A couple of weeks ago I ended my two vision sermons with nine challenges about how we can personally and practically seek to be a church that glorifies God through making disciples by engaging and equipping people with the gospel. We are planning on going back to these 9 things again and again over the next year- but I wanted to simplify them a little bit.
Here are the 9 parts of the vision and plan challenge narrowed down into 6 categories:
1. Am I in out of emotion, out of conviction, or not at all?
The contrast we used was in relationship to cardiac Christianity and adrenaline Christianity. Is your commitment to glorifying God by living the gospel in this specific local church a burst of emotion or a bedrock conviction? Do you have be motivated every time a choice needs to be made or something needs to be done? Or is there an internal motivation that drives you so that you don’t have to be re-motivated and re-asked every time we need to take ground?
2. Who are the two people I’m praying for?
Evangelism doesn’t just happen. Most dynamics are against it happening naturally. We have to be praying for opportunities to share with people. Our relationships have to be intentional while not manipulating people or trying to make them our projects. Leading people to Christ has to become part of the pattern and rhythm of our lives, not dependent on specific church programs. Church programs, like worship services or small groups, can be effective places to invite people you’re already friends with, and already praying for, and already talking to. Do you have two people you’re praying for?
3. In what environment or ministry do you have a gifting that can make a contribution?
An environment is any place people go where we can teach them, serve them or relate to them. It could be a big venue like Sunday worship services. It could be a small venue like small groups. Or it could be in an age focused ministry like children’s. Are you explicitly asking yourself:
How do my passions and gifts come together to point me to where I can make a contribution?
Then: Who do I talk to to get involved?
4. What is sacrificial generosity for me?
Generosity is something that has to be visited and revisited. It’s not about giving to charity. The church is not a charity; it’s a cosmic-redemptive movement created by God, empowered by God, authorized by God, and sent into the world by God. Therefore, Christian generosity is a measure of how generous we are towards God, how much Christ’s generosity towards us has affected us, and whether or not we want to be participants in God’s global mission. Have you ever visited what that would look like for you if you really believe the gospel about Jesus? If you have visited generosity, how long is it before you should revisit it again? If you are a growing Christian, making adjustments is normal and should be deliberate. Those adjustments won’t always mean giving more, but sometimes they will.
5. How can I make people my business?
The organization of the church can obscure its true purpose: people. It’s very easy to think in terms of organization or ministries. But the organization of the church, as well as the ministries of the church, exist to minister to and to organize people.
A. How can I include, encounter or host people – rather than just say hi and be friendly?
B. How can I include disciple making in the normal pattern and rhythm of my daily life? How can I do more discipleship without doing more things?
C. How can I use one of my hobbies, passions or areas of skill to make disciples and share Christ?
6. How can I escape diversion and embrace discipline?
What diversion is inhibiting me from doing what God has for me? What is taking the time, emotional energy or resources that I should invest somewhere else? Remember, the thing that is keeping us from what we are meant to be is the thing we are doing instead.
What discipline must I embrace in order to become the disciple I want to become and God has made me to be? Human transformation is almost always linked to disciplines, practices and structures. Some of these disciplines and practices are solitary. For people who struggle with discipline – is often good to do these disciplines in community. Many of them can be done in small groups or in one-on-one discipleship relationships. If you’re having trouble embracing discipline, ask yourself these two questions:
Should I join a small group so that I have a time and structure built into my schedule to pursue these disciplines?
Should I seek out a mentor who can walk me through these disciplines and practices?
My hope is to return to these six areas again and again over the course of the next year. If more and more people are personally engaging with these six questions, you’ll see constant and real progress in growing into the church Christ has called us to be and Madison needs us to be.