Sometimes as Christians we can’t help but feel good about ourselves, particularly when we are serving God faithfully. It’s subtle too. Maybe it’s hospitality, evangelism, preaching or teaching, or serving in the nursery–when we get done we might be tempted to say, “Ah, that was good.”
No problems there—right? Of course not.
But then it continues, “That was good. And, I am good. I’ve done well. People should see this.”
Now we have begun to veer.
It is good and right to serve with gusto and joy. It is dangerous to serve with pride and pretense.
Every Christian parent deals with this at some point. They struggle with what they should mandate vs just encourage their kids to do. And with this, how much? At what point will we defeat our purpose and discourage them?
This is what we do in our home. I am not saying it is for everyone, but we are supportive of it as a practice by conviction and experience. Our children range from 20 months to almost 16. There is quite a variety.
I’ll hit this from two angles, family and personal devotions.
Nearly a year ago some of the leaders at our newly planted church sat down to assess what we were, for lack of a better word, “creating.” We examined what our culture, systems, and structures were producing. We measured it against what we were aiming for, to make and train disciples who make and train disciples. During this healthy period of self-examination we determined that we were not hitting the mark in a satisfactory manner. As a result we started with the end in mind, reverse engineering our overall approach and execution of discipleship with the goal of producing a certain type of guy. This guy was aptly named, “The Gospel Man.”
Before telling you what The Gospel Man is like, let me tell you why I think it is absolutely important for leaders to do this.
I found this quote to be helpful in diagnosing and pointing ahead. The book as a hole is really good (review coming). I highly recommend it.
The American landscape is dotted with churchless Christianity. Church has been reduced to a weekly event, even a religious institution. Instead of being the church, we have fallen into merely doing church, and far too often our doing is disconnected from being. We have devolved from being Jesus-centered communities into loose collections of spiritually minded individuals.
Churches today have more in common with shopping malls, fortresses, and cemeteries than they do the church of the New Testament. They have become consumerist, doctrinaire, lifeless institutions not Jesus-centered missional communities. Why this gross distortion? ….it is characterized by a one-third gospel. This one-third gospel is hardly the gospel at all. It focuses on Jesus’s death and resurrection as a doctrine to be believed, not on Jesus as a Person to be trusted and obeyed. The gospel has been reduced to a personal ticket to heaven. But the biblical gospel is much more than personal conversion to a a reservation in heaven. It is conversion to Jesus Christ as Lord. Moreover, the gospel has two more “thirds.” The gospel calls us to community and mission. (Dodson, Gospel-Centered Discipleship), pp. 107-108
Over the last 15 years I have gone through many variations of personal fitness goals. As I look back at the years and the goals I can see a common thread: I stick with what works and get frustrated with what does not seem to work.
I suppose there is nothing wrong with this; if we are not meeting the clearly defined goals then the process or technique should be reevaluated. At the same time, sometimes it requires a little more time and patience in order to see goals met. Smaller, incremental goals are quite helpful in evaluating the overall progress.
If you read books, blogs or hear talks on church planting or church growth you will eventually hear someone decry transfer growth. As the term would imply, transfer growth is the moving of people from one church to another. This is to be contrasted with conversion growth, which would describe new Christians joining a church.
The question that must be answered is, is transfer growth bad?
I enjoyed this video from David Platt about how to practically make disciples on a day to day basis.
I wrote an article for Christianity.com entitled Christians Are Not The Avengers. In it I highlight our weakness in light of God’s power. Here is a portion of it…
The point of using weak people is to showcase the power of God. The gospel brings us low so that we can rest upon Christ. The gospel declares that the infinitely powerful God came into the world in the form of a weak baby. He lived in a perfectly holy life of obedience in submission to the Law of God. All of this He did for law-breaking rebels like me and you. Then He went to the cross to suffer the punishment and wrath due those same enemies. Finally, after winning our righteousness, acceptance, forgiveness and life, He rose victoriously from the grave for us!
If, after all of this, we are still thinking that we have something to offer God or something to boast in then Christ will not be boasted in, this Jesus will be of little value (Galatians 2:21). Instead, the right response is to come to Christ, trusting in His work and treasuring Him for His worth.
The church then, being made up of weak, unspectacular, and ordinary people, marches around the world proclaiming the message of how we may be delivered from our greatest enemy. Instead of flattering us the gospel flattens us, but only that we may rise and boast in Christ.
Read the rest of this article at my new monthly column on Christianity.com
This is a question that seems to come up quite often. It is also a question that we as a church have attempted to answer. In our setting we are a newer church plant who is committed to planting more churches. As a result we need to equip and send leaders. We also are in a military community, this results in only having guys for a few years at a time. You can sense the priority.
As far to our process we identify a guy as a potential elder spend time with him to sync up philosophically, interview him and then work through an appointment ordination process where there are various examinantions of theology and life.
As far as how we get there, here is something of the process:
We have begun a program to train leaders called ELI – Emmaus Leadership Institute. It is not necessarily ”elder training” though it can be. More, it is a men’s discipleship and training program. Here is the link and the schedule. We just finished the first class and are writing as we go.
As far as potential elders we want to make sure they are theologically sound before taking them to the interview stage. Therefore, as pastors we are trying to spend the time on the front end to assess guy’s theology and its application (life) as we go.
I am very concerned about philosophy. I want to make sure the elders get it. I take them through Trellis & The Vine, What is a …
As Christians we claim to have a worldview that is hefty enough to interact with and explain life in a consistent, clear, and logical way. We should not shy away from giving an explanation or an answer to what we see.
Therefore, when my son gets home and tells me he saw two dudes making out in the hall, I had better have something to say. It is time to put the gospel insoles in and actually walk the walk. What follows is a quick summary of where I went recently as I tried to impact and instruct my son (and my own heart!) with the gospel.
Listen and Learn: First and foremost I was glad that he talked to us about this. I wanted to hear what he thought and how he responded. I wanted to hear his commentary and editorial. This helped me to learn a bit about my son. You don’t get opportunities like this every day. The events of the day force a reaction. What is it? This is parenting gold.