Make Disciples: Why? Who? What? When?

Jesus wants you to make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). Do you have one hour to get equipped to make disciples? Here is an outline with handy, short videos that can get you ready for a disciple making mission. All you need is a few blank sheets of paper.


Introduction: Link (2:48)
  1. Why do we make disciples? Link (2:04)

  2. Who can I reach? Link (4:09)

  3. What do I say?

      • Part 1 – Link (4:07)

      • Part 2 – Link (4:35)

  4. When am I going to do it? Link (4:05)


A lot more great videos to equip you to start a movement at the site: Link

The Kingdom Grows

The number of Christians in Asia grew from 101 milion to 351 million between 1970 and 2010.
In China, it is estimated that 10k people per day become followers of Christ.
In China, Christianity has grown 4,300% in 50 years.
By 2030, China will have the largest Christian population on earth.
Where Christianity is growing the fastest:
  • there are no Facebook feeds of sermons.
  • there are no large gatherings
  • there are few buildings with padded seats
  • there are no Eventbrite or Facebook events about what’s upcoming
  • there are few full bands
  • some people have to walk dozens of miles to gather with a church of 30-50.
It’s not bad that we have been blessed with these things, but looking around the world we can be reminded that the kingdom grows without them. The Covid-19 crisis may also gives us an opportunity to assess the strategic value of all we do in growing God’s kingdom.  

Develop a New Habit: Scripture Memory

StockSnap_ZBW2P0D543Quarantine time is time to lean in to trusting God. A habit that has helped me do just that over the last few years is Scripture Memory. The Bible Memory App has been a daily companion, helping me commit over 1,000 verses to memory. Here’s a list of my posts on Scripture Memory, including info on getting started with the Bible Memory App. I’ve never regretted a moments time that I’ve invested in memorizing God’s word. The Bible Memory App helps me stay on a good plan for reviewing and mastering verses. Check it out!

  • Cultivating the Habit of Scripture Memory – Link
  • Why and How to Memorize Scripture – Link
  • Getting Started with the Bible Memory App – Link

What tools have you found helpful in memorizing scripture? 

A Viral Outbreak from Asia

T4TCatching up on some reading this week. You know why. Lol! Reading about another Viral Outbreak that came to us from Asia. Ying and Grace Kai’s Training for Trainers: The Movement that Changed the World. There are several books about T4T, but this is actually Ying’s side of the story. Very instructive to get the heart of the author and orchestrator of a movement that in 10 years, led to 1.7 million baptisms! (and that’s just the ones they know about). This movement has spun off many other expressions of the same kind of principles and practices that Ying Kai began with a group of 30 farmers in 2000. The beauty and the secret of T4T is simplicity. Simplicity leads to reproducibility. Simplicity and reproducibility are key ingredients in viral movements. Considering a reset in your ministry, this book will get you thinking!

The simple step-by-step process:

  1. Develop a list of unsaved people in your network of relationships.
  2. Teach your group how to tell their story, repeatedly practicing to become fluent in sharing their story.
  3. Teach the story of Jesus, repeatedly practicing to become fluent in teaching the story of Jesus.
  4. Have them commit to share their story and the story of Jesus with five people each week.
  5. Don’t encourage the growth of one small group, but train everyone to become trainers of their own small group.
  6. Never give up on anyone.

T4T type disciple making should be the commitment of every Christian, but leaders in this movement concede that only about 20% of people that are trained will follow-up with obedience and action. This is only for doers of the word. But how much time and energy do we spend trying to keep and attract those who only hear. T4T helps you develop a vision for discipling those who have the capacity and heart to disciple others.

