A simple and clear explanation of movements that multiply disciples and churches

Thanks to Mike for sending the link.

When it comes to training, what’s true north?

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As I mentioned, we’re learning a lot about training and mobilising in the short time we’ve been in the UK.

Here’s a few lessons that point to true north when it comes to training.

  1. Train just enough to get people started in the harvest.
  2. Don’t train in order to change people priorities. Train people who want to make disciples.
  3. The more people apply, the more training and input they receive.
  4. Let the stories of what God is doing attract others to the training.
  5. Start training with the basic skills, not movement principles.
  6. After people start doing something it’s time to teach them movement principles. Not before.
  7. Stay in touch after the training and look for those who are quick to do something. Give them your time.
  8. Don’t make enemies. Give people permission to opt in (or out) at the level for which they are ready.
  9. The end game is a team of people who want to make disciple and mobilise others.
  10. Train broadly to find the people you need to go deep with.

What we’re learning about training

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Michelle and I have been out training around the UK. It’s early days but we’re learning something about the process.

I’m far less focused now on getting through as much material as possible. Early on I’m doing less on movement principles and more on getting people started in connecting and sharing with people far from God. When someone implements, then it’s time to add some of the principles to help them move forward.

So the Following and Fishing material is still our key resource, but how we roll it out has changed.

Here’s my current thinking…

1. First training: Connecting and sharing

  • Praying for needs. We teach people to connect with people far from God by praying for needs. If it’s someone they know, they connect and listen for an opportunity. If they are looking for a person of peace outside of their relationships they meet someone and ask, “If God could do a miracle in your life, what would it be? Can I pray for you?”
  • Are you near for far? Coming out of the prayer they ask, “Right now are you near or far from God?” The person shares and they ask, “Would you like to be near (or nearer) to God?”
  • Share a story or two. They share the story in 2-3 minutes of how they were far from God and came near to him. And/or they share a story from Jesus’ life of someone who was far from God and came near to him such as the woman who wept (Luke 7:36-50).
  • Invite. They see if the person would like to meet again and discuss more stories of people who came near to God through Jesus. If possible. they meet in or near the person’s home. They ask if the person knows anyone else who would be interested.
  • Practice. We practice, practice, practice these skills in the training. If possible we send people out for an hour over lunch to find someone to pray for and share with. Then come back and report.

This first training can run from Friday night to after lunch on Saturday. Or it could be three weekly sessions.

2. Second training: Report in, practice, and new skills

In the weeks after the first training it’s not unusual to hear stories of people sharing, meeting for Discovery Bible Study and leading people to Christ.

We meet back in 4-6 weeks. 

  • Report in. What have people done? How have they seen God at work? Where are they stuck?
  • Practice. Practice the skills we learned in the first training.
  • New skills: How to lead someone to Christ and how to disciple a new believer using the Seven Commands of Christ.
  • Go out. Definitely go out over lunch and share with someone far from God.
  • Set new goals.

In the second training we may at times run two tracks — one for new people and one for those who have done the first training.

3. Third training: Building a team, applying movement principles

The whole time we’re looking for people who get it, who do something and can learn to train others.

  • Between trainings we stay in touch as much as possible with those who are implementing. We want to form an ongoing team of people who are both implementing and training others. We’re helping them learn and apply movement principles to their work in the field.
  • Repeat the process. Report in, practice skills we’ve learned, add new skills, set new goals.
  • Train trainersNow our priority is to equip effective practitioners to train others.

What’s next? Plenty of ideas but we haven’t got that far yet.

UPDATE: Some encouraging and wise words from Yoda Bill….

Excellent. As Mike Shipman said a few days ago, “Train, filter, coach and release.”

By training he means give a few simple things to do and make every one practice practice and practice some more. Only give a few things to do each session and have multiple sessions in which you introduce new things to practice.

By filter he assumes that many who attend the traings will not implement. Continue to train over and over by practicing over and over those who begin to implement.

Now for the revelation — Postmodern Brits are just like rural and urban Chinese, they ponder principles but they implement training.

