MAWL is an acronym for Model – Assist – Watch – Leave. As we work through living life as an intentional witness, and as we learn skills/tools that we want to use in engaging the harvest, be thinking about “down stream.” How can we pass along the skill set that people need while doing our best to ensure it remains potent and well done? MAWLing plays a major role in this process. Or, should I say, a balanced MAWLing strategy plays a major role in this process. This is an important distinction because often times we do one part of this process well and the others end up lacking. Here’s some ideas on keeping it balanced.

Modeling – Jesus gives us the best example of modeling in His time on earth, as it is that life-on-life discipleship where we show those we’re discipling what we do and what we expect them to do. As you look at Jesus’s life, you see Him modeling what he wants the disciples to do, even chastising or correcting them when they get it wrong. In Matt. 17, Jesus casts a demon out of a boy that the disciples were not able to cast out. He chastises them, and then corrects them. In Luke 8, we see Jesus at work doing His thing. In Luke 9, he sends the 12 out to do what He had just done with them. In Luke 10, He sends out the 12 along with 60 others. The modeling principle colored all that Jesus did with His disciples. It’s important to note here that Jesus hasn’t pulled them into a sterile classroom setting and given them practice reps in the skill set and then sent them out. Too often, our modeling isn’t real modeling. We seek to instill a skill set in the sterile environment of a safe training setting, which is really teaching. And while this teaching may be enough for some skill sets, others require us to get out there and get our hands dirty with people, modeling for them rather than simply imparting a skill set. The intangibles come through in that real-life setting. Many church planting coaches are now seeing that where there’s a problem or obstacle with indigenous work, the modeling element has either not been done well or will serve as the tool to break through the obstacle.

Assisting – I often hear, “Oh, I could never do that. You’re the expert/professional/pastor.” That’s the perfect time to say, “Come on, we’ll go together. And if you get stuck, I’ll be standing right there to help you out.” There’s just something about having that presence with us in times of need, that confidence that someone’s got your back if things go south. And our presence can be that calming factor for those we’re MAWLing. This is one of the two weakest points in our MAWLing process overall. In John 4, we read that Jesus was receiving pressure because He was doing so many baptisms. And then John gives us almost a side note: although Jesus Himself wasn’t doing the baptisms, but His disciples. He was there with them, standing beside them, being associated with them, and no doubt helping them figure it all out. Let’s face it; you guys are awesome! And in your competence, you carry an attitude of being able to get the job done. And, sometimes, it’s almost natural to step in and “take over” what could be a touchy situation. After all, we want to win people. We want to equip people. And, we are competent, capable people. But there is something to be said for the teachable moment that comes through hardship. That discovery process can be short-changed because of our capabilities. Jesus let His disciples struggle; even fail (see Matt. 17 above) to impart what they needed. Don’t be too quick to jump in. But to jump in means we need to be there with them, standing by them and providing the nudges that will bring them through.

Watching – This one seems straight forward, right? We stand back and watch them do. But it’s at this point that I want to shift the paradigm a bit by asking the question, “What are we watching them do?” Are we watching them perform a skill? Or are we watching them assist someone else in learning that skill? There’s a huge difference here, and it’s this difference that’s making a big impact on the movements happening around the world. It’s in this watching-phase that, as Jeff Sundell says, practitioners have found the sweet spot! So, think of it like this:

Person 1 (you):        M         A          W        L

Person 2:                              M         A          W        L

Person 3:                                          M         A          W        L

Getting to the WAM seems to be breaking through the problems of passing DNA on to the 3rd Generation, giving DNA the best chance to make its way downstream. Here’s what I mean. You, as a discipler, have been Modeling for someone a skill set that’s necessary for their maturing. And, of course, you make that shift to Assisting them as you work together with that skill set. But what we often miss is that they should have someone they are modeling with, too. This is where person 3 comes in. Once person two has the skill set, your task becomes watching them assist person 3.   For example, if John has been sharing with Mike, and Mike decides to follow Jesus, John wants to model for Mike how to read & learn from the Bible. At some point, John wants Mike to be modeling that for someone else while John helps Mike. Mike begins modeling Bible learning for Chris with John’s help. At the point that Mike begins helping Chris, John is now free to watch Mike as Mike helps Chris. Only when Chris starts modeling the skill for someone is John free to take a step back and let the process roll. In doing so, we’re instilling a skill set into the fourth generation!

