Category Archives: Discipleship
Three years ago, our family was going through one of those down seasons in the ups and downs of life. My mental focus and physical health was declining. I was discouraged and struggling mentally and emotionally. I knew I needed to change a few habits. As part of a recovery process, I deleted a bunch of apps on my phone and dusted off an app I had dutifully downloaded but never utilized: The Bible Memory App. I’m now over three years of daily usage. I have over 1,700 verses mastered and review 25-50 verses everyday. The habit of scripture memory has greatly improved my spiritual and mental health. It’s helped my preaching, speaking, and my discipling of others, as a growing library of verses are easily recalled in conversation and speaking opportunities.
While the Bible Memory App has worked for me, I don’t want to recommend that only. I want to recommend the soul sustaining habit of scripture memory. Find a way that works for you to hide God’s word in your heart.
Here are several posts I’ve written about Scripture Memory and the Bible Memory App:
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.
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?
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?
This verse is repeated six times in the Old Testament and is great to memorize and meditate on during the month of November.
1 Chronicles 16:34 – “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, his faithful love endures forever.”
(Also found at Psalm 106:1; 107:1; 118:1; 118:29; 136:1).
So you can memorize one and say you memorized six! Lol!
Thanksgiving Memory Verses
Join me in memorizing 30 Thanksgiving verses on the Bible Memory App this month: LINK.
I’ve used the Bible Memory App daily for almost three years now. It’s been a great devotional tool. Helps me hide the word in my heart. And, only 100% better than scrolling Facebook/Twitter/Snapchat/TikTock, or whatever. Start a new habit with the Bible Memory App.
It’s a new day. New normals will emerge. Our churches are picking up new technologies and new innovations to help us continue to deliver the gospel. In this season of new, of change, of adaptation, there may also be some OLD innovations that we need to circle back to. As we reset our churches over the coming days, consider resetting these five practices and attitudes:
1. The Prayer Chain – Principle: Mobilize Prayer for the Church and the Lost.
Growing up Southern Baptist, every church my family was a part of had a prayer chain. The prayer chain was a phone network built to mobilize prayer quickly when need arose in the congregation or community. How can your congregation be more effective at mobilizing prayer for one another, for the lost, for the community? Today, we have technologies available to us that can greatly enhance the impact of prayer mobilization. We all encourage prayer. How can we move from encouraging prayer to mobilizing prayer? What innovative approaches to prayer can we develop in the new normal?
2. Discipleship Training – Principle: Train the Faithful to Train Others.
The creativity of churches has grown tremendously over the last 20 years. Graphic design, stage design, sermon series design. We have to ask the question: Are these innovations actually helping us make disciples and train the faithful to disciple others. Discipleship Training, or Training Union, was designed to deliver the core truths of Christianity to the faithful. Now is a great time to assess our churches effectiveness at training disciples. A disciple is trained when they can train others. How did that go while the church was scattered? How many of your members were able to train their families, neighbors, small groups while the church was closed? How can your church be more effective at disciple making and training?
3. The Prospect File – Principle: Help People Identify the Lost Around Them.
We often bemoan the fact that people in yester-years were more apt to attend church than they are today. However, we could also argue that churches of the past were more aggressive at pursuing their lost friends, family and neighbors than we are today. Visitation night was common for churches in past decades. Visitation night was driven by the Prospect File compiled by people in Sunday School classes in the church. Prospect lists were a way for churches to identify lost people in their church field and in the lives of the congregation. Today, the Who’s Your One? Campaign has been a new innovation in this regard. How can your church be more effective at helping people identify the lost around them? As we’ve grown more inward, focusing programs on the already saved, the lost have become more distant from our churches, but also from our minds. It’s time to revive the Prospect File.
4. Soul-Winning and Personal Evangelism – Principle: Every believer is an evangelist.
Remember the soul-winning rally? I attended several of these as a young person in a Southern Baptist Church. This emphasis helped rally people to the cause of leading others to Christ. There were concerted efforts to help people know how to share their faith and understand the urgency of sharing their faith. Over the years, innovations like Evangelism Explosion, Share Jesus Without Fear, FAITH Evangelism Training, and our own One to One Evangelism, have helped believers in this regard. With less than 10% of believers testifying that they share their faith regularly, and baptisms down another 20% in 2019 across Louisiana, it’s time for every church to train and emphasize personal evangelism for a new era. How can your church reset the idea and the effort to make every believer an evangelist? More than inviting people to church, we need a revival of inviting people to Jesus through personal evangelism.
