Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Missing Piece

 “The Missing Piece”
December 13, 2016

Recently I had my wallet stolen.

In addition to the pain of losing cash, there was the pain of having to cancel my credit cards. There was the pain of having to get new ones. There was the pain of going to get something out of my wallet, only to realize it was missing. What a real pain!

And knowing that something is missing leaves you with…well…feeling like part of you is not there. It’s like putting together a puzzle only to find that a key piece is missing.

A Missing Piece: Theological Education

This is how I have come to feel about teaching theology. Theological education is critical to know what God is about in this world, and to understand what God desires of each of us.

One of my favorite Bible verses about this is 2 Peter 3:18, where Peter tells us that we are to “grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus.”

But knowing and growing are not the same thing. Theological education is like the foundation of a house: it’s essential if there is to be a strong building. This is a key reason ICM started Africa Theological Seminary as an in-service Bible School that provides that solid foundation.

But it’s not enough to just know something.

A Missing Piece: Ongoing Training

The Church was a surprise. Paul calls it a “mystery” (Ephesians 5:32) and with this in mind he describes the primary purpose of the local church and its leaders:

“Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.” Ephesians 4:11-12 NLT

Through ICM’s Christian Leadership Institute, we’ve been blessed to partner with some of the best global ministries like Willow Creek’s Leadership Summit and Teach Every Nation, providing ongoing, equipping and training. Through this training, pastors are able to better disciple congregation members to grow in Christ.

But there’s still something missing, just like my wallet – and for a long time, I didn’t know where to find it.

A Piece Is Still Missing

Consider this: in the history of the Church, the key to unlocking the great movements of Christ is obedience in the face of challenge.

At first, the early church heard the charge of Jesus to make disciples of all peoples, but they remained in Jerusalem. This changed when the first great persecution came down on them! Heading up this persecution was none other than Saul – soon to be called the Apostle Paul.
“But Saul was going everywhere to destroy the church. He went from house to house, dragging out both men and women to throw them in prison.” Acts 8:3-4 NLT
Paul and his zealous, religious brethren were doing whatever they could to stamp out the early Church, even dragging men and women to prison.

But this did not destroy the Church – it had the opposite effect!
“But the believers who were scattered preached the Good News about Jesus wherever they went.”
Reading this with fresh eyes helped me see the missing piece and where it is located.
The missing piece is the prevailing attitudes of the people of God – they have become comfortable being the Church within the four walls of the building.

The Final Piece: Discipling Marketplace Leaders

Thanks to a divine appointment, God brought Renita Reed-Thomson to ICM. She heard me speak from my heart about wanting to find a way to get the people of God to share Jesus in the community. I heard her speak from her heart about equipping believers in the church building to be the voice of reconciliation in the marketplace.

God’s blessing in the combination of our efforts has resulted in sharing the missing piece of the puzzle all over the world: Discipling Marketplace Leaders.

When it comes to training pastors at the theological level – ICM is on the front lines of this critical work through Africa Theological Seminary.

When it comes to discipling Christians at the local level – ICM is working through the Christian Leadership Institute.

When it comes to training Christians to be effective each day of the week – ICM is doing this essential work through Discipling Marketplace Leaders.

Yes, we are in the process of putting the puzzle together. The end result is nothing short of another reformation through the empowerment of the people of God – an unleashing of the Church!
Like the early Church, we are seeing mature believers scatter throughout the community and marketplace, preaching the Good News about Jesus.

I’d like to ask you to consider this final missing piece in your own life. How are you learning to be effective in sharing Christ at all times? How are you being discipled to purpose each day of the week?

Let’s partner together and prayerfully seek God, asking for the unleashing of the Church!