The Importance of Discipleship and Growth P2

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed-not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence-continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Philippians 2:12-13

 

Why does growing in your faith encompass more than just asking Christ into your life and heart?

Yes, there will be times we do not feel like it. Life is tough; it is full of setbacks and hurts that seem to cripple us. So, we go on permanent disability, unable to hurdle barriers that are really simple to climb, simple, when we are carried by Christ Himself. Did you know all it takes to tie down a horse is a simple leather strap? Did you know a horse could easily break it, like we could break a kite string? A horse does not try to do that because he does not think he is able to do so. You are able to cross any barrier to grow in deeper worship and faith in Christ, because He is there with His healing power.

When we ignore Christ as Lord over our lives and church, we just end up stagnate in life, continuing to hurt. Yes, we will struggle and hurt and we will need times to recover. However, we must make the determination to recover, not to remain disabled, preventing our abiding in Him.

Did you know that God does not ask us to seek converts. He simply asks us to disciple. 

Why? Discipleship is modeling and teaching Christians the precepts of the Bible, mainly prayer, doctrine, and Christian living, which means having an attitude and heart that worships Christ.

Yes, we are still to evangelize, but that is not our main mission and call. When we evangelize, we must realize that it is the role of the Holy Spirit to bring people into an intimate relationship with God.

This is an act of divine intervention and grace. He uses us as the tools, but He is the means. We are the display case of His life and work! We are to care, and share with others His love and character. We are to obey and reach out, but we cannot lead people anywhere.

Christ is the One who leads! 

Our goal is to worship and model our worship to others-not just our service in the church, but the lifestyle of a heart surrendered and poured out to His.

However, with that said, when we are real and authentic in our Christian living, then we are actually doing effective evangelizing and bringing others to Christ even more powerfully and frequently.

How does our focus on Him and not evangelism help us be evangelistic? Because, when the focus is on evangelism, it tends to be about gathering the numbers for numbers sake, and this mindset is pretentious and ineffective. Out of a real, worship-centered heart will come a church that is also poured out in the community, a lighthouse of God’s love and care to the world. It will model Christ-like character to the community, encouraging others to surrender themselves to Jesus Christ. However, this is only the beginning. When we are worshiping Christ with our hearts and minds, we are focused on Him and motivated to be His witnesses. Christ’s work in us is what is contagious to others who are seeking Him.

 

Some passages to consider: Psalm 119:89-90; John 3:30; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

 

Advertisements

The Importance of Discipleship and Growth P1

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6

Growing in Christ is the key to growing a church!

Why? Because the whole point of the Church is to learn, grow, fellowship, share and worship Christ as Lord! If we are not doing that; then, we are doing church wrong!

This is also all about being a good and effective witness of who Christ is and what He has called your church to be and do. Following up, teaching, and mentoring new as well as seasoned Christians are the keys to spiritual growth and the replication of the witness.

When a church forsakes discipleship, its people will not grow and thus will not reach out. Many will give up on Christianity while others become confused, calloused, or complacent.

Alternatively, they will be swept away by false doctrines and cults because they do not know the difference. When we forsake discipleship, we end up just living for and unto ourselves. We miss out on opportunities, learning experiences, growth, and will exchange an eternity of rewards for a limited time of fun. This will turn into anger and bitterness later on in our lives.

Why should we grow in Christ? 

Because, He lived and died on our behalf, willingly giving up His life by paying the penalty for our sin. He allows us not only to escape the fires of hell, but also gives us eternal life. Growth will be our response to who Christ is and what He did for us. This is what will either be repulsive or attractive to others as we “fish” for Him.

But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:21-24

Being a true disciple means having a willingness to trust Him completely in all aspects of life, from the highest highs to the lowest lows. It means we are not only willing to trust Him to provide for our salvation, but we trust Him for the future. We are to trust Him even when we do not know, like, or understand when or where He is leading, or when it is unpopular.

