DiscipleShift Part 2: The Hope for Creators & Cultivators

Last week, I wrote an article about our free time and the choices we have: to consume, to cultivate, or to create.

Today, I want to extend that idea beyond the choices we make in our leisure time to our responsibility as churchgoers and disciple-makers.

Wistful Toward the Past

Young people who have grown up in church sometimes tell me about the awesome youth group they were part of or the college ministry that made an impact on them. The church made them feel welcome. Leaders made them a part of the community. Intentional cultivation of relationships led to growth in holiness. They sense wonder and gratitude when they think of the people who poured into their lives.

Fast forward a few years. The 20-somethings are now in a young-married group, or they’re just beginning their family, or they’re single and want to stay connected to church. What happens next?

Too often, I see people at this stage look back with fondness and with a touch of nostalgia at the days when they benefited from a thriving student ministry. They miss those days and regret that they’ve passed. They wonder if they’ll ever have that kind of experience again. That’s when I usually say something like this:

It’s time to shift your mindset.

You shouldn’t look at the church as if you were a consumer, expecting a certain kind of experience. Now is the time you should ask, “How can I create or cultivate that life-changing culture and experience for someone else?” Once you move from seeing yourself as a consumer, to a creator or cultivator, you will arrive at the place where pouring into others brings just as much (if not more) joy than when others were pouring into you. 

As we grow in holiness and discipleship, we must move from seeing ourselves as passive consumers of experiences that other people have created for us, and begin to see ourselves as ministers through whom God can work in the lives of the people coming up behind us.

Grandma’s Christmas Brunch

Imagine it’s Christmas morning, and Grandma has gotten up every Christmas morning for 30 years and fixed everyone a big brunch—bacon, sausage, biscuits, gravy, eggs, and fruit salad. Year after year, she joyfully spreads out that food for everyone to feast on.

At some point, if Grandma gets sick, or if Grandma has trouble pulling it off, or if by chance death takes her sooner than you expect, everyone else at the table will have to wake up and realize that if someone doesn’t do what Grandma did, we’ll never have this experience again.

Someone has to step up and say, “For 30 years, Grandma created this experience for us through her cooking and her feast. We’re going to carry it on and create this for everyone else now.” Someone has to move from the posture of ‘consumer’ to ‘creator,’ to ensure that the responsibility to create and cultivate an environment must move to the next generation. Otherwise, the tradition will disappear.

Apply that idea to student ministry. To Sunday school. To evangelism. To mission work. To community service. To choirs and worship teams. To ushers and deacons.

Cultivate and Create

We can sit around and wax nostalgic, reflecting on the good old days when people did this or that, or we can stand up and take our place as those responsible for pouring into others. The choice is ours.

Too many never make that philosophical jump. They continue to see their relationship to church as one of a consumer and thus never know the joy of becoming a creator or cultivator. When we fail to make this shift, church ministry sags and suffers. Transformative experiences fade away. Programs fall apart.

Don’t miss out on the next stage of ministry. Don’t be content with benefiting from others’ work on your behalf without ever experiencing how God wants to work through you on behalf of others.

Discipleship isn’t just about making disciples, but about making disciples who make disciples. It takes creativity and cultivation to sustain a disciple-making culture. We need consumers to shift their mindset until they become creators and cultivators, for the glory of God and the good of the church.

> Read more from Trevin.


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Trevin Wax

Trevin Wax

My name is Trevin Wax. I am a follower of Jesus Christ. My wife is Corina, and we have two children: Timothy (7) and Julia (3). Currently, I serve the church by working at LifeWay Christian Resources as managing editor of The Gospel Project, a gospel-centered small group curriculum for all ages that focuses on the grand narrative of Scripture. I have been blogging regularly at Kingdom People since October 2006. I frequently contribute articles to other publications, such as Christianity Today. I also enjoy traveling and speaking at different churches and conferences. My first book, Holy Subversion: Allegiance to Christ in an Age of Rivals, was published by Crossway Books in January 2010. (Click here for excerpts and more information.) My second book, Counterfeit Gospels: Rediscovering the Good News in a World of False Hope(Moody Publishers) was released in April 2011.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

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DiscipleShift Part 1: The Choice to Consume, Create, or Cultivate

I recently sat down with a 20-something who asked for some advice on how to become more productive in serving the Lord. He wanted to think more deeply and live more fully, and he wondered what he could start doing to cultivate the kind of life that would bear fruit for God’s kingdom in future decades.

Reflecting on my 20s, one answer came to mind. Every day, in the free time we have available, we have the choice to consume something, to create something, or to cultivate something. The pressures of this current cultural moment push us to consume, but the need of the day is for more people to create or cultivate.

