Tag Archives: Discipleship

Sacred: Only the Saved

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 “Receive what you already are.”-St. Augustine presiding over Communion

So every July the Shepherds at Highland give me a month to get away and study and plan and pray for the coming year. It’s always a great gift, but it makes me miss Highland and the regular routine. So while I won’t be blogging as regularly for this month, I want to try and stay connected with what is going on at Highland.

This past Sunday, Jeff Childers preached during our Summer Series Sacred, by talking about Communion. He did a great job, and you can hear it here, but you should know, this is not a message for the faint of heart. But then again, neither is communion.

Did you know that back in the 4th century, after Constantine had converted the Roman Empire, the church had a very difficult time figuring out who they should let convert to Christianity? They had a legitimate problem. Now people wanted to belong to the church because it was the socially acceptable thing to do, Jesus was cool, and cross jewelry was just around the corner.

So now the church had a problem…how could they make sure that someone would take following Jesus seriously?

The Road to Communion

So the church developed a plan, that began with something called catechumenate, which was basically three years of hearing the “word of the Lord” and then the candidates who had done well with that, were taken on to the next round where they had their lifestyles examined and went through “daily exorcisms.”

Because let’s be honest, once a week just isn’t enough.

And then, if you went through that round successfully, then they would let you get baptized and take communion. Meaning that in the 4th century it was slightly easier to become the next American Idol than it was to convert.

Now chances are, we hear that and we think how primitive, and exclusive. communion

But then we get upset when we hear about that pastor having the affair, or the minister stealing or embezelling money. It’s all so cliche, which is a fancy word that just means, it happens so much we are tired of hearing about it.

But the sad truth is that Christians in America are very accepting and inclusive, but we aren’t that different.

A Different Kind of Discipleship

I read last year that in China, when someone becomes a Jesus follower, they are asked 7 questions:

  1. Are you willing to leave home and lose the blessing of your father?
  2. Are you willing to lose your job?
  3. Are you willing to go to your village, to those who persecute you, forgive them and share the love of Christ with them?
  4. Are you willing to give an offering to the LORD?
  5. Are you willing to be beaten rather than deny Jesus?
  6. Are you willing to go to prison?
  7. Are you willing to die for Jesus?

Now that’s a welcoming packet.

The churches that I’ve worked at, make following Jesus as easy and non-threatening as possible. And rightfully so, but never forget that the questions that Chinese Christians are asking now, are the kinds of questions that Christians have been asking for thousands of years. It’s not enough to just have a dynamic student ministry and great programming and the right facilities. When the Church gathers it is to make us into different kinds of people.

The ancient view of communion, was that through this moment God gives Himself to His people.

And in order to do that, for thousands of years, Christians have excluded those who weren’t ready to make that kind of sacrifice.

There’s lots of ways to be ugly about excluding people, in fact, I think most of us have experienced both sides of this. But the question isn’t whether or not your group excludes, every group does!

And if you doubt that, just find out how your group responds to someone who is exclusive.

The question isn’t whether or not your group excludes, it is how you treat the people that are on the outside,

That is the uniquely Christian virtue, we are not called to just love our neighbor, we are called to love our enemy.

If you want to make a difference in your town or city, than the best place to start is to commit to become a different kind of person.

It’s time to stop just talking about Jesus, it’s time to follow Jesus.

And then you can eat with Him.

Inspi(re)ality: Rich Little on Mentoring (Video Interview)

 

All this month on Inspi(re)laity we’ve been talking about the importance of mentoring and discipling within our churches. Last week, I sat down with Rich Little, the preaching minister at the University Church of Christ in Malibu, California. Rich is a fantastic preacher and communicator, and he was also my Freshman Bible Teacher at Harding University.

Ever since I’ve known him he’s been passionate about mentoring the generations that are coming behind him, so I sat down to ask him for practical advice on what he’s learned.

In the Interview I asked Rich 5 questions:

1. When I was at Harding, one of the pivotal moments of my life was you sitting me down and calling me out to preach. What do you look for when you are going to mentor someone?

2. Why are you so passionate about mentoring younger ministers?

3. Most of the pushback I hear about mentoring is that our schedules are already full, how do you balance time with ministry/family/writing with mentoring?

4. What are some of the challenges you’ve faced with mentoring in the past?

5. What advice would you give to someone who is just thinking about doing this for the first time?

What I love about Rich is that he is really someone who is smoking what they’re selling. It’s easy for preachers to talk about the lack of discipleship in our churches, it’s another thing to actually seek out younger men and women to disciple.

You can hear follow Rich on Twitter here, and read his blog that he posts regularly at here.

Inspi(re)ality: A Ministry that Keeps on Building

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During the month of March, we’ve dedicated Thursdays to talking about mentoring, why it’s important and practical tips about how to go about doing it. Today’s post is by a man who’s worked hard to mentor younger ministers, as well as get mentoring. Jim is the preacher at the Crestview Church of Christ, and is one of the best ministers and encouragers I know. Jim consistently writes great content for leadership/ministry at his blog over at www.godhungry.org.  You can follow him on Twitter here. And I highly recommend checking out his blog here.

