Category Archives: Discipleship

A Reproducing Group – Week 5

tagIn an orchestra there is one conductor and lots and lots of musicians. Some musicians are super stars. They could be the soloists or the leader of their section. They do most of the work, sound the loudest, and play all the best parts. And then there are the minor musicians. They have a smaller part to play. Notice two key things about an orchestra.

Firstly, there are lots of different musicians. There are violinists and flautists and tubists and others. Each instrument adds to the flavour and sound of the orchestra. Each instrument is important to the whole orchestra. The role of the musician is to play that instrument well, as a member of the orchestra, to add flavour and variety to the piece of music.

The second thing to notice is that there are often multiple musicians playing the same instrument, playing the same piece of music, at the same time. There are multiple violinists. Multiple flautists. Multiple tubists. The different types of instruments gives width and variety while the combination of the same instruments gives depth and volume. Both aspects are important. The variety of the instruments is important and the sameness of instruments is important.

So to with your small group.

Within your group there will be people with different talents, abilities and gifts (TAG). You will want them to use their TAG so the group is amazing. As each person in the group learns what their TAG is, and has the chance to use it within the group, they will become more competent and confident in using their TAG which will help the group function well. They may use their TAG in the church service, they may use their TAG in another ministry throughout the week, they may use their TAG in any other part of their lives. The best part of helping someone develop and use their TAG is that God is glorified. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16, ESV) Developing someone’s unique contribution to the world brings glory to God.

Some people in your group will have a unique TAG while others may have a similar one. Both are important to your group as they add variety and depth. Develop everyone. Train everyone. Give everyone the opportunity to play their part in God’s orchestra.

There are many great tools out there for helping people discover their TAGs. Many are self-discovery while others require feedback from those closest to them. A simple method is to give people the freedom to try and fail within your group. Where there is the freedom to try and fall short there will always be new discoveries. Within your group encourage people to experiment. Using passages like Rom 12:3-8 or 1 Cor 12:4-11 as a guide to the different types of TAGs that people may have ask group members to try an experiment and see if they have an aptitude for it. In this way they will be discover if they have a TAG for helping, or serving, or administration, etc.

For example. Allow different group members to prepare and teach on a passage. Not facilitate a discussion through questions like we saw in week 2 but for them to prepare to teach the passage out of their TAG. Depending upon their teaching paradigm they might teach through monologue, or group exploration, or drama, or through some other means of teaching. There are many different approaches to teaching. But, If they have a talent for it then it should be obvious to the group. And more importantly, it should be obvious to them. Even if they still need to develop skill a natural or supernatural TAG will be obvious. I’ve seen a middle aged man, who just happened to walk in on a jam session, encouraged to sit behind the drum kit and see what it feels like. A simple experiment that led to the birth of a new drummer in the church. Give people the freedom to explore and they will discover what they are good at. Create a fun, safe environment where people can try something without condemnation and they will surprise everyone with what they can do.

You can tell when someone has a TAG. There will be a passion that wells up within them for behaving this way. They will be motivated, alive, fulfilled. Doing a good job leaves you satisfied; doing a job you are made for leaves you fulfilled even when you do it badly. Additionally, there will be something within you and the others in the group that see something in them. Even if they do it horribly (skill often will need to be developed) there will be something that the group recognizes. They may not have a TAG in that activity but in a safe group they will have the opportunity to explore it further.

Once you know their TAG it’s time to fan them into flames. They might require training (the new drummer above within a week of realising this ability signed up for lessons). They may just need more opportunities to practice their TAG so that they can become more competent. Their development may be outside your TAG and skill level. You may not be the best person to help them develop their TAG. But, you can journey with them. You can help them to find those who can help them. You can help them explore where they can use their TAG and where they can receive the support to develop it further. Your job as a disciple maker is not to do all the training but it is to help them to grow in who God has made them to be.