As we grow in Christ, we have to keep our eyes on Him. In doing so, we will be of better use to Him and become increasingly unsatisfied with anything less than His call and character.

 

Some passages to consider: Psalm 119:89-90; John 3:30; 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

How goes “The Great Commission” in your church?

The Matthew 28 passage presents us with “The Great Commission,” as these are the marching orders for our faith and practice! This is also the hallmark passage for evangelism and missions! This is the climax of redemption and the critical call of the Church. This passage contains the ultimate wonder of the universe-the incredible impossible, and the incredible triumph. Jesus was crucified; He died, and was buried.

 

The-great-commission

 

What does make disciples mean to your church? What has your church done with Christ’s most important call? Why do so few churches and Christians do this?

 

The history of man, his fallen state, the move of our Lord though history and our lives has interwoven to the finishing point. He lived on our behalf. He has died in our place to absorb God’s wrath and pay our debt of sin; now, He rises back to life, conquering death, and giving us victory and grace for a life of fulfillment and fullness (Psalm 16:11; 107:09; Isa. 26:3; John 14:21; Gal. 5:16; 22-23; 1 John 1:7-9; 3 John 4)! 

Let’s look at what this all means: 

“Make disciples” literally means someone who pledges to be a “learner.” Moreover, it is someone who follows another’s teaching, and adheres to it. It is a commitment and a process. It involves commitment, and time to undertake the learning, and, as a Christian, a yearning to imitate Jesus!  

This refers to what rabbis did, that is, take people under their wing and teach them the Scriptures and procedures of the Temple and life. Thus, they could then become rabbis, and so forth. There were few formal schools then; and, even after going to a formal school as Paul did, becoming a disciple was still paramount, as it is yet today! The Jews baptized, but not in the name of people, but rather, for repentance. Jesus is God and He saves; we respond by repenting (Matt. 4:17; Eph. 1:3‑14; 2:8-9; 1 Cor. 1:18‑2:16; 15:1‑8).  

The difference is that rabbis made disciples like themselves, with their traditions and beliefs. We are called to make disciples like Christ, and teach His precepts and ways!  

“Baptize” meant conversion and identification; the person was to become identified as a person of faith and as a follower of Christ. It does not presuppose a ritual, but rather a mindset. The physical act of baptism is essential (not for salvation), as it is a public showing of our faith and commitment. The specifics of how and when are not as important as the faith and obedience to follow Christ (Matt. 4:18-19).  

“Teaching” means to show what is in the Scriptures, how to understand God’s Word, what is God saying to us, and how to live by God’s Word. Personal instruction helps us understand and then apply His precepts into our lives. We are to live for Him and to serve Him. For the rabbi, this meant the Law, Commandments, and the Prophets. Now, it also means the teachings of our Lord.

“Observe.” We are called to learn what to believe and to obey. We do this by observing; it is cemented in us by doing! This passage is called “practical holiness.” Jesus calls us to observe (to learn and grow) and then to do it!  

“Always be with you.” The great comfort we have is that the God of the universe, our Creator and Lord, knows us, loves us, and will be with us! This also refers to Jesus being fully God. One of Jesus’ names is Immanuel, which means “God is with us (Matt. 1:23).”  

To make this all work, the remaining disciples had to surrender their will to His in order to know who He was and what He was doing in them (John 3:30). 

We cannot make disciples of others until first we, ourselves, become disciples of Jesus (2 Pet. 1:13)! 

The disciples bore witness to His call to make disciples of all nations; they were His witnesses and His messengers. What will you do about this today (Acts. 1: 22; 4:2, 10, 33; 2 Cor. 5:20)?

 The key to implement this is to realize who Jesus is-and His authority! When we have acknowledged His authority, then we can allow His work in us. Then, He can use us in the lives of others. The opportunities and potentials are limitless (Luke 10:17-20; John 15:7; Acts 20:24)! 

