Category Archives: Discipleship
Quarantine 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?
Catching 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:
- Develop a list of unsaved people in your network of relationships.
- Teach your group how to tell their story, repeatedly practicing to become fluent in sharing their story.
- Teach the story of Jesus, repeatedly practicing to become fluent in teaching the story of Jesus.
- Have them commit to share their story and the story of Jesus with five people each week.
- Don’t encourage the growth of one small group, but train everyone to become trainers of their own small group.
- 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.
Ever thought about taking your churches Kids Ministry to the streets? I think we should. Most children’s ministry is focused on reaching/teaching/discipling kids that show up at my church on the weekends or midweek. Some of the questionable outcomes of this:
- Are we teaching kids that church is all about them and most importantly, about them having fun, falling just short of disciple-making?
- In wanting to grow our churches, are we talking about kids as only hooks to get their parents “butts in the seats” (to quote Whoopi Goldberg in Sister Act)? “If the kids have fun, the parents will come back” ~ church growth quip.
- Children’s facilities can cost mega bucks. No matter how hard we try, we CAN’T out Disney, Disney.
- Are we cutting the rug out from under parental responsibility for discipling kids as they become more and more dependent upon the “professionals” down at the church?
AND the big one: WHAT ABOUT THE MAJORITY KIDS THAT ARE NOT COMING TO THE FULL COLOR KIDS MINISTRY EVENTS AT OUR CHURCH EVERY WEEK?
In my region of 345,000 people, demographic reports show that around 21% of the population is age 14 or below. That’s around 69,000 kids!!!! In my denomination, which is one of largest in the region with 11,500 worshipers on any given Sunday, approximately 18% of that number are children under 14. Meaning on any given week only 2,500 or so kids are attending. Which is only about 4% of the population in the 14 and under age bracket. We average about 7,000 each year for Vacation Bible School, which is a 1-week, 4-hour overdose of Sunday’s Kids Ministry. That gets us to 10%. Add the other evangelical groups to the mix and best figures, after consulting with other church leaders, give us a number of 4,500 kids in an evangelical church each Sunday for faith and fun. That’s only 7% of the kids in our community. And many of these kids are growing up with absolutely no or very little Gospel story or Christian witness in their lives. Are we losing a generation as we strategize on how to improve our children’s facilities? and preach loudly about God being taken out of schools? and continue to think of kids ministry as a facilities focused ministry? and considering the # of kids that need to be reached, can we even build a big enough facility to do what’s needed?)
A New Vision for Kids Ministry
What if we began to consider the 93% in our Kids Ministry strategy? Not neglecting the 7%, providing faith and fun on Sunday’s as we are, but also thinking of new ways to get God’s story into the lives of kids in our community. When you think of it like this you’ll realize there are more opportunities then you might imagine. Here’s a few ideas:
- Encourage your congregation to get involved in schools on their terms, not yours. There are a variety of mentoring, tutoring, encouraging opportunities that will equal relationships with unchurched families in the community and opportunities to invest in kids. Our church recently provided free popcorn for an area schools open house and met several families in need.
- Partner with local kids organizations that are serving children and asking (if not begging) for volunteers. In my community, there’s the Boys & Girls Club, YMCA, local multi-housing complexes, private schools. And we’ve found many of them are open to you sharing THE story as part of your work.
- Get involved in local recreation and sports leagues by encouraging adults to get involved in coaching kids. Volunteer coaches are usually desperately needed, especially in inner cities. Provide some training on how to be a character building influence on kids and keep relationships going. These opportunities can lead to lifelong relationships of encouragement and mentoring between a child and an adult, who will forever be know as “Coach” to the kid.
- Multiply what you do on-site, off-site. You’ve made great backdrops and costumes, produced cool videos and posters, you’ve bought expensive curriculum, and prepared awesome crafts. And you’ve trained volunteers who are loving it. Why not look for an avenue to multiply that in the community? Do the VBS at a local multi-housing complex or another church that would not be able to do it for the kids in their neighborhood. Do a one day kids ministry event at a local park or multi-housing complex utilizing all the stuff you’ve done over the past few months. One church in our state, extends their VBS every Summer to a private daycare with over 200 kids, multiplying their efforts to reach more kids.
- Local Festivals provide opportunities to show kids and families that faith is fun by providing some of the crafts or games or other elements you do each week. This is a great way also to build trust with community leaders and parents. And you can say, “if you like what we do here, you’ll love our Kids ministry at ______ Church on Sunday.” Our local associations have Block Party Trailers with many of the supplies you’ll need for this type of outreach.
