So Much Potential!

A few weeks ago I was attending a “Pass the Salt” luncheon. It meets most Wednesdays here in Murfreesboro and the focus is encouraging believers to exert kingdom influence in the marketplace. A good friend was speaking. He told amazing stories about God’s move among Muslim people in Africa. The message that God is touching historically resistant people captured the attention of another man who was present.

The second guy introduced himself to me and we started talking about some of the trips I had made to Africa with the speaker. Eventually our mutual friend started talking with both of us. The guy I had just met asked the speaker to mentor him in doing the same kind of outreach here in some neighborhoods where he had been working for a while. The speaker suggested I would be the better candidate for training and mentoring him, so a new relationship was begun.

We have been meeting weekly for just over a month. This brother clearly has a heart for the neighborhoods he mentioned and has gained credibility among several people there. As I introduced him to Discovery Bible Studies (DBS) he started to see that they may hold great potential. While it took him a few meetings to get his brain wrapped around the counter-intuitive approaches, he quickly grasped the concept of a Person of Peace opening his/her family to the good news of the kingdom and he was convinced he already knew some (last week he expressed there may be as many as 17).

After he set up the first gatherings through one of these possible Persons of Peace he called to see if we could meet quickly so I could review what should take place in a DBS. Our schedules allowed us to meet immediately and we reviewed the eight questions that drive these studies. He was excited about what would come from this gathering.

Last Wednesday he shared that there were seven people present for the DBS. They were all invited by a guy who had just been released from jail two weeks ago. Five of the seven were totally unchurched. Each found the format enjoyable and non-threatening. One confessed he usually stayed away from religious discussions, but this was different. Another participated freely even though she usually did not talk in group settings. It will be interesting hearing how their second Discovering God study went when we meet again.

While this group is very much in the infant stage, I wanted to share about it to tell about a specific point. The guy that I am training/mentoring told me that he needed to talk about an idea he had. He was just “running it by” me and was not sure whether he was set on this yet, but wanted my input. He said, “I am thinking I will facilitate the group for about six meetings and then hand it off to the Person of Peace.” Though I am confident I had already talked with him about the need to train the Person of Peace to facilitate much earlier than that, it was obvious this had not sunk in, yet.

I reminded him that the goal is to make sure everything we do is reproducible. Those who are participating need to be able to do what we do in a DBS from day one. This is one reason we keep all the discussion tied to that day’s passage and always steer the conversation back by saying, “Help me see where you find that in the verses we read.” We want anyone to be able to reproduce what happens in a DBS.

Then I reiterated that he should not facilitate more than two or three of the gatherings. The earlier he gets the Person of Peace to agree to facilitate the greater the likelihood is that additional DBSs will multiply from this one. As God’s Spirit produces transformation in the lives of these people, they will begin to talk about what is happening in the studies with others. This is when they will probably ask about inviting new people to the group. Rather than doing that, it is better to begin coaching that group member in facilitating a study where that new person invites other family and friends to participate. If this person has seen the Person of Peace facilitate the DBS, then he/she is more likely to be willing to give it a try. The longer it takes for the transition to happen, the less likely it will happen. Then the whole process is restricted by the ability of one person to facilitate multiple studies.

This is why we talk about focusing on the few to reach the many and going slow to go fast. This process of reproduction benefits those who learn to facilitate a second-generation group. They are studying these passages that reveal God’s character multiple times. First, with their original group. Second, when they are being trained to facilitate the second-generation group. Third, with the second-generation group. Also, they are quickly imitating what they have witnessed and this process has them handling God’s Word at successively deeper levels.

Often when believers first hear about this process they doubt it can really happen. Even if they believe it happened in India or Africa, they are sure it cannot happen here in America. What they really doubt is that what happens in such a discovery study can produce enough positive effects that participants will become motivated to help others experience it, too. They are really revealing that their handling of Scriptures does not produce enough fruit in their lives to motivate them to share what they are learning with others. If they are not willing to pass this on, they cannot envision DBSs accomplishing more.

