Tag: Paul (home)

Dr. Dan Reeves is a part of our Editors Board and has been since the beginning. He has been a long time church consultant as well as a leader in convening an annual council on ecclesiology. He recently sent me a great paper that has lots of practical impact. Now I will say that a lot of the practical materials are at the end of the paper that is not here in this space today. But as this series continues you will read the great practical insights over time. Throughout the series he will highlight some real life examples of churches applying a similar idea. For now, enjoy the background thinking Dan has done for us. "Repositioning Paul's Missionary Band in a Postmodern World: A Case for Culture-bridging, Missional Teams as the Heart and Soul of the 21st Century Church." Part One (of a four part series) Paul's Missionary Band serves as an excellent biblical metaphor for 21st century ministry. When combined with leading edge postmodern congregational laboratories, its radical themes provide the potential to: + Eliminate institutionalism + Avoid burnout among staff and lay leaders + Drop the casualty rate among missional teams from 95% to 0 + Ignore the bell curve statistics and entropic principles (which insist upon the inevitability of a cooling pattern), create sustainability in health and growth patterns and perpetuate congregational life + Double or triple the amount of real front line ministry for the same cost (the stewardship advantage) Here are some immediate reasons we can depend upon the PMB approach as an appropriate framework for postmodern, multicultural ministry. + Paul's missionary team thrived on the kind of culture shifting turbulence that we are experiencing in this new millennium. + Paul's missionary band was cross-cultural from day one. + The spread of the first century church was more missional than institutional. + The band employed teams and leadership principles appropriate to our postmodern setting. + Their characteristics have been present in all the great historical movements of Christian revival and growth from Paul to McGavran. I believe that in the study of Paul's missionary journeys, several important points are often overlooked. These points center on the crucial issues of selection, training and strategy. a. Paul's selection. In Acts 11 we see that it was Barnabas who recruited Paul to join the missionary team ministering to the new Gentile churches in Antioch of Syria. As the initiating team leader, Barnabas was the one who spiritually discerned the potential of Paul and recognized his aptitude to reach those outside the Jerusalem world. Because of this talent for sensing and releasing gifts, Barnabas was able to link Paul to a highly appropriate pioneer mission. The role of Barnabas has been undervalued in most commentaries. His leadership was critical in the team's development and outcomes. Without the spirit-filled discernment of Barnabas, there would not have been the rapid multiplication of churches through Paul's leadership. The tendency of most leadership development studies is to focus on the second or third generation leader, without recognizing the importance of the one who initially saw the potential and then acted upon those instincts. Notice the progression. A naturally gifted man, Paul was selected by an astute and committed leader, Barnabas. The foresight and the trust modeled by Barnabas are two critical selection requirements that leadership demands. Paul then adopted this same pattern that he observed in the ministry of Barnabas. He learned quickly to discern and trust leaders, and to let go of them early. I see a quite different pattern in churches where I minister. Repeatedly I hear pastors tell me that none of their new converts, and very few of their volunteers are ready to assume leadership. This results in both lack of growth and internal tension. The underlying cause is the resistance of most pastors to give over their position to those who appear to them to be backward and untutored. b. Paul's training. The way in which Paul's training was conducted is also overlooked. As Dean Gilliland points out, Paul did not train anyone for ministry. He trained them in ministry. Paul's apprenticing style was learning by doing. He believed that Christians could best learn while serving. Matriculation took place at baptism, with appointment to ministry following almost immediately, even while engaged in the first courses of study. They were not only to be instructed, but were to teach as well, beginning with the first day after their conversion (Rom.15: 14, Phil 1:5, Col. 3:16). Our tendency is to insist upon a sequence which delays participation in ministry until there has been what we perceive to be, sufficient, supervised learning. We over prepare and under empower. The greatest gift we can give newly formed missional teams is the right to think out and act out the Christian life for them. c. Paul's strategy. Most studies of Paul's missionary journeys do not emphasize the structural pattern that was established by this pioneer team. In Acts 13:2 we