- Get the Kids involved. Instead of seeing them as hooks to get more “butts in the seats.” See them as missionaries who can invest in their friends and demonstrate that faith is fun and meaningful in the community. Teach kids that it’s important to serve and that faith is not just about them but others, by taking them on a local mission trip to the park or festival or multi-housing complex for Kids Ministry Day.
- Start or get involved in a mentoring program for children without dads, grandparents raising grandchildren, foster children, etc.
- Instead of VBS. I heard of one church that instead of VBS they encouraged neighborhood Bible Clubs during the summer and trained and empowered people to reach the kids and families around them, utilizing the same curriculum sets and production quality, but in yards and subdivision common space all around the city.
- Other ideas?
We’ve reached a point where we can’t keep preaching about culture decay, how God has been kicked out of schools, and bad parenting. We’ve got to get involved. The doors are open in our communities. It won’t be easy, but salt is no good left in the salt-shaker.
How could your church take kids ministry to the streets?
Challenging words from Nik Ripken in his latest book The Insanity of Sacrifice:
“Safety is not one of God’s core values.”
- Do we share our faith as long as it is safe?
- Do we send mission teams as long as it is safe?
- Do we witness to our neighbors as long as it is safe?
- Do we make financial decisions as individuals and churches based on how safe those decisions are?
As one who leads others and values mobilization of others into missions, safety is too often a top shelf concern of mine. Great reminder that safety is relative to God and not a top shelf concern for the Almighty, nor should it be for His people.
Ripken argues that danger IS and SHOULD BE a part of the life of the faith filled follower. 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? Maybe it’s time for us to embrace the tension of discomfort and put more faith in God’s power.
More great quotes from Ripken:
- “Clearly, there is a sense in which the danger of our lives increases in proportion to the depth of our relationship with Christ… the closer we are to Jesus… the more danger we will face in our lives.”
- “faithfulness to the commands of God holds more value than safety every time! The people of God are called to faithful response whether it is safe or not. If we are faithful, we will go and we will send and we will share and we will speak and we will give and we will pray… even when it is not safe.”
- “It will probably be safer for you to not share your faith with your neighbor. It will be safer for your church to not send out mission teams. It will be safer for you to not get on that plane. It will be safer to not let the world get under your skin. It will be safer to gather for worship each Sunday and simply go through the motions. It will be safer to keep financial resources close to home.”
- “God’s people value faithfulness and obedience. And we consider it a holy privilege to do exactly what God has called us to do… even if it is not safe.“
Lord, set us free from the idol and the illusion of safety.
Check out Nik Ripken’s great new 90 Day devotional called The Insanity of Sacrifice.
What does Jesus want for me this year?
Jesus has actually already decided what He wants for us in the new year. We could answer that question with so many great promises from Christ – Abundant life, Joy, Fruitfulness, Eternal life and so much more. As I think about that question, three words stick out to me: BELIEVE – FOLLOW – DISCIPLE.
Jesus wants us to believe him for big things. When asked what the work he wanted us to do was, Jesus replied – Believe! (John 6:29) That’s it. Jesus wants us to believe. The promises he gives for belief range from joy to supernatural power. It’s believing in, trusting in, and staying connected to Jesus that fuels everything in the Christian life. The older I get the more I understand why Jesus talked so much about believing. It’s hard. To believe, we fight doubt, fear, negative thoughts, doubters, fearmongers, critics, and more. What do you need to believe Jesus for this year? Salvation, Provision, Power, Overcoming Doubt and Fear? Make this year a year of BELIEF.
What did Jesus call people to do? Simply to Follow Him (Matthew 4:19). To follow someone means to make them the leader on the highway of life. You’re following their lead, listening to their instructions, and taking your cues in life from them. For us, that would include starting everyday with a commitment to follow Him, denying ourselves and putting the will of Jesus and the needs of others first, committing to listen to God through regularly reading His Word – the Bible, asking him for direction and wisdom for the journey through prayer. We are all following something or someone. We have the opportunity and invitation to follow Jesus. Make this year a year to FOLLOW.
