Is Your Church a Synogogue or a School of Tyrannus?
by Greg Stier
“And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. But when some were becoming hardened and disobedient, speaking evil of the Way before the people, he withdrew from them and took away the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus. This took place for two years, so that all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.” --Acts 19:8-10
I am convinced that most churches are like the synagogue in this passage than the school of Tyrannus. Why? It’s a place where the preacher gets up and argues persuasively about God’s kingdom (a good thing) and some people come to Christ as a result (an even better thing.)
But the best thing always happens at churches and youth groups which are more like the school of Tyrannus than the synagogue. What happened there that was so special? Paul took the believers who responded in the synagogue and trained them in the basics of the Christian faith. “This took place for two years, so that all who lived in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.”
This is an amazing statement…all who lived in Asia heard the gospel as a result of what took place at the school of Tyrannus. So, the next question is obviously, what took place there and how did everyone hear the gospel as a result?
What did not take place there was that every Jew and Greek from all over the province of Asia came to hear the gospel from the apostle Paul. That’s too many people in too small of a space in too short of time.
What did take place is that those being trained by the apostle Paul couldn’t just sit there after awhile. I am sure that they were so overwhelmed at the doctrines of grace that, after hearing Paul for so long, they exploded out of their chairs and hopped a chariot back to their communities to reach their friends, neighbors, family and co-workers with this life-transforming message of the gospel. Perhaps some of them brought the new believers they had led to Christ back to get trained by Paul at the school of Tyrannus and then these freshly converted, newly trained believers were mobilized back to reach even more people.
The math just works in this passage. Multiplication (as seen in the school of Tyrannus) works way faster than addition (as seen in the synagogue.)
In this passage it seems pretty clear that the apostle Paul taps into the potential of mobilizing (i.e. inspiring, equipping and deploying) other believers to reach their own circles of influence. This passage proves the exponential potential of training people to evangelize verses trying to evangelize everyone ourselves. The fully trained believers who “graduated” from the school of Tyrannus were able to do collectively over two years what the apostle Paul was never able to do by himself over his life time, reach everyone in an entire province with the gospel!
What does this have to do with you, your church and your youth group? More than you might think! I am convinced that the typical church is like the synagogue in Acts 19:8 where evangelism happens but at a rather slow pace. But what if we inspired, equipped and deloyed believers in our churches and youth groups to go back to their neighborhoods, work places, schools, sports teams, Facebook/MySpace pages and friends to carry the gospel to them? What if we transformed our churches into schools of Tyrannus?
Enough of depending on outreach meetings and evangelists to do the work for us! Let us turn our churches, youth groups, small groups, men’s meetings and women’s fellowships into schools of Tyrannus where evangelism training takes place! We can do collectively what our pastors, youth pastors and ministry leaders cannot through the tired, old “just invite your friends to the synagogue” approach! We can reach entire regions if we each reach our own circle of influence with the gospel.
If you need a free curriculum to start turning your church into a school of Tyrannus, check out these ten free podcasts and downloadable outlines here.
Rock THE Cause by starting your own school of Tyrannus!
Editor's Note: Greg Stier is the president of Dare2Share Ministries, an organization mobilizing teenagers to relationally and relentlessly reach their generation for Christ. Greg's blog, www.gregstier.org, has a wealth of insights.