Why does biblical transformation matter?

New Life

Our first training session in an eastern Asian country was about to begin, in the foothills of the Himalayas. We were waiting for one more pastor to arrive. As I walked up the footpath to the training center, I saw a man trudging up the road towards me. I stopped, thinking: this is probably him. I greeted him with one of the few words I knew in his language. Switching quickly to English, I said ,“we’re ready to begin!” In spite of the language barrier, I persuaded him to follow me.

During that first training session, the pastor, Tham, seemed completely disengaged, as if in a daze. During the morning break when all of the other pastors were greeting one another, Tham sat outside on a boulder staring off into the mountains. What was going on?

At breakfast the next morning I learned from Tham that he was exhausted. He had traveled 4 days to get to the training…2 days by bus and 2 days on foot. But there was something else wearying him…something in him that God’s Word confronted that week, resulting in a profound, personal transformation in his life. We’ll circle back to Tham, but first a question.

Does biblical transformation matter? Jeremiah thinks so…

“For who among them has stood in the council of the LORD to see and to hear his word, or who has paid attention to his word and listened?” (23:18)

The responsibility of the teacher and preacher of God’s Word is both simple and clear. To see…to hear…to pay attention…to listen to what God says. Verse 18 uses four verbs of attentiveness to capture our attention. Creativity, persuasion, and cleverness are not are our primary responsibilities. Rather, listening is our fundamental calling.

If we listen well, we proclaim well. If we proclaim well, then the Spirit of God in sync with the Word of God does its incredible work.

But if they had stood in my council,
    then they would have proclaimed my words to my people,
and they would have turned them from their evil way,
    and from the evil of their deeds. (23:22)

In Jeremiah’s day, God’s people could have been spared God’s judgment…if only they would have heard the unadulterated words of God. God’s people would have turned from their sin. They would have experienced personal and national transformation through God’s gracious gift of repentance. But it was not to be, because the prophets proclaimed their own words rather than God’s. The result: “Behold, the storm of the LORD! Wrath has gone forth…” (23:19a)

Transformation is inherent to God’s Word. His words were given to bring about a transformational intent. God’s words were first delivered to his people by his prophets so that they might respond in a particular way and thus experience God’s blessing. God’s Word for the original audience was not merely informational, it was intentional. As we listen, study, hear, pay attention to God’s Word, we discover the aim…that original transformational intent which then drives the application of the text to our 21st century audience. The very nature of God’s Word is transformational.

Pastor Tham discovered this truth in an unexpected, yet powerful way. Our first training session with Tham and the other pastors focused on the book of Jonah. Pastor Steve Brandon opened the training time by preaching Jonah 1, the story of the disobedient prophet pursued by his gracious, but persistent God.

Just prior to that first training, Tham had decided to leave the ministry. Two factors drove him to this painful decision. First, he felt woefully inadequate in the ministry. Second, he was under terrible financial pressure. In his country, parents must pay for their children’s education. Tham simply wasn’t making enough to pay the school and university fees for his 6 children. He reluctantly decided to leave his church, move to a nearby city and get a decent-paying job. The decision was made by the time we met him…I’m not ever sure why he came.

However, Tham discovered that he could not escape “The Hound of Heaven”. As Tham sat listening to Jonah’s story, it became his story. Tham came under great conviction…like Jonah, he was fleeing from God and God’s good purposes for his life. Of course, we didn’t realize at the time the work that God was doing in his heart. Only later did Tham relate his story and then tell us that that he had changed his mind…he would continue pastoring his people, by God’s grace. Over the next four years, we were able to build into Tham’s life and encourage him along the way. Today, he continues to teach and shepherd his people and has even opened up a training center in his local church. Tham is flourishing because he personally experienced the transformational intent of God’s Word.

Does biblical transformation matter? Just ask Tham and the members of his church.

Does biblical preaching matter?

Leadership Resources - Missions and Expository Preaching Blog

Over ten years ago I was in Ghana, helping to equip a group of pastors from West Africa. My most vivid memory from that time was etched in my mind during a particular lunch break. The host pastor invited us into his home and while we were eating he turned the television on. Behold, a pastor from Texas was preaching up a storm! Unfortunately, he was railing for (or against?) a federal “flat tax.” At the time, one of our country’s political debates was whether the graduated federal income tax should be changed to a single rate “flat tax.” This preacher had an opinion and was expressing it forcefully.

