Conquering Co-Dependency & Consumerism In Church Culture

Those churches that sprang from American soil have avoided certain aspects of the feudal model, but unfortunately many have been co-opted by another system. Whereas Constantine poured the early Christian movement into the mold of Roman patronage, many American churches have been profoundly shaped by the mold of democratic capitalism. Ours is a free market system where “church shopping” makes complete sense to most people because the focus is on meeting the perceived needs of individuals. Over the past fifty years churches in America have continued this pattern by placing an ever-greater emphasis on attracting new members by providing staff-led programs tailored to the specific interests of various constituencies.

Apparently we need more than a better marketing plan or a new program to solve this crisis. What began as a dynamic grass-roots movement in Palestine that nearly conquered the Roman Empire gradually became a theology in Greece, an institution in Rome, a state church in Europe, and now a non-profit service provider in America. The question is: what will the next chapter of our story be?


Continue ReadingConquering Co-Dependency & Consumerism In Church Culture

Inspiring Youth Toward Maturity In Christ

Youth live in transition between childhood and adulthood, so youth ministry always has the potential to pull them in either direction. Too often, it tugs toward childishness. We offer really sophisticated day care. We compete with entertainers. But the Christian life doesn’t tend toward prolonged naiveté; it leads to maturity. Any ministry, including youth ministry, should pull toward adulthood, where meaning and romance and grief and deep communion with Christ are found. Whenever we have the chance, we should call youth forward into Christian adulthood.

For Paul, steadiness of mind is a primary mark of Christian maturity. Childish Christians are “tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes,” while mature Christians have attained to “the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God” (Eph. 4:13-14, ESV). Mature Christians are steady in mind through Christ, and childish Christians are unsteady.


Continue ReadingInspiring Youth Toward Maturity In Christ

Discipleship Requires Transformation And Patience

The best way to make disciples is with patience. It’s also the only way to make a community, multiply a community, and plant new communities in a healthy way. But it’s also not the American way, nor the American church way. We want to treat discipleship like it functions on a factory assembly line, having people line up at the front, add specific theology, life, and behavior along the way and come out the other end as a perfectly equipped disciple. That’s a program for education and not a process of discipleship.

Discipleship is a process of becoming like Jesus Christ in our affections, our thoughts, and our behavior. If we begin to see discipleship as a process with many iterations, we would find more peace, joy, and hope in the struggle of everyday life. Each day then allows us to experience more of God, realize more of our need to be conformed and trust that God’s word is true and that He will conform us to Jesus.


Continue ReadingDiscipleship Requires Transformation And Patience

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.) 


Continue ReadingAvoid The Trap Of Success By Focusing On Fruit

How To Turn Boys Into Godly Men

Boys don’t enter the world knowing how to be godly men; they have to be trained into it. Of course, the primary training role for that formation should be the boy’s father. He is to disciple his son every day in the Word of the Lord and in the pattern of godly living.

But while godly fathers are by far the best disciplers of young men into Christ-like manhood, spiritual fathers can play a vital role as well. This is where a mentor, a pastor, or a discipler can step in and take the young man beyond where his father has left off. In a day of rampant absenteeism among biological fathers, the next generation of spiritual leaders is yearning for godly men to step up and serve as an adoptive spiritual father.

Discipling eager young men for future leadership in the home and the church is one of the most sweetly rewarding aspects of ministry that I’ve ever encountered.


Continue ReadingHow To Turn Boys Into Godly Men

How To Fail At Making Disciples

We need to remember that God is inviting people into Jesus’ story. As important as we might think we are, we only serve as the go-between. We are called/commanded to go out and live on mission. As we live as missionaries in the world, we find those people that God is inviting and then we connect them to His story.

The typical model I’ve seen is to get people to buy into the grace God extends through Jesus (evangelism) and then tell them everything they must do as believers (discipleship)! What a crappy model! Not only is it wrong, but it sets people up for a life of bondage to religious behavior.


Continue ReadingHow To Fail At Making Disciples

Good Discipleship Results In Maturity

Lately there’s been a lot of talk about spiritual formation and discipleship, and rightfully so. I think we can all agree there’s a discipleship deficit in evangelicalism. Perhaps the elephant in the room is that there isn’t a whole lot of discipling going on, even though that’s precisely what we, as Jesus’ followers, were commissioned to do.