Leave – Notice in the above example I didn’t say John was free to leave. I think this step is often misunderstood. Leaving in this process means taking a big step back and letting the process roll, and not that you leave them and never make contact again. The reality is, there may be questions, problems, obstacles, or who knows what which require your help. And if you leave, you’ll not be available to offer that help. The key here is to allow them to wrestle and struggle for the solution without your direct and immediate intervention. But even Paul spoke back into the places he’d “left” to deal with vexing problems that reared their ugly heads (sloppy worship practices, circumcision, and legalism, just to name a few). But his direction in such things was more prescriptive than directive. He readdressed the theology behind the sound principle, often with very strong language, trusting them to take what he’d prescribed and applying it to their setting. So, in essence, leaving isn’t really leaving at all. It’s handing ownership over, not abandonment. Think of this as Jesus telling the disciples that they will be His witnesses, and that He’s going away, but He would send a helper to guide them. He didn’t really leave. His coaching, His leading just took on a different look.

Intentionality – it’s what’s for breakfast

Have you ever set a goal, say, to do something valuable in the coming week, only to have the week go by and realize you didn’t get around to it? I know I have. It happens more than it should in my life. Are they bad goals? Am I a bad person? Does life just happen and crowd out the things that don’t present themselves to us? After more than two decades in youth ministry, I started calling this the “youth camp syndrome.” Well-intended students who have had a mountain-top experience make a 100% genuine commitment to Christ about some area(s) of their lives. But they leave the mountain-top and life happens. School happens. Sports happen. Parents happen. Work happens. And it has to do with intentionality, or intentionally making the changes that need to happen.

A GREAT example of this just occurred this weekend. We were attending our home church, The Heights Fellowship in Lubbock, TX., and the pastor, Mike Martindale, preached a phenomenal message on the need to take the Gospel to those who, without intervention, face God’s eternal wrath. He wrapped up the message by asking everyone to think of three people they know who need the Gospel and go share with those people this week. He asked those who had people in mind to raise their hands, and about 1/3 of those in attendance raised their hands. Those people left that morning with a plan, having committed to sharing Jesus with three people they know who need Jesus and His salvation. I am pumped at the prospect of there being 300 people who will hear about Jesus this week from His Bride.

But something more has to happen than those people raising their hands. They will need to be intentional in their conversations, in their prayer life, and in their daily patterns/habits if this is going to happen. It reminds me of a chunk of Scripture from Luke’s Gospel. In chapters 8, 9, and 10 of Luke’s Gospel, we see Jesus doing something that, at least to me, points to our need for intentionality.

Luke 8 opens with Jesus going from town to town proclaiming the good news and the kingdom of God. As he’s going, he’s teaching and performing miracles. Luke makes sure we know that the 12, as well as the ladies, were with Him. Luke 9 opens with Jesus sending out the 12 to do exactly what Jesus Himself had modeled for them in Luke 8, charging them with proclaiming the good news and the kingdom. And they are to perform miracles, too. Then, in Luke 10, Jesus adds to the 12 and sends them out again to do what He himself had done, sending 70 (or 72 depending on your translation). This is a great example of what discipleship should be: the disciple models a behavior for those he/she is discipling. The discipler then helps the disciples with the behavior, watching how they do. THEN the discipler watches the disciples do the same thing with their disciples. This is a model we call MAWLing (Model, Assist, Watch, Leave).

