Just Stop It…

We have been in Texas for two weeks. It has been crazy. I have SO much to process, and write about. For now I just want to share a brief nugget from a meeting I was in last week with a brilliant man named David Watson…

Nobody knows about David. He hasn’t written a bestseller, he doesn’t pastor a large church, his name doesn’t appear in newspapers and magazines (In the states anyway). He is wise, humble, bold, and God has used him in amazing ways. As a result of David’s training and mentor-ship there have been more than 100,000 churches planted all over the world. (God gave him a vision to plant 500,000 churches before he dies=) 6 million people have come to faith in Christ through these communities of faith, and discipleship training.

My friend Osei and I had the privilege of spending about 2.5 hours with David for lunch last week in Irving, Tx. We frantically took notes as he shared wisdom from his experiences. We asked questions, and discussed dreams and visions the entire time. I’ll never forget the way he answered a particular question I asked…I don’t even remember the question, but am realizing more and more everyday that his answer is actually the answer for MANY questions that a lot of us have been asking lately.

I’m about to share with you David’s answer, and then ask for you to think of the many questions that come to your mind that this question could be the answer to…

In response to a question from me David replied, “Aaron, stop working with, and worrying about Christians. JUST STOP IT. Focus on reaching the lost. Make disciples, and watch them multiply. Watch new churches start along the way. Don’t start churches with Christians, they bring too much baggage to the table, and you spend all your energy working through that baggage and lose sight of reaching the lost. Besides, new believers are full of passion, and excitement; they do not understand, or get distracted by all these issues that we Christians find ourselves wasting our time/energy on.”

Wow. I reflected back over the past year, and thought about how that answer could have saved me a lot of stress, pain, and heartache. Not to mention, produced a lot more fruit! (Please know that this is NOT an excuse to neglect the discipleship process that must take place with those of us who are ALREADY believers. David is simply referring to reaching the lost in a powerful way. He is a FIRM believer in the discipleship process. He is submitting that those of us with apostolic roles in the kingdom MUST start BEING apostolic by seeing new works started as disciples are made. Many of us plant churches with an original desire to “reach the lost, and spread the Gospel” but find ourselves five years in, running ourselves ragged trying to please the same group of Christians that we may not have even seen come to know the Lord; they were already Christians and joined us from somewhere else in pursuit of something that would “better meet their needs”.

What are some questions that you think this answer applies to? What are some areas of stress in your life that this statement breathes peace into?

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16 thoughts on “Just Stop It…

  1. Hmmm..I’m chewing on this and thinking that I agree and disagree. What I agree with:

    1. Non-Christians, seeking the lost, is part of the mission of God and should be part of the DNA of any group of believers (church).

    2. Spending all of our time gathering the converted distorts our mission.

    What I disagree with:

    1. Making disciples is not synonymous with conversion of non-Christians. Conversion is only a part of the process of “discipleship.” We must also “teach them to obey all” that Jesus commanded, which is a holistic and comprehensive endeavor. Also, they are to enter into trinitarian community (aka the body, aka CHURCH).

    I may have more thoughts, but that’s my initial response.

    • Absolutely. Again, neither Watson nor myself are advocating the neglect of discipleship among the already saved. He was, however, encouraging ME, having an Apostolic role in the kingdom, to walk in my calling/gifting by focusing on reaching the lost. Clearly we must have those who have pastoral callings and roles in the kingdom to walk in their calling/gifting as well. I just think that a lot of get sucked in and caught up expending ALL of our energy with, around, etc. people who are Christians. We want to debate issues, discuss models, talk strategy, get into disagreements, etc. All the while their are lost people who would be transformed by the Gospel and actually DESIRE to, and LET YOU disciple them. Make sense? I am 100% with you that WE MUST not ignore the discipleship of those who are already believers. Have a rockin’ new year Mike!

  2. This answers my question to “when/how do I get back into my ministry?” As someone who has a calling and is married, I struggle with WHEN and HOW do I get back into my ministry? I know that I need the support of my husband, but he isn’t ready for this…or he doesn’t think he is.
    While I have waited for him, I have lost the opportunity to reach lost souls.
    It is such a struggle because I was at a church, getting involved in the youth, but my husband didn’t want to come with me because it wasn’t his style of church. But, on the other hand, at the church we presently attend, there is no youth group to have an outreach to. I feel stuck in a rut.
    Over and over my dad tells me that true happiness comes when you’re serving God and that it is time for me to fully come back to God, surrender my life and once again answer the call.
    I do not wish to lift my name or give glory to myself, but when I was in the youth at my old church, God worked through me in mighty ways and we saw many youth saved.
    But now that I am married and we have a child, I find myself making excuses for why I can’t go into ministry right here and right now. In reality, I can. Not only because of Phillipians 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength,” but now I see that it is because I do not need the restraints/walls of a church to reach out to people.
    All this time I’ve made excuses and tried to find a building in which to do my ministry, and here, right in front of me, are the people I’m supposed to minister to. Here, right in front of me, in God’s wide world, is where I am supposed to minister.
    Wow, Aaron. That was quite a revelation. Thanks for sharing. It puts a whole new perspective on my ministry.

