discipleship

What is Discipleship?

  • 31 October 2017
  • MinistryLift blogger

Jesus was confident that the whole world could and would be transformed through a simple process which he called "making disciples".  

The plan was simple. His life would be reproduced in the lives of others. He would invite people to follow Him. Every person who responded in faith (believed in Him) would join His life group. He would reveal to them the culture of the Kingdom of God. As they spent time with Him, their life and character would become like His. They would learn how to live, love and serve like Jesus. When they were ready He would send them out to repeat and multiply this pattern. 

They would not go out alone. He would go with them by His Spirit. Where two or three were together in His name, He would be there, introducing the culture of the Kingdom of God and forming in them the character of Jesus Christ. His presence would ensure that every new group, every new disciple, was an accurate representation of the original image. Every group would reveal the Kingdom of God. Every disciple would learn to love, live and serve like Jesus. And, when they were ready, they too would be sent to multiply the pattern.

Jesus demonstrated that this could be done with any ordinary, unskilled group of people. The outcomes did not depend on their ability, but His love, His power, and His presence. He alone could reveal the culture of the Kingdom of God. He alone could transform the members of the group. In a relatively short period of time, through a life-on-life experience with Jesus, the culture of the group would be transformed and a seismic shift would take place. The disciples would take on the character of Jesus, their Master. Furthermore, they would know how to disciple others in the same way that Jesus has discipled them.

This reproductive process, guided by the Spirit, ensures that there will be consistent DNA throughout every new generation and the pattern makes exponential Kingdom growth a reality.

This is not just theory; it is a reality. It has been field tested and it works anywhere with anyone, reaching every tribe and nation. Lives are transformed. New people join. The group begins to multiply. Every member becomes a disciple who begins to look like Jesus. Light dispels the darkness. Truth dismantles the lies that have been the foundation of our lives, our culture, our world. Authenticity and holiness become a thing of beauty. The love experienced in these new communities becomes a treasure to be desired.

The VantagePoint3 Pathway

  • 30 October 2017
  • MinistryLift blogger

In September 1999, Randy Reese and I joined 450 other church leaders from 54 countries in Eastbourne, England for the First International Consultation on Discipleship. Throughout the conference, there was a resounding consensus that the Church's "zeal to go wider has not been matched by a commitment to go deeper." John Stott set the tone in his keynote address.  

I wonder how you would sum up the Christian situation in the world today. For me, it's a strange, rather tragic, and disturbing paradox. On the one hand, in many parts of the world the Church is growing by leaps and bounds. But on the other hand, throughout the church, superficiality is everywhere. That's the paradox. Growth without depth. 

No doubt God is not pleased with superficial discipleship. The apostolic writers of the New Testament declare with one voice that God wants his people to grow up and grow into maturity in Christ.

One is hard pressed to find a time in history when the Church has gone more places, has activated more efforts, and has proclaimed the gospel more widely then over the past several decades. Yet there continues to rise from amidst all this activity a growing realization that we are skimming across the surface. God wants his people to grow up and grow into maturity in Christ (Ephesians 4:1-16).  

To this end, we have developed a VantagePoint3 pathway of processes that invite a deeper discipleship and development: three 6-9 month processes (The Journey, A Way of Life, Walking with Others), delivered in a small group format, designed to help men and women develop in Christ. More details will be explaining during the Equip Conference, but let me briefly mention four ingredients that are in "the mix" of helping people sustain a lifelong apprenticeship with Jesus (Matthew 11:29). 

1. Friendship is essential - friendship is not "a cherry on top" of the Christian life; it is an essential condition for a maturing life in Christ. As we make space for a common sharing, honouring, and enjoying of life, something of the Spirit's nurturing grace is imparted to us. 

2. Double knowledge - early church fathers and mothers pointed out that true wisdom in the life of faith is always "a double knowledge". That is, knowledge of God and knowledge of self are inextricably linked together. 

Preaching to Millennials

  • 24 October 2017
  • Randy Wollf

When we first moved to Thailand, I would sometimes get frustrated when trying to purchase items in local shops. I didn't know Thai and the shop-keepers usually didn't know English. Invariably, I would speak my language louder and slower so they would surely get it. Most of the time, they didn't understand and I would get more and more frustrated. The problem—we spoke different languages.

Millennials represent an age grouping of 16-34-year-olds (give or take a few years, depending on who you read). Their preferred language of communication is often different than what the rest of the population uses. Yet, those of us not in the millennial age grouping often continue to preach in a "language" that millennials struggle to fully understand or relate to. Just like in my Thailand example, both sides get frustrated because of the language difference.

Millennials hold many values, but seven core values that are common to many millennials are diversity, collaboration, authenticity, entrepreneurship, holistic integration, community, and open-source (I recommend that you watch Geoff Kullman's excellent presentation of these values here – MinistryLift members can access this resource for free).

Considering these seven core values, how can we effectively preach to millennials? Let me offer ten suggestions related to sermon preparation and delivery (most of these apply to other generations as well). 

1. Walk closely with Jesus

Whether it's millennials or anyone else, people notice and respond to preachers who are connected to Christ. It's one thing to speak about something we're vaguely familiar with; it's quite another to speak about something that flows from a renovated life. Millennials are particularly good at spotting the real goods. 

2. Collaborate with millennials and others to discern sermon topics and content

Millennials love to be a part of setting direction for virtually anything. Capitalize on this desire by enlisting their help to discern sermon topics and content. Even if you or the church leadership team chooses a series focus (e.g. discerning your God-given calling), seek the input of millennials as to the questions/concerns they have related to the main topic. Millennials are more likely to engage with a sermon when they have contributed to it in some way. 

3. Acknowledge and explore diverse perspectives

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