Recent interviews with people in the U.S. who are being blessed by such DBSs drove this point home for me. People who are discipling multiple people who are facilitating DBSs realized that around the fourth or fifth studies the participants recognized that they were being changed by what happens in the gatherings. Upon this realization they begin actively telling others about Discovering God. As they talk it up, they eventually encounter others who are open to experiencing the same and second, third or fourth generation groups begin. The key is keeping this easily reproducible so those who start talking it up are able to envision themselves facilitating this group or coaching the Peron of Peace to facilitate it from day one.

The guy I am discipling said something astute about the Person of Peace who pulled together this first group–“He has so much potential! I could see him reaching so many people.”

Ephesians Applied to My Life (cont.)

[NOTE: I will begin with my re-statement of the passage. Then I will present a list of “I Will…” Statements that I wrote based on that section. Reading these sections will give you some insight into what struck me as I studied through these texts, but your time would be better spent doing your own 3-column study first. After you have written your study then reading mine will give you another set of eyes and experiences that may help you with your efforts to hear from God.]

Ephesians 4:1-32

(1-6) Reminded why Paul was imprisoned, he admonishes them to be righteous in their living. Love excludes haughty and harsh behavior.  It prompts compassion. Work hard to maintain the peaceful oneness the Spirit created: One family, one Comforter, one confident expectation. One master, one surrender, one washing. One Papa God reigning and living in each and every one of us.

(7-13) Individually Christ gave us gifts. This is why the Word says, “Coming up he had the Victor’s entrance, leading his spoils and giving out gifts.” (The one coming up had earlier gone down from heaven to earth. The one who came down later went up to the highest place, so everything reaches fulfillment.) This Victor appointed some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, and some as pastor/teachers. Giftings to equip God’s children to do edifying acts of servanthood. This building up continues until God’s family is mature compared to Jesus, walking like he walked.

(14-16) Such maturity will prevent us from being battered by false teachers who work hard to trip us up. Rather, lovingly saying what is right, we will become more and more like Jesus our Master. He is the one the family becomes stronger in by doing our own part.  Like a body growing stronger through focused exercise, we work together focusing on our mutual good.

(17-19) In view of all Jesus has accomplished, we must stop living the way unbelievers do, in their vain thinking. They don’t “get it” since their hearts are hard and they are spiritually dull and live a different lifestyle. Without a spiritual focus they keep choosing rebellion to God by seeking increasingly unholy ways to satisfy their human desires.

(20-24) Jesus changed our thinking. We came to know the truth about God through him when we were discipled. We were taught to stop living in self-destructive ways. We learned to be renewed in our thinking. We learned to be transformed to become more and more like God—doing what is right and holy.

(25-29) Integrity—being honest with our neighbors is expected because we are in the same family. When angry we must not sin—we will deal with our anger today so we limit Satan’s access to us. As people of integrity we avoid the temptation to steal by working hard to provide for ourselves and have some to share with the needy. We replace destructive speech with constructive conversation.  People who hear us are blessed.

(30) Our talking doesn’t sadden the Holy Spirit—God’s pledge of the coming redemption.

(31-32) Hatefulness, stirring up turmoil and lying about others are out of the question for us. Like God treated us with grace, we forgive and treat others with gentleness and empathy.

