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); ?> Are there any reliable statistics about the percentage of church plants that fail after 3 years in the US?
 
— Jon Moore
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

4 Principles of a Multiplying Church

I find myself talking a lot about discipleship these days. It is my passion. A lot of my time revolves around growing in the direction of Jesus and watching others grow. Here are a few threads from my book Guardrails; Six Principles for a Multiplying Church that I explain in more depth here.

Movement thinking is key to discipleship.

Multiplication runs on a different operating system from addition. I often experience this as a pastor. At times I am tempted to just “do church” or to do things myself instead of raising up the people God has put in front of me. Movement thinking sets the table for movement living. Co-ministry with God is more about the who than the what.

Unlearning and learning are both essential. 

Here are to things we need to unlearn.

Complexity. Somewhere in the process we’ve bought the lie that discipleship, growing in the way of Jesus, is complex. We’ve mucked it up, clouded it, so others don’t even want to attempt it.

Expert-centricity. We’ve believed and made others believe the more knowledge you have the more transformed you are by God. We simply must unlearn our notion that experts are the most well-positioned to lead people.

Here is one thing we must learn: how to disciple people, real humans. We have great ideas in our heads, but they rarely work in the practice of discipleship. Discipleship isn’t learned in a manual; it’s learned in the context of life. Most leaders in the church have never been discipled. I encourage every leader to be discipled and start discipling another leader.

Programs aren’t “the thing”. 

Somewhere along the way we have come to believe this equation: More programs + More people = More growth.

Programs aren’t evil, but they are incomplete. They can be a catalyst, but never “the thing”. By nature, programs start from the outside edge and try to move inward. I have observed the effects of over-programming in many churches: exhaustion, frustration, discontent.

Transitioning to a discipleship culture requires two things. 

Urgency. Without urgency people and cultures don’t change. This urgency will often drive churches to re-approach their church ready for change. There is a point of pain somewhere (ineffectiveness, fatigue, lack of fruit, etc), but once a group is urgent they are ready to go through the pain of shifting from the comfortable to the different.

Commitment to the often unseen work of discipleship. To press into truly making disciples requires us to resist other things; activities, metrics and patterns, that we are used to. They are easy to measure, and they make us feel like we are succeeding. We move from the easily quantifiable to the practices that are largely “hidden in Christ”. Mustard seeds don’t garner much attention or influence these days.

> Read more from Alan.


 

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Discipleship >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alan Briggs

Alan Briggs

Alan Briggs has a ridiculous passion for helping leaders uncover who they are and how they can reach more impact. He founded Stay Forth Designs to equip leaders and teams for health and impact. He is the Director of Frontline Church Planting, a network and equipping hub in Colorado. He is the Multiplying Pastor at Vanguard Church in Colorado Springs where he makes disciples, develops leaders and launches new parishes. His speaking and writing focus on equipping and unlocking the saints for effective ministry inside and outside the family of God. He has written three books; Staying is the New Going (2015) and Guardrails (2016), and Everyone’s a Genius (2017). He and his wife, Julie, have four kids, two adopted and two biological, and are enjoying the process of growing roots. Their family focuses on building bridges to the lost, largely in the context of their neighborhood. He is passionate about equipping leaders and churches to multiply through relational, experiential and formal learning. He loves climbing, camping, grilling and connecting with his neighbors.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Are there any reliable statistics about the percentage of church plants that fail after 3 years in the US?
 
— Jon Moore
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

How Discipleship Becomes More than a Class: Embodiment

The story of discipleship in the beginning days of the church was lived out as those early Christians went about their lives – telling family, friends, masters, slaves, soldiers about their new lives in Christ.

In other words, they lived out their faith every day in the relationships they already had with others.

Fast forward to today: Every weekend, untold numbers of Christians leave a church building seeing no connection between their faith and their everyday lives. The next six days between Sundays seem like a spiritual vacuum, with little to no spiritual meaning.

For first-century believers, daily life was intertwined with discipleship. What happened?

