Tuesday, November 30

What is truth?

Pilate asks Jesus, "What is truth?"

Truth might be likened to a house.

We start by getting to know the house by entering through the main door into the foyer. Here we admire the prints on the walls, hang our coat on the rack, and wipe our feet on the door mat.

Just about the time we think we have figured out the house based on our experience and observations of the foyer, our host leads us into the living room. There we discover even more wonders as we sit in the soft chairs, walk on the plush carpet, and admire the flower arrangements on the coffee table and mantel.

With our visit to the living room we are even more sure we know and understand what the house is all about. We begin to tell our friends about all we have seen and experienced based on the foyer and living room.

One of our friends mentions liking the fried chicken and mashed potatoes he had enjoyed in the dining room.

Fried chicken? Mashed potatoes? Dining room? For one not yet introduced to the dining room and kitchen areas of the house, this sounds suspect from our foyer/living room point of view.

I begin to deny the "truth" of my friends fried chicken experience. I lovingly try to correct him in his error and restore him to the FULL TRUTH as was revealed to me in the foyer and living room parts of the house.

While maybe a flawed illustration of how we understand truth, it does reveal how many of us interpret truth based upon our experience of a portion of the whole.

Back 20 years ago, as a new missionary to Guayaquil, a national friend invited a bunch of us over for a Sunday evening parillada (Bar-B-Que). I was horrified and disappointed that the invitation was for a Sunday evening at 7:00pm. Why? That, of course, was the same time as the Sunday evening church service. What would God think of us having a parillada when we all should be sitting in church? Sunday was the Lord's Day, not a day for parilladas and friends.

I remember sitting in church that Sunday evening totally convinced that I was right and my worldly brothers were wrong for going ahead with the parillada. I had understood the truth of church through my limited exposure as something I had learned in the "foyer." Since the kitchen, patio, and Bar-b-que grill portions had not yet been revealed to me, I was quite certain that my paradigm of church was right, and that my unspiritual brothers were quite immature in their worldly ways. It was up to me to correct their "dining room theology" with my "foyer theology".

Isn't truth an ever-deepening revelation as we allow the Lord to lead us further into his "house of truth?" Just when we think we have finally discovered the truth of one of God's mysteries, He leads us through a new door into another room of the house, revealing yet more wonders which add to our understanding of that truth.

It seems to me a lot of arguing and divisiveness--especially amongst fellow believers--is that we argue our case for truth out of our limited exposure to only a portion of the whole truth. Those who have journeyed through only the foyer and living room think those enjoying fried chicken in the dining room are way out of bounds.

But could it be that the riches of Christ Jesus, the author of all truth, go so much deeper than most of us have experienced to date?

What do your think?

Friday, November 26

The Gifted Teacher (by Neil Cole)

The Gifted Teacher
By Neil Cole

Getting the message right is only a quarter of the task for the teacher. Communicating the message so that others understand the content only brings the teacher to half of his or her role. Seeing the content applied well in the listener’s context is another 25% of the task of the teacher. Yet this only brings the teacher to 75% fulfillment of the task. 75% on an exam is barely passing, and certainly not a success. How can a teacher get to 100%? The only way a teacher can fulfill one hundred percent of the call of the teacher is by releasing the learners to fulfill the task of the teacher themselves with other people!

When you are starting to pass the content on to others is when you have learned the content on its fullest level. To teach others best you must see the process through until the learners become the teachers.

I used to think that a great teaching gift was actually a bottleneck to multiplication. When a truly gifted thinker and communicator is at work people want to stay and listen and rarely feel that they can do it themselves…and reproduction ends. At one point in my own ministry I was tempted to dumb down my teaching for the sake of reproduction, but that is tantamount to being ungrateful for Christ’s gifts and neglectful stewardship of His blessings. So how do we allow for great teachers and still have reproduction?

The gifted teacher is called to equip the saints for the work of ministry, not to do it for them. A true teacher is not simply to teach the saints, but to equip the saints to teach. Are all saints to teach? Yes, they are to teach disciples to obey all that Jesus has commanded them. We need teachers, but we need teachers that will truly fulfill their complete call. We should not settle for teachers that only go half-way any longer. If you are a teacher do not be content to fulfill only a portion of your task.

