Gospel-Centered Spiritual Formation in Chiang Mai (1/2)

Gospel-Centered Spiritual Formation in Chiang Mai (1/2)

[This post is the first of a series by Joshua Melby, a global Christian leader in Chiang Mai, Thailand.]

Dear Chiang Mai Church Collective, our city is already has one of the largest Christian populations in Thailand. We are a shining beacon on a hill for the rest of the country. We have an important mission in spreading and evangelizing the unreached and undiscipled people of Thailand. In order to continue to grow in our capabilities, I propose that we develop a model of spiritual formation for our leaders so that we evangelize and disciple as effectively as possible. My proposed model includes teaching our leaders how to pray and worship, the benefits of Bible memorization, and how to evangelize through performance. With this model, we can equip our leaders to spread the gospel around Thailand and to raise up a church that nourishes the spirituality of the Thai people.

Biblical Foundations

The practice of prayer and worship are grounded in strong Biblical foundations. The Psalms are a collection of prayers and songs that declare truth about God, reveal humanity’s relationship with the divine, and act as a catechesis of faith. Prayer has been practiced since the very beginning. In Genesis 4:26, the men of God call upon the name of the Lord. In Zechariah 13:9, the people of God call out to his name in the midst of being refined like silver and gold. In Romans 10:12-14, Christians continue to call on the Lord after they have already been saved. Philippians 4:6 encourages Christians to ask God for everything through prayer and petition. Prayer is a mark of being a Christian. Prayer demonstrates trust. It is an act of faith. It is critical for our leaders to be people that pray. We need our leaders to trust and depend on the Lord. Prayer cultivates that.

Worship acts in a similar way to prayer.  First Chronicles 16:23-31 encourages us to sing God’s praises everyday, because he is the source of salvation. In John 4:20-24, it is stated that one worships what they know to be true. Worship underscores God’s relationship with truth. We must worship his Spirit and truth. Hebrews 12:28-29 explains how we worship God acceptably with reverence and awe. Worship acknowledges and proclaims humanity’s right relationship with God. Our leaders need to possess humility. Worship places us in our proper place giving thanks to God for what God has done, praising God’s nature, and acknowledging our need for Jesus Christ’s redemption.

We want our leaders to be experts of the Bible not only to have sound theology, but to be spiritually transformed through the renewing of their minds. Joshua 1:1-9 encourages followers of God, like Joshua, to meditate on the Word of God day and night. The only way to have access to the Bible at all times would be to imprint it on our minds through memorization. Our leaders can be spiritually formed through this process while also gaining knowledge about the precepts and nature of the Lord. Memorizing scripture allows us to speak the truth straight from the source. We should follow the example of Jesus from Matthew 4:1-11 where he quotes Scripture in his time of trial and temptation. Our leaders will be more prepared to deal with their own sinful natures and the barbs of the enemy if they are armed through memorization of the Bible.

Finally, evangelization is key to spiritual formation because it marks obedience to the commands of Christ. Jesus commissions us in Matthew 28:16-20 to disciple all nations. This includes in Thailand. Also, we are commanded to love other people (Mark 12:30-31). What better way to show our love for people than sharing the gospel with them. We are obedient to these commands not because we have no freedom but because we are free to express our gratitude for Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross and the salvation offered to us. Our leaders should follow these commands.

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