Jim Putnam’s Discipleship Scorecard

By Shannon Youell

Our church has visitors every week. They come, they go, they shop and some even stay.

I, and others in our community, are always watching to greet these visitors, which is what I did a few weeks ago when one caught my eye. I welcomed him and introduced myself, then asked him what brought him here this morning. He told me that he has spent his adult life living in close relationship with God; that he found Jesus through the Salvation Army Church, attending and serving there many years. He said he prayed, worshiped, read and meditated on Scripture every day, though he had not attended a corporate service in seven years since the Citadel removed the pastor he loved.

By measurement of his spiritual life, we may conclude this man was discipled well. He tried in every way to live a good Christian life and was devoted to God. On the other hand you may disagree that he was discipled well since he doesn’t “attend” worship services. Yet, in reality, he was discipled into exactly what many of us consider a disciple of Christ to be: one devoted to God and living a life of integrity and character and attends church services. He and many, many of us are discipled into individual relationship with God and service within the church programs as being the outcome.

disciple sign.jpg

Indeed, this is central to us having relationship with God and with our brothers and sisters. But does this describe fully what Jesus discipled his followers to?

Jim Putnam and Bobby Harrington, in their book Discipleshift, draw our attention to how we “keep score”—how we evaluate success in our churches and in disciplemaking. I quoted Putnam a few months ago on his definition of a disciple:

If that definition does not end up looking like one who is following Jesus, being changed by Jesus, and committed to the mission of Jesus, then our definition has holes in it.  The bottom line is that a mature disciple of Jesus is defined by relationship. We are known for our love for God and one another.”

Often, I hear pastors and leaders lamenting that their good and faithful folk don’t do relationship well. They are kind and generous, but keep to themselves in everyday life. How then are we “known for our love for God and one another?” And how do we reflect being “committed to the mission of Jesus”?

In Discipleshift, the authors walk us through how we need to change our scorecard, the way we evaluate “from attracting and gathering to developing and releasing.”

“Deploying (releasing) means that people in your church are equipped and motivated to demonstrate God’s love and share their faith with the lost wherever they work or live or go to school—any place they interact with other people. They are also able to do life with other believers in relationship connection. They understand that they are ministers who serve wherever they go in the world. They are becoming people who make disciples at home, love a lost and hurting world, and win people to the Lord as they serve as missionaries in the communities where they live. That is the new scorecard for success.” (pg. 214).

They emphasize that our goal in being the church, or starting new churches, isn’t to gather a crowd and give them information, but rather to “raise up biblical disciples and deploy them into the world so they can raise up other disciples. These disciples are to grow into accurate copies of Jesus who rightly deliver his message in his ways.”

I know in my own church, there are many different ideas of what a disciple of Jesus is. Which creates part of the problem we have with being credible witnesses to those who do not yet know Christ or have decided they are good with their own personal life of worship and devotion.

Could our challenge be to relook at this and teach into what the Bible says about discipleship in the gospels? Here are several questions the book challenges us to look at with open minds and hearts:

  • How does the Bible define discipleship?
  • What does the Bible say a disciple look like?
  • What is the discipleship process as we see it happening in scripture?
  • What are the specific phases of discipleship, as seen in the scriptural models?
  • How will everyone in our church come to know this process?
  • What characteristics (values) must be present for real-life discipleship to occur in our church? (values include love, acceptance and accountability.)
  • How will our church (at every level) emphasize the discipleship process?
  • How will our church practice keep the focus on discipleship by making church “simple” and “clear”?
  • How will our church raise up, reproduce, and release disciple-making leaders?
  • How will our church serve as an attractional light on a hill?
  • How will our church send people out to serve incarnationally in the community?

I am going to start with the first three questions. I will do my best to put aside my already conceived ideas of this and honestly look at this. If I can’t do this, then what am I testifying about what Jesus mandated the Church to do? Who would like to travel this journey with us? Could we begin some dialogue about it? Then we can ask ourselves, our leadership teams the next questions and prayerfully begin to redevelop some of our methodology that has perhaps grown stale and ineffective to mentor and apprentice all those who choose to gather with us for services to participate more comfortably in God’s mission out to the world He loves.

