Spreading The Gospel Amid A Refugee Crisis

In other words, the key question seems to be this: In light of terror attacks worldwide, is bringing 10,000 refugees from the Middle East really a safe decision?

While we shouldn’t downplay these concerns, I do wonder what would happen if Christians stood counter to American culture on this issue, by asking fundamentally different questions. What if, while America was asking questions about safety and risk management, Christians were asking, What is God doing? What if, through the senseless evil of civil war, God was bringing unreached people groups to our cities? What if, through great tragedy, God was bringing about the triumph of the gospel?


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Avoid The Trap Of Success By Focusing On Fruit

It feels that at some point, we might have lost our way. Perhaps we became more concerned with success than fruitfulness. Jesus says we evaluate things in the Kingdom on their fruitfulness…but somewhere along the way it became about the size of your tree. Now having a big tree is a fine thing. Just know you’re only successful in evaluating yourself against the size of other trees, and God has never been terribly concerned about tree size. Just fruitfulness. That’s it. The point of a tree isn’t how big your tree is but how much fruit you have. It’s about fruit! And in the Kingdom, fruitfulness is always about reproduction. (Specifically, reproducing disciples…multiplying Jesus’ life into the life of others who can then go and do the same.) 


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The Harvest Is Plentiful, But We’re Asleep

There’s a sense of urgency tied up in the word, “harvest.” Harvest also connotes hard work. Picking produce, reaping crops, and all its associated tasks are not for the faint of heart. There will be sweat.

When you combine these two elements the result is anything but comfort. Reaping is stressful, laborious, painstaking, but despite all this the harvest is intrinsically good. It represents months of hard work and the promise of surviving the frost until everything begins growing again in the spring. As such there is nothing to be done in the days of summer and autumn but to work the fields. And yet some have other ideas:

… he who sleeps in harvest is a son who brings shame. (Prov. 10:5b, ESV)

What if you consider this verse in the context of Jesus’ reference to the harvest?

The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few… (Matt. 9:37b, ESV)

Why are they so few? Perhaps they’re sleeping.


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God Commiserates When You Are Angry At Injustice

I got angry at others who did not feel the same as me—all of those nice people on Facebook and Pinterest and Instagram, living their normal lives while everyone I knew was falling apart. I tried to poke sticks at other people, bring up genocides and conflicts and statistics on poverty and racism. I wanted them to bleed like I was bleeding too. I wanted others to be overwhelmed, just as I was.

But soon enough, I found them. My tribe. The crazy emotional, the broken, the ridiculous, the happy-one-minute-sobbing-into-their-coffee-the-next tribe. I found people who very much believed in God and got very very angry with him at the state of the world. I found them in the place I least expected, the place I was scared to go all along. I found them in the Bible.


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Public Violence Against Christians In The Middle East Opens Doors For The Gospel

The beheadings by the Islamic State in Libya have resulted in unprecedented sympathy for Egypt’s Christians, who are increasingly finding common identity across denominational lines. The martyrdoms have also allowed Copts a platform to witness to the realities of their faith, as they publicly forgave the terrorists.



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ISIS Beheaded 21 People Of The Cross But The Story Isn’t Over Yet

When the day is done and last of the lights are turned out and my head hits the pillow, all I can think of is the faces of The 21 and their surrendered heads, their heads carrying the full reality of the Cross. How the People of the Cross have let themselves be chained to petty and purposeless things instead of praying for the Persecuted Church in chains. How the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.

How once when I was a little girl, I tried to behead a dandelion in full orb and if you behead a dandelion in full head — you send a thousand more bravely out on the wind.


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And God Said, “Let There Be Laundry”

Many years ago my church was pondering how to create a “third space” in our neighborhood. A third space is a place where people can mix on a regular basis, a place that is relaxed and non-threatening. A lot of people feel intimidated walking into a church. A third space, it was hoped, would be a non-religious place where relationships with neighbors could be formed.

