Archive for December 2010

Simple Churches On Campus

December 31, 2010

The fall 2010 student enrollment at Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas was 49,129. This includes an estimated 4,600 international students from 120+ nations of the world.

No one that I have spoken with in our community – church staff or on-campus student ministries – can estimate the number of students who attend local evangelical churches, or, more importantly, are followers of Christ.

Even though many students are believers and attend local churches, the number who do not know Christ as personal Savior or attend a local congregation is certainly overwhelming.

This begs the question: How are we going to reach these young people for Christ? While established churches in our community conduct wonderful ministry among students, perhaps we need to think more about taking the church to these students than trying to get them into our established churches and programs.

Perhaps we should consider a new strategy, a new model, a new approach for doing church in order to reach, for Christ, the world’s future leaders who are currently studying at Texas A&M and our nation’s universities, colleges, and community colleges.

I would suggest that we give prayerful consideration to the start of reproducing simple churches that penetrate and saturate our student populations along different relational, or oikos, lines. These oikos lines could be common language, ethnicity, nationality, academic field of study, fraternities and sororities, and student organizations.

A reproducing simple church approach to reaching students can not only be an effective missions strategy, it can serve as a model for church that can be easily reproduced by students when they relocate to other universities for further study or to places of employment after they leave Texas A&M.

I would be interested in hearing your thoughts about such a concept. If you are involved in such a ministry, I would appreciate hearing how you are pursuing it and how you may be relating to local established churches and how they are responding to this strategy.

Note: The 2000 US Census reported over 17 million students enrolled at US universities and colleges. The 2009/2010 international student enrollment in US universities and colleges was 690,923.)

China’s Migrants and Ministry

December 21, 2010

I have recently read an interesting article about the number of internal migrant workers in the People’s Republic of China. In the article, “China’s Migrant Workers at Record High” (July 26, 2010), a Chinese government report estimates that there are 211 million migrant workers in China.

Read here about the millions who have left their homes to wander the nation in order to find gainful employment to better provide for their families.

Ministering to the nation’s migrant worker force could be a tremendous ministry platform for the sharing of Jesus Christ.

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Note: I took the above picture in 2008 through a fence surrounding a construction site in the town centre of a major city in Southwest China. The workers live, sleep, and eat on the construction site.

Ministry Update

December 20, 2010
Praying Friends,
 
First of all, my family and I want to wish you and yours a very Blessed Christmas as we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. We pray that you will have a safe and enjoyable time with family, loved ones, and friends.
 
Secondly, I would like to give you brief update on our application to the missions organization in Dallas that we wrote to you about in late October.
 
We did not hear from the organization until late November. The reason was that most of the human resources department had been in the Philippines on a lengthy mission trip. When I spoke to the HR representative she said that our material had been reviewed and that it looked like we had been very thorough with our answers and written responses. I was told that we would receive a contact from someone in the department and would be invited to an interview with the HR team.
 
Last week, we had contact with a gentleman in the HR department regarding an interview date and time. My wife  and I will travel to Dallas the first week of January to meet with representatives from the team.
 
We would ask you to please continue praying for us as we continue to prayerfully seek the Lord’s perfect will and leadership regarding ministry among the “nations.” 
 
We appreciate you and your prayers.
 
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 I would also like to share a few praises from this fall semester’s ministry with international students at A&M.
 
  • Our Saturday night pot-luck meal and Bible study with Mainland Chinese students, which started meeting in August 2009, continued meeting for food, fellowship, and the reading and study of God’s Word. This small group relates to a local Mandarin congregation.
  • The Lord opened a door for us to re-engage in ministry with a local Korean congregation. At the invitation of an elder at the church, we started a Thursday night Bible study that was attended by two Korean families and two single Mainland Chinese students. I will be preaching at the church on Sunday, January 2.
  • Two of the young people who have participated in the Saturday night group – one for three semesters and the other for one – were among eleven (11) people who were baptized as a declaration of their faith in Christ at a local language congregation in October.
  • One of the men who has been attending the Saturday night study for three semesters, and made a profession of faith and was baptized last spring, made a request of me several days before he returned to his home country for Christmas. He expressed his desire to meet with me twice a week next semester, in addition to our Saturday night group, for times of one-on-one Bible study and discussion. I was very excited to hear of his desire for more time in the Word and discipleship. Please pray for “Peter” and our time together.
We are very thankful to the Lord for all that He is doing in the lives of the students that we have the opportunity to know and relate to in ministry. We are also thankful that the Lord has given us a wonderful relationship with the two language congregations mentioned above. We pray that the Lord would allow us more time each week to devote to ministry to the “nations”  who have come to Texas A&M to pursue their academic and professional careers.
 
