Another cause for praise occurred on Wednesday, when I [Rick Renninger] spoke with a young man (+/- 30 yrs) I met 9 months ago when Jim and I taught a Leadership Conference on 1 Timothy here in Chennai, India.  His name is John Paul.  Last July I learned that he started a house church and within one year 19 people had made professions of faith.  John Paul is a physical therapist who gives all the time he can to evangelism and leading his church.

He told me that he reaches out to poor people; people who do manual labor and may only find work a few days a week.  Since last summer there have been fewer conversions, and even though some people have stopped attending his church, he currently has 25 people gathering together for Sunday worship.  Praise Him!

But here’s what really blew me away!  Having no idea how he would answer I asked John Paul this very open-ended question:  “In the past year, what has most encouraged you?”  Without a moment’s hesitation, he replied, “The Leadership Conference on 1 Timothy!”

John Paul hungers to grow in his understanding of the Scriptures, not only to encourage and feed his own soul, but to teach others also.  And praise God that that is just what he is doing, teaching 1 Timothy regularly.  In this, he is representative of what many others are doing as well.   In fact, when I was in Rwanda Theophile, who serves as a bishop for some 60 churches, told me that it is a requirement for ordination that a man seeking the pastorate must take ELI’s Leadership course on 1 Timothy.  This ordination preparation for pastors is not occurring by ELI staff, but through Rwandans who have been taught the material (2 Timothy 2:2).

Thank you for your partnership with me in promoting healthy Christ-exalting churches that impact Majority World communities by the transforming power of the Gospel!

Rick Renninger

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Most churches in America never multiply or plant a daughter church.  Some say the number is over 95% of churches that fail to multiply.  The reasons vary: for some it’s not in their plan at all, for some the only multiplication is a missionary far away, for some the plan  keeps getting pushed backward in time because of expense, and for some the plan to multiply is simply too hard to accomplish.  If you have 100 in attendance and your plan is to multiply at 400, there’s a large statistical chance that your church will never have 400 since only about 3% of churches are that large.

The primary reason that churches don’t multiply is the failure to multiply leaders.  The Lord Jesus had 3 close friends, then the twelve, the 70, and the 500.  He picked 12 to be his apostles and poured his life into them so that they might be his face to the world.  This is what leaders are meant to do – replicate.

In India, when we hold a three-day Leadership Conference teaching through 1Timothy, on the second day we ask this question, “how many of you are training elders?” And the universal answer is that they are not.  In a room of 100 pastors there might be two who are actually training others to lead.  Most of them are struggling to lead churches of 25-30 people and these leaders are barely surviving.  It is the breath of life when we show them from the Bible that God’s plan is for a plurality of leaders in the church – we’re not wired or expected to lead alone.  You can visibly see stress leave and joy come at the thought of sharing the emotional and spiritual load of shepherding God’s people.

Our calling at ELI is to train leaders who multiply.  Like Nehemiah, we seek to train leaders who will train leaders who are responsible for the fruit and success of their portion of the work.  Like Paul expressed to Timothy, “What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).

In order to be successful, a leader needs three things: Knowledge, Skill, and Motivation.  Like the three sides of a triangle, these aspects of leadership are connected together.  Pastors and Elders need Knowledge of the gospel, the scriptures, theology, and church history; they need Skill in shepherding, organization management, training others (discipleship), teaching, preaching, prayer, evangelism, counseling, and marriage; they need Motivation to overcome the many obstacles within and outside the church to move forward in exalting the name of Jesus and leading His church.  Those three work together – Motivation is necessary to gain Knowledge or Skill, and of course, Skill and Knowledge improve Motivation.  All of this tied together by the work of the Holy Spirit.

Interestingly, in places like India and Africa, many have significant Motivation as a result of being delivered from deep spiritual oppression by the power of the Gospel.  As a result of their Gospel Motivation, many preach Christ to others and small churches are born before the leader gains much needed Knowledge and Skill.

At ELI our purpose is to resource and train international leaders who will in turn train others so that the fame of the name of Jesus would grow.

