This year is half way gone. Here’s a list of questions to journal through to reflect and prepare for the 3rd and 4th quarter:
- Has my devotional life been consistent?
- Has my prayer closet or private room seen me regularly?
- Have I prayed with other believers regularly?
- What Bible reading plan have I followed?
- What verses or truths have been especially meaningful so far this year?
- What books or articles have been especially helpful so far this year?
- What personal growth or victory can you thank God for?
- What victory or challenge do I need to seek God for?
- Who have I sought out for wise counsel? Have I ignored or heeded the counsel of others so far this year?
- How many times have I shared the Gospel?
- How many lost people am I currently praying for?
- How many new relationships have I built with potential new disciples?
- Who am I currently discipling and training into godliness and disciple making?
- Who am I encouraging through difficulty and affliction?
- What have I given away? Have I been faithfully generous with money? Time? Possessions? Words? Wisdom?
- What is working? What is exciting? What has momentum? What is bearing fruit?
- What is not working? What does it seem like I am pushing up a steep hill? What do I need to give up on? What is robbing me of energy?
- What have I neglected? What have I ignored? What am I hoping will just disappear on its own? (But I know it won’t)
- What is worth doing, but I’m out of my league? What do I need more power, prayer, people to help with?
- Check screen time on my phone. What does it say about my heart and priorities? What does my internet history say about my heart and priorities?
“The Christian church with all its faults is the greatest serving institution on earth. It has many critics, but no rivals in the work of human redemption… No other institution has done anything like it—none whatever. The fact that the church has been able to survive the dead weight of a large proportion of its membership unconverted is a proof of its essential soundness and vitality. A minority of converted people keep its soul alive.”E. Stanley Jones, Conversion
THE GOSPEL – SIMPLICITY – MARGIN – LOW HANGING FRUIT – UNBRANDED MINISTRY
1. SHARE THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST.
The Gospel is a proven and tested VIRAL Idea. And Jesus promised to empower the spread of the Gospel through the Holy Spirit. Acts 1:8
2. FIGHT FOR SIMPLICITY AND REPRODUCIBILITY.
Jesus’ started a movement which has exponentially multiplied, partly, because it was as simple as water, bread, and wine.Simple Church = Saying No to Almost Everything.Ask: Is my ministry 2 Timothy 2:2 Simple?
3. CREATE MARGIN.
We have so little multiplication because churches have so little margin. We have JUST ENOUGH, instead of MORE THAN ENOUGH.Margin is typically created through BIG CROWDS or RADICAL SIMPLICITY.More than enough can also be toxic. Like a sponge. Like buried talents. Jesus meant for us to use what we have.
4. LOOK FOR LOW HANGING FRUIT.
Persons of Peace. New Believers network of relationships. Apostolic Leaders. People Groups and Population Segments. Existing Social Movements. People Scattering and moving about the country. New Churches. New Ministries.
5. MAKE ROOM FOR UNBRANDED MINISTRY.
Is the invite to our brand of church louder than the invite to the head of the church? Build partnerships with like-minded ministries who are sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ with a heart to multiply. Ask: “Do I want to reach my community or do I want to see my community reached?”
- Abiding – Ministry health and effectiveness flows from your personal abiding with Christ. Our first call is to intimacy with God.
- Discipling – Early church planting is really Disciple Planting. I’m sharing the gospel and leading one, two, three, a group, several groups into becoming a Disciple who Makes Disciples.
- Mobilizing – Groups of disciples should be mobilized to first make other disciples, then to form teams for the maturing of the body and continuing the mission.
- Building – Building systems, processes, teams to help mobilized disciples who are abiding in Christ to spread the gospel and make disciples in the whole region.
Which one is the biggest challenge for you and your church right now?
