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True word man. I've thought of this for a while.

Had to read that twice. That's deep.

Hey Ben - I've had tribulation at two churches over vision - my take on it is that the vision is already set by God, for He has only one 'church' and the church will either be obedient to it and embrace it (Acts 1:8; Matthew 28) or rebel against it in self consumption and isolation. The preaching and teaching of the word and the effort to move the church toward it will either quickly or slowly expose which attitude that particular church has toward heaven's earthly mandate. At that point the leader has to make one of two choices...stay at a church whose 'lips honor the Lord but whose heart is far from Him'...or pray for God to move Him to another body.

Shelby, i don't know your specific circumstances, but I think that sometimes the way we express the Great Commission can be wrong.

I read once that doctors who get sued the most for malpractice tend to have the worst bedside manner.

Can you give me some examples of what you mean, Ben? Was the way Paul expressed the Great Commission wrong?

Shelby, when Paul entered a city, he preached the Gospel and then left town. It was only his second missionary journey that he took stock of the spiritual impact and established churches.

Billy Graham said it takes 20 people to lead someone to Christ. The first person thinks they had nothing to do with it. The last person thinks it was all him.

So are you saying that Paul did not fulfill the Great Commission and could you tell me some examples of how the Great Commission can be expressed wrongly?

Shelby, he definitely fulfilled the great commission, but not in one visit. Just as the parable of the sower illustrates, people fall along a continuum of spiritual fertility (or receptivity to the Gospel). Some people are hardened to it. Others are ready for it. If someone's not open to the gospel, it might take a long friendship help remove the thorns before the gospel seeds will take root. In my experience, I've seen people take 1 day to accept Christ, and I've seen others take 5 years. If we're not sensitive to how these people come to Christ, we'll not only fail at evangelizing them, we may prolong their opposition to it.

I wrote about this extensively in Church in the Making coming out this April. In the scriptures, there were entire villages that had a lesser spiritual receptivity than others.

Take for example, the story of missionaries Jim Elliott, Nate Saint, etc. The flew a yellow airplane around a village and dropped gifts to make peace with the natives in Ecuador. They did this to prepare the way for the Gospel. They still got speared, but it opened the door for their wives to evangelize the tribe. Imagine if they just parachuted in and started preaching in the name of following the biblical mandate. They would have faced worse.

Ok, now we are getting somewhere. I completely agree with your first paragraph - in fact I use the Parable of the Sower all the time to explain the exact reality you exposed - in fact, I was once hard (and a false convert sitting on a church role)...then went from Hard to good over a period of 8 years.

I'm still however a little off balance in understanding what you mean by being 'wrong in expressing the Great Commission' - that is a huge judgement to make about someone's calling and ministry - how can we know when we are expressing the great commission wrong? Does a large growing church equal success? Does a church split always mean failure?

Shelby, I'm using the phrase "bedside manner" to suggest that sometimes our vision is rejected not because it's wrong, but because we communicate it with no sensitivity.

Tim Keller just wrote on this:

shelby these comments were so far apart that I hadn't been reading them in sequence. i thought your second comment was referring to my original post, rather than our first interaction.

i was trying to subtly suggest that your tribulation may have less to do with vision (great commission) than bedside manner. I don't have the right or the insight to say that to you, but i'm also working on my bedside manner =)

Keller's post again:

You are completely right - all of us have made mistakes that have led to expressing the great commission with a personal bias, no question, but I don't see how all of that can be avoided. Peter was sent to the Jews, Paul was sent to the Gentiles. They each had their issues.

We shall continue again another day! Merry Christmas to you and continue pressing on!!

Shelby and Family

Predestination, friendship, when the network becomes a kind of culture, fashion, distant journey, has no distance warm greetings and blessing, dissolve the pressure of work and life. Click on your name, send my best wishes, is my biggest happiness! Wishing you peace, joy and health!

This is my first time i visit here. I found interesting things to many in your blog, mostly to the debate.

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