Start and Result of Discipleship

FishersSTART. When does discipleship begin? In the Great Commission Jesus said, “Therefore go and make disciples….” Going is the first step. A few may come to us but most are waiting for us to go.

I remember a night it was pouring but we went visiting for our Sunday School class anyway. We were soaked when we stood at the carport door. I knocked and a 26-year old man came to the door. After introductions, he said, “You know. I’ve known for some time that I needed Jesus.” We had not shared scripture or a plan of salvation. The Holy Spirit had been at work. We had taken the first step to discipleship by going.

Jesus said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” We cannot become fishers of men by study without practice. We spend time with Jesus, allow Him to “make us,” and are sent out to do it. Then we become fishers of men when we go.

RESULT. At the same time, the result of our discipleship will be “going” and leading others to Jesus. We will follow Him and He will make us fish for men. A sign of our discipleship will be our passion for Him and our concern for the lost. He came to seek and to save the lost. And He leads us to continue His mission.

I have seen brand new Christians who recognize what Jesus has done for them who immediately tell others. They share His passion and mission even with little knowledge or time following. Their passion is Jesus.

Why is it that many followers of Jesus struggle to fish for men? Sometimes it is a loss of the passion for Jesus and His mission. When we depend on a past relationship without keeping it fresh through time together and communication, that relationship deteriorates whether it is a marriage or our relationship with the Lord.

The start and resuslt of discipleship is “going” and leading others to Jesus. Spend time with Him. Fall in love with Him and His mission. Spend time with them. Fish for men for Him. Make disciples.

For more ideas about discipleship, check out these blog posts:

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Simon Says Discipleship

FrancisChanWatch this short Francis Chan clip about discipleship.

How Not to Make Disciples

Chan asks some serious questions. Why do we believe that mental/verbal discipleship is enough? What does Jesus expect? How will we be judged?

For more ideas about moving toward obedience, check out these blog posts:

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Spiritual Discipline: Journaling

JournalingWhat is a spiritual discipline? It is a tool, method, or process which deepens your relationship with God. A spiritual discipline can practiced one-time, occasional, or repeated.

Journaling will usually fall into the repeated or occasional practice. There are a couple major categories of journaling: (1) life journaling and (2) quiet time journaling. Allow me to describe each.

LIFE JOURNALING. Life journaling is more than keeping a historical record of what happened daily or on certain days. As a spiritual discipline, life journaling is reporting God’s interaction in life. It is recognizing His presence and work during a period of time. Such journaling may record spiritual insights, stretching, praise, thanks, hurts, etc. Such journaling may naturally at times include insights from Bible study and prayer, but life journaling will tend to look through the lens of God’s intersection with life.

QUIET TIME JOURNALING. Quiet time journaling will begin with Bible study and prayer. As a spiritual discipline, quiet time journaling includes insights from passages studied as well as prayers requests made and answers given. In an overly simplified way, it is listening to what God is saying and responding to Him in prayer through jouraling. Jouraling will often include questions, concerns, realization of personal application, commitment, and even accountability. Personally I discoverd much benefit from journaling as a young Christian teenager.

Here is a simple quiet time journaling outline:

BIBLE STUDY (read, listen, examine)

  • Orignial context: What was the main truth/point of this passage in the original context?
  • My context: What truth/point is God communicating to me?

PRAYER (praise, agree/confess, request)

  • What is my response to what God said/expects?

COMMITMENT (agree, commit to change)

  • Am I willing to do what He wants?
  • How do I need to change/respond?

OBEDIENCE (accountability, check back over the next few days)

  • What did I do as a result of my encounter with God in His Word and the commitment I made to Him?

A journal entry will usually have the scripture reference and the date. Writing often leads to deeper processing and insights. Writing can be reviewed later to recognize spriitual progress or needs as well as to help keep commitments made.