“I Will…” Statements

  • I will live up to my calling to a righteous life.
  • In humility I will put up with a lot from the people I love in God’s family.
  • I will work hard to hold on to the peace God’s unifying Spirit creates.
  • I will remember the seven ones:  church, Spirit, hope. Lord, faith, baptism and Father unite us.  I will put work boots and gloves on this unity.
  • I will stay humble regarding Jesus’ gifts.
  • I will recognize only Jesus earned the right to give these gifts.
  • I will follow his example of humbly leaving heaven to become a man.
  • I will recognize God exalted him for his humility; he will exalt you.
  • I will accept the fact that Jesus set the kingdom up according to his purpose.
  • I will build up the body by using my gifts in serving others.
  • I will work for God’s goal of mature faith in Jesus.
  • I will measure up to the standard of Jesus.
  • I will seek maturity because it protects us from the damaging effects of false teachers.
  • I will lovingly speak the truth like Jesus so we grow to be more and more like our head.
  • I will remember it takes all of us working together under his guidance to be built up in love—each must do his/her part.
  • I will choose mature thinking, rather than thinking in the old futile ways.
  • I will keep my heart soft by doing whatever God calls me to do.
  • I will realize disobedience contributes to a destructive insensitivity and sets in motion increasing levels of rebellion.
  • I will remember how I started.
  • I will remember the truth about Jesus started me off so I will stay in it.
  • I will obey the truth I learn and stop the old way of living.
  • I will seek a godly attitude each day.
  • I will do righteous and holy things since God transforms me through them.
  • I will be honest with members of God’s family.
  • I will deal today with anger that arises.
  • I will limit Satan’s use of my anger.
  • Rather than stealing, I will use hard work to provide for myself and to share with the needy.
  • I will speak only helpful words so my words are beneficial to my hearers.
  • I will make sure what I say is appropriate for the Spirit to hear.
  • I will choose not to be hateful and/or a trouble-maker.
  • I will treat others with kindness and forgiveness because Jesus did the same to me.

Applying Ephesians to My Life (cont.)

[NOTE: I will begin with my re-statement of the passage. Then I will present a list of “I Will…” Statements that I wrote based on that section. Reading these sections will give you some insight into what struck me as I studied through these texts, but your time would be better spent doing your own 3-column study first. After you have written your study then reading mine will give you another set of eyes and experiences that may help you with your efforts to hear from God.]

Ephesians 3:1-21

(1-5) Extending this amazing unity to non-Jews is why Paul was arrested. Haven’t you heard, God charged him to preach this amazing grace to those formerly excluded from it? Though this truth used to be hidden, God told Paul directly and he has just written about it some. Reading this pulls back the curtains so we can see too. You can trade on this “insider” information.  None of our ancestors had access to what we learned from the Spirit through his spokesmen.

(6-9) The shocking news is that the outcasts have been adopted and given equality with the natural children.  All who have this get it through Jesus—the Promised One. It took a mighty act of God’s grace to save Paul and entrust him with this newly revealed message. Nothing he had done earned him the right to tell this blessed news to the non-Jews. Only grace let Paul have the privilege of revealing this long-hidden truth of the Creator’s plan.

(10-11) Higher spiritual beings are amazed that God could pull this reunion off—nothing prepared them for this glorious maneuver. It was actually his plan from the beginning to save both groups in one body by Jesus.

(12-13) Jesus gives us the way to come to God boldly and without hindrance. Paul’s imprisonment shouldn’t depress his readers since they actually flow out of getting them this amazingly good news.

(14-21) Paul prayed to Father God for their encouragement. This whole family gets its name from Papa God. Paul asks that the Holy Spirit will empower them internally so that Jesus will reside in their inner self through their trust.  Also he asked that love will ground them so they, along with all believers, comprehend the vast love of Jesus so they can experience this love that’s deeper than they can intellectually understand, so they will grow up to God’s provision for them fully! Praise be to God because his power working in us is greater than we can conceive—he does so much more than we ask. He gets the glory from Jesus and his church—always.  Let it be!

“I Will…” Statements:

  • I will remember my old state.
  • I will keep Satan’s reign as a thing of your past.
  • I will realize my old lifestyle was really a death wish locking me into punishment.
  • I will praise God for his loving mercy!
  • I will remember I am alive in Christ and this is all by grace.
  • I will live consistent with my high standing with Christ.
  • I will let the fruit of God’s kindness shine through my life.
  • I will live in the free gift of God’s grace—walk by faith, not sight.
  • I will not boast, but proclaim, “God did this, not me!”
  • I will do the good things God prepared for me to do.
  • I will remember this place of honor hasn’t always been mine to enjoy—I was on the outside looking in.
  • I will remember how it feels to be excluded.
  • I will remember how marvelous it feels to have a way to God opened up.
  • I will preach Jesus’ amazing role as the unifier we needed.
  • I will value his sacrificial work of unifying the great divide.
  • I will value Jesus’ body and its function of ending hostilities.
  • I will accept Jesus’ message of peace.
  • I will accept the people Jesus is reconciling to the Father.
  • I will love others as family.
  • I will build consistent with Jesus as my foundation.
  • I will be holy—worthy of God’s presence.
  • I will keep spiritual peace consistent with Jesus’ life and place.
  • I will realize someone may have suffered for me to have faith.
  • I will learn God’s will for my life, especially to use me to bless others.
  • I will join God in telling the secrets.
  • I will read Scripture for insight into God’s mysterious ways.
  • I will appreciate the “insider information” I have through Jesus.
  • I will join in God’s work of breaking down barriers that we are too comfortable accepting.
  • I will serve the gospel by God’s power in me.

