Following Christ to Make Followers of Christ
Following Christ to Make Followers of Christ
My father-in-law was an electrical engineer and then a contractor and has a shirt that says if PaPa can’t fix it no one can. It is true. During Thanksgiving my nephew shared that his washing machine broke and he asked Papa if he knew anything about washers. Papa kicked back and started working through the many various problems and how to fix every one. He isolated the problem to most likely be a faulty pump and told my nephew how and why it wasn’t working and that he needed to replace it. As he explained, my nephew looked at him with that blank stare that says “I have no idea what you are talking about,” and asked him if he would come look at it. My nephew heard the words “fix the pump” but had no idea what it meant.
You have done it, too. Parents send your kids off to clean their room, they run to do it, and you come in to find you had a completely different understanding of what it means to clean the room.
I have done this. The church has done this. No where has this been more apparent than in this, “Go make disciples.” How are you doing this?
This question is one of the most pressing issues for the church today. Many are wrestling with it. We have wrestled with it. I have taught a lot about making disciples. I have not talked effectively enough on how we will do that as a church. Over the last few months this has become clearer and I want to share about a method of making disciples to incorporate into the life of Radiant Church. We want to get back to basics which is growing deeper in our walk with God.
First let’s look at a passage.
“While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” 20 Immediately they left their nets and followed him. 21 And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.” Matthew 4:18-22 (ESV)
This tells us three things about disciples:
Big Idea: Disciples are those who are with Jesus, being changed by Jesus, and telling others about Jesus.
- With Jesus
First see that the disciples followed Jesus (Matt 4:19). Jesus calls to them and they respond to his calling. They left their previous allegiances so they could serve and be with Jesus. Followers of Christ are found with Christ. They relate to him, seek him, and do the things he does and commands them to do. To be with him means you need to leave things that take you away from him.
Might have to leave your profession, leave a way of life. Might have to put your phone down and spend time with him.
- Changed by Jesus,
Following Christ is entering into a journey of change. You can’t be around Jesus and not want to be like him. He is making the disciples into something, and he will shape you as well. All of your experiences, good and bad, glorious and painful, are going to be used for his purposes.
He is making them into fishers of people. They will lead people to him and have an effect on them.
If you have left the world and are following Jesus then you are going to be more like him and less like the world. That is an exciting process change. It’s exciting to see a young man give up a life of partying and living for money to serve Jesus. It’s exciting to hear an older man talk about Jesus challenging him to invest in people at the office so they can be better in their jobs and families. Change is exciting any time it happens. The disciples followed Jesus in a lifelong adventure of knowing him more.
- Sharing Jesus
And thirdly, Jesus is specifically making his disciples into fishers of people. He brings them into the process of helping others know him. This means helping others find and experience the healing and grace that you have found in him.
They went and told others about who Jesus is and what he is doing. We are to do the same thing!
Big Idea: Disciples are those who are with Jesus, being changed by Jesus, and telling others about Jesus.
If this is what a disciple is then we need to foster this in people. How much are you being encouraged to share with others? How are you being transformed by Jesus? If someone asked what God is doing in your life do you have anything to say? Are we seeing others being changed through our discipleship?
Been an evaluation of myself to see that I am not impacting others the way I would like to. Are we seeing the conversions and impact in the world that we would like to in our church? To me that answer is no.
*Epecitus. P26 Moran. “It’s impossible for a man to learn something he thinks he already knows.”
This has been heavy on my heart as we have tried to revamp our small group ministry. Small groups are so important in connecting with others, knowing what is going on in life, and being a place to kindle a passion for God. But I have also been in a bind trying to do this, because I felt what we did at previous churches is not what we need to do now. We invested heavily in small group leaders, training them in theology and counseling, having an extremely high bar and expecting them to handle a lot. Teach studies, provide counseling, challenge people where they need to be challenged. We had a small percentage of group leaders in the church. I think we need to change that to get more people leading. People don’t respond to the mass calls to join a small group. Many people feel relationally thin, working one place, living another, multiple moves, overly organized groups that are outside their regular relational network is difficult. So we need something that can be done on a smaller scale (3 people) and scaled up. I also want to change the conversation we are having in our small groups to better equip us to reach others.
