Jerry Wiles On Rethinking Church Life, Disciple Making and THE WORD

Open Air Worship in East Africa

“What translation of the Bible did Jesus use for His quiet time?”  That is a question a friend uses to begin a conversation about our walk with God. During the Jesus movement in the early 1970s, we often heard the term, “Spending time in THE WORD”, meaning Bible reading. A follower of Jesus who spent 15 years in prison for his faith was asked the question, “What sustained you during those years? His answer was, “We had no Bibles, no church, no pastors or opportunities for fellowship.” He went on to say, “It was Christ in us who sustained us.”

There are many valuable traditions and spiritual disciplines that can enhance our relationship and walk with God. However, our life in Christ and our walk with Him is not sustained by what we do, our spiritual disciplines. It is sustained by the indwelling, resurrection life of the Lord Jesus. It is the reproducing life of Christ in us that is the key to a fruitful and victorious life.

Power of The Word – Spoken and Written

Most references throughout the Bible to the Word of God are not referring to a written document, but a spoken communication. When referring to God’s Word written, it’s usually called Scripture. While Bible reading is important, there is increasing emphasis these day on Scripture Engagement. That could include various oral art forms, as well as broadcast and digital media.

There is a growing awareness with many now for the need to focus more on making disciples, rather than church planting and church growth, although we’re usually talking about the same thing. Just as there are various expressions of The Word, there are many expressions of church. 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

Small, simple, reproducible, and economical congregations are where the greatest growth of the Kingdom is taking place, much like the Early Church. 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. 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, living in oral cultures or as oral-preference learners and communicators.

While Bible translation and literacy programs are important, people can still 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.

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SOUCE: Assist News Service, Jerry Wiles

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