Sunday, May 4

What If you only had 3 years of ministry left?

Jesus accomplished the Father's will and did so in three years of ministry. Can we claim the same?

Unconsciously, most of us think we have a life time in which to carry out the Lord's work. But what if we were guaranteed to having only three more years of ministry? What would become our priority? What would we do differently?

I don't know about you, but for me, making disciples that make disciples would be my priority.

Another related thought that continues to haunt me is that if just ONE CHURCH of 200 members were to commit to making ONE disciple per year, and were to faithfully carry out that task--with those discipled each year doing the same--by the time of our retirement in 15 years, theoretically THE ENTIRE WORLD would be followers of Christ.

Yet we can't seem to even win/disciple ONE per year!

The problem is we THINK we are doing what Christ commanded, but aren't. To illustrate, just ask for a simple show of hands next Sunday of those who in the past five years have won a single person to Christ and made discipling them a priority. If there are 5 out of 200 (including the full-time paid professional church leaders) who have done so, I would be shocked!

The fact is, we are NOT making disciples. We are doing a lot of good 'churchy-type' activities, but winning the lost, and making disciples is not amongst the top priorities of most churches out there.

What does a church look like that indeed has evangelism/discipleship, church planting, and missions as a priority?

I visited one a few weeks ago. There were about 20 adults present (10% of the typical church mentioned above), along with children running in and out of the room. The church 'service' was anything but orderly, with everyone talking at once about the previous week's experiences of:

* lost family and friends they are praying for
* people being discipled and related questions they came up during the time together
* how and where to purchase follow-up materials for people won that week
* logistics for an evangelism blitz the coming weekend
* funny stories that took place in the new house church being planted across town
* prayer for a couple that were going out that week to visit a family
* needing more money from the collected offerings to buy Bibles for new believers
* several testimonies of God's opening doors for them to 'preach the Gospel'
* a missions report about what God is doing in another Latin American county

I am not exaggerating. The entire church 'service' was what I have described. There were a few songs sandwiched in, along with a short teaching from the Gospel of Matthew, but the rest was everyone pumped-up about their excitement of being on-mission with God.

This is a church that is truly missional in every sense of the word. They aren't looking to attract people to their tiny garage church, they are a vibrant church on mission with God, taking the church out to where the world is dying in its sin. I don't know about you, but that is the kind of church I want to belong to!

It would seem most of us (including me) are greatly distracted by all the programs, buildings, financial needs, meetings, and paraphernalia of Christendom that we have lost sight of the simple mandate of Christ to go, make disciples, baptize, and teach.

What do you think? What would you do if you knew you only had three more years of ministry?

8 comments:

Darrell said...

Guy I just read:

MATTHEW 15:3 Jesus replied, "And why do you, by your traditions, violate the direct commandments of God?

I felt like this is what Jesus is saying to the western church today. We are not being obedient we are not going, we are not making disciples. Indeed it is my opinion that our very traditions make obeying Jesus difficult. Your post on April 29th also touched on this.

It is time for true repentance and change. The Kingdom of God must come first.

S.A.M. said...

Guy,
One of the things we are trying to do here is when someone decides to confess Jesus as their Lord and become a disciple, we tell them to immediately go out and share what has changed your life. They must be taught early to go and share the Good News and make disciples, and be held accountable for it. If not, they will fall into bad habits of not sharing and not being completely obedient. So you are right, teaching others to teach others to teach others, as Paul did, helps the Gospel and Jesus' commands to spread quickly.

We have one and a half or 2 and a half years left here on our term, and we and our team members have sensed the urgency in our ministry here. We are getting ready to disciple and pour our lives into 12 obedient men and women around our state to go and reach the people of this state- just as Jesus did his 12, even though one turned out to be a devil. The remainder of our term will be discipling these 12 to be a spiritual force among the people. That way, if God calls us somwhere else, we can move on and know that the work is left in the hands of obedient and faithful men and women to finish the task.

SAM

Bryan Riley said...

Amazing post, Guy. I needed to read this right now. Keep hearing from our Lord!

GuyMuse said...

Darrell,

That is a powerful verse that always shakes me up when I read it. We are so prone to violate God's commands in favor of our traditions. Yes, this post is really "more of the same" as I have written in past posts (and still have more to say on the subject!)

I was asked to preach on this same topic this morning at a large Baptist church in town. While both AM services were full, I sensed that what was shared was just another "nice message" that everyone agreed with, but few are willing to make the changes in their life to live out what it means to go, make disciples...I left a bit frustrated to say the least.

SAM,

Sounds exciting what you guys are doing there locally with the "12". It will be interesting to hear how this continues to take shape. I think you guys are on the right road in your approach. Sounds like you are looking at a literal 3 years of ministry like Jesus!

Bryan,

I think one of the needed roles from missionaries is to be a "prophetic" voice to the churches. When pastor/teachers dominate the church landscape, there is a needed balance that comes from the p/t to allow the churches to hear the apostolic/prophetic/evangelistic voices. Too often these are marginalized to the weakening of the church at large.

Deb Burton said...

Guy,
I found your post through the Blog Rush widget on my site, and the title intrigued me so that I had to check it out. I was not disappointed. What a thought-provoking message! My burden is for parents to teach their children about God and His salvation plan. So many parents leave this for someone else to do, usually their pastor/student minister, etc. As a result, many children are leaving the faith as they hit their adult years. I'm working to help turn that around.

The question you posed, though, certainly put a different perspective and sense of urgency on the problem. What would I do if I only had three years left to my ministry? I need to talk to more parents and engage them in the ministry of teaching their children. And I need to really evaluate how to do that.

Thanks for the shot in the arm.

GuyMuse said...

Deb,

Welcome to the "M Blog". Glad you stopped by!

I took the liberty of clicking on your own blog and want to congratulate you on the important task you have taken upon yourself to reach our own children for Christ as a mission. Few things are as important as parents taking on the full weight of responsibility for their children's spiritual formation. May God grant you much wisdom in the pursuit of the calling He has placed upon your heart.

Patagonia Mike said...

Guy,

"It would seem most of us (including me) are greatly distracted by all the programs, buildings, financial needs, meetings, and paraphernalia of Christendom that we have lost sight of the simple mandate of Christ to go, make disciples, baptize, and teach."

Good post, and I wonder many times; how do we transmit looking outward when everything in our culture tells us to look inward?

Only three more years of ministry would certainly help define our priorities.

Blessings,

GuyMuse said...

Mike,

You ask, how do we transmit looking outward when everything in our culture tells us to look inward? I think part of the answer is in helping us become aware of what our priorities actually are. Helping people to realize their actual priorities, and then define what Jesus' priorities were, can assist modern day disciples in making needed changes. We need to align our priorities with those of the One whom we claim is FIRST in our lives.