What did Jesus command? Go and Make Disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). What does Jesus want from my life? from my church? He wants Disciples. Disciple, the verb, means to teach and train others. So the command to go and make disciples is to draw others in and teach them to believe and follow Jesus. Most Christians probably see this as the job of the pastors, but it’s a command and desire of Jesus for all his people. And what if every believer and follower of Jesus, discipled one other person this year? The impact of obeying this desire and call of Jesus would be immediately felt in our time. Two questions for the New Year: Who are you discipling? and who is discipling you? We all need to be learning from those ahead of us in the journey and we need to be passing on the faith to someone behind us in the journey. Make this year a year to DISCIPLE.
One of the best tools I’ve discovered for scripture memory sense the Topical Memory System, has been the Bible Memory App. I have loved this App. It has helped me memorize over 1,000 verses in the last year and a half. It also has helped me diminish the amount of time spent on Social Media, giving me something with eternal impact to do in spare moments, besides scrolling news feeds. I’ve wrote about it HERE and HERE.
How to get started with the Bible Memory App:
- Download the App, open and account, find the Verse Library and start with the Group of Verses called “Verses for Children.” About 20 verses that are short, familiar, foundational.
- After that, move to the Group “Top 100 Verses.” Another great group of verses that are short, familiar, foundational.
- After that, pick another verse library category that speaks to where you are in life. Or, you can search for a group that you would like to connect with. I started with the Topical Memory System Group, because those verses were familiar to me. Right now, I have a group that is trying to memorize every YouVersion.com “Verse of the Day.” Find the group HERE. Will be starting a 2020 “Verse of the Day” group next week.
- Put together a group with your Small Group, family, accountability partner, or for your church.
I have loved this app. It has worked well for me. Check it out. Every moment spent memorizing scripture makes an eternal impact – “the word of the Lord endures forever” 1 Peter 1:25.
Eligibility is a term we here in sports a lot. We want our teams to be Bowl eligible, playoff eligible. We get excited when the college star become draft eligible. Runners work to be eligible for the Boston Marathon, or other races. I’m encouraging my kids to get college eligible by working hard on their grades and ACT score.
Eligibility = readiness. It demonstrates that you are ready for the next step in maturity and growth or the next challenge. For churches, a great challenge is to get Multiplication Eligible. To be healthy enough for the challenges of multiplying new groups, new ministries, new locations, new churches. What does that look like?
- A Passion for God and the Lost.
- Healthy systems (evangelism, groups, gatherings, assimilation, mobilization, stewardship) that are producing new and growing disciples.
- Unity of purpose and mission.
- Eyes open to the needs of the world.
- Leader(s) that can be sent to lead the mission at the new location.
What do you need to work on in order to be Multiplication Eligible?
- Small Group life is better than small group meetings.
- Doing life together is better than eating together.
- Growing Spiritually together is better than studying the lesson together.
- All of life discipleship is better than a Sunday morning Bible Study.
Most of the small group questions I hear about what happens DURING THE MEETING. “What are you studying?” “When do you meet?” “Who’s the teacher?” Necessary but not primary elements.
The real gold for small groups is in life together. I’ve walked with a few small groups for 5+ years. These people are like family. We experience each others lives through the ordinary and difficult moments. We can see life change happening over time and think about how far people have come over years. More than just getting through a lesson or a study, it’s journeying through all of life. Gatherings are simply opportunities to catch up, be encouraged, grow deeper in relationship with God and each other, and apply the scripture to our lives specifically and directly. Life together also allows you to serve one another in special ways as life happens. Seeing and experiencing Jesus in the life of another happens as we walk this worlds ups and down with one another. Love, joy, peace, patience, compassion, kindness, forgiveness, carrying burdens. All of these happen best in family like relationships that small group life provide.
Grateful for my Small Group. Can’t wait to gather together again this week!
Mine the gold of life together by focusing on group life and not just a group meeting.
If the elements of God’s mission can be compared to a football game, we might say that the focus has become the huddle instead of the line of scrimmage. The line of scrimmage is where the action happens. We have prioritized huddling over playing our part on the line of scrimmage by purchasing fancier uniforms for the huddle, composing cooler songs for the huddle, writing more speeches to inspire the huddle, positioning every person in the perfect spot for the huddle, holding conferences on how to build a better huddle, even getting the perfect brew to pass around the huddle.
But Jesus’ commission for the church was about going, not huddling. The huddle is vital, but it’s only a brief moment to receive the playing directions from the quarterback. If you stay in the huddle too long, you get penalized and moved backward. The church is getting shoved backward on the mission field… the problem is an overemphasis on the huddle. The church must be mobilized, it must be sent to the scrimmage line.