I recently had the opportunity to connect with an amazing team of church planters. They were spending the day together praying, sharing stories and learning about how to multiply disciples as they planted new communities of faith. One of their leaders asked me to stop by and introduce myself. As we were talking about how important it is to cultivate a healthy, Jesus-centered culture from the very beginning of any new church plant, our conversation began to focus on how important it is to invest time into growing healthy leaders.
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Making disciples is messy. Looking at the apostles’ letters to the churches, or Paul’s letters to his spiritual sons, we see the early church fathers grappling with a wide range of issues that would hold believers back from becoming more like Jesus—blatant sin, faulty doctrines, false teachers, lack of faith, and many more. At one point, in response to the unbelief and perversion in His own generation, Jesus even asked, “How much longer do I have to be with you before you get it?”
As a disciple maker living out the Great Commission, it can often feel discouraging to pour so much of your life into a person or group of people, so much time and energy and prayer, only to watch them get entangled in the same sin again, struggling with the same character issues, running into the same wall. Luckily for us, Jesus Christ didn’t come for perfect people.
Lisa (not her real name) is “missing”…AGAIN! Lisa has committed to follow Jesus. Lisa loves Jesus. Lisa also loves spice and is struggling with a lifelong addiction issue. Lisa was doing so well – Celebrate Recovery on Tuesday nights and worship on Saturday nights. New people, places and things (we thought). Clean and sober! Everything looked great! And then, a “fall”! 40 days in the “wilderness” a.k.a. our local jail. We had Starbucks last week when she was released and she was “back on track”. I am so proud of her! A job. A place to live. Back in the family fold. Then, without warning, Lisa is M.I.A., and my heart is broken. Our spiritual family is grieving. Her Mom’s heart is destroyed...again!
We are in the midst of a harvest; but, it is certainly a “messy” harvest.
My family and I recently took a trip with our friend, Cody. As we were driving down the road, we started talking about how to encourage friends who are struggling with doubts about their faith. After chatting about this for a few minutes, Cody asked me if I had any thoughts about what he could do to help his friend.
While I don’t have an easy answer for everyone who wrestles with doubt, I found myself answering Cody’s question with conviction. What if we lived in a way where we could always share fresh testimonies of the reality of God’s love and power? What if we lived in a way where we were always seeing the gospel work in and around our lives?
Coach told us that instead of teaching us from a textbook that he would be sharing things from his life. While the "sharing life" language sounds very natural to me now, looking back I recognize that it was actually revolutionary for me to hear this man that seemed like a legend before I even met him, give to us out of his life experience. As he shared from his life, he directed our focus on the essentials of walking with God and warned us not to become distracted by things that wouldn't really matter in life.
In order to submit to the process, you have to sacrifice the idol of your dreams—and it hurts. That’s the real problem with the carpenter shop. We can get so zealous about our prophetic destiny that when God speaks about something else or points us in a direction that we deem contrary to what we have seen in the spirit, we feel robbed. But God is no thief; we know that the real reason He brings us into the dark room is not to lock us away, but to better develop the full picture of who He has made us to be. So the real question we need to ask ourselves is: Why do I feel like God is robbing me?
Brad McKoy took some time to talk to his good friend, Brian Orme, about his journey to learning the value of making disciples and living out the gospel in the micro. Their conversation covered the process of learning that discipleship is more than discussing a Christian book over coffee together. Pointing to the life of Jesus as our model for what it looks like to make disciples, Brad talks about the power of following Jesus in everyday ways and inviting others into that process.