Saturday, October 10

To do and teach

This past week our team began a process of reevaluating who we are as a team, our purpose, role, mission, and what God is trying to say to us in regards to restructuring for greater effectiveness in the ministry He has given.

We decided to go back to the book of Acts for instruction. Every week we go through a chapter of ACTS, and verse by verse glean what is there for us to learn.

On Saturday morning we began with Acts 1:1

The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach...

In all the versions we had the Biblical order appears first, to do; and second, and teach. We found this significant and a confirmation of what we have been trying to do for several years. It is more important to first DO something before trying to TEACH others. Doing comes before teaching. Wasn't that Jesus' way?

However, most of us come from an opposite teach-do approach to learning. We are first encouraged to attend conferences, read books, take notes, watch videos, and sit in classrooms where we are taught about a lost world, evangelism, discipleship, church planting, etc. After the instruction time is up, we learners are expected to go out and DO what we were taught. In our experience, 9 times out of 10 this doesn't work. Nine of the ten will never follow through on what they were taught.

Over the years we have tried very hard to implement a church planting "do-teach" methodology.

To learn how to swim, the best way is not by sitting through class lectures, or by watching instructional swim videos. The best way is get those wanting to learn how to swim into the water ASAP. Once in the water, panic sets in at realizing "I don't know how to swim!" After this initial panic experience they are more than ready for lesson #1: KICK, KICK, KICK!

Back in the water we go to practice our kicking. We model for them in the water how to kick. They watch us kick, and then we watch them kick. After a while, we get out of the water and talk about kicking. We might even assign a book on kicking, give a chat on kicking, or show a video. But now the experience of what is being taught will be much meaningful and practical.

The same holds true for those we hope will go out and plant churches. Church planting is not a classroom, conference, video watching activity. It is getting plantees out there with real people in the water. When they come back with real life questions, they are more than ready to be taught. But we teach to improve or build upon what the plantees are already doing.

In Luke 10 Jesus sends out the 70 with a few guiding instructions. As they obeyed and did what was commanded, Jesus was able to pray, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven...I praise you, Father...because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children..."

As we learn to first DO what Jesus said, we earn the right to TEACH others and have them listen to our message and instruction.

5 comments:

Les Puryear said...

Guy,

You are sooooo right. I also discovered this while presenting the gospel in Ecuador. I call it "organic discipleship." My post on Monday will be about that.

Thanks for God using you to confirm my own thoughts.

Les

Anonymous said...

Guy, This is Teresa here...I don't have a blog so I had to post anonymous. And my post is so long it is in 2 parts...sorry about that...
Thanks for posting this...God is really using you to help us put into words what God has been showing us this last year. First, I am just sharing my heart of what God is showing us...please don't think that I am preaching to anyone or judging anyone...this is just where God has us and what He is teaching us at this point in our lives...and trust me it has been tough and very humbling..God has brought us to the end of ourselves.
First thought....should we separate or compartmentalize doing and teaching...shouldn't it be that as we are going...we are teaching....we sometimes get into the mind set that....well, now that we have done this for so long.... we can teach others to do it ie "Trainings" ...and then before long.. we find that we have quit doing it and we are just "training" others to do it, and then before we realize it....all we are doing are "trainings" and it has been years since we have done it...then it starts to become a method and it is not organic. that is my first thought...
God has been showing us this and trying to bring us to this point for the last year. It has been rough because it goes against everything that we have been ask to do or trained to do. We have been taught that we need to gather people together to “train” them. This is all with good intentions on all of our parts because we all have a sense of urgency to reach the lost and this seems to be the faster way to do it. We have also been taught that it is better to “train” because of the concern with reproducibility, not having our american influence in the mix etc because it may slow the multiplication down etc. What we are finding is the more we live among our people the more our americaness should be disappearing. I think years ago this is what happened naturally…missionaries became less and less American because once they left the states they couldn’t go back or maybe could go back only every 7 years or so. They didn’t have internet (email, skype, texting) or phone to keep them connected to their American culture, or to their family and friends back home. The mail was even slow. They learned to eat the foods, because they didn’t have volunteer teams bringing American food to them. They didn’t have the mail service for people to send boxes with American food to them. And they couldn’t bring it with them because they only brought maybe a suitcase of clothes. They didn’t crate like we do. The missionaries went and did not look back. (continued on next posting)

Anonymous said...

