the weblog of Alan Knox

Hypothetical Situation… what do you think?

Posted by on Jun 16, 2009 in definition, discipleship | 13 comments

Suppose that you and some friends were traveling through a foreign city. While you were there, you met a group a people who invited you to a religious ceremony. You go with them.

At this ceremony, you realize that these people believe in God, but they do not know about Jesus Christ. At the end of the ceremony, the leader gives anyone a chance to talk. You find the courage to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the people gathered.

Some of the people are very interested. As you leave the ceremony, they follow you and ask you more about Jesus. In fact, they encourage you to stay with them for the next several days and continuously ask you about Jesus, your beliefs, your lifestyle, etc. Many people confess their desire to follow Jesus.

The people are amazed at the way you interact with your friends, with them, and with the other people in the city. They ask you about your lifestyle, and you explain that the gospel not simply a message to be believed, but it is a life to be lived.

The religious leaders invite you back to their next ceremony. Once again you are given the opportunity to speak, but this time the leaders are ready with some questions and concerns. You explain as well as you can, and after the ceremony a few others ask if they can learn more as well. Again, many confess their desire to follow Jesus.

Others who are not religious begin to show interest, and some of them confess their desire to follow Jesus. It seems like everywhere you go in the city, people are talking about your group and about Jesus.

By the next week, when you have once again been invited to the religious ceremony, the atmosphere has changed. The religious leaders are angry and begin to threaten you and those who have began to follow Christ because of you. You are not given the chance to defend yourself or the others at this meeting, and the new believers become concerned.

That night, after the ceremony, the new believers convince you that it would be best for you and for them if you and your friends left that night. You agree, so you pack up your belongings and drive away.

As you are driving away, and as you think about what had happened over the last few weeks, you begin to think about that little band of disciples back in the city.

So… here are my questions for you, my readers: 1) What things do you think are most important that you would have taught them over the  last few weeks? 2) What concerns would you have about this group of disciples? 3) Would you consider this group a church? Why or why not? 4) Do you think you left them with everything they need after only a few weeks? 5) If so, how could this be enough? 6) If not, what is missing?

(By the way, this “hypothetical situation” is based on a true story.)


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 6-16-2009

    1) Death, burial, resurrection…love God and love one’s neighbors. They need to assemble together. No drum kits or dancing.
    2) they might fall prey to those who turned hostile to your religion.
    3) If they met like I told them, I would consider them a church.
    4) No I don’t think so. They have the basics, but need continuing help.
    5) N/A, see 4).
    6) In my physical absence, I would write them letters and hope to return to see them once the hype settled down. I would sneak in if necessary.

  2. 6-16-2009

    I think that the King James should be somewhere in the mix there. Oh yeah, and you should wear a nice suit so the congregation will think you know what your talking about.

  3. 6-16-2009

    1) I would be begin with the death burial and resurrection, stressing Christ’s death to show just how much God loves us. I would also stress the fact that we were save by Grace. Grace. Grace. And last time I checked, most people worship with instruments, such as drum kits. I also recall David dancing for God. I’m sure why Steve has such a problem with that.

    2) Misunderstanding and misinterpretation can be disastrous.

    3) If they believe, they are part of the Church. If they gather together, they worship as the Church. I do not like this question.

    4) I pray I left them with a hunger for more. I merely planted a seed. God does the real work.

    5) It’s not an ideal situation. But it’s a situation that was predestined to occur the way it did. If all I could try to show them was just how much God loved them, that he sacrificed what was most precious to him, I think that would be enough. I wouldn’t be as concerned about the minor details that we get wrapped up in sometimes. I was where God wanted me, when he wanted me there, and I said what God wanted them to hear. All that’s left to do is pray and trust.

  4. 6-16-2009


    This sounds like the Galatian church or the Thessalonican church, but……. that was then and we are way smarter today so lets answer your questions.

    1. The Gospel, as everyone else said, not to mention the Gospel produces love for God, fellow brother/sister, neighbor and enemy. A love that produces genuine concern and care. And a dependency upon the Spirit who the Messiah promised to guide them.

    2. They don’t have enough information to be as smart as me (which could be a good or bad thing but most likely good).

    3. Yes. A church is defined by a group of believers who meet to encourage one another and use their gifts to build each other up into Christ (the operative word is believers and build).

    4. If I have taught them that there is a real, living, person who resides in each of them and who’s desire is to bring glory to the Father and the Son and that this person’s mission is to guide, teach and mature them to all the Son wants them to be yes!

    5. Because the discples of Jesus was left with that promise and the eye witness of the risen Messiah. If we trust their testimony, then we can trust that the Spirit will do what the truthful Messiah promised He would do.

    6. I don’t think anything is missing! I trust that this “church” would thrive because Christ promised that He would build His church and would not leave them without a witness.

  5. 6-16-2009

    1) Death, burial and resurrection – Believe in the Lord Jesus and they will be saved – salvation is by grace and not of works, so no one can boast. Meet regularly for encouragement sake

    2)Persecution and they might go back to old ways for fear of being persecuted

    3)No – they are in the Body of Christ, so they are the Church.

