Archives For Discipleship

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

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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.

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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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DiscipleShiftDiscipleShift: Five Steps to Help Your Church Make Disciples Who Make Disciples (Zondervan/Exponential) by Jim Putman (with Robert Coleman and Bobby Harrington) releases this week at Exponential 2013! The signature book for Exponential ’13, DiscipleShift walks readers through five key “shifts” that churches must make to refocus on the biblical mission of discipleship:

  1. From Reaching to Making
  2. From Informing to Equipping
  3. From Program to Purpose
  4. From Activity to Relationship
  5. From Accumulating to Deploying 

In DiscipleShift, Putman, Robert Coleman (The Master Plan of Evangelism) and Bobby Harrington focus on discipleship as relationship versus information, using the Acts 2 church’s example of discipleship.

 

“In Acts 2, you see that the people lived in relationship,” Putman said in a Church Planter Weeklyinterview, “and in that relationship, they’re devoted to the apostles’ teaching, to breaking bread and fellowship, to caring for the hurting, even being willing to sell what they have and give it away. Jesus taught them to do all of these things. Live out that model, and you will see it actually works for all people in all cultures for all time.”

DiscipleShift goes beyond theory to equip and guide readers with practical counsel. The authors draw from real-life stories and examples of how…

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FriendshipWhen we look at Scripture, we can see that Jesus continually spent time with people.  It wasn’t Plan B for him, it was his whole mission.  He had a desire to be with people and could often be found in small and large gatherings.  Somewhere in our culture, we have lost site of the fact that God works best in and through relationships.  We build programs and we create environments that are designed to ‘reach people’.  However, we have become great at trying to reach people at arms length.  We focus on the big picture without realizing that eternal differences are made one relationship at a time.  We are often so busy in this culture that it becomes very difficult to carve out time to just love on people.  And as a result, organizations are formed, but relationships are distant.  We can’t expect to make a difference in our communities if we aren’t willing to spend time with people in real life, day-to-day environments.

I want to give you four reasons to invest time in cultivating personal relationships.

1. Ministry equals Relationships.  Ministry is the ability to touch people at their needs.  It is…

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Easter will be here in just fourteen days and this is one the greatest seasons for growth in the life of the church.  The weeks leading up to Easter give us an opportunity for our own spiritual growth and renewal plus they offer us an unparalleled opportunity for inviting unchurched people to come to church.  Let me share with you three steps that every Christian can take to experience Spiritual growth and renewal during the next several weeks.

1.) Renew- The days leading up the celebration of Easter provide us with a great opportunity to examine our own lives and experience a personal renewal in our spiritual lives.  I find that in my own life, the lead up to Easter is always a time of growing spiritual intensity and spiritual sensitivity, therefore, this is always a good time to concentrate my efforts on spiritual renewal.  Here are just a couple of suggestions for how you can pursue this in your own life:

  • Take a Spiritual Inventory- Before we can experience renewal and revival in our spiritual lives we need to take an honest…

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Small Group GatheringHow do you answer the question, “What does your group do?”

Probably the most common answers would be, “Our group…

  • meets to discuss their pastor’s last message
  • works their way through a book of the Bible
  • always has a DVD-driven study
  • eats a meal together twice a month
  • chooses a service project to do together
  • etc.

Healthy Groups Integrate Four Components into Every Gathering

One of the many helpful insights that Carl George introduced with the Meta Church model is that four components are present at every gathering in healthy groups.  These components are love, learn, decide and do.  The balance between the components are determined by the purpose or function of the group (for example, a small group that focuses on Bible study might be 20% love, 70% learn, 5% decide, and 5% do, while a serving group might be 20% love, 10% learn, 5% decide, and 65% do).

The key to the insight is that for a group to be healthy, all four components must be present.

Remember, designing your group for life-change is much more than simply choosing the best activity or study.  The way you spend your time together is a key element.  If you want your group…

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Windshield TimeIn the American church, we tend to think of leadership development as a classroom and curriculum-based process, but Jesus had a better idea: spend time with people. Jesus allowed His life to rub off on His chosen leaders and to pour His wisdom into them, and we can do the same. Sometimes it’s a matter of spotting the natural opportunities that come along while at other times, its an intentionally-planned conversation.

Here are some simple ways to make leadership development a part of your life…

  1. Schedule three to five informal meetings per week – coffee, lunch, etc. – with people into whom you want to invest.
  2. Take potential leaders on trips with you. I’ve heard great leaders talk about the mentoring power of never traveling alone. My Worship Pastor calls it “windshield time.”
  3. If you’re a Pastor, take a partner as you do pastoral care – hospital visits, etc. Just the time in the car on the way is a great opportunity.
  4. Buy and send books to leaders. I’ve received and given books that have shaped who I am.
  5. Check in with a phone call. Have a list of potential leaders into whom you’re pouring,…

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OrphanJustice

By Russ Rankin

For too long there has been a disconnect between the church and issues surrounding orphan care, according to Johnny Carr, national director of church partnerships at Bethany Christian Services.

Carr addresses the issues in “Orphan Justice: How to Care for Orphans Beyond Adopting,” a book from B&H Publishing Group designed to provide education about and action plans to care for the estimated 153 million orphaned and vulnerable children in the world.

“Many churches have started orphan ministries, but this movement among churches is still very much in its infancy,” Carr said in an interview. “It is my hope that this book challenges churches to take their involvement further.”

Carr said he wrote Orphan Justice based on his own journey in understanding the instruction for “pure religion” defined in James 1:27, which calls believers to care for orphans. As a former pastor, Carr said he believes the church — not government programs or social service agencies — has the most potential and the mandate to take the lead in addressing the world’s orphan crisis.

Adoption is only part of orphan care, he said. HIV/AIDS, human trafficking and poverty are all…

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heaven&earth.proclaimBy Russell D. Moore

I have long suspected that many Christians dread not just death but heaven. We won’t admit that, of course. Our hymnody, of whatever era, is filled with songs about the joy of the afterlife, and “what a day of rejoicing that will be.” We’re glad we’re not going to hell or to oblivion. But most of our songs and sermon mentions are about that first few moments in heaven: when we see Jesus, when we’re reunited with our loved ones, and so on. It’s like the happy ending of the story. And that’s the problem.

The Gospel tells us that Satan keeps unbelievers bound by fear of death (Hebrews 2:14-15). Believers, too often, dread death also, though not as much from fear as from boredom. We see the story of our lives as encompassing this span of 70 or 80 or 100 years. The life to come is our “great reward” in “the afterlife.”

But just think about that word “afterlife.” It assumes eternity is an endless postlude to where the action really happens. It’s “after.” Our “reward” happens after we’ve lived our lives. Here’s why this…

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