We need to redefine what it means to teach. It is not simply passing on content to others. I prefer to see teaching this way: facilitating the learning of others so that they know, do and pass on to others the relevant and meaningful truth.

We in the Western church are educated beyond our obedience and more education is not the solution, we need more obedience. A couple of suggestions for the teachers out there:

1. Never teach a second lesson until the first one is done.
2. A lesson is not done until it is being passed on to another.

What would the kingdom of God look like if we had more teachers like this?

All of us who have fulfilled the role of teacher are aware that we learn so much more by teaching than we ever did by being taught. In fact, one of the most frustrating realities of teaching is that you are not able to convey to the people all that you have been able to learn studying for the process. There is good reason for this. It is God’s design for teachers to teach people to become teachers, for then they will learn the truths of God’s word on much deeper levels.

This pedagogy has many benefits…

* The people learn the truth on a far deeper level.
* The people understand the truth, not just remember it.
* The people are held to greater accountability to practice the truth they learned.
* The people own the message, not just know it.
* The people spread the core message to others, who in turn learn to own it and spread it themselves and the kingdom multiplies into a movement.

When you take a test you reveal what you remember from someone’s teaching. When you practice what you have heard you demonstrate that your will is involved in the learning process and you are learning beyond a cognitive level. When you start to teach the subject to others you engage the lessons on a far deeper level and you have to reconcile the logic behind the facts, and not just remember the facts themselves.

When you pass on the lessons to others you demonstrate a greater level of ownership. Isn’t that what we want? We do not want people who merely know facts about the Gospel, but apply them and then own them in the depth of their soul. We do not want only an audience, or even practitioners…we want agents of the Gospel. Change is not enough, we want change agents.

We have developed a learning system for systematic theology based upon this type of thinking. It is a one year learning process for proven leaders where they learn theology in a small community by teaching it in a highly reproducible manner. It is called TruthQuest and is available on the CMA website. TruthQuest will not teach you what to think but how to think. The participants may not come out thinking the same as you, but they will come out able to think for themselves. I for one value that even more than simply agreeing with me.

Let’s see the teachers as catalysts for multiplication rather than a bottleneck for it!

©2010 Neil Cole

Wednesday, November 24

Do it anyway

A while back our family read aloud in family devotions, Kent Keith's Do It Anyway. For many years now these ten paradoxical commandments have impacted people all over the world.

The Paradoxical Commandments

by Dr. Kent M. Keith

1. People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway.

2. If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway.

3. If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.

4. The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.

5. Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.

6. The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds. Think big anyway.

7. People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs. Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

8. What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build it anyway.

9. People really need help but may attack you if you do help them. Help people anyway.

10. Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway.

© Copyright Kent M. Keith 1968, renewed 2001

Sunday, November 21

Lessons the Spirit taught me through his servant Luis

Luis had faithfully attended the training sessions for church planting. He lived across the river from Guayaquil in the neighboring city of Durán. In his local community, everyone knew the friendly Luis who operated a small business out of his home selling eggs, TP, bananas, rice, batteries, and other daily necessities.

Well into the training, Luis invited me to visit the Saturday evening gathering of friends, family, and neighbors.

I arrived about 15-minutes before the meeting was scheduled to begin. Luis was thrilled I had come and wrongly assumed I would be leading the meeting,

"It is so good that you have come, Bro. Guido, you can lead the meeting tonight..."

"No, Bro. Luis, I have come as a visitor and look forward to the blessing God has in store for us tonight. Besides, as your teacher, I'd like to see how some of the things we are practicing in class are working out for you with your new group."

"But what should I do?" he asked with a confused look on his face.

"Do it just like we practiced in the classroom this past week. Pick one of the ice breakers to loosen people up. Lead them in singing 2-3 songs that relate to the Bible Study. Talk about the message of the songs. Facilitate the Bible Study #4 making sure all participate. Close with a time of ministry praying for the various needs. Finish up serving refreshments and visiting with everyone...just like we practiced and talked about in class earlier this week."

Luis smiled and said, "Oh yeah, now I remember. No hay problema (no problem.) Let's do it. Are you ready to go?"

We walked across the street and entered a small room crowded already with some fifteen adults and a bunch of kids running in and out. There were 3-4 other believers present, but the rest were all people who Luis knew and had been visiting during the preceding days.

