradigm. We accumulate intercessors, prophets, and apostles. The accumulation of things as a measurement of church growth redefines the function of the very things we accumulate. Accumulation doesn’t define success. Function that fulfills purpose does.

Jesus might say: “Not one of the things you have accumulated – places and people – will displace your enemies because you weren’t fulfilling the purpose of your assignment when I arrived for accounting your progress of producing purpose.” (See Luke 19:44 where Jesus says, “Your enemies will crush you and your children; they will not leave a single stone in place, because you did not recognize the time of your accountability.”)

“See these buildings you’ve built,” Jesus says, “not one stone will be left sitting upon the other.” Accumulating people and provisions does not fulfill purpose, nor does it help us recognize success in our forerunner leadership. The pathway of kingdom leadership preparation that prepares leaders to fit into the accumulation paradigm works against and scatters the pathway of kingdom leadership preparation needed to prepare leaders for Awakening. Perpetuating something accumulated, with a mind that “it must increase,” redefines the very thing accumulated and the leadership dynamics that function to produce it. It can never produce the purpose for which it is accumulated.

Forerunners should blow up these perceptions. John baptized in the muddy Jordan instead of the beautiful baths of the Temple. John preached in the wilderness instead of celebrating the accumulations of Herod’s Temple. John calls people out so they can be prepared to go in. John anticipates Someone greater doing something.

John anticipates a different preparation because the present order cannot fulfill its assigned purpose. John breaks the mold of “what is” so that a new leadership dynamic can influence and impact the culture for “what is coming next.”

When God’s people miss or dismiss purpose, they will accumulate people and provisions instead of fulfilling purpose. Consider the words of Jesus in this context: “Many shall say in that day of accountability, Lord, Lord, didn’t we do a bunch of stuff in Your Name, and I will say, ‘Who are you and how did you get in here?’ I ignore that stuff and give attention to those who do what My Father wants done.”

When a forerunner properly prepares kingdom leaders, they will only be able to function properly in a new season. They will be out of place in the present season. They will only be able to fill up new wineskins. They will only be able to reach fullness and fulfillment by resetting the kingdom, establishing a new spirit of leadership, and laying a new foundation.

When we see revival as restoring the church to glory days of previous generations without the total overhaul Awakening brings, we will rewrite the history of revival to only include the parts that fit our present paradigm of accumulation.

Accumulation of believers isn’t Ecclesia. Accumulation of intercession isn’t an army. Accumulation of prophets doesn’t produce maturity. Accumulation of apostles doesn’t provide a broader blueprint. The function of these aspects of kingdom can only be “normalized” when the forerunner identity prepares the Lord a people who can inherit and fulfill purpose. Then, the forerunner identity must give way to new norm set by Awakening.

Revival has purpose but the purpose, not the revival, must define the move of God! More than the accumulation of people, power, and provision that perpetuates the present conditions, the moment must become a movement, and the momentum must be fed with those who can do “greater,” who can lead in the next season of Awakening.

So, when a revival becomes “come and get this fire, watch this show, feel this experience” as an end within itself, the main focus of kingdom leadership preparation isn’t even discussed except to say, “Come get this and you can do the stuff, too.”

The main speaker or team of leaders moves around on tour developing a following of groupies that carry that identity with the assumption that “I must increase.” This is a subtle substitute for a forerunner assignment. The idea entertained is “if we can accumulate a lot of people who act like us, get what we have, and become carriers of our DNA, we can become the source of the next Awakening.”

You cannot become a source because a forerunner does the very opposite, then must anticipate the greatest test of obedience, submission, and personal transformation will come only at the point of his or her decrease. Accumulation models operate opposite a forerunner strategy. Forerunners don’t accumulate anything. They prepare and position leaders to function in another season, not the season they are operating in during preparation.

Ephesians 4 tells us Jesus bestowed His kingdom leadership dynamics upon the Ecclesia to accomplish this very end: “To prepare and position the holy ones to do the servant’s work. In this way, the Body can experience the fullness only measured by the Christ’s mature stature. It can then, build itself up in love.”

In the transition between revival and Awakening, purpose must be reestablished as the definition of success. Forerunners must mature and finish one season’s assignment in order to lead in the next season. To birth, forerunners must be willing to release the baby, to allow the baby to turn around and rename them.

The Forerunner Ecclesia

Forerunners Ecclesia’s operate as apostolic and prophetic centers. The pattern looks like clusters of empowered gatherings in which and through which kingdom influence and impact alters the spiritual atmospheres of definable regions in measurable ways.

