Showing posts with label discipleship. Show all posts
Showing posts with label discipleship. Show all posts

Friday, January 3

Is there a better way to impact the world for Jesus?

Dale Losch at asks, Is there a better way to impact the world for Jesus? And then goes on to share the following thoughts about discipleship making...

"I Have A Dream"...

I dream of a world where disciple-making is a reality and not just an ideal; where disciples make disciples who make diciples and unleash the explosive power of spiritual multiplication.

I dream of a world where all believers embrace their individual calls and all professions are employed in the cause to disciple the nations; where cross-cultural disciple-makers from secular professions outnumber vocational Christain workers 100 to 1.

I dream of a world where the church is defined as a group of fervent followers on mission to extend the Kingdom of God rather than as buildings, programs, and numbers of Christians.

I dream of a world where the good news of Jesus impacts not just a person's eternity, but all of life here and now.

I dream of a world where every city on earth has a vibrant community of reproducing disciple-makers who will infuse all of society like yeast permeates dough.

And I dream of a world where to be a Christian is to be known as a lover of God, of people, and of life.

In short, I dream of disciple-makers from all professions bringing God's love to life in the world's least-reached marketplaces...

It is first and foremost a dream of unleashing the power of real disciple-making. It is based on the conviction that this is exactly what Jesus told us to do, and if we will do it, the Great Commission will be completed in our lifetime.

To get a copy of this thought-provoking book click:
A Better Way: Make Disciples Wherever Life Happens

There's a Better Way from Crossworld on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 10

What does Scripture actually say about the church, the Bride of Christ?

One of the most common questions I am asked in church planting training is: at what point do we start taking the new believers to church? This question always frustrates me, but I understand the paradigm struggle many face with house churches being "real churches."

The response I am tempted to give is, "what I hear you asking is at what point do we stop making disciples, and allow them to just start attending church services?" Of course, I bite my tongue before saying this, but it reflects the difficulty we have of understanding the who, what, when, where, and why of the true nature of the New Testament ekklesia.

A large percentage of the legacy church planters we train see house churches as yet another way to reach people for Christ and grow their church. The real goal in people's hearts is, 1) win people to Christ, 2) get them into our church. House fellowships are merely a stepping stone to help grow existing churches.

Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart...Scriptures like Acts 2:46 only reinforce the conviction that church took place in the temple. Houses were merely where Jerusalem believers ate and fellowshipped. Back to our original question...

The standard response we generally give is to try and briefly explain our understanding of what Scripture teaches about the church, the Bride of Christ.

1) Romans 16:5, 1 Corinthins 16:19, Colossians 4:15, Philemon 2 describe churches as meeting in homes. This was the standard. The norm. Small groups meeting in homes allows not only them, but us, to minister personally to one another. Special church buildings, programs, services, and crowds didn't show up onthe scene until several hundred years later.

2) Ephesians 2:19 teaches we are "fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household..." We are truly family. Families take care of each other, watch out for each other, and some 50+ other "one anothers."

3) Acts 2:42 teaches that continuosly the church engaged in at least four primary activities: 1) devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching, 2) to fellowship, 3) to the breaking of bread, and 4) to prayer.

4) I Corinthians 14:26 describes what they were instructed to do when they gathered: "When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification." Everyone is encouraged to participate and bring something of edification to the gathering. Church is not a spectator sport where only a few perform and the rest are spectators.

5) Hebrews 10:24-25 teaches us the reason for gathering, " and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near." The main reasons we are admonished to gather is to, 1) stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 2) encourage one another. If our gatherings do not encourage and motivate us to truly love one another and perform good deeds, then something is out of line and needs to be corrected.

There are many other passages that relate to the who, what, when, where, and why of the church. A few that amplify and describe the above in greater detail are I Corinthians 11-12-13-14, I Peter 2, Acts 2:42-47, and I Timothy 3.

If any existing church is able to closely mirror these values and characteristics, then by all means, feel free to encourage those young disciples to be part of such a church. But if not, we strongly encourage church planters to not try and short-circuit the task by handing them off to a church that is something other than a true NT ekklesia as described in Scripture. In those majority cases it is best to focus on continuing to make disciples, baptize those disciples, meet with those disciples in their homes, and teach those disciples to observe all that CHRIST commanded.

What do you think?

Sunday, September 15

Consejos prácticos para un siervo del Señor

1. Guarda celosamente su tiempo diario a solas con el Señor. No deje que otros asuntos tengan prioridad sobre su relación personal con Cristo.

2. No empequeñezcas a otras personas.

3. Viva con el 80% de lo que gana.

4. No descuide los “clavos de la herradura”
            “Por falta de un clavo se perdió la herradura
            Por falta de la herradura se perdió el caballo
            Por falta del caballo se perdió el jinete
            Por falta del jinete se perdió la batalla
            Por falta de la batalla se perdió el reino
            Y todo por la falta de un clavo.”

5. Guardar el sábado es uno de los 10 Mandamientos de Dios. (Ex. 20:8-11)

6. No endeudarse. Regale dinero, pero no haga préstamos de su dinero. Igualmente, no pidas dinero por prestado. Si ahora estás en deuda su prioridad es salir de esa deuda. (Rom. 13:8)

7. Examinadlo todo; retened lo bueno. (I Tes. 5:21)

8. Tenga en claro la misión que el Señor tiene para tu vida y entrégate de lleno a ella. (Mat.6:33)

9. Comunica continuamente con tu “tribu.”

10. Sea transparente y honesto en todo. Tus hermanos perdonarán tus faltas confesadas, pero no el orgullo de tu deshonestidad y el tratar de ocultar las cosas.

11. Lidera con fe y optimismo.

12. Siempre esté leyendo un libro. Lea también libros fuera de tu zona de comodidad para entender otras perspectivas. Lee diferentes tipos y géneros de libros para ampliar tus conocimientos.

13. La educación, la capacitación, y la preparación es algo continua durante toda la vida.

14. Menos es más. Más es menos.

15. Aprenda a escuchar a los demás. Dios nos dio dos oídos y una boca para escuchar el doble de lo que hablamos. Muchas veces el mejor regalo que podemos dar a alguien es nuestro oído y tiempo para escucharles. 90% de consejería es escuchar a la otra persona atentamente.

16.Reconoce y aprecia la labor y esfuerzo de los demás.

17. Escoja tus batallas sabiamente; no podrás combatirlas todas.

18. Cuídate de los tres “D” del diablo: desánimo, distracción, división.

19. Las personas son más importantes que nuestros programas o estructuras.

20. Transforma tu vocabulario con frases mágicas de una a cuatro palabras: perdóname, me equivoqué, tienes la razón, hiciste un buen trabajo, ¿qué te parece? gracias, por favor, ¿cuál es tu opinión? Lo hiciste bien, tenga la bondad, ¿puedo ayudarte? Quiero entenderlo de tu perspectiva.

21. Aprenda a callar hasta poder decir algo constructivo o edificante. (Col. 4:6)

22. Aprenda a escuchar y a obedecer a la voz de Dios. Si él puede hablar por una asna (Num.22:28), también nos puede hablar por muchos medios a nuestro alrededor: Su Palabra, la naturaleza, un libro, esa voz quieta en nuestra alma, la boca de otra persona, la música, un sueño, etc. (Juan 10:27)

23. Charles Swindoll dijo, "Estoy convencido que la vida es 10% lo que me sucede y 90% como reacciono a lo que me sucede."  Mi actitud frente a lo que me ocurre en la vida es más importante que los mismos hechos que me suceden. Muchas veces uno no puede controlar lo que le vaya a pasar en la vida, pero sí puede decidir cómo va a reaccionar a lo que le sucede en la vida.

