Joining God in Your Neighborhood: Stop, Look, and Listen

Just for fun, ask this question to a group of church leaders: “Is an attractional model of ministry or incarnational emphasis more effective?” Then sit back, as a vigorous discussion is sure to follow.

Attractional ministry implies that the church’s basic strategy for reaching the lost revolves around getting “seekers” or the “unchurched” into the church building. Once inside, the opportunity to present the gospel defines the primary opportunity for evangelism. This is often known as an “invest and invite” approach.

In contrast, the incarnational emphasis of a missional mindset focuses on living and sharing the gospel “where life happens.” The emphasis is placed on the church “disassembling” itself for the primary work of evangelism in the nooks and crannies of everyday life.

In the attractional mode, big church buildings are important, and the church gathered is the consummation of evangelism. In the incarnational mode, fluid and flexible communities of faith are important; the church scattered is the consummation of evangelism. A common rally-cry against the attractional model is that the church should be measured by its sending capacity, not its seating capacity.

The missional reorientation described above represents an important shift in focus from methodology to identity. Sending is not something you do, but being sent is something you are.

SOLUTION #1: Stop, look, and listen

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Gospel Fluency, by Jeff Vanderstelt

Even if they want to, many Christians find it hard to talk to others about Jesus. Is it possible this difficulty is because we’re trying to speak a language we haven’t actually spent time practicing?

To become fluent in a new language, you must immerse yourself in it until you actually start to think about life through it. Becoming fluent in the gospel happens the same way—after believing it, we have to intentionally rehearse it (to ourselves and to others) and immerse ourselves in its truths. Only then will we start to see how everything in our lives, from the mundane to the magnificent, is transformed by the hope of the gospel. 

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

For many people, learning a second language occurred in high school or college, most likely in a classroom setting. You probably had a textbook and some sort of audiovisual support.

Maybe you learned a second language from an audio course of some kind, or an online course.

In each of the scenarios above, you probably were merely translating an unfamiliar language into a familiar one.

However, it’s one thing to know the basics of a language and quite another to become fluent in that language.

Fluency requires more than just translating from the unfamiliar to the familiar; it requires interpreting all of life through that new language.

When you begin to think, feel, and speak in that language, you are moving toward fluency. That language becomes the filter through which you perceive the world – and help others perceive your world and theirs.

It’s the same with gospel fluency.

Gospel fluency begins in you, gets worked out within community, and is expressed to a world that needs to hear about Jesus.

We have to become gospel-fluent people.

Such fluency is what God wants his people to experience with the gospel. He wants them to be able to translate the world around them and the world inside them through the lens of the gospel – the truths of God revealed in the person and work of Jesus. Gospel-fluent people think, feel, and perceive everything in light of what has been accomplished in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

They see the world differently. They think differently. They feel differently.

We are Jesus’s people, who speak the truths of Jesus into the everyday stuff of life.

Speak the truths of Jesus for rightly ordering our budgets. Speak the truths of Jesus for finding a spouse. Speak the truths of Jesus for how we respond to our employers or employees. Speak the truths of Jesus for how we parent our children. Speak the truths of Jesus into everything.

This is gospel fluency.

Language fluency requires immersion into a community of people who speak the language constantly. Gospel fluency requires immersion into a community of people so saturated with the gospel of Jesus Christ that they just can’t stop speaking the truths of Jesus wherever they go and in whatever situations they find themselves.

Jeff Vanderstelt, Gospel Fluency

A NEXT STEP

How can you become gospel fluent?

Just like the example of learning a second language recounted above, the best way to become gospel fluent is through immersion in a gospel-speaking culture.

And, again like the example, you don’t become fluent through classes or passively listening to another language.

You become fluent through immersion in a gospel-speaking place and through ongoing practice.

Consider the following common actions and the related gospel fluency questions:

Listening to people

  • How is this in line with the truths of the gospel?
  • What about Jesus and His work might be good news to this person today?

Experiencing culture

  • What themes of the gospel do you see?
  • What themes represent a false gospel?

Personal transformation

  • How are you experiencing personal changes as the truths of the gospel are integrated into your thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and actions?
  • How is hearing and speaking the truths of Jesus Christ into everything helping you grow up into Christ in every way?

Create a way to confront these questions each day for the next seven days. Record your observations around the three areas above each evening as you prepare for bed. Assess your growth in gospel fluency and take steps to continue growth.


 

This is part of a weekly series posting excerpts from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix book excerpts for church leaders.

SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; each solution is taken from a different book. Additionally, a practical action step is included with each solution.

As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS Remix provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

>> Subscribe to SUMS Remix <<

 

 

Download PDF

Tags: , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Discipleship >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company. He joined Auxano in 2012.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Excellent profile of Pasteur types. Unfortunate what happened to Jason Webb
 
— Ann Stokman
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great article. Thanks. Love this emphasis.
 
— dmmsfrontiermissions
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks, this is interesting and helps the preacher to navigate and plan is goals and objectives during difficult seasons and changing times
 
— Paul B Thomas (@Pentecostaltv)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Mobilize Disciples Like the Early Church

For the past 2,000 years, Christians have been praying for the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

And we’re still not there yet. But it’s within sight. We’re closer than ever before.

More than 2 billion people have never even heard the message of Jesus, so it’s time to take a radical stand and say, “This has to be completed in our generation.”

Nothing matters more than getting the Good News to people who haven’t heard it.

It’s why you’re still on this planet. It’s why every person in your church is still around. There are only two things you can’t do in heaven: You can’t witness to other people, and you can’t sin.

Nothing matters more than getting the Good News to everyone—and finishing our task. History depends upon it. The spiritual destinies of people depend upon it.

The church’s birth in Acts 2 gives us a great model for how we’ll reach the remaining unreached people groups on the earth. Within the story of these early Christians, we get the biblical foundation for mobilization.

1. We must depend upon the Holy Spirit.

If we don’t begin, continue, and end with the Holy Spirit, we’ll never finish the task before us. We can’t finish the task without the power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit’s presence is what makes us different from every other organization. No business or government has the Holy Spirit, but we do.

In Acts 1:8 Jesus tells us, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (NLT). The Holy Spirit gives us his power for evangelism, to share the message of the Gospel.

We’ll never finish the task of reaching the unreached without supernatural power. If we don’t have supernatural power, let’s just close up shop. Nothing we do on behalf of the unreached will get done.

2. We must use every available communication channel.

If we’re going to reach people without any other access to the Gospel, we must employ saturation evangelism. We can’t leave any options that work off the table.