A lot of churches have created third spaces by starting up a coffee shop. That’s a great idea, but coffee shops tend to be a part of affluent White culture. The working poor don’t hang out in coffee shops with their Mac laptops. Nor can they afford $4 specialty drinks.


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Kingdom Work Is Not Identical With Western Development

In the video above, Brian Fikkert points out how Western notions of success are flawed and lead to a failure to promote human flourishing. In complement to the video, Joshua Butler explains in the article below that we in the West often get confused about what constitutes kingdom work because of our devotion to Western ideals…

I’ve noticed an increasing tendency for Western Christians to identify “kingdom work” with Western development. I’d simply like to make a few practical observations on ways the church might actually be strategically positioned in communities for holistic transformation (ways we might easily miss if too fixated on our Western idols).


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Foster Care Is A Window Into The Gospel

Opening your heart to love any child is risky and requires a loss of self. Opening your heart and home to a foster child may seem especially risky. But in losing ourselves, we gain. We grow in understanding how Jesus loved us and gave himself up for us. In seeking to love sacrificially, we pray others will see a picture of the gospel and be drawn to Christ.


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13 Marks Of A Mission-Minded Person

Mission-minded people are different. That’s it. Somehow they manage to see the world from another perspective. The things they do and the decisions they make are just different than what other people would usually do.

You can find them in your church, place of work or coaching Little League. They are aware of the power of the Gospel to change lives. They know that even the smallest actions can demonstrate the grace and mercy of God. So, what do mission-minded people actually do that’s different?


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You Don’t Need A Youth Ministry, You Just Need Families

I believe that one of the essential jobs of the local church is to equip Christian parents to take the lead in spiritually training their children. Passing faith to our kids is not the church’s job – it is ours as parents.

But what about all the unsaved kids who don’t have Christian parents to disciple them?


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Charting A Better Course For Unity In The Body Of Christ

When the path to unity starts with the meeting/church service/ or gathering, then I think its trajectory is skewed from the beginning. I think mission is the better path to unity.

Unite in the furtherance of the gospel. Unite in the suffering and needs of those who aren’t congregating. Unite in the Making of Disciples. Unite in the work of mission.

I suppose there is some discussion needed to decide what that ‘one purpose’ is, but I’d venture to say that it is NOT primarily church services.


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5 Things We Can’t Do If We Are Going To “Be Missional”

I cannot define the word “missional,” at least not in an authoritative or definitive way, for everyone. But I can tell you why I think it must include Jesus’ mission to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).

This does not mean that much of the concern about the way the word “missional” has been used is not warranted. There are some serious and legitimate concerns. However, if we’re going to adopt the term “missional,” here’s what we can’t do and still be on Jesus mission…


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How Can We Decrease So That Jesus Can Increase In The Digital Age?

The reasoning goes something like this… If I know I have important things to say and I am going to get others to listen to me, then they have to want to listen to me.  In order for them to want to listen to me, I have to be someone they want to listen to.  It is important therefore, that I sell myself  via writing books, blogging, tweeting, preaching, etc., so I can get the message out.  My ministry needs attention so I can minister to more, more fully. And, of course, it’s really Jesus’ message and mission, so the end justifies the means.


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Alan Hirsch’s Vision For The Five Fold Ministry In America

Missiologist, Alan Hirsch, talks with Ed Stetzer about the future of Christianity in America amid its increasingly secularized culture. They also discuss the importance of recovering a vision for the 5 key gifts Christ gave to his Church from Ephesians 4.

Note: Jump to the 6:15 mark in the video to bypass the fluffy stuff and get straight to the good stuff with Alan Hirsch.


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How The Good Samaritan Critiques Our Busy Lives

The story of the Good Samaritan is easily the most famous parable that Jesus told. A priest and a rabbi refuse to help someone hurt along the road, but a Samaritan, the one hated by the Hebrew people not only helps, but finds a hotel and pays for the man to get better.

The more I reflect on the story of the Good Samaritan, I’m becoming more and more amazed by the margin in the life of the Good Samaritan to be able to take that amount of time to care for someone he had just met.


