Summer Christians and Discipleship

soul-survivor-worship

Jo Dolby, a brilliant youth worker from Bath and works for Bristol CYM as a youth and community work lecturer has written a fantastic response on the importance of discipleship over at Youthwork Magazine’s site to Will Jackson’s blog on new Christians at Soul Survivor.  Here’s a snippet:

 

But (you knew a but was coming!) there is something Will said in his blog that I can’t not respond to, something actually quite dangerous: “Sadly some of these young people probably won’t still be walking with God later down the line [i]but these things are not for us to worry about; that stuff is all in God’s hands”[ei].

In my opinion, these are exactly the things we are called to worry about. These are the things God has placed in our hands as his body … We were never asked to make people into Christians or converts. We were commanded to go and make disciples, and how do we do that? Baptising and teaching… or initiating them into the family of God and helping them live out everything Jesus taught. That’s our call, that’s our commission and we absolutely must stick to it, and not get distracted with the easy, adrenaline filled, fast-food business of convert-making.

Let’s be honest, getting converts is actually quite easy. We all know the emotional persuasive power of a room full of thousands of your peers, away from home, with the lights, the music, the talks – getting hands in the air and bodies to the front is not that hard.

But while making Christians is easy, making disciples is messy and difficult and takes flipping ages. In fact it takes forever. Hear me right on this: I’m not dissing Soul Survivor. I’m not even saying that emotive music, lights and altar calls are bad things, but they are bad when they are isolated, when they are not part of a bigger plan, a more concerted effort, a strategy and passion for the ultimate goal of making lifelong disciples of Jesus. They are bad when that is what we aim for, when the decision is the end goal rather than the beginning of something amazing.

So let’s have a giant party, let’s laugh, dance, celebrate and rejoice. But let’s remember that while these moments feel good, they are just a small part of the bigger mission we’re called to …

 

There is no Plan B – why the church must help children disciple other children

No Plan B

An article from Aim Lower Journal:

At the 4/14 Global Summit in New York in 2010, Reverend C.B. Samuel of India indicated that our Christian teens are in need of ideals—a cause worth living for and dying for—but the church is giving them more and more entertainment instead. What is the real solution?

This article draws from There is no Plan B – a document sponsored by the 4-14 movement and Compassion International (click to access your FREE copy)

Erikson’s Theory of Psychological Development postulates a significant shift in development when one reaches adolescence (11-18 years old). Preceding adolescence, development depends on what is done to a person; at adolescence, development depends primarily upon what a person does. At this stage, adolescents begin to develop strong affiliation and devotion to ideals, causes and friends.

Recent Barna Group research on reasons why young Christians leave church focused on those who were regular churchgoers during their early teens and explored their reasons for disconnection from church life after age 15. The research revealed that the number one reason our youth leave church is because “churches seem overprotective.”

At the 4/14 Global Summit in New York in 2010, Reverend C.B. Samuel of India indicated that our Christian teens are in need of ideals—a cause worth living for and dying for—but the church is giving them more and more entertainment instead. Churches thought that teens left the church because of the Xbox and the varied entertainment available to them, so, to compete, more resources were invested on entertainment only to discover that the exodus continued. What children and youth need is a personal connection with high ideals, causes and worthy challenges; to be a force they believe can change the world.

Just recently, Catholic Marawi Bishop Edwin de la Peña of San Juan, Philippines, urged children and youth to actively participate in the missionary endeavors of the church:
You young people and children have the energy, enthusiasm, courage and the ability to take the risk to step forward and say, ‘we want to be in that boat also; we want to be with Jesus and respond to the challenge of mission,’ said de la Peña, who is also chairman of the Episcopal Commission on Mission of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines. The prelate also told the youth that as the future of the nation, this is the right time for them to take the opportunity to engage actively in the mission of the Church. (CBCP News, Monday, February 11, 2013)379.

You can read the whole article here.

DiscipleKit: Discipleship resources developed by CPAS

DiscipleKit

CPAS have designed a new tool called DiscipleKit; an easy-to-use website bringing together the latest discipleship resources in one place.

It has the aim of providing you with the information that you need about discipleship resources to decide which are right for your church and groups. There are over 130 resources on the site with more to come, from online course manuals to DVDs and everything in between

They say:

“We are really excited to welcome you to DiscipleKit. We hope you enjoy looking around the site, and discovering some great resources to energise your journey of discipleship. Every resource has the information you need, a link through to obtain it, and an extensive review which will help you choose the one you want.

We are beginning with a focus on resources for small groups for Adults, Youth and Children – for those who are Enquiring about Christianity, Beginning the Christian journey, or Growing along the way. But we have great plans for the site, which include resources for individuals, and additional themed resources such as those for marriage, parenting and seniors. We would love your feedback and suggestions, so do join our DiscipleKit community and tell us what you would like to see included.”