What is a Real Disciple?

By Shannon Youell

“First, we’re asking the question, “What is a real disciple?” And we’re making a distinction between a convert and a disciple…..We need to ask the question and define it together as a body. If that definition does not end up looking like one who is following Jesus, being changed by Jesus, and committed to the mission of Jesus, then our definition has holes in it. The bottom line is that a mature disciple of Jesus is defined by relationship. We are known for our love for God and one another.” Jim Putnam

In my last blog, I started with a statement from a quote from J.D. Payne. You will note that this blog entry also starts with a quote.

In our current series of blogs we are looking at some smart things that smart people have already said and trying to find our place in them. No need to reinvent the wheel by reframing things so we look smart! I am grateful to all the people out there who are smarter than me and have said great things for us to reflect on, consider and learn from.

All Church Planters?
In our last entry we were left with the idea that disciples of Jesus plant churches. Nothing new there…of course disciples of Jesus are the people who plant churches!

We were also left with the idea that since we are disciples of Jesus, then we are all also, ultimately, church planters. Now that’s a statement that many, if not most, of us would like to disclaim! But as Jim Putnam states, a disciple is “…one who is following Jesus, being changed by Jesus, and committed to the mission of Jesus…”.

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I like the observations that a disciple is both following and being changed by Jesus, but we get into all sorts of tangled understandings of what is the mission we are to be committed to as disciples of Jesus. If we hold to J.D. Payne’s quote from last time, then we would define what Jesus did as making disciples who then made disciples and so on.

Living it Out
What did those disciples do? They told people about the good news of the in-breaking kingdom of God among them; of the work of the cross so that all may join God in His work; of being delivers of God’s righteous justice, mercy, grace, healing, love, and shalom; equipped and released those people to go do likewise in their own places and spaces. And they gathered and told stories of when, having believed, people were changed by the faithful presence of Jesus in their lives, of God at work, and of the faithful presence of the followers around them. And the new disciples did the same. And churches were birthed.

What they didn’t do was start a Sunday meeting and teach new forms of worshiping God. Worshiping God looked like changed lives, living out of and into God’s redemptive, reconciliatory, restorative kingdom that brings shalom and this gathered people together to praise and bring worship and remember the God who sent Jesus to usher it all in and make it all possible for you and for me and for our neighbors.

In my own journey in following Jesus, the more I followed and obeyed what Jesus did as He dwelled among us, the more I was changed in my thinking, my grace and love towards others and my understanding of God’s mission for the gathered ekklesia (the called out people who pray for and seek the welfare of the city) and scattered church, eikons (image-bearers of).

So if what we are doing in our current discipling practices isn’t moving people from self-focus (what’s best for me) to Christ-focus (what’s best for the world God so loves) which looks something like what Putnam described: “looking like one who is following Jesus, being changed by Jesus, and committed to the mission of Jesus, then our definition has holes in it. Because the ones doing the looking are the ones who Christ has placed in our area of influence where we live, work, play and pray.

 

From Door to Core: The Accelerated Track of Kitchen-Sink Discipleship

This story is courtesy of our friends at Forge Canada Missional Training Network.

By Dennis Gulley.

“So are you angry at God?”

This question seemed a bit odd to ask, as this was the first time Donavin and I had spoken one-on-one without others around. I had met Donavin some months before, when my wife Joanne and I, along with a few others from our Leduc Fellowship Church community, signed up for his Fitness Boot Camp at our local recreation center.

We had spent every Wednesday night and Saturday morning with him, and we quickly became fond of Donavin despite the pain we endured at his hands each week. He was a very energetic and charismatic young man.

We soon become aware of the fact that Donavin’s step-father Darcy was dying from brain cancer. It was not long after Darcy passed away that I stood at my kitchen sink washing dishes with Donavin.

