Urban Church Planting - Lesson 6

Patterns of Structure and Religious Authority in Church Planting Movements

In this lesson, you will learn about the patterns of structure and religious authority in church planting movements. You will explore the foundations of these movements, including their historical context and key principles. The lesson will examine different biblical models of structure and authority in church planting, as well as variations in structure that balance authority and flexibility. Additionally, you will delve into the development of leadership in these movements, focusing on identifying, training, and empowering local leaders while cultivating a culture of discipleship. Finally, you will gain insight into the challenges and opportunities in church planting movements, such as overcoming obstacles, adapting to changing contexts, and sustaining momentum and growth.

Don Davis
Urban Church Planting
Lesson 6
Watching Now
Patterns of Structure and Religious Authority in Church Planting Movements

EV327-06: Patterns of Structure and Religious Authority in Church Planting Movements

I. Foundations of Church Planting Movements

A. Introduction

B. Historical Context

C. Key Principles

II. Structure and Authority in Church Planting

A. Biblical Models

B. Variations in Structure

C. Balancing Authority and Flexibility

III. Developing Leadership in Church Planting Movements

A. Identifying and Training Leaders

B. Empowering Local Leadership

C. Cultivating a Culture of Discipleship

IV. Challenges and Opportunities in Church Planting Movements

A. Overcoming Obstacles

B. Adapting to Changing Contexts

C. Sustaining Momentum and Growth

  • In this lesson on Ecclesiology, you will gain knowledge and insight into the study of the church, including its nature, purpose, and organization. You will learn about the biblical images of the church, the Great Commission, the church's ministry, and its role in society. You will also explore the church's offices, governance, and accountability and discipline.
  • You will gain knowledge about what a Church Planting Movement (CPM) is, its importance, and its characteristics. You will also learn about the challenges of starting a CPM and the steps involved in beginning one.
  • You will gain a comprehensive understanding of alternative forms of spirituality, including an overview of different types and their characteristics, criteria for evaluating them, and the role of the church in responding to them. You will learn how to engage with alternative forms of spirituality in a Christian way that is both compassionate and truthful.
  • You will gain a comprehensive understanding of the role of tradition in urban church planting. By exploring biblical and historical examples of tradition and evaluating its positive and negative aspects, you will learn how tradition can be applied in the context of urban church planting.
  • This lesson provides insights on the significance of tradition in urban church planting, focusing on connecting with cultural context, balancing tradition and innovation, and applying tradition to foster relationships, community, and spiritual growth.
  • You will learn how church planting movements use different structures and religious authorities to balance authority and flexibility, develop local leadership, and adapt to challenges while maintaining growth.
  • Through this lesson, you gain insights on building a strong identity and crafting an effective strategy for successful urban church planting, focusing on core values, authentic culture, community outreach, leadership development, and adaptability.
  • Discover the key elements for creating a dynamic church planting movement, including prayer, cultural relevance, leadership development, and discipleship strategies, while addressing challenges faced along the way.
  • By exploring strategies for urban church planting, you gain practical knowledge on tailoring approaches for city contexts, building core teams, and implementing phased processes for long-term church success.
  • By studying this lesson, you learn to develop essential leadership qualities and skills, build a strong team, and address challenges in urban church planting effectively.

We will consider the factors and forces connected to a remarkable phenomenon of church planting movements taking place throughout the world today. At a time when definitions of the Church have become more and more loose and individualized, we will analyze all church plant and growth theories as they relate to the Nicene marks of the Church in the world. Using these marks as a representative of a legitimate biblical view of the Church, we will then discuss and investigate the connection between church planting and world evangelization, growth, and leadership development. You may also access this class at Tumi.org under the title, "Winning the World: Facilitating Urban Church Planting Movements."

Dr. Don Davis
Urban Church Planting
Patterns of Structure and Religious Authority in Church Planting Movements
Lesson Transcript

[00:00:00] And I must admit, I have learned in both preparing for this class, our dialogs, reading the books, thinking about all of this, I feel like I have learned a dramatic amount about church planning movements, especially the kind that are going on overseas. I feel like I've learned I've learned enough that I think I could easily lay out some of the critical principles and probably know no principle more important than the one that we talk about tonight patterns and structure of religious authority and church planning movements. The green sheet is really it's a discussion of really largely ethics. We are free and Christ Christ is actually set us free through his death on the cross, through his shared blood. We are now liberated and we are free. We can think of ourselves in a new way. We don't have to. We're not limited to our past, to history, to experience. We can now, based on the authority of the Apostles, on the shared blood of Christ and His work on the cross, on the indwelling Holy Spirit. We are really, truly free now to both in our lives, in our ministries and in our mission to really be open to thinking in a new way. I mean, we can look. We can. We can. We can discover. We can operate on an entirely different level than what we've done. It's not that we are to be arbitrary or to be foolish. We're not free to just become wise. Guys are knuckleheads. We don't reject tradition and and experience for no reason. We actually, quite literally, we use our reason. We use our we do use our conscience. We go forward together in order to really to to it is for freedom. Christ is set us free.


