The Disciplemaking Worldview: What is a Disciple?

Auxano Navigator David Putman is committed to catalyzing gospel-centered, disciple-making movements. He lives out his mission by helping others go further, faster, and longer than they ever imagined. David’s writings have been the primary foundation of this SUMS Remix.

According to David, disciple making at its core is about worldview transformation. A person’s worldview is the way they see and understand the world.  Our worldview is based on our core beliefs. These non-negotiable beliefs determine our behavior. In other words, what we believe determines our behavior.

As a disciple of Christ we might frame it this way, “What we believe about the gospel determines how we follow Jesus.”

David uses a simple tool he created called the “Gospel Lens” to illustrate this. This tool is based on three questions that he believes have a very unique and specific relationship to one another.

It is essential that we begin with the gospel, move to disciple, and finally to the church in the order we ask and answer these questions. In other words, the gospel informs our understanding of disciples, and our understanding of disciples informs our understanding of the church.

What is a Disciple?

THE QUICK SUMMARY – A Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson

As a society, we are no less obsessed with the immediate than when Eugene Peterson first wrote this Christian classic. If anything, email and the Internet may have intensified our quest for the quick fix. But Peterson’s time-tested prescription for discipleship remains the same–a long obedience in the same direction.

Tucked away in the Hebrew Psalter, Peterson discovered “an old dog-eared songbook,” the Songs of Ascents that were sung by pilgrims on their way up to worship in Jerusalem. In these songs (Psalms 120-134) Peterson finds encouragement for modern pilgrims as we learn to grow in worship, service, joy, work, happiness, humility, community and blessing. This 20th anniversary edition of A Long Obedience in the Same Direction features these Psalms in Peterson’s widely acclaimed paraphrase, The Message. He also includes an epilogue in which he reflects on the themes of this book and his ministry during the twenty years since its original publication.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

The announcement of good news is that God in Christ doesn’t only save us by grace, but He grows us by grace. We see this best in Jesus’ parable of the growing seed. He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain – first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come” (Mark 4:26-29, NIV). The seed in this parable is the gospel and soil is our hearts. When we receive the seed into the good soil of our heart something happens. We can’t explain it, but it does. Jesus says, “Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.” This is an amazing truth that changes everything; gospel in, gospel out.

Paul understood this when he said, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approved what God’s will is – his good, pleasing, and perfect will” (Romans 12:1-2, NIV). In this text Paul demonstrates that our devotion is based on our understanding of the gospel. We are to offer our bodies, but only as a result of being in full view of His mercy. We don’t present our bodies to get God’s mercy; we present our bodies because of God’s mercy. The order has been reversed. I don’t do in order to earn God’s favor, but I do because I have God’s favor. He goes on and addresses the idea of transformation. We are transformed by the renewal of our minds. Once again we see gospel in, gospel out.

When I come to understand that I am fully loved, then and only then can I offer love. When I come to understand God’s forgiveness of me, I become more forgiving and understanding of others. As I come to understand God’s provision for me, only then can I truly become more generous. As I come to apprehend the gospel there is a reformatting and aligning of my values that take place. I am transformed.

When you understand gospel in, gospel out it changes everything.

It is not difficult in our world today to get a person interested in the message of the gospel; it is terrifically difficult to sustain the interest.

Millions of people in our culture make decisions for Christ, but there is a dreadful attrition rate. Many claim to have been born again, but the evidence for mature Christian discipleship is slim. In our kind of culture anything, even news about God, can be sold if it is packaged freshly; but when it loses its novelty, it goes on the garbage heap. There is a great market for religious experience in our world; there is little enthusiasm for the patient acquisition of virtue, little inclination to sing up for a long apprenticeship in what earlier generations of Christians called holiness.

For recognizing and resisting the stream of the world’s ways there are two biblical designations for people of faith that are extremely useful: disciple and pilgrim. Disciple (mathētēs) says we are people who spend our lives apprenticed to our master, Jesus Christ. We are in a growing-learning relationship, always. A disciple is a learner, but not in the academic setting of a schoolroom, rather at the work site of a craftsman. We do not acquire information about God but skills in faith.

