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What (Who) are we teaching people to rely on?

Posted by on Apr 11, 2012 in discipleship | 7 comments

What (Who) are we teaching people to rely on?

A couple of weeks ago, I saw a video that surprised me. I mean, at first, I was excited about what I saw. The group that put the video together were very interested in helping some brothers and sisters in Christ who live in a very difficult situation.

Then, as I continued watching the video, I became less and less excited. According to this group, these people were struggling and needed our financial help because their pastors don’t have Bible schools, or commentaries, or study guides, or leadership training, etc. etc. etc.

I don’t know why this surprised me, but it did. It made me realize something… and ask myself a question: What (Who) are we teaching people to rely on?

I know that the group that put this video together had great intentions, and they truly believe that the churches in this country – in this difficult culture – needed these things. But, in reality, they don’t need these things.

In fact, the only reason that someone would think they needed these things is if we (i.e., people from the “developed” West) told them that they needed these things. Now, they are busy trying to acquire things that they don’t need, because we have told them that they need them. And, we are spending our time raising money to send them things that they think they need because we told them that they needed these things.

And, we all feel good about ourselves because of what we’re doing. But, what we’re really doing is teaching people to rely on things that they don’t really need.

As I thought about these things, I began to wonder why someone taught these brothers and sisters that they needed things that they don’t really need. Obviously, whoever taught them, thought these things were needed. Unfortunately, that means that the “teacher” was relying on these things as well.

What these brothers and sisters really need are people who will stand beside them and encourage them to trust God regardless of what happens in their situation. Could it be that we don’t know how to do this? Could it be that we’ve replaced trusting and relying on God with relying on these other things also?

It’s a difficult question… and a question that everyone wants to answer with “NO!” Of course we trust God and rely on him. But, is that the way we act as the church? Do we live as if we rely completely on him, or do we rely on our education, training, conferences, books, commentaries, leadership methods, etc.?

Perhaps… just perhaps… those of us in the West could learn something from our brothers and sisters in Christ who live in difficult situations. Perhaps they could teach us that we really don’t need all of those other things.


7 Comments

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  1. 4-11-2012

    Alan, Thank you for this insightful post. The great qualifier (or dis-qualifier)is, “Do I know Jesus?” Not in an intellectual only way, but do I really know Him? He promised that His sheep would hear His voice and follow Him, that they would not follow another because the (His sheep) did not recognize other voice’s.
    The Huffington Post religious writer, wrote a magnificent story last month citing the miracles happening in China. In a conservative estimate over 50% of all conversions are due to miraculous healings. My wife’s parents and grand parents were missionaries in China in the 30′s & 40′s. Some believers face death after conversion, knowing only one or two bible verses.
    We have an resident teacher, His voice is very different than the myriad of religious voices we hear and read every day.
    If we want to know Jesus, I propose we do not stop until we hear it, and hear it regularly inside our heart.

  2. 4-11-2012

    Ministry has nothing whatever to do with education, money, or permission. Add any or all of these, and they rarely help and almost always hinder ministry.

  3. 4-11-2012

    Marc,

    This is example of how we can help one another rely on Jesus Christ instead of other things/people. Many people truly know him, but we all need help hearing and following him.

    Art,

    I see these kinds of things like any other kind of tool or resource. If we rely on them, then they are definitely hindrances.

    -Alan

  4. 4-11-2012

    Some of these people only have Bibles. Some only the New Testament. How are they supposed to minister with just that?

  5. 4-11-2012

    Great article! Regarding Dan’s comment – was that tongue and cheek? If we have the greatest teacher of all living inside of us (the Holy Spirit) and he is teaching/training/leading us to do what Jesus wants in the way he wants what more do we need?
    This week I am teaching one week of a 8 week intensive on planting churches (making disciples) among unreached Muslim peoples. My main point is (am am teaching “The Life of the Field Worker”) that you must depend totally on your relationship with Jesus for what you need to be prepared day to day. Is training important? Sure, but not to the point to where you think you cannot do the work of making disciples without it! But, you DO need a lot of training to administrate and lead a Christian organization/institution. But Jesus first called us to make disciples, not build organizations that we call the church. Jesus builds his church, we make disciples.
    Blessings!
    Don

  6. 4-12-2012

    “What these brothers and sisters really need are people who will stand beside them and encourage them to trust God regardless of what happens in their situation. ”
    Your statement here says so much. Jesus rebuked saying, ” you tithe all manner of herb but neglect to give the judgement and love of God”.
    What we all need is people who lay down their lives “among us” one anothering in examples of living in Christ.

  7. 4-12-2012

    hmmm… Dan, Don, and Dori… I sense a pattern.

    Dan,

    Just think how great it would have been in the first century (when there was no New Testament) if we had helped out all those apostles and others with our commentaries, books, conferences, seminaries, etc!

    Don,

    Dan’s tongue is usually in his cheek… :)

    I think you make a great distinction in your comment between helping people trust and follow Jesus and showing people what it takes to be an administrator. We need more of the “trust and follow” kind of training.

    Dori,

    Yes. The kind of training that it takes to help people trust Jesus and follow him is personal, interactive, reciprocal, and sacrificing. It is done through example, like you said.

    -Alan