[00:02:06] Let us not be entangled again in a yoga bond. Paul, when he said that in Galatians five is really speaking, he was speaking of I'm convinced of the law. And I think that the church represents a brand new something in history for 2000 years, since the time Christ rose from the grave. The church has really become something entirely new. Utterly new. And these these principles these these principles of freedom in him or, you know, that God actually has made Gentiles a part of his people and that we as a part of that now for these these 2000 years and dwell by the Holy Spirit, we are free. We are free to we are free to to, to to love God, to to love one another, to love the gospel, to make disciples, to do good works. And this sheet essentially gives you some of those main principles. Paul spends a lot of time in First Corinthians talking about these principles. We're free in Christ, but not to do things that aren't edifying or or addictive. We should flaunt our freedom to make believers a weak conscience of, you know, to cause them to stumble. We should do everything that is helpful. We should use our freedom to edify. This is where to build up others. Everything we do, even what we eat or drink, should be done to the glory of God. We should give no offense to the Jew, Gentile, or to the Church of God. Some of these other texts and like first Peter to John eight, Galatians five, it is very, very plain that the Christians are free. Now, the question, you know, I believe that a lot of what we have discussed up to this point could be understood in the framework of Christian freedom.


[00:03:59] I think that Barna is writing on the basis of freedom. You're saying that, look, we're not enslaved to the past. The way we think about church and what church is and how we grow. And, you know, I think he is exactly right. Among all our authors to say that the heart and soul of what it means to be a Christian is to love God with all the heart, soul, mind and strength. We really are, in fact, call to the new commandment. To love each other is Christ's love does. And in order to do that, we have to be free, truly free, free from the heart. We can't be bound or doing anything just out of rote or out of tradition or out of mindless numbing, you know, dead orthodox. We are called by Christ to be fresh. Now, all that being said, though, we have to ask, are there certain structures and certain patterns in the Bible that that quite literally, we are not free to sort of innovate on? For instance, if I would have said. I wonder if I'm free to use the words Elder Deacon. How free am I to use or not use the biblical nomenclature when it comes to leadership? Can I can I use those words or can I call them something else or can I just keep the concept as well? If I if I have the idea, can I ignore the words themselves or, you know, what, what what is or ought to be given the fact that we are so dramatically free and the text of the New Testament makes that so plain. To what extent then do I have to listen to all of the stuff of history? Isn't all of the stuff that we've gone through in all these years and all the accretion like plaque on the teeth of Christian, Christian lifestyle and ministry, don't we need as many of these guys are sort of saying, a restoration to the clean, pristine New Testament hope without going back into things and just sort of doing things weirdly or foolishly.


[00:06:08] Well, I can tell you right up front that I am convinced that this could be very well the most important lesson that we had on urban church planning. And the reason why I am convinced of this, because I truly do believe that. And this is where this is where I think that most modern readers are just dead wrong in their sort of analysis of of the early church. The early church was not into relationships as much as it was in the structure. And I think that we're going to be able to prove that that structure trumps relationship, at least in the thinking of of the apostles and the church fathers. Now, by saying that I am not saying I truly am not saying that those in the church just being a member of a body or having a position or something like that is sort of all you need. I am saying that given the fact that you place your faith in Jesus Christ, then structure was everything to the apostles, into the into the early church and to the church fathers. And that without having a genuine sense of structure, you will never get the dynamism spiritually or missionary that you're looking for. Now, I'm going to we only have a few weeks left. I'm going to just go ahead and be nakedly candid in everything I do. So I want to just give you guys, because I really do feel like I've been able to come to some real conclusions. And I want to now I want to sort of move from sort of open, open. We will still dialog. We'll have the same amount of time. But I want to make certain that we really in fact understand it's important for me that you understand the role that these final concepts have.


[00:07:56] And let me give you the bottom line right up front. Despite being free and set free and Christ, the apostles and the early church fathers in mammals were extraordinarily concerned about whether or not of those who claim to be Christians were really under valid authority. I'll put it this way by any read of the early documents. Early Christian documents. And really, I would even say even in the most effective urban church Klan movements that we can see even to this day. I don't see any robust or healthy movements that don't have a real clear sense of structure and religious authority. In other words, although the West, we are very much inclined to have democratic things and we vote, we are. We like that. The early church did not conceive of itself that way, and certainly not the not the the New Testament church. And so what we have to ask is we really have to ask and I hope that we can do that today. What is the role of structure and authority in any valid corporate movement today? And I think I brought to bear that question is best and as rigorously as I could on our text. And I think that it becomes very, very plain. I thought it was so plain, a sort of midpoint that I couldn't but help in your outline to begin with. Some things by the church fathers now. Now you need to see right away these documents. They were written between 80 and one, 40 and 96, 105. These are old. But I just wanted to give you a sense of the flavor of some of the documents. I think you'll be able to see that for most of the early church. Your commitment and your alignment with the bishops and the deacons, they use very you know, they just use biblical nomenclature was so important that if you were not connected in some way to valid religious structure and also religious because the bishops were not a secular office, it was a religious office.


[00:10:08] If you were not connected to the Office of the Bishops, then you weren't even considered a Christian. As a matter of fact, you had no right to say anything and you couldn't do anything. Now, if you neglect this, let's say you you just think this is an important and, you know, I want to I want to I'm doing real practical work with real people, with real families in the neighborhood that I'm working with. Then I want to say to you that that I think that that what is going on. And I think I'm embolden to say that now, the more I've studied this material is that I think that a lot of the thinking, the reflection and the preaching, a lot of what is going on has nothing to do or very little to do with the thinking of the early church fathers. And again, I mean, I think you'll be able to see, once we jump into this, that there's not a whole lot of room to use any of the biblical language. That is what is so important to me. You know, Terry, he left our academic Dean. He one of the things in his in his departure, a conversation that we had very important we both agreed that what one of the alarming traits today in a lot of people who are Protestant, American, white, middle class is that they are using the Bible less and less and less in their analysis. I mean, they really don't need to, but they don't. They don't they're not sort of they don't pick up Titus in the end. Sort of explain Titus. As a matter of fact, they might not say anything. I just read. Thank you, Rob, so much. Rob loaned me a velvet Elvis.