  3. I don’t think Watson’s comment sidesteps discipleship at all. In fact, I think the key that Watson is getting at IS to focus on discipleship rather than on “doing church.” There seems to be this pesky tendency in every community that I’ve ever experienced or observed to begin to think and act as if the Church exists for OUR benefit, rather than for the mission of God. Lately I’ve been asking the very question: how do I encourage and equip our people to be more engaged in that mission, and time and again the answer has come down to this: make disciples. Disciples ARE missionaries. If we make disciples, we ARE making missionaries. If we’re not making missionaries, we’re not making disciples but some subtle and potentially dangerous counterfeit. So to me, the question of church, mission, etc. all comes down to this: are we making Biblical disciples?

  4. talk about turning my world upside down and only a few hours to process this until 2008 is done and gone. If you have ever invited someone to church and they came or led someone to Christ or saw a lost friend come to know Christ as a friend and Savior, then you know the rush that comes along with that. That gives you confidence and motivation to do more for more people. I think for myself, I get so stuck in serving in a ministry with other Christians and I feel great, I am supported and encouraged but that is not my mission. My mission is to serve the lost and make His Kingdom known. I get two gold stars for serving in just about anything that allows me to use my God given gifts and talents but I don’t ever get out in the trenches and get dirty anymore. I have lost my focus. The Focus. This next year has to be about building those relationships I’ve been putting off, rekindling the ones I started long ago and repenting for ignoring the Call. That’s what Watson’s answer means to me.

    • Wow! Amanda, that is amazing. Reading your response got me PUMPED. Thank you for sharing that. I will pray that you pursue what you shared in your comment! Move forward! Share Christ with those who have never heard His Gospel in it’s pure form!

  5. Dude,

    A great post, and dead-on. This made all the difference to our church when we transitioned to the microchurch network two years ago. I probably sounded like a broken record, but I had to (and continue to) tell our folks that inviting other Christians is simply reshuffling the deck, not being on mission. We’ve started to see fruit from that. Yeah, it can make you look like an uncaring jerk at times because you don’t cater to every whim of consumeristic Christ admirers (even when you deal with such people as lovingly as possible). But the benefits of staying on mission are huge by comparison. Let Watson’s words sink in, man. As an apostolically gifted dude, you’ll be glad you did.

  6. Aaron, Danny and I were so thankful to see you and your precious wife last week! You certainly have the call of an apostle… keep on keepin’ on, brother!

    From experience, it is easy to hear and follow the call of our Master, only to turn and judge another servant’s call. As we each follow the call of the Master, let us not pass judgement on each other. Let us live in love as God is love.

    Danny and I pray indescribable peace and joy-beyond-circumstance over you in 2009.

  7. A little late on my response to this, but oh well… I would echo much of what Mr. Watson said, but I think it must also be noted, that new believers have baggage too, not just Christians who’ve been “in the system” for decades… In fact, so many of the people I interact with who aren’t Christians, don’t want anything to do with God because of bad experiences they’ve had with “religion”. So yeah, so often tons of time and energy is wasted on catering to a little group of people and their preferences, but it’s silly to think that we can somehow avoid having to deal with people’s junk if we’re serious about discipling others… Everyone’s got baggage, from some kind of religious upbringing, or their family, or culture, or whatever.

    For me, I think it’s better to just sort of abandon the whole notion of “targeting” a certain group, and just stop thinking of people in terms of being in any kind of “demographic” at all, (churched or unchurched….) and just love whoever God puts in front of you, and let Him do the growing and multiplying. After all, He’s the one who can look into people’s hearts, and know where they’re at, and if they’re ready to follow Him, not us…

  8. Hi Aaron, I think this is spot on. Too much of the time we in missional circles still have a church-centred vision of things rather than a vision centred on making disciples. I once heard an Argentinian pastor say “Nowhere anywhere is there a command in Scripture to “plant churches”. The command is to “make disciples.” “Churches” are the result. Too often we make “churches” our goal.

    For those of us in JGen both in Oz and in the UK I think one of the most insidious pressures has been that of being small. Every so often we get to feeling “we really should be larger” and subtly our energy and concern shifts from what we are doing among the lost to who and how many are gathering with us. It’s a constant process of self-correction to keep our attention on our befriending, hospitality and inclusion of as-yet-not-believing friends in the stuff of our lives.

    We all want the “and daily he added to their number…” but so often go blurred on the end of that sentence – vis “those who were being saved”. Because this bit of what we do can be hard, uncertain and sporadic it is sooo easy to lose that expecation and courage. That’s why it is in the “leading people to salvation in Christ” and not in the gathering differently that we who think of ourselves as “missional” need to encourage each other the most.

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