read, "As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, "Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." This pioneer team, engaged in what Wagner describes as the Cyprus and Cyrene Mission, was called to separate itself from the rest of the church for a special mission. Ralph Winter uses the term sodality to describe these legitimate specialized teams. The other, more "normal" redemptive structure in Paul's day was the local synagogue. As Barnabas and Paul were sent out they built upon the familiar structure of the Jewish proselytizing bands Jesus referred to in Mt. 23:15, which functioned apart from the local synagogues. According to Winter the very fabric of the Christian movement will be torn apart if either the warp or the woof does not play its essential purpose. The warps are the longitudinal, vertical or modality structures, whereas the woofs are the lateral, horizontal or sodalic structures. Groups with membership restrictions such as age, gender, or disciplinary standards are sodalities; those that are non-restrictive and that in principle desire to include everyone, are modalities. There are several characteristics of Paul's missionary strategy which illustrate the advantages of sodalities: + Their ability to attract the unchurched and to incorporate new Christians is undeniably superior to the ability of modal structures. + Although their existence has created tension for churches throughout the ages, they are not an aberration, but a complementary, biblical vehicle for reaching non-Christians. + Missional teams should be allowed as much autonomy to design and complete their calling as church polity will permit. Bureaucratic restrictions and effective mission are incompatible. The strategy of Paul and Barnabas was quite different from the normal, modality strategy at the Church of Jerusalem. The intricate relationship between Barnabas and Paul proved itself not only in their rapid formation of reproducing Christian communities, but also in the delicate communication with Jerusalem. Barnabas was the encourager. Whenever Barnabas found a person or a cause needing to be encouraged, he supplied all that he could. Paul on the other hand, consistently created a stir wherever he went. According to F.F. Bruce, when Paul left for Tarsus after his 15 days in Jerusalem, they probably breathed a sigh of relief. He had been a thorn in their flesh in his persecuting days. They were to learn that Paul the Christian could also be a disturbing presence. Trouble was liable to break out every time he visited Jerusalem. This is what missional team leaders typically do. They make things happen, and they create tensions. They also need someone like Barnabas to go before and after them. Another example of this divine partnership in action was the critical selection of Barnabas during the investigation of the rapid growth of the churches at Antioch, recorded in Acts 11:21-23. Since the leaders of the Jerusalem church exercised supervision and control over the spread of the gospel into adjacent territories, had someone other than Barnabas been selected a quite different outcome might have occurred. There were probably some who suspected wild syncretism, since the forward movement at Antioch presented features which some members of the church of Jerusalem would have found deeply disturbing. But through the lens of Barnabas they accepted these strange developments. Barnabas, the encourager, found much cause for satisfaction. And now for the footnotes for those that love to see the sources. 1. For a technical profile of Barnabas, see Laura Raab and Bobby Clinton, Barnabas, Encouraging Exhorter: A Study in Mentoring (Barnabas Resources, Pasadena, 1985). 2. Dean S. Gilliland, Pauline Theology and Mission Practice, (Wipf and Stock, Eugene, 1998), 91, 214-216. 3. Peter Wagner, Lighting the World: A New Look at Acts - Bringing the Gospel to Every Nation and Every People, (Regal, Ventura, 1995), 96-98. 4. Ralph Winter, Warp and the Woof (William Carey, Pasadena, 1970), 3-4, 55. 5. F. F. Bruce, Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, 1978), 94. 6. Bruce, 167-8. Our friend Dan Reeves is back for a second installment of his analysis of Paul's Missionary Band and how it can be applied to our context. He wrote to me saying: "Got some great responses from part one." I know that this helps Dan improve his work. Dan is primarily a church consultant now but has served as a missionary, teacher as well as other roles in the past. He is one of the founding members of our Church Champions Editors Board. Now this is a rather long article but the first time I saw it, it was 44 pages. So this is the condensed version. Repositioning Paul's Missionary Band in a Postmodern World: A Case for Culture-bridging, Missional Teams as the Heart and Soul of the 21st Century Church. Part Two (of a four part series) In section one of this series I introduced some of the radical themes of Paul's selection, training and strategy that are appropriate for postmodern, multicultural ministry. In this second section I will describe additional features of Paul's