Wednesday, June 5

The difference between converts and disciples

If making disciples is the what we are to be about, how do we know if we are accomplishing this effectively? The difference between converts and disciples is that disciples obey what Christ commanded. Converts listen and might believe what they are taught, but little is applied in their own lives.

With converts, activity takes the place of obedience. We are easily seduced into thinking if we are involved in Christian activities, we are doing the right thing. Being obedient disciples is something quite different. It is not activity oriented. It is obedience to Christ's commands. Not how much we know of the Bible, but how much we obey what Christ says.

As part of the Great Commission Jesus clearly instructs "teaching them to observe ALL that I commanded you..." What exactly did Christ command?

One quick test to see how much of a disciple we really are is to grade ourselves on a scale of 1-10 on the approximate degree of obedience to each of the following commandments.

Add up the points. If you score 50% or greater, you lean towards being a disciple. If 50% or less, you probably lean more towards being a convert.


YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF. The Great Commandment: Matthew 22:37-40, Mark 12:28-31.

2) Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you. The Great Commission: Matthew 28:19-20.

3) one another. The New Commandment: John 13:34-35, 15:12.

4) first His kingdom and His righteousness... The Priority commandment for every believer: Matthew 6:33.

5) this in remembrance of Me... The Lord's Supper: Luke 20:14-20, 1 Corinthians 12:23-26.

6) ...wash one another's also should do as I did to you... The Great Example Commandment: John 13:14-15.

7) Abide in Me... The Commandment that is the secret to a fruitful life: John 15:4-8.

8) ...beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest... The only specific request Christ commanded his disciples to pray besides the Lord's Prayer: Luke 10:2, Matthew 9:38.

9) not pass not condemn...pardon...give... General Commandments of Jesus for victorious living: Luke 6:37-38.

10) your good to those who hate you...bless those who curse you...pray for those who mistreat you... Commandments for loving our enemies: Luke 6:27-36, Matthew 5:43-48.

No disciple should measure their spiritual maturity based upon their knowledge of the Gospel, but upon their obedience of what they know of the Gospel. We should never confuse our knowing the commands of Christ with obeying them in our personal lives. Being a follower of Jesus is not about what we know, but about how much we OBEY of what it is we know.

Thursday, May 23

When our kingdoms get in the way of His Kingdom

Is there a connection between Acts 1:8 and Acts 8:1?

Jesus last words to his disciples before ascending to Heaven were, "but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." (Acts 1:8)

The apostles knew this teaching. They had undoubtedly taught it over and over to the growing Jerusalem church. Yet, only a small percentage of the thousands of believers seemed to be taking Jesus' words seriously. Interestingly enough, not even the apostles themselves seemed to grasp the magnitude of Jesus' words!

When Acts 1:8 begins to take a backseat, we shouldn't be surprised by an Acts 8:1 wake-up call.

Saul was in hearty agreement with putting him [Stephen] to death. And on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and they were all scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.
(Acts 8:1)

In the midst of all that absorbs our attention:

social media
material possessions
church, etc. important as these are, we must remember that Jesus expects his followers to be about being his witnesses not only in each of our Jerusalems, but in Judea, Samaria, and unto the ends of the earth. Jesus loves and cares about those in Somalia, Haiti, Iran, and India as much as he loves us. His focus and love is not only for us, but also on the individuals (people just like us) in the nations. The priority of taking his message of love and salvation to all people groups on the face of the earth is a serious matter with our Lord.

Instead of using Jerusalem as our launching pad to Judea, Samaria, and the nations, we go the opposite direction. We start with our Jerusalem, segment down to our suburb, and from there to our own micro-worlds. Our kingdoms gets confused with His Kingdom.

But one way or another Jesus will make his name known to the nations. We can either willingly obey, or be persecuted and scattered. Both get the job done!

When our personal kingdoms and local Jerusalem consume all our time, energy, and resources, and do so at the expense of the Great Commission; it should not come as a surprise when the Father permits Acts 8:1 measures to get us out of our secure comfortable environments and out into his harvest fields.

Sunday, May 5

What if...

God-Directed Deviations asks an excellent question,
...what if the singular act of making disciples comprises all of what the church is to be? I don't want to be reductionistic here, but think about it. Jesus told his disciples to "go," "make disciples of all ethnic groups," "teach them to obey all that he commanded," and "baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." Within "all that He commanded" is everything the church is supposed to be...
Indeed, what would the nations of the Earth look like today if making disciples was the primary focus of our churches?  I can't help but believe we'd be seeing an unprecedented global harvest on a scale far beyond anything the world has ever seen.

Are we doing what Jesus said to do?

Are we going out to the where the lost live? Or are we planning yet another "come to" activity for ourselves?

Are we making disciples of all ethnic groups? Or are we ministering to the same group of believers who come to our churches?

Are we teaching one another to obey all those things Jesus commanded? Or are we distracted with media events, entertainment, our personal happiness/ambitions, or living the "good life?"

And what did Jesus command? Scanning through the New Testament Gospels one can find a number of things Jesus expects his disciples to do. But since He knew we would have a hard time remembering all these commandments, He did us the favor of summarizing them all in what we know as the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:37-40) and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).

These can be further reduced for easy recall into three objectives:

1) Love God
2) Love Others
3) Make Disciples

What would our cities, towns, and nations look like if those who claim to follow Christ would simply carry out these three commands of Christ? What would happen if the church began to restructure itself in such a way that her singular focus was upon making disciples who love God and love others? And would repeat the cycle of intentionally going out into the world to make other disciples teaching them to love God and others?

Welcome to the missionary call and task!

This 1:59 video expresses well what we attempt to share above...

Monday, April 15

¿Qué podemos aprender en cuanto al bautismo de la iglesia del primer siglo?

A continuación una lista completa de todos los pasajes en el libro de Los Hechos que hablan del bautismo.

Al estudiar los pasajes haga las siguientes preguntas...

¿Cuándo fueron bautizados?

¿Cuál era el requisito para ser bautizado?

¿Quién bautizó?

¿Cuanto tiempo pasó en cada caso entre el haber creido y el haber sido bautizado?

En estos pasajes, qué es más importante, ¿la persona quién bautiza, o el nombre en quién se bautiza?

Según los pasajes arriba, ¿cuándo sería un caso cuando un pecador se arrepiente y NO se le debería bautizar?

¿Qué podemos aprender en cuanto al bautismo de la iglesia del primer siglo?

¿Tenemos el derecho de imponer otras prácticas o impedimentos al bautismo a las que se observan aquí en estos pasajes del libro de los Hechos, la Palabra de Dios?


Hechos 2:36-41 Sepa, pues, con certeza toda la casa de Israel, que a este Jesús a quien vosotros crucificasteis, Dios le ha hecho Señor y Cristo. Al oír esto, compungidos de corazón, dijeron a Pedro y a los demás apóstoles: Hermanos, ¿qué haremos? Y Pedro les dijo: Arrepentíos y sed bautizados cada uno de vosotros en el nombre de Jesucristo para perdón de vuestros pecados, y recibiréis el don del Espíritu Santo. Porque la promesa es para vosotros y para vuestros hijos y para todos los que están lejos, para tantos como el Señor nuestro Dios llame. Y con muchas otras palabras testificaba solemnemente y les exhortaba diciendo: Sed salvos de esta perversa generación. Entonces los que habían recibido su palabra fueron bautizados; y se añadieron aquel día como tres mil almas.

