There Must Be More…

I want to preface these thoughts to ensure that I cause no doubt in anyone’s mind regarding their salvation, or whether or not they are “really a Christian”. My thoughts below are merely an attempt to “raise the bar for what it means to be a disciple”. (Thank you Neil Cole) I am not passing judgment on anyone for these thoughts, because they apply to me as well. These are convictions that I have had personally, so if they challenge you, know that they challenged me first; they continue to challenge me daily.

There must be more to following Christ than reading my Bible, praying, and “going to church”…=)

I was thinking this morning about how much emphasis we put on certain things as Christians, but not on others. For the sake of keeping this short I will use the example that has been most evident in my life over the past few months, and what I notice as I speak with other believers…

If Jesus’ last command to His disciples when He left them with His Holy Spirit before going to sit at the right hand of the Father was to “Go and make disciples, Baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”, then why is it that many of us as believers do not do so? Some of us may do 1/2 of this command: “Go make disciples”. However, if part of our disciple making process is not Baptizing those new disciples then are we really making disciples at all? I have to ask myself why it is that MOST people, MYSELF included (until much later in my journey), who claim to be disciples of Jesus Christ, have NEVER Baptized someone? This seems a bit crazy to me when I think about it. Jesus’ last command…how is it that when WE made our decision to follow Christ, and then got Baptized that we did not realize/were not released to GO AND DO LIKEWISE? Why is it that the moment I came up out of the water “in new life” that I did not realize the COMMAND of Jesus to go and do the same? (Many Christians that I have dialogued about this with not only do not realize that they are COMMANDED by Jesus to do this, but often think they are NOT ALLOWED to because they aren’t “ordained ministers”. Ouch.)

Basically, we have the majority of the Body of Christ in America, (again, myself included) who are neglecting to carry out a foundational command of Jesus that He imparts to ALL BELIEVERS. This is the command that released the disciples to launch the spread of the early Church by the empowering of the Holy Spirit. If we are not carrying out this command, each and every one of us, are we drastically SLOWING the rate at which the Gospel can go forth to the nations? (TO OUR NATION?)

PRAISE CHRIST THAT IT IS BEGINNING TO HAPPEN IN MANY PLACES, AND EXISTING CHURCHES…(GOTTA SHARE THE POSITIVE TOO!) In fact, I have been hearing beautiful stories of many communities of faith who have begun releasing lay-people in their congregations to start Baptizing new believers! Praise Christ! Dad’s Baptizing their daughters, etc. Beautiful.

A main point I wanted to bring up was that we spend more time, energy, and efforts on our own individual “walk with God” than we do on pursuing this basic command of Jesus. We put more emphasis on religious tasks, duties, and checklists that we think we must do to be a good Christian than we do on this very basic task of making disciples/Baptizing them. What if we focused as much emphasis on going out to make disciples, and baptize them as we do on reading our Bibles and praying? What if it was just as important a task, and expectation as a believer to Baptize new believers into the kingdom as it is to show up at church each week, or read our Bibles each day?

(Guys, I’m not saying we should not be reading our Bibles, and pursuing our individual intimate relationship with Christ. I’m simply asking why we put more emphasis on those things than we do on the growth and spread of the kingdom through new disciples being Baptized by ALL OF US.)

In case you were wondering how this got conjured up in my soul again: I spent the entire last week teaching a group of students about Simple Church Planting. I taught on Baptism briefly…and here is what happened:

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Above is Beth, one of the D.T.S. students who had made a verbal decision to follow Christ some time ago, but never followed the Lord in Baptism. Above are also students who had all made decisions for Christ, and followed Him in Baptism, but up until this point had never Baptized another. On Wednesday they Baptized their first, but NOT their last. One student said afterwards, “Now that I’ve done it before I can, and WILL do it again!”

I am anxiously awaiting your feedback, and hope that we can all move forward with a new fervor to obey the Great Commission…ALL of it.

Morgan’s Belly…

I just wanted to share some quick pictures of Morgan’s belly as of last week. It has started to shoot out lately! We’ve started doing goofy things like:

1) Me singing to Morgan’s belly…(Nothing makes you feel more silly…)

2) Turning all the lights off, and holding a flashlight to her belly to get the baby to move…

3) Me holding my hand on her belly forever, but still not feeling anything…she keeps saying, “Did you feel that!? How about that!?” me: “No” = (

Haha. Anyhow, we’re at 5 months, and here’s a couple belly shots!

photo-2516 weeks…

photo-5718 weeks…we think…

photo-7519 weeks…

photo-8120 weeks….

photo-9320 weeks….

Please feel free to share any goofy ideas you’ve tried in attempts to “feel the baby kick”, etc.

Too Long For Twitter…

I wanted to post this wonderful quote by Neil Cole as a Twitter update, but it’s over the maximum 140 characters allowed by Twitter. I just couldn’t pass up sharing this short, but powerful sentence. It’s from a blog that Neil posted today in a series of blogs he’s posting called “False Ideas“.

“…The way we try and remove ourselves from the “secular” world for fear of losing our spiritual power demonstrates that we actually believe more in the power of the darkness than we do in the light of Jesus Christ. Ouch!”   -Neil Cole-

I would encourage you to go read the entire post. I believe it is hitting the root of why Christianity is on a decline in the West.

Amendment…Ouch.