Knowing your TAG doesn’t absolve you of your responsibilities. Some have a gift of mercy and they ooze compassion and concern. If you don’t have the gift of mercy you still are called to be merciful. It will be harder for you but we need to show mercy. Some have the gift of giving and their generosity is outstanding. We all need to be cheerful givers. Some have the gift of encouragement but we can all offer encouragement to the fearful. Maybe not as well as those with a TAG for it but it’s important that we encourage one another, TAG or no TAG.

So the purpose of knowing your TAG and helping others know their TAG is to build up the body of Christ. So that each person can play their part in God’s kingdom as God created them. In a church service there is very little room to experiment and explore what a person’s TAG may be. In a small group members can try and fail and laugh and try again. Some things will work while other things will not. But let us encourage one another to have a go and see if God has something for us that we never imagined.

 

 

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A Reproducing Group – Week 4

One of the stated goals of this discipleship group blog series is to reproduce. While the group process will equip the group participants to facilitate their own small group a few more things are required to get to reproduction. The first thing is a list of people whom they can invite to join their group. How do we do that? You ask them to map all the people they know: family, friends, neighbours, co-workers/student, and common interest people they know. If this sounds like the exercise you did in week 1 it’s because it is. Teach them how to do week 1. At the end of it they will have their own map of the people they can begin praying for an to invite to a group. If they have developed their facilitation skills to the point of leading a group then it’s time to have them practice how to invite and then releasing them to start. But, and this is a big but, don’t abandon them. I will talk more on this in week 6. But this week we need to address a small problem.

There’s one small problem with this model of reproduction and I hope you have noticed it and are wanting an answer. If all we do is start and reproduce discipleship groups with Christians when and how do we grow the Kingdom of God? While the Great Commission focuses on making disciples we see in Acts and the historical record of the Apostles that sharing of our faith with those far from God is what Jesus meant when he said ‘Go’. Some people are very gifted at this. In fact, about 1 in 10 people have some sort of evangelism gift. God bless them and their ministry. I love watching gifted evangelists. They naturally flow from whatever to the gospel story. I wish I could express the message of life like they do but I can’t. So the rest of this post is about how a non-evangelist can seek to bring life to others.

I use three stories. People like stories. Youtube and Facebook and TV all tell us that people love stories, even the 140 character ones on Twitter. There are three stories that need to be told. The first is their story. The second is your story and the last one is God’s story.

Their Story

Sadly, despite learning to sit and hear a sermon every week most Christians don’t listen very well and this first story is about listening. You will want to listen to the story of the person you are wanting to share with. I want you to genuinely listen to them. In fact, as an exercise, I would encourage you to have 5 conversations where you just listen to them without any other agenda. Just listen to them.

There are 5 questions/statements you will want to ask. They are a slight modification of William Fay’s taken from his book, “Share Jesus without Fear“. The Kindle version will cost you about US$3. It’s a great book and helped me learn how to start conversations. Most books on evangelism focus on why and how to share our faith but this one includes how to find out if the person wants to hear the gospel. If they do then proceed and if they don’t then don’t. Personally, I love his whole approach on how to safely share with others. I highly recommend you get a copy.

There is one question/statement which proceeds these five depending on whether you know the person well or not. If you know them well and have never truly listened to their story then say, “I’ve never taken the time to hear about what matters in your life. I would really like to know. Tell me …” If you don’t them well then say, “Tell me about yourself.” This will lead naturally into the first request below. Here are the 5 questions/requests:

  1. Tell me about your spiritual beliefs
  2. To you, who is Jesus?
  3. Do you think there is a heaven or hell?
  4. If you died tonight, where would you go and why?
  5. If the truth was something different, would you want to know?

These are the broad questions. Please, please, please, if they have spiritual beliefs then explore them. What do they believe and what does that mean for them? Don’t debate them. Don’t tell them they are wrong. Listen to them. Probe out of interest not to score points. People are happy to talk about themselves so let them. Be interested in what they believe for what they are believe is the essence of who they are – get to know them deeply and well.