8:9-13 Y cierto hombre llamado Simón, hacía tiempo que estaba ejerciendo la magia en la ciudad y asombrando a la gente de Samaria, pretendiendo ser un gran personaje ; y todos, desde el menor hasta el mayor, le prestaban atención, diciendo: Este es el que se llama el Gran Poder de Dios. Le prestaban atención porque por mucho tiempo los había asombrado con sus artes mágicas. Pero cuando creyeron a Felipe, que anunciaba las buenas nuevas del reino de Dios y el nombre de Cristo Jesús, se bautizaban, tanto hombres como mujeres. Y aun Simón mismo creyó; y después de bautizarse, continuó con Felipe, y estaba atónito al ver las señales y los grandes milagros que se hacían.

8:34-39 El eunuco respondió a Felipe y dijo: Te ruego que me digas, ¿de quién dice esto el profeta? ¿De sí mismo, o de algún otro? Entonces Felipe abrió su boca, y comenzando desde esta Escritura, le anunció el evangelio de Jesús. Yendo por el camino, llegaron a un lugar donde había agua; y el eunuco dijo*: Mira, agua. ¿Qué impide que yo sea bautizado? Y Felipe dijo: Si crees con todo tu corazón, puedes. Respondió él y dijo: Creo que Jesucristo es el Hijo de Dios.Y mandó parar el carruaje; ambos descendieron al agua, Felipe y el eunuco, y lo bautizó. Al salir ellos del agua, el Espíritu del Señor arrebató a Felipe; y no lo vio más el eunuco, que continuó su camino gozoso.

9:17-18 Ananías fue y entró en la casa, y después de poner las manos sobre él, dijo: Hermano Saulo, el Señor Jesús, que se te apareció en el camino por donde venías, me ha enviado para que recobres la vista y seas lleno del Espíritu Santo. Al instante cayeron de sus ojos como unas escamas, y recobró la vista; y se levantó y fue bautizado.

10:44-48 Mientras Pedro aún hablaba estas palabras, el Espíritu Santo cayó sobre todos los que escuchaban el mensaje. Y todos los creyentes que eran de la circuncisión, que habían venido con Pedro, se quedaron asombrados, porque el don del Espíritu Santo había sido derramado también sobre los gentiles, pues les oían hablar en lenguas y exaltar a Dios. Entonces Pedro dijo: ¿Puede acaso alguien negar el agua para que sean bautizados éstos que han recibido el Espíritu Santo lo mismo que nosotros? Y mandó que fueran bautizados en el nombre de Jesucristo. Entonces le pidieron que se quedara con ellos unos días.

16:13-15 Y en el día de reposo salimos fuera de la puerta, a la orilla de un río, donde pensábamos que habría un lugar de oración; nos sentamos y comenzamos a hablar a las mujeres que se habían reunido. Y estaba escuchando cierta mujer llamada Lidia, de la ciudad de Tiatira, vendedora de telas de púrpura, que adoraba a Dios; y el Señor abrió su corazón para que recibiera lo que Pablo decía. Cuando ella y su familia se bautizaron, nos rogó, diciendo: Si juzgáis que soy fiel al Señor, venid a mi casa y quedaos en ella. Y nos persuadió a ir.

16:29-34 Entonces él pidió luz y se precipitó adentro, y temblando, se postró ante Pablo y Silas, y después de sacarlos, dijo: Señores, ¿qué debo hacer para ser salvo? Ellos respondieron: Cree en el Señor Jesús, y serás salvo, tú y toda tu casa. Y le hablaron la palabra del Señor a él y a todos los que estaban en su casa. Y él los tomó en aquella misma hora de la noche, y les lavó las heridas; enseguida fue bautizado, él y todos los suyos. Llevándolos a su hogar, les dio de comer, y se regocijó grandemente por haber creído en Dios con todos los suyos.

18:7-8 Y partiendo de allí, se fue a la casa de un hombre llamado Ticio Justo, que adoraba a Dios, cuya casa estaba junto a la sinagoga. Y Crispo, el oficial de la sinagoga, creyó en el Señor con toda su casa, y muchos de los corintios, al oír, creían y eran bautizados.

19:1-7 Y aconteció que mientras Apolos estaba en Corinto, Pablo, habiendo recorrido las regiones superiores, llegó a Efeso y encontró a algunos discípulos, y les dijo: ¿Recibisteis el Espíritu Santo cuando creísteis? Y ellos le respondieron: No, ni siquiera hemos oído si hay un Espíritu Santo. Entonces él dijo: ¿En qué bautismo, pues, fuisteis bautizados? Ellos contestaron: En el bautismo de Juan. Y Pablo dijo: Juan bautizó con el bautismo de arrepentimiento, diciendo al pueblo que creyeran en aquel que vendría después de él, es decir, en Jesús. Cuando oyeron esto, fueron bautizados en el nombre del Señor Jesús. Y cuando Pablo les impuso las manos, vino sobre ellos el Espíritu Santo, y hablaban en lenguas y profetizaban. Eran en total unos doce hombres.

Wednesday, March 27

A shift in our missionary role

My wife and I arrived in Guayaquil, Ecuador as missionaries in December of 1987. In those early missionary days we labored at the center of where "the action" was taking place. We were in high demand by the churches, associations, and Ecuador Baptist Convention and all their related institutions and programs. A lot of our time was spent attending all the different meetings of both our own denominational work, as well as the events and programs of other evangelical denominations. I served on various denominational boards, committees, and task forces. Our advice and opinions were respected and listened to. We were constantly called upon to preach, teach, administer, counsel, train, and coordinate ministries, institutions, and strategy. Each of us wore multiple ministerial hats. All of us were responsible for carrying out an assortment of assignments, often in areas we were not particularly gifted in, but "someone" had to fill those shoes, so we took on these tasks as well. Our phone rang incessantly. Rare were the days when we had an entire evening to ourselves without someone in our home, someone dropping by to chat, or the phone ringing day and night.

Over the years, all of the above has continued to decrease to, what is today, a mere trickle of what it was 20 years ago. Has the work diminished? Not at all. In fact far more is happening now on multiple levels than anyone could have ever imagined. But our personal influence and role has diminished from what it once was. Probably to be fair, a better description would be our influence and role has changed. While we are certainly still loved and respected by our Ecuadorian brethren, the things we used to do--as "principal actors on stage"--are now being done by those we poured ourselves into years ago. The very men/women/youth we taught, counseled, trained, and encouraged have taken our place. They are the ones now that others call upon, serve in "important" capacities, speak, teach, train, travel, lead, preach, etc.

One of the hardest missions lessons is the one John the Baptist must have also struggled with: "He must increase; but I must decrease." Someone once defined missionary success as working oneself out of a job.

But actually saying these words is a lot easier than living with the consequences of someone else now doing and filling the roles one used to have. We too want to be needed, sought after, consulted, and called upon. In fact, instead of the phone ringing in the evenings with yet another crisis for us to solve, we now can sit most nights quietly reading a book without interruption.

As I reflect back over the years of all the assignments, responsibilities, tasks, and roles we have played; ALL, without exception, are today in the hands of nationals who are doing an excellent job.

So what are we still doing here if we have successfully worked ourselves out of all our jobs?

The task is far from completed. With only 7-10% of the population in Ecuador followers of Christ, much remains to see the Great Commission fulfilled in our region of the world.

What I sense is most needed is not more missionaries continuing to come from other parts of the world to Ecuador, but rather a shift in role existing missionaries play.

We must begin to see ourselves more in the apostolic role of encouragers, enablers, equippers, trainers, motivators, connectors, and coordinators who are principally engaged in mobilizing God's people into the ripe harvest fields--not as fun as front line stuff, but necessary!