Here are just a few of the quotes that jumped out at me:

  •  We are always inviting people to come to our church…. But Jesus said we are to go and find lost persons.
  • It is not until one can train others that they can grow into a true disciple.
  • Share the gospel with at least five people each week.
  • I may say that I am a Christian, but if it is only knowledge of the truth and I have never really worked in the kingdom of God, then I am just a nominal Christian and not a true kingdom citizen.
  • It is our duty to sow seeds broadly and we should not limit where and when we sow.
  • God sees our heart to serve and not how talented we are.
  • Too much discussion leads to no action.
  • Keep things simple so that anyone is able to do it and everyone is willing to do it. Once things begin to get complicated, people start to put it off and not do it.
  • We should not encourage them to bring others into our small group. We are training them to become a trainer. They must start and train their own small groups.
  • So long as Christian perceive of discipleship as knowledge or simply doctrine, they fall short of the life-changing, world-changing power of true discipleship.
  • In every community with whom we share the gospel, there will be men and women who are already under the Holy Spirit’s conviction.
  • The Great Commission instructs that we are to go, not invite them to come to us; that everyone is to be engaged in attempting to reach everyone, everywhere; and we are to make disciples, not just church members or converts.
  • Whatever is taught, it should not be a knowledge dump, but training simple enough so that the new believer can grasp and replicate what has been taught.
  • The real test of success is the trainee taking what he has learned, and training a fellow believer…
  • The relationship with God will lead to an international outflow of gospeling and discipling.

Giving When the Church Can’t Gather 

There are at least five ways for people to be regular, sacrificial, and cheerful givers to your church, no matter what. 

  1. Give at a Sunday Worship Gathering. Placing an offering in the plate, basket, bag, or box is the most traditional way believers have given for generations.  
  2. Give Online. By connecting with a few outside partners, online giving can be done safely and easily today. 
  3. Text to Give. By connecting with a few outside partners, members can text in a gift to your church. 
  4. Give through a Bank’s Online Bill Pay System. Many people are paying bills online. If they have your church’s mailing address, they could include their regular giving through their banks bill pay service. 
  5. Give by Mail. With a mailing address, giving can still be received through “snail mail.” You could even provide a stack of pre-addressed and already stamped envelopes to make it easy. 

Notice, only one of these paths to giving requires the church to be gathered. So, when crisis or disaster strikes, limiting the gathering capacity of your church, YOU CAN be ready by offering pathways for continued generosity. 

Getting Started with Online Giving 

BibleMoneyTo get started with online giving, you will need to set up an account with one of many online giving platforms. It’s possible that your church already has an account with one of these. If you have a Church Management System, like PlanningCenter.com, FellowshipOne.com, Shelbysystems.com, ACStechnologies.com, or others, you simply need to add the capability. There are also church partners like Tithe.ly, EasyTithe.com, and PushPay.com, that focus on helping churches with online giving. Lifeway also offers a service called Generosity – https://lifewaygenerosity.com/ – that provides opportunities for online and text to give for churches. Paypal.com also is often used by churches for online giving and other transactions. These services will have small transaction fees and possibly monthly membership charges. However, churches that utilize these, usually see a 25%-40% increase in giving, making the fee and charges worth the cost.  

Communicate the Pathways to Giving 

The church that my family attends communicates the Five Ways to Give regularly. Here is a letter sent out with contribution statements each quarter. There are also flyers placed in foyer areas. Five Ways to Give can be a convenient provision for people during busy seasons, but a lifeline during crisis or disaster when the church can’t gather.  

Covid-19 as an Acts 8 Moment for the Church

In Acts 1:8, Jesus told the disciples to be witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the world. But as you read the next 7 chapters, you don’t see that happening with great fervency. The disciples seem to be taking their time with developing the Acts 1:8 strategy, while enjoying the big crowd and the miracles in the temple courts. In Acts 8:1, it says that persecution broke out against the church and in Acts 8:4, the believers scattered to Judea, Samaria, and the world, taking the message of the Gospel with them – “the believers who were scattered preached the Good News about Jesus wherever they went.” God always wanted the message and the people dispersed and scattered. Persecution was the scattering agent that led to exponential growth. 