Not every spiritual discipline has to be fun. (We are talking about “discipline” here.) But if you are going to try journaling, I want to encourage you to try it at least 3-5 times per week for a month. Many who give it a healthy trial find great spiritual benefit from the spiritual discipline of journaling. Keep in mind that journaling is a great disciple-making tool.

For more ideas about spiritual growth and discipleship, check out these blog posts:

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Assemble the People Disciple-making

NetFishingIn Deuteronomy 31:12 (ESV), we read some disciple-making instructions:

Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law…

There are three instructions I want to point out in this verse followed by few comments:

  1. Assemble the people…that they may hear…the LORD your God. When we gather the people, we should be careful that they hear Him. That means we will open God’s Word and lead them to encounter Him in His Word.
  2. Assemble the people that they may…fear the LORD your God. Those who have a relationship with Him will be careful to help those gathered to meet Him in Bible study in such a way that they are changed as a result. We will appropriately communicate how big and awesome He is. We will show Him the respect and “fear” or awe He deserves. We will point to what He has done and what He deserves from us.
  3. Assemble the people that they may…be careful to do all the words of this law. Out of hearing and fearing come a relationship with God made possible through Jesus Christ. As a result of what God did through Christ on the cross and out of the grave, that relationship will be lived out in the world by following where He leads (Matthew 4:19), being obedient to what He commands (Matthew 28:19-20). We will show them in our lives and words.

Jesus in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) told us as His disciples to go. We must go in order to assemble them in our disciple-making efforts. We must meet them before we can disciple them. Who are we to meet and disciple? Men, women, and children and even strangers and foreigners (sojourners) living among us.

How large should our disciple-making groups be? In this verse, the word “people” is plural. That would mean groups of two or more. But many of our efforts to “go” will lead to connections with individuals. Start with one and connect them with another individual or more. Relationships, encouragement, and disciple-making efforts matter. Make disciples!

For more ideas about disciple-making, check out these blog posts:

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I-Will-Make-You Discipleship

NetsIn Matthew 4:19 (ESV), Jesus said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” He did not say, “Follow me, and on your own you will become fishers of men.” He did not say, “Follow me, and study hard to become fishers of men.” He did not say, “Follow me, and the church will make you fishers of men.”

What did He say? “I will make you.” Seems clear to me. The change comes from Him. The change comes from following Him. The change comes by spending time with, walking together, listening to, and observing the life of Jesus.

The more time you spend with Him, the more like Him you will become. Your thinking will change. Your attitudes will change. Your habits and life will change. You will reflect His love and agenda.

Did I say agenda? The verse even includes His agenda: “make you fishers of men.” Luke 19:10 (ESV) states, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” When we follow Him, we become like Him. Being similar to Him is not enough. Like Jesus, our lives and agendas have a purpose. And our goal is to seek and save the lost. Our goals is to carry out His Great Commission “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). The evidence of the change in our lives is in the fruit of our lives.

How do we get there? “Follow me” is the beginning. Spend time with Jesus. Read the Gospels. Pay attention to the red letters (what Jesus said). But also pay attention to what He did. His actions were as important as His words. Meet Him in Bible study. Enounter Jesus. Meditate on these things. Understand the context, meaning, and truth. Apply to your life. Live out of that encounter one thought, attitude, and action at a time.

Seek to walk the journey with someone. Jesus did. Invest in the discipleship of others (“make you fishers of men”). Jesus did. Ask someone to mentor, encourage, challenge, and disciple you–to make you a fisher of men. Be a disciple. Make disciples!

For more ideas about disciple-making, check out these blog posts:

Posted in Discipleship, Personal Journey, Spiritual Growth | 1 Response

Disciple-Making: Where to Start

StartingLineI had a discussion with a church leader yesterday. It centered around how to get started in disciple-making. He had reviewed some good materials and was thinking about next steps in his context.

Where is the starting line for disciple-making. Consider these ideas:

PRAY. You don’t have to pray about whether God wants you to make disciples (see Matthew 28:19-20). But ask for His help. Ask for His guidance about where to start and with whom to start. Ask for courage and discernment.

