Glory, Peace & Favor- Advent Thoughts 2

This time of year can be a bit stressful. We have so much to do, we sometimes miss the glory of what God is doing. We look right past it.  We see but don’t see.

For me, the end of the year is a time when I look back on the past year.  This past week I’ve been busy writing end of year reports, comparing data, making sure everything is properly accounted for.  This season can also be a busy time with parties, events, gifts to buy, sermons/messages to prepare, family visiting, guests coming by, etc.

In the midst of these details, added tasks and the stress comes with them, it is so easy to loose our sense of awe and meaning. It’s easy to feel anxious, bothered, frustrated. It’s easy to forget about the angels. It’s easy to forget to notice the “glory” around us, or to give God “glory.”

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His glory is what it is all about!

The angel’s declared “Glory to God in the Highest.”  He must receive glory!  Pause a minute…okay, even half a minute…and give Him glory today.  Quiet your heart and notice His Presence.  Let His peace enter your earth bound heart.  It’s why Jesus came.

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:13-14)

Take one more minute.  Thank Him for His favor on your life.  Ask Him to let His favor rest on you and all those you influence; on those you train, mentor, disciple, and pray for.

Join with me in this prayer today.

Increase your Glory Lord!  Fill us, and those who don’t yet know you, with the peace that only You can give.  Let them “see” your glory in my life. Let your favor continue to increasingly rest upon us.  This Christmas, fill the nations…ever nation, tribe and tongue, with Your Glory Lord… on Earth as it is Heaven.

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Advent Thoughts: Who Did God Use?

Who does God delight to reveal Himself to?  Who does He so often choose to spread His message of love? Is it the qualified and trained? Or the ordinary person?

This Advent season, I’ve been reading again the incredible story of Jesus’ birth.  There is so much to be amazed about, to ponder and think about in this story.

Today I asked myself the question: If I were the Messiah coming to earth, who would I first announce my arrival to?

I’d probably look for people of influence, good communicators, people who are believable and have credibility.  I’d want to choose those who are well educated and could clearly and eloquently articulate the message of my coming.

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Jesus chose to announce His long awaited, miraculous arrival to shepherds in a field.  Let that sink in for a minute.  Uneducated laborers.  Common people who lived outside among sheep.

Why in the world would God choose them? Doesn’t he know they don’t understand things very quickly?!! (I’m kidding of course, though I have definitely experienced first hand how it can sometimes be hard to get less educated people to understand certain concepts and principles!)

Why not the Rabbis?  Why not the High Priest?  Why not the upstanding citizens of the big city Jerusalem, or at least the scribes who could properly write it all down??

God chose to give the first announcement of His coming to Earth to very ordinary people.  He then chose to spread that word, the testimony/witness of His birth, through them.

Luke 2:17-18 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.

If God chose to do this, maybe we should consider the key role that ordinary people play in sharing His message.  Maybe we should trust and empower the less educated, the less articulate, the day laborers and field workers to do the work of the ministry.  Maybe it isn’t God who thinks we need lots of qualifications to share His good news.  Maybe it is us as humans who have put all these conditions on who is qualified to do the work of the Kingdom.

A major key to seeing a DMM (Disciple Making Movement) released is that we believe in and give genuine authority to ordinary believers to do the work of the ministry.  God was willing to trust lay people without much training.  Shouldn’t we?

Give the “Best Jesus presents” in 2017!

It’s His birthday that we celebrate each year on December 25th, right?  He should definitely be given a birthday gift.  The question is what?  What do you give to the One who made it all?  What would really make His birthday a party in Heaven?

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In Luke 15, we find three very similar stories; the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin and the Lost Son.  Each of these stories ends with a description of what happens in Heaven when even one person repents.  Can you imagine the party in heaven if 50 people repented? What if it was a hundred?  Or 500?  That would be a pretty big angelic celebration!  I can imagine Jesus joining right in the dance!  Woohoo!  My beloved ones have come home!

I’m thinking that what really makes a party a party for Him is when there are lots of new names written in the Book of Life He keeps.