However, pertinent to this post is the fact that we do not see the disciples doing this normally. In fact, we see instance after instance where they seemingly stumble along behind Jesus clueless to what they should be doing. In Chapters 9 and 10, they are commissioned by Jesus and given specific instructions with the expectation to go and do. We don’t know how long they went about, but it was longer than a day because Jesus tells them to take nothing they need for the journey. If it was just an evangelistic afternoon, there’s no instruct them on food, extra sandals, etc. Jesus gave them a sense of intentionality to their journey. He even told them how to introduce the Gospel, giving them an exact phrase to get them into the spiritual conversations. Luke 9:6 and 10:17 show that they went and did just as Jesus had commanded. In fact, these chapters have a report time where they came back together to give a report of how the work had gone. When they set their feet on the floor each morning during this time, they had a purpose that they were committed to: proclaiming the kingdom of God is near.

I like to think that, had I been there, I would have been obedient and intentional with the mission. But what the pattern of my life seems to indicate is that I, more often than not, question or drag my feet. I resist the impulses of the Spirit to open my mouth. I worry about how the message will be received; how I will be perceived. And life comes crashing back in, the week goes by, and nothing has changed. IF we are going to reach those around us, something has to change DAILY in our lives. We MUST live with an intentionality that drives us, setting our feet on the floor each morning and proclaiming in word and deed that, today, we will follow the Spirit’s leading. We will open our mouths and proclaim the message we’ve been commissioned to proclaim. We will stop worrying about perception or reception. We will set aside our agenda and take up the agenda of our master: the bold proclamation that the Kingdom of God is near. SO, here’s my challenge to you: share the Gospel with someone today and comment back here with the results. Let’s be bold and accountable as we intentionally go about the master’s business. Let’s covenant to pray for one another to be intentional each morning with our first thoughts of the day. Let’s purpose to not allow one more day to pass before we obey the great commission. After all, we all know that the more we say, “no,” the easier it becomes to say, “no,” until we eventually just ignore the call.

And, the next few blogs will be aimed at helping you know what to say, how to say it, and how to rescue those who stand before God’s wrath. Next week: how do I know who to share with.

Changing The World

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”― Leo Tolstoy
I was sharing with our local body last night about the need to be praying for workers in the harvest. It was a little blurb as a piece in a larger evening of prayer. As I shared what I’d planned to say, I quoted Luke 10:2-3, where Jesus commands His disciples to ask God for workers to be sent into the harvest, and in His next sentence says, “Go! I am sending you out…” It occurred to me that we spend a lot of time praying for God’s will to be done; for God’s Kingdom to come here on earth; for our culture to be changed; etc. when we ourselves are not willing to be the agent of said change or kingdom expansion. Jesus basically says, “Pray for workers, and I am sending you out as said workers!” This is in line with several other passages, but this morning struck me as particularly connected to the model prayer in Matthew 6. Let me explain. But before we really dig in, please get your Bible out and read each reference carefully. Don’t just blow through here and miss the chance to hear God’s voice from His Word!

