Over five years ago Dr. Ed Delph a world-renowned author on the subjects of faith and community stated,

The most effective influence is from the top down, not the bottom up.  So, don’t just build a church, build a community.  We serve God by serving the community. People used to ask me, “How big is your church?” I would say, “About 4 million people.”  That’s the population of Phoenix, where I live.  My congregation was 750, but my church was 4 million. I treated the whole city like it was my church.  The community likes that (Delph, 2005). 

While Delph’s focus has been to bring a paradigm shift in the way the church relates to its community, his work on the “7-spheres of influence of society” is reminiscent of what is being embraced today by the 98% of the Body of Christ called to something other than pulpit ministry.  Whether referred to as the Saints Movement, Marketplace Ministry Movement, Faith and Work Movement, or the God at Work Movement it all points to the same core focus.  The church as we know it is changing. 

The Body of Christ is the church and as such we are taking it to the streets.  This town, city, state, nation and eventually world transformation is going to happen through the “church” or through the people of God.  It does not matter what the denomination, the “Body,” is the church of today.

So, while Delph is challenging the traditional mindsets of the church and its relation to the neighboring community, and calling for a paradigm shift in the way the church relates to the community, others are referring to the 7 arenas of influence, 7 spheres that impact society, and the 7 mountains impacting culture.  Again, the core theme is that in order to bring restoration and transformation we have to understand these spheres/mountains/arenas and embrace our part in it.

To Delph the 7 spheres of influence are business, government, education, entertainment, religion, family, and media or the arenas or spheres that we have influence over.  As the church – the Body of Christ – instead of disengaging from secular activities we have to raise a new standard in those arenas of influence bringing transformation through these 7 spheres.

To explain this further Delph gives the following analogy:

You go into a restaurant.  As you walk in you notice the premises are messy, the tables are full of dirty dishes and no one is there to seat you.  After you are finally seated, you look at the menu and are shocked by the prices.  Reluctantly, you order the overpriced food, which takes forever to arrive at your table.  The food is terrible.

As you leave the restaurant, you find out from one of the locals that the restaurant changes owners faster than it changes employees.  Most of us would not go back to that restaurant unless it happened to be the only restaurant in town.  Many of us would not eat out at all!

Just think of the public-relations image of this restaurant in the community.  It doesn’t take long for the community to get their opinion out on a restaurant like that.  Its public-relations image will determine its destiny.

What takes place in the community eventually becomes known in the community – whether a business, church, school or city hall.  Your organization’s public-relations image defines it positively or negatively before your potential customers (or church members) ever step through the door, determining what kind of relationship the public will have with you.

If a church’s public relations image is determined by its behavior in the community, and the community is bombarded with news of church splits, controlling leaders, doctrinal wars, financial mishandling and immorality among pastors or parishioners, the result can only be a negative public perception.

On the other side of the coin, if a church projects a superior, us-versus-them, judgmental attitude toward the community, why would anyone show up? Behavior like that gives the church a bad name [and] whether true or not, to those who don’t attend church, perception is reality. That affects our mission and, ultimately, the welfare of the community.  What we do in church leaks into the community (Delph, 2005).

To Delph (2005) it is not about a separation of the church and society but rather an embracing of the spheres or arenas of influence that God has placed us – the church, the Body of Christ – in.  It is about raising a new standard and setting a new value system within those spheres of influence and bringing transformation by purposeful action rather than words.  Because whether we like it or not the church and the community are connected at the hip. We are here because they are here. The way we view our community is the way the community sees us – the church.

Os Hillman, founder of Marketplace Leaders, hosted a conference in January of 2008 called Reclaiming the 7 Mountains of Culture.  The “7 mountains” refer to family, education, media, arts and entertainment, business, religion, and government.  In a gathering of a multitude of marketplace or faith and work movement-related ministries, this conference took the foundation set by those such as Delph to a whole new level (Hillman, 2008).