A neat, often untold part of Jesus’ resurrection story is its festival. We know about Passover festival’s relation to the crucifixion of Christ, but there was also a festival happening on the day of the resurrection. It was called the Festival of Firstfruits. On the first day after the Passover Sabbath, which would have been Sunday, every Jewish male would be bringing a sheaf of barley to the temple. That barley would be offered to God, whose acceptance of the offering was a pledge for a greater harvest to come. Fifty days later, the Jewish people would celebrate the Festival of Weeks or Pentecost to celebrate that greater harvest of wheat that God provided.
Seeing any parallels?
Paul helps us out in 1 Corinthians 15:20-23:
“Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man. For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.”
Christ resurrection, among many other provisions, serves as a pledge of a greater harvest to come. A harvest of people who are dead in sin, but will be made alive in Christ (Ephesians 2:4-5).
Fifty days after the resurrection, during the Festival of Pentecost, Jesus had ascended, the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Church, and 3,000 were added to the kingdom (see Acts 2). A truly greater harvest.
So What? A few takeaways:
- The resurrection was just the beginning! The resurrection of Christ is God’s pledge to bring a harvest from our lives as believers. The life of Christ within us is power to produce fruit for God. The fruit of godly character and a harvest of disciples made. What is my life producing?
- The harvest doesn’t come without laborers and labor. Fields still have to cultivated, seeds still have to be planted, weeds must be dealt with. He pledges resurrection power to us. We should pledge to work the fields and to do our part to assure a harvest of disciples made for him. What am I doing to prepare for a harvest?
Fifty Days Until Harvest
What will you have to offer God? How many could God add to your church if you, in dependence on Christ, allowed him to use you for a harvest? Get started:
- Ask God everyday to make you fruitful.
- Prepare the fields through identifying who you can reach.
- Plant seeds by sharing the gospel in every way you can.
- Get equipped HERE.
The first quarter of 2021, has been one of reflection. Man! Aren’t we feeling a little better about the world?! A little. Lol. 2020 was a tough year to say the least. For our family it not only included experiencing the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic – shut downs, separation from friends and family, uncertainty about the future, etc. – but also five hurricanes in Louisiana which took me away from home for a lot of nights August – October, as I joined the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief response as an Incident Manager.
I also experienced several losses to my network of relationships that I never really stopped to grieve properly or pay tribute. In the last 13 months, four people have passed away that had significant impact on my life. Over the next few weeks, I want to share the short story of these four people here.
In today’s cultural climate, starting small Discovery Bible Studies may be the new front door into the kingdom of God. Disciples who make disciples need to learn the skill of multiplying groups, gathering people around the word of God who will gather people around the word of God. It’s not hard. Get ready by:
- Get real familiar with the Gospel and with simple strategies to spread it – LINK – LINK.
- Learning to Recognize and Look for Persons of Peace or Spiritually Interested People around you – LINK – LINK.
- Ask these three questions when you find them:
- Would you be interested in reading / exploring / discussing the Bible to discover more about God?
- Who else do you know that might be interested?
- When would you like to start?
Gathering people around the word of God in groups that will multiply is a primal practice of disciples who make disciples. Don’t complicate it. Open your eyes, ask these questions, and start a group.
“The most reliable predictor of conversion is relationships, especially preexisting, positive relationships. No movement can sustain exponential growth if expansion is primarily the responsibility of paid professionals.”
“Whatever someone’s prior beliefs, he is far more likely to adopt a new faith if he witnesses a friend or family member convert to the faith.”
“There are many factors that influence the decision to adopt a new faith, but the most important factor is a close and positive relationship with a committed participant.”
“If a church becomes too tight, it will become socially isolated; it may keep it’s members, but it will not grow.”
“Jesus moved from village to village looking for responsive people who would take the good news into the world of their relationships.”
– Steve Addison in Movements that Change the World – chapter on Contagious Relationships
One of the simplest ways to grow the kingdom and our churches is to lead people to identify the people around them who are far from God and train them how to share the faith with them.
- Who’s Your One? LINK
- Check out Ying Kai’s “List of 25” – LINK
- Check out David Watson’s Prayer Calendar – LINK
- We’ve used No Place Left’s Oikos Map – LINK
Come up with your own, but the gospel must spread again through relationships in today’s culture.