While there will always be room for the first generation apostolic church planter who goes into unreached/under-reached territory to proclaim the Gospel, make disciples, and leave a NT ekklesia; in the later stages of a ripe harvest field (like Ecuador) we best serve the King by shifting our focus to helping the church see what remains to be done, how to accomplish the task, provide tools and training, and mobilize to lead hundreds of laborers to bring in the harvest God is giving.

Another way of understanding this role change is to explain it this way: I can feel great about spending 30-40 hours a week directly engaged in proclaiming the Gospel, making disciples, baptizing 15-20 and hopefully planting 1-2 churches in a year's time...or, I can spend that same time modeling, training, mobilizing several hundred others to do the same things, and at the end of the year see the Kingdom grow by dozens of churches and hundreds of baptisms and scores of new disciples also equipped to going out and making even more disciples.

In the first role we are the primary actors on stage. Everyone sees us, needs us, and looks to us for direction. In the second we are behind the scenes and the ones "seen" are those we are coaching. The difference in the way we understand our apostolic/missionary role is between planting a church, and being an instrument in the Spirit's hands for dozens of churches planted all over the region.

What do you think? As usual, your thoughts and observations are welcome.

Thursday, March 7

5 Common Great Commission Myths

5 Common Great Commission Myths
By Joey Shaw

Matthew 28:18-20, And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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 all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

The passage above is commonly known as “The Great Commission”...Many people teach on this passage… most of us don’t regularly obey it. Below are five of the more common myths about the Great Commission that lead us to miss out on disciple making.

1. The myth of accidental discipleship. Many Christians think, consciously or unconsciously, that we can make disciples without changing anything in our daily lives; that as we go about doing our own thing, disciples will be almost accidentally made. This comes across in phrases like, “I will just live my daily life and if someone wants to ask about the Gospel, I will share it”, or, “I just ‘do life’ with others and pray that they will start becoming interested in Jesus”. Many Christians are willing to talk about or declare the Gospel, but only if opportunities pleasantly come they’re way. They are waiting for the perfect moment to drop from the sky upon them to actually verbalize the Gospel or start demonstrating the Gospel. The myth here is that merely “doing life” with others is an straight path to making disciples...The bottom line here is that the Great Commission will be completed only by intentional action and resoluteness. Jesus commands us today to set our eyes on the goal of disciple making and pursue that goal with stubborn focus. This means, that unless you pray and plan to make disciples, you won’t do it!

2. Crossing cultures is a step beyond the general mandate. This myth is that only select missionaries are called to cross cultures in order to make disciples. The rest of us should only focus on people like us, in our culture. The problem with this myth is that the actual Great Commission commands otherwise. Incredibly, Jesus gave a commandment to his mostly Jewish audience to go to a mostly Gentile people and make disciples! Jesus commanded his Jewish followers to go to all people groups (all ethnos, the Greek word for “nations”). In other words, the Great Commission itself is a mandate to cross cultures!

3. Jesus wants converts. The most interesting thing about the Great Commission is that it does not command us to make converts of Christianity. Instead, we are to make disciples of Jesus. The difference between convert making and disciple making is crucial. Converts change religions. Disciples change masters. Converts follow a system. Disciples follow a Person. Converts build Christendom. Disciples build the Kingdom of God. Converts embrace rituals. Disciples embrace a way of life. Converts love the command to “baptize them” in the Great Commission, but that is all. Disciples baptize others but only in context of “teaching them to observe all that I commanded you”. Converts love conversion. Disciples love transformation. Are you making converts or are you making disciples?

4. When I am ready and able, I will start making disciples. This is the ultimate delay tactic. Have you ever told yourself that you aren’t capable for some reason – lack of training, lack of experience, lack of skill, etc. – of making and multiplying disciples like Jesus? Have you ever thought of someone who is making and multiplying disciples as a super Christian? Have you ever said or prayed something like this, “We just ask you God to send out to the nations the best among us, yes, Lord, send out our marines!” If so, then you have fallen to believe the myth that making and multiplying disciples is for “elite Christians”.

5. Making disciples is great advice. Cultural Christianity loves this myth. Cultural Christians love to sing the praise of disciple makers while themselves simultaneously avoiding, through the most crafty cop-outs, actually engaging in obedience to the Great Commission. In other words, when it comes down to it, many view the Great Commission as merely great advice.

The fact is, though, that the Great Commission is a commandment coupled with the commissioning of Jesus. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15)...In other words, the measure of one’s love for Jesus is one’s obedience to Jesus! You cannot love Jesus and not obey cannot disregard the Great Commission and claim to love Jesus. The command is simple, “go and make disciples”. Ask yourself, “Am I currently making disciples of others?” If not, why not ask yourself, “Will I today commit myself to beginning the process of making disciples of Jesus?”

Joey Shaw is the Minister of International Mission at The Austin Stone Community Church. He is currently writing a book on evangelical Christian thought on Islam.

Monday, March 4

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

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 country

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?

Monday, February 25

How baptism, the Lord's Supper, weddings, & funerals are carried out in churches that meet in homes

If simple churches are usually led by non-professional "lay" leaders, who performs all of the ceremonies traditionally officiated by professional clergy? Who does the baptizing, serving of the Lord's Supper, funerals, weddings, and all the other duties traditionally done by ordained ministers? Who do you call when there is a death in the family? Can anyone baptize (women?) Who presides over the Lord's Supper? Can any believer marry a couple?

I have no problem answering these questions, but as part of my answer, where do we get the idea that only a certain class can carry out these functions? Can any of us point to a single instance in the NT where any of these functions is designated as exclusive terrain of a chosen few?  Is it a commandment or an ordinance that only trained, seminary educated, ordained ministers be the ones to baptize, serve the Lord's Supper, wed, or bury? There is nothing wrong with them doing so, but are we not ALL Royal Priesthood, a Holy Nation, a Chosen Race?

So, to the practical outworking of how these things are carried out in simple house church settings...

The short version is that we deal with each situation as it comes up. In other words we don't worry about things until they need to be dealt with. This usually entails sitting down and helping them understand what God wants them to do in this situation. Sometimes they come right out and ask us to lead the ceremony. Often I will agree to do so this first occasion, but next time it is their responsibility. I view these opportunities to further train and orient the servant leaders by their watching me do it.

Baptism. We don't make a big deal over who does the baptizing. Any disciple can baptize. In fact disciples are commanded to do so in Matthew 28:18-20. Usually the way this works is that the house church leader will do so themselves with one or two assistants from the church. If for whatever reason they are not able, or do not wish to do so, they find somebody else to do the baptizing. It's not so much WHO does the baptizing, as in WHOSE NAME they are baptized.

The Lord's Supper. The Lord's Supper is a meal and regularly observed by the house churches. It is carried out in any number of different ways. One way is, again, to model how it is done. Many times when a group of new believers is ready for their first Lord's Supper, they will invite one of their mentors to preside. We gladly do so as a means of modeling a way of how it can be done. What is scary is that however we choose to lead during this time is often copied from there on out as "the way" to do the Lord's Supper! Over the years, though, I have seen a lot of creative and meaningful ways to celebrate this memorial.

Weddings. We have had many house church weddings over the past few years. Each has been special and meaningful to not only those getting married, but a blessing to the church as a whole. Sometimes I have been asked to perform the wedding, and have done so gladly. Usually though I will only perform the first wedding in a house church, but expect them to do any subsequent weddings. Sometimes the couple getting married will specifically ask their house church leader to do the ceremony. In these cases--and there have been several--the leader will come asking for help. We will sit down and step by step go over what needs to be done. We practice until they are fairly confident. It is important that the servant leaders be seen as empowered to carry out ALL the necessary tasks involved in church life. If we somehow leave the impression that only ordained pastors and missionaries can fill certain roles, we will harm the church's natural development. The last thing we want to do is create dependency upon the missionary.

