May 4, 2011 § Leave a Comment
‘You haven’t made a disciple until your disciple has made a disciple.’
This statement has gone viral in discipleship training programs around the world. But it was challenged by some of the leaders in Sofia. According to John 13:35, love – not reproduction – is the mark of a disciple.
The discussion then shifted to whether or not we should be multiplying disciple-making communities or disciple-makers. At one level this is just semantics. Yet the argument was made the the statement above is highly individualistic whereas the New Testament seems to describe discipleship as the work of a community.
The other leaders felt that local Christian communities – churches – should be multiplying disciples, but each individual Christian may have a different role to play. Some teach, some evangelize, some administer, some pray, some give, some prophecy. But all do it for the edification of the Body.
Is your church making disciples? What’s your role?
May 3, 2011 § Leave a Comment
‘What is the strength or the gift the church in your country brings to the Body of Christ?’
That was the question participants at the European Discipleship Network were asked to answer during the time of introductions. Normally, people share the needs of their countries. But we wanted to begin on a positive note. In what way has God blessed your country?
Of course these are generalities, but here’s how they described their Churches:
- The Macedonian church invests in people and its leaders remain humble.
- The Serbian church cooperates across denominational lines.
- The American church is generous.
- The Albanian church has close fellowship among pastors, is growing, and is stable.
- The Cypriot church is equipping people from many nations.
- The Russian church has a strong passion for youth.
- The Israeli church has remained faithful in persecution.
- The Turkish church is determined to have a public identity.
I’m still processing the discussions relating discipleship to ministry and the obstacles we’ve identified. As I do, you’ll read about it here. Our prayer is that a subterranean movement of Spirit-led, Word-driven, cross-shaped servants will continue band together from a variety of churches and organizations to proclaim the Good News, help people mature as followers of Christ, and establish new Christian communities throughout the region.
April 26, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Arrived safely in Sofia for the Eastern Europe Discipleship Network. A small but committed group is gathering here from Cyprus (North and South), Israel, Turkey, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania, Russia, and the USA representing a variety of nationalities, denominations, and organizations.
God has called us back to the simple life of discipleship – following and trusting Jesus and helping others to follow and trust Jesus. The gospel, ignited by the Spirit, is the power that liberates us to do this. We need your prayers.
To plant more churches by making disciples in Eastern Europe …
- … by gathering disciple-making and church planting practitioners from a variety of cultural, denominational, and organizational backgrounds.
- … by clarifying what it means to plant churches by making disciples.
- … by identifying specific obstacles to and opportunities for planting churches by making disciples.
- … by thinking biblically, creatively, and spiritually about strategies and resources for planting churches by making disciples.
- … by generating new partnerships with specific projects in mind.
- … by praying together for faithfulness and fruitfulness in obedience to the Great Commission.
April 25, 2011 § 3 Comments
On the heals of an amazing Easter service yesterday (see video below), I’ll be leaving for Sofia, Bulgaria in a few hours for the first Eastern European Discipleship Network. Such gatherings are rewarding and difficult because of the diversity: different cultures (meaning different leadership and communication styles), different denominations, different temperaments, and different spiritual gifts. Yet the diversity is also our strength.
Madara and I read James 3:17-18 over breakfast this morning (the day after Easter is a holiday in Cyprus, so she didn’t have to work). It’s a good word for me to remember while facilitating the meetings in Bulgaria.
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.
Pray that we can be deliberate without an agenda, accountable but not controlling. There must be freedom for the Spirit to guide us, but we must be intentional about moving forward. The fruit we anticipate will be new partnerships for church planting and discipleship, clear vision for the next steps, and deeper understanding of one another. We need ears to hear God, each other, and the people groups in Eastern Europe.
Yesterday’s Easter celebration was just the focus I needed before leaving today.
April 19, 2011 § 2 Comments
That’s the question I’ll pose to the 17 leaders gathering in Sofia, Bulgaria next week. It seems to me that we often consider discipleship one step in a larger church planting and church multiplication process. Perhaps we should consider that church planting is one step in a larger disciple-making process. Would such a distinction make any difference in the way go about ministry?
November 21, 2009 § 3 Comments
Just finished reading yet another article on church planting and Jim Collins book Good to Great: Why Some Companies make the Leap and Others Don’t. I’ve read the book and found it interesting, but I have a hard time imagining Jesus opening it with his disciples to prepare them for the incredible missionary movement recorded in the book of Acts.
Was it vision, leadership, or communication skills that caused the Good News to spread like wildfire and Christian communities to multiply across the Mediterranean world? Or was it something far more powerful?
- What would cause fishermen, tax collectors, and women to go against the religious establishment and conventional religious teaching?
- What would enable Jews, Greeks, and Romans to eat together in a society deeply entrenched in religious, racial, and class division?
- What would drive men and women to lose their lands, money, families, and lives?
- What would inspire men and women to give to the point that it hurts in order to care for the needs of others and spread their message?
Something earth shattering must have happened. They must have experienced something unbelievable.
That something was the resurrection of Jesus. What else could account for their behavior? If Jesus really rose from the dead, then this changes everything.
Regardless of economic, cultural, or political opposition, Christian communities will multiply and grow when people are confronted with the reality of the resurrection. Where does that fit into our church growth strategies?
This week is Christ the King Sunday – the last Sunday in the Christian year. On Easter we celebrate the resurrection, but this week we celebrate Christ is Lord. We’ll be looking at Revelation 1:1-8, which begins a book that was meant to inspire and guide Christian communities that were facing dangerous opposition. It’s a revelation of Jesus, ‘the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.’
Good to Great is fine. But nothing beats a vision of Jesus.