Teaching Church Planters How to Die

by Paul on September 20, 2009

In India we teach our church planters how to die.

If they are about to be martyred, we teach them to look into the eyes of the person who will kill them and say, “You do not take my life from me.  I give it to you freely so that you may one day know Jesus Christ as your Savior.”

Morbid? Perhaps.  Necessary? Absolutely.

Jesus took the time to teach His disciples about the reality of persecution.  He told them:

John 15:18-16:4 (New International Version)

The World Hates the Disciples

18“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’[a] If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me. 22If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. 23He who hates me hates my Father as well. 24If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’[b]

26“When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. 27And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.

John 16

1“All this I have told you so that you will not go astray. 2They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God. 3They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. 4I have told you this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you. I did not tell you this at first because I was with you.

Jesus didn’t hesitate to talk about death and persecution.  He didn’t shy away from teaching His disciples how to handle things they would face in the near future.  For Jesus, teaching the disciples how to handle life in a manner that glorified God was the core of discipleship.

We cannot forget, as we disciple people online, that we need to help Christians understand what it means to live as part of the Body of Christ in the digital space.  We need to address the intricacies of online community within the context of Scripture.  When we can, we need to anticipate areas that need to be addressed so that, like Jesus did with the disciples, online disciples understand what to do when those situations present themselves.

There are many areas Christians in the online space need to address.  Here are four that are on the top of my mind at the moment:

  • Accountability – How do we stay accountable in the digital space?  What do we do when we see Christians misbehave online?
  • Anonymity – How much anonymity is reasonable?  When does online anonymity become lying?  When does it become destructive?
  • Hospitality – How do we practice hospitality online?  How do we organize Tweet-ups and open our homes for online friends to crash on our couches?
  • Charity – In a culture of free, how do we tithe?  How do we make sure that we are giving sacrificially to charities?  How do we choose how and where to give?

What would you add to the list?

There will come a time when we have to teach online Christians online how to die.  Right now, though, we need to teach them how to live.

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JennyO September 22, 2009 at 7:30 am

Accountability's def high on my list. As a former Youth Pastor's wife, many of my friends on facebook are youth kids. Kids who would never swear or do crazy things in front of their parents or at church (while you're looking), but put up disturbing things on facebook (or previously myspace, etc) and the comments the other kids make are just… Oh my… And for some reason, swearing's ok if you use / type abbreviations?! But then do you comment on the inappropriateness of every post/comment..? Even if they're not very teachable..?

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