This Christmas, what if instead of focusing on our having a great party on earth, we focused on what would give him a fun party in Heaven?  It is His birthday after all!

Many of our Christmas traditions, feasts, songs, dances and programs are geared to help Christians enjoy themselves. We might even invite people who aren’t yet believers and include a little message at the end, especially for them.  This year I’ve been asking though, what could we do differently to see more lost people get introduced to Jesus- the One who the Big Celebration is all about.  What if we did something different and the people we invite, not only met Him casually (prayed some kind of prayer of response), but what if they actually made a decision to repent, follow Him and become a disciple? What if what we did at Christmas actually resulted in new groups of disciples meeting together regularly to learn His ways and obey His commands?

I think that would make a pretty awesome Jesus present!

Seriously… as disciple makers, lets re-evaluate what we have done in the past at Christmas. How fruitful was it, in light of the goal of making disciples who make disciples?  What could we do differently this year to see a different result?

I’ve talked recently with a few people about this.  Plans are being made to include more one on one sharing of testimonies.  Plans are forming to prioritize follow up immediately after the “program” on Christmas day, to immediately invite the seekers or new believers into groups where they can learn what it means to be a disciple.  Church members are being challenged and trained to share the good news of Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection more this month than normal- believing for many new disciples to be made in December.

Jesus is going to have an incredible Christmas Birthday party!  What gift will you bring Him this year?

Starting strong with New Believers

You shared the story of Jesus.  At the end, you asked the question – Do you believe that what I’ve been sharing with you is true?  Do you want to receive the free gift of salvation Jesus offers you today?  They respond with a yes!  Woohoo! Praise God! You pray with them and introduce them to Jesus for the first time and He becomes their Lord and Savior.  Things are going well.  You are thrilled at what is happening in their lives!

What is next?

It is at this critical point when the “slow down” factor often happens in our disciple making when it comes to the goal of a movement.

Immediately after someone receives Christ is as critical a time in their spiritual life, as  the first month is for a new born baby.  We would never think of bringing a child into the world and then telling the baby, “Now come once a week to this meeting we have and you will get the food and care you need.”  Would we? Of course not!  Yet this is exactly what often happens with new believers.

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When we don’t train people how to disciple new believers, they don’t know what to do next. At this point, many simply invite the person to start attending church with them.  That is all the follow up they do. This is a major loss of opportunity for that person and for the movement. If we train on this issue, and make a few key changes, we can see much greater multiplication!

There are a few critical things we must train our disciples to do with new believers.

  1. Get them to immediately start sharing their story (testimony) with others.
  2. Start meeting them often to teach them the basics of what it means to follow Christ.

In Mark chapter five we read the story of Jesus casting many demons out of a man.  The man begs Jesus to let him stay with him.  How did Jesus respond?

Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”(Mark 5:19)

Immediately after this man met was set free, the Lord instructed him to begin evangelizing others. If Jesus felt new believers were ready to start ministry immediately, then I too can follow that model!

In addition to encouraging them to share their faith, get your disciples to also start meeting with those new believers often.  They need to learn some basics!  Ying Kai, of T4T, calls these the Baby Lessons.  There are lots of different foundational discipleship tools you can use though.  Just make sure you get them to regularly start praying, receiving from the Word of God daily, and connecting with their new spiritual family in real and significant ways.  For this to happen those who led them to Christ will need to meet with them often.

What are the biggest obstacles to this?  Time and training.  Disciples we are training often learn how to evangelize but aren’t trained about how to make disciples once someone believes.  Those who have normal full time jobs and families, don’t have a lot of free time to follow up on those who are responsive.  Encourage them at this point to give more time to discipling those who receive and getting them to start to witness to their friends and family.  This may mean they will have less time for evangelism. That is okay. They also can utilize phone, whatsapp and other means to stay in touch frequently during the first few months when someone has believed.

Start strong with new believers.  Quickly turn them into disciples and trainers of others.  Train your disciples to do this.  Your movement will leap forward into new generations!

