Leave a comment

What Might a Church’s Discipleship Process Look Like?

Discipleship

Recently, I finished a year long discipleship process with the Baptist Association in my area. The purpose of the process was for each pastor involved to develop a discipleship process they would implement in their church. Here is the process I developed.

What Might a Church’s Discipleship Process Look Like?

If you visit my church’s website, on the top right you will see the tagline: Taking you from Come and Worship, to Go and Serve in Christ. That tagline reveals the church’s discipleship process.

(1) Come and Worship

What that simple means is come to the main worship service. We’ve designed our main worship service to be all about Jesus. We see it as a time where you can grow in your love for God as you learn more about who He is and what He has done for you.

(2) Stay and Connect

Not only do we want our members and regular attenders to consistently come to the main worship service, but we also want them to stay and connect with others in our church. We primarily see them doing that through our Sunday School classes, but also through Community Groups and Bible Studies.

In these classes they will not only learn more about Jesus, but they also have an opportunity to build relationships with others. The opportunity to build relationships is important because if they are going to grow in their love for others, they need to have relationships. Relationships that allows them to know how best to love and serve each other.

(3) Go

What I mean by this is for the church to go and spread the gospel message to others in the community.

Part of being a disciple is sharing the gospel, so our church needs to help it’s members do that. Not through a church evangelization program, but rather by training and encouraging them to live as missionaries in their own community.

I am convinced that by training and encouraging them to do what missionaries do — build relationships with others with the intention of sharing the gospel — they will be an effective evangelical force in the community.

(4) Serve

Disciples are those who follow Jesus in serving the church and community, so as part of a discipleship process we need to not only encourage the church to serve but to provide opportunity for them to serve.

We have a lot of opportunities within the church to serve — Nursery, Children’s church, Work days, Women’s Missions Ministry, Media booth — as well as there are a lot of service opportunities outside of the church. To highlight these opportunities, I created a page on our website so folks can see what areas we and the community need help in.

I believe that if we take the opportunities given to us to serve the church and community, we are going to continue to grow as a disciple.

(5) Bring others along

Disciples are those who make disciples. The best way for you to do that is by bringing someone along on the journey with you. To that end, I am encouraging those in my congregation to bring people to the worship service, Sunday School, Communities Groups, to bring others along when they serve or share their faith, and to sit down with another person and discuss God’s Word with them and pray.

Disciples are those who make disciples and one of the best ways to do that is just by bringing others along on the journey with you.

Visual

Here is a visual that goes along with my process:

Discipleship Process

Question for Reflection

  1. What process do you have for making disciples at your church?

Resources

Post adapted from my sermon: Introduction – A Discipleship Process for the Church – Week 1

Image

Leave a comment

What Might We Believe Discipleship is, But Isn’t? – Part 2

Discipleship

If you have been in church for any length of time or if you are a new believer, you have probably heard the word discipleship. Most likely you have been encouraged to participate in some sort of  Discipleship process. That is because discipleship is important. It is what helps us to grow as believers. But do we get discipleship wrong? I believe we often do. I believe this because we limit the scope of what we believe discipleship is.

What might we believe discipleship is, but isn’t?

(3) We might believe discipleship is an easy thing that doesn’t take any effort.

But if we believe that, we are wrong. While salvation is free, discipleship takes work. Jesus puts it bluntly in Luke 9:23:

If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Lk 9:23)

And Paul in Philippians 2:12 tells us to:

Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12b)

So we can’t grow to be more like Christ without putting forth effort.

When I was in seminary, I had to take two language classes — Greek and Hebrew. The first language class I took was turbo Greek. They call it turbo Greek because they squish two semesters worth of Greek into two months. I took these two classes over the summer and they were the only classes I took.