Click here to check out the site.

Books I have read: Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples

Books I have read: Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples

Multiply Francis Chan

I’ve always enjoyed reading Francis Chan’s writings, a few years ago I was inspired by his book Crazy Love, so I was looking forward to reading Multiply: Disciples making disciples.  As a youth minister I’m incredibly passionate to resource young people to share their faith with their friends – they do such a better job than I every could do.  Not because I can’t share faith, or because I can’t answer the tough questions, but because I don’t have the shared context that they have.

The book can be used for personal devotions, but works well for a group to look through together.  It is split into five sections:

  1. Living as a Disciple Maker
  2. Living as the Church
  3. How to Study the Bible
  4. Understanding the Old Testament
  5. Understanding the New Testament

This book would work well as a post Alpha or other evangelistic course for those who wanted to develop a stronger foundation to their new-found faith.

We used the first section themed around what is a disciple and what does it mean to share our faith with our group of 11-14 year olds who really enjoyed looking at the material.

I thoroughly recommend taking the time to read this book and the additional resources developed for it.

Archbishop Justin Welby’s lecture on evangelism

Justin Welby lecture

Recently the Archbishop of Canterbury has set out his vision for a Church in which every Christian shares “the revolutionary love” of Jesus Christ.  He begins with an incredibly simple and powerful statement:

I want to start by saying just two simple sentences about the church. First, the church exists to worship God in Jesus Christ.

Second, the Church exists to make new disciples of Jesus Christ. Everything else is decoration. Some of it may be very necessary, useful, or wonderful decoration – but it’s decoration.

You can read the full text of his lecture here.

Winchester Diocesan Synod Conference 2013

Diocese of Winchester

This last week I was privileged to join with 200 other Diocesan Synod members and guests at the Winchester Diocese Synod Conference at The Hayes.  God did some truly amazing things as we talked, prayed, worshiped and listened together – uniting such a diverse group of people around four priorities for the next three to five years is no small miracle.

Below are the links to all my live-blog posts from the different sessions:

Please remember all of these blogs were written live and so won’t always be 100% accurate, and may contain typos and spelling mistakes. For further information about the Diocesan Synod Conference check out the Diocese of Winchester website.

Winchester Diocesan Synod Conference 2013 – Session 14

Diocese of Winchester

The 14th session of the Diocesan Conference is entitled “Mission, ministry and discipleship review” and is led by Caroline Baston.  This is a live blog – apologies for any spelling mistakes and/or typos.

Caroline Baston has chaired a complex review asking serious questions, suffering from ill health couldn’t make the drive up here, so Tim Sledge has agreed to present the findings.

Want to focus on some of the themes as we look at a new direction of travel.  Want to be very clear – the report has done an awful lot of research, asked various surveys, obtained lots of statistics, large number of interviews and discussion with the Mission, Ministry and Discipleship department.  Had a huge number of changes, been asked lots of questions, and yet delivered consistently.  They;ve been unsettling times, and have taken a long time, as we seek to change direction of travel rather than quick changes.

During the process started every meeting with prayer.  More than a quick nod to God during oepning of bags, but led some themes of being on the threshold, trail blazing God.

On the Threshold

We have lots of new things happening, but this threshold demands an urgent change.  Linda Woodhead spoke at a conference on the latest statistics from the census, which makes for sober reading.  She had never come across an organisation of the church for a collective ability to ignore the facts.  Especially important is what is happening the younger groups and how they see the church as irrelevant.

If you use a SatNav your destination is the first thing you think of and the last place you get to.  That’s the vision that’s laid out, the values, and how we tick is that destination.  Then it programmes and works out where you are.  On holiday in Ireland a few years ago, got utterly lost, asked for directions to Shannon.  He was told “well now, I wouldn’t be starting from here” but here is where we are.  That is where the direction of travel will be set, and how the resourcing of travel will be.

Usual Sunday attendance has a downward trend from 2006 over 22k to 2011 over 20k.  Confirmations again on a downward cycle.  Funerals are a signifcant opporunity, and again a large downward trend.  This is not unique to Winchester, but the Church.  Age profiles of Clergy and SSM and Readers are very high.

Trailblazer God

English people with no French language trying to order coffee and cake – which the waitress didn’t understand so they shout louder again and again.  The different languages we are speaking don’t get any easier if you shout louder.

The typical Christian is a young black women – we have an awful long way to go to catch up understanding the world.  Not just new ways of reading the map.  The M1 is littered with distribution centres, and the motorway is clogged with lorries, too often we’ve been warehouses and we need to become distribution centres close to information highways.

