Category Archives: 3.1 Making Disciples

Race With His Benediction

In the times that we live in, it is easy to drift away from the Lord and his direction in our life. We can get overcome by circumstances, disappointments and doubts. We can get caught up in theological debates, or trying to “do church” the right way, that we miss the basics. In our reaction against a system that can be abusive and controlling, we can easily enter into a state of self-centeredness and forget the call to reach those who have never heard the gospel, or have not heard the complete gospel of the Kingdom. The important thing is that we run and finish the race that our Lord has set before us.

Several years ago I heard this illustration (I forget the source, so I apologize if I get some of the details wrong.): During the Olympics in Mexico there was an amazing track and field event where a runner from Africa arrived to the finish line, which was in the stadium, long after the race was finished. He came limping into the stadium barely able to walk. He had fallen during the race and broken his leg. His arrival into the stadium was so late that everyone was packing up and cleaning. There were less than 1,000 folks left in the stands. The runner refused to stop and makes his last lap of the race around the stadium track. As he approaches the final turn, people stopped what they were doing and begin to applaud. Everyone left in the stadium gave him a standing ovation. Years later he was being interviewed about his experience in the Olympics. This runner, who was a poor farmer in Africa, was asked; “Why did you insist on doing that final lap around the stadium that day knowing that your leg was injured and you were the last to arrive, and it was very late? This humble African farmer answered; “My country did not send me to the Olympics to start and run a race, but to finish the race!”

Are we prepared to finish the race that the Lord has set before us? One of the portions of Scripture that speaks to me that helps me is that Psalm that is used many times in traditional services that speak a blessing over the congregation as a benediction. This is usually spoken at the end of a service, but it is really the Lords blessing over us as we are sent out with his blessing, his benediction! It reveals our Lord’s desire for his people.  In these short seven verses God reveals his heart for the nations and his desire to involve you in the process by blessing you.

Psalm 67.

v.1 May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, Selah

The Lord give you grace and he blesses you like an affirming parent, looking at you with endearment. Why does he do this?

v.2 that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.

He blesses us so that His ways will be known on the earth, this includes all nations. The result of this promise or this blessing is found in verse 3.

v.3 May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you.

The nations will praise God because his kingdom has come to them. Will you reveal Jesus to them?

v.4 May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples justly and guide the nations of the earth.  Selah

v.5 May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you.

When this is happening, great things happen! Harvest will come!

v.6 Then the land will yield its harvest, and God, our God, will bless us.

v.7 God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth will fear him.

The race set before us is really the Lord’s race, and we run with Him to take his gospel to the nations and to our neighbors.  He blesses us to be a blessing to the world around us, not forgetting the nations. Are we willing to finish the race regardless of how we perceive our condition, or our position in the race? As a proponent of simple, organic church life, let us not forget our Lord’s purpose for blessing us.

What should we do? Where to do we begin? This is something we do together with those we fellowship and serve. Do you need help finishing the race? That is why we need one another, provoking one another in love to do the Lord’s will. If you or your fellowship needs some help in this area, I would be glad to correspond with you or come to your group and talk about it. May you be blessed to reach those who do not yet know Jesus! You can contact me at dondavis@house2harvest.org

Blessings to You!

Don

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Development of a Strategic Plan for Reaching Muslims in Hampton Roads, Virginia

I have posted a recent blog at The Dreaming Revolutionary regarding reaching Muslims in our region.

A few months ago we (several of us in Hampton Roads) held a forum on “Loving Muslims” which became a catalyst for trainings regarding reaching our Muslim neighbors. We then held a training on “Understanding the Muslim Worldview” where over fifty were in attendance. This led us to consider – what’s next?  Click here for more . . . .

Parts 7- 10: Becoming an Apostolic Simple, Organic, House Church

Final installment of the series (Parts 7- 10) Becoming an Apostolic Simple, Organic, House Church: http://wp.me/pc3Ln-3k

Simple Church Planting IS Making Disciples

I recently had the opportunity to guest lecture at Regent University during their Church Planting Methods and Models class. I put together a PowerPoint of my lecture and thought I might share it with you here.

I posted it up on YouTube, so I have broken up into four parts ten minutes each.

Enjoy:

Simple Church Planting – Part One:

Simple Church Planting – Part Two:

Simple Church Planting – Part Three:

Simple Church Planting – Part Four:

Hope these are a blessing to you!

God Bless,
Don

Simple Discipleship – Where to Start

[This post was first posted at my personal blog The Dreaming Revolutionary.]

Jesus said; “Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations (ethne).” This is our mandate known as the Great Commission. He went on to describe how that is done; “baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Is that what we have done? If we have done discipleship at all, what do we do, and where do we start?

I have reviewed discipleship materials over the years, some good and some miss the mark altogether. What is usually missing is the part of making disciples that Jesus describes as “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Most discipleship is focused on what the believer needs to do. It becomes a list of tasks that the believer must do in order to be a growing disciple. As the believer progresses, he is then given a list of skills to learn to be an effective servant in the church, many times referred to as ministry skills. This leads to several problems that hinder growth and a healthy relationship with their heavenly Father.

