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T4T: A Discipleship Re-Revolution: The Story Behind the World's Fastest Growing Church Planting Movement and How it Can Happen in Your Community! Paperback – January 1, 2011
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However, T4T is much more than just a discipleship method. T4T integrates all the basics of a church planting movement (CPM) into one comprehensive solution that accomplishes the elements of a CPM, namely evangelism, discipleship, church planting, and leadership development. CPM practitioners no longer have to resort to an assortment of methods but have what the authors claim is a "Swiss Army knife" amongst all CPM approaches. Built into the T4T method is a repeating process that trains believers, enabling them to practice and eventually progress to become trainers themselves of other disciples.
At the heart of T4T is an understanding that discipleship can be reduced to a dual responsibility of following Jesus and fishing for men. Disciples are not only positioned to receive teaching but also to reciprocate by giving of themseves to the expansion of the kingdom. In that regard, T4T uses the term "trainers" for disciples and builds on the goal of multiplying generations of trainers. The T4T process elevates the primacy of the Great Commision and empowers a new believer to witness and share the gospel from the get-go. This approach stands in stark contrast to many discipleship programs which are usually knowledge driven and focused on the spiritual formation of a new believer. For the T4T method, a new believer's being, belonging, and behaving are all occurring simultaneously.
But what is radical about T4T is that not only is a new believer encouraged and is held accountable to witness for the gospel, but they are also given the mandate to start new T4T groups and train others that they bring to faith. The infancy of a believer is not a gating factor for him (or her) to begin to train others. The authors point out that many CPMs are stalled because leadership have control issues and fall short on trusting the control of the Holy Spirit in empowering new believers. While I am in full support of the idea of empowering the priesthood of believers, the T4T approach does beg the question of sustainability in spiritual growth. Even though there is a continuing training-on-the-job in the T4T process, the question remains whether a new believer can carry out his leadership and pastoral role in his new groups with divine distinction. In matters of pastoral care and vision-casting, can a person whose own heart has yet to have been sufficiently exposed and trained by a reasonable body of divine content be able to teach others (Mt 10:24, Lk 6:40)?
Along the same veins, I also find the lack of discussion on spiritual gifting and calling somewhat troubling. The underlying tone of the book seems to point fruitfulness as a direct result of hard work and resolve. Performance orientation is emphasized as the authors suggest investing in those who are fruitful (identified as "Trainer of Trainers"). The authors also seem to be saying "size matters" when they remarked that the character requirements of a leader is dependent on the congregration size.
In conclusion, T4T raises some stirring questions about our paradigms in discipleship that deserve due reflection. However, the theological and pastoral concerns I have of the approach makes me wonder if in God's economy, does the end justify the means?
The basic idea of the book is that if we want to see a rapid movement of new churches that turns an entire city or region upside down for Christ, then we need to do things differently. Our ways of thinking about church meetings, discipleship, and evangelism need to change. The first sections of the book lay the foundations for what needs to change.
Where T4T separates itself from other books on the subject, is it gets very practical on how that can look. It explores models in detail without lifting the model up as the answer. This was valuable because it helped me apply what I was learning and work towards building our own model for our context better than any other resource I have ever used.
This book is an absolute must-read for anyone involved in missions or ministry. I direct a missions organization, and we only have a few days a year where all the leaders of the organization are together. This year, we are going to spend those few precious days unpacking this book. Essential reading for those in missions!
You don't have to be a missionary to get something out of this book though. Anyone who wants to see God move in their neighborhood, city, or region will find their first steps in the pages of this book. Let's get practical about bringing the Good News we have to everyone we know!
Bottom line if you are new. T4T is a rapidly reproducing discipleship movement. The proponents want to focus on disciples that produce disciples, who reproduce disciples, etc. Their methods are biblical, firmly rooted in telling the stories of the Bible.
At best for use in America, T4T will teach you how to share your testimony in a short manner. And it will encourage you practically how to lead Bible studies with interested people. T4T folks advocate simple (yet not simplistic) ways to study the Bible. The proponents have really good critiques of our American inwardly turned churches, and some good insight to listen in on.
Yet, I pause.
The downsides for me are the fact that "Jesus alone" is always a tough concept. Missionaries and pastors will tell that new converts will always want to add Jesus to the list of stuff they have been doing for their whole life i.e. syncretism. Thus the need to continued study, mentorship and Holy Spirit guidance.
So in a T4T style church planting movement people are pushed into leading often before they are even saved. So what happens is someone starts a movement, we'll call them "generation one"--it's the starter of the movement. So "generation one" people are encouraged to lead a small group (or in a closed country called a church). It is a small group of people study the Bible. Good so far. But it falls apart to me with the mechanism of replication. So picture that generation one person has great results and leads all 8-12 people in what we'll call generation two to Christ. They continue to meet and study often focusing on training the trainer to lead another small group themselves.
But if generation two leads people to Christ, they are encouraged to not bring them back to the more mature disciple in generation one but handle their questions his guidance from a distance from generation one. Arguably this is necessary in places where the church can't meet in the open.
But picture that in your neighborhood. So the lost man you know at work who is 40 somehow comes to Christ. Great news. But now picture him leading a Bible Study of other lost people. This is ripe for problems. Our American churches are filled with problems in our small groups and we often have screening processes on who leads them. Imagine new and even pre-converts leading a small groups or churches? Not something that seems comfortable for me.
The feel of it can look an awful lot like a multi-level marketing company, which if you have ever seen one of those from the inside isn't pretty.
But at best if some principles are applied, but not all, will simply have your people turned outward, able to share the faith simply, study the Bible and teach others.
I don't mean to be overly harsh since apparently the results are coming in. But I really want to hit the pause button and fully look into it before we adopt it blindly.
Button line for me, use discernment. What works for them there might not work for you here.
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