You listen to things, you thiink it is amazing, the hairs go on the back of your neck, but how do I explain it, bottle the enthusiasm and explain to my parish?  My diary is rammed, how am I going to do this – how can I integrate this?  How do we go back and prepare for revival?  This department will be one of the most critical parts of it.

Previously was a Diocesan Missioner, thought the job was to do Mission and Evangelism, but after a year realised not spending much time with non-Christians.  Was worried he wasn’t supposed to be doing that.  Your job is to convert the church is what he heard God say.  Convert the church to a mission and evangelism agenda.  So many fantastic opportunities.

Abiding by Ben Quashi refers on p. 155 to Shechinah showing God as trailblazer leading the way for the camp.  Re-Pitching The Tent by Richard Joys is worth reading.  We want to showcase all that is of excellence in Cathedral and Big Top.

Global church needs an understanding of

  • doing local mission with global awareness
  • participating in global mission
  • learning from the global church internationally
  • receiving the global church locally

Media and communication is critical.  How our lobbying voice can be a support and challenge to politicians with partnership for the Anglican voice.  How do we liaise with our church schools – our other congregation – whether or not they are church schools or not.  Doing more to develop diocesan global partnerships.

Transforming God

The Transforming Nature of God, remembering how much has been done, remembring St. John the Divine through the programme Call the Midwife – it was prophetic work.  In terms of our ministry and faith devlopment how about every church being ready for birth, for life to be born there.  The Clapham Sect leading to the CMS and now Divine Chocolate as a reminder, personally was hoping for rose petals and someone to rub him down late at night!  The Trussell Trust and the amazing work they are doing.

What needs transforming?  We need to be there to hold the hand of those who are utterly terrified of this.  The SatNav if you go wrong, if you take a detour, will help get you back on course.  We need people on the team who help recalculate the journey or give encouragement when on the right road.

The specific task is the conversion to the new route of travel.  To help define with us the strategic vision, to encourage and resource the discipling of people.  So key recommendations are about blending the best of old and new with the disicpleship of all people at every stage of faith.

Mind the Gap

Bishop Tom spoke about the beatitudes.  Robert Warren wrote a great book about the beatitutdes and said those who mourn in the Greek is those who mind the gap – those who mind about those who weep, who have pain.

Recommendations

  • Team Leader/Third Archdeacon – in place to do the evaluation, the work and how.  Archdeacon should not get caught up in systems and structures, but create them to enable mission in and through the diocese.
  • Design and delivery of framework – how are we going to travel with people on the route map.
  • Vocation of all – royal priesthood – all called to the challenge of this task.
  • Support of the new
  • Pioneering for all and not for the few – James’ DVD shows a mixed economy – a blend of tradition and pioneering with permission and freedom to fail.

Were 67 recommendations in total in the detailed report on the website.

Motion

  1. Approves the direction of travel as set out in the summary of the mission, ministry and discipleship review.
  2. Approves the creation of an Archdeacon for Mission Development, to be responsible for those areas of work summarised in the report.
  3. Requests the Bishop’s Council to continue to work through more detailed recommendations in developing a new mission and ministry strategy.

 

Questions for review

  • What excites you about this?
  • What do you think is missing?
  • Where is God calling you to contribute/participate in this?
  • What resources do we/I need “on the ground” as we travel in this direction?

 

Discussion

  • Why an ArchDeacon as we have mirrored clergy-lay?
  • +Tom Wright’s teaching and preaching has been enormously powerful, we can’t see that input into church life in the document.
  • Ethnic diversity is lacking at this conference, and so want to see a focus on that?
  • Have the group considered the growth of the London 2020 vision and how we can learn lessons from?
  • Does this person need to be ordained?
  • Can we approve one element but not another?
  • A commitment to excellence – delivering excellence if asking people to attend training etc., more individually centred flexibility to enable
  • How is this going to be funded?
  • The laity could be harnessed but this language needs to link with them.

Bishop Tim’s response: ArchDeacons carry some responsibilities that allow them to do things that others can’t do.  This is an essential part of how the church works – showing how important we see it is.  More significant to have ArchDeacon than to have a Director.  An ArchDeacon will be listened to in a way that others quite frankly won’t.  An ArchDeacon globally carries weight and is able to open the doors.

MOTION CARRIED

Aim Lower video

I was reflecting on how we share our hope for children’s and youth ministry with the wider church today and was reminded of the Aim Lower video:

[youtube id=”mGpKH7MU4Sk” width=”580″ height=”337″]

The Aim Lower viral video was produced by the Global Children’s Forum in order to help communicate and popularise some of the key conclusions of the 2004 Lausanne Occasional Paper 18 (The Evangelization of Children). It presents the challenge of prioritising children within church and mission activities as well as adopting a new stance of humility in partnering to see this happen. This is a great tool for advocacy and is available in multiple languages!