Funerals. Again, we will go over with the house church leaders a basic outline of the kinds of things to say and do at a funeral.  I remember one house church leader being asked to preside over a wake. She had absolutely no experience or background to do so. In a panic she called several people to come to the rescue. None were available so she prayed to the Lord for guidance and went on to the wake. There, she was able to minister in the power of the Holy Spirit, and was a great blessing to the family. She related that it wasn't that hard. It was just a matter of allowing the Spirit of God freedom to minister through her. She related they sang a few songs, she shared a passage of Scripture and a few words of comfort, the family shared their memories of the loved one, prays were said, and then she visited with the family.

The list really extends to many other natural church life functions as well. Praying for the sick, dealing with demons, counseling, baby dedications, home visits, anniversaries, birthday parties, etc. NONE of these are the exclusive domain of professional clergy. ALL are matters which normally should be carried out by Spirit-filled disciples. It is not about us and how highly trained we are, but about HIM and what He wants to do in and through us.

Wednesday, February 20

Taking into account the seasons that precede harvest

We speak of the harvest, but rarely take into account the seasons of plowing, planting, watering, and weeding that precede harvest.  In Kingdom work, too, there are seasons which precede and follow harvest times. Every season has its purpose.

When we find ourselves in one of these pre-harvest seasons we need to be fully engaged in that phase of the harvest cycle. In between harvest cycles, there is little we can do other than pray and wait upon the Lord. Since apparently we don't see anything major happening, we assume nothing is taking place. But God is always at work. We may or may not see or understand what He is up to, but He is active behind the scenes.

Prayer must accompany each phase in the harvest, but all the prayer in the world won´t speed up the process. If we are in the "watering" period it does little good to fret and cry out to God because we still haven't seen fruit from our labors. We have a hard time accepting that prayer doesn't seem to be able to accelerate or change the planting cycle!

We want Kingdom matters to operate on our time schedule and according to our expectations. When they don't we anguish, pray harder, and make adjustments to the way we are working thinking the fault is with us. If we can just do things better, correct our errors, then we will see the longed for harvest.

Often what we need is to do less and trust God more. He is at work in the invisible world to bring about all of his plans and purposes. In His time he will bring about His Kingdom.

Does "waiting on the Lord" mean sitting around doing nothing while we wait for the Lord to act?

I personally feel we can do only so much within a given season of the harvest. If it is plowing season, we can plow. If it is planting time, we should be throwing everything we have into getting that seed into the ground. Same goes for watering, weeding, and bringing in the harvest. But beyond doing what we can in the current cycle before us, there isn't a whole lot more we can do. So why stress, fret, and allow ourselves to anguish over things we have no control over?

The following 4-min. "Frog and Toad" story expresses this well.

Sunday, February 17

The difference between converts and disciples

The difference between converts and disciples is that disciples obey what Christ commanded.

Converts listen and might believe what they are taught, but little is applied in their own lives. With converts, activity takes the place of obedience. Converts are easily seduced into thinking if they are involved in Christian activities, they are doing the right things, and that is what makes them a follower of Christ.

Being a disciple of Jesus Christ is something quite different. It is not activity oriented. It is obedience to Christ's commands. Not how much we know of the Bible, but how much we obey what Christ said to do.

Everyone knows, or at least has heard about the Ten Commandments in the Old Testament. But how many Christians know and can quote the Ten Commandments of Christ?

As part of the Great Commission Jesus clearly instructs "teaching them to observe ALL that I commanded you..."

What exactly did Christ command?

One quick test to see how much of a disciple we really are is to grade ourselves on a scale of 1-10 on the approximate degree of obedience to each of the following commandments.

Add up the points. If you score 50% or greater, you lean towards being a disciple. If 50% or less, you lean more towards being a convert.  The Great Commandment: Matthew 22:37-40

1) Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength...

2) You shall love your neighbor as yourself... The Great Commandment: Mark 12:28-31.

3) Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you. The Great Commission: Matthew 28:19-20.

4) Love one another. The New Commandment: John 13:34-35, 15:12.

5) Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. The Priority commandment for every believer: Matthew 6:33.

6)  Do this in remembrance of Me. The Lord's Supper: Luke 20:14-20, 1 Corinthians 12:23-26, gathering in remembrance of Him

7) Wash one another's also should do as I did to you.  The Great Example Commandment: John 13:14-15.

8) Abide in Me.  The Commandment that is the secret to a fruitful life: John 15:4-8.

9) Beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. (The only specific request Christ commanded his disciples to pray besides the Lord's Prayer: Luke 10:2, Matthew 9:38.)

10) Love your enemies...Do good to those who hate you...Bless those who curse you...Pray for those who mistreat you... Do not pass judgment...Do not condemn...Pardon...Give... General Commandments of Jesus for victorious living: Luke 6:27-38, Matthew 5:43-48.

Christians should not measure their standing with the Lord (maturity) based upon their knowledge of the Gospel, but upon their obedience of what they know of the Gospel. We should never confuse our knowing the commands of Christ with obeying them in our personal lives. The Christian walk is not about what we know, but about how much we OBEY what it is we know.

Thursday, February 14

How to choose one's disciples

Who are your disciples?  This is a question we must consider if we call ourselves disciples of Christ. We can't avoid the issue: either we are obeying or disobeying what Christ said about making disciples.

How did Christ make disciples? How did he go about choosing who would be his disciples?

Mark 3:13-15 says, Jesus, "went up on the mountain and summoned those whom He Himself wanted, and they came to Him. And He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He send them out to preach, and to have authority to cast out the demons."

Step 1: Pray
Step 2: Summon those the Lord has laid on your heart
Step 3: Appoint them
Step 4: Send them out to preach
Step 5: Give them the authority in Jesus Name to do all that is required.

While I personally believe the above five steps might be consiered apostolic functions, they are not exclusive to those in apostolic roles. Any believer wanting to disciple men/women can ask the Holy Spirit to:

-lay on their hearts people's names,
-summon and talk to them about joining our "apostolic team"
-share with them what the Lord has laid on our hearts,
-train and appoint our team to go out and make more disciples,
-send them out 2x2 to preach/teach/minister in Jesus Name, and
-help them understand and utilize the power given us in Jesus' Name.

This is the way it is done in the Kingdom. Yes, admitedly there are a lot of details not covered in the above broad outline. Yet, if we are serious about doing what Christ said, He will help us work through what must be dealt with. The question is, will we obey?

I am personally working my way through these five steps right now.  I am excited about what I anticipate the Lord doing the remainder of this year. How about you?

Saturday, February 9

Is there such a thing as "called to full-time ministry?"

I am getting ready to go to camp tomorrow to speak to 200 youth on the subject of God's call to full-time ministry. Most of those listening to me tomorrow will certainly consider me--the missionary--to be somebody in full-time ministry. But I would argue the point that people like me are actually one step removed from full-time ministry! Most of my day revolves around other believers. Those who actually live, work, and study out in the secular world are potentially in a much better position to engage in meaningful ministry.

Jesus did not call us to remove ourselves from the world, but to be salt and light in the midst of the world.  Many of us so-called "full-time" ministers spend little time in the real world for which Christ died.

