The previous newsletter shared about taking the land. The most important part of taking the land is, taking the land of our heart. Imitating Christ is our standard in all things so it is important to always keep this in mind. My, Tim, personal mission statement is Mark 12:29-31 “Love the Lord your God with all you heart, soul, mind and strength. And your neighbor as yourself.” There are many things we can do or get distracted with but by loving God and our neighbor, we keep focused on the most important things. As we do this we will be assured of a rich reward when the Lord returns.
Previous newsletters shared how we take the land through godly character, right doctrine and our relationship with Christ. In this blog I would like to share on the ministry aspect of maturing and taking the land.
As Jesus led the twelve Apostles he laid foundations in their lives focusing on Bible knowledge, ministry and character. The Apostles baptised new converts, prayed for the sick, served the Lord and did evangelism. After Jesus rose from the dead the Apostles discipled others. These are all important parts of ministry when laying our foundation. Have you ever met Christians with great Bible knowledge yet never evangelise? Have you ever met a fervent evangelist but their doctrine is way off? These Christians are out of balance and not mature Christians. The weakest area of Bible knowledge, ministry experience or character, determines our level of maturity.
Our church’s first set lesson is evangelism which the new convert puts into practice. Most new converts are excited about Jesus. They have been born-again and just want to share what Jesus has done for them. So new Christians are taught how to evangelise then are sent out to reach their family and friends. Sadly older Christians evangelise less or not at all.
The foundation doctrine of repentance from dead works is important because it teaches us to maintain our standard. We do not do something, like evangelism, for a few years then stop. Repentance means keeping God’s standard for the rest of our lives. Rick Warren observed, successful pastors evangelise regularly.
God’s house is a house of prayer so the next set lesson the Church discipleship program, is prayer. After the lessons the new convert is encouraged to attend the Church prayer meeting. As a new Christian I was captivated by the monthly prayer meetings in 510 Queen St and seeing New Zealand change. Fifty years later I continue to pray the same way.
Maurice Murillo’s research of the Billy Graham crusades found 97% of converts backslide and leave the church. Maurice identified the lack of discipling as the main reason. This is one of the weakest ministries in the Church so no wonder the Church has problems retaining converts. John Wesley and Paul Yongii Chou of Korea retained 80% of the converts but the average Church is only 10%! Good results are possible with a good program and hard work.
At six months, the new Christian will have led some family members and friends to the Lord. The best person to disciple the convert is the person who led them to the Lord. The new convert knows more about the Bible and Jesus than their friend, so they are qualified to do the discipling. The home group leader stands with them and assists. Each convert is discipled one on one each week, through the foundation lessons, for the first year. During this time a strong relationship is developed which continues throughout their Christian life.
Later the new Christian leads their own small group. The ministry of leading a small group is like having a family and helping them to mature spiritually. During this process we grow in leadership, in our love for others, teaching, discipling, in prayer and in faith. Faith often tells people, we would not be doing what we are doing if we had not learnt to lead small groups back home. It is a blessing to be back in New Zealand seeing some of the lives we touched and how they have matured.
Therefore the first part of taking the land is laying a foundation of Bible knowledge, ministry experience and character. The first year of ministry development is evangelising our family and friends, attending the prayer meeting and discipling the people we lead to Christ. We continue to follow these same principles throughout our Christian life with the goal of imitating Christ.
Our Church has planted 10,000 churches in over 80 countries using these principles, raising all the Pastors up from within the Church, so proving the effectiveness of the program. So a balance between Bible knowledge, ministry experience and character is essential. Examine your Church discipleship program and see if it follows biblical principles and there is a balance between these three areas. Your Church will have a solid foundation and go to new heights when you implement these principles.
Your land takers
Tim and Faith