After greeting everyone, Luis's wife Rosa passed out songbooks and then led everyone in singing a couple of their favorites. I was a bit peeved that Luis had jumped straight to the songs instead of employing a fun icebreaker to ease the tension of those in the room who didn't know one another.

Not only did Luis skip the icebreaker, but he let Rosa choose songs that had no connection whatsoever with the 4th lesson. Then, instead of doing lesson #4, Luis flipped randomly through the pages of his Bible looking for some familiar passage, and proceeded to read out loud a few verses from one of the Gospels. Internally, I was totally frustrated with Luis that instead of following the simple meeting outline as he had been trained to do, he was just "winging it." If I were grading him, he certainly had earned an "F" by this time.

Luis then proceeded to share an "off-the-cuff" choppy commentary on what he had just read. Where was the group participation that we stressed so highly in training? My blood pressure was rising by the minute.

Suddenly, one of the visiting women stood and interrupted Luis's "sermon." She had tears in her eyes. I nearly fell off my chair when she began speaking...

"This is the first time in my life that the Gospel has been presented to me in such a clear and simple way. I truly understand now what Jesus did for me and I want to declare my allegiance to Him. What do I need to do to be saved?"

Luis walked over to the woman, smiled real big, and gave her a huge abrazo (hug.)

Then, out of Luis's mouth flowed the clearest presentation of the Gospel I had ever heard. The handful of believers present gathered around and led her in a prayer of repentance. When the "Amen" was said, everyone clapped. One by one everyone stood in line to abrazar and congratulate the their new sister in Christ. Even before everyone had finished hugging, someone picked up an out-of-tune cracked guitar and next thing I knew everyone was singing! Spontaneous prayers, testimonies, and more singing followed. As prayer requests were made, everyone would gather around the person and pray over them. In the middle of everything else going on, someone brought in mangoes to suck on. Soon it was hard to tell if we were still "in church" or had moved into the "social time."

And where was I during all this?

Sitting in the corner picking myself off the floor from the lessons the Holy Spirit was teaching me--the novice--about His ways not being our ways, and His thoughts not our thoughts.

That outreach group soon became a church and continued to do everything just about as opposite as possible from everything we were teaching. But out of that seemingly "chaotic mess" dozens of people were saved, baptized, and a local ekklesia was birthed.

The "rest of the story" of that church plant could be written up as a book, but suffice it to say, I learned several big lessons that evening.

1) Locals know their people better than the outside "experts."

2) People do not come to Christ by our methodologies (however good we think they may be.)

3) The importance of love and relationships developed with those one is trying to reach (Luis was a "10" on a scale of ten on this one.)

4) It is much easier gathering people (not-yet-believers) who live close by and presenting the Gospel to them all at once, than winning a bunch of individuals separately and then trying to gather them all in one place.

5) A simple atmosphere of warmth, acceptance, and informality is more appealing to those we are trying to reach with the Gospel than a programmed formal church service.

6) As good as our way of doing things might be, His way is better.

7) What works with one group may not work equally well with another group. In other words, one size does not fit all.

Any of these lessons resonate with your own experience? What are some of the lessons the Holy Spirit has been teaching you of late?

Friday, November 19

El Padre Nuestro

No digas PADRE
Si cada día no te portas como su hijo.

No digas NUESTRO
Si vives aislado en tu egoísmo.

Si sólo piensas en las cosas terrenales.

Si no lo honras.

Si lo confundes con el éxito material.

Si no estás dispuesto a aceptarla aún cuando sea dolorosa.

Si, teniendo, no te preocupas por el hambriento.

Si le guardas rencor al prójimo.

Si tienes intención de seguir pecando.

Si no tomas parte activa contra el mal.

No digas AMÉN
Si ni siquiera has tomado en serio las palabras...


Visto originalmente aquí. "Jesus sketch" cortesia de Kiki Cherry.

Wednesday, November 17

The best way to start a church? Start a church.

Back in the mid-70's, while getting a music degree from the University of North Texas, I was active in our local church choir at Grace Temple Baptist Church. Terry Fansler was an extraordinary church musician. But what I remember most from Terry was his often repeated refrain, "the best way to have a great choir is to have a great choir." Words I have never forgotten.

These can be applied to just about any worthwhile endeavor, including church planting.

The best way to share the Gospel? Share the Gospel.
The best way to make disciples? Make disciples.
The best way to start a church? Start a church.