I sat watching these West African pastors as they attempted to absorb what the TV preacher was saying. They assumed that this famous, international television personality must be speaking God’s truth to God’s people. Surely this pastor should not only be listened to with great care, but also emulated. I still wonder if those West African pastors preached about a flax tax the following Sunday in their churches?!?!?

Over 2600 years ago, the land of Judah was experiencing a similar crisis. While Jeremiah was preaching judgment and repentance, false prophets were preaching their own thoughts.

“They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. They say continually to those who despise the word of the Lord, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’” (Jeremiah 23:16b, 17)

These false prophets were likely thinking: it doesn’t really matter what I say, as long as I say something interesting and hopeful.

It mattered a lot, for God was listening.

“Am I a God at hand, declares the Lord, and not a God far away? Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord. I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in my name, saying, ‘I have dreamed, I have dreamed!’” (v.23-25)

The prophets thought that God was on the other side of the universe, too far away to hear and too disinterested to care. No. God is a God at hand. God hears every lie, every distortion, every foolish word spoken. God sees these false prophets promoting their own purposes rather than His.

Often when I prepare to preach, I imagine that God is sitting in the first row of the church listening to my every word. I remind myself that he is in the audience, in fact, he is the audience…I have an audience of One.

This realization sobers me deeply, because I realize that I, too, am vulnerable to bring my own biases and deceptions to the pulpit…not unlike the lying prophets of Jeremiah’s day.

“How long shall there be lies in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart, who think to make my people forget my name by their dreams that they tell one another, even as their fathers forgot my name for Baal?” (v.26-27)

The pulpit is a powerful platform, but also a seductive one. To some degree, we can’t help but bring our own agenda to the pulpit. Each of us have our personal hobby horses that we’re tempted to ride across the platform. And then there’s the seductions of our audience…their attentiveness and their affirmations. Our preaching priorities and motives can quickly become mixed.

This shift in priorities or motives places us, as teachers and preachers, in terrible danger. Simply put, if our words and ideas form the centerpiece of our message, God sets his face against us.

“Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, declares the Lord, who steal my words from one another. Behold, I am against the prophets, declares the Lord, who use their tongues and declare, ‘declares the Lord.’ Behold, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams, declares the Lord, and who tell them and lead my people astray by their lies and their recklessness, when I did not send them or charge them. So they do not profit this people at all, declares the Lord.” (v.30-32)

Woe to us if we speak our own words. Our words are weak, flimsy things that may actually lead people away from the things of God.

Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat? declares the Lord. Is not my word like fire, declares the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?” (v. 28-29)

Yes, biblical preaching matters!

Why does biblical interpretation matter?

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I became a believer in 1970 while a freshman at the University of Illinois. The early 70’s were a time of a great spiritual harvest on the college campuses across the country, and God, in his great mercy, included me.

A few months later, I began to receive postcards from Chuck, a young man who had lived with us. My mother was a high school English teacher with a huge heart. She ended up welcoming troubled high schoolers into our home….sometimes for a few days or, as in the case of Chuck, for several months. When Chuck left us, he was lost…trying to find his way in life. But then these postcards arrived, full of Bible verses. “Cool!” I thought. “Chuck has become a believer just like me”. One postcard brought me much joy. Chuck informed us that he was going to visit us over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Unbeknowst to us, Chuck had joined a cult, the Children of God. Upon his arrival, he began to explain that if I really loved Jesus, I would join their group. Remaining in school was not an option if I was going to be a serious follower of Christ. Universities and corporations were all part of the world’s system. Genuine followers should abandon the world and join with the only true believers, the Children of God.

I was confused, so I invited Gerry, a fellow student who was discipling me, to meet with Chuck. Gerry became confused as well and eventually we both became convinced that we should drop out of school and join them. When I told my mother that I was leaving to join the Children of God, it broke her heart. She later told me that it was the most painful experience of her life, almost as devastating to her as the death of my father a few years earlier.

But, what could I do? Chuck and his friends reminded me that Jesus said that to follow him we must hate our father and mother. The Children of God encouraged their new members to take from their families as much money as possible as well as a car and other valuables. After all, when Israel left Egypt, they took “the spoils of Egypt and plundered the Egyptians.” I left the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend, telling my mother that I might never see her again.

The brainwashing began my very first night with the cult. They began to indoctrinate me with five different Bible studies. The next morning I awoke confused, exhausted and scared. I sought the Lord in the Scriptures and read, For those who guide this people are leading them astray; And those who are guided by them are brought to confusion.” (Isaiah 9:16) Unfortunately, I wasn’t sure which leaders were leading me astray…was it my campus leaders or the Children of God???

