MBBs need to know that the extent of their obedience and performance, even good works from a pure heart, are not their identity in Christ.
Christians are children of God, and their identity is a gift – given at salvation. What they do is different than who they are. God loves them because they are His. He does invite them to work with Him, but that is not why He loves them.
MBBs, as well as all Christians, should ensure that they are doing the right things for the right reasons. To do so requires hearing the Holy Spirit, knowing God’s character and the new covenant. Learning how to do these three things, as well as many others, is covered in my book, Discipling Muslim Background Believers.
Keywords: MBB discipleship, identity, performance
Discipleship often leads to more people coming into the kingdom of Christ. This increase requires selecting leaders. People commonly select leaders using filters such as prior relevant experience, number of followers, and education. Though these filters have value, using them alone can lead to missing some very good people.
The common filters mentioned above would have, at the beginning of their dealings with God in the Bible, ruled out as leaders: Abraham; Moses; Joseph; David; the eleven good disciples; Paul; and Jesus. Without them as leaders we have no father of faith, no Israel, no Law, no reason to write the New Testament, no salvation, and no way to recognize God. Though extreme examples, choosing God’s way matters.
There have to be better filters than the common ones, or at least other ones that will not exclude God’s chosen ones. This is especially true in contexts where there are few Christians – contexts in which there is little to no opportunity to gain experience, followers or education.
A way to select leaders in a Muslim context is to rely on the leading of the Holy Spirit. I discuss this further in Discipling Muslim Background Believers. Following the Holy Spirit is not always easy, and you may make mistakes. However, you will not miss those He selects to the extent that you follow Him.
Will we choose those He selects or take the safe, common path of backing only those who already seem successful? If we choose the latter, are we willing to miss the leaders that God selects and the blessing that comes with them?
Keywords: Muslim background believer, discipleship, leadership, selection, Holy Spirit
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