Our failure to obey the commands of Christ (and here I am speaking more personally of myself and our team's ministry) is rooted in our thinking if we can just somehow get people together in a room and tell them how to do something, they will do it.


Personally, I think we have some of the best contextualized church planting materials and methodology being used in Latin America. But the "best" means nothing unless implemented. What is missing?


Desire may be there, but if there is no real intention of going out and planting a church, a church will not be planted.

I may desire to lose 20 lbs. Believe I need to lose 20 lbs. Feel convicted about losing 20 lbs. Pray about losing 20 lbs. But I will never lose 20 lbs. until I actually start by losing those first few pounds on my way to losing 20 lbs.! You have to do it, to do it.

Well meaning believers flock to our trainings throughout the year. But the truth of the matter is that very few really intend to actually plant a church. It doesn't matter how good the trainers are, how wonderful the materials are, or how much one might affirm or believe what is being taught. IF THEY DO NOT PERSONALLY INTEND ON BEING AN INSTRUMENT IN THE LORD'S HANDS TO PLANT A CHURCH, THEY WILL NOT PLANT A CHURCH.

So, where do we go from here?

In our case, we will train anyone for ONE MONTH. Just long enough to expose them to the concepts of Jesus' Luke 10 methodology, start them praying for their lost friends/family, help them identify men of peace, begin to love/serve/minister those they are seeking to reach, teach basic evangelism/discipleship tools, etc.

But after one month, it is DECISION MAKING TIME. Do it now, or don't come back. The only way to plant a church is to get out there and intentionally plant a church. Those who do start at least what we initially call an outreach group), we will continue to train/mentor/coach. Those who don't? Well, Dios te bendiga...it has been fun...see ya around...thanks for your time...chao (good-bye!)

Does this sound too harsh? Un-Christlike? Too much like the business world? How did Jesus respond to the undecided, wavering, excuse-making disciples in Luke 9:57-62?

As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, "I will follow You wherever You go." And Jesus said to him, "The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head." [that guy never appears again in the pages of the NT] And He said to another, "Follow Me." But he said, "Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father." But He said to him, "Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God." [Jesus leaves this guy standing by the road and moves on] Another also said, "I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home." But Jesus said to him, "No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." [Not fit? Sounds pretty harsh and to-the-point to me. I don't think Jesus was able to use this guy either!]

What do you think about these things? What has been your experience in training church planters? If you have personally experienced a better way to start churches (not something you might have read in a book, but something you have actually done and it works), THEN PLEASE SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH US. We would love to hear your thoughts.

Sunday, November 14

The future of missions organizations

The future of denominational/institutional missions organizations is something that is clearly being redefined. As a missionary serving in one of the largest denominational missions organizations (IMB), I can attest to the urgent need that organizations change to meet the challenge of a changing world. The question becomes, though, how do we do this? What needs to be done to stay on the cutting edge of global missions today?

Bob Roberts, Jr. shares his thoughts on what this needs to look like...

There has never been a time, or as conducive an environment, for mission agencies and institutions to engage the world like there is today. If it happens, mission agencies and institutions are going to have to:

1. See themselves as connectors of the whole body of Christ to the whole world.

2. Release control or lose any control at all because people aren't going to sit around and wait.

3. Train not just local culture and practices to a missionary, but global culture and practices.

4. Redefine how missionaries work, what they do and how they operate.

5. Be a revolving door not just of sending western missionaries but of "global" missionaries from every society.

6. Be a receiving entity for missionaries coming to America who feel called to work here [in the USA]...

7. Value local churches and laymen beyond just seeing them as cows to milk for their institution (I'm convinced the key to raising funds is not asking for money but partnering and doing things together--there will be more money than they could ever imagine.)

8. View themselves not as funders of people who want to be vocational missionaries, but partner "gospel seed planters" of the kingdom throughout the world...People are going to work with people that are willing to work together and ignore those who aren't willing to partner. The days of a huge bureaucracy telling a church that is funding it what it can and can't do are numbered. Getting a bunch of young guys in a room and telling them "we want to hear from you" won't cut it. Getting a bunch of youngsters with a radical "newlight" missionary--saying there's a city, now take it, and the skies the limit. You empower them all, you infuse enthusiasm, and you learn from one another...

