Thursday, April 30, 2015

Making Disciples: Discipleship #7

We are called to make disciples. Not Christians. Not converts. Disciples.

I have been under this conviction for years, and yet just in the last few others began to put it into words. I think it may have started when David Platt spoke up against this simple little "sinner's prayer" that we have all heard prayed. Where is that in scripture? Don't get me wrong...I understand why you might have someone pray that is a start. But that is like going across the starting line in a race and then stopping and asking for a metal. Yeah, your a "runner" but you're still not a runner. There is more to it than the start. (BTW- I'm not trying to just pick on the sinners prayer here, we do the same thing with baptism in other circles. "They'll be ok if we can just get them dunked.")

I think that's why this next article I'm sharing is so spot on. I realized a couple of years that we don't tell the difficult side of being a Christian. It's hard, it takes work, there are struggles, there are battles, everyone comes out of it scarred, there will be suffering, you will want to go back to your former life...

But the good news is: you are not alone. The living God is with you. The people of God who have been through the same struggles are with you.

We have been called to lay down our lives. To take up our cross. To be transformed into His image. Sounds easy, like life will be rosy right?

"What happened to Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s idea of, “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die”?

Here is Tyler Edwards list of contrasts between Converts & Disciples from Relevant Magazine:
1.) Converts are believers who live like the world. Disciples are believers who live like Jesus.
2.) Converts are focused on their values, interests, worries, fears, priorities, and lifestyles. Disciples are focused on Jesus.
3.) Converts go to church. Disciples are the church.
4.) Converts are involved in the mission of Jesus. Disciples are committed to it.
5.) Converts cheer from the sidelines. Disciples are in the game.
6.) Converts hear the word of God. Disciples live it.
7.) Converts follow the rules. Disciples follow Jesus.
8.) Converts are all about believing. Disciples are all about being.
9.) Converts are comfortable. Disciples make sacrifices.
10.) Converts talk. Disciples make more disciples.

Read the full article here: We're Called to Make Disciples not Converts

I pray that you are encouraged not discouraged. I know that God is calling his people out. That we would look more like the bride of Christ, that we would look more like Christ.

Are you making disciples or are you only converting?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Mature Christians: Discipleship #6

What are the marks of a mature Christian? Is it showing up to church every week? Is it the ability to pray in such a way that everyone wishes they could pray like you? Is it the ability to teach and share knowledge? I'm afraid in the world of Christianity we often have things backwards compared to how Christ would have described maturity.

I was reminded this week how in the upper room as He and the disciples celebrated the Passover meal together (yes meal, more than crackers and juice...but I'll save that discussion for another time), Jesus took a towel, knelt down and began to wash their feet. Here he was the King of Kings, doing the work of a servant. Jesus reminded us that the first would be last and the last would be first. Maybe we have this whole maturity thing backwards...

I came across an article that spoke to what a mature Christian looks like:
( 10 Marks of a Mature Christian)

Here are the 10 marks as the author Frank Powell sees it.

1) The highs and lows of life don’t impact your relationship with God. 

2) You find value in the “daily-ness” and trivial seasons of life.

3) You are at peace with situations beyond your control. 

4) You don’t allow disciplines to take a back seat.

5) You maintain a childlike sense of wonder and awe.

6) You do not compare yourself to others.

7) You listen to others who have a different viewpoint … with the goal of growing and not correcting.

8) Your heart breaks for the poor and marginalized.

9) You understand Christianity doesn’t have an on/off switch.

10) You have a sustainable rhythm to your life.


One of the biggest keys to the kind of life in Christ described in this article is consistency. Consistency is built by faith. When we believe God is in control, that He is our life, that He is our source, then we begin to walk in the love and peace that only comes from being his child. That is maturity in Christ.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

What is a Disciple? : Discipleship #5

We hear the term tossed around, we read it, we see it, but what is it? What is a Disciple? What do they look like, what do they talk like, who do they act like, what do they do? These are all legitimate questions, with real concerns built in. But let me give you the answer most 3rd graders are taught in Sunday School. If you don't know the answer to a question just say "Jesus" and most of the time you'll be right. So what is the answer to the question: Jesus! OK, that may be a little over simplified, but if we don't go back to the God incarnate person of Jesus we will miss the mark on this ever time. 