God in his great mercy delivered me from the cult later that day. Miraculously, my older brother and a couple of my campus friends were able to find me and come to my rescue. But I remember driving back to the university with confusion and shame filling my soul. As a campus friend drove, I opened my Bible and discovered Ephesians 4:14  “…so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.”

That long, sobering drive to Champaign, IL began to form in me a conviction that I needed to give myself to study, learn, and love God’s Word. God has used my experience with the Children of God to profoundly shape me…for good.

Does biblical interpretation matter? I can’t think of anything that matters more.

Read more in the series:

Why does biblical engagement matter?

Why does biblical engagement matter?
Let me take you back to 620 BC. Judah, the Southern Kingdom, had been in decline for almost a century, with only a brief revival under King Josiah. His sons proved to be ungodly leaders who abandoned the God of Israel. God, in his mercy, sent prophets to urge both the leaders and the people to repent. If they refused, Jeremiah, Habakkuk and others warned of a coming invasion and devastating defeat, followed by a bitter exile.

But other prophets contradicted these warnings with comforting words that only stirred false hopes. Jeremiah 23 reads:

Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. They say continually to those who despise the word of the Lord, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’” (v.16-17)

These false prophets spoke lies, “the deceit of their own hearts”(v.26). They offered up their own dreams as a word from the Lord saying, “I have dreamed! I have dreamed!”(v.25). They would hear an impressive-sounding prophesy from one of their own, and then plagiarize the message and preach it as if it was their own (v.30).

God sarcastically prods the false prophets to keep what they’re doing in order to make the contrast crystal clear.

Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat? declares the Lord”(v.28)

The contrast between the false words of the lying prophets and the words of the living God is sharpened even further. Is not my word like fire, declares the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?”(v.29).

What can we say that will really make any difference in people’s lives? How can we help those consumed by anger? What can we say that would deliver people from jealousy or greed? Do we actually think that our words could free people for their enslaving habits? Our words are such weak things compared with the powerful temptations that our people wrestle. Our people need a word from God that is full of power…that brings life…that consumes the dross in their lives. We, as teachers and preachers of God’s Word, simply don’t have that capacity within ourselves. Only God and his Word have the transformative power that can change people at the core of their being.

In Jeremiah’s day, the faithful proclamation of God’s Word would have brought repentance and mercy.

But if they had stood in my council,
    then they would have proclaimed my words to my people,
and they would have turned them from their evil way,
    and from the evil of their deeds.(v.22)

This is why biblical engagement matters today. Only God’s Word empowered by God’s Spirit can bring the salvation, the deliverance, and the freedom that our people need.

Read more in the series:

Enjoying the Beauty of Jesus

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This post continues from Part One: Enjoying Your God in Prayer.


When Paul writes to the church in Colossae we see he uses the  pattern of “interrupting” his instruction with a prayer, exaltation of God, or benediction. Paul had never visited this city and had not personally met these brothers and sisters. But he had heard about their faith in Christ and their love for one another from Epaphras. Near the beginning of Paul’s letter, he thanks God for the Colossians and tells them how he is praying for them. As Paul writes about what God has done through His Son, as he did to the Ephesians, he seems to break out in a song of worship right in the middle of his writing:

He is the image of the invisible God. (Colossians 1:15a)

As Paul lifts up the Lord Jesus before his readers, he glorifies Him by describing who He is, what He is like, and what He has done. Jesus is God who can be seen. We are able to know who God is and what He is like through Christ.

[T]he firstborn of all creation. (Colossians 1:15b)

Of course, Paul is not describing Jesus as a created being. He is revealing Christ as God’s most highly exalted Son. This is the same way the Apostle John describes Jesus as God’s “only” Son (John 3:16)—unique in His eternal Person and position. In Greek and Jewish culture, the firstborn son in a family always held the preeminent position. As “the firstborn of all creation,” Jesus is preeminent over everything He created.

For by him all things were created. (Colossians 1:16a)

Paul continues to magnify Jesus Christ. He is not created. He is the creator who ranks supremely over all that exists. Everything we see has its source in the Son of God.

[I]n heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities. (Colossians 1:16b)

Everything unseen was created by Jesus—from subatomic particles to the invisible spiritual realm. Paul then teaches us about the sovereignty of Christ over every kingdom throughout history. He is over every king who ever sat on a throne and every person who ever claimed authority. Every human and demonic ruler has always been subject to the One before whom every knee will bow (Philippians 2:10-11).