Joanne had discovered that Donavin was in his last year of university in preparation to be a teacher. With that bit of knowledge, Joanne decided that Donavin might like to help her with a mystery dinner she was putting on for the grade 5 and 6 students at our church. Donavin was very happy to help us with this event, and that gave me the opportunity for our first heart-to- heart conversation.
kitchen sink with dishes CCSA Barbara Wells
As we washed the dishes, I could feel the heaviness in his heart. I had never had a spiritual conversation with Donavin, but I felt the tug of the Holy Spirit to ask him if he was mad at God.  After I had asked the very pointed question, Donavin ceased scrubbing the pot in his hand and stood silently.  After moments of silence, he asked, “is it ok if I am?” I responded by stating that it was ok, and that God could handle his anger and doubt, but I let him know that the bigger question was what he was going to do with his anger and questions.

Over the next months, Donavin and I would meet often and share our stories with each other.  He became a part of our family, an older brother to my daughters and a regular fixture at the dinner table. He quickly became active in our circle of friends.

After a few months of hanging with us, Donavin decided to join us for one of our church services. I always told him he was welcome, but that there was no pressure to attend. When Donavin walked into the building, he was immediately overwhelmed by the number of people he already knew in our church family.

There were people from his fitness classes and friends of ours that he had met in our home.  Then he looked at me and yelled, “Hey that’s my Grandmother, and that’s my aunt and uncle.”  There were many members of Donavin’s step-mother’s family that are a part of our community at Fellowship.

I had long held a belief that discipleship should take place more in our living rooms, at our dining room tables, and at our kitchen sink than in the rows of a classroom at our church. Donavin’s discipleship in Christ had begun long before he entered the church, and through relationships in the everyday path of life, he was assimilated into our community before he ever walked through the doors of the building or attended a single worship service. This was a true tipping point in my personal calling of missional living and for the calling of our Fellowship family.

This relationship was the catalyst that I needed to help our community at Fellowship live out their God-given calling.  Our church had begun as an “unintentional church plant” 16 years before my arrival as the pastor. The church was founded by a group that had gone through a church split, and as they began this new work, the greatest desire was to be a congregation where people were free to reach out beyond the walls of the church. The missional DNA was there from the beginning, but they suffered—as I had—growing up with an old paradigm, outdated methods, and an unhealthy inward focus.

Over the last eight years, we as leaders at Fellowship have worked steadily at giving our people a renewed language around missional living. We have sought to help them express a clearer understanding of what it means to be on mission with God.

We have also given them permission to be on mission with God away from the church. We want them to know the freedom of being about the work of the Kingdom in the neighbourhood, the workplace, the school, the locker room and the other second and third places of life.

To provide this freedom, we have had to create space: space in people’s calendars so they may be given back to the spaces where God has planted them. So we have become very thin on programs, and have encouraged our Fellowship family to truly “love their neighbours as themselves.” We wanted to feel free to love, not win people; to bless the community, not just the saints; and to prioritize relationships over programs.

This transition to more missional living, though I believe it was in the DNA of Fellowship all along, has been slow but steady. Over the last eight years, we have seen great growth and progress in the lives of so many as we have sought to change the lifestyles of individuals and families more than create new or more programs.

This last year we have seen the community as a whole reaching a marvellous tipping point. For the first time we can say that the majority of people joining our church community do so because they had a connection with someone or a group of people in our church.

When someone, like Donavin, is loved by a part of our Fellowship family before they arrive on the scene, the process of assimilation is a piece of cake. They are assimilated before they get here, and on top of that retention of these individuals and families is off the chart. They stick with us, add to our family and walk the road of discipleship with us.

We have found in these situations that the amount of time from when someone walks through the doors of our church for the first time until they are feeling and functioning as a core part of our community is cut down by about 75%. They arrive feeling connected and they quickly join us on our mission to care for one another and our greater community. They are getting involved in discipleship, seeking to be baptized and looking to be on mission with Christ at astoundingly fast rates.

The story of how my relationship developed with Donavin has become indicative of how the members of Fellowship approach their neighbours and friends.  It was my joy to baptize Donavin the Easter after we met, and to meet with him regularly as we mutually encourage one another in our walk with Christ.