What Makes a Church a Church? Part 3

“Is my home group a church?”  you may ask.  “We don’t have a pastor and we are only a few families that meet together.”

“Does time of day and day of week have to do with if we should call this a church?  Can a church meet on a Tuesday night and still be a church?” Again, good questions.

It is  important to answer these.  What is it that makes a church a church? A great place to find answers is to look at the early church described in Acts.

In Part 2, we looked at five of the characteristics of the early church from the passage below.  We will now take a look at the remaining five.

41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.

Acts 2:41-26 NIV

GENEROUS & SACRIFICIAL GIVING

Generosity is one of the characteristics of revival. When God is at work, our natural response of gratitude and love is to give!  In the early church, extreme giving was seen.  People sold what they had to meet the needs of others.  There was a lot more than “tithing” happening in this New Testament church.  Sadly, what we often see in developing nations is a hesitancy to train new believers to give.  We sometimes don’t even give new believers the opportunity to obey Jesus in this way, because we fail to take offerings.  We are afraid to offend them, or we think they are too poor to give.  This is a big mistake! It hinders the growth of both the individual the church.

CARING FOR EACH OTHER

Not only in this passage, but in many other passages in the New Testament, we clearly see that disciples of Jesus loved and served each other.  They noticed one another’s needs and took action to help.  Whether it was food, protection, housing, encouragement or churchprayer, we see them reaching out to one another in love.  How well is your church doing at helping the members to care for each other?  Are you as the leader doing all the caring? Trying to meet all the needs?  Part of the church functioning is when its members spontaneously serve each other.  A church that functions well will notice needs and respond.

MEETING TOGETHER

This one seems obvious!  The New Testament church met together often, even daily! Many churches are meeting together less and less.  What does that say about the presence of life in the church?  Or the busyness of people’s lives?  Church is much more than another “service” with songs and preaching.  I’m not advocating that we increase the number of times we do that.  Churches that function well, are life giving.  People actually want to meet together often, because they are receiving life when they gather.  How life giving are your times of meeting together?

PRAYER

Prayer was a vital part of the New Testament church.  They gathered often to pray and prayed often when they gathered.  Many churches pray to open and close the service but that is about the extent of their prayer as a body.  Look for ways to incorporate prayer into your church life.  Encourage disciples to make prayer a part of their daily lives and rhythms.  Consider hosting a special prayer emphasis during particular times of the year for increased time in corporate prayer.

EATING TOGETHER

Yes, this too is part of church life. Yeah!! It builds relationships when we eat together.  church eatingThe New Testament church shared meals regularly.  In many cultures, to eat together indicates equality and acceptance.  In Hindu society, certain castes and classes do not eat together.  As we come to Christ, we are united as one.  There is neither Jew, nor Greek, slave nor master, male nor female, we are one body (Gal. 3:28).  Eating together is a powerful symbol of the unity and love we share because of Christ.

What if we don’t do all these ten things?  Are we a Church?

If you are doing many or most, then yes! This is not a list of things you have to do to qualify as a church.  Its also not an exhaustive list! There are many other scriptures that could be considered. These characteristics of the church in Acts Chapter Two are good to keep in mind though.

Which of these could you include a bit more?  Perhaps you see some gaps in your church function.  Don’t feel bad!  Take steps to start including those things more in the future.

Let’s Be the Church!

What Makes a Church a Church?-Part 2

What Makes a Church a Church?  Its an important question to ask!

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Last week, in Part 1, we looked at the two primary metaphors in the New Testament used to describe the church; the Body of Christ and the Family of God.  Today we want to think about the Church’s function.

In my organization, we make end of the year reports about our church planting efforts and progress.  We want to know how many new churches have been planted each year so we can celebrate what God has done and report back to our leaders what has been happening.  As we do these reports, we face the issue of what is the difference between a church and a “preaching point” or a “fellowship group.”

Another question arises.  When does a Bible study or prayer cell become a church?  What needs to be happening for us to call it a church?

