There is an overwhelming need for trained pastors to interpret and teach God’s Word faithful to His people around the world. It is estimated that nearly 85 percent of pastors worldwide lack theological education and pastoral training. This is nothing short of a gospel crisis. Hearts, Heads, & Hands seeks to combat this crisis by providing theological and pastoral training in a model that can be taught in various structures and to audiences for various contexts, thus equipping Christians, pastors, and new believers to make disciples who make disciples in obedience to the Great Commission.
I previously began introducing the framework for the topics that a disciple should know by sharing brief examples from Modules 1-3 of Hearts, Heads, & Hands. I’m pleased to continue sharing a portion of the content in the hope that it will encourage you to systemically make disciples. In this module sample, we will explore the personal spiritual discipline of scripture memorization (the heart); church history (the head); and the ordinances of the church (the hands).
The Heart: Scripture Memorization
The very word memorization causes some to recoil. Perhaps you are one of those who believe that you cannot memorize anything. But remember – you are not trying to learn some list of kings’ names, battle dates, or scientific formulas; you are learning to remember the very Word of God. Memorizing verses is not an end in itself. As we see in the life of Jesus, having God’s Word treasured up in your mind allows you to have the needed passage at crucial times, whether for temptation, counseling, preaching, or teaching.
As we consider each of the modules that should be a part of training leaders, we must first ensure that the information we teach is modeled in our own lives. This is definitely the case with Scripture memorization. You should not teach this content until you have integrated it in your own life, and then you should teach each element of it as a part of this module. Develop a systematic plan for this component of your discipleship that includes a list of the verses or passages to be memorized. If you are struggling with a particular sin or facing recurring temptation in an area, choose verses that speak specifically to that issue and commit them to memory to have a ready defense when you are attacked or feeling weak.
Decide how many verses you will memorize each week and in which order. Write the verses out by hand multiple times. The very act of writing out the verses rather than simply copying and pasting them from a digital Bible and then printing them out will facilitate the memorization process. Make sure that you memorize the verses verbatim. You will have more confidence and retain the verses longer when you learn them word by word as they appear in the Bible. Then, note the learning and impact of this process as you do it so that you can teach and disciple from experience.
The Head: Church History
Isaiah 46:9 states, “Remember what happened long ago, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God and no one is like Me.” Remembering the past is wise as it enables us to be better stewards of the times the Lord gives us. In the full version of this module in Hearts, Heads, & Hands, we explore the events of the history of the church from the stoning of Stephen and then runs through each era to the present time.
I suggest that the major events in the culture where you will be teaching this material be incorporated into this module as well. For instance, historical events such as the arrival of Christianity in the country, key missionaries, church leaders, the government’s involvement with the church throughout history, and any other significant historical matters pertinent to Christianity in the context of your students should be included. This critical component that you bring will result in a larger local portion of the church history module in some settings than in others. The aspects of church history that your students need to know to understand how Christianity got to them, and why it took the shape it did, are important for them to learn.
A thorough study of church history allows us to recognize previously-believed heresies, know how the church dealt with them then, and be better protected to protect the purity of the church today. It allows us to stand on the shoulders of spiritual giants who went before us and so see farther down the road than they were able to see, while avoiding their mistakes.
This module will likely serve as a time of reflection and marveling at God’s provision and goodness throughout time, and as a time to make them sense a belonging to something so much bigger than they have likely realized. Additionally, both for the teacher and the students, there are many enriching benefits on a personal level for our spiritual growth in the study of global movements of God such as missions advance or seeing His hand working in awakenings and revivals. Many have discovered the rich treasure of reading biographies of godly men and women to meet our heroes and how God used them in church history.
The Hands: The Ordinances of the Church
As pastors lead New Testament churches, it is crucial for them to understand the ordinances of the Lord’s Supper and baptism. I’ve found that many pastors in training still have a lot of questions that cause tension when it comes to leading a church to observe these two ordinances. As you train leaders, help them understand what ordinances we recognize, how those ordinances started, what they signify, who administers them, where they should be observed and how often, and what steps are necessary to administer them. The full version of this module in Hearts, Heads, & Hands includes the biblical basis of the ordinances as well as practical instruction on how to exercise them.
In order to meet the needs of the global church and fulfill the Great Commission, we must train pastors in a holistic fashion—hearts, heads, and hands. This complete module studies scripture memorization, patience, and purity (the heart), an overview of church history (the head), and the ordinances of the church (the hands).