Dennis Gulley is Lead Teaching Pastor at Leduc Fellowship Church. Dennis has served as the Regional Director of Student Ministries with the Alberta Baptist Association and as Associate Pastor of Bethany Baptist Church in Portland. Dennis holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English a Master’s of Art in Educational Ministries. Dennis and his wife Joanne are blessed with five daughters and two sons-in-law.

Nine Bible Texts That Ought to Challenge Leaders

To be a Christian leader is no small calling. Whether you serve as a church pastor, a lay leader, or a Christian who leads in the secular world, you are under obligation to be a strong and faithful witness for Christ. Here are several texts that should challenge you—and provide you a grid through which to evaluate your life today.

1. 1 Timothy 3:2-7

While directed primarily at elders, this passage is not intended to be limited to those in that role. These texts describe a mature Christian whose lifestyle is clearly affected by his beliefs. I fear that we read these verses when first considering leadership, but fail to come back to them as regularly as we should.

An overseer, therefore, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, self-controlled, sensible, respectable, hospitable, an able teacher, not addicted to wine, not a bully but gentle, not quarrelsome, not greedy—one who manages his own household competently, having his children under control with all dignity. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a new convert, or he might become conceited and fall into the condemnation of the Devil. Furthermore, he must have a good reputation among outsiders, so that he does not fall into disgrace and the Devil’s trap. (HCSB)

2. Joshua 1:8

We are to follow the Word of God. No exceptions.

This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth; you are to recite it day and night so that you may carefully observe everything written in it.

3. Mark 9:35

Contrary to the world’s idea of leadership, Christian leadership equals servanthood.

Sitting down, He called the Twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”

Photo Cred Bobby McKay

4. John 3:30

John the Baptist’s words about Jesus must ring true from our lips as well. The work of Christian leadership is always about Christ and never about us.

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”

5. Philippians 2:3

Christian leadership has no room for arrogance. Period.

Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.  

6. Matthew 12:36

As Christian leaders whose work is so connected to our words, we have a high level of accountability for our speech.

“I tell you that on the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak.”

7. 1 Corinthians 11:1

We must live like the Apostle Paul – in such a way that if others imitated our lives fully, they would thus be imitating Christ. That’s a lofty calling.

“Imitate me, as I also imitate Christ.”

8. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Though these verses particularly address Paul’s life, the theme echoes throughout Scripture: we lead best not in our strength, but in our weakness.

Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me. So I take pleasure in weaknesses, insults, catastrophes, persecutions, and in pressures, because of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

9. 2 Timothy 3:12

Following Jesus is costly. Christian leadership might, in fact, bring victory in a way most leaders seldom consider: through persecution and death.

 In fact, all those who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

Use these texts today to assess your walk with God. If you need to confess and repent, do so (and if you determine that you have no room for improvement, you might want to go back and review #5 above).

What other texts would you add to this list?

 

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on August, 2015. Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam,  Art, and Jess; and nine grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

Well-Rounded Discipleship

As we look to the fall and the reboot opportunity a new school year brings for church communities, it’s worth spending some time thinking about what we really believe about discipleship, and how those beliefs should be worked out practically in our congregations.2014-BCY-Assembly (68)

Here’s a 20-minute podcast about well-rounded discipleship strategy that I found helpful and I hope you will too.

What did you think of the eight steps to effective discipleship? Which were the most important? Were any aspects missing? Share by commenting on the blog or email me at cmorgan@cbwc.ca.

Cailey Morgan

Everything I Need to know about Leadership Training I Learned at Camp

I went to camp. Summer camp. Church summer camp. For the first time….ever!

I was invited to participate in the Leadership Training and Discipleship (LTD) program at Gull Lake Camp. I taught the Level Two (second year of three) students spiritual formation.  It was intimidating, demanding, stretching, incredibly rich and humbling to journey alongside young people and be a part of their formation, their intentional discipleship.  What a great privilege to rise up as leaders and innovators and entrepreneurs in the world which will soon be theirs to mold!

I have written on this blog about our need as churches to become more intentional about discipleship as ways to develop us as communities equipped and empowered to be the presence of Christ in whatever sphere of life we are in, and to demonstrate the characteristics of the kingdom. Please enjoy the following article written by Steve Roadhouse and note the marks of discipleship, of community building, that all the staff at Gull Lake Camp are devoted to. They are crucial elements of how we can build our communities stronger and more effective for the work set before us.

