Tim Ahlen | Pastor, Consultant, and Disciple-Maker

Tim Ahlen | Pastor, Consultant, and Disciple-Maker

The Ministry Growth Show

March 25, 2021

Episode Notes:

This week on The Ministry Growth Show, we're joined by Tim Ahlen. Tim is the Senior Pastor at Forest Meadow Baptist Church, a consultant on Unreached People Groups for the Dallas Baptist Association, and a Disciple-Maker and Zume volunteer coach and regional coordinator. In this episode, Tim shares his experience with DMM models, specifically highlighting Zume.Training. The insights Tim shares in this episode on church planting and disciple-making are invaluable. Enjoy!

Episode Transcript:

You're listening to the ministry growth show brought to you by Reliant Creative, the creative agency for gospel centered ministries. Find out more at Reliant Creative dot org. Welcome to the Ministry Growth Show, a podcast dedicated to helping churches and ministries grow and make more effective impacts for the Kingdom of God in an ever changing digital world, whether you're building and growing a gospel center ministry or leading a church, if you want insight into the strategies, struggles, challenges and successes of other ministry leaders, you've come to the right place.

Welcome back to the ministry Growth show Today on the show, I'm going to be talking with Tim Allen. He's a pastor, church planter and disciple maker among some other hats, Tim. Thanks for being on the show.

Glad to be here with you zack. So can you tell us a little bit about yourself and maybe share your ministry experience and background? So we have some context for today's conversation. Sure. I became a believer at age 29, uh, turns out it was the very first time I've ever walked into a baptist church and I have had almost no preparation whatsoever for what was about to happen.

But the Lord grabbed hold of my heart and I surrendered to him. I began to follow him immediately and he began to call me into ministry immediately. So much so that within three months of my salvation experience, I surrendered my life to vocational ministry.

So that was almost 40 years ago now. And in that time, I have served the Lord as a pastor, as a Minister of missions, as a associational church planter strategist. And then I've done some other more mission aligned missionary kind of work as well.

I guess most of my experience has been with smaller churches. It's been with church planting, it's been with missionary areas and unreached people groups. I worked in the 1980s in Texas with a strategy called Key Church, in which we basically recherche neighborhoods where transition had taken place and the existing churches did not keep up with the change in demographics.

and we did that for my goodness all the way up until about 2000 and one, At that time, I also helped get a church started and became the the pastor of the church called the Country Church, which was one of the prototypes for what we know today as cowboy churches or Western heritage churches.

Um I also served as uh Director of an organization called Great Commission Initiative, turns out that in 2000 to 2003, I was asked by my boss at the Dallas baptist Association to attend a 2.5 week long training put on by the International Mission Board, that I had no idea what it was at the time turns out it was Strategy Coordinator training, which is the Mission aligned Missionary Type training that they give to their lead missionaries.

And the purpose was to expose a group of us to what God was doing around the world with respect to church planting movements. Quite frankly, the North american practitioners like myself who were in the room were astounded to hear of the things that God was doing and then also astounded when we realized that God wasn't doing that anywhere here in the United States.

So when we came back from that experience, we banded together and said, we need to see what we can do about changing that. So I quit my job at the association, Became pastor of a church known as Forest Meadow Baptist Church.

I'm still there today. And this was back in 2003. And uh we decided to instead of pursuing church expansion and church growth that we would explore kingdom expansion through church planting movements.

So we began, it took us about a year to figure out what we thought we wanted to do. And when we started on it, this was in 2004, Between 2004 and 2014, we were actually able to see seven generations of new churches started And they totaled 165 congregations.

And this was from a church. My church, I didn't tell you this before, but we only had about 35 members. So we didn't have much human resources and certainly not a lot of Financial resources to deal with.

But we did have the principles of starting indigenous reproducing new churches. And so we did that. And today those churches are scattered all around the world. We have not been, we've not been able to track them since 2014 simply because it takes too much time.

And the data that you're tracking gets too fuzzy when you're stuck here in the United States. Uh so part and parcel of all that Zach was that we um really focused on what in the beginning was called church planting movement methodologies.

But then quickly that got tweaked a little bit into what we now call today, disciple making movements. The principles are basically the same, just a little bit difference in emphasis. But since 2000 15, I have been devoting my time and energy to That.

A large part of what I have done in uh since 2005, we have focused efforts over in South Sudan reaching out to a people group called the Dinkas. So that's kind of the long story to a short question, but that's, that's what I've been about for almost now, 40 years.