Conspicuously Spiritual, but…

Last week I posted something old and something new. First, I posted an article I wrote in 2006 that described what happened when I first taught a group of church planters in Sierra Leone to do 3-column studies. I had seen a reference to such an approach in a file on my mentor’s web site. No one had ever shown me how to do one. It just sounded like a format that could be easily implemented. (Of course I promptly complicated the process by envisioning ways to make it easier to get people to do a 3-column study, but God corrected my error.)

Then I wrote about God’s directives for any new king. That passage from Deuteronomy caught my attention because I have recently been training Americans to do 3-column studies. It gives me a text that directs leaders to write out Scriptures and then spend time every day meditating on the implications for their realm of influence.

Let’s spend some time evaluating the purpose of each of the three columns. The first column slows me down and causes me to hear the words. I must do this or I will be unable to complete the second column. Even when I used to cut and paste the text into the first column, I always had to re-read the passage numerous times to understand how to state its meaning in my own words. Writing the passage out has me handling the text. It gives me a measurable activity that indicates I have spent time with this word from God.

The second column provides proof that I have used my powers of observation. I can answer the journalists questions (Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How?). By restating the passage I verify to myself that I can help someone else hear its meaning. There are many passages that I find this to be harder to accomplish than I earlier imagined. Sometimes the more familiar I am with the passage the more difficult I find the second column to be. If I cannot put it in my words, then I do not understand its meaning. If I cannot restate it I cannot share it with someone else. While column 1 is for me, column 2 is for others. It prepares me to speak a word from God into the life of another person.

David Watson has shocked many believers by saying, “People don’t want your religion! They don’t! Now if you are truly spiritual, some of them will want to be around you, but they don’t want your religion. You have to be conspicuously spiritual without being obnoxiously religious.” I really wanted to argue with him when I first heard that statement. It was a blessing that I could not because I was listening to it on MP3 recordings. After I got beyond my initial response I began to think, “You know the word ‘religion’ generally has to be qualified in Scriptures.” The first text I thought of was the one in James where he says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27). The use of “pure and faultless” warns us there is impure and fault-filled religion.

Conspicuously Spiritual

This part of David’s affirmation made perfect sense to me. This is what Jesus was talking about when he described the good deeds of disciples lived out in the open. He said that our lives should be so ministry-filled that people see what we do and give God glory. Jesus said,”You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16). Conspicuously (readily seen) spiritual (God-like in nature) is to be our hallmark.

Without being obnoxiously religious

Here is the hard part. How much and what kind of religion will others find obnoxious? Should I really give other people the right to judge my actions? How can I avoid being obnoxious in the eyes of others?

The key, in my judgment, is giving people the freedom to opt out at any point of a discussion. One of the best ways I know to do this is make a statement like, “I learned something new about God yesterday.” Anyone who hears me say this has the right to question, ignore or scorn my affirmation. If she/he is curious then there will be the question, “What did you learn about God?” By asking me this, I am being given permission to pursue the conversation a little further. If she ignores my statement, then she is not open yet. If he scorns my comment then I know he is closed to spiritual discussions with me at this time. To push the discussion with the later two will be viewed by them as obnoxiously religious because they have opted out.