Don’t get me wrong..it is a blessing to be able to stay connected to family and friends back home, but I think it also cripples us in our calling. If we will let go of all that we left and not look back, then we will lose our Americanness and not bring that into the mix. Then what we are doing will be reproducible. We will adapt to the culture, learning to speak the language, learning to eat the foods that they eat and then what we are doing will be within their cultural context. We will learn to live as they live. In the last 9 years, we haven’t seen lasting results from “training”. Those that we have “trained” to plant churches, “trained” to make disciples, or “trained” how to do an evangelistic study or “trained” how to witness... using the Bible but also using training materials: bible studies”, books, and training methods…unfortuately these people have gotten discouraged and quit. Because it was a method and/or a program to them. It wasn’t a lifestyle.It wasn't organic as Les said.
Fortunately, there are those people who we have not “trained” but we have walked with now for 8 years... spending time with them day in and day out being an incarnational witness among them. Have we made mistakes…you bet we have…and trust me..they always let us know about..this is where accountability and then forgiveness come in. We have only used the Bible with them. They are growing in their walk with Christ. They gather together to worship in the simplest form…singing, praying, reading the word, encouraging one another And they too are walking with people…family, friends, co-workers making disciples using only the Bible. These are the ones who haven’t quit. They are being an incarnational witness among the people.. Isn’t this what we are called to be.. incarnational witnesses and to do that we must live with them, walk with them.. Disciples making disciples. ..as we are going. We think that we can reach more people faster if we train 10-12 people “how to do it”. But this is not making disciples. This is not what Jesus did . As far as I know, Jesus never did “trainings” like we do now ie…teaching people “how to plant a church”, “how to make disciples” or “how to lead a bible study”. He invested his time day in and day out walking with people. He didn’t tell them how to do it…He walked with them doing it with them as they went. If Jesus, himself, couldn’t just “train them to make disciples, how in the world do we think that we can do this. It is more than doing what we call, “trainings” where we just spend 2-5 hours with them once a week in a meeting teaching them how or what to do it and then tell them to go out and do it. We need to follow Jesus’ example. Disciples making disciples as we are going. Matthew 28:18-20…Loving God with all of our hearts, with of our soul, and with all of our strength (Deut. 6:5).
Guy, Thanks so much!

Blessings,
Teresa Allen
email: danielallen@globo.com

GuyMuse said...

Les and Teresa,

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. We are still on the road and the internet connection here is very bad and sporadic. Will try to give you an answer Teresa when we get back. You bring up some excellent points!

GuyMuse said...

Teresa,

Sorry for the long delay in getting back with you. I hear what you are saying and confess that much of what you share above is very true and the same kinds of thoughts we have had over the years.

Recently I wrote on the "Church Planting Forum" the following in response to what one your Brazilian IMBers had written. I felt it a bit strong at the time, but still stick to what I wrote back then...

Beginning with my own missionary parents, all of those who have helped define for me the "missionary ideal" have been relational, incarnational, and truly missional people--long before relational and missional became missionary buzz words!

They were loved and respected, not so much for their gifts and abilities, but for the way they related over the years to the nationals. They were friends and enjoyed being with the people, spending a lot of time, in what we would today call, informal discipleship.

Sorry if I step on any toes here, but I have yet to run across an active missionary serving today that I personally know, that--in my mind--captures the true missionary spirit of relational, incarnational, and missional as well as my own mom and dad.

What I see today in myself and other fellow M's is more "event" and "task focused" ministry. We don't spend the amount of time relating, or living amongst the people like those who preceded us. We tend to block off a few hours when we will "engage" or "be with" the nationals. Once we have done our missionary task, we retreat back into our own private worlds to live our "real lives."

The "real lives" of my parents were truly spent amongst the people whom they lived and served. If I am honest, my own "real life" is a lot further removed from the "real lives" of the nationals amongst whom we have come to serve. We know it, they know it. We are hermanos en Cristo to the nationals, but not real hermanos in the truest sense of the word. The whole incarnational example of Christ gets reduced to the few hours a week when we leave our comfort zones, do our missionary thing, and then, as quickly as possible, get back home and wash our hands with anti-bacterial soap.


All the above to say, keep wrestling with these issues, and know that you are not alone with your questions!