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Sunday Sermon: Your Family & God’s Plan, Part 2

Dr. Rob Rienow shows how the first command to humans to be fruitful and multiply is still in effect. The primary means by which this happens is through families passing on faith from generation to generation. The Great Commission is really a recapitulation of this original mission and it is also accomplished primarily by the same means: Multi-generational faithfulness.

Note: This sermon is part 2 of another sermon that was previously posted here.


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Many Evangelism Methods Are Presumptuous, So Do It Differently

As I handed the change back to one of the young girls, she handed me a tract with a very sweet smile – and I froze. My entire feeling changed. When they first came up to me at the register I felt a tenderness towards them – they reminded me of me. I was endeared by the idea that they were studying the Bible together at Starbucks, and I marveled in my heart at the work the Lord does in young lives. It was a real sweet feeling I had. Until she handed me the tract.


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5 Things That Bring Unity To The Church

I’ve come to believe that instead of being a bunch of churches separated by music style or building, God sees one bride and one city church.

In my experience, we are a divided, fighting, graceless, defensive mess. If your facebook news feed is anything like mine you cannot ignore the Mark Driscoll and Mars Hill Church controversy that has everyone choosing sides. I do not believe that we should forsake truth or stop defending the oppressed for the sake of unity, but it is my belief that there is a deep problem that exists in our city that is larger than a single worship center or preacher. And unless we seek radical change, the disunity will continue for the Church of Seattle.


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Alan Hirsch Explains Why Evangelism Can’t Be Our Main Focus

This is part 1 of a two-part series of video posts on Alan Hirsch’s presentation on discipleship. See part 2 here.

Alan Hirsch explains how traditional evangelical thinking that we must evangelize first and then disciple second is flawed. He shows how Jesus had many pre-conversion disciples. The command to his followers is to disciple the nations. Evangelism will happen secondarily and as a function of discipleship. (more…)

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Alan Hirsch Explains How Consumerism Affects Modern Evangelism

This is part 2 of a two-part series of video posts on Alan Hirsch’s presentation on discipleship. See part 1 here.

You can’t make disciples out of consumers. You can’t consume your way into the Kingdom. It doesn’t work like that.

A culture of consumerism has influenced how we think of evangelism. Consumers respond to evangelism and come to the church thinking they can remain consumers. But they are wrong. Disciples are producers. But the cycle of consumerism continues as consumers recruit more consumers to their consumer-minded churches. We have to break the consumerism cycle.


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Considering The Role Of Listening In Evangelism

I breezed through an article on the Huffington Post’s religion section last night before I went to bed and it gnawed at my conscience all night.  It’s called “How I Kissed Evangelism Goodbye,” and it is a REALLY GOOD article.  But, I think it’s full of bad assumptions and reflects a poor missiology & ecclesiology.

So much of what she said here makes me want to scream “YEAH, THAT’S RIGHT,” but likewise urge caution to not make listening, or any other thing apart from discipleship, the holy grail of evangelism.


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4 Flaws In Selling Heaven As The Reason For Following Jesus

I’ve watched over and over as people who signed up for Christianity because of the promise of Heaven grew disillusioned by the unfulfilled guarantees of certainty, weary under the weight of the religious bait-and-switch, and left the faith altogether. Tell me, then, was this little seed better than none at all?

There’s a better Gospel. I’m sure of it. It speaks of reconciliation to God, Heaven coming to earth, life without end beginning now.


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5 Questions To Keep You On Mission

Every Christian and ministry faces the slow, subtle, suffocating pressure of the ordinary. The creeping clutch of worldly concerns confronts us all. We settle into routines and ruts. Our zeal cools as we have our minds and then our hearts drawn off into the mundane, everyday aspects of life. We don’t plan for this to happen. It just does. It’s part of our creatureliness.

And that’s why we need questions—usually fundamental, identity-shaping questions—to reorient us to our Creator and our purpose. Unless we habitually come back to the north star of Christian life and ministry, we’ll drift off course.


