Archive for praxis
There is a lot of great stuff coming out of the Verge Network right now. This video from Soma Community pastors Jeff Vanderstelt and Caesar Kalinowski is a great look at making disciples. I recommend you read the latter half of John 8 and then compare your understanding with what Caesar shares in the piece.
While there are numerous ways to live this out, I would like to share one great way is through the Skybridge Community. Check it out.
Over the past several years, I have often been reminded of a simple truth that impacts my perception and responses to others. It has impacted my lifestyle and my missiology. Ultimately, it even impacts my views on ecclessiology. The statement is this:
Lost people have a propensity to act lost.
When I forget this, I can easily be lured into a mission of moralism where I want to help make people be better. With this reality firmly embraced, however, I have a passion to be sent as Jesus was sent.
This brief talk has significant implications in both the disciple-making and the church-planting process. Thanks to Larry McCrary, a founder of The Upstream Collective, for alerting me to the video.
To move forward, it is first essential that we identify our Why?, How? and What? Though not the only options, some major options are as follows:
Why? – For glory. But a follow-on that each must wrestle with is whether it is about His glory and/or ours?
How? - Make disciples and/or plant churches. Also may include acts of justice, blogging, writing articles and books, speaking, etc. There is an interesting discussion on this going on at David Fitch’s blog today.
What? – So many options here. Perhaps a point for consideration begins with the video in yesterday’s post.
Are we starting with and maintaining focus on the Why?, the How?, or the What? What are the implications?
Thanks to North Point Media for this piece.
It has happened before. Recently, I am aware of situations where it has happened again. What if a leader was suddenly, unexpectedly unable to talk for an extended period of time? What if the best (and worst) sermons a pastor could give were already taught? What if a teacher’s audible lessons in discipleship were already taught? What would it look like now? How would the disciple(s) do?
I have seen and experienced situations where those who were making disciples relocated in places far from the disciples they were training. Perhaps we thought they were ready. Maybe not. It is beyond us…still at times it hurts.
This weekend I had the privilege of meeting Brother Sam in person. We didn’t talk much because he was unable. Due to significant pain in his mouth of late, he visited the doctor and learned that he has oral cancer. More tests and treatment are soon to come. My prayers go out to him, his family, and his church. I look forward to having opportunities to sit and talk with him in the future. Through being with him and praying for him at this time, however, I have been prompted to ask many questions.
What if I lived my life with the expectation that I would soon be mute and no longer able to teach or disciple those walking with me? What would I do differently? What if, as one who makes disciples, I was suddenly unable to speak? What would I do to help advance others in walking more as He did? What if all the lessons I could ever teach were by example? How much would I pray? How much would I serve? How much would I think of others as better than myself? What changes would that make in how I view church?
The industrial revolution changed our world forever. Factories produced more product out the back end of the assembly line than several individual shops had been able to manufacture collectively. This changed so much. Levels of income were impacted, work hours, education for a white collar group of people, urban shift began, etc. Industrialization also changed the church. Caring for the needy (among other things) became a process that mirrored the assembly line schematics. Roles were given and systems put in place to facilitate the church’s ability to meet the needs of the poor. And it was good.
Through collection of tithes and offerings, some of the budget is allocated to caring for the poor. With funds collected, some staff or lay people go with huge hearts to buy food to stock a food closet for the poor. When hungry families come to get food, they have a form to fill in, a meeting with a pastor to hear the gospel, and a bag of food. Then, their names are recorded to start the clock for them to be able to return for food in 1, 3, or 6 months time. Through this good, there is a way for the hungry to be fed and an opportunity for one or a select few to be about sharing the gospel.
It seems that so much less could be so much more at this point. Jesus speaks to His disciples about a day when He will separate the sheep on His right and the goats on His left. The distinction between the two that He gives in Matthew 25 is that some fed the hungry and clothed the naked while others did not. He speaks of a personal accounting here, not of the churched and the unchurched. The expectation is clear. It is a daily outworking of the Lordship of Christ that causes a person to see with His eyes of compassion. The ramifications are enormous. It is the difference between being blessed or cursed by God.
If instead of the needy waiting in an office to meet with someone to learn about God to then have their physical need met, what would it look like if a family seeking to follow Christ showed up with a hot meal at the home of the needy? Instead of a meal delivered it could be a meal served up personally or a meal shared. While obeying Christ’s command to feed the hungry, the disciple is also obeying the command to make disciples. What if the homeless was invited to dine in a restaurant with a disciple-maker and a disciple or two. Then after dinner, more food is given to the needy. And the family or group of disciples that began to bless continued the relationship and blessed further and helped and served. Further help may come about in the areas of helping the needy find work, manage finances, care for children, and in the process learn about the One who sends others to bless. In the realm of great discipleship, the church is released into the community to serve and bless others and carry the hope of Christ into families that desperately need it.
a little on money
Serving the poor in this way does not mean that church funds do not need to go to serving the poor anymore. There still will be issues far beyond what a family or two or three can meet. This could be assisted through funds from a larger church budget. The discipleship process could start with a stock of food that the pastoral staff gives to the disciples going to bless and form relationship and a time for them to pray together for wisdom and multiplication of the resources. However, when a family gets involved, things are different–especially when children participate. It has been my experience that the children will want to give some of their own food and money to meet the needs of those that they are serving. Discipleship is inevitable at this point. It is great…it cannot be easily stopped.
(In the excerpts from my non-book, Great to Good (G2g), truth or satire may be employed. At times, the two may even meet.)