What to do about unfaithfulness in the church?

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Movements are characterised by Commitment to the Cause. They take their faith seriously and learn to live it out in obedience to what the Scriptures teach. None of us live up to that ideal. That’s where grace comes in. 

But what of the modern-postmodern heresy of relativism in the church? In which any belief and any action becomes a matter of personal preference. The problem is not that we fall short of Biblical standards, but that we deny them all together.

Some great insights from John Lomperis on what needs to be done — although, I’ve travelled enough to know that the problem is not unique to America or the western world.

… one key way in which American evangelicals have not been closely hewing to the faithful biblical example of our spiritual forefathers and foremothers is in the basic attitude and response we often have towards what to do about blatant unfaithfulness within the church itself.

People often romantically long for the purity of “the New Testament church.” But in the New Testament I read, I see a church with some really serious problems.

In the Revelation to John, we see Jesus Christ not giving up on but still loving certain churches, calling them to Scriptural holiness, even when the Ephesian church had forsaken its first love, the church in Smyrna included people devoted to false teaching and sexual immorality, the church in Thyatira tolerated Satanic teaching and a woman leading others into sexual immorality, the church in Sardis was spiritually dead, and the church in Laodicea had not yet repented of being so infamously lukewarm.

Members of the church in Rome were harshly judging and being stumbling blocks for each other. The very first “reconciling congregation” in church history, which took an “open and affirming” stance towards sexual sin, was the one in Corinth, which also included members with a scandalously nasty habit of dragging each other to court. The Galatian church was being led to follow a false Gospel, and heard from Paul about his own experiences elsewhere with “false brothers” who “had infiltrated our ranks.” To the Philippian church, Paul noted that some preachers of Christ were driven by insincere motives of selfish ambition and jealousy. The Colossian church was plagued by a heretical false teachings that mixed in elements from non-Christian belief systems and struck at the very heart of the Gospel. The Thessalonian church had its own struggles with practice, needing to be warned against sexual immorality and then having problems with sinful, mooching laziness. The churches in Crete, overseen by Titus, had within them a disruptive faction who were spreading false teaching, and who had become part of the church despite not even knowing God. The church folk who first received the epistle of James appear to have had an ugly habit of treating rich people better than poor people. Peter’s second letter strongly warns against the inevitable problem of churches being infiltrated by dangerous false teachers. The recipients of John’s epistles were apparently in churches in which people were evidently believing the claims of spirits and false prophets who were not from God, there had been the spread of false teachings so dangerous that they endangered Christians’ eternal salvation, and there was even a corrupt man in a church leadership position who was slandering faithful Christians and abusing his power to put some faithful Christians out of the church. Finally, Jude’s little epistle is worth taking a moment to read in its entirety. He was addressing a church into which false teachers had “secretly slipped in,” people who “pervert[ed] the grace of our God into a license for immorality.”

Sound familiar?

I fear that for too many American Protestants, their first reaction if they heard of a church experiencing even one of these problems would be “if something like that was going on in my church, I would just leave and go to another church – even if that meant abandoning a faithful local congregation because of something happening in the wider denomination!”

This is a profoundly unbiblical mindset. The New Testament presents us with a number of responses to such church problems: Teaching that explicitly refutes false beliefs. Church discipline. Patient endurance. “Contending for the faith” – and note that when Jude gave that command, he was talking about fighting unfaithfulness within the church itself! Warning about the ultimate eternal consequences of persistent unfaithfulness. Waiting for eventual justice for enemies of the Gospel. Even rejoicing over some good preaching by very corrupt individuals!

But what I do not see in Scripture is this idea that when the false teachers have gained a small foothold in or even overwhelmed a local church, we have any right to just surrender everything to them, give them full, unchallenged leadership over the local flock, just run away and quit, and maybe try to rebuild everything from scratch somewhere down the road.

Chuck Wood drops into Tim Scheuer’s Iron on Iron via Google Hangouts

Australia is a vast continent. So getting practitioners together for encouragement and accountability can be difficult.