[A]ll things were created through him and for him. (Colossians 1:16c)

Christ is not only the creator of all that exists, He is the recipient as well! Everything in heaven and earth was created for Him. We find our pleasure in Him because He created all things for His pleasure.

And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:17)

As we read Paul’s prayer of worship that he shares with the Colossian church, we join with him in seeing Jesus more fully in His power and glory. And our eyes fill with wonder once again. He alone is preeminent and worthy of worship.

Christ is not only the source and the recipient of all that is, He is also the “glue” in the universe who holds it all together! He alone holds the planets in their orbits and keeps the stars in place. He alone binds molecules together. Christ alone holds marriages, families, and churches together. He provides the cohesive power that keeps the universe in order according to the Father’s design.

And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. (Colossians 1:18)

In His preeminence, Jesus reigns as head of His Church. He is not only from the beginning, He is the beginning (John 1:1). God has designed all of time and eternity for one purpose: that His Son might reign supreme and be worshiped by every creature.

For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:19-20)

In Christ lives all the fullness of our God! And because God’s fullness is in Christ, God was able, through Him, to reconcile everything to Himself. We could never reconcile God to us, but God can lift us up and reconcile us to Himself through the blood of His Son shed on the cross.

Paul returns later in his letter to this theme of the fullness of Christ:

For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. (Colossians 2:9-10)

What a description of Jesus! Everything that God is, living in a body. We can see who God is and what He is like by looking at Jesus. We can know Him and live confidently in His love as His children through Jesus. We are filled in Him! In Christ, we have the fullness of our Father’s love, His approval, and the fullness of His power and joy.

Our relationship with our Father in prayer can express this same fullness. As we pray, we want to thank God for what He has done, bring Him our needs, and intercede for others. Then, as Paul models for us in his letters, we also can go on from there. Paul goes from teaching, to praying, to exalting his Savior, and exulting in Him. Paul clearly enjoys his God.

May the joy of God be the fountain that also carries our prayer lives far beyond the needs and concerns of this world. Let’s pray for the joy we find only in God and enjoy Him even more as we pray.

MEDITATION AND PRAYER

Father, how often I have “dragged myself into Your throne room” because I knew I ought to pray. Please cause me to run to You for the pleasure of Your presence. Call me with the joy of exalting You so I will know the same delight Paul experienced as he exalted You in his letters.

Teach me, Lord, to wonder at Your greatness and be in awe of who You are, what You are like, and the majesty of Your redeeming works. Father, let me never move from the amazement of Your mercy and grace poured out to me in Christ. My heart is filled with praise because You have designed all of time and eternity so He reigns supreme and forever receives the worship of Your angels, every creature, and every nation.


Language of the Heart Front CoverThis article is an excerpt of Language of the Heart: 20 Worship Prompters and Meditations on Prayer by Bill Mills, available in paperback or eBook format in our store or on Amazon.

Enjoying Your God in Prayer

Enjoying Your God in Prayer

Prayer is often called one of the “spiritual disciplines” of the Christian life. Surely, we must exercise regular discipline in our daily walk with the Lord to grow into the men and women God has called us to be in His Son. At the same time, as we consistently spend time with God in the sanctuary of prayer, we want to move beyond looking at our times with Him as just a discipline.

We need to come into His presence for the joy and satisfaction we find in Him. The pleasures of His presence—that feed and fill up our souls—will take us far beyond the discipline of prayer. When we experience our deepest joy in God, our hearts run to Him. No longer do we drag our souls into the prayer room to do whatever we must do to maintain our relationship with Him.

JOY AND PLEASURE IN GOD

King David experienced such pleasure in his relationship with God. When we read his prayers and songs of worship, we know he was drawn to God—not primarily because he needed wisdom, protection, healing, or provision. David was, first of all, drawn to God because he loved Him and enjoyed being in His presence!

We see this same desire in the Apostle Paul. How much David and Paul shared in common with each other: both were murderers and both were transformed by God’s abundant mercies. And from the hearts of both of these servants flow the most beautiful songs of worship in our Bibles.

It is amazing to us as we read Paul’s letters how often he will “interrupt” his teaching with a prayer of intercession for the people he is writing to or insert a song of worship to his God. We clearly see an example of this in Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus.

