Pursuing Answers to Questions of Faith & Life

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Sermon-- Vision for Discipleship -- 3/2/08

Here is the audio of this message.

In looking at a Vision for Univeristy Baptist Church, we’ve looked at several things--
• Empowered Worship
• Emboldened Witness
• Expressive Ministry
o In the Name of the Lord
o Engages People because that is Serving God
o Intentional—not just doing for the sake of doing
o Internal & Binding—strengthening the fellowship of believers
o External & Evangelistic—reaching those who are hurting and in need
o Energized and Energizing Ministry
• Enlightening Discipleship

Ephesians 1:18--I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you

To help people experience a growing knowledge of God—Discipleship

To be a church whose purpose is to be Christ-like in our daily living by emphasizing total commitment of life, personality, and possessions to the Lordship of Christ.

It’s possible to be a Christian for years and never grow. It’s possible to be a part of a church for years and not become an effective disciple. And yet it is part of our calling—part of our Mission & Mandate from Jesus Himself. We are called and commanded to “Go and make Disciples of all nations—

So as a church, we must have a Vision for both Being and Making Disciples

We are called to Be Disciples
Before you can make Disciples, you must first Be a Disciple.
"One who professes to have learned certain principles from another and maintains them on that other’s authority." emphasizing total commitment of life, personality, and possessions to the Lordship of Christ

We are called to Make Disciples—this is not just a one time and we’re finished event. Becoming a disciple begins at the moment of decision—of repentance and salvation—it continues until when? When is the process of making a disciple over?
A life-long process
Is it possible to be a disciple and not be growing? YES
It is Possible to Be Immature Disciples
1CO 3:1 Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly--mere infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.

HEB 5:11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.

Spiritual growth is not automatic—you can languish in immaturity even after years of being a believer—must want to, decide to, make an effort to, and persist in growing

Growing as a Disciple requires deliberate action & Commitment—something for which we must be willing to count the cost—because circumstances are going to come after you so that you’ll want to stop, you’ll want to quit or you won’t think it’s important any longer.

But We are Called to Grow
1PE 2:2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3 now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

Ephesians 4:13-15
until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.

A Vision for Growing Young & Immature Believers to Passionate Maturity
A Child is designed to grow—in most cases—you couldn’t stop them if you tried—growing happens automatically in most cases. If they are not growing, we know that something is wrong. While they grow physically without much help—they do need help in order to grow spiritually. And we are Charged to pass on our faith to the children God has given us. We are to encourage the children to come to Him. We are, according to Deuteronomy—to “impress them upon our children” less we raise up a generation that neither
Judges 2:10 After that whole generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation grew up, who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel.

That’s why an effective ministry to Children is so vital to the life and future of any church. When there are fewer children & youth running around, the future of the church is in jeopardy. In most cases, those kids represent families—families that are being impacted. Parents that see their children being ministered to are more likely to allow themselves to be ministered to.

Show me a church without a strategy or desire to minister to children and I will show you a church that is withering on the vine. For some kids, the church is the only place they hear and feel the love of God. For families that are involved, the church is not your replacement for spiritual development—it doesn’t get you off the hook of modeling and providing spiritual guidance—we are a resource for you.

More believers make decisions for Christ while they are children than at any other age. Sadly, when we do not engage them and deliberately move them to a passionate & mature faith—we don’t see them for years after they graduate high school. Some trickle back, some are harder to reach than ever because they’ve gotten a taste of a relationship with Christ and left dissatisfied or hurt.

And not just children—young in the faith are also vital—if all we are attracting to our church are those who have been Christians for years, something’s wrong. We must be seeking out those who need Jesus—reaching those who are marginalized in their faith and helping them heal—teaching them to obey everything—teaching and modeling Bible Study—teaching and modeling prayer, teaching and modeling worship—teaching and modeling ministry—teaching and modeling how to share our faith.

We must be a part of Making Disciples—no one comes to the Father unless the Spirit draws him, but the Spirit positions His people, empowers His people to accomplish it.

In order for us to have teachers and leaders in the future, we must begin locating and training younger or immature believers today. In 5 years, we will have a crisis in leadership at UBC—you and I must be seeking them out today.

A Vision for Challenging Plateaued Believers to Energized Effectiveness
2 Peter 1:3-8-- His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

2PE 1:5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

It is possible for us to be Ineffective and Unproductive—and that usually happens when we have stopped growing personally: when prayer becomes infrequent or disconnected, when you no longer get anything out of Bible reading—much less actual Bible Study—after all, you’re too busy for that.

