Fixing Saint Paul, Scene 1: Awakening Barnabas

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The Story

Acts 13:13

Paul and his companions then left Paphos by ship for Pamphylia, landing at the port town of Perga. There John Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem.

The Backstory

Scene 1: Awakening

“Barnabas? Are you awake?”

Barnabas rolled over on his cot to gaze at the younger man who had just walked in.  He smiled sadly, as he saw John Mark’s nervous face and guessed the errand that prompted his late night visit.

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PRO Church

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I belive the primary reason the church in America is not impacting the culture is that we expend most of our time, energy, and money doing many things badly instead of the right things well. We are amateurs competing against professional culture-makers. 

To address this imbalance, I believe the church needs to “Go PRO.”

  1. Prioritize making disciples of Jesus who do all (and only what) He asks of them
  2. Recommission pastoral teams as missionaries to their community
  3. Outsource the business of church to professional management that does it efficiently at scale

I am confident this would unleash a flood of talent and resources that would turn the world upside down — or rather, right side up!

Who’s with me?

LEAD! B.9 From Sloth to Fruitfulness

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In Which We Abide Fruitfully Instead of Vegetating Slothfully

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” — Matthew 5:6

Sloth may seem like an archaic sin in our busy modern world, but our frenzied activity is itself a sign of sloth, which can be defined as a lack of vigor in pursuing God’s name — His character and purposes. In fact, the self-centered pursuit of our own “name” — especially under the guise of religion — is actually the worst kind of sloth! (cf. Matthew 23)

The antidote is to empty ourselves of worldly pursuits so that we become truly hungry for faith, hope, and love. Only when we abandon slothfully seeking our own comfort — which merely results in restlessness — can we experience the divine dynamism and peace that comes from abiding in Him…

Assigned Reading
  1. Peter Kreeft: Back to Virtue

    • 11. Hungering for Righteousness vs. Satisfied with Sloth
  2. Dick Hockett: Foundations of Wisdom
    • 3.5 (Trustworthy) Example: Proverbs about the Tongue

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LEAD! Part C: Skills for Service

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As mentioned earlier, the LEAD! Bible Study is a tripod, built on three legs:

  • theological education
  • character formation
  • skill development

We are over half-way through, so Part B will be ending soon — and Part C starts a week or two after that, so I need to get ready!
Here is the initial outline I used:

  1. Personal Bible Study: Understanding Scripture for ourselves
  2. Warfare Prayer: How to shake the heavens.
  3. The Slow Fast: Emptying ourselves to be filled.
  4. Memorizing the Word: Sharpening the Sword for battle.
  5. Daily Journaling: Tracking God’s activity over time.
  6. Cultivating Spiritual Gifts: For what has God made us?
  7. Failing Courageously: Taking risks, making mistakes, and learning from them.
  8. Good Things in Small Groups: Building missional communities.
  9. Constructive Criticism: ‘Tis as important to receive as to give
  10. Counseling and Discipleship: Helping people reflect God’s glory and grace.
  11. Friendship Evangelism: How to get Jesus into people’s hearts.
  12. Public Speaking: Communicating clearly and concisely.

Here’s the list the church originally proposed:

  1. Daily Journaling
  2. Devotional Prayer & Bible Study
  3. Fasting
  4. Bible Memorization
  5. Relating to Spiritual Authority
  6. Developing Spiritual Gifts
  7. Spiritual Warfare
  8. Dealing with Failure
  9. Sharing Your Faith
  10. Counseling
  11. Public Speaking
  12. Leading a Small Group

The challenge is to find a book or two to use as background reading that covers (or at least is relevant to) most of these topics. Any suggestions from my loyal readers?
Read more for a review of some possibilities, after the break…
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LEAD! A.11 Christ’s Body

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In Which We Become the Church, As We Grow Into Christ Our Head Via His Gifts

Continuing the theme of Sanctification, we explore how we are discipled into the name of Christ through His body — the Father’s principle vehicle for forming His Kingdom, by His Spirit. Specifically, we see how the fact that we serve One God requires us to worship Him as One Church.

[Note: I am now using the New King James Version for my interlinear; hopefully this will increase the readability.]

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LEAD! A.8 Christ’s Salvation

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In Which We Receive the Gospel, And Are Saved By It

Our series so far — indeed, the first half of human history — is but a prelude to the coming of Jesus Christ. In Christ we have the word of God made flesh, the perfect revelation of God’s character, a tangible representative of the Trinity, and a reminder of what we were created to be.

Yet even more glorious than all that: Christ is Our Lord, and has become our much-needed Savior…

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LEAD! A.6 Father’s Kingdom

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In Which We See God Creating His World, and Our Place In It

The overriding theme of our journey has been exploring what it means to be “baptized into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” Having dealt (however superficially) with the ontological aspects of that “name”, we now focus on the narrative aspects. In particular, we will focus on the arc of “creation corruption and redemption” found throughout scripture (and literature), as manifested through the persons of the Trinity. Starting with the Father, and Creation…

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LEAD! A.5 God’s Tri-Unity

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In Which We Discover The Persons Who Make up the Godhead, and How They Relate to Us

Shield-Trinity-Scutum-Fidei-English We believe in one God, consisting of one substance — one name, one identity, and one character — sometimes called the Godhead. Yet, that name is expressed through three distinct persons, as illustrated by the classic diagram on the left. Theologians use the term “Trinity” to describe this paradoxical mystery, which is explicitly described in the New Testament and often alluded to in the Old.

In this lesson, we will be focusing primarily on the Economic Trinity (“How God Acts”) rather than the Essential Trinity (“What God is”). See the “Explore” section for other perspectives.

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LEAD! Syllabus for “Theological Foundations”

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[NOTE: the official syllabus is now on the “Lead” page; this post is obsolete, but kept for the sake of historical continuity].

[Yes, I should probably have written this before the first lesson, but better late than never…]

In thinking about it, I ought to take my Curriculum one step further, and actually identify the passages and key learnings for each lesson. Not only will this help ensure I’m on the same page as my pastor, but it would enable others to write some of the lessons (since class starts on September 4th!).

I’ve also cross-referenced these lessons against two common systematic theology books:

In addition to providing a sort index to the topics covered, this allows students and teachers to use those as supplementary textbooks.

  • Draft 1 – Sunday, 24th August
  • Draft 2 – Tuesday, 26th August: Added “Doctrine” “Essentials” chapters for each lesson
  • Draft 3 – Friday, 29th August: Added “Doctrines” chapters for each lesson

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