5. Start New Units – Principle: The Kingdom Expands through the Multiplication of New Groups and Churches.
For Southern Baptist in the highest growth days of our Convention, a new unit was a new class or congregation birthed through and for evangelism and disciple making. New groups and new churches lead to new people and different types of people being reached. This needs to be a mindset and a practice. The opposite mindset is institutional thinking. This mindset makes us more concerned about available space, protecting inside opinions, and self-preservation. Multiplication and new unit thinking puts reaching the lost through any means necessary and the growth of the kingdom above all else. We have over 2.5 million lost in Louisiana. Their eternity is in the balance. Consider the possibilities for reaching them in your community. How many new groups are possible in your current space? How can you create more space for new groups? Are there areas, people groups, population segments in your community that needs a new church that can communicate the gospel to them?
Mobilizing Prayer, Training Disciples, Identifying the Lost, Winning Souls, Starting New Units. Old Innovations that are desperately needed for this new day. May they be part of our new normal.
When times get hard we often return to our primal instincts. Primal means by nature or instinct. It may also refer to the earliest form of something.
Some of our Primal Instincts:
- Survival and Reproduction are often called the most basic instincts. Revealing themselves in most of the others.
- Food or Desire to Eat. Hunger.
- Fear. The Fight or Flight response to events.
- Breathing. The body has primal reflexes to try to secure air ways.
- Health and Wellness. When we get sick we have a drive to diagnose and get well
- Addictions can become primal instincts, taking over our brain and hijacking our desires.
- Love and Family. Nature calls Mom to care for the family and Dad to provide for the family.
So what did you do? How did you react when uncertainty and difficulty and pressure came? Our primal reactions to difficulty tell us about ourselves and may highlight area of spiritual immaturity. So did you…
- Choose Fear or faith?
- Choose Division or unity?
- Hoard or give?
- Demonstrate Anger or joy?
- Create Tension or peace?
- Lash out or Encourage?
- Hide out or stay connected?
- Pray or Worry?
- Obey Jesus or Obey your lust?
- Witness or Complain?
- Depend on God or handle it yourself?
Your primal reactions will show you some areas of potential spiritual growth. The good new is, Jesus is in the business of transforming our nature, our instincts. Check out some of favorite verses on the subject of transformation:
2 Corinthians 5:17
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!”
22 to take off your former way of life, the old self that is corrupted by deceitful desires, 23 to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, the one created according to God’s likeness in righteousness and purity of the truth.
2 Peter 1:4
By these he has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desire.
I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will place my Spirit within you and cause you to follow my statutes and carefully observe my ordinances.
Jesus gives us a new nature when we put our faith and trust in him. Do you need to start there and ask Jesus to enter your life and give you a new nature, replacing the corrupt, basic instinct of this world with his presence and transformation? “Anyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” Romans 10:13. Saved from the old nature, to put on the brand new.
When we do that, some of our old nature may hang on and not let go. As we submit to Jesus everyday, we can gain the advantage in that area. Is there an area of your life that does not line up with the divine nature? Did our current crisis reveal areas of weakness in your faith? Maybe you need to seek God today, repent, and ask him to empower you in that area.
This is true for the church as well. We need to return to our Primal Roots to be fruitful and effective in this culture. And that, we’ll uncover later this week.
We tell stories all the time. What was the last story you told about your life?
Last week, I told my kids a story about when I was a pre-teen. A best friend and I were playing in the woods near my grandmothers home and disturbed a yellow jacket nest. We were soon covered and ran screaming to the house, where my grandmother realized what was happening. She then had us strip all our clothes off and sprayed us down with a water hose until all the yellow jackets were gone. True story.
My kids were prepared for this story, because we were talking about bees and wasps stings. We were also on our way to my Grandmother’s funeral, and were telling stories about her life. I’ve already heard two of my kids retell that story to their friends. One of them came to me to confirm a piece of it – “Was it hornets or bees?” and “Do we have yellow jackets around here?”
This is exactly how sharing our story of faith should work.