No, that's, that's super helpful now in that, um, a little summary of your background, you touched on something that just piqued my interest. So can you explain what a cowboy churches well, um, there are some superficial kinds of things that they do.

Um, their auditoriums in, their architecture is all reminiscent of cowboy days in Western heritage. Uh, they typically will take up their offering uh, in a cowboy hat, frequently the cowboy hat has a hole in it representing a bullet hole.

And so they do stuff like that. They, they're focusing in on people who live in the Southwestern and Western part of the United States who have an affinity for the old cowboy culture. And uh, so it's, it's a niche type church, but they become very, very popular and some of them have grown rather large Interesting.

They began back in the 19 nineties. Okay, that's cool. And and where are you based? I am based in Dallas texas, I live here with my uh wife of 47 years and my three Children and five grandchildren. Okay, cool, wow, yeah, How do you, how do you define disciple making? So we have some context for today.

Okay, there are a couple of key elements to the definition. # one, a disciple is an ordinary follower of Jesus Christ who loves God, who loves others and who himself or herself makes disciples. So disciple making is the process whereby one disciple leads another, ordinary person to trust in christ as savior, to love God, to love others and make disciples.

So there's a reproducing element, so if I'm, if I'm a true disciple maker, then there should be other disciples that I am training up, raising up equipping and showing what it looks like to follow Jesus Yeah, the biblical basis for that is second timothy 22 If you remember the background for that story, Jesus gathered people around him and taught them how they were to follow him and what they were to do and and what they needed to believe and part and parcel of what he taught them was that they needed to teach others.

And so we find the disciples teaching Barnabas, Barnabas became a disciple and Barnabas reached out to paul and paul became a disciple and then paul reached out to a young man named timothy and he disciple timothy and in the second epistle of timothy in the second chapter, second verse paul told timothy, he said now timothy, these things that you've heard me say in the presence of many witnesses, I want you to take these things and teach, find faithful men teach these things to them so that they may teach others as well.

So it's got a biblical foundation to it. Yeah. And what role does um I'm relatively familiar with with these strategies and these ideas. But what role does obedience play in this in these strategies? That may be um is countercultural to how we the church is functioning right now, The Western Church at least.

Yeah, that's absolutely huge, partly because of our misapplication of the doctrine of grace and in some evangelical circles, the doctrine of assurance of salvation. Many church members believe that obedience is not something that is required of the Lord to which I frequently have the rejoinder.

Well, perhaps you can show me which command jesus gave us, which he intended for us to ignore and I'll be happy to follow that and of course there is none so grace and and obedience are kind of two sides to the same coin.

And that coin would be discipleship. It requires both understanding and obedience. Mm. Do you find that the there's pushback when you share these ideas on the obedience and that is maybe root, like we don't want to be legalistic in our approach.

Like how do you, how do you find that balance? Yeah, it is frequently said that uh we're just being legalistic were preaching salvation by works etcetera etcetera etcetera. But the rejoinder to that the biblical rejoinder is very simple and Matthew 28 verses 18 to 20 jesus said, all authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.

Therefore go and make disciples of all people groups baptizing them the name of the father, the son and the holy spirit, and here's where you get the point teaching them to obey everything that I've committed you and low, I'll be with you always even to the end of the age, so it's something that was near and dear to jesus heart as well yeah, um I know we don't have probably a time to go into the minutia of it, but um just from a high level, can you share the disciple making process and what that looks like in um I don't know, maybe like a basic step level, just just so we can kind of have some clarity around what this process looks like in a more tangible way.

Sure, uh the approach that I follow is one that's part of a family of similar discipleship strategies that all come under the heading of obedience based discipleship, in this kind of strategy, an individual person who desires to follow jesus uh is taught a simple spiritual discipline.

Now the disciplines that you are taught are organized in such a way that they become foundational to everything else that you learn across your lifetime Discipleship is a lifetime commitment, not simply a 13 week course that you take, um but you learn that simple spiritual discipline and part of learning it is, you have to learn that learning is not simply a matter of gaining spiritual or theological information, but learning is only considered complete when the new disciple has changed their behavior in a way that demonstrates obedience to the Lord, so once they've learned one discipline, then they can go on to the next.

So for example, in the first lesson that in the approach that I use, which is called zoom uh in, in that first lesson, a new believer is taught to simple definitions, the definition of what a disciple is and then a definition of what a church is.

