Trip Diary 5: This Is Dallas

Dear ITEM Partner,

At the end of this first day of ITEM Conference on Ministry and Preaching (I-COMP) a mature Bishop who, according to Nathan, has been throughout the world, came to me and quietly said to me, “This is Dallas level” and he was referring to Dallas Seminary. Another participant said to Nathan that he was impressed because everything was coming out of the Bible and not just what we thought.

These responses are actually pretty typical of the instruction we provide along with what one other leader said when I asked them to “hang in there for one more hour” so we could finish six lectures today. The leaders remark at that point, “This is a cram course.” It was a good day with good questions and even better comments.

BISHOPS

For those of us who are not a part of a church tradition that has bishops, you might be wondering who these bishops are that I keep mentioning. When a pastor starts planting other churches and appoints pastors to those new churches, he becomes their bishop. So, when we train bishops, we are actually training trainers.

“CRAM COURSE”

This description doesn’t trouble me. Yes, we covered 16 pages of double-spaced lecture outlines between 11am and 4pm (5 hours), with a lunch break and other short breaks. But our notes are so complete they can read them later almost like a book. So, we go through some of the notes rather quickly, hitting the high points and skipping over less important parts. And one more point. We’ve learned that the lectures introduce biblical concepts but it takes follow up and mentoring before many of the concepts become a part of their routine. Lectures alone, no matter how tedious, do not often change behavior.

And one more thing. I sense there are many questions being generated and rushing through lectures leaves more time for questions.

WOMEN

You will notice several women in the pictures for today. Nathan explained the situation to me. More and more women are taking over the megachurches in Kenya. Why? Because of the apathy and irresponsibility of many of the men. So, what do to? Nathan says this is an ongoing discussion with responsible, mature Christian leadership. He says they do not give a blanket invitation to both men and women to attend our pastor seminars. But if a woman shows up, they are turned away, and we explain what the Bible says and move on. To tell them they have to leave would be counterproductive. This will continue to be an issue. Also, some of the women you see are pastor’s wives or women’s ministry leaders.

TODAY’S FOCUS: THE LOCAL CHURCH

From the of the apostles, the local assembly of believers has been God’s instrument for fulfilling the great commission. ITEM’s unwavering commitment is to cooperate with God’s plan by equipping, training, preparing pastors to be His instrument for bringing believers to maturity

and sending them to reach their family, friends, and associates with the Gospel. The lectures today started with a study of Eph 4:11-16, the foundational passage for “ITEM’s E-4 Church Strategy.” Followed by lectures on “building up the church,” “principles of NT edification,” “principles of NT evangelism,” “the church as a body,” and “principles of NT leadership.”

As noted earlier, “This is Dallas level instruction.”

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Faithfulness or Success?

Questions today were spontaneous, during breaks. I mentioned at one point that God calls us to be faithful not successful, and I explained that success is usually measured by the size of your church. One pastor asked me if one could be faithful AND successful? I asked him to define “success” and it came back to the size of the church. I gave him my testimony of being a senior pastor for 15 years, seeing the numbers dwindle from 200 down to 55 and closing the church legally. I told him that I had faithfully taught the Bible to the church the best that I could and asked him if I had been “successful.” An interesting discussion followed and he realized the pastor’s call is to faithfully fulfill his God given role and the results are left to God.

Apostles today

At the end of the day a participant asked about apostles today. He didn’t think there were any because an apostle had to be an eyewitness of the resurrection of Jesus. I explained that he was partially right. There were two kinds of apostles. Apostles of Christ received direct revelation from God and passed it on to the church, and God gave them supernatural powers to perform supernatural signs and wonders to validate their ministry and their message (Acts 2:42; 2 Cor 12:12). But there were also apostles of the church who were sent by local churches as messengers. Barnabas and Silas, and others, fulfilled this biblical role.

Yep, Dallas level stuff.

HOLD NOTHING BACK

I was told by another bishop in attendance today that these men are hungry to learn and that we should not hold back anything. So tomorrow we are going to open the doors wide for questions about anything and we promised that we would try to provide biblical answers.

PRAY for these pastors, bishops, and women leaders that they would remain teachable and hungry to learn.

PRAY for Nathan and I (Caxton was with us today only) as we continue to instruct the followers of Christ from God’s Word.

PRAY that God, Father, Son, Holy Spirit, would be glorified.

Thanks for your prayers and interest.

By His grace,
Steve

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