The Nucleus Concept

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“Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, the Lord knoweth them that are his.  And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.  But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.”  – 2 Timothy 2:19-20 

In this great house on the earth, the Church of the living God, there will always be two kinds of vessels.  There will be those that are like gold and silver plates and utensils, honoring the Owner of the house and bringing Him glory by fulfilling their high calling.  And, unfortunately, there will be those vessels made of only earth and of wood; common and ignoble parts of a house that simply do not reflect God’s glory.  In other words, though Jesus told us in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven,” the sad reality is that not every vessel in the house will “so shine.”   If we permit ourselves to extend the metaphor that Paul used, we could say that repeated attempts to polish the earthen vessel might lead to its being broken!  The happy reality, however, is that the gold and silver vessels do exist—it’s simply a matter of finding them and using them. 

That is the main thrust in following this particular principle of revival.  There is a nucleus in the Church and we must find it, develop it, and use it according to the will of God.  Webster’s New World Dictionary defines “nucleus’ as:

  • a thing or part forming the center around which other things or parts are grouped or collected; core;
  • anything serving as a center of growth or development

This is what we should look for in the local church or in the body of leaders of a national organization, knowing that upon them, we can work with the Lord in building His Church.  These are key people that will not compromise, but will stand strong with pastors and other leaders in the faith, and who will walk together in unity, striving for the common goal of revival and church growth.

The enemy, of course, will try his best to undermine this principle by diluting the faith of its adherents.  The temptation to compromise is an ugly subject in the Church.  It seems, however, to be continually around us, and therefore needs to be dealt with on a regular basis. 

Jesus warned His disciples of this in Mark 8:15 when He said, “Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod.”  This warning came on the heels of the second miraculous feeding of the multitude.  Jesus had used just a few fish and a little bit of bread and thousands had dined well.  The disciples failed to understand the warning, however.  They may have thought that Jesus was telling them not to eat bread that had been prepared for the Pharisees (the super religious outwardly yet dead inwardly) or for King Herod (a man of such high rank, yet abusing his authority to carry out his own evil acts.)  These two kinds of people actually represented two of the things that can compromise and/or corrupt believers: hypocrisy and abuse of position.  And although the disciples failed to get the spiritual application of the warning, we must be certain we understand it. 

The nucleus of a local church is a powerful thing: it works in harmony with its pastor, shares in the same vision, and becomes equipped for real personal ministry that will certainly grow the church.  But allowing hypocrites and position seekers to move into places of authority is a gross error committed by too many pastors and leaders.  It can quickly tarnish the silver, or worse, change it to wood and earth.  What should have been glorious to God then becomes common and ordinary, not the materials on which to base a real revival!  The way to avoid this is to carefully decide who is with the leadership in the vision, who is receiving the equipping that is provided, and who is ready for real responsibility.  Then and only then can we appoint these people  (those in the nucleus) to positions of authority in the plan we have set for the expansion of church ministries.

R—I—B

There are three steps here that are important to remember concerning this “core” of believers.  We should:

  • Realize there is a nucleus
  • Identify this nucleus
  • Build on this nucleus

Realizing there is such a nucleus applies to every level of church leadership.  This is because there is always a group of believers that have received the cast vision, and who are preparing to move along with it.  Others wait and watch.  In fact, there are almost always three kinds of people in every group:  those that are moving with the leaders; those that will never move with the leaders; and those that are watching to see if it’s a good idea to move with the leaders.  In a national church context, there are pastors that clearly appreciate the leadership given to them and are always ready (or at least, most always ready) to stand with the leaders and share in the common task described.  Other pastors never seem to really “get on board the ship.”  The same applies to the membership of a local congregation.  Some saints quickly rise to the challenge and excel.  Others wait and see what their friends will do.  And there will also be those that just never become what God wants them to be.

These are not evil people at all; they simply don’t share the vision or receive the equipping.  Remember the point that each principle of revival is in a specific order and must follow the preceding one?  After clearly communicating the vision and then attempting to equip all of the saints for their ministry, the nucleus will begin to emerge.  Like cream rising to the top of fresh milk, the nucleus will gradually appear.  If no core group begins to be seen, we must continue in principles one and two until it does!  If no one is interested in taking the equipment provided for them, perhaps we should look for new candidates.  Or, perhaps we are trying to equip them with tools that are inappropriate for the job.  In any case, according to the list of principles, the nucleus people are the ones in the vision, equipped (or becoming equipped,) and are readying themselves for being useful in ministry in the church. 

Another point to remember is that the nucleus is not always the majority.  Any pastor, for example, would be happier to know that he has fifty spiritually solid members that are equipped for personal ministry, rather than five hundred lukewarm and ineffective members.  The church of five hundred has little hope of remaining intact, let alone of experiencing revival!  The church of fifty in the nucleus, however, can become a great tool in the hand of the Lord.  From the nucleus will come the leaders of new ministries formulated to serve the needs of a growing church body.  Therefore, we must not only realize that the nucleus is a reality; we must be able to identify it.

About Jim Poitras

Enlisiting, educating, equipping, empowering, and encouraging members, ministers, and missionaries in apostolic global missions. Director of Education/AIM