I originally posted this on October 3, 2011, but just noticed that this didn't come out well on the blog. This is more readable.==============================================================
2151—Jesus’ Simple Strategy
My name is Tom; this is Simple Church Minute. Today, I quote from the writings of Steven S. Lyzenga:
In the midst of His earthly ministry, Jesus Christ declared to His disciples, “Do
you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest”(John 4:35).
Jesus then gave His disciples the mission of reaping the harvest as well as the strategy to accomplish the mission, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into the harvest field. Go!” (Luke 10:2-3). Jesus then modeled His strategy by sending the 12disciples, and later the seventy, as workers into the ripe harvest field. They returned with a great report, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name” (Luke 10:17).
It was a wonderfully effective strategy to accomplish His mission.
At the end of His earthly ministry, on the brink of returning to His Father in
heaven, Jesus restated His mission to the disciples, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you” (Mt 28:18-20).
Jesus then modeled His strategy again by sending out the 12, followed by Paul and many other workers into the ripe harvest fields. This time, the entire Roman Empire, and as far away as India, was infiltrated with the gospel within 300 years after Jesus’ death.In fact, in AD 100 there were as few as 25,000 Christians, but by AD 300 there were up to 20,000,000 Christians!Jesus modeled a wonderfully effective strategy to accomplish His mission again.
Why was Jesus’ strategy to accomplish His mission so wonderfully effective?
Jesus used a very simple disciple making process. He gathered His followers together in simple venues (often houses), equipped them, and sent them out as
workers into ripe harvest fields. Paul the apostle followed Jesus’ lead, making disciples by gathering Jesus’ followers together in simple venues (often houses),
equipping them, and sending them out as workers into ripe harvest fields. Likewise, biblically and historically, it appears the early Church made disciples by gathering Jesus’ followers together in simple venues (often houses), equipping them, and sending them out as workers into ripe harvest fields.
Somewhere between the first 300 years of discipleship history and now, however,
Jesus’ disciple-making process got off track and became much more complicated. The original model of gathering His followers together in simple venues, equipping them, and sending them out as workers into ripe harvest fields started to drift off track, all the while, losing its simplicity and effective and efficient reproducibility.
Historically, the line between simple and complicated models of disciple-making
was drawn during the Constantine era of the Roman Empire. Throughout this era,
disciple-making became the job for a new hierarchical class of professional clergy who began receiving money to manage the newly formed institutionalized version of Church. Another major paradigm shift during this new found institutionalized Church era was believers having to gather together in newly built cathedrals,
a huge shift in comparison to the simple house-to-house venues that
early century believers were used to. From this point forward, disciple-making became a very complicated institutionalized effort –much more complex than the simple approach modeled by Jesus, Paul, and the early Church.
Close on the heels of the Constantine era was the spiritual “Dark Ages.” During this 1000 year era, the institutional Church seemed to have lost a
vision for the Great Commission (GC) and did not emphasize the ripe harvest fields as Jesus taught and modeled in John 4 and Luke 10. Therefore, disciple-
making “to the ends of the earth” as mandated in Matthew 28 was all but extinguished. It’s as if the enemy himself infiltrated Jesus’ simple disciple-
making method and complicated the process, of gathering His
followers in simple venues to equip them as ripe harvest workers,by institutionalizing the church.
When one compares the Constantine “Rome” model of Church to the New
Testament (NT) “Antioch” model of Church, it is far different. And it is
apparent that the modern Western model of Church favors the former. This Church shift towards an institutional model, taking place over many centuries, was
not without consequences. With its strong inward focus, institutional forms of church have left a bleak mark on “ripe harvest field” history. So much so, 20
centuries after Jesus walked the earth and 17 centuries after this tragic shift in Church history, there remain 1.9 billion people (28% of the world’s population) that have yet to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ even once!
You can contact me at email@example.com or at 757-735-3639. The entire writing which I quoted today is on the web. You can find out more about organic church in this area at www.hrscn.org.
This was an exact quote of from pages 1 to 4 of Steven S. Lyzenga’s dissertation, ASSESSING THE STATE OF SIMPLE CHURCHES IN THE USA REGARDING RELEASING RESOURCES TOWARD FINISHING THE GREAT COMMISSION, which can be seen athttp://house2harvest.org/docs/Simple_Churches_Releasing_Resources_S_Lyzenga.pdf.
This passage has numerous footnotes, as one might expect in a thesis, which appear in the original.