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Part 4 of the "Reach the World" Series

Self-Glorifying Churches Impede the Gospel Message

by Aramus Crane, March 18, 2005

Part 1: Reach the World
Part 2: The Results of Poor Discipling and Church Planting
Part 3: The Uniqueness of Our Message
Part 4: Self-Glorifying Churches Impede the Gospel Message

Although nominal Christians are stereotypically and frequently unproductive and divisive, history shows times that God worked through the Church and missions instead of despite them.  Like William Carey, we have a larger view of the Church, that the Body of Christ includes people of all denominations, not just mine.  Presently, the splintering and bickering denominations is popular because self is placed above God.  This hinders the progress of God's Kingdom.  The same was true in Carey's time.
 "But in the present divided state of Christendom, it would be more likely for good to be done by each denomination engaging separately in the work than if they were to embark in it conjointly." (Carey W. op cit)
Instead, the character of a missionary should be to accept diversity in the Body of Christ.  I commend groups trying to end the hatred, division, and denominational pride that Satan has brought into the churches.  Groups like Perspectives, InterVarsity, the Navigators and other parachurch organizations are doing the job that the churches aren't prepared to do.  They show real Christian character and give us hope for the world eventually seeing and accepting the Word of Love.  Matthew 24:14 says that eventually we will have success in evangelism.  "This gospel...will be preached throughout the whole world..." At least one missionary preaching the Word of God will be present in every people group. The preaching, likely using all communication forms, will be done in a way that is effective in the culture so that all peoples will hear. That can only come when the Church puts aside its selfishness and division and when it starts valuing the mental gifting that God has given many in the Body.  

Since the church has not had the best reputation in the world and since going into a culture as a teacher can be intimidating for those in the culture, a missionary should consider going in as a student. If one takes the attitude of a humble student and bears this label among the people, it will convey that she has a listening heart. Often, the church uses another label, that of "spiritual parent" and "spiritual child." If this is conveyed to the people, once again the missionary may have or be perceived to have authority that could make the people rebel. The new believer needs to know that responsibility for his spiritual maturity resides in him. He must learn how to discern the will of God for himself and not just be programmed with laws from the missionary's home culture.

After one has taken the role of student, learner, and listener, she has accumulated a lot of information about the people and culture. This is the time when she can assume a trader role. During language training, she can learn how to explain the photos. Sharing pictures and stories from her background, she attempts to fit into the society and to establish relationships. The stories should share common elements of struggle for survival, enjoyment, satisfaction, and heartbreak.

Finally, after the student and trader roles have been learned, the missionary can try telling stories with Biblical foundations. People naturally want to know about other people, faraway places and cultures, and telling about her own and those of the Bible can pique the curiosity of even the hardest hearts.
One very intelligent movement afoot in the church is the replication of disciples and movements.  This happens when 1 person evangelizes and disciples 2.  Then those two go out and evangelize and disciple two others, and so on.  Contrast this to one evangelist going out and evangelizing thousands who never get discipled or lead anyone else to Christ.  It is estimated that only 10% of Christians ever lead anyone else to the Lord.  A pyramid affect is much more powerful than one person making converts that never replicate.  This is the advantage of a People movement, like Winters points out in "Join the World Christian Movement" (Perspectives:  A Reader.  p. 718) .  It is much more effective to multiply disciples than to have one person trying to teach the world.

Only when we work together in love will the world believe we follow the God of Love

Jesus said, "as the Father has sent Me, so I also send you" (John 20:21)  We need to go where he sends us and work in the same way He did.  As Jesus did, so should we love the Father and observe what He was doing so that we can follow in His path.  We should not just consider God from a dry intellectual point of view as the subject of theological discussion, but we should notice what He is doing here and now.  We should love Him with all that is in us. 


Effectively reaching and transforming the world will happen once God moves in us and we, 
  1. through humility and a change in focus, make disciples and train them to make disciples who make disciples,
  2. through our organization, demonstrate to the world that society will not fall into disorder should Christians take charge,
  3. open our minds to recognize what disciple-making methods have worked in the past and use our brains to innovate new methods for new cultures, new people groups, and new generations, and
  4. through loving each other and the world, demonstrate that the God of Love abides in us.
Part 1: Reach the World
Part 2: The Results of Poor Discipling and Church Planting
Part 3: The Uniqueness of Our Message
Part 4: Self-Glorifying Churches Impede the Gospel Message


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