The way you ask the second question is really important. You are not asking, “Who is Jesus?” or “What do you know about Jesus?” These questions are about facts and will lead to arguments. Don’t go there. And worse than that, they don’t tell you what the other person feels and thinks about Jesus as he is to them. Look again at question 2 – they can’t be wrong. That makes it a good question to answer since they can’t get it wrong. And if you can’t be wrong then you are more likely to honestly reply. They could say that Jesus was a hippie from the 70’s sent back in time. I don’t think that’s true but I didn’t ask them for the truth; I asked them who Jesus was to them. It’s the ‘to them’ that makes it a safe question for them to answer.

Throughout this conversation in what they believe do not, DO NOT, start a debate. Listen to them. This is crucial for three reasons. Firstly, it’s polite. Secondly, it’s wise. It’s said that when an amateur speaker is asked to come and present a message they will ask what to speak on while the professional asks to whom they will be speaking. Knowing them, hearing them, listening to their story and their beliefs is more important at this stage than what you are going to say. Yes, what you have to say is important, but first know your audience. There are four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Four different audiences. Four different stories. Know your audience first. The last reason is that we are given two ears and one mouth and they should be used in that proportion. Spend time listening to people and you will find they will give you an opportunity to speak. We aren’t listening to them to manipulate them into listening to us, we are listening to their beliefs because their beliefs are the core of who they are and as precious human beings whom God loves they deserve for us to listen to their deepest selves.

Now, notice the last question. Question 5. What do you think you do if they say ‘No’? You do nothing. If they don’t want to know then go no further in the discussion. If, however, they say yes then ask one more question; “Can I share something with you?” If they say ‘No’, stop. If they say ‘Yes’, continue. Respect their ‘No’. If they say ‘No’ then it’s no. Jesus let people walk away and so should we.

Your Story

If they have said yes then it’s time to tell your story.While you could tell your whole story it’s best to keep it short as a lead in to God’s story. Your story is the answer to the question, “What difference has Jesus made to your life?” There could be many, many answers to this question. You have many, many stories to tell. Choose one of those answers and tell them that one story. It shouldn’t take more than 1-2 minutes. The more answers you have the easier it will be to identify with their story as a bridge to God’s story. Practice with the people in your group. Take turns telling each other how Jesus impacts your life. Practice listening to each other.

God’s Story

Lastly, you will want to tell God’s story and invite them to place their trust in Jesus. As I stated above, I love the way William Fay does it. His method uses questions and self-discovery to share the gospel. His approach ensures they understand the gospel story before asking for a commitment. I love this approach. There are lots of other great approaches out there. The Roman Road, the Hand Gospel (God, Man, God, No, Yes), Do vs Done, The Bridge, Creation to Christ, Four Spiritual Laws, Evangecube. I suggest you find one and use that as a model for your group. Get them sharing with that one method and perhaps introduce them to another one if you need to. By keeping to one model you make reproduction easier. Everyone understands the model approach and can help each other get better at it. Which approach is best? The one you are using. Due to the length of this post I won’t elaborate any more on the various methods. Find one that works for your cultural context and teach it to your group.

For Aussies

I need to mention this for my Australian readers. In Australia there are two taboo topics – Politics and Religion. In most parts of the world these are daily topics and asking someone about their spiritual belief is fine and normal. But not in Oz. Some good news and some bad news. The good news is that it is White Australians that have the biggest problem with talking about religion. If you are talking to an immigrant, an Afghan Aussie, or a Greek Aussie, or an India Aussie, then it’s actually ok to talk about spiritual matters. They come from lands where these topics aren’t taboo. The bad news is that White Aussies don’t like to talk about religion. So don’t. Back to the good news. Spiritual beliefs are different from religion. Everyone has some kind of spiritual belief – even atheists. Keep it to their beliefs without asking them to defend themselves and you will be fine.