When you disciple an individual focusing mainly on the development ministry skills, that disciple certainly knows what to do in service to the Lord. That is not where we should start; it is insufficient and builds the wrong foundation in the life of the disciple of Jesus. Instead, when you disciple an individual by using the daily life lesson the Lord brings to them in life, that disciple knows how to have a relationship with God and live life as a citizen of the Kingdom of God. This is where you should start and build from there.

The problem with skill based discipleship is that the Church is filled with people whose value is determined by what they do rather than who they are. Their identity is determined by a position in ministry rather than their position in Christ. Therefore you have a highly skilled church that has very little interaction with God and are susceptible to moral failure, chronic disappointment, and an inflated ego that serves self (“my ministry”) rather than others. The idea of a life based on the gospel of the Kingdom is considered to idealistic and unattainable.

The solution is to make disciples through relationships rather than academics; using their life experiences, tragedies, and victories of life. Life itself would serve as the lessons and the curriculum would be provided by searching the scriptures and determining what the Lord says regarding what is happening from day to day. By teaching the disciple to relate their situations to the Word of God and in the context of the gospel of the Kingdom, the disciple’s relationship to the Lord grows deeper and they are able to withstand life in this fallen world in victory and be an example of a disciple of Jesus.

Merely teaching skills such as how to pray, read the bible, conduct a bible study, and even to the level of skills required in most local church positions robs the disciple of the foundation needed to maintain a real relationship with the Lord. It causes whatever relationship that is developed with Jesus to be based on being a servant of God rather than a friend and child of God.

Training and preparing disciples in ministry skills is important and should not be neglected, but it should never be considered the goal of discipleship. Discipleship’s goal is to transform our lives so that we are like Jesus, imitators of Him, obedient to Him. This must be in the area of how we live, our character and how we respond to life and apply the truth of His Word to those situations. Therefore we must be able to hear the voice of our Lord.

Another mistake is creating a dependency on curriculum and other materials to make disciples or to be a disciple. There are thousands of workbooks, manuals, study guides that have been developed for the purpose of discipleship. Though the content of many of these books are sound and worth reading they can never replace the opportunity to fellowship with the Lord firsthand and go to his word and hear him speak to you and teach you his ways. When we depend on curriculum, the believer becomes dependent on external sources for guidance and teaching rather than developing the hearing ear that knows the voice of his shepherd. This is imperative to the new disciple and cannot be put off to a future time.

In discussing discipleship with leaders in the context of simple church, I am usually asked; “What curriculum do you use?” When I state that we do not use any curriculum except the Bible and the life of the believer I usually get that glazed over look of puzzlement. I usually remind them that the new believers in the book of Acts had no Navigators booklets, no Master Life, no Kay Arthur, and no Bill Bright; but they still made disciples! Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for all of these resources. All we need is a kitchen table, or couch or a local eating establishment and we are ready to grow together as we discuss our lives together and draw from the truths in God’s Word.

So what do we do? Start with the basics. What someone gives their life to the Lord – believe it! What I mean is, believe that the Lord is now over their life and what happens is the Lord’s. He IS governing their life and that life IS their schooling. By using the curriculum of their life and the resource that gives life – the Word of God, they have a foundation that can withstand whatever comes their way. Not only that, I doesn’t cost a cent! You don’t need to buy books, furnish a classroom, build and education wing or hire a professional Bible teacher. It is that simple.

Now let’s get started! Go and make disciples!

A Three Stranded Cord

Yesterday I met with a few guys that I meet with regularly to stir up vision, maintain some accountability, and simply dream together. When we get together we usually talk about how we can serve our Lord faithfully and help the body of Christ here in our region of Hampton Roads Virginia become focused on the unreached, make disciples and be more missional in house/simple churches. Our conversation yesterday focused on the combination of three major aspects of what the Lord is speaking to his Church around the world.

They are:

  • Having a simple, organic church life.
  • Focusing on unreached people groups in mission – being pioneers in mission.
  • The 24/7 prayer movement – becoming a people of prayer seeing the house churches equipped to become houses of prayer.

What we discovered as we talked about this these three aspects of the revolution within the church is that we need to be sure that we steer away from the institutional traps and hierarchal bondage, hype and turning the work of the Kingdom into a business plan, self-serving ambition and wanting to “plant our flag”. It seems that these three threads of the Lord’s leading could become a “three-stranded cord” that will facilitate the making of disciples as never before. What do you think?

Another observation from yesterday and our regular meeting every week is that we need to meet together with a few good brothers or sisters in Christ and allow the” iron to sharpen iron” in order to keep us in check. It is so easy to fall back into the patterns of the old carnal life as well as the religious life of Christendom. We need each other to be sure our steps are “ordered by the Lord and that he would delight in our ways.”(Psalm 37:23) So, here is another three stranded cord, a “band of brothers” or as Neil Cole calls them “Life Transformation Groups.” The Word says that a three stranded cord is not quickly broken! (Ecclesiastes 4:12)

If you do not have a few fellow servants of the Lord to hang out with and be honest with your struggles and your ambitions, your ability to walk in integrity will be hindered. As the Lord leads you to make disciples of all nations – be sure that you are being discipled as well. You are never so mature that you don’t need someone provoke you to do the will of the Lord.

North East Thailand Sources Needed

Just a quick note to all, if you know of someone who does training and discipleship in organic/simple church in the region of North East Thailand – please respond here.

If you or someone you know is involved in that part of the world and serve in that capacity let us know!