Is Downsizing Ever Better?

Is Downsizing Ever Better?

A BEYOND team member attended a training in a large East Asian country. The 16 trainees were leaders of various Discovery Bible groups that had started in the past year. These trainees had belonged to a growing church in the city.

The church, however, had recently come to a startling revelation: the more the church grew numerically, the fewer disciples they made. Their focus on excellent preaching had failed to produce any real lifestyle changes in their church members. Additionally, they found that as the church grew, they had fewer new believers attending. Their desire to grow numerically actually made them less effective as a church.

In a bold move, the church leaders decided to structure the church to once again meet in small groups. They trained leaders in the Discovery Bible Study group process and ensured all their members attended a small group. 

Shortly after they made this decision, government officials demanded they shut down their large Sunday meeting place. If this decision had come a few months earlier, it could have been disastrous, but these leaders saw God’s hand in the timing of these events. They decided that it was confirmation of God’s will and leading. They would not seek another place for their large meeting. Instead, they would continue meeting as house churches and use the new Discovery Bible Study process.

Pray that God will spur churches to evaluate the true purpose of the Church. Ask God to equip bold leaders like these as they move to fulfill the true purposes of the Church.

 

AN AHA MOMENT
Matt* recently led his Christian language teacher through Matthew 28:16-20. When he asked who Jesus was commanding to make disciples,  read more …

GO SMALL TO GO BIG
For years, three Muslim-background followers of Jesus lived and ministered together in the same Muslim community. The three friends would gather  read more …

WHEN THE CHURCH OBEYS …
One team of disciple-makers in Indonesia had been praying and pondering how they could send out more national workers to unreached areas. read more …

“Does the Stone Idol Ever Answer Anyone?”

“Does the Stone Idol Ever Answer Anyone?”

Two years ago Luke and Rhinna* were new to East Asia and starting language study in their new home. They were praying to meet people right away that God had prepared to hear about His plan for redemption. One spring day, as he took his children outside to play, Luke met a couple with twin boys whom he greeted in their native language. They greeted him in English! After chatting a while, Luke invited the couple to dinner. 

When the night arrived, the couple brought along the wife’s brother, Hero, who was a senior in high school. Everyone enjoyed the pizza and the story of Creation that Luke shared as they ate. Hero shared photos of the shamanistic site they had visited that day. But when Luke asked, “Does the stone idol ever answer anyone?” Hero became quite defensive. Even so, Luke and Rhinna suspected that they did not  hold tightly to the belief in shamanism.

After they left, Luke and Rhinna prayed that Hero would not be present again until his heart was softened and ready to listen. They didn’t want Hero’s arguments to draw the family away from interest in Christ. 

The following week, the young family invited Luke and Rhinna to their home to try some native dishes, and Hero was there again! The couple showed their wedding video, giving Luke and Rhinna a beautiful cultural lesson in the process. Then Hero followed with an excellent presentation on local history, which Luke and Rhinna listened to attentively. Luke ended the night by sharing the Bible story of Adam and Eve’s fall. When asked about the story, all three responded with great insight from the story. “God is like a Father who wants to have a relationship with His children. Sin broke their relationship with God. This is like grown children turning away from their father. But God acted to reconcile them to Himself. We must believe!” 

From this dinner, a relationship with Hero grew. Hero asked Luke to come round and meet his friends so they could practice their English. As the young people shared their personal histories, Luke listened and was able to share how Jesus had changed his life. Everyone enjoyed their time, even though there had been a young man sitting at a nearby table cracking jokes the whole time. At the group’s second meeting, Hero asked about American holidays, and Luke shared the reasons behind our Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter celebrations. When Luke proposed they read a Book that told more stories of the Creator and his relationship with people, the rest of the group of young people was amenable.

Together they studied many stories from the Bible. Each time they came away with a greater understanding of God and what He wants for and from His creation. They began to apply this knowledge to their lives. At one point, the young man who had been cracking jokes during the first meeting asked to join the group. His name was Clear. Luke gave him a Bible, and Clear read 35 chapters of Genesis in a week to catch up before the next meeting.

Over several months Luke was able to pour into these young men and women. They talked about issues they were having with their parents, their changing attitudes towards Buddhism (the majority religion of the country), Christianity, and lots more. They even presented Luke with a beautiful mural they created of his family’s names and theirs written in their ancient script.

When Luke and Rhinna moved from the capital city to a new, remote location, the group was able to continue with Hero at the helm. Luke had taught them how to conduct Discovery Bible studies and empowered them to continue engaging with the Word. He kept in touch as the young people began attending college, having many spiritual conversations with them. Luke has even been able to join in a Bible study via an online video call. 

Recently, back in the capital city, Luke met with Hero and Clear.  Clear had read through many books of the Bible on his own. Hero had just read the book of Matthew and had some questions. Luke answered Hero’s questions by retelling the story of Jesus from baptism through crucifixion to resurrection. After Luke was finished, Clear said, “I have waited ten years to choose my religion, today I choose Jesus Christ.” Hero and Clear both made decisions to accept Jesus Christ on the same day! 

*psuedonyms