By Allen White
I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another. Romans 15:14
I work with Brett Eastman at Lifetogether.com. When Brett was the Small Groups Pastor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, they launched the first 40 Days of Purpose campaign. Brett is an idea factory. He doesn’t just think outside of the box. He’s in denial that the box even exists.
On the eve of the first 40 Days of Purpose, Brett brought a new idea to Rick Warren about creating small groups. Instead of recruiting leaders, they would ask Saddleback Church to host groups in their homes by inviting their friends and using a DVD curriculum. Rick was game for it and invited people to open their hearts and their homes to host a group. Two thousand people signed up to host.
Then, by his own admission, Brett took the scariest survey of his life. Who were these people? Where they Christians? Did they live in their cars? What was their story?
So, when you think about Saddleback Church and the over 20,000 people that they have baptized in the last 30 years, how long do you think most of these new small group hosts had been Christians?
Do you have a number in mind? How many years do you think? The average for the 2,000 new small group hosts was 14 years. They had been Christians for 14 years and had attended Saddleback for 10 years, and this was their first time out hosting a small group.
Theirs wasn’t a lack of knowledge. If they had attended 40 Sundays per year, at a minimum, they had heard 400 sermons plus other classes and groups over their 10 years at Saddleback.
How long have you been a Christian? How many sermons and lessons do you think you’ve taken in over the years? It’s a staggering amount. I mean, I had about four lessons/sermons a week for my first 18 years alone.
Paul told the Romans that they were “competent to instruct one another.” How long had the Roman Christians been believers? Think about this: the book of Romans was written around AD 56-58. No one is sure when the Roman church was established. We do know that Peter, Paul (and Mary, sorry) didn’t establish the Roman church. Most likely Jewish Christians started the church without the help of an Apostle. By the best estimates, the Roman church was 15-20 years old when they received this letter.
So, let me fill in the gaps: without an Apostle, without a Bible college or seminary, without a building or formal organization, and facing significant persecution, Paul says that the Romans are competent to instruct one another. And, the church thrived.
So, what about you? How much have you been given over the years? My guess is that you have a much better grasp of things than you give yourself credit for. I know your objection, “But, I feel inadequate.” Well, join the club. Here’s the secret: our adequacy is in Christ, not in ourselves. As we make ourselves available for God to use us, He uses us. I’m never surprised, but I’m always amazed at how God uses me.
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