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.

More Greatness From “CPM’s”

So I have some issues that I have been meaning to blog about, but keep coming across this amazing stuff in the book, “Church Planting Movements” that is so much much better than anything I have to say. Check it out, and let me know your thoughts…

On Church Leadership:

“Satan knows that if he can distort God’s teachings on the church and on church leadership, he can stop the flow of new believers into the Kingdom of God. The Bible has clear guidelines for defining church and it’s leadership. When we try to improve on these we don’t create a better church we create a church that is less than what God intended. Church Planting Movements are often derailed by well intentioned, yet inflated, definitions for a church or overwhelming requirements for church leadership.”

“In the New Testament Christ identified the church with Himself…Paul took this lesson to heart, often referring to the church as the body of Christ while identifying church members as members of His body.”

“In many older mission fields, church planters labor under the weight of years of tradition-built definitions of church and church leadership. This happens when well meaning Christians come to believe that they are not a church until they have been constituted by a national denomination, or have reached a certain congregation size, employed a seminary-trained pastor, secured church property, or constructed a building. All of these requirements exceed and encumber the biblical ideal.”

“When it came to church leadership, Jesus set the example by choosing disciples from all walks of life. He spent three years walking with them, and this became their license to lead.” p242

On Reaching The Lost:

“Conventional wisdom holds that one should always work through the local church to reach neighboring people groups. Though logical and intuitively appropriate, this approach is often not born out in reality. In too many instances the local church is the major stumbling block that is preventing the unreached from coming to Christ. Despite this fact, some missionaries have spent their entire career trying to turn the local church in the direciton of the lost. Others tied themselves so closely to the local church that they ended up sharing the church’s unsavory characteristics.”

“The best way to bring about change in a fallen expression of Christianity is by unleashing vibrant, living Christianity. Once authentic Christianity demonstrates Christlike virtues and begins drawing new converts into the fold, true Christians in the nominal churches will be attracted to the movement like moths to a flame. We have seen many instances of comatose Christianity awakened by the outbreak of a Church Planting Movement.” p246-247

On Empowering Local Believers:

“When we inject foreign elements into the church that the local believers cannot reproduce for themselves we alienate a Church Planting Movement.”

Garrison goes on to describe a story of Christian leaders in Latin America who came across a beautiful church building that had been built three decades earlier by American volunteers. The local members took great pride in the building, but had never attempted to plant any new churches, because they could not reproduce the only thing they knew. They believed that real church had to have such things, and so the moevement died before it started.

What are some things that we do in the church in America that might hinder new believers from excersizing their faith in such a way that causes new works to be birthed due to their feelings of not being able to reproduce the only thing they know about church and the Christian faith? Thoughts?