Pilgrim (parepidēmos) tells us we are people who spend our lives going somewhere, going to God, and whose path for getting there is the way, Jesus Christ. We realize that “this world is not my home” and set out for “the Father’s house.”

Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

A NEXT STEP

Auxano founder and team leader Will Mancini has developed three snapshots of Jesus’ disciple-making ministry for your consideration.

Set aside time to review each of the following snapshots, including time to read and reflect on the Scripture and how the snapshot applies to your current disciple-making process.

In each of the three synoptic gospels we see a different scene in the life of Jesus just before He calls His twelve disciples. Each snapshot reveals a unique aspect of both the heart of Jesus and His earthly-eternal kingdom strategy.

Snapshot #1: The great opportunity meets a great shortage (Matthew 9:35-38)

Before Jesus calls the twelve from Matthew’s perspective, we see Jesus’ compassion for the crowds. As He looked over the masses He observes, “the harvest is plenty but the workers are few.” His last command before selecting His inner circle is to pray earnestly to the Lord of the Harvest to send out laborers. In the light of the urgent opportunity, Jesus begins investing deeply into the twelve.

Snapshot #2: Building the infrastructure not the popularity (Mark 3:7-12)

Mark shows us a different angle of Jesus’ motive just before He appoints the twelve. In this passage He repeats the phrase “great crowd” showing for the first time the sheer volume of people who were responding to Jesus. Not only that, He shows the intensity of their pursuit by explaining how the people were “pressing around him” and how they needed to escape in a boat “lest they be crushed.” If that wasn’t enough, even the demons cried out that He was the Son of God. What was Jesus’ final act before appointing the twelve from Mark’s perspective? Jesus strictly ordered them NOT to make Him known.

Why in the world did Jesus come to earth if He wanted to lower the volume of His identity and mission? Why would He intentional minimize His platform? The answer is simple. He wasn’t building a stage and an audience; He was building a people movement. And the disciple-making infrastructure was being threatened by the quick popularity. Thus He focuses even more on the twelve.

Snapshot #3: The brevity of life on earth (Luke 6:6-11)

In Luke’s snapshot we see a simple healing scene. This is where Jesus heals the man with a withered hand on the Sabbath. It is also the first time we see the scribes Pharisees filled with fury to the point that they begin plotting what they are going to do with Jesus. This is the fountainhead of the death plot that would end Jesus’ physical opportunity on planet earth to be a disciple-maker. The next thing we see Him doing is praying to the Father all night and then calling the twelve.

What about you?

As you plan the coming year, how does Jesus’ disciple-making conviction, and especially these three catalysts, rescue you from a “program management” culture? Are you herding people through classes and events? Are you trying to make life-change happen through better preaching only? Or do you have a robust, disciple-making strategy built around life-on-life investment, like Jesus?

How will your leadership and your ministry reflect the same catalysts in Jesus’ life?

  • Helping people see the amazing opportunity of lost souls and recruiting them to pray for more harvest workers.
  • Building the core with significant time investment before gathering the crowd.
  • Being deeply aware of the finite window to invest in others in light of the eternal kingdom economy.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 108-2, released December 2018.


 

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 <<

>> Purchase prior issues of 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); ?> 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.

Are You Leading the Whole Great Commission, or Just Half ?

Unlike business leaders who are responsible to define the mission of their organizations, church leaders don’t have that freedom or carry that burden. We have already received our mission. Jesus’ words to His disciples, often called the Great Commission, is our mission:

Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember I am with you always, to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:19-20)

Some church leaders have positioned their churches as existing for the first half of the commission (the “making disciples”) and some speak of their commitment to the second half (the “teaching them to obey”). But Jesus desires His Church to embrace the whole commission. The Great Commission should not be viewed as two separable parts but a unified whole – a responsibility to both reach and teach.

 There is a temptation, however, to attempt to divide the Great Commission and take responsibility for only one aspect of it. Here are three reasons some find focusing on one aspect of the Great Commission an attractive alternative to embracing the whole:

1. With ½ the Great Commission, ministry is less messy.

When a church is committed to “making disciples” of people who are early in their walk with Christ or still exploring the Christian faith and is also committed to helping believers grow in maturity, ministry is going to be messy. There are going to be non-believers alongside mature believers and those with struggles alongside those who feel (often wrongly) that they struggle less.

