I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately. And, for me, I mean A LOT. And it’s been great. A lot of what I’m reading about is coming out in my preaching and teaching but also in my conversations with people inside and outside of the church. I know it may sound cliche but… I’m getting excited about some of this stuff and I seem to want to talk about it a lot. I might even be driving some of you nuts. Oh well. You’ll live.
In a way, what I’ve just said is precisely the point of this blog post. How so, you ask? Let me explain.
In our church, we have been talking about changing our entire culture of “how we do church”. We want to get away from the contemporary idea of “entertain me”. By that, I’m not referring to worship teams and such because we are one of those churches that still uses a piano and hymn books. What I mean is that everyone in our culture, even in our churches, has settled into the mindset that when we come to church, there are the “entertainers” and the “entertained”. According to that way of thinking, I as a Pastor am an entertainer and I have come to church to entertain the rest of you who have come, not to do any entertaining but to be entertained. Whether we like to admit it or not, that’s what many churches have come to. We want to move away from this to a place where we begin to think of every person in the church as someone who comes to serve. Maybe you come to the worship service to learn but you learn in order to go out and tell others what you’ve learned. We want to train every person to be a disciple-maker (a phrase you hear around here a lot, lately).
Of course, the idea of training every person to be a disciple-maker does not come without some resistance. Oh, everybody acknowledges that the Bible teaches that this is the way it should be. Nobody would stand up and say “I don’t think that’s right. That’s just your job, Pastor. You do the disciple-making and we just get to sit here and watch.” No, people know what the Bible says. But they wrestle with putting it into practice in their own lives. You all know what that’s like - you’ve been there.
Now, some people will get excited and want to jump on board, be trained and get working on others right away. Praise God! What a blessing! Sometimes, we might even have to pull back on the reins a bit and say “Whoa! Slow down. Let me train you a bit first!” But what a good problem to have! Others, however, are… apprehensive. They might think that when we say we want them to be disciple-makers, we intend for them to lead a small group study. Or maybe we want them to teach a Sunday School class. Or, frighteningly worse, dare we say, stand in a pulpit and preach a sermon! And the thought of these things is so intimidating that they just don’t take that first step to being a disciple-maker. That’s counter-productive.
Eventually, our goal is that some people will become teachers in a public setting. Obviously, that’s a necessity. But not everyone is gifted by God for such things. At the same time, every Christian is required to be involved in the process of making disciples (Have you read Matthew 28 recently?) What we’d like to see is every Christian involved in two specific relationships; first, in a relationship where they are following someone who is leading them to become more like Christ and who is helping them to become a disciple-maker and second, in a relationship where they are leading someone to become more like Christ and helping them to become a disciple-maker. It’s one to one. It’s “one life to a life for life” (another phrase you’ll hear around here more and more.)
But even that one-on-one disciple-making relationship might seem intimidating right now for some people who have never been involved in something like that. So where do they start? How can we encourage them to begin thinking about their responsibility to be a disciple-maker?
In their book, The Vine Project, Colin Marshall and Tony Payne suggest this: “If the goal of Christian ministry can be [imagined] simply as helping any individual person we know to take one step to the right (towards Christ or towards maturity in Christ), then this is a task that each and every Christian can embrace with confidence. If we call upon the average church member to take up arms as a gospel minister or a disciple-maker or an evangelist, then (rightly or wrongly) many will feel sufficiently threatened to run in the opposite direction. But what if we were to say the following instead? ‘Why don’t you pray for the person next to you (wherever that might be), and see if by your word and example you can encourage them to take one step - even one small step - to the right?’” (Page 98)
So, Christian-who-feels-intimidated-by-these-early-steps-of-disciple-making, there’s the first step you can and should take, even today. What can you do by your word AND example to encourage someone to take one step toward Jesus? Notice the word and. I didn’t add that, but I did emphasize it. Don’t comfort yourself by saying you’re showing an example and thinking that’s sufficient. “Faith comes from hearing and hearing through the Word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). You won’t win them with just your lifestyle, even if that does go a long way. What can you do, by your word and example, to encourage them to take one small step towards Jesus?
You don’t need to get up in a pulpit. You don’t need to stand at a lectern. You don’t need to sit at the head table of a class. Say something spiritually edifying to the Christian beside you who is sitting quietly in church. Or say it to the unsaved person sitting alone in the staff room. Or say it to your neighbour who is out watering their flowers. Whoever. Just start saying somethings to someones.
And all the while, you know what I’ll be doing? I’ll be working, by word and by example, to encourage you to take one step to the right.
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9:45 a.m. Sunday Morning Bible Study
11:00 a.m. Sunday Morning Worship
120-1081 Central Ave N,