You may be wondering how The Paul Initiative started. Well, it was a combination of a whole bunch of things that God weaved together.
I have to start somewhere, so let’s go all the way back to when I committed my life to Christ at the age of 16 on the side of a road. I went home and started to read my little red Gideon’s Bible everyday for an hour. I was hungry to grow and I wanted my life to count for God. Sensing a call to be a pastor, I went to Bible college.
While in Bible college, my big question was how do I grow and how can I help others grow spiritually? What makes a person grow? How do you develop a prayer life? What sort of spiritual disciplines and activities help one move forward?
To my surprise, I took a 4 year bachelors of theology without one course being devoted specifically to prayer, spiritual growth, or the spiritual disciplines of the Christian life. So, I went to one of the leading seminaries in the world and took a masters degree with a concentration in “Spiritual Theology”. That gave me a great understanding of the history of how people pursued God through the centuries. However, as a pastor helping regular down to earth people, there was a major gap between what I was learning and the contemporary world. I needed an approach that made sense for the working man and woman in the context of a local church.
Part of my whole formation as a leader was pioneering a church plant. During that time, God put in my heart the joy of pioneering new things for Him. Interestingly, during that time, God brought certain individuals into my life like Don Laurie, founder and pioneer of the Canadian Navigators Ministry. Don was great in passing on his insights, skills and tools for spiritual growth and disciple making. I still use much of it to this day.
While pastoring, we as a church started to support missionaries in India. At first it was 10, then 20, then eventually 50. When I say “we”, I mean what the church did directly in combination with individuals that I knew in the church were giving to directly themselves. It could of been more than 50.
During that time in the pastorate, I had absolutely no desire to go overseas. I was quite happy to stay at home, fill my pulpit, serve the church, and send money to further the Great Commission. In fact, for the first 10 years, I barely travelled anywhere. But then, God arranged for me to go to India. Then started the next chapter in my life.
Going overseas to India and Nepal, I realized the incredible need these men had for training. Many have never attended Bible College. So I decided to start to develop a bit of a teaching series on teaching good doctrine. Then I developed seminar on disciple making and helping people grow.
As I took it to different conferences, I was not totally prepared for the reaction I received. People started saying things to me like
“I wish I had of learned this 10 years ago”,
“I wish someone would of helped me with this when I was just starting out in the ministry”
Many of these pastors in these developing countries said that the Discipleship Training Seminar had changed their lives and their ministries.
But then, over the last few years, I’ve had another interesting thing happen to me. As more people attended these conferences, I had American and Canadian pastors coming to me and say the same sort of things. Amazingly, many of these men had some great education, were incredibly gifted, and where from significant church works.
They were making comments like:
“I wish I had known this stuff 10 or 15 years ago, my ministry would of been so much more effective”
“I wish I had of learned this in seminary! Why don’t they teach this there?”
“I never thought of approaching it this way before! Wow!”
So we started taking the DTS to North American conferences. As a result of all this, I felt God was leading me to “up” my commitment to this type of equipping ministry. At first, we made “The Paul Initiative” the missions program at my church, Calvary Chapel London. We put it right in the bulletin, “We've based our missions strategy on the model and mission of the Apostle Paul and his heart for mission, evangelism and discipleship. As a result, we have called this missions program “The Paul Initiative.”
But then I felt we needed to expand it and bring in other pastors, other disciple makers, other leaders and trainers. So we formed a new mission organization.
Since it grew out of the church, it is not meant to be para church. It is church friendly. In fact, I tell pastors and leaders that The Paul Initiative is something that can be adopted by churches as their missions program. I tell churches, if you don’t have a missions program in your church, The Paul Initiative ”is a built in, ready to go, easy to partner with opportunity. As a church, you can partner with us on what ever level you choose:
At first in my journey I was looking for something practical and no nonsense in helping me grow as a believer. Then I started to look for how I could help people in my church. Eventually, I saw how it helped me as a pastor and from that journey, I needed to help other pastors do the same thing in their ministries. Again, at first it was overseas, but then, we saw how well it works here at home. Then we saw how we could take pastors who have trained with it here at home and get them involved directly in the Great Commission themselves by going overseas with us as partners.
We teach and train pastors and leaders the art of disciple making.
I’ve seen hundreds of Bible studies and programs that fall under the category is so-called discipleship. The end result is a nice time of study, some good info passed on, but no real transformation.
To put it bluntly...“There are many advocates for disciple making but few practitioners.”
It’s not just another bible study we offer. This is a “real deal, no nonsense” approach to changing people’s lives.
We’ve seen it work in North America and around the world.
I could say so much more, but that’s the gist of it. Thanks so much for reading this.