[dropcap]It [/dropcap] was raining. I was walking around one of New Orleans oldest cemeteries, still water-stained ten years after Katrina. It was an appropriate place to shoot a promotional video for Precept Training. The lead question was, "What happens when the gospel drops in a city?" I was walking around tombs etched with voo-doo, talking about life and peace in Jesus. You'll never see that video. You'll never see the pastor interview or footage of a full room of noo aw-LEE-nee-ans diving into Precept's inductive Bible study method. The camera equipment was stolen. We'll get more into that later.
[dropcap]Katrina[/dropcap]Aftermath + Precept Training - Our Precept Training Team worked with several different churches in New Orleans to host Precept's The Essentials of Inductive Bible Study. It's a three hour training that casts the vision of inductive study and gives students the opportunity to jump into the text for themselves. I don't want to steal the thunder, but I Thessalonians 1 beautifully answers the question. What happens when the gospel drops? Well, a city is transformed by Jesus because people are transformed by Jesus. In the midst of horrific circumstances, Jesus changes people. Jesus gives hope. Jesus gives a thriving church. 10 years after Katrina, I got to have a church testimony service at a Precept Training while studying 1 Thessalonians. I was pumped to lead this training. As the months leading up to it shaved down to weeks and days, we had to get a larger room because of the overwhelming response. We had to shut down the registration because the hotel conference room couldn't fit anymore folks! During and after the training, seeing the living hope in Jesus amidst some horrific situations in their lives was amazing. Sitting over coffee and lunch and hearing the stories of those that Jesus had changed was such a privilege and joy.
One of the many benefits of Precept Training is the ongoing coaching and support of a Precept Network Area Team. Many people are taught how to study the Bible or how to lead others in studying the Bible, but as soon as they put their foot out to study or lead, they drown. They start studying and may get bogged down with some of the mechanics. They start leading and they have a class that doesn't discuss at all. The Precept Network gives "atta-boys" and "you can do it!" through on the ground encouragement and support. The most helpful analogy for me has been that of an air war and ground war. The Air war is how Precept is able to resource our leaders through our online community, live events, and encouragement and support from our HQ in Chattanooga. The ground war, however, takes place in the middle of the week at a coffee house when seasoned leaders are able to meet with new leaders, when pastors and leadership are prayed for by Precept teams on the ground. What happens when the gospel drops in a city? We're asking the Lord to build a fully functioning team within the New Orleans Area. You can pray with us.
[dropcap]Another [/dropcap]benefit of Precept Training working hand in hand with Precept Network is our relationship with Pastors. I'm a pastor at heart. I love shepherding. I love equipping other shepherds with the disciple-making tools of Precept's inductive Bible study. We have a great team of pastors in New Orleans. I'd love to introduce you to Pastor Keith James from the historic Franklin Avenue Baptist Church. Pastor Keith not only dove in head first, he brought a slew of leaders from his church to the training. They were pumped! After the training, in the middle of the hotel lobby, they had a discipleship team meeting. There was a pastor who not only invested in his folks to equip them, but met with them afterward to talk and pray about how to implement Precept's inductive Bible study into their groups at church! "Precept is a pastor's best friend! Our role is to equip the saints for service; Precept resources us to that end." Our team interviewed him and his leaders after the training... but the footage was stolen.
[dropcap]Thieves[/dropcap]- after training, Precept's videographer and I were zapped. Rather than staying another night in the city, we wanted to get home. We drove back through the night, returning late. The rental car was left in my drive-way. The videographer, Cameron, had just started at Precept. He was living with my family and I while he got settled in Chattanooga. We got some of the essentials out of the car, locked the door, and headed for a short sleep before getting up to go to church. Since the rental wasn't due until later that day, we drove the rental to church. Fast-forward until 6PM that Sunday. We drive to Precept to unload the equipment, backing up to the bay to unload. As Cameron went to pull open the garage door, I get a text from my wife. She lets me know that our youngest daughter was in an accident, that she has to leave a birthday party and go to the ER. I open the hatch of the rental car... Cameron opens the garage door. The equipment is gone. Precept's equipment is gone. Cameron's equipment is gone. My daughter was in an accident on her way to the ER. I'll save that one for another blog post too.
We returned back to the scene of the crime, my driveway. I have had things stolen from my detached garage before. However, I never thought that after returning home so late and getting up early for church that someone would break into the rental. They hit the mother load. The police came. The battle with insurance started. It's a crazy story, much to long for a section in a blog. Here are some of the highlights:
- Pawn shop visits
- Calling, calling, and calling the police detective assigned to the case
- The stolen Iphone being turned on, which led Cameron and a posse to start tracking like they were on the next installment of Serial
- Having the lead detective put some pressure on the detective assigned to our case
- Tracking the stolen merchandise on Ebay
- The thief showing up to Precept where he heard the gospel from some staff members.
- The thief lying about his involvement
- Setting up a sting to catch the thief, wired for sound
- The thief being charged with a felony, since the equipment was so expensive and since it wasn't his first rodeo
- The day the thief posts bond, he was hit by a car on the side of the road.
- The court date is set and Cameron was served a subpoena.
[dropcap]And [/dropcap]And then there is Jesus. Here we were, blessed to be able to do something amazing to serve the people at the Precept Training in New Orleans. Though we were trying to serve more people by making The Essentials of Inductive Bible Study training available through webcast, though we were trying to capture the excitement of those that attended, though we were trying to show how pastors use Precept's inductive study method to equip disciple-makers, God had other plans. Cameron would be the first to tell you and I would be the second, God has taught us so much about his goodness, grace, and character in the midst of this journey. In the training, we focus on what the gospel does in a city and Jesus in 1 Thessalonians 1
For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
In the aftermath of the training, I was given the opportunity to do the same, see the effects of the gospel of Jesus Christ and to wait on Him.
Precept Training takes place throughout the United States in Precept Network Cities. Our training introduces the Precept Inductive Bible Study Method and how to use it to making disciples. CLICK HERE to check out these cities and let us know if you'd be interested in hosting! If your city isn't on the list, don't worry. You can still get quality Precept Training through either our Online Training or Webinar Trainings. Want to see more about what is happening in the US with Precept Training? CLICK HERE and like our facebook page.