New believers doing ministry

Do you ever have those times when it just seems like everything is pointing in the same direction? That was last week for me. It was ironic how several random conversations touched on the same basic theme. This tip is a confluence of those conversations.

1. First of all, I have been mulling over some of Keoke King’s points in last week’s coaching tip He said that our evangelistic efforts should be straighforward and simple, so that students can watch us do evangelism and turn around and do it themselves. Make evangelism easy so that it quickly becomes integrated into the movement. I give a hearty “Amen” to that.

2. Also from my time in San Francisco, I recalled comments made by Reid Zeller and Jeff Wood from the San Diego Metro team. They talked about how they liked using the “Essentials of Spiritual Multiplication” Bible studies by Steve Douglass.  Those studies were written with a focus on applying what is studied and telling others about what they are learning. Each lesson is revolves around the acronym, CHAT,

  • Connect–the relationship building part of the study.
  • Hear–what God’s Word has to say.
  • Apply–what they learned from the Scripture.
  • Tell–others about it.

Look at any page after page 4 here for examples.

3. Lee Davis, Oregon and Nevada Catalytic, happened to call me. He observes a reluctance by many of us staff to encourage rapid replication. We tend to want to slow down the process of involving students in the mission, because we are afraid that they will not do it right. There is no question that those of us who have been around longer can do it better. But is God pleased by our training, or by our obedience? Who is to say that the baby Christian, taking steps of faith, may, in fact, see God’s blessing and intervention more than those of us who “know what we are doing.” They just might “need” Him more. He does favor those dependent on Him.

4. Our team is reading “Organic Church” by Neil Cole this year in staff meeting. This week, we happened to read Chapter Nine, “It Takes Guts to Care for People.” Omigosh, that chapter was worth the price of the book. This is rapid replication defined. Just a couple of excerpts here to drive the point home.  

“The only difference spiritually between a day-old believer and one who has walked with God for decades is maturity. The spiritual empowerment is the same. Maturity does make a big difference, but remember that maturity is gained through experience, not by learning in a vacuum void of hard decisions and pressing temptations. Start the new believer in the process of gaining maturity sooner rather than later.” p.150

“The Holy Spirit is a better teacher than we are. The Spirit of God is a better strengthener (or comforter) than we are. The Holy Spirit is a better evangelist and trainer in evangelism than we are. Best of all the Holy Spirit is a constant presence, which we cannot be.

“When we allow, or even demand, that new converts wait and receive instruction and training before they can become workers, we are effectively granting them permission to be passive, inactive, selfish and stagnant.” p. 150

“I believe one reason the Lord took Phillip away so dramatically was to establish for all of us that the Lord can use a new convert as a worker immediately.” p. 151. Cole then precedes to tell a story of a Satanist that different ones had shared Christ with. He argued point by point with them. But when a young woman only a few weeks old in the Lord said that she could see that he was lonely, his whole perspective on Christianity changed. Cole writes, “There are two closely related sins we need to repent of in the Western church. We need to repent of underestimating what God can do through a new believer. Second, we need to repent of over-estimating our own value in helping new converts grow and become strong believers…We end up creating a sense of dependency on human help rather than on the Holy Spirit…” p. 154.

So. When do we give students and volunteers ownership of the mission of “turning lost students into Christ-centered laborers.” on our campuses? Could it be that in our love of doing the ministry ourselves, we prevent others from entering into that same joy of ministry? Do we unknowingly foster a subtle dependence upon us? Do they think “I could never do what you do.”? When students express anything about how well we shared the Gospel, or how good that argument was or how they wished that they knew the Bible like us, then we let them down. We as staff better be good at those things. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved…” 2 Timothy 2:15 ESV That is not my point. But we must learn how to make ministry transferrable. Our discipling should be such that they can take what they learn from us and think “I can do that”.

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