Today, church attendance is at an all-time low. I read recently that church attendance declined in every county in the United States in 2018. The fastest growing religious affiliation is the non-affiliated. Among Louisiana Baptist churches, baptisms dipped another 20% in 2019. Worship attendance was down another 6% in 2019. Methods and strategies that worked a few years ago are no longer as effective at reaching people and growing our churches.

Could Covid-19 serve as a 21st century scattering agent? And how do we utilize this opportunity for exponential kingdom growth? 

Yes. Let’s prepare Online Services, Online Giving, Streaming opportunities. But, let’s also think about Online Training for having Gospel Conversations, leading home Bible Studies, house worship, and impacting neighbors for Christ during this crisis. How can we assure that “the believers who were scattered during the Covid-19 outbreak of 2020, preached the Good News about Jesus wherever they went.” Acts 8:4.

 

A Bridge – An Airport – A Greenhouse

Three of my favorite metaphors for church. They each represent a connection point and not a destination. If you are on a Bridge, you are on your way to somewhere else. If you’re in an airport, you are on your way to somewhere else. If a plant is in a Greenhouse, it has not reached its final destination. No matter how much we decorate and dress these up, they will never be final destinations for people or plants. They serve major purposes. Bridges help us cross boundaries. Airports are places to refuel and launch to other places. Greenhouses are places of growth and development. But they are not the final destination.

Like these, the church should be the connection point for disciples heading out into the world. The church helps us cross boundaries, refuel, grow and develop. But the pew should not become the final destination.

Do we talk about church as the destination or the connection point? Do we count Sunday attendance and Bible knowledge or 24/7 servanthood and obedience as the height of maturity? Are we connecting missionaries to the world or providing entertainment and services for consumers in our churches? Where we place the destination and the goal for people matters.

Give, Pray, Fast

In Matthew 6:1-18, about half way through His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives instruction on three core practices for disciples: Giving, Praying, Fasting. His instructions include the why – motives are a big deal in Jesus’ teachings as he compares true disciples with the religious hypocrisy of his day – and the how to’s of these core practices. What I find fascinating is why Jesus would focus in on these three Core Practices. What does this say about our walk with God?

Giving, Praying, and Fasting are…

1. About Dependence on God.

Giving regularly, sacrificially, and cheerfully as prescribed in the Old Testament practice of Tithing and commended by Jesus and Paul, is meant to be a statement of faith that we recognize God as our provider and that we trust in God to make the ends meet.

Prayer is verbally confessing our hearts dependence upon God.

Fasting is setting aside food for the sake of growing in dependence upon God for essential need in our lives.

2. About Rejecting Selfishness and Idolatry.

When we commit to Giving, Praying, and Fasting as regular habits; selfishness and idols in our lives come into the light. Truth be told, my own selfishness and idolatry have kept me from true discipleship more than anything else. Obstacles to giving are often things that I want or things that I own (debts). Obstacles to praying often have to do with my own busyness. Are the things I’m doing really more important than time with God? Obstacles to fasting are often just about desire. God doesn’t expect me to try hard, does he?

3. About Gauging Your Desire for God.

Obedience to God , especially in the hard, unselfish task of giving, praying, and fasting, demonstrates that we have a true desire to know and follow God’s desire. Hesitancy and disobedience demonstrates a desire for other things. Period. What do your giving, praying, fasting say about the importance of your life as a disciple?

4. About Organizing Your Life Around Devotion to God.

You don’t have to be rich to give, but you do have to be organized. When you pray, Jesus says to go into a private room, shut the door and pray. This is not on the go praying, but an established time and place. Again, it takes organization. And when fasting, whether you’re giving up sugar, chocolate, a meal a week, or taking an extended break from food or some other pleasure, you will have to put some thought and planning into it. So, it takes some organization. Most people organize their church and religious life so that they can live, but Jesus is commending organizing your living so that you can give, pray, and fast.