[00:11:42] The book by Rob Bell. Dear friend, member of a 10,000 plus church I preach there. Dear brother Rob. Rob didn't say a whole lot in the book about the Bible in that book. You know what I'm saying? Rob is a dear friend. I mean, I love Rob. I mean, but but Rob is Rob is not really concerned about the terms. Deacon L You know, that just doesn't come up. I don't think as a pastor he uses where Bishop or Deacon or any of those, not even once in his whole book. That's what I'm saying. I'm saying that now people are conceiving their their entire Christian experience is being conceived and outlined, delineated, defined without a single reference to the structure of the early church and the New Testament. Now, maybe that doesn't mean much to you, but I think I think it's really, really scary. And I think it requires those of us who are really hopefully critical will really ask what is going on and how significant? Is it just to begin our discussion of Barner and Garrison today? Again, just today, we will sort of go back. There are so much in both Barna and Garrison, I think, that we need to look at. We'll look at them, then we'll discuss those together. We'll take a break. Then we will look at. Kreider and Moore, and we'll discuss them. And we probably won't have much time to do anything more than that. Let me again, guys, I just want to say this very plainly. It was very, very easy to be in early church, because if you weren't connected to a bishop, you weren't a Christian. Let's just make that point. Now you can say they were wrong or whatever, but I just want to I just want to make this clear.


[00:13:30] Let's make it clear. And then we can discuss what it meant. Look at the dedicated did k is probably the the I don't know if you guys have ever read it. It's wonderful piece. You can find it. It's probably the earliest Christian literature and gives us more insight into the actual church life of the of the generation of the Apostles. Look at 82 140. Most most believe that the you know, John was written the gospel of John in the nineties. So the Dedicate could have been written with the apostles right there. I mean, there are there are a lot of but but it's just a snapshot into what Christians are thinking. A point there for for your sales bishops and deacons worthy of the Lord, men who are meek, not lovers of money. Truth one test for they also render to you the service of prophets and teach us do not despise them, therefore, for they are your your honored ones, together with the prophets and teachers. The climate of Rome, which is a very important documents in the West. Our apostles knew through our Lord Jesus Christ, that there would be strife on account of the Office of Overstretch side. For this reason, therefore, inasmuch as he had obtained a perfect for knowledge of this, he appointed those already mentioned. Afterwards, they gave instructions that when those men should fall asleep, other approved man should succeed them in their ministry. We are of the opinion. We are of opinion, therefore, that those appointed by the Apostles or afterwards, by other imminent mean and with the consent of the whole church into a blameless, we serve the flock of Christ in a humble, peaceable and disinterested spirit, and have for a long time possessed a good opinion of all.


[00:15:14] Cannot be justly dismissed from the ministry. But it's amazing we had time with that paragraph tells us about early Christianity. Y'all, this is 19 centuries ago. You get what I'm saying? We're talking about on being like on the heels. This is this is the restoration, the New Testament church year. It is it is therefore Ignatius, one of the first bishops of the church. It is therefore necessary that you do nothing without the bishop, as you indeed already practice. Likewise, you should also be subject to the press. The pardon? I was typing extraordinarily fast. I left the T out and you can put it in. It is incumbent here in this who is one of the most influential persons in the early church, probably the most or least doctrine. He he he came up with so many categories that we use to this day. It is incumbent to obey the presbyters. The elders is what that is wore in the church. Those who, as I have shown, possessed the succession from the Apostles. It was very, very important to the early church that you proved that you had some link to the apostles. The church was apostolic, so they didn't care how bright you were or what you knew. If you didn't know one of them, then you get you got no right to speak. By the way, on this point, you papias I didn't put this quote in, but papias in the year 150 is the clearest evidence that the early church preferred the spoken word of those who succeeded from the Apostles, then the actual epistles. In other words, the early church would have preferred somebody who knew an apostle then than the one of the apostolic writings. Now, that's a very powerful idea, if you think about it.


[00:17:00] They would they if a guy who knew John was there. Over against what John wrote. They wanted to hit a brother. I mean, it's very, very plain that you can you can trace this. We can find this out. I just think that's very significant. The early church was a church of proven people that everyone knew. That's the way the way they grew. That's the way it was. And honestly, rather than be real controversial, I left a lot of the ones that you would say that's a radical out. There were many, many on this. It isn't it incumbent but second second thing on the erroneous in the middle of your page, those who together with the succession of the Episcopal, those bishops have received the certain gift of truth according to the good pleasure of the father. Again, erroneously, as it is within the Powerball, there are four in every church who may wish to see the truth, to contemplate clearly the tradition of the apostles manifested throughout the whole world. They were completely integrated. Now. I don't know if that means anything to you, but in 180, Christianity was a single movement. They knew they could trace it. Was it? You can imagine the power of that. I mean, throughout the Roman Empire, they knew who the leaders were and those leaders had been a test. And we are in a position to reckon up those who were by the Apostles Institute of Bishops in the churches and the succession of these men to our own time. Four of the Apostles had no mysteries. I like Uranus's logic. They would have delivered them, especially to those whom they were also committing the churches. Some say if there was some deeper stuff that that if the puzzles had deep stuff they wanted to tell somebody, they would have probably told the guys they put in charge of the church.


