Discipleship

Discipleship

  • Book Review: Designed to Lead

    In Designed to Lead, authors Eric Geiger and Kevin Peck unpack their conviction that the church should be the greatest platform for developing leaders.

    In Designed to Lead, authors Eric Geiger and Kevin Peck unpack their conviction that the church should be the greatest platform for developing leaders.

  • Beginning a Two Week Study Leave

    I'm beginning a two week study leave. Basically, continuing ed for a pastor. Along the way, I'll post what I learn and develop.

    I'm beginning a two week study leave. Basically, continuing ed for a pastor. Along the way, I'll post what I learn and develop.

  • When you think of North Korea, don't just think about missiles

    While the saber rattling makes for great news headlines, we need to be reminded of the very real human impact this regime continues to have on it's subjects.

    While the saber rattling makes for great news headlines, we need to be reminded of the very real human impact this regime continues to have on its subjects.

  • 8 Ways Ministry Leaders Can Be Equippers

    God did not give the church leaders to do the work of the ministry. God gave church leaders to equip others to do the work of the ministry.

    God did not give the church leaders to do the work of the ministry. God gave the church leaders to equip others to do the work of the ministry.

  • Cross-Generational Discipleship

    cross-generational-discipleshipI’m currently teaching a course on Outreach and Disciple-Making at Heritage in which we are laying the groundwork for a life on mission for Christ. One of the questions raised multiple times was how older believers can effectively mentor younger ones.

    It’s not a new question for me, I’ve been asked this several times over the last few years. There are some universal principles about discipleship that certainly apply here. Principles about relationships, living life together, and intentionality.

    But as I observed a number of cross-generational discipleship efforts over the last few years, I found several specialized principles to be applicable to this type of disciple-making.

  • 3 Outreach Tips from Someone Who Despised Christians

    Christ didnt argue with nonbelieversI would like to think that Christians are mostly misunderstood by the world. We are often viewed as exclusive, right-wing, ultra-conservative, homophobes who want to cram our beliefs down other people’s throats. Unfortunately, to say that Christians are misunderstood, though sometimes true, is not the real problem. The more damaging issue is that Christ is often misrepresented by Christians.

    People who claim to follow Christ but don’t act like Christ turn others away from the Savior. Jesus calls these types of people hypocrites and blind guides (Matt. 23). This morning, my wife sent me an article written by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield, a former “leftist lesbian professor” who despised Christians. You can read it on Christianity Today’s website.

    Rosaria’s general perception of Christians was of uneducated, poor readers, who were not willing to have challenging discussions about faith. She writes, “Stupid. Pointless. Menacing. That's what I thought of Christians and their god Jesus.” So how can Christians reach out to nonbelievers who are ardent in their position against Christ?

    Tip #1: Ask questions.


    Rosaria published an article attacking Christians in 1997 and, as a result, received a substantial amount of hate mail. But one pastor wrote her a letter filled with kindness and questions. “How did you arrive at your interpretations? How do you know you are right? Do you believe in God?” The pastor asked Rosaria these and other questions to get her to think about her own beliefs and reasoning. This should remind us of Jesus’ interaction with the nonbelievers of His day. For every attack Jesus responded with a thought provoking question.
    Mark 10:2-3 (NLT)
    Some Pharisees came and tried to trap him with this question: “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife?” Jesus answered them with a question: “What did Moses say in the law about divorce?”

    Matthew 17:24-25 (NLT)
    On their arrival in Capernaum, the collectors of the Temple tax came to Peter and asked him, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the Temple tax?” “Yes, he does,” Peter replied. Then he went into the house. But before he had a chance to speak, Jesus asked him, “What do you think, Peter? Do kings tax their own people or the people they have conquered?”

    Most have heard the phrase “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” One of the best ways to show you care is not to force the truth on an unwilling person, but to ask them questions about what they believe and encourage them to challenge their preconceptions.

    One of the better books on witnessing through questions is Share Jesus Without Fear.

    Tip #2: Bring the church to the lost.


    Somewhere along the line many believers got the idea that witnessing was simply inviting people to church. There is nothing wrong with a polite and timely invitation, of course. But it is too often an excuse to not share the hope that we have in Christ directly.

    Rosaria says that the pastor spent two years “bringing the church to me.” Along with his wife, the three became friends and spent a lot of time talking. These conversations were not always about the gospel, but they did eat together, pray together, and talk about God together.

    Again, this should take us back to the life of Jesus, a man called the friend of sinners (Matthew 11:19). Jesus didn’t expect every person to come to Him. He travelled and brought His message to the people. At the end of His time on earth He also commanded His followers to “go and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19). Every believer should be taking Christ to the lost.

    Tip #3: Don’t argue, engage.


    Rosaria’s perception of Christianity was based on mockery and judgment. While a future judgment and God’s justice are very real truths, the Bible never tells us to mock or argue with nonbelievers. When Jesus confronted the adulterous woman at the well in John 4, He did not start by condemning her for her sins. Instead, He struck up a conversation by saying “please give me a drink.” After the two talked, Jesus addressed her sin but not by holding up a sign telling her she was on the highway to hell. He asked her a question which got her thinking and led to a spiritual discussion. Then, and only then, did Jesus reveal to this woman that He was the Messiah. Jesus engaged with the woman not to argue but to challenge and inform.
    2 Timothy 2:23-26 (NLT)
    Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.