The 7 mountains of culture represent those areas of influence that we – the Body of Christ – have to take back.  This aligns with Delph’s teachings in that we must move back into these spheres raising a standard of excellence and of value.  Not evangelizing the workplace (the word “workplace” referring to all 7 spheres) but rather embracing and tackling the mountain.  Because we – the church – isolated ourselves from society for so many years we gave up the control in these spheres of influence – or the gates to the cultural mountains.  Now, in order to bring transformation to our cities, states, and nations, we have to move back into these areas of culture with the authority given to us to possess these gates and rule and reign once again.

In order to truly bring transformation we must understand what it is we gave away, why it is so important, and what the gates to the cultural mountains are.  Os Hillman refers to this as a “movement within a movement”: 

A new movement is now taking place in the workplace movement.  In 1975, Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade, and Loren Cunningham, founder of Youth With a Mission, had lunch together. God simultaneously gave each of them a message to give to the other: “The culture is shaped by seven mind-molders, or mountains, in society. If we can influence each of these areas for Christ, we will win the culture of our nation.”

 

The Bible tells us that in the last days there will be sheep and goat nations.  Sheep nations represent those who follow Christ; goat nations represent those who follow other gods. “All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats” (Matt 25:32).  Whoever controls the seven mountains in a nation will determine whether that nation will be a sheep or goat nation.  The good news is that God is moving in an unprecedented way among men and women in the workplace today. Dr. Henry Blackaby says “God is marshalling His people in the workplace as never before in history.” There is a new trumpet call going out to men and women of influence who are seeing the negative influences in their culture as a wake-up call.

 

There is a new trumpet call to men and women in the marketplace to be used by God in the 7 mountains of influence in business, government, media, arts and entertainment, family, religion and education to reclaim their nations for Christ. Leaders are beginning to realize they are called to use their influence in key strategic areas of society for the sake of Christ’s Kingdom in order to fulfill His mandate—to be the head, not the tail (Dt. 28:13) by reflecting the love and power of Christ in the area of our calling.  Watch closely as we begin to see cities and nations affected by this new wave of the Spirit in God’s Church today (Hillman, 2008). 

To assist in understanding this movement within a movement Os Hillman, founder of Marketplace Leaders, has created a sister website www.reclaiming7mountains.com on which is listed a variety of articles on this topic.   Provided below are brief bios on the articles available on this site.

The Family Mountain – excerpt from article by Johnny Enlow

God’s heart is the heart of a family man.  The members of the Trinity communed among themselves as the world was created.  They then made Adam, who, since he was in the image of this Trinity, was lonely without a family identity. In Psalm 68, God announces Himself as “father of the fatherless.”  He knew that man would fail in His model, so He provided Himself as the Father of the fatherless.  To a widow who has lost her husband, He is her defender and even her husband, as He says in Isaiah 54:5.  “God sets the solitary in families.”  We are all solitary by nature, but He has put us in families to bring forth fruitfulness as we live a proper family life.  The “greatest” individual on the earth can produce nothing outside of the context of family.  The Elijah Revolution will recover and reveal the beauty of family.  The hearts of parents and their children will be turned toward each other.

 

The Religion Mountain – excerpt from article by Leith Anderson

Recent events have left Christians wondering how they stand in American society. In the last year, we at Christianity Today have received several manuscripts by prominent Christian intellectuals suggesting that the United States has become definitively and irreversibly anti-God. Other Christians continue to urge us to do good with the hope that we can make a difference. Each side can marshal compelling arguments and strong evidence.  Today and tomorrow we will publish two views on the matter by two prominent evangelical leaders…

The Business Mountain – excerpt from article by John Gagliardi

Today, as “ministers in the marketplace”, we are faced daily with stark choices – whether to work God’s way, and make Godly decisions based on excellence and integrity, or to work the world’s way, and bow to expediency and compromise – the “short cut to a quick buck.”  This tension is unrelenting and ubiquitous – the temptation is always there, and we have a never-ending battle to do things the right way for the rightreasons–God’s way.

