Audio Version Of This Web Page
My name is Basie Martins. I trust that you are all well and I want to thank you again for listening to this program. For those of you who do not know, we are currently discussing general topics relevant to the church and all Christians and all people. With this series, we want to determine how God feels about everyday things and everyday events in our lives. We want to familiarize ourselves with the will and the ways of God.
During the past five programs, I touched on different issues that are, in a sense, related to each other. These issues are all challenging situations that the church must address as soon as possible. If we don’t address these issues the church will suffer greatly. All denominations will suffer. They will suffer financially. They will lose members, and they will lose relevance in an ever-changing world. People change and the world changes. People experience new and difficult circumstances and challenges every day. Churches and church members will suffer more and more because of that. If the church does not change, everybody will lose. God and his word and his ways never change but that does not mean that the church should not change.
What did I discuss lately that are all related in some way? The first issue was the mediocre way that the church dealt with COVID-19. The church was not ready for it. COVID-19 exposed the church. It was clear that faith lacked in the lives of not only church members but even the five-fold ministry. Many Christians and many church leaders died already because of COVID-19 and this pandemic is far from over. The second issue that I discussed was the fact that false doctrines hurt the church and its members tremendously. People leave churches and congregations and denominations because of false doctrines. Church leaders need to take a hard look at what they teach and preach. In that discussion we came to the conclusion that church doctrines should be re-evaluated.
Some denominations like the Church of God and the Southern Baptist Convention realized that they cannot carry on the path that they embarked upon so many years ago. Both these denominations decided to change their policies and doctrines. First, after many years, the Church of God decided to become a Pentecostal church. Yes, your ears are not deceiving you. This really happened. The church leaders back then had a hard look into what was going on around them and they decided that they need a major change to stay relevant and in pace with the Holy Spirit and with God. They decided to embrace Pentecostalism and they never looked back. I do not say that your denomination must do the same. I am saying that church leaders need to take a fresh look at their churches, the doctrines that they are teaching, and the challenges that they are facing.
This is what the Church of God did and it proved to be a very fruitful decision. This denomination began on August 19, 1886, in Monroe County, Tennessee, near the North Carolina border. Ten years after the organizational meeting, a revival at the Shearer Schoolhouse in nearby Camp Creek, North Carolina, introduced the doctrine of sanctification to the community. Twelve years later, in 1908, the Church of God accepted Pentecostalism under A. J. Tomlinson. So this was a church that made significant changes since it began. For over 125 years the Church of God has been a distinctive movement focused upon communicating the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit. Presently, the Church of God has a world-wide membership of over 7 million with a presence in nearly 180 countries.
After decade-long resistance, the Southern Baptist Convention now admits missionary candidates who speak in tongues, a practice associated with Pentecostal and charismatic churches. The new policy was approved by the denomination’s International Mission Board just recently, in 2019.
Speaking in tongues is an ancient Christian practice recorded in the New Testament in which people pray in a language they do not know, understand, or control. The practice died out until Pentecostalism emerged around the turn of the 20th century. In Pentecostal churches, it is considered one of many “gifts” of the Spirit, including healing and the ability to prophesy.
Allowing Southern Baptist missionaries to speak in tongues, or have what some people call a “private prayer language,” speaks to the growing strength of Pentecostal churches in Africa, Asia, and South America, where Southern Baptists are competing for converts and where energized new Christians are enthusiastically embracing the practice.
According to Bill Leonard, professor of church history at Wake Forest Divinity School, in many parts of the world, these charismatic experiences are normative. Religious groups that oppose them get left behind evangelistically.
Why did these denominations make these major changes? I think that they are keeping up with the times and they are addressing the challenges that they are facing. The successes that they achieved speak for themselves. Church leaders should ask themselves this question: Is it such a bad idea to embrace Pentecostalism or at least tolerate Pentecostalism? You may ask why am I even discussing this aspect? Well, the answer makes a lot of sense. Since the 1960s, Pentecostalism has increasingly gained acceptance from other Christian traditions, and Pentecostal beliefs concerning Spirit baptism and spiritual gifts have been embraced by non-Pentecostal Christians in Protestant and Catholic churches through the Charismatic Movement. Together, Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity numbers over 500 million adherents.
