In episode 7 of Lessons from the Field we talk with Bill Housley. Bill and Kelley Housley are missionaries in Papua New Guinea. They have been working in church planting and translating the New Testament into a minority language. We asked the question:
How would you describe the relationship between teaching God’s Word and discipleship in a pioneering church planting context?
Simon: Well, hello everybody. Welcome back to the Lessons from the Field podcast. Lessons from the Field is a podcast produced by Access Truth, and Access Truth actually has a brand new resource that we want to tell you about. It’s called Equip Engine. And I’ve got Brad here as you know.
Brad: Hey Simon.
Simon: Hey Brad. And now tell us a little bit about what Equip Engine is.
Brad: Well, it’s brand new. Access Truth have developed this over a lengthy period of time.
Simon: A couple of years, right?
Brad: And rolled it out recently. Yep. And at Cross View, the way that we train is through a program called the Connect Program ministry training discipleship, cross-cultural ministry discipleship program, and people are spread out all over the country, and the way that they’ll learn will be through this online portal, Equip Engine.
Brad: And we’ve loaded up all their courses under that and the students and participants in the Connect Program can begin mentored through their learning using Equip Engine. So yeah, suits their needs perfectly.
Simon: Yeah. A Quip Engine is a learning management system designed for churches, Bible schools, mission agencies, small groups, et cetera.
Brad: Churches, yeah.
Simon: Small groups, big groups. It’s pretty flexible and basically you can create your own courses with tutorials, videos, audio files, PDFs, quizzes, interaction between the teachers or mentors and the students and also facilitates group discussions so people can respond to each tutorial or lesson privately. But then there’s also a public forum available there as well. So it’s really flexible.
Simon: And yeah, it’s aimed at Christian groups of any description. So if you’re interested in that, you can go to equipengine.com.
Brad: You can get some different packages, Simon. So depending on how many users you want.
Simon: That’s right.
Brad: How many courses you want to load up on there. So there’s different packages available to suit your needs.
Simon: That’s an important point. The Access Truth cross cultural essentials training modules, they’re there. They’re in there. You can add them into whatever courses you want to do. You can add them in as the only courses that you do. So you could just have the nine Access Truth modules or you could just add in one or two. You could do some cultural language runs or you could just do some Bible ones.
Simon: Things like that. So yeah, that’s really exciting. So please check it out. Equipengine.com.
Simon: Alrighty. Now today-.
Brad: Who we got, mate?
Simon: Bill Housley.
Simon: Bill. Bill is a guy who lives in Papua New Guinea with his wife Kelley, and they’ve been doing a cross cultural church planting and also translating the New Testament for some time now. And Bill, we sat down with bill and his wife Kelly, so in the future we’ll have some questions for Kelly as well, but today we just got a question for Bill and that is,
Brad: God’s word and discipleship as Simon fidgets around here. He’s getting there.
Simon: How would you describe the relationship between teaching God’s word and discipleship in a pioneering church planting context?
Bill: I think one of the beauties in a church planting context of the relationship between teaching God’s word and discipleship is that often in a church planting context and a pioneering church planting context, your lifestyle or the things that you’re asked to do somewhat bring you to bring a lot of stresses in your life. And so as you’re teaching God’s word, you have a perfect opportunity to be stressed and let the people that are watching you teach and hearing you teach see the relationship between what they’re hearing and how you’re living your life. Often the people that are listening to you, they don’t have lots of other ways to identify or even think about things from the scripture about how they should be living. And so it’s a perfect opportunity for you and your life to be pointing out things that are hard for you. And so they can see the relationship between what the scripture is asking you to do and how to live with how it affects their life’s right there with you.
Simon: Well, short but sweet there from Bill.
Brad: Well, good question though, good question, Simon.
Simon: It is.
Brad: At first, I kind of thought, yeah, how do you even jump in to that? And then I was reminded, because I’d been talking with someone recently about it, about this idea of firstly, what’s a coworker? So if you’re thinking about discipleship, what’s the goal of discipleship is to develop a mature follower of Jesus as a worshiper of Jesus, but is a fruitful follower of Jesus as a coworker with Jesus. And I was thinking about 1 Corinthians Chapter three where Paul’s talks in verse nine it says, “For we are coworkers in God’s service.” That’s discipleship, right?
Brad: That’s the goal of our discipleship is that you are God’s building by the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder.” So how do we do that? How do we see these coworkers developed for God’s mission? Well, I think we do it the same way. God meticulously laid foundations that w that we received ourselves. It’s the same way we do it with God’s word. That’s how I see the link between discipleship and God’s word is totally integral and I think Bill is getting at that, right? It’s almost like inseparable really.
Simon: I really like how he went to to that really practical step as well. I mean, we think of discipleship in our Western context as maybe like some kind of program that your church runs where they pair you up with someone else and that kind of thing. But he’s saying the way that he lives his life is in a way discipling these new believers because he’s the only example that they have of a mature Christian, his family. And so the way that he is reacting in a godly way to the stresses of life around him is in a way discipling. He’s teaching by his behavior how a Christian should act.