A good passage to draw clues as to how the church is to function is Acts Chapter Two where the first church is described.

41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.

Acts 2:41-26 NIV

In this passage we see 10 key functions of the church.

BAPTISM

As people come to faith, it is the responsibility and a function of the church to baptize them.  Throughout the book of Acts and the entire New Testament we see that local believers baptized those they led to faith.  A healthy and functioning church baptizes new disciples often.

TEACHING

Whenever the church meets, we need to feed on God’s word- the teachings of Jesus and the apostles.  This was the New Testament practice.  Sometimes they read Paul’s letters.  Sometimes the stories of Jesus life were retold.  The Word of God needs to be a central part of the life of a church.

FELLOWSHIP

Fellowship is another over used religious word.  What it means is: friendship, companionship, and social interaction. Churches that are functioning well encourage these things to take place, they make space for this.  Sometimes it happens organically.  Sometimes structures that facilitate developing of closer friendships need to happen.  If the church is “being the church” though- it will be made up of people who would call themselves friends.

LORD’S SUPPER-BREAKING OF BREAD

While many churches today practice the tradition of pastor or priest giving the Lord’s supper, in the New Testament, this practice was done in homes by ordinary believers.  Jesus’ instruction to us was to “do this in remembrance of me” (1 Cor 11:24).  House churches, without ordained clergy present, sometimes fail to celebrate this important and meaningful ceremony.  They wait for a larger gathering where a more “qualified” person can give communion.  Celebrating the Lord’s supper regularly fulfills the  command of Jesus and is the responsibility of every church- large or small.

SIGNS AND WONDERS

In the New Testament church, signs and wonders were quite common.  Ordinary believers laid hands on the sick and saw them recover.  Disciples encountered demons and cast them out.  The presence of the kingdom of God was demonstrated through miraculous demonstrations of God’s love and power.  Churches that are functioning like those in the New Testament make space for the supernatural activity of God’s Holy Spirit. Lives are transformed and miracles big and small happen regularly.

Are these five things happening in your church on a regular basis?  If not, why not?

Next week in What Makes a Church a Church- Part 3, we will consider the other five.

 

 

What Makes a Church a Church?-Part 1

When people typically think of a church, they think about a building, a pastor, a pulpit, church members, a weekly meeting, etc.  Sadly, this is what the definition of a church has become. Even Merriam-Webster defines the word church as “a building for public and especially Christian worship.”  This definition, though a commonly used one, is sadly not  biblical.

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What is a church according to God’s word? In the New Testament, the original Greek word for church is ekklésia.  It means those who are “called out of the world to God.”  To the Greeks it meant an assembly of people.*

There are two primary metaphors used in the New Testament to describe the church.  These are; 1) the Body of Christ and 2) the Family of God.  When the church functions as a body and a family, it begins to look like what the Bible describes as a church.

THE BODY OF CHRIST

The church is made up of people with different gifts to contribute.

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 1 Corinthians 12:12 NIV

In many “churches” only a few special people use their gifts.  A highly trained and exceptionally gifted person speaks, professional musicians perform, lighting specialists do their thing…this is what “the church” has become.  Many people attend and are entertained, but have no opportunity to use or develop their spiritual gifts.

The body isn’t functioning so well in these settings unless there is a major emphasis on home groups in addition to these large gatherings.  I’d contend that those groups are actually where “church” happens.

In house churches, it is more natural for everyone’s gifts to develop.  Even in house churches, however, we need to be intentional about giving all a chance to participate in order for the body to function effectively.

THE FAMILY OF GOD

The other common metaphor of the church is that of a family.  Often through the New Testament we hear believers refer to one another as brother or sister. Paul addresses Timothy as his son in the faith (1 Tim. 1:2).  Peter speaks of the importance of love in the family of believers – in the churches.

Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor., honor the emperor. 1 Pet. 2:17 NIV

When people come to Christ, they enter into a new family- the family of God.  We need to make our churches a place where a sense of family is felt.  Family relationships are different than other types of relationships.  The level of loyalty and commitment to one another is much greater in a family than in a work place for example.  On my wall I have a saying written “Family is forever.”