With the person who queries me I will need to use care. So far, all he/she has communicated is curiosity about my affirmation. This person may just think I am crazy. He may wonder if I am hearing voices. She may be curious whether or not this is a trap. I suggest you just give a brief statement that summarizes what you studied. For example, I could say, “I learned God want me to hand write my own copy of the law.” Now the ball is in this person’s court. My response will give him/her the opportunity to decide whether or not to proceed further. As long as I do not dump a whole load of judgmental-ism our conversation can go as far as this person is willing.

What I am looking for in the conversation is permission to help this person discover God’s character for himself/herself. I know it will be best if this discovery process can happen in a context of this person’s significant relationships, but I first need to find out whether or not there is a willingness to participate in a discovery process.

By writing out column 2 I am preparing myself for that kind of dialogue. I am discovering something about God that is fresh, new and intriguing for me. My passion for this new insight is more likely to capture the favorable attention of another person, especially someone on whom God’s Spirit is already working. (Jesus describes such an individual as “a person of peace” in Luke 10:5.) I believe we need this kind of process to help us be conspicuously spiritual without being obnoxiously religious.

Column 3 prepares me to obey the passage I have written and paraphrased. It pushes me to open myself to being convicted by the Spirit of God. It reminds me what the Lord authoritatively demands of my life. It pushes me to be honest with God, myself and another human being (I will share at least one of these with my small group and expect them to ask me next week how I did being obedient). This column pushes me to stop deflecting the passage by spending my time discussing what others need to do to obey it. Column 3 tests my honesty and integrity. It gauges whether I am a wise man or a fool (Matthew 7:24-27). Am I going to show Jesus my love for him by obeying him? Am I going to play the fool by hearing him and then refusing to apply the word to my life?

Let me return to the Sierra Leone story for just a few moments. It looks likely that every village in the nation will have a church by the end of 2010, or at the latest 2011. When that happens this will be a remarkable example of saturation church planting. This is happening because thousands of people are hearing God’s word and being obedient. Using 3-column studies (among the literate) and teaching S.P.E.C.K. to everyone, especially the illiterate, they are being equipped to hear and obey Scripture. The Anglican bishop of Sierra Leone calls my friend every three days or so to tell him about his personal devotions with 3-column studies and about the exciting things happening in the Anglican church as a result of CPM. In addition to training every leader in his own fellowship, my friend has trained military chaplains who are going into the civilian communities to serve, and planting CPM-type churches among civilians. Civilians are also coming onto military bases to participate in the churches there.

Since late 2005 God has used these people and study methods to shine beacons of light into a nation that only recently came through a horrible civil war (the movie Blood Diamond was based on the war). Imagine what can happen to our lives through this process.

Training Trainers: An Attempt to Train Church Planters in Training New Disciples in Doing Their Own Inductive Bible Study

[NOTE: This is an article I wrote in early 2006 that has not been published. I am posting it here because of its relevance to my greatest passion–training people to train others in a simple process of learning God’s heart and becoming obedient to His word.]

Likely we have all heard the old adage, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.  Teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”  What if we raised it to a higher power?  “Teach him to train his village to fish and you feed them all for a lifetime.”

Replication is one of the fundamental principles of Church Planting Movements (CPM).  Disciples of Jesus should replicate the Master’s ministry of pouring himself into people who will in turn teach what they are learning to others who pass it on . . . Churches also should be reproducing pregnant churches.  At its fundamental center Church Planting is about understanding and practicing this call to replication from day one.  It also serves as a basic test for all methodology.  Disciples should be discipled in a manner that they can replicate (e.g., if evangelists are going to be working in village settings it is best if they are trained in methods that will be readily available in the villages).

In the spring of 2005 I was commissioned with the task of developing and implementing an approach to training people to train others in doing their own inductive Bible study.  This assignment came because there was a weakness in this critical Bible study approach in Sierra Leone.  As David Watson trained church leaders there in CPM earlier that year he identified this deficiency.  With this insight, Jerry Trousdale and Shodankeh Johnson encouraged me to return in November 2005 and train a group in doing Inductive Bible Studies.

As I sought guidance in developing a strategy for accomplishing this task I was reminded that such learning is “only internalized through practical work.” I was reminded that church planters should be lead “through a time of struggling with passages that relate to the biblical basis of CPM, both as a way of solidifying their understanding of how the inductive process works, as well as being personally sharpened in looking for a theology of CPM.”