2. With ½ the Great Commission, ministry is less complex.

The questions a maturing believer asks are often very different than the questions someone new to the faith asks. It is not easy to speak to different groups of people on different phases of their journey, and ministry is much simpler if a leader decides to neglect a group of people. The good news is that the gospel of Jesus is sufficient and poignant for all people, no matter where they are in their journey.

3. With ½ the Great Commission, ministry is less burdensome.

Caring for people at different places on their journey is much more challenging and burdensome than adopting a laser focus for new believers or mature believers. The complexity and the messiness add to the burden.

BUT…

Wrongly dividing the Great Commission into two disparate parts and only focusing on one aspect of the Great Commission is less beautiful and less biblical. A church that reaches and teaches people is a beautiful sight to behold. It is beautiful to see mature believers reminded with what it means to be new to the faith. It is beautiful to see new believers wrestle with some of the convictions those who have been walking with Jesus for a long time hold. It is beautiful to see how the Word of God, by the Spirit of God, is able to speak to people exactly where they are. It is beautiful to see community formed, among people who are very different, on the solid and sure commonality of Jesus. If we attempt to divide the Great Commission and focus on one aspect of it, we lose so much.

> Read more from Eric.


 

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Discipleship >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger is the Senior Pastor of Mariners Church in Irvine, California. Before moving to Southern California, Eric served as senior vice-president for LifeWay Christian. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. Eric has authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, taking his daughters to the beach, and playing basketball.

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.

The Difference in Being WITH God or FOR God

One of my favorite moments in the Gospel of Mark is in the description of Jesus’s appointment of the disciples. In Mark 3:13-14, we read:

Jesus went up the mountain and summoned those he wanted, and they came to him. He appointed twelve, whom he also named apostles, to be with him, to send them out to preach, and to have authority to drive out demons.  

Our eyes are drawn to the end of the sentence where the ministry of the apostles comes into focus. Jesus appointed his followers and sent them out to preach and to drive out demons. How exciting! What authority! What power!

But don’t miss the brief mention of the purpose that precedes the power. Jesus appointed 12 apostles “to be with him.” Do you see the focus on proximity to Jesus? He summoned “those he wanted” and appointed them first and foremost to be with him. Don’t miss the beauty of this order.

If you are a follower of Jesus called into his service, remember that he called you—first and foremost—to be with him, not to work for him. Yes, he sends his disciples out to preach, and he gives them authority to drive out demons. Hallelujah! But before proclamation comes proximity. Before the power comes the Person.

Kim Huat Tan writes that being with Jesus “defines succinctly what discipleship means. By being with Jesus they can know him intimately and understand his teaching.”

The faithful follower of Jesus cultivates life with God before life for God. Get those backwards, and you’ll run dry. You may be a someone who knows and spreads the gospel, but you will slowly see your spiritual vitality fade if your relationship to Christ is not a priority. Proximity to Jesus is key. Your relationship with him is the most important part of your ministry. What happens in your prayer closet matters more than anything you do on a public platform.

It’s true that evangelicals sometimes imagine our life with God as a continual Bible study or prayer time, an ever-present feeling of “closeness to God” that manifests itself in semi-mystical fashion. And surely listening to the voice of God through his Word and demonstrating our dependence upon him in prayer make up part of what it must mean for us today to “be with Jesus.”

But we should take care not to paint too rosy a picture of what this relationship looks like. David Garland is right:

The task of being with Jesus is one that is harder than it might first appear. The Twelve will have to learn that there is a difference between hanging around with Jesus and truly being with him. The latter means that they must follow wherever he leads and share the toil of the ministry, the harassment of the crowds (3:20; 6:31-33), and the same bitter draught of suffering (10:39).

Being with Jesus—in proximity to him—means not only that we cultivate a relationship with him that inspires and empowers us in general but also that prepares us for the suffering that must mark the life of any who follow in the steps of a Suffering Servant. Without this emphasis, we run the risk of minimizing the challenges we are sure to face on the road to faith.

In the end, our relationship with Christ must precede any work we do for him. A generation ago, Francis Schaeffer warned in a letter about religious activity that neglected our personal relationship with Christ:

I believe most strongly . . . that our efforts in Christian service fall into three concentric circles: the outer circle is the apologetic and defensive. (This is an important portion of Christian activity and should never be minimized, but it is not the heart. . . .)