That’s it. Teach them how to facilitate a group and teach them to share their faith. Many will not lead a group even though they know how. Train them anyway. Many will not share their faith even though they know how. Train them anyway. What you don’t know is who has the gift to do it and those who don’t. People will surprise you. Train everyone. Equip, Empower and Encourage everyone. Some won’t but some will. Years ago George Barna wrote a book called “Evangelism that works”. His conclusion was that those who do evangelism see people come to new life in Jesus and those who don’t do evangelism don’t see people come to new life. You may not have a gift of evangelism but by training those in your group to disciple others who disciple others evangelists will be found and they will reap a large harvest. But if they are never trained, never shown how to make a map, never empowered and released then they will sit in church never knowing the joy of giving their gift away. Train for reproduction and you will see results.

Let me know how you are going with your discipleship groups. What’s working? What needs more important? Where are you getting stuck? What are some of the success stories?

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A Reproducing Group – Week 1

There are two ways you can approach the next few weeks. The first is to wait until I have finished blogging about starting and reproducing a discipleship group and then decide if you want to continue, or, you can implement each week trusting me that over the next few weeks you will establish a group that will be a blessing to others and be geared for birthing new groups. Both approaches will work. The second, I think, will be more fun.

Let’s deal with your fears first. What are the fears you have in running a group? Make a list. Pray through them. What needs to happen for you start the group despite the fears? While I expect these fears will be dealt with in the coming weeks leave a comment if you want me to address them now. Fears are feelings that need to be acknowledged but we can act according to them or against them. Don’t let the fear of starting a group stop you. Let’s address the fears together. (This blog entry will be way too long to address them here – if you need address them before starting a group then let’s deal with them in the comments below or send me an email directly).

The first step in the process is inviting people. There are five key relationships from which you can invite. Make a list of all the people you know in these five key relationships. It doesn’t matter whether you think or even know they aren’t interested, just make the list.
The key relationships are:

  1. Family (immediate, distant)
  2. Friends
  3. Neighbours
  4. Co-workers, co-students
  5. Common interests (church, clubs, hobbies, sports, those you know by sight but don’t really know)

The list will be about 100-200 people.

Now, map them out according to their relationships and add new names that are second, third or fourth generation. Put a cross next to all the ones who are close to God. This map represents all those whom you can ask to join your group. Don’t forget to include all those who attend your church whom you may know only by sight and name. Those who are new to your church are looking for connections so don’t forget to add them. Here is the start of what the map may look like:

oikos

Sit with the map before God and ask him to show you whom to invite and start inviting.

You are asking them to join:

  • a reproducing group
  • for 6-9 months
  • to live out the Great Commission
  • at (insert where you will meet)
  • from (insert starting time) till (insert ending time – about 90-120 minutes after the starting time)

You may not know where or when you will meet yet. I suggest for you to meet in the home of someone who says ‘Yes” as it makes it easier to reproduce when it’s not in your home. There will be a lot of “No’s”. There are lots of reasons why people will not be able to make it. However, sit with God, ask him to show you the first 20 people to invite and start inviting.

One of the things that hold us back from inviting people is the fear of rejection. We associate their ‘No thanks’ to a rejection of us. They aren’t saying ‘No’ to you personally. You are making them an offer which they may not be in a position to accept right now. There are many reasons why they will say no. Keep asking until you have enough “Yes’s” to start (between 3 and 12).

That’s the first week done. Make a map of all the people you know. Start inviting.

Next week we will look at how to run the group. Don’t worry if you have never run a group before. Don’t worry about not knowing enough about Scripture. I will go through those details next week. For now, know that you can run a group, you will be able to develop leaders, and you can get to reproduction.