After going back & reading over my last post, “A Bad Thing…?” and having several close friends (including my wife) point out that some things said may have been a bit harsh, out of line, or taken the wrong way I realized the need for action. My pride screamed out, but then I remembered that these people truly care about me, are kingdom minded, and have no hidden agenda…

My first response was to retaliate to their comments or emails defensively…which I did in some cases (sorry=). After some discussion with friends, and wrestling with the Holy Spirit I realized I needed to do something much different.

My second thought was to DELETE the blog post, which would be the easy thing to do. I then realized that I truly wanted my wrestle to be SEEN, or READ by anyone who reads my blog. I wanted it to be evident how easy it is for us (me in this case) to slip into challenging and questioning the motives of others, which can be very dangerous.

I wrote the last post rather quickly, and with little pre-post revisions. I did not run it by anyone first, and had a bit of a bad taste in my mouth based upon the experiences I mentioned in the post itself. (By no means an attempt to justify)

So, I wanted to “go on the record” with an amendment to my last entry. Again, I do not want to remove the post, but paint a full picture. May these two entries be a lesson learned the hard way, with hopes that others can avoid falling into such traps.

In the post I challenged the motives, and reasons behind why many pastors plant churches. What I unintentionally did was generalize, and group all pastors into that category. That is not fair. I made the attack that they only plant churches if it benefits them in some way, etc. I did not realize how harshly this came across, and want to retract that statement. I realize now that it was completely unnecessary at getting across the point I was making in the first place. Silly Aaron.

I am embarrased by the fact that I accidentally allowed myself to make a very general statement that lumped a lot of really great guys into a category that they did not belong. I felt terrible as I realized that our BIGGEST financial supporter could have been lumped into that category based upon my EXTREME, and unnecesary comment. (They would be the FARTHEST thing from my description in the last post)

My wife gently pointed out to me that by making such an accusation I was doing the very thing to these wrongly accused pastors that SOME others have done to us in the past. We, and many other like-minded individiuals have been lumped into the category of “rebellious”, “house-church”, “wound-lickers”, etc. Morgan challenged me with something that many of us in the “simple church” world are constantly wrestling with: “Be careful, lest you become what you hate”. In other words, I was upset that some pastors had delegitimized some of our student church planters, & grouped them in with some angry, upper-middle class, baby-boomer, “house church” people. It led me to retaliate by doing the same thing to them that I was upset at them for doing to me. Silly Aaron.

My whole point in the previous post was that young people who are passionate/apostolic need some good ol’ spiritual fathers to encourage, release, and affirm them. (I could have fit that into a 140 character twitter update!) But NO, I just had to bring out some unneeded, below-the-belt jabs; for these I apologize, especially if you accidentally got generalized.

I would, however, encourage every “church planter” or pastor of a church that plants churches to always check your motives. In our organization we try to check ours on a regular basis. About a year into things we realized that we had fallen back into a numbers trap by trying to start a bunch of churches “in our network” (Duh, so we could take credit for them, and show everyone how much God was using us…) Praise Christ that He revealed that evil in our…MY heart, and led us to make proper changes.

Sometimes the enemy sneaks in to pervert the most good-intentioned things, making them evil at the core, but pretty on the outside.

To sum it all up: OMIT the entire first four paragraphs of the previous post. =)

Thank you all for your grace.

A Bad Thing?

Over the past few months I have become increasingly aware that there are many (Mostly “Big Christian Leader Men” in the Evangelical world) who seem to think that making disciples, and seeing new communities of faith birthed is a “Bad Thing…?”

Interesting.

I know what you are thinking: “Aaron, what do you mean they think it is a bad thing!? It has become VERY popular, and many pastors are starting to pursue planting churches out of their churches!?”

This is true. Pastors ARE realizing that if they are to be kingdom churches they must be starting new ones. However, I have noticed that “they” love church planting so long as it is either:

1) Planted directly out of their church

2) They can SOMEHOW take credit for the fruit produced

3) BOTH

In other words: If it continues to grow “their thing”, benefit them in some way, and DOES NOT challenge/get in the way of what they are pursuing then “yes of course we are a church planting church!”

The “question”, “A Bad Thing…?”, resulted after I became aware of several different situations taking place all over the country. The students, and young people we train to start lay-led simple churches have shared that they are constantly getting flack from institutional church pastors/Christian leaders.

For some reason the FIRST response from the pastors to these students after the students share what God has been doing is to: “Burst their bubble, reign on their parade, question God’s activity, doubt what is going on, oppose what they are doing, WARN them AGAINST it, and challenge them to the point of COMPLETELY delegitimizing what is taking place.” (Usually based upon extra-Biblical, Cultural American church concerns.)

This breaks my heart, and leaves me in awe. Picture it: young people all over the country being equipped/empowered/released to go onto their campuses and into their neighborhoods to plant Gospel seeds. In the process new decisions for Christ are made, and new disciples Baptized. Then, new communities of faith are being birthed as a result. Students are Baptizing students, who are then going and Baptizing OTHER students. Churches are birthing, and birthing OTHER new churches! This is bad? Dangerous?

It saddens me that these Christian leaders, for whatever reason, HINDER the movement of the Spirit by abusing their “authority” and influence in the lives of younger Christians. Instead, my prayer is that today’s Christian leaders would rise up to Spiritually Father these young people by affirming and encouraging them to keep moving forward; yes, even if it means their churches have one less member.

Thoughts?