initial missionary band, and then cite examples of other "sodalities" in the redemptive history of Christianity. Paul's Missionary Band serves as an excellent biblical metaphor for 21st century ministry because the playing fields in America have changed from mono-cultural to cross-cultural and there are thousands of new tribes that are spiritually hungry. Unfortunately, these new barbarians are finding answers elsewhere because the church is often seen as an irrelevant farce, confused, dysfunctional, divided, bogged down in introspection and institutionalism. The PMB framework provides a solution that is rooted in the beginnings of Christianity, that builds on the ancient foundations of the church, but provides both message and metaphor for the future church. As we look at Paul's missionary band we see the first example of practical missiology and cross cultural team ministry in the New Testament, and the missionary means of implementing the Great Commission. I believe we need to develop a whole new skill set for the next generation of church leaders, because in a rapidly changing world where cultural shifts are taking place seamlessly, there is enormous confusion and ignorance about both church and mission in this new setting. We are relying on training and programs designed for a modern setting. We don't realize that in this postmodern world we need to be cross-cultural rather than mono-cultural and more missional than institutional. Paul and Barnabas model the corrective skill sets in Scripture. Their approach relied upon practical missiology and relational teamwork to reach the Gentiles. The skills and patterns of the original missionary band are also observed in the various waves of missionary bands throughout history. I believe it is time to reinforce our ecclesiological foundations by introducing practical missiology and by learning from our biblical and historical origins to become a catalytic force once again. Only by understanding practical missiology, that is how we contextualize ministry, form effective cross-cultural teams and address issues as a team in a particular context, can we effectively reach 21st century postmoderns. Consider these additional features of Paul's initial missionary band: + Barnabas and Paul both had cross-cultural experience, and were able to form an indigenous ministry to the Hellenistic world. They provide the first manual in practical missiology. They formed a particular team to reach persons in a particular context. + They complemented and completed each other as the key persons within a team-sized entourage. They recognized what the other person brought and valued the other person. They modeled giftedness, trust, healthy relationships, and Christian community. + They were led by and in tune with the Holy Spirit. They believed in God's sufficiency no matter what the circumstances. + Barnabas was willing to allow Paul to lead the team. He was a model of how leadership succession is supposed to work in the church. + Barnabas went on to mentor others on teams, notably Mark. Paul, because of his own giftedness, did not perceive Mark the same way. Barnabas again saw what Paul could not see, and served as a strategic link and mentor. Every team needs these strategic links and mentors if they are to reproduce. + Paul covered a great deal of territory. He and his team did not stay so long in one place as to become institutionalized. + Paul learned from Barnabas to empower people early, and he continued this practice. They planted churches that became quickly autonomous and that continued to reproduce other Christian communities. + They developed new leaders by taking them into real ministry settings. They expected people to rise to the challenge. Leaders were developed in the midst of challenging circumstances. Not all of their young disciples survived. But the best leaders emerged. + They were able to secure authority from Jerusalem when it was necessary, by presenting their church planting approach in ways that were perceived as favorable and appropriate. They modeled how sodalities can be highly autonomous; yet work in effective partnership with modalities for a greater purpose. + They developed an overall effective strategy, which drew upon the history and credibility of Barnabas. When the discerning gifts of Barnabas were creatively blended to the catalytic gifts of Paul, an explosive, cross-cultural movement was launched. Summary of original team: Paul's missionary band was formed as a cross-cultural team. The story is as much about Barnabas as Paul. Together, they interacted with the more institutional, established church, in a creative and healthy manner. Because their team was both mobile and frontline, it avoided the inevitable tendency to lapse into institutionalism. Examples of later sodality teams: The practical characteristics of Paul's missionary team have been present in all the great historical movements of Christian revival and growth from Paul to McGavran. Additional strategic clues for reaching postmodern barbarians can be discovered in the unfolding interplay of sodalities