In the prayer Jesus offers as an example of how we should pray, He gives us some things to be praying for. These things are not new to us, right? Here’s a simplified list:
God is holy, His kingdom come and will be done on earth as in heaven, give us our daily bread, forgive our debts (as we forgive our debtors), lead us not into temptation/deliver us from the evil one, and in some manuscripts we are to acknowledge that His power and glory are the power and glory that are eternal. It took me a long time to see this. It actually took someone else pointing this out to me. But this prayer looks an awful lot like asking for things He has already promised us. I’m going to take the above list and break it down for you.
1) “Hallowed is Your name” – This is for us to acknowledge that He is above and apart from His creation. Even His name is holy (set apart). He is active in His creation, but not part of the creation itself. Isaiah 40:22-26 is a powerful reminder of this.
2) “Your kingdom come, Your will be done.” – The Scriptures are replete with calls to obedience as that is God’s will for us. Take your pick from the plethora of NT passages like 1 Thes. 5:18, Hebrews 13:20-21, Luke 9:23, James 1:5, and so on. How does God’s will happen on earth? We conform to His design for us in obedience. PARAMOUNT! This is the focal point of this entire model prayer: our conformity to His desire for our lives that His will would be done on earth.
3) “Give us this day our daily bread.” – Jesus has already promised that God meets our daily needs for food and water. In fact, later in this very same chapter of Matthew we read a well-known passage about not worrying about what we will eat or what we will wear. So, why are we praying that God will give us the food we need? We are reminding ourselves that His will gets done through our submission to His principles for us. Why do I strive to provide for my daily needs? Because I’ve forgotten His promise to provide for me. His will gets done on earth when I trust Him for my daily needs.
4) “Forgive our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” – For those who have trusted Jesus, their debt is already forgiven. 1 John 1:9, Acts 3:19, 2 Cor. 5:17, Eph. 1:7, Hebrews 10:17, Ps. 103:12, Mark 11:25… Why are we asking Him to forgive us? We often miss the contrast here. It’s His will that we forgive others as He has forgiven us. By submitting to His model of forgiving, His will gets done on earth.
5) “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” – This one’s a bit trickier, but if we look at a few Scriptures, we can make sense of it. First, James 1:13 says that God Himself doesn’t tempt us. But we find the Holy Spirit leading Jesus to temptation in Matthew 4:1. The key verse for understanding this is found in Psalm 20:24, which says, “A man’s steps are the Lord’s steps.” There’s not a moment you’ll face in your life that doesn’t hold a temptation. The thing is, God doesn’t lead you INTO the temptation. He orders our steps to places where our faith can grow. But our prayer is to not fall to the temptation. Again, this is a point of submission for us. He has already promised to deliver us from the evil one. He’s already promised us a way out of every temptation, as we see in 1 Cor. 10:13. Will we submit to His way out? Will we follow Him out of the temptation? When we submit ourselves to His way out, His will gets done on earth.

Here it is: this model prayer is all about us submitting ourselves to His reign and rule in our lives. He is holy, set apart. And to see His will done here on earth is His desire and should be ours. Therefore, trust Him for your daily provisions. Therefore, forgive as He forgives. Therefore, take His way out of temptation. The model prayer isn’t a wish list. Instead, we find a submission list with some of the greatest areas of our lives; all pointing to His Kingdom comes when we let Him change us by submitting to His design for our lives. Will you change the world by allowing God to change you?

The Heart of the Matter

So, lets say you sell it all and move to another country where you hope to see revival, awakening, salvations, etc. Isn’t that a great reason to move? Isn’t that a great cause to devote your life to?

In Matthew 13:44, Jesus says that the Kingdom of God is like a treasure that a man found. Hiding the treasure again, he goes and sells everything he owns to be able to buy the field and be the rightful owner of the treasure.

The treasure of great price is not an obscure verse. It’s pretty well known. I think, at least for me, the problem isn’t the selling of everything to lay hold of a treasure. The problem for me is at the very beginning where Jesus says that the Kingdom of God is like… So often what I want, where I commit time, what I want to lay hold off is indeed something worthwhile, but not the greatest treasure, the Kingdom.

My daily reminder to take up my cross every day now comes with an attachment: take up your cross and pursue the Kingdom. Sure, revival and awakening are kingdom things. Salvations are the greatest of all miracles! But if i pursue them and not HIM, I’m missing the point entirely. Seek first His Kingdom, and He’ll do the rest.

A Cup Half Full?

Today’s post is mainly for me as a sort of cathartic moment. It’s been ruminating in my brain for a week, trapped amidst the busyness of preparations to go. So, thank you in advance for for your gracious understanding of my need to write and process.