- We should be very familiar with our story of when we put our faith in Christ and its impact on our lives.
- We should tell the story as often as we can, but being particularly ready when people are prepared for it, being Persons of Peace (Link).
- Those interested in the story will want to know more and will retell the story to others.
- We should pray for opportunities and for persons of peace to tell our story to.
How do I tell my faith story?
One tool that you can use to develop your story is the 15-second Testimony (VIDEO HERE). Here’s the pattern:
- Come up with two words or short statements that describe your life before you became a follower of Christ. “There was a time in my life when I pursued worthless things and lived selfishly.”
- Come up with two words or short statements that describe your salvation experience. “Then I received Christ’s forgiveness and began following Him.“
- Come up with two words or short statements that describe your life now. “Now my life is filled with purpose and peace.”
- Come up with a transition statement to help the other person consider their own story. “Do you have a story like that?”
Your personal story is compelling. Spend some time working on your personal story this week.
The goal is that people will hear our story and respond to Jesus with faith. Like the woman at the well in John 4. She experienced the person and grace of Christ and told her story liberally, resulting in others wanting to meet Jesus as well. They told her – “We no longer believe because of what you said, since we heard for ourselves and know that this really is the Savior of the world.”
May the testimony of our friends be the same.
You have a network of people that only you can influence for Christ. The term used for these people is Persons of Peace. A person of peace is someone who:
- God is drawing to Himself and opening their heart to the Gospel. (see John 6:44; Acts 16:13-15).
- Is open to hearing your story, God’s story and the Gospel.
- Welcomes you. Invites you in to their life and relationships.
- Has an interest in spiritual things and / or are interested in your life as a believer.
- Opens doors for you to meet others and gain more opportunities to share your faith.
At any given time, we all have in our network persons of peace that we can share with and lead to next steps in their faith. These should be our first priority because we already know them and have a relationship with them. We can also DISCOVER NEW Persons of Peace around us. God is in the world reconciling people to himself (2 Corinthians 5:15-20). He’s always at work around us drawing people to himself (John 6:44). Here are some ways to Discover New Persons of Peace:
1. Pray expectantly to meet persons of peace throughout your week. When we’re praying for opportunities to be a witness, our eyes are more open to the opportunities around us. Pray everyday for God to show you where and with whom he is working.
2. Initiate relationships with new people. Study after study show that people are lonely. Most people want relationships and appreciate kindness. In line at the store, walking around the neighborhood, wherever you are, take the time to initiate relationships. Stop. Ask questions. Invite people into your life. You’ll discover persons of peace by being a relationship builder.
3. Learn to fish for spiritual interests. Develop a way you explore peoples spiritual interest. Questions may include: Do you have a church you attend? Do you have a spiritual background? Or just being a good listener can clue you in to spiritual interests in peoples lives. Listening for change talk (“I need to make some changes in my life) or for first steps of interest in spiritual things (“I’ve been reading the Bible lately” or “I’m looking for a church”).
4. Observe people’s behavior. In Acts 8, Phillip saw the Ethiopian Eunoch reading the scroll of Isaiah. Along with the prompting of the Holy Spirit, Phillip used this behavior as a springboard for spiritual conversation. We can discover people of peace by observing unusual kindness, observing someone reading a sacred text, overhearing a conversation about spiritual things.
5. Serve with the purpose of finding Persons of Peace. Every outreach effort of a local church should have as one of its goals, discovering persons of peace. You can also discover persons of peace by serving in your local community. Often, God’s work in our lives leads us toward generosity. Like Cornelius in Acts 10, who was a God-fearer and was known to be generous, even helping the Jews with synagogue building projects. Get involved in volunteer opportunities around the community and discover persons of peace.
6. Proclaim the Good News. We should use every means necessary to boldly proclaim the good news of Christ. “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” Romans 10:17. As we actively share about our faith in every conversation, on social media, and with our actions, we will find that Persons of Peace will find us. And today, more than ever, people are looking to discover truth, not in a building or through an institution, but through a relationship.
Don’t get discouraged with those who lack spiritual interest. Keep looking. Keep waiting. Keep watching. That’s what Jesus instructed his disciples to do (See Matthew 10:11-14). Be confident that God is working. Connect with people. Get their info and get ready to help people with next steps in the faith. Which is where we’ll pick up next week!