Bringing TPM into the Culture of the Church
Just Make the Bad Feelings Go Away!
It is probably fair to say that most people view TPM as a tool for making bad feelings go away. For the most part, people come for ministry because they feel bad and they want the pain to stop. It might be compared to people going to a dentist. You have two primary groups. The larger of the two groups is made up of those who are in pain and want the dentist to make the pain go away. They never really think about the dentist unless their mouth starts to hurt. The smaller group makes regular appointments to have their teeth examined and cleaned. They are not driven by their pain, but rather by knowledge. They know that good dental health care is important and will save them from unnecessary pain in the long run (in both mouth and wallet).
Two Groups in the TPM Camp
In a similar fashion, we have two groups in the TPM community; those who want the pain they feel to stop and those who understand that the pain is an indication of what they believe. The first group views TPM as a means of pain management. Pain is viewed as a problem to be resolved. Success is defined as being pain-free. The second group, on the other hand, does not view emotional pain as a problem to be resolved, but rather as a warning system that lets us know when something is wrong. Pain is an indicator of the real problem; lie-based belief. For this group, TPM is a tool that they keep on hand and well sharpened. They recognize that God provides daily opportunities to examine and clean up the lies that become exposed by His refining process.
TPM as a Lifestyle
For the second group, TPM is a lifestyle. It is in their culture. It is the frame of reference used to view their crises and difficulties. In contrast, the “pain-focused” group views their crises and life troubles as an obstacle to overcome, or a calamity to endure. Their goal is to “survive” the hardship, whereas the smaller group seeks to thrive and benefit. The first group prays, “Lord, get us through this!” Whereas the thriving group prays, “Thank You, Lord. What do you want us to see? What do you want us to know?” For the survival group, a crisis is not viewed as a benefit and certainly not thought of as a gift from God.
TPM as the Culture of the Church
When a church family is able to embrace TPM as a tool for refinement, rather than a “pain-management” tool, church life itself can transform. When TPM becomes a part of the culture of the church (how the church views and interprets life), blessings will follow. It is the intended purpose and focus of TPM to identify the lies we believe and exchange them for the truth. Life crisis is a tool in the hand of God that helps to bring about the refinement of our faith. The goal is transformation; not pain resolution. When members are on the same page, viewing life’s difficulties as the Lord’s refining fire that exposes lie-based belief, they can encourage each other, minister to each other, and share mutual compassion for each other. The blaming can stop, responsibility can be taken, and they can journey together toward ever increasing freedom.
The good news is there are many churches around the world that are moving in this direction. Our prayer is that your church will catch this vision and move in this direction; one member at a time.
It is desirous that all members of the church learn the PRINCIPLES and PURPOSE of TPM well. Each member should learn to view their emotional pain through TPM glasses so that they might willfully, intentionally and purposefully cooperate with what God is doing to refine their faith, renew their minds and transform their lives.
Secondly, every member should be encouraged to learn the PROCESS well so that they might apply this process to their own lives. Some members will rise up and be commissioned by the church to be front-line facilitators offering ministry to those in your community, bringing hope and freedom. However, not all members in the church should be doing ministry outside of their own personal relational circle. Here is where the church leaders will choose carefully those assigned to this task.
Over time your church should start experiencing TPM at the cultural level. As TPM becomes a part of the DNA of the church, the body itself will begin to experience transformation in how they view life, relate to each other and deal with the emotional pain they each carry. TPM does not replace anything the church is doing to fulfill the mission that God has called her to do. TPM only makes what she does more effective. It “greases the wheels” allowing us to fulfill God’s call more efficiently.
Follow the Leader
It is vitally important that the lead pastor be experientially invested in TPM or it will be limited in its overall effectiveness. If the lead shepherd is not leading the flock, the flock will only go as far as the shepherd is willing to walk. Should the lead pastor not be personally invested in TPM, those members who are, should NEVER run ahead of the leadership that God has assigned to that church. We know that “…there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” (Rom. 13:1) You should trust God to do what is best and we must wait on His leading. There is a reason (and God’s plan) for why things are as they are. If you run ahead of the assigned shepherd you will disrupt the flock and create division. We have been called to be “…diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Eph. 4:3) Check your own emotional state as to how it makes you feel to be in the situation you find yourself. This will provide you something to “practice” on while you wait.
Application for Church Cell/Small Groups
Many churches use the cell group or small group model for discipleship. You can easily take the training provided here for your small group discussion materials. All you will need is a television with the capacity to display your computer so you can play the videos. You can assign an article to be read and discuss the articles. At some point you may have trained facilitators present in each cell group to provide a ministry session as the opportunity arises. How wonderful that people might see the Holy Spirit transform someone right before their very eyes.
Approach this training as a journey in development rather than viewing it as a task to be completed. Determine to make TPM a part of your daily practice and view your life crises and difficulties from this perspective: a means of cooperating with God as He refines your faith, renews your mind, and transforms your life.
Undertaking this training might be compared to feasting at an “All-You-Can-Eat” buffet with over 1500 food options. There is never any reason to feel overwhelmed or defeated by the vast amount of food available, since you are not planning on “completing” the menu anyway. You eat what you want, and all you want. Later you can come back and eat some more. You never finish the buffet and were never expected to. Besides, the restaurant keeps adding more food just as we will be doing with this training. People who complain that there is too much food before them simply do not understand the concept. Also, the wise diner will select a balanced diet and not spend all of his time at the dessert bar! Spread out your training to include all areas of the training and not just the PROCESS portion.
A Pastor’s Testimony
Every church has its own terminology for describing the work of God. Pastor Phil uses the word deliverance several times in his testimony. For some, this means confronting demons. For me (Ed Smith) and this pastor, it is a term that means the total work that God is doing in releasing us of the lies we believe. We need deliverance –not from the devil– but his “snares” that are hindering our walk in freedom. The “snarer” has no power over me. However, the snare does. However, the reason it has power is because I believe it.
Pastor Phil and I both believe that unless God delivers us from our lie-based thinking we cannot be free. Only His truth can free us of the snares we believe. I cannot, and neither can anyone else, talk me out of my lie-based belief. I need the Lord’s personalized and experiential perspective to bring the “deliverance” that is needed. In the same way that I cannot save myself from my sin, I cannot free myself of my lies. I need to be “delivered” of my lie-based core belief by the Holy Spirit with His truth.
I do not need to be delivered from the devil since God has already “… rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son …” (Col. 1:13), but I do need freedom from my own lie-based core belief.
Pastor Phillip Smith is one of many pastors who are leading their flocks into this culture of freedom. He is the founding pastor of the Colorado Christian Fellowship in Aurora, Colorado. Pastor Phil was exposed to the teaching of TPM over a decade ago and continues to lead his congregation in the principles seeking to bring TPM into the culture of the church. (Click the expand button on video frame to make the video full screen.)