Why Nepal Has One Of The World’s Fastest-Growing Christian Populations

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NPR is trying to work out, Why Nepal Has One Of The World’s Fastest-Growing Christian Populations

Bishwa Mani Pokharel, news chief at Nepal’s Nagarik newspaper, pulls out copies of the census to show the statistical gallop of Christianity across Nepal. It listed no Christians in 1951 and just 458 in 1961. By 2001, there were nearly 102,000. A decade later that number had more than tripled to more than 375,000. Pokharel and others think the increase is really much higher but inaccurately reported.

“Before, when the Christians had a party, they slaughtered a chicken. Now, they slaughter a goat,” says Pokharel, who has been reporting on the conversions. That extra meat, he explains, is necessary to feed all of the new people who’ve joined the guest list.

Churches now mushroom throughout the Kathmandu Valley and across the terraced hills. Proselytizing remains illegal, but with political instability and weak law enforcement, that doesn’t stop it from happening.

The article focuses on what you can see above the surface. What they don’t see is that this is a grass root movement of multiplying disciples and churches. 

UPDATE: If you want to know what’s happening under the surface in Nepal, have a listen to any of the podcasts by Nathan Shank.

Multiplication Training with Jeff Sundell and friends UPDATED

Jeff Sundell teaching

Jeff Sundell is hitting the road in 2016. 

If you want to learn how multiply disciples and churches get to one of these in 2016.

UPDATE: More options for mostly US based training do whatever you can to get to one this year.

David Watson in Melbourne — April 2016

David Watson Australia 2016

David Watson, movement catalyst and author of Contagious Disciple Making will be training in Melbourne: April 4-8, 2016.

My interview with David on Contagious Disciple Making.

Praxeis is hosting and taking registrations. (I like their new look website!).

UPDATE

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Dave Lawton, seen here conducting the Praxeis Choir in the Hallelujah Chorus, has a blog.

Lessons from the Primitive Methodists — Dave Price

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I’m always on the look out for case studies of dynamic movements.

In this episode, I talk to Dave Price’s blog, researcher and author of Turning the World Upside Down: Learning from The Primitive Methodist Movement.

Play

How to keep the birds out of your beard

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Temptations of course cannot be avoided, but because we cannot prevent the birds from flying over our heads, there is no need that we should let them nest in our hair.

Martin Luther

I received news this week of another Christian leader stood down for sexual sin. You don’t need the details.

If I was running a seminary I’d mandate one year Bible and theology, one year ministry training and one year on how not to commit adultery.

I’m now a grandfather approaching sixty. Here’s what I’ve learned along the way about faithfulness to the woman I love and the Lord I serve.

1. Nobody is safe

Seminary professors, denominational leaders, pastors of megachurches, missionaries and pastors, New Testament scholars, youth leaders, worship leaders, church planters, evangelists and counsellors, evangelicals, progressives, Spirit-filled Pentecostals, incarnated missional, organic house church leaders — I’ve known leaders of every variety to fall into sexual sin.

Last November I became a grandfather. This year I turn sixty. I’ve seen it all. Here’s what I’ve learned about staying out of trouble. Fear God. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. I take Jesus seriously when he says it’s better to enter heaven missing an eye or a hand than give into temptation. I pray for the fear of God every time I’m tempted.

God is gracious and forgiving, but there is a high price to pay for infidelity.

2. Forget morals, focus on ethics

It was late in the afternoon and everyone had left the office. Pastor “Harry” was in his office trying to stay awake while counselling a lady from his congregation. When it was time to finish they stood and she hugged him. It wasn’t one of those side-on hugs, it was an embrace. The moral question is what should Harry do next?

Harry would not be facing that question if he had dealt with the ethical question which was, Should Harry be counselling a woman alone in his office after everyone else had gone home?

Ethics are the safety fence at the top of the cliff. Protect yourself.

3. See them as family

Paul told Timothy to treat older women as mothers and younger women as sisters with absolute purity (1 Tim 5:2). Next time you feel attracted to someone you’re not married to, think of them as family — mothers, sisters, daughters or fathers, brothers and sons. Reframe the relationship around family, not sex.

4. Open your heart to the right people

If you’re a young man I can’t see you beating sexual temptation without an accountability group with some brothers. In that group you share your needs, your temptations and you confess you sins to one another. Weekly is best, but don’t go more than a month without examining your heart in the presence of the right people. Don’t fight this alone.

5. Suffer gladly

Count the cost of following Jesus. There’s no promise that you will be sexually fulfilled. Deep needs may go unmet. You may experience loss and disappointment. Temptation feels irresistible.

