As the Lord leads me, I consider the Bridges Training Network (BTN) leaders who gather at these regional meetings some of the “best of the best” practitioners and Master Trainers in the oral Bible strategy. They are highly effective in implementing the strategy for church-planting and disciple-making among their own people. They are truly dedicated men and women of God, and during these two to three-day meetings, they focus on discussing their ministries and seeking the Lord together.
During a recent BTN Round Table held in a restricted Asian country, one discussion revealed three consistent patterns that make indigenous church-planting efforts difficult for the attending leaders:
1) The political and legal challenges of the country, which prevent open sharing of God’s Word.
2) The needs of family members, who fall sick and suffer spiritual attacks while the leaders are traveling, training and doing God’s work.
3) Ongoing financial challenges which prevent them from training new groups in the Bridges strategy or mentoring existing groups for great effectiveness.
Another discussion, led by a U.S.-based SIU Trainer, revealed for the attendees the seven characteristics of healthy oral Bible churches. These characteristics are designed to help leaders build thriving churches that multiply, even in a context of persecution. According to the seven characteristics, healthy oral Bible churches:
1) Tell Bible stories to help with specific needs (called “needs-based storying”)
2) Memorize Bible stories and practice sharing them with their own families
3) Love God and love their neighbors in word and deed!
4) Pray for others and obey God’s Word
5) Sing songs in their own heart-language to praise and glorify the Lord
6) Plant NEW oral Bible churches!
7) Have spiritually mature pastors, local leaders and elders who are intentionally leading the church
During the Round Table, one of the attending leaders shared this word of encouragement with the others:
“I want to share with you and highlight the people groups we reached this past year and encourage you to travel to every tribe, tongue and people! Last year we reached 72 new people groups through oral Bible strategies. Then we gathered together to pray to the Lord as a group, and God showed us 35 more new people groups to reach and plant churches among in 2019!”
Wow! What courage and dedication these godly leaders have! They face much persecution, but they don’t stop. They inspire me much, and I pray that I can have just an ounce of their ongoing faith and dedication. In other regional gatherings, I see similar patterns of leadership commitment to church growth in multiple harvest fields across the earth. And it’s clear to me that these courageous indigenous men and women of peace need our prayers and financial support! Please join me in that effort.
What do you think? Please share your thoughts, prayers or additional learnings about these insights and observations. If you have a moment, we would really like to hear from you!