So if I ask, “Do I Give, Pray, Fast?” What I’m really asking is, “Do I Depend on God? Am I selfish and Idolatrous? Do I have a desire for the things of God? Do I prioritize my time around core practices of devotion to God?” 

What do these core practices mean to you? What do they reveal about your life as a disciple?

Dealing with Rejection in Ministry and Leadership

I’ve heard it from Pastors on five continents. The pain of rejection in ministry and leadership stings and can exact a high price from our leadership and from our lives. What does it look like?

  • The nagging memory of a harsh critic of your preaching, ideas, family, etc.
  • The pain of trusted people blowing off as unimportant the things that you have worked hard on to grow the church.
  • The people you trusted as friends that leave your church for another in town, and with or without knowing it, exact a feeling of rejection in you.
  • The weight of expectations placed on you and your family, that could not be carried by even the Apostle Paul.

Now, not every critic or questioned plan or person that leaves or expectation on us as leaders is wrong or without reason. I’ve learned, that most of the time, these can be great blessings and can lead us to personal growth. But whether done in love or in wisdom or whether it proves to be an eventual blessing, the actions or words of those we lead can stab a sharp pain into our hearts and minds. A sense of rejection.

The danger is that we began to see everything through the lens of those actions, or words, or the real failures in our ministry. Our movement forward in Christ and as leaders in his body can slow or cease. We can began to expect rejection when the phone rings (“they’re calling to tell me that they’re leaving the church”) or when people walk in to the office (“they’re here to tell me that they’ve got a problem with something”), robbing us from intimacy in relationships and influence with others. The rejection of others can take on a louder voice than the acceptance of God and of the call He has placed on our lives.

I’ve heard rejection’s voice and it has kept me from:

  •  Building relationships with others as I’ve feared their eventual disappointment in me.
  • Fully sharing the Gospel because of uncertainty about the persons response.
  • Dealing with heart issues, as the pain of rejection in the past becomes a sore scab that I want no one to touch.
  • Taking risk for the kingdom that requires confidence in God’s call and power.
  • Not being able to give love and acceptance to others, who are desperately looking for it, because love and acceptance are not finding a home in my heart and mind.

In worst cases, pastors leave the ministry with deep pain; pastors kids grow up hating the church; the pastors wife feels isolated and alone; the pastors home becomes a cold place because rejection’s voice hardens the heart of everyone inside. Don Wilton once said, “In a room full of pastors, there’s a broken heart on every row.”  How do we get free from this nagging voice and painful aspect of leadership and ministry?

Moving Past Rejection in Ministry:

1. Expect Rejection

Disciples are promised throughout the New Testament that they will be hated, persecuted, crushed, abandoned, alone. Jesus said we would be like sheep among wolves. It’s never promised that ministry would be easy. Facing rejection and criticism is a hazard of the calling. To be called to ministry is to be called to rejection. Deny yourself, prepare to turn the other cheek, to forgive, to keep moving forward. When you expect something, you can brace for its impact. How do we prepare and brace for rejection?

Matthew 10:22; 24:9; John 15:18; 16:33; Acts 14:22; 2 Timothy 3:12; 1 John 3:13

2. Live Accepted

Embrace God’s acceptance of you in Christ EVERYDAY. The only acceptance that matters, is the fact that God in Christ has accepted you into his family and thought you worthy to carry His gospel to others. In Christ, you don’t have to fight for acceptance, you fight FROM acceptance. You don’t work for God’s approval, you work FROM God’s approval. You don’t strive for victory over pain, you strive FROM a place of victory in Christ for all eternity. Embrace and remind yourself regularly that God’s love is not BASED on my performance or the opinions of others, it PLACED on me by an all-knowing, loving Father. I am accepted, loved, blessed by God, no matter what happens around me. People may reject us and set us aside as unimportant, but God accepts us and sets us apart for relationship and ministry in his kingdom.