Ed Stetzer on 5 things the church needs to focus on

Ed Stetzer on 5 things the church needs to focus on

Outreach magazine recently celebrated its 10th year in publication, and as part of that Ed Stetzer wrote about five things we need to face as a church in the next ten years:

1. A clear understanding of the gospel.

Too many have assumed it, but we need to teach it. The gospel is not you do, it’s Jesus did. People don’t need to be taught to turn over a new leaf– they need to receive and live out a new life. That new life is from Jesus’ death on the cross, for our sin and in our place. Don’t build a message that would still be true if Jesus had not died on the cross.

2. A stronger focus on discipleship.

God shapes congregations through the shaping of individual members’ lives. But this doesn’t just happen by accident or as a by-product– God grows us as we are in a position to receive that growth. This can only happen through intentional awareness and leadership on the part of both leaders and church members. In our Transformational Discipleship project, the largest statistical study of its kind, we found that discipleship was both lacking and simple– we just needed to remind people to live out who God has made us in Christ.

3. A greater passion for mission.

We need to stand up against the clergification in the modern-day church– the tendency to look at those who are professional ministers and say that they are the ones who are called to the mission, while the people in the pews are merely consumers of religious goods and services. We need to see all of God’s people engaged in God’s mission, from their respective neighborhoods all the way to the nations. We stand at a key moment, and part of the answer is to engage more of God’s people in mission.

4. Evangelism in the age of the Nones.

We are now increasingly facing what I have called a post-seeker context. This does not mean that seekers no longer exist. The Spirit is always at work in the hearts of people. But churches that once focused their energies and efforts toward targeting seekers are finding it more difficult to appeal to a constituency with little to no religious memory. Churches will have to find new ways to lead their people to reach out to their neighbors– not just attractional evangelism, but incarnational evangelism as well– being, doing, and telling good news where we live and work.

5. New thinking in developing best practices.

God often uses tools for his ends– think of bus ministry in the 70s or radio ministry in the 50s. That’s still true today. As believers, we can and must be good stewards of our ministry and utilize tools wisely–like multisite churches, viral church planting, and finding new ways to serve those who are hurting and in need.

Click here to read the full article.

How Do You Measure Discipleship?

Tape measure

Geoff Surratt has written a great blog post on A Tool to Measure Discipleship, which is well worth chewing over:

How do we measure discipleship? It is relatively easy to measure church attendance, giving, or small group participation, but how do we measure church members becoming more like Christ? The Willow Creek Reveal Study pointed out that church activity doesn’t necessarily lead to fully devoted follower of Christ, but are there activities we can measure to help our congregation grow?
I think there are six vital areas that point to a growing disciple:
  • Serving in a local church. Church attendance without service does not grow me as a disciple. To grow I have to serve generously with my time, talent and treasure.
  • Praying consistently. This is so obvious that it seems to get overlooked. A growing disciple follows Jesus’ pattern of consistent, heartfelt prayer.
  • Reading the Bible daily. Separate studies by the Willow Creek Association and Lifeway on discipleship came to the same conclusion; the single biggest factor in growing as a disciple is reading the Bible every day. It’s the magic pill of discipleship.
  • Engaging in biblical community. Discipleship throughout the Bible is always in context of community. Being in a small group does not guarantee discipleship, but not being in biblical community prevents it.
  • Actively involved in missional outreach. Biblical disciples engage in Kingdom transformation in their home, their community and their world.
  • Developing other disciples. Jesus final command was very clear, Go make disciples. Every growing disciple of Christ develops other disciples.
I’d like to suggest the following tool to help determine the temperature of discipleship in your congregation (and in your own life). I have used the acronym SPREAD to make the six areas easier to remember. Your church attenders may need some additional information to understand how you define each area in your context.
Create a simple survey with the following questions. Give the survey and a pen to everyone who attends one weekend, and take time during the service to fill out the survey out together.
As a growing disciple of Jesus I (circle all that apply)
  • Serve my local church generously with my time, talent and resources
  • Pray consistently
  • Read my Bible almost every day
  • Engage regularly in a biblical community (small group)
  • Actively participate in missional outreach
  • Develop other disciples
The first time you take the survey serves as a baseline for discipleship. Use the results to celebrate where the congregation is strong and to focus on helping them grow in areas where they are weak. Choose one area that seems to be weak across the board and focus for the next quarter on growing in that area as a church. Retake the survey every three months for a year to measure progress.
Be sure to let me know if you use this tool and how I can make it more effective.