In our Christian life, it’s common to start out fast and burn out. It’s common to experience rapid periods of growth followed by extended periods of level as we adjust to and apply what we have learned. But too often for us, what is supposed to be a temporary period becomes a pattern or rut that binds us from growing further. Such a state saps our strength, darkens our spirit, frustrates our soul.

It can frustrate us so much to the point that even when we offer Bible Study, even when we offer services, groups, conferences, retreats—you don’t take advantage of them because you really don’t think it will make any difference.

We must examine what we do as a church to awaken, even provoke each other out of our ruts. For our Discipleship to be Effective—it must Energize and Enlighten even the Mature in the faith because without it we will be Unproductive and Ineffective.

And Jesus promises to Prune any branch that is Unfruitful so that it will become fruitful.

A Vision for Discipleship that Strengthens the Body of Christ

What is Discipleship supposed to Accomplish?
Grow/Increase my Love for God
Grow/Increase my Knowledge of God
Grow/Increase my Desire for God
Grow/Increase my Worship of God
Grow/Improve & Increase my Witness for God
Grow/Increase my Love for my Fellow Believers
Grow the Fruit of the Spirit in me—
Grow the ability to resist temptation
Grow & Shape the Call of God in my life
Grow the Gift of the Spirit in me—to serve the Body of Christ

Discipleship not just for the Individual. We often view discipleship as a personal edification project, it's not

Grow/Increase the Number of Sowers & Harvesters
Grow/Increase the Number of Servants & Leaders
Produce the Unity of the Body of Christ
Grow our Love for our Brothers & Sisters in Christ
Prune the unproductive to be more productive—as iron sharpens iron
Grow our Impact in the Kingdom of God
Grow our Magnification of our Savior

Fruit of the Spirit—are not just internal and individual—they are relational—they are expressed in terms of interactions with other people—made manifest in the fellowship of believers. With whom are you required to exercise patience—those you’re closest to--your immediate family, and your fellow believers—Lord knows we can frustrate one another.
With whom must you be gentle? With whom must you exercise self-control? To whom must you show love? Each of those are manifest in the context of relationship—each of those make you more like Christ—because how He treated others, how He treated His disciples and served them—how He had compassion on the lost, the hungry, the searching, Demonstrated His Heart.

Purpose Driven Life—“God develops the fruit of the Spirit in your life by allowing you to experience circumstances in which you are tempted to express the exact opposite quality.”

Gifts of the Spirit
RO 12:4 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. 7 If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; 8 if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

1CO 12:4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. 6 There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. 1CO 12:7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.

1 Cor. 14:12--Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church.

1 Peter 4:10-11--10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.

We Grow as a Disciple,
Ripening the Fruit of the Spirit--
Maturing in use of the Gifts of God
For the Benefit of the Fellowship of Believers
For the Advancement of the Kingdom
For the Glory of God

A Vision for Discipleship that is Applied for Kingdom Glory

Being a Disciple and Making Disciples cannot become merely an academic exercise. Whenever we compartmentalize Discipleship into personal growth we are in danger of doing so. Only a part of Discipleship is accomplished through personal growth & study—you will be immature in your faith if that is the only way you want to grow your faith. There is an element of Hands On Training Required to Understand and Know what it is to be a Disciple.

Jesus did not come to start a university—He did not make His disciples—Peter, James, John and others take a class and do a few assignments after researching in the Library. He took them Out among the people—to Do Ministry—to see the hurt and the need—He Sent them out—often 2 by 2 to Do Evangelism and proclaim the Kingdom of God.

Teaching was coupled with Action with the Intention of Making Disciples
A Vision for Discipleship that Involves Doing not Just Knowing—

James 1:22-- Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
Not just listening to the word, but doing it
We know we should love the poor--
For Faith without works is dead—
More than just knowing about missions or giving to missions, but going on Mission—summer opportunities—

Korea-- dates are Aug 4-18. will be conduct two english Bible camps. Similar to VBS but in english and with the purpose of evangelism. First we will have preschool and elementary kids for 3 days. The pastors will share a message and then the teachers will apply that message through Bible stories, crafts, recreation, drama, music,etc. At night the pastors will preach in different churches. Each pastor will be in two churches during the mission. After the children are finished we will have jr. high and high school camp with the same format. the cost is $1,800 due to high air fares. I will work to get lower fares. Also we need to order tickests soon. So I will need to know by March 15 with a deposit of $750 by March 31. I really need another pastor and could use more workers. I think this will be a very good mission. We also going to be treated by our host to a 3 day tour at the conclusion of the mission.

College to Beach Reach
VBS & Children’s ministry need volunteers


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