Blog Archives

Look Beyond Numbers to Generations

guardrailsHow many disciples have made disciples? Great challenge from Alan Briggs in his new book Guardrails: Six Principles for a Multiplying Church.

Reproducible discipleship looks beyond numbers to count generations – it measures how many disciples have made disciples… When we aim at mere numbers, we will rarely multiply disciples, but when we aim at generations, numbers come naturally.

Love this thinking! If church is about making disciples and one thing disciples do is make other disciples, we should be able to begin measuring generations within the first few years of our church. Take a look at your church roll and see how many generations deep you can go. If not far, examine your goal for people. Are you making disciples or just attenders? This is a mistake I have made in ministry. Attendance makes pastors feel good and populates the chairs on Sunday’s. Disciple making makes the kingdom grow and populates heaven. 

Guardrails is a great book to help you get back to the simplicity of discipleship. Here’s a few other great quotes:

  • healthy ministry always centers around making disciples.
  • Our mission is to make disciples. That’s what missional people do.
  • Spiritual leadership is not about gaining followers; it’s about making disciples.
  • Disciple-makers are very ordinary people who take God’s mission seriously.
  • Discipleship is a beautiful and rugged journey into living like Jesus.
  • Discipleship is not something to be comprehended and mastered by something to be lived out and passed on to others.
  • Every follower of Jesus has the capacity to become a multiplier of the message.
  • When we portray discipleship as complicated, ordinary people leave discipleship to the experts, and reproduction is killed before it starts.
  • We simply cannot afford to choose building our churches over making disciples. We must follow the progression of making disciples, developing leaders, and leading churches – in that order.

Grab a copy of Guardrails. Refreshing, challenging book to fuel the mission of making disciples. See the Trailer for the book HERE. Looking forward to having Alan Briggs as one of our Equippers in 2017 & 2018 for our Multiply Louisiana Church Planting Network! More info soon.

Swells: Lessons from the Psalms on Surviving Life’s Ups and Downs

swellsBridge Church tackled the book of Psalms in our summer series called Swells. We covered 8 major themes in Psalms including: Worship, the Word of God, Dealing with Difficult People, Dealing with Discouragement. Get the audio from this series HERE or by subscribing to our Podcast on Itunes. Here are a few highlights:

  • Two truths that stand out in the Psalms: God is bigger than anything I face & God is with me no matter where I am or what I’m going through.
  • Psalms reminds us that it’s OK to have lows in life. It’s actually NOT a sin to be discouraged or depressed. The very best of folks in this life, do. It IS a sin to go to the wrong place to heal discouragement & depression.
  • Our faith in God, not the surface waves of life ultimately define us.
  • There are only three kinds of people in life. People who are in the midst of a storm. People who just came out of a storm. People who are about to go through a storm.
  • there is POWER in the Word of God. We’re not just reading a good self-help book, we’re connecting with the Living God, through the means he chose to reveal himself to us.
  • When waves come, you need resources. And the earth’s resources will not be enough! You need strength inside. Strength from heaven.
  • John Bunyan said it well: “This Book (the Bible) will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this Book.”
  • D.L. Moody said, “The only way to keep a broken vessel full is by keeping the faucet turned on.” Keeping the faucet of God’s Word running repeatedly through your mind will clear out the garbage and keep you pure.
  • It’s OK to FEEL FRUSTRATED & FEARFUL. As long as you take those frustrations to the right place. We often think – “I shouldn’t have these feelings.” But feelings are a part of the journey toward experiencing God. We don’t waller in our feelings. That’s called sulking & doesn’t accomplish much. David kept moving, took his feelings to God, & expected God to do something about it.
  • If you’ve ever realized how badly you needed grace, you’re more likely to extend it to others.
  • People & our feelings will let us down. But God will be a shelter.
  • We can’t always say that bad things happen in our life are the consequences of sin, but sometimes they are. You will know. Sometimes bad things happen b/c we live in a bad world. Sometimes bad things happen b/c of other people’s bad decisions. Sometimes it’s just the natural outworkings of foolish decision making. Sometimes it may be discipline from God. God disciplines those he loves.
  • There’s great freedom in living a life of integrity & character, powered by God’s son.
  • Becoming a Christian is not an insurance policy from bad things. It IS an insurance policy against purposeless, meaningless life. We can be assured, that even the bad things that we can’t figure out are a part of God’s plan. And we can cry out to God for deliverance & be assured of His presence & that He will answer us.
  • Results of Trusting God should be greater courage, greater confidence, victory over fear, risk taking for God’s kingdom & for the sake of lost people!
  • Some of us never experience God’s protection, b/c we’re so focused on providing for our own safety & comfort. We learn to trust God outside of our comfort zone. “God doesn’t give you more that you can handle.” No! God always gives you more than you can handle, so that you can learn to trust him.
  • There’s never a place that worship should not break out in our hearts & minds. We should always be in awe of him. We should always be coming back to the truth – HE IS WITH ME! HE IS BIGGER THAN THIS!

