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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. 

Developing a Missional Mindset in Your Church

  • 10 May 2017
  • Keith Reed

What does it mean to be on mission for God? In a previous blog, I explored Six Marks of a Missional Church from Acts 2:42-47. In this article, I want to explore this theme further and unpack ways we can develop a missional mindset in our churches. 

A Missional Church is Incarnational

A missional church recognizes that most people will not come to a building to hear the gospel. People in a missional church are actively bringing Christ to those who desperately need him. Just as "the Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood," so too, those on a mission incarnate and share the gospel with those around them [1]. 

For the past 18 years, my family has lived in a nine-unit townhouse complex. Even though we’ve contemplated buying a detached house many times, one of the main reasons we choose to stay is because it’s easier to do life with people when you live close to them. It’s definitely harder to avoid your neighbours when they’re standing ten feet away (although we do manage to do this sometimes). Over the years, we’ve been able to share the gospel with several of our townhouse friends. At least two of them have accepted Christ.

We took this living-in-close-proximity-thing one step further last year when we moved into an apartment building with refugees for seven months (you can read about our adventure in the Do Something blog). We did life with these newcomers to Canada and had many opportunities to share Christ. In fact, it was sometimes ridiculously easy to talk about our faith.

Of course, not everyone lives in an apartment or a townhouse. The point is that we need to find ways to move into people’s lives—to build relationships, to be a blessing, and to share the gospel as the Holy Spirit opens up people’s hearts to hear it (see Six Ways Anyone Can Share Their Faith for more ideas).

A Missional Church Equips and Empowers Individuals to be Active in their Harvest Fields

It’s one thing to talk about being a missional church, but how do we mobilize the masses to live missionally? Let me suggest five ways: 

1. Sermons need to remind people of the importance of the gospel for both them and the unsaved. This gives people a vision for gospel-living. 

9 Ways to Strengthen Prayer in Your Church

  • 14 March 2017
  • Randy Wollf

man looking at horizonIt’s five years from now. Amazingly, your church has grown incredibly in the area of prayer. People are setting aside time each day to pray. They’re worshipping Him throughout the day. You see life groups and ministry groups making prayer a central part of their group time. You see a church where God is doing amazing things as He responds to the prayers of His people.

Sound exciting? How do we realize this kind of vision? Here are nine ways to strengthen prayer in your church:

#1 – Enlarge People’s Vision for Prayer

How do we challenge people to grow deeper in prayer? Preaching and teaching on prayer can definitely help. In addition, here is an idea that can blow away people’s conceptions about how God can respond to prayer today. Tell people about some of the spiritual revivals that have happened over the past 300 years (for starters, see The Role of Prayer in Spiritual Awakening video or text version). Knowing how God has responded to concerted, extraordinary prayer in the recent past can inspire us to pray in focused and persistent ways today.

#2 – Equip People to Pray

Most Christians know how to ask God for stuff. Yet, do we truly practice thankfulness, confession, and adoration of God? Do we realize deep down that the goal is not just to pray for a set period each day (as good as that is), but to develop a lifestyle of prayer?

We can teach about prayer through sermons and workshops, but there is nothing quite like combining training with practice. One of the most powerful equipping times for my church leadership team was when we went on a two-day prayer retreat (see 5 Reasons to go on a Prayer Retreat for more on prayer retreats). We all read a book on prayer prior to the retreat, had some training sessions, and then spent time in prayer. It was powerful!

#3 – Build on What is Already Happening

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