[00:18:50] That's the way the early church saw it. Wasn't your ya. This is fundamentally different from you discovering something in your Bible. This is about who you know. If you're not a part of the right people and don't know the right people, they don't care how smart you are. I mean, that's just that's just the easiest way to understand early church. If, if, if someone who was accredited knew you, then quite honestly, maybe you can say something to us. But if you come to us, you're smart, loaded up with Scripture. That don't mean just matter of fact, we ain't going to listen to you and we doubt you. As a matter of fact, we don't really care how great of a person you are in that. I mean, there are there are some great examples of this. They sent guys packing sometimes pretty hard. It was very vicious of you came. As a matter of fact, the bishops, the way they set up the actual districts, you you could not unless you understand by the time hopefully this class is over why this was so important. I know it seems sort of extreme, but in the districts, if you didn't have letters from the bishop, you could not speak outside of that bishop's territory. In other words, the early church, the early church blew up. I mean, they murdered people. Most of the bishops were the first to die adjusted martyr, and some of them, they were tortured right away. I will argue that there wouldn't even be Christianity begun for the bishops of the first three centuries. They took all the blows. They were the ones who absorbed it all. And we're dramatically like that now. But in places where we're where the church is under under real siege, our leaders are we got we're no better than the leaders that we had.


[00:20:33] Iranians could sort of finish this. Were they for they were desirous that these men should be perfect and blameless in all things, and whom also they were leaving behind as their successors, delivering up their own place of government to these men. Here's Cyprian, one of my favorite. You should know that the bishop is in the church, and the church is in the bishop. If anyone is not with the bishop, he is not in the church. This is very plain. This is just basic. Most church fathers have these sentiments on Cyprian again. When we had met together, being bishops of the province of Africa and Numidia and numbering 71, we established the same matter once more. The church quite literally could convene and all of the Christian movement could know and settle issues. And the reason why we have the creeds and everything. You see what I'm saying? They could they could control. And quite literally, control is the right word. They could control those who spoke because these guys are the official guys. You know, people don't come and deal with the official guys. Then they really are not authorized to say that. And all of these official guys are guys who have either been appointed by the apostles or people who knew the apostles. So when we say that the church was apostolic, we we literally mean in the finally when we had met together. Well, I'd read that again. I already saw it. Well, I thought that just getting a little bite of of the fathers might be good before we dove into Barna and Jefferson, because there are so far truly the current writers are so far from from from the fathers that really if you don't read the fathers, you don't know how extreme and extraordinary the things that are being written today.


[00:22:26] Guys, we are looking today again, let me make the claim. I think I have to prove it. I don't think it'll be that hard to show that the issue of structure and religious authority, or at least of the fathers, the most important thing, if a person is not with the bishop, they're not of the church. Well, let's this is the question that I ask myself. We really have to ask as we read and as we ponder all the materials that we have. To what extent, based on what we see in these authors, Barnhardt guess, and Carter and more, how do they help us understand the role of structure and religious authority? And this is the way I defined it at the top of page two, those positions, systems, processes and rules whereby the affairs of the churches are identified, decided upon and carried out. In other words, we want to plant churches. We want churches that are healthy. Then we have to sort of determine how to how those churches organize and how they govern. And for the early church, that was the most significant thing. I must admit the early church is just dramatically efficient. I must tell you that when I read them, the early church fathers, I see what they went through. I don't see how we would have survived Gnosticism, the emperor, persecution, all of the other constant challenges, the killing of most of its leaders. It seemed to me that these were the greatest issues. I can see why Cyprian could literally say if a person is an associated with the bishop and interpret Bishop as the person who was appointed by the apostles or in that league. Well, let's look at. I just, you know, obey your leaders and submit to them.


[00:24:11] I love the New Testament, where they are keeping watch over your souls as those who have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. I have defined as best I could. And you guys will be the judge if it's fair or not. What structure and religious authority means in each of our authors and to begin with Barna. To me, structure and religious authority is the outworking of significant changes that occur in individual revolutionaries. Now this is important. I think that Barna that that that that that real religious authority lies in the person involved. I may be wrong. You guys let's we can discuss this in a moment. But I think that's where it is. He he would not agree with the fathers. Would you agree with me on that? I mean, I don't think Barnard would agree that a person, if they're not associated with the bishop, they're not a part of the church. I mean, but I think that Barna and I'm not hammering him, I truly believe he thinks that revolutionaries have such a radical individual spirituality that that can really serve them well in conjunction with others, which I don't know what that is. We have to discern it. He makes it plain. Paul made it plain. This is the first time that the bottom makes a case for revolutionaries being connected to other Christians in a real way. But he says it's not connected necessarily to the local church. Well, here is his here's his his first his first thing will. Will there be a macro model? This is Barney's sort of guesstimate about what's what's coming ahead in terms of spirituality in America. Will there be a macro model similar in magnitude to the congregational format of a local church to replace that dominant but declining model? The congregational model is the structure and religious authority for many.


[00:26:15] Today, he says, it doesn't seem likely. In fact, some extensions of the congregational model, such as the emergent or postmodern congregations, really are not new models, but simply more minor refinements of the reigning model. I think that's very powerful. You don't see emerging churches as necessarily is is wild as they might think. Ultimately, we expect to see believers choosing from a proliferation of options, weaving together a set of favored alternatives into a unique tapestry that constitutes the personal church of the individual. So he is he really truly believes, quite literally, that the individual is the heart and soul of the individual is going to select a network of Christians in a portfolio of Christian activities, and together that's going to be their church and that is what constitutes their own sort of authority. Now, in in his reading, he gives us a real sense of what the revolutionary the marks of this sort of, to me, structure. It begins with the realignment of personal identity. He says the revolutionary realizes that being a slave to Christ, ambassador of God, a servant of the King, a soldier in the invisible battle of purity and evil. And this real this realization structures their decision making from within. It's not on the basis of structures on the outside. It's not based on whether or not you are connected to a bishop or it. These are all inside convictions. The individual devoted to the revolutionary way determines the spiritual journey and direction. As a matter of fact, he says at the local church, if you read on pages carefully, pages 87 and 88, he says the local church has failed to help its congregants experience this transformation of identity that to be a Christian needs this dramatic identity change.