    Conclusion

    If we really believe that people in this world are dying and going to hell while we know the only way to salvation, we must share this message with others. The content of our message is important. But the delivery is clearly important as well. If our presentation is abrasive, arrogant, and self-righteous, we cannot claim to be following the examples of Christ or the Apostles.

    Christ shared His message by asking questions and forcing people to think. He didn’t expect everyone to travel to His hometown to hear Him, He brought the message to them in their homes, streets, and community gatherings. He did not rudely argue with the lost over their beliefs, He challenged their preconceptions and engaged them in conversations about truth. I’m thankful to Rosaria for sharing her personal story of transformation and the God-honoring approach taken by the man who shared hope with her.

  • What Does It Mean to Be a Disciple?

    discipleDid you know that the word “disciple” does not simply refer to a follower of Jesus? It carries the idea of “student” or “learner.” Certainly a disciple is one who follows Christ, but not merely in a locational or positional way. A disciple of Christ is one who sits at His feet and learns from Him and His other disciples. In Luke 10:39, Martha sits at Jesus’ feet and learns from His teaching. Meanwhile, Martha is distracted by the task at hand, preparing a large dinner. Martha approaches Jesus to ask that He instruct Mary to help with the work. Jesus gently and lovingly rebukes Martha, affirming that Mary has pursued the better thing: learning from Jesus.

    We need to take time to learn from Jesus through His word. At the same time, we should be learning from His disciples who are tasked with training future generations. In Matthew 28:20, Jesus commands His disciples to make new disciples and teach them what He taught. So not only is learning from Jesus a biblical principle, but so is learning from His disciples. There are many godly disciples who have written down their teaching so others can learn from them. The holiday season is usually spent with family and friends. While we rejoice that Jesus came to earth and paid for our salvation, we must not forget to sit at His feet, and learn from Him and His disciples.

    2013-12-08 - A disciple is a learner
  • How to Tell If You Are an Authentic Christian

    This Sunday I'm preaching a message called "Authentic." We'll examine the problems with hypocritical believers who wear masks of "super pseudo spirituality" and look at what it means to be an authentic Christian. In the course of studying for this sermon, I discovered a test written by Kevin McConaghy which I have adapted and expanded upon below. Give it a shot and see how you stack up!

    This all started with a group called United in Purpose that collects data about millions of US consumers and uses a points system to identify those likely to be Christians. An NPR story reports that a score of over 600 means you are likely a believer. Points are awarded for things like attending church, homeschooling, being on anti-abortion mailing lists, and liking NASCAR.

    Of course, the test below is purely satire. For a good study on what it means to be an authentic Christian, read 1 John 1-5 and Revelation 2-3. You'll see positive and negative examples that help us to see what it means to "walk in the light" and be a light in a dark world. Also read John 17 while you're at it for an understanding of what it means to be in the world but not of the world. Jesus says His disciples are to shine as lights in the dark world into which He is sending them.

    authenticChristiantest

     

    In case it isn't 100% clear, this is satire, and should not be taken seriously. For a good understanding of Christianity and having an authentic walk with Christ, read the book of 1 John then go through Philippians. Both are full of wonderful insights and examples!

  • Share Jesus Without Fear!

    Perhaps the number one reason believers don’t share the Gospel with others is because of fear. Sometimes we fear rejection. Sometimes we fear embarrassment. Sometimes we just fear that we won’t know enough to answer the important questions that may be asked. 
     
    These fears keep us in safe and comfortable places. Instead of sharing Jesus, we just live our “Christian” lives. Maybe if we really understood the plight of the lost, our fears would be less important and we would do more to reach the unsaved. William Fay described our situation this way:
     
    "One night I had a dream. A woman clutched a little girl, struggling to hold her child's head above the water. Nearby, a wave plunged a man into its salty depths. He choked for air as he thrashed his arms against a ceiling of water. All around, the ocean churned with drowning people, gasping for air and desperately trying to push their heads above the surface. Their screams were doused by the roar of the relentless waves. Their cries caught the wind, but only in vain. They were alone in their terror, with no help in sight.
     
    Then a huge rock appeared, and a voice called into the darkness. People began crawling up the rock's craggy sides to safety.
     
    But when they got to safety, something happened that drove me almost goofy. The people who emerged from the waves got busy. They got involved in building rock gardens, rock lives, rock jobs, listening to their rock music, and going to rock meetings where they talked about people who were still drowning in the ocean. But nobody went back to the water's edge to help.
     
    Have you ever tried to run or yell in a dream? In my dreams, I can do neither. Yet I tried to yell at the top of my lungs, "How could you have forgotten you were once in the sea?"
     
    As I watched the "saved" scurry about their rock work as I listened to their rock talk, I realized the rock was the cross of Calvary. The voice they heard was Jesus, calling by the power of the Holy Spirit, inviting them to come join him. He's never high up on the rock where it’s safe; he's calling from the ocean’s edge, where the dead, the diseased, and the lost are found, and as you might recall, that's where he found you.
     
    Did you know that as few as 5 to 10 percent of people in an average church have shared their faith in the past year? That means 90 percent of us have chosen the sin of silence. Just like in my dream, those who were drowning have gotten so busy and involved with the safety of "The Rock," they've forgotten to reach out to those who are still drowning."
     
    Isn’t that sad? We have something that everyone should know about, but at most 10% of believers share their faith in an entire year. Let’s change that statistic! There are lots of great resources out there to better prepare you to share Jesus with unbelievers. One of the best is “Share Jesus Without Fear” by William Fay