In Acts 2, these early Christians spoke in different tongues. The people in Jerusalem on Pentecost came from countless nations. The apostles couldn’t have communicated with them using just one language, so the Holy Spirit enabled them to speak in the heart languages of the people to whom they were preaching. We won’t finish the task unless we speak in the heart languages of those we’re engaging.

We need each other to do this because it’s not just about reaching people who speak different languages. It’s about using multiple channels to reach people with different backgrounds, interests, and experiences. Your church might need to partner with another church with experience speaking into a rural community or an urban one. Or maybe you need help speaking the language of art, music, or accounting.

No channel should be off-limits. Our task is too important and our mission too urgent to quibble over methods.

3. We must use everyone’s spiritual gift.

We can’t just depend on those with the gifts of evangelism or prophecy. To finish the task before us, we need 100 percent participation. There are no spectators in the mission of God. We must mobilize every member in our churches. Everyone can have a role and use their gifts. The church isn’t an audience; it’s an army.

To do this, we’ll need a discipleship process that turns attendees into members, members into mature members, and mature members into ministers and missionaries. That’s why we developed the CLASS system at Saddleback.

Peter certainly understood this. In his Pentecost sermon, he quotes this passage in Joel: “‘In the Last Days,’ God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit on every kind of people: Your sons will prophesy, also your daughters; Your young men will see visions, your old men dream dreams. When the time comes, I’ll pour out my Spirit on those who serve me, men and women both, and they’ll prophesy’” (Acts 2:17-18 The Message).

The passage mentions sons, daughters, young men, old men, and women. No one should be left behind as we engage the unreached! The church’s mission has always taken the whole church to complete. It still does today.

4. We need to give people the Bible.

Our opinions won’t help the unreached. Psychology won’t help them. Western culture won’t save them either.

The Bible is what transforms the hearts of people. It’s the truth that sets us free. No other message on planet Earth transforms people into saints.

Peter’s sermon on the first Pentecost was full of God’s Word. He pointed to what God was doing in those days and showed how God had prophesied about that unique moment in his Word. As God formed the church out of the 3,000 saved at Pentecost, the church was devoted to the apostles’ teaching. Why was God’s Word so important in the early church? Because you can’t reach the unreached without it.

5. We must demonstrate God’s love by cooperating together.

Our greatest witness to the world isn’t our apologetics. It’s how we love one another. The world needs us to show them a different way as we work together to fulfill the task God has given us. Political and denominational barriers shouldn’t divide us in this. That’s why our upcoming Finishing the Task conference is so critical. It’s an opportunity for you to connect with others committed to fulfilling the Great Commission.

We’re not in competition to reach the unreached. We’re on the same team. The early church understood this. Acts 2:42 tells us the early Christians “were like family to each other” (CEV). We need to learn from their example.

6. We must go with the spirit of joyful praise.

Acts 2:46-47 says, The believers had a single purpose and went to the temple every day. They were joyful and humble as they ate at each other’s homes and shared their food. At the same time, they praised God and had the goodwill of all the people. Every day the Lord saved people, and they were added to the group” (GW).

The early church knew that the Great Commission isn’t a task we complete out of duty. It’s a mission we embark on in delight. We don’t tell the world about Jesus in drudgery but out of gratitude because he changed our lives. Worship energizes missions, missions creates more worshipers, and worship creates joy.

7. We must make generous sacrifices.

We’ll never finish the task in our spare time. It’ll never be convenient. It’ll take sacrifices.

It’s why the early church grew so rapidly. Acts 2:44-45 says, “All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need” (NIV). Think about this a bit. They sold their land and everything they owned to give money to those who needed it. How many people in our churches would do that today?

Pastor, your church will become generous when you’re generous. If you want to know the temperature of your church, put the thermometer in your mouth. You don’t grow a generous church by accident. Your church becomes generous when you intentionally build it to be generous. We must teach people in our congregations that the greatest thing they can do is sacrifice for something greater than themselves.

8. We must expect exponential growth.

I call this the “faith factor.” When I was still in seminary, I wrote to the 100 largest churches in America and asked them a series of questions. I read every book in print on church growth. At that time, there were about 72 books. I also did more than 120 crusades before I was 20 years old. During this period, I kept notes about what was working in those communities—and what wasn’t. I kept looking for common characteristics. I discovered God uses all kinds of churches and all kinds of methods. Anyone who tells you there is only one way to reach new people is simply wrong.

The only common denominator I could find in churches and other organizations God uses in an unusual way is that the leadership isn’t afraid to trust God. Jesus said in Matthew 9:29, “According to your faith let it be done to you” (NIV). God tells us we get to choose how much God blesses us.

When will we finish the task? We’ll do it when enough people believe we’ll finish the task.

My dad died a few years back. During the last week of his life, he began dreaming aloud. For that last week, I sat by his bedside just listening to him dream. You learn a lot about somebody listening to their dreams. I never once heard him talk about being a war hero in World War II. I never heard him talk about the books he’d read or the movies he watched. I never heard him talk about fishing, which he loved.

More than anything else, he talked about the mission projects he had been on. I’d hear him all the time reliving building projects he had participated in.

The night before he died, he was in this dream like state. He became very agitated and kept trying to get out of bed. Every time he’d try, Kay would tell him, “Jimmy, you can’t get out of bed. Whatever you need, just tell us. We’ll get it for you.” He still did it over and over again. He could barely stand up though.

Then my dad started saying, “Got to save one more for Jesus. Got to save one more for Jesus.” He said it over and over in front of my wife, my niece, and myself.

As I sat by my father’s bed, tears ran down my cheeks. I thanked God for a heritage of a father like that.

Then my dad frailly reached up his hands and put them on my head like a blessing as he said, “Reach one more for Jesus. One more for Jesus, one more for Jesus.”

I intend for that to be the theme for the rest of my life. It’s why I am committed to the very core to finishing the task of reaching all of the unreached people groups around the world. There is nothing more important than bringing God’s lost children back to him, building them up to maturity, training them for ministry, and sending them out on mission. I decided a long time ago I didn’t want to waste my life.

I’m addicted to seeing God change lives. I hope you are, too. That’s why we’re going to finish the task before us. And I hope you’ll attend the upcoming Finishing the Task conference at Saddleback.

Together, let’s reach one more for Jesus.

> Read more from Rick.


 

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Discipleship >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rick Warren

Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Excellent profile of Pasteur types. Unfortunate what happened to Jason Webb
 
— Ann Stokman
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great article. Thanks. Love this emphasis.
 
