Jerry Wiles on The Role of Orality for Disciple Making and Church Multiplication

A Church in the Bush of West Africa, Where many Lessons can be learned that apply in North America

It would be a valuable exercise to consider what is meant by Disciple Making and Church. There is a growing awareness with many now for the need to focus more on disciple making, rather than church planting and church growth, although in many cases we’re talking about the same thing. However, in the biblical context and understanding, we have various expressions of church.  Biblically there is the universal church, the regional (or city church) and the local congregations, or communities of followers of Jesus.

The Power of Small, Simple, and Reproducible

When we recognize that a true church can be a small, simple cell group or assembly of believers, it opens up many new possibilities for church growth and multiplication. Furthermore, when addressing the idea of establishing congregations or communities of followers of Jesus everywhere and among all people groups, the methods and strategies of orality become vital. We know that the majority of the unreached people groups around the world are bible-less, in oral cultures, or in many cases oral preference learners and communicators.

While Bible translation and literacy programs are important, in reality people can enter a relationship with the Lord and become reproducing followers of Jesus, even before they have the printed text of Scripture or learn to read. That may seem radical to some in our post-reformation, modern Western culture. However, we have many examples today, as well as throughout history and in the Early Church. Our experience has also shown us that Orality Training can enhance and accelerate Bible translation and literacy programs.

The Importance of Understanding the Receptor Culture

Orality-based methods and strategies open up all kinds of possibilities for Great Commission efforts, communicating the gospel and making disciples, and doing so according to the preferred methods of the receptor culture. In our Orality Training programs with Living Water International we emphasize that it’s not enough to proclaim the gospel, people need to hear it, understand it, be able to respond to it, remember it and pass it on. We want to make sure it’s biblical, cross-cultural, reproducible and transferable to the ends of the earth.

With appropriate training in orality methods, followers of Jesus are able to go to any place or people group and communicate the Gospel, make disciples and plant churches, requiring no written material or technology. Our best models, of course, are Jesus, His first apostles and the Early Church. As important as the written text has been throughout history, most people have come to faith in Christ by some kind of spoken or oral method. Based on our collective experience over the past 40 years, some of us would advocate that orality-based methods of communication and training can greatly accelerate the church planting and disciple making movements. In fact, we have several thousand years of history with the orality understanding. It’s the most effective ways and means that people have learned, communicated and processed information from the beginning of time.

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SOURCE: Assist News