By Dave Roper
1. Select key men from the larger Christian body to which you are ministering (congregation, Sunday school class, Bible study group, etc.) Note these verses for the basis of your choice: 2 Tim. 2:2; Luke 6:12, 13; Mark 3:13.
2. Begin to spend time with this select group (John 3:22). Spend leisure time with them (Mark 6:31). Get them into your home and family life; involve them in your personal life and ministry (Mark 5:37).
3. Provide additional opportunities for teaching through Bible study and discussion, reading, Scripture memorization, tapes, etc.
4. Expose them to other teachers and leaders. It takes all the saints to know all the dimensions of the knowledge of God.
5. Encourage them to open up and share their lives with one another. Set the pace by your own openness and honesty.
6. Be sensitive to teachable moments (Mark 10:1~16).
7. Don't be afraid to be hard on these men; God's men will bounce (Mark 8:18, 33; 9:1-8; 9:19).
8. Welcome adversity in their lives; these times are opportunities for advancement (Mark 4:35-41).
9. Encourage them into ministries on their own. Give them plenty of rope. You can trust the Holy Spirit in their lives. Provide counsel and encouragement. Evaluate periodically (Mark 6:7-13, 30). Move them out into positions with increasing responsibility. Gently push them out into situations beyond their depth so they have to trust the Lord.
10. Impart your vision to encourage them to disciple others and send them out (John 20:21).
11. Maintain a support base even when they are on their own. Provide help as they need it. Pray for them, write, be available for counsel.
I. God's Master Plan For The Church---You
A study in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 12
A. Things Of The Spirit---what the Spirit is doing (v.1)
1. Unity Of Confession---Jesus is Lord! (vv.2-3)
2. Diversity Of Function---Through Deity In Action (vv. 4-6)
a. Variety of gifts (divinely given capacity for service) from the Spirit
b. Variety of ministries (divinely appointed tasks or area of the exercise of a gift) from the Lord
c. Variety of energizings (divinely determined results---the thing accomplished) from God
3. Harmony Of Coordination Through Sovereignty Of Distribution Each one fulfilling his place, allowing Christ to express his life through his body (vv. 7-11)
4. Universal Illustration---The Human Body (vv.12-26)
a. Sharing one life in one body (vv.12-13)
1. No disparagement (all needed) (vv.14-17)
2. No dispute (God's arrangement) (v. 18)
3. No disdain (the less presentable are more indispensable (vv. 19-24a)
4. No discord (all share same concerns) (vv. 24-26)
5. Certainty Of Application---It's a fact. Now, how do we fit the facts? (vv. 27-31)
B. Note The Setting---Between Jesus Is Lord (1 Cor. 12:23)
And The Way Is Love! (1 Cor. 13)
II. No Unemployed Saints---The Heart Of God's Plan
- Discover your gifts and use them
- Do you have one? Or more?
- What is their purpose?
- What are the gifts?
- How are they to be employed?
- How do I discover my gifts?
A. Do I have one? Read 1 Corinthians 12:1 and 4 to 7; Ephesians 4:7-8. The answer is here: "God inspires them all in every one"; and "to each is given"; and in Ephesians 4, "Grace was given to each of us . . . he gave gifts to men." Every Christian has a gift---maybe more than one!
B. What are the gifts?
1. To define---spiritual gifts are: a special enabling for ministry; a capacity for spiritual service; or a specific function appointed by God to accomplish his purposes in the church and the world. Gifts are over and above the general capacities given to all the members of the body. For example, all are to be witnesses, but some are especially given to the church to encourage and train the others, as evangelists. All are apostles in the general sense of John 17:18, but some are specially given the ability to plant new works and pioneer in new fields of endeavor.
Native abilities which we call "talents" are not the same as gifts. For example, a man can be an able speaker and not even be a Christian. Gifts are divine enablings given by the Lord to accomplish the spiritual ends he desires. The Lord will use the native abilities he has implanted (such as the natural ability to speak well or to think clearly) and will empower these as to give insight beyond the native abilities to think and expression of truth with impact beyond the normal power of speech.
2. Gifts are of three kinds: general support gifts, sign gifts, and specific working gifts.
a. General support gifts (Eph. 4:11-16)
(1) Apostles---men gifted to lay foundations, to build the basic support structure upon which the rest would be built. An example of the work of the apostles is the New Testament, the foundation for faith.
(2) Prophets---God's special spokesmen to his people. Their words carry God's authority and have power to build by stimulating and encouraging. Often this gift reflects special insight into the truth and calls men back to the obedience of faith, e.g., A. W. Tozer.