The middle circle is inside the outer one and is more central. This is the intellectual statement of the doctrines of the Christian faith in a positive way. (This to me is an even more important portion of Christian activity, but if it stands alone, it still is not Christianity.)

The innermost circle is the spiritual—the personal relationship of the individual soul with a personal God, including all that is meant in the apostolic benediction when we say, “The communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” It is this last, innermost circle with which the devotional deals and without which Christianity is not really Bible-believing.

Don’t miss the order, brothers and sisters. Proximity before power. The Person before the proclamation. Life with God before work for him.

> Read more from Trevin.


 

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); ?> 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.

The Stop & Go Process of Disciple Making

What many churches call discipleship, or disciple-making is a far cry from what Jesus had in mind when He gave us the Great Commission. What you are doing may be the very reason your church is struggling when it comes to reaching non-Christians with the gospel. ​

I work with dozens of churches each year, helping them align their strategies and programming with their disciple-making results (measures).  My observation is that most churches have three core components when it comes to their strategy.  Most often, it consists of 1) a gathering where worship takes place, 2) groups where people connect and study the Bible, and 3) a place of service in the church.  It may look like some variation of the drawing below.

This model most often assumes that people find their way into our gatherings, and the rest will take care of itself.  The challenge to this assumption is that in today’s culture that people are no longer finding us.  We have reached everyone like us or who is wants to be like us.  If we are frank about our situation, if we are experiencing growth at all, it is usually the result of doing things better than the churches around us and reaching their attenders and members.   In essence, we are growing at the expense of the churches around us, with little or no actual kingdom growth.

Think about it for a moment.  We encourage disciples to gather for Christian worship on the weekends and then gather with a smaller group of Christian in our homes during the week for Bible Study.  You may be wondering what’s wrong with this?  Well, I’m glad you asked.  Jesus didn’t save us to spend our lives in a holy huddle.  The very commission he gave us begins with an imperative to “go.”

For Jesus, there was no separation in evangelism and disciple-making.  Evangelism is simply the first part of a holistic process we refer to as disciple-making.  Whenever I think of disciple-making, I process it through our pipeline that includes:  pre-disciples, new-disciples, growing, disciples, multiplying disciples, and catalytic disciples.  A healthy disciple-making culture will have both pre and new-disciples flowing through it.

A more open system for disciple-making might look like the one I use when working with leaders or catalytic disciples who are interested in catalyzing disciple-making movements.

This is what we call a strategy map, and it consists of five components.  Here’s a super quick overview.  I will save a fuller discussion for future writings.

Enter the Field
Jesus calls us to enter the fields that are already “white unto harvest”.  We must be intentional about equipping disciples at every level of our pipeline to enter the harvest field.  This may require a rethinking of how we relate to people where we live, work, and play.

Plant the Gospel
We plant the gospel by proclaiming the good news that in Christ, God did for us what we could not do for ourselves in that He redeemed us, He is renewing us, and He is ultimately going to restore all of creation.  We plant the gospel by telling our story and telling His story of redemption.  While the gospel may be demonstrated non-verbally through our actions, be not mistaken, the gospel is verbal.  The gospel is a good news announcement that must be proclaimed.

Make Disciples
Once someone is open to the gospel, disciple-making begins.  I was reminded the other day of a young man I disciple for two-years before he became a Christian.  I did this by engaging in a relationship with him, having an honest dialogue where I answered his question, and introduce him to my broader Christian community.  My disciple-making efforts consisted of exposing him to Gospel Truth, Gospel Community, and Gospel Mission.  We did life-on-life, life-in-community, and life-on-mission together.

Form the Church
Once you begin making disciples, you can then form new communities or new churches around those disciples.  When I first started this journey of church planting, I thought I needed to form a church and then go make disciples.  What I have discovered in the post-church era is we have to make disciples and then form the church around those disciples.

