Ideally, longer is better, but MBBs rarely experience ideal circumstances. Paul warned Timothy to not allow new believers to become leaders because they might become prideful. Yet, Paul selected leaders in churches after sometimes knowing them for a few weeks to a few months. His actions seem to indicate that he expected rapid growth.
MBBs may have no Christians around them, and they may be used by God to lead Muslims around them to the Lord. Leaders would then be needed for small groups and even churches. MBBs may need to assume responsibilities earlier than some Christians feel is appropriate. The key is, as always, to follow the Holy Spirit. Paul did that. Even so, some leaders made mistakes in his time that needed correcting. The growth of the church has never been error-free, and there are always messes.
Some say that the key to leadership selection is to see who keeps showing up. There is certainly merit in demonstrated faithfulness as a qualification for leadership, but please do not discount the role of discernment. A wait-and-see approach may leave an MBB church without needed leadership and stifle growth. Also, note that leaders may not always continue doing what they were doing previously – Joseph was in jail one day and helping run Egypt the next; David was anointed to lead Israel while tending sheep; and Saul was on a quest to imprison Christians when he was called to lead. Please do not be too dogmatic about process because God does not always require a specific process, as can be clearly seen in the life of Joseph.
If you are an MBB leader and need to appoint people to leadership, trust God to guide you to the right people through prayer. Use the biblical qualifications for elders and deacons to guide you when looking at character, and be prepared to monitor the progress and growth of your leaders. If you see areas needing correction, address them supportively and with the goal of finding God’s best for those leaders and those they are leading.
To do all of the above, MBBs will need to study leadership in the Bible, and the writings of Paul are especially helpful. My book, Discipling Muslim Background Believers, covers selecting leaders as well as having an intimate relationship with God in which you can grow in your own ability to hear the Lord and to lead and select leaders.
Keywords: MBB, leadership, selecting leaders
You know that your friend will face disorientation and great risks (please see my last two posts), and that errors could be very costly. You want to help your friend prepare for what’s to come, but you don’t know how because you haven’t been down that road. Your friend is leaving soon, and you do not have time to read entire books written by MBBs — you need answers quickly because your MBB friend has an urgent need for information and advice. Your friend also may be prevented from contacting you again, and there are no churches or Christians within several hours of your friend’s home.
You need a book that will tell you how to help your friend follow Jesus; tell family and friends about conversion to Christianity; prepare for and react to persecution; learn to evangelize; learn to set up small groups; learn spiritual warfare; and learn to survive in the midst of perilous changes. You need to also tell your friend about being a secret believer for a period, if need be, and how to not mix Christianity with other beliefs. To gain all of that knowledge in a short time would be impossible unless the book was organized into short, easily referenced, biblically-based sections. The sections would need to be intentionally written by an MBB to answer questions like yours as well as help your friend through discipleship.
Such a book exists, and there are accompanying Bible studies to help the new convert disciple others. It is called Discipling Muslim Background Believers, and is available on the home page of this website.
Keywords: MBB discipleship materials, Discipling Muslim Background Believers
When a Muslim begins to follow Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, his or her discipler will often encounter difficulties because the MBB has misconceptions about Christianity. The solution seems simple – teach them the truth about Christianity. While that is the solution, the issue for the MBB is that their whole way of doing things has shifted from trying to be good enough to know God and get to heaven to trying to relate to Him — but they know little of Him. They are often very disoriented.
The disorientation comes partly from not knowing how to live because the Quran prescribed so much of their life. Without it, they have to completely re-orient their lives. For instance, the Quran and Hadith describe how far up the arm one must wash before prayer. The Bible does not. It is silent about pre-prayer washing. MBBs have asked me if they needed to wash before prayer, and to what extent. It was troubling them — they wanted to do things correctly. I showed them scripture about the importance of having a clean heart, and that God’s focus was on the inside rather than the outside.
I thought that the conversation might end there, but was surprised when it ended hours later. We covered topics such as righteousness, salvation and justification by faith, peace with God, submission to God, Christ in us, mercy, grace, God’s nearness and many other topics. Christianity is multi-layered and its concepts are often built on each other, so small things may lead to the need for much explanation.
Disciplers may not have time to fully explain topics to MBBs. MBBs also often have critical questions about things that they need to know very quickly. The MBB often cannot seek advice from a discipler at the moment they need the answers. When an MBB consults the Bible, their misconceptions often prevent them from proper understanding, leading to improper actions.
I was an MBB and have interviewed hundreds of MBBs about their salvation experiences and life after salvation. My book, Discipling Muslim Background Believers, is a useful resource for correcting MBB misconceptions because its handbook format and cross-referencing allow an MBB to quickly reference important topics. The biblically -based topics are written with sensitivity to MBBs. A discipler or an MBB can quickly find answer to the MBB’s questions, removing both disorientation and misconception.
Keywords: MBB discipleship, misconceptions, disorientation
Some estimates say that there are about 1.8 billion Muslims in the world. While some of them are decidedly against outsiders, most of them are loving, hospitable people, even to outsiders. Yet, they are mainly unreached by the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Being devoted to Christ (see previous post) means doing what He says and becoming more like Him. Part of that means loving those whom He loves. There are more than 2 billion Christians in the world, but only about 4,200 missionaries to the entire Muslim world. Thanks to their sacrificial efforts, there are currently about 10 million Muslim background believers in the world. That means that less than 1% of Muslims have become Christians. As stunning as that number is, consider that surveys estimate that 80% of Muslims do not even know a Christian.