(3) Evangelists---good-news tellers; those who are able to compel a hearing of the great redeeming story of Jesus Christ to non-Christians with convicting power, e.g., Billy Graham.
(4) Pastor-teachers---shepherds of God's flock, car-ing for the sheep, feeding, guiding, protecting, keeping fit and healthy. "Pastor" describes the job---shepherding. "Teacher" describes the means by which he fulfills his assignment---feeding the flock on the Word of God.
b. Sign gifts
(1) Miracle working
(4) Interpretation of tongues
The first two were the signs of the authority of the early disciples, arresting the attention of the populace, identifying with the work of Christ and attesting to their origin in the power of God. These were the credentials the apostles presented to an unbelieving world. The last two were signs to Israel that God was removing the Jews from the privileged place and turning to the Gentiles. (See 1 Cor. 14:21-22 and Isaiah 28:11.) All these seem to have served God's purpose and apparently have been set aside in the sovereign will of the Spirit of God, at least as far as we can see. If the Spirit of God should choose to use them again, we would expect it to be in line with their "sign" character.
c. Specific working gifts (Read 1 Cor. 12:10 and 28; Rom. 12:1-8)
(1) Wisdom---direct insight into truth; the ability to understand how truth applies to specific situations; putting the truth to work (1 Cor. 12:8).
(2) Knowledge---ability to investigate and systematize facts; to put them into manageable order; to recognize and relate facets of truth (1 Cor. 12:8).
(3) Faith---better called the gift of vision, the ability to see what God wants done and the courage and faith to tackle a seemingly impossible job and accomplish it, e.g., Cameron Townsend (1 Cor. 12:9).
(4) Prophecy---the ability to speak to men for God for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation (1 Cor. 14:3). Also, to speak toward the unbelieving world so as to convict, open up and bring to the worship of God (1 Cor. 14:24-25).
(5) Discernment---the ability to distinguish between the spirit of truth and the spirit of error; to spot subtle forms of phoniness and deception, e.g., Peter with Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5(1 Cor. 12:10).
(6) Helps (Or showing mercy)---lending a hand whenever a need appears. There are 1,001 ways to exercise this gift. "Helps" in the New Testament Greek has the sense of "holding against so as to support." Showing mercy is being moved by pity to give aid. Thus, one describes the motivation, the other the pur-pose for the exercise of this gift.
(7) Teaching---giving instruction with the result that someone is learning the truth of God (Rom. 12:7 and 1 Cor. 12:28).
(8) Administrative gifts---keeping things in order through organization, planning and executing the plan.
(a) Administration--- diakonia (Rom. 12:7) Household chores---sharing for the multitude of detail tasks around God's household.
(b) Leading---proistemi (Rom. 12:8) Standing before in a leadership responsibility, e.g. chairing committees, leading meetings, etc.
(c) Governings---kubernesis (1 Cor. 12:28) Guiding or steering the affairs of the local church, e.g., serving as elder or overseer on a governing board.
(9) Giving---specially called to be spiritually sen-sitive to needs and to make money or other assets available for God's use (Rom. 12:8)
(10) Exhortation---the ability to call to action and get people moving; to speak so as to motivate or encourage (Rom. 12:8)
C. How do I discover my gifts?
In seeking to determine your spiritual gifts, follow through the parallel to the human body as shown in the diagram:
In the HUMAN BODY, how does a member of the body (e.g., a hand) know its place of usefulness?
In the BODY OF CHRIST how do I determine my spiritual gifts?
1. It receives orders from the head
1. Ask the Lord, "What is my place and function in the body?" Christ as head is able and responsible to answer.
2. It has inherent features that equip it for certain functions.
2. Examine inherent features, e.g., teaching---do I enjoy studying the Word?
3. It grasps existing opportunities
3. What is obviously at hand that I am in a position to do?
4. It sees successful results. It is productive toward designed ends.
4. Do I see that God is doing something worthwhile through me?
5. It recognizes interdependence with other members of the body.
5. How do I fit in with the other members? e.g., do I find Cooperative endeavor in governing ministry?
6. It supplies a need that must be met
6. What are current needs that need to be met? e.g., music, visitation.
7. It makes progress in proficiency.
7. Do I function better with practice? I should.
8. It experiences the gratification of usefulness.
8. Do I enjoy a sense of being used as I minister?
9. It is acknowledged by the rest of the body.
9. Do others in the body recognize and appreciate my contribution to the whole?
Then approach as you did the problem of discovering talents. Try it!
D. What is their Purpose?
It is to build the body of Christ---his church (Eph. 4.12 16).
Christ said, "I will build my church---and the councils of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matt. 16). That's what he's doing---now. What are you doing?