Pentecostals are one of the fastest-growing religious groups in the world. While it’s hard to estimate just how many Pentecostals are in the world, a Pew Research Center study found that of the roughly two billion Christians in the world, about a quarter of that identifies as Pentecostal. Pentecostalism has long been considered one of the fastest and largest growing forms of Christianity.
Apart from this, people feel that Pentecostalism gives them hope. In this world, with all its challenges this gives them something that they can cling onto. The gifts of The Spirit is the hope that I am referring to. According to Pentecostalism, God still speaks to his children, He still heals his children, He still delivers his children. The Pentecostal message is a message of a living God that wants to be part of his children’s lives. Other denominations will say that they have the same message but without the gifts of the Holy Spirit, people know or at least feel that this is just talking and not a reality. Pentecostalism is becoming more popular by the day. This is why Pentecostalism grew so much and still growing.
It could be very beneficial for church leaders and denominations to consider being more open to Pentecostalism. There is a reason why it grew so much since the 1960s. It especially appeals to younger generations and this is something that should not be ignored.
Another aspect that I discussed recently is the possibility of implementing some of the methods that the house church movement embraced, especially those methods that deal with evangelism. I mentioned that the Luke 10 method of evangelizing and expanding churches and planting churches is probably the closest to what Jesus instructed us to do. It is the great commission in its purest form. I think although the house church movement is struggling with other issues, this method is one of their best practices. By the way, do not be mistaken, many house churches do not follow this method. Many are basically on the same page as many other denominations and that is a pity.
The Luke 10 method focus on finding a man of peace, somewhere in the marketplace or a street or a park or in a house or anywhere where we find people. Once they have found the man of peace, they visit him and his family in his house and they preach the gospel of Christ to them. They usually lead him to Christ first, then his family and then his friends and extended family. The Luke 10 methods means that the church goes to the people and after the initial outreach is completed, they incorporate these people into the local church or they plant a house church in the house of the man of peace. This method will be explained briefly in this session. It was explained in detail in a previous session.
The house church movement initially scared the institutional church. Church leaders were initially very concerned that this movement might stir a lot of controversies and cause a lot of instability within the church. This did not happen. The institutional church is still safe and sound and still functioning as it always did. There is no need to be concerned. My opinion is that the house church movement should be treated as just another Christian denomination and therefore part of the body of Christ. These people are our brothers and just doing the best they can. Being part of the Christian church and the body of Christ, they are facing the same challenges that we all do. We are all in the same boat.
So my opinion is that the initial scare might have caused church leaders to distance themselves from house churches entirely. I think this is a mistake. You do not have to become part of the house church movement but it will not harm anyone at all by looking at some of their methods. I can see a lot of benefits in some of the things that they do. Church leaders should at least look at some of those things. It might just be what they need to bring the change that they need in terms of growth, expansion, and spiritual development.
The strategy that some of them follow when it comes to evangelism is one aspect of the house church movement that we cannot ignore. It will be a grave mistake if we do. For the sake of those of you who did not listen to last week’s program, you can read all about it on my website, asrmartins.com. Just put the words, The Great Commission, in the website’s search field and you will find it. Do not use the google search field. You must use the website’s search field to locate this teaching. It will bring you up to speed on this aspect in no time.
As I said, the initial focus is to find a man of peace. This is what Luke 10 tells us to do. This is what the disciples did and what the seventy did and all Christians in the New Testament did when they went out to carry out the great commission. In Luke 10:6 we read that they had to find a man of peace. Luke 10:6 says, And if the son of peace be there…
Now why a man of peace, you may ask? What is a man of peace? Well, a man of peace is a person who is willing to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a person who is willing to receive the disciples of Christ in his house. This house will be the “base” of the particular evangelical outreach and church planting process. This man of peace is not saved. But it is a person who is willing to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ. Firstly this man will be led to Christ. Then his family staying with him will be led to Christ. Then his friends and family in the area will be led to Christ.
The disciples wasted no time in leading them to Christ, baptizing them in water, and laying hands on them to be baptized in the Holy Spirit. After this the disciples did, when necessary, cast demons out of these people and lay hands on the sick. This is the full gospel of Jesus Christ.