[00:28:18] They need to see who they really are. The local church has failed at that and failing the change in self image. Churches will not have the capacity to change the world, quote unquote. I mean, a very, very potent and direct thing. Guys, I'd like to before I just sort of run passes. Am I misreading him on this? I don't want to be wrong on him. I really appreciate. I am going to try to get him here. I really would like to. I don't know if he will come, but. No, no, not to hammer him. I'd really like to come and talk to him about some things. I would love if I could get Barna and Bob Webb to to talk, to get one who is a person who is fully cognizant of the historical church. Who knows the church fathers. Like. Like we know the TV guide and Barna, you know, to get them together and get them to discuss together. You know, the ancient church and the and the contemporary church and and maybe even have some consultations with us about the urban church. That would be really helpful, too. That'd be fresh to me. Um. The individual. Yes, that's my that is my read of them my my objective read that that the revolutionary has such an individual powerful, meaningful life in crimes. They are so reckless in their intent not to let anything interfere with them that they themselves, quite literally, they themselves are the authority. They are the ones that do the judging, not the local church, not the bishop, not the pastor. They they do. I do. As a revolutionary Christian, your self-government, your self-governance. That's what he means by self-governance. It is it has nothing to do with the bishop.


[00:30:12] I don't even know what this brother needs. The pastors, is what I'm saying. Pastoral epistles. Why do you need it if you're self-governing? I mean, this. This. You cannot be any further. I'm saying from the did AK and claiming of role in Iranians and Ignatius now you can say that they're wrong. I'd love to hear him say that, but I don't know. He has he has really departed from New Testament. Certainly early Christianity. They would they would just be appalled. It wouldn't. That's just not even fathomable, let alone unspeakable to the. I gave you the nicest quotes. There are quotes that said, if a person don't listen to the bishop, they're not saying you should listen to the bishop because you listen to Christ. I mean, they were just you can see why there were no Bibles. Everyone was there were heresies everywhere. How on earth can you protect the doctrine this guy speaks for for for John. This guy knew John. John selected him. What does he agree with what you're saying? It's a very efficient way. You could see you could just track it down and. Church. This is very important. What you're describing, Matt, is what we ought to do now. This to me is how do you know you got a church, is what I'm saying? You say you're in a church. You say that you're you're part of a church. How do you know that your church is church? I mean, that's really what this comes down to. And who says so just because you feel it and you learned it? I mean, you couldn't be any any desperate in your view of church. It's not as easy as we might say to get back to the New Testament idea.


[00:31:55] Those who were right during the time of the apostles on their heels certainly wouldn't have define a church the way the books that we're reading are defining church. So what you're saying that to me, it's why it's so important. We've got you are a pastor in a church. You really must understand and sort of figure this out. You're exactly right. There were all kinds of abuses. There was a reformation, but there was no reformation. There was no reformation in Anglicanism, really. There was no reformation in the Orthodox Church. I mean, they they have they've had essentially the same liturgy and things since since the, you know, third century. I mean, we are and and candidly, white evangelicalism is an eye blink when it comes to the whole church of Jesus Christ. So so I think when when it comes down to it, what he is talking about, he is not really speaking to the black church or the brown church. He is speaking to. He is speaking to. You know. So we have to limit what we're saying. Oh, I just don't want to misread him. And I think it's important to really wrestle with this, because I think he does have the pulse of a lot of people. I do. I think that I think that he I think that he would agree with what you just said, Jack, that the church, because it is failing, people are going to churches are not revolutionized. And, you know, people don't go to church to find a brand new outlook on their lives. That's what he's saying. The clarification very quickly, we can sort of zip through this and then then we'll take all your questions and and comments on this really essentially of Barna. And I'll sort of go a little faster, but it gives some of these marks and and helps us sort of understand what this revolutionary band must do.


[00:33:48] They have to clarify their core beliefs. And he said that soldiers in this band must, quote, champion the breadth and profundity of their worldview God provides. They have a holy biblical outlook, he says. Revolutionaries on life based on the belief that the Bible is God's perfect and reliable revelation designed to instruct and guide all people. Not a thing. As a matter of fact, you would think that the Bible maybe fell on him. We wouldn't have a Bible without the Catholic Church. I mean, you wouldn't have the Bible you have right now, the oldest the oldest manuscripts of the church on earth, the codex at the Vatican, 300 years old. I mean, the year 300 are all Catholic. They're the ones who defended and guided the Bible. They really are. It was in the 16th, 17th century that the Bible was translated into the vernacular of common people. And a lot of people died because of that horse, Wickliffe and others who gave their lives. And, you know, I mean, it wasn't easy for them. But but the documents that those guys used to translate, it was all, all things that happened from from from the Catholic Church. Yes. Right. Yeah. Well, see, that that is that is really powerful. What he calls holy biblical outlook. See, because once you sever from history, is he talking about the creed? What is he talking about? What is a hole? What is a holy biblical outlook? He's already defined what he believes a holy biblical outlook is. I mean, he has said that this is very important to know. This is why we have to read him. I want to read him critically. He has already said what he believes a wholly biblical outlook is in the seven passions of a revolutionary.