Let me know how you get on in the comments box below. If you have questions or doubts speak them out so that we can work through them together. If you want to receive this directly to your inbox subscribe to the newsletter. Blessings

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Launch and start reproducing a discipleship small group in 20 hours

smallgroupJesus was in a small group. Jesus grew an unlikely small group of people into an amazing team that turned the world upside down. While Jesus did conduct large meetings the small gathering were equally crucial. Perhaps you belong to a group right now. That’s a good thing and I want to encourage you to belong to a small group of people committed to your growth and development in Christ Jesus. But for the next few weeks I want to challenge you to launch a group that can reproduce; a small group where discipleship happens; a small group that goes beyond itself and raises up new leadership; a small group where people will feel connected, loved, cared for, and invested in.

The Great Commission, which is given to all Christians, calls us to make disciples. A small group is a great way to make disciples for 3 reasons. Firstly, you don’t have everything someone needs to grow in Christ. We all have our strengths and weakness which is why God puts us into community. You don’t and never will have all that it takes to see someone grow to maturity. Others will bring to the group things you cannot. Secondly, in a group you can raise new leaders on the job by getting them to practice. You can assist them and watch them as they lead. Each week they can practice facilitating the group more and more until they are more than competent to launch their own. Lastly, in a small group you have enough intimacy that you can get beyond the teaching and move toward the training for obedience. Jesus doesn’t want us to know what he taught, he wants us obey what he taught. Teaching Scriptural truth is easy. Helping someone apply needs a more hands on approach. In a small group individuals can work through where they are stuck in applying God’s truth to their lives. That’s a task almost impossible to do in a large crowd.

If you give me 20 hours over the next 6 weeks I’ll show you how to launch a group and how to multiply it. It’s a great thing to start a group and see people grow in Christ. It’s a an awesome thing to see someone launch out as a leader because of your ministry. Jesus was about passing the baton on to new a generation of leaders who in turn would pass the baton. In doing so Jesus’ message of hope and healing has been passed on from generation to generation and you can do this too.

I’m guessing you have a lot of fears right now about starting a group.”I don’t know enough.” “Who am I to start a group?” “I’m a new believer.” Maybe this isn’t the right time for you. Maybe it is. It’s a 20 hour experiment in what God may do through you. Ask God, right now, “Lord, Is this for me? Is now the time I should learn and launch a discipleship small group?”

Let me finish with saying why I love reproducing small groups. It grows bigger people. You launch a group and you must step up and grow as a facilitator. And then you want to reproduce. Now you must step up and train leaders. And then they launch and you become a discipleship grandparent. And then they train leaders and they too want to launch and they look to you again for assistance, and help and wisdom, and you need to grow to a whole new level again. Reproducing small groups builds bigger people in Jesus. Not bigger as in arrogant but bigger as in deeper, more generous, more Christ-like.

So, what did God say to you?

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You can’t have a bucket bath with a thimble

bucketbathIn an outback camp in Australia, or in many homes in India, where there is little running water and no shower if you want to clean yourself you need to take a bucket bath. You fill a bucket with water (my preference is with warm to hot water) and you take a smaller bucket and you dip the smaller bucket into the bigger bucket and pour the water over your head. Your body gets wet, you soap it up, rub all over, and then repeat the pouring of water over your body to wash it all off. Right there is an image of how we can make progress in our walk with Jesus.

In 1 Timothy 4 Paul gives instruction to Timothy on what it will take for him to be a good minister. At the end of the list of things to do Paul finishes with the encouragement to “Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress.” (1 Timothy 4:15, ESV) If we are going to see progress in our Christian walk we are going to need to practice and immerse ourselves so that the change can take place. You wouldn’t try having a bucket bath with a thimble – you would never get wet enough to start applying the soap. The progress with a thimble would take far too long for us to even bother. And yet, many times we dabble with spiritual disciplines and never really get wet enough to make a change. For a spiritual breakthrough more may be required.