How can we cultivate a feeling of family in the church?  This is hard to do when the church is only a meeting that takes place every week.  Relationships in the church need to go deeper than this.  This means meeting more than just on Sunday mornings, it means being a part of one another’s lives.  It means serving one another, being there for each other in times of difficulty, giving to each other.

The churches in the book of Acts had this high level of relationship and commitment to each other.  Often in locations with intense persecution this happens more than in other places. It need not take persecution to make us realize the importance of deeper relationships.

Again, in house churches this comes more naturally than in building churches.  Yet, as with functioning as a body, it requires intentional effort.  What can we do to help develop a sense of “family” in our house church?  How can we help people to know each other better and to serve one another more?

If our churches look like bodies and families, we are getting closer to functioning in the biblical sense as a church.

Next week’s blog will describe some of the necessary functions of the church (as described in the New Testament.)

*http://biblehub.com/greek/1577.htm

5 Things that Destroy Movements

Some months ago I wrote about 6 Factors that get your movement moving. It’s always good to look at positive things we can do to see greater fruit and growth!

It is also important to be aware and wise about what kinds of things kill a movement.  Sometimes we call these “Death Factors.” These are things to be extremely careful about.  wave-2649217_1280They may seem normal or innocent, but if your goal is a multiplying movement they will definitely “sink your ship.” When these things start to happen, you can be sure that the movement will stop growing. If you are just getting started, the movement can die before it every really starts.  There are other “death factors” to consider, but here are five of the most common.

  1. Bringing outside funding into the movement

In Acts 20:34-35 Paul says,  You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions.  In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”  Paul went the extra mile to model tent making in order to give an example of locally generated funds. We need to train local believers that it is more blessed to give than receive from outside.  We need to protect the movements we start from the huge dangers of foreign or outside funding. 

Bringing in outside funding, even in small and seemingly insignificant ways, can wreak havoc on the local people’s desire and motivation to give.  It often radically affects their willingness to share the gospel without financial or material compensation. This basically stops (or dramatically slows) the spread of gospel witness.  Greed, a spirit of competition, jealousy and many other difficult issues arise when outside money is received by some and not others.  Ownership of the movement comes into question, and the vision and responsibility for carrying the movement forward shifts from local indigenous believers to outsiders.

There are so many temptations in this area!  In our desire to help, we often cripple the local people rather than empowering them to stand on their own feet.  We use outside money to build buildings, pay pastors or evangelists, purchase motorcycles, etc. all with good intentions, unknowingly causing the movement to become sick, rather than healthy.  All this leads to less, not more growth, in the long run.  Money can both help and hurt.  When the money is from outside the movement, most often it hurts!

2. Sending key emerging leaders away for training

This is another common mistake that leads to the death of a movement.  Rather than training and discipling indigenous leaders locally in “just in time” ways, we decide to send them for outside training. Did you notice that in Ephesus, Corinth, or other places he started new work, Paul never sent the emerging house church leaders to Jerusalem to be trained?  No, he trained them himself locally. After he left, he continued to mentor them through letters and follow up visits.  What would have happened to these early churches had he sent them off to the “Bible school” or “DTS/SBS” (YWAM’s equivalent trainings) in Jerusalem to learn under those from another culture, language and context?

What might have happened then (but thankfully didn’t!) is exactly what so often happens today.  People go for outside training and come back with Bible knowledge, personal growth in their lives and other positive things, but they then don’t know how to live it out in their own community and context.  They naturally bring back with them external styles of worship and ways of encountering God that are often not a good fit for the local people.  Depending on the length of the training, they can sometimes come back so changed that they don’t fit in anymore. Sometimes they don’t even like the local village or indigenous context anymore.  They then can decide to go back for more training or to live in the big city where things are more modern, etc.  Or, because they have left their prior jobs and way of earning a living, they now want to have financial support raised for them. Often, instead of continuing to serve the growing movement as a bi-vocational leader, they end up joining the organization that ran the training.  This is a huge loss to the movement’s momentum and growth.