So an ordinary follower of christ who loves God loves others and makes disciples, that's the basic definition, it's simple, it's easy to learn, you can master that definition in a, in a single setting.

So the new disciple demonstrates his understanding of the concept by articulating it back to his disciple, er but then he goes the next step and demonstrates obedience by sharing what he has just learned with someone else, preferably a nonbeliever, but it can be anybody.

Uh so again, this, this whole process is called Zuma. It was developed by a missionary strategist named Curtis sergeant, the word means yeast. So the name serves as a metaphor for a disciple ng process that is simple, built around the concept of cells or simple churches.

It is online, it is in life and free of charge And available in over 34 languages. You can find it. There are two sister websites. One is w W W dot Zuma dot training, that Z um e dot training and the other is www dot zoom z u m e dot vision.

So decide discipleship involves in this process. There are several examples I can give for you uh it involves number one extraordinary prayer and when we teach a new disciple about prayer, we use a tool called the prayer wheel, Which is just a circle that is divided up into five minute segments.

There are 12 of them that represent 12 different aspects of prayer and you use that tool to teach your disciple how to pray. You also need to have some spiritual discernment as a disciple er yourself to filter out people who are not really serious about um about discipleship.

You also need to have a love for God's word. We teach that through a process, we call spiritual breathing spiritual breathing, if we breathe in that is akin to breathing in the word of God is breathing in God's word through prayer, uh and uh and things like that, So you have a love for God's word, you also have to have a love for God's people.

We teach you how to make a list of 100 people that you know and care about who will people that you will reach out to in order to um disciple them. And and then uh this idea already mentioned it once, but teaching to obey everything is the Great Commission and one of the problems that we have encountered in trying to get churches to adopt this is churches believe something a little bit different from the great commission, the Great Commission says, teach them to obey everything.

Most churches try to teach people everything. There's a difference. Obedience is simply one aspect of a life in christ and it is an aspect that you can teach somebody in two or three minutes, doesn't take long to teach somebody.

Everything that christ commanded takes longer than a lifetime. And so in the zoom a process were dividing discipleship up into small component parts that are easily learned, easily reproduced, easily replicated.

And so the process starts with a new believer. How how do these strategies um deal with um seekers and unbelievers and and engaging with people that don't know christ to get them into this strategy? Okay, so we have an existing disciple who is being disciples and hopefully that person is already a believer and assuming that he is or she is, then that person wants to be able to share their story with God, which includes their testimony of how they came to faith in christ, but it also um uh includes God's story, which is a basic summary of the gospel, uh so you're teaching a new disciple how to articulate the Gospel if they're not a believer yet, you already know your story and you already know God's story, so you start there with the people that are going to become your disciples, okay, so there's an aspect of this that is, we are, if I'm a new disciple maker, it's expected that I am building relationships and pursuing relationships with people that don't know christ, building friendships, having conversations about jesus, because those things should be naturally coming up in conversation because and overflowing in my heart with, for the love of christ, I want to share that and so in that relationship building process with somebody that I know that is an unbeliever.

That is a natural progression towards inviting, sharing my story, inviting you into this process. Yeah. Uh now there are some some other aspects to it, One of the stories I like to tell us about my son in law, Jeremy, Jeremy was working for a construction testing firm back several years ago and his job was such that he was kind of functioning as an expect as an inspector.

He was learning bible stories at that time. And so in the down time when he was just sitting in his truck waiting for something to happen, he would memorize the bible story and work on his bible story and one day his boss gave him a new employee too to break in to train.

And so there are these two guys who were out in their truck and Jeremy didn't want to change his routine. And it turns out that the southern man, his name was. David wasn't a believer. So Jeremy just took the opportunity to tell him bible stories, didn't couch it in anything.

He just said, hey, there's some stories I'm learning, I want to share it with you. So he did that about after six weeks of training, David went to get his own truck and do his own job. Uh, about a month after that, he came back to Jeremy and he said, Jeremy, I'm really sorry.

I know I'm not a preacher or anything. I shouldn't be doing this. But you know those stories she told me, Jeremy says, yeah, he says, well, I know I shouldn't be doing this, but I've been telling those stories to my wife and son.

And so Jeremy says, you dummy of course you're supposed to tell the stories, that's what stories before. And so David says, oh well great, can you give me some more because I've told them everything. I know.