Tim Scheuer has been experimenting with holding his “Iron on Iron” gatherings via Google Hangouts.

Eight to ten practitioners report in on what God is doing, what they are learning, and where they are stuck. Then they talk about what they will do next.

Tim has someone who is further down the track provide input for about 30 minutes. In this session it’s Chuck Wood starting at the 35 minute mark. The whole process takes 90-120 minutes.

You can then publish the video record to YouTube.

Curtis Sergeant on Training Workers for Multiplication [podcast]

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Twenty-five years ago Curtis Sergeant saw his first church planting movement in China. Then he began training others. He’s seen movements in India, among Muslims and now in North America. Curtis talks about how he trains workers to multiply disciple and churches in the US and around the world.

To get in touch with Curtis and find out about his training visit www.metacamp.org

UPDATE: Bryan Entzminger at EngagingMissions has just released his own interview with Curtis Sergeant.

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The Case for Idolatry: Why Evangelical Christians Can Worship Idols

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Andrew Wilson bravely goes public about his natural attraction to idolatry.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to worship idols. It’s not that my parents raised me that way, because they didn’t; I was brought up in a loving, secure, Christian home. But from childhood until today, my heart has been drawn to idolatry. In fact, if I’m honest, one of the defining features of my identity has been my desire to put something else – popularity, money, influence, sex, success – in place of God.

That’s just who I am.

For many years, I was taught that idolatry was sinful. As a good Christian, I fought the desire to commit idolatry, and repented when I got it wrong. But the desire to worship idols never went away.

I wanted it to, but it didn’t.

So it has been such a blessing to discover that worshipping one God, and him alone, isn’t for everyone. There are thousands of Christians out there who have found faithful, loving ways of expressing worship both to God and to idols, without compromising either their faith or their view of Scripture. In recent years, I have finally summoned the courage to admit that I am one of them. Let me give you a few reasons why I believe that idolatry and Christianity are compatible.

read on

Yes it’s a parody of the argument that progressive Christians make in support of same sex relationships.

Samuel James has a few thoughts to add.

 

The Rob Bell show continues . . . on Oprah

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Ever wondered what happened to Rob Bell?

In 2006, the Chicago Sun-Times wondered aloud whether the Michigan megachurch pastor could be the next Billy Graham.

Now, the man who built a church of an estimated 10,000 people isn’t even attending an organized church. Instead, he surfs the waves near Hollywood and has teamed up with the goddess of pop theology, Oprah Winfrey.

“The Rob Bell Show” will premiere Dec. 21 on the Oprah Winfrey Network, a one-hour show that features Bell and is co-produced by him. He also recently toured the country with Winfrey on a “Life You Want Weekend.”

In many ways, some elements of typical evangelicalism are a good fit for Oprah’s lineup of public confession and personal transformation, said Kathryn Lofton, author of “Oprah: The Gospel of an Icon.” The difference, however, is that The Church of Oprah incorporates as many religious concepts as possible, while evangelicalism commits to exclusivity.

“I think an interesting way to think about Bell and Oprah here is to observe how easily she incorporates him into her pantheon of spiritual advisers. She remains, as ever, the determining corporate deity,” said Lofton, a professor of religious studies at Yale.

“One way of looking at this is less a merger of two equal powers than it is the acquisition by one large corporation of another small business.”

“She [Oprah] has taught me more about what Jesus has for all of us, and what kind of life Jesus wants us to live, more than almost anybody in my life,” Bell said.

Last year Rob Bell described conservative evangelicalism as a “dying subculture.” 

Quite the contrary, Bell represents a form of religion that defines itself by what it rejects. In a previous generation is was known as theological liberalism. Today it’s known as progressive Christianity or Emergent. The outcome will always be the same. It always leads to the decline and decay of Christian movements. 

TS Eliot’s critique applies equally to this new generation of progressives.

In religion, Liberalism may be characterized by a progressive discarding of elements in historical Christianity which appear superfluous or obsolete, confounded with practices and abuses which are legitimate objects of attack. But as its movement is controlled rather by its origin than by any goal, it loses force after a series of rejections, and with nothing to destroy is left with nothing to uphold and nowhere to go.