Even for shorter training of only a few months, we must be very cautious about sending emerging movement leaders away to be trained.  It is often counter productive in the long run!

3. Fear of persecution (or losing your visa)

Persecution causes the church to grow and spread.  In the book of Acts we see that when persecution increased and the believers scattered, every where they went they shared the good news.  The fear of persecution, however, can definitely be a death factor.  Fear of persecution is very contagious.  Sadly, fear is often a major issue in the lives of cross cultural missionaries trying to initiate movements.  Having been told that they need to be careful to not do anything that would cause them to lose their visas to stay in a country, cautious missionaries can then impart that same DNA to those they disciple.

In Ephesians 6:19-20 Paul writes, “Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel,  for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.” (NIV)

Paul was not afraid of what might happen if he shared the gospel.  He did however ask for prayer that he would be fearless in declaring it. He believed this was what he should do.  The fact that he asked for prayer, indicates it was at times a struggle, even for him.

We may feel fearful for very valid reasons.  The risks are real. We can not let fear control us. We must model bold witness and raise up indigenous disciples who boldly take risks to share their faith in spite of the possible consequences.  Don’t give in to fear.  Like Paul, lets pray for God’s grace to overcome it!

4. Lack of Focus and Distractions

The distraction of “good things” have caused more movements to stall than any other factor I see in Asia.  Busyness is a major enemy we must fight against! We so easily lose our focus and fail to move forward in the important work of evangelism, discipleship and developing leaders.  We spend our time running here and there to various meetings, teaching in this or that school, entertaining guests who come through town, etc.  At the end of the day (or month) we have devoted very little time to doing the real work we are called to do.

In order to say “yes” to relationships with lost people and to developing and training disciples, you must say “no” to many other good Christian activities.   You may need to say “no” to exciting invitations to travel abroad and represent your nation, sharing about your work.  You may need to say “no” even to people you love and respect.

I spoke with a church planter today.  We talked about ways he could help the believers in his fellowship begin to share their testimony with others.  We talked about options for training and vision casting.  At the end of our talk, however, when I asked him what his plans were, he said he was very busy and wouldn’t be able to do any of the things we spoke about.  He had a leadership gathering to attend, then he was teaching in a training in another city.  After our talk concluded, I felt sad.  Without dramatic change, these distractions will most likely destroy any chance of him seeing a multiplying movement.

5. Church traditions are valued more than the instructions of Jesus

Those who want to see disciple making movements must be willing to “go against the flow” in their ways of working.  What the traditional church has become comfortable with and what is “normal” for them, is often not very biblical.  It is also often not what is needed for greater fruit to result.  That is why many traditional churches have half empty buildings.  Even for those traditional churches that are growing, many times it is what we call “transfer” growth- people who are already Christians moving to a new area or changing churches seeking better programs.

Obedience to the ways and instructions of Jesus is critical to seeing a disciple making movement.  Jesus’ commands are not options!  Jesus commanded his disciples to go and share the good news with everyone.  When we make this only something that “qualified” or ordained people do, we are not following his instructions or his model.  Here is another example of a radically different approach to today’s church traditions. Jesus sent his disciples without an extra bag, extra pair of sandals, and without health insurance! Can you believe that?!! The sent ones (Luke 10) were dependent upon local men of peace to provide for their needs.  Yet our church traditions tell us that much preparation and finances is needed for new pioneering work to start.  There are many issues in church planting where we automatically look to traditional models rather than to Jesus or Paul to know what to do.  Another is baptism and who can baptize.  When we follow the traditions of men, we will get the same results.  When we follow Jesus’ model, or the model of the New Testament church, much faster growth is the result.

When we place greater importance on pleasing the church around us than on obeying Jesus we will not see movement style growth.  You can not make everyone happy.  But that is not your goal is it?  Our priority is pleasing God and reaching the lost, not pleasing the traditional church.  We do our best, is it says in Romans 12:18, to live at peace with everyone.  But we always put a higher priority on pleasing God, than men.