What can you do to help your church see the veracity of The Great Commission and do a better job of knowing Christ so they can then make Him known? What would your church look like doing this? What would your neighborhood look like?

 

http://www.churchleadership.org/apps/articles/?articleid=42799&columnid=4540

The Slippery Slope P XIII

 

Is Jesus Lord or are Culture and Trends “Lord?” 

This indicates the replacing of biblical thinking and teaching with the latest trends in church growth, or ministry models that are not Christ-centered. This can come from outright rejection of His Lordship to a weakening of it, such as liberalism. And, it usually comes in to the Conservative Evangelical and Reformed churches as embarrassment to proclaim Him boldly, or as the embracing of weak ministry models. Perhaps, we fear reprisal from liberal-minded people, or even misguided fellow Christians, if we are fundamental (as in from convictions with his Truth) in our approach. So, we keep to ourselves and no one knows who we are either at work or in our own families. His Way is not being lived out. This also comes to us by our thinking that we are being relevant and accepting, when we are actually betraying his Lordship. 

Yes, we can be relevant and not compromise! We are to be real and accepting but not compromising; a line must be drawn to which we must be held.

If this is not so in the leadership, they must be stepped down, then trained and discipled. The leadership must set the example to model His Way in humility, servant hood, and in the boldness to exercise discipline when necessary. There is never a call to be offensive to others; rather, we are to be bold in His Fruit. Make sure, if you follow any models or trends, that they are biblical and not compromising or you will have a Church of Perfidy!

The Slippery Slope P XII

Does Your Church Buy into the Relativism of Your Culture?  

Does your church teaching or ministry model consider that Jesus is just a way but not the Way? He is to be THE Way, THE Truth and THE Life (John 14-15; Acts 4:12). What about teaching that there are no right or wrong absolutes, therefore neglecting morals and virtue? What about trying to be so careful not to offend anyone that we do not say anything to convict or to instruct?

How can a person be challenged to grow if we do not redirect his or her path in love, and, when needed, call a spade a spade? What about the embracing of sin, saying it is OK in an attempt to show love and acceptance?

This might include embracing homosexuality and saying it is OK. We are called to reach out to all those who are in any kind of sin, including homosexuals, but at the same time, we are not to accept the sin. We are to care and love and show them Christ without compromising morality or His precepts. What about failing to confront people in sin or to condemn the sins of our culture? We must live by example as well as point out errors—not only in our church but also in our society (Exodus 20:1-17; Rom. 1:16-32; 1 Cor. 6:9). We must be careful here, as we can easily slip off His Cornerstone and become a Church of Perfidy!

Is Spiritual Maturity Important in the Church?

Look what we at the Schaeffer Institute found: 

We are called to spiritual growth—that is, the formation of the investment of faith Christ gives us that we give back to Him in dividends. This is a deep conviction of our faith, a practiced submission that shows our obedience, and a life of personal and relational maturity. We have to listen to God; if not, we will not learn and then we will not grow and then we will not have a life of transformation and growth. Instead, we experience a storm-tossed sea of life, wayward in every perspective because our eyes and ears are not upon our Lord (Hebrews chap 1-6; James 1). 

Eighty-three percent (83%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said their people were content in their Christian faith. 

Eighty-one percent (81%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said they had no regular or effective discipleship program or effort to mentor their people at their church. 

Eighty-one percent (81%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said there was no primary teaching from the pulpit to challenge or deepen their people’s Christian formation (spiritual growth and biblical application) at their church. 

Seventy-eight percent (78%) of the church leaders and pastors surveyed said they either are or will focus on new trends or ideas to try fix something they feel is not working right. Seventy percent (70%) stated this is where their primary time is spent, whereas only 22% of those sought answers for their church problems from God’s Word, good theological sources, or going to more trained and experienced pastors for advice. 

More here:

http://www.churchleadership.org/apps/articles/default.asp?articleid=44952&columnid=4545