by Mike Peterson
Where are our students today? Perhaps most of them are involved in ministry, but are they really educating (discipling) their disciples? Are we, as educators, adequately developing educators? Educators (leaders) must have a radical commitment to the discipleship process. Our role is to assist each student to become the very best educator possible. Every student will not look, act, or function in the same manner (cookie cutter mold). Rather, their personality, sociocultural exposure, and commitment to the kingdom of God all play a vital role in their development as educators. As leaders, we want our students/disciples to develop a transformational model that will foster dynamic spiritual growth.
This contributor believes that Pentecostal educators should be out front leading disciples in their compassionate and passionate commitment to the kingdom of God. One example is found in the “day of Pentecost” event. On the day of Pentecost, Jesus’ disciples began to educate and transform their disciples utilizing a leadership model that included instruction, fellowship, and prayer. These transformers led by example with the anointing of the Holy Spirit (signs and wonders). The new congregation had knowledge about the Jewish worldview but did not understand it as Jesus had radically taught and demonstrated with power. Peter and the other leaders, therefore, were in an experiential position to assist their followers in understanding what was meant by “in the last days” according to Acts 2:17, for example. “In the last days” was demonstrated by the apostles and had been experienced by those in the upper room who “spoke in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them” and witnessed supernatural activity (Acts 2:4, NIV). The phrase “in the last days” for the first century Christian roughly meant “the eschatological time”. Luke, Paul, and Peter, having their minds renewed or transformed understood this phrase as their own (Acts 2:17; Rom. 12:2; 1 Tim. 4:1; 2 Tim. 3:1;1 Pet. 1:20; 2 Pet. 3:3; and Qumran scrolls). After all, the Messiah did return to heaven and the disciples believed the end times were in motion. With this transformational understanding about the Spirit of God, the apostolic leadership taught their disciples that the Messiah had come and would come again. Furthermore, the three thousand or so nascent believers accepted the apostles’ message (Acts 2:41), meaning they not only spoke in tongues, but demonstrated a variety of manifestations by means of the Holy Spirit. Training post-Pentecost disciples clearly pointed to the fact that missio Deicontinued to be fulfilled (Acts 1:8). It is worth noting, at this point, that the Matthenian great commission account should be stated in conjunction with Acts 1:8, “having gone, therefore, make disciples.” Thus, the first generation of Jesus’ disciples understood God’s purpose in sending the Holy Spirit: to equip humanity with the baptism in the Holy Spirit to fulfill missio Dei.
Twenty-first century Pentecostal educators/transformers are often faced with the same situation as were the first-century disciples of Jesus. These first-century leaders infiltrated the lives of their disciples by challenging their worldview from the very scriptures they had read and memorized. Today’s challenge is to keep disciples (students) focused on their need of remaining filled with the Holy Spirit so the manifestations can be administered to the needs of the local congregation and the community at large. This will turn local a community upside down with the gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:41)!
Are we, as educators, transforming our classrooms so students can identify and reinvest their knowledge and experience in her or his disciples? One of the convincing arguments for the first-century disciples was not the miracle itself, rather the adjustment made in the nascent believer’s worldview by means of the apostles’ teaching (Acts 2:37). As we teach, God’s compassion and passion should be evidenced by our actions. Our instructions, fellowship, and prayers should radically infiltrate today’s classroom to facilitate students to become agents of transformation both locally and globally.
Thus, today’s classroom need not appear to be just another place where information is doled out to meet a set of criteria to earn credit or a degree. Rather, the spiritual dynamic of transformation should be held in high view as was the teaching of the apostles in the first-century. Let the Pentecostal educator’s goal be that of developing disciples that hear (theology) and put into practice (praxis) the things of the Spirit.