The Marcs of a Healthy Discipleship Group or Discipling Relationship | John Ankerberg Show

The Marcs of a Healthy Discipleship Group or Discipling Relationship

By: The John Ankerberg Show
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Robby Gallaty
January 4, 2015

Message, Robby Gallaty, Senior Pastor

We are starting a new series today that will take us over the next five weeks. It is entitled, “The Marcs of a Healthy Discipleship Group or Discipling Relationship.”

I want to give you an acronym to help you with that. The word “marcs” is the acronym and I encourage you to do take notes because hopefully you will refer to this in the future.But let me give you a disclaimer as we begin because at this point, I have heard from people that have said to me, “Pastor, one of the things we like about Brainerd, we brag about our church, is the fact that we hear expositional preaching every single week. But it seems like lately you have gone through different topical sermon series.” Now, let me explain to you just a little bit about expository preaching because I think that could be a misunderstanding. Some people have wrongly understood expository preaching to mean going through a book of the Bible, which is partly expository preaching. But that is not what makes it expository because a Pastor can preach through a book of the Bible and still not be expository. What makes a sermon expository is when you take the text and you preach what the text is saying back then and then you apply it to today biblically hermeneutically. And so what we are trying to do is, we are trying to say what the Holy Spirit said and what the Holy Spirit intended. You can preach thematic series expositionally. And so you will notice when I preach a series like we will do here, the Marcs of a Discipleship Group or whatever