what is the most important element of discipling?

On Sunday mornings right now, until Feb 8th, we are unpacking what it means to “be discipling.” We introduced the series on January 4th by defining “discipling” simply as this:

_learning the ways of Jesus and living those ways allowing others to taste and see Jesus and begin to follow Him, learning His ways and living His ways allowing others to taste and see Jesus and begin to follow Him, and so on…

It is more about life together than a class together. More about compassion given than concepts learned. More about Jesus actually being followed than more Jesus stuff flowing into my head. Not that learning is not apart of it, but it is definitely not the end of it.

And as we live His ways, as we follow Him, we will know Him more, because we will be where He is, loving people where He loves them, like He loves Him. And our life will be abundant as we abide in Him. 

The focus of Christianity for too long has been more like a bad self-help book that nullifies grace in an attempt to feel better about myself spiritually based solely on performance and check-list measurements. I would suggest that if the focus of your following Jesus isn’t more about how you plant and water into other people than it is about what gets planted and watered into you, then you may not be following Jesus.

Instead, you may have gotten proselytized into a really bad Christian-version of those self-help infomercials that come on late at night and suck you in and that you discover while flipping through the channels hoping to catch the next showing of that sequel of Lethal Weapon where they blow up the big building in the beginning of the movie (cause that was the best one – that was an actual implosion of the old courthouse building here in Orlando). You know the infomercials I am talking about. For three installments of $39.95, you too can be a great person, like the guy who has figured out how to get really wealthy by selling you something that theoretically will make you a better person. What a country!!!

All this to say – that’s how we have treated Christianity for too long. Self-help instead of “I’ll help.” I’ll give. I’ll follow. My life will not be my own to make better, but maybe my life can be given to make others better. Or better said, what they were made to be.

Discipling is not only a fundamental of following Jesus, it is an evidence of following Jesus. It is not reserved for the people who have certificates ad degrees. It is for everyone who follows Jesus, in whom the Holy Spirit resides, and through whom the redemptive story continues to be written. 

And that Holy Spirit thing. Listening to and responding to Him. Staying in constant communication with Him. That’s probably the most important element of discipling. PRAYER.

Check this out:

So, as you go, as you follow Jesus daily, be discipling. And don’t stop praying. Why? Because I not only need to be lifting up the people in my daily life who are hurting and searching and seeking all that Jesus died to give us, but also I need to be tuning in to what God may be doing in their lives and how He may want to use me to love them where they are like He does. That’s the significance of prayer. Discernment and involvement and my life shifting to be about what Jesus is already up to. In fact, I have really been challenged lately to consider these two questions:

  • Who in your world has not been exposed to the life changing love of Jesus? 
  • How often do you pray for these persons? 

Wow. Thanks to Bob Carlton and Jim Collins for those challenges. Let me know your thoughts…

(giving ourselves away)

this coming Sunday, we continue our teaching series called “these ARE my church clothes.” i wanted to continue what we are calling Sunday Conversation – an ongoing conversation based around the teachings from Sundays. this weeks focus – GIVING OURSELVES AWAY.

2 questions:

:: does the church exist for preservation or restoration?

:: can you really follow Jesus and not give yourself away?

i would love to hear your thoughts. love you guys.

(the BOTTOM LINE from Jan 28th)

Hey gang…here’s THE BOTTOM LINE from this past Sunday, the 28th.

We continued in the teaching series “these ARE my church clothes” by focusing on the importance of doing life together. The question was asked – why do we need to do life together? Here’s the 3 reasons that were suggested:

1 – disciple-making cannot happen without it. According to Jesus’ life and ministry, doing life together is both required and is the evidence of making disciples. We have to do life together with one another and with our culture in order to make disciples, and a disciple made is evidenced by his or her love expressed within the context of true connection and community.

2 – we really need each other. We were designed for connection and community. We were made to speak into each other’s lives. We MUST lay aside “false togetherness” (being polite acquaintances with one another) and truly walk together.

3 – our needs are taken care of when we focus on taking care of one another. We can quit asking “what about my needs” when we are focusing on taking care of the needs of one another as we do life together, because our needs will be taken care as God shows His love to us through the people we are doing life with.

We read about an example of doing life together from the early church in Acts 2:42-47. Doug shared about our DLTs which you can find on the website by clicking this link: learn more about DLTs

The final question was asked – will you commit to doing life together? We can’t be faithful to the mission Christ has given us – to living sent and making disciples – without it!

If you have any desire to do so, you can listen to the various messages from this teaching series by clicking here and then clicking on the MP3 player.

Let’s be doing life together, both in VOX and face to face.

(doing life together?)

were humans made to do life together? do we actually malfunction when we don’t – not work right, not live right? can we live out the mission and purpose of our lives alone, or do we need each other?

i think we do need each other. i think we can’t operate correctly without one another. what do you think? do you think the church today is living in this kind of community – truly doing life together?

(the bottom line from Jan 21st)

continuing the conversation from this past Sunday’s teaching time, here’ s a basic summary of what we talked about:

Be the church in the daily by listening to God and living in every sphere.

Listening to God involves 2 fundamental elements:

:: PRAYER- praying constantly, ever listening for His voice among the many voices calling for our attention, seeing the stuff of life as interruptions of the ongoing conversation between you and God, interacting with people like He is always a part of the conversation, listening to Him for His promptings to give into the lives around us, listening for His promptings telling us to stop and spend some alone time with Him, listening to His promptings so that we remain unclogged in listening for Him.

:: READING the BIBLE – the living Word, the love story of His pursuit of a relationship with us, the filter that helps us discern which voice among the many is His and which needs to be ignored. Read it to know Him more and to be able to recognize Him as He breaks into the daily all around us. Don’t read it just to know about Him and attempt to systemize Him.

Living in every sphere means LIVING SENT – as a letter from God to your family, to your neighbors, in the marketplace, to the world locally and globally, and on the web.

If we say we follow Jesus, then we must always be listening for Him, faithfully be responding to His promptings, compassionately be loving the people He loves, and freely be giving ourselves away to the people we encounter in our spheres, just like He came to where we were and gave Himself away. We must BE the CHURCH.

Thankful to be in conversation with you guys. Hope this will be an encouragement to you regardless of whether you comment back.

(what is prayer?)

Is prayer a spiritual discipline – something you have to remind yourself to do? Is it just bringing your requests to God? What if it was more like breathing? More like having a cell phone always on you with a blue tooth earpiece poised to receive a call, AND ready for you to speak, too?

Paul taught in 1st Thessalonians that we should never stop praying. That has to mean more than talking. Maybe that means listening. A lot of listening. Ever listening and responding to God. A mystical, supernatural connection to the living God leading us and speaking into our daily.

If that’s the case, prayer is not something I stop to take time to do. It is something I never stop doing. I do it ALL the time.

are you ever listening?