 Enjoy!

~Shannon Youell, CBWC Church Planting Director

 

My name is Steve Roadhouse, I am the director at Gull Lake Centre, the CBWC camp on Gull Lake in Central Alberta. At the camp we run a high school leadership program called LTD (Leadership Training and Discipleship), and we also have a great summer staff program. This year we will have over 1000 campers in our overnight camps. But it is our leadership programs that we are best at.

At Gull Lake we create space for campers to connect with Christ and each other.  e are incredibly protective of the culture that is necessary to create the space conducive to those connections. Here are a few things that we do well at camp to help create that space:

1. We work together: Jobs are never done alone. Everyone is part of a team. Program Team, Kitchen Team, Cabin Leading Team, Full Time Staff Team–the list goes on. The LTDs are never alone either: they are always intentionally paired with a mentor that we think they will benefit from. You get to know someone when you work beside them.  One of the first things that we make the first year LTDs do when they start the program is pick rocks out of a mud pit together. There are actually some great reasons behind this, but it is a long story. You grow close when you are stuck in the muck and mire together.

Annihilation-42. We play together: We have fun at camp. Heaps and heaps of it! Work days are long here: from 7:30am to about 10:00pm, with 2 hours of time off. So play is important. We have fun while we work. We compete and joke and tell stories and try out the games and the food. Morale is incredibly important to the culture here and having fun is a great way to keep morale up. How much fun people are having is also a good indicator of your morale level.

3. We worship together: The second year LTDs focus on spiritual practices during LTD training week. So often in our churches we get stuck thinking that singing is the only form of worship. The Level 2s are charged with the task of leading the entire camp in a worship service one evening and it always becomes this beautifully eclectic collection of ways of worshiping at camp. Often with some singing, but also with Scripture, communion, art, poetry, conversation, and silence. Worship cannot be forced.  We can only invite people in and create a safe space for them to enter.

This safe space can only be created together. It does not come from one person,
it comes from the group. We also do not confine worship to the set “worship” times on the schedule. Our play is worship, our work is worship. We worship God by serving Him and others, as well as by pausing to sing songs of praise.

4. We cry together: There is a joke at camp that no one can enter my office without crying. It is a huge compliment to me that people feel safe enough to come to me and be open enough to cry. Camp is exhausting sometimes. The days are long, it’s hot, and you are constantly pouring yourself out into the campers. Some days you just run out of gas and need a good cry.  That’s ok here.

We also engage in deep relationships with each other and share our joys, hurts, longings, and sorrows. Sometimes we cry when we do this. It’s a good thing.

5. We spend time together: We spend a lot of time together actually. I know that quality time is important, but quantity time means a lot too. We do everything together. We share rooms, we all eat together, we have leader meetings and team meetings every single day, everything we do at camp we do together. Summer staff are together 14 hours a day, 6 days a week, for 10 weeks. That is a lot of time.

glc_2015_007886. We make memories together:  We do some ridiculous stuff at camp. Crazy stuff. All safe mind you, but it feels crazy! That is what you remember. Can you remember that time you drove somewhere six months ago? No, you can’t. Can you remember that time you were driving and your friend laughed so hard that Slurpee came out her nose? Probably. Well, probably not because that likely didn’t happen to you, but if it did, you would remember!

We don’t remember the mundane and the ordinary.  We remember the ridiculous, the special, the spectacular. I remember the late night conversations. I remember doing a speech while riding on my friend’s back like a horse only to have him fall and have us both tumble down the hill in front of everyone (only our pride was hurt). I remember feeling like I was laying in the palm of God’s hand. At camp, we create space for these memories to be made.

Does discipleship outside of the camp context need these 6 elements as well? What are your great memories of discipleship? Comment on this blog or contact me directly at syouell@cbwc.ca.

For more information about Steve’s work at the Centre, visit www.gulllakecentre.ca.