On Ramp to Spiritual Growth: Understand God’s Will

God wants you to grow! And He’s provided everything necessary for you to grow! However, there are obstacles. Just like merging onto a freeway, many times we’re hesitant, things get in the way, we’re lazy, or fearful. One of the on ramps for me personally, was when began to understand what God is doing in the world. What is God’s will? is a frequently asked question. When I saw that God’s will was not difficult or hard to understand, my desire for spiritual growth increased. Here are three words that have helped me understand God’s will:

1. Relationship – The God of the Universe wants a relationship with you. And He went to great lengths to make that a possibility. Jesus showed his desire to have a relationship with us by giving His very life. See John 3:16. The growing Christian will see their life through the lens of this relationship God through Christ.

2. Identity – Christianity is not about what you do, it’s about who you are. Or really, WHOSE you are. God shapes our identity through our relationship with Him. As we relate to Him & draw closer to Him, we become identified with his character & his mission in the world.

3. Eternity – God made us for more than this life. Eternal life starts when we place our faith & trust in Christ, not when we die. One meaning of the word eternal is TIMELESS. Salvation makes us timeless. And this reminds us that God has more in mind for us than just the 60-80 years that we may live on this earth. We’re made for eternity. We are also saved & sent to help others understand & get ready to face eternity.

What helps you understand God’s will?

This month Bridge Church in Madisonville is talking about On Ramps to Spiritual Growth & Transformation. Join us Sunday’s, 10:30am at the Maritime Museum in Madisonville.

BCNS_ORamp_Slide

Things Spiritual Infants Say #discipleship #spiritualmaturity

Things Spiritual Infants Say

How can I know where I am or where those I’m trying to disciple and lead are spiritually? Try listening. My last post was about Things Spiritual Giants Say. A few years ago, I posted about Jim Putman’s great book Real-Life Discipleship: Equipping Disciples Who Make Disciples. In the book, he breaks down five stages of spiritual maturity by what will be common phrases for a person at each stage. Jesus said, “The mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart” (Matthew 12:34 HCSB), so our words reveal our spiritual condition.

Spiritual Infant

  • “I don’t have to go to church to be a Christian.”
  • “I pray and read my Bible. That’s good enough for me.”
  • “I didn’t know the Bible said that.”
  • “Jesus helps me be a good person. I don’t need church.”
  • Characterized by ignorance, confusion, dependence, worldly perspective.
  • Needs personal attention of a spiritual parent, teaching and modeling the Christian faith, accountability to develop new habits.

Spiritual Child

  • “My church isn’t taking care of my needs.”
  • “I didn’t like the music today. If only they did it like…”
  • “I love my small group; don’t add more people to it.”
  • “I’m not being fed at my church, so I’m going to a church that can meet my needs better.”
  • Characterized by self-centeredness, pride, idealism, spiritual highs and lows.
  • Needs relational connections to a church family, help to start feeding themselves, teaching about identity in Christ.

Spiritual Young Adult

  • “I love my small group, but there are others who need a group like this.”
  • “Randy and Rachel missed church today. Their kids have the flu, maybe our group could make meals for them. I’ll start.”
  • “I have some friends I’ve been witnessing to. I think I could lead a Bible Study for them with a little help.”
  • “In my devotions, I came across something I have a question about.”
  • Characterized by action, zeal, God-centered, others-centered, independent, desire to serve others.
  • Needs opportunities to serve, ongoing relationships that offer encouragement, accountability and skills training.

Spiritual Parent

  • “This guy at work asked me to explain the Bible to him. Pray for me.”
  • “Our small group is going on a mission trip, and I have given each person a different responsibility.”
  • “We get to baptize someone from my small group today. I want them to get plugged into a ministry right away.”
  • Characterized by intentionality, reproduction mindset, dependability, desire to see others mature.
  • Needs ongoing relationships with other disciple makers, a team approach, accountability and encouragement.

So where are you? If you’re moving toward spiritual maturity you may want to get this book or the training manual to learn more about how to be a spiritual parent and make disciples who make disciples. Here’s a few other great quotes from the manual:

  • Every Christian is commanded to participate in the mission to make disciples.
  • Your work is complete when the person you are discipling can make a disciple.
  • The church was not designed to be a group of spectators who attend weekly lectures; it was designed to be a trained army with a powerful message.
  • We cannot change the definition of discipleship to sit and listen and then expect to make disciples as Jesus did.
  • Don’t mistake Bible Knowledge, years of church attendance, physical age, education, and so forth for spiritual maturity.
  • A church is successful when everyone is in the game, maturing into disciples who can reproduce disciples.
  • Relationships create the environment where discipleship happens best.
  • Serving produces players, not spectators. Service helps a disciple develop and mature.