Choice Before You

At the end of a long day at work, you’re greeted with an array of options. In that moment, the easiest choice is to consume. You watch a few episodes of your favorite show on Netflix, or you kill time by killing bad guys on a video game, or you sit back and cheer for your favorite sports team. There’s nothing wrong with any of these recreational activities. We need time off from pursuing productivity and efficiency. We’re human beings, not machines.

But I think the greater temptation in our day is that we move too easily between the machine-like efficiency of the workplace to the machine-like consumption of entertainment. Over time, we develop the idea that passive consumption is what we work for and live for.

Surely we were made for more than powering through the work week so we can spend hours binge watching TV or gaming on the weekends! God has built into us a rhythm of work and rest, yes, but it is a fallacy to believe that resting is always and only consumptivein nature. Restful activity can also be spent in cultivating and creating.

Consuming, Cultivating, or Creating

Here are the differences I have in mind:

  • Consuming: the passive reception of entertainment. As consumers, we spend time entertaining ourselves through television shows, movies, video games, and so on. These activities demand little of us.
  • Cultivating: the intentional development of something. As cultivators, we engage in something that makes a demand of us. It can be the development of the mind through reading and study, or cultivating of a skill or hobby, or restoring a car, or playing a musical instrument, or working in the garden. These activities require mental or physical exertion as we make something of the world we’ve been given. In turn, the activities develop us.
  • Creating: the invention of something that did not exist before. As creators, we leave something behind for others to enjoy and benefit from. We might compose a piece of music, write a poem or story or article, or paint a portrait.

We live in a culture that drives us toward consumption, not creation or cultivation. The result is we assume creating is work and consuming is rest. We assume that anything that demands something of us must be tiresome and strenuous. And so, in our free time, we naturally gravitate toward the activities that are easiest and most immediately gratifying. We choose distraction over development.

Enjoying the Creative and Cultivating Aspects of Life

We need a generation of young people to resist that tendency and to see through that fallacy. We are humans, not robots. We can train ourselves to enjoy the creative and cultivating aspects of life, even if they require something of us.

We can enjoy cooking as much as we enjoy the meal. We can enjoy the day’s yard work as much as we enjoy sitting on the patio on a summer evening with the smell of freshly cut grass in the air. We can enjoy planting flowers as much as we enjoy admiring them. We can enjoy writing songs as much as we enjoy singing them.

Finding joy in creating and cultivating doesn’t come naturally in a society that presses us to consume, consume, consume. The only way to escape the consumption trap is to spend your free time by choosing, again and again and again, to create or cultivate something rather than just consume.

Be Intentional

In The Tech-Wise FamilyAndy Crouch describes how he sets up the furniture in his home to emphasize activities that lead toward culture-making instead of consumption. I love the intentionality behind that practice.

Now, unlike Andy, my family has a television in our living room, and we watch it. Corina and I have favorite shows. I enjoy playing games on my phone with my son. My daughter and I like to watch classic TV together. I am not against passive consumption. Entertainment can be part of a well-balanced life. All of these activities have their place.

But we need a strong dose of intentionality with how we spend our free time. How often are you cultivating or creating something? The trick is to choose cultivation or creation so often that you begin to prefer to create something rather than consume something. Once you reach that point, you’ve arrived at a place where you’re unlikely to fall into the same consumptive patterns as everybody else.

You face a choice every day, week, month, and year. To create, to cultivate, or to consume. If Christians will regularly choose the former over the latter, we’ll stand out in a world that knows only the immediate gratification of consumption. And we’ll display for the world the joy of fulfilling humanity’s purpose of cultivation, as we reflect the image of the One who made us.

> Read more from Trevin Wax.


 

Read Part Two here.

Download PDF

Tags: , , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Execution >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Trevin Wax

Trevin Wax

My name is Trevin Wax. I am a follower of Jesus Christ. My wife is Corina, and we have two children: Timothy (7) and Julia (3). Currently, I serve the church by working at LifeWay Christian Resources as managing editor of The Gospel Project, a gospel-centered small group curriculum for all ages that focuses on the grand narrative of Scripture. I have been blogging regularly at Kingdom People since October 2006. I frequently contribute articles to other publications, such as Christianity Today. I also enjoy traveling and speaking at different churches and conferences. My first book, Holy Subversion: Allegiance to Christ in an Age of Rivals, was published by Crossway Books in January 2010. (Click here for excerpts and more information.) My second book, Counterfeit Gospels: Rediscovering the Good News in a World of False Hope(Moody Publishers) was released in April 2011.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.