Where Should They Begin?

 “What is my theology of CPM?” and “What passages do I encourage disciples to investigate to discover the biblical basis for CPM?” were questions that kept arising in my thinking.  The answer was the Ephesus material.

Let me point out, that as a Bible student, few practices trouble me more than “proof-texting.”  Selecting a few verses from random biblical sites and stringing them together as the proof for a position is always tenuous at best.  While it may be acceptable when under severe time constraints, this methodology is very susceptible to abuse.  I much prefer finding a block of connected material and carefully studying it rather than skipping around.

Few cities rival the prominent position of Ephesus in the New Testament.  Jerusalem, Antioch of Syria, Corinth and Rome are possible candidates.  But when you consider them in light of CPM, Ephesus has more to offer.  Paul desired to work in the Roman province of Asia during the early stages of the second missionary journey, but the Holy Spirit prevented that from happening (Acts 16:6).  God’s Spirit had already prepared persons of peace (Lydia, the jailor, Dionysius, Damaris, Titius Justis, etc.) in Macedonia and Achaia and the apostle and his church planting team heeded divine directions.  But Paul was able to close his second church-planting trip with a short stay in the capitol of Asia and left with a promise, “I will come back if it is God’s will” (Acts 18:21).

Acts 19 tells the wonderful story of the successful launching of a church planting movement.  An opponent testifies to the impact of Paul’s ministry.  A silversmith named Demetrius was angered that the apostle’s work adversely impacted the “bottom line” of his business.  He pointed out to the other silversmiths, “you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia” (Acts 19:26).  We know that churches were planted in nearby Laodicea and Colossae during the time Paul was in Ephesus.

The three years Paul labored in Ephesus was his longest time spent with any of his church plants.  Many believe he rarely stayed longer than six to nine months in the cities where he planted churches.  I believe the reason he stayed unusually long in Ephesus was he essentially established a church planting training center in the “lecture hall of Tyrannus” (Acts 19:9).

When you examine Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon, and 1 Timothy through this Acts material some interesting insights arise. (It is also interesting to note that John’s Gospel, his letters and Revelation may well have arisen in this context of Asia,too.)  In Ephesus Paul modeled Jesus’ teaching about seeking out persons of peace (Luke 10).  He quickly focused on training local leaders so indigenous churches would develop.  Much can be learned about doing church planting well by investigating the Ephesus material.

How Do You Train in Three Days?

 How do you train people to do their own inductive Bible study, introduce them to the Ephesus material and guide them in the process of discovering their own nascent theology of CPM in three days?  That was my dilemma.

After prayer and through dialogue with colleagues I decided to introduce the church planters to inductive study by giving them the one-page chart that had been developed by David Sargeant.  This Inductive Bible Study Approach—Outline is a succinct tool that encourages Bible students to answer basic journalistic questions:  who, what, where, when, why and how.  It calls them to think about the text in a way that equips them to re-tell it in their own words—basic exegesis.  Then it pushes them to think about how the passage should be applied to their own lives.  Through the S.P.E.C.K. method and additional discussion questions the students are led to determine how they will obey the text they are studying.

The first day in Sierra Leone I passed out copies of this outline and introduced the students to the issues it raises.  After some time was spent on this approach I divided them into six randomly assigned small groups.  Each person was given a 3-Column format to use in reporting the results of their inductive study.  Unknown to them, each group was assigned a different section of the Ephesus material.

Acts19:1-22, Acts 19:23-20:1, Acts 20:13-38, Ephesians 1:1-23; Ephesians 3:1-4:16 and Ephesians 6:10-24 were the texts I selected, formatted and gave out copies.  Each small group was encouraged to spend time discussing the questions raised on the Inductive Bible Study Approach.  Also, they were taught that the first two sections of that outline would be helpful in completing the “Exegesis” column and the rest of the sections would be helpful in completing the “Application” column.  After spending time as a group examining their texts they were dismissed to use the rest of the day to complete in writing their 3-column study of their assigned text.

