The "Rooted" Approach
How do we become rooted? The answer to this question is found in the Bible itself, particularly in the Book of Acts. The Book of Acts tells the story of how Jesus laid the foundation of the Christian movement through the men he trained and sent out, called apostles. In Acts we find the unfolding of the strategy used by the apostles in fulfilling the Jesus' work. This has been referred to as the "Pauline Cycle". Specifically, the apostles would:
Evangelize (share the good news of God's salvation) strategic cities Establish believers in the faith and the family of families (churches), Equip and Entrust the churches to faithful men, and Extended the mission geographically and through the generations.
This was apostles' strategy for making strong churches, but what about us as individuals? Well it seems that if we just tweak the Pauline cycle and look at it through a different perspective, we can see how every individual must go through a similar cycle on their own personal journey of becoming established. First, you receive the gospel and are baptized as a follower of Christ, which starts the process of becoming established in the faith. As we grow in our faith we come to understanding our place in the church and the church’s place in God’s plan. Finally, at some point we become prepared to continue the cycle in someone else’s life now as the teacher/mentor/coach. But how did Paul lead people through this cycle?
Discipleship from Afar
In many of the churches he personally worked with people. That doesn’t really help us much, since we weren’t there to observe the things Paul taught them. Yet we know that Paul didn’t visit every church and didn’t stay at every church to see them entirely through the cycle. How did he carry on the establishing process from afar?
Paul wrote at least 13 letters to his colleagues and the churches, some of which he knew very well like Corinth and Ephesus and others that he only knew through personal contacts, like Rome and Colosse. Interestingly, these letters can be sorted into three groups which correspond to the establishing process described in the Pauline Cycle.
In Paul’s earliest letters like Romans, Corinthians, Galatians, Thessalonians, he strove to establish churches and believers in the Gospel.
In his middle letters, Philippians, Ephesians, Colossians, Paul is concerned with the churches' understanding their place and significance in the unfolding plan of God.
In Paul’s final set of letters, Paul is concerned with the last stage of establishment – the ordering and training of the next generation of men who will lead the church, men like Timothy and Titus and those that they trained. The great thing is, we still have these letters today as tools for us to use to establish ourselves in the faith.
The “Rooted” approach expands the Pauline framework above to include every Biblical text so that the believer may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. Every part of scripture is related to the believer’s development in their Christian life that they may be deeply rooted in the faith.