One thing I realized quickly was that if I was going to learn this language, I had to put in the effort and that required me to do more than just show up for class. So that summer I spent hours flipping through vocabulary cards, doing practice exercises, and memorizing charts. Any chance I got I worked on Greek. I even downloaded an app to my phone so I could work on it while Jen and I were out shopping or I had a spare moment. While it was a lot of work, it paid off. I ended up doing pretty well in the class.

Just as learning a foreign language doesn’t happen just by showing up to class, becoming a fully mature disciple of Jesus doesn’t happen just by showing up to church once a week. It takes effort and time, it’s not an easy thing, so our discipleship process has to involve more than just showing up to church once a week.

(4) We might believe discipleship can be programmed.

Before I surrendered to full-time ministry, I worked in sales. My first sales job was at CBeyond. It’s a telecommunications company that sells Voice Over IP systems. I worked for them in Atlanta.

One of the things that initially drew me to this company was their training program. It was one of the better programs in the industry for new sales associates. And since this was my first sales job, I thought it would be good to go to a company that had a good training program.

When I started for the first 2 to 3 weeks all I did was classroom training. Everyday I came in we would learn something new about the company. We would practice some sales tactics, we would do mock cold calls. All kinds of stuff that was supposed to get us ready to go out into the field.

While the training was good and necessary, when I finished that training I wasn’t a mature sales associate because I hadn’t had real world experience. I knew about the company, I knew some sales tactics, I went through their training program, but I hadn’t put any of this stuff into practice yet.

Similarly, we can’t become fully mature disciple of Jesus just by going through a 6 week class, reading a book, or attending a Bible study once a week. It doesn’t work that way because discipleship can’t be programmed. It requires us to get some real world experience.

Real world experience is required because discipleship involves your whole life and it takes a lifetime.

I was reading a magazine recently put out by The Navigators — They are a missions organization. In that magazine, I came across a story about the community of Bukhalu, which is in Uganda.

The community in Bukhalu had been formed by former criminals who were run out of town, which meant Bukhalu was not your ideal place to live. It was primarily made up of witches, murderers, and other criminal types. But the mission’s team highlighted in the magazine felt God calling them to go work with this community.

After working with them for two years — explaining the gospel to them and urging them to repent and believe in Jesus — these folks started seeing some remarkable transformations in the community.

One guy in particular who came to faith was Stephen. Stephen is a local government leader, who when asked about the Bible and the transformation it brought to the community said,

“The Bible has told us about our sin and how we can receive Christ… We’ve learned that drunkenness wastes time and money and if we stop we find better lives. We’re also learning how to love our wives.”

That last piece was very important to this community. Stephen told them that domestic disputes were common. As a government official he would have to step in and help settle these disputes often. Something he used to have to do several times a week before this team brought the gospel to their city. Now, he said, he only had to help settle disputes maybe once or twice a month.

On top of these moral changes the community also saw numerous day-to-day lifestyle changes. Instead of leaving their compound dirty and getting water from the river, they started cleaning up and getting fresh water from a bore hole which helped to improve the health of their children.

All these things happened because of the gospel.

Conclusion

So you can see that being a disciple is more than just gaining information. It is more than just a six week study or a program we go through. It’s more than just you and Jesus getting alone somewhere. Discipleship involves others, it involves our whole life. It changes our whole way of thinking and how we do things. And these changes don’t just occur in a couple of weeks. They occur over a lifetime of effort.

Question for Reflection

  1. What would you add to this list?

Resource

Post adapted from the sermon: A Discipleship Process for the Church

Image

6 Comments

What Might We Believe Discipleship is, But Isn’t? – Part 1

Discipleship

If you have been in church for any length of time or if you are a new believer, you have probably heard the word discipleship. Most likely you have been encouraged to participate in some sort of  Discipleship process. That is because discipleship is important. It is what helps us to grow as believers. But do we get discipleship wrong? I believe we often do. I believe this because we limit the scope of what we believe discipleship is.

What might we believe discipleship is, but isn’t?

(1) We might believe discipleship is just gaining religious knowledge.