What do you see as the future of missions organizations like the Southern Baptist International Mission Board, SIM, YWAM, CCC, etc. as we know them today?

Thursday, November 11

Victor Choudhrie's 21 steps to transit from being a barren church to a millionaire of souls (Part 2 of 2)

--21 Steps to transit from being a barren church to a millionaire of souls--
(Part 2 of 2)
by *Victor Choudhrie, 2010

11. Challenge purposeless churches to enunciate a clear vision and a road map to translate that vision into action plan to ‘do greater things than these’. Armed with maps, stats and the Great Commission, go two by two and teach divine arithmetic of planting just one multiplying church every month and in ten short months, even the least shall plant a thousand meta churches. John 14:12; Acts 16:5; Luke 10:1, 2; Isa 60:22

12. Unglue from the pews all those Christians who sit, soak and stagnate and send them to heal the sick, raise the dead, tread on snakes and scorpions (expel demons), bind the ‘strongman’, plunder his possessions and demolish the gates of Hell. Matt 11:12; 12:29; 16:18,19; Mark 16:17-18; Luke 10:19

13. Resurrect from being a dead organization to a living organism. Eliminate all extra-biblical cosmetic titles like Director, Chairman, CEO, and Secretary, by appointing five-fold ministry-gifted Elders, like apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers, as equippers. By feeding, leading and keeping the flock healthy and reproductive, they must reach those who are outside the fold. Eph. 4:11; Tit.1:5-9; John 10:16

14. Empower every Sunday school, bible school, prayer cell, women’s fellowship, and cottage meeting, by calling them full-fledged, authentic churches. They must make disciples who baptize, break bread, equip laborers and send missionaries and like the school of Tyrannus, change spiritual demography. 1 Cor. 16:19; Col. 4:15; Acts 19:8-12

15. Filter out selfish-goat church members who come only for hatching (baby baptism), matching (wedding) and dispatching (funeral), and replace them with sheep who take care of the hungry, thirsty, naked, strangers, sick and prisoners. Culling the non-productive barren sheep is a very important principle of sheep rearing. God chose David to shepherd Israel because he took care of “ewes great with young”. Matt. 25:31-46; Psalm 78:70-72

16. Simplify disciple making. Get a Bible and invite a couple of truth-seekers for a meal where the main dish is - The Lamb. Redefine authentic church as wherever two or three friends meet to eat, gossip the gospel, and to multiply. Meta church is the most cost effective strategy for city penetration and reaching the ends of the earth. Acts 2:46-47

17. Substitute seminary training by sharing the whole wisdom of God from house to house. Sound doctrine is the ability to convince those who oppose. The lost of this world do not need scholars as much as they need spiritual fathers and mothers who bring many spiritual sons and daughters to glory. Acts 20:20, 27; Tit. 1:9; 1Cor. 4:15; 2Tim. 2:2; Heb 2:10

18. Reorient your own personal paradigm. Your business, workplace or home, wherever you spend most of your time, is your ‘primary nuclear church’. It matters little whether you are the CEO, or the janitor or the kitchen queen, you are a full-time minister there and accountable. Adam and Eve were accountable for the Garden of Eden and failed.

19. Recognize ‘Hi, there,’ ‘Hello,’ handshaking, Sunday church as your ‘secondary optional church’. A church that does not send you out to ‘raise your holy hands to pray everywhere’ and equip you to make Christ ‘high and lifted up’ in your home, workplace and neighborhood is not worth going to. 1 Tim. 2:8; Isa. 6:1

20. Re-set your priorities to preach Christ where He has not been named. For this you do not have to go to church from Sunday to Sunday nor work from paycheck to paycheck. You are “ordained” to be fruitful, to multiply, and to fill your home/workplace/neighborhood and the city with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. Matt. 6:33; Rom. 15:20; John 15:16; Gen. 1:28; Hab. 2:14

21. Adopt a ‘completion mindset’. Evaluate your ministry with the Great Commission as the mandate with the number of disciples made, baptized, equipped and sent out, as benchmarks. Aim to be a millionaire of souls. Why not? After all, you claim to believe in a great and awesome God for whom nothing is impossible. At the very least, like Peter, shoot for 3000 baptisms by every Pentecost. Or like Paul, plant a multiplying church every day and claim that there are no more places left here for me to ‘fully preach the gospel’, not just with words, ‘but with signs and mighty deeds’. Acts 2:41; 16:5; Rom. 15:19, 23.