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 1:1-2)

Paul plainly says that his ministry finds its source in the authority of God. And Paul’s desire is for the believers in Ephesus to also find in God what we all so desperately need: grace and peace that come from Him alone. Now Paul quickly begins to exalt and bless his God as he writes:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 1:3)

Paul begins his letter with prayer! Already, after only a few sentences, the apostle focuses on God as he begins to describe who He is and what He is like. Paul does not say, “We need to begin our letter with prayer.” Rather, his heart opens like a fountain as he worships God and invites the Ephesian church to join him.

OUR HOPE: IN CHRIST

God, who brings us His grace and peace, has already poured on us all of the blessings that fill the heavens! How has He done this? In Christ! How rich the believers at Ephesus were—along with you and me. The heavens are filled with the presence, glory, and power of God. The mutual love, joy, and exaltation God finds in Himself as the Trinitarian God fill the heavens. He has blessed us with His love and joy because we are in Christ.

This is our one hope: God loves His Son. All the eternal affections of our holy God are focused on His Son, Jesus Christ. Because we are “in Christ,” God loves us! This is the reason we have confidence in our Father’s acceptance, mercy, and affection. Because He loves His Son, and we are in His Son, we possess all of the pure affection God reserves for His Son!

[E]ven as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will. (Ephesians 1:4-5)

Paul’s worship of God flows from his pen like a song as he teaches us who we are in Christ and why we are in Him. Nothing about our performance, potential, or sincerity motivate God’s love and favor. We are in Christ because of God’s sovereign choice from eternity to make us His children and pour out His mercy upon us.

[T]o the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:6)

We are in Christ because of God alone. If any merit of our own contributed to our salvation, then that would distract from the glory of God. He did it all to the praise of His glorious grace! One day we will join in the throne room with myriads of angels and the redeemed from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation. We will together fall at His feet, crying out before the Lamb who is worthy that He is the only reason we are saved. We worship Him alone.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight. (Ephesians 1:7-8)

All the blessings of heaven are ours as God’s adopted children. We have received redemption and forgiveness through the riches of God’s grace that He lavished upon us in Christ. This is our God! Nothing about our Lord is ever measured out carefully. Everything about Him and His works are poured out. That is why we live poured out lives for His glory, rather than measured out, carefully balanced lives where everything is properly proportioned for our comfort. Our response of worship and delight in our Father reflect the measureless giving of our gracious God.

[M]aking known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (Ephesians 1:9-10)

Paul continues in his letter to reveal the mystery of God’s purpose. He shows us how God, through His Son, will bring all things—in time and eternity and in heaven and earth—together to fulfill His plan. God not only chose us in Christ, but predestined us for His purposes. What hope and confidence we have in Christ! God did it all to the praise of His glory, and we worship Him!

As Paul teaches the Ephesians, we clearly see how much he enjoys God and delights in Him as he prays. Paul desires the brothers and sisters in Ephesus to also enter into this delight with him.


Language of the Heart Front CoverThis article is an excerpt of Language of the Heart: 20 Worship Prompters and Meditations on Prayer by Bill Mills, available in paperback or eBook format in our store or on Amazon.

Help with the Practical Needs of Our Global Ministry Center

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Dear Partners & Friends,

Enemies are attacking our Global Ministry Center!!!

What an incredible gift this building has been for 19 years, especially to those of us who remember working in Bill & Karen Mills’ dark, damp basement. Our building is now the nerve center for a worldwide pastoral training ministry impacting 40+ countries and many thousands of pastors and churches. It is serving us well, BUT…

Untitled2Two “enemies”, Wear and Tear, have taken a toll on our carpeting. The building still looks new except for our stained, wrinkled, worn carpeting.

The Emerald Ash Borer is our other enemy. These Asian invaders have destroyed all of our ash trees. As you can see in the photos, the trees are standing on their last legs…they’ve got to come down and be replaced…soon!

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Would you help this month by

  • Planting a new tree? $850 would cover removal and replanting of one new tree. We’re asking 6 of you to gift us with a new tree.
  • Replacing carpet? $14,000 would pay for the removal and replacement of 325 square yards of new carpet. At a cost of $43 per square yard, would you gift us 1, 2 or more carpet squares?

I realize that this isn’t as glamorous or exotic as digging a well in Africa or supporting an orphan in Burma, but these are still urgent needs.

As you consider upgrading your home or yard this summer, would you please include these LRI “home improvements” as well, so that our team might focus in the fall on equipping and encouraging pastors around the world to teach God’s Word with God’s heart?

Thank you in advance for your generous support of these very real, very practical needs.

