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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Assuming Growth

Last December I was working with a pastor in another country to equip some of his people to help him follow up and establish new Christians in that country.  It became obvious early in the process that rather than equipping them to help, we would be equipping them to do what we wanted them to help others with, that is pray, have a quiet time, share their testimony, etc…
Assuming Growth
I have done over twenty workshops with men from a lot of churches, a lot because men from other churches show up.  I focus on equipping men to study the Bible on their own.  Most of these men have been in church most of their lives.  One of those was in a Sunday school class I led for a number of years.  After he went through one of the workshops he told me that it used to frustrate him when I would ask them to study something during the week between classes.  Why?  He did not have the first clue how to do that.  After the workshop, he did.  I have heard that same story more times than I can count.

I meet with men individually pretty much every week.  In working with them to show them a simple way to study a verse of Scripture, they are blown away by what they can see on their own.  Happens every time.

What is happening?  Men and women are attending church, they are in Sunday school, they may even be in a small group, but when they are asked to find something in the Bible or they are asked to study a book of the Bible or a topic in the Bible they are not able to do so.  Why?

I wonder if it is because there is an assumption that if they are showing up and listening, they are growing, and thereby equipped.

There is no other area of life that we think that is an adequate way to equip someone.  We expect more of doctors, lawyers, engineers, plumbers, heck students in elementary school.  We expect all of those to expend effort, homework, lab work, classwork, to learn the basics of what they need to know.  All of those are instructed and tested on what they need to be successful.

We do not do that in church.

The interesting thing is that in 1 Timothy 3:10, Paul instructs Timothy to test those who want to serve as deacons.  For the most part, we do not do that.  I have never seen or heard of a deacon test.  If we were to give it, when is one instructed in preparation for that test?

The Church seems to be losing influence.  I wonder if it is because we are assuming that those who are showing up are growing.