*Victor Choudhrie is a cancer surgeon by profession. He is a Senior Fellow of the American and British Colleges of Surgeons. He left his position as Director and CEO of the Christian Medical college, Ludhiana, Punjab, India, in 1992, to take up a full-time Church planting ministry in central India. His wife, Bindu, is also in a full-time church planting ministry, equipping women to be house-church leaders and trainers. They now have disciples making disciples in some forty countries. Theirs is presently amongst the fastest growing movements deploying volunteers with no paid workers in the field. God has blessed this ministry abundantly. In the year from Pentecost 2009 to Pentecost 2010, over one million underwent a ‘holy dip’ through their ministry partners. Large numbers of grassroots level leaders have been trained, who, subsequently, have planted tens of thousands of house churches across India and abroad.

Books written by Victor Choudhrie include: The Ekklesia, the Church in your House; The Apostolic Gardens; The Prayer Warrior; Teaching Cards and From Mega Church to Meta (Beyond) Church soon to be published. Electronic copies are available on payment of US $10 via PayPal: vchoudhrie@gmail.com

Tuesday, November 9

Victor Choudhrie's 21 steps to transit from being a barren church to a millionaire of souls (Part 1 of 2)

*Victor Choudhrie's 21 steps might sound like something coming from some fringe extremists. But when you realize that from Pentecost 2009 to Pentecost 2010 we are talking about ministry resulting in over one million people baptized and tens of thousands of house churches planted, these guys have my attention. What other ministry anywhere in the world even comes close to a tenth of what these Jesus radicals are experiencing today in India?

--21 Steps to transit from being a barren church to a millionaire of souls--
(Part 1 of 2)
by Victor Choudhrie, 2010

1. Rewrite the job description of professional clergy from a pulpit orator, sacrament dispenser and tithe gatherer to a shepherd who feeds his flock to be healthy and reproducing by encouraging them to practice priesthood of all believers with authority to baptize, break bread and equip fishers of men. He must model a flat church structure where brothers and sisters submit to one another, pray one for another, serve one another, exhort, forgive and love each other. John 13:34, 35; Matt.18:21-22; Eph. 5:21

2. Move from meeting in temples to gathering in ‘houses of peace’. ‘God does not dwell in temples made by human hands’; rather He dwells in human hearts. For we are the mobile walking and talking temples of the living God, with a maximum of organism and a minimum of organization. Luke 10:5-9; Matt. 10:11-13; Acts 7:48-49; 2 Cor. 6:16

3. Phase out programmed Sunday ‘services’ while implementing informal, small gatherings. The Bride of Christ must have intimacy with her Lord every day, not only for a couple of hours a week, lest she become unfaithful. However, discourage cross-gender disciple-making, lest chemistry foul things up. Acts 2:46-47; Hebrew 3:13

4. Replace Mosaic tithing with Christian sharing, thereby harnessing the enormous, financial resources, hospitality and goodwill available in Christian homes. Believe that God is going to work a work among the nations through you which will leave you utterly amazed, and also provide resources for it. Deut. 8:17-18; Acts 5:32-34; Hab. 1:5

5. Dispense with wafer-and-sip Holy Communion services, and promote breaking of bread with simple Agape meals (love feasts) from house to house that believers take together with glad hearts, so the Lord can add to His numbers daily. Acts 2:46,47; 1 Cor.11:20-23

6. Replace professional music with believers speaking to each other in psalms and spiritual songs, making melody in their hearts to the Lord. OT worship required the sacrifice of four-footed beasts, the NT celebrates by offering two legged Gentiles as a living sacrifice. The meta church is a discipling hub and not a singing club. Eph 5:19; Col 3:16; Rom. 15:16

7. Shift from spectator-oriented church to ‘metastasizing’ interactive, participatory, prophetic church. Empower men, women and youth, to get the dragon off the driver’s seat. We, the seed of Abraham are blessed, “with multiplying I will multiply you and your seed will possess the gates of the enemy”.  
1 Cor.14:26-31; Acts 13:13;18:4; Gen. 22:17,18