Things Spiritual Giants Say

trailI’ve known what I’d consider a few spiritual giants in my life. These are spiritually mature people who I’ve looked to for encouragement & as an example of faith & discipline & spiritual growth. In thinking about what leads to spiritual growth, I got to thinking about their stories & their paths & what I’ve heard these people say about their own growth. What were the catalyst for them? Here’s a few that I remember:

>> “I surrendered my life to Christ when I was __ years old.” Spiritually mature people can point to a time when they began their journey with God & they see that event as a catalyst for almost everything in their lives.

>> “I was reading the Bible the other day and…” or “It’s like the Bible says…” Spiritually mature people have devotional habits like Bible reading that give them a foundation for decision making and life.

>> “I met ____ and they helped me understand God’s will more clearly.” Spiritually mature people often point to catalytic relationships that spurred them on in their spiritual growth & pursuit of Christ. A pastor, a small group leader, a godly friend or family member.

>> “I was on a mission trip in ____ and…” or “I got involved in the ____ ministry of my church and…” Spiritually mature people are always on mission. You’ll find them on mission trips, leading ministries, opening their homes, cooking, serving, sharing, giving.

>> “Life took a turn for the worse, but God & my church family gave me strength.” Spiritually mature people often experienced hardships & tragedy, but they can point to the good & to God’s providential hand at work in the situation. And they can often testify that the hardship was a catalyst for growth.

>> “Can I help you with anything?” or “Can I pray for you about anything?” or “How are you doing?” Spiritually mature people are focused on others. Visit with them & you’ll leave with more than you came with – spiritually & maybe physically. Always giving, always pointing to others.

So, are you and I on the path to spiritual maturity?

  • Can you point to a time when you began a relationship with God?
  • Do you practice daily devotional habits that shape the way you live?
  • Do you have catalytic relationships that challenge you? Or are you in the right place for these to happen?
  • Are you on mission? Are you serving others through your church or some other way?
  • Have you allowed the circumstances & hardships of your life to aid your dependence on God & spiritual growth?
  • Are focused on others or yourself?

Conversational Discipleship Tools

CoffeeShopEvangelism & Discipleship takes place today over multiple if not many conversations (Billy Graham says at least 20). Here’s a few tools that work well over coffee or in a small group setting:

  1. How to START or Re-START the Christian Life – PDF
  2. How to Get a Grip on the Bible – PDF, Issuu
  3. Allowing the Teachings of Jesus to Go Deep. How to use HERE.
  4. Discover Your SHAPE for Ministry – PDF
  5. 25 Training Objectives for Disciples by David Platt

What tools have worked for you in growing in your faith & making disciples?

Beneath the Surface: Going to Church vs. Getting Involved in the Life of a Church

“every individual Christian will find in the communion of a local church the most perfect atmosphere for the fullest development of his spiritual life.” ~ A.W. Tozer

My observation is that most people never experience “the fullest development of his spiritual life” through the church or see the great value, because they may GO TO CHURCH, but they don’t get involved in the LIFE OF A CHURCH. There’s a big difference. Going to church makes you a CONSUMER of its services. Getting involved in the life of a church puts you in “COMMUNION” with a life source fed by God himself. The Apostle Paul said it like this

“From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” ~ Ephesians 4:16

It’s consuming vs. serving, sharing life, supporting, being supported, building up, being built up, etc.

ForestThe enduring image of church for me is that of a forest. A forest stays strong, even in dry seasons, because BENEATH THE SURFACE, the roots of the trees are feeding off of one another for growth & strength. Roots can’t share their life with a tree that just lays itself upon the surface. It has to take root & do life with the others.

“I tried church, but it didn’t help.” Probably not, if you just showed up every now & then with little commitment, little humbling of yourself, little sharing of your life, little getting involved in relationships, little investment in ministries, little digging deep to support & be supported.

I love the Tozer quote, because I’ve experience it. Now, don’t read it wrong. The church is NOT a “perfect atmosphere.” Far from it. It is the perfect atmosphere for spiritual development BECAUSE of its imperfections. Relationships with people that are struggling through life together, growing as individuals, utilizing unique gifts no matter how imperfectly. And seeing God in Christ feed & nourish & heal & empower each other. It’s a beautiful thing! But you won’t see it on the surface by just GOING TO CHURCH.