I can across an article titled "What is a Disciple? here: Discipleship Tools

One of my favorite parts of the whole article is how simply he defines a disciple:  
"A Disciple is one who grows in Christ and in so doing models and teaches Christians the precepts of the Bible, prayer, doctrine, relationship, Christian living, service, and worship, to name the main ones." 

Those are some pretty core concepts, but really the first few words are what top it off, "one who grows in Christ and in so doing models and teaches..."

First one must be growing. We never arrive in our attempt to be like Christ. As long as we are on this earth we will rely upon the ongoing process of transformation into Christ-likeness. Secondly, we must be living and modeling this transformation in every aspect or our lives. No compartmentalization, no two faced living. In every facet, being Christ to those around us. Thirdly, we must be teaching others. Example is a necessary part of this, but expecting those around us to just pick it up via example is giving ourselves and them way too much credit. We don't look at life that way in most of Western culture. We like to learn on our own rather than from others. In the model Christ gave us however, disciples make disciples. Intentional teaching in the context of life together has to be key for discipleship to occur. 

What are your thoughts on these 3 keys of discipleship?

Monday, April 13, 2015

Discipleship Attributes: Discipleship #4

LifeWay Research has put together a great assessment tool for determining what a disciple looks like and who in your midst may be living a life of discipleship. Here are the 8 attributes that they have defined as characterizing a disciple.

What are the eight discipleship attributes?
  1. Bible Engagement
  2. Obeying God and Denying Self
  3. Serving God and Others
  4. Sharing Christ
  5. Exercising Faith
  6. Seeking God
  7. Building Relationships
  8. Unashamed (Transparency)
Link to article:

What do you think? Do these attributes hit the mark? What would you add? What takes further definition?

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Culture is Everything: : Discipleship #3

I subscribe to a number of "newsletters" via email. It helps me to keep up with the growing world around me that I might not be aware of otherwise. Fairly often I come across articles that really speak to where I am or where my church and the leadership is at currently. This was one of those kind of articles. As a leader we must create culture in order to reinforce what ever is the main goal of the organization.

Here is an excerpt from an article on the Exponential website (a church planting group). Brian Zehr does a great job of capturing the importance of creating culture in our churches (and subsequently in our lives or businesses, I might add). Below is the list that really spoke to me with a link to the entire article after that:

  • What needs to be most important NOW? In other words, what is God saying to us in this season of the church?
  • What priorities must we have to multiply leaders and our congregation?
  • How will we talk about what is most important?
  • How do we engage our people in these values?
  • What is the verbiage that leads our people to the intersection of faith and wisdom?
  • What will we do to live out our most important values?
  • What are the actions our leaders must consistently take?
  • What programs or processes will equip our people to live out the values of multiplication?
Exponential: Culture is Everything 

How do you create culture in your church or business? What would others say about the culture of your organization? How would your employees describe the culture? What is your main value/goal?

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Disciple: Discipleship #2

What is it? What is a disciple? As a Christian, most can recite the great commission given by Jesus in Matthew 28 "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” But what does it mean to make disciples? What exactly is a disciple? A disciple is one who is an apprentice of a master, learning their ways, and eventually passing it on to another disciple.

But that doesn't fully give us a picture of what is it they are or what it is they do. For this definition it may be easier to look at the characteristics of a disciple for further explanation.

Here are a couple that Jay Blackburn and I have put together with Matthew 4:19 as a starting point:
“Follow me, and I will make, you fishers of men.”

“Follow Me”
  • Believes in Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and is baptized (immersed) into new life in Christ.
  • Loves the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind and strength.
  • Seeks the Kingdom first.

“I will Make”
  • Practices Prayer, a person who regularly spends time with the Father.
  • Studies scripture for transformation not just information.
  • Lives life in community with other believers.
  • Carries out the great commission.

“You fishers of Men”
  • Looks for and has the heart to address physical, emotional, and spiritual needs in others, via the Holy Spirit. (Has compassion for the hurting.)
  • Shares the “good news” regularly (the gospel: that Jesus came and died that we might live).
  • Helps others to become maturing disciples.
  • Find men and women of peace.

What characteristics would you add? How have you seen these evidenced in your life? Looking at this list are there areas that are "gaps" in your discipleship?

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