What ARE we planting?

by Shannon Youell

Thank you to one of our readers who brought up a couple of great questions in response to an article we reposted on our blog: “Five Church Planting Dangers” by Tim Chester.

Here is the response:

Great article re ‘what not to do’. However when you remove ALL of those possibilities it seems the “dream pool of concepts” is greatly diminished. It brings me back to a foundational question. WHAT are we seeking to plant? Where have we articulated our shared CBWC definition of a church plant?  Hugh Fraser

What I really liked about Chester’s article was that he pointed out both the dangers and the positives of different types of plant birthings and then summarized with succinct Constructive Principles: BE creative, positive, missional, contextual and biblical.  Whilst I realize these sound simple, any of us who have actually “done church” know how hard these things are!  Puzzled. CC David Goehring

But, the flaw I see in this article, and in this I pose the same question as Hugh: WHAT are we seeking to plant?  In each of Chester’s “models” the emphasis is on the creation or re-creation of communities that serve themselves. I don’t mean this in a negative way, as of course we are to love, serve and fellowship with one another, but when it comes to planting churches, is our biblical mission to create communities where “already followers” can gather?

At the risk of your (hopefully) constructive and thoughtful criticism, I humbly submit that the answer is mostly no, yet our methodologies and our ecclesiology often end up leaning towards the former.

The five models Chester highlights—and there are many variations thereof—are all models the church has used and each has pros and cons within their unique contexts.  But what we really need is a principle that works in any context.

Jesus’ model was about growing disciples to maturity so that they could make disciples who could grow disciples to maturity who could then make disciples.  He wasn’t “making” churches, but disciples, and in that Jesus builds his ekklesia: a group of people who are citizens and thus free, called to gather together  to have an affect on the communities and cities they live in by introducing the kingdom of God into the places and spaces where darkness still has a hold.  These are the type of disciples Jesus calls us to be and to make.

Now, this is a blog and research shows that this post is already getting too long for the average attention span of our post-modern sound-bite world, so I will not even attempt to go further here on that statement at this time, except to say that I wonder what it would look like if our energy and resources were poured into making those who have received Jesus as Savior, to developing ourselves and one another into mature disciples who can truly also let Jesus be our Lord and live our lives in complete devotion to the things He is devoted to.  The good news is that we do it right here, right now in our own places and spaces where we live, work, play and pray.  This is our mission field and it is ripe to harvest.

Oh, and I will address Hugh’s second question next time!  In the meantime watch this little clip from Verge Network of David Platt talking about just this topic….it will only cost you another few minutes!

 

I would love to have dialogue with you on this topic. Come and join the conversation! Email me at syouell@cbwc.ca or comment on the blog. Every viewpoint is welcome, and I believe even when we disagree on something, that if we respectfully read and listen, we can all learn from one another.

Till next time!

Shannon Youell
CBWC CP Co-ordinator/Director

 

 

Evangelism and Kids

By Cailey Morgan

Recently during a Sunday gathering at Southside, we were invited to share with the congregation who it was that introduced us to Jesus and when we chose to follow Him. It was a beautiful time of testimony that allowed each of us to reflect on our own faith journey and celebrate God’s goodness to others.

The thing that stuck with me most was the consistent pattern of when people came to faith. Like me and my brothers, the overwhelming majority of people in my congregation came to know Christ before the age of 20; in fact most between the ages of 4 and 10. Almost everyone cited parents, grandparents and children’s ministry leaders such as youth pastors and camp counselors as the people who had led them to faith in Jesus.

While informal, I think this survey offers two key points of encouragement that my church needs to hear, and maybe yours too:

1. We as adults need to introduce our friends to Christ. Right now at Southside, church growth mostly comes from Christian families moving from another church to ours. And while we need to celebrate the opportunity to disciple new people and be built up by the gifts they have to offer, it was convicting to me that there is not a single person in my congregation who could say, “Cailey introduced me to Jesus.” Are you in the same boat?

We’ve got to do better. I’ve got to do better.