Does your church only see discipleship as a class to be taken or a study to attend?

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Faithful Presence, by David Fitch

In our quest to renew the church, Christians have walked through seeker-friendly, emergent, missional, and other movements to develop new expressions of the body of Christ. Now in the post-Christian world in North America we’re asking the question again: Is there a way to be the church that engages the world, not by judgment or accommodation but by becoming the good news in our culture?

In Faithful Presence, noted pastor and scholar David Fitch offers a new vision for the witness of the church in the world. He argues that we have lost the intent and practice of the sacramental ways of the historic church, and he recovers seven disciplines that have been with us since the birth of the church. Through numerous examples and stories, he demonstrates how these revolutionary disciplines can help the church take shape in and among our neighborhoods, transform our way of life in the world, and advance the kingdom.

This book will help you re-envision church, what you do in the name of church, and the way you lead a church. It recovers a future for the church that takes us beyond Christendom. Embrace the call to reimagine the church as the living embodiment of Christ, dwelling in and reflecting God’s faithful presence to a world that desperately needs more of it.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

While we are most comfortable in the gatherings of other believers (both large and small) and in the intimate fellowship of our families, living our lives as a disciple does not stop there. Beyond the familiar lies the world at large, full of broken and hurting people. We see them at work every day. We pass by them on the street regularly. We may even be involved in some superficial way in their lives.

God is already present in all these situations, but are we? Do we pay attention to what God is doing in other lives, or do we move on about our own life?

Something amazing can happen in that space – Christ is present, but will he be recognized and received? We have to be present in those places in order to help others in those places recognize his presence.

In these spaces, we must go humbly and vulnerably, giving up all control, listening, waiting, tending to his presence, and letting Jesus work through the space between us and them. This presence is what makes possible any and all proclamation of the gospel.

The pattern throughout the New Testament is a church on the move.

The church gathers in its place of worship to encounter Christ’s presence. But this same church is sent out to extend his presence into our homes, our neighborhoods, and among the marginalized and hurting in the world. The church’s location therefore cannot be seen in terms of in here or out there. It is an entire way of life.

Christ’s presence goes with us into the many places we inhabit with the hurting and broken of the world. Here the Christian goes among the world as a guest. Here the Christian also extends the presence of Christ into the world. We discern Christ’s presence as a guest among the hurting and the wandering. The question is never whether Christ is here or not. Rather it is whether his presence will be welcomed.

There is a danger in thinking about the church as the number that meets only at the Sunday gathering. When we separate what happens our gathering from the rest of life, we inevitably focus on doing the disciplines correctly professionally, and conveniently. We focus on maintaining and rowing the close circle. In the process we get cut off from engaging the surrounding neighborhoods of God’s presence.

Down through the centuries the church has fallen into maintenance mode. It seemingly happens when the church becomes too comfortable in society or when it aligns itself with power. Less concerned with those outside of Christ, the church retreats into itself. More reliant on secular power, it turns to running things efficiently. And when the church likes its power too much and the culture is no longer primarily Christian, the church desperately tries to preserve that power.

David Fitch, Faithful Presence

A NEXT STEP

Every believer, regardless of age or length of time as a Christian, is a unique treasure of God with a story to share. One role of the church is to encourage its believers to step out and comfortably share their spiritual stories with families, friends, acquaintances, and strangers. The best way to accomplish such sharing is in our day-in and day-out conversations and events.

Extravagant communication is rarely as effective as intimate conversation. What may seem like a small story to one can open the sealed heart of another. Transformed believers naturally honor God’s name by expressing biblical examples and insights in everyday living. All things are viewed through the lens of Scripture; our lifestyles are daily opportunities to bear witness that we are the children of God.

Get Personal: Who has been a spiritual role model for your ministry? How does this person’s lifestyle reflect his or her relationship with Jesus? How was this person communicated the story of his or her faith walk with you and others?

Get Connected: Think of five people in your daily walk that you have not taken the chance to develop a relationship with. Over the next month, plan intentional actions that will help you begin to share your story and life with.

