Radical faith in the underground church - 3
Recently, “Pastor X” from Iran agreed to be interviewed to uncover why the church is exploding in one of the most dangerous places to be a Christian - and how we can join them in engaging the lost in our own communities. He has catalysed disciple-making movements throughout the Middle East.
Could lessons from the fastest growing church in one of the 10 most dangerous countries for a Christian to live change our perspective on our circumstances, our passion and our calling to the mission of God?
Part 1 of this series is here. Part 2 of this series is here.
Pastor X continues his story:
Discipleship for us is someone who having come through processes, is obedient to Christ, has the ability to stand alone. If I get arrested or killed they can still continue, they're not connected to man, they're connected to God, they're connected to the Holy Spirit. Many times in the West, we're connected to the pastor or we're connected to the person behind the television. We're not connected to the source, which is Christ himself.
We should change our standard of success from who has the biggest church, the biggest budget - metrics of men. We need to change from them to metrics of the Lord which is obedience, who's following Christ, who's sharing about Christ. I want to live the life that Jesus has called me to.
Too often in the West, we sleepwalk and we don't engage anyone and then all of a sudden along comes Easter or Christmas. Then it's, let's go talk to some unbeliever and bring them to church. The problem with the western model is 'come and see'. That's not what Jesus said. Jesus said, 'go and find'. We don't even see a 'come and see' model - it's all about going and finding the lost. Going where they are.
Post-Covid, what about meeting at least five new people a day? You think that it's so hard but it's not. Don't you go to the supermarket, the petrol station, coffee shop? Do you even know their names? We don't engage people anymore and that's a big problem that we see in the West.
Another is your contact list. What's the percentage of unbelievers to believers on it? Probably 10% unbelievers and 90% believers. Is that really what Jesus wanted? Jesus hung out with sinners but the western church hangs out with itself - a club. Also it is 'faking good'. Everyone goes to church with a smile, all happy and saying, 'Praise the Lord! Hallelujah. God bless.', even though they're hurting inside. That's not church, that's not community.
We have a saying in the Middle East that you don't know someone until you've gone on a trip with them and that you've eaten with them and it's just so true. True discipleship isn't something you do once a week. It's what you do every day because that's when you get to know people. That's when you're with them during the good times and the bad times, when they're sick when they're healthy. That's what brings true family.
We come and go in each other's houses. We don't have to call to go to each other's houses, we just go. It's family. We eat meals together, we go and disciple people together. We share life together. It's community. What we see in the New Testament. God wants the family. We experience the world together - all the good of it and all the bad of it together. It's community, it's relational. That's when we put our masks down, we are raw and real with each other, learning from each other, growing from each other.
This family draws people into Jesus. Everyone's looking for acceptance, camaraderie, community. This is what the family of God is all about. It's moving the kingdom forward together by all means, as a community, as one body under one shepherd.
In the book of Acts, we see a house church network with a corporate expression. That's what we need to go back to because when hundreds and thousands of people come to Jesus, there's not enough buildings but definitely there's enough houses.
The West is all about individualism, convenience and being comfortable. Discipleship is inconvenient, uncomfortable and very messy.
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