Book Notice: “Paul’s Missionary Methods”

Several Southeastern faculty members, along with SEBTS PhD student Lizette Beard, have contributed to a recent major publication in the realm of biblical studies and missions. Paul’s Missionary Methods: In His Time and Ours, co-edited by Robert L. Plummer and John Mark Terry (IVP) commemorates the 100th anniversary of Roland Allen’s landmark, Missionary Methods: Saint Paul’s or Ours? with 14 essays on the nature of Paul’s ministry and its implications for contemporary mission methods.

Southeastern faculty members make a strong contribution to this important book. Benjamin Merkle (Associate Professor of New Testament and Greek) writes on “Paul’s Ecclesiology.” Chuck Lawless (Dean of Graduate Studies and Professor of Evangelism and Missions) discusses “Paul and Leadership Development.” Ed Stetzer (Visiting Professor of Missional Research) and Lizette Beard (PhD Student in Applied Theology) contribute “Paul and Church Planting.” Other contributors to the book include experts such as Michael Bird, Eckhard Schnabel, Craig Keener, and David J. Hesselgrave.

Here is the description of Paul’s Missionary Methods from the back cover:

A century ago Roland Allen published Missionary Methods: Saint Paul’s or Ours?, a missiological classic which tackled many important issues . . . Using the centennial anniversary of Allen’s work as a springboard for celebration and reflection, the contributors to Paul’s Missionary Methods have revisited Paul’s first-century missionary methods and their applicability today. This book examines Paul’s missionary efforts in two parts. First Paul is examined in his first-century context: what were his environment, missions strategy and teaching on particular issues? The second part addresses the implications of Paul’s example for missions today: is Paul’s model still relevant, and if so, what would it look like in modern contexts?

So, if you are engaged in teaching, writing, or serving in missions this is a book well worth reading. Pick it up here and dig in.

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Chuck Lawless on Discipleship

There are two points that I want to make in this little post. First, for those of our readers who are not yet acquainted with Chuck Lawless (VP for Global Theological Advance at the International Mission Board), I’d like to introduce him by saying that if he preaches it you want to hear it, and if he writes it you want to read it. This man has been saying the right things, all along, about theological education, discipleship, church growth, and spiritual warfare. He’s been ahead of the curve, as if he were somehow mugged by reality in the cradle. Second, I want to say that his recent book, Mentor, is particularly significant. It is a brief, theologically sound, and accessible little book on making disciples. This is a seriously neglected topic, and Dr. Lawless’ book is a welcome contribution.

In the book, which bears the full title, Mentor: How Along-the-Way Discipleship Will Change Your Life (LifeWay, 2011). Lawless sees mentoring in the pattern established by Jesus with his disciples:

“Jesus mentored the men who followed Him. . . . He journeyed through life with them and taught as He went, both by what He said to them and what He did with them. Mentor is about this very process Jesus showed us. It’s about hanging out with somebody whose life shows God’s power; it’s about following Jesus’ example and mentoring others so they can carry on Jesus’ work too. It’s about mentoring and being mentored, discipling and being discipled” (pp. 8-9).

With this foundation Lawless defines mentoring and examines its roots in Jesus and the Early Church. He then provides some guidance on how to go about mentoring and being mentored. The study is organized by six easy-to-read but thought-provoking sessions.

Session One: Understanding Along-the-Way Discipleship

Session Two: Learning from the Master: Jesus & His Disciples

Session Three: Mentoring in Action: Paul & Timothy

Session Four: Taking the First Steps

Session Five: Developing a Plan of Action

Session Six: Preparing for Potholes and Possibilities

In session one, for instance, Lawless provides his answers to the questions, “what is mentoring?” and “why mentor?” According to Lawless, mentoring: is about relationships, builds on divine intersections, requires a growing Christian, is a balance of equipping and encouraging, is about transformation, crosses generations, is done by the spiritually mature, requires self-control, is biblical, reinforces the truth of the Word, requires the mentor to guard his/her life against the Enemy’s attacks, offers a safe place to deal with failure, produces the next generation of Christian leaders. All this provides plenty of reason to mentor and be mentored.

Lawless has written the book for conversation. That is, numerous questions give each session an intentional “how do I do this?” feel. Such a feel is important for a book on how to not only understand mentoring but to actually do it. Session Six: Preparing for Potholes and Possibilities is especially helpful in bringing one’s expectations, misconceptions, and underestimations in line with reality. Hitting at practicalities is important in a book such as this one and Lawless does a good job on this score.

Mentor is a fine introduction to the biblical pattern for and basis of “along-the-way discipleship.” It is designed for college students but would make an excellent foundation study for many adult small groups or Sunday School classes.

