Author, Wikichurch (2011)
Senior Pastor of Victory Metro in Manila, Philippines (meets in over 15 different locations and planted churches in over 60 other Philippine cities and 12 nations)
Co-founder and president of Every Nation
A director of the Real Life Foundation
Regular contributor to Evangelicals Today and The Accidental Missionary blogs
Married to Deborah, Three Sons
Steve Murrell: Leading the Wikichurch
The 700 Club
Pastor Steve Murrell says today’s churches should be “WikiChurches,” or use Wikipedia’s successful concept that people of all ages, backgrounds, expertise, and cultures (and not just paid experts) contribute. Instead, the church functions like a traditional encyclopedia, which requires experts and takes a long time to develop. Steve relates this to the story of Nupedia and Wikipedia. In 2000 Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger started an online encyclopedia called “Nupedia.” Before contributed articles were accepted they had to go through an extensive scholarly review process. The website only included entries from experts. Wales and Sanger then launched Wikipedia in 2001. The “wiki” part of Wikipedia comes from the Hawaiian word meaning “quick.” On this site, non-professionals, non-scholars, and non-experts would write articles that Nupedia scholars would review. In 2003, only 24 articles were posted and 74 were in process on Nupedia. For Wikipedia during the first year it was launched 20, 000 articles were created by the non-experts. Most of these articles have been recognized just as much as the writings by the professionals. Steve says unfortunately, churches today function more like Nupedia instead of Wikipedia. Qualified people are only allowed to lead evangelism. If every believer, not just paid leaders, were involved in ministry that would be a “WikiChurch.” A “WikiChurch” is what is modeled in the Book of Acts. Steve says that is what is behind his church’s growth. With WikiChurches everyone gets involved as disciples to make disciples.
THE ACCIDENTAL MISSIONARY
Steve and his wife Deborah went on a mission trip to Manila, Philippines during the summer of 1984. He says they were idealistic and unprepared for what was in store. What they thought would only be a one month stay has become 28 years of ministry and the founding a church that has grown from the city where it began, to the rest of the country, and to other nations. That mission trip consisted of sixty-five American university students evangelizing in Manila’s University Belt, or U-Belt. After two weeks of meetings at an auditorium the new church, called Victory, moved into the basement of a large theater. This congregation of about 165 high school and university students from Manila’s U-Belt has grown to more than 52,000 students, professionals, and families who now worship in multiple venues around Metro Manila. Victory has equipped and empowered over 3,500 small group discipleship leaders who meet weekly in coffee shops, homes, offices, and shopping malls all over the city for Bible study, prayer, and fellowship. Victory has sent Filipino campus ministers and church planters to serve as cross-cultural missionaries in Afghanistan, Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Guam, India, Latvia, Malaysia, Russia, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates, and Vietnam. Besides these long-term missionaries, numerous short-term evangelism and medical teams have been sent to more than a dozen nations.
When they began, the Murrells had very little experience in ministry and no missions training. Steve says the only thing they knew how to do was to disciple people in small groups. Steve calls himself an “accidental missionary” because when he and Deborah set out for that mission trip in 1984, they never set out to build a large ministry. All they wanted to do was to honor God and make disciples. Before that, they did a campus ministry with students at Mississippi State. In the first years of this campus ministry, they made it up as they went along. The Murrells thought their time in the Philippines would be temporary so they always kept that in mind and always knew they would eventually turn the ministry over to the Filipinos in Manila. Steve also calls it the “leading/leaving model.” This was an “accidental strategy.” They trained people with what they knew, and as a result, these people they trained were empowered from the beginning.
GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES
Steve believes that every one of us is called to be a disciple and make disciples. He says many Christians know that they’re supposed to be a disciple and to make disciples, but most of them don’t know where to start. Discipleship isn’t supposed to be complicated. It can be difficult, but it should not be complicated. Jesus is our model. True discipleship is not helping church people become better church people. It is finding people who don’t know Jesus, introducing them to Him, and helping them follow Him. In Matthew 4:19, Jesus calls His disciples who were fisherman. They weren’t the most educated people during that time. Jesus’ message was simple: follow Him, “fish” for people who don’t know Him, and fellowship with others. Steve says one of the most common reasons people don't make disciples is because they don’t feel ready for God to use them. There is always some reason for not making disciples but the Great Commission in Matthew 28 doesn't say anything about “being ready.” In the Gospel of John, Jesus turns to Peter and tells him to feed His sheep even though Peter denied Him. This shows that Jesus is much more willing to use us than we “feel ready” to be used. An important key to discipleship is not to stray from the basics of grace, faith and repentance. We must stay on the foundations of the Message. The repetition, consistency, and staying true to the Message are more important than finding more creative ways to make disciples.
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