Never Underestimate the Silent Years by Traver Dougherty

Look Closer

 Never underestimate the silent years

Greetings!
Maybe it’s because Matt and I share the same birthday – even the year. Maybe it’s because my wife, Aimee, gets a little giddy when she hears his name. Maybe it’s because he’s a relatively good actor. While Matt and I don’t share the same political views or moral standards, I always seem to listen when he talks.In a recent interview with Piers Morgan, Damon reflected on life in the limelight. Just before the premier of Good Will Hunting, someone told Matt, “You’re going to be famous, and it’s going to be fun for a week.” Then, Matt lamented to Piers, “When do I get my week?” Matt’s point? Fame is overrated.While few intentionally capitalize on the Christian industry, for some there’s that nagging question, “Papa, when’s it my time to shine? When will I get the chance to really make a difference for the Kingdom?” While the question itself poses some problems, it’s an honest one and it’s important we address it. 
Benched in Tarsus
Excerpted from Journeys to Significance: Charting a Leadership Course from the Life of Paul by Neil ColeJourneysToSignificance.com

As Jesus once commented, a prophet’s hometown and own people are usually the most resistant to the prophet’s message. I’m sure that was the case here as well; that is the only way to account for the five times Saul was scourged by the Jews before he wrote 2 Corinthians, in 56 A.D. I am sure Saul preached the Gospel any chance he got, and he may even have started churches (Galatians 1:21; Acts 15:23, 41), but a decade in one place would have been a long time for this “sent one.” May speculate that it was in Arabia that Saul sat and listened to the Lord about the important things concerning his life and faith (Galatians 1:11-12), but I believe it was while he was sidelined in Tarsus that Jesus tutored him and prepared him to fulfill his destiny (2011:29).

My Reflections

Look CloserIn my early 20s, I got my first “ministry” job. I was a college intern at a large church. Ohhh, how I loved the Lord and ministering in His name! And then something funky happened. Alongside the college pastor, I helped get 60 or so college students to a Christian winter camp. The speaker was mesmerizing – almost godlike. And that’s when it happened. I remember thinking, that’s what I want to do. While I didn’t think of speaking to the masses in terms of fame per se, that’s effectually what happened.

While the stories vary, what I just described happens to thousands upon thousands of young believers. For at least part of it, the system’s to blame. For another part, it’s cultural; we Americans value achievement. And we must own up to our part, too. For all sorts of reasons, our flesh cries out, I want to be important. Said another way, I want to be godlike.

Now, does God “bench” us because our priorities are out of whack? No, not always. In fact, that’s usually not the case. Usually, it’s because some of the best stuff happens when we’re out of the limelight. What believer, for example, isn’t grateful for King David’s shepherd and cave years? Or Moses’s Midian years? Or Yeshua’s carpenter years? Was Paul somehow less productive during his “lost” decade? I think not. Truly, it’s a matter of right perspective. Listen to Paul: “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life…” (1 Thess 4:11). While Paul was certainly addressing some Thessalonian-specific issues, there’s no doubt in my mind Paul understood the power of an ordinary and obedient life.

Things have certainly changed for this ol’ bird. While the spotlight has always alluded me, it’s no longer a concern of mine. Maybe I’ve just come to terms with it. Or maybe I’ve been spooked by what fame does to people. Or maybe, just maybe, I’ve come to truly appreciate the value of a quiet life – as a man who believes there’s just as much power in obediently riding the pine as there is in making the buzzer-beating shot.

As always, The Banqueting Table hopes this was of some benefit to you.
Sincerely,

Traver Dougherty
The Banqueting Table

Originally written April 4, 2011

We’re Not Multiplying! by Traver Dougherty

Our community hasn’t multiplied for awhile; What should we do?

