The Power of Discipleship

A person's last words are usually pretty important.  Typically these words give some sort of closure, bring peace, bestow blessings, give life or empower those who are privileged enough to have been the recipients of these words.  We have the privilege of being the recipients of such words.  Matthew 28:18-20 records, what we now recognize as the "Great Commission," Jesus' final words to us, The Church,

"Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (emphasis added)

He could have told us anything..."Remember that I love you and I'm proud of you!" "Make sure you take care of my mom!" "Don't forget to turn the oven off!"  ANYTHING, but He used this opportunity to share with us what was the most important thing for us to know..."Make disciples"

At some point, the church became more focused on seating capacity rather than sending capacity.

So why don't we do this?  Sometime in the late 1980's-early 1990's there was a shift in the church and the "Seeker Sensitive Church" was born.  It when at this point that evangelism largely became the primary focus of the church.  Before I continue, I should note that I am pro-evangelism.  It is absolutely necessary and biblical.  And our history is filled with amazing evangelists such as George Whitefield and Billy Graham. However, this shift towards evangelism has overshadowed the Great Commission.  At some point, the church became more focused on seating capacity rather than sending capacity.  Our focused shifted from making disciples to building the church.  Last I checked, it's not our job to build the church, that's Christ's job.  Take note, "Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means 'rock'), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it."  Matthew 16:18 Did you see that?! "I WILL BUILD MY CHURCH" So let's set the record straight: Our job=Make Disciples | God's job = Build the Church.

Our job = Make Disciples | God’s job = Build the Church

The reality is that if true discipleship is taking place, the Church will grow, because we will be carrying out God's mission for us, The Church.  Did you catch that?  God's mission for us.  You see God is a missionary God.  He is Sender, Sent and Sending.  God the Father sent Jesus, God the Son.  Together, God the Father and God the Son sent God the Holy Spirit.  And finally God, the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit sent us, The Church.  God sent us on a mission: Make disciples.  Jurgen Moltmann says it this way, "It's not that the church has a mission, it's that the mission has a church."  So rather than telling God what our mission is and asking Him to bless it, we ought to be asking God what His mission is and ask how we can join in with Him.

So are you ready to see what the power of discipleship looks like?  Let's compare two people.  The first person, an evangelist the second is you, a disciple maker.  Let's say that the evangelist gets one person saved a day, and he does this every day; he doesn't go home until at least one person is saved a day.  On the other hand, you, the disciple maker, decide to intentionally disciple two people for one year, at the end of that year you commission your two disciples to go and do the same thing with two new individuals and so on.

After year one:
Evangelist: 365 new believers         You: 2 disciples

I know, not that impressive...

After year two:      
Evangelist: 730 new believers         You: 4 disciples

Still, not that impressive...

After year three:
Evangelist: 1095 new believers        You: 8 disciples

Let's skip ahead....

After year ten:
Evangelist: 3650 new believers       You: 1024 disciples

After year twelve:
Evangelist: 4380 new believers       You: 4096 disciples

ARE YOU READY?

After year sixteen:
Evangelist: 5840 new believers       You: 65,536 disciples!!!

Discipleship might not be as appealing as evangelism...but it sure is more effective.  So who do you have in your life that you can intentionally disciple?  Find one person, who you can teach everything you know about Jesus.  Don't over complicate it - go get coffee and talk about Jesus, on purpose  Teach them what you know about Him.  I promise, not only will they grow, but you will grow too.  There is nothing better than being on mission with Jesus and being a part of His Kingdom work!  So go and change the world - make disciples!

 

Settling for Less: A Life Without Holiness - Pastor Zack

     I once heard a sermon by Craig Groeschel that was simply titled "Better."  In this sermon he surmised that many Christians live lives that are not altogether bad in fact they may even be good, however, God wants better for us.  Too often we settle for less than best and we have a "good enough" outlook on life and our walk with the Lord.  This has been the epidemic that has spread throughout the American church and is, what I believe to be, the cause of mediocre-luke-warm "Christianity."  

     This very subject is very personal to me, because it played a vital role in my salvation story.   I had grown up in the church, I had believed Christ to be my Savior, but my inability to overcome sin kept me from being a Christian.  Due to poor soteriology (study of salvation) and what I believe to be an incomplete definition of sin I thought that not sinning was the key to living the Christian life...well that flew like a lead balloon and it felt like I would take one step forward and three steps back.  So I gave up.  Clearly, I could not live a life without sin, so if I was going to be a sinner, I might as well be good at it.  Until, through Scripture, the Lord showed me that living a Christian life was so much more than not sinning.  God gave me this phrase: "It's not about not sinning, it's about living to glorify me in all that you do; by doing so sinning will, in a sense, fall by the wayside."

But sin is merely the symptom of the greater problem; a heart not inclined towards bringing glory and honor to the Lord.

     Through progressing in maturity and in my sanctification what the Lord has shown me is that there is better for me.  Here is the question that a large majority of "Christianity" is boiled down to these days: Is what I'm doing sinful?  On one hand this is not a bad question, in fact it is a necessary question, but is it the best question?  I would propose that the better question is this: Does what I'm doing bring glory to God?  You see, the first question focuses on the sin while the latter question focuses on God.  Richard Foster speaks to this notion that in order for us to change externally something must first change internally; he correctly states that, "When we are dealing with heart work, external actions are never the center of our attention. Outward actions are a natural result of something far deeper, far more profound."  Please don't hear what I'm not saying, I don't want to minimize sin.  Sin is bad. Sin separates us from The Father.  Sin brings about death.  Sin is what nailed Christ on the cross.  But sin is merely the symptom of the greater problem; a heart not inclined towards bringing glory and honor to the Lord.  

     So how do I settle for less?  By focusing on just getting by rather than thriving.  By asking, Is what I'm doing sinful?  We are called to live lives of holiness.  Holiness doesn't ask "is this sinful?"  Holiness asks "How can I bring glory to God?"  We sell God and ourselves short when we strive for anything besides holiness.  I don't want less, I want all that God has for me and more!

Impacting Our Future-Pastor Craig

On Tuesday, Myself (Pastor Craig) and Neil Snelling had the honor of attending the OCU Pastoral Leadership Forum and the 10th Annual Leadership Banquet that evening.  During the Pastoral forum the keynote speaker, Dr. Benny Tate, Lead Pastor for 27 years atRock Springs church in Georgia,  spoke on the topic of communicating with hurt people and also the topic of Finishing Well as a church.  Both of these talks were very impactful and will be very helpful on building and continuing momentum here at Community Church and in the ministries here. Last night we heard three speakers, Dr. John Maxwell, Senator David Perdue from Georgia and Hall of Fame Quarterback Jim Kelly from the Buffalo Bills.  All three were great and discussed leadership in churches and most importantly in our community.  The most impressive part of the night to me was not the three "big name" speakers but was Jim Kelly's 19 year-old daughter.  She shared the stage with her father and talked about her faith in God through the death of her brother and through the turmoil of almost losing her father to cancer 2 short years ago.  To witness an amazing young woman of faith openly talk about loss, struggle, depression and God's unconditional love really touched my heart.  This young lady has a NY times best-selling book at 19 years old titled "Kelly Strong. "  It is about faith, love, hope and Perseverance during times of struggle.  I took this quote away from last night and wanted to share it and challenge you.

"Make a difference today for someone who is fighting for their tomorrow."