July 22, 2012

Bible Storying is not a Silver Bullet

When I was first encouraged to begin this blog some years ago by Bryan Thompson, he told me that I ought to post on everything, “warts and all.”

Recently, I have been posting mostly encouraging success stories. Bible storying has been a tool for me and for my wife to lead others to the Lord Jesus Christ and to help them trust in Him for forgiveness and salvation. We usually use a person-of-peace process where we observe and wait for those who are responding to our Bible stories. We then begin with them in their home, a weekly oral, inductive Bible study. This usually leads to a believing family in three to five months.

I haven’t written here about the number of times (It happened again last night) that I shared a scripture story and it just seemed to do nothing. What a disappointment.

Still, stories stick. They are not easily forgotten. If they are God’s stories, they are seeds of God’s Word that have been sown.

I will keep sowing.

Silly Mission Trips

I am a little discouraged today.

I spent some time reading the blog reports of a short-term mission trip to a foreign country. I have also, in my trips to the US, been a part of missions emphasis worship services where stories of trips to a foreign country were told. It’s always the same thing.

Most of the time is spent talking about how different the place was, how scary traffic was, how weird the food was, and how poor the people are. The conclusion is nearly always how blessed “we” are, and we don’t realize it.

I’ve taken the time to write down all of the ministry item that were done on these one-week trips. I get discouraged when I list them out.

  • We picked up trash for a few hours.
  • We held sick babies for a few hours.
  • We played with the kids for a few hours.
  • We helped build something for a few hours/days.
  • We passed out tracts because we couldn’t speak to them in their language.
  • We gave vitamins and eye-glasses to people.
  • We had a worship services with the natives.

Brothers, we need to do better than this. If this is what you are doing, just don’t go. Or, at the very least, learn 25 significant Bible narratives by heart and tell them all, daily and repetitively while you do those things. When people respond, lead them to Jesus, get them baptized and help them either join or start a church before you go home.

I rarely hear church presentations of  recent short-term mission trips where people report that:

  • They stayed in the homes of non-Christians instead of hotels.
  • They spent their time with one family and ministering with and through that family for the duration of the trip.
  • They told and taught others to tell significant portions of scripture narrative.
  • They had a significant plan to overcome the language barrier.
  • They prayed and overcame Satanic strongholds.
  • They baptized new believers and got them celebrating the Lord’s Supper together as a church.
  • They and the new believers suffered persecution for the baptisms and conversions.
  • They came back with more harvest stories than culture shock stories.
  • They came back with a clear vision of the next steps.

I can think of one or two churches that are getting there. They learn from their experiences, both failures and successes and move forward. They are relentless, like Paul was.

July 13, 2012

Cutting back to 2 times a week.

My family and I have been doing three oral Bible studies a week. On the one hand, it feels like we’re living the dream, discipling people and winning souls on a regular and consistent basis. But, when you couple that with regular church services and occasional weddings, funerals, and workshops, it becomes overwhelming.

The straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak, was when our 5-year-old son Nilson said that he didn’t have any time to play after school. That was true. His half day program is from 1pm to 5pm. After that he has swimming twice a week and we have had three bible studies a week in different parts of the city. The result is that he leaves the house after lunch and gets home around 9 or 10 pm three nights a week.

Going straight to bed is just not fun. Staying up late is not fun either. (Everyone with tired small kids knows what I mean.)So, we reduced.

Two of our families agreed to meet with us every other week. By alternating, we can rescue one more night a week for coming home and having family time. These two families are starting oral Bible studies with other families in order to keep consistent.


In the past 3 or 4 weeks, I’ve told, and/or helped others learn to tell these Bible passages.

  • The Parable of the Sower
  • The Bronze Serpent
  • Zacchaeus
  • Jesus Appears to Thomas after the Resurrection
  • The Empty Tomb
  • Philip in Samaria
  • Jesus in Samaria (Woman at the Well)
  • John the Baptist calls people to repent
  • Joshua and The Crossing of the Jordan
  • Elijah calls Elisha
  • The Jars of Oil
  • The widow’s offering

There are some others, but I have not been keeping record.