So Jeremy tells him another set of stories and he disappears for another couple months, comes back again and he says now I really know I messed up, okay what do you do? He says, well, you know how my wife and I like to have our friends over to the house on friday nights? And Jeremy said, yeah, he said well I've been telling him those stories and they love him.

Now. Think about that. Here's this guy, he's unconverted, he's not a believer yet. And what's God doing with this young man? He's using them to start church essentially. Yeah. And about two weeks after this was when David came back to Jeremy a third time and said, Jeremy, I think I'm supposed to make a decision for christ, aren't I? Jeremy said, yeah, you are.

And he did in about two weeks after that. We baptized him out in Lake Ray Hubbard, not too far from Dallas here. So one of the things that we teach in in Zuma is that things don't always happen in the systematic, orderly sequence that we want them to.

And so part of what we learn as a follower of christ is to follow christ and whatever direction he leads in. That's the direction to go. Mm, man, that's incredible. That's a really cool story. Yeah. Um, what are, what are some barriers that you've experienced or you see across the church landscape, um, especially coming from the current Western Church model, like you, that's what you had done and you you learn these strategies at that the I.

MB conference, right? And there was a shift in your mindset. So you've experienced that way of doing church, um what are some things across that this church landscape that keeps us from truly making disciples, and you touched on the knowledge based, focus knowing everything before we're ready to make disciples aspect.

But is that, is that the primary, like, um I'm reading contagious uh disciple making, I think that contagious movements or something by David Watson, and he talks about um the original fall, Eve's Eve sin in the garden and Adam sinned in the garden.

That desire to have knowledge um is is what the root of what we're seeing in the church right now, we're so knowledge based, we want to know everything about the bible before we're ready to go make a disciple and be obedient that it's that thing which is not necessarily bad in and of itself, has become the ultimate thing.

We've placed knowledge as ultimate over obedience to christ. Is that what you're seeing across the church landscape, like that's the core thing? Or is there other elements? There's, there's other elements and most of them are systemic.

Um, you know, the traditional Western church is kind of like a vacuum cleaner. It sucks everything it can into a central holding tank and then just keeps it there, that includes resources. You know, when you collect financial resources, they're paid on self serving salaries, they're paid for building programs and they're paid for all of these kinds of things that just serve that central core and precious little resources get back out into the harvest.

I had somebody once tell me that that way of doing church is like trying to get a magnificent harvest by putting all your previous harvest into uh into the uh what do you call it? The grain silo, If you're going to get a harvest again, you're gonna have to get some of that stuff out of the silo and replant it.

And the traditional church just doesn't do that um in a church planning movement and a D mm uh what you've got is instead of the metaphor of a vacuum cleaner, disciple making ought to be more like a leaf blower blowing back out into the world, everything that it comes in contact with.

So that's one of the issues. Uh there's also a misconception in the pews about what discipleship is, many people think it's just for the super committed again, you've got that issue of it involves deep theological and philosophical study that the average person doesn't understand.

And quite frankly we who preach contribute to that because we want people to know that we have studied and we know our stuff. And so we are subconsciously unconsciously trying to convince them that um we're really brilliant, especially when it comes to parsing ancient greek.

So, uh there's this side, there's this idea, well, I can't do that. So it must not be for me. Uh And again, you've got the idea of transfer of information, that obedience is optional, um that is all about self improvement, not self denial.

Uh And and when you put all this stuff together, the biggest issue, um you remember that uh that jesus frequently pushed back against the scribes and Pharisees, especially at the point of uh maintaining the culture of their traditions.

If you really wanted to get jesus upset, suggest to them that you follow some of the traditions of the elders. And more frequently than not, jesus flipped his lid when that happened, and one time in particular he turned to a bunch of fares, he said, look, he said, nobody.

And this is my paraphrase, of course nobody in their right mind ever tries to put new wine into old wine skins, because if you do, you will wind up exploding the old wine skin and losing everything. Both the new wine and the old wine.

New wines, he said, require new wine skins. And so our Western traditional institutional church represents very much an old wine scheme and the only way that you can do this completely opposite paradigm that is trying to blow disciples back out into the world rather than suck them all into my church.

You're gonna wind up exploding the traditional church. And that's not fair. When I went to forest meadow back 18 years ago, one of the things, they were scared to death that a new creature was going to come in and tell them that what they've been doing for the last 50 years was no longer, that they were out of touch and that they needed to change everything that they were doing.