    4)No, there would have been other things that should have been taught had time permitted. But Holy Spirit would lead them into all truth. With God all things are possible.

    6)Mostly the time that would have been needed to disciple them.

  6. 6-16-2009

    Thank you everyone for commenting. I’m going to give my answers to these questions on Thursday.

    If you haven’t replied yet, please do.


  7. 6-16-2009

    “1) What things do you think are most important that you would have taught them over the last few weeks?”

    That they devote themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. (Acts 2:42)

    “2) What concerns would you have about this group of disciples?”

    That, above all else, they genuinely love one another, as a result spend much time together doing the above.

    “3) Would you consider this group a church? Why or why not?”


    “4) Do you think you left them with everything they need after only a few weeks?”


    “5) If so, how could this be enough?”

    That’s what God has given us, no more no less!

    “6) If not, what is missing?”


  8. 6-17-2009

    Great “hypothetical” situation lol, and good questions.

    1) I would have focused on Jesus’ teachings, especially the sermon on the mount, since Jesus said in the Great Commission to “teach them all I have commanded you.” I probably would be concerned with helping them develop a habit of prayer and other spiritual disciplines (especially if Bibles are available). I would focus heavily on the Gospel and the supremacy of Jesus Christ in all things. I might copy down some portions of Scripture in writing if they didn’t have any available. And lastly, I’d probably give them some tools of defense so that they won’t be drawn back in to their former religion (like the Ephesians and Colossians were being tempted back into paganism).

    2) I would have concern about their lack of understanding and overall spiritual maturity, which is only improved over a long period of time and hardship. But, as Paul often did, I would probably warn them against coming dangers and threats to their faith. As long as they desire to follow Christ and love God, He will take care of them.

    3) If these people were baptized like every single Christian in the book of Acts was, sure. The Church is just made up of Christians, and the Bible is very clear on how one becomes a Christian.

    4) Of course not. But God probably planned those events to happen as they did, and I would have to leave them in His hands. I would consider it my responsibility to care for their spiritual well-being in the future, in whatever capacity I am able.

    5) Well, experience is missing. And probably the Word of God (assuming no Bibles were available). I’m not an inspired apostle like Paul or Peter was, so I cannot be their ultimate source of revelation about God. I would be concerned about a wrong understanding of persecution (the tendency to fight back) and the lack of wisdom there. And of course, each culture presents its own roadblocks for the Gospel and a Biblical understanding of the Church, so I would have to deal with those depending on the culture.

    Overall, life is messy. Church-planting is messy, because it deals with people. They might not have everything they need in order to really grow spiritually and understand God, but God often uses messy situations for His glory. And He accepts messy people.

    I know you’re referring back to New Testament situations, but we cannot ignore that we live in a very different time. Then, the complete inspired Word of God was not available to people, because it was not yet completed. They had the directly inspired apostles and prophets. And while we have people with the same spiritual gifts, we do not have the same authority they did. We also have more advanced modes of communication and travel, which opens up more doors. I think Paul did what he could with what he had, but that doesn’t necessarily mean we should follow his exact example in Church-planting. Still, I like the questions!

  9. 10-19-2011

    Interesting way to plant a church, guess that guy has not read the recent books on the subject.

  10. 4-2-2013

    Immediately my mind went to Acts 17 where Paul was passing by the men at Mars Hill in Athens that had an idol scripted to the Unknown God.

    Paul taught them about God.
    He taught them about Repentance
    He taught them that Jesus was everything they need (in Him we live and more)
    Then he departed.
    We can find in Timothy a reference to the church at Athens

    So in answer to your questions

    1) What things do you think are most important that you would have taught them over the last few weeks? Who Jesus is and why He came in the in flesh and what that means for us today.

    2) What concerns would you have about this group of disciples?
    Will they grow or will they simply ignore what was taught them

    3) Would you consider this group a church?
    Why or why not? – Church def. Body of believers.
    Scripture- Matthew 1*;19-20 Where 2 or 3 are gathered. He is there

    4) Do you think you left them with everything they need after only a few weeks?


    5) If so, how could this be enough? Because I taught them about the Lord and that He is all that they need. I have left them something more valuable then me behind. I have left them a hunger and thirst for HIM that only HE can satisfy. The more they seek him the more they will find him ( if haply they might feel after) They will grow and learn and strengthen themselves in HIM.

    6) If not, what is missing? – Can’t answer this cause I felt I left enough.

  11. 4-3-2013


    Thanks for answering my questions. I would answer very similarly to the way that you answered. By the way, in case you didn’t notice, this “hypothetical situation” is based on one of Paul’s experiences. But, it was his experience in Thessalonica, not Athens.


  12. 7-29-2013

    Let’s say these believers had a spiritual rebirth, I would teach them dependence on God that they are the church it’s simple to replicate.To pray about everything. that God will never leave them or forsake them that i would return as soon as it is possible, to celebrate in all that God has done

  13. 7-31-2013


    I like your plan! 🙂



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