Go First to the Pastors? – To the Jews first then the Greeks

5 08 2008

During Paul’s initial missionary journeys you see a repeated pattern –

  1. Paul reasons with the Jews at the synagogue
  2. Those who believe he trains and they form churches in homes
  3. Those who don’t believe get jealous and stir up persecution against the Apostles
  4. When the persecution gets really intense (or when training is established) they move on

As I’ve mentioned before, I place a lot of stock in what the Spirit of God was doing in Acts and what he inspired Luke to write.  I believe we need to at least ask the question why?  Why did Paul use this pattern and if we were to do this today, what would it look like?

Today church planters are encouraged to avoid other churches like the plague and to focus on serving and reaching unbelievers.  When persecution got increasingly intense Paul did end up starting outside the synagogue with God-fearing Gentiles but something in him always said to go first to those who already know God.  Why?

It goes to the very nature of apostolic ministry.  An apostle wants to see the Kingdom of God take root in a whole city or an entire region.  He doesn’t serve a fraction of the church in that city (one denomination or a single congregation) but the entire church in that city.  So if he’s called to start a disciple-making work, why not work with cooperating churches?

The pattern might go something like this –

  1. Arrive at the new city and go meet with the ministerial association
  2. Offer to serve them for the purpose of creating a unified disciple-making work in the city
  3. Any who will listen cooperate with
  4. Begin the disciple-making work
  5. As people are being transformed some pastors may become jealous especially if many of their people are being built up
  6. Stay there until discipleship training and house church planting is established (or until persecution becomes intense and makes you the focus)
  7. Move to the next city

If we have no chance of creating controversy with the way we’re starting new works I have to ask, are we using the correct pattern?  Maybe, like Paul, we were not meant to see the denomination lines man, in his sin, has created.  Maybe we should see the church in the city the way God sees it – all of his called out children as one people.

Should Christians Create Controversy?

17 10 2007

Christian DemonostrationJesus promised persecutions but we are rarely persecuted.  Jesus said a servant is not above his master and if they treated him this way we should expect more of the same…but that’s not been our experience.  Why?

The first and most disturbing answer that comes to mind is maybe we’re not following Jesus – maybe he’s not our master.   Shouldn’t Christ-followers be the most polarizing figures in society?  Shouldn’t Jesus’ disciples be constantly challenging religious leaders publicly?

Recently I’ve found myself believing the teaching of Jesus at a more radical level as I’ve engaged in intentional discipleship.  And I find myself becoming more disturbed by beliefs that oppose his teachings.  But there is a step I have not taken.  I sit here on this blog and spout these beliefs mostly to people who care about me and trust my character.  But I’m one step away from really choosing to CREATE controversy.

So my question is simple.  Are Christ-followers supposed to cross that line?  All of my training, all that has been modeled to me and all of my culturally conditioned values say NO.  But I have not been commanded to follow those things.  Jesus commands “follow me”.