Mark 3:14-15, Luke 9:2, Matthew 6:12-13, Mark 16:17-18, Matthew 10:18, Acts 10:38, and Matthew 10:1 all emphasize that what I described here is what the apostles were supposed to do and also exactly what they did when they planted a new church and expanding the church.
Of course, you do not have to do everything that I described. You do what you can and you do what you have faith for, but, do not prevent anything that I described from happening. Allow it all. This is basically what the Church of God did and what the Southern Baptist Convention did. The Church of God embraced it and the Southern Baptist Convention allows it. Yes, there is a difference but both are reaping the benefits for taking these decisions. The Church of God benefited greatly and the Southern Baptists, who embarked on this path fairly recently, will reap the fruits of this decision in the years to come.
The bottom line is, church leaders need to be willing to change. More and more challenges and difficulties in the lives of people and church leaders demand changes like this. We cannot go on like we are at this moment. The church is not in a good spiritual condition. COVID-19 exposed us. We are weak and we failed to develop our congregations as we should have. Church members are not mature. We have failed to build up faith in the hearts of the members of our congregations. We have failed to promote spiritual development in the lives of our members. They are struggling with things and challenges that should not have been a problem. We are struggling as church leaders and we are causing our congregations to suffer. We need to change.
Let us carry on describing the Luke 10 method: What did Jesus Christ teach on this subject? One of the most profound revelations to me was to discover that the apostles always used new converts to do the work. These new converts were equipped as they carried out the work of the ministry. They were not equipped through extensive training, Bible courses or Bible school, or anything of the sort.
In the book of Luke, we read that Jesus sent out his twelve disciples and later the seventy to go preach the gospel of Christ all over Judea. Please take note that according to Luke 10:1-24, the disciples went out two-two. So we need to do the same. We sent out mature Christians to look for a man of peace. They do not have to be full-time ministers. As long as they are fairly mature. As long as they know the basic principles of the gospel of Christ. As long as they are bold and willing. As long as they are not ashamed to boldly declare the gospel of Christ, these Christians are ready to go.
Just like the disciples or the seventy had to pray for laborers to assist them to gather in the harvest, so these mature Christians must do the same. Just picture it in your mind; two people on their way to a small town or to the marketplace to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. On their way, they pray to God to help them and to send laborers into the harvest. They will have the laborers that they need very soon. The new converts that they are about to preach to will be the laborers that they are praying for. They will find a man of peace. They will lead him to Christ. They will lead his family and friends to Christ and all these people will be part of the outreach teams very soon after they led them to Christ. Within a week or two.
These new converts will hear the call of God and they will make themselves available to work in the fields to bring in the harvest with the disciples or the mature Christians. These new converts will, without any delay, be taught by the team (disciples/mature Christians) on basic Christian doctrines and principles to prepare them for the in-gathering of souls. They do it by them being physically present during this initial outreach, and they do it by accompanying the mature Christians with the next outreach. So the equipping process mainly takes place as practical exercises, whilst the gospel of Christ is preached to people and people are being led to Christ, and people are being delivered and baptized and taught.
These basic principles will immediately enable these new converts to do the work of the ministry almost from day one. They will be drawn into the work of the ministry immediately and this is why this method is so successful.
This is the best time in the life of every believer to be drawn into ministry. Just after they accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior is surely the best time to get Christians on the right track in regards to this. New converts are eager and ready and willing and excited about Jesus Christ and their faith. This condition will wear off if we don’t exploit it right away. It does not hurt them at all. It benefits them a whole lot. You will do every new convert a wonderful favor if you involve them immediately. This will be the best time in their lives for this and it will have an everlasting effect on them. They will thank you for this.
This is the secret of successful evangelism: Teach all new converts the basic principles of the gospel. Make sure that they understand all these aspects and start using them immediately.
When you go back to a house that was visited during an outreach, the first thing to do is to affirm what happened to them when they asked Jesus into their heart a few days before. It is important that you bring the new converts of the previous outreach with you so that they can be equipped to do the same. Share with them John 1:12-13:
Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
Make sure that they understand that Jesus is in their heart and that their sins are forgiven. Also have them read from John 3:1-6 about Nicodemus and being born again. Explain to them after they read these verses aloud to you, that they are now born again.