Reproduce
The final part of our strategy is to reproduce.  We reproduce other disciples, groups, churches, ministries, and networks.  However, it’s important to note that reproduction begins in the pre-disciple phase.  If we meet someone open to the gospel, then we can ask that person if he has family or friends that might be open to the gospel.  When they do, we can encourage them to invite us into their network, and when this happens, they are learning to reproduce from day one.

Now let me ask you a question: Which one of these approaches to church is going to allow us to make disciples of people far from God?  Hopefully, both, but certainly the open system, is going to be more effective in today’s context.

> Read more from David.


 

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Discipleship >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Putman

David Putman

David is a Lead Navigator serving on the Auxano Team, the category leader in vision clarity and vision focus campaigns. He is also founder leader of Planting the Gospel a non-profit ministry committed to helping churches move discipleship from a program to a culture. He has been involved in church planting for over twenty years as a planter, strategist, and coach. He is author of I Woke Up In Heaven, The Gospel Disciple, Detox for the Overly Religious, Breaking the Discipleship Code, and co-author of Breaking the Missional Code with Ed Stetzer. He latest book The Gospel Disciple Journey will be released in February 2014. David’s life mission is to help others discover the simplicity, centrality, and beauty of Jesus and his ways. David is married to Tami and they have two awesome kids, and two even more awesome grandkids.

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.

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); ?> 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.

Neighborly, Part 2: The Power of Family

The heart of God’s purpose for humankind is relationships – first, with God Himself; then, with one another. Arguably, there is no better place to build relationships than at the table with good food and great conversation.

Len Sweet, in his book From Tablet to Table states it eloquently:

Remember God’s first command in the Bible? Eat.

Remember God’s last command in the Bible? Drink.

And everything in between is a table – a life-course meal on which is served the very bread of life and cup of salvation.

It’s time to bring back the table to our homes, to our churches, and to our neighborhoods and the world.

The table is a recurring biblical theme, one that our fast-paced, drive-through, Instant Pot culture finds unfamiliar.

What would happen if we brought back the table as a sacred object of furniture in every home, church, and community?

Are we truly hungry to accept Jesus’ invitation – “Come and follow” – and to go wherever He leads, even if it means next door?

Especially if it means following Him next door!

What would it take for the table to return to the center of our family lives – and by extension, to those God has placed in our circle and situations?

SOLUTION #2: Radical hospitality extends your family

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Smart Compassion by Wesley Furlong

Smart Compassion calls Christians to strategic, prayerful, and biblically based approaches to compassion. With evangelical Anabaptist convictions and insights from psychology, Wesley Furlong uses his background as a church leader and nonprofit founder to guide readers through the three aspects of smart compassion needed for families and neighborhoods to flourish: collective empowerment, radical hospitality, and healing presence.

In the vein of When Helping Hurts, discover wise strategies that bring Jesus’ love to your neighbors. Shift your paradigm from fixing everybody’s problems to spending yourself well. Learn how to hold together justice and evangelism, worldly wisdom and divine revelation, action and prayer.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

It’s one thing to read the Scriptures and reflect on Jesus’ question in the Parable of the Good Samaritan, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

It is another thing altogether to move from the concept of “who is our neighbor” to “who is our family?”

The willingness to inconvenience yourself for others is a priceless gift, and one of the greatest gifts we can give our communities is the gift of extended family.

We need people who put others first, leave space, and turn strangers into extended family members who quickly feel at home.

Radical hospitality is the opening of our lives and homes to embrace a stranger as extended family. It’s the soil where compassion flourishes.

The word hospitality may call to mind the idea of entertaining guests at nicely decorated dinner parties, but it once meant embracing a stranger as family, even when it was inconvenient and the house was dirty. It’s the high-level nurture, support, responsiveness, and availability that holds a family, neighborhood, and community together.

Radical doesn’t mean “extreme” as many people assume; it means “core.” Radical expressions of core commitments often appear extreme because they’re rarely followed through in practice.

Building on the principles of love, listen, discern, and respond, the acronym BREAD will introduce you to some perspectives and practices that can help you discern how best to embody the value of radical hospitality.

Begin with xeniaXenos is the Greek word for “guest.” In the ancient world, xenia (hospitality) was a well-structured expectation. Jesus clearly established the practices of extending hospitality to strangers, healing the sick, and caring for the marginalized for his followers. It’s just what you do. It’s not a special calling; it’s part of the basic package when you say yes to Jesus.