Get Going: As you have an opportunity to develop those relationships, keep track of the how the relationship is developing in a journal. Begin your week with a time of prayer and reflection about this person, and how you might continue to develop that relationship in the coming week.

Adapted from Transformational Discipleship, by Barry Sneed and Roy Edgemon

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 61-2, March 2017


 

This is part of a weekly series posting content from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix Book Summaries 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

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.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Are there any reliable statistics about the percentage of church plants that fail after 3 years in the US?
 
— Jon Moore
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Four Reasons to Not Give Up on Small Groups

We may attract attenders through preaching, but disciples are made in small groups.

When you’re leading a campaign, like 40 Days of Prayer, or anytime in the future as you lead your congregation toward a deeper relationship with Jesus, you’ll want to explain to your members why small groups are so important to spiritual growth and why they are more than just a Bible study.

Small groups provide the kind of accountability and support we need to mature as believers, so I want to give you four reasons why they are important to your congregation.

1. Small groups are relational.

You can’t have a conversation with 600 people or 60 people, but you can have a conversation with six people. Generally, when there are more than 10 in a group, people stop talking. It is impossible to learn how to love your neighbor as yourself unless you are involved in a small group of some kind. You don’t need a lot of friends in life, but you do need a few good ones, and you find those solid, supportive friendships in small groups.

Sometimes I hear people say they don’t want their church to grow larger because, if it does, they won’t know everybody in the congregation. Based on that mindset, a church shouldn’t grow beyond about 60 people. The average person knows 67 people.

Small groups allow you to know people, regardless of how big the congregation becomes. You don’t have to know everyone in the church as long as you know somebody in the church. If you miss a weekend service, not everyone will know you weren’t there, but your small group will know. Even the largest congregations seem small when your members are in small groups.

2. Small groups are flexible.

Small groups can meet anywhere. They can meet in a library, at a coffee shop, in a park, in an office during lunch, or in a home. The Bible says, “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:20 NIV).

3. Small groups are expandable.

You will run out of space and money if you try to build enough classrooms for your groups to meet at church. On the other hand, if your small groups are meeting across the community, then you will never run out of space.

We have small groups spread over 100 square miles around Saddleback Church. Don’t let buildings limit the number of small groups you can have. That’s like letting the shoe tell the foot how big it can get. Buildings are just a tool for ministry. Invest in people; they will last forever.

4. Small groups are economical.

When people meet at the church, we pay for the lights, and we pay for the janitors to clean up. But if a family hosts a small group in their home, they don’t expect the church to pay for utilities that night or to send a janitor over to clean up. In fact, they’re usually glad to take care of those things as part of their ministry to others.

Here’s another thing: You bring a guy into the church for a meeting and he might sit there like a bump on a log, but you put him in a home and give him a cup of coffee, and he may talk his head off. Why? Because you’ve put him in an environment that encourages fellowship.

> Read more from Rick.


 

Want to know how your small groups can be more effective in disciplemaking? Connect with an Auxano Navigator today!

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); ?> Are there any reliable statistics about the percentage of church plants that fail after 3 years in the US?
 
— Jon Moore
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

6 Moments to Engage Families in Small Groups

It happened again.

You just made the same small group announcement.
Sure, it happened on a different Sunday, during a different series. However, you just made that same hope-full announcement and received that same life-less response.
All across today’s church, leaders are saying more, yet somehow congregations are hearing less.

Every prop and trick lay used, relegated to a back-of-the-stage pile of ineffective effort. The funny videos made lots of people laugh, but no one dropped their carefully curated “perfect life” façade to live in heart-level relationships. The moving testimony video made plenty of people cry, but no one took that first, fear-fueled step into schedule-wrecking community.

Our best, most creative emphasis and announcement efforts bounce harmlessly off the Teflon-strong force field of the family calendar. For most in today’s church, a crisis-level lack of family engagement in groups boils down to this: the felt-need of life in community has yet to surpass the real-pain of an over scheduled life.

