What difference might it make…?

I was in Colorado last week to come alongside ministry leaders, helping them develop the skills and systems to create an equipping culture in their churches. Their enthusiasm for creating a vibrant, serving mentality among those they influence encouraged me, and I sensed the question rising in me again, What difference might it make if you simply focused on helping others to live their God-given vocation in their everyday-walking-around life? To BE Christ wherever they are and whatever they are doing?

If you are a regular follower of this blog, you are probably thinking that this is nothing new, and you are quite right. This has been my theme for quite awhile! But the fact that I regularly pray Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven prompts me to continue asking if I’m doing all that I can–all that God is asking me to do–to encourage that reality.

It seems to me that if every believer is living their true vocation in their everyday life, the kingdom will come sooner. So, what does it look like for me to partner with God in making this prayer a reality? What is needed? As I asked this question, this is the answer that rose up within me: Each and every believer should…

  1. understand his or her true identity in Christ (Ephesians 2:10, 1 Corinthians 3:23)pitcher&basin
  2. grasp how the Spirit moves and works through His people (Matthew 5:16)
  3. discover and embrace his/her unique design for ministry (1 Corinthians 12 and 13)
  4. be ready and able to verbally share the gospel message (1 Peter 3:15)
  5. be connected to the body of Christ, the local church (Hebrews 10:25, Acts 2:42-47)

Each step is integral to becoming a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ, to facilitating the coming of the kingdom that we believers continually pray for. We can have systems and processes and programs to encourage an equipping culture in our churches, but if we neglect these basic five steps I don’t think that we–as equipping leaders–are doing all we can to hasten the coming of the kingdom of God.

Your thoughts?

First things first: Salvation does not a disciple make.

Twenty plus years ago I professed Christ as my Savior.change

I had no idea what that meant or what I was supposed to do next.

Mine was one of those crazy, emotional conversions–the kind some people scoff at, including my pastor at the time. Our church was hosting a faith renewal weekend. I wasn’t interested, but attended the Friday evening session simply out of a desperate need to get out of the house and away from my family. I was not impressed, and planned to skip church on Sunday. God apparently had other plans.

On Sunday, my husband practically bounded out of bed, uncharacteristically enthusiastic about attending church. He was clueless about the renewal activities; had he known, I’m confident he would have been far less excited. However, I didn’t want to discourage this new exuberance for church, so I dutifully got myself and the kids ready and off we went. This particular Sunday was orchestrated by God so that I would accept Christ. I’m not being arrogant–I was the only person who responded to the invitation at the first service! When I went forward, tears streaming down my face like something out of Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show, my pastor whispered in my ear, “Thanks for rescuing me; it was embarrassing when no one came forward!” In his mind, my acceptance of Christ as Savior was not legitimate because it was rooted in emotion rather than intellect.

But for the grace of God, I would have joined the ranks of the pew-sitters. Our churches are full of them–those folks who profess Christ as their Savior, dutifully sit in the pew every Sunday, drop their money in the offering plate, and go on with life as usual Sunday afternoon through Saturday night. An hour or two out of their week, a dollar or two out of their paycheck. Lest you think I’m harsh, I assure you that I’m not passing judgement. Maybe they just don’t know any better. Perhaps their commitment, like mine, was written off as less than sincere. Or perhaps someone introduced them to Christ, led them in a prayer of acceptance, and then moved on to the next soul ripe for the harvest. (I’ve been known to proclaim that evangelism without discipleship is irresponsible!)

I was blessed. After several months of trying to figure out what that moment of surrender truly meant, my husband and I joined a small group in our church where we met Ron and Donna. They spent the next few years discipling us through Bible study, deep conversations, shared meals, and ministry partnership, thus ensuring that our minds were being transformed along with our hearts. They invested in us, in spite of the crises they experienced during those years–crises of health, employment, and teenagers. Whatever was going on in their lives, they were always willing to share themselves and their Godly wisdom with us. It was a life-on-life discipling, one that taught us how to follow Christ in our everyday walking around life.

I have to be honest and say that I’ve not followed their example as well as I could or should. I’ve made excuses for why I can’t invest in others the way Ron and Donna invested in me. But they are excuses, not reasons.

  • If I want to see my faith community grow spiritually, I need to be available to disciple those who are willing and eager to learn.
  • If I expect fewer pew-sitters and more disciples, I need to invest in those people God brings my way who are hungry for more of him.
  • If I want to transform the culture of the church, I must begin with the people.

First things first

Before the institution (read clergy-centric church) can be transformed, the individual must be transformed.

Equipping ministry is about people first, then the institution. Investing in the individual requires more of us as leaders, but it is the only way to transform the church into the missio Dei she is intended to be.

bible study

 

First things first.

 

 

 

 

 

What makes you come alive?

In a recent article for Leadership Journal, Gordon MacDonald tackled the question: What are the core qualities that offer evidence that one is truly on a pathway toward Christlikeness?

7.  [A transformed Christian] is aware of personal “call” and unique competencies. In other words, It’s not about me, but about what has been entrusted to me and what can be offered to others. The transforming Christ-follower believes he has been given a mission. Usually, if you ask, he can put that mission into words.
We are not speaking of pastors and missionaries only, but all of us. Part of spiritual transformation seems to include a growing sensitivity to a “call,” something “out there” that needs doing in the name of Jesus.
And with the sensitivity comes a capability often called a spiritual gift. It is exhilarating to watch a young Christ-follower awaken to a power given him by the fullness of the Holy Spirit. At first there may be reluctance, even fear. There can be awkwardness, even some failure.
And then, like a young rose exposed to sunlight, the transforming Christian begins to blossom. God’s Spirit anoints with unexpected power and vision, and sometimes you hear one say, “I was made for this.” *

I have taken the liberty of highlighting some of the words that particularly caught my attention, and commend them to yours:

  • What is your “call?”
  • Does your call lead you into mission?
  • Are you experiencing spiritual transformation as a result?
  • Can you identify your capabilities?
  • When have you experienced reluctance…fear…awkwardness…even failure? What have you learned from those experiences?
  • Are you serving in the power of the Holy Spirit?
  • Do you have a Spirit-given vision?
  • Can you say, “I was made for this!“?

Ponder these questions. Seriously, spend some time with them and uncover the truth, not just pat answers. And when you are done, look around and ask, “Who is the Spirit leading me to help ask and answer these questions about their own journey in spiritual transformation?” You just might find God is calling you to a new mission…

You may find yourself called to be an equipping leader!

*(read entire article here)