Yesterday was a rich day as we had a chance to learn more about what God is doing in Iran. Bottom line is God is mightily at work. The conservative estimate is that the church is growing at something like 19% annually.

This is producing some challenges though. Persecution is one of those challenges and we had the honor of meeting the brother of a man who was martyred for his faith. While the persecution isn’t widespread or consistent, it does keep the church underground and, in more restricted areas, it limits house churches to gatherings of four to five people. This points to the need for leaders, for when only four to five can gather and you have north of a million believers, you have to have many leaders.

Yet leaders are hard to produce. The believers are young in their faith and have a host of issues to work through because of their context. This is where “Pars” comes in. Pars is a UK-based theological training program and is the group that has been hosting us. I’m truly impressed with them and actually a bit convicted by them. They have carefully and systemically diagnosed the problem and figured out how to respond. They want to form leaders who know how to make disciples and realize that they have to address spiritual, attitudinal, organizational, relational and missional issues, and so they have an approach that is cognitive, affective and behavioral.  We got to hear from a couple of their students, and I’d say it is working extremely well.

What is so convicting about this is I believe it is my job in the church to similarly think through how we want to form people and then design a process to help us do that. We need to start with the end in mind and then work toward that end and we can’t do that with only a cognitive end in mind. We have to think wholistic. It is good, good stuff, and a lot more is to come.

Pastor Jon Heeringa is traveling in London and Dubai and is learning from missionaries in those places. While he is there, he will be sending dispatches to his First Presbyterian family.

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