We have two one-on-one Bible studies that we ask every New Life member to go through as part of his growth in Christ. They are “Beginning the Journey” and “The Arrival Kit”. Many of you are doing a wonderful job in using and learning with these materials and I just want to clarify a few things about these particular studies.
Every member of New Life is highly encouraged to go through them sooner or later since it is part of our required courses.
We don’t go through them with unbelievers because they are written for believers who are part of house church ministry.
Going through these Bible study materials is a privilege and blessing for us. Therefore, we don’t offer them to non-members because we have limited amount of time and resources and we are responsible for New Life family members first. Moreover, we don’t want to go over them with those from different churches because we don’t want them to go back to their church and say to their pastors, “We should implement these one-on-one Bible studies that New Life is doing!” which will only create tension and conflict with their pastor since every pastor has God-given vision and passion in regards to the church he is serving and he will do what is right for the church.
We want these to be done within each house church. We define our house church as a small tiny local church. This means, our house church shepherds are the lay pastors of these small churches. Our house churches do what local churches do, one of which is Bible studies and these one-on-one Bible studies will be designated to be done within each house church. Just like New Life has Bible studies such as 101 to 401, Living Life Bible Study, Transforming Life Bible Study, Experiencing God and Perspectives, each house church also has its Bible studies: Beginning the Journey and The Arrival Kit.
If you are a female and you are in a house church where the shepherd is a single man as well as all the other members and you would like to go over these Bible studies, we want you to share your desire with your shepherd. He will, then, introduce you to another female from a different house church or his village leader’s wife who will set you up with someone in your village.
If you are a shepherd’s wife and haven’t gone through these Bible studies, then ask your village leader’s wife to lead you through these Bible studies. If the village leader’s wife is busy and can’t do it, then do it with someone she will prayerfully designate for you. I think you have been very good in following these channels. One of the most important things that I would like to teach New Life is the importance of submission to God-established authorities as long as they are not in conflict with God’s written word. It is difficult to submit to the invisible God if we don’t learn to submit ourselves to those visible God-ordained authorities. This doesn’t mean that you can’t freely get together with others informally whom you’d like to learn from. Moreover, opportunities will arise through other group Bible studies and activities NLF offers to foster desired relationships that may not be within your own house church or village.
Even if you think that your shepherd or his wife is not mature enough to lead you through these Bible studies we want you to go over these materials with them or with someone that they designate for you. The reason why they are your shepherds at this moment is probably because they have proven to be faithful, available and teachable and you can learn from them. There are people in New Life who regularly listen to other pastors’ messages and value their words more than mine. There is nothing wrong with this and there are some great teachers we can all be inspired from. But the honest reality is that some don’t consider me as their pastor and I don’t feel like I am their pastor. Just because your mom is not a good cook, if you habitually go over to your friend’s house whose mom is a great cook, your relationship with your mom will be strained and awkward. The same goes with your shepherd. If you don’t genuinely respect your shepherd and appreciate what he does for you, but think about how great some other house church shepherds are, then your relationship with your shepherd will not develop to edify. Shepherds do make great members. But let’s not forget that house church members also make great house church shepherds.
Lastly, let’s revise our terminology a bit and not say, “I am discipling so and so” or “I got discipled by so and so” after going through these one-on-one Bible studies. In New Life, we believe in discipling one another in our house church context as we share our lives with each other and learn from one another through modeling. I don’t believe disciples can be produced simply by spending a couple of hours a week for a few months together going over these or other such studies. There is genuine element of discipleship in these Bible studies, however, the bulk of discipleship is taking place more in our house church as we live together, relate to and learn from one another in the long haul. This is what Jesus did. He lived with his disciples and showed them how to live a life that is pleasing to God. That’s discipleship and that happens here at New Life through our house churches. So if you are going through these materials with someone, let’s simply say, “I am doing one-on-one Bible study (not discipleship Bible study) with so and so.”
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