All of the church-speak generic “life together” reasons for “living in community”through “life groups” ring hollow as cul-de-sac gatherings, travel team parent bonding, and friends (with boating benefits) deftly imitate true and Gospel-centered relational connection.

After all, who needs yet another night away with yet another group of people?

We make the announcements but fail to articulate the value of community, especially with other people experiencing life-change. We promote the seasonal sign-ups, but neglect the most natural entry-points during life-stages.

Consider the many, fear-inducing moments of change and seasons of adjustment that every family experiences. Most are perfect opportunities to leverage the wisdom and comfort of community as a real and natural need to be a part of a group.

Here are six life-stage opportunities to expand engagement in small group life:

Newlywed / Engaged Couples. The first friends as a couple are typically life-long. Leverage premarital counseling and intensive wedding preparation seasons to focus young lovers on building depth of community into their marriage, not simply crafting Pinterest-worthy moments into a ceremony.

Expecting Parents. Parents-to-be, especially when it is their first child, are usually scared to death and more open to asking questions and being influenced by parents who have “been there, done that.” Working together, the preschool minister and groups leader have a natural opportunity to encourage and resource parents into group life.

Baby Dedication. More than preparing for a Sunday moment, this is a natural time to gather families in a small-group environment as a prerequisite to participation. Gather new parents to discuss a book or parenting bible study for 4-6 weeks before the Sunday morning ceremony. Church leaders can reinforce gathering in a home as more important than standing on a stage, and see those groups continue for years.

Kindergarten / Grade School. The tear-filled eyes of parents driving away from the campus after dropping their “couldn’t possibly be this old already” child at school are indications of shared emotions. They are also likely indications of an openness to prioritize time with other parents wiping their eyes as well. Giving parents a place to do more than cope or commiserate, groups in this life stage encourage connection and iron sharpening. Start the conversation by introducing parents to the children’s ministry while at the same time introducing them to other parents just as scared and hopeful as they are.

Middle / High School. Puberty, dating and social media… enough said. Parents with children entering middle school or high school need help, and quickly. As your next group of youth age-up into the student ministry, do more than just meet with parents and talk at them. Make it a goal to get those parents talking to each other and finding common ground together. Convene a round table on important topics, and spin off discussion groups that can grow into meaningful small groups or bible study classes.

College / Empty Nest. The last 18+ years have been spent focused on successfully getting their children out of the nest, and prayerfully staying out. Now these suddenly purposeless parents struggle to reconnect and establish the new normal once their baby birds finally fly off. Graduation Sundays offer a great chance to celebrate each student, but also a great connection with the parents wondering “what’s next.” What if leaders offered one or two strategic gatherings over the summer to prepare parents for this new normal, all the while pointing to a Fall season of group life?

Families in your church are physically, emotionally, and spiritually right where you have led them to be… in groups and not.

Now is the time to stop thinking about small groups in ways that work on a ministry calendar or for a pastoral preference.

Now is the time to start engaging families during the seasons and moments in life that actually matter to them.

Now is the time to truly engage people in meaningful Gospel-centered community, not just make that same small group announcement.


Learn more about engaging people in a Gospel-centered community: Connect with an Auxano Navigator.


More from Bryan.

Download PDF

Tags: , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Discipleship >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bryan Rose

As Lead Navigator for Auxano, Bryan Rose has a strong bias toward merging strategy and creativity within the vision of the local church and has had a diversity of experience in just about every ministry discipline over the last 12 years. With his experience as a multi-site strategist and campus pastor at a 3500 member multi-campus church in the Houston Metro area, Bryan has a passion to see “launch clarity” define the unique Great Commission call of developing church plants and campus, while at the same time serving established churches as they seek to clarify their individual ministry calling. Bryan has demonstrated achievement as a strategic thinker with a unique ability to infuse creativity into the visioning process while bringing a group of people to a deep sense of personal ownership and passion.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Are there any reliable statistics about the percentage of church plants that fail after 3 years in the US?
 
