An Inadequate Explanation for the 1st Century

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What’s your explanation for what happened in the 1st century?  I mean, how do you think the church grew from 120 in an upper room to what many believe was more than 100,000 by the end of the 1st century?

Think it happened in rows?  Think it happened because everyone had an apprentice?  Think it happened because they implemented an exhaustive leader recruitment strategy and a 12 week intensive leader training program?  See also, Problem-Free Leader Identification and Recruitment and Disciples Are Rarely Made in Rows.

What do you think happened?  How did it grow exponentially?

Personally, I think most of our programs and strategies, what we hold out as solutions to the current evangelism and discipleship malaise are inadequate explanations for what happened.

I think–and I’m clearly reading between the lines here (which is more than a little uncomfortable for a Southern Baptist)–that the best explanation for the 1st century is actually that the people who were closest to the edges were so taken by a radically different life that they couldn’t help but tell their family and friends.

See, just like today, the usual suspects, the insiders, the core and committed didn’t actually have friends or family who were on the outside.  Who did?  Who had friends in the community?  The folks on the outer edges of the congregation.  The folks in the crowd.  Which is why we must forever make it easy for those closest to the edge to play important roles in inviting and including their friends and their family.  See also, Important Keys to GroupLife at Crowd’s EdgePreoccupied with the Needs and Interests of the Right People and Connecting the Widening 60% (who are unreachable by the attractional model).

Believe what you want.  Insist on requiring membership for group leaders.  Raise the bar for group leadership.  Maintain impeccable standards.  The test is not a problem-free leader track.  The test is not meeting the standards of an elder or a Proverbs 31 woman.  The test is 120 to 100k by the end of the 21st century.

What do you think? Have a question? Want to argue? Got a question? You can click here to jump into the conversation.

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