The title of one of our new books is 21 Steps to a Stronger Church for the 21st Century . This is not mere theory or “armchair theology.” This is what we are building by God’s grace. We are church planters, have been since the early 1980s. Our goal is to see 100 sound churches established for the glory of God and the enlightenment of this dark world. We want Biblical churches, not American churches or Nepali churches or Australian churches or Spanish churches or Filipino churches. As a heavenly, pilgrim people, we intend to test the cultures of this present world by Scripture and conform them to Scripture. We want churches founded solidly on the New Testament, not after the pattern of the church fathers or the Waldenses or Anabaptists or Lutherans or Anglicans or Reformed or Puritans or Methodists or Fundamentalists or Brethren or even the Independent Baptists. We don’t despise tradition; we learn from it; but all ecclesiastical tradition must be tested by the sole authority, which is Scripture rightly divided. We pray always that God will remove all unwitting traditional blinders from our eyes so that we can see His Word without obstruction and obey it and please Him. We are focused on using this coronavirus crisis to prepare for the near future when (we believe, in answer to prayer) it is dissipated and we regain our liberties. As long as the Lord tarries, we have our marching orders in the Great Commission (Mt. 28:18-20), which is a very big work, at the heart of which is preaching the gospel to every soul and building sound, life-changing New Testament churches, which are the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Ti. 3:15). We are focused on this like a laser. This week where we minister, we are on nationwide house lockdown. We can’t even take a walk or visit a store, but we see it as an opportunity rather than a frustration. God’s people are not in the hands of the times, the times are in God’s hands, and so are we. “My times are in thy hand (Ps. 31:15); “neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (Joh. 10:27-28). We have instructed our church members to be busy in three projects so that we will come out of this time better prepared to be what God wants us to be and to do what God wants us to do.
First, Bible study. Those who haven’t done this before have been assigned the project of reading Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Joshua, Judges, 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings, Ezra, Nehemiah (11 books) as quickly as they can with good understanding and writing out the major events in Old Testament history. We have seen recently that though our church members read through the Bible each year, many aren’t reading with enough understanding. They don’t have a good timeline of Bible events ready at hand in their minds. So reading these 11 books and focusing on this as they read should give them this essential knowledge on which they can build. When they finish the OT, they will read Matthew and write out the major events in Jesus’ life, and then Acts and write out the major events in the history of the first churches. The goal is to be able to list all the major events in Bible history from memory.
Second, family life. Our families are focusing on being what God wants them to be by working on godly husband-wife relationships, biblical child training, and family devotions. For devotions, they are reading a page of Child Discipline (a free eBook available from Way of Life) and discussing it and praying together. Without godly families that are raising a godly seed (Mal. 2:15), we can’t have truly fruitful New Testament churches.
Third, prayer. We are praying together especially for the following things: for our government leaders and those worldwide to have wisdom, that people will be more eager to listen to the gospel and be saved here and we will have much new fruit of conversions this year, that the travel restrictions will be eased so we can have our assemblies and pursue evangelism, and that the coronavirus will stop completely by the end of April everywhere in the world, that it will dissipate like fog in the sunshine. Our faith is resting on the following wonderful promises of our merciful and almighty God: Psa. 50:15; 91:14-15; 145:18; Jer. 33:3; 2 Ch.16:9; Eph. 3:20.
(21 Steps to a Stronger Church for the 21st Century is available as a free eBook from www.waylife.org.)
(Friday Church News Notes, March 27, 2020, www.wayoflife.org firstname.lastname@example.org, 866-295-4143)