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8 Things To Know Before Going On A Short-Term Mission Trip

My husband and I live in Guatemala and host short-term mission teams throughout the year. We have both seen the good, the bad and the ugly of short-term missions. And we continue to feel this tension with the short-term mission teams that we host.

We have learned that perhaps how we go might matter more that what we do. Here are a few things you may not have heard about being more effective on short-term mission trips.


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Counting The Cost Of Apostleship

Many churches seem to have forgotten the two most basic impulses of an organism: reproduce and adapt.

Or to use more Biblical language: We have forgotten how to be an Apostolic movement.

Key to understanding what the Church is and how it functions is the APEST: Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Shepherds and Teachers who equip the church to carry on the work of Jesus in the world today.


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One Family’s Story Of How They Stay On Mission Together As A Team

Ed and Mel Zwyghuizen have three children—Gabe (19), Christian (17), and Greta (15). Together, they are known as Team Z.

We always knew we wanted to invite our kids to participate in God’s big story for the world, but as young parents, we didn’t necessarily know how. We try to be missional. We don’t want to live just for ourselves, but for others, too. We want to be an outward-facing family. One way we do this is by inviting others to join us at our family table.


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A Story Of How Muslims Are Becoming Fishers Of Men Through Storytelling

Oral story telling is proving to be one of the most effective means of communicating the gospel, and specifically the biblical narrative.

For many Muslims, the Bible is considered haram (i.e. forbidden) because it is believed that Christians have changed it and therefore corrupted it. Appreciating these realities, fruitful teams make a bridge using Islamic terms (e.g. Injil for gospel; Isa for Jesus; etc.) and thought patterns. This is not so much about using the content of the Quran, but rather it is about reflecting the value of sharing the gospel using terms, symbols, and forms of thought that are familiar to peoples with an Islamic heritage.


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The Great Commission Isn’t About You

We understand conversion as more than mere assent to Christianity’s teaching and more than mere observance of rites and rituals associated with the church. It’s no wonder that sharing our stories is a main aspect of evangelical identity and evangelistic activity.

But there’s a subtle danger lurking here. Because of our emphasis on conversion stories and testimonies, we can unintentionally make people think that evangelism is the same thing as sharing your experience.

We interpret The Great Commission’s “Go make disciples” as “Go tell your story.” They are not the same thing.


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How The Great Commission Can Be All Talk And No Walk

Leaders tell members to do the Great Commission without teaching them how. Most churches are guilty here. We tell folks to share the gospel with their neighbors but seldom train them to do so. We speak about discipling others, yet expect members to learn on their own how to do it. Likewise, we challenge folks to go to the nations without adequately assuring them of training and support. When we tell without teaching, we shouldn’t be surprised when our churches only talk about the Great Commission.


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Who Wants A Free Timeshare In Heaven?

What is the point of being a Christian anyway?

There are a lot of bait-and-switch jobs we do to get people to accept Jesus. They are the little Easter Eggs that we scatter around in the hopes of making Jesus more appealing. But I’ve got to think that the greatest trick that we have perpetrated, the biggest bait-and-switch of all time has got to be the certainty that if you accept Jesus, you get to go to heaven when you die.


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Community Church That Is Truly In The Community | Tim Soerens

Today’s Throwback Thursday article recalls our previous post of an excellent conversation with Tim Soerens, the co-founding director of the Parish Collective. See what Tim has to say about disciples of Jesus committing to loving a place and how their presence in that place can be transformative.

Warning: This article might challenge your paradigm about church and community.


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Gunpoint Evangelism: That’s One Way To Do It, I Guess

The lead pastor told the Joplin Globe “We’re just dudes,” adding, “If we can get more people to follow Jesus, I’ll give away 1,000 guns. I don’t care.”

However, the contest sparked controversy, as some residents accused the church of promoting violence. Mooneyham pushed back, arguing that “People are crazy, period. Murder has been going on since the beginning of time.” Ignite isn’t the first church to raffle off weapons.


