The progression of storiesThis week’s blog series is by Dave White, a missionary with OC International in The Philippines. He shares his experience using T4T. T4T is a set of principles that weaves together evangelism, evangelism training, discipleship, and leadership development, including development of new pastors for new churches. This is all done in the context of actual church planting and church multiplication.

Some CPM (church planting movement) practitioners have quite a long lineup of stories before getting to the gospel. They start with creation, Abraham, Moses, David, the birth of Jesus, the baptism of Jesus. Then around the 25th lesson or so, they finally get to very direct and clear teaching of salvation. I see the need to lay a solid foundation, especially with some religious blocs and some cultures.

In some contexts that may be necessary, but in my ministry in the Philippines, where people have some background knowledge already, I’ve found it’s most effective to start with lessons straight to the point on salvation.

Four lessons on salvation: 

Our first four lessons are directly on salvation:

  1. The Woman Forgiven of Much (Luke 7:36-50)
  2. The Narrow Way (Matthew 7:13-14)
  3. The Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-24)
  4. The Thief on the Cross (Luke 23:32-43)

In talking with others, many think we can get to the gospel much faster, maybe in just a few lessons, even with seemingly resistant religious blocs. Some have told me that with too many lessons before salvation, attenders lose interest, drop out, and are no longer around by the time we get to direct teaching on salvation.

I’ve mentioned how gripping these stories are. The stories are powerful, but the stories alone don’t tell someone how they can be saved. The stories get people’s attention and interest and make them desire to learn more. But they then need something that says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”

To answer this, I’ve added what I call a “clincher verse” after each story. This works great. The “clincher verses” are more didactic, and make a perfect complement to the stories. Common “clincher verses” are: Acts 10:43, John 3:36, John 1:12, Ephesians 2:8-9.

Ten lessons on discipleship:

After salvation, we do ten lessons on what it means to be a disciple and a follower of Jesus, covering topics like baptism. I studied the book of Acts and found that—with only one exception—new believers were baptized on the same day they put their faith in Jesus. (The one exception was the Apostle Paul, who waited three days due to being blinded.) I was always a bit afraid of asking new believers to be baptized immediately. I wanted to wait until they were ready and knew more—otherwise I was afraid that they would reject baptism. But when I realized I was not being biblical in that practice, I began asking brand new believers to be baptized. And it worked! Not every single person did, but most did. Now we practice immediate baptism and it’s been a huge turning point for people as they cross the line into faith and following the Lord.

Three lessons on becoming a church:

Finally, we do three lessons on becoming a church. After that—usually a period of 17-20 weeks—the new churches are fully functioning. Tomorrow I’ll write about what our church services look like.