Time Magazine Speaks to Evangelicals

Note: Chuck Lawless is Dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and President of the Lawless Group, a church consulting firm. The article below was originally published earlier today at his personal blog. Dr. Lawless has graciously given us permission to republish his excellent article at Between the Times.

I don’t recall fearing writing a blog, but this one scares me.

This week, Time magazine published its annual special issue, “10 Ideas for the Next 10 Years.”[i] Trend number 9-“The Twilight of the Elites”-caught my attention not because of its title, but because of its subtitle: “Why we have entered the post-trust era.”

The article starts ominously enough:

In the past decade, nearly every pillar institution in American society-whether it’s General Motors, Congress, Wall Street, Major League Baseball, the Catholic Church or the mainstream media-has revealed itself to be corrupt, incompetent, or both. And at the root of these failures are the people who run these institutions, the bright and industrious minds who occupy the commanding heights of our meritocratic order. In exchange for their power, status and remuneration, they are supposed to make sure everything operates smoothly. But after a cascade of scandals and catastrophes, that implicit social contract lies in ruins, replaced by mass skepticism, contempt and disillusionment.

From there, author Christopher Hayes, the Washington editor of the Nation, critically evaluates why it is that “so much of the country’s leadership in so many different walks of life performed so terribly over this decade.” While recognizing that no single theory can explain this failure, he nevertheless finds these themes to be recurrent in the failures: the concentration of power in a single person and the erosion of transparency and accountability in the system.

Hayes finds this problem evident in various walks of life, including the Catholic Church. Citing the work of Terry McKiernan, who founded Bishop Accountability in the wake of sexual abuse allegations in the Church, he concludes that obsessive secrecy and the hierarchical nature of the Church contributed to the crisis. McKiernan is even more direct: “I’m not surprised that people doing unexamined things do bad things.”

The problem is larger, though, than distrust of leaders, says Hayes. We live in a complicated society that rightly demands expertise and leadership and elites at times – but if a culture cannot trust its leaders, the result is a loss of authority even when that authority is desperately needed. That is, all leaders pay a price when other leaders fall.

There is so much here for the evangelical church. First, we ignore this trend only to our peril. How many agonizing stories do we know-the evangelist whose immorality cost him his ministry, the pastor whose financial dealings cast a web that entangled him, the church leader whose unchecked arrogance led to corrupt living-that were marked by secrecy and no accountability?

Perhaps more alarming, how many stories do we not know yet? How many leaders, invested in building their own kingdoms, believe that their success has inoculated them against failure? The evil one who tempted Jesus still offers us a kingdom if we bow to the altar of self.

Second, the accountability inherent in the Body of Christ is non-negotiable, even for leaders-in fact, especially for leaders. The qualifications for elders and deacons in 1 Timothy 3 not only assume examination and accountability; they demand it. Moreover, those qualifications are not simply a checklist to examine a pastoral candidate. They are stated expectations for the leader as he lives today, tomorrow, and the future.

I am not one who believes that the Scriptures require a plurality of elders as the single model of a NT church, but the wisdom of shared leadership is clear here. Power centered in a single person breeds demonized independence that is nothing short of idolatry of the self. There are good reasons that the Body of Christ is “not one part, but many” (1 Cor. 12:14) – one of which is accountability. Or, as Hayes concludes in his article about trend #9, “The elites’ failures of the past decade should teach us that institutions of all kinds need input from below.”

Third, the attitude of “we trust him just because he’s our leader” no longer works. Indeed, if Hayes is right, the more common attitude today is, “We cannot trust him just because he’s our leader.” From a secular perspective, unearned “trust” has fostered the failures that are the source of Hayes’ article. From a Christian perspective, the issue is even more basic. “Trust” separated from open vulnerability and intentional accountability is hardly Christian at all; rather, it is an open door for an enemy who himself sought to dethrone the One to whom we are all accountable (Isa. 14:13-14). Sin crouches at the door (Gen. 4:7) when leaders are permitted to live unexamined lives.

So, what frightens me about writing this blog? Fear that I have misread the Time article? No. Fear that a reader will not like what I’ve said? Absolutely not. Fear that I will be perceived as attacking a person? Not at all, as I know my motives. Fear that leaders who need to see themselves in this mirror will mess the needed reflection? Perhaps, but that’s not my primary fear.

What I fear is that I will not see my own tendencies to lead without accountability and responsibility. I fear that I will see the speck in others’ eyes but not see the log of elitism in my own (Matt. 7:1-5). God help me.

[i] Christopher Hayes, “The Twilight of the Elite,” Time (22 March 2010), 56-58.