"To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good" (1 Cor. 12:7).
"Let all things be done for edification. . . . so that all may learn and all be encouraged" (1 Cor. 14:26 and 31).
E. How are they to be employed? (How do I exercise my gifts?)
1. In love. (I Corinthians 13 is in the middle of the pas-sage on gifts.)
"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing" (1 Cor. 13:1-3).
2. As expressing the life of my indwelling Lord.
"But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us" (2 Cor. 4:7).
"That Christ may settle down and be at home in your hearts by your faith---that you may grasp, with all Christians, how wide and deep and long and high is the love of Christ" (Eph. 3:17-19).
3. Remembering that they are gifts given by his sovereign authority (1 Cor. 12:11 and 18). There is no ground for pride.
As we do these things, our Lord will be seen to be at work in us as members of his body expressing his life (1 Cor. 12:27).
To discover your gifts and employ them is the most exciting discovery possible. It is to recognize the purpose for which God intended you!
And he himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastor-teachers, toward the fitting out of the saints for a work of ministry, for the building of the body of Christ-until we all arrive at the oneness of the faith and of the full knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ---that we may no longer be babies, being tossed back and forth-but maintaining truth in love, we may grow up in every way into Christ, the head. For it is from the head that the whole body is a harmonious structure, knit together by the joints with which it is provided, and grows by the proper functioning of individual parts to its full maturity in love. (Ephesians 4:1-4, a literal rendering)
Principles Of The Ministry
Compiled by David Roper
1. Establish and maintain the proper priorities (Phil. 1:1-9). A ministry is analogous to building a tower. It rests on a series of underlying foundations. If the foundations are weak then the whole structure will totter. If we weaken at any level, we must stop building above until that level is strengthened.
#3 Priority---Relationship With Society (1 Tim. 3:7)
#2 Priority---Relationship With Family (1 Tim. 3:4,5)
#1 Priority--- Relationship With God (Ezra 7:10; 1 Tim. 4:16; Acts 20:28)
2. Our authority as leaders is derived from our obedience to the truth (1 Tim. 4:12; John 10:37; Heb. 13:17; Judges 6).
3. The basis of any ministry is faith. It is "by faith" that God's work is accomplished (Heb. 11). It is not by planning, by organization or by self-effort. while these have their place, we must be flexible and easily led by the Holy Spirit. The direc-tion of our ministry and the speed with which that ministry grows is the prerogative of the Holy Spirit alone (John 6:28, 29; 2 Cor. 3:4-6; Col. 1:29).
4. The strongest ministries are team ministries. Since God's way is to operate through a body, rather than venture into a ministry alone we must let God develop a team relationship first (Deut. 32:30; Matt. 18:19-20; John 1:35-51). Note that Jesus spent an entire year with four to six men before he began his public ministry.
5. Life-related biblical instruction must underlie all our efforts to bring men to maturity. Teach the Scriptures methodically and expository. Teach the "whole counsel of God." Teach repetitively the great liberating principles of Scripture (2 Tim. 3:14-4:2; Acts 20:17-32; John 21:15-17; 2 Cor. 4:1-6; Eph. 4:15-16).
6. The goal of our ministry is to "present every man mature in Christ" (CoI. 1:28). Every activity must be evaluated in the light of that goal.
7. As we teach, we must look for "faithful men who can teach others" and invest the bulk of our time in the lives of these men. The Lord established the pattern in his ministry. He taught the crowds, but his training ministry was concentrated in the Twelve. Note John 17:6, 9, 17.
8. We are a body! (1 Cor. 12; Rom. 12:~8). Therefore we need to recognize the distinctiveness of that body.
a. Every member has a unique function. He cannot de-preciate his place in the body.
b. No member carries on all the functions of the body.
c. The members of a body are interdependent.
a. We need one another! The best ministries are team ministries composed of men who possess varying gifts.
b. It is wrong to insist that anyone follow one man alone. Men need an exposure to many members of the body.
c. One major thrust of our ministry must be to help others find and develop their Spiritual gifts and exercise them with all their heart in their appointed place.
9. The key to effective evangelism is to get the body to function correctly (John 17:20-21; Eph. 4:16; John 13:34, 35).
10. Gifted men are given to the body to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry (Eph. 4:11-16). Spiritual leaders in any group are like player-coaches who have as their primary aim the training and engagement in the ministry of individual believers.
11. The leadership shortage is always with us. When we look for leaders, let's start where the Lord did. (See Matt. 9:37-38.)
12. The Body of Christ is not a hierarchy. We have only one Lord, and all others are brothers (Matt. 23). Note these verses for characteristics of a spiritual leader: Heb. 13:7, 17; 1 Thess. 2:1-20; Acts 20:17-38.
