This is the excerpt for your very first post.
Busyness is a major enemy in our lives. We can easily get so busy that we don’t have time to pray, to listen to God, to share good news with the Lost, or to adequately spend time with those who are expressing interest in coming to faith. These things usually happen in the early stages of our efforts to start a movement. When we don’t see things “take off” as fast as we had hoped, we allow ourselves to get involved in other ministry tasks that give us a bit of a sense of fulfillment. Teaching here or there, doing emails, making a video for a church about what we do, attending a seminar or conference someone invited us to…suddenly we realize we have had little time for the task of disciple making.
Later, when (and if) we do have some disciples and the first church gets going, it is again easy to become busy with things related to that church’s programs rather than continuing to pursue relationships with the Lost, or to invest in quality disciple making. We make the mistake of thinking that a weekly meeting of a few hours will make quality disciples. We fail to truly invest our lives in those God has given us whether it be in detailed prayer for them, or in developing deep relationships.
One of my favorite Old Testament Bible Heros is Nehemiah. In the sixth chapter of the book that bears his name, messengers come asking Nehemiah to attend a meeting with Sanballat and Geshem. Instead of agreeing he says,
“I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” (Nehemiah 6:3)
Nehemiah is completely focused on his God-given task. He is not going to stop his work to go and resolve a conflict, listen to his enemies, or attend a meeting. He knows how to say a clear “no.” He continues to focus on what is most important. We need to do the same.
How hard is it for you to stay focused on what is really important? Do you clearly know in your own mind what is most important in light of your goal to see a movement of disciples?
In a recent training I asked the participants to make a list of everything they had done in the last week that took more than an hour of their time. After they had listed at least 15 things, I asked them to circle which of those things directly related to making disciples among the unreached. It was eye-opening for many of them to see how little time they actually devoted to the task they said was their primary vision. We all would benefit from a similar exercise from time to time.
Feeling convicted? I truly hope you don’t feel condemned. It’s very human to get distracted and not at all uncommon! Instead of feeling bad, look carefully at where you are at. Recommit yourself to stay focused on your true calling as a disciple-maker and messenger of the good news. Be willing like Nehemiah to say no to some things so you can say yes to what is really important.
The unreached wait to hear your message. New disciples wait to be encouraged, trained and mentored. Let’s get busy doing the most important things that lead to the release of movements.
In Luke 15, we find three very similar stories; the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and the Lost Son. Each of these stories ends with a description of what happens in Heaven when even one person repents. Can you imagine the party in heaven if 50 people repented? What if it was a hundred? Or 500? That would be a pretty big angelic celebration! I can imagine Jesus joining right in the dance! Woohoo! My beloved ones have come home!
I’m thinking that what really makes a party a party for Him is when there are lots of new names written in the Book of Life He keeps.
This Christmas, what if instead of focusing on our having a great party on earth, we focused on what would give Him a fun party in Heaven? It is His birthday after all!
Many of our Christmas traditions, feasts, songs, dances and programs are geared to help Christians enjoy themselves. We might even invite people who aren’t yet believers and include a little message at the end, especially for them. This year I’ve been asking though, what could we do differently to see more lost people get introduced to Jesus- the One who the Big Celebration is all about. What if we did something different and the people we invite, not only met Him casually (prayed some kind of prayer of response) but what if they actually made a decision to repent, follow Him and become a disciple? What if what we did at Christmas actually resulted in new groups of disciples meeting together regularly to learn His ways and obey His commands?
I think that would make a pretty awesome Jesus present!
Seriously… as disciple makers, let’s re-evaluate what we have done in the past at Christmas. How fruitful was it, in light of the goal of making disciples who make disciples? What could we do differently this year to see a different result?
I’ve talked recently with a few people about this. Plans are being made to include more one on one sharing of testimonies. Plans are forming to prioritize follow-up immediately after the “program” on Christmas day, to immediately invite the seekers or new believers into groups where they can learn what it means to be a disciple. Church members are being challenged and trained to share the good news of Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection more this month than normal- believing for many new disciples to be made in December.
Jesus is going to have an incredible Christmas Birthday party! What gift will you bring Him this year?