Honesty requires that I confess I was not, nor am I a Trekkie. I’ve watched a few episodes but that’s about it. But this past week, I heard a die-hard Trekkie tell about a particular episode and apply it to ministry. It got my creative juices flowing and I want to pass on some thoughts about Tribbles.
The segment was entitled, “The Trouble with Tribbles.” Tribbles, it seems resembled small balls of fur and had no other discernable outer characteristics. They were gentle animals whose only sound was similar to a kitten purring. The “trouble” with Tribbles, is the Starship Enterprise was overrun with them. No matter what strategy they employed to eradicate them, they just kept on multiplying. McCoy finally discovered the reason they multiplied so prolifically. Tribbles, you see, expended more than 50% of
their metabolism on reproduction and were born pregnant!
Tribbles and Individual Christians
Born pregnant! What a concept. Sure glad it’s not true of people, but maybe it would be good if it were true of Christians and churches. Stop and think about it. Many Christians live an entire lifetime and never help reproduce another Christian. Shouldn’t be that way, but it is. Many more contribute very indirectly to another becoming a Christian. But Christ-followers helping other people find and follow Jesus should be the norm.
In reflecting on this, another thought came to mind. Most new Christians are born (again) nearly pregnant. They typically know many unchurched, unbelieving people. That’s the crowd they have been travelling with, these are their friends. And they are excited. Discovering Jesus and experiencing significant life change are exciting. When we are excited about something or someone, it is natural to tell others. Problem is, in many churches, we stop them and tell them they can’t “witness” until they have been trained. By the time they sit through thirteen sessions on how to lead someone to Jesus and learned thirty or so verses and a couple of formulas, the excitement is gone and they are well on their way to a lifetime of never being used of God to lead someone to Jesus.
Maybe a better strategy is to encourage new believers to tell everyone about what they just learned about Jesus and the changes He is making in their lives. Act like it’s the natural thing that all Christians do, because it should be. Let them tell their friends about Jesus in their own words and teach them helpful verses and evangelistic strategies as they need them and ask for them.
If we get new believers reading the Word immediately upon their conversion, they will quickly discover Scripture that will help them tell their story. They will not just find verses to “prove” Jesus is the savior, there will be verses that God is using to change their everyday lives. Those God-produced changes in their thoughts, how they talk and what they do become the content of their witnessing. They need not be “taught it” because they are living it! They are simply telling “their story” and in the process also telling “His story.”
Tribbles and Churches
Some time ago I read that if a church does not help plant a new church within the first five years of its existence, it is almost 100% certain it never will. In God’s order of things, churches plant churches. How sad when a church lets decades pass without experiencing the thrill of helping birth a new church.
Few things bring as much vitality to an existing church as participating in church planting. Without a commitment to church planting, it’s easy for a church to turn inward and narcissistic. There are no better antidotes to church dysfunction than:
- A commitment to outreach and evangelism
- Involvement in short term missions and
- Partnership in church planting.
Tribbles expended more than 50% of their metabolism on reproduction. Imagine what God might do if churches expended more than 50% of their metabolism on reproducing new Christians (evangelism) and new churches (church planting).
I appreciate many things about JD Pearring and his growing team of church planters. One of the things I appreciate most is they are doing their best to give birth to pregnant churches. “Tribble churches” – now that’s a good thing. I doubt any of us can even imagine what God might do if GHC continues to successfully plant new, pregnant churches and if more of our churches were filled with “Tribble Christians.”
The Scripture that comes to mind is, “Now unto him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” (Eph 3:20-21)