Again, thank you so much for your friendship, encouragement, and prayers.
 
Merry Christmas,
 
Scott
 
Matthew 24:14; Revelation 7:9

Gimme The Combo Meal

December 9, 2010

This past Saturday we had a special small group event at our house. Let me explain.

During the course of each week I have the opportunity to facilitate two international student Bible reading and discussion groups.

One group has been meeting on Thursday nights. It has consisted of two Korean families and two Mainland Chinese PhD students. This group has been meeting for one semester.

The second small group has been meeting on Saturday evenings for one-and-one-half years and is attended by Mainland Chinese students. Attendance has consistently averaged five but individuals attending change with each semester.

Because the two Korean families from the Thursday night small group were returning to Korea on Monday of this week (the 6th), we decided to combine the two groups and have a pot-luck meal and farewell fellowship to say good-bye to them.

What is cool is that no one from the Thursday night Bible knew anyone in the Saturday group, and no one in the Saturday small group knew anyone from the Thursday study. Introductions were made as people arrived, conversation ensued, and friendships were made.

It was a great evening. We had delicious food, sang some Christmas hymns (accompanied by E-J on the piano), and had a brief devotion on the birth of Jesus Christ, His life, and His death on the Cross for the forgiveness of our sins. The kids even had time to play Wii while several of the moms and dads played a game that helps improve English word acquisition.

Friendships that are made with students are wonderful and departures are always sad, but we were blessed to know and have time to study the Bible with the families who returned home Monday. Our prayer is that our time in the Word of God together was used of the Lord to build our relationship with Him and better equip us for Gospel service in His Name.

Our small groups will continue to meet on Thursday and Saturday nights. We pray that the Lord will continue to bring students to these times of fellowship, Bible reading, study, and discussion, and that many will receive Christ as their Savior and be discipled to be disciple-makers.

~ reach students … disciple the “nations” ~

CPM Resources

December 7, 2010

Perhaps the greatest activity of God on the Earth today can be found in what are called Church Planting Movements. A Church Planting Movement, or CPM, is simply defined as

“a rapid and multiplicative increase of indigenous churches planting churches within a given people group or population segment.” (Church Planting Movements, p. 7)

Through CPMs that are happening around the world, millions are entering the Kingdom of God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

I am very excited about and intrigued with CPMs. Therefore, I do a lot of reading and praying about these movements of God and dream about the Lord initiating and reaching people for Himself in the West and in my community through the rapid start and multiplication of new churches.

The Lord has used one book and two training manuals to inform and encourage me regarding church planting movements. I am praying that the Lord will use these materials to motivate and move me to be more evangelistic and intentional about the multiplication of disciples and the start of simple churches that will penetrate and saturate Texas A&M University (TAMU) and our communities for Christ.

Perhaps the first book or material that I ever read about CPMs was the Church Planting Movements booklet by David Garrison. (I would note that Charles Brock’s Indigenous Church Planting was required reading in my missions classes in seminary). Garrison, a Southern Baptist strategy coordinator, researched CPMs that were/are taking place in the world and reported on them in this booklet.

In Church Planting Movements, Garrison: 

  • defines Church Planting Movements 
  •  identifies their universal characteristics
  • examines common obstacles to Church Planting Movements
  • analyzes a wide range of actual case studies
  • provides some practical handles for beginning and nurturing Church Planting Movements
  • addresses some frequently asked questions about Church Planting Movements.

David has expanded the CPM booklet into a book by the same name that addresses church planting movements in greater detail.