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Why The Missional Movement Will Fail | Mike Breen

In honor of Throwback Thursday, I want to recall one of our earliest posts. Mike Breen puts his finger on a problem that is plaguing the so-called “missional movement.”

It’s time we start being brutally honest about the missional movement that has emerged in the last 10-15 years: Chances are better than not it’s going to fail.

If you make disciples, you will always get the church. But if you try to build the church, you will rarely get disciples.


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Must The Bad News Precede The Good News?

I’ve had lots of discussions with with folks over the years about how they think evangelism is to be done, and have written about it extensively.  One idea keeps resurfacing.  It’s the idea that we’ve got to convince people of the ‘bad news’ before we get to the ‘good news.’

Some people like to start their presentation of the gospel with a happy thought, such as, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” This was not Paul’s method.


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Can Spiritual Gifts Build Up The Church Online?

And He gave some as E-postles, E-prophets, E-vangelists, E-pastors, and E-teachers for the E-quipping of the saints for the work of service and E-difying the body of Christ.

E-Ministry to an E-generation?

There can never be a complete disconnect from organic stone & mortar ministry (1 Peter 2:5). Likewise,  the church cannot cease E-xtending our flesh wrapped hands in fellowship. But, she also cannot reject the E-world reality. How we minister to one another and those outside of the church, must include E-vangleism.


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What Happens When The Mission Shifts From Making Disciples To Bringing Justice

Unfortunately, in some of our circles there’s been a subtle shift away from the main thing. Justice has replaced Jesus as the new North Star. First priority is no longer bringing Jesus to a lost and dying world. It’s bringing mercy and justice to a suffering and disadvantaged world. Jesus has become an optional add-on.

The shift from offering mercy and justice in the name of Jesus to offering mercy and justice without mentioning his name may seem subtle. After all, we’re still doing the things he has called us to do. But it’s a subtle shift with huge consequences because the moment Jesus becomes optional, the Great commission has been redefined.


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Introverts Make Great Evangelists, They Just Don’t Know It Yet

Essentially, we train folks to fit into a specific personality type and call it evangelism training. We are training people to be extrovert evangelists. However, in the body of Christ, not everyone fits this extrovert mold, yet people think this is how all followers of Jesus must be and live. We must stop calling everyone to be an extrovert evangelist and allow people, specifically introverts, to live out the identity of evangelist and missionary in the way God has made them.

Note: Be sure to use the page number buttons below the social sharing buttons in the article to access all 4 pages of the article.


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It’s Always Someone Else’s Fault That Disciples Are Not Being Made

The refrain of the garden echoes through the halls of our churches. It’s always someone else’s fault. We have become masters at diverting responsibility and placing blame. Everyone is to blame except the one who is actually responsible and who will ultimately be held accountable.

The responsibility for making disciples does not rest with a denomination, a state convention, a seminary, a parachurch organization or a pastor and deacon board. The responsibility is given to all of God’s people in and through His church.


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Could The Mission Of The Church Be Considered A Sacrament?

The Anglican Book of Common Prayer defines a sacrament as “an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace given unto us, ordained by Christ himself, as a means whereby we receive the same, and a pledge to assure us thereof”.

My Purpose in this post is not delve deeply into a theology of sacraments, but to ask one question:

Can the Church consider Mission as Sacrament?


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A Case Study In Making Disciples Of All Nations

People tend not to know us as individuals, but as part of “that group” that meets in “that house” behind the soccer field. I am Just fine with that. In fact, I prefer to be counted as part of a group rather than being known as a leader or “The Missionary.”

When one of our group was recently asked, “Where do you attend Church?” He responded, “Well, I don’t go to church per se, but I do gather with some brothers and sisters every Tuesday night in that house behind the soccer field.”

The lines between our professions and our “ministries” are blurry, and that’s good thing.