With gratitude for your generosity,

Craig ParroCraig Parro

PS: Even if you can’t afford to plant a whole new tree or carpet a full room, please send a gift which, when combined with others, will get the job done!

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When you donate through the button above, select “Other” under Designation and enter “ADM 7/16”.

Indonesian Pastor: “TNT has been an answer to prayer and an encouragement to our family”

Training Indonesian Pastors in Expository Preaching

The video below features Herediki, a pastor from a remote Indonesian village, sharing how LRI’s Training National Trainers program has transformed his life and ministry by equipping him to preach biblical sermons.

Traveling to his town to film this video was the first time LRI staff has had contact with Herediki. Herediki receives training from his pastor, Audy. Audy has been trained and faithfully passes his training on to Herediki and others in their remote Indonesian village.

Transcript of the Video: 

My name is Herediki Lupon. I attend a Baptist church in the village of Atep Oki. I joined this church to understand the Word of God related to me personally. This church has an emphasis on helping us understand the Word of God more clearly. This church is different than other churches around us: how we follow Christ is seen in our lifestyle with God’s Word.

I am an assistant pastor for the church. I wanted to become closer to the Lord and take the steps to become a minister, but I have not had the opportunity to go to seminary. Since I was young, I have had the desire to enter theological school, but was not able to follow my desires. All of the pastors that come to pastor here have encouraged me to attend theological school. But there are many challenges to getting to a theological school. It is quite far away, very time consuming and finances are very limited. And besides, I am forty-nine years old now. But it’s OK. So far, I have learned the training from Pastor Audy, and I can understand the Bible much clearer now.

TNT Training has been an answer to prayer and a great encouragement to our family… When Pastor Audy returns from a TNT training, he teaches me and others what he has learned, lessons about finding the big idea of a text, understanding the context of a passage, and many other lessons. This allows me to have a much more detailed understanding of the Bible, a better understanding of the context of the text.

Before I learned the TNT method that Pastor Audy taught me, when I would preach a sermon, I would just speak about any idea I found and would like to talk about. After learning the TNT methodology, I have become much more careful. I try to be an encouragement to the congregation so they can understand the true meaning of God’s Word. This has been helpful for my own family and the church members as well.

We try to give the training to our whole family so that our family can continue to be faithful. Not only our children, but also our grandchildren. I would really encourage you to continue the TNT training because it is having a very big impact—not only to the pastor, but to the church members. It has really become an encouragement to me personally.

Herediki is living proof of how God is using second generation TNT training to further strengthen the global church and is another example of why we love being a 2 Timothy 2:2 ministry!

“…what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” 2 Timothy 2:2

God’s Word spreads by equipping faithful pastors to rightly handle and proclaim God’s Word. Learn how you and your church can join us in this important work.

Read more stories of how those we have trained are impacting others by passing on their training.

Ignite a Movement of the Word by Partnering with Leadership Resources

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Every kingdom-minded church and individual yearns for long-term impact in their ministries and missions programs.

Leadership Resources offers an opportunity for lasting impact to ignite movements of God’s Word by investing in the pulpits of the nations through pastoral training.

Our ministry thrives on faithful partners who support our training venue through prayer, finances, and sometimes traveling to train alongside us.

Several partnership opportunities exist for training groups in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. For more information on partnering with our work training pastors to preach God’s Word with God’s heart, please email Melanie Lachick or call 800-980-2226.

Current Partnership Opportunities Include

480px-Asia_(orthographic_projection).svgCreative Access Asian Country

This training will further develop a number of our gifted students (Mentor Trainers) from our Training National Trainers (TNT) program. They have been passing on their training in biblical exposition and hermeneutics to other ministry leaders in their large network of over 400 churches in some of the world’s largest metropolitan areas. Our hope is that these trainers, along with other Mentor Trainers in the country, would help spread a movement of God’s Word across the whole country to win many to Christ and build up the existing church.

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Missions in CubaCuba

Our training in Cuba will consist of two groups.

The first group’s training will be done in conjunction with brothers we have trained from a large church in Atibaia, Brazil. We hope their faithful example will encourage our Cuban brothers to not only be transformed by God’s Word, but to think in terms of a movement of the Word of God in their country.

Our second group will work with MOCLAM (Moore College in Latin America) to train ten pastors and church leaders. This group’s advantage is having already received biblical training from Moore and passing on training to others in their networks. Lord willing, this will make passing on their training with us in biblical exposition second nature and fruitful for the strengthening of pulpit ministries in Cuba.

