Critical Elements for Starting (pt. 4)

  1. Start Discovery Groups: Please request a copy of the document “The Discovery Process Overview & Explanation.” It is a good explanation of this simple inductive Bible study, which we are happy to share with people who request it, free of charge. There are stories of Discovery groups facilitated by unbelievers (e.g., Jessie the Chinese girl who was taking her mother through a Discovery study before Jessie had made a profession of faith, herself. Grace, the RA who was leading the DG Jessie was in did not realize this until it came up unexpectedly.) It is so simple, it doesn’t even need a Christian to facilitate it.
  • Discovery exhibits deep trust that the Word of God illuminated by the Spirit of God is enough to produce the people of God. It places great confidence in people listening to what the God says and being able to identify specific ways to put it into practice in their lives, either individually or collectively.
  • Scriptures:
    • John 6:41-51 (Note verse 45 which says, “They will all be taught by God.”).
    • Matthew 23:1-12 (In Matthew’s Gospel only Jesus is to be called “Teacher”).
    • Matthew 13:1-23 (Jesus uses parables with the crowds which means they have to “discover” the meaning by asking him).
    • Hebrews 8:1-13 (Through Jesus God writes his laws on our hearts).
    • Luke 10:25-37 (Jesus models the use of questions in guiding an exploration of truth). .
  • Activities:
    • Invite those who are facilitating Discovery Groups (DGs) to get together monthly to debrief what is transpiring in their groups. This gathering will be called a Facilitator Cohort—a learning community. The first two questions of a DG make excellent prompts: “What has been going well in your group meetings?” “What challenges have arisen during your groups?”
    • Encourage your group facilitators to complete one of the DGs Report Form (request this document, also) each week and scan/photograph it and email it to you as a way to give you data which will help you to coach them. [NOTE: Movements come through coaching, not just training. Coaching coaches is essential to catalyze the generational growth seen in Disciple Making Movements.]
    • Celebrate successes!
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Critical Elements for Starting (pt. 3)

  1. Find Persons of Peace: Taken from Luke 10 and Matthew 10, as we serve, we are prayerfully seeking out a worthy person, or a person of peace.  This will be someone who is open to discussing spiritual things, and curious about the idea of following Jesus.  A lot of times these are people who have some type of influence in the community or group you are trying to reach.  For example, in Africa, it may be the village chief, or it may be the village drunk.  If either come to the path of following Jesus, their change can drastically impact other people around them.  Once you have this truth seeker, you invite them to experience a Discovery Group with you, and you encourage them to invite their friends and family, and/or to share what they are learning with them.  If you share the the reign of God with someone within the group God calls you to reach, and they are disinterested, you move on because they are not yet ready to hear and further efforts may actually increase their resistance.
  • Persons of Peace—these are not yet saved people who God’s Spirit is preparing to be bridges for the Gospel to enter their families and communities. These are the kinds of people Jesus sent the 72 out in pairs to find in Luke 10:1ff. Cornelius (Acts 10), Lydia and the Philippian jailor (Acts 16) are examples of Persons of Peace. In each of these situations “households” came to faith together and that is what we anticipate can happen. Remind people in the harvest force that when you are harvesting apples and oranges you pick them one by one, but with grapes and bananas you harvest them in bunches.
  • Scriptures:
    • Acts 11:1-18 (Cornelius was responsive, but a vision and tongues from the Holy Spirit were necessary to get the messenger to go).
    • Matthew 10:1-16 (Jesus sends the 12 out two by two looking for “some worthy person”).
    • Luke 10:1-16 (Jesus sends 72 others looking for Persons of Peace).
    • Acts 16:6-15 (The gospel enters the “oikos”—household of Lydia after Paul listens to the Holy Spirit).
    • John 4:1-42 (the woman at the well contrasts greatly with the thinking of the disciples in this story). .
  • Activities:
    • After practicing the Discovery Group format for three weeks, do the fourth week in public places (e.g., a Starbucks, a mall food court, at your gym’s cool down area). Be sure that there are no more than four people in each group. In addition to doing the study, watch for people around you who are eavesdropping on your Discovery Group.
    • Every week Question # 3 is focusing on our efforts to obey what we heard and to share about our efforts to find Persons of Peace.
    • Celebrate successes!