We need a focus on following Jesus. That is applicable to a non believer. It is applicable to our oldest believer. We need every person helping others to know and follow Jesus.
People are less knowledgeable about the Bible today than ever. And it is declining. We can’t expect people to join us in times of Bible trivia. A pew study in 2019 showed a double digit decrease in people who identify as Christians and double digit increase in those who identify as atheist or agnostic.
We can’t assume people who walk in church doors know what it means to be a disciple. If we are not willing to sit down with them and help them figure it out then shame on us as as church. We need to be challenged to do this with others. This is where Discovery Groups come into play.
I want to walk through the Discovery Group Pamphlet, and show you how you can lead others in knowing and following Jesus.
We are calling these Discovery Groups to indicate it is different than the small groups we have done before.
Caveat. I am not going to make you join one. I am not going to have a sign up. I am not going to cancel all groups to do this. But I do want you to pray about doing this with someone. I would like to get a minimum of three people, but just do it.
This strategy is not a magic bullet. If you are indifferent to reaching the lost it will come through in everything you do. If you are resistant to change you will simply pour old habits into new opportunities. If you are not that interested in growing and being changed by God nothing will make up for that. But if you are wanting to grow and change then I think this will be powerful.
My challenge is that everyone participate in this for 12 weeks. I do not think 12 weeks will be enough to really get this going. But I think it will be long enough for you to taste it, see the potential of it.
Lets go through the pamphlet.
P 1-2 is background that I just gave you.
P 3 lists seven journeys. If you look at these and remember the habits we talked about you will see it maps over very well.
1.Reading, praying, obeying God’s word.
2.Attending and serving regularly on Sundays.
3.Participating in life with believers.
4.Inviting people to discover Jesus.
5.Giving sacrificially to the mission (tithing).
These are habits we want people to develop, and we all need to teach on it.
P7-14 are the bible readings for the different journeys. Pick one and do it.
Page 5 and 6 is what I want to focus on. It is doing a Bible study. I want to walk you through this.
Question 1. I will statements.
Is following up from your last meeting. At the end of each section you write out things you need to do in response to the passage you just studied. This brings follow up to your time. Because if you read God’s word, know you need to do something, but you never do it there is a problem.
Question 2. What are you thankful for this week?
A little ice breaker right. Get to know the people you are around. Bring some encouragement.
Question 3. What is stressing you out today.
Right here you have a good picture of what is going on in someone’s life. We want to know others and this allows for that. Sometimes you do these two things and you have had a rich time with people.
Question 4. Do you or someone you know have a need this group could meet.
We want to find ways to be of service to people. This allows that to happen. This question has got me looking more intentionally for opportunity to help others. We want to minister to people.
Question 5. What does God’s word say to us. Jesus said if you love me keep my commands. God’s word should be dear to our hearts. We want people reading the Bible. I heard of a person who went to a small group at a church he was visiting, showed up with his Bible, and the people laughed at him and said, “You won’t need that here”. What are we doing if we are not in God’s word. This is the product of a church entertaining people and not teaching them the faith.
This pamphlet is intended to lead us through studying the Bible.
-a Summarize. Each person in the group sums it up. Everyone is a teacher, and has something to offer. And we are not there to make sure everyone is theologically sound. May be times you say can you show me that in the passage. But trust the process. As people read, experience God, they will grow.
-b What grabbed your attention.
-d What bothered you in this passage? We want to give people freedom to share their questions, concerns. Don’t be offended when after reading about old testament sacrifices people say the shedding of blood is harsh. It is. It surprises all of us, even more someone who is new. It’s ok to have things that trouble you. God’s holiness will trouble us.
Question 6. What should I obey?