REVIEW YOUR CONTEXT. Prayerfully look around at the resources God has given you, including people. Look at the needs of the church and community. Examine the strengths, gifts, passions, and abilities of the body.

GATHER A TEAM. Prayerfully gather a small but diverse team who can help plan and launch disciple-making efforts.

FOCUS. Don’t try to do everything. Determine the starting point with the most potential. Don’t try to disciple everyone–at first. Focus your efforts and your effectiveness.

GET STARTED. Don’t wait until you have a perfect system developed or perfect leaders enlisted. Get started. The need is great. The need is now.

REVIEW/ADJUST. Stop. Assess how things are going. Affirm strengths. Identify weaknesses. Adjust your plans and improve your efforts.

Whatever you do, get started soon. Disciples are needed. Disciples need to go. They need to make disciples…of all nations. Don’t wait too late. Let’s do this thing. Make disciples!

For more ideas about making disciples, check out these blog posts:

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Why They Stay Author Coming to Kentucky

WhyTheyStayKBREA will host Steve Parr, coauthor of Why They Stay, on May 26, 10:30 AM to 2:00 PM, at Warren Association of Baptists in Bowling Green. Pastors, staff, parents. and church leaders are invited. Save the date now!

Do you want your children to be serving actively in the local church when they turn thirty and beyond? Why They Stay can help! Register now at www.kybaptist.org/stay. Cost is only $20 and includes a copy of the book and lunch.

Much has been written about younger adults and their departure from church involvement. Concerned parents and church leaders want to know what has caused them to depart. Instead of asking why young adults are leaving the church, Parr and Crites conducted a national research project of those who grew up in church and are still serving faithfully. They studied why they have stayed and the results are compelling. Parr will share findings along with personal experiences and stories.

You will learn as a parent, pastor, or church leader specific actions that you can take to make a definitive difference in whether or not the fifteen-year-olds attending your church now are still attending and serving when they turn thirty.

You will discover:

  • fifteen factors that make a great difference in the likelihood that children and teens will remain in church as adults
  • ten issues that make somewhat of a difference in lifetime involvement
  • five surprises that do not make as much difference as you might think
  • the greatest gap discovered in the ministry focus of a church
  • actions you can take as a parent that greatly increase the likelihood your children will remain fSteveParraithful to church when they are adults
  • strategies church leaders can implement that increase the probability that children and youthgroup members will serve in the church as adults

Why They Stay is much more than numbers and data. The information can help you be more effective in your parenting and church leadership.

COST:  $20 per person, includes lunch and a copy of Why They Stay. Register now at www.kybaptist.org/stay.

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Hear “VELCRO Church” Author Live

james-mike-thKBREA has invited Mike James, coauthor of  V.E.L.C.R.O. Church, to share during a live web conference on Thursday, March 10, 10:30-Noon Eastern time. Mike will share practical and biblical ideas for addressing a real problem in most churches: opening the front door and closing the back door. How do we reach out and connect with guests and new members while maintaining strong relationships with faithful members? It is difficult to impossible to disciple people who are not connected!

Here are the chapter titles in the anagram VELCRO from the book title:

  • Valuing every person as a gift from God
  • Engaging every guest with intentionality
  • Leading our friends to Christ
  • Connecting to community
  • Recognizing relationships as key to assimilation
  • Organizing small groups for ongoing care.

The live web conference will be simulcast to three locations around Kentucky:

  • Kentucky Baptist Convention, 13420 Eastpoint Centre Dr, Louisville
  • Versailles Baptist Church, 125 Green St E, Versailles
  • Eastwood Baptist Church, 500 Eastwood Dr, Bowling Green.

Each of the three local groups will plan to fellowship over a dutch treat meal following the simulcast. Plan to join the group closest to you. Books will be available for purchase at each location for $7 (bring a check or exact change if possible).

This is the kind of a book after reading that would help a team develop a plan for greater effectiveness and fruitfulness.  Gather a team. Work on implementing the strategy a step at a time. If your team needs help, don’t be afraid to ask another church, pastor, association, state convention, or even Mike James.

Begin in prayer. Velcro your guests, new members, and faithful members. Make disciples. For more assimilation ideas, check out these blog posts:

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BACE 2016: Be One, Make One

Are you coming to the BACE Disciple Leader Gathering at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary on April 14-15, 2016? I plan to be there and hope you will be too! Be sure to register soon.

FEATURED PRESENTATIONS

Robby

What is a Disciple? – Featuring Robby Gallaty, Replicate Ministries, Pastor, Long Hollow Baptist Church, Hendersonville, TN.

bruceraleyModels of Discipleship Forum – Multiple presenters led by Bruce Raley, LifeWay Christian Resources and Casey Pearson, Kirby Wood Baptist Church, Memphis, TN.

micahfriesDiscipleship Trends – LifeWay research on trends related to church discipleship strategies. – Micah Fries, LifeWay Research

Stevelayton

Putting Together Your Plan for Discipleship – Round table discussions and planning led by Steve Layton, Brentwood Baptist Church, Brentwood Baptist Church, Brentwood, TN.

 BREAKOUT TOPICS

  • Profile of a Disciple – Herb Hodges, Spiritual Life Ministries
  • Discipling the Family – Jacob Harris, Kirby Woods Baptist Church
  • Discipling Young Adults – Will McKay, Bellevue Baptist Church
  • The Role of Sunday School in Discipleship – Allan Taylor, LifeWay Christian Resources
  • Disciples Path Strategy – Rick Howerton, LifeWay Christian Resources
  • Journey On Discipleship Strategy – Steve Layton, Brentwood Baptist Church
  • The Downline Strategy – Kennon Vaughan, Harvest Church
  • Higher Education & Discipleship – Randy Stone, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary
  • DLife: Living a Lifestyle of Discipleship – John Herring, Life Bible Study

REGISTRATION AND MORE INFORMATION

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Scripture Memorization and Disciple-Making

ScriptureMemoryHow many of us have a Bible in hand at every moment of temptation? How many of us take the necessary time in Bible reading and prayer in advance of daily and life-impacing decisions? And yet those are some of the very moments when we need God’s Word the most.

At the start of Jesus’ ministry, He went on a 40 day fast at the end of which Satan tempted Him. To every temptation which had serious, life-impacting consequences, Jesus responded with scripture. Did Jesus have His Bible with Him at those moments?

Obviously the answer is “no” and “yes.” While He did not have a written copy, more importantly He had God’s Word in His heart. He had more than words. He understood and knew how to apply God’s Word in relevant ways to a variety of questions and issues.

That is why I highly encourage scripture memorization as a part of your disciple-making plans. Work together on a verse each week. Make sure you together understand the words, meaning, significance, and relevance. Look at the context and understand the truth being communicated in the verse(s).

Some have told me they are not very good at memorization. When I hear that, I think of 85-year-old Irene. She was my disciple through MasterLife for 26 weeks during which we memorized two verses or passages each week. She was my best student. How did she do it? She got on her stationary bike daily and rode it until she had said her verses–not for the week but from the beginning. So by week 26 (50 verses later), she was in better physical and spiritual health.

I suggest that you write down the verse(s) on an index card and carry it with you throughout the week. Stop to say the verse(s) aloud at least three times every day (could be meal times), trying to do so by looking at the card less than the previous time.

Have someone check you daily the later half of the week. This stengthens your resolve to get it right and gives you a chance to share a verse that is worth learning.

When you gather together for a disciple-making meeting, allow leader and learner to say the verse(s) aloud. As leader, your example matters. Talk about the verse(s) and any illustrations or insights God provided throughout the week. Examine the context, words, along with the general and personal application.

What stories can you share about memorizing scripture related to your disciple-making efforts? Invest in Bible reading and prayer. Spend time memorizing and applying God’s Word. Make disciples!

For more ideas about discipling others, check out these blog posts:

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