— dmmsfrontiermissions
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks, this is interesting and helps the preacher to navigate and plan is goals and objectives during difficult seasons and changing times
 
— Paul B Thomas (@Pentecostaltv)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

10 Leadership Skills Inherent in Missional Leadership

Leadership essentials…discipleship essentials. What’s the relationship?

You can lead and never actually make disciples.  But, you can never make disciples and not lead.

“Why didn’t we learn this stuff you are teaching us in our church when we were kids?”

Youth Week 2016-Camp Okoboji

The question was so honest, so raw. A teenager, learning to listen, to build conversations, to be curious…all in an effort to be an everyday missionary every day. His excitement over what he was learning quickly turned to a regret. Why didn’t someone teach him this earlier?

With all the focus on leadership in the church we have not been gaining Kingdom ground.  We don’t have a leadership void in the church today, we have a discipleship void.  The issues facing the church in America will not be settled by more advanced leadership training, or better run organizations, but by a dynamic movement of the Spirit as more and more people follow Jesus.  How will we get there?

By focusing on discipleship…leadership skills are “in there.”

As an emerging leader you can receive advanced leadership training in the church and not actually make disciples.  But, you can’t make disciples and not be growing in your advanced leadership skills.

You can lead and never actually make disciples.  But, you can never make disciples and not lead.

I think we may have missed the point.  Jesus never called us to leadership.  He called us to follow Him. The promise?  “I will make you fishers of men.”  Mark 1:17  And, as you fish for men, others will follow.  That’s leadership.

We don’t strive to learn leadership skills and build our leadership acumen so that we can run a “tighter ship” or more efficient organization.  We grow as leaders so that we can make disciples.  We invest time and energy into our craft as leaders so that we might join in the movement of God and see more and more people move from darkness to light to the glory of God and the benefit of the world.

When we focus on discipleship as first priority, leadership skills are caught.  Leadership essentials are discovered and lived out as we follow Jesus and join Him in making disciples. Leadership development and missional leadership are not at odds with each other.  Missional leadership demands the artful application of basic leadership skills.  Here’s a quick list of 10 basic leadership skills that have emerged in my own ministry over the years. And, by the way, am still learning them today as I follow Jesus:

10 Basic Leadership Skills Inherent in Missional Leadership

The Art of Following

How do you follow Jesus in this changing climate, and what are you learning from Him?

The Art of Obeying

Are you following through on what God is asking of you and allowing someone to hold you accountable?

The Art of Invitation

Who are you inviting to follow you as you follow Jesus?

The Art of Imitation

With whom are you “dwelling” so that they can see how you follow Jesus?

The Art of Fractal

Have you boiled down what you want replicated to the simplest, most basic form?

The Art of Replication

Do you have apprentices at every level of participation in your ministry?

The Art of Release

Are you controlling or freely sending others?

The Art of Focused-Support

Are you giving mandates and directive measures to those you lead, or are you helping them discover and own their own calling?

The Art of Vision Clarity

Can you answer with clarity the 5 core questions of visionary leadership for your missional context?

What are we doing?

 

Why are we doing it?

 

How are we doing it?

 

When are we successful?

 

Where is God leading us?

The Art of Execution

What are you doing every day to integrate those answers into the fabric of your ministry?

What missional leadership essentials would you add to the list?

> Read more from Jeff.


Learn more about cultivating a leader-soaked ministry.

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Leadership >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeff Meyer

Jeff Meyer

I am Jeff Meyer, and I start fires. Ever since that basketball game in college when I came off the bench and lit a spark for my team, I have carried the nickname "Fire Meyer." (Until that point in my career my jersey #22 never saw the floor in an actual game. Perhaps the #22 was a symbol of my life calling: 2 Timothy 2:2?) I live to see sparks ignited and connections made. I long to see the church wake up and live. I long to see Jesus-followers display passionate commitment to Jesus. Jesus' invitation to follow Him was an adventure of epic proportions. Can we recapture that today? I long to see communities transformed into healthy places of wholeness. I believe that communities are transformed when Jesus-followers are stoked and respond. Perhaps you've heard it said that the church is the hope of the world. I believe that a responsive Jesus-follower is the hope of the world. "Igniting connections" is my way of setting off some inspirational sparks; sparks that ignite a passionate response to the call of Jesus.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

dmmsfrontiermissions — 11/12/18 9:23 pm

Great article. Thanks. Love this emphasis.

Kim William Coutts — 11/15/16 10:12 am

Many thanks Jeff. The American church must rediscover her roots in relational discipleship driven by her leaders. I intend to use your set of questions with our supported missionaries challenging each of them to go deeper and wider as disciples who make disciples. I appreciate you stoking my fire.

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Excellent profile of Pasteur types. Unfortunate what happened to Jason Webb
 
— Ann Stokman
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great article. Thanks. Love this emphasis.
 
— dmmsfrontiermissions
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks, this is interesting and helps the preacher to navigate and plan is goals and objectives during difficult seasons and changing times
 
— Paul B Thomas (@Pentecostaltv)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

What to Do When Your Faith Goes Stale

We never had the problem of stale chips and crackers when I was a kid. But that’s because I grew up in a part of the country where there was humidity about 3 days out of the year. But here in middle Tennessee, it’s a different story.

These days of summer are not just hot – they are thick. It can feel sometimes like walking around in a bowl of soup with a wool sweater wrapped around your face. And the chips and crackers in the house are one of the casualties.

You know that feeling? Of biting into something that’s supposed to satisfyingly crunch, and instead coming away with a mouthful of gummy mush? Here’s another question – does faith ever feel like that? It certainly does to me.

In an ideal world, our faith should have some edge to it. Some emotion. Some excitement. Some vital tingling that comes from knowing we have been rescued from the gravest danger imaginable with the best news possible. And to know that we live in perpetual safety because the grip of the Savior who holds us is mighty, mighty strong.

But there are days… even seasons… when what should be so joy-producing just seems stale. Soft. Punchy.

You bite into God’s Word, or prayer, or fellowship with the saints, and you feel… not very much. And you know deep inside of you that this is wrong, and you want it to be different. So what do you say to yourself during those times when your faith feels stale? Here are three things:

1. God’s affection for me has not grown stale.

One of my favorite gospel images comes in Jesus’ story of two prodigal sons. While the older son stayed at home under the guise of faithful service to the father, the younger son sought adventure and satisfaction elsewhere. Taking his inheritance early, the younger son abandoned the family and went to life his best life now in the far country. Eventually he came to awakening of everything he had sacrificed and began the long journey home. And when he finally gets within eyesight of his childhood home, his father meets him on the road, and that’s when we get the image.