[00:35:35] It is not necessarily tied. I would suggest to historic Christian doctrine. He never mentions it, as far as I can tell. Never says anything about the creed or. Well, that that. You know. You know, frankly. Frankly, what you just say really opens up the door for us so wonderfully in the in the section. That to me is one of the best parts of the whole book. Page 89 through 91. In your book, he really this is this answers Jack's question, I think, very directly. He says that revolutionaries are part of a community. He actually he doesn't call it a local church. He says a reference group as an anchor. Now, I'm not sure what that is, but that's but. But they are part of something at the top of page three. He says revolutionaries discover quickly that they are not alone in their dissatisfaction with the status quo. They cannot sustain their rebellion alone. And they will only they will have only nominal impact if they seek the revolution without others. While not necessarily committed to authority structures in the church, revolutionaries do seek to, quote, integrate into a pool of compatible change agents. Now, that is remarkable. And he says that doing so has tangible benefits to it. And he actually then gives benefits that sound very much like the church. They get fellowship. They. They're supported. It's very, very powerful. I mean, but he's he just it's sort of like in your red, in your on your your your your sheets. There's a red sheet and says, for a context of urban Christian leadership development, if you think about these for friendship, small group congregational life in the relationship between congregations which which is the regional church or local church, it seems like no matter what the denomination is or the association, everyone has these elements, their friendships.


[00:37:42] There are small groups, there is congregational life in their relationships between congregations. Now you can have Baptists have this and Anglicans have this of Pentecostals have this, and and Lutherans have this. I mean, everyone has it's like Christians relate individually. They relate in small groups, they relate in congregations. They relate between each other. They gather in larger things. It seems to me that Barna just says that Christians congregate, Christians assemble, and they can't sort of function without some sort of assembly, although he he just doesn't call it church. Am I again? Am I reading that wrong? They need each other. They can't survive without each other. They won't make it if they don't have each other. You know, Christian can be by himself or herself, but he just he just didn't come out and say, you know, they need church now again. Am I misreading? I'm just trying to go quickly. You'll see why this is important a little later. There are new forms of behavior, he said. Revolutionaries. They they deny a multitude of distractions and seductions that dissipate them. They can be seen as narrow minded and uninteresting because they have a laser like focus on revolutionary ideals. And they're truly heroic. Figures they cite simultaneously are intriguing and scary to those who uphold the white bread norm. I thought that was a great thing. They are really remarkable people, he says. They really bring fear into ordinary types who go to ordinary churches for ordinary reasons. Let me ask you guys, have you met any do you know any revolutionaries? Are you a revolutionary? Guys, if somebody came to you. There are a number of pastors in this room. If someone came, you would see it. All the things that Barna said.


[00:39:43] I'm not getting my needs met. There's no revolutionary image here. I don't feel like I'm growing. What would you say to them? What what would be your challenge to that person who said who said those things to you, to your face and ask you now? Yeah. They just said the things that Barna said. You know, I don't feel, you know, there is nothing radical here. You know, people don't have a clear sense of who they are. You know, he said all the things. What would you would you would you be amenable? How many would be amenable after this month's reading of Barna to say that you should leave the church, you should leave the church because the church has failed you and we should. Local church. Let's just be practical. You should. You would ask them to leave lighthouse or leave perfect peace or leave river island or leave. Plain view or leave. Leave your church. What it within? See what I'm trying to get at, y'all. We we have to decide is, can a person grow without being under legitimate authority now? I mean, can a person would you feel good saying, look, here's if a church. If a church is simply not vital, not necessarily immoral or just dead, just sort of numb. Would you feel comfortable? Either leaving yourself or asking someone who asked you whether or not they should leave to do so. And remember that it's self-governing on his principle. They feel this. This ain't got nothing to do with what you say. This got to do with what I feel, what I believe, and what I think we need to be enduring or whatever. Yeah, we'll see. We'll see what happens. Very. Dean said you have to have some authority.


[00:41:43] What if Matt pastoring that church say it or would you feel comfortable with this? I'm the pastor of the church and by my conscience, I'm preaching the word. I've never seen you before. This is the first time I talk to you. I'm the pastor here. In my judgment is that you need to stay here and grow. As a matter of fact, if you're so all fired up to do so much, why don't you come by my office on Tuesday? We'll put you to work. We will. Will. Now, now, now. How many of you would feel comfortable with something like that? And his answer? I'm just saying that it seems to me that your view of the church a priori before the issue, a priori your view of the church, is going to determine what the remedy is. To me, his view of the church is not historical, and therefore he's just the church is not an option. The church has failed. Therefore, we need new alternative things and we need to just go. We need to conceive of spirituality outside of the church. It's C C, the question the question that we have to ask is who determines who determines whether or not a church is a church who asks us to say it that she was a part of congregations who said your kind, your brand of pastoral leadership is not what we constitute as pastoral leadership. Barna. Barna is important because he says that self-governance followers of Christ have it within themselves because of their own marks. Look at the marks that He gives at the bottom of page three. I mean, these these these are they are they are connected. They have a deep bond with God. They are available to do whatever God wants and to hear and respond.


