Archives For Discipleship

We are sent, on mission, to make disciples. It is for making more and stronger disciples that the church exists. So… what’s your process for making them?

There are two significant weaknesses common to struggling churches.

  • They’ve never discovered or clarified the biblical purposes for which they were founded.
  • They’ve never clarified or pursued a basic strategy for making disciples.

Healthy, purpose driven churches have made these two issues very core to their existence. They understand that they exist for the five purposes of worship, evangelism, discipleship, ministry, and fellowship. And they understand that discipleship happens best through an intentional process.

Particularly, there are five questions that must be answered by every church’s leadership about their discipleship strategy.

  1. How do we help the community around us become part of our crowd? This is the evangelistic mission of the church.
  2. How do we help the crowd that gathers on Sunday become a congregation? This is a matter of helping people discover membership in the body.
  3. How do we help the congregation remain committed to growing spiritually? This is discipleship – helping people grow in spiritual maturity to be more like Christ.
  4. How do we move committed members into the core to serve others? This is how we expand the ministry…

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No other institution on earth has the potential to change the world and address global issues as the local church. No force on earth is as unstoppable as the local church when it is functioning as a unified body of believers. And nothing brings a church together in unity better than a growth campaign.

The greatest waves of growth that Saddleback Church has ever experienced have been the result of the various church-wide campaigns that we’ve done. When we set aside six to eight weeks to concentrate, as a church family, on a single theme, amazing things happen, such as…

  • People bring their friends, co-workers, and neighbors to church.
  • Hundreds of people are baptized.
  • All kinds of new small groups form and launch.
  • Some people give financially for the first time, and everyone sacrifices for the Kingdom.
  • The church grows larger, deeper, broader, warmer, and stronger.

As you plan your preaching over the next twelve months, plan at least one, if not two, opportunities for your church to align around a single theme. Some of our more well-known campaigns have included Decade of Destiny, 40 Days In the Word, What On Earth…

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I am committed to God’s inerrant and infallible Word and its final authority for all we believe and practice… period. Every word from a politician or preacher, author or educator, king or a president is secondary. We filter everything through God’s Word.

Therefore, as pastors, it is incumbent upon us to teach people the Word of God. One of the premiere principles we must teach them is how to walk with God personally.

The Need is Obvious

It is more than obvious that we must teach people how to walk with God personally. The world we live in today is a constant challenge. Promises are continually broken. Faithfulness in friendships is rare. Marriages are in crisis. Families are falling apart. Unforgiveness in relationships is normative. Financial crises happen.

People need to know how to navigate through these and other challenges they face not just periodically, but continually.

The need is obvious. We must teach people how to walk with God personally. Here are some ways I suggest we can do this:

1. Teach People the Importance of Reading the Bible

I really believe reading the Scripture daily is the major way people learn to navigate through challenges in their own…

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Every member of your congregation is driven by something, and you need to discover what those forces are in order to better disciple those under your care. Ultimately, you want to lead each member to be driven by God’s agenda – to live a purpose-driven life.

Most dictionaries define the verb drive as “to guide, to control, or to direct.” In your congregation, there are some driven by a problem, a pressure, or a deadline, and others driven by a painful memory, a haunting fear, or an unconscious belief.

There are hundreds of circumstances, values, and emotions that drive people’s lives, and understanding what’s driving them is a key to reaching them.

Here are five common “drives” –

Some people are driven by guilt – They spend their entire lives running from regrets or hiding their shame. Guilt-driven people are manipulated by memories. They allow their past to control their future, believing their past mistakes to be bigger than God. They often unconsciously punish themselves by sabotaging their own success. When Cain sinned, his guilt disconnected him from God’s presence, and God said, “You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.” (Gen. 4:12, NIV) That describes…

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I can’t decide if my title is too corny or too obvious, but I have to go with the Star Wars theme, one way or another. When something’s hot, you go with it. That’s why I’m married to Denise (bah dum, dum)!

If you didn’t know there was a new Star Wars movie coming out, welcome out of your barn, Brother…I hope you got your buggy fixed. It’s the highest grossing launch of a movie ever!

The reason a movie like Star Wars can be so epic is because it’s actually based in reality. Not “giant dogs that can pilot a space ship” reality, but the reality of a light and dark side.

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light. (Ephesians 5:8)

It’s an actual truth. There is a light side and a dark side. I think we get it. Everyone isn’t good! Too many people have thought that for far too long. If anything, deep down inside, everyone is not good!

Our world is jacked up on the dark side. It just seems to keep getting darker! But it’s not new.

Was there a dark side in the Christmas story? Who…

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Eleven years ago my wife and I joined a new church. I remember how alone I felt on Sunday mornings in those first few months. My wife was a better “joiner” than I. She had made some new friends and seemed well on her way to calling the church “our church.” But it wasn’t quite as easy for me.

Then, one Sunday morning an announcement appeared in the bulletin for the All-Church Work Day in two weeks. “Why not?” I thought. That Saturday I arrived at 8:30 a.m., and was assigned to help paint Room 14. When I walked in, I found two other people working away. We introduced ourselves and spent the next 3 hours painting doors, closets, walls, and floorboards. Of course, you can’t be in a room with two other people for three hours without conversing. And it was a good time. But, what happened next Sunday was even better. I found that I had made two new friends. Alex walked up to me and playfully asked, “Say, is that blue paint I see in your ear?!” And later Megan came up and introduced her husband and children to me. Ten…

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Most church planters who have kids ask the question at some point, is church planting really the best for my kids?