8. For powerful synergy, metamorphose mega churches into city, regional and national, networks of ‘meta’ (beyond) churches. Instead of bringing everyone under one roof, have them gather under thousand roofs, just like the mega church at Jerusalem planted meta churches across Judea, Samaria, Antioch, Corinth, Rome and beyond (meta) that grew in faith and in numbers (both quality and quantity) daily. Romans 16:3-15; Acts 1:8; 16:5

9. Infect barren Bride with the multiplication virus. A healthy mature female (Bride) implies that she is ready to have babies. Rebecca the Bride of Isaac was blessed by her family to have millions of children. The time has come for the Bride of Christ to stretch her tent to the left and to the right and to the north and to the south and produce millions of meta churches and fill the earth. Gen. 24:60; Isa. 54:1-5; Acts 1: 8

10. Know your identity in Christ: you are a royal-priest; made so by the blood of the Lamb. Dismantle ‘Reverend’ culture that divides clergy from layman. Like Melchizedek, the royal-priest of Salem (city of peace), who served bread and wine, took tithe and blessed Abraham, bring godly governance to your city. Catch the vision of cloning royal-priests for every city and run with it. 1Pet.2:9; Rev.5:10; Hab.2:1-3; Isa. 9:6-7; Gen. 14:18

*Victor Choudhrie is a cancer surgeon by profession. He is a Senior Fellow of the American and British Colleges of Surgeons. He left his position as Director and CEO of the Christian Medical college, Ludhiana, Punjab, India, in 1992, to take up a full-time Church planting ministry in central India. His wife, Bindu, is also in a full-time church planting ministry, equipping women to be house-church leaders and trainers. They now have disciples making disciples in some forty countries. Theirs is presently amongst the fastest growing movements deploying volunteers with no paid workers in the field. God has blessed this ministry abundantly. In the year from Pentecost 2009 to Pentecost 2010, over one million underwent a ‘holy dip’ through their ministry partners. Large numbers of grassroots level leaders have been trained, who, subsequently, have planted tens of thousands of house churches across India and abroad.

Books written by Victor Choudhrie include: The Ekklesia, the Church in your House; The Apostolic Gardens; The Prayer Warrior; Teaching Cards and From Mega Church to Meta (Beyond) Church soon to be published. Electronic copies are available on payment of US $10 via PayPal: vchoudhrie@gmail.com

Sunday, November 7

Locksmith or fireman: Understanding the primary missonary task

A few weeks ago I blogged Is there still a need for missionaries in the major cities of Latin America? Esteban, a fellow missionary commenting on the post contends, "Mobilization and connecting may be a part of that task but they are NOT the primary M task...Biblically the M task is the zero to one stuff of entering new communities, making new disciples and starting new NT groups where previously there were very few or no believers or NT groups."

He goes on to quote Ralph D. Winter who likens the missionary task to that of a locksmith, "Here is one way to look at it: Anyone can open a door and walk through it, but only a locksmith can deal with a locked door. Missions is "locksmithing" new groups. Once the lock is open (a very special skill), expanding the number of churches is by comparison a relatively simple task." (p.5 of the November-December 2002 issue of Missions Frontiers.)

So, is the primary task of missionaries today to "locksmith" new groups?

A few days prior to this post, Ron, a visiting missionary from Guatemala, helped us in a camp for missions mobilizers and described the missionary task/role this way,

"If there is a big fire needing to be put out, is it the wisest thing for the fireman to try to put it out himself, or would he be more effective to awaken 100 other firemen to come help him?"

For Ron, the missionary is primarily a fireman who awakens other firemen, who by working together, are better able to put out the fire than the fireman trying to do so by himself.

Both analogies are true and illustrate some of the tension going on in missionary circles these days about the evolving role of the 21st century missionary. Today missionaries are as likely to be referred to as either a mobilizer or a connector, as they are a church planter.

If the missionary task has evolved into something akin to "locksmithing new groups" and firemen awakening other firemen to put out the fire, then who is it that is supposed to actually carry out the task of making disciples of the nations?

The Church.

All of us have been charged with the responsibility of making disciples of the nations. It is no longer the responsibility of a few called, special, chosen, gifted, self-denying individuals traditionally known as missionaries.

Locksmiths and firemen are both needed. Each are but part of "the church." While these are certainly highly specialized giftings (callings) they were never meant to be the sole workers in the harvest. If we are to reach the world with the Good News of Jesus, all of us will have to do a lot more than what is currently being done by the church today.