The second principle is water baptism. Explain to them what happens when they follow Jesus Christ. Explain the importance of getting baptized immediately.
Explain everything about water baptism, how they associate with the death and the resurrection of Jesus, and that it is the cut-off point from their old life according to Romans 6. Go through bible study material on water baptism before the visit to refresh your own knowledge.
Then make arrangements with them to be baptized, either in a friend of theirs’ pool or Jacuzzi, a big bathtub, a river, lake, or the swimming pool at a local hotel or, they can be baptized at the local church. Encourage them to invite their family and friends to celebrate this awesome act of obedience with them. This is important. The family and friends can be part of the newly planted house church or they can be incorporated into the local church.
The third principle is the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Explain to them the purpose of being filled with the Holy Spirit and with fire and the ministry of the laying on of hands to deliver people who are in bondage. We have found new believers to be very open, so explain to them that Jesus has saved them and that He wants to give them His Holy Spirit to empower them to walk in this new way. Think of when you’ve made New Year’s resolutions. It did not last very long, because they did not have the power to change. This is why Jesus wants to baptize them with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will fill them and empower them. Lay hands on them and pray for them, and they will start speaking in tongues. Explain to them that tongues are a new way to communicate with God.
The fourth principle is the importance of prayer. Explain to them the importance of the personal relationship that every believer is supposed to have with Christ and the Father through prayer.
Share a few basic things about prayer. Share with them that prayer is simply talking with Jesus and telling Him what is in your heart. Encourage them to thank Jesus for every good thing that comes their way.
The fifth principle is to explain to them the importance of the word of God. Explain to them the amazing power of the word of God. Explain to them that the word of God is spirit and life and that it has the built-in ability to produce faith automatically.
Make sure they have a KJV or a Bible translated from the original and authentic “Textus Receptus” translation of the Bible. If not, give them one. Explain to them how to read and study the Word of God.
Have them open their Bible and start reading from Mark 1:1. Demonstrate the method as you go along. Reaffirm salvation, baptism, and baptism with the Holy Spirit. It is all there in Mark 1.
So here you are with last week’s or last month’s new converts, in the house of this week’s new converts, teaching them the word and the will and the ways of God. Of course, you must make use of as many new converts as you can. As soon as possible. New Converts learn by observing mature Christians. This is how they are equipped for ministry. This is the Biblical way of equipping people. To do this you have to use quite a few groups of mature Christians. Church leaders need to send quite a few teams out on outreaches daily. They always go out two-two and remember that they can only be accompanied by a few new converts. Houses cannot accommodate many people.
Teach them the basics just like the apostles did. In Biblical times, the rest was imparted into their spirits by the Holy Spirit whilst they were advancing the kingdom of God along with the five-fold ministry. The new converts were taught within a few weeks as they took part in the process of church planting. They were equipped while doing the work of the ministry. This was the secret then and it still is today.
I am convinced that many churches and denominations will be able to embark on this strategy.
Although there are some differences, not that much needs to change to adopt this method. The house church movement usually plants a church right there in the man of peace’s house. The denominational church goes through the whole process of involving the man of peace’s family and friends and then when this process is completed, they incorporate this man, his family, and his friends into the local church. However, these new converts must be part of the next outreach as soon as possible.
The best way to accomplish this is to give them theoretical training on the basic aspects of the gospel of Jesus Christ within a week. After this initial theoretical training, they must be part of an outreach team as soon as possible to follow this up with practical training. One way to ensure that they are equipped with the correct and all the necessary information about the gospel of Jesus Christ is to compile a training manual that contains everything that they need to know. Such a manual will be available on my website in due time. See my post about the great commission that I mentioned earlier. It gives you insight into which aspects they need to be familiar with.
This manual needs to include the whole gospel of Jesus Christ. Not only the aspects that deal with salvation but also those aspects that deal with restoration. The part about restoration is what gives people hope. This is why Pentecostalism is so popular and why Pentecostal denominations grow so much. It is time that all denominations take a hard look at these aspects and make the necessary changes.