 

If you would like to contribute, you can do so online  http://www.equippingleadersinternational.org/get-involved-2/

 

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Dr. Dan Steere – For the first two weeks of my recently-completed mission trip to Nigeria, I had the privilege of ministering in two cities I had never taught in before.  It was fascinating to see new areas of the country and a delight to make new friends among the brethren there.  In both venues, I taught on Biblical Marriage – a topic that is greatly needed in Nigeria.  By God’s grace and the faithful prayers of His people, the response was enthusiastic

I began in Abeokuta, the regional capital of Ogun State.  This city is the site of the first Christian church in Nigeria.  Henry Townsend, an Anglican missionary, brought the gospel to Abeokuta in the early 1830’s.  From that humble beginning the Church of Jesus Christ has grown in Nigeria to the point that nearly 50% of the 300 million Nigerians claim to be followers of Christ.  We are there because many church leaders have no Biblical training whatsoever and are infected by the false gospel of “health and wealth.”

Abeokuta means “under the rock,” and large piles of granite boulders are scattered all around the city.  The church in which I taught is built on one of these boulder piles and we climbed a long steep stairway every evening to get to the conference.  The 60-70 people who attended the conference started the week rather detached and perhaps suspicious of the oyeebo (“white man”) who was teaching them.  But before long, God moved in their hearts and the questions began to come.  The wives seemed particularly moved and had lots of questions about the realities of married life in Nigerian culture. Several leading couples in the church – including Pastor Chima and his wife – took the teaching the heart and committed themselves to following Biblical principles in their marriage.  Praise God!

Jason Coffey joined me for the next week in Shagamu.  He came to help me and to assist in the establishment of a Nigerian branch of Christian Business Men’s Connection (CBMC).  As we drove to the church the first night, carefully negotiating the broken asphalt on the main streets and the muddy, rut-filled dirt side-streets, we both wondered what the venue would be like.  But several buildings down from the local mosque, we walked into a large, clean church building.  Once again, the 100-120 people attending were initially cautious, but they quickly gave us their hearts.  We had a wonderful time of worship as we taught.  Jason’s teaching on communication within marriage was especially appreciated and provoked lots of questions.  Nigerian spouses often live almost totally separate lives, although within the same house.  The capstone of this wonderful week was dinner at Pastor Sam Anuforo’s house – chicken and rice, of course!

Sam (left), Steere (center) Jason (right) with Sam’s family

For the final week, we were at the Servant Leadership Institute (SLI) in Akure with Gideon and Excel Umukoro.  I taught an introduction to Leadership Coaching – teaching 30 leaders the skills of listening, asking open questions, setting goals and accountability.  The leaders at SLI are old friends since I have been going there for years.  Still, they were stunned to learn this “new” way of training and equipping leaders.  Jason taught with me the first two days and then joined Alex Chisanga, CBMC’s Africa coordinator, in meeting with local business people to establish a new CBMC chapter.

God clearly blessed this trip. It confirmed that we are entering a new phase of our ministry in West Africa.  God is opening new venues and bringing new leaders to hear Biblical teaching.  In both Ghana and Nigeria, I am being asked to spend more time AND to bring Susan with me more frequently.  Please join us in praying for God’s wisdom!

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Back from the meeting.  These guys (Joseph and Noah) are SO excited about this MINTS program!  They were spontaneously telling us about some of the results that have come.

One of the new guys is a Methodist minister (Joseph taught him the two courses that Don and I taught in February to catch him up – that in itself is exciting!) who, after taking these courses said “I have learned so much! I’m going to make sure that this material makes it into the training of the ministers and lay leaders in my area.  There were areas of the Bible that I thought I knew, but I see now that there is so much more!”  Impact!

And Joseph went on to say, “Everyone who has taken these courses is now preaching expository sermons!”

And Noah chimed in:  “Not just a verse, but the whole passage.”  Joseph’s church is going through Ephesians in Sunday School verse by verse in an expository fashion.  He meets with his teachers on Saturday to train them for the next day.  “It has changed us!” he said, “and we are growing in our understanding of the Bible.”

[I’m relating this from memory, so the words may not be exact, but the sentiment is.  And it was seconded by the excitement in their voices and on their faces.  Something is happening here.]

PRAISE GOD!!!  They are getting it and putting it into practice!  This is such an encouragement to my heart.  I dearly love these guys and they are leading the next generation of the church here.  I’m looking forward to teaching them Church History and seeing what affect that has on their actions and thinking.

Dan Steere

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