Tree GrowingOne of the more difficult things in the organic church movement is lack of numerical growth. No, this doesn’t mean the movement as a whole isn’t multiplying. It is. But sometimes, individual house churches either stagnate or seem to stagnate. What’s going on?Well, there’s a number of things. Sometimes we’re too eager for numerical growth. Sometimes we’re not actively making disciples apart from our house churches. Sometimes, a house church is in its golden years and, at some point, will die and open the door for a whole new crop of house churches.
There’s a Time for Everything
Excerpted from King Solomon’s writings; Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

 

Ecclesiastes 3:1

There is a time for everything,

and a season for every activity under heaven:

a time to be born and a time to die,

a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal,

a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh,

a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,

a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

a time to search and a time to give up,

a time to keep and a time to throw away,

a time to tear and a time to mend,

a time to be silent and a time to speak,

a time to love and a time to hate,

a time for war and a time for peace.

 

Look CloserMy Reflections

While the answers to this question are not cut and dry, here are a few things to consider or things you can proactively do when stagnation sets in.

  1. Enjoy the golden years: My community is a 4th generation house church. While I think we may have some more reproducing to do, menopause may have already kicked in. Every church has a life cycle: birth, growth, stability, decline, death. Referring to his death, Yeshua (Jesus) said, “…unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds” (Jn 12:24). I have several theological reasons to believe this cycle occurs at the community level as well. Don’t fight it; the golden years are some of the best.
  2. Make disciples: Remember, Yeshua will build his church (Mt 16:18). Our job is to make disciples. Never ever think poorly of your community because it’s not growing. Let it be. If you want to do something (and we all should), pray for the lost, scatter lots of Kingdom seed, and begin discipling those who respond. I guarantee that if this is happening, your church won’t stagnate for long.
  3. Start another fellowship: There’s no reason why you can’t take part in an existing community and start another one; Paul the apostle made a regular practice of it. I may be in the middle of starting another community myself, but I’m still discerning. The disciples I’m making are just on the cusp of taking that next step.
  4. Talk openly with your community: Sometimes, fellowships close up because of past hurts. Allowing others to join opens the door to additional pain. When this happens, be sensitive. Before inviting new people, ask your fellowship if it’s okay. If they say yes, then proceed accordingly. If they say no, that’s the time to gently ask why and address the issue. If the answer remains no for too long, make some more disciples and start another community.
  5. Remember who’s in charge: Yahweh is, you’re not. Sometimes I think we need to take a collective chill pill. My eldest son just entered high school. He’s going to try out for the baseball team and I think he needs to gain a little weight. Every once in a while, I’ll get on to him about taking protein supplements. When I feel my “pushing” get a little out of hand, here’s what I try to remember. First, there are seasons for growth (he has yet to hit his pubescent growth spurt). Second, artificial growth has it’s dangers. Third, my un-contentment can sometimes send the wrong message – I don’t like you the way you are.

As you press forward, just remember that if you scatter lots of Kingdom seed and keep yourself close to Yeshua (Jesus), good things will happen. And no matter what, let’s keep things in perspective: we’re nothing really. Paul writes, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow” (1 Cor 3:6, 7).

 

As always, The Banqueting Table hopes this was of some benefit to you.
Sincerely,

Traver Dougherty
The Banqueting Table

Originally written August 15, 2011

“I Mean Something Which We Cannot Control” by Roland Allen

Roland AllenIf we are willing to relinquish control and allow for spontaneous multiplication in our churches, we will see the gospel go further than we ever dreamed possible. In the classic book written ahead of its time, The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church: And the Causes That Hinder It, Roland Allen describes the advantage of losing control in a release of spontaneous multiplication.

By spontaneous expansion I mean something which we cannot control. And if we cannot control it, we ought… to rejoice that we cannot control it. For if we cannot control it, it is because it is too great, not because it is too small for us. The great things of God are beyond our control. Therein lies a vast hope. Spontaneous expansion could fill the continents with the knowledge of Christ: our control cannot reach as far as that. We constantly bewail our limitations: open doors unentered; doors closed to us as foreign missionaries; fields white to the harvest which we cannot reap. Spontaneous expansion could enter open doors, force closed ones, and reap those white fields. Our control cannot: it can only appeal pitifully for more men to maintain control.

Other Articles on Roland Allen:

The Legacy of Roland Allen: Part One-His Life
The Legacy of Roland Allen: Part Two-His Philosophy of Missions
The Influence of Roland Allen on 21st Century Church Planting
Audio Presentation on Roland Allen by Dr. J.D. Payne

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