The idea of practising and immersing may not require a long time but it needs to be an intense time. The reason we get wet in a bucket bath is because we pour enough water on ourselves to get fully wet. The same thing applies spiritually. Perhaps an intense time, a thimbleshort intense time, may be required for a spiritual breakthrough. Having chosen an area you want to change in an all out effort may bring more change in a short period of time than dabbling over a very long period. You might see more progress from an hour a day for a month than dabbling and hoping for change over a year.

The starting point is knowing what you want to change and why you want to change. Having worked that out you now need to sort out which disciplines will help you make that change possible. Perhaps a long slow process will be required but perhaps a shorter, more intense time will work better.

In 2015 we can end the year the same or more like Jesus. While a lot of change will be out of control we can intentionally seek to make progress. Pray it through, talk it through with others, and conduct an experiment and see what kind of progress you could make.

What change would you like to see by the end of 2015? Which approach do you think will work best to bring about the progress you are after?

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Why don’t some people grow?

dyingflowerThere is nothing more exciting in a church than to see transformation take place. Pastors live for it. When a marriage that is falling apart is restored everyone wins. When an addict can turn away from their addiction and trust in Jesus alone it’s a thing of beauty. When a dad no longer shouts and screams at his kids the whole church rejoices. When a young teenager fails in a suicide attempt and then finds meaning, hope and purpose the world is a nicer place. Churches thrive on transformation. So why doesn’t it happen as often as we would like? Why doesn’t it happen in our lives as much as we would hope for? There are primarily two reasons, laziness and fear of success.

A key ingredient to growth is grace. We need God’s grace flowing through his people to change. A huge misconception with receiving grace is that there is nothing for the receiver to do. That’s simply not true. Peter implores his readers “to make every effort” to add to their faith (1 Pet. 1:5-9). Paul, in 1 Tim 4:7, encourages Timothy to train himself to be godly. Both Peter and Paul teach, preach and breathe grace and yet they encourage their readers to act, to make an effort. Grace is not opposed to effort. Receiving grace is a gift, that is, you cannot earn it. But receiving it requires effort. And many simply aren’t willing to make the effort.

Many Christians desire to be more like Jesus but they are lazy. The pain of effort is too much for them to change. Internally they lack the motivation to change. Two things will help them. Firstly, they receive such an incredible vision of what they could be like if they made the effort that the motivation to overcome the pain of change occurs. It could be a verse they read in the Bible that inspires them, or a sermon, or hearing a testimony of transformation. They get a vision that motivates them to their core. People need vision and if you can help them see what they could be like, how being more like Jesus will bring life and wholeness to their life and relationships then cast the vision. The second thing you can do is let them suffer.

Allowing others to suffer is difficult but Proverbs 19:19 reminds us that rescuing people from their poor behaviour doesn’t help them. For many, the pain of staying the same needs to become worse than the pain of changing and then transformation happens. It’s incredibly difficult watching people you love reap the consequences of their actions but sometimes it’s the only way to bring about their motivation for change. You can’t force motivation upon people – they either have it or they don’t.

The second reason people fail to change is the fear of success. Discipleship changes one to be more like Jesus. Jesus was a man of love, of compassion, of holiness – and this scares people. To be like Jesus, powerful yet compassionate, fearless yet approachable, holy yet associating with sinner, brings enormous responsibility. To be like Jesus is to be his ambassador. To act on behalf of Jesus, to speak on behalf of the Kingdom of God; this a terrible responsibility to place upon mortal man but alas it comes with being like Jesus.

Many yearn to be like Jesus but they don’t want the responsibility of being like him. Teenagers desire the benefits of being an adult but they don’t want adult responsibilities. Likewise, some want the benefits of being like Jesus but they shirk from the responsibility it brings. They fear what it would mean to bear such a burden. To be a person of love would mean forgiving my enemies, loving my enemies, seeking the good of my enemies. Success in maturity would mean discovering my unique gifts and talents and then using them to extend God’s kingdom. Involvement opens me to criticism and failure. Fear leads us to believe that it’s better to remain a Christian infant who gets to watch others from the sideline of life than to try and fail and hear the sniggers and laughs from others.

