Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Several years ago in a presidential campaign one candidate's promotional team placed a card on the podium to remind him to keep focused upon the message he wanted to get across.  That message was simple:  "It's the economy stupid."
When we talk and think about discipleship we sometimes make it sound like it's something we do TO persons that make them grow as disciples of Jesus.  If we can just offer the right program, the right small group, the right curriculum, then persons will grow as disciples.  But the truth seems to me to be--It's relationship, stupid.

I'm not calling you stupid.  I am rather reminding myself that all the talk about disciples really comes down to relationship.  First, it is a relationship with Jesus Christ.  But how does someone come to know Jesus if they are not introduced to him?  If I have a good friend and we meet someone else I know, but this acquaintance doesn't know my good friend, what do I do?  I introduce them.  Evangelism seems to me is simply introducing persons we know to another person we know--Jesus. 

But growing as a disciple of Jesus takes more than an introduction.  It times time spent with Jesus living as he intended.  Jesus spent three years walking with, sharing with and living with his disciples.  He taught many.  He healed several.  He even fed thousands.  But in only had a few close disciples that in invested his life in.  These few were empowered to carry on after Jesus' death and resurrection.

How many persons are we investing our lives in?  For some this is what we do with our children.  Yet once our children have moved out, who do we invest our lives in?  In the church if every believer was discipling another person, what an impact that would have.  I believe that every pastor needs to be intentionally discipling another person or persons by investing special time with them.  I believe every pastor needs to continue to be discipled themselves through a mentor or peer group experience.

We often focus upon numbers and programs, but let's remember--It's relationship, stupid.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Qualities of a disciple-forming community: Spiritual Vitality

            For every disciple-forming community certain qualities are necessary.  These qualities do not have to come in a certain order but do build upon one another.  Over the next few blogs I will share something about each one.  Hopefully, you will enter into a dialogue and give some examples of how you see these working in the life of your congregation.

            The first quality I will talk about is Spiritual Vitality.  This is the desire to grow in relationship to Christ so that we can discern God’s call in our lives.  What does this look like in the church?
·        There is an abiding desire to grow in relationship with Christ.
·        There is an active trust in the power of God.
·        There is a sense of humility.
·        A desire to discern God’s call upon one’s life.
·        A willingness to change.
·        An enduring sense of gentleness and kindness towards others.
·        A bold commitment to participate in God’s mission in the world.

How do you see these characteristics lived out in your congregation?  Is there a spiritual vitality in your walk?  Do you seek a deeper awareness of God’s presence in your life and the life of your church?

Many persons in the world have a sense of a spiritual hunger.  They would say they are spiritual, but not religious.  How do you respond to these words?  How can we acknowledge this spiritual need and respond to it in ways that enable persons to grow in a relationship with God through Jesus Christ?

Share you thoughts with us.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Let's Do This Together

What can your church do to encourage discipleship within your congregation? 

First of all, you have to be willing yourself—as the pastor, as a leader in the church—to look at your own journey of discipleship.  What are you doing to grow deeper in your relationship with Jesus Christ?  Where are you being equipped to move out into new areas of ministry and mission?  Discipleship begins with me and you.  It is not something we want others to do or even can help others do if we don’t do it ourselves.

Second, as a church you can be intentional in your focus upon discipleship for everyone.  Talk about it in your board and committee meetings.  Discuss it with Sunday School teachers.  Lift it up as the focus for vacation Bible school.  Make it the main point of several worship services.  If you don’t know how to talk about discipleship, ask for help.  Our Region Staff are willing to help you focus upon discipleship.  The Discipleship Partners Network (information available on http://www.abc-indiana.org/) is a group of persons who can come to you to assist in being intentional about discipleship in all areas of your church ministry.

Third, you can share your stories with other churches.  Many churches are trying new things in discipleship.  There is no simple or single answer to how we help persons grow as disciples.  Share your stories with others.  You can share your stories by writing them down and sending them to the Baptist Observer Editor to be shared.  Or you can share them on here on Discipleship Explorations.

However you do it, the important thing is to do it.  We can’t make disciples if we don’t plan to make disciples.  Let’s do it together.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What's happening in your church?

I am very interested in hearing from you about what is happening in discipleship forming in your congregation.  I have been concerned about discipleship my whole ministry.  How do we pass on the faith practices?  What ways are persons "apprenticed" as disciples of Jesus?  I believe there are as many ways to disciple persons as there are disciples.  I also believe that discipleship is very much a relational practice.  We grow together when we share together. 

Churches are beginning to seek new ways of disciple-forming.  By this I don't mean only getting someone to the point of baptism.  I see disciple-forming as a life-long continual process.  We are meant to be growing as disciples all of our lives.  We grow closer to God.  We grow closer to one another.  And we grow in our own self understanding.

What is your congregation doing to enable persons to be growing as disciples of Jesus?  Share with me and others.  I hope this can become a dialogue of persons who care deeply about helping disciples grow throughout their lives.  Share your story.  Share what help keep you growing.  Share resources that you have found helpful.  Share what practices your congregation is using.