And I told them, don't you ever let anybody come in and tell you that the way that you worship the living christ is no longer worthy for him to hear or receive. If it's coming from your heart, if it is spiritually motivated, then the Lord is pleased with it.

He's not upset with it. And and if we were to go into our traditional churches, I'm afraid we would wind up blowing them up. So we didn't do that at Forest Meadow instead. We said, all right, we've got some new wine here.

Let's starts new wine skins. Let's plant some new churches. Let's go into some new neighborhoods. Let's do some things differently. And that's why today, in our single building, which is only a first unit building, we have six congregations that are housed there.

They all speak different languages, but we all love the Lord. We're all together, we're all partners in that building. And then we have, Who knows how many congregations, like I said in 2014, it was 165.

About 10,000 peoples as near as we could tell in weekly worship. Um So that's the new one, wow. And you've just stopped counting because you couldn't keep up with it. Yeah, nobody believes me. Anyway.

I don't have time to prove it. So. Yeah. Yeah, that's cool. How how have you guys seen digital tools um Impact digital disciple making over the last Handful of years, specifically after 2020 you touched on zoom um uh huh and, and and you've shared a story offline last time we spoke um that was really exciting, so maybe share some of that the digital elements of what you guys are doing now.

Yeah, well I followed Curtis sergeant, the founder of Zuma since about 2000 and three, he was one of the trainers at that training that I went to um but he didn't start Zuma until 2015 and so I was doing other things that were parallel, not exactly the same, but um following about as close as one guy can do to another man's model and um but uh when 2000 and 18 came, I began to pay more attention to zoom back because Curtis now had this disciple making process codified, put online in digital format so that even an unbeliever who had no knowledge of the bible, if he knew how to press a button on a computer, he could lead a zoom a class, not that we would want to do that intentionally, I'm just saying it was all there and it was all very, very well put together and so I began to explore and I began to try it out and really wasn't getting a lot of traction uh here in the United States with that kind of an approach, But in 2020, when the pandemic kicked in all of a sudden people were forced into their homes and they were forced to stop thinking large groups and they were forced to begin thinking well if all I'm going to ever be able to do is a small group stuff, how am I supposed to do this? And of course Zuma and other approaches like it, there are several of them out there.

Um we really began to take off so I up my degree of commitment to the zoom a process, everything that Zuma is volunteer and free of charge. So uh this was going to cost me some significant time to do this, but I made a commitment that I was going to start coaching some guys and so we did and I'm I'm guessing those are the stories you're after.

I want to share three of them quickly with you. One of them is a chinese guys. Chinese american lives down in Houston. I won't give you his name. But um uh this guy called me up, he said I hear that you coach people in Zuma, I want you to coach me, I want to become a coach.

And I said, okay, well what you do is you get three or four people and um when you have them together and committed to going through the material, give me a call back and we'll we'll start. So he did within the like of one or 2 week period of time.

And uh uh the guys that he brought to me were a Ukrainian american who lived in north Carolina, uh another chinese american who lived in the bay area of California and then a pastor of a church in Dubai.

So it was those four and me starting on this zoom discipleship group And we got down to about the 5th UB Lesson in a 10 lessons set and all of a sudden the leader comes to me and he says, well we've started our first church, I said, oh really, where he said over in Dubai.

So now catch the relational strength here, I'm in Dallas, I reach a guy in Houston, the guy in huge Houston reaches a guy in Dubai but it doesn't stop there and this is like in september okay, so then the guy in Dubai, next thing I know he started to churches, one of them in Dubai and one of them in Amman Jordan the group and Amman Jordan starts to churches in mainland china and another two churches in Hong kong and Taiwan.

So we have gone in a three or four month period of time halfway around the world. Unbelievable. Well you might say, well that's unique, that's unique. Well then there is the issue I told you earlier that I worked in uh as a non residential missionary if you will making short term trips for several years to a single location in South Sudan working among think of people Well South Sudan then when I started there was very, very primitive in their technology that was a war torn area.

And the only external communication you had available to you was satellite phones and that was $3.50 a minute. So you know, not a whole lot of communication. Well uh we did some decent work, developed relationships, but in 2010 I came down with some heart issues and uh they advised me not to travel back 205° climates where there was no air conditioning or electricity or hospitals.

And so I chose not to do that. But I lost contact okay until 2020 And all of a sudden I'm on Facebook one day and there I see one of my old friends, he's on Facebook so I called him up and he says we want to be disciples.