God’s grace is available to all who want it. Some don’t see the benefit in making the effort. Others are too comfortable. Others fear the responsibility the change will bring. Love those who are struggling to grow. Love them with casting vision. Love them by letting them suffer. Love them by taking their hand and facing their fears together. Perhaps the greatest struggle with growth in Christ is wanting it for those you love more than they want it for themselves. If only the drunk realised the joy of sobriety. If only the adulterer knew the delight that comes from faithfulness. If only the hater knew the freedom of forgiveness.

What are some other reasons that people don’t grow? What have you done for others that helped motivate them to make the change? How do you minister to those who are resistant to change in your ministry? What are you working on right now to be more like Jesus?

Watch Movie Online Logan (2017)

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3 Spheres of Discipleship

3 spheres

The local church needs to immerse people in God, train them to obey the life giving message of Jesus and assist them in bringing that life to their realm of influence. There are three spheres of discipleship that a church needs to develop: culture, groups, and self-feeding.

Culture

Firstly, making disciples happens through the church’s culture. Every local church has a local culture. This culture may resemble the local community culture or it may be the complete opposite. Any organisation has a local culture because the leaders are different, the people are different, the environment is different. All these differences mean that each local church has a unique local culture. The closer that culture is to the purity of Jesus’ life giving message the easier it will be for new people to see, experience and take on for themselves the changes needed to live out that life giving message. Developing a local church culture is the first sphere of discipleship in the local church. Developing this culture can be broken down into other steps but I’ll discuss that in another post.

Groups

The second sphere is training one-on-one or in a group. That is, taking someone into a learning relationship and helping them grow in Christ. This sphere would involve a set curriculum designed to take someone who knows very little and helping them to a moderate level of maturity. It could involve: the basics of the Christian faith, Who am I in Christ, God’s purpose and plan for their lives, leadership, sharing one’s faith, etc. It should, at the very least, include, “How to disciple a new believer.” That is, everyone should be taught how to disciple someone else at least in the first phase of their discipleship. How a church defines moderate maturity (skill, attitudes, behaviours) will be different in every local church. This sphere would include training parents how to disciple their children (I pray that no church would leave this task solely to the Youth Pastor).

Self-Feeding

The third phase is self-discipleship. This should be an outcome of the second sphere, that is, if the second sphere is done well then a new follower of Christ would be be taught how to follow Jesus on their own. While gathering with others is a crucial component of discipleship the responsibility to grow in our relationship with Jesus always lies with us. Church culture will not always be healthy and Christ like. Group training will not always address my personal immediate and urgent needs. For example, a student who moves states to study at university will not have their church culture and support groups to keep growing. While they search for a new local church and community they will need to know how to grow on their own.

As these three sphere’s work together discipleship happens. All local churches are at least exposing believers to the first sphere of discipleship. That may or may not be a good thing depending upon the health of the church but all churches are in some way making disciples. The healthier the three spheres are the better chance one has at growing consistently in Christ.

How does discipleship happen in your church? On a scale of 1-10, 1 being ‘O oh’ and 10 being ‘Awesome’, how would you rate your church culture for making disciples? How about your group process? For you personally, how well are you able to grow in Christ on a consistent, continual basis?

 

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Discipleship begins, ends, and continues with this

pushing_the_wallDiscipleship involves effort. There’s no escaping that. Reading out bibles takes effort. Carving out space in our schedule to talk with God takes effort. It’s the same with any spiritual discipline you want to consider: fasting, bible memorization, solitude, worship; they all take effort. But that’s not where you want to start.

At the beginning of the letter to the Ephesians and at the very end Paul greets and closes in a very similar way using the same key word. It’s this word that makes the difference with all your discipleship efforts. If you really want to grow in Christ you must begin with this word and continue till the end with this word. It’s the only way.