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Church As Hostel Or Church As Hostile

How can the church guard against a fortress mentality that closes the door to the surrounding community? It’s not so easy to be missional. It’s much easier to close ourselves off from the world, where the church ends up looking like Vincent Van Gogh’s painting of the Church at Auvers. Like his Father, Jesus will never despise a broken and contrite spirit, only those who have built fortresses around their souls to keep him in or out, as the case may be. The church can only guard against a fortress mentality if it breaks down the strongholds of pride and presumption and remains open to Jesus. Repentance is the missing key. Humility, not hubris, opens church doors and keeps them open.



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3 Words That Will Change Your Understanding Of Mission

Apostasy is sort of a self disfellowship that leads to being mission-less and motionless, an attachment to detachment, or an unsanctified stationary posture.  Apostasy is missional paralysis.  Apostasy is un-sent-ness. Rejecting mission… God’s mission, is the path to apostasy.  Resurrection, Christ’s and ours, is the solution. Therefore, holy brethren, be partakers of the heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession…



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Discipleship: So Crazy It Just Might Work

This 9 minute interview shows how discipleship is not a mission of the Church, but THE mission.

“I don’t know any pastor who has been more personally fruitful in discipleship ministry than Randy Pope,” Tim Keller observes. “Nor do I know of any church leader who has had a more sustained, lifelong commitment to making the ministry of discipleship a pervasive force throughout his whole church.”


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A Story About Loving Ones Neighbor

Our first shock when we moved into our low-income apartment in a Midwestern inner city was the amount of substance abuse that surrounded us. Suddenly, alcohol is no longer fun. Instead it is a substance that changes my friends and neighbors, making them unpredictable and unsafe; it leaves me feeling helpless and afraid and vulnerable. It makes me question my faith in God, struggling to find hope for those who are addicted. In my neighborhood, it was becoming clear: righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit were tied to breaking the chains of my neighbors’ addictions. Since so many were caught in the cycle of stumbling and picking themselves up again, it became good for me to not drink, as a way to stand with the brothers and sisters I was learning to love. I didn’t give up alcohol because I wanted to flee the evils of the world. I gave up alcohol as a way of engaging the evils of the world.



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Disciplism By Alan Hirsch

So how do we get from “admirers” of Jesus to “followers” of Him?? I suggest that we start with reimagining evangelism through the lens of discipleship, which requires that we let go of seeing salvation as something we can deliver on demand, or when a person says a certain formulaic prayer. Rather, we need to reconceive discipleship as a process that includes pre-conversion discipleship and post-conversion discipleship.

Note: There is a link in the article to download Alan Hirsch’s free e-book, Disciplism. I highly recommend that you click the link and download the free e-book. It only takes about 30 minutes to read.

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Why Small Groups Fail At Making Disciples

Small groups are things that trick us into believing we’re serious about making disciples. The problem is 90 percent of small groups never produce one single disciple. Ever. They help Christians make shallow friendships, for sure. They’re great at helping Christians feel a tenuous connection to their local church, and they do a bang-up job of teaching Christians how to act like other Christians in the Evangelical Christian subculture. But when it comes to creating the kind of holistic disciples Jesus envisioned, the jury’s decision came back a long time ago – small groups just aren’t working.



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Let’s Kill The Sinner’s Prayer

I believe that a true “sinner’s prayer” will gush out of anyone who is truly seeking God and is tired of being enslaved to sin. The very act of “leading someone in a prayer” is utterly ridiculous. You will find nothing even remotely like it in the Bible, or among the writings and biographies of those in Church history. It completely savors of crowd and peer pressure tactics, and (please forgive me) brainwashing techniques. I do not believe that Jesus wants to have his disciples “repeat after Me,” I believe He wants them to follow after Him!



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On Mission With Your Children

Clearly, going and making disciples must be a high priority for all who follow Jesus. Some families are called to go to the nations, to proclaim the gospel among those who have not had a chance to hear. Their stories are certainly inspiring, and hopefully many more families will join them. However, not everyone will respond to this call to make disciples by going abroad.



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