The first time church is spoken of in the Bible is in Matthew 18:16 where Jesus proclaims, "... I will build My ekklesia (church); and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. There is no record of the disciples asking what is ekklesia (church)? The term was in common usage, referring to "free citizens" under Roman rulership that would be called together in assembly to make civic decisions in regard to the running of a free state.

Jesus was envisioning the disciples, that those called to Him who would have spiritual authority over the ruling spirits of the land and in this position would influence society and its organization to reflect God's ways.

Members of Jesus' ekklesia, then, would exercise spiritual and moral authority in the land being first of all disciples that met the criteria of Jesus for His followers. They would be organized and take their orders from heaven to carry out God's will here on earth doing all that Jesus commanded both while He was on earth and after His ascention. They would be members of an association called ekklesia that would police itself, do things collectively, hold members accountable to Jesus' standards of personal holiness and activity and they would reproduce disciples.

We are using the Greek word ekklesia here to make a distinction from the contemporary church of today, with loose social ties, having believers, but not walking in the power of God, although avowing adherance to the Bible. The church today is mostly not respected by the surrounding, non-believing community, in contrast to Acts 5:13.



In Acts 11:26, the disciples were first called Christians at Antioch. Therefore, at that point in time, disciples were Christians and Christians were disciples. Here again, it might be helpful to make a differentiation and go back to the first-century definition rather than be swayed by our present day cultural beliefs engendered by our "church experiences" as to what a Christian is. Christians were to be disciples; holy, performing Jesus' assignments and making more disciples in the same image.

Where we're going with this is simple: Many long for a deeper experience with God and are attempting to get this through exercising their contemporary Christian skill-set obtained from society, present day seminary or church experience. But, by-and-large it isn't working. Some say that doing the same thing over and over, but hoping for a different result is the definition of being crazy. So, just how crazy are we today?

In Matthew 28:19, Jesus commanded His disciples to baptize and make disciples in all the nations. He didn't say to make believers (a conviction by the Spirit) but disciples, a labor process of the ekklesia . So just what are Jesus' criteria for being a disciple? In Matthew 10: 7-8 Jesus sets the standard for His disciples: They must be willing to go into the surrounding culture (i.e., outside of their own ekklesia group) and 1. Preach the Gospel, 2. Proclaim (invite) God's kingdom to break through into their meeting place where there are both believers and unbelievers present, 3. publically and privately heal the sick (by God's power), 4. Raise the dead, 5. Heal those with leprosy, and 6. Cast out evil spirits. Every disciple was expected to be able to do this.

About Us

Otto Bixler and his wife Sharon have ministered in over thirty countries spanning the globe, east to west, both above and below the equator. They have a unique platform teaching and ministry style that is disarmingly simple but inhabited and directed by the presence of the Holy Spirit. They have a Spirit inspired passion both for the individual and local church. Otto is a fully ordained minister of God through the Vineyard Christian Fellowship and is the author of three books which you can discover more about in the Gallery Section of this website. They have pastored both in the USA and Eastern Europe. Over a twenty year span Otto and Sharon, while living and working in the former USSR, established a ministry network for Ellel Ministries, U.K., across the nations, bridging eleven time zones and providing a lifeline of God’s truth and healing into a population group numbering 450 million. In their local church pastoral ministry, they developed a six-day discipleship school - Answering Christ's Call - to activate local church in God's Kingdom foundations and establish church based healing ministry teams, prophetic resource and an increase in Spirit-led leadership. This school, originally in the English language now continues also in Hungarian, Romanian and Russian across the time zones. They filmed and produced a Nine-Week Video School for the training of disciples in local church using Ellel Ministries materials. This bi-lingual school was translated into Russian, Hungarian, Romanian and Polish and continues to be attended in various forms, largely over weekends spanning a two-year period to give students time to assimilate the materials and bring them into their local church under the auspices of their local pastor.