The Bible says the Father, literally, “fell upon the neck” of the son. Despite his arrogance, despite his abandonment, despite his stale heart, the father’s affection had not grown cold. He still burned with love for his boy. What an image. And here we find ourselves. True enough, perhaps we haven’t exactly spent time in the far country. We may have actually been more like the older son, going through the motions of service all the while feeling less and less joy and more and more bitterness. But the affection of the father for both his sons is near palpable.

What an amazing thing to know – not just feel, but know – that God’s affection for you is rooted in the sure foundation of the gospel, not how much emotion you can gin up for Him. So when you feel your faith growing stale, stoke the fire a bit with the confidence that God is still ready to fall upon your neck.

2. Beware the lure of substitute joy.

The human heart is made to seek joy. We are crafted for enjoyment. But in our sin, we have sought that joy and fulfillment in false sources. As the prophet said, “For my people have committed a double evil: They have abandoned me, the fountain of living water, and dug cisterns for themselves—cracked cisterns that cannot hold water” (Jer. 2:13). When we feel our faith growing stale, we often wish it was different. We long for the seasons when the feelings were stronger and the joy seemed greater. But we should also be aware – these days of staleness are precisely the moments when the lure of sin will be great.

Thirsty for joy, we will look to broken cisterns instead of to the fountain of living water. Speak it to your soul, Christian, and urge yourself to be on your guard because sin will find a foothold.

3. It will not always be this way.

And then there’s this. This wonderful news. When our faith seems to grow stale, we can remind ourselves that it will not always be this way.

Here’s a portion of John’s glorious revelation about the day when everything bad and wrong will be undone:

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. I also saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband. Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look, God’s dwelling is with humanity, and he will live with them. They will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them and will be their God” (Rev. 21:1-3).

This is the new day. When all things are made new. And “all things” include our elusive emotional lives. In the present day, we are fickle and rebellious. We know the right we should do, and we know the right we should feel. But we don’t. Far too often, we don’t feel as we should. But our glorification in Christ will include the setting in proper order of our emotions. We will value what is truly valuable. We will be satisfied by what is truly satisfying. We will feel what we ought to have been feeling all along. And this is good news.

A stale faith, if you recognize the error in it, is an opportunity to long for heaven when it’s not going to be this way any more.

So don’t give up, friend. Don’t give up if it feels a bit stale. Trust in what you know to be true – and in whom you know to be the source of truth, and keep going.

> Read more from Michael.


 

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Discipleship >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Kelley

I’m a Christ-follower, husband, dad, author and speaker. Thanks for stopping here to dialogue with me about what it means to live deeply in all the arenas of life. I live in Nashville, Tennessee, with my wife Jana who is living proof of the theory that males are far more likely to marry over their heads than females are. We have three great kids, Joshua (5) and Andi (3), and Christian (less than 1). They remind me on a daily basis how much I have to grow in being both a father and a child. I work full time for Lifeway Christian Resources, where I’m a Bible study editor. I also get out on the road some to speak in different churches, conferences and retreats.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Excellent profile of Pasteur types. Unfortunate what happened to Jason Webb
 
— Ann Stokman
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great article. Thanks. Love this emphasis.
 
— dmmsfrontiermissions
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks, this is interesting and helps the preacher to navigate and plan is goals and objectives during difficult seasons and changing times
 
— Paul B Thomas (@Pentecostaltv)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Growing People Beyond the Baptistry

One of the most exciting moments within the life of a church is when someone comes to know Jesus Christ as Savior. We celebrate having new believers in our churches, but are we leading them to become lifelong disciples of Jesus?

Are we helping them continue through the transformation process or are we leaving them in convert mode?

Conversion is not the end. It is the glorious beginning.

We have become masters at getting “decisions.” Conversion is a powerful event in the life of the believer. It is a great moment. But it isn’t the end of the game. Converting those decisions into disciples must be part of the church’s purpose.

Sometimes we put such an emphasis on that moment, we make people think that is all we are after. The not-so-funny joke is that some people are willing to receive Christ just so the pastor will leave them alone. Our goal is often for conversions. But God’s goal is for transformation, which really just begins at conversion.

Paul remarks in his letter to the Philippians (1:6), “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.” Conversion is central to the beginning of new life, being relocated (spiritually) to another kingdom. Colossians 1:13 tells us that we are “transferred through the domain of darkness into the kingdom of the Son He loves.”

They have been born again, Jesus says in John 3. So there is now a spiritual life present now that was not present before. The Spirit of God dwells in them. They have new life. They are a new creation in Christ even as Christ in them is the “hope of glory.” But that event is not the end. It is a taste of the ongoing transformation that will come.

Spiritual growth should always follow spiritual birth.

How do we follow up for spiritual growth?

It’s a really bad idea to give birth to a baby and leave them on their own. We call that abandonment. People go to jail for that—and rightfully so. But I think sometimes we do that in church.

I call people to trust and respond to Christ every week in our church service. We ask them to share that decision through a card. Others use an altar call where new believers are connected with an established believer.

Whatever you use, it is at this point the process of partnership in spiritual growth is now stewarded to you and your church. We need to prioritize the discipling of anyone who has trusted Christ in our church.

When a church I helped start had ten people, I would meet with that person the same week. Now that our church has grown, I am not necessarily the person who meets with that new believer (unless they are in my neighborhood).

But in that context we grew to where we had dozens of groups that became the “under shepherds,” leading people into the spiritual growth process. Those groups were made of small group leaders—lay pastors in a sense—who were empowered to do the disciple making.

It is essential that someone connects with a new believer. As a matter of fact, I would say that there is no more important person in the life of the church, my church and yours, than the person who has just called upon the name of King Jesus for Salvation.

Spiritual mentoring creates a pathway to stabilization

Why is it so important to connect a new convert with someone who will walk through the spiritual growth process? More often than not people respond to Christ because they are in a life crisis, not just because they wake up feeling the need to be closer to Christ.

Adults who become Christians usually do so because of a challenging situation of some sort, and that means they probably need some help, and often need it fast.

A person who responds to Christ in a crisis then needs three types of stabilization, as I first heard from my friend Dan Morgan. And a journey companion can help with each of these.

Personal Stabilization – Most of the adults who I see trust Christ are doing so as their marriage is in trouble, or they’ve just had a drunk driving incident or whatever it may be. They need personal stabilization. Their personal life is spinning out of control. They are facing and making some crazy decisions. Becoming personally stable is part of what happens during spiritual transformation. So we have people in our church who can help with that.