Be careful of these death factors!  Be aware and don’t fall into them unintentionally.  Sometimes you will feel like you are “swimming upstream,” but the end result of seeing thousands of lost people come into the kingdom… it’s well worth the effort!

3 Things that Increase Boldness

“I have tried and tried to get the believers in our fellowship to share the gospel, but they are fearful, shy and just don’t seem able to witness.”  This is not unusual to hear from the church planters I am coaching.  What can we do to increase boldness and help the disciples we are working with overcome their fears?

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Here are three things that make a BIG difference in this area.

  1. Holy Spirit. The classic biblical example is Peter in Acts chapter two.  When Jesus was being tried, 3 times he denied even knowing him.  He certainly wasn’t witnessing at that point!  But after he received the power of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, he stood in front of thousands and boldly proclaimed the gospel with authority and conviction.  If your church members aren’t witnessing, pray for them to receive the power of the Holy Spirit. It will make a world of difference.
  2. Practicing. Many people lack confidence to witness.  They feel embarassed when they stumble over their words or don’t know what to say, how to answer questions, etc.  After teaching them how to share their testimony, make sure to take time for practicing it in a safe environment with other believers.  Let them share it several times and get feedback.  Do the same when training people to share a Creation to Christ story.  Practice builds confidence and helps them to overcome fear of failure and embarassment.
  3. Making a List. Ying Kai of T4T says that people don’t share because they don’t know who to share with.  He encourages people to make a Lost and Saved list and begin to pray for the people on that list.  Then, they can choose a few people each week to specifically make plans to share their testimony with.  Being specific and accountable about plans to share the gospel helps people move forward.  Make sure to also affirm and encourage a lot, even if their efforts in the beginning don’t yield success.

It goes without saying that we as trainers and disciplers also need to really pray for believers in this area and model boldness in our own lives too!  If we are demonstrating a lifestyle of evangelism and bold witness, they will see it is possible and that they too can do the same.

Bold witness is a major characteristic of growing DMMs.  Believe God to help you increase the believer’s boldness!

 

When God Restores- Women Get Included in the Inheritance

At the end of the book of Job, we see a picture of restoration.  He has been through testing and trials and now God blesses and restores.  When He restores, He doubles all Job had. Job 42:10 says “When Job prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes.  In fact, the Lord gave him twice as much as before!” 

cute-girl-2060006_1920Another interesting thing comes up in this passage at the end of Job.  It is about Job’s daughters.  As God restored Job’s life, he gave him seven more sons and three more daughters. Here is the interesting part. It says in Job 42:15 “In all the land, no women were as lovely as the daughters of Job.  And their father put them into his will along with their brothers.” Job, after God had tested and then restored him, included his daughters in his will- he gave the daughters an inheritance!  This was very unusual in his culture and time.  It speaks of the change of heart and the transformation in Job that God had brought about.

Some months back, I wrote about another interesting passage from Joshua Chapter 17 that speaks of the daughters of Manasseh asking for their inheritance.

In these days, God is wanting to restore to women their place in the Kingdom family.  Women have a spiritual inheritance to receive from God alongside of their husbands and brothers.  In Acts Chapter Two Peter quotes from the book of Joel and says “In the last days I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, your sons and your daughters shall prophesy…” God wants to release and raise up women to take hold of their spiritual inheritance!  He wants to double the harvesters by releasing women to be disciple makers and church planters too! Women can be great evangelists!  Just look at the woman at the well who led her whole village to faith in Jesus!

Women in many countries feel that they can not do much, that their only role in the kingdom is to stay at home and care for their families.  They don’t believe that God could use them to share the gospel or make disciples.  Cultural issues, church traditions, and many other things keep them from rising up to take hold of the inheritance God has for them.  Be a part of encouraging and releasing women.  They are included in the inheritance!  They have an important Kingdom role to play!