13. Magnify the ministry of others. Are we as excited about others' ministry as about our own?
14. Leadership is not lordship but servanthood. The measure of our spiritual leadership is not how many we rule over, but rather how many we serve (Mark 9:3~37; 10:35-45).
15. People are God's most important product. They take precedence over any program (Mark 5:21-36; Mark 6:30-37).
16. Hit men hard. God's men will bounce when the truth is spoken in love (2 Cor. 2:15-16).
17. Look for men like the Gerasene demoniac (Mark 5:1-20). This man evangelized that entire countryside. As far as we know, Jesus spent only a few hours in that region.
18. Size does not equal success. God always perpetuates faith through a remnant. Don't count noses. Operate on the basis of biblical principles and God will bring enlargement (Acts 2:47). When we feed our people, we won't need to waste time on promotional gimmicks.
19.2 Timothy 2:24-26 is S.O.P. (standard operating procedure).
20. The harvest is at the end of the age, not the end of the meeting. Discouragement grows out of unrealistic expectations. The seed doesn't spring up immediately after it's sown. Let God bring it to maturity in his time and he will go beyond our expectations (Mark 4:2~32; 1 Cor. 3:5-9; Isa. 55:11).
New Testament References On Deacons
For your further study we have listed all the occurrences of diakonos, diakonia and diakoneo in the New Testament. The ones marked with an asterisk have been cited in the body of this study.
Diakonos in the New Testament:
Matthew 20:26; 22:13; 23:11
Mark 9:35; 10:43
John 2:5,9; 12:26
Romans 13:4; 15:8; 16:1
1 Corinthians 3:5
2 Corinthians 3:6; 6:4; 11:15, 23
Ephesians 3:7; 6:21
Colossians 1:7, 23, 25; 4:7
1 Timothy 3:8, 12; 4:6
Diakonia in the New Testament:
Acts 1:17,25;6:1, 4; 11:29; 12:25;20:24;21:19
Romans 11:13; 12:7; 15:31
1 Corinthians 12:5; 16:15
2 Corinthians 3:7~9; 4:1; 5:18; 6:3; 8:4; 9:1, 12, 13; 11:8
1 Timothy 1:12
2 Timothy 4:5, 11
Diakoneo in the New Testament:
Matthew 4:11; 8:15; 20:28; 25:44; 27:55
Mark 1:13, 31; 10:45; 15:41
Luke 4:39; 8:3; 10:40 12:37; 17:8; 22:2~27
John 12:2, 26
Acts 6:2; 19:22
2 Corinthians 3:3; 8:19~20
1 Timothy 3:10, 13
2 Timothy 1:18
1 Peter 1:12; 4:10-11
(Resource materials: Kittel, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament; Englishman's Greek Concordance).
How We Got In The Body!
(The Baptism of the Holy Spirit)
If you are "in Christ," how did you get there?
1 Corinthians 12:13 tells us: "For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body-so it is with Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body .
Analyzing this last phrase, we need to determine (1) the meaning of the word "baptize," and (2) the grammatical structure of the sentence,
(1)"Baptize" is originally a Greek word. We borrowed it and transliterated it into the English language by simply changing one letter. Therefore we cannot rely on our twentieth century understanding of this word, but must seek to discover what it meant in its Greek usage in the first century, when 1 Corinthians was written. When we do this, we discover it had two meanings:
(a) A ceremonial usage, in which a ritual dipping symbolized something, e.g., warriors "baptized" the tips of their spears in blood before battle, symbolizing the intent to kill by letting the blood of the enemy.
(b) A mechanical or "real" usage, where "to baptize" is to place into or introduce into, causing a change of relationship, e.g., a ship was "baptized" in the harbor when it sank.
In this verse it is obvious that the action described is real-not symbolic or ritual, so we take the second meaning, as in (b) above. When we employ this meaning in the verse, it reads: "For by one Spirit we were all placed into one body." This is how we got in the body of Christ: The Spirit of God placed us into living union with him, our living Head, when we received Christ as our Lord!
(2) The verb 'baptized" describes completed action at a point of time-something that has already happened to those who are Christ's. That's why the complete form says "we were baptized." Note also that this verb is a passive form, signifying that we were the ones receiving the action, not the ones acting. This means that the Spirit of God did the placing into the body. We simply received the gracious ministry of the Holy Spirit. He placed us into the body so we could enjoy the new relationship with Christ. This is the baptizing ministry of the Spirit, by which all who know Christ were taken out of Adam and placed "in Christ."
What does that mean to me? Quite a lot---it means I'm identified with Christ in all that he is and does: "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Gal. 3:27).
I shared his death (Rom. 6:6).
I share his resurrection life (Rom. 6:8).
As a member of his body, I share all that is his (1 Cor. 3:22-23).
In Time and Eternity!
Rom. 8:14-21 Rom. 14:9
The Spirit's Ministries To Us
Getting it in perspective:
CONVICTED by the Spirit: we are shown our need to believe in Christ as our Lord and thus gain all the value of his death and life (John 16:7-11).
BORN of the Spirit: we enter into God's family as his dearly loved children (John 3:3 & 6; Titus 3:5-7; 1 John 3:1-2).
BAPTIZED by the Spirit: we are placed into the body of Christ as living members joined to our living Lord (1 Cor. 12:12-13).
SEALED by the Spirit: we are made safe and secure under God's ownership. (Eph. 1:1114).
INDWELT by the Spirit: we become his temple, the place for offering the sacrifice of praise (John 14:1~17; 1 Cor. 6:19-20; Eph. 2:19-22; Heb. 13:15).
FILLED with the Spirit: we are controlled and empowered for useful life and service, showing forth the fruit of the Spirit (Eph. 5:18; Gal. 5:22-23).
Follow-Up Schedule For New Christians
By David Roper
The order of these topics may be changed as needed. Have in mind where these new Christians are, what their needs are, and how to apply these topics to those specific needs.
1. Nature of the transaction
a. What is the gospel?
b. Explanation of terms
2. How to maintain a love relationship
a. Commitment (Rom. 12:1)
(1) The Word (1 Pet. 2:2,3)
(2) Prayer (Phil. 4:6, 7)
c. Confidence or trust (1 Pet. 5:7)
d. Honesty (1 John 1:9)
3. Basis of spiritual power (John 6 or Campus Crusade Bird Book [Filling of Spirit] "Christ in you" concept)
4. Purpose of tests (Rom. 5:1-10; James 1:1-15; 2 Cor. 4:7-12)
5. Meeting temptation: spiritual warfare (Eph. 6)
6. Sovereignty of God (Rom. 9 and Eph. 1)
7. Authority of Scriptures (1 Thess. 2:13: not so much an apologetic approach but call to obedience, God's word a revelation not to be ignored)
8. How to study the Word (simple approach)
11. Spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12)
12. Nature of the Body (Eph. 4 or 1 Cor. 12)
13. God's program for the world: survey of prophecy; purpose for Israel and church
14. Interpersonal relationships: home, business, etc. (Eph. 5:18-6:9 or Phil. 2:1-18)
15. Christian graces (Gal. 5)
16. Leadership---servanthood concept of Christian service
17. Christian view of sex (1 Cor. 6 and 1 Thess. 4)
Twelve Ways To Dominate Instead Of Leading
1. Use your superior knowledge of Scripture to snow the opposition.
2. Wrest Scripture out of context to use as a club.
3. Intimidate by a display of temper, shouting, pouting and other such kid stuff.
4. Threaten to quit if they don't do it your way.
5. Seek support for your position by privately persuading other elders.
6. Be stubborn and hold out for your way until everyone gets tired and gives in.
7. Sneak the action through when some of the opposition is out of town.
8. Make public announcement of a decision before it's made by the board; then they will have to do it your way.
9. Cut down those who disagree with you in your messages from the pulpit.
10. Pull your rank; tell them, "The Lord told me this is the way we do it."
11. Think through all the answers, plan all the programs, and just tell them what we're going to do. Don't ever open the door for them to think, make suggestions or plan with you.
12. Be the whole show on the platform at every meeting. That way nobody else can get a word in. Don't ever ask your men to lead a meeting, pray, read Scripture, teach or anything like that. After all, they've never been trained and you have (beyond your intelligence).
"But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insincerity." (James 3:17)
Marks Of Maturity
1. Stability and consistency (1 Pet. 1:13)
2. Walking by faith (Rom. 8:14)
3. Openness to correction (1 Pet. 5:5-6)
4. Non-defensive attitude (1 Pet. 5:5-6)
5. A teachable spirit (1 Cor. 2:1-13)
6. Honesty before God (1 John 1:5-10)
7. Love extended without reservation (5:48)
8. Acceptance of conflict and suffering as part of the growth pattern (Rom. 5:3)
9. Freedom from fear (1 John 4:17-18)
10. Knowing good from evil in subtle distinction (Heb. 5:14)
11. Confidence (1 Tim. 3:13)
12. Knowing and exercising right priorities (John 11:940)
13. Willingness to surrender one's rights for Christ's sake (Phil.2:1-9)
14. Accepting an obscure place without requiring praise to keep going (2 Cor. 4:5)
15. Faithfulness in assuming and fulfilling assignments, availability and follow-through (1 Cor. 4:2)
16. Submission to authority (Rom. 12:1-3)
17. Liberty resulting from obedience (John 8:34).
Friendship Evangelism Through Home Bible Classes
In these days when so many are writing off the Christian message with hardly a look, does it follow that God is out of business and that Christians haven't a chance to reach their friends and neighbors with the "Good News" about Jesus Christ? Obviously not. God is still calling out a people for his name! There are still hungry hearts around. What we need is to discover how we can be used to get the two together. We need not be dismayed by the situation, but we should be reexamining the basis of our efforts to reach those without Christ to see if we are using the means which God has made available.
One of these means is the home Bible class, or Bible discussion group. In Acts 10, God used the home of Cornelius, a Roman cen-turion, to introduce the gospel to the Gentiles. He is using this same approach today.
Here's How It Works
(1) A right attitude about Christian separation is basic. We must be approachable and outgoing as our Lord Jesus was to the publicans and sinners. This means that we may have to change our minds (like Peter in Acts 10) about what is "unclean." Our Lord expects from us communication without contamination. But we cannot communicate the gospel without some contact with the non-Christian world.
(2) It proceeds on the basis of a missionary approach. We should consider ourselves missionaries to the twentieth century pagans. We must reach them where they are, in their culture pattern, using their language.
(3) We need unmixed motives, desiring to give them an opportunity to consider the claims of Christ upon their hearts and lives as we present him from the Scriptures. We are not presenting ourselves or our church; we are presenting Christ as Lord! (2 Cor. 4:5) We are to teach the authoritative Word of God without personal dogmatism, giving ample opportunity for questions and discussion---speaking the truth in love (Eph. 4:15).
(4) The genius of this approach seems to be in the fact that many folks are willing to gather in the informal, relaxed atmosphere of a living room to discuss the Scriptures, and thus consider the gospel message. Many will find Christ to be the very One they need!
Here Are the Basic Elements
(1) A Christian couple who are willing to open their home and invite their friends in for such informal studies. A newly saved couple make ideal hosts, because of their many unexplored contacts and their earnest desire to share the wealth of their new found faith with their friends and neighbors. The following "Helpful Hints for Hosts and Hostesses" offer some further guidelines:
- Try to arrange everything to produce a friendly, informal at-mosphere for the class. Aim at making nonbelievers feel at home. Be sure to have ashtrays and matches available. Provide informal group seating.
- Avoid "churchy" expressions; be natural and casual in your attitude and actions.
- Remember people's names and introduce them around. (Keeping a guest book and studying it between classes will help you learn their names.)
- Have Bibles available for folks who don't have them.
- Have Catholic versions available, preferably the Confraternity edition. Have a good concordance available for reference.
- Observe your guests as the lesson progresses and ask questions of the teacher concerning points which appear to be bothering them.
- Serve refreshments to provide a time of fellowship, but keep it simple.
- Expect that some inquirers will stay late to ask questions. Be prepared to let them stay. Don't start turning out the lights!
- Use phone and personal calls to invite people to the class. Pray!
(2) A committed teacher who is willing to spend the necessary hours of study time to be able to expound the Word clearly. This man need not be a "pro," but must be a student. He should be willing to say "I don't know" when necessary, then offer to search out the answer from the Scriptures. He must rely on the authority of the Word of God and be personally convinced of its integrity and trustworthiness. Further "Tips for Teachers" are suggested as follows:
- Present a positive Christianity. Give inquirers something to be-lieve. Keep away from negative attitudes as much as possible. Avoid "churchy" cliches and speech unintelligible to the non-Christian.
- Be informal; inject humor; help people to relax.
- Spend time on how to present the lesson as well as on what to present. Try novel approaches to gain interest and attention.
- Keep reading Christian literature. Stay current with the times through selected periodicals. Use illustrations that relate the Bible to life.
- Encourage discussion by the class at any time, but guide it so that it expounds the truth of the passage being considered.
- Keep flexible. Be willing to answer questions from nonbelievers at any time during the lesson, but be sure to arrive at a scriptural conclusion to the question.
- Make application of the truth to life!
- Allow the Lord to show his grace and love through you. Speak the truth in love.
- Point the lesson toward an open, intelligent consideration of the person and work of Jesus Christ in the gospel. Expect non-Christians to be deciding about where he fits in their life. Be sensitive to your opportunities to help them personally decide for him.