On the second day a representative of each group presented his/her rephrasing of the assigned text.  After all six passages were retold, then a different representative of each group shared what he/she heard God calling for obedience from the assigned text. 

Quickly the students realized their assumption that all the groups had been studying the same texts was incorrect.  But they also began to recognize that the other passages related directly to their text.  By teaching what they had encountered, each group broadened the knowledge of the other five groups.  Then the students turned in their 3-column papers.  This process took the first half of the second day.  That afternoon we began the process of distilling principles related to Church Planting that appeared in the texts:

  1. The importance of prayer was recognized first.  Paul’s practice of praying for those he was discipling was clearly seen in the Ephesians texts.  His conduct while in Ephesus and Miletus shows the importance of prayer in his church planting strategy.
  2. The role of obedience was mentioned second.  This is especially evident in Paul’s dialogue with the Ephesian elders in Acts 20 and it is also seen in the choice of Ephesian believers to destroy their magical stuff (Acts 19:18-19).  We noted that Paul’s desire that they know Jesus would have entailed behavior and not just head knowledge.
  3. The issue of spiritual warfare being a part of church planting was noted.  The riot in Ephesus and Paul’s words to the elders about them not seeing him again, were coupled with the “spiritual armor” text in Ephesians.  There was the recognition that some will find the spread of the gospel has an adverse effect on their income and will oppose the work.  It was noted by some of the participants the importance of remembering that the war is not with “flesh and blood, but with principalities and powers” (Eph. 6:12).
  4. The need to develop indigenous leaders was discussed.  This insight was gained from Paul’s dialogue with the elders.  It was also noted that Paul’s conduct in Ephesus, during the time he taught the disciples in a rented school, shows him pouring himself into others.  I also pointed out that Colossians and Philemon are additional letters Paul wrote to believers who lived in the province of Asia and would be worthwhile for them to study in this context.
  5. The fundamental significance of having a servant heart was examined last.  Paul’s lifestyle was held up as an example for the elders to incorporate into their lives.  His practice of tent making was discussed as a way of looking at using a trade as a means of furthering the spread of the gospel.  Some of the participants shared that there are times when such will be beneficial rather than a hindrance to their efforts to plant churches.

Church Planters recognize these are important elements of CPMs.  These students discovered these within their investigation of the assigned texts.  Their sense of the biblical basis for CPM is stronger because these elements arose from connected texts.  Through the discovery process their inductive skills were sharpened as they exercised them.  While my original goals seemed overly high, I believe they were realized.  Did any of the students develop a full-blown theology of CPM?  No, that did not happen, but students of very diverse skill levels were benefited.

Those who had stronger study skills were kept interested because of the purpose of strengthening their theology of CPM.  All were presented with a study methodology that can be replicated.  Their homework for the third day took this issue of replication to a new level.  Every student was assigned 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and 4:11-16 to be studied overnight and bring in a 3-column format.  This time they were not given these texts already typed out.  They were told to write the texts in the first column and then do their exegesis in column 2 and the application in column 3.

The third day they were directed to turn in their homework on these texts.  They were asked to report on the texts.  Several complained that it was much easier to do the work when the texts were provided in the 3-column format.  I asked, “How many of you work primarily in a village setting.  Most said that is where they would be doing their church planting.  Then I asked, “How many of the villages have photocopy machines?” 

“None of the villages,” was their answer.

“How many of you have computers and internet access to format such studies?” was my follow-up question.  Very few had such capability.  I introduced the issue of reproducibility at this point.  While I have the ability to expedite their study in this way, they do not and the people they will be training to teach others in the village how to study will not have such a capacity at all.  They were challenged to make sure they utelize resources to which the people they are teaching will have access.

We can (and often do) unintentionally make the process unattainable for our target audience.  When this happens we program them to not replicate themselves.  Their study in 1 Timothy which focused on the personal qualities of pastors and evangelists gave them additional insights into planting churches in such a way that they can plant churches which plant churches.  We must not allow technology to get in the way and prevent indigenous churches from arising.