Month: October 2017

5 Things That Destroy Discipleship Movements

Death Factors

Some months ago I wrote about 6 Factors That Get Your Movement Moving.  It’s always good to look at positive things we can do to see greater fruit and growth!

It is also important to be aware of what kinds of things kill a Disciple Making Movement(DMM).  Sometimes we call these “Death Factors.” These are things to be extremely careful about.  While seemingly normal or innocent, if your goal is a multiplying movement, they will definitely “sink your ship.” When these things start to happen, you can be sure that the movement will stop growing.  If you are just getting started, the movement can die before it every really starts.  There are other “death factors” to consider, but here are five of the most common. read more

3 Things That Increase Bold Evangelism

bold evangelism

“I have tried and tried to get the believers in our fellowship to share the gospel, but they are fearful, shy and just don’t seem able to witness. Bold evangelism just isn’t happening!”

This is not unusual to hear from the church planters I am coaching. What can we do to increase boldness and help the disciples we work with to overcome their fears?

3 Things That Increase Bold Evangelism

1. Receiving the Holy Spirit

The classic biblical example is Peter in Acts Chapter 2. When Jesus was being tried, three times he denied even knowing Him. He certainly wasn’t witnessing at that point! But after he received the power of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, he stood in front of thousands and boldly proclaimed the gospel with authority and conviction. If your church members aren’t witnessing, pray for them to receive the power of the Holy Spirit. It will make a world of difference.

2. Practicing

Many people lack confidence to witness. They are embarrassed when they stumble over their words or don’t know what to say, how to answer questions, etc. After teaching them how to share their testimony, make sure to take time practicing it in a safe environment with other believers. Let them share it several times and get feedback. Do the same when training people to share a Creation to Christ story. Practice builds confidence and helps them to overcome fear of failure.

3. Making a List

Ying Kai of T4T says that people don’t share because they don’t know who to share with. He encourages people to make a two column Lost and Saved list. Pray daily for the people on that list. The lost side of the list are those in your friend and family circle (oikos) who don’t yet believe in Christ. The saved side of the list are those you are discipling. Regularly pray for them too!

After making a list, you can choose a few people each week and make plans to share your testimony with them. Being specific and accountable about plans to share the gospel helps us move forward. If you are training others, be sure to affirm and encourage a lot. Do this even if their efforts don’t yield success in the beginning.

It goes without saying that we as trainers also need to really pray for believers in this area. Model bold evangelism in your own life too! If we are demonstrating a lifestyle of evangelism and courageous witness, they will see it is possible and that they too can do the same.

Bold evangelism is a major characteristic of growing DMMs. Believe God to help you increase the believer’s boldness!

Which of the “3 Things” will you start to work on this week? Mention it in the comments and we will pray with you as you work on this!

 

When God Restores- Women Get Included in the Inheritance

women in missions

God created women in His own image. They hold a special place in His heart. God is using women in missions today like never before! It has always been His intention to uplift and release women into their full potential. It is part of His salvation and His restoration process that women receive their inheritance in the Kingdom. read more

Baptism Questions- Are They Ready?

baptism are they ready

There is a question many disciple makers face with new believers. It centers around baptism- are they ready?

In the last few blogs, we have been looking at questions and issues around baptism. baptism-are they ready?People often delay baptism thinking the new believer is not ready to take this step. They need to grow more in their faith first, they say. Maybe we are waiting for new believers to stop certain bad habits like smoking or drinking. Sometimes we wait to baptize because we want a large group to be baptized together. Others delay for a long time because they are hoping a spouse will also believe and they can be baptized together. Some delay because the person isn’t yet a legal adult. Perhaps we don’t want to have to fill the baptism tank too often, or take time out of our church service to include this ceremony more than once or twice a year.

How Do You Know If They Are Ready To Be Baptized?

When do you baptize someone after leading them to faith in Christ?

Again, it is important to look to scripture on these issues rather than looking for guidance only at our church traditions or what we have seen done around us. Baptism- are they ready? We need to examine the scriptures for answers.

When determining if someone is ready to be baptized, the key things mentioned in scripture are faith and repentance. As we discussed in the previous blog, in Acts Chapter 2, Peter responded to those who asked “What shall we do?” with the answer “Repent and be baptized.” It was clear that faith had arisen in their hearts. The next step was repentance.

How do you know if someone has repented? How much repentance and change do you first need to see before you baptize them?

Biblical Examples

The biblical example here is different from what we see in many church traditions. In the New Testament, we almost always see immediate baptism when faith is expressed. The Philippian jailer, the crowd at Pentecost, the Ethiopian eunuch are all examples of immediate baptism. We find that while a clear directive to repent is given by Peter, he doesn’t wait to test their repentance before baptizing them. I wonder how many in that crowd had problems with alcohol, or beat their wives, or were dishonest in their business dealings?