Relational Stabilization – Now that they’ve become a believer they’re probably leaving behind some things and certain people behind who aren’t on board with their new life. These are usually people with whom they used to get into trouble, and some who helped them into the crisis God used to reach them. Losing friends and family can sometimes be part of following Jesus—not because that is our desire, but sometimes because the old friends aren’t too keen about that new life. But, either way, it isn’t easy. So they need people who can help with relational stabilization.

Doctrinal Stabilization – The unregenerated person does not think properly about God, life, truth, etc. So part of the discipleship process is renewal of our mind. We know “all Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16) So the convert will definitely need to exchange their belief system for God’s truth. However, most follow up only focuses on doctrinal stabilization.

Yes, let’s teach them what they need to know, but there may be some other stabilization that needs to take place first. Eventually good doctrine will help sustain them through crisis. But in a crisis, a whole new set of truths is not the only thing that is needed.

Spiritual mentoring is follow-up that encourages following.

This piece won’t answer every question, but I mainly want to remind us all that we need to immediately help people grow—and to do so through a process.

Every church needs a pathway which will provide direction for their discipleship plan, and also show how they grow together as a church. So we want them to travel on the pathway—maybe through classes, intentional relationships, a workbook, and more. But particularly when they’re older we want to recognize there’s probably a lot of instability we need to engage.

Part of that process has to involve people. The best thing you can offer a new believer is an older believer. It doesn’t have to be someone older in age, but rather someone who has been walking with Jesus for a longer period of time and experienced ongoing life-transformation themselves.

> Read more from Ed.


 

Download PDF

Tags: , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Discipleship >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer, Ph.D., holds the Billy Graham Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College and serves as Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism. He has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books. Previously, he served as Executive Director of LifeWay Research. Stetzer is a contributing editor for Christianity Today, a columnist for Outreach Magazine, and is frequently cited or interviewed in news outlets such as USAToday and CNN. He serves as interim pastor of Moody Church in Chicago.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Excellent profile of Pasteur types. Unfortunate what happened to Jason Webb
 
— Ann Stokman
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great article. Thanks. Love this emphasis.
 
— dmmsfrontiermissions
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks, this is interesting and helps the preacher to navigate and plan is goals and objectives during difficult seasons and changing times
 
— Paul B Thomas (@Pentecostaltv)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Why Minding Community is Better than Finding It

One of the great myths of relational life is that community is something found. In this fairy tale, community is simply out there – somewhere – waiting to be discovered like Prince Charming finding Cinderella. All you have to do is find the right person, join the right group, get the right job or become involved with the right church. It’s kind of an “Over the Rainbow” thing; it’s not here, so it must be over there.

Which is why so many people – and you’ve seen them and probably flirted with this yourself – go from relationship to relationship, city to city, job to job, church to church, looking for the community that they think is just around the corner if they could only find the right people and the right place. The idea is that real community exists somewhere and we simply must tap into it. It’s not something you have to work at; in fact, if you have to work at it, then you know it’s not real community.

This mindset runs rampant in our day. If you have to work at community in a marriage, you must not be right for each other. If you have to work on community where you are employed, you’ve got a bad boss or bad coworkers or a bad structure. If you have to work at community in a neighborhood, you just picked the wrong subdivision. If you have to work on things with people in a church, well, there are obviously just problems with the church or its leadership or… yep, its “community.”

I cannot stress enough how soundly unrealistic, much less unbiblical, this is. Community is not something you find; it’s something you build. What you long for isn’t about finding the right mate, the right job, the right neighborhood, the right church—it’s about making your marriage, making your workplace, making your neighborhood and making your church the community God intended. Community is not something discovered; it is something forged. I don’t mean to suggest any and all relationships are designed for, say, marriage. Or that there aren’t dysfunctional communities you should flee from. My point is that all relationships of worth are products of labor.

This is why the Bible talks about people needing to form and make communities, not just come together as a community or “experience” community. It’s why principles are given – at length – for how to work through conflict. It’s why communication skills are articulated in the Bible and issues such as anger are instructed to be dealt with. It’s why the dynamics of successfully living with someone in the context of a marriage or family are explored in depth. As the author of Hebrews puts it so plainly:

So don’t sit around on your hands! No more dragging your feet… run for it! Work at getting along with each other. (Hebrews 12:12-14, The Message)

> Read more from James.


 

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Discipleship >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

James Emery White

James Emery White

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. He is the founder of Serious Times and this blog was originally posted at his website www.churchandculture.org.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Excellent profile of Pasteur types. Unfortunate what happened to Jason Webb
 
— Ann Stokman
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great article. Thanks. Love this emphasis.
 
— dmmsfrontiermissions
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks, this is interesting and helps the preacher to navigate and plan is goals and objectives during difficult seasons and changing times
 
— Paul B Thomas (@Pentecostaltv)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Developing the Mature Mind of Christ

God wants you to grow up.

“God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love – like Christ in everything” (Ephesians 4:15 The Message).

“We are not meant to remain as children ….” (Ephesians 4:14 Phillips).

Your heavenly Father’s goal is for you to mature and develop the characteristics of Jesus Christ, living a life of love and humble service.  Sadly, millions of Christians grow older but never grow up.  They are stuck in perpetual spiritual infancy, remaining in diapers and booties. The reason is because they never intended to grow.

Spiritual growth is not automatic. It takes an intentional commitment. You must want to grow, decide to grow, make an effort to grow, and persist in growing.

Discipleship – the process of becoming like Christ – always begins with a decision.

“As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he rose and followed him” (Matthew 9:9 ESV).

When the first disciples chose to follow Jesus, they didn’t understand all the implications of their decision. They simply responded to Jesus’ invitation. That’s all you need to get started: decide to become a disciple.

Nothing shapes your life more than the commitments you choose to make. Your commitments can develop you or they can destroy you, but either way, they will define you. Tell me what you are committed to, and I’ll tell you what you’ll be in 20 years. We become whatever we are committed to.

It is at this point of commitment that most people miss God’s purpose for their lives.  Many are afraid to commit to anything and just drift through life. Others make half-hearted commitments to competing values, which leads to frustration and mediocrity. Others make a full commitment to worldly goals, such as becoming wealthy or famous, and end up disappointed and bitter. Every choice has eternal consequences, so you’d better choose wisely.

“Since everything around us is going to melt away, what holy, godly lives you should be living!” (2 Peter 3:11 NLT).