Many of you know me, and know that I’m a pretty optimistic person. Sometimes it gets me into trouble that I assume the best of people and situations, allowing me to be blind sided by bad situations. Here of late, though, I’ve been seeing the events of our life as a series of “lasts.” I.E. my last meal at Chick-Fil-A, my last Disciple Now, my last Nooma Ride, my last Sunday at THF, my last Belt Test at CrossPoint, etc. But it hit me this morning that none of these events are necessarily the last of anything! Not any more than they could have been my last on any day of my life. And even if they were, I’ve been seeing this wrong. The ending of a chapter simply means the beginning of the next! As I sat with some of my friends this morning (who happen to be former students of mine), I realized that they will not stop being my friends or former students. And just because it will be 4 years before I get to ride with my biker friends here, it doesn’t mean I won’t ever ride with them again! It just means that I’ll have a whole new batch of stories to share with them the next time we ride, as I’m sure they will, too! We will still be able to share in the victories of the faith, the trials of life, and the sorrows of heart-break with those we call friends.

Our departure for Virginia Monday only marks the end of a chapter in our lives. But it also marks the beginning of a new chapter, with new characters and adventures. Today I am making the appropriate changes in my thinking to again see the cup half full instead of half empty. We aren’t saying “Goodbye.” We are saying, “Stay in touch and we’ll see you soon!” Know that each of you are loved and cherished by the Bishop family! Sincerely, you have been such an integral part of our lives, how could any of these things be the last we would share? I’ve been bothered by calling our time with you a “chapter” because it really feels like a book!

One question we’ve gotten a lot lately is, “What are we going to do without you?” And while I know that really means “without Caryn,” I think you do what you’ve been doing with us here! Strive for excellence! Walk with Christ! Laugh often! Give generously! Share completely! Live life to the fullest! And keep on changing the world! I KNOW you have made our lives better, richer, fuller. And, I hope that our investment in you has been a positive thing. But even more so, I hope it’s something that will be paid forward. As you make life’s journey, you’re not alone, and you’re not without us! Now, make our joy complete by having Christ’s heart for your world!


Audio Books AND How Metro Is Your Worship Leader

I’ve stumbled upon a GREAT book.  But I have to ask, if you’re listening to a book as an audio book, can you say you’re reading it?  I mean, do you say, “I’m reading ‘Stuff Christians Like.'”?  Or do you have to dress it up a little bit so people don’t think you’re a moron for doing an audio book?  Is it better to say, “I’ve stumbled upon a GREAT book.” so that you don’t have to admit you’re having someone read it to you?  This way, people can make their own assumptions.  In light of this, I wanted to give you some cool things you can say that allow you to share what you’re “reading” without sharing that you’re not really reading it.

1)  “I’ve stumbled upon a great book.”  This is my fave, and allows you to use “stumbled,” too, giving a sense of sophistication to the term.  Now, not only are you an avid reader, but you are above the people, too!

2)  “I’m in the middle of this book, and…”  Yeah, that’s right.  Not only do you read, but you’ve read more than half.

3)  “I just finished “(insert title here)” and it really challenged me.”  Even better than number 2 above because you now let them know that you’ve finished the book, even though you didn’t really read a word of it.

4)  “A friend turned me onto this book.”  This gives the listener a chance to know that you read, AND that you discuss what you’re reading with friends.  Surely tagging this with other readers lumps you into the category of “reader” and not just someone who listens to a story like a child at Barnes & Noble on Tuesday afternoons.

5)  “You should read “(insert title here)”.  It was amazing!”  This is the “trump card” of all your declarations!  Not only have you let the person know that you’ve finished the contents of said book, but now the pressure is on them to either admit that they don’t read (letting you off the hook for listening), or to quickly agree and move on so they don’t have to admit that they don’t read books.  Either way, with the attention shift, you’re gravy!

