Archives For Discipleship

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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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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