Archives For Discipleship

Most pastors dream of having a strong and vibrant men’s community that is driving the mission and vision of their local churches.  Every Man Ministries surveys of men reveal this dream rarely becomes a reality because there is no sense on the part of our men that we are concerned about their spiritual health or consider them central to our vision.  In the absence of a compelling vision for men that is articulated, visible, and connected to a meaningful process in the church context our men remain passively affiliated versus aggressively activated in the local church. We deal our best assets to the Devil and let him define greatness for them.  That sad reality is on the church, not on the men. No vision for them means no ignition of the energy and expression

We simply haven’t painted the target!

Every Man Ministries research also shows there is hope. If there is a strong vision, a defined process that helps a man realize it, and outcomes that make men stakeholders in the ongoing success of the church’s mission — men respond with their muscle, their money, and their mojo!…

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Do these names sound familiar? –OJ Simpson, Martha Stewart, Michael Jackson, Timothy McVeigh, Scott Peterson, The Menendez Brothers, Jeffrey Dahmer, Lindsay Lohan, Casey Anthony, Justin Beiber, Jay-Z, Kim Kardashian, Donald Trump, Brad Pitt, and Angelina Jolie. What is it that we so desperately want to know about them?

For some reason, we are all fascinated by the stories of their lives. We all want to know how a boy rises from humble beginnings in Springfield Missouri to become a sought-after Hollywood icon (Brad Pitt). We are curious how a timid first grader in West Allis, Wisconsin becomes a cannibalistic serial murderer (Jeffery Dahmer). We are even enthralled to learn about “normal people” who haven’t accomplished anything significant except to make the cut on a reality TV show. Why all the interest?

I have a theory: In all of these “real life” stories, we just want to know one thing: How did they become who they are today?

Ultimately, it comes back to the standing debate in the field of social science: nature vs. nurture.

The influence of nature refers to a person’s internal make-up or traits passed down from their family line. The influence of nurture refers to external factors that…

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Formed for the Glory of GodJonathan Edwards (1703-1758) is considered by many to be one of the smartest philosophers and theologians in American history. But more than that, Edwards is one of the great spiritual thinkers as well. Edwards helped the churches in New England navigate the work of the Spirit in the “Great Awakening,” and he continues to help pastors walk through these issues through his great work The Religious Affections (one of the most beloved spiritual classics of the Protestant church).

How can we learn from the spiritual practices of Edwards? Here are three lessons that are as important today as they were in Edwards’s time:

1. Spiritual Practices are God-Focused

When engaging in a spiritual practice, whether reading the Bible devotionally, praising God in church or even listening to a sermon, it can be incredibly easy to start focusing on side-issues. Maybe our lips are moving while singing a praise song, but our minds are thinking about everything else we have to do. Maybe we are reading the Bible for something to say that will sound smart and informed rather than hearing from God.

Whatever the case, Edwards would encourage us…

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Writing Pencil1) Pastors should identify the disciple-making that is already happening within their Church.

Disciples are being made in every church -the only question is “disciples of what?” Although not all of the discipleship is intentional or profitable, the good news for pastors is that they do not have to create the momentum –it already exists. The challenge is to identify it, embrace it and help direct it.

2) Pastors should intentionally spend time with key disciple-makers and help them develop intention in their disciple-making.

After identifying and embracing the disciple-making that is already taking place within a congregation, the pastor’s ability to provide guidance to the discipleship depends upon the pastor’s willingness to disciple the disciple-makers by intentionally investing in their lives. In short, the strength of a church’s discipleship is directly related to the amount of the pastor’s time invested in discipleship relations.

3) Pastors must foster a discipleship community within the congregation.

Every disciple and disciple-maker needs the support of other disciples and disciple-makers to continue mutual edification over a lifetime. This takes place within the discipleship community, which, ideally, is the local church. Pastors have the opportunity to foster this community and bring it to…

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FishingJesus stopped a few fishermen one day in the Sea of Galilee and challenged them to turn the world upside down by issuing a simple call… “Come, follow me, and I will send you out to fish for people.” (Matthew 4:19, NIV)

Many have taught about how the disciples left their careers behind to follow Jesus into full-time ministry that day, but they forget the other instances of the disciples fishing for fish later in the gospels. It wasn’t a career change or the sacrifice of a job to which Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James, and John that day. He called them to fish for people, and to make people a superior priority to fish.

One of the mistakes we make in modern ministry leadership is to see people who walk through the doors of our churches on Sunday mornings as potential helpers, come to assist us in the fulfillment of our mission. If we’re not careful, we begin to assess the usefulness of people based on their appearance, their talent, or their apparent zeal and commitment to spending time doing churchy things.

What if instead of seeing people as a means to accomplishing…

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Does God desire for your church to grow?

The short and simple answer is “yes.” We can make this deduction from the fact that God has called us to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20) and that ultimately; disciples from all nations will be gathered together in heaven (Revelation 7:9). In the mean time, God is working through His body, the Church, to gather His children (Matthew 16:18). Therefore, as the Church grows, God’s global kingdom grows. –and that’s not just God’s goal, its promise.

But there is another answer and its slightly more complicated.

Imagine you have a friend with two wild, unruly children. When his kids spend the night with your kids, you hide every breakable item in the house and never let them out of your sight! Although you love your friend immensely, you are really concerned about his lack of parenting skills.