— Jon Moore
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

How Discipleship Becomes More Than a Class: Influence

Does your church only see discipleship as a class to be taken or a study to attend?

The story of discipleship in the beginning days of the church was lived out as those early Christians went about their lives – telling family, friends, masters, slaves, soldiers about their new lives in Christ.

In other words, they lived out their faith every day in the relationships they already had with others.

Fast forward to today: Every weekend, untold numbers of Christians leave a church building seeing no connection between their faith and their everyday lives. The next six days between Sundays seem like a spiritual vacuum, with little to no spiritual meaning.

For first-century believers, daily life was intertwined with discipleship. What happened?

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Workplace Grace, by Bill Peel and Walt Larimore

You can take your faith to work in appropriate, engaging ways. Workplace Grace offers a simple, non-threatening approach to evangelism. Whether your work takes you to a construction site, a cramped cubical or the corner office, every Christian plays a significant role in the Great Commission. Between Sundays, you can be a pipeline for God’s grace in the most strategic mission field in the world: your workplace.

Workplace Grace is for Christians who are not gifted evangelists, yet they want to make a spiritual difference at work and see their coworkers and friends come to faith in Jesus Christ. After adopting Workplace Grace strategies, Christians who once felt awkward sharing their faith now say, “A load of guilt has been taken off my shoulders.” “I never knew sharing my faith could be so simple.” “I can do this!”

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Mention the word “discipleship” to most Christians and the likely response will have something to do with a class they attended at church or something similar. It may even progress to something deeper, like learning how to “witness” to others.

While that’s not wrong, it’s not all the story.

Our job is not so much to bring people to Jesus, as it is to bring Jesus to people.

Spiritual influence is about more than zeal to spread the gospel. People need to see and be attracted to Jesus in us before we try to persuade them to trust Him.

In Acts 1:8 the word “witnesses” is a noun. The emphasis is on being a witness, not on witnessing. In fact, we are never commanded to go witnessing (verb), but to be witnesses (noun). Focusing on doing before being disconnects who we are from what we say.

When we “go witnessing (verb),” we usually know little to nothing about the status of the Holy Spirit’s work in the lives of the people we meet. And they know little, to nothing about us that gives them a reason to trust what we say. In the context, we challenge people to take a quantum leap of faith, rather than a small step toward Jesus. This can add more rocks on the hard soil of someone’s heart.

Whether growing acres of wheat or planting a backyard vegetable garden, cultivation is key to a successful harvest. Breaking up the soil, removing rocks, and pulling weeds always comes before planting.

God often uses those whose own heart soil is softened and fruitful to cultivate the hearts of others. People who reflect Christ’s character and demonstrate His love, compassion, integrity, graciousness, and patience.

Cultivation is all about earning the right to be a spiritual influence in someone’s life. The goal of this phase is to break down emotional barriers by earning trust and creating curiosity about our faith.

Trust is not automatic. It is a response to character and actions.

Bill Peel and Walt Larimore, Workplace Grace

A NEXT STEP

As we live out our lives and spend time with other people, being alert to the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives, we are beginning to understand how God can use us to disciple others, and in the process, grow as disciples ourselves.

Developing relationships with others – especially those with whom we have regular and close contact – can be very difficult. But God didn’t give us a pass on this – the Great Commission is pretty specific that we are to “make disciples” as we are going about our daily lives.

Developing relationships with others in our daily lives requires us to earn the right to be heard, and often that requires understanding and practicing new rules of engagement with others.

