Starting Gospel Movements on Campus: Scripture

by Paul on November 11, 2009

Every once in awhile I like to create scenarios that require me to think about implementing Gospel planting strategies and applying tactics in new environments.  This is this is the second of a 21 part series talking about ways to use Gospel planting strategies with online and offline tactics to catalyze Gospel Planting Movements on a University Campus.

Scripture is where we begin to listen to God.

I wrote this about listening to God through Scripture in a previous post:

I listen to God when I read His Word.  Sounds simple enough, but I’m always amazed by how quickly I get sidetracked.  I’m also amazed by how many Christians approach God’s Word as some sort of philosophical exercise or spiritual yoga rather than as a guide to getting to know the heart of God, living to please Him, and transforming families and communities.

Reading the Bible is not the only way to listen.  Obeying what God says in the Bible is another way to listen.  I know, that sounds strange.  But, in my experience, God teaches us more as we obey Him than if we read His commands without any intention of doing anything about them.

Reaching the Online Generation is a case-in-point.  As we obeyed Luke 10 (and other passages) in the digital space, God taught us the things that you will read in this book.  He pointed out opportunities to heal the sick and care for people.  He taught us how to love atheists and witches while talking with them about spiritual things.  He taught us how to believe Him, rather than what to believe.  I believe that obeying what you hear from God increases your capacity to hear and recognize His voice.

I study the Bible in a way that slows me down, forces me to listen, and makes me state the ways I’m going to obey what I’ve read.  At CityTeam, we call this method a Three-Part Study.  It’s pretty simple:

  1. Turn a piece of paper on its side (Landscape).
  2. Divide it into three columns.  Label the first, “Scripture.” Label the second, “My Words.”  Label the third, “I Will.”
  3. In the first column, write a passage (Luke 10:1-12, for example) word-for-word.  Writing each word forces you to slow down and read the passage rather than skimming it.  For those of us who grew up in the church, we often skim passages rather than reading them.  Additionally, when you write a passage you have to read it multiple times.
  4. In the second column, I re-write the same passage in my own words.  I don’t explain it.  I don’t summarize it.  I re-write it as if I were telling it to my seven-year-old daughter, but didn’t have my Bible.  This forces you to meditate on the passage and understand it well enough to retell it in very simple language.  In this column, you prepare to obey 1 Peter 3:15 “…but set apart the Messiah as Lord in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.”
  5. In the third column, write what you are going to do to obey what God said to you through His Word.  Always start it with the phrase, “I will…” Make it specific.  Make it something you can do in the next 24-48 hours.  For example, instead of saying “I will love God.” you can say, “I will show my love for God by making a list of at least 25 reasons I love Him and sharing that list with three friends.”

As you work to reach a campus, everyone on your team needs to understand that every passage they read from the Bible is the actual voice of God speaking to them, and possibly the team.   The team needs to create a time everyday, or at least every week, where team members can share the Scripture they read that week and what God told them to do to obey that passage.  The team can decide when a passage applies to the team and what they need to do as a team to obey the passage.

Scripture is the source of strategy.

I wrote this about Scripture being the source of all our strategy and tactics:

Scripture makes us aware of what God wants us to do.  God uses Scripture to point out holes and areas of need while saying, “I want you to do something about that.”  Strategy comes from asking the question, “What will it take to do what Scripture says?”  You add enough passages together and you get a long list of questions.  Answering those questions, because you want to obey Scripture, results in a list of actions that together catalyze community transformation and Kingdom expansion.

Scripture Drives Tactics

As we obey Scripture within a particular context, we define our tactics for engagement.  While strategy drives us to ask, “What will it take to meet the needs of the widows and orphans in an online environment?” an obedience-based tactical approach asks, “How can I and my organization meet the needs of widows and orphans online?”  Perhaps you might even be more specific, “How can I meet the needs of widows and orphans in the New Jersey area using online tools?”  Either way, obedience is the result.  Ultimately, consistent obedience results in community transformation.

Both Strategy and Tactics Must Point People to Scripture

If your strategy and tactics never point people to Scripture, then your process will never multiply.  You won’t be as effective as you’d like.  People on every level of your organization need to understand that their day-to-day activities are efforts of the organization to obey passages of Scripture.  They need the freedom to read a passage, meditate on it, and ask how they are going to obey that passage within the context of their job assignment, call, and responsibilities.

If you get hit by a bus, will your organization continue to operate, not because they are a well-oiled machine, but because their obedience to Scripture will continue even after you are gone?  Are they following your vision, or are they obeying Scripture?  Are they part of the process of figuring out how to obey Scripture within your organization, or do you cast all the vision and tell them what to do?

I am convinced that Scripture casts a big enough vision for us all.  Strategy and tactics are the result of Scripture opening our eyes to the world around us and of our obedience. If our strategies and tactics come from Scripture, and if we teach others to examine Scripture for their strategies and tactics, we will transform the people, communities, and nations we encounter – all to the glory of God.  (http://www.reachingtheonlinegeneration.com/2009/05/05/video-scripture-must-be-part-of-your-strategy/)

As you read Scripture, as a leader and as a team, God will show you what you need to do to reach the campus.  Sometime Scripture calls you to do things you and your team cannot do alone.  At that point, finding partners who can fill the gap revealed by Scripture is vital to reaching the campus.

Remember, God has a plan to reach the campus.  We tune into His plan through prayer and through reading and obeying Scripture.

Scripture is how God speaks to the lost.

We spend so much time memorizing complicated sales pitches to introduce people to Jesus.  Yet John 6:43-46 says:

43 Jesus answered them, ”Stop complaining among yourselves. 44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws [h] him, and I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets: (AV) And they will all be taught by God. (AW) (AX) Everyone who has listened to and learned from the Father (AY) comes to Me— 46 not that anyone has seen the Father (AZ) except the One who is from God. (BA) He has seen the Father. (BB) http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John%206:43-46&version=HCSB

Jesus makes a couple of key points in this passage. First, no one can come to the Father unless God draws them.  Second, those who come to the Father will be taught by Him.  So here is the question: “How can lost people be taught by God?”  Some say that lost people need to listen to their inner voice.  I’ve been a Christian long enough to know that the inner voice often lies – and I already follow Christ!  The inner voice is not reliable enough for a lost person to act on.  That, in my mind, leaves Scripture as a reliable source of God’s voice to man.  We use a guided Discovery Bible Study to introduce lost people to Scripture which, in turn, introduces them to God.

Here is a link to more information on the guided Discovery Bible Study:  http://www.davidlwatson.org/2009/06/05/church-planting-essentials-–-establishing-core-values-dna-in-new-churches-part-2/.

Scripture and Technology

Scripture is more accessible now than ever before.  You can access it in paper form, on your cell phone, on the internet, or in audio form on your mp3 player.  As long as Scripture is the beginning of your journey to obey God and catalyze Gospel Movements on campus, it doesn’t matter how you get it.

Here are some resources to check out:

How about you?  What are you doing to make Scripture a critical element of your strategy to reach the lost?

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Small Groups that have the DNA of a Gospel Planting Movement
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