One day, over lunch, your friend tells you that he and his wife are praying for another child. He explains how they are confident that God wants their family to grow and he even quotes Psalm 127:3, “Behold, children…

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Can you give a clear, concise and biblically accurate description of a disciple of Jesus?

If so, you are a select member of an elite club.

I wonder if most ministers – let alone most Christians – really know what their ministry’s “finished product” is supposed to look like? I’m being reluctantly dragged to the conclusion most don’t by what the affiliated interim pastors of the Transition Ministries Group have found in our client churches.

Try this experiment to see if you come up with the same results.

Ask the next 20 pastors you meet their definition or description of a disciple. Hopefully you’ll find consensus but my guess is you’ll receive some blank stares, puzzled expressions, a few rambling discussions and maybe – just maybe – a biblical answer.

You know what’s really odd about this?

Jesus gave a clear, concise and simple description of what his disciples should be. He gave us the spec sheet, so to speak. There are a small handful of passages where the Lord says, in effect, “if you want to be my disciple you must do this” or “you can’t do that.”

Here are seven sermon texts you can preach to…

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Small Group Bible StudyI am a natural born analyst.  Not a day goes by that I’m not analyzing what I’m reading, what I’m hearing, what I’m seeing.

As I analyze any small group system or aspect of a strategy, I always add a few important understandings and questions.  First, I am sure there are no problem-free solutions.  Second, I’m quick to add the great Roger Martin question, “What would have to be true for that approach to work?  Third, I asks the four questions that evaluate small group model effectiveness.  Finally, I do everything I can to cultivate an openness to new ideas.  See also, Supercharge Your Ministry with These 5 Questions and An Openness to New Ideas.

The result of most of my small group ministry analysis is the conclusion that lots of what is being touted as the best system, the most biblical strategy, the answer to all of our problems…is really good thinking mixed with neatly packaged sets of false dichotomies, overstatements, and sometimes includes a twist of smoke and mirrors.

Here are 5 of my honest conclusions right now:

  1. Pinning hopes of reaching unchurched people on…

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multiplicationRevelation 7:9-10 reveals a future scene in heaven.

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

Did you catch that?  Heaven will be inhabited by people from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages.

Question: How will people from every nation, tribe, people & language get there?

Its not by accident.  God has been planning world-wide worship from the beginning.  In the very first book of the Bible, God instructed Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply… (Genesis 1:28) Why? For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. (Habakkuk 2:14)

After the flood, God repeated the command to Noah: Be fruitful and multiply. (Genesis 9:7)  Later, God told Abraham that all nations would be blessed through him.  (Genesis 12:2).  God repeated that promise to Abraham’s son, Isaac, and…

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In Plain SightAmerican evangelicalism has been blindsided. Our cities and our world have changed.  In our missional focus to reach the city, we have realized our inability to reach the entire urban context—specifically the individuals that don’t fit into the majority culture.  Somehow it has been accepted to do ministry and create disciples, while ignoring certain portions that aren’t as accessible; they were quarantined and unseen.

Now, however, it’s impossible to ignore what is quickly taking over.  This new urban – the dense and diverse – is transforming and shaping our culture, society and neighborhoods.  As leaders, we’d be foolish to make our mission anything other than the city in its entirety- beautiful parts and complicated. There’s no more looking the other way.

That is why In Plain Sight seeks to develop a holistic strategy for discipling America’s true urban: those in plain sight.

This free resource includes:

  • A wholistic strategy for making disciples
  • A primer for discipleship in your group of church
  • Insights and perspectives that will shake the status quo
  • A how-to manual on reaching people you have previously overlooked

Download from Verge Network

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Say No to DiscipleshipIt sounds crazy, right? Say no to discipleship? But what if the way we have typically done “discipleship” is not the way Jesus intended for us to make disciples? If we do need to reconsider or stop doing something, what is it? One thing we know–discipleship done in ways Jesus didn’t intend will result in disciples that Jesus didn’t intend, e.g., people who make presentations rather than have presence; who follow moralism rather than the Messiah; and who measure their spirituality with a mirror rather than in community. In this free resource, Jason C. Dukes offers some context to the assertion that we should say no to discipleship as well as five suggested shifts toward discipling as Jesus intended.

Download from Exponential

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Holistic DiscipleshipDiscipleship has been used and misused to the point that the word itself has become almost meaningless. It begs for clarification.

Everyone would agree that discipleship should be transformational (Check out Transformational Discipleship by Geiger, Kelley, and Nation). But what exactly is being transformed?

At this point I see three popular, yet incomplete, views:

1)   Belief-Driven Discipleship: This view sees discipleship as the collection of knowledge. It is completely cognitive driven. Classes, lessons, books, and Scripture memorization compose this view of discipleship. Belief-Driven proponents encourage their disciples to study in such a way as to “rightly handle the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).

2)   Behavior-Driven Discipleship: This view sees discipleship as changing behaviors. Many times proponents of behavior-driven discipleship quote James 1:22, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only.”

3)   Attitude-Driven Discipleship: This view sees transformation of the inner state of the heart as the main focus of discipleship. Because major emphasis is placed upon character, affections, and desires; this view of discipleship regards relationships as key. Attitude-Driven disciple-makers resonate with verses such as 1 Cor. 13:13, “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

At first glance, you might think,…

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