That is right. What should you observe. Jesus said Go and make disciples of all nations teaching them to observe all that I have commanded. As you read this word, what is Jesus calling you to observe? Is he still calling you? I think too many people think the call to discipleship is a once in a lifetime act and they don’t need to keep responding to God’s word. You heard this teaching today, what will you do? Do you hear Jesus’ voice?
*I believe we need to retrain Christians to hear God’s voice.* Too many people come just wanting God to give them what they want. They don’t silence their hearts to say, “what does God tell me to do.” Too busy wanting they don’t hear.
6 c. the point here is to write something you will do. Ok, good. How will I know you did that the next time we meet. What does it look like. Smart. Measurable, attainable. Realistic, Time.
-I need to trust God more.
-I will trust God and spend time in his word first thing the next week.
God’s word should shape your life. Respond to it. A potter shapes clay because the clay responds to his hands pressing on it. God’s word should press on you.
Who is shaping you in life? We go to the doctor and are told we have something and he prescribes a treatment. We adhere to that treatment. Quarantine for 14 days. Day one yellow pill in the morning and one orange pill in the evening. We are regimented in following that. Jesus says to go make disciples and we shrug it off. He says to give financially to his mission and we object. Says to love people who are difficult and we balk.
We have missed something significant if we can sit through a Bible study and know absolutely nothing about where this passage is challenging you. “Do not lie,” and you never share with others the mess you are in because you have been lying to others. It is a false religion. Professional Pretenders.
If you do this with others, you now know what they think of God’s word, and what he is calling them to do. You know how to really be praying for them this week.
*What gets me excited about this is thinking about our kids sitting around reading the Bible and asking what they need to do. Business men meeting and after reading God’s word saying, what do I need to do in this. What if the news reporters did this? Politicians? There would be a lot more trust. Might see people falling on their knees because they know what God calls them to. We are mad they are not doing it, but you haven’t showed them how. Showing them how is discipleship.
You have read God’s word, you see things that encourage you, convict you, sharpen you, give you hope, then don’t you want to share that with others. Maybe they need that hope.
This has been one of the biggest shifts for me and where I have been most encouraged. To take a few minutes to think about how God is shaping me and how I can share that with others. Sometimes we feel like to share the good news with someone means we tell them they are a sinner, deserving of judgement, and they need to surrender their lives to Jesus. Most people don’t know enough of Jesus to even understand what it means to follow him. We want to meet them where they are at. Most people are simply trying to find hope, find guidance, hope for change. Share about the life you have with God, where it’s changing you.
We need to be disciples who are making disciples. Many people are fruitless for his kingdom but well off in the world and most are Ok with that. I don’t want us to be ok with that.
Since covid hit 32% of people are no longer attending church of any kind. 68% of people are longing for prayer and emotional support. ⅗ neighbors are longing for this. 35% would like to connect with a faith community.
-60 percent of nonbelievers said they would be interested in studying the Bible.
If you are being encouraged and changed through the word, finding support, and are doing it in a manner that anyone can join you, then it will be easy to invite them to learn about Jesus.
Many people longing for hope, encouragement are not coming to church for it. The church needs to be going to them. We need to experience it before we can go and help others. We need to be change and I think reading God’s word and going through these basic steps will change us.
I think this is going to stretch and challenge us in ways we have not been stretched and challenged, and I think it is something that will change our church and impact our community.
I am praying we get 50 Discovery Groups going this year. Not 50 people but fifty different groups. If we do that wouldn’t that be a tremendous impact. And what if those 50 went and did it with someone else. That creates a movement. A movement of ordinary people, with Jesus, being changed by Jesus and sharing that with others.
Men, heads of households, lead your families spiritually. If you don’t have that or they aren’t doing what they are supposed to then you do it.
Start doing this with two or three others. Don’t do it by yourself. You miss the purpose. Get with others. Let us know and we will help get you started.
I want you to pray about being a part of one, or if there is not one when you can make, you start one with some friends. People who are not in a church or don’t have a relationship with Jesus. We need to be praying!