Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Paul's Methods

Paul makes some incredible claims in Romans 15

He says that from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum that he fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ. But we know from Acts that he skipped over some of these towns. Then he has the audacity to say that there was no more work for him there and that he was headed to Spain via Rome. How did he fully proclaim the gospel everywhere? And how could the work be done?

He did so by planting churches. But not just any church where folks gathered on Sunday to look at the back of the head in front of them and watch a show with lights, bells, whistles, choirs in full robes and slick preaching for itchy ears. He launched churches in key cities in districts that would be movements. They were planted to reproduce! That as these new believers received the gospel, they would proclaim it throughout those regions. That He lit gospel fires that would spread.

Paul says that it had always been his ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else's foundation. He has a foundation layer, a planter. He planted, Apollos (and others) watered by God caused the growth. He laid a foundation of Christ and other's built on it. He coaches from a distance through his letters and sending his disciples. But once he 'births' them he lets them fly.

In this passage to the Romans he tells them of his plans to visit them. But not to become Pope of Rome. Not to start a Mega-Church. No. He was on the move. He would visit them on the way to Spain, encourage them and have them support his ministry after I have enjoyed your company for a while. He did go to Rome and stay - but only because he was chained.

What has happened to us? Why are we not on the move like Paul? Why are people afraid of launching something even small and letting it take off? Why don't we think "let's light a fire and get out of the way"? Why don't we entrust the task of proclaiming the gospel to others - even those new in their faith? Maybe we think it will fail forgetting its God who causes the growth. Maybe we subtly want to steal some of the glory. Or maybe we just are trapped into 'that's the way we always have done it'.

No comments: