Discipleship: Your Example Matters

DadSonPrayingFor Christians, the focus of our discipleship is Jesus. We devote ourselves to Him, to following Him, to acting like Him, and carrying out His mission. We choose to surrender ourselves to Him. We go where He leads. We study His commands (Matthew 28:19-20), His teachings, and His example so we know how to think, live, act, and teach others. We adjust our lives to go where He goes, to love those He loves, and to accomplish His purposes.

For this kind of discipleship to be possible, there must be a “genuine, growing” relationship with Jesus. Notice both words in quotes. First, it must be genuine. There is admission of sin and of need for Jesus. There is recognition of who Jesus is, what He has done on the cross, and what He wants to do. There is confession of sin and repentance. There is commitment to submit to His Lordship. Second, discipleship must be based on a growing relationship with Jesus. It cannot rest only upon a commitment made ten or forty years earlier. It must be fresh and alive. It benefits from daily investment in prayer, Bible study, and seeking Him. It is an effort to work out your salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12).

Your example matters. Your words matter. Your life matters. People are watching. They are viewing the Jesus in you. They see the depth of your commitment, the seriousness of your obedience, and the devotion of your heart. They can tell whether it is a real relationship or if you are just going through the motions.

Your example begins before your interaction. It starts in your prayer closet. It starts in your quiet time, in your personal time of Bible study and prayer. That fresh, daily relationship prepares you for living for Jesus in every interaction. Dependence on the past, on a static relationship with Jesus, becomes obvious to everyone just like a marriage where the two spouses no longer communicate.

Invest daily in your relationship with Jesus, the focus of your discipleship, because your example matters. Be a disciple. Live as a disciple. Make disciples!

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

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Leadership Development IS Discipleship

I have been doing a series of training and planning sessions across Kentucky this year. Those events have caused me to realize something about discipleship that had not clicked until now.

Jesus taught and modeled ministry before he called the Twelve. He prayed all night (Luke 6:12) before calling them out personally. Then he did ministry with them. Then when the time was right, they were sent out in pairs (Mark 6:7) to do what Jesus had been doing. Then He called them back together to hear reports (Mark 6:30). This was disciple-making by Jesus.

When you pray for Jesus to send out workers into the harvest (Matthew 9:38), that is a discipling action on your part. When God lays an individual on your heart that you are to prepare and mobilize into His service, that is discipleship.

Following prayer, observation of what God is doing in that individual’s life and living life for Jesus in front of that person is disciple-making. Your life and your words matter!

To prepare people to say yes to the Lord’s call to serve Him, our observation along with spending time in life and ministry activities is essential. Debriefing these experiences helps the individual to recognize abilities that God can use in service. That is disciple-making action and preparation of the disciple for stepping into service.

Officially asking them to serve with us, leads some to step forward who would have been intimidated to serve alone. In fact, some may have said no to God otherwise. Doing so also heightens attention to your example and words from that point forward. And doing so gives you permission to accelerate your preparation of the leader. These are essential disciple-making actions.

Don’t send them out to do the Lord’s work alone. Taking them with us is the best way for leadership development AND for disciple growth. In fact, what is the purpose of making disciples? Jesus in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) commands us as we are going to make disciples of all nations baptizing them (leading them to faith in Jesus) and teaching them to obey/observe/do what Jesus commanded…which leads right back to teaching them as they are going to make disciples.

Bottom line: when we pray for, enlist, train, and mobilize leaders to help the church carry out the Great Commission, we are making disciples. Pray. Observe. Take them with you. Debrief. Ask them to serve with you. Accelerate the preparation. Don’t send them out alone. Make disciples!

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8 Steps to Penetrating Lostness Through New Groups by Claude King

ClaudeKingClaude King of LifeWay Christian Resources is the author of many discipleship resources:

Claude has posted a new video on his newly updated Growing Disciples video blog. Press this link to watch and listen to Claude:  8 Steps to Penetrating Lostness Through New Groups.

Here is his outline:

Guide your church or group to pray for God’s heart for the lostness in your community and world. Then follow His leadership to penetrate that lostness by starting new Bible study groups through which He will draw people to saving faith in His Son. Here are eight steps to consider:

  • Pray to know God’s heart for the lost.
  • Put names and faces on lostness in your Jerusalem… and to the ends of the earth.
  • Pray for laborers. (Matthew 9:35-38)
  • Commission and equip teams (2 or more people) to start new groups.
  • Pray for God to open your eyes to see where He is working and join Him. (John 4:35)
  • Pray for open doors. (Colossians 4:2-6)
  • Invite people to listen to God, learn from Him, and come to Christ. (John 6:45)
  • Tell your own story of what good things Christ has done for you. (Mark 5:18-20)

As you pray, consider new groups for:

  • Age Groups: Who and where are they?
  • Sunday Workers
  • Socio-economic groups
  • Language Groups/Ethnic/Cultural (see: www.peoplegroups.org)
  • Housing Types (e.g. apartments, trailer parks, condos)
  • Professions
  • Relationships (coworkers, relatives, neighbors)
  • Geographic Areas (other towns, villages, neglected regions)

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

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KBREA Focus: Transformational Discipleship

PhilipNation

All ministers of education, associate pastors, children’s ministers, youth ministers, professors, denominational leaders, and others who serve in church discipleship/education ministry are invited.

DATE/PLACE:

2013 Annual KBREA Meeting
November 11, 2013
FBC Paducah
2890 Broadway Street
Paducah, KY 42001

SCHEDULE:

5:30-6:00p     Registration
6:00-6:45p     Dinner

6:45-8:30p     Program
8:30-9:00p     Business

Guest Speaker
Philip Nation

Philip serves as the Director of Adult Ministry Publishing at LifeWay Christian Resources and frequently speaks at churches and conferences. He earned a Master of Divinity from Beeson Divinity School and a Doctor of Ministry from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. In 2010-2012, he served as the national spokesperson for theBack to Church Sunday campaign from Outreach.

Over the years, Philip has served as a pastor, minister of education, and a church planter. Currently, he is the teaching pastor at The Fellowship, a multi-site church in Nashville.

Philip has coauthored two books: Compelled: Living the Mission of God andTransformational Discipleship: How People Really Grow. He is also the general editor of The Mission of God Study Bible. Along the way, he has also written the small-group studies Compelled by Love: The Journey to Missional Living and Live in the Word, plus contributed to The Great Commission Resurgence: Fulfilling God’s Mandate in Our Lifetime.

Philip lives in Tennessee with his wife, Angie, and two sons, Andrew and Chris.

Program Focus
Transformational Discipleship

Transformational Discipleship is built from the largest research projects done on the state of discipleship in North America. During his session, Philip Nation will share the insights and framework that can be put to use in your church to build a stronger culture and process for discipleship.

The cost for this year’s annual meeting is $50 for non-KBREA members and $40 for KBREA members. Those who join or renew their KBREA membership at the annual meeting will receive the member rate.

KBREA annual membership is $25.

To sign up for the KBREA annual meeting, please email Jeff Smith at jsmith@hurstbournebc.org and let him know you plan to attend!

KBREA Officers

Mark Quigley - Acting President
Jeff Smith - President-Elect & Acting Treasurer

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Which Is the Focus of Your Discipling: Coming or Going?

JesusSaidGOIn the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), Jesus did not command us to make disciples of only those who show up at church. Instead, He said, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…”

The phrase “go” in the original language means “as you are going.” Thus, Jesus commanded us to make disciples of all nations as we were going. Wherever we are, we are to be making disciples. As we are going through life, we are to make disciples. When we are at work, school, home, or in the marketplace, we are to make disciples.

Watch this two-minute video for a reminder:

This Is Discipling

What could happen if THE church took seriously the command to make disciples as they are going? What could happen if YOUR church took this seriously? What could happen if YOU took this seriously? Make disciples!

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

Posted in Discipleship, Spiritual Growth | 1 Response

Discipleship Outcome Questions

3QuestionsI recognize that being a disciple of Jesus Christ is first and foremost a relationship. It is a restored relationship with the Father through the Son who paid the price for our sin and gave us purpose and a mission. It is living like and looking like Jesus. It is empowerment through the Holy Spirit who dwells within and spills out as we live out the Christ-life.

But still, I find myself asking questions about natural outcomes of a life devoted and committed to Jesus. Consider (and answer) these questions:

  • How would a disciple be different than those without a relationship with Jesus?
  • How would a disciple spend his/her time, money, and life?
  • What activities would result at home, work, play, and in the marketplace?
  • How would gathering with a body of believers (disciples) impact the disciple?
  • What points of focus for Jesus would become points of focus for His disciples?
  • How would those around us view us as a result of being His disciples?

I can think of a hundred more questions, but these start the thinking and conversation. Feel free to respond to any of these questions by pressing Leave a comment at the bottom of this post.

Four overarching responses have come to my mind. Look them over and respond to them. What is missing? Consider the following:

  1. Relating. Disciples will intentionally develop deeper relationships with Jesus (through prayer, Bible study, and obedience); with the lost (who Jesus came to seek and save and those He sent us to make disciples); and with the body of Christ (our love for each other is evidence of our relationship with Him).
  2. Serving. Disciples will use spiritual gifts to build up the body of Christ and will serve Him in the church, community, and world out of our passion, experiences, gifts, abilities, etc. Relationship with Christ and as a result of an encounter with Him in His Word will result in obedience and serving while living out that truth in relationships in the world.
  3. Sharing. Disciples have received a cure for the disease of sin which without Jesus is incurable. To hide the cure is unthinkable. Relationships demand sharing this good news and what that cure has done in our lives.
  4. Multiplying. A natural sign of life is multiplication. Trees multiply. Cells multiply. Disciples multiply. This happens as a disciple relates, serves, and shares. The disciple cares for others and is a disciple-maker. They seek the lost, love them to Jesus, and seek to help them to fall in love with Jesus and live like Him.

In which of these four aspects is your discipleship strongest? What happens if one of these areas is neglected? What happens to the disciple, to the church, and to the world? In which of these four discipleship aspects do you need to invest additional effort in the next month? Relate. Serve. Share. Multiply. Make disciples!

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

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Think with Me about Discipleship Phase Actions

Discipleship Process SCMDWhat actions would benefit a disciple at each of these discipleship (spiritual maturity) phases: baby, child, teen, adult? In what actions/activities should the individual be involved and which ones could the church provide that would encourage spiritual progress?

I am still chewing through these thoughts. Naturally some of the actions/activities will be consistent throughout every phase (such as daily quiet time in Bible study and prayer). Some will naturally vary according to the individual’s personalities and needs. Others will naturally vary according to the church body’s gifts and abilities. However, different phases will also benefit from different actions and activities from the individual and church.

With those ideas in mind, I have created a brainstorming discipleship phases strategy template. Be warned, it is still in the formative stage. Consider the following template. Use it to think about your own discipleship or that of an individual or group of individuals (like a small group or Sunday School class).

Discipleship Phases Strategy Template

Print this blog post and jot down a few thoughts in each block. I am not trying to legislate discipleship or make it all about actions. I know it is a relationship with Jesus that leads us to love people actively like He did. But I believe identifying some actions may also serve as indicators of a personal, growing, and obedient relationship.

Virgil Grant of Eastside Community Church in Richmond, Kentucky, provided the picture at the top of the post. It is a flattening (simplification) of a SCMD wheel diagram by Real Life Ministries.

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

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What Is Your Favorite Discipleship Passage?

CallingDisciplesI know it is hard to separate “your favorite Bible verse/passage” and “your favorite discipleship verse/passage,” but take some time to think about it. Then hit “Leave a comment” at the end of the post. Share your passage and why it is your favorite. Encourage others with your comment!

For me, there are many significant passages, including discipleship passages. But the one that has come to have more central focus are the words of Jesus in Matthew 4:19:

Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.

There are three reasons this verse is meaningful for me:

  • FOLLOW ME. As a disciple, I am a follower of Jesus. I follow His life and teaching. I follow His lead. He is my example and the focus of my life. His is the voice I listen to as I navigate life. Where He leads, I go. Because I know I can trust Him, I don’t have to fear the unknown. As a result, the content of my discipleship is Jesus.
  • I WILL MAKE YOU. It is comforting to know that any spiritual progress that takes place in my life is from Him. He is the one who makes a disciple out of me. I cannot do it on my own, in my own strength, or apart from Him. This does not take away my devotion to Him or my effort. After all, you are to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). He will conform us into His likeness. He will lead us to love others with His love. He fills us and He overflows from us.
  • FISHERS OF MEN. He has a purpose for us that is beyond us. It is not just about me. It is first about Him, and second it is about having His mind and His purpose. He came to “seek and to save that which was lost.” That is to be our purpose. We are to live like Jesus and teach others to do the same. We are to draw them to Him, show them how to live like Him, and to send them out to invest in others (2 Timothy 2:2). We are not to make converts and then to forget about them. We are to disciple them, to teach them to fish. In other words, we are not only to teach them to fish for themselves but to teach others to fish (for men).

Share your verse and reference along with why it is your favorite. Encourage others along the discipleship journey. Make disciples!

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

Posted in Discipleship, Personal Journey | 2 Responses

Three Reasons Why Discipleship Is Important

MentorOthersDisciples are not super-Christians. They are followers of Jesus Christ. At the same time, disciples are more than converts. They have moved beyond profession of faith into a lifelong pursuit of living life like Jesus.

Some have come to view discipleship as a extra activity for the those who have time and interest. Instead, I counter that is is a natural and intentional response to living daily with Jesus.

Why is discipleship important? Consider these three reasons:

  • Jesus commanded it. Last words are important. In the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), Jesus commanded us to “make disciples of all nations.” We are to do so as we are going, wherever we are. This is not an activity done only at the church building. This is a daily life exercise. He told us how: baptizing them and teaching them to obey. But of supreme importance is His reminder that “I am with you always.” We cannot carry out the Great Co-mission without Him. In fact, to do so is to attempt mission impossible.
  • Jesus modeled it. Jesus’ own example points to the importance of doing so. His investment in twelve men over the three years of his earthly ministry proves his strategy. Jesus taught the masses and even the disciples as part of the masses (Mark 1:14). Then He prayed before calling the Twelve (Luke 6:12-13). Jesus continued to teach and train the disciples in public and private. Then He sent them out in pairs (Mark 6:7) and called for a report of their efforts (Mark 6:30). He told them they would do even greater things, and He sent them and us out to disciple all nations (Matthew 28:19-20).
  • Disciples grow when we invest in others. When a teacher prepares a lesson, he/she grows more than those in the class. When a disciple ministers to someone in need, not only are needs met but the disciple grows. When a Christian shares his/her testimony, the hearer has an opportunity to respond, but the disciple grows as well. Disciples are more like the Sea of Galilee than the Dead Sea. They are healthy and grow because water flows in and flows out. Disciples grow because they give and invest in others for Jesus (2 Timothy 2:2).

Evaluate your personal priorities. Is discipleship on the list? What can you do this week to begin to live more like Jesus by investing in at least one other person? Pray. Observe. Do life together. Ask them to join you in ministry. Share. Mentor. Grow as a disciple as you make disciples!

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

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A Discipleship Metaphor

BabyWhat would be the result of parents who celebrated the birth of a child and then went about their own pursuits, neglecting the child?

  • The child would suffer from neglect and die.
  • The parents would be guilty of child neglect and abuse.
  • Observers would be condemning.

In the words of Nathan to King David, “You are the man!” This story is being repeatedly played out in churches today.

  • New Christians (babes in Christ) are suffering from neglect, dropping out, and withering in influence, service, and growth. The majority drop out within six months. A coal removed from the fire soon burns out.
  • The church who neglects this babe in Christ is guilty of judgment for the neglect and abuse. There is triple punishment. (1) The babe is not brought to maturity to make a contribution to the church and Kingdom work. (2) The church does not grow from investing in the babe. We always grow ourselves through discipling others. (3) There are consequences at the final judgment.
  • The world is condemning of the church. Disciples are not being made who are like Jesus. They do not care like Jesus. They are not living lives that point toward Jesus. The world sees how we treat each other and the world, and they are appropriately condemning.

There is hope! But it is not a quick fix. It is not a magic pill. It is investment of life-on-life. It is doing life together with new believers. It is helping converts become disciples who become disciple-makers.

This won’t happen overnight. Oaks don’t grow overnight either. But when we invest in one who in turns invests in another, the law of doubling quickly impacts a class, church, community, and the world!

What can you do to make sure you and the church are not guilty of child neglect and abuse? What steps are needed to ensure new Christians remain connected and growing? Pray. Gather a leadership team. Implement a plan. Make disciples who thrive!

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

Posted in Discipleship, Spiritual Growth | 4 Responses