Mon, 09/03/2007 – 07:37 — David Watson
I bet you thought this article was going to be about house church. It’s not. It’s about spiritual warfare within the Christian context, and how this affects training new leaders.
I train church planters and the trainers of church planters. My call and my job take me all over the world. I have trained more than 30,000 leaders from more than 125 countries in the past 25 years. These leaders and their disciples have started more than 40,000 churches and baptized millions of Believers, mostly in highly restricted areas that are resistant to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
There are many responses to my training. Those I have trained as trainers often receive similar responses. The level of cultural or existing Christianity in a region seems to be the primary factor that predicts how people will react to our training.
In general, my experience in places where Christianity is highly influence by what is considered Western thinking, there is an attitude of know-it-all, have-studied-it-all, and there-is-nothing-you-can-teach-me. These knowledge-based leaders/believers evaluate everything by how much they know, and how many degrees or certificates they have hanging on their walls. They usually have not reached a spiritual desperation to know God instead of knowing about God. To them, God seems to be a book to be studied, not the Creator with whom we are called to relate. God has made it clear that if we want to relate to Him we have to obey Him in all things. (My other BLOG entries deal with these topics)
When we approach the Bible as an academic endeavor, we can miss knowing God. But, when we approach the Bible as a love letter that reveals the deepest passions of God for us, and devour these letters over and over again (as we would a lover’s letters) to gain the least bit more passion in the relationship, these studies take on new meaning and are much more interesting. It is not the content of the training that is the problem when students become bored or lose interest. Even a poor presentation of the material is not a serious problem. When people are having problems with our training, it is always a spiritual problem. In fact, I usually regard these situations from a spiritual warfare perspective.
Most people think of spiritual warfare as casting out demons, healing the sick, or raising the dead. Satan is much smarter than this. He is subtle. He gets us to study God instead of love God. He gets us looking at the presentation, instead of seeing the lost. He gets us focused on winning individuals, if we must, instead of winning families, communities, and nations. He gets us to be critical of each others’ styles, instead of seeing Satan for who he is, what he is doing, and how he is devastating mankind.
If reaching the lost, being obedient to God, fulfilling our love for God, and drawing others to God is not interesting, then the problem is ours, not the person’s who is trying to help us understand these issues. I don’t worry about the people who walk away from our training. They are the wrong people to be trained. The more they criticize and are not engaged in winning the lost in such a way that new believers become disciple makers and disciple makers become church planters, the more I recognize the spiritual battles in which we are embroiled. I take those people’s names and I stay away from them. Those who do not listen and do not put into play within 48 hours the information they have learned are usually people I did not need to be working with anyway. There are some exceptions, but not many.
What my partners and I are doing is not academic. It is not about the seminar and getting people to engage the seminar. It is not about the church planting training process that goes beyond the seminars. It is not about appearing successful by counting how many people agree with us and join us in the seminars and other training events and/or courses.
What we do is about obeying God in finding, reaching, saving and serving the lost sheep of God. It is about being like Christ. It is about understanding that the crowds will follow as long as their ears are tickled, but when the cross is present, almost all will abandon the way.
Success is not measured by how many attend our seminars. Failure is not measured by how many walk out of our seminars. Success or failure is measured by fruit born by those who are willing to be obedient to the Word. The seminars and training and courses are about obedience. If people do not want to engage this, it is good that they leave or not come in the first place.
The invitation to those who want to learn to lead church planting endeavors is for those who are ready to obey. All others, please stay home, watch some TV, and waste your own time.
Fourth Quarter 2007