Christlikeness comes from making Christlike commitments. You must commit to living the rest of your life for the five purposes God made. Jesus summarized these purposes in the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.

A great commitment
to the Great Commandment
and the Great Commission
will make you a great Christian.

Once you decide to get serious about becoming like Christ, you must begin to act in new ways. You’ll need to let go of some old routines, develop some new habits, and intentionally change the way you think.

“Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:12 NIV).

This verse shows the two parts of spiritual growth: “work out” and “work in.”  The “work out” is your responsibility and the “work in” is God’s role.  Spiritual growth is a collaborative effort between you and the Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit works with us, not just in us.

This verse, written to believers, is not about how to be saved, but how to grow. It does not say “work for” your salvation, because you can’t add anything to what Jesus already did! During a physical workout, you exercise to develop your body, not to get a body.

When you “work out” a puzzle, you already have all the pieces – your task is to put it together. Farmers work the land, not to get land, but to develop what they already have. God has given you a new life; now you are responsible to develop it “with fear and trembling.” That is to take your spiritual growth seriously, because it will determine your role in eternity. When people are casual about their growth in Christlikeness, it shows they don’t understand the implications.

To change your life, you must change the way you think. Behind everything you do is a thought. Every behavior is motivated by a belief, and every action is prompted by an attitude. God revealed this thousands of years before psychologists understood it:

“Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts” (Proverbs 4:23 GNT).

Imagine riding in a speedboat on a lake with an automatic pilot set to go east. If you decide to reverse and head west, you have two possible ways to change the boat’s direction.  One way is to grab the steering wheel and physically force it to head in the opposite direction that the autopilot is programmed to go. By sheer willpower, you could overcome the autopilot, but you’d feel constant resistance. Your arms would eventually tire of the stress, you’d let go of the steering wheel, and the boat would instantly head back east, the way it was internally programmed.

This is what happens when you try to change your life with willpower: You say “I’ll force myself to eat less. . .stop smoking. . .quit being disorganized and late.” Yes, willpower can produce short-term change, but it creates constant internal stress because you haven’t dealt with the root cause. The change doesn’t feel natural.

Eventually you give up, and go off the diet. There is a better and easier way: Change your autopilot – the way you think.

“Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think” (Romans 12:2 NLT).

Your first step in spiritual growth is to start changing the way you think. Change always starts first in your mind. The way you think determines the way you feel, and the way you feel influences the way you act.

“Let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes” (Ephesians 4:23 NLT).

To be like Christ you must develop the mind of Christ. The New Testament calls this mental shift “repentance,” which in Greek literally means “to change your mind.” To repent means to change the way you think – about God, yourself, sin, other people, life, your future, and everything else. You adopt Christ’s outlook and perspective on life.

“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5 NIV). 

There are two parts to thinking like Jesus. The first half of this mental shift is to stop thinking immature thoughts, which are self-centered and self-seeking.  Babies, by nature, are completely selfish. They think only of themselves. That is immature thinking.

“Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things” (Romans 8:5 NLT).

“Stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults” (1 Corinthians 14:20 NIV).

The second half of thinking like Jesus is to start thinking maturely, which focuses on others, not yourself. In his great chapter on what real love is, Paul concluded that thinking of others is the mark of maturity: “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me” (1 Corinthians 13:11 NIV).

Today, many assume that spiritual maturity is measured by how much biblical knowledge and doctrine you know. While knowledge is one measurement of maturity, it isn’t the whole story. The Christian life is far more than creeds and convictions; it includes conduct and character. Our deeds must be consistent with our creeds and our beliefs must be backed up with Christlike behavior.

Christianity is not a philosophy, but a relationship and a life, where we practice thinking of others as Jesus did:

“We should think of their good and try to help them by doing what pleases them” (Romans 15:2 CEV).

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too” (Philippians 2:3-4 NLT).

Thinking of others is the heart of Christlikeness and the goal of spiritual growth.  This kind of thinking is unnatural, countercultural, and rare. The only way we will learn to think this way is by filling our minds with the Word of God.

> Read more from Rick.


 

Connect with an Auxano Navigator to learn more about developing a discipleship process.

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Discipleship >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rick Warren

Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Excellent profile of Pasteur types. Unfortunate what happened to Jason Webb
 
— Ann Stokman
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great article. Thanks. Love this emphasis.
 
— dmmsfrontiermissions
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks, this is interesting and helps the preacher to navigate and plan is goals and objectives during difficult seasons and changing times
 
— Paul B Thomas (@Pentecostaltv)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Disciplemaking Leaders: Live Out the Five Relationships of a Disciplemaker

Discipleship is a process that begins after conversion and continues throughout a believer’s life. Discipleship calls for our undivided attention and commitment to follow the commands of our Lord. Discipleship is not an option for any church or believer. Christ mandated it in the Great Commission. To disciple others is to obey our Lord’s command; to do otherwise is to disobey Him.

It becomes easy for every church’s disciple-making mission to get cluttered with lots of things to do. And most church leaders are very good at doing things. As a result, administration of programs replaces actual disciple making practices. As you look ahead to the next year, slow down and refresh your conviction for disciplemaking by looking to the Master himself.

How does a Jesus-centric disciplemaking conviction rescue you from a “program management” culture? Have you resigned to herding people through classes and events? Are you relying too much on better preaching? Or do you have a robust, disciple-making strategy built around life-on-life investment, like Jesus?

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Discipleship That Fits by Bobby Harrington and Alex Absalom

For far too long, the church has tried to make disciples using a one-size-fits-all approach. Some churches advocate 1-on-1 discipling, others try getting everyone into a small group, while still others training through mission trips or service projects. Yet others focus all their efforts on attracting people to a large group gathering to hear biblical teaching and preaching. But does one size really fit everyone?

Based on careful biblical study and years of experience making disciples in the local church, Bobby Harrington and Alex Absalom have identified five key relationships where discipleship happens in our lives. In each relational context we need to understand how discipleship occurs and we need to set appropriate expectations for each context.

Discipleship That Fits shows you the five key ways discipleship occurs. It looks at how Jesus made disciples and how disciples were formed in the early church. Each of the contexts is necessary at different times and in different ways as a person grows toward maturity in Christ.

Filled with examples and stories, the authors show you how to develop discipleship practices in each relational context by sharing how Jesus did it, how the early church practiced it, and how churches are discipling people today.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

The concept of individualism in American culture has at times approached the level of idolatry, and even influenced the way we think about discipleship. After all, we can learn and grow all by ourselves, right?

The truth is Christians need relationships to grow. We don’t grow in isolation; we develop in the context of relationships with others.