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India_(orthographic_projection).svgIndia

Our work in India is spread across three different locations in different stages of development.

  • In Northeast India, we will continue to invest in key men we have trained (Mentor Trainers) who are now expanding our training in and around one of India’s fastest growing metropolitan areas. Three of these men have been appointed by denominational leaders to head up ongoing training using TNT for pastors, church planters, and missionaries in their denominations (Churches of Northern India, First Evangelical Church Association of India, and Asian Outreach Ministry). Training has already expanded outside of India into a creative-access country.
  • In Northwest India, we will start a training group in October 2016, drawing from five potential states. Pray for this group to have God’s Word grip their hearts and fuel a desire for Word-driven preaching, training, and discipleship.
  • In North Central India, we have begun discussions with leaders about training. Pray for fruitful discussions, a desire for training, and a logistical ability to see it happen.

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MyanmarMissions in Myanmar

After four years of successfully training 21 Burmese pastors, professors, and Bible translators in the Training National Trainers (TNT) program, we will begin phase two of our work and further develop eight of the most gifted men (Mentor Trainers) to spread our training in exposition throughout Myanmar.

Many have already taken the training to remote locations in Myanmar (sometimes a five-day journey away) to train remote tribes in TNT.Because of the gospel and our training, ethnic and ecclesiological barriers have been broken down. A sampling of our Mentor Trainer group shows just that: three professors at Reformed Theological College of Myanmar, a Church of Christ denominational trainer, and a pastor from the Pentecostal Church of Myanmar all are working together for the gospel’s advance.

Our hope and prayer is that God continues to use this group of trainers to equip and encourage many for faithful expository ministry in Myanmar.

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Missions in RussiaRussia

Our St. Petersburg cohort consists of twenty-five evangelical Baptist pastors; some of whom have received no formal Bible training, and others serve as regional Bishops for the Russian Baptist Union. This range of education and experience has created wonderful dynamics in the group. The senior ministers have shown Christ-like humility and have taken it upon themselves to encourage the younger ministers. One Russian pastor commented that before the training began, he found himself bored with preaching and the Scriptures, until the training awakened a new desire to study and preach the Word.

With our expanded training opportunities in Russia and Central Asia, we desire faithful partnerships with churches who can support our training financially and by traveling to train with us.

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Location_Tanzania_AU_Africa.svgTanzania

Since beginning training in Tanzania several years ago, we have trained twenty men who have passed training on to over six hundred pastors and church leaders. Of those twenty, five men of the highest caliber will receive advanced training in Word Work (to sharpen exposition skills) and Program Work (to provide necessary training in administration and strategic planning).

Our goal in training these five “Mentor Trainers” is to empower them to take ownership and leadership of all future TNT training in the country and create a sustainable movement of God’s Word in Tanzania. Several of these five pastors are closely affiliated with Bible schools and are working to integrate the Training National Trainers process into the larger curriculum and educational paradigm.

We estimate these five men will lead six to twelve training groups of 15-20 Tanzanian pastors each and develop more “Mentor Trainer” movement leaders in Tanzania. Investing in these men will build upon the existing groundwork increase the spread of God’s Word among Tanzanian pastors and churches.

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Learn More about Igniting a movement of the Word

For more information on this opportunity, please contact Melanie Lachick. Email Melanie or call 800-980-2226. Melanie can also tell you about the ways that we’d love to serve your church.

The Vine Project: Shaping Your Ministry Culture Around Disciple-Making | Book Review

This review originally ran on The Gospel Coalition.


vine_project_250_394_90It’s been seven years since a book on ministry from an Australian publisher took the evangelical world by storm. The success of The Trellis and the Vine: The Ministry Mind-Shift that Changes Everything (2009) surprised authors and Colin Marshall (CEO of Vinegrowers ministry) and Tony Payne (CEO of of Matthias Media), who described it (with typical Aussie humility) “as an unexciting little book that consisted mostly of the blindingly obvious” (14).

As is often the case, the “blindingly obvious” is where we most need clarity, especially when it comes to a biblical vision of ministry and discipleship. As the title suggests, The Trellis and the Vine is built on a metaphor: the “vine” representing spiritual growth by Word-centered disciple-making activities (teaching, training, prayer, one-to-one Bible reading), and the “trellis” representing the structural side of ministry (administration, organization, running programs, etc.). Churches need to structure their ministry around growing people, not programs, and letting trellis work support, not overtake, vine work.