Now, for the book that I’ve stumbled upon, “Stuff Christians Like.”  It has two things going for it:

1)  It’s sarcasm scratches me where I itch!  If you know me, you know my default mode of operation is sarcasm.  So much so, I often end up in trouble with someone for something that was really intended to be funny, but…  So, needless to say, this book is making me laugh with every essay.  I try to have a couple books going all the time.  However, it’s been a long time since I really enjoyed a book for entertainment.  Jonathan Acuff has managed to take some things about Christianity that we all notice, and paint them in a light that shows how ridiculous we can be.  But he does it in such a way that instead of feeling stupid or bashed, you laugh!

2)  It has been great for discussion.  There are some essays that I’ve been listening to (or “reading,” if that helps you feel better about me!) that I want to play for my students, friends, and family, JUST to start discussion.  Acuff manages to take a page from “Monty Python” as he addresses topics that would normally be taboo.  From topics like “Honeymoon Sex” to “Lifting Your Hands In Worship,” Acuff tackles some pretty touchy stuff in an engagingly humorous way.

Needless to say, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND “Stuff Christians Like.”  And, to whet your appetite, here’s an excerpt:

From “Stuff Christians Like.”  ( post#269)

“There are really only two reasons I wanted to write this post:

1. The first post was just an appetizer.
I wrote about this subject a few months ago when 12 people were reading the site but I just barely touched on it. I didn’t do it justice and people have reminded me that there is more to be said on this pivotal subject. So this is like the Timbaland Remix.

2. No one has quantified this phenomenon
There are some things in life that are concrete and true. For instance, it is a fact that “You’re all I want for Christmas” by Mariah Carey and “Christmas in Hollis” by Run DMC are fantastic songs. No argument there. But when you tell someone about your church, there’s not a standard system to describe the degree of metrosexuality your worship leader possesses. Wouldn’t it be awesome to say, “You’ll love my church and the music. Our worship leader scored a 78 on the SCL Metro Test.”

Don’t answer that last question. It was rhetorical. As a service to churches around the world, here is an easy rating system by which to analyze to what degree your worship leader is a metrosexual.