Didn't know anything about Zuma. And I said well I think I have a way of doing it, so let's get started on it. And um I said abraham, you find some people uh enlist them and we'll start doing some disciple training.

So long story short there, I am now back in Sudan on an almost daily basis, by zoom by messenger app, by WhatsApp and uh the technology is still not great, but what makes this possible is the fact that they have internet and they have cell towers now, so you can do basic rudimentary digital technology And we have right now about 40 young men and about 10 young women that were training in Zoom.

We have just uh, well in another two weeks we are forging a partnership Between the Dallas Baptist Association and three Baptist associations over in South Sudan That cover from north to south, about a 600 mile area, from east to west, about a 250 mile area.

And uh, so the whole process of multiplying discipleship is going to be taken to a whole another level. And the last thing I want to share is there's another guy by the name of Richard Ford and Richard lives here in Dallas uh, while he was still working, he worked with uh national political campaigns, fundraising and uh, and other sorts of things, And Richard now was 78 years old, he has been confined to a wheelchair because of multiple sclerosis uh, for about 39 years and he called me up and he said, I hear you do disciple training, He said, I've been reading about these dems and I tried to put one together uh, with my own capabilities and wasn't able to do it, but then I'm online one day and I see zoom and so I'm calling you up, I want to get trained in this, I said, well great, well let's get started Now.

Here's a guy 78 years old, wheelchair bound, you think, what in the world can a guy like that do? And We've been together now for about 10 weeks, The man has four groups started and these aren't just other senior adults, these are people all over the age spectrum, he's got young professionals, he's got young leaders, he's got all kinds of people involved in his groups, you can find a wheelchair, how is that possible? It's possible because of the digital technology that is available through zoom.

So that's really cool. Yeah, those are just three of the things that are going on. Yeah, it's, it's opened up opportunities for relationships across the globe across cultures. That is really, really exciting.

Now offline you mentioned contextual disciple making, how can how can um disciple makers follow these dems CPM principles while making some relevant adjustments to the context in which they are working uh well a couple things.

First of all we make a distinction between um principles and models okay and most of the people we talked to when they first start talking to us what they want is a model. The problem with models is that models are all very, very contextualized.

For example, um uh there are uh multiplying discipleship methods that work fabulously well amongst mainland chinese people, it's been proven and but the further you get away from mainland china, the less effective they are.

For example, there's a man who developed a multiplying discipleship model that again he got hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions of people to come to christ through this model on mainland china, but when he went over to Taiwan and Hong kong, he got very little acceptance.

He then went from there over to Vancouver for a while and Toronto for a while working with chinese immigrants. And he got zero response, interesting. But there is another guy who did a similar model and he developed his model in India and when he came back to the United States, uh, he grew up in a town, believe it or not, I'm not joking.

The name of the town was booger holler. North Carolina. Okay, so he grew up in the sticks of north America. He grew up in Appalachia and he began to look at what he'd been doing over in India. He said, you know, we ought to be able to reach these people in Appalachia, but it's not gonna work the way it's, it's written out here.

So I'm going to have to tinker with it. So he did. and lo and behold it wasn't long before he got 3rd and 4th generation multiplication uh in booger holler and then he continued to make um adjustments as he encountered new people groups in new contexts.

So here's the deal to be effective in making disciples, you really have to address the worldview level narrative that guides a person's beliefs, their values and their behaviors. This worldview narrative that each one of us has, one is formed over a lifetime.

Mhm. Some of it comes from our birth culture, some of it from our family experiences, some of it from our individual life experiences. So everyone's worldview is a unique collection of bridges and barriers to the gospel of christ.

The bridges are all those beliefs, values and behaviors which are compatible with a life of faith in christ barriers are those beliefs, values and behaviors that are incompatible with the life of faith in jesus christ.

So the goal of discipleship is to examine the context of each culture, community or individual that you are involved in, You are to strengthen the bridges, remember as Priscilla and Aquila did with Apollo, Apollo didn't know anything except the baptism of john, he was other than that, he was a good believer, but he knew something about baptism, so Priscilla and Aquila came in, they set him straight and he became a powerful teacher of the christian faith, so you strengthen the bridges so that they conform more closely with a biblical worldview, but then you simultaneously want to knock down the barriers that are represented by unbiblical beliefs, values and behaviors basically is empty, right, the theologian says you want to replace their unconverted worldview story with a better biblical one.

Uh so an example here when we began to work with the Dinka people over in South Sudan, we discovered that uh well there's not very well known by everybody but us, but the Dinka people are a revenge oriented people.