[00:43:42] They're firm and focused focus on producing fruit. They're assured, appropriately righteous and upbeat. That's an interesting three fold sort of analysis. They feel secure in knowing they are connected to God, and that makes him confident and fearless. He says they possess character. They possess integrity, honesty, reliability, trustworthiness and humility, which is the cardinal virtue of revolutionaries. And they make these these these character traits make their efforts honorable, by the way. As a footnote, you can all of these things integrity, honesty, reliability, trustworthiness are things that happen in the context of community. You don't define your level of integrity. Integrity. These things are known by how you relate to others in characters, not in a vacuum. In other words, how do you know you're honest? Unless you're around people who are dishonest and you're in a community, they're the ones who really define that for you. Really? In some ways, he's defining character without community, which is very, very difficult to do. I mean, he doesn't do that. He doesn't come out and say that. But but but he defines these things individually, not in terms of community, but excessive love regarding people and a lifestyle that's clean and productive. I thought that was very interesting. A clean lifestyle to work hard, produce good deeds, and avoid debt. I don't know why that was. See? You see what I'm saying? I am saying that if we even using Ed's good analysis, why these points? Yeah. Why are these what would give him the authority to pronounce the anathema on the oh, millions of of believers, hundreds of thousands of churches because they're not clean. Don't avoid that and and aren't, you know, appropriately upbeat. I'm just saying that in some ways, this this to me. This is very, very significant in light of what it said.


[00:45:50] Are these churches? What is wrong? Are the churches wrong? Are his markers wrong or both wrong? Is something else wrong? I mean, as you look at all this and try to make sense of this, what's what is the issue here? Are these the right marks? What are we dealing with here? Yeah. It takes time before you can really pass judgment on a person. Yay or nay. You need to look at that person. You need to look at them. They need to be around you. You can't do that quickly. How can you just make judgments about the nature of a church based saying you had a bad experience with the church? Or how do you know that that experience is valid? What if what of your experience was isolated or iconoclastic or strange? At what point? What I feel comfortable to really say this church is not a revolutionary church. How would you? What would give you that confidence that you could say that? That's what I'm trying to get at. He is very clear about it. When could you say that? Is your church right now? A revolutionary church? I mean, just. Just tell me how you decide. Yes or no? How do you know? Do you use these markers? How many of you clean this indebtedness and upbeat ness as a standard? I'm serious. I mean, I'm not just trying to kid. I'm really trying to take this seriously. He's. He's asking people to abandon the church. It doesn't matter if they go and look at his marks. Revolutionaries or these clean. I'm just saying that this is very important. This man. Yeah. Well it's, it's exactly I think it's. Isn't it. What, Jack, you're resonating with what Jack said. How do we know for certain where did.


[00:47:51] I'm not I know he's a great researcher and really he's probably the most quoted person in North America. I don't know if you guys know that is Barnet. The Barna Group is one of the most significant research groups. And I mean, it is in Christendom. I mean, he he he is he's known for social research. But I'm not quite sure what this means in terms of of our understanding of structure and authority. I just want to make this very plain regarding the nature of how we come to understand authority now. We're going to take just a few moments and look at Garrison before we we break. What did you think of Garrison this week? Did you read what was going on on the Muslim movement and of. It seems to me that Garrison says a lot about structure and authority without saying a whole lot directly about it. If you look at on page four, he really, the way I define Garrison in his understanding of structure and religious authority is especially among church plant movements. Among the Muslims is the outworking of a mission. I mean, authority mission are very connected to me, as a matter of fact. Authority only comes up as the mission goes out is a way you can. At least I've read Garrison. It's where and at least among the Muslims, where the smothering fabric of Sharia has been framed by war and rapid social change, enough to allow for there to be some kind of penetration into the Islamic fields. As a matter of fact. It seems to me that a garrisons, garrisons Texas was very, very helpful to for for someone who doesn't know Islamic culture to know the power of the social laws in Islam and how that just determines everything in those societies and really in fact shapes the nature of Christian outreach and the church in those societies.


[00:50:05] You know, Islamic Sharia constitutes the only major religious system in the world designed, he said, to defeat Christianity on page 100. And the elements of these these system of social laws that really sort of undergird many Muslim societies. He gave a number of examples of those are the Sharia. The laws prevent or prohibit Muslims from converting to Christianity or any other religion. And to do so is punishable in some societies by death. Christians may not convert to Muslims 2 to 3 or with Christians are really essentially where that religious freedom is given. They are restricted to practicing within the confines of their own church buildings. And I thought that was very, very powerful. I mean, to be limited, quite literally limited to your feet inside that building is what is what a Christian man can marry Christian woman who may retain her faith, but the children must be Muslim and Christian men may marry Muslim women, but they have to be converted. That's one Sharia he notice in Muslim societies, a Sharia law for easy divorce. And in some ways, they also allow for up to four wives at a time. In some societies. You said that that makes it that just makes it appealing. He said to for for some to even convert to Islam. It's very complex. If you saw what he was saying that the Sharia are very very potent. You know, the Jimmy tax levied against non-Muslims for protections in the army. You also talked about, you know, in history of how the Sharia prohibited the ownership of Muslim slaves by Christian masters and whatever the overall burden of of garrison, he said, is that because of the Sharia, that you have a you have many nominal and secular Christians who find their answers in the Koran.