First, we have to recognize that maturity is the goal of discipleship.


Continue ReadingGood Discipleship Results In Maturity

Jesus Never Commanded People To Plant Churches

We have a poor understanding of our Commission.  We act as if Jesus has commanded us to plant churches.  We are commanded to make disciples.  It is out of disciple making that churches are to be birthed.  The weight of the biblical model rests here.  Not transfer growth. Not acrimonious splits. It is evangelism that results in disciples, who covenant together to be and function as the local expression of the Body of Christ.


Continue ReadingJesus Never Commanded People To Plant Churches

Revising Our Vision For Ministry To Students

I have this gut-wrenching feeling that many students will move off to college with nothing learned from church except food, games and shiny events. None of these things are bad, but they aren’t the crux of what will keep a student fixated on the face of Jesus once walking into the real world. Discipleship is key.

We must increase our expectations of a decreasing generation of Christ followers. We must press harder than we ever have before. We must not worry about what is popular, but instead what is biblical. We must pursue that of Christ, and direct students towards the purpose of the cross.


Continue ReadingRevising Our Vision For Ministry To Students

The Church Is NOT Called To Plant Churches

There is no command in the Bible to go into all the world and plant churches. The Church is never told to plant churches until the end of the age or search out all people groups and plant churches among them. If our goal is to plant a church, then our goal has been accomplished.  Let’s have a party and celebrate.

But it’s not about planting churches. The Church is to make disciples of all nations.


Continue ReadingThe Church Is NOT Called To Plant Churches

Sometimes Religious Structures Need To Die In Order For Discipleship To Thrive

What if church, the gathering of God’s people in a particular local, was supposed to be a temporary thing, a seasonal ecosystem that cycled through life and death, or a snapshot of ecclesiastical, historical, and geographical history. I know, ‘church’ is not a place, it’s a people. We all say that, but still act as if it is a place.



Continue ReadingSometimes Religious Structures Need To Die In Order For Discipleship To Thrive

Healing People Is Cool, But Transforming People Is Better

We started going out on the streets, praying for the sick in every place. Me and a buddy were going out on the streets all the time and seeing many healings.

I’ve learned that the high point is no longer the healing, the crying eyes, or the excited person. The high point is when I’ve watched the person transform over time into someone who knows what God is really like and knows how God sees them. The healings, the prophetic words, and the acts of kindness are just tools of bringing somebody into a healthy relationship with Jesus.


Continue ReadingHealing People Is Cool, But Transforming People Is Better

Reflections On The Youth Ministry Trap

Looking back on my many years in youth ministry, I see that I was working so hard to win the hearts of students to the youth group. I want the youth group to be the place where they found their connection, community, and identity. What I should have done was sought to win their hearts to their families and to our entire church. My mission should have been to help them find their connection, community, and identity at home and with our entire church family, not only with their peers.


Continue ReadingReflections On The Youth Ministry Trap

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…)

Continue ReadingAlan Hirsch Explains Why Evangelism Can’t Be Our Main Focus

Imitation Is The Sincerest Form Of Discipleship

The church, by and large, is filled with passive consumers who are unwilling to take spiritual responsibility for the lives of others.

We need to be reminded that the command to “follow me as I follow Christ” is not a statement of arrogance, but the natural outworking of the Spirit of God in the life of all of his church.


Continue ReadingImitation Is The Sincerest Form Of Discipleship

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.


Continue Reading5 Questions To Keep You On Mission

What Would It Look Like If Discipleship Were The Mission Of The Church?

Today’s Throwback Thursday post recalls a short video that demonstrates well the need to re-establish the making of disciples as THE mission of the church.

“I don’t know any pastor who has been more personally fruitful in discipleship ministry than Randy Pope,” Tim Keller observes. 


Continue ReadingWhat Would It Look Like If Discipleship Were The Mission Of The Church?

Lay A Foundation For Faith But Don’t Stop There

God doesn’t intend for you to move past the gospel or the basics of Christianity; He intends you to build your life on the gospel and the basics of Christianity.