Another truth is that we tend to live isolated lives. While that seems almost laughable in today’s hyper-connected society with some type of screen constantly in our faces, the sad reality is we often don’t know how to relate to people.

So how can we develop relationships that make a difference in our disciplemaking?

In the 1960s, sociologist Edward T. Hall introduced his groundbreaking studies that provided a foundation for developing relationships in the various “spaces” of our lives: public, social, personal, and intimate.

Authors Bobby Harrington and Alex Absalom develop the thought of these four spaces as the context for developing relationships that God uses to help us grow.

God disciples us in many contexts, shaping and molding hearts, minds, and lives – and calling us to imitate his example with those we lead.

The Public Context exists where people gather in the hundreds around a shared outside resource. If the resource is physically present, people will generally be at least 12 feet away from it (think of your distance from the stage if you go see a play or concert). In the environment the focus is on engaging with the outside resource, rather than building relational depth with others who also happen to be there.

The Social Context is the range between twenty and seventy people, where we share snapshots of who we are and thereby seek to build affinity with others. In this context (think of a backyard cookout) three things happen: we build neighborly relations, we start to identify those with whom we’d like to become closer friend, and we reveal elements of our identity and our journey. In terms of proximity, we will be somewhere between 4 and 12 feet apart.

The Personal Context forms in groups of four to twelve, where we feel able to share private information. Think, for instance, of good friends talking over drinks, revealing personal thoughts and feelings about their ongoing lives and relationships. Usually we are 18 inches to 4 feet apart in this context, which is both within comfortable touching distance and close enough to see the other persons as they truly are – warts, wrinkles, and all! Such acceptance and physical closeness are representative of the emotional qualities of a relationship in this context, where we experience a genuine depth of friendship.

The Transparent Context is when you are with just one or two others, making a group of two to four people, your closes to relationships. In this context, characterized by complete openness and candor, nothing is held back. This echoes the biblical idea of being “naked and yet unashamed” – an ideal we live out literally in marriage and metaphorically with our best friends. You are 0 to 18 inches apart in the closes moments of these relationships, noting that at such proximity the other person’s flaws seem to fade away (since your eyes can’t focus on them). This blurring of flaws is a wonderful metaphor for what is going on relationally at these safest depths of human engagement.

The Divine Context represents God’s direct interactions with us, his people, at a one-on-one level. Our focus shifts from cultivating relationship with others to being alone with our Creator and Redeemer as he encounters us in our inner world. We delude ourselves if we believe there can be any barriers in this place; indeed, we come face-to-face with our true selves, as reflected in the loving eyes of our heavenly Father. This communion with God in turn equips us to engage more fruitfully in each of the other four contexts.

Bobby Harrington and Alex Absalom, Discipleship That Fits

A NEXT STEP

Using the table below, conduct a personal study of Jesus and the five different contexts as outlined above.

After completing this study, reflect on what you have learned about the five different types of relationships, how you have grown closer to God because of them, and how you will be better able to disciple others in his name.

What next step is God calling you to take as a result?

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 77-2, released October 2017.


 

This is part of a weekly series posting excerpts from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix book excerpts for church leaders.

SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; each solution is taken from a different book. Additionally, a practical action step is included with each solution.

As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS Remix provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

> > Subscribe to SUMS Remix <<

 

 

Download PDF

Tags: , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Discipleship >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company. He joined Auxano in 2012.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Excellent profile of Pasteur types. Unfortunate what happened to Jason Webb
 
— Ann Stokman
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great article. Thanks. Love this emphasis.
 
— dmmsfrontiermissions
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks, this is interesting and helps the preacher to navigate and plan is goals and objectives during difficult seasons and changing times
 
— Paul B Thomas (@Pentecostaltv)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

The Critical Importance of Leadership Development in Discipleship

“Your church is designed to lead, designed to disciple leaders who are, by God’s grace, commanded to disciple people in all spheres of life.”

That sentence is near the beginning of Eric Geiger and Kevin Peck’s excellent book on leadership development in the local church. This is the kind of book that pastors and church leaders will use and discuss for many years because it provides an important framework for considering these issues: Convictions, Culture, and Constructs.  I wanted to introduce this book to you by reiterating the importance of keeping discipleship and leadership together.


3 REASONS WE MUST NEVER DIVORCE LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT FROM DISCIPLESHIP

by Eric Geiger and Kevin Peck

Consumption is focused on the masses and for the short-term payoff. Discipleship is focused on the person for the long run, for fruit that will last.

Churches will drift without a consistent and constant conviction for discipleship, to disciple people and develop leaders. We must not settle for consumption. Though much more challenging and difficult, we must insist on discipleship. And we must view leadership development as part of discipleship, not as distinct or divorced from it. Here is why:

1. Discipleship is the only means.

God has designed the end and the means. The end is people from every tribe, tongue, and nation gathered around the throne worshipping Him because they were purchased with the blood of Christ (Rev. 5:9-10). Regardless of what happens this week, what unfolds in the news, the ending has already been made clear: God is redeeming for Himself a people from all peoples.

The end was made clear in the beginning. God preached the gospel to Abraham saying, “All the nations will be blessed through you” (Gal. 3:8). God told Abraham that people from every nation would have God’s righteousness credited to them. At the beginning of the Bible, we find that God is going to pursue all peoples through His chosen people, Israel. At the end of the Bible, we find that God has gathered worshippers from every people group.

In the middle of the Bible is the means, the command Jesus gave us: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19). We live in the middle. The means to the glorious end is not leadership development apart from Jesus. The means is not leadership development divorced from discipleship. The means is discipleship. He has commanded us to make disciples of all nations, disciples who will obey everything He commanded.

2. Discipleship impacts all of life.

As Christ is more fully formed in people, the totality of their lives is impacted. Those who are overwhelmed with how Christ has served them will serve others. Those in awe of God’s generosity will be generous. Those who are captivated by God’s mission to rescue and redeem join Him in pursuing people who are far from God. Their serving, generosity, and sense of mission impacts their relationships, their approach to their careers, and their view of life. Their growth as a disciple shapes how they lead at home, in their profession, and through all of life.

Discipleship is the only way to produce leaders that serve and bless the world. If leaders are created apart from Jesus-focused discipleship, they are created without grace-motivated service, generosity, and mission.

To view discipleship as distinct from leadership development is to propose that discipleship does not impact all of one’s life. If a church approaches leadership development as distinct from discipleship, the church unintentionally communicates a false dichotomy—that one’s leadership can be divorced form one’s faith. Being a Christian leader must not be positioned as disconnected from living a godly life in Christ Jesus.

