DISCIPLESHIP - WEEK 3 – 17 SEPTEMBER 2017 10AM
The story of Joy coming the first night to Alpha and saying “Do you know Geoff Woodward?” Point: Joy made a connection with us and what she was really saying was – can we be friends? Discipleship is relationship!
Having non-Christian friends is one of the most important things for all of us. It’s difficult for pastors who are working with the church members as the main part of what they do. It’s also difficult for those Christians who have been Christians and church goers for many years. Think about all your friends including close friends and friends closer than just acquaintances. How many are not Christians yet? For me this is why I started being a Police Chaplain many years ago, so I can get out of church-world and into the real world and meet people and make friends. It’s making friends that leads to discipleship, the main calling of each and every believer. Its why Chris and I decided to run our own Alpha group and invite our non Christian friends.
ASK YOUR NEIGHBOUR – HOW MANY NON CHURCHED FRIENDS DO YOU HAVE?
When anyone who knows that you’re a Christian wants to be your friend, then discipleship has begun. The first question you need to ask yourself is, “Am I willing to care for this person and help them grow closer to Jesus?” It means investing yourself into people. It means going the extra mile and knowing that to this you are called.
Matthew 28:18-20 The Message (MSG)
18-20 Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.”
When it says “train” people in this verse it is translated “make disciples” in most translations, but it helps to change up the language sometimes to open our thinking up to see God’s plan for us in our life of service to Him.
Times have changed and the way people think about religion has changed a lot over the last 30-40 years in Australia. When I was a young Christian here’s what we did to win lost people:
1. Streetwork – meeting strangers in the city and giving out a tract.
2. Street preaching in the city, suburbs and university.
3. Door to Door survey.
4. Family Fun days in the park.
5. Tent Crusades with a gifted speaker.
There’s a reason we don’t do these things anymore. They don’t bear much fruit.
What works these days is leveraging trust by:
1. Having people who know you over for a BBQ or dinner like what Pastor Ashley Schmierer talked about last week.
2. Joining a gym, club or group where you can do life with others. Examples include your local gym, sporting club, crochet group, fishing club,
3. Church or private events centred around cultural high points like Christmas Eve or day, Mother’s day, Father’s day, Australia Day, Footy Grand Final etc.
4. Church events addressing felt needs like women’s fashion show, Family Violence Dinner (White Ribbon) Mental health awareness day – suicide prevention etc. Men’s 4WD event.
ASK YOUR NEIGHBOUR – WHAT CRAIG MEAN BY LEVERAGING TRUST?
People are wary about religion and church in general. That’s because of past indiscretions by clergy. However people still have the same needs as they had forever. There are times when every person struggles with heart break and trauma and they need someone who cares. That’s what Christians are so good at!! It may be a sickness that a person faces, it may be a marriage breakdown, or a loss of a loved one or a mental health challenge or 100 other things that cause a person to experiences STRESS and trauma.
WHEN YOU HEAR ABOUT THAT ALL YOU NEED TO SAY IS “CAN I PRAY FOR YOU?”
So how are we, as a church, going with our reaching out to non Christian people?
In a Survey conducted last year in this local church, these results show some healthy trends. (See this link for images –
1. The thing our church members most value is Community Care and social Justice.
2. 51% of people reach out to the wider community through activities of this local church
3. The ways in which this church cares for people and helps others is higher in almost all categories than this church two years back and more than our denominational averages.
4. 62% of church members INVITED friends and relatives to a church service in this last year.
5. This figure has risen consistently over the last 10 years.
6. The willingness to invite someone to church and readiness to share faith with others is higher than this church two years back and higher than the denominational average.
7. The overall result – total new comers from an unchurched background into our church in the last 5 years is higher than our result two years back and higher than the denominational average.
For the whole report of this churches NCLS Results from 2016 go to this link - https://www.dropbox.com/s/mzppqkjpoxe0ejp/NCLSChurchLifeProfile2016-EB200003.pdf?dl=0
Discipleship is the building block of every successful church, small group and move of God around the world. It may look different in the place people meet, the times and days and length of meeting but the essential ingredient is the same – people talking and doing life together, learning about how to follow Jesus.
ONE THING TO KNOW - >>> DISCIPLESHIP IS RELATIONSHIP.
Pastor Ashley Schmierer shared one of the most simple yet powerful messages last week about loving your neighbours. His story about having the neighbours over for a BBQ in their home in Brighton was so simple, so easy and yet so powerful. He shared how he made friends with people who had never met each other although they lived in the same street.
There is a cost at times…. Maybe it will cost you something to make a dinner or buy meat for a BBQ. Each Friday fortnight at our Alpha group Chris makes a delicious meal for the neighbours who come over to be with us for Alpha.
Slow is fast…. The thing about Ashley’s story was that it seems like it might take a long time between first meeting people until the time they come to church or received Jesus. That’s OK. God is at work in people’s lives. He has an agenda, it can’t be rushed. The big key is prayer – we must be praying for those we love and are sharing our faith with. Alpha only works when we pray for the non-churched people we are reaching out to.
Alpha is a rich resource. Alpha is a great resource for the people who you have already made friends with. The people who are curious to find out – Is there really a God? How can I know for sure? Just as Chris and I started our own Alpha group this year in June, I am encouraging lots of you to run your own Alpha group next year in February. For many of you, you have friends and relatives you love and who you want to share the faith you have with them. Alpha helps you by introducing the gospel in ways that are very authentic and backed with lots of great evidence for God’s reality.
WHO HAS SEEN SOME OF THE ALPHA SO FAR? IS IT A GREAT RESOURCE?
Through Alpha you can disciple a group of people who are on a journey to know Jesus. At the start they may be atheists or ambivalent, by the end some will be believers and some will be still on the journey and some will say no thinks, but hopefully still keen to be your friend.
Can you see yourself making friends with non churched people?
Can you see yourself often saying to others – “Can I pray for you?”
Can you see yourself with a house full of neighbours or Gym buddies or sports club friends as you host your BBQ or dinner – just simply to make friends and love people?
ONE THING TO DO- MAKE FRIENDS WITH NON CHURCH PEOPLE- AND CONSIDER RUNNING AN ALPHA GROUP NEXT YEAR.
- Ps Craig Anderson
One important element is curiosity.
“Jesus looked around and saw them following. “What do you want?” he asked them. They replied, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” “Come and see,” he said. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon when they went with him to the place where he was staying, and they remained with him the rest of the day. Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of these men who heard what John said and then followed Jesus. Andrew went to find his brother, Simon, and told him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means “Christ”).”
John 1:38-41 NLT
These fishermen followed Jesus because they have heard so much about him and they were curious. John had told them about him. They wondered what he would be like. Who was this Lamb of God? When the disciples followed Jesus, the journey with him began because something deep in their heart attracted them to follow him, there was a curiosity about who is Jesus was, what he was destined to do. They heard about his great love; and they heard about his birth and his miraculous conception. As they came to the place where Jesus lived, they decided to stay with him and began the journey of discipleship. This was a journey where they would learn so much from Him. It was a journey where they came gradually to the place of surrender. Along the way there were times when they were challenged, times when they were offended, times when they were upset with each other. In spite of all these challenges they stayed because they saw in Jesus the hope of a new life.
When we live out our new lives in Jesus with passion and authenticity, people around us will get curious. What is this Jesus stuff all about? Is there really a God? Can I know Him? They might ask you a question…. Discipleship has begun. Every disciple is a learner and all learners ask questions. The question for you now is will you lay down your life for your disciples and take them on a journey to find Jesus?