I agree with what Dale Losch writes, "The dichotomous notion that religious work is ministry and secular work is not has been very harmful. Speaking of the tragic disconnect between the world and the church, author Dorothy Sayers lamented: How can anyone remain interested in a religion which seems to have no concern with nine-tenths of life!"

What I hope to share tomorrow with the youth is that where they live, work, study, and play is the most strategic place of ministry for any follower of Jesus. We must be intentional in all the relationships the Lord has allowed us to have. And realize that 'making disciples' where we are is our full-time job, but that doesn't mean we have to leave our secular job to do so!

Earlier this week I had coffee with a young man who is a medical student. He "gets this" about as well as anybody I have met in a long time.  During the week he has started a cell group at the university with his fellow medical students, has a house church in his home, and on weekends travels to a neighboring town for a new church plant with the rural poor. In his mind he is a full-time minister of the Gospel. I couldn't agree more.

Just imagine if all of Jesus' followers were actively engaged in making disciples where they lived, worked, studied, and played?  I believe that was the way it was in the first century where every one of Jesus followers was part of his called-out, chosen people, royal priesthood, part of his holy nation, and a people belonging to God, that all of us together might declare the praises of him who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light. (I Peter 2:9)

Thursday, January 31

Conversational prayer

Over the years of working with house/simple churches one of the most meaningful segments of our gatherings are the prayer times. We train church planters to practice several different ways of praying. One of these ways is conversational prayer.

Acknowledge God’s presence in the group. Praise and adoration is always good to help focus the group on communicating with the Lord.

Pray short prayers of one, two or three sentences.

Pray about one subject, idea or person at a time until everyone has shared as much and as often as prompted by the Spirit.

Be reluctant to change the subject as you would in any conversation until everyone is finished with it.

Times of silence can give the timid and the thoughtful time to contribute.

The more the conversation with God is passed around the group the deeper the intimacy grows. In time a small group becomes totally unified and purely transparent.

Watch God’s love flow freely, lives transform and answers to prayer abound.

Saturday, January 26

Mi sueño para el Ecuador es ver a:

1--cada creyente haciendo discípulos
2--cada casa potencialmente una iglesia, y
3--cada templo un centro de preparación y una casa de oración 24/7

¿Cómo transformar este sueño en realidad?

1--reducir a un mínimo el número de cultos en las iglesias (los cultos no producen discípulos)
2--capacitar a cada creyente para ser un discípulo que hace discípulos
3--empoderar, enviar, apoyar y bendecir los esfuerzos de cada discípulo al salir a hacer discípulos en cada rincón de las ciudades, los cantones, pueblos, recintos, provincias, y hasta lo último de la tierra

¿Cómo empezar?

Todo empieza con mi oración personal, "heme aquí; envíeme a mi, Señor."  No esperaré a que otros lo hagan, yo lo haré comenzando ahora mismo orando a Dios para que me dé dos almas con quienes puedo comenzar a trabajar.

Con dos otras personas formo un "Grupo de Tres"* ganándoles para Cristo y discipulándoles. Seríamos tres personas creyentes.

Los dos nuevos discípulos siguen mi ejemplo y cada uno de nosotros buscamos ganar y discipular a dos personas más. Con esto seríamos seis personas.

Las seis también buscan ganar/discipular a dos personas más. Ya seríamos doce personas en nuestra nueva comunidad Cristiana.

En un año yo personalmente me responsabilizo de ganar y discipular a seis personas en total. Y estas seis imitan mi ejemplo y hacen lo mismo durante el lapso de un año.

Si de los supuestos 2-millones de creyentes existentes en el Ecuador, solamente 100.000 de ellos (el 5%)  se unieran a esta visión, a fines de año seríamos 1.200.000 nuevos discípulos (100.000 x 12).

¿De dónde van a salir los recursos para tantas nuevas iglesias?

Dios ya ha provisto de esta necesidad de tener un sitio donde reunirnos, ¡las casas de los mismos creyentes!

Trabajando de esta forma, a fines del segundo año seríamos 14.200.000 discípulos (todo el Ecuador) y estaríamos en buen camino para lanzar este inmenso ejercito hacia las naciones.

Si la idea es tan sencilla, ¿por qué no lo hacemos? ¿Qué nos está deteniendo?

Para que esta visión sea una realidad, tenemos que hacerla prioridad #1 no solamente en cada una de nuestras iglesias, sino como un reto personal de obediencia a nuestro Señor. Todo lo que distrae de cumplir la misión encomendada por Jesús en la Gran Comisión tiene que ser puesto a un lado. Tenemos que ser celosos por ver el cumplimiento de la Gran Comisión y todo este proceso comienza con mi obediencia personal.

La meta no es crecer la iglesia local con unos cuantos bautizos por año. La meta es cumplir la Gran Comisión de llevar el evangelio de Cristo a todas las naciones.

Nuestros líderes tienen que entender que su rol principal no es predicar mensajes o cumplir con el programa de la iglesia, sino de hacer lo que Pablo exhorta en Efesios 4 de capacitar a todos los santos en su congregación para que ellos cumplan la obra del ministerio encomendada por Jesús hace 2000 años.
Y El [Jesús] dio a algunos el ser apóstoles, a otros profetas, a otros evangelistas, a otros pastores y maestros, a fin de capacitar a los santos para la obra del ministerio, para la edificación del cuerpo de Cristo; hasta que todos lleguemos a la unidad de la fe y del conocimiento pleno del Hijo de Dios, a la condición de un hombre maduro, a la medida de la estatura de la plenitud de Cristo. O sea, el fin de Cristo al haberse encomendado un cargo de liderazgo en la iglesia es para un fin específico: CAPACITAR A LOS SANTOS PARA LA OBRA DEL MINISTERIO. Cuando el pueblo de Dios--los santos--son preparados y soltados a los campos de la mies, vamos a ver la cosecha de almas más grande de la historia.

¿Quieres unirte a esta visión? No es mia, es el mandato dado por Cristo en la Gran Comisión hace 2000 años.  Ya es tiempo de dejar atrás las excusas.  ¡Hagámosla realidad hoy!

* Materiales y taller de capacitación de dos horas disponible para aprender cómo mobilizar a toda la iglesia en hacer discípulos.

Tuesday, January 22

Is there a better way to impact the world for Jesus?

On January 21, the United States celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. MLK is remembered for his famous "I Have A Dream" speech given on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. August 28, 1963, a stirring reminder that will long live in the hearts of all Americans.

But there is another dream that also inspires me by Dale Losch at where the author asks, Is there a better way to impact the world for Jesus? And goes on to share his own,

"I Have A Dream"...

I dream of a world where disciple-making is a reality and not just an ideal; where disciples make disciples who make diciples and unleash the explosive power of spiritual multiplication.

I dream of a world where all believers embrace their individual calls and all professions are employed in the cause to disciple the nations; where cross-cultural disciple-makers from secular professions outnumber vocational Christain workers 100 to 1.

I dream of a world where the church is defined as a group of fervent followers on mission to extend the Kingdom of God rather than as buildings, programs, and numbers of Christians.

I dream of a world where the good news of Jesus impacts not just a person's eternity, but all of life here and now.

I dream of a world where every city on earth has a vibrant community of reproducing disciple-makers who will infuse all of society like yeast permeates dough.

And I dream of a world where to be a Christian is to be known as a lover of God, of people, and of life.

In short, I dream of disciple-makers from all professions bringing God's love to life in the world's least-reached marketplaces...

It is first and foremost a dream of unleashing the power of real disciple-making. It is based on the conviction that this is exactly what Jesus told us to do, and if we will do it, the Great Commission will be completed in our lifetime.

Thursday, January 17

Church planting: Jesus way or our way?