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever (Is 40:8).

 

What to do when someone says, “Thanks but no thanks”?

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Johan is married to Annie. We caught up for a couple of hours and talked about where do you start with disciple making movements? 

These days I touch on big picture principles briefly but focus mainly on simple, skills that get people in the game. The principles are useless without faith and action. Johan went home and shared with a colleague. Here’s what happened.

Hi Steve,

I just shared my story with one of my colleagues.

I also asked If God could do a miracle in your life, what do you want?

But he did not have a request and said he is not that interested.

Shall I just let it here, or should I challenge him more?

Johan

My response…

Hi Johan

Well done for sharing.

Welcome to the first lesson: not everyone is ready, but you won’t know until you ask. Jesus had the same experience that’s why he told the parable of the four soils.

If your friend says he’s not interested there are some options:

  1. Ask him what would need to happen for you to become interested? If God really was out there, would you want to know him? Some people still say no.
  2. Don’t push the issue. He may not be ready. No need to challenge him. The offer of prayer was a challenge and he said no.
  3. Check in every now and again and see if things have changed. Offer again to pray if he mentions a special need in his life.
  4. Move on and keep looking for a responsive person.
  5. Maybe you have to pray for 100 people to find one person who is ready for a Discovery Bible Study. But the good news is if you talk to 100 you’ll find one who is ready!

Let me know how you get on.

Steve

Will Johan give in now that he’s had one knock back? I don’t think so. If he’s prayerful and obedient to share God will show up. Once he’s shared with 100 people, led some people to Jesus, begun a small Discovery Bible study group, trained some others, he’s ready for some more input. Most people give up before that happens and tell me, “It doesn’t work in our context.”

I did it!

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Some email traffic from last week.

I chatted to Annie and her husband over coffee and gave them a brief overview of how they could connect and share the gospel. They’re leaders with experience in planting churches. Annie listened and then she went home and took a risk.

Hi Steve,

Just wanted to let you know that i did it!  :-)

After our meeting in London, I was washing my windows outside and a woman who lives some houses from me, stopped and started to talk with me. She told me that she was in hospital and almost died. I made an appointment with her to talk some more the other day.

So the day after, I went to her home, we had coffee and I asked her; If God could do a miracle in her life what would it be, and could I pray for her?

Of course she wanted to be healed. So I prayed for her that moment. She started crying because no one ever did this for her. I told her my story and asked is she was willing to do dbs together. It shocked her a bit because she had bad experience with Jehovah’s witnesses. She wanted to think about it.

But it touched me so much because this is such a natural way to talk with people! You listen to them, ask questions and let God do the work. I loved it!

Just wanted to let you know!

Thanks for sharing with us in London!

Blessings

Annie

 Here’s another one. Russell is a church planter who came to a Friday night and Saturday morning training. Then he took a risk and shared.

Steve

Wanted to say a big thank you for sending these materials through and for chatting about it on Friday.

I met with the couple last night and we had a great conversation. We ended with them both saying a prayer to invite Jesus into their hearts and they (esp. the mum) are interested in exploring further after the baptism. I feel like they have gone from a position of a fairly vague sense of faith to a simple understanding of who Jesus is and what he has done for them and that turning to him is about ongoing discipleship.

Your help really changed how I approached the evening for the better. I used Jesus’ baptism story and then did something like you did in the second link below – worked really well.

So now thinking about the right discipleship strategy. The following and fishing stuff looks great…wondering if I can gather a little group to do this…might be worth a little chat on this at some point…

Blessings to you!!

Russell

Here’s what I’m learning:

  1. There are a lot of people out there who ready to say yes to following Jesus today. These stories came from “post Christian” Britain and Europe.
  2. You need some simple training in connecting and sharing.
  3. Add to the training a step of obedience on your part.
  4. God will show up and you’ll never be the same.
  5. Make sure you know what to do next to help a new believer reach their family and friends.

What if the reason people aren’t coming to faith is because we’re not sharing?