I have heard many reasons given for not reaching out to Muslims. Among them are that Muslims are strangers or that they are considered enemies. For Christians, those are not really excuses because we are called to love the stranger and our enemies.
I write these things not to bring up guilt or shame. Those are poor motivations to reach out to people. Christians have the privilege of responding to the love of God that moves out of their spirits and reaches out to invite others to know the blessings that we have received. We get to invite others into the blessing that we know every day.
Some people feel the tug of the Holy Spirit to reach out to Muslims, but do not know what to do. They may even feel unprepared, especially when they consider that missionaries usually prepare for 2 to 4 years before entering the Muslim world. Many could not spend that long to prepare even if they wanted to.
The task involves at least two things: 1) equipping Muslim background believers to grow in faith so that they can extend God’s kingdom; and 2) evangelizing Muslims. Among the many problems encountered while trying to complete this task is the Muslim community’s reaction to a Muslim becoming a Muslim background believer (“MBB”) – it isolates and persecutes the MBB. MBBs need easily accessible biblical teaching in a format that can show them how to progressively grow in their new faith.
My books give MBBs the opportunity to progressively grow in their faith even in isolation. The books also help Christians accomplish the task described above by giving insights into Islam and Muslims. They further provide practical steps for reaching Muslims and then discipling them.
To disciple an MBB, Christians can use Discipling Muslim Background Believers. It’s in an handbook format and contains a discipleship reading path that guides the reader through various short sections that will: help an MBB grow in faith; correct misconceptions about God; help an MBB deal with spiritual and physical problems that MBBs commonly face; and help them start and grow small groups and even churches.
The discipleship pathway also deals with evangelizing Muslims, another part of reaching out in Christian love to the Muslim world. The Muslim seeker pathway helps a Christian understand how to reach out to a Muslim and provides several ways that I have found useful in reaching out to Muslims.
There are Bible studies that correspond to the discipleship and seeker pathways, providing those reaching out to the Muslim world readily available materials for starting small groups.
You don’t have to be a missionary to use my books, though they would be useful for missionaries. The books neither follow nor prevent the use of any specific outreach methodology because the handbook, to which the other four relate, is a reference book. It can be used effectively in a variety of ways. The handbook can be useful to Christians who are just beginning to minister to Muslims and to those who have been ministering to Muslims successfully for decades. Christian ministers that have looked at them have remarked that they are clear, easy to use, and don’t require lots of reading in order to be useful.
My books can help equip Christians to effectively reach out to Muslims and disciple Muslim background believers.
Salvation and church growth are God’s work, and He invites Christians to join with Him in that work. He is calling some of us to reach out to Muslims. If you feel that tug in your heart, respond to God’s call and get yourself equipped for the work. The extent of Muslim response, in some ways, depends on how Christians respond to that call of the Holy Spirit.
Imagine what would happen if even a slightly larger portion of 2 billion Christians would effectively reach out to the Muslim world with God’s invitation to join His family and to grow in discipleship.
Keywords: Christian, evangelism, gospel, MBB, MBB discipleship, Discipling Muslim Background Believers
Humans tend to get used to things around them. That can lead to taking good things for granted, including a relationship with God, marriage, friendships and other marvelous blessings. It is possible to restore a sense of wonder, as described in this excerpt from Discipling Muslim Background Believers (you do not have to be an MBB for this to apply to you):
126.96.36.199 When Amazing Becomes Too Familiar, You Should …
When amazing becomes too familiar, tempting you to unbelief, remember and refocus. I’ll elaborate in a bit, but first a story. Sometimes I walk in a park that is home to a family of amazing red-tailed hawks. I always stop and stare at them, completely amazed at how they fly and the way they relate to each other. My two children and I will often take binoculars to the park to see the hawks a little better.
One day a person walking in the park asked us what we were looking at. When we told him, he disappointedly said, “Oh, I see those every day.” He turned and resumed his walk, oblivious to the majestic, breathtaking feats of flying that he had just ignored. It was all a little too familiar for him. There was no more amazement. He had become so used to amazing that it held little or no value for him.
He had lost his focus on the birds’ ways and characteristics, and he could no longer really see them for what they were. All he would have had to do to see again was to choose to remember what he used to see and value, use that as motivation to look again, refocus on the birds, and he would have been captured again by their majesty, elegance, power and beauty.
How many times do we take things for granted, including God, the Bible, Christianity, our lives, spouses, family friends, jobs and other things? The tragedy is that the solution is so simple. We just have to choose to remember and re-focus. It may in some situations require some repentance (see 188.8.131.52 What Is Repentance?), but then all we have to do is to remember and refocus.
In a way, that is what the Israelites of old did in setting up stones of remembrance. They purposely choose to remember (see 2.16.6 Making, Marking and Celebrating Memories). It would not hurt us to do the same – to purposely remember. Being thankful also helps us not take things for granted. [Parentheticals contain hyperlinks in electronic versions]
Keywords: discipleship, restoring wonder