Recruit mentors – Your mentors will likely change what you do. Mentors provide a relational support structure. Because radical hospitality is a countercultural practice, it’s essential to build a community of people around us who reflect the values we most want to embody.

Embrace tension – When it comes to the tension between hospitality and boundaries, it’s helpful to think about how tension produces growth. There’s no growth without tension, but tension must be wisely calibrated.

Allow margin – There’s no compassion without relationship, and there’s no relationship without margin. Margin, according to Richard Swenson in his book by the same title, is “the space between ourselves and our limits. It’s something held in reserve for contingencies or unanticipated situations.”

Discern kairos – The Greeks had two words for the concept of time: chronos (chronological time) and kairos (appointed time). Kairos moments are always divine appointments, but they are not always at convenient times. Embracing inconvenience is a two-part mind-set shift: the first part is recognizing inconveniences as potential divined appointments; the second is discerning which ones to respond to.

The five practices of radical hospitality help us see and respond to the opportunities God presents to us daily.

Wesley Furlong, Smart Compassion

A NEXT STEP

Radical hospitality is one of the greatest gifts we can give our communities.

The core practice of radical hospitality is biblical and impactful, but it is also highly countercultural for many in our western society. Putting people first, leaving space, and extending family to strangers is difficult when we’re never home and running at breakneck speed.

Are you ready to open your life and home in more intentional ways and recover the practice of radical hospitality?

Use the acronym BREAD listed above to create both a measurement of where you are and a path for moving forward. Set aside two hours for the following brainstorming activity.

Begin by writing each of the five short phrases listed above on the top of a chart tablet, one phrase per sheet. Put the sheets all up on a wall. Step back and read each one aloud, then step up and write as many words, phrases, and sentences that fit each phrase. Push yourself to take at least one hour to do this.

After taking a short break, return to the chart tablets and place a green, yellow, or red dot by each word or phrase on the chart tablets. Use the following key:

  • Green = something you are currently doing or can move toward doing relatively quickly in the next two weeks.
  • Yellow = something that can be done in the next three months, with minimal planning and resources.
  • Red = something that will take extended planning and careful allocation of resources to accomplish.

The five practices of radical hospitality help us see and respond to the opportunities God presents to us daily.

Except taken from SUMS Remix 103-2, released October 2018.


 

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); ?> 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.

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); ?> 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.

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); ?> 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.

Four Reasons to Slow Down and Grow Well

There’s no such thing as instant spiritual growth; it’s a gradual process of development. The Bible says, “So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding” (Hebrews 6:1 NLT).

Spiritual growth is a journey, and that means it takes time. Sure, we want to speed up the process, but we can’t. It’s a lifetime journey where God teaches us one lesson at a time to develop our character so we become more like Jesus.

At the core of this journey are disciplines that help us grow spiritually. These disciplines—or habits—aren’t new; they’ve been around for thousands of years.

We are the sum of our habits. Here’s the truth: You can preach the greatest sermons in the world, but your congregation won’t grow deeper spiritually until you help people learn how to practice spiritual habits on their own.

At Saddleback, we focus on spiritual habits in CLASS 201. We teach four specific habits that are essential to every growing Christian. These aren’t the only habits that help you grow spiritually, but they are the most important.

You won’t see any surprises on this list. They’re tried-and-true disciplines that have helped Christians grow for generations:

Read the Bible daily. The people in our churches desperately need truth. Truth sets us free—free from worry, free from the expectations of others, free from guilt, etc. Jesus said this in John 8:31-32, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (NLT).

Since the Bible is the best and most reliable source for truth, we must encourage people to get into God’s Word on a daily basis, to help them find freedom and grow as Christians. You simply can’t grow spiritually apart from the Bible.

Pray daily. Disciples spend time with Jesus. God’s Word tells us in John 15:7-8, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, then you will ask for anything you wish, and you shall have it . . . and in this way you become my disciples” (GNT).

We become disciples by bearing fruit. We bear fruit by remaining in Jesus—and having his words remain in us. We listen to God through his Word, and we talk to God through prayer. To grow spiritually, we need both habits in our lives.