1. Has a faux hawk hair style = +1

2. Has more product in his hair than your wife = +1

3. Has Rob Bell, black rimmed glasses = +1

4. They are not prescription, but just for effect = +2

5. Attends the Catalyst Conference = +3

6. Performs at the Catalyst Conference = +10

7. Owns Puma, Vans or Diesel sneakers = +2 per each pair

8. Wears jeans on stage = +1

9. Wears designer jeans on stage = +2

10. Wears Wrangler or Rustler jeans on stage = -3

11. Has a goatee = +2

12. Wears one of those Castro revolution looking hats = +2

13. Drinks coffee on stage = +1

14. Drinks some kind of coffee you did not know existed = +2

15. Brings a French Press on stage and makes his own coffee during service = +5

16. Has a handlebar mustache = -3

17. Good at Frisbee but hates getting all “sweaty” = +1

18. Has a haircut that covers one of his eyes while singing = +1

19. Owns a white belt = +2

20. Owns suspenders = -3

21. Wears a scarf with a t-shirt = +1

22. Wears a winter knit hat even in the summer = +2

23. You think he covered a My Chemical Romance song last week = +3

24. Drives an Audi or VW, silver of course = +2

25. Uses the words, “postmodern, relevant” or “emergent” nonstop = +2

26. Cringes a little when people say the “H word.” (Hymnal) = +3

27. Has ever said some form of the phrase, “That song is so 1990s” = +1

28. Owns a Grizzly Adams red and black flannel shirt = -2

29. Named his kid after a color or a number = +2

30. References Norwegian punk bands you’ve never heard of = +2

31. Wears a tie = -1

32. Wears a tie as a belt = +2

33. Looks as if he might exfoliate = +2

34. Has a man bag or European Carry All = +2

35. Brings said bag on stage with him = +2

36. Has a tattoo = +2

37. Has a visible tattoo = +4

38. Wife accompanies him on stage and plays tambourine = -4

39. Was formerly in a punk new wave band = +2

40. Knows the names of all the people on the scripted MTV show, “the Hills” = +3

41. Refuses to drink anything but Vitamin Water = +2

42. Your wife ever says, “he needs a barrette for his hair.” = +2

43. Has a nickname with “the” in it, as in “the edge,” = +2

44. Owns every Nooma video = +2

45. Has a soul patch = +3

46. Won’t play barefoot on stage until he gets a pedicure = +2

47. Refers to California as “the left coast” = +2

48. Currently subscribes to Dwell or Details magazine = +2

49. Owns a pair of lady jeans = +2

50. Twitters you from his iPhone = +2

51. His toddler dresses cooler than you = +2

52. He wears graphic t-shirts over button down, long sleeve shirts = +2

53. Ever says “we got a hot mic here” = -4

54. Shops at the Gap = 0

55. Shops at Urban Outfitters = +2

I scored one of the worship leaders at North Point and he did pretty well. At some point I will do a lady version, but for right now, I feel like a 55 item list of analyzing worship leaders is enough to earn me a new batch of “you are weird” emails, and at the end of the day, that’s all I can ask for.

What does your worship leader score?”


Back in September, I wrote about Jeremiah’s first attempt at his Black Belt. You can read about that here:

But tonight, 7 months later, he accomplished a goal he set out for over 4 years ago. It was a much different thing to see him work hard, and work toward this. Sometimes, when things get tough, people measure whether it’s really worth the effort. And MANY times, people walk away from hard things. But not Jeremiah. He put in the work, invested himself in teaching many of our White, Orange, and Yellow belts (and many of those 1 on 1), and never gave up.

Tonight, Jeremiah didn’t just accomplish passing a test, he proved what I knew all along. Even though he’s just nine, he’s a man of character. I’m proud to call him “son.”

A quote for discussion

This evening I finished the book “Jim and Casper Go To Church.” The book relates the insights and observations of an atheist as he and a former pastor visit 10 churches in America. Good read. A quote from the book stood out to me, so I wanted to throw it out there for discussion.

“…what do you think this enlightened, impassioned, and above all, humble carpenter from Galilee would say about Plexiglass dunking tanks, millionaire pastors, camera cranes, and music coming straight out of Branson? Is this what Jesus had in mind for the church?” – Casper, p. 46. Casper later asks Jim a similar question, “Is this what Jesus told you guys to do?”

What do you think?

Being The Church

This morning, I ran through some information about The Church, what it is, and what it should do.  Below is the outline from that message.  If I had time, I would put this up as a typed manuscript of the message.  If you have any questions, feel free to ask away, as this outline is missing the “fillers” of a spoken message!

What is “Church?”
Definition:  “The church is the community of all true believers for all time.”  (Grudem. 853).
i.      “Church” is all Christ has truly redeemed (Eph. 5:25)
ii.     Including OT.  Qahal (assembly) translated most often as ekklesia (church) in The Septuagint.  Hebrews 12:1 surrounded by great cloud of witnesses ties the OT “assembly” with the saints of the NT church.
iii.     Built by Christ (Matt 16:18 & Acts 2:47)

Invisible Yet Visible
i.     Invisible that no one can see the heart (2 Tim 2:19).  It is the church as God sees it.
ii.     Visable that it can be seen by all who profess Jesus.  It is the church as Christians on earth see it.  Paul writes to the visible church, of which there seems to have always been a segment that was not saved but thought they were a part. (2 Tim: Hymenaeus & Philetus, Demas, etc.)  Jesus warned against wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matt. 7:15-16)

Local & Universal:
NT ekklesia – a group believers at any level:
i.    House church – Romans 16, 1 Cor. 1 (Aquila & Prisc)
ii.   A Region – Acts 9:31
iii.  Entire world – Eph 5:25 / 1 Cor. 12:28