It is an incumbent upon you to avenge every wrong that's ever been done to anyone that is a member of your family. And so those hurts sometimes will go on for generations. But in spite of that, revenge is still expected.

Now, of course that is incompatible with Christianity. You cannot be a christian and practice intergenerational revenge. It just doesn't work. So that yeah, so that was one of the things we had to really battle against and and help them overcome in order for them to become christians.

That's a discipleship issue and it's also a worldview issue. So you, you batter down the barriers you build up the bridges and so each time you disciple the person, you have to know enough about them to know what are the things that are hindering them from being a fully formed christian and what are the things that they've already got in uh in their satchel as believers? Okay, so in that in the example of the disciple maker that came from India was successful in India with creating movements and then came to north Carolina, I believe, you said, what, what are the adjustments that he made, still following those same models or principles? But like what are, what are the worldview adjustments that cultural adjustments that he made to be effective in north Carolina? Uh well he used uh stories number one, uh the the original um multiplying discipleship model used bible passages and made reference to stories and so this guy switched over to an oral communication strategy which he found was much more effective in north Carolina in north Carolina, partly because there's such a high uh illiteracy rate.

Uh he also recognized that a huge issue in much of Appalachia. Worldview issue is the issue of hopelessness. And so one of his story sets that he taught to developing believers was seven stories of hope.

Mhm, mm. Okay. So it was really simple adjustments to the model. But the principles are still the same. You are teaching them to teach others who will teach others who will teach others. You are teaching them to follow christ and you are teaching them obedience.

Another one of the, and there are some of these things that are universal for sure. Another one of his story sets with seven commands of christ. Mhm. Where he taught basic simple commands uh that the Lord gave us in the new testament interesting.

And when he made that slight adjustment he started seeing the success he was struggling with early on in north Carolina. Yeah, yeah. And and so every time he comes to a new people group, he's asking himself the basic questions of where are these people already lined up with the bible? There is a strong, no fragment fragmented understanding and commitment to the bible in Appalachia.

But okay, so that's that's a strength. But now where is it not quite connecting? Where are they missing it? Yeah. And and so in Appalachia it was an issue of hopelessness and jesus gives us hope, jesus brings us hope that can overcome any sense of hopelessness.

So in a in a Western culture where we're starting to see more and more bible illiteracy and um the I think the belief that the bible is true is becoming less and less. It might end up becoming a more effective way of making disciples are starting that that processor or model to start with stories versus the a bible approach.

Does that make sense? What I'm saying? Yeah, what you're saying, what you're saying is that there, I'll say it for you don't put words in your mouth, but people have more affinity for biblical stories than they do for ancient greek rhetoric, right? And our traditional means of doing bible study is dependent, not being facetious, but it is dependent on the ancient forms of rhetoric that we learned from greek culture, which no longer exists anywhere except in the american church.

Mm And that's interesting. Um if I wanted to start making disciples today using the principles and the models that you've shared throughout this conversation, what are some next steps that I could follow? Like what are some tangible things that I could do? Okay, let me talk about just the the one um uh model that that I use and that's the zoom a model.

First thing that I would tell you is go to uh one or both of these websites, the Zuma dot visions e um e dot vision, that's kind of a community website, uh lots of interaction on that website, and then the other website would be Zuma dot training, which actually contains all of the training modules in the zoom a process.

So first I suggest you spend some time there, once you have a basic grasp of what is going to happen and you want to make a commitment to the discipleship process, uh learn what the bible says about discipleship and simple churches, That's the first lesson in the zoom a series, so you'll need to uh register and watch some videos and read some very, very short material so that you can learn what a disciple is and what a simple church is.

Um and then third, immediately upon doing that, share what you've learned with someone who is behind you in their spiritual journey. Okay, right from the very beginning, we want our disciples to be sharing what they're learning as they go, okay.

The typical first response to that is, well, what if they ask me something that I don't know to, which I respond, God never expects you ever to try and teach somebody anything you don't know. So don't do it.

Just tell them what you do know. And if all you know is what the samaritan woman said, which is come see a man, come see a man. That's all you say, mm okay. If if all you know is that you were crazy and you were running around in the cemeteries cutting yourself and screaming and now you're in your right mind and you got your clothes back on and that's all you know and that jesus did that for you.

