Is It Biblical?
“…but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it.” Joshua 1.8
Of course, it’s obvious we need to be grounded in the Word! It goes without saying! But when I started to go deeper into the way we taught a lot of key theological practices, I found that many of them were based on tradition, not scripture. The criteria for baptism, the criteria for becoming a pastor, the criteria for what church looked like, what worship was – many of these things I would have told you needed to look and be a certain way.
But when push came to shove, I discovered there was way more freedom in how some of these things were done in the Scriptures than I was allowing for in my own modeling and teaching. This didn’t mean that the way I’d been taught was wrong necessarily, but it also turns out that the Gospel and message of Jesus really takes off when you spend less time trying to convince everyone to show up on Sunday’s at 9am at a certain location to hear the Good News from a certain person, in a certain way.
Asking the question, “Is it Biblical” not only keeps us on the straight and narrow, but it also shows us when we’re hanging out at unnecessary truck stops for far too long.
Is It Simple?
“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom.” 1 Corinthians 2.1
Full disclosure this one was huge for me. When our mentors first taught us this particular principle I got what they were saying. But it was a real pride struggle, to be honest. It turns out I was trusting my eloquence, my giftedness over God’s power. I read a quote recently that I thought fit this perfectly, “The multiplication of words does not always further the truth, in fact, it can be a hindrance.” 1
Our mentors challenged us to be able to share our testimony in under a minute. It seemed impossible (By the way, it didn’t stop there – they got us down to 15 seconds!). It seemed almost sacrilegious to not tell people every detail about my life and my conversion to follow Jesus!
But when I started asking the questions, “What is Biblical?” and “How can I say that simply?” it started to become so much more about what Christ did on the cross and less about what a rockstar communicator I was. It became less about me and where my relationship with Jesus is and more about where the person I was talking to was in their faith journey (And hopefully how I could help them get a little further down the road towards Jesus.)! I shifted from testimonies being a monologue to being an opener for a two-way conversation.
In the same way, when we stripped away all the fanciness about our church times and wrote down the very simple (BIBLICAL!!) things we wanted to cover in our time together, it pulled back the curtain, so to speak. Instead of those we were meeting with thinking to themselves, “Man, maybe in five years I’ll have it together enough to lead a group like this.” to them thinking “What’s so great about Brett and Abigail? This is so simple! I could do this!”
Truly, that’s what we wanted all along: To be able to make what we do something that, say, even a bunch of uneducated fishermen could understand and do.
Is It Reproducible?
Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. John 13:14
This final question goes hand-in-hand with the previous. If something is simple enough, then it’s much more likely that it can be reproduced. However, I learned that even then there was a learning curve for this question, too. It’s one thing to tell other people to go do something. It’s another to do it yourself. Finally, it’s something totally different to show that person how it’s done.
For instance, even with my newfound understanding of sharing the gospel in a simple way, I still liked to change it up – just a little – every time. I’m an extrovert. I love talking with people. Those things are just easy for me! But, when I’d take a disciple along to see how I was sharing the gospel, they’d easily become overwhelmed and I just couldn’t see why.
Thankfully, around this time I was learning from my mentor a lesson about child-rearing. It helped me understand this principle of reproduction so much more. She told me that children, before the age of ten don’t really understand how to “paraphrase” or should I say, give a summary (And if you’ve ever asking a three-year-old to tell you what a movie is about and walked away 2 hours later, then you know she wasn’t wrong). She told me that if I wanted my young son to learn something really well, then I’d have to teach it to him word-for-word. Kids are great memorizers. Then, once he reached that key point in development, then he’d have the knowledge well in hand and then he would be able to easily make it his own!
The principle also applies to adults. If I wanted my disciples to be able to reproduce what I was doing, I had to change my methods, even if they worked well for me. So as an extrovert, I could start a conversation a million different ways. But it was better if I switched to starting the exact same way every single time. “Hey, I’ve been trying to pray more in my life, is there anything I could pray for you about?” Sure, there are infinite (and maybe even better ways) to start a conversation about God, but I picked one and stuck with it. The ladies who were with me could see that they could easily reproduce what I was doing, even if they weren’t extroverted or comfortable in turning the conversation towards spiritual things.
The End Result
By asking if our methods are Biblical, we ensure that we are aligned with God. By asking if our methods are simple, we shift our focus and trust off of ourselves and our skills, and onto the power of God. By asking if our methods are reproducible, we ensure that our disciples (and their disciples), can rapidly do them, too. The hope and prayer is that each question will help us to decrease and Christ to increase 2. And that, afterall, should be our ultimate goal.