On October 12, 2017 one thousand two hundred (1,200) church planters and leaders will gather in Thailand for five days. This consultation is a descendent of the catalytic gatherings over the years (such as 1906 – Cairo, 1987 – Glen Eyrie, 2007 – GTFP in Pattaya) that have focused on multiplying churches among Muslims. The theme of the consultation is based on the promise of Jesus in John 15:5, “Abide in Me…and you will bear fruit!” The consultation is being organized by Vision 5:9 (a network based on Revelation 5:9 that has more than 170 evangelical mission agencies as its participatory members).
Perhaps like me you have begun to experience conference, seminar, and methodology fatigue. Let me lay out a case for why you should prayerfully consider this consultation as unique:
I have been working to plant the church among Muslims for 25 years in Mauritania, Kenya, Sudan, and Egypt. I have noticed that every few years (and now with increasing regularity) there is a little bit of excitement about the latest method, tool, approach, or resource. There is genuine enthusiasm for a while, the method is turned into a book and a seminar, there is a lecture circuit and new buzz words and acronyms. The method of the hour shines bright for a season, begins to fade, and is ultimately refined or replaced by the next missiological theory that meteors across our collective sky.
Let me gladly admit that I have benefitted from the trainings referred to above and that I want to stay a life-long learner. I also admit that I have not seen in my church planting efforts anything close to the fruit I desire to see – which is why we are resolved to go back to the basic promise of Jesus – “Abide…and you will bear fruit!”
This 2017 consultation is not a negative rejection of the helpful tools we are collectively discovering, it is simply a concerted determination to make abiding in Jesus the first priority of the messenger and the base methodology of mission. The premise is so simple – and so hard to live: If we lavish extravagant time on Jesus, He will by His Spirit guide us to the timely and effective methods needed for the task. Abide is counterintuitive, in that it requires more intimacy and time with Jesus and therefore less frenetic busyness – even as it helps us work harder, longer.
Are you weary of method? Is there something in your spirit longing for intimacy with Jesus? Is there a rising excitement to stand on the promise He made in John 15, to trust that by spending more intimate time with Him in the word and prayer, you will actually see MORE disciples made and churches planted? If so, then ABIDE, BEAR FRUIT is for you.
While we are working hard to prepare materials and content for the consultation we made a deliberate choice not to present academic papers. We will have Bible teaching in the morning, Global Trends sessions after lunch, Workshops in the afternoon, and Plenary inspiration in the evenings. At every juncture, we are making space to listen to each other, to listen to the Global South, and to listen to the Holy Spirit.
We will be arranged around discussion tables with each table having BMB’s (Believers from a Muslim Background), Global South, Women and Men. After each morning’s Bible teaching, Global Trend presentation, and evening plenary there will be a time to listen to one another and to listen to the Holy Spirit. We are going to be intentional to see what God wants to say to His body. In all our preparation and presentation, we are trying to avoid presenting plans we ask God to endorse, but to pause, be still, and listen.
If you are a little suspect of your own thoughts, growing uncertain of the strident opinion that swirls about you, if you are excited and willing to listen to others and especially to what the Holy Spirit (the executive of Mission!) has to say, then ABIDE, BEAR FRUIT is for you.
Of the 1200 practitioners we hope to see at the consultation we are praying (join with us please!) that 300 or more will be BMB’s). Not only do we want to listen to one another, we want to pay careful attention to those who know Islam best. These last ten years have seen unprecedented advance of the Gospel into Muslim peoples. There are more BMB’s and BMB leaders than perhaps any other time in the last 14 centuries. We feel it critical that we listen to those who have been ransomed out of the deception of Islam and are vibrant (contextual and indigenous) members of the body of Christ. They have something to say to us that we need to hear.
If you are eager to sit at the feet of believers who have found freedom in Jesus, to hear their stories, to ponder their perspective on church planting among their brothers, sisters, mothers, and fathers, then ABIDE, BEAR FRUIT is for you.
There is much to rejoice about in church planting among Muslims. Our consultation will feature numerous BMB’s sharing how God is breaking through in their context. We will rejoice and celebrate together but not in a triumphalist way. Faith does not deny facts. While it is true that we are seeing more Muslims than ever come to Jesus, it is also true that conversion rates are not keeping up with birth rates. The world has a higher % of Muslims today than it did ten years ago. We need help. We need a visitation of God. We need an Acts 2 outpouring of the Spirit on all of us, that we are empowered to see breakthrough on unprecedented scales.
If you are desperate for a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit on you, your family, your team, your church, your disciples, and the people group you labor among, then ABIDE, BEAR FRUIT is for you.
There are other outcomes we are asking God for from ABIDE, BEAR FRUIT 2017 and they are listed below. Above all however is that we would collectively embrace and revel in the invitation of Jesus to abide in Him. If Abiding in Jesus becomes the foundation of mission to Muslims in the years ahead, He has promised that we would bear fruit.
We believe this consultation is simply about a corporate response to this promise of Jesus. With rising expectation, we look forward to both abiding and bearing fruit. We would love for you to join us.
Chairman, ABIDE, BEAR FRUIT 2017
Vision 5:9, a Mission Nexus member, provided this article. Member organizations can provide content to the Missio Nexus website. See how by clicking here.