When the pastor and the leadership of a congregation push their fears out of the way, this can be achieved. It only takes a small group of people, who decided that they are going to trust God, and to be obedient to God, to take the first step, and to lay the foundation for a successful evangelism plan. The right attitude and trusting God to see them through, usually pave the way to achieve just that.
Exactly what are the conditions that the leadership of such congregations will have to conform to?
They will have to be able to be a little bit more lenient and open and tolerant. They will have to allow things that they did not allow in the past. As soon as church leaders realize that those things do not hurt the body of Christ, the more of them will be willing to at least tolerate those things or some of it.
Although the services on Sundays carry on, as usual, church leaders and mature Christians will have to make time for evangelistic outreaches during the week. Do not let the same people go out every time. Rotate the mature Christians and the new converts so that everyone gets a chance to go out reasonably often and that everyone gets enough rest as well.
Of course, at first, this will not be easy for both the leadership and the members of the church but this can be achieved if everybody is willing to stick to it and stay committed to the task.
For the leadership, there will be two challenges: To give up a little bit of control and to allow things that they previously opposed. They will also have to play a part in the development and the teaching of the congregation. This is not a big deal because, as I already mentioned, it entails just basic training from a manual and it can be done by mature Christians as well.
The leadership will have to abstain from panicking when something goes wrong.
Yes, something might go wrong but this is when the leadership and the pastor of the congregation will have to stand strong and trust God to see them through. What may go wrong? Some church members may be dissatisfied because of the things that were previously not allowed now to be part of their new experiences. My advice to church leaders is to tell such people that we sometimes do need to tolerate certain things in life, especially if it does not hurt us. We may prefer not to have these things but it surely does not hurt anyone to allow people to do things that they feel they do not have a problem with. Appeal to them to be more tolerable in this regard.
Church leaders might experience a situation where some people in the congregation are more open to certain things and others not. This is not a problem. As long as everybody understands and accepts that this is acceptable. Personal preferences within a group of people can be accommodated by everybody in harmony. This is already the case in most denominations right across the world. I have seen that many Christians believe different doctrines and live out their faith differently although they are serving God in the same congregation.
Many church leaders know this. They know that some members in their congregations do not believe everything that they teach and they have made peace with that. Church leaders teach whatever they believe to be true and by doing so, they have done their job. This is the right thing to do. It is not up to them to decide what church members should believe. They cannot force people to believe whatever they teach. That would be wrong. But, if they teach what they sincerely believe to be the true and authentic word of God then they have done their jobs.
Two things that I believe are of the utmost importance in this regard are the following: Denominational constitutions and church leaders may believe what they feel is right and they may teach and preach what they feel is right. However, there are two things that I believe church constitutions and church leaders may not: They cannot force people to believe what they teach and preach and they cannot expel or reject people who do not believe what they teach or preach. There should always be a place in the church and in a denomination or a congregation for people who believe differently. This means that people should accommodate each other and accept each other and tolerate each other. This should be taken into consideration by all denominations and church leaders.
Another thing that might happen when church leaders embark on the Luke 10 strategy is the following: During an outreach, someone may make a mistake or say something inappropriate. This can happen but it is not the end of the world. I have not seen anything in this regard in my life that devastated the lives of people. People are strong and they can deal with such incidents. Nobody is going to lose his salvation because of this. Nobody is going to get hurt because of this. Things like this happen. The best way to deal with undesired incidents is to address the people involved as soon as possible, give some suggestions and direction and send them out again.
We should trust God and persist. Nobody does things on purpose to hurt the body of Christ. Undesired incidents, unfortunately, do happen but everything can be dealt with appropriately and successfully. Things like this should not stop us from doing good.
At the end of the day, we will all benefit a lot when this strategy is carried out successfully. The pastor and the church leadership will benefit because they submitted themselves to the will of God and they are introducing the congregation to the Biblical way of carrying out the great commission. This on its own is very satisfying because believe me, this makes you feel good about yourself. Church leaders will be able to observe their congregations growing and developing in Christ Jesus like never before. All aspects of church growth should be guaranteed if this strategy is carried out correctly and successfully. Churches will grow and members will develop spiritually like never before.
This strategy is nothing new. I think many church leaders know about the Luke 10 strategy. The problem is that up to now, church leaders were not yet motivated to embark on something like this. They were not yet convinced to do so or they did not yet consider it.