Meet Jim:

For much of my adult life I have desired to be mentored. As a young minister, it was very clear to me that I had much to learn. Consequently, I was very intentional about seeking out people from whom I could learn. Over the years I have gained from the following:

  • Several trusted ministers who were very patient as I came to them again and again with my questions and difficult situations. Some of these people have been a very important part of my life for many years.
  • Relationships that I had for a particular season of ministry. That is, for a season I learned from these people and stayed in contact.
  • Occasional coffees and lunches with particular people. These were more than conversations. I often came to these moments with numerous questions I needed to ask.
  • Individuals through their biographies and autobiographies. At other times, I saturated myself with the writings of Henri Nouwen, N.T. Wright, Gordon MacDonald, John R.W. Stott, C. S. Lewis, etc.For many years I wouldn’t have used the word “mentor” to describe what I needed from these people. I just knew that I had much to learn from others.As you read this note, I want to ask you:

Are you being mentored by anyone?

As you think about this question, know that I continue to be mentored by others. I am still intentional about learning from others. I look for people from whom I can learn.

Are you willing to be mentored?

The following are a few questions that might be helpful in reflecting on this:

  • Who am I learning from right now?
  • Am I serious about growing and changing?
  • Do I really listen to trusted people?
  • Is there anyone in my life with whom I talk and then actually follow through on something that person suggested?
  • Am I serious about moving from “What shall I do?” to “What kind of person wilI I be?”Look for someone from whom you can learn. Ask to spend some time with that person. Go prepared. Ask good questions. Listen. Write down what you wish to remember. Listen to this person’s words and watch this person’s manner. Be fully present when you are with this person.

Are you investing in anyone else’s life?

First, I am not talking about someone who might be presumptuous and think someone would be blessed just to spend time with him. Blessing someone through a mentoring relationship works best when that person is living out of the soul, not the ego.

Mentoring is more than dispensing information or trying to get someone to recognize one’s wisdom. It is the willingness to make oneself vulnerable
and available to another. It is the willingness to be fully present with another. It is a willingness to step into another’s life (if invited) to add value. It can occur one-to-one or in a small mentoring group.

This kind of investment can be helpful in the following ways:

• Mentoring can help shape another’s life.
• Mentoring can help a person as he travels through life.
• Mentoring can put various problems and struggles in perspective. • Mentoring can encourage and help another see the future.

Most of all, you can bless another by simply paying attention to him. Before you conclude that you have very little to offer, let me remind you that there is only one you and you may be used uniquely by God to make a difference in another’s life.

Finally, three suggestions:

(These are simply places to begin.)

  1. Begin by praying that God would lead you to a person from whom you can learn.
  2. Attempt to schedule a time (perhaps coffee or lunch) to be with someone from whom you would like to learn. Simply tell that person you would like to ask questions about ministry and life. Come prepared with questions.
  3. Consider inviting a person to coffee or lunch who might have less experience in life and ministry than you. Be fully present and listen to that person’s words and heart. Affirm whatever you see that is good, right, and godly. In other words, don’t try to do anything or fix anything. Simply be present and see what might develop from that relationship.

Judging the Cost

If you get a chance, watch the video above. I think this is a good parable for what it’s like to live in Christian community.  It’s an actual intervention. With people actually judging other people on national television.  A woman named Amber is about to lose her daughter and her life to alchohol, and her friends are taking the step to “judge” her.

It’s heartbreaking.

You can tell that her friends and family really do care about her. You can tell she’s angry and bitter. And you can tell that this is an extremely awkward situation to have put on cable T.V. She doesn’t want to be in that seat.

Nobody wants to be in that seat.

There was a season last year when I was going through a difficult few weeks in ministry and life. I had begun to make some personal decisions that were not very healthy. And at one point a very good friend sat me down and asked me about what was going on. And then he suggested that I make some behavior modifications.

And I on the outside I was great. I was smiling like an Olsteen, but inside I was immediately defensive and upset.. I suddenly realized this was no dear friend I was talking to, this is Judas. Outside I was trying to diffuse the tension with humor, but inside I was asking, “Who does this guy think he is? I have a mother and she’s not here.”

I immediately started wanting to point out the log in my friends eye, or at least make one up.

It’s often pointed out that Western Churches are not very good at Discipleship. The surveys show that Christians in America live shockingly similar lives to people who are not Christian. Churches are great at helping people become “Christian” but not very good at helping them become disciples of Jesus. We can get people into buildings or programs, but not much Jesus into people. Continue reading Judging the Cost

Touring Church

So for the last few days, I’ve been reading “Not Buying It” by Judith Levine. It’s a well written memoir from the life of one lady who decided to step outside of consumerism for an entire year. Her husband and she made the decision to not make one purchase for 12 months, and then they journaled what that experience was like…Their journal turned into a book, which, ironically, sold quite well. Continue reading Touring Church