That's all you say. So get in the habit right from the very beginning of your spiritual life to be telling people what you're learning and um when they ask you something you don't know you say I'm just learning, uh I'll have to get back to you on that.

Nobody ever gets, nobody ever laughs at you for something that you haven't learned yet. Then second thing or this is third or fourth thing I guess. Get Azuma coach on the zoom a website. You can request one and the uh the good folks there at Zuma will put you in touch with someone who is a little bit ahead of you, who can help you avoid some pitfalls and point you in some right directions and coach you through your own learning process.

It doesn't cost you a thing and never will, this is not a pyramid scheme. This is not a trap to get you into buying books or anything else. Okay, and then the next thing that you do, as you develop a list of 100 names of people that you know and care about people that you know and care about, this is not a knock on the door of strangers methodology.

This begins with people that you know and care about, so develop a list of 100 of them, it will stretch you to get that many, but get 100 and then after that's put together, go over that list and ask God Prayerfully to give you 3, 4 or five of them who will be a part of your first disciple making group and then you'll be on your way, then just work your way through the material and uh the rest of it from there with the help of the coach becomes very self explanatory.

Mm The 10 sessions. These are the 10 sessions that will become the DNA through which your lifetime of discipleship will get filtered and the and this is this is the approach and the model that you guys are following and the results that you're seeing, the stories that you shared earlier in the conversation are coming out of this uh teach people how to read the bible so that they don't have to depend on a priest or a preacher.

We teach people how to pray. Uh not just that God will bless their food and not just that God will heal granny but the full panoply of of of praise and prayer and partitioning and intercession and and everything that you can know about prayer.

We teach you how to do that on your own without help. We teach you how to put together a group of people using a model that develops some gentle accountability. It's a model that helps people to look backward where they have been look upward to God for what he wants to teach you today and then look forward to how you are going to apply it in the week ahead.

So we teach you how to conduct that kind of a group. You don't have to be a teacher to do it. You just have to be able to facilitate the training. Um and then there are there's actually, I won't go through all of them.

There's 32 of these kinds of skills that you'll learn Basically three per session and when you have finished the first session and you have put it into practice, then you go on to the second session and you don't move on, you don't move on to the next session until you've put into practice.

The one you're on. That is another key problem with traditional churches. Is there going to do session three next week, no matter what? Because this week they did session too. Mm. That doesn't happen anyplace else in the work world anywhere except in academia and in the church.

So that these are heavily built around, centered on and and focus on training and equipping. Now after that's over, then you want to get into, uh, sometimes people ask me, well, what about doctrine? You're not, you're not hitting on much doctrine here and we hit on the absolute essentials of course, but you've got a whole lifetime to learn everything right in in our setting.

We're trying to teach you how to obey and obey in the right way. So you know, go out and mixing kool aid. Well, yeah, especially in the West, you doctrine and knowledge is not the issue, right? People have more, more doctrinal knowledge than they then they know what to do with.

That's the case for me, right. I grew up in the church. I know I know all the answers, but that doesn't mean I'm necessarily making disciples and being obedient to that great commission call. Well, I was, I was hoping since you brought that up, I was hoping that maybe you could explain to me the difference between super lap Syrian is um, and in for lap Syrian is um, nope.

I have yet to have anybody ever asked me about that? That's funny. Well, tim, this has been, this has been incredible, I really appreciate you being on the show. Um can I pray for you and your work you guys are doing? Absolutely fathers, thank you for tim.

Um and his insights and expertise and knowledge that he shared with us today, Thank you that he's being obedient to your call. Thank you for the work that he's doing and the fruit that is coming from his obedience, Father, it's just really cool to see and hear the stories of transformation that you're doing in and through him and the movements that are coming out of his obedience to your call to make disciples and train and equip people to know how to follow you and walk with you and have a relationship with you Lord, I pray that you just bless his ministry and continue to um working just incredible ways like you've already done.

Lord, we love you so much. Thank you that you have invited us into this story um, in jesus name. Amen Amen. Thank you Zack. And if anybody needs to get a hold of me, they can do so by writing tim Allen T.

I am H L E N at me dot com or you can catch up to me on facebook. Perfect. Yes, thank you appreciate that. And yes, for our audience, our listeners Tim Allen Alan spelled A H L E N. Not like the other tim Allen jim.

Thanks so much for being on the show. We really appreciate it. And uh, we're excited to see what God continues to do through you. My pleasure. God bless you. Bye. Thank you for listening to this episode of the ministry Growth show.

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