What does Christ offer in exchange? Himself — now and forever. He’s worth it.

Following and Fishing in Farsi UPDATED

Following Fishing Farsi cover

For all my Persian brothers and sisters, a Farsi version of the Following and Fishing notes.

This is a revised edition.

The English version.

Movement Pioneers practice

 Practice makes disciples

What will it take to master the challenge of multiplying disciples and churches?

Nathan Shank keeps reminding me, to keep doing the right things day after day. That’s more important than looking at the scoreboard.

Or as Troy Cooper would say, “You’ve gotta do the reps.” Keep looking for people of peace, keep praying, keep sharing the gospel.

Do the right things every day.

Some wisdom from Anthony F Smith, a business writer:

People have paid me a lot of money over the years to answer the following question for them: How do I become a great Leader? I will often answer them with the following questions:

Q: How do you become a great parent?
A: Do great parenting, day in, day out, over a sustained period of time.

Q: How do you become a great consultant?
A: Do great consulting, day in, day out, etc.

So, how do you become a great Leader? You guessed it, do great Leadership, day in, day out, over a sustained period of time!

Malcolm Gladwell called it the 10,000 hour rule. To master any field of human endeavour, you need to get 10,000 hours of practice.

The best time to get that experience was ten years ago.The second best time is today.

Do something today. Pray for a need. Share your story. Help a new disciple identify the people they need to share with. Gather five people and start training them. Find a friend and go out and look for a person of peace.

Add your obedience to God’s promises.

Movement Pioneers practice Radical Candor

I sent the link to this presentation to one of my Yodas. It’s on Radical Candor.

My Yoda taught me that it’s a characteristic of teams that breakthrough in multiplying disciples and churches.

The team learns as members engage in the harvest and mobilise others. Then they get in the room and share what God is doing, and where they are stuck. They care enough about the outcome to be honest and open with each other.

Then they set new goals and back into the field. The team becomes a learning community.

Yoda told me,

I learned that style from military leadership no BS allowed and  truth goes both up and down.

Almost no religious organisations practice this which is why almost all implementers come from a secular background where they learned truth telling.

This is a business world presentation, so expect some colourful language.

Next dive into the Gospels with your team and ask, How did Jesus practice Radical Candor with the workers he trained?

UPDATE

A great comment from Yoda David in South Africa…

Steve

Basically, ‘speaking the truth in love.’ It’s a core value for us. Today we had an open and frank discussion about racism and how we offend one another across cultures.  It was raw, real and constructive. It takes time for a team to become a ‘safe space’ where this kind of conversation can take place.

David

Basically, ‘speaking the truth in love.’ It’s a core value for us. Today we had an open and frank discussion about racism and how we offend one another across cultures.  It was raw, real and constructive. It takes time for a team to become a ‘safe space’ where this kind of conversation can take place.

After 46 years Phil and Ruthann are still saying thanks

Phil RuthAnn Alessi

This just came in after yesterday’s post on who is qualified for ministry:

Steve

Yesterday I called the man who brought my wife and I to Jesus. I do this every year on our spiritual anniversary. He was a boat builder with a 10th grade education, but kept looking for people outside the church. . .and found us.

This week I met with Scotty who came to faith while in jail and eventually prison. Fifteen months ago he and his wife minister twice a week at the same dorm where he was incarcerated. Over 500 inmates have come to faith in the last 12 months. His resume is 27 pages long aka his rap sheet.

When it comes to movement, I’ll take a Scotty over a scholar any day. I am writing as one who taught church planting on a seminary level for five years, planted multiple churches, and provided leadership for church planting on a denominational level.

Phil Alessi

When criticism comes, remember where you belong

The man in the arena

Not everyone is a fan of multiplication movements. According to some church leaders and theological educators, movements lack depth.

By depth, they mean spiritual and theological maturity.

One critic claims (without evidence) that the vast majority of churches in multiplication movements are biblically illiterate and have abandoned the faith. The cause? Moving too fast. Appointing unqualified people to lead new churches.

If you’re committed to movements expect criticism.

One of the earliest attacks on the Christian movement came from Celsus, a second-century Greek philosopher, who alleged that Christianity was the faith of uneducated slaves, women and children. He complained it was spread from house to house “by wool workers, cobblers, laundry workers, and the most illiterate and bucolic yokels” who claimed that they alone knew the right way to live.

Augustus Toplady, author of “Rock of Ages,” accused John Wesley of

prostituting the ministerial function to the lowest and most il literate mechanics, persons of almost any class, but especially common soldiers, who pretended to be pregnant with a message from the Lord.