When conviction of sin comes, when there is a realization of sin and the need for a Savior in someone’s life, they start to respond in faith and repentance. Jesus never ignored sin but called people to “go and sin no more” (consider the woman caught in adultery). Acceptance into His kingdom and family was immediate not conditional though. There was no delay or a testing period to see if they were serious. We must remember and follow this example Jesus gave.

Prior to baptism, we are not looking for full transformation and sanctification– we are all still in that process! We do look for recognition of sin- do they see they are a sinner in need of a Savior? We look for a change of heart. A change of allegiance is what we look for- that they have acknowledged Jesus as Lord and Savior of their lives. Look for a desire to turn away from sinful habits and the things which the Holy Spirit is convicting them of. (Interestingly, Holy Spirit doesn’t always highlight or convict new believers about various sins in the order that I would!)

Do What Helps Them Grow

Some sinful habits may still be a struggle. Do we go ahead and baptize? My answer, and I believe the biblical answer, is yes. Baptism is a step of faith and obedience. As they take this step, as they demonstrate outwardly their inner faith, as they rise out of the water as a symbolic act of new resurrection and life- all these things strengthen new believers in their determination to begin a new way of living, to walk the path of transformation with Jesus’ help. We must not prevent them from doing what will help them grow by denying or delaying baptism because they aren’t “perfect” yet!

There are many issues related to baptism to prayerfully consider. Cultural factors, legal issues and church traditions all influence us in various ways and must be thought about. Our foundation, however, is always the Word of God and the example given by Jesus and the apostles. We examine all we do in the light of those examples and are careful not to unnecessarily delay but help people to take this step as soon as possible. Immediate obedience as a DNA, whether with baptism or other things, will lead to disciples who multiply rapidly.

Baptism Questions- If They Don’t Take It, Are They A “Believer” Or Not?

baptism questions

baptism questionLast week we looked at the questions related to being ready for baptism. Today I want to look at another important baptism question.

Are They A Believer?

*Can someone be considered a “believer” or “disciple” if they don’t desire (or are not willing to take) this the step of obedience?

To find answers to this baptism question, we need to look at what scripture teaches. Many cultural and social issues exist that make this a difficult step to take. Persecution can increase after and around the question of taking baptism. In South Asian settings, many view baptism as the point at which you are “changing your religion.”

It’s better to help them see that baptism is a way to demonstrate there has been a “change of heart.” The fear of being seen by their relatives and community as having “changed religion” is a big obstacle for many.

Baptism Question Addressed By Scripture

One of the clearest directives we find related to baptism is in Acts 2:37-38 when Peter addresses the 3000 who have believed. As the Holy Spirit works, faith rises in their hearts, and they ask him what they need to do. Peter’s response is clear about two important necessary actions- Repentance and Baptism.

37When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

38Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Both are still needed today. I’m convinced that when we fail to emphasize them, we end up with weak disciples rather than bold, committed and growing disciples who are able to disciple others.

In our desire to “take things slowly”, not be pushy, and in our fear of creating obstacles for those showing interest in following Christ, we sometimes fail to teach them about the things that are able to make them strong – Repentance and Baptism. I believe this is a mistake, both for that person and for the DNA of the movement.

Every context is a bit different, and we do want to uphold the theological understanding that it is not our actions that save, but Christ’s work on the cross. Baptism doesn’t save us, Jesus does. Faith, however, must be lived out in actions of obedience. Baptism is one of them.

If someone doesn’t want to be baptized or waits a long time before showing a desire to be baptized, we need to have a serious discussion with them about why. We don’t want to force anyone to be baptized. We do want to encourage obedience to Jesus’ commands and make sure that a complete shift of allegiance has happened in their lives. Is Jesus truly Lord? Has He taken a higher place than family, society, and fear?

Back to our original question, are they a “believer” if they don’t want to be baptized? Maybe, but they are not a strong disciple who will make more disciples. Will they get into Heaven? Probably. God is amazingly gracious. Getting people into Heaven when they die, however, is not out goal. We want to make strong disciples who experience and live out transformed lives here on Earth!

Pray. Gently and clearly encourage them. Raise the bar of what it means to be a follower of Jesus, and don’t make this step optional. Whatever it is that is holding them back, if those things are bigger in their mind than their desire to obey Jesus as Lord and Savior, those things have to “bow the knee.”

Many times, the problem is more with us, the disciple maker, than with them. We fail to give opportunity for obedience in this area and make it difficult rather than “normal” for new believers to take this step. We will talk about that more in the coming blogs.