In Luke 10, Jesus sets out clear, step-by-step instructions for the 70 disciples to obey in reaching out to "every town and place where He was about to go." If Jesus trained, taught, and instructed his disciples in what they should do, why do we think 2000 years later our ways are an improvement on his way?

Jesus instructed his disciples, "PRAY to the Lord of the Harvest to send out workers into His harvest..." (10:2)

We have improved upon this instruction by, 1) substituting 'praying to the Lord of the Harvest' for TALKING about the need for praying, 2) forget about praying, what needs to be done is massive recruitment--get out there and do what has to be done to get people involved, mobilize the masses into training seminars at the largest convention centers in town and invite in the biggest names that will draw the crowds.

Jesus instructed his disciples, "now GO, I'm sending you out like lambs among wolves..." (10:3)

We have improved upon Jesus' words by substituting His command to go for something much more convenient for us: COME! Come to our church...meeting...revival...youth group...evangelistic crusade...ladies brunch...sports event...spiritual emphasis...Bible study...etc. Going out to where the lost are and entering their world is always a lot messier than sitting around hoping and praying they will somehow come to us and whatever event we have planned for them. While I can give a couple of hours for an event at church, I certainly don't have the same couple of hours to go out of my way into the scary unknown. I might be seen associating myself with non-desirables in places not known as appropriate Christian hang-outs.

Jesus instructed his disciples, "DON'T CARRY a money-bag, travelling bag, or sandals..." (10:4)

Since we have never really understood exactly what Jesus was trying to say with this obscure command, we have simply ignored it and done just the opposite. We believe it is not possible to do the Lord's work unless we have a large money bag, and having all the necessary implements in our travelling bag for the journey (cars, land, building, salaries, literature, support packages, furnishings, sounds system, musical instruments, laptop, PowerPoint, video projector, etc.) And certainly let's not forget the importance of the having the latest fashion in sandals and attire and other necessary personal implements for the task. Afterall, we want to make a good impression on those we are trying to reach!

Jesus instructed his disciples, "DON'T GREET ANYONE along the road..." (10:4)

Jesus obviously didn't understand the importance of greetings in our present day cultures. How is one ever to gain access into "their world" unless we spend a lot of time greeting and building relationships? So, once again we seek to improve (ignore) another outdated command of our Lord and actually spend enormous chunks of time and plan whole evangelistic strategies that never get beyond anything other than "greeting" and nurturing a few relationships. We do ladies teas, let's meet the neighbors, go to ball games together, find someone to drink coffee with, etc. While all these may be good activities, the problem is that we seldom move beyond the "greeting stage" to the remaining instructions of Christ as given in Luke 10:1-9. We tend to lose focus when we stop and greet folks unless we are in tune with the whole strategic process that Christ was teaching. Jesus knows how easily we are distracted, so He warns us upfront to not greet anyone, or do anything else that will distract us from the important mission we are on.

Jesus instructed his disciples, "SAY 'PEACE to this household' and if a son of peace is there your peace will rest on him..." (10:5)

Modern consensus agrees that 'saying peace to this household' is a waste of time. The best way to win a community, town, or city is to get out there in vast numbers and knock on as many doors as possible. When they open the door, invite them to your church, and maybe even preach the Gospel and let them know this might be the very last chance they will ever have for salvation. If they refuse, leave them a Gospel tract, and a bunch of literature from your church and be sure to pray for them before leaving.

Jesus instructed his disciples, "REMAIN IN THE SAME HOUSE, eating and drinking what they offer..." (10:7)

Remain in the same house? Just that one house? You've got to be kidding! The more houses you visit, the more contacts you will have, the greater the number of positive results. You wouldn't want to dare risk everything on just one household. There is a high chance things will not work out and then you will be left with nothing. Plus, what's the big deal with wasting time by eating and drinking with people? Does eating and drinking accomplish anything of eternal value? Don't think so...

Jesus instructed his disciples, "EAT THE THINGS set before you..." (10:8)

It's like Jesus foreknew we would have trouble with understanding the importance of the eating/drinking part, so He said it TWICE to make sure we would get it. But the fact is we have yet to grasp the importance of eating and drinking with people BEFORE trying to proclaim the 'Good News" to them. What's important is getting down to business and sharing the Gospel with lost folks. We eat and drink with our fellow Christians, not with pagans!

Jesus instructed his disciples, "HEAL THE SICK who are there..." (10:9)

Well this one is easy to ignore because we all know that only the Pentecostals and the Charismatics are the ones into the healing stuff. We certainly can side-step this sticky one. We wouldn't want to actually involve ourselves in any controversial issues like healing the sick (might lose our jobs over it!) After all, most of us are cessationists and no longer believe these extraordinary gifts of the Spirit are valid today. We have the Bible and that's all we need. So, basically we are off the hook on this one. Next...

Jesus instructed his disciples, "TELL THEM, 'The kingdom of God has come near you..." (10:9)

Well FINALLY Jesus gets around to telling us to do what really matters--the 'main thing'-- which is declaring, preaching, teaching the Gospel message of the Kingdom to these lost people. Let's just cut to the chase and skip all the other stuff. It is time to get down to the important business of witnessing and sharing the Gospel. We are free to skip over the parts of Jesus instructions we don't like or understand. Wasn't his main thrust obviously this last point? We will certainly try to obey this part, but the rest is up for debate and interpretation--in other words, not much of importance in all those instructions preceding this final one.

Is it any wonder that after 2000 years we still haven't finished the task given us by Christ? We think we have a better way of doing things. We have the new, improved version, and yet continuously scratch our heads and wonder why things aren't working out the way they are supposed to?

Friday, January 4

Mega to Mini-Church-Part 2 of 2 (Victor Choudhrie)

Continuing with Victor Choudhrie's, "Mega Church To Mini Church: 25 Steps to Transit from Being Barren to a Millionaire of Souls" are steps eleven to twenty-five.