Because we believe this, discipleship becomes “Read this. Study this. Memorize this.” Don’t get me wrong, we need to read — I am a big advocate of reading. We need to study. We need to memorize Scripture. We need to grow in our knowledge of God’s Word. But discipleship involves more than these things.

Discipleship involves Christ-like transformation. Our goal, as Paul says in Romans 8:29 is:

to be conformed to the image of His Son,” (Rom. 8:29).

That is not going to happen just by gaining religious knowledge, so we need a process that involves more than just classroom activities. We need something that focuses on our whole life so that our whole man is transformed.

(2) We might believe discipleship is a solitary endeavor.

It is just Jesus and me getting together. While discipleship is all about Jesus, it’s not a solitary endeavor. Discipleship is relational. It requires us spending time with other believers, so we can’t just get alone with Jesus somewhere and expect to become a fully mature disciple.

We need others to help us grow, which is exactly what Paul is getting at in Ephesians 4:11-13 when he tells us that Jesus:

…gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,…

And why did he give them?

…to equip the saints for the work of ministry,

So the saints can do what?

…for building up the body of Christ,…

What is the result of this building up?

…[it is the] unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ,” (Eph 4:11–13)

So we need each other to become fully mature disciples of Jesus.

When I was in high school and college, I used to work out all the time. I went to the gym four times a week and I would work out for a couple of hours each time I went. And to help with my workouts, I read books and magazines. I took supplements. I charted my workouts — writing down how much weight I was lifting and how many reps I was able to do.

While all those things helped, I don’t think I would have seen any of the gains I saw had it not been for my workout partners. Had it not been for Mike and Randall, encouraging me to go to the gym and pushing me while I was there, I don’t believe I would have seen any of the gains I realized during that time.

Just like we need workout partners to help us grow physically, we need workout partners in the church to help us grow spiritually.

So if we want to grow as disciples and become mature believers, we have to have a community of believers around us challenging, encouraging, teaching, and building us up. We can’t just get alone with Jesus somewhere, we have to have others in our lives.

Question for Reflection

  1. What would you add to this list?

Resource

Post adapted from the sermon: A Discipleship Process for the Church

Image

Leave a comment

How Should Christians Live in the In-Between?

City

A perfect future kingdom awaits those who believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. A kingdom with no sickness, death, disease, injustice, war, oppression, etc – a perfect kingdom. Now, however, we live in the already/not yet. The period where we can taste victory, but we can’t fully enjoy it because Jesus’ hasn’t yet returned.

One author captures the tension well when he says,

“The kingdom of God is both the foundation of the church and the goal of the world. Therefore, we have and we hope; we give thanks and we sigh for more.” – Kelly Kapic

So we live in the in-between. As we live in the already/not yet, how should we live our daily lives? Should we pull back to the fringes? Divorce ourselves from society? Or should we do something else?

How Should Christians Live in the In-Between?

We should do what Israel was told to do in Jeremiah 29: Work for the good of the city, for as the city flourishes we flourish (Jer. 29:5-7). As Christians we should lay down roots, conduct business, get married, have children pray for our leaders, and work to make the city a better place.

We can do that in at least three ways.

(1) Politics and Laws

Here is what one theologian says,

“True justice exists only in the society of God, and this will be truly fulfilled only after the Judgment. Nevertheless, while no society on earth can fully express this justice, the one that is more influenced by Christians and Christian teaching will more perfectly reflect a just society. For this reason, Christians have a duty toward government.” – Webber

Sure, politics aren’t going to solve all our problems, but politics and laws have a huge influence on our society.

“Laws express moral beliefs and judgments…They tells citizens what our society ought to value and condemn, what is worthy of our respect and what we should disapprove of.” – Gerson & Wehner

Think about the state of Colorado: Marijuana is now legal. That is a big deal. Not only because people now have access to drugs, but because it is going to influence people’s moral views on Marijuana.