[00:52:12] The Koran is is quite and at the same time, he said it's a weird deal. You find a lot of nominal Christians who actually have no problem with the Koran find it helpful. And yet more Muslims have come to faith in the last two decades than any other time in the history of the two great religions, which is saying so about that. But he still says that Sharia remains a formidable challenge with Muslim converts facing persecution and even death. Now he goes into several different kinds of understanding of church in Muslim societies, the North African Berber movement, the Pakistani Kashmir movement, and the Soviet Central Asian movement. The Kazakhstan move. And I was reading these very, very carefully to see how these particular churches and movements were organized. Do they have a structure? Is there some way do they have pastors? How do they meet? How do people come into them? How do they lead them once they are in them? I don't know if you guys actually saw a whole lot there. In any of those. I'll just say that before I even ask, were you able to see in your own reading of any sort of strategy? There was one that I saw and I'll see if you guys saw the same thing is at the top of page five. He he's in it. It became clear in the Kazakhstan strategy is that there is a real genuine venture to go among indigenous people. In other words, anything that is going to be legitimate is going to come from the people or it's not going to. It's going to have no absolutely no meaning whatsoever. As a matter of fact. I thought one of the most powerful things that I have read is how these Baptist missionaries actually went to the government and in education actually set up structures.


[00:54:14] It went directly to the people and wanted to deal directly with the leaders of that society and bypass all, even the churches that were present. Did you guys see that, that they went directly to the Kazakhs? They didn't even they didn't even. There were Slavic churches that were present, but because of ancient, old historical grudges and whatever, they just they just bypassed that and went directly to the people and try to make it a fully indigenous movement. As a matter of fact, I just made a quote for you at the top of page five. The earliest church plan is deliberately aimed at stimulating a Kazakh movement. The results have been impressive. Kazakhs today feel that they own the movement. Consequently, momentum is shifting from foreign workers to national leaders. As far as I could tell from GUESS. This is the most indigenous movement, at least one of the most indigenous movements that he's mentioned in the whole book with, probably notwithstanding the Chinese, which is completely an indigenous movement. Why is that important? I think that it's important because it says that if there's going to be real Christianity, it has to come from within a people and it has to be led by those people. Y'all. Let me just say that again, just so you. If it's going to be there and you really let's let's import all the good stuff that Barta told us about the quality of Christianity. Garrison See, is that the largest change to me? You know, this judge did this stand. You did a stand. You did a stand. He made it up. He said, I'm telling you, I'm making it up. I don't want to get people in trouble. He said as the largest church planting movement in the history of Christian missions to Muslims, there was a limited number of missionaries allowed to work.


[00:56:10] They published the Giardini New Testament. There was experimentation with new forms of church contextualized Muslim worldviews of converts still referred to themselves as Muslims. By the way, did all of you guys have a chance to read about the inside of movements? We will we will discuss that after our break today. Then he finished this whole section with the story of this Sharif, which is just amazing. I don't know how you guys read that. That was just a stunning story. The ostracism and persecution this dear brother got from his family occurred in the face of brutal cruelty from his own father and his folks. Yet he had a tremendously compelling testimony and unbelievably fruitful with this one friend of his below. In 1991, they led their first Muslim family to Christ, started the first church of Muslim background believers. Over the next decade, they would see nearly 4000, see nearly 4000 churches planted and more than 150,000 Muslims come to Christ. And I don't know if you looked at it, but for those of you who are missionaries, you should be able to see from the reading. What is the relationship between Shareef and the missionary? Was the strategy coordinate? I mean, I don't know if you guys saw what the relationship there was. What's significant to me is that you can say whatever you want about Shareef, but Shareef, in my mind, is the same thing, is what the the fathers called a bishop in the in the in the things that we read earlier. He is the beginning of a movement. He's the person most credible. Can you imagine someone that Shareef trained and disciple the sort of the sort of meaningfulness that someone would have in that movement? He you know, he and Bilal, it's very, very plain that that that I'll just sort of cut to this and then we'll take our break and then come back and discuss.


[00:58:29] What what is really striking to me in in all of these books is that Christianity is built on what is absolutely right on this. To me, Christianity is built on a real, genuine experiential power of its leaders. Jack, say it this several time real leaders, whoever they are, are going to carry real weight in real churches. It's just the way the churches grow is the way we've always grown. I'm going to argue that without leaders, you can call them anything. This is a Baptist movement. I don't know if Sharif, did you get any sense? I know it's a Baptist book. I believe Sharif and all the things that happened was essentially baptism. Is that right? I think it's a Southern Baptist movement. I don't think he's referring to an Episcopalian movement or a Wesleyan movement. This is a this is a Baptist outreach sense. But the point is, is that whatever you call it, God, you, Sharif, in the same way, you see, it's Mason in the same way. It seems to me that's just the way there's something fundamental, really correct in God raising up men and women of certain gifting power and authority in those people actually leading the movement. It's not. And frankly, the structure sort of builds around those individuals. Now, this was Baptist, but I guarantee you, I bet that in in in in the actual life and the teaching and the experience of these churches, Sharif functions like a bishop. Maybe an archbishop. I just think that's the case. This has real implications that I want to talk about after our break. Is it possible for us to have a church where we don't have pastors who really assert authority, real authority, and are not connected to authority? Is there any such thing? Do we have even one shred of evidence that there can be a valid, viable, sustainable church planned movement that does not have real, genuine religious authority being exercised by those who are held in high regard by the people who see them, regardless of what it is.


[01:00:44] The higher church models are already plain Catholics. Anglicans. Orthodox. Many of the others. Lutherans. Method to see how they are. In fact, they have. They are based on an Episcopal structure. With real clear let's talk about the low church times. Is it in fact possible? This is what I want us to talk about after your break. Is it possible to really build a movement that will grow to these numbers this quickly and not have real leaders exercising real authority? Can you, in fact, have an egalitarian movement where everybody is totally autonomous and plant thousands and thousands of churches and have hundreds of thousands of converts? That's the point of this lesson to date. And one way or the other, I'd like you to weigh in. I really would. I'd like you to weigh in while you take your break and while I ponder the real answer before you return.