Gather your staff or key leaders and brainstorm personal and intentional ways in which each person can earn influence through obedience of these commands of Jesus:

  1. Turn the other cheek. “I tell you, don’t resist and evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also” (Matthew 5:39). The “slaps” of Jesus day today take the form of rolling our eyes at someone, acting too busy to listen, or anything that communicates a condescending attitude toward others. Letting an insult bounce off us without any visible effect may quietly be the first step toward developing a conversation rather than a confrontation.
  2. Give whats asked for – and more. “As for one who wants to sue you and take away your shirt, let him have your coat as well” (Matthew 5:40). The coat referred to here is like an overcoat today. Jesus’ words demonstrated an extraordinary thing to do – seeing if going beyond the initial request would settle the matter. People are more important than the point. We can plant many seeds for developing relationships by treating other people as more valuable than our own appeals for fairness and justice.
  3. Walk a little further. “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two” (Mathew 5:41). Roman law of the first century required Jewish cooperation in helping soldiers and officials in daily life – a practice that continually reminded the Jewish people of their second-class status. Jesus’ command turned a legalistic requirement into an act of grace, by allowing the needs of others to take precedence over our own.
  4. Show generosity. “Give to the one who asks you, and don’t turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you” (Matthew 5:42). Sharing the generous, open lifestyle of the kingdom with others is as much about the state of your heart as is the size of your wallet. We’re all needy people – we may not have the same needs, but we have many needs. Looking for ways to do more and want less is clearly not seen in much of society, and may help develop a relationship with others.

Actions like the above – when we start deliberately letting God do remarkable, countercultural things through us – are some of the best ways to help others see a difference in you, and lay the groundwork for developing a relationship as the beginning point of sharing Christ with them.

Adapted from Subversive Kingdom, by Ed Stetzer

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 61-1, published March 2017


 

This is part of a weekly series posting content from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix Book Summaries 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. 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 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

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.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Are there any reliable statistics about the percentage of church plants that fail after 3 years in the US?
 
— Jon Moore
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 

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!

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); ?> Are there any reliable statistics about the percentage of church plants that fail after 3 years in the US?
 
— Jon Moore
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

The Sacred Calling of the Secular Workplace

In Acts 11, we read that because of persecution in Jerusalem following the stoning of Stephen, Christians were dispersed into various parts of the world. In their new homes, they continued to live as they had in Jerusalem, practicing and preaching their faith to both Jews and Greeks.

As a result, the Lord saved “a large number,” and the church in Antioch was birthed. The people who had been scattered into Antioch were regular people, dads and moms, who needed work to support their families. They lived among the Gentiles according to their faith, proclaiming the gospel. Many saw and heard and believed.

There is something particularly interesting I would like you to see here: it was not the Apostles who planned a church plant in Antioch, gathered the funds and core groups, and moved into these neighborhoods. The church in Antioch began with believers whom God had sent there, not by their choice, but by way of dispersion.

They had families and jobs and regular lives, and they used those things as a way to represent Christ among their unbelieving neighbors and co-workers. In short, they were on mission in their workplaces and homes, and the Church grew as a result. Do you see it?

Regular people grew the church.

Christ at the Workplace
Most of the people who read this blog are pastors or church leaders, but the people we lead are accountants, teachers, doctors, and electricians.

Church leaders, we need to understand that we are meant to equip all of our people for participation in God’s mission. I am convinced that participation in the mission necessitates bringing everything under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, including our jobs.

There is an incredibly helpful and encouraging conversation happening in churches right now around faith and work and how the gospel impacts everything we do. The reality is that a lot of Christians are unhappy in their jobs. One of the reasons, I believe, is because just about every devout believer at some time asks the question, “Am I called to full-time ministry?”

As a result, confusion often abounds in regards to vocation and how we can joyfully thrive in our work. Everything we do is shaped by who we are in Christ, including the manner in which we approach our workplaces. At the end of this blog post I am including a helpful video my friend Skye Jethani did on “Recapturing a Theology of Vocation for Gospel Witness.” It is a very helpful piece.

All the way back in the beginning, kingdom work was rooted in God’s command to Adam to cultivate and steward the garden. The principle is more fully revealed in the work of the second Adam, Jesus. Adam was commanded to glean the harvest in Eden, but the second Adam brings a better and more complete harvest of the nations.

That harvest involves us in His mission at work and in our daily lives. The work is not set aside for ‘more spiritual’ or ‘professional’ Christians. God has called all believers to engage well in His mission. “Do your work heartily,” Paul says in Colossians 3:23, “as unto the Lord and not as unto men.”