They should reorder their structures, provisions, and people in ways that prepare and position them to function when Awakening arrives. They should reset their leadership dynamics so that their present levels of hundreds or thousands can accommodate tens or even hundreds of thousands. They must be prepared to influence and impact regionally.

Without doubt, Ecclesia’s must be ready for tens of thousands coming into the new season of leadership preparation and positioning. The leaders in the state must learn to function at an international level no matter the scope of their leadership or the location of their assignments. No doubt, thousands prepared and positioned in a forerunner region will be assigned by Holy Spirit to travel and function in the five aspects of Jesus’ ministry leadership to prepare and position others in other states and nations. The role of forerunner leaders moves into fathering because the purpose of their forerunning expands so that other regions can experience preparation and positioning that moves revival into Awakening.

Immediately someone says, “Well, it would seem to me that the big churches already know how to best provide leadership for an Awakening.” Yet, that seldom mirrors reality or the testimony of history. Not because they are evil, more because they are structured to produce the accumulation of believers instead of maturing kingdom leaders who can influence and impact a region.

Churches that accumulate believers cannot prepare and position as forerunner Ecclesia’s as long as the dynamics of leadership by which they function are founded upon evangels and shepherds, not apostles and prophets. They may accumulate but they cannot prepare and position a forerunner Ecclesia. Every function of the Ecclesia that provides a forerunner dynamic must begin with apostolic and prophetic blueprints for a much broader purpose from that the localized vision. The forerunner leadership must prepare the Lord a people who can fulfill a purpose, and that purpose is much different from the purpose of normal churches.

God has a Remnant in waiting, prepared and positioned for release.

Elijah failed to recognize this Remnant because he was resisting his transition as a forerunner. He continued to function in what got him to Carmel when he needed to finish the forerunning assignment that would position the Remnant God had waiting. Elijah thought, “I’m the only one left. If I don’t increase, it is over!”

Yet, God needed Elijah to decrease so the next season could be realized and Elijah could be transformed into a functional kingdom leader. God had a lot more in mind than merely destroying Jezebel! God wanted to reestablish His kingdom on earth. Elijah was caught up in his forerunner identity to the point that he couldn’t see past it.

What to Do with “What Is”

I know you may be thinking, “What do we do with all the churches and ministries? What do we do with ‘what is’ in order to prepare for ‘what is coming next?'” 

Great question: the answer would come from Jesus in His consideration of bringing what is His to a season of accounting, an oversight visitation. And, a strong hint would be “not one stone will remain upon the other” if you do not respond to the season of accounting.

Wait! Before you get the idea that Jesus is going to destroy everything, reconsider the meaning of that natural phrase in the context of the kingdom description of “living stones.” Think: “Jesus will reset the whole of the structure.” One stone won’t be left upon another because every living stone must be reset through preparation and positioning to produce the building His kingdom blueprint has designed.

He can and will do that without destroying any of it. Only those who refuse His leadership will experience the destruction that comes from their enemies; none will experience destruction from Jesus.

Jesus builds an Ecclesia that displaces the authorities of hell, right? When the church cannot displace, the inability of the Ecclesia to do what Jesus builds her to do reveals a dysfunctional structure. Therefore, Jesus rebuilds the Ecclesia to function as an extension of kingdom so that she has the authority to displace the authorities of hell. When churches do not respond to this reset, the enemies they cannot displace set up gates around them.

Acts 19 helps us understand the process and progress of a region being touched by a forerunner, becoming a forerunner region, and then becoming an apostolic and prophetic epicenter with international level leadership function. Then, we see how these forerunners became fathering leaders through which Ephesus became the center of Christianity for 200 years. Paul spent three years there preparing and positioning kingdom leaders. He had revival and riot. The “what is” didn’t limit his function in producing the “what is coming next.”

“Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. However, some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. Therefore, Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.”

After resistance from “what is,” Paul moved to an apostolic training center, prepared, and positioned leaders who could influence and impact the entire region. “The word of the Lord” means “the purpose of God for the region.” In a very short time, through an Awakening, the kingdom Ecclesia in the region exploded, influenced, and impacted the culture of Asia Minor.

When Jesus appears in John’s vision, He speaks to the Ecclesia’s that this move of God birthed. In each case, the message assumes that Ecclesia functions differently from the present prevailing paradigm of “the accumulation of believers.”

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