"Everyone wants to build a healthy church. However, a growing church may not be healthy, but it is essential to cure it, as a healthy church must grow."
"Healthy churches come from healthy pastors and families." A pastor said this in the recently concluded Global Proclamation Congress for Pastoral Trainers (GPro Congress).
The fifth session held on June 21 in Bangkok focused on the issue of "healthier churches and the influence of healthier pastors". The pastor, whose church has multiplied dozens of times in the past three decades, shared the message of what has changed in his district.
He said that the most important mission for the church is to practice Jesus' Great Commandment, and the core of it lies in "making disciples of all nations". To achieve this, our church needs to transform the following seven models:
First, let's look at the summary of the morning session:
- Methods are many. Principles are few.
- Methods are subject to change. Principles do not change.
- Methods vary according to culture, time, and place. Principles are universal. These are based on Biblical truths.
Then, take a look at what Jesus said about the Great Commission in the Bible:
Matthew 28:19-20 states: "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
Which verb is the most important in these verses? "Go"? "Make disciples of all nations"? "Baptizing them"? Or "Teaching them"?
The answer is "make disciples of all nations" and the rest ones are modifying or supplementing the verb.
If a church wants to be healthy, the most important mission is to "make disciples of all nations" - the command from Jesus Christ, it is not a suggestion.
In fact, everybody should make disciples of people, which is not optional.
Then, how should one make disciples of people?
Transforming model 1: From teaching to disciple-making. What is "disciple-making"?
The definition matters.
Disciple-Making is the process of bring people to Christ, and building them in the faith towards Christ-likeness for the purpose of spiritual multiplication, resulting in the glory of God.
We should make the process based on this goal. The action will be right if the process is right.
We usually separate evangelism with disciple-making, but the latter counts a lot. It makes people have relationships with Jesus as they are rooted in the word of the Bible.
Therefore, reading the Bible and teaching it are only the foundation and one part of disciple-making that makes people more like Christ.
Mahatma Gandhi was affected by Christianity very much when he studied in the West in his youth.
He was first interested in Christianity and later on, he finally concluded that Jesus was amazing, but Christianity was strange after seeing a lot things happening in the church and the lives of Christians.
Back in India, he was asked how to change the country and he answered that it could change as long as all the Christians were Christ-like.
Disciple-making makes people Christ-like.
Transforming model 2: From clergy to lay people
1 Peter 2:9 stated, "But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light." In this verse, we're all priests
Ephesians 4:11-12 stated,"So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up." Church needs to equip all the saints inspire them to serve.
A number of clergymen behave so that there seem to be Christians at the upper level and the lower level. But remember that we're all full-time Christians, so we have to honor these laypersons no matter what level they may be.
The Bible declares that Jesus used the latter to serve as his representatives. Peter and John were regarded as unschooled, ordinary men who didn't study in the seminary at that time, but God used them.
The laity play an essential role.They may not be pastors, but they can hold the ministry of pastors and join in pastoring work.
Transforming model 3: From Classroom Training to On-the-Job Training
Don't be satisfied with just classroom training if we want pastors to grow constantly.
The job and service training should include not just the curriculum but also the relationship, modeling, and application of the curriculum.
Transforming model 4: From big group to small group to Discipline group
The discipleship in groups is beneficial, such as the mutual care and encouragement of relations, not becoming too dependent on a single man, and having examples and visions to grow.
Groups are very crucial and we should depend on each other.
Transforming model 5: From lone ranger to family team
Your first ministry is your family.
The statistics say that 80% of the next generation in Christian families will stop going to church.
If parents don't tend to their children's faith, the young people will be deceived by the world.
At the same time, 80% of women need counselling, because it's hard for them to get consultation from their own families. So it is suggested that one should include your family in your ministry.
Transforming model 6: From inward-focused to outward-focused ministry
Being inward-focused means one should focus on believers, but churches need to pay attention to both believers and non-believers.
The pastors shared that a foreigner came to his church every week after the first visit because the message there was helpful to Christians and non-Christians.
We need to teach pastors not to ignore non-believers.
Transforming model 7: From self-sufficiency to God dependence
What's God's dependency?
No prayer or being tired shows a sign of self-sufficiency.
We should depend on God and the Holy Spirit.
He added that their leaders fast once a week and conduct two big fastings a year in the church-growing movements. We should rely on the Holy Spirit in our movements.