Tag Archives: Discipleship

Pragmatic Theology

Jesus left his followers with the commission to, “teach them to obey everything I have commanded you.”  That’s a pretty tall order in itself.  It’s even harder when you wrestle with the two parts that you need to get right.  There’s teaching and there’s obeying (application).

Jesus says it another way in a parable:

Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.  But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

Matthew 7:24-27

Once again, there are two important parts to teaching and theology – the “hearing” and the “putting into practice.”  You’re not built on a rock until you’ve done both with God’s words.

Here’s the dilemma for any pastor, teacher, or anyone who’s doing their best disciple others toward Jesus: where do you put the emphasis?  Some fill heads well with Bible knowledge, but might not produce people who act more like Jesus at the end of the day.  Others cut to the point of smiling more and being at peace, but it might not have much integrity in the gospel truths we find alone in Jesus.  “Balance” sounds like the easy answer, but every time I prepare and share a message, I’m making intentional choices to emphasize the teaching to some extent and the application to another.  Balance might not even be the right answer!

Think about this… Continue reading

Exponential 2014

Back at the Exponential Conference this year, so expect a lot of blog posts with notes and thoughts throughout the week.  Discipleship, Outreach, Church Planting, all that good stuff.

This year, Melissa and I actually get to do a seminar for the Marriage & Family Track… we’re calling the talk “Communication in Marriage… While Church Planting.”

Teaching for Change?

I’ve begun preparing messages for the opening season of Lakepoint Church.  In the midst of it all I’m pondering what God hopes to have come out of the teaching efforts of a church.

Change is the first thing that comes to mind.  If the teaching doesn’t help people become more like Jesus, then what was the point?  It stands to reason then that every message ought to have a clear point – something to know and something to do.

On the other hand, it sure looks to me that there are some things that are just good to know, even if there is nothing to do about it.  Old Testament Narrative Literature for example – God rarely caps it off with an applicable lesson or action item.  He just wants us to know him through the recounting of Israel’s history.

I’m not throwing out application by any means, but I wonder if sometimes God would just have us teach His history without inferring or allegorizing a lesson?

Lakepoint: Outreach, Discipleship, and Everything That Comes Together To Make Us A Church

At last Sunday’s Launch Community Gathering, I laid out the full diagram of how we’re going to do church at Lakepoint.

You may have been asking, “Where’s my small group?”  It’s all there, just spread out a little differently.  At the end of the day our desired outcomes in outreach and discipleship is just like any other church.  Our structure just comes off differently because we’ve made relational outreach a non-negotiable activity for everyone seeking to grow with Lakepoint.  Lost people matter.  It’s worth structuring a church around what the unchurched need.

Your involvement in Lakepoint will have three components: Sunday Services (4x/month), Missional Communities (2x/month), Everyday Circles (2x/month or more).  Well, Serving Teams are a fourth, but that’s mostly under Sunday Services.

Sunday Services are where you’ll get your worship, teaching, and celebration.

Missional Communities are where you’ll get your leadership development and small group experience.  Format will be a lot like Launch Gatherings: 30 min food & fun, 30 min teaching/leadership/story sharing with the point leader, 60 min breakout discussion time (using normal small group study questions + a few questions more pointed at your Everyday Circle involvement and personal discipleship).  Your breakout discussion will be most/all of the people from your Everyday Circle.

Everyday Circles are where you’re going live out your faith and outreach in the course of everyday life.

This actually simplifies your life.  You don’t have to sign up for an outreach, you’re already in one through your social circles of everyday life.  You don’t have to join a small group… the people from your Everyday Circle become that for you at Missional Community Gatherings.  The stories shared on Sunday match what you lived out in the week.  It may look like more layers to follow than you’re used to, but get in the thick of it and you’ll experience greater overlap and consistency than ever before.

The big point that can’t be lost is that we need to orient ourselves toward the lost.  Jesus put the 99 on hold to reach 1 (Luke 15).  We’re going to do a knock-out job of growing our church and the people who turn to us.  However, my understanding of Biblical priorities is that we need to be defined as much or more so by what we do for a world that is still in need of Jesus.

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Female Discipleship

I’m trying to figure out what makes female discipleship work.

I’m pretty sure I get the male side of discipleship.  I’ve come to rely on same-sex triads (groups of three) for spiritual formation in my own life, and in the lives of those I lead in the church.  For me, it’s been a natural outflow of relationships in my small groups – there’s always two or three guys I can especially count on to grow me (and I them), so we end up hanging out regularly outside the group setting.  

As counterintuitive as it may sound, guys readily jump into triads.  For many it’s their first opportunity to share true feelings and true weakness without being frowned upon or belittled.  They like the challenge and problem solving nature of putting your junk on the table and figuring out what to do about it.

For women, I’m finding that the means and the ends are much harder to follow.  Women have been forming triads for centuries without anyone’s advice or proscription.  Trust seems to be distributed in sparing amounts, and with many qualifications.  As a result, it appears that many women keep their close inner-circle to one or two others, and that only after great time and effort has been spent.   I get that women get triads in ways that surpasses the male audience, but I don’t get what they get out of it and how they got there. 

If a few of you women (and any brave man willing to venture an observation) wouldn’t mind responding to a few of my lingering questions on female discipleship, I would appreciate the enlightening…

  • What does it take to build trust between one woman and another?
  • What aspects of spiritual formation take place between women only after trust is truly present?
  • Is it possible to expand or multiply your trusting & formative relationships to include more women?  If so, clue me in on the process and the limits.
  • What does a male pastor need to know most about female discipleship?

A Little Legalism Goes a Long Way

Observing the path of spiritual formation in many lives, including my own, it appears that a little legalism goes a long way. 

People on a fast track toward following Jesus often manifest a season of tight adherence to rules.  They eagerly gather up handfuls of God’s expectations for our lives.  They desperately want to leave behind old ways of life that they’re now ashamed of.  With route discipline, they tackle their list of improvements with exemplary zeal.

I believe God smiles at the fast progress we make under blue collar legalism.  There are plenty of black and white obedience issues in our life that need to be attended to.  Like a grade school student who hasn’t formed attentive study habits, or a Jewish nation being given law before grace, rules are a huge asset in early years to get you on the right track.

Knowing that God ultimately wants us to live under faith instead of legal rules, I’m often unsure of how to work with friends engrossed in this phase.  Should I embrace them where they’re at, knowing that they are in an odd, yet productive stage of spiritual formation?  Should I encourage them with the higher path of formation that comes in the form of faith and freedom?  Maybe I should just explain my own journey to illustrate how far strict discipline can and can’t get you?