The initial success of The Trellis and the Vine sparked countless conversations and caused many to rethink their approach to ministry. It also unearthed serious struggles. Though many were gripped by the book’s compelling, biblical vision for disciple-making communities, they had trouble actually changing their church’s culture. A new sermon series or one-to-one Bible reading campaign isn’t enough to “change everything” (in the words of the subtitle).

Without a more comprehensive and strategic plan to foster the right trellis dynamics for vine growth, changing a church culture is like “trying to turn around an ocean liner with a few strokes of an oar” (30). Marshall and Payne’s new sequel, The Vine Project: Shaping Your Ministry Culture Around Disciple-Making, is their roadmap toward a comprehensive and strategic plan that will help slowly turn the ship toward a culture of disciple-making disciples.

Phases for Changing Culture 

Changing culture begins by changing deeply held convictions that underpin culture and your activities, practices, and structures that express those beliefs (32). Naturally, phase one (“Sharpen Your Convictions”) presents a theology of the why, what, how, who, and where of making disciples (or, as the authors call it, “learning Christ”). It lays a compelling and biblical foundation to build on in the next four phases.

The 100 pages of phase one should be required reading for every Christian because of the simple yet glorious vision of discipleship founded on the four P’s of Ministry: (1) proclamation of the Word in multiple ways, (2) prayerful dependence on the Spirit, (3) people as God’s fellow workers, and (4) perseverance in the task (83).

Phase two briefly seeks to sow these biblical convictions of discipleship into the heart of the reader to reform his or her personal culture. Leaders must exemplify the change they seek to foster.

Phase three—on “loving, honest evaluation”—strategically guides leaders in how to do a whole-church disciple-making audit to understand current dynamics and diagnose roadblocks. This is where the hard work of implementing The Vine Project for culture change begins.

Phase four (“Innovate and Implement”) is a detailed and immensely practical phase composing about a third of the book’s 340 pages. This section will strategically lay out a plan to slowly rebuild what phase three deconstructed, and will likely prove to be the book’s most helpful and heavily referenced portion as leaders seek to refine their Sunday gatherings, think through pathways for disciple growth (the four E’s of engage, evangelize, establish, equip), and change how they communicate.

The approach for change is both top-down (ensuring the leadership team properly structures their activities and communication), and bottom up (working with lay leaders and individuals so they know how to adopt the 4P ministry mentality for making disciples).

Phase five focuses on maintaining momentum and understanding the long-term dynamics of implementing The Vine Project, and teaches practical skills to keep your church moving toward a discipleship-based culture.

Faithful Roadmap 

The Vine Project isn’t a book to read through once and put back on the shelf; it’s a guide for a project, a self-described roadmap for a journey toward a healthier disciple-making culture. Building on their biblical compelling theology of discipleship, Marshall and Payne deftly apply business-world wisdom on changing organizational culture to the ministry context.

Pastors and leaders will value the recommended resources, exercises, discussion questions, and insightful interviews with ministry leaders who have seen progress in their ministries.

The Vine Project sharpens, clarifies, and builds on the principles of The Trellis and the Vine in a cohesive way aimed at implementation. It’s one sequel you don’t need to have read the original to appreciate.

I suspect this book, like its predecessor, will be a game-changer for churches looking to cultivate a culture of disciple-making and gospel growth. I also suspect it will leave many frustrated—not because of what the book lacks, but because of the slow nature of both discipleship and change. Consider the words of one ministry leader interviewed:

The best way to manage change, in my opinion, is to acknowledge that change for the sake of the mission makes things harder, not easier—and that is okay; it is what God uses to do his work. Allowing people to acknowledge the mess is what keeps the mess from taking momentum away. In fact, I find excitement when the change creates a mess. It shows we are walking the pattern of Scripture. (336)

The pattern of Scripture is often the slow, hard, and messy road. Reading and implementing The Vine Project will remind you that God meets us on that hard and messy road when we, as God’s people, prayerfully and patiently proclaim his good Word to others.


Colin Marshall and Tony Payne. The Vine Project: Shaping Your Ministry Culture Around Disciple-Making. Sydney, Australia: Matthias Media, 2016. 355 pp. $19.99. 


Watch our interview with author Colin Marshall about The Vine Project:

     

    Launching Pastoral Training Movements Worldwide

     

    The mission of Leadership Resources is to launch pastoral training movements worldwide. This blog shares articles, resources, and updates from staff of God’s work around the world through our training. If you’re new to our blog, start here.

     


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