God’s people will never be missional if all we do is sit around and inspect the foundation. No, the mission requires people who are grounded in the truth, empowered by the Spirit, and who are fueled and shaped by the cruciform love of Christ.


Continue ReadingLay A Foundation For Faith But Don’t Stop There

Jesus Loved Children Not Because They Are Cute But Because They Are Strategic

Jesus understood the Great Commission begins with the souls of the little ones. The Great Commission is not just personal, but multi-generational. The disciples were standing in the way of parents and grandparents, and Jesus quickly put an end to it. Jesus set the example for every believer, regardless of their family situation, to intentionally nurture faith in children, and participate in God’s multi-generational Great Commission.


Continue ReadingJesus Loved Children Not Because They Are Cute But Because They Are Strategic

Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Disciple Who Counted The Cost

This 5 minute video offers a brief summary of the life and significance of Dietrich Bonhoeffer during the Nazi regime in WWII. Bonhoeffer is often known for his book The Cost of Discipleship. As you shall see, that book was not merely an academic exercise for him. He acted on faith to follow Jesus, no matter the cost.

See previous post for more perspective on how Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s story is instructive to disciples of Jesus today.


Continue ReadingDietrich Bonhoeffer: A Disciple Who Counted The Cost

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.


Continue ReadingWhy The Missional Movement Will Fail | Mike Breen

If A Pastor Can’t Make A Disciple, Then Who Can? How About A Mentor?

The pattern and ethos of Jesus-style discipleship revolves around the idea that it is disciples who in turn make disciples. According to the New Testament pattern, pastors, church programs, and preaching alone are not what make disciples. No, it is very clear that Jesus intended that all of his followers become disciples and then in turn be disciple makers, regardless of their vocation. The “follow me” framework of disciple making is one of the most integral cogs for carrying out the Great Commission.

Continue ReadingIf A Pastor Can’t Make A Disciple, Then Who Can? How About A Mentor?

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.


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

How Youth Groups Make Atheists And What To Do About It

A new study might reveal why a majority of Christian teens abandon their faith upon high school graduation. Some time ago, Christian pollster George Barna documented that 61 percent of today’s 20-somethings who had been churched at one point during their teen years are now spiritually disengaged. They do not attend church, read their Bible or pray.

According to a new five-week, three-question national survey sponsored by the National Center for Family-Integrated Churches (NCFIC), the youth group itself is the problem.



Continue ReadingHow Youth Groups Make Atheists And What To Do About It

Paul’s Idea Of Seminary

Paul lectured, taught, spoke, reasoned, preached, and interacted with students in the school of Tyrannus every day for 2 years! He had interactive “classes” with people which were sometimes practical in the sense of teaching as he did mission AND non-practical in the sense that he was passing on transforming information or data to be used later on in mission. There’s nothing wrong with a class structure so long as it doesn’t become the only structure or the simple acquisition of knowledge.



Continue ReadingPaul’s Idea Of Seminary

Fixing Broken Ideas About Discipleship

Since many pastors and leaders believe standing in front of a pulpit and having people listen to them once a week is “making disciples” and fulfilling the great commission, it can be easy to falsely gauge our success in making disciples by the numbers of people attending a meeting. Or that the numbers of people completing a program that consists of attending meetings is the same thing as discipleship.

Meetings can’t replace discipleship nor can it be our only method or strategy of accomplishing it, since discipleship involves lifestyle imitation which can’t happen through hearing sermons.



Continue ReadingFixing Broken Ideas About Discipleship

6 Ways To Jumpstart Disciple Making Movements

This article offers 6 insightful points about the beliefs and practices that lead to explosive and exponential growth of the Church in areas all around the world. When the goal is to make disciples who can reproduce and make more disciples who make disciples who make disciples and so on, these points make a lot of sense. Implementing these points might disrupt other methods that are out there, but maybe that’s a good thing.



Continue Reading6 Ways To Jumpstart Disciple Making Movements

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.

readmore (more…)

Continue ReadingDisciplism By Alan Hirsch

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.



Continue ReadingWhy Small Groups Fail At Making Disciples

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!



Continue ReadingLet’s Kill The Sinner’s Prayer

End of content

No more pages to load