Tithe weekly. Tithing reminds us that everything we own belongs to God. He doesn’t just own that first 10 percent. He owns it all.

If God isn’t Lord of our possessions, he isn’t Lord of us. Too many people sitting in our churches are possessed by their possessions. Learning to tithe helps people hold what they have loosely and put God first in their lives.

Fellowship weekly. We all need other believers in our lives to help us grow. Weekly worship services aren’t enough. Significant relationships don’t develop when people just attend corporate worship. People need opportunities to talk and engage with others. At Saddleback, we believe small groups provide the best environment for people to build the healthy relationships that will help them grow.

Like I said earlier, there are no shortcuts to spiritual growth. While we worry about how fast people grow, God is concerned with how well they grow.

When God wants to make a mushroom, he takes six hours. When God wants to grow an oak tree he takes 60 years. Do you want your people to be mushrooms or oak trees?

Teach your people the four habits above, and they’ll grow into oaks.

> 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); ?> 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.

Maturing Believers Through Process Not Events

Discipleship is at the heart of the church. Jesus commanded us in Matthew 28:19 to “Go and make disciples of all nations.” The issue for the church throughout history is discerning the most effective way to do it. How can we lead people to salvation and develop them into mature disciple makers?

In many churches in our country, it involves a wide variety of moving parts. We start with worship and a core ministry of Bible study. Then, we add on additional classes, involvement in local ministries, accountability groups, mission trips, and taking on various roles such as deacon, committee member, usher, preschool volunteer, student chaperone, and the list goes on. On top of what you do, it also becomes a question of what you attend. We too easily equate being busy with being discipled.

I want to remind you that we can make disciples without adding an extra hundred or two hundred or one thousand events to the church calendar. Here are a few simple ideas.

Disciple children in Bible study rather than moralize them. Too much that passes for Bible study with kids that is no more than benign morality lessons. “God is good and He is watching so you need to be good” type of lessons only make God into a cosmic kind of Santa Claus. To disciple children, you do not have to add a single event, social, party, or any other thing. Start with what you have as Sunday School; or whatever name you call the primary age-graded time slot with children. Train your leaders to focus on developing their understanding of God through the scriptures and do not shy away from the difficult ideas.

Teach teenagers to become self-feeders of the Bible. Middle school and high school students who are Christians are learning how to care for their faith on their own. It will happen as you use the existing Bible study groups to allow them to plow through the Bible. Our aim should be to train teenagers in how to understand a passage and its implications upon their life and culture. Lock-ins, retreats, and social events are fine but they should all be placed as secondary to the work of helping students to be self-feeders of the Bible.

Focus your current adult small group ministry toward discipleship rather than baptized social hours. Again, if you have a Bible study hour or system in place, you have the primary piece of what you need. Rather than adding more events (even religious ones), help your Bible study groups be focused on their real purpose. Group leaders and members want personal growth to occur so don’t pile on events that steal away their time to prepare, meet, and live out the results.

Church leader: You will constantly face the temptation to plan more stuff so the church will seem to have forward momentum. More events is not evil unless those events interfere with the purpose for the church. Just remember, the purpose of the church is not more events but more disciples.

> Read more from Philip.


 

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Discipleship >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Philip Nation

Philip Nation

serve as the Director of Advancement and Global Impact Churches with the Baptist World Alliance and frequently speak at churches and conferences. I earned a Master of Divinity from Beeson Divinity School and a Doctor of Ministry from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. In 2010-2012, I was the national spokesperson for the Back to Church Sunday campaign from Outreach. Over the years, I’ve served as a pastor, minister of education, and a church planter. My latest published work is the video-based Bible study Pursuing Holiness: Applications from James. In 2016, I published Habits for Our Holiness: How the Spiritual Disciplines Grow Us Up, Draw Us Together, and Send Us Out with Moody Publishers. I’ve coauthored two other books: Compelled: Living the Mission of God and Transformational Discipleship: How People Really Grow. I was also the general editor of The Mission of God Study Bible. Along the way, I have written the small-group studies Storm Shelter: Psalms of God’s Embrace, Compelled by Love: The Journey to Missional Living and Live in the Word, plus contributed to The Great Commission Resurgence: Fulfilling God’s Mandate in Our Lifetime.

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.