For session 1 in 2003, FOCUS will have their FOCUS Team on Wednesday nights (that reminds me of updating the FOCUS team web page). We are starting early this session - right from the first week of the session, comparing to SOCM which starts on the 3rd week. I went there this Wednesday night, and I am taking care of the Personal Follow-Up course in Mandarin. Including Vivian and myself, we have about 6 people in the Mandarin Personal Follow-Up course. It is my first time teaching the Personal Follow-Up, and I believe it will be very interesting. Comparing with Personal Evangelism/2 Ways to Live course which I taught last year, Personal Follow-Up is very different in both structure and content, yet it is also one high-priority item on my own agenda for this year. I found myself spending relatively too much time focusing on the evangelism part of ministry previously, i.e. how to approach a person, how to present the gospel in an easy to understand way, how to answer tough questions, and how to eventually convince the other party that Christianity is true. I've read a lot of intellectual and apologetic stuff on the cases of Christianity, so I might be able to stand in the challenge of a non-Christian... But is it what ministry all about? Not quite...
One aspect of ministry that I would like to be involved more this year is "training" - and more particularly on the "disciple-ship". I understand that when many Christians talked about "disciple-ship", they meant their own disciple-ship with Jesus. For example, how they have lived a life imitating Christ. However, I am taking it on another angle - how can a self-starting Christian train/help another Christian so that they will also become a self-starter in the future. It is like how Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 2, how he and his co-workers cared for the Thessalonians church in the same way a mother takes care of her children.
I guess I have already stressed about the importance of training. The number of people and the growth of a Christian fellowship is directly proportional to the number of Bible study leaders you have, especially the male leaders as they are more likely the ones leading the Bible study groups. A capable leader can probably handle 10 people in a group. If the group grows more than that size, it does no good for the other participants as the Bible study group leader will be too busy coordinating the discussion than teaching from the Bible. Besides, teaching the Bible on Friday/Sundays is only a small part of following a person up in the Bible study group, and there are many other tasks like calling-up, visiting, 1-to-1, etc. In fact, ten people for a Bible study leader, who might also happens to have a full-time job or is a full-time student, to handle is really really optimistic. Therefore even if FOCUS can grab lots and lots of contacts in its Orientation-Week mission, like what we have done last week with 500+ people interested to come and find out about us, you still cannot keep them to study the Bible with you, if the number of leaders is not sufficient. I feel saddened about the situation of MBF. We have many contacts, but at the same time, we do not have enough leaders/potential leaders who can help out with the Bible study...
How then, do we get more Bible study group leaders and co-leaders? Two ways AFAIK - you either get a self-starter Christian externally, from another church or fellowship, locally or overseas, at the cost of another church. Or alternatively, you can grow them in house. "Grow" might be a strange word, but isn't that the kind of image Paul has given us in Colossians 2:6-7?
Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. (Colossians 2:6-7, ESV)
As a Christian, we should be rooted and built up in Christ. Every Christian needs to be built up - like a tree which its root is graping firmly on the soil, that is the Christ, and aims to grow bigger and stronger. It wants to stand firm so it will be able to face whatever is ahead of him - persecution, temptation, etc. At the same time, he will become a utility for God to do the ministry God has prepared for us to do.
At the end, we need to grow more Christians to lead Bible studies for tomorrow. At least to me, it is the ultimate goal for follow-up. The "Personal Follow-Up" course is more than doing the 7 basic Bible studies with a new Christian. It is more than confirming the new Christian that he/she has already been saved. It is more than making sure that new Christian is on-track and not drifting away. But also through the personal follow-up, a trainer will be able to train his/her trainees to grow, to become mature in the understanding, to become like Christ, and then be able to become a trainer him or herself to help other Christians to grow. Personal follow-up is a life-time work. It is time consuming, but as Paul see the Thessalonians that he has trained have grown into maturity, they have become Paul pride and joy in 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20. We too should have the same attitude.
I am teaching the Personal Follow-Up course this session, but I myself still have a lot to learn. Do I put enough effort into it? Have I been putting enough encouraging feedbacks? It's my life-time project, I guess.