3. Leadership development apart from discipleship becomes overly skill-based.

If leaders are developed apart from Jesus, the emphasis is inevitably on skills and not the heart transformed through Christ. Divorcing leadership development from discipleship can leave people more skilled and less sanctified. And when competency and skill outpace character, leaders are set up for a fall. We don’t serve people well if we teach them how to lead without teaching them how to follow Him. We don’t serve leaders well if we develop their skills without shepherding their character.

It is difficult to say this humbly, but maturing Christ-followers make better leaders. Even authors not writing from a distinctly Christian worldview articulate this truth without realizing it. For example, in his popular books Emotional Intelligence and Primal Leadership, researcher and author Daniel Goleman builds the case that the most effective leaders are emotionally intelligent. More than a high IQ (intelligence quotient), great leaders have a high EQ (emotional quotient), and are able to create environments and cultures that are highly effective. Effective leaders, Goleman contends, have the ability to manage their emotions, genuinely connect with people, offer kindness and empathy, lead with joy and inspiration, and display the master skill of patience. Sounds a lot like the fruit of the Spirit in the life of a believer (Gal. 5:22-23).

Yet all pushes for integrity and all the instructions on character development from leadership gurus won’t transform a leader’s heart. Inevitably after these authors reveal their findings that “character matters,” their challenges and their writings quickly degenerate into futile attempts to change our own hearts. We can’t change our own hearts. We can’t pep-talk ourselves into transformation. Only Jesus can transform our character. We must develop leaders who are consistently led and fed by Him before they attempt to lead and feed others.

Leadership development apart from being a disciple of Jesus always results in skills apart from character, in performance apart from transformation.

For more information, check out Eric Geiger and Kevin Peck’s Designed to Lead: The Church and Leadership Development.


Talk with an Auxano Navigator about the leadership-discipleship connection.

Download PDF

Tags: , , , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Discipleship >

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); ?> Excellent profile of Pasteur types. Unfortunate what happened to Jason Webb
 
— Ann Stokman
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great article. Thanks. Love this emphasis.
 
— dmmsfrontiermissions
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks, this is interesting and helps the preacher to navigate and plan is goals and objectives during difficult seasons and changing times
 
— Paul B Thomas (@Pentecostaltv)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Are We Really “Churching” As Jesus Described It?

Is Being an Externally Focused Church enough? Are We Doing What Jesus Said Matters Most?

Almost a decade into our church journey of being externally focused, the city of Longmont called me (Brian). They had a problem with one of the residents. The grass in her yard was five feet tall. They had sent the homeowner several letters asking her to take care of her yard, but to no avail. The city was at the point where they were going to have to send out city workers to take care of the yard. They didn’t want to do this and didn’t want to charge the homeowner, because it was going to be very expensive. So, in a last-ditch effort, they called LifeBridge. It is not uncommon for calls like this to come into our church from the city, the local schools, or other agencies. For years we had been getting into the stream of our community to serve. The city employee asked if we would take care of the woman’s yard for her. I said I would look at the situation and get back to her.

As I was driving up, I spotted the house from blocks away. They weren’t exaggerating. The grass was almost as tall as I. I knocked on the door and a woman in her young thirties answered. Standing next to her was a little girl. I learned that this woman had recently survived stage-four cancer, and she was taking care of the nine-year-old girl, who was in foster care. This woman was tearful and embarrassed about her yard, but she said her health prevented her from trying to take care of it.

My heart broke for her, and I was happy that our church was going to help her. I gathered a dozen people and they brought their own equipment. A few hours later we had the yard looking almost as good as new. We came back the next week to put down some mulch. We prayed for the homeowner, and we felt great about what we had done. I was proud of our people, and I was glad the city knew they could call us and count on us to take care of it. It was fun to pat ourselves on the back. Over the next year, I called the woman a couple of times to see how she was doing. After the second call, while I was silently congratulating myself, the Holy Spirit said: “This is nothing to be proud of. This should never have even happened.”

I immediately knew the full meaning of this gentle rebuke by God. The woman’s grass should never have grown more than six inches tall. I started thinking how I would’ve done things differently if I’d received that phone call today. Each time I reviewed it, I made a little more progress. First, I wouldn’t just ask a dozen random people from our church. Instead, I would look to see who lived near her. We have several families within a couple blocks of her house. I would’ve called them and asked them to help me help their neighbor. Then I thought I would go even one better. I would ask them to help me, but I would also ask them to knock on their neighbors’ doors, no matter if they were Christian or not, and invite them to join them in helping this woman.

Truth is, if we, as a church, had done a better job of helping our people learn to love their neighbors, then I never would’ve even received a phone call from the city in the first place. At the very least, when her grass started to get a little too tall, somebody would’ve gone over and checked on her to see what was going on, and then they would’ve stepped in and started helping. Even better, what if the grass never grew more than an inch too tall because neighbors knew one another and knew the moment their neighbor was diagnosed with cancer? They would’ve stepped into action, taking care of her, praying for her, bringing her food, visiting her in the hospital, taking care of her yard, and helping to support her foster daughter.

For years our church was serving the community, but were we loving our neighbors? Were we doing the things Jesus said mattered most? Were we loving God and loving our neighbors as ourselves? Her neighbors didn’t know she was sick. The best they knew to do was to call the city and complain about her yard. They had failed at loving their neighbor as themselves. The more our leadership at LifeBridge thought, discussed, and dreamed about this, we realized this relational way of doing ministry proved that good neighbors are better than a good program. Having an external focus and serving our community was very good and now we needed to imbed the value of loving our literal neighbors into our DNA.

Read more from Brian.

 

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Discipleship >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian Mavis

Brian Mavis

Brian Mavis is the President of America’s Kids Belong and former Pastor of Community Transformation at LifeBridge Christian Church. Brian was the first General Manager of SermonCentral.com from 2000-2005. He has written curriculum for campaigns including Bono’s One Sabbath Campaign, Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ, World Vision’s Faith in Action, and The Hole in Our Gospel. Brian and his wife, Julie, have two daughters and reside in Windsor, CO.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Excellent profile of Pasteur types. Unfortunate what happened to Jason Webb
 
— Ann Stokman
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great article. Thanks. Love this emphasis.
 
— dmmsfrontiermissions
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks, this is interesting and helps the preacher to navigate and plan is goals and objectives during difficult seasons and changing times
 
— Paul B Thomas (@Pentecostaltv)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.