• Our hope-filled future is bound up in sharing the story of Jesus, in discipling others, in bringing those disciples together into communities of believers, and in developing and releasing those believers to create other communities... till Jesus the King comes again!

Ministry practice 5.0

What is that we actually do as cross cultural workers?  The CPM Roadmap (like the WT Continuum) makes an attempt at ‘painting a picture’ to describe the ministry in which we are engaged.  It is a good model, a good framework from which to work.

As we continue to look at cross cultural ministry from another perspective, we said that the first step is to engage others in spiritual conversations.  The second step is to encourage others to read God’s story contained in the Bible. The third step is to journey with people in their discovery of God.  Another step then might be to invite people into community.

We work, most of the time, from the following model  when we invite people ‘into’ community (described by Stuart Murray in his book, Church Planting: Laying Foundations):

Belief   [which leads to]        Behavior  [which leads to]        Belong

 

Right belief is seen as a prerequisite for participating in the community.  That belief should then give way to right behavior which demonstrates the authenticity of one’s commitment to Christ.  There is certainly much truth in that statement.  As the Bible says, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”  (Matthew 5:16)

However, what would happen to our thinking about community if we flipped this model/process in this way:

 
Belong   [which leads to]        Behavior  [which leads to]         Belief

 

What if we invited people, people on the journey to discovering God, to first experience the community of believers?  Would they experience Christianity in a different way?  Would Christianity become life rather than just adherence to certain propositional truths?

It’s an interesting discussion.

So what should we do?   We pray boldly asking for God’s wisdom to know how to invite people into community, the community of God’s people. We depend on the Spirit to lead people in seeing real Christianity (right belief issuing in right behavior) as they journey towards Him.  We trust God’s Spirit to lead many to come to a living and vibrant faith in Jesus.

4 Responses

  1. I think that belonging is an essential element in people coming to faith…

    Now, I’m not sure what the “behaviour” element all entails. Are we talking about “acting right” or are we simply saying that getting together with others is the behaviour?

    If, (and I mean, IF, since I don’t really know what the “behaviour” refers to) the “behaviour” means that people begin to “act like Christians” (whatever that might mean in a given context), I wonder if we might not consider a reshuffling of the steps to reflect this process…

    belonging [which leads to] belief [which leads to] behaviour.

    The Gospel begins its work from the inside, much like a tree gathering the strength, minerals, etc that are needed, and then begins to bear fruit on the outside.

    Some important questions I’d have in this context are…

    “To what sort of environment do people desire to “belong”?”

    When people sense that they belong in a given group, “what can we do intentionally that will lead them to discover belief?” I ask this because some might want to belong, but remain in the “social club” mentality.

    • It has been interesting to read the good comments from you, Henry and Valerie. I may have led you down the wrong path in one sense by implying that we were talking strictly about ‘community’ in the sense of the gathered group of believers as well as thinking of behavior as right action flowing from right belief.

      We should probably reflect on what it would look like invite people to discover community, not necessarily in our pre-existing group, but in a group that flows from their own relationships and contacts.

      Also, when I talk about behavior following belonging, this is almost natural for people when they become ‘part’ of a group, that is, they take on some of the values of the group without fulling adhering to the group. As time goes on, they attach adherence (belief) to those actions and then a right heart and motivation give impetus to a much larger obedience.

  2. Thanks for sending this!

    I have wrestled with this concept… I love bringing unbelieving people into a distinctly Christian community and watching them learn and pick up on new ideas, eventually moving them toward personal faith.

    In the first phases of church-planting this seems difficult because ‘community’ could be a group of seekers, as there is not yet ‘critical mass’ of believers to bring someone among. Community can still happen with a group of seeking people who have yet to make a personal commitment to Christ. There is still a sense of belonging.

    An incarnational approach might choose to enter an existing (unbelieving) community in order to plant the seeds of faith IN that community and watch them spread and grow…

    Many people are disconnected, so community is deeply attractive. But to those who already ‘belong’ somewhere, perhaps the incarnational model is effective in a different way.

    My thoughts are rather disjointed here as I “think out loud.” I’d welcome any thoughts/comments…

  3. I’ve seen in Janet’s ministry to Indonesian Domestic Helpers in Singapore that the sense of belonging has to be there before these (M) ladies are ready to even start to be open to the possibility that the Gospel might have anything of value for them. The order here would be Belonging (which leads to) Belief (which leads to) Behavior… (as Jacob states above). The message is most often communicated through the life of the messenger, more than through his or her words… at least at first. If the messenger can display the love of Christ, the ladies will want to come to the “community” and will feel that they belong. Then, it is God’s Word that has worked in the life of the messenger, that will begin to work in the life of the “seeker”… leading to belief… after which the Word continues to work and leads to a change in behavior.

    I applaud what both Jacob and Valerie have stated.

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