and modalities following the first century. a. Celtic Christianity. Perhaps the most impressive example is seen in Celtic Christianity from the fifth to the eighth centuries. Here we can observe repeatedly the same kind of misunderstandings that Paul and Barnabas faced at the Council of Jerusalem, based upon the difference in perspectives between sodalities and modalities. Latourette, for example, cites the irritation by the local bishops in Ireland and all throughout the Alpine valley when encountering one of Patrick's missionary bands, referred to as the Irish peregrini. Their faith and lifestyle simply did not fit into the bishop's diocesan pattern. Patrick's centers of learning were unique in that their monks migrated to distant countries. They formed missionary groups both to reach pagan populations and to elevate the morals of the nominal Christian populations near whom they settled. The apostolic teams sent out by Patrick, beginning in the fifth century, closely resembled Paul's missionary band in the manner in which they engaged barbarians in both conversation and in ministry. The Celtic achievements as a movement were astonishing. As Hunter's study substantiates, Patrick's bands multiplied mission-sending monastic communities, which continued to send teams into settlements to multiply churches so that within two or three generations all of Ireland had become substantially Christian. Celtic monastic communities became the strategic "mission stations" from which apostolic bands reached the "barbarians" of Scotland, and much of England, and much of Western Europe. Ultimately, what caused their disappearance in the two centuries following the Synod of Witby in 664 was the control of the Roman way over the Celtic way. The Romans were more conservative. They insisted upon cultural uniformity rather than allow for shifts in methodology. Celtic Christianity adapted to the people's culture. The Romans wanted Roman cultural forms imposed upon all churches and people. b. Waldo through Wesley. A few examples of missionary teams can be observed after the 9th century, such as the Frenchman Peter Waldo. The Poor Men of Lyon, initiated by Waldo multiplied discipleship communities rapidly through Spain, Italy, Germany and Bohemia at the end of the 12th century. John Wesley further developed the Pauline pattern of reproducing Christian communities during the mid-18th century Evangelical Revival in England and the United States. c. Carey. It was not until 1793, when William Carey and a colleague sailed for India to initiate the first undertaking of the Baptist Missionary Society, that rapid cross cultural missionary activity returned to the level of the Celtic teams of the fifth and six centuries, or to Paul's first century missionary band. Carey, after the greatest of effort and patience in persuading the non-conformist Baptist that a new structure was necessary for mission, settled in Serampore, a Danish possession near Calcutta. His "Serampore Trio" translated and printed the Bible into several languages and founded a school for the training of Indian Christians. As Winter points out, Carey was not the only pioneer who encountered resistance in launching a structure for mission. Indeed all down through history, structures for mission have, by and large been greeted with great reluctance by church governments, and have generally required the additional impulse of Pietism, Wesleyanism or revivalism. Somehow the older and more settled a denomination, the more likely the church government itself is going to be fully occupied merely with the task of staying on top of things. d. McGavran. If William Carey can be credited with rediscovering the advantages of Paul's missionary band, Donald McGavran must be recognized for taking the strategic insights to the next logical level. As early as the 1950's, McGavran's investigation of indigenous strategies and people movements clearly confirmed the upside of sodalities. In the tradition of Paul and Barnabas, McGavran also made things happen, and at the same time created tensions. He rocked the boat in India as field secretary; questioning whether schools and hospitals had taken up so much energy and money that evangelism had been forgotten. And he later rocked the boat in numerous speeches and articles challenging both the priorities and the structures of the conciliar movement. In part three, I will cite contemporary examples and describe how Paul's missionary team approach can be adapted to effectively reach the emerging barbarian tribes. (Notes 1. Ralph Winter, Warp and the Woof (William Carey, Pasadena, 1970), 32-33 2. Kenneth Scott Latourette, History of the Christian Movement (Eyre and Spottiswoode, London, 1954), 332-333, 1033 3. George Hunter, The Celtic Way of Evangelism: How Christianity Can Reach The West Again, (Abingdon, Nashville, 2000), 35, 41. 4. Donald McGavran, Bridges of God (Friendship Press, New York, 1955), and The Conciliar-Evangelical Debate: The Crucial Documents (William Carey, Pasadena, 1977).))

permalink source: Dan Reeves in Church Champions Update
tags: Teams, Paul