No Program Needed! You can Make Disciples in the Everyday Rhythms of Your Life!

walking

That’s the message of the book Saturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life. Shared a few of my favorite quotes from the book in this earlier post. The thing I’ve come to appreciate most about Jeff Vanderstelt & the Soma story, is that you come away from this book believing that EVERYBODY can do this. How? Not by adding anything, but by redeeming the rhythms of your life. The challenge:

Seeing church mainly as an event creates a significant problem for mission, because most people are very busy. And the more we fill our lives with church events and programs, the more we get pulled out of everyday life with people who don’t yet know Jesus.

We need to see that life is the program, because people need to see what i means to follow Jesus in the everyday stuff of life.

When we engage in these everyday rhythms with Jesus-centered, Spirit-led direction, mission can happen anytime and everywhere, and anybody can be a part of it.

Vanderstelt and Soma identified six regular rhythms that most people are already engaged in, that can be changed through submission to Jesus.

1. Eating – “Eating is not an extra event added on to your life. What if you ate with others more often?” We eat 21 meals each week. How many could we commit to disciple making conversations with other people?

2. Listen – “One of the greatest gifts we can give one another is a set of open ears and a closed mouth.” Are you listening to God & others? Who is the dominant voice in your life? If we listen, people will often tell us how to reach them.

3. Story – “Everybody lives in light of a larger story… and the stories provide the lenses through which people view their worlds.” “The larger narrative of God’s story can bring redemption to each of our individual stories.” Do you know God’s story & how to apply it to your life & the lives of others?

4. Bless – “Whatever God gives to his people, he plans to give through them to others.”

5. Celebrate – “Disciples celebrate the grace of God given to us through Jesus in order to express how good & gracious God is.” Are you able to celebrate like God? Can you look back at what He’s done through you and say “This is very good!”

6. ReCreate – “Too many of us can’t rest and create. But we should be the most playfully rested people on the earth, because our Dad has it all taken care of for us!” Can you rest? Can you create freely? Can you play?

saturateEat. Listen. Story. Bless. Celebrate. ReCreate. Not really catchy. Doesn’t spell out anything. But these represent things happening all the time around us. As disciples of Christ we should embody his desires for people as we live them out.

No program needed! You can make disciples in the everyday rhythms of your life! Live it!

What everyday rhythm of your could you turn into a disciplemaking opportunity?

Check out Saturate by Jeff Vanderstelt. Great primer for Disciplemaking & doing church in the rhythms of your life.

Discipling Tool: What is a Disciple? 

Use this acrostic to lead someone in a conversation about what a disciple does: 

 

#WorthReading – Saturate: Being Disciples of Jesus in the Everyday Stuff of Life

I first learned of the Soma movement like most everyone else, through this video that was widely shared 4 years ago. Jeff Vanderstelt & his church embodied the refreshing approach & rhythm that many of us were looking for in this new age of ministry engagement. Missional Communities. Later that year I got to hear him speak at Exponential in Orlando, FL & then at the Verge Conference in Austin, TX. Our church plant has utilized the Soma resources on Storying called the Story Formed Way, the Story of God for Kids curriculum, & followed the movement as we’ve sought new ways to engage the unreached in our communities. And now, Jeff Vanderstelt has finally given us the full story in this book. The content is great of course, but the thing I’ve come to appreciate most about Vanderstelt & the Soma story is that you come away believing that EVERYBODY can do this. This is ministry that’s real, raw, & DOABLE. More than techniques, Saturate helps you see the open doors in your current everyday life to begin making disciples & bringing glory to Jesus. Simple. Reproducible. Inspiring. Read it & jump in to life on mission. This book is going to stay close by my desk for awhile. Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

  • saturateGod’s intent was never to have us define church merely as an event on Sunday. We don’t go to church. We are the church sent out into the world.
  • Jesus didn’t live, serve, suffer, and die so we could just attend a Christian event. He lived and died so we could become his people who are sent into every part of the world on his behalf.
  • out on mission, the need for grace and power from God will never be more clearly manifested. We have to get out on mission to fulfill the mission of being disciples who make disciples.
  • Through our lives, Jesus is showing the world the kind of king he is and the nature of the kingdom he rules. As his servants, we point forward with our acts of service to a far better world where Jesus’s rule will be experienced everywhere. Every one we serve experiences a taste of life in the kingdom.
  • If you are a child of God and a servant of King Jesus, you have been sent into the world as his missionary with the same spirit that sent and empowered Jesus.
  • life is the program, because people need to see what it means to follow Jesus in the everyday stuff of life.
  • if it isn’t messy here and there, you are likely not yet on mission.
  • everyday stuff, done with gospel intentionality in the name of Jesus, changes lives.

More Thursday….

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