The Government Mountain ­– excerpt from an article by Johnny Enlow

The Mountain of Government, or politics, is a mountain that the Lord is beginning to position His children to invade and take.  As with media, we’ve virtually given this mountain over to the devil.  Entire denominations have been known to prohibit their people from being involved with politics because of the corruption that always seems to infect it.  The reason politics are considered “of the devil,” of course, is because we have abandoned this mountain to him. 

The Education Mountain – from the Reclaiming 7 Mountains website

 

Education should reflect the truth about God and man so that the truth shall make us free. May we seek and promote the true meaning of life through education.  The “fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” and wisdom is the goal of education.  There can be no true wisdom that does not begin with a proper “fear of the Lord.

The Media Mountain – excerpt from article by Ted Turner

Today, media companies are more concentrated than at any time over the past 40 years, thanks to a continual loosening of ownership rules by Washington.  The media giants now own not only broadcast networks and local stations; they also own the cable companies that pipe in the signals of their competitors and the studios that produce most of the programming.  To get a flavor of how consolidated the industry has become, consider this: In 1990, the major broadcast networks – ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox – fully or partially owned just 12.5 percent of the new series they aired.  By 2000, it was 56.3 percent.  Just two years later, it had surged to 77.5 percent.


The Arts & Entertainment Mountain – from article by Rick Joyner with Andrei and Amanda Prychodko


A well-known artist recently stated, “The future of art is perversion.”  That is the devil’s prophecy, and no doubt the devil’s intent.  When one looks at the direction art has taken in recent times from fine art, to modern art, to cinematic art, to music, it seems that this has been coming true.  However, art belongs to God, and He is going to take art back. Art is a basic form of prophecy, and there is a beauty and anointing about to come upon a host of holy artists whose prophetic art will burn away the fog that is now over it, just like the sun burns away the fog in the morning.

Without unity, the church is like the man who has a vision to win the Olympic marathon but never practices. His full potential will never be actualized. Unfortunately, this is the problem in the church today – unfulfilled potential and frustration.  Part of this is caused by what I call the “achievement paradigm.

 

The workplace movement encompasses all spheres of influence.  Lance Walnau, a speaker on the topic of the 7 mountains, shared that the gates are at the top of the structures of authority and wherever a believer is they are the highest spiritual authority in that place.  We believers – the Body of Christ – or the church have the God-given spiritual authority to take possession of the gates of these mountains.  When God spoke to Adam and told him to name the animals in the garden, He gave him the authority to control them.  That is spiritual law – what we name we can control.  The workplace movement combines spiritual law and authority with practical aspects of God in the workplace.  We are bringing transformation spiritually through His law, and we are bringing transformation physically through values, ethics, and integrity by walking the walk and not just talking the talk.

So, where does the workplace movement go from here?  What do we – the Body of Christ – have to do next?  Ed Silvoso, author of Anointed for Business shares: 

There is unprecedented momentum and openness to the Kingdom of God across the most varied cultural and economic settings imaginable.  That is why we are pouring every ounce of our energy into demonstrating that when the presence and power of God is welcomed into virtually any setting, the extraordinary follows…

The unique factor at work is that people [receive] impartation in addition to teaching.  Teaching sends facts to your mind, which then filters the word that reaches your heart.  Impartation is direct download from the Holy Spirit into your spirit.  It changes us at the core of our beings.  Once you have received such an impartation, you will never view life through the same set of lenses, nor will you want to! (Silvoso News, December 2007).  For more information on Ed Silvoso visit his website at www.harvestevan.org

We were created to work and we are created to rule and reign with God.  This is the mandate for the church of today – to work in whatever sphere of influence that has placed us in and to be positioned to possess the gates and bring transformation to our city streets!

References

Delph, E., (Sept/Oct, 2005).  Ministry today magazine.  Retrieved February 1, 2008 from

                http://www.ministrytodaymag.com/display.php?id=13673 

Hillman, O., (2008).  Reclaiming 7 mountains.  Retrieved February 1, 2008 from   
               www.reclaiming7mountains.com

Silvoso, E., (2002).  Anointed for business.  Regal Books, Ventura, CA.

Silvoso, E., (December, 2007).  Silvoso news.  Retrieved February 1, 2008 from harvestevan.org