In Matthew 28:20, Jesus finishes the Great Commission with this challenge –
“teaching them everything I have commanded you.”Jesus, Matthew 28:20
Did you catch it? Do you see what’s missing? Left out of this quote is that we are to teach them “to obey” or “to observe” everything.
19 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, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”Jesus, Matthew 28:18-20
If you did catch it, does your church and your ministry obey this command? Are we teaching them “to obey everything” or are we teaching them everything we know in 30-45 minutes blocks and hope they learn or eventually know enough to become disciples who make disciples? Didn’t work for the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. Doesn’t seem to be working today. Knowledge doesn’t always lead to maturity or multiplicative disciple making.
How do you teach to obey?
Jesus modeled this for us by teaching PLUS answering questions and responding to concerns PLUS modeling PLUS sending PLUS debriefing. There cannot be teaching to obey without –
- Q and A for understanding,
- opportunities to practice what’s been taught,
- ongoing coaching and debriefing,
- accountability to keep practicing.
How does your church make room for teaching to obey? Where are the opportunities to understand, ask questions, process concerns? Do you give opportunities to practice what’s been taught? Is there ongoing debriefing and coaching? How do you hold others accountable to obey Jesus?
Yes, Jesus taught crowds in rows. But more frequently he was on the go, demonstrating what he taught; or around a table, teaching them to obey with Q and A and responding to concerns in the context of relationships. More than just teach the crowds everything we know. Let’s teach them obey in discipling relationships.
A few Good Reads from February. Connect with me over at Goodreads.com and let’s share our reading adventures.
Spent Matches: Igniting the Signal Fire for the Spiritually Dissatisfied by Roy Moran
Turning an existing church into a Disciple Making Movement. Details what a disciple making movement strategy looks like and then tells the story of Shoals Creek Community Church’s adaptation of the strategy.
Under Our Skin: Getting Real about Race–And Getting Free from the Fears and Frustrations That Divide Us by Benjamin Watson
Powerful testimony, encouragement, and direction from a man of wisdom and faith. Solid answers for how to think about racial issues in the aftermath of events that divide our country.
Milliken’s Bend: A Civil War Battle in History and Memory by Linda Barnickel
A civil war battle in Northeast Louisiana that demonstrated the ability of black soldiers to fight victoriously over the Confederate army. Also, interesting details about life in Northeast Louisiana during the 19th century and aftermath of the Civil War. I’m looking forward to visiting the Milliken’s Bend and Grant’s Canal memorials next time I’m driving across I-20.
In the Way: Church As We Know It Can Be a Discipleship Movement (Again) by Damian Gerke
Another good book on how Disciple Making Movement practices can and should be adapted in the West. I’m going back through this one again very slowly. Much to chew on in this book.
The Story of Joseph Willis by Randy Willis
In the early 1800’s, Joseph Willis started the first evangelical churches West of the Mississippi River. Born a slave in the Carolina’s, Joseph Willis answered God’s call to go west. He endured much to deliver the Gospel to harsh Louisiana. Great story of perseverance. Churches planted and pastored by Joseph Willis are still in existence across south Louisiana today.
They Turned the World Upside Down: A Storyteller’s Journey with Those Who Dared to Follow Jesus by Charles Martin
Fiction writer paraphrases and stories his way through the early church. Always good to hear some new and creative perspectives on the Bible.
Teche: A History of Louisiana’s Most Famous Bayou by Shane K. Bernard
The Teche Bayou runs from Port Barre to Patterson. 125 miles and a lot of history along the banks. Includes the story of an ancient people groups, plantation life, civil war ironclad battles, and the changing nature of transportation and commerce in the south. Good book for anyone who loves south Louisiana.
Movements That Change the World: Five Keys to Spreading the Gospel by Steve Addison
5 Universal Keys to Spreading the Gospel and Starting a Movement:
- white-hot faith
- commitment to the cause
- contagious relationships
- rapid mobilization
- adaptive methods
Love Steve Addison’s books, and all his resources at movements.net.