11.Drive the change- Start with your family. Your real marriage is to the Lord. The husband-wife-children relationship is just an earthly model to see how you make it work. If you can’t make it work, you may not be invited to the wedding banquet of the Lamb. Sons and daughters - honor your mother and father, if you want to live long. The Hebrew word kabad and the Greek word time’for ‘honor’ means ‘making rich’ or even ‘money paid’. Providing for your aging parents’ ranks higher than paying Korban to your church. Tithing is neither a part of the Ten Commandments, nor a requirement in the New Testament but taking care of parents is in both. Fathers – improve your relationship score with your children, lest the Lord smite the earth with a curse. He is now preparing a new generation of reformers with new values, concepts and vision to drive the change, to restore the Body which is grossly disfigured and marred by centuries of extra-biblical additions and accretions, into the original Bride without spots, wrinkles and blemishes.
12. Know your identity in Christ: You are an ambassador of Christ, the highest ranking representative of the government of God, wherever you are posted. You are a royal-priest­, made so by the blood of the Lamb. Dismantle the ‘Reverend’culture and breach the preacher-creature divide. Like Melchizedek, the royal-priest of Jerusalem (City of Peace), who served bread and wine, took a tithe and blessed Abraham, bring godly governance to your city. Catch the vision of cloning and saturating the city with royal-priests, and run with that vision. Remember every royal priest is authorized to offer the sanctified lost people as mincha (bloodless sacrifice), baptize and serve the Lord’s Supper. God is not looking for shepherds who just take care of his sheep but entrepreneurs who multiply his sheep.
13. Paul’s passion was to conduct a saturation blitz of the gospel, where Christ had not been named, not just with words but with mighty signs and deeds. What is your passion? Challenge purposeless churches to enunciate a clear vision and to lay out a road map to translate that vision into action plans and set goals to ‘do greater things than these’. For supernatural harvest, minimize motivational pep talks and maximize supernatural healing and deliverance...Armed with maps, stats and the Great Commission, go 2x2 treasure hunting, find “the person of peace”, heal the sick, cast out demons and then teach them the divine arithmetic of discipling just one soul every month, and very soon, you will have a thousand souls in your savings account.
14. Most church going Christians are deluded into thinking that they are believers. To be a believer you have to carry signs (evidence, proof) of a believer? – “And these signs shall follow a believer; he shall cast out demons…and pray for the sick and they will be healed.” But a believer will not make it to heaven, if he fails to disciple the delivered. Yeshua did not ask you to make believers, but to make disciples. Unglue from the pews all those lukewarm Churchians who sit, soak and stagnate, and send them to heal the sick, raise the dead, tread on snakes and scorpions (expel demons), bind the ‘strongman’, plunder his possessions, demolish the gates of Hell, and make disciples.
15. Resurrect from being a dead organization to a living organism. Missions is too important to be left to extra-biblical professionals with cosmetic titles like Director, Chairman and CEO etc. Replace “Reverend culture” with five-fold ministry-gifted Elders of either gender, like apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers. The primary function of the church is to equip the saints, stagnating on the pews, for the works of the ministry (offering mincha), resulting in growth and multiplication of the Body.
16. Stop despising the barefoot apostles: The religious mega-stars of yesteryears were focused on revival and churching the un-churched. In spite of mega claims, they made little dent in the global spiritual landscape. In the last couple of decades, the non-literate story tellers belonging to the oral tradition grassroots level workers, who were focused on “conversion movement” have emerged as global players in changing the religious canvass, especially the 10/40 Window countries. It is the shift from superstars to the common man/women, as the real drivers of the missions, that is changing the spiritual profile of the globe. To reach the ends of the earth, maximize every cell church, Sunday school, bible school, prayer cell, youth and women’s fellowships, cottage meeting and indeed every Christian household into full-fledged, authentic churches.
17. Filter out non-performing goats that come only for hatching (baby baptisms), matching (weddings) and dispatching (funerals). Replace them with sheep that take care of the hungry, thirsty, naked, strangers, sick and prisoners. Culling i.e. getting rid of the non-productive sheep and donating them as free gift to the nearest Pentecostal church, will greatly improve your standing in the local Pastor’s Fellowship. Culling is an integral dynamics of the ‘best practices’ of sheep rearing, so that the shepherd can focus and invest on the most productive sheep...As the dominance and the power of the clergy diminishes and the effectiveness of the empowered believers increases, the kingdom goes ballistic.
18. Simplify disciple making. Invite a couple of truth-seekers for a meal where the main dish is- The Lamb. Redefine authentic church as “the household of God” with a mission; wherever two or three, eat, meet, gossip the gospel, and multiply. Like Paul try reasoning first, if that does not work, then try persuading and if that fails, try disputing and when push comes to shove, perform a notable miracle that they cannot deny...Mini-church is the most cost effective strategy for reaching the ends of the earth by saving one household at a time. The architecture of an organic “household of God” is radically different from an organized church. It not only looks different but also her functional dynamics are entirely different.
19. Re-baptize seminaries, which are the Trees of the knowledge of good and evil and sanctify them as The Great Commission training centers. Be the Tree of life, wherever you are planted, and bring forth abundant new fruit, even your leaves should be for the healing of the nations. Share the whole wisdom of God from house to house, and set up an unstoppable momentum of multi-generational discipleship chain. Be they delinquent Christians or defiant devotees of other faiths, sound doctrine is not scholarly sermons from the pulpit, but the ability to convince, convict, convert and bring the recalcitrant to repentance.
20. God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden to work and to guard it. Significantly the Hebrew word Avodah for work can also be translated worship. Adam was to worship God through his work in the garden while guarding it from demonic attack. God took an accountability walk every evening to see how Adam was doing...Paul, Aquila and Pricilla, Cornelius, the Jailor, Lydia, Phoebe and many others continued to work in their professions and also transformed their workplaces. The same infallible and Holy God, in His wisdom has placed you, a fallible sinner, among other sinners, to worship Him through your redemptive work.
21. Remove the chapel, the chaplain, the pulpit, the collection box and the Sunday service and the church will still be there because you are the walking and talking mobile temple of the living God. Reorient your personal paradigm. Recognize ‘Hi, Hello,’ happy clappy Sunday Service as your ‘secondary, optional church’, a fig leaf skirt that is only a temporary solution. Your business, workplace or home, wherever you spend most of your time, is your ‘Primary nuclear church’. It matters little whether you are the CEO, or the janitor or the kitchen queen; you are a full-time work-place minister and accountable. Salvation is free but discipleship is costly. Salvation restores your relationship with the Father but discipleship restores you in the image of God by becoming a blessing to others. Salvation is not enough, for you are saved to save others.
22. Offer Mincha and then Pray. God said, my house shall be a house of sacrifice and I will meet with you and speak with you at the altar where continuous sacrifice is made...Yeshua said, “My house is a house of prayer for all nations” which means all nations will come there to be prayed for healing and deliverance and then discipled all the way into the Kingdom...A church that does not send you out to ‘raise your holy hands to pray everywhere’and optimize you to walk tall and make Christ ‘high and lifted up’ in your city, is not worth going to for you are not just a lay member of a fragmented denomination but a value added discipler of nations.
23. Most good missionaries practice bad missiology because they come from highly literate societies heavily preloaded with their church culture and traditions which they try to impose on others who find them offensive. They must change hearts and delete all that is demonic but should do no violence to their food habits, dress code and culture, including their worship style, just because they are different. Do not hurriedly church a new believer into an institutional church, where he will be lectured to but not discipled. Yeshua did not call us to be church-goers but cross-bearers and disciple-makers. Sadly 99.9 percent Christians do not have a clue, on how to share their faith even with their best friends, forget about leading someone of other faith to Christ and by some fluke if that happens, then they do not know how to make him a disciple, simply because they themselves have never been discipled. Find a coach who is loaded with lasting fruit, to take you out for practice sessions in the harvest field.
24. Are you Rapture ready? Do not wait ‘till death do us part’, rather do whatever it takes to precipitate Rapture by bringing Christ back on earth in your own generation. Re-set your priorities to preach Christ where He has not been named. Any place where Christ is not high and lifted up, including your workplace, home or neighborhood is dragon land. You are a candle with the potential to kindle thousands of candles and obliterate darkness from those who sit in darkness and in the shadows death. For this you do not have to go to church from Sunday to Sunday nor work from paycheck to paycheck. You are chosen and “ordained” to bring lasting fruit.
25. Adopt a ‘completion mindset’. Evaluate your ministry by the Great Commission as its mandate, with the numbers of disciples made, baptized, equipped and sent out as the benchmark. Like our Lord, focus on a few to reach many. Aim to become a millionaire of souls. And why not? After all, you believe in a great and awesome God for whom nothing is impossible. At the very least, like Peter, shoot for 3000 baptisms every Pentecost. Or like Paul, plant a multiplying micro-church every day, till you can claim, “There are no more places left here for me to fully preach the gospel.’ The minimum standard to qualify as a follower of Yeshua is, that like your Master, equip twelve disciples who have the confidence and the competence to turn their world upside, wherever they are placed. If you are not connected with your world, then you are disconnected with your God for He has placed you there to write Acts 29.
l-my wife Linda, c-Bindu Choudhrie, r-me (Guy)
at the Antioch Gathering in October 2009