His advice for Wesley,

Let his cobblers keep to their stalls. Let his tinkers mend their vessels. Let his barbers con?ne themselves to their blocks and basons. Let his bakers stand to their kneading-troughs. Let his blacksmiths blow more suitable coals than those of controversy.

The backbone of the Baptist and Methodist expansion on the US Frontier were not salaried, educated men from the East. They came predominately from among ordinary folk. Their frontier preachers had little education, were poorly paid, spoke the language of the people and preached from the heart. The local preacher was likely to be a neighbor, friend, or relative of many of the people he served.

Meanwhile, nothing could convince the well-paid and well-educated mainline clergy to leave their comfortable parishes on the east coast for the challenge of reaching the wild west.

The decline of the Methodist movement began when their mobile circuit riders got down off their horses to become theologically educated parish clergy. The Baptist continued to expand led by unqualified men.

The religious experts of Jesus’ day despised the leaders of the Jesus movement as unqualified amateurs (Acts 4).

What did Jesus do? He stepped into the arena.

We know Jesus invested in the development of leaders. When he called his first disciples he gave them a command and a promise.

Come follow me and I will teach you to fish for people (Mark 1:17).

A disciple is a follower of Jesus. To follow is to recognize him as Lord through faith that is expressed in obedience. Jesus makes a promise to that person, he will teach them how to fish for people — how to make disciples who also follow Jesus and learn to fish.

The Jesus invested in people who responded to his call to follow him and learn to make disciples. The leaders he chose were not graduates from a theological institution, they were ordinary people who were willing to follow and learn.

He chose twelve apostles who he called to be with him. They became the foundation for a missionary movement.

How did he train them? He took them on the road. There were around 175 towns and villages in Galilee, Matthew tells us that Jesus visited all of them. That doesn’t include Jesus’ campaigns into Judea and Jerusalem and the occasional foray into Samaria.

Jesus was always on the move. As he went he trained. He taught them how to enter an unreached community and find a house of peace. He taught them how to pray for the sick. How to cast out demons. How to proclaim the gospel and call people to faith and repentance. He taught them how to teach using stories and memorable sayings. He taught them how to contend with opponents. He taught them how to communicate with both crowds and individuals.

This is what Jesus did. It’s how he grew leaders for a multiplying movement. This is how he built both depth and breadth while maintaining forward momentum.

The Twelve got a lot of Jesus’ time. But there were others. He sent out a wider group of 70 on mission. Luke tells us of a group of women who joined his mobile band on occasions. A much wider group of hundreds or thousands followed him but remained in their normal life setting.

Mary, Martha and Lazarus at Bethany are examples of that wider group. They were not called to follow him on the road. They had limited time with Jesus. What did he expect of them?

We know he rejected the Gerasean demoniac’s request to join Jesus’ missionary band. Instead, Jesus sent him home to the region of the Decapolis, ten pagan cities to the east of the Jordan river. His assignment was to proclaim what God had done for him throughout the ten cities.

What were his qualifications as a messenger? He had met Jesus, and he had a story to tell.

On another occasion, Jesus sent a Samaritan woman with a reputation for immorality as the first missionary into her town. The result? The whole town came out to meet Jesus and put their trust in him as the Savior of the World. How qualified was she? What did she know? She had a story to tell and a question to ask. Could this man who knows all about my past, yet offers me eternal life be the Messiah?

How long did Jesus stay at that village discipling these new believers? Just two days. Did he expect them to keep silent about their newfound faith or follow the example of the woman at the well?

After Pentecost Jesus’ followers circled back and planted churches in the same regions in which Jesus had ministered. What evidence we do have reveals that those missionaries did not settle down to pastor the new believers, but gathered the believers into churches, identified local leaders, moved on and circled back.

Jesus’ school of leadership took place in the context of real life, real ministry, really tough assignments. What he didn’t do was extract promising leaders and place them in a classroom. He took them on the road and trained head, hands and heart. He taught them to live as he lived, to pray as he prayed, to preach as he preached, to heal as he healed.

Peter and John were rejected by the religious experts of the day as “unqualified,” untrained amateurs whose distinguishing features were their boldness and that they had been with Jesus (Acts 4:13).

Jesus still calls unqualified people to follow him and learn to fish for people. He trains head, heart and hands just as he did with his early disciples. So when criticism comes, let it drive you back to the Scriptures and to the example of Jesus.

When criticism comes expect it. Ask what did Jesus do? What does that look like today? Then step back into the arena.