As we enter the New Year as a church, I wanted to remind us why we as a church exist and give some tips for how to fulfill our mission. As individual Christians we exist to give glory to God, and we do that by worshipping Him in all aspects of our lives. The church though has a unique mission outlined in several places in scripture with Matthew 28:19-20 being one of the more clear places. The biblical mission of the church is to make more disciples of Jesus who then give glory to God. Our local church agreed to a provisional mission statement last year, which is, “Make Biblical Disciples through Authentic and Intentional Relationships.”
This is simply a restatement of the mission given by Jesus and the method that He used to make followers. He gave clear teaching which lined up with the Old Testament, and which is recorded in the New Testament. Therefore, we can know what a disciple of Jesus should learn and how we should behave by studying the Bible.
In the Bible we see that Jesus had a clear method of to make disciples and that was to live in close relationship with them and to teach and model how they should live. Therefore, we can see that the primary biblical method of making disciples is through close intentional relationships.
The elders this last year have studied several books together that have challenged us to make disciples in this way, and one of them has been Jeff Vanderstelt’s book, Saturate. In chapter 15, titled “Everyday Rhythms,” he gives some very practical ways that we can intentionally develop and deepen relationships with people for the sake of encouraging them to get closer to Jesus. Here are six rhythms of life that can help us make disciples.
- Eat - Meal times were important in scripture and still remain a way that we can easily gather and share life. Invite people to your house, and go out to eat with others. The relaxed setting can often lead to walls coming down, and allow you to understand someone better.
- Listen - Spend time listening to God, so that you can hear the opportunities that He has for you. Then spend time listening to other people. One of the ways people feel most loved is when we care enough to really stop and hear them.
- Story - In the process of listening, make sure to pay attention to the other person’s story. People are the way the are because of the life circumstances. When you listen to a person’s story you will better know how to love them well. Furthermore, when we share the gospel, people often receive it best when we share our story of the gospel. If Jesus has and is changing you, then you have an amazing story of grace to share that will often be well received. In the process by being vulnerable with your story of mercy and grace received you will make it easy for the other person to open up and share their story.
- Bless - God has blessed us tremendously and we should give that blessing away. If we live in a sacrificial and tangibly loving way, our friends and community will notice, especially those who have not felt much blessing in their life. Vanderstelt put it this way, “Live in such a way that it would demand a ‘Jesus explanation.’”
- Celebrate - The Christian life should be a life of joy in the Lord and our daily lives should reflect that. Would others want us to come to a party because we are Christ followers? Do we have so much joy that it makes for the best parties? I love seeing the kids at AWANA because they have fun coming to a church gathering. We adults should have so much joy that other people want us to be around. Let's seek our joy in Jesus, and then plan times where we can share His joy with others.
- ReCreate - This is Vanderstelt’s ministry term describing resting and creating. We need to be able to stop and let the world go on without us, (God can handle it without us for a while!) We need enough space in our lives just to BE, and not be always DOING. We should stop our minds and bodies long enough that they can rest and so that we can be creative. Vanderstelt asks these questions, “Can you rest in the middle of your work, certain that you are accepted and loved, and have a Father in heaven that sees you and is proud of you?” “Can you create freely, expressing the unique design your Creator intended you to to be?
If we can examine our lives and begin to be intentional in these rhythms of our lives, we will begin to deepen our relationships with God and others; we will become more like Jesus; we will help other Christians become more like Jesus; and we will see more people become Christians because they see and have experienced the goodness of the gospel in our lives.