I can’t speak for everyone, but in my experience, the answer is yes. Here’s why it matters: because answering that question with a yes could mean that you plant the church you’re thinking about. Even more, it could be the best thing for your children.

Now God could raise up a church planter from a stone if he wanted, so he doesn’t need you to do it. But he designed us to pass on our faith to the next generation through church planting, among other ways.

My father and I talk about how God redeemed our family a little bit in Dedicated: Training Your Children to Trust and Follow Jesus, but I wanted to share something here that I’ve never written on—the lessons I learned specifically as a church planter’s son.

My parents answered the question, is it best for my children? Yes. In fact, one of the major reasons my parents wanted to plant a church was because they thought it was best for us. They thought, given our circumstance, it…

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Leaders are always defined by self-imposed standards. I’m not talking about standards set by other people, but standards they set for themselves. Great leaders always expect more from themselves than they do from their followers. They put forth more effort as well. That’s leadership.

If you were to look through the New Testament for the phrase “make every effort,” you’d find it six times. They represent six important vows we need to make as leaders. I believe these six vows will lead to an effective and productive ministry.

1) Vow to maintain integrity

“Make every effort to be found spotless, blameless, and at peace with him” (2 Peter 3:14).

God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. No one is perfect. To be spotless and blameless means to live with integrity. How do you maintain integrity if you’re not perfect? You need to be transparent. A person of integrity is not claiming to have it all together in every area. On the contrary, the person of integrity is willing to be open about their strengths and weaknesses.

Having integrity also means living what you say you believe. You model what you teach. And you tell the truth,…

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Did you know that God uses a very predictable process to build your character?  I call it the Six Phases of Faith.  If you don’t understand the process, you’ll get discouraged when problems arise.  You’ll wonder, “Why is this happening to me?”

But if you understand and cooperate with what God is doing – in your life and with your faith – you’ll develop great strength. It’s like stretching a muscle to make it stronger.

God gives you a dream: an idea, goal, or ambition.  Every great accomplishment first begins as a God-given dream in someone’s mind.  “God is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of – infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes.”  Eph. 3:20 (LB)

A dream is worthless until you decide to do something about it.  For every ten dreamers, there’s only one decision-maker.  This is the moment of truth where you decide to invest your time, money, energy, and reputation – and to let go of security.  If you want to walk on water,  you’ve got to get out of the boat!  “You must believe…

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“The New Testament is the only model we need!” There, I went ahead and said that for you. It’s out of the way. For those pastors and church leaders who highly value the New Testament AND actually want to accomplish something meaningful, read on…

Every church follows a model. Most of the church leaders who criticize following a model follow a model that tends to criticize models. Follow that? There are traditional models with an age-graded Sunday School, a morning worship service, evening worship service, and a midweek prayer meeting, plus some other programs. W. A. Criswell (one of my biggest heroes) was a pioneer in this model in the 1940’s. Back then, grading ministries by age was innovative.

Other churches follow the “simple church” model. They have weekend worship, small groups, and that’s about it. The ministry and mission is carried out by the groups and the individuals in them. It works well for those who do it right. There are also house churches, and still a few quarter-time churches that only have a Pastor once per month. There’s the Amish and Mennonite model – very community-centric. You get the picture.


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Second Time Guest

My Experience…

Ten years ago my family and I moved into a new home and neighborhood, and used the summer to search for a new church home. In 8 of the 10 churches we visited, I filled out a visitor card or signed a guest register. (Two churches had no way for visitors to identify themselves.)  Of the churches visited, 6 of 8 sent a “Thank you for visiting” letter, and 2 had a representative phone us the following week.

My family especially enjoyed three of the churches and decided to go back for another visit. I again completed the visitor information and, the following week, checked the mailbox for a follow-up. Monday … Tuesday … Wednesday … no letter … Thursday … Friday … Saturday … nothing. No card. No call. No contact.

We returned to the same three churches for a third visit in our search for a church home. Visitor card? Completed.  Left with the church? Check. Received any follow-up contacts the next week? None.

My Questions…

Do you have a way to let your first-time guests know that you are glad they came? A letter? Phone call? Post card? Hopefully so. But what…

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Did Jesus battle depression? Seems like a strange question at first, but consider Isaiah’s prophesy of the coming Messiah: “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3).

That certainly sounds like someone dealing with the symptoms of depression. So why do we immediately push back at the thought that Jesus might have dealt with symptoms of depression?

Perhaps it is because we have the false notion that depression is either 1) a sin or a 2) sign of weakness. But neither is the case.

In fact, depression is not something a person chooses. Rather it is something a person must choose how to deal with.  The real issue is not whether a person experiences depression, but instead, how the person reacts to depression.

For this reason I am of the opinion that Christ did indeed battle depression. And more importantly, He battled it perfectly. Hebrews 4:15 reminds us, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

Christ wasn’t the only person in Scripture who…

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