Now is the time that all denominations work together like never before in this regard. What I mean by this is that we should tolerate each other and consider and embrace the methods usually followed by other denominations that proved to be successful. Now is the time that we should stop being suspicious and jealous. I think that it is already clear that there is no need to be suspicious or jealous. The house church movement is never going to replace the organized church. Nobody is going to lose anything in this regard. There is a place for everyone and there are more resources available to all denominations than we ever can imagine. The harvest is ripe and the harvest is vast and great. Nothing can stop anyone, no matter who you are or whatever denomination you represent. It is time that we work together. It is time that we function in unity.
We do not have to work together if we do not want to but I know that God will bless us if we do. Even if we do not work together, let us at least accept and tolerate each other. Even if we do not work together, let us acknowledge the work and the efforts of each other although we might do things differently. Even if we do things differently, let’s try things out that we observe in other groups. Things that work in one group will probably work in another group as well.
But above all, let us be willing to change and to accept and to tolerate. We might be pleasantly surprised when we realize that those things might not be so bad after all. We might be surprised when we see the change that it might bring in our congregations.
When churches embark on this evangelism strategy, it will be the first time that many of them follow the Biblical method of evangelism. It will be the first time that people will be incorporated into activities that God instructed us to do. It will be the first time that people focus on the things that really matter. Just think of it, how would people experience church life when they witness people getting saved and led to Christ weekly? How would they experience church life when they see people being delivered every week. This should become a way of life. Church leaders and mature Christians should report for duty automatically every day for evangelical outreaches.
Just think of all the activities in the community. Day in and day out. Just think of the daily input into people’s lives. Almost every day different teams go out into the community to find people who need God. They stop to talk to people. They esquire about their well being. They ask people if they need help. They talk about God and they attempt to find people who are willing to listen to them. They ask them if they may visit their houses to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with them. People who were not willing to do so a few times before suddenly agrees to be visited at his house.
People are sharing the love of God. The more they focus the more they become focused. They get used to this new lifestyle. It gets easier and easier. They become very familiar with the ins and outs of the evangelistic outreaches. They get better and better and bolder. Their confidence grows. Their faith grows and they succeed more and more to get people saved and delivered and healed. In the meantime, they are equipping more and more people and churches start to grow rapidly. The local church gets very much involved in the community. They have a huge impact on the lives of people in the community. All this because they are reaching out to unsaved people daily. They have feet on the ground. They go out every day except on Sundays. Sundays are a day of rest when they celebrate their faith and their fellowship in Christ, together as a congregation.
This is true Biblical faith-life and community-life and church-life in action. This is the true gospel of Christ.
It will be difficult for many churches and people to start this lifestyle. People are not used to this. People are afraid of the unknown. People do not have confidence in themselves. I think the biggest problem is that nobody ever showed Christians how to carry out the great commission. However, this can suddenly change for the better. When people see somebody carrying out the great commission right in front of their very eyes it will change this. If people become a silent observer but truly part of such evangelic outreaches, it will change them.
People are very good at mimicking other people. This is by far the most successful way of being equipped. This is how I learned most things I know. I watched people do things and then I do it myself. When people know what to do, fear leaves. They usually realize very soon that they can do the same. They just need to be part of such outreaches a few time and they will never be afraid again.
Church leaders need to act. The church needs to act. We all need to stand up and be counted. A lot of things have changed during the past few years. We have entered a new era. Not only the church needs to realize it, but the world also needs to know that something is happening. And I can assure that it has nothing to do with the end times. It has everything to do with God wanting to change a lot of things in this world and the church.
It is time to take stock. It is time to do introspection. It is time to evaluate a lot of things. The church needs to grow. The church needs to excel. The church needs to become victorious. The church needs to change. Church members need to grow. The kingdom of God needs to advance. The church needs to change this world.
We can do it but it will take some effort to succeed. Let’s rise to the challenge. Let’s do it. We can do it and we will succeed if we are committed. We cannot do it halfheartedly though. If we jump into this with our whole hearts, we will be successful and at the end of the day, it will be smooth sailing.
This is all for today. See you next time.