Ephesians 1:2 “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Ephesians 6:24 “Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible.”

It begins and ends with grace. We enter the Kingdom of God because he calls us; God awakens life in us through Jesus which enables us to respond to his loving call. That’s a work of grace. If it wasn’t for God’s love we would remain exiled from his Kingdom. Having entered his Kingdom we continue to draw on his goodness to live there, to grow there, to thrive under his rule and authority.

Many, having entered God’s kingdom, will try and grow on their own. Their desire is to be like Jesus and they will strive and struggle with all their might to be like him. Having felt the freedom of forgiveness, the burden of guilt lifted from their shoulders, they forget that their struggle with sin continues despite a new life in Christ. While their spirit yearns to be loving like Jesus their old self drags them backwards. They have forgotten grace.

In Mathew 11:28-30 Jesus calls to those who are trying. He invites them to join him. He invites them to find rest not in standing still and doing nothing but by joining him in the work, to learn from him while the work is done. Jesus wants you, and me, and those you disciple, and those who are disciplining you, to live and work in the grip of his grace.

So when you fast ask God for his grace to sustain you. When you enter a time of solitude ask God for his grace to bring peace to your soul. When you study ask God for understanding. When you walk through the bush ask God for eyes to behold the glory of his creation. Ask God for his grace to deepen you, to help you, to sustain you. God wants you to have life and this life comes through his grace.

 

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October 9, 2014 · 4:47 am

Stop inviting people to church

stop-inviting-to-churchThis scenario is played out all the time – someone is interested in knowing more about Jesus so we invite them to church. Apart from the fact that Jesus doesn’t encourage this it undermines the person we are trying to help for three reasons.

Firstly, we are asking them to enter a culture they don’t understand yet. Even in the most hip, culturally sensitive churches the language is different, the dress is different, the atmosphere is different. We are asking them to enter into our world, our culture in order for them to understand and meet Jesus.  They may not like our church, and that’s ok, because they aren’t looking for nor do they need our church, they need Jesus. Our church may feel so out of place that they reject the church and Jesus too. They want and need Jesus first and foremost not our Christian culture. The place they will feel most comfortable is on their turf, in their home, where they are familiar and in control. So let’s follow Jesus model and stay in their home as we begin to disciple them (Luke 9:4).

Secondly, when we invite them to church we are are handing over the responsibility to disciple them to the church. We make it the pastors job to teach them through preaching. We make it the welcome team responsible for making them feel connected. We make the worship team responsible for helping them worship God. It’s not their responsibility; it’s yours. Jesus asked disciples to go and make disciples. That’s the job we all need to do regardless of our gifting or passion or the number of years we have been a Christian. We are all responsible for going, baptising and teaching for obedience. If we don’t take up that responsibility from the start then neither will they and then we end up with a church for of people who have been trained to come, sit, sing, tithe, listen, go home. If they are going to take up the responsibility to disciple another then we need to show them how from day 1.Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)

Thirdly, there are lots of reasons why they won’t come to a church service for the first time. For starters, it’s not part of their weekly routine. And if they don’t come then our strategy is often to invite again and then again and if they never come come we quit inviting. However, typically, mature Christians attend church services. We don’t need to worry about whether they will or they won’t attend a church service, we just need to focus on helping them mature in Christ. Perhaps as they mature they will attend a different church service from ours – are we ok with that? Are we prepare to invest in people, disciple new believers, even if they don’t end up in our churches?

Jesus never said, “Invite them to a church service” but he did say “make disciples”. Perhaps the main reason we invite people to our church services and hand responsibility for discipleship over to our pastors is because we don’t know how to disciple them. There’s a simple solution to this challenge – learn how to disciple some.

What’s your church’s discipleship strategy? Where do you fit into the picture? If your neighbour said they wanted to know more about Jesus what’s your next step?

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