Simon: Yeah modeling. Exactly. And that’s a form of discipleship, especially when you’re the only mature Christian they have around, which is quite unique in a cross cultural unreached people groups sort of context, isn’t it?
Brad: Right. So as a disciple were, or as a church planter, what’s your foundation? So if you continue on in that 1 Corinthians Chapter three, verse 11 he says, “No one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid,” which is Jesus Christ. So we can’t lay any other foundation other than Jesus as revealed in His word. Right. And so we have to be transferring who we are, yes, being a modeler, being an influencer and transferring who we are. But who are you? Are you someone whose your own life is established on the foundation of God’s word?
Brad: Yeah, yeah.
Simon: Yeah. That’s really important.
Brad: Because I think we should take the time to lay that foundation and build according to the master plan, right. It’s His word. It’s good to strategize. It’s good to plan. It’s good to do all those things. Yeah, we’ve got to build according to his design, right, established on his word.
Simon: And that takes out, to some degree, some of the stress that comes from being the only example. Because it’s not like you’ve got to figure out what you’ve got to teach these people.
Simon: God’s given us a plan. He’s given us His word, and that’s what we’re teaching people. We’re not trying to figure out how to make these people’s lives better or whatever, you know?
Brad: Yeah, yeah.
Simon: It’s not like that.
Brad: I was with a guy last night, mate. So I was with a guy last night, and been a Christian about three years and very enthusiastic guy reaching out on mission and he’s reaching out to a guy who’s been around the edges of church life and Christian thought for quite a while, and this guy that he’s talking to is hitting him with all these apologetic questions. Hitting him all these theology questions. He goes, “Well, I’ve got a question for you.” And he goes, “Well, I’ve got another question for you.” And then he’s just fire hosing my mate with all these questions all the time. And I was talking to my friend and he said, “you know, it gets really tough after a while. It gets really tough after a while.” And it’s really important I think that especially when we’re doing church planning and we’re doing discipleship where we have the time to invest into people’s lives that we allow God’s word to do the heavy lifting for us rather than people sniping at us with all these tricky questions.
Brad: Sometimes they’re good questions, but it’s not like we have the answers on tap all the time. But when we’re going through God’s word from the beginning is he revealed it to us, and we’re taking people through the narrative of God’s word as God reveals himself and his character, and we head towards the promise delivering Jesus, and we see him in the context of how God relates to us, I think that kind of mitigates a lot of those problems, those problems as we establish strong foundations on in God’s word that way. So that’s something that I would say is that it can be pretty tricky if you’re just fielding these random thinking. You don’t seem to gain any ground when you-. Can you hear that Simon?
Simon: Yes, the garbage truck.
Brad: The garbage truck. Did you put your bins out, mate?
Simon: I did.
Brad: You did? Well good. We’ll let the truck go by then and you don’t have to run away from the control panel, mate.
Simon: Well Brad, that was really good. Yeah. I suppose there’s that tension between feeling a huge weight of responsibility being the only witness potentially in these areas. So you and maybe another couple of families, but at the same time being able to rely on God to do the work and trusting him to work through you and knowing that you don’t have to figure it out yourself, that you’re relying on God to show you the show the way.
Brad: Yeah. And really what’s going to last? What’s going to last? And so we know that the only thing in all of this world, even the church isn’t going to last forever, but what is going to last forever is God’s word. And so where we see what remains anywhere, when we see anything that remains, it’s based in foundation in God’s word because it’s the only thing that lasts forever. And so where we don’t see discipleship, we don’t see church planning and we don’t see people being gathered together around God’s word in the right way, it doesn’t remain. It doesn’t remain. And we want to see communities of followers of Jesus growing to maturity that remain, and the only way to do that if they have it in God’s word in their heart language being taught from it, right.
Simon: Yeah. Amen.
Brad: It’s the only way.
Simon: Alrighty. Well that’s all we got time for today. Thanks so much, Brad, for having a chat with me about that. By the way, we are planning on having some real life interviews soon. We were going to have someone on today, but they weren’t able to make it.
Brad: We got so stood up, didn’t we?
Simon: Yeah, we got stood up, so yeah. In the next few episodes you will be hearing from some real life interviewees and we’ll have a bit of back and forth, a bit of banter.What do you reckon, Brad?
Brad: I think it’s good.
Brad: Can you organize the garbage truck to come past again?
Simon: I think we can do that and yeah I think it would really take us to the next level.
Brad: Maybe we should have an outdoor podcast, Simon.
Brad: Maybe we should have an outdoor podcast.
Brad: We can interview an airplane guy or something.
Simon: That’d be cool.
Brad: That’d be all right.
Brad: Yeah, yeah.
Simon: I don’t know.
Brad: Testing out the new flight route for the new airport.
Simon: Yeah. Alrighty everyone. Thanks so much for listening. As always, you can check out more about Access Truth at accesstruth.com. There’s lots of resources there, heaps of free stuff, video courses and things that you can sink your teeth into. Learn some more about cross-cultural ministry, but for now that’s, that’s it. We’ll see you next time. Thanks, Brad.
Brad: Thanks Simon.