As David Platt says in his must-read book entitled, Radical
"Every saved person this side of heaven owes the gospel to every lost person this side of hell. We owe Christ to the world...We are in debt to the nations. Encompassed with this debt, though, in our contemporary approach to missions, we have subtly taken ourselves out from under the weight of a lost and dying world, wrung our hands in pious concern, and said, "I'm sorry I'm just not called to that"...But what if we don't need to sit back and wait for a call to foreign missions? What if the very reason we have breath is because we have been saved for a global mission? And what if anything less than passionate involvement in global mission is actually selling God short by frustrating the very purpose for which he created us?"
I am encouraged to see so many signs that the global Church of Jesus Christ is awakening to her Acts 1:8 calling and role to take the Gospel not only to our Jerusalems, but to our Judeas, Samarias, and yes, ends of the earth. This is indeed an exciting time to be a missionary locksmith, fireman, mobilizer, connector...whatever you want to call us!

Thursday, November 4

Rejecting those forms of evangelism that brought us to faith

Frank Viola recently dared to challenge some of the common held beliefs about evangelism with his controversial post Rethinking Evangelism.

My purpose is not to rehash Frank's words in this post. I chose to express my own thoughts as one of the 128 comments which the post has generated to date (see comments #15-18.)

What I think needs to be said about evangelism is simply this: just about any kind of intentional evangelism is better than no evangelism at all.

It would seem that many of those who are most critical of certain kinds of evangelistic methods are the ones who are least involved in personally evangelizing others. To criticize the simplistic methods others are attempting without personally doing anything at all to win others to Christ seems a bit hypocritical.

I fully agree with another commenter on Frank's post Dan Kimbal (#27 down) who stated it this way:

I was at a NT Wright event recently and he said something to the sort, that today we often reject the very forms of evangelism that brought us to faith because we now see them as simplistic. Which they might have been true. But he then said maybe these simple forms are what God uses, as he knew people who stay in the faith for their lifetimes as a result. And it is almost becoming an excuse not to evangelize or to have reasons for not seeing new disciples, blaming for simplistic forms – and ironically, the very ones which God used often to bring us to a decision point for Jesus. It is fascinating to hear that such a large majority of us came to faith in Jesus through an altar call (like I believe you told me you did) or someone sharing with us directly about faith who did “evangelize” us. But now we say that isn’t right, but at the same time being in a local church we just baptized 15 people last week and listening to their stories they were “evangelized” as in proclaiming the good news from someone. Either a family member, or someone who was a friend or someone at the church took the time to explain and go out of their way with them. And I am so happy someone did with me. But all these stories has someone taking the effort and time to do so. It didn’t happen via osmosis without words, explanation also taking place intentionally.

In our own ministry we teach many different contextualized ways we believe are effective in sharing the Gospel with not-yet-believers. We expose trainees to six methods/tools for using in small group evangelism, four ways to evangelize in large groups, and ten tools for personal evangelism.

What we encourage is to use these as an evangelism TOOL BOX. Use the tool that is needed for the situation at hand. You don't want to use a hammer for every job. Sometimes a screw driver is needed, or a wrench, or a combination of various different tools. But all tools are useful in the right context.

I can't tell you how many people have come to Christ over the past decade of teaching these "simplistic" methods. The very ones reached with these "outmoded" methods are today using them to reach their own friends, neighbors, and family. These new believers are then taught to do the same.

As the previous blog entry video slide show of the 60 years of Baptist missionary presence in Ecuador reminded me; it is not so much about what methods were used to bring the Good News to Ecuador. What matters is that people did proclaim and continue to share the Gospel. Some methods are certainly more effective than others, but just about anything attempted is better than nothing at all.

Tuesday, November 2

60 Años de Obra Misionera Bautista en el Ecuador (1950-2010)

60 Años de Obra Misionera Bautista en el Ecuador (1950-2010) from Guy Muse on Vimeo.

60 years ago Baptists began working in Ecuador. This compilation of photos was shared this past weekend as part of the annual meeting of the Ecuador Baptist Convention meeting in Quito, Ecuador.

Thanks to Joiner, Jones, Muse, and Smith families for sharing their historic photos with us for this time of celebration of what God has done.