John 6:37; Romans 15:7; Ephesians 1:3-6; Colossians 1:13; 21-22

3. Put your trust in a Faithful God

God is faithful. People are fickle. So, the main voice we listen to must be the voice of God. He doesn’t change his mind about you. His word is forever fixed in heaven. The same cannot be said for any human being, me included. We are fickle. I pray that you have many faithful friends in ministry that stick by you no matter what. But if not, you can count on God’s sovereign faithfulness to comfort you and empower you until the day you die. And for every John (the disciple Jesus loved), there will probably be a Judas, whose actions feel like betrayal. Keep your eyes on Jesus and your trust in God to live free from the pain of rejection.

Deuteronomy 7:9; Psalm 91:4-6; Lamentations 3:22-23; 1 Corinthians 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; 2 Timothy 2:13; Hebrews 10:23; 1 Peter 4:19.

4. Forgive Quickly

Forgiveness is a vital tool for ministry leaders. We can internalize so many slights, offenses, grievances. And the pain of these WILL spill out into your leadership. Jesus modeled for us the radical forgiveness that God desires for us, when even on the cross as he was brutally and unjustly slaughtered, he sought the forgiveness of those who rejected him in the most vile and painful way possible. Forgiveness is the path of freedom. In forgiveness, we find freedom to continue to risk, to serve, to love and accept others. Without it, the slights and criticisms and actions of others become a burden we bear to the detriment of fruitful ministry. Decide right now, that you will forgive when offended. Ask God for thick skin and a merciful heart. Remembering always, how much we’ve been forgiven and how much mercy God has richly bestowed on us.

Matthew 5:7; 6:14-15; 18:33; Mark 11:25; Colossians 3:13; James 2:13

5. Don’t Walk Alone

“Confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed” James 5:16. Find a trusted friend in ministry or two that you can process the pain of rejection with. This pain is known by almost every leader I know. There are understanding fellow travelers along this road that can help you heal through opening up the wounds and allowing the encouragement of friendship to refresh your spirit. Don’t believe the lie that you’re alone in these thoughts and feelings. Open up to a companion in ministry. And encourage your wife to do the same.

Romans 12:10; Hebrews 3:13; 10:24-25; 13:1; James 5:16

The fear of rejection is counterproductive

Allowing rejection to hold you back is so counterproductive. It will cause you as a leader to take less risk, build fewer relationships, bear less fruit, lead to more slow progress for the mission of your church. This paralysis will likely lead to more apparent rejection in your ministry as people sense a lack of vision and leadership from you. Move past it through reminding yourself of God’s acceptance, trusting in God’s faithfulness, forgiving those who have rejected you quickly, and talking it through with faithful friends. You don’t have to be stuck and unfruitful any longer.

There is too much at stake to allow the rejection of a few to keep you from pursuing the high call of God to reach the world. Break free from the fear and the pain of rejection.

How else have you dealt with the pain of rejection in relationships and leadership? Email me if I can help in any way.

Who Builds, Leads, Grows the Church?

JESUS CHRIST
  • The Foundation of the Church – 1 Corinthians 3:11
  • The Builder of the Church – Matthew 16:18
  • The Cornerstone of the Church – 1 Peter 2:6
  • The Head of the Church – Ephesians 1:22
  • The One Who Grows the Church – 1 Corinthians 3:7
Logo, Branding, Strategy, Website, Events are all a distant second to dependence on Jesus.
  • Does your church promotion, worship gatherings, events include and point people to Jesus? or just to your brand?
  • Are you, Pastor / Planter, communicated as the foundation, builder, head, key component, grower of the church? or have you led people to see Jesus as the essential key?
  • Do you carry the weight of the church on your shoulders, when Jesus clearly has taken that weight upon himself?
  • Do you trust Jesus with the growth of your church, listening to Him for guidance and direction for the future of your church?
I am not the founder, the builder, the cornerstone, the head, the grower of the church. This is not MY church. These are not MY people. Jesus, build, lead, grow your church this week. Use me if necessary.
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