If we are going to really see Christians satisfied in their work and joyfully engaging in the mission through it, we must equip them to do so. If we want to see the kind of multiplication of disciples seen in Acts 11, every follower of Christ must understand his or her role in God’s mission.

Just as God was sovereign over the dispersion of His people into Antioch, He is sovereign over where we have been placed in our neighborhoods and workplaces. That definitively means that we are in those places for the glory of God and the sake of the gospel among the nations.

In my next post, I will talk about how we can prepare this coming generation to see their vocations as a call from God and help them fully embrace it.

> 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); ?> Are there any reliable statistics about the percentage of church plants that fail after 3 years in the US?
 
— Jon Moore
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

How to Align What You Desire with What You Believe

Living things grow. It’s true for every organic life form, but it’s also true of us spiritually. When we are born again in Christ, we are set on a trajectory of spiritual growth. The Holy Spirit is in us in order to empower this transformational process by which God grows us up into the likeness of His Son, and that growth fleshes itself in all different kinds of ways.

It means that we continually grow in the fruit of the Spirit as our character is developed. It means we continually pursue purity and godliness in our lifestyle. It means we share the gospel more and more freely with others. It means our priorities shift from safety and comfort to the priorities of the kingdom of God. It means we hold more and more loosely to the material things of the world as we pursue the imperishable things of heaven.

But here is one other way we grow up in Christ over the course of time. Perhaps this is one way we don’t often think about, and yet one that might in the end bring us tremendous joy:

Growing up in Christ means an ever-increasing alignment between what we desire, and what we know.

Let’s use a simple example to flesh this out – that of reading our Bibles every day.

We know this is a good thing for us. We know that this is the inspired Word of God. We know that if we want to grow spiritually then the best thing in the world for us is to every day crack open God’s Word and prayerfully read it, believe it, and obey it. We know these things. And yet at some point this very week – maybe tomorrow – you won’t feel like opening God’s Word. And neither will I.

We will feel like sleeping. Or we will feel like scrolling through Twitter. Or we will feel like watching TV. We know we should read our Bibles, but we don’t want to. In fact, we might even know it so deeply that we want to want to do it. And that’s the state in which we live much of the time:

We want to want.

And it’s not just about Bible reading. We want to want to pray. We want to want to be holy. We want to want to be generous. We want to want, but there is still this war inside of us by which our flesh battles with the Spirit. We are torn on a daily basis between what we know and what we desire.

But, friend, consider the hope of gospel if you feel this acutely today. Consider the wonderful promise that God, who began His good work in you will indeed carry it onto completion (Phil. 1:6). Consider that it will not always be this way. For there will come a day when we will no longer want to want, and instead, there will be a glorious unity between what we know and what we feel. This is the work the Holy Spirit is doing, slowly, patiently, over the course of time in us – He is bringing unity to our whole selves.

As we embrace His work now, often times through the practice of self-discipline, it is entirely appropriate for us to long for the day when that work will be done. For that will be the day when faith is sight, and at long last we will not only know the truth of the gospel, but we will feel it as well.

> 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); ?> Are there any reliable statistics about the percentage of church plants that fail after 3 years in the US?
 
— Jon Moore
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

2 Keys for Doing Life Together

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, writing in The Cost of Discipleship, states, “On two separate occasions Peter received the call ‘Follow me.’ It was the first and last word Jesus spoke to His disciple. A whole life lies between these two calls.”

Could it be possible that those two simple, yet profound words hold the key for pastors who are desperately seeking solutions to overcome the dismal state of discipleship in their churches?

The call to Peter – and to other disciples – is one of single-minded obedience. Jesus was asking them – and us – to rely on Christ’s word – the Word of God Himself.

One solution to your discipleship problem?

Doing life together with spiritual depth yet practical wisdom.

