Author Archives: Lane Corley
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.
Great tool to track your gospel sharing. Tracks people at different types of responses to the gospel, forms prayer list, and groups. Coming in 2.0 is the ability to form a church and every time the gospel is shared by someone in your church your phone will vibrate. Ha! Loving this app. Check it out. What apps help you with evangelism, gospel sharing, and disciple making?
Completed a few good books in January. Hoping to get back above 50 books this year after a down year in 2020. Check out these five when you get a chance.
The Rescue: Seven People, Seven Amazing Stories… by Jim Cymbala
Always great to be reminded of the power of the Gospel to transform. Jim Cymbala shares seven great testimonies of God’s power to save.
The Deepest South of All: True Stories from Natchez, Mississippi by Richard Grant
I’ve always loved Natchez. This book goes deep into some of the stories, scars, and scabs of the last 200 years. Didn’t know that Natchez voted against succession from the union. Didn’t know that there was an African warrior prince enslaved in Natchez for 40 years. Get to know the bitter and sweet story of a favorite southern town.
Dream with Me: Race, Love, and the Struggle We Must Win by John M. Perkins
Compelling book on reconciliation and racial justice. Refreshing to hear the gospel driven worldview on racism and its solution from a true man of God who spent his life in the trenches of the civil rights movement.
Problems of Christian Leadership by John R.W. Stott
From a series of lectures John Stott gave to ministerial students. Stott shared from personal experience of the every day challenges of a life in ministry. Short book. Worth reading every year.
Why You Think the Way You Do: The Story of Western Worldviews from Rome to Home by Glenn S. Sunshine
Great summary of worldviews through time from a Christian perspective. Became acquainted with Sunshine after reading The Kingdom Unleashed. This book is academic in nature. But accessible.
What are you reading?
A few years ago, Barna and the Seed Company released a study that found that 51% of professed Christians did not know about the Great Commission. Only 17% recognized it and could espouse its meaning for the life of the believer. File this under “Issues of our Decline.” If a declining number of a declining number (professed Christians and church attenders) even know one of the primary purpose statements for every believer and every church from the author and founder of our faith, could this be a key indicator of sure decline.
In the Great Commission Jesus lays out the plan for world evangelization.
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded” Matthew 28:19-20.
- Go – as you spread out across the world
- Make Disciples – tell and recruit others to follow Jesus
- of all nations – don’t discriminate. The message about Jesus was and is for all races and people groups
- Baptizing them – lead them to commit their lives to Jesus
- Teaching them to observe everything I have commanded – teach them to observe and live by the words of Jesus
The Great Commission gave the early church their marching orders, and its likely that if you are a born again Christian today, it’s only because someone took seriously and observed the Great Commission.
As we establish churches that are more organized, more theologically astute, better with technology, multi-whatever, kid friendly, etc., etc.; let’s not forget the command that launched the movement – The Great Commission. We can’t assume they know. We must return again and again to the basics of our mission espoused by Jesus in the Great Commission.
- Am I living in obedience to the Great Commission by making disciples where I live and work?
- Am I impressing the Great Commission on those I influence and lead?
- How is my church passing on the Great Commission to those in our congregation?
- Does your church have a plan to make disciples? Is it working? (Robby Gallaty)
- How can we make the Great Commission known in our churches and groups?
In the midst of a lot of brain fog moments, I did manage to get a little writing and research done in 2020. 55 articles worth. More than I expected. Here are the top 10 most read, shared, etc. from these contributions. Thank you for following, reading, sharing, and encouraging me on my journey as a disciple this year. I’ve got a few drafts ready for 2021. Hope we can all bear fruit that remains in this new year.
- Dealing With Rejection in Ministry – LINK – “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.”
- Covid-19 as an Acts 8:1 Moment for the Church – LINK – “God always wanted the message and the people dispersed and scattered. Persecution was the scattering agent that led to exponential growth. Could Covid-19 serve as a 21st century scattering agent?”
- Lost in Louisiana – LINK – “a compilation of Parish by Parish data that shows how many are potentially lost, how many evangelicals there are, and how many attend southern baptist churches across Louisiana.”
- Would Jesus Wear a Mask? – LINK – “What does it say about my heart if wearing a mask or not wearing a mask is of greater concern and riles more passion in me than the lostness and brokenness of people in the world?”
- Giving When the Church Can’t Gather – LINK – “There are at least five ways for people to be regular, sacrificial, and cheerful givers to your church, no matter what.”
- Lost in Louisiana’s Metros – LINK – “Louisiana has nine Metropolitan Statistical areas, which includes all of our major cities and 34 of our 64 parishes. 82% of the population of Louisiana lives in one of these Metro areas. So how are we doing at reaching Louisiana’s Metros?”
- Mobilizing Prayer with a Prayer Calendar – LINK – “If we want to make disciples, we must do what Jesus did, and he prayed regularly and consistently. Go beyond encouraging prayer. Mobilize prayer and expand the kingdom as Jesus did.”
- It’s Time to Think Outward about Kids Ministry – LINK – “93% of kids do not go to anyone’s church. How can we get the gospel to them?“
- If it’s Safe – LINK – “How tied is your faith to safety? Have you said no to an opportunity or a side of town because of the idol and illusion of safety? Is your faith in God lived out only in safe, comfortable environments where you’re never challenged, never have to sacrifice, never have to stress over the needs of others?”
- The Father’s Heart for the Lost – LINK – “Who’s the one that I’m going after right now? Do I celebrate one sinner’s repentance or only the crowds faithful participation?”