Right now, some citizens may see it as morally wrong, but think about how people will see it in fifty years. As a generation comes and goes the view that it is wrong to use marijuana is going to fade into the background. And that is going to take place because a law was passed. So we can’t neglect the importance of politics and laws. They shape and influence our moral lives.

So when there is an election, we should be aware of the issues and educate our families and friends. We should vote and encourage others to do the same. Some of us should even get into politics.

(2) Truly Living as Disciples of Jesus

I was sitting with a friend at Starbucks the other day talking about how we as Christians can bring about change and work for the good of the city. And he asked this question,

“What if the world saw disciples actually living out their calling?”

I thought that was good a question. Think about it: What if we really lived as true disciples? What kind of impact do you think that would have on our community, city, country? Think about the witness we would be, the change we could bring, the difference we could make by truly living as Jesus did.

Now, you might be thinking, we have already tried that. This nation was founded by Christian men on Christian principles. While that is true, I would argue we haven’t always lived out our calling. Sure some Christians do, but a lot of people who claim to be Christians don’t live as Jesus did.

But what if we all did? I believe if we did, our society would be radically changed.

(3) Preaching the Gospel

I left this one for last because I believe it’s the most important. I believe that because the gospel changes hearts, which is important because our heart isn’t just the organ that pumps our blood, it’s our inner self.

In Psalm 51:10, when David prayed saying,

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Ps 51:10)

He wasn’t asking God for a literal heart transplant, instead he was asking God to change his will, desires, affections. He was asking God to transform him, so he lived and acted differently. That is what the gospel does. It transforms people, so that they live differently. So if we want to work for the good of our city and see true change in this country, we have to preach the gospel.

Question for Reflection

  1. What else should Christians do in the in-between?

Resources

Post adapted from the sermon: Hope is Not Lost

Image

Leave a comment

Can Stuff Ultimately Satisfy Us this Christmas?

Presents

Christmas is tomorrow and as a kid I would be one day away from opening the last door on my countdown to Christmas calendar.

Every year along with our Christmas decorations my mom would pull that calendar out of the box and hang it on our refrigerator. Every morning the first thing my sister and I did was go to the refrigerator and open the next door on the calendar, which marked one less day until Christmas.

I think my sister and I thought opening the door on that calendar made Christmas come faster, but thinking about it now, I actually think it made Christmas come slower. As we opened each door on the calendar, we were reminded Christmas wasn’t here yet.

You see, my sister and I, we couldn’t wait for Christmas to get here. We couldn’t wait to see what presents we were going to get from my mom and dad. For weeks that’s all we would talk about. What we thought we would get. Our speculation and excitement grew when presents started showing up under the tree. Was that big box a Nintendo — hey, it was the 80’s — or was it a new baseball glove, maybe a football? All the while we were hoping it wasn’t clothes — What kid wants clothes for Christmas? I know I didn’t. I wanted something cool. A toy or game. Something I could play with. My sister and I would go on for days like that — wondering, hoping, waiting to see what we would get.

While all the days leading up to Christmas were tough, nothing compared to Christmas Eve. You know what I am talking about. With Christmas just hours away, we could hardly contain our excitement. You see, for kids, and maybe some adults, the time leading up to Christmas is almost an unbearable wait.

Here is the question:

Can Stuff Ultimately Satisfy Us this Christmas?

The book of Ecclesiastes, written by Solomon, answers that for us.

Solomon was the wisest and probably richest king to ever live. Just to put it into perspective, if he was alive today, a new Aston Martin One-77 — a million dollar car — would be pocket change. A Gulf Stream Jet — he probably would have 3. A Ferrari — he’s got a different color for every day of the week. His house would no doubt make it into a magazine or maybe even MTV Crib’s.

Solomon was the wisest and riches king ever and he could have whatever he wanted. The book of Ecclesiastes he tells us that is exactly what he did. He allowed himself to indulge in whatever he thought would bring him pleasure and fulfillment in life. He held nothing back from himself.