THE QUICK SUMMARYThe Irresistible Community, by Bill Donahue

We all want a place where our stories matter, our voices are heard, our uniqueness is celebrated, our failures are embraced, and our hopes are unleashed. That kind of deep, life-changing community was modeled perfectly by Jesus and the ragged bunch of disciples with whom He chose to spend His time. But how can we create it in our lives?

Using the relationship of Jesus to His disciples in the upper room, Bill Donahue presents a simple but compelling approach to community life that was modeled by Jesus and offered to us all today. Using a table, a towel, and the truth, Jesus created an “irresistible community” where everyone finds a place to belong, live fully in the truth, and serve others with joy.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

In that upper room long ago at the beginning of the Passover celebration, Jesus set the stage for a whole new experience, not only for the disciples then but also for us now. The disciples didn’t know what they were in for, as Jesus fulfilled the role not only of host by also of servant.

If we enter the upper room at the invitation of Jesus, and experience fellowship with Him, we are receiving an irresistible invitation to experience abundant life in His name.

The Messiah is on a high-stakes mission, nothing like the one the disciples have envisioned. Jesus uses three common elements – a table, a towel, and the truth – and promises to change the world.

In the moments of the Last Supper, Jesus used some very common objects to communicate some very profound mysteries concerning the kingdom of God.

The first is a table. So common were tables that people hardly noticed them beyond their basic function as a workbench, a storage facility, or a feeding station. But not after tonight. Tonight the table will become something remarkable. They will never think of a table the same way again. And neither will you.

The second is a towel. In a surprising gesture of humility, Jesus will pick up a towel, unmask their self-indulgent thinking, and call them to a radical expression of greatness unlike any the world has seen. From this moment on, whenever they see a common household towel, they will remember. And so will you.

The third, while not an object per se, is the truth. In the ancient world, itinerant speakers competed for an audience, passing the hat for a few shekels to feed their families. In an era void of television, the internet, coffee shops, and movie theaters, public speakers provided a major form of entertainment and education for a largely illiterate, agrarian culture. Expressions of “truth” were common – but not Jesus’ kind of truth. While everyone is yawning at the remarks of yet another soothsayer, Jesus’ words awaken the slumbering masses with authority, power, intrigue, mystery and often bone-crushing reality.

Bill Donahue, The Irresistible Community 

A NEXT STEP

The metaphor of the table is a perfect place to begin seeking authentic Christian community. After all, Jesus was a table builder – first literally as a carpenter, and then spiritually as the Son of God.

Start your table journey by making a regular practice to gather around the table that matters most – your family table. Yes, the role of pastor is a demanding job, but how can you consider your role as pastor successful if you neglect your family? Do you have a regular pattern of eating at least one meal a day at home, around your table, with your family? If you do, what do you talk about? Make sure that you are investing the best part of the conversation not in what you are doing or what you accomplished, but in listening to the stories from your family.

Extend your table journey by making it a weekly habit to gather around a table – for a coffee break or a meal – with your staff team. Make sure this table time is not an extension of staff meetings, but a time for everyone to talk and listen to stories about each other’s lives and families outside of your church setting. Listen as they share family joys and concerns, and encourage your team to extend this table talk beyond the work setting to each other’s homes.

Create a new table journey by establishing a routine of getting outside the office regularly, establishing a pattern of spending time at a coffee shop at the same time and day each week. Notice first the staff, and begin to develop a relationship with each of them. Listen and encourage them by your actions and your words. Next, begin to notice others around you, and look for individuals who seem to have a pattern of being there at the same time as you. Reach out to them, and connect with their life story by first sharing yours.

Table life can be flexible, creative, and dynamic. Over time, people around the table may change as they come and go in your life. But the invitation to be a part of the table can be a life-altering experience.

Excerpted from SUMS Remix 36-1, March 2016


 

This is part of a weekly series posting content from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix Book Summaries for church leaders. SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; and each solution is taken from a different book. 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 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

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.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Are there any reliable statistics about the percentage of church plants that fail after 3 years in the US?
 
— Jon Moore
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
 
— Glenna Hendricks
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
 
— winston
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.