As I read the paper written by Jason Dimitry on the book Church History in Plain Language, I was sitting in my dining room surrounded by books. Most of these books are on the topic of leadership, management, learning theory, professional development, personal performance and productivity. Looking around I realized that I have been a student of these crafts and have used my learnings in these books, seminars, CD’s and DVD trainings to further my career and to help me become a master corporate training professional. This is not arrogance, this is literally what people have told me for the past five years of my life; from high level executives to manufacturing line employees, each giving me their feedback as to how much I have mastered my craft. This is what I do for a living, this is the craft that, for the past twenty years, has put food on my table and has fed my family. While this realization is encouraging, it also saddens me.
It saddens me because mixed in with all those books, are other books on Church leadership, Church planting, small group leadership, discipleship, Christian doctrine and spiritual disciplines, yet in these, I am not a master. In fact, it hasn’t been until the past 5 years that I have begun to unearth the remains of what was the beginning of a quest to become a master in this craft, this craft known as being a Disciple of Jesus, being a Church builder and an Evangelist.
Now, I’m not down on myself because I’ve lost so much time because to God, my master trainer, there is no such thing as time and he can compress twenty years into any amount of time he wants to and I am relying on his timing and training to get me where he wants me to be, in his time. What I have realized though is that while these books were my lifeline, they were my discipleship partners while I was lost in the desert of sin, confusion, and darkness as part of dying churches and movements, these books began a good work in me and by them, God was keeping the call alive.
After reading the reflection paper, I have a renewed conviction that I need to become a master of the master. To master the Masters craft! Jason opens with the quote that “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Isn’t this just like life? God will allow us to undergo the same situations repeatedly until we learn what he wants us to learn from them. This goes for our personal lives, but it also goes for His Church! We have been given the Bible so that we may learn from our brothers and sisters from the past so that we will not make the same mistakes as they did. God cares deeply about us and His Church! God gave his own son so that the Church could be birthed! If that is how God feels about the Church, and I feel the same about Him, then why would I not become a master in all things The Church, her people and her ways? It would be a waste of time to read all the books in the world yet not become a master at the one thing that matters most! The Kingdom on earth!
Jason writes about the various movements of men trying to restore and reform Biblical Christianity throughout the ages and concludes that their ultimate demise is that they failed to go fully back to the source, fully back to the Biblical principles of Jesus and the early first century church! “…anything that is not a full return to sound doctrine will merely swing the pendulum redirecting God’s would-be people down a road usually opposite to the way they were traveling, but not less still on the wide road to destruction.” How true is this satatement! When a group of Christians fail to have deep convictions of the Bible, fail to build on a solid foundation of the Scriptures, we are doomed to destruction as Jesus tells the disciples in Matthew 17, a great crash will ultimately follow.
Sadly, this is what can be seen in our former fellowship. All the major decisions that took the church from the very movement of God to a scattered, leaderless and wayward people was the pendulum swing of loose doctrine and leaving people alone to do what they felt best, rather than a focus on Biblical truth and standards. This swing continues to this day!
Yet there is one hope during all the false religion and the sorted history of the Church of Christ! As Jason wrote, “[the] answer to false doctrine is never no doctrine but only sound doctrine.” The true hope for any movement of God is for radical men and women to dig down deep, examine the foundations of their lives and their families and their Churches; and rebuild them on the truth of the Bible. To do this, men must put themselves to the task of becoming masters.
This goes beyond just reading books and the intellectual study of the Church. This goes as far as to call men to leave their lives and die. Die so that they may live new lives; die that they may have a different trajectory; die that they might have a new impact on their workplaces, their marriages, their parents, their classmates, their world. For us, as men and women who claim to follow Jesus; in order to have this kind of worldwide impact, we must become masters of the Masters craft.