In chapter 2 of Ecclesiastes, we are told he indulged in the best wine money could buy (2:3). He had the grandest buildings, gardens, and parks. He owned vineyards and farms. He made himself pools of water to water the forests he owned. He had 100’s of servants and concubines. He had it all (2:4-8). In verse 10 of chapter 2 he confirms this when he says,

Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure…” (Eccl. 2:10a).

So Solomon had every possession he could ever want. But in verse 11, he comes to this conclusion:

…and behold, all was vanity and striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.” (Eccl. 2:11b).

So Solomon, the richest and most powerful king in history who had everything he wanted comes to the conclusion that:

Stuff can’t ultimately satisfy us. It can’t provide us with ultimate fulfillment in life.

Question for Reflection

  1. Are you hoping the presents you get at Christmas will fulfill you?

Resources

Adapted from the sermon: Is There Anything Worth Waiting For?

Image

Leave a comment

Everyday Evangelism

2163760529_914e576884_z

Every other year I try to go to a conference hosted by Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY — Together for the Gospel. Not only is a great time to hear the Word preached and fellowship with folks I haven’t seen in years, but it is a great opportunity to pick up a lot of books. Every year I go, I come back with at least 40-50 books. Most of those are handpicked by those putting on the conference and are free.

One of the free books I got at the last conference was Evangelism: How the whole church speaks of Jesus by Mack Stiles.

Outreach Misconception and Correction

In the book, Stiles tells of a time when he went to speak on Evangelism at another church. They had a question and answer session after his talk. One lady noticed that a lot of Vietnamese were moving into the neighborhood. She wanted to know how the church was going to reach out to them.

Here is what Stiles told her:

“It is really not the best thing for ‘the church’ to set up programs for Vietnamese outreach, but rather for you to think how you can reach out. I would recommend you learn something about the Vietnamese culture, maybe by learning some greetings in Vietnamese, trying their food, and learning about their struggles they face living in the majority culture. Reach out and invite the friends you make to come with you to your homes, a small group Bible study, or church. Then, perhaps, some of you should even think of moving into the Vietnamese community with the purpose of [spreading] the gospel among that community.” — Stiles, Evangelism, 66.

Probably not the answer the lady was thinking she would get, but that is what Stiles recommended — that we not wait for the church to setup a program to reach a specific people, but that those in the church take it upon themselves to go and reach those people.

Everyday Evangelism as Community Missionaries

I think Stiles is right. If we want to impact our community and city, we can’t wait for the church to setup an outreach to a specific people. Instead, we have to reach out on our own. We have to see ourselves as missionaries to our community and city.

As missionaries we must seek to build relationships with folks everyday with the purpose of speaking the gospel into their lives.

Everyday evangelism happens when everyone in a church sees it as their responsibility to daily reach out to those in the community with the purpose of building relationships and spreading the gospel.

Question for Reflection

  1. How do you reach out to your community?

Resources

Mack Stiles, Evangelism: How the whole church speaks of Jesus, 66.

Image

2 Comments

On Imitating Jesus

Quotes

This preoccupation with Jesus’ social and economic identity – whether asserting his relative poverty or affluence – misses the point. We are never explicitly called to imitate Jesus’ early life or career. These aspects of Jesus’ example are never directly identified as the framework for the economic life of Christians, though they obviously influence us.

But we are specifically commanded, over and over again, to imitate Jesus’ unselfish giving on the cross.

To be sure, we are not all necessarily obligated to enter into a life of voluntary poverty. But we cannot claim Christ’s cross as the source of our lives without allowing the same cross to shape the whole course of our lives.

Our faithfulness is not to be judged by where we fit into the socioeconomic ladder, but by the degree to which our daily decisions and life story as a whole correspond to Christ’s self-giving example on the cross.

Question for Reflection

  1. Do you agree with Kapic?

Resources

Kelly Kapic, God So Loved, He Gave156.

Image

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 553 other followers

%d bloggers like this: