Friday, November 02, 2007

Gospel Growth Conference: Day III, Session II

Session III: Phillip Jensen "The Task, The Tactics, and the Telos"
[11/1/07 10:30am]

Preface and Clarification:
Phillip started by talking about how it’s hard for them to communicate from the outskirts of a culture to the center of it. In communicating as Christians…this is the difficulty, because they are in a different position from what we are exposed to in reading and other forms of communication. He talked about how Matthias Media has doubled its sales since they have had an American agent who does translation work and understands our cultural perspective. They are helped enormously by us, but we never send missionaries there...and they could certainly use some [it seemed].

He then talked about how the Q & A last night showed them that the cross cultural thing was coming into our conversations with regard to their fighting different battles in Australia as opposed to here. The 2 ways to live doesn’t say much about the incarnation…and they got in trouble quite a bit of controversy a while ago over that. Phillip’s has no problem with the incarnation, but it’s not spoken of much in the New Testament, and in Acts in their sharing of the gospel the incarnation is not something that is said spoken of [in the New Testament accounts]. At a conference a while back they were battling this topic. Since the material didn’t cover this then the cross cultural transfer wasn’t occurring well.

Specifically in regard to last night's Q & A...they had conversations afterwards and there was a misunderstanding of where they are coming from with church membership. Mainly in how the Emerging church philosophies of church had an impact on this thinking…he clarified that two Christian people on a golfcourse is not a church. He’s for people being in two or three churches…he’s a churchman [where I would think that people would need to be a member of one particular regular gathering or assembly coming to hear the Word of God]. They run three or four churches a week. Because he defines it by the separate assemblies. Two different congregations means that there are two different churches. So if a certain ministry has three services...each service then, in Phillip's view, would be churches [I agree with this, which is why I don't think that a local ministry should have more than one that they are one assembly/congregation/church. He said that everyone, Christian, should be committed absolutely to the church they are in. His concern with membership is that it’s not strong enough and that people should be called instead of membership he wants to use the word partnership [read some of the 9Marks material on membership to get a well rounded view on this topic so you can see how different folks think about this].

He talked about how In the 1950’s 30-40% of the population of Sydney came to church…many weren’t Christians. Now the people they have are "all boots in". They are solidly committed to church that they are in. He then said that since their culture is a fair bit more secularized than ours, "They fought this battle a long time ago and lost." He called this period the great pruning…because God has pruned them back to the bare bones of believers. They are praying for growth…but they aren’t dealing with the large population of culturized Christians. He’s sorry for confusing the issue with ours.

The advantage of being an outsider is that you see things more clearly. But the disadvantage is that you are not smart. Outsiders ask obvious questions that look dumb…but it gets to the heart of your issues [I have found this to be true in many areas].

The Lecture: The Task, The Tactics, The Telos

Growing in Christian maturity in Christlikeness in character.

1 Corinthians 8:1-11
Paul taught us to teach and preach according to expounding the Scriptures. First, in explicating this passage he wondered “What do we do with food offered to idols?” This doesn't really happen in Australia other than food to the idol of our belly. Then he became conscious that a quarter of his congregation were Chinese and they were offering food to idols of the family. “Do I bow to my ancestors or not?” was a legitimate question which this suddenly had a lot of relevance to. The doctrine of Christian liberty is essential to doctrine of justification by faith alone. Having the minister not being the pope is very important.

1 Corinthians 10:31 "The task of ministry"
I. To glorify God
We are to be imitators of Paul as he is an imitator of Christ. This passage has the greatest command to us for every member evangelize. Much more even than Matthew 28. Because if I am to grow like Christ I am going to do the things of Christ. We need this model of Jesus Christ so that we can be a model that others should follow in a manner that we aren't to please everyone in everything for our advantage, but so that they might be saved. Our chief end and purpose of evangelism is the same as the chief end and purpose of man. Not to save souls but to glorify God. The secondary category then is saving souls…primary is to glorify God. This means faithfulness is the true test of evangelism…not success. This is a big albatross to get off of our necks. To the glory of God, but not in deliberate offensiveness to unbelievers.

In this way Phillip is a "man pleaser", not for his own benefit, but for the salvation of others. He will cause offense if the purpose is against those that will not support what the Bible teaches. Men are macho in Australia and the last thing they want to do is to listen to the gospel, he will cause offense for things of that matter. We need to have Christian liberty with people in this because it is difficult to discern where the line is.
a. WWJD: To be like Christ Many people say, "if I was Jesus I would do this, so I’m going to do this..." WWJD means that we must do what Jesus did. We must bring the gospel of salvation of other people because we are imitating Christ. Jesus Christ pu aside His own self interest to become a human, not only a human but a servant, not only a servant but to be a servant who died a death on a cross. What is it that we would refuse to do to save another? Jensen then said, “I’ll put on a dress if that’s what it means.”

b. The heart of a man is evil. "I don’t know If I really know my own heart," he said. The judgemnet is the jdugement of God one day. What is required of me is trustworthiness, faithfulness…not success. At one level it is terrificly liberating, but on another level it’s extremely difficult because, “I have to do the right thing.” It also liberates from competitiveness. Frees from temptation to play fast and loose from the Word of God. This frees him from feeling like he has to go to conferences trying figure out how to “sex-up” church life.

II. The Fundamental Strategy of God
It’s his strategy but we participate in it by His will. The builder of the church is Christ (in the Trinity) Matthew 16:18. It is His church, His activity I’m involved in. I’m not the church builder, but He is the builder through me. 1 Corinthians 3:5-9 uses a metaphor of a agricultural metaphor. We are the field and God is the grower. When talking about how to grow the church it’s like saying I must be born again. It’s not our work but God’s work. 1 Corinthians 3:9-15 says that we are the building…god’s holy building. We are fellow workers with God.

A. The Evangelist
In 1 Peter 1:10-12 Peter alludes to the fact that Paul is difficult to understand (e.g. Ephesians 1:3-10). Paul has so many subordinate clauses. Like Paul, Peter here in verse 12 is tricky. The evangelist is the Holy Spirit and this work happens through people. Ephesians 1:8-10 says there is no two stage Christian experience. This is talking about how the gentiles have been sealed. The plan of God from the beginning was to include the gentiles and it was done by “hearing the word of truth”.

So what about our actions? His plan includes our actions. It’s extraordinary grace, real grace. We should pray prayers like 2 Thessalonians 3:1…we aren’t fatalists…we know it’s going to be happen (that "the word of the Lord will spread rapidly and be glorified"), but we ask God to do that which is His plan. Paul in Ephesians 6 wanted people to pray that he would have the boldness to proclaim the mystery of the gospel. He said then that it's nice to know that apostles were normal men dependent on God.

B. Proclamation
In Romans 10 faith comes from hearing the word of God. Tell people to just come to church and listen. Phillip then recalled a tim that he tried to argue an atheist into the kingdom…but all that his friend needed was to hear the word of God. Another circumstance that he recalled an atheist read the Bible and after reading he told Jensen he became a Christian, "He was reading the Bible and he was asking himself if he believed this stuff or not, and he thought, 'yeah, I do'." Phillip asked this man what he was reading and he said it was Leviticus. Yet another reason why we must faithfully, and rightly dividing the entire counsel of God.

C. People In Matthew 9 it speaks of “sheep without a shepherd”. Phillip also discused the kind of music to we use…"you use the kind of music that the kind of people that you are trying to reach like." Because all that music is about is ambiance and emotion. People are what matter…not music. Become all things to all people that we might save some.

III. The Tactics

According to 2 Timthy 2:7-10 Christian tactics always involve suffering and hard work.
The science of organizing and manoeuvring forces in battle to achieve a limited or immediate aim.
- They always would try to get the "newcomer" to come→

- Then they tried to establish them in a church…(Phillip did all that work by himself and after three years he almost had a nervous breakdown)→

- Then Cole Marshalll came along and said you’ve got it all wrong or in Australian, “stop being stupid”→

- Then Phillip started to develop 2 Ways to Live and training people in ministry (The only way you can train people to do it is to get them involved in the work)→

- Just train one person properly→

- Then you train a few people properly→

- The only way you can do this →

- Then the people Phillip trained were then looking after more people (newcomers) than he ever could→

- They look fo self-starter so that when they leave they will continue, they will then join a church and start ministry by themselves→

- The objective is to teach people to train other members for ministry→

- It’s the people that teach it that know how to do it→

- This is about church growth…not gospel growth, then after figuring out all of these steps they found out about gospel growth.

“Blokes worth watching”
These are the folks that have a capacity for teaching the Word of God uniquely well. They identfy them and put these men into a ministry called the Ministry Training Strategy for 2 years. This is a training of people in ministry and training self-starters. Then they send them to theological school (Moore College)…and then they send them out into the world.

[As you can see in the picture that Phillip drew there are two columns three categories in each... the first on the left is the lay movement (1) New Comers "NC", (2) Training people for Ministry "TM", (3) Self Starters "SS". To the right in this picture is their "professional" plan (1) Blokes Worth Watching "BWW", (2) Ministry Training Strategy "MTS" two year apprenticeship, (3) Moore College. Notice all the arrows in between the two tracks...they feed into and off of each other to grow healthy God glorifying churches. Then they do church plants sending out vocational ministers that have been through the "professional" track and lay leaders that have been through the lay track. Oftentimes they will even move people that have reached the bottom of the lay track over to the first stage of the "professional" track.]

So there is a lay movement, and a “professional” movement. If they would have held on to these people their church would have gotten very big…but they sent them out…intentionally to the effect of diminishing the ministry of their church for the cause of taking the gospel into all of the world. He said though that God is gracious, because the more they sent “blokes out” the more “blokes” God kept giving.

IV. The Strategy for the Present
These are sinful days as 2 Timothy 3 indicates. Therefore, our strategy comes from the Word of God. 2 Timothy 3:10 forward lays out their follow the Apostle Paul as he imitated the Lord Jesus Christ. He said, "Never be surpised that you are opposed and persecuted. Go ahead with one fight or another. These are the normal consequences of Christian ministry." This is the science of art of planning and conducting a war or a military campaign.

The 3 C’s are what they look for in the "Blokes Worth Watching"
1. Character
2. Convictions…out of convictions will come caracter (these first two are the important ones) if you haven’t got a character shaped by convictions then you won’t read the Word of God right.
3. Competency(s) with a “Bloke worth watching” the most important thing is not his skills…but his character and conviction. You have to have certain people skills to teach people the word of God…but this is not as important.

The church growth is all about tactics, but it’s not what the ministry is about. But there is only one strategy…prayer, proclamation, people. Gospel growth is about:
1. 2 Tim 4:1-5 “Faithfulness to the task of prayerful preaching of the Word to people.”
2. 2 Timothy 2:2 "entrust to faithful men."

This is what we look for in the “blokes worth watching.”

V. Questions…

Phillip then took a few minutes to answer any questions people might have.
Question: "Explain strategy of Bible exposition?"

Jensen:He tries to subsume his mind and agenda to the word of God by allowing the Bible to be determing preaching rather than his mind. Isaiah 30...let it determine the agenda of the preaching. Last night (Wednesday evening) he was showing us how he preaches. It’s not an oral commentary…rather it is an explanation of what the passage is itself saying to us now...“explicating” the Word of God. He gives up on the phrase expository preaching because even those without opening the Bible do it. So he explicates. The word of God controls the agenda rather than his mind…he tends to love his mind, and his ideas. Frankly, that’s not what we need to hear from the pulpit.

Question (by Dever in the pic above): "What are your thoughts of pastors moving from one pastorate to another? Are there some that are more strategic than others?"

Jensen: There are no reasons...which means he’s an Anglican (jokingly). There is no more important ministry other than the one that you are in. Some men have to move because they cannot lead a flock anywhere else other than what he has already done. Survey’s have shown that in the first 1-5 years pastors tend to be positive, years 5-10 pastors tend to be negative, then 10 years plus pastors tend to generally be positive. Tactics…culture moves from the center outward. So there are certain places from which you can influence peole far greater than other places. So a city, or a University would be a strategic place. By the year 2020 a large percentage of people are going to be born outside of Sydney that live in Sydney. So he looks for people that have feet in two worlds culturally speaking. Strategically the "latch" onto people. They haven’t found enough bi-cultural workers like a factory worker to reach different folks in that culture.

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