(3) Cooperating Christians who recognize the opportunity to bring the Christian message to their friends are needed to pray for the prospects, invite them to the class, personally witness, and encourage their guests to consider the claims of Christ. Constant education is necessary to prevent classes from becoming a cozy Christian gathering with a nice clean "antiseptic" atmosphere with no life-and-death character. The local church is the primary place for receiving Christian instruction, and these classes cannot be-come a substitute for church. If they do, they lose vitality and fail to fulfill God's purpose as an evangelistic ministry. It seems that relatively few twentieth century Christians have grasped and used this basic New Testament method of evangelism which we see reflected in the pages of Scripture. The tendency today seems to be to bring people to church to find the Lord, whereas it seems clear that our Lord intended an outgoing ministry of reaching people where they are. See more under the following "Clues for Cooperating Christians":
- The primary purpose of the class is to share the "Good News" of the gospel with our friends and neighbors who have not yet trusted Christ, so invite them to attend with you.
- Be friendly and alert to the opportunity to help someone know the Lord. Remember, each of us is a walking portrayal of Christ in a life.
- Be careful not to offend by a negative approach, "downing" their religion, being critical or self-righteous.
- Let the visitors ask their questions first. If you ask one, be sure it is keyed to their interest and need.
- Don't talk about your church. Do talk about your Lord. We are not interested in proselytizing for any church but the one in Ephesians 1:22-23.
- Pray for your own opportunities to witness at the class, for the teacher, for the prospects.
- During the lesson period, let the teacher do the teaching. Your opportunity to talk will come later, after the lesson time, in private conversations with the visitors.
- Be sensitive and yielded to the Spirit's direction; sympathetic to the needs of the visitors, filled with the compassion of Christ (2 Cor. 5:14--l5).
(4) The format we have found most usable is to teach through a book of the Bible in an expository manner, not verse by verse, but presenting the progress of thought of the book. Romans, John's Gospel, and Hebrews seem to be the best books to use. The first eight chapters of Romans, presented in ten or twelve weeks, is a good way to start.
(5) A time of informal sociability after the class with the serving of refreshments is another helpful ingredient. This often results in little knots of people gathering together and discussing the lesson, or a time when the guests ask their questions of the one who brought them, and it provides a natural opportunity for a word of personal testimony.
A Final Word of Caution
This information is designed to help those who want to enter into the exciting and profitable home Bible class ministry. It reflects the observations and experience of several people over a period of years in a number of areas. However, it is by no means intended to represent all that could be said or the last word on the subject. You could be the one to discover more of what the Lord wants to do with this particular ministry-so keep your mind and heart open to him!
The history of the church is still being written---in terms of human lives. And there is no substitute for allowing Christ himself to be Lord of his church. Our dependence is to be on him!
Telco Bible Study
All telephone people who desire to take part in an objective study of the Bible.
To intelligently discuss, as a group, what a Bible passage says, what it means, and what its application is to individuals today.
1. The Bible studies are held on a "Conference Leader" basis, rotating among all men who are willing to lead a study.
2. Each person should bring his own Bible (all versions are wel-come.
3. The Bible will be the basis of group standards. All questions will be answered, insofar as possible, from the Bible.
4. Denominational issues are not an appropriate subject for dis-cussion.
5. Individual expositions are limited to three minutes.
6. Comments and discussions should be centered on the passage under study. References to other Bible passages should be avoided unless the cross reference is essential to an under-standing of the passage under study.
7. The study format will be to read one chapter (or a reasonable portion thereof). Following the reading of the passage; determine through group discussion:
a. What it says (in our own words).
b. What it means (viewed objectively).
C. What its application is to us personally (viewed subjectively).
Some Sticky Issues
We are indebted to Ron Ritchie for most of these questions, drawn from his experience in talking to pastors and church leaders. The local references to "what we do" at our local church in no way infer that we are doing everything right, for, like everyone else, we are still being taught of God and are just learning. In citing these examples we are simply attempting to share something of what we have learned, and our experience, interpreted in the light of God's Word, is the only source we have for living examples.
Question: If I follow and teach what this book presents, won't I be fired?
We don't know. Your responsibility is to declare and obey the truth. You might be fired, but if so you can expect the Lord to open doors to a new ministry. As your Lord, he's responsible for your life, but you may be able to help reestablish God's order where you are. Just be sure you are responding to his direction and following his time schedule. Seek to understand the truth about these matters for yourself, then patiently and lovingly teach the truth he shows you. All the while remember how long it took you to catch on, and exercise lots of patience.
Question: How can I change my existing board?
You can't; only the Lord can! So don't try. But you can graciously help them to understand the truth as you see it and seek to move out together on the basis of your mutual understanding of God's way.
Question: What's wrong with majority vote for board decisions?
