The Holy Spirit (should be) driving

This morning, Eddie Arthur wrote “Who is driving,” a prophetic post (in the old sense of the prophet speaking truth to power sort of thing).

He wrote in part:

The problem is, that from where I’m sitting, many Western agencies are trying to control the development of World Christianity; either by uncritically importing teaching and methods from the West which are not directly relevant in the new context, or (more sinisterly) by removing funding when Christians in other parts of the world don’t conform to what is expected of them.

This is a concern of mine as well. We at Beyond don’t use funds to control (we largely don’t extend funds at all, and it’s partly to avoid this). I (and we) want to avoid doing this either intentionally or accidentally.

This is one of the reasons why I think the Discovery Bible Study idea is important. With the DBS, the answer to any question is not found with me, or with one of the missionary workers – it’s searched for in the text.

The best story exemplifying this that I’ve recently seen is in “The Riverbanks of a Movement” (Steve Smith, Mission Frontiers, January 2014).

In CPMs, what is essential is that you give emerging believers, churches and leaders a way to hear God speak in his Word (authority), a value to obey whatever he says (obedience) including a willingness to self-correct the movement no matter the consequences. Scriptural authority and obedience are the twin riverbanks to keep the movement biblical.

The story of the Ina churches and their question, “I would like to know if this means we have to stop beating our wives?” makes for both insightful and inspirational reading in this regard. “What does the Bible say?” is the question to ask – and then don’t say what the Bible says; let them read it and discover it for themselves.

The answer to “Who is driving” ought to be – “The Holy Spirit.” Anytime the answer is “I am,” problems will crop up in the long run.

(Try this – “What does the Scripture say?” – in your own small group. You might get some interesting results.)

Exit ramps and extinction events

Small groups and Bible studies in Western churches tend to offer easy entry and exit points.

Limited-run Bible studies (think Beth Moore studies), or 8-to-12 week study groups around a particular topic.

These kinds of things are good for what they do–but what is the long term effect?

If I don’t like the people in this group, it’s easy for me to leave them in a few weeks.

Within a few on/off cycles, I find the people who are most like me, who I click with, and then I just stick with them.

I avoid the messiness of life on life discipleship, and rarely encounter viewpoints different from mine, or things I don’t like.

The other challenge: limited-run Bible studies are less conducive to movements, because they have extinction built into their DNA.

If we want movements that scale to the whole of an area, we may have to make our groups easy to enter but harder to leave.