1.    Family (Fam: 1 Tim 5:1-2, Bride: Eph. 5:32/2Cor 11:2)
ii.   Common Images (Branches: John 15:5, Olive Tree: Rom. 11-17-24, Field of Crops: 1 Cor. 3:6-9, Harvest: Matt. 13, John 4:35, New Temple:  1 Peter 2:5)
iii.    Unique (Body of Christ: 1 Cor. 12/Eph. 1, 4; Col. 2)

True Church vs. False Church
Luther)  the congregation of saints in which the gospel is rightly taught and the sacraments rightly administered
Calvin)  wherever we see te Word of God purely preached and heard, and the sacraments administered according to Christ’s institution, there, it is not to be doubted a church of God exists
2 elements esteemed by both Luther and Calvin:
i.   Gospel Rightly Taught – salvation is by faith in Christ alone
ii.  Sacraments – symbolic and commemorative rather than meriting favor.

Purpose of The Church
Ministry to God:  Worship
i.     Sing with thankful hearts to God (Col. 3:16) Not just sing ABOUT God with an emotional heart!
ii.     LIVE to the praise of His name (Eph. 1:12)
iii.     It is a means in itself, and not a means to an end.  (Eph. 5: 16-19:  Paul says to make the most of your time & commands us to be filled and singing with all our heart)

Ministry to Believers:  Nurture & Equip
i.     Not just to bring people to faith, but to present everyone mature in Christ (Col 1:28)
ii.     Gifted people Equip the Saints for ministry as a means of building up the body (Eph. 4:12-13)

Ministry To The World:  Evangelism and Mercy
i.     Make disciples of all the world (Matt. 28)
ii.     Care for the poor and needy (Not just those who are thankful (Luke 4:40) & Not just those who might become saved)

The Right Balance:
i.     Is any one purpose more important than the other?  Might we neglect a “lesser purpose” for a more noble purpose?
ii.     For The Church:  The Church MUST balance these 3 purposes or run the risk of not being the Church.
iii.     For it’s True Members:   be true to your gifting and focus where God intends.
iv.     To which purpose of the church do you think you can most effectively contribute?  Which purpose has God placed in your heart a strong desire to fulfill?

Notice that NOWHERE is there room for sitting, soaking, and souring.
When we understand the church, it’s source of strength and our role in it, The Church is an unstoppable force known as a most generous and life giving people, TRULY reflecting The God we say is our reason for being.

Why would He say that?

Have you ever met someone who was SO EXCITED about something that they couldn’t help but talk about it? I’ve been that person at times, as I’m sure you have. And, sometimes, we are tempted to be so excited that we venture off into speculation that isn’t really accurate, but more conjecture; almost the assertion that we are now an expert on that which has us so excited.

Perhaps this is exactly why Jesus often admonished people not to mention what He’d done or said.

Oswald Chambers comments on one such passage, Mark 9:9, saying, “‘He charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead.’ Say nothing until the Son of man is risen in you – until the life of the risen Christ so dominates you that you understand what the historic Christ taught. When you get to the right state on the inside, the word which Jesus has spoken is so plain that you are amazed you did not see it before. You could not understand it before, you were not in the place in disposition where it could be borne.”

As most of my time is spent in relationship with teenagers, this struck a chord with me. MANY times we tell people to go and proclaim, telling them they already know enough to share with others. And, in many ways, this is true. But we never go back and help them mature to the point that Christ’s teachings are becoming obvious or plain. We don’t encourage enough study and inner transformation that those we mentor can give a good answer to the faith that they have. Let’s face it, we all have a propensity to, at times, share a message that our life doesn’t measure up to, doing more harm than good in the sharing. We’ve had a vision or experience that burns in us to share, but we do not yet have a life in that area that has been impacted by the Risen Son. Be encouraged today to speak wisely, within the parameters of what you KNOW, and what the Risen Son has done in your life.  And, in your life, be a tool of transformation to others so that He can make plain His teachings to others. To venture beyond what He has done in you may just be a trap the enemy uses to further separate someone from Christ.