A CPM training manual that I have recently become aware of and am currently going through is The Four Fields of Church Planting – Reproducing Churches Using Simple Tools by Nathan and Kari Shank. The Shanks have written this manual based on their experiences as veteran church planters in India and out of a committment to sharing Christ in areas where He has not been known.

In The Four Fields, Nathan and Kari use Jesus’ Parable of the Seed in Mark 4:26-29 to help us to understand “big picture” issues pertaining to church planting and church planting movements.

The Skank’s teaching is built around the picture of four fields into which the Gospel Seed is to be sown. The “fields” are:

  • Field #1 is Reproducible Entry Strategy
  • Field #2 is Reproducible Gospel Presentation
  • Field #3 is Reproducible Discipleship
  • Field #4 is Reproducible Church Formation

Other subjects dealt with in The Four Fields include “Leadership Multiplication,” “Barriers to Overcome,” and “Church Planting Motives.”

I am enjoying this manual as I am going through it and am gleaning much that I pray that I will be able to implement as we seek to reach international students at TAMU for Christ.

The third piece, and second manual that I would share with you, is T4T – Build a Trainer. This material is sometimes called “Training for Trainers.”

I first became aware of T4T when I attended an International Mission Board (SBC) East Asia Summit in Shreveport, Louisiana in November 2009. In a break-out group on Unengaged Cities, the facilitator mentioned a material written by an Asian-American missionary serving in East Asia that the Lord has been using in powerful ways to initiate and propagate CPMs.

The missionary developed and began using T4T in 2000. By 2008, the initial small band of disciples he worked with multiplied into a movement of more than 80,000 new churches with more than 2 million baptisms.

The Bible study material that is used to disciple new believers is actually very basic. In fact, it is very similar to new believer material you may have gone through in your traditional American church when you became a Christian. But, it differs from the standard discipleship programs in that it seeks to instill a vision for evangelism and church planting in the heart of the disciple.

T4T begins with an introduction that addresses “The Fast Pace of Spreading the Gospel” and “Devotional Ideas for Use in the First Four Sessions.”

The material that trainees are taken through consists of seven sessions, the first of which is a training session for the trainer. The titles for the six studies that disciples are mentored through are:

  1. Assurance of Salvation
  2. Understanding Prayer
  3. Daily Devotions
  4. The Church
  5. God Is The Heavenly Father
  6. Spreading The Gospel

Following the sessions material, there is an addendum that includes readings on:

  • End-visioning
  • CPM coaching
  • Helpful Scriptures
  • Common questions and answers regarding CPMs
  • Characteristics of a CPM church

The final section of the T4T manual is a training schedule that can be used when training trainers.

I have gone into greater detail in sharing the T4T material because I am very excited about it. Several reasons that I am excited about T4T are:

  • T4T is very simple in its content and structure.
  • T4T is a material that can not only be used by the most mature believer, but by the newest follower of Christ as well.
  • The purpose of  T4T is not only to ground new believers in the basics of the faith and discipleship, it is intended to produce trainers who will train others (see II Timothy 2:2).
  • T4T builds the DNA of evangelism and the start of reproducing churches into the lives of those being trained.

I have studied and gone through this material on my own and prayerfully intend to use it next semester with two different groups. One is my own family. We will use the material as a part of our weekly family worship and devotion time. The second group will consist of several international students who have been participating in our mid-week Bible study small groups the past two semesters.

It is thrilling to read and learn about what the Lord is doing in the world today to “redeem a lost world to Himself” through the multiplication of disciples, leadership, and churches, or what is called, Church Planting Movements. And, it is exciting and motivating to have such excellent, God blessed material in our hands to use as we seek to be involved in the fulfillment of The Great Commission.

But, we must remember that the materials are simply tools that the Lord has given us through man. The Lord is looking for and uses Spirit-filled, motivated, obedient people who are committed to His glory and purposes to accomplish His work on this earth.

I pray that as you have the opportunity to look at, and possibly go through, the materials shared in this post that the Lord will reveal to you how He might use you in reaching a lost world for Himself through Church Planting Movements.

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Please visit Monergism Books and WTS Books for conservative and Reformed reading material.