How do you make disciples from un-churched people groups? This blog is about the journey of discipleship, learning as we go.
So we are a couple of weeks into lent and i can say that fasting the fear of man is one of the hardest fasts of anything i've ever done. What i am realising that my default setting is simply not to hear and obey the promptings of the Spirit. Slightly obviously it in this that I feel like the Lord is most getting my attention....
The word evangelism, has certain connotations, it illicit's a spectrum of emotions and they are not always positive. When Christians think of evangelism and evangelists I wonder what springs to mind? What is the internal response? Anything from guilt, to a desire to abdicate responsibility (under the guise of being a "witness...."), or a resentment or cynicism. Or maybe there is relief at the idea of the evangelist, because perhaps we can get them to do the work for us..... Ok that maybe a little hard on the church, but there is often a reticence towards the idea of being a herald of the good news (which is a direct translation of the word evangelist). Now the guy in the picture above, is a chap called Ronan, and what is interesting about him is that he is a self confessed evangelist who is also scared of evangelism.
This photo is a picture of Pip n Jay's Simple church Christmas dinner. 13 people, all on different stages of a journey with Jesus. There are some new disciples, some still asking big questions and a few old hands...All in all there have both been encouragements and disappointments as we have tried to push forward as a missional people. Looking at that photo i am amazed by how far some of us have come but also feel a sadness at those who have pulled away from relationship with us and with Jesus.
Pete Greig wrote in The Vision and the Vow', that "the church need to pray like it all depends on God and live like it all depends on us". This is a succinct way of engaging some of the tricky issues around human and divine agency. Questions such as, if Jesus is establishing His kingdom what is his responsibility and what is mine?
Soon Sophie, my gorgeous wife will be induced and at some point over the next week we will be presented with the fruit of our loins - a brand new human being. This has got me thinking - how exactly do we reproduce? No this isn't about to be a woefully inappropriate blog, but rather a useful reflection on how we can make disciples who make disciples.
So, are you giving up or taking anything on for Lent? It's not to late!
Lent does not always get a great press amongst Christians or otherwise...some see it as christians stopping things they probably shouldn't do normally (I always remember mentoring a student who once gave up masturbation for lent...none of the current crop at Pip n Jay i should add), or taking on a discipline they should be doing normally, like reading the bible everyday. Now whilst those who would critique this probably do have point, surely we also have to acknowledge that lent is a season of preparation. As Jesus fasted in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights, so the church abstains or takes on something that will better prepare us for a life on mission with Jesus, where we are actually growing disciples and churches (and in the examples sited above actually those disciplines hopefully would bring fruit in terms on-going change beyond lent). What am I giving up? Well with the view to permanent change i'm giving up the fear of man.....
Every wednesday afternoon I go out 'pioneering' with a friend, to protect her identity i will call her Beryl, Beryl Woody-combe. Now pioneering is a bit of a grand term but it basically means we go out trying to introduce people to Jesus, in the hope that they will come to know him, and so they can introduce Him to their friends.
Before going Beryl and I pray. As we prayed before our inaugural pioneer adventure we felt the Lord show us St Philips, St George and Kingswood as a seam that he wanted us to invest in. So for the last 2 weeks we've been in Kingswood, which has been both challenging and inspiring.....
Some of my favourite films growing up were definitely the 'Back to the Future' trilogy. The story tracks a teenage lad (Marty McFly) and his friend, a wild eyed professor (Dr Emit Brown or Doc) who has made a time machine out of sports car. Many an adventure is had.... At the end of the first film Marty says "Hey Doc, you better back up, we don't have enough road to get up to 88Kph..." (this is the speed required for time travel obviously). To this the Doc responds, "Marty, where we're we don't need roads..." at which point the car turn into a plane and flies into the future..... (See clip below)
As a church we are trying to work out what it means to be a missionary people, a people who invest in God’s Kingdom plan, not just through praying for people, not just through giving financially to missionaries, but as well as this by personally investing in specific people and places who need to experience the goodness of God. We sum this up as ‘Life on mission with Jesus, growing disciples, growing churches’. Now i don’t know about you, but i just don’t find it that easy....
So as i understand it, God's got this thing going on, whereby he is calling all of humanity and creation into life giving, healing relationship with himself. This big plan to restore the world is commonly understood as mission, God's mission. The question is, what is God's motivation in His mission?
Jesus' disciple making movement is still going on today, but how do we best engage with Jesus as He raises up new followers in 21st century Bristol? So much could, and hopefully will be said on this subject over the coming weeks, but the main thing i want to focus on now is the sheer privilege of being involved with what Jesus is doing!