This week The Upstream Collective is conducting a JetSet Tour spending time in a number of places including Copenhagen, Denmark. Seeking to make a small contribution to this week’s discussion and vision trip, I suggest a little reading…
Learning the literature of another people or country is key for a couple of reasons. First, the process aids the learner in acquiring cultural insight. This, I believe, fits with 2 Timothy 2:15. We are to have some insight into how the Scriptures may be perceived by other cultures. For example, in an animistic culture where people are seeking to understand how things began, the genealogy in Luke has proved powerful in some contexts. When working in a former Communist culture, use of a text that may have been used as a tool to disprove God (e.g. John 3:16) may not be the best place to start explaining the Word.
Second, being a student of literature communicates to the nationals that you are entering as a learner wanting to be enriched through their heritage. At some levels, the ethnocentric tendencies are suspended. Many healthy conversations may center around their national heroes. Not only does this firmly place the foreigner in the role of the learner and the national in the role of expert, but this can also lead to meaningful relationships and opportunities to deal with the big issues. These topics may include wisdom, social justice, love, the meaning of life, God, eternity, existentialism, hope, etc.
Thankfully, there is a rich trove of authors that are Danish and even more that are Scandinavian. Some authors to spend time reading would include:
- Hans Christian Anderson – a Danish author that is one of the premier children’s story-tellers in all of history. Some of his famous tales include The Ugly Duckling and The Little Mermaid.
- Søren Kierkegaard – another Dane that was philosopher, theologian, and so much more. Exploring his frustrations with the state church among a host of other ideas may prove helpful for the individual as well as gaining insight and access to future conversations.
- William Shakespeare – though he is a touch less Danish than the two writers above, the famous tragedy Hamlet occurs in and around the Kronberg Castle.
Key principle #1 for moving discipleship from great to good: Start discipleship post-conversion.
After someone has made Christ their Lord, it is important to start teaching about who Christ is. Prior to that point, the person or group seeking to disciple at the status quo level of good should limit conversations and interactions with non-believers to evangelistic efforts. Many tools are available for the purpose including but not limited to the Roman Road, Four Spiritual Laws, Steps to Peace with God, the EvangeCube, Way of the Master, and a bevy of apologetic materials. Friendship combined with conversations about how Christ as Lord impacts family, work, relationships, etc. is risky or worse when maintaining the good.
In the realm of great, discipleship began at the very first encounter. Jesus stated, “You have seen Me, you have seen the Father.” As a result, the life He lived before his disciples, the way He interacted with them, the words He spoke to them were representative of God the Father from the very first interaction. Even during introductions, discipleship had begun. This was the great model. It took some time until we see recognition of Christ’s Lordship from his closest followers. But all this time He was lovingly, faithfully showing them the Father.
It is essential that pastors, leaders, and other disciple-makers intentionally clarify when they will begin discipling others. If discipling is to be done exclusively with pre-existing believers, the message may be a little bit less difficult to convey with a little less mess. This, realm of good discipleship, is effective when helping nice people become nicer. Tranformation in this strata is difficult to find as celebration may revolve around maturation. This progression of maturity, however, is easier to construct and oversee.
pastor as discipler
When leaders pursue replacing the great with the good, it will be helpful for each to clarify his or her role as one who works only with believers. In large churches this could be limited to working primarily or exclusively with other church staff. This helps promote the good of encouraging other disciple-makers to invest their time in those that already identify themselves with Christ. This will effectively help the church body be a nicer group of people. Additionally, if all disciple-makers in the church are seeking to work only with the redeemed, it will preclude the godless from being likely to come into the church which may even help reduce the amount of intensive discipleship needing to be done. Whether or not the pastor chooses to disciple and who he selects for this time investment will have major ramifications in the pursuit of the great or the good.
(In the excerpts from my non-book, Great to Good (G2g), truth or satire may be employed. At times, the two may even meet.)
Disjointed and missing everyone’s expectations, our Christmas journey this year was more than adequate. We enjoyed and struggled with 14 inches of snow on Christmas Eve. This was the day that we continued to live out the story and relationships which began months ago and was introduced in a previous entry entitled The Fight. The “Jones” family came over to join us for lunch and to open some of the presents our extended family had purchased for them. During our time we were able to share both a Christmas meal and family stories as well as reflect on the story and hope of Christmas.
Following the meal, as the Jones were leaving, we noticed a flat rear tire. After airing it up, we determined that the tire would not hold air long enough to make it home. So venturing into the blizzard in a 4×4 we purchased a new tire while serving others to free them from being stuck in snow and ice. It was great to have the father and son be a part of serving others that were in even more immediate need at that particular moment.
With the new tire mounted, we saw them off after towing them through the snow and ice out of the neighborhood. The following day we had the privilege of clearing snow from the drive so we could make the trek back to Dallas to be with other family and to continue the mission of Christmas and our family discipleship.
Yesterday we had another family seeking to disciple their children join us to host a Hispanic family that is also experiencing great need. Through our time with the “Lopez” family over the past months we have seen the mom make Christ her Lord. Since that time, the four children have been observing and processing the gospel.
We shared lunch and gave Christmas presents. The fellowship and fun later turned into an impromptu Little Caesar’s pizza dinner. It was during this second meal while taking in some of the Dallas Cowboys’ game that the dad was able to hear the good news for the first time. Though he was not ready to believe, he did initiate a hug with me and the other dad that shared the day and his family with him and his family. We continued to learn and will continue to teach. The good news made more sense to the shepherds when they could see and touch it and the same holds true today.