Steering a Parked Life

Last week I encountered two quotes that converged for me. The first said, “It is hard to steer a parked car.” A vehicle that is barely moving is easier to turn than one that is sitting still. When we attempt to obey what we hear God calling us to do, our lives become more open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Another friend wrote the following in her Facebook status:

“Do what you know you should do, and you will know what to do…God clarifies in the midst of obedience, not beforehand”… I’m already seeing what I’ve begged God to show me while sitting still… He really is in the MOVEMENT!

How often do we miss out on blessings because we will not lean into what we already know God calls us to do? Yes, He is sovereign and will accomplish his ultimate purposes. But there are good things along the way that are connected to our openness to receive.

In John 14 and 15 Jesus expresses numerous blessings that come to those who are moving, those who obey Jesus:

14:15-17      When we obey Jesus, He will pray and in answer to his prayer the Father will give the Spirit of Truth

14:23-24      Loving obedience to Jesus results in the Father and Jesus abiding with the obedient disciple

15:10-11      Loving obedience brings Jesus’ joy to completion in the disciple

15:12-15      Loving obedience reveals we are Jesus’ friends

15:16-17      We will bear much fruit—fruit that lasts!

If you are not experiencing these blessings, maybe you are like a parked car. If you continue to beg God for clarity, maybe you are ignoring an earlier answer he has already given. Start moving in the direction he called you and see if your life is not more easily steered!

Spiritual Warfare (continued)

Felicity Dale posted a link to my most recent blog on her Facebook page. One of her friends raised some good questions and we had the following dialogue:

[Question:] Enjoyed the article, John… thanks for (re-)posting it, Felicity. I too have had first-hand experience of spiritual opposition (and deliverance, for that matter), so I agree that a disciple must engage in spiritual warfare.

However, could I be (potentially) controversial? Ref. for example, “Mobilizing intercessors is essential for disciple makers.” Now, I may be showing my ignorance here, because I wouldn’t call myself an ‘intercessor’! But are there really certain gifted people with ‘special’ access to the Throne for the purpose of intercession? Don’t we all have access to the Father (i.e., Eph. 2:18)? Is not intercession just part-and-parcel of being a disciple, rather than an exclusive role in the Body (i.e. 1 Tim. 2)?

[Reply:] Great question! Jesus has given every single one of us special access to the throne. While there are not “certain gifted people” there are those who will pledge themselves to the role. There are people who will take up Paul’s request, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should” (Ephesians 6:18-20). Those who will storm the gates of hell need to know they are being lifted up to heaven by people who will persevere in the heavenly battle. Jesus wanted that in the garden.

[Question:] I see and respect your point, John. However, was Paul addressing Ephesian disciples, or Ephesian intercessors? I see no subtitle, ‘and to you intercessors in Ephesus I write…’. Again, all Jesus’ disciples were with Him at Gethsemane, not just a few intercessory ‘experts’.

My point is this: we’re all called to ‘make disciples’. I cannot say, “I am not called to make disciples… I’m an intercessor.” I would argue that we’re all both / and.

[Reply:] I am not speaking of roles in the sense of titles. I am speaking of those who take up the responsibility with diligence and perseverance. With you, I disciple people to pray—to plead God’s promises. I disciple them to intercede. While I encourage that in all of them, I learn which ones will persist in prayer. These are the inner circle (like the three that Jesus took deeper into the garden) upon whom I lean more heavily.

[Question:] Yes, I see now. Thanks John. May He bless your work in Him.

[Reply:] Have a great day. I love the dialogue!

I really do love the dialogue. One of the things I dislike about preaching is the absence of interaction. I allow questions and comments on my blog because I want dialogue. It is hard to know whether or not you are addressing the challenges and needs people have without giving them the opportunity to discuss.

Knowing that people are serious about interceding on my behalf is a tremendous blessing. Being confident that I can send out an email and the situations I raise will be lifted into the throne room is so meaningful. Paul noted, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:10-12). Satan is a schemer. We are in a battle in the heavenly realms. Our greatest resource there are our intercessions.

Be sure when you commit to pray for someone that you do. Discipline yourself to pray kingdom passages and promises for these people. It was in this vein that I wrote several articles about praying Scriptures a couple of years ago. Check them out:

https://johnkking.wordpress.com/2009/12/23/praying-luke-10/

https://johnkking.wordpress.com/2009/12/23/colossians-19-23/

https://johnkking.wordpress.com/2009/12/23/praying-galatians-5/