2. We need to take more seriously the faith of our kids and the kids in our neighbourhoods. What a great opportunity to see our neighbourhood changed! Since the majority of believers come to faith before age 10, what if the majority of the church’s effort went into reaching and mentoring kids? Here’s a few ways that could happen:

  • Help parents disciple their kids. Parents, your home is your mission field and the main training ground for young disciples. You are responsible for your child’s physical and spiritual growth and for training them to bring their friends to faith. I know you don’t take that task lightly.However, you aren’t alone. We all need to participate in the growth of the kids in our congregation and neighbourhoods. What if there was teaching for parents to support them as they minister in their homes? What if every child and youth had a mentoring “big brother” or “big sister” from the family of God who took an interest in their lives and helped love them and their friends into God’s Kingdom?
  • Allocate church resources to intentionally reach young people. If the church’s job is to go and make disciples, and if most disciples are made when they are children, why are children’s pastors often part-time or non-existent? Why does children’s Sunday school happen in “the back” of our church buildings? Why are our main outreaches targeting adults? Why aren’t there Wednesday evening small groups for kids and youth? The fact is, our churches are adult-centric. Maybe we should consider what a child-centric, or at least family-centric, congregation would look like?

Maybe I’ve been overstating this, but I think we need to seriously consider the ramifications of the fact that kids aren’t just the future of the church. They’re the now.

What do you think? How can we ensure that kids are being brought up in daily discipleship? Are there opportunities to see Kingdom growth among the young people in your neighbourhood?

PS: Sherry Bennett (Director of CBWC’s Children and Families Ministries)  teaches a one-day seminar called It Takes a Village: Nurturing Children In Faith for A Lifetime which tackles some of the very issues I’ve been grappling with this week: how do parents and the faith community help children discover and grow a deep and meaningful faith? Contact Sherry at sbennett@cbwc.ca to discuss options for training in your community.

Importance of Discipleship

Why is discipleship so important? This one-minute video from Alan Hirsch gives us three reasons.

If you’d like to hear more from Hirsch, let us know and we’ll send you one of his books at no charge. Here are some options:

All you need to do is read it, and write a brief review on the book for this blog

Church Planters = Community Seeders

By Shannon Youell

I have a confession to make.

I’m not sure what I think about the term ‘church planting’. In fact, since coming into the role of Church Plant coordinator/director, I have been trying to find a succinct descriptive of what we mean when we talk about planting churches.

Photo: Tez Goodyer

Photo: Tez Goodyer

I’ve asked the question to any who would hear me out and asked for suggestions, thoughts, wild ideas even. Not because I think the term is a bad one or anything, but because, like any word or term that we routinely toss about, we have preconceived ideas of what that looks like and for me at least, the term speaks recreating/reproducing structures. Build and they will come. And some will for sure and I am ever so grateful that one can find churches all over communities when the Spirit begins to woo the curious to return to what has been rejected or to discover what they’ve always yearned for.

But is that recreating/reproducing of places of worship the metric we should use to determine if the Great Commission is being fulfilled? I just don’t see where Jesus called us to be church planters though he certainly majored on the making of disciples and commissioned us to do the same.

So, for me, the metric is that we are disciples of Jesus who make disciples (of not yet and new believers) who grow into communities who choose to gather together to worship, pray, teach, learn, eat, laugh, mourn, and sometimes even ‘do’ life together, not only for an hour and a half on Sunday or Wednesday study or prayer time, but also when we scatter into our everyday lives and the everyday places we find ourselves into and scatter seeds of gospeling as image bearers; light bearers of Christ, who make disciples who grow into communities who choose to gather together…..

Maybe that is how you would describe church planting and I just have to get over my preconceived bias of what the term seems to represent, but either way as followers of Christ, each and everyone of us (not just ‘leaders’ or ‘pastors’ my friends) but every single one of us who confesses Jesus as our Savior and our Lord, fall under the descriptive. We are the ‘church planters’, the ‘community seeders’, the disciples and disciple makers.

I would love to hear any ideas you might have on how we can rethink our language around ‘church planting’, or ways you are re-framing , or ways you are re-framing your gathered faith community to become disciples who make disciples?

Email me at syouell@cbwc.ca, or post a comment on this blog.

We can all learn from one another, so let’s start sharing!