It avoids the necessity to trust the Lord to give a spirit of unity and reverts back to "the will of the majority" instead of finding the mind of Christ on the matter. It also encourages political pressuring and party spirit. We feel certain one of the Lord's biggest heartaches is the broken fellowships caused by lack of unity. Politics are bad enough, but church politics are far worse because this kind of activity is so out of character with the con-cept of the Body. Have you ever noticed how often splits occur among democratically governed churches?
Questions: How can we be sure who has the Lord's mind on a matter in a ten-against-one split on an issue? Is the one right or the ten?
See the illustration given on pages 36 and 37. The principle in this situation is to wait on the Lord in dependent prayer. We can also discuss issues together and seek added information that might clarify them, but all without pressuring to move things our way.
Question: If I am an elder, but not on the pastoral staff of the church, do I still have a pastoral role?
You certainly do! First, you are to care for the sheep (be a pastor over the flock) which God has called you to govern. All the decisions you are called on to make are to be under the direction of the Chief Shepherd, the Lord Jesus, for the well-being of his flock. In addition you undoubtedly have, or should have, a portion of that flock toward whom you have a direct teaching, overseeing, or discipling ministry.
Question: How do you choose elders?
By the procedure described in chapter 2, pages 21 and 23, measuring the men God has made available against the scriptural yardstick set forth in the New Testament.
Question: Are there grounds for dismissing elders?
Flagrant sin with no repentance is grounds for dismissal and public exposure, as per 1 Timothy 5:17-20, but undertaken with loving firmness and redemptive motives.
Question: Can elders ever take a leave of absence?
Whenever there is a higher priority demand, an elder not only may but must take the necessary time aside to set his house in order. This is particularly true of crisis situations in the family, for if things are not in good shape at home, he will be too preoccupied to govern well in God's family. Either the elder himself or his fellow elders should be free to request a leave, without censure, but rather with a deep sense of concern to seek an early answer to the problem, so that neither his own family or God's family is hurting for lack of his ministry.
Question: How do you remove an elder who is not functioning?
First, try to encourage him, by exhortation and personal help, to begin to function. If, after you have done all you can to help him shape up, he still is not moving, it would seem wise to ask him to consider his accountability to God in holding down the position but not performing. If there is still no response, he may then be asked to resign.
Question: How do elders control all the activities and the doctrinal purity in Bible classes, etc.?
They don't. The job of superintending and controlling belongs to the Holy Spirit-and he's not about to be replaced by you or me! Trust the Lord to guide them just as he does you. We are not God's police patrol. When discipline is necessary in the areas where we have direct, personal responsibility, then we should follow the biblical pattern of Matthew 18:15-17. But remember to treat someone "as a Gentile and a tax collector" is to put him in the place of one who does not know the Lord Jesus. And how are we to act toward those?
Question: Do you have women elders?
Even in these days of women's lib we should have no em-barrassment or hesitancy in answering, "No-no women elders," but only because God has already said it: "Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men; she is to keep silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor" (1 Tim. 2:11-14).
Question: How do you operate your membership program?
We don't have one, because the Spirit of God is adding to the church daily those who believe. The important thing is that he makes each believer a member of Christ's body. We do have a covenant of fellowship for people who want local identification with a church, but this is for their benefit to give a sense of belonging. However, many who enjoy our fellowship find it fully satisfying just to belong to Christ and his body, and this is fine with us. We feel free to ask some to sign the covenant if we think they need this tie, but their spiritual state and well-being are our primary concern, not their belonging to our "club."
Question: What is the attitude of your people toward the apparently "secret" meetings of your governing board?
As far as we can tell, their attitude is one of relief that the responsibility is ours and not theirs-except when things don't go well and needs are not being met; then they let us know where they are hurting so we can move to the rescue.
Question: How do you keep your people informed?
Badly, at times. But we try to be alert to communication needs and handle through the weekly bulletin, occasional news sheets, reports on board actions and finances. Pulpit announcements and occasional congregational meetings are also a help.
Question: How do you incorporate spiritual gifts?
We are constantly evaluating ourselves and our people in the light of spiritual gifts and ministries to see where and how all the members fit into the body. One of the pastor's chief occupations is to solve the "spiritual unemployment" problems. We sometimes have a "Spiritual Gift Employment Service" available on Sundays for people to inquire about current training and ministry opportunities they may wish to check out. We are constantly teach-ing on this subject and trying to help Christians find their place of usefulness and fulfillment.
Message transcript and recording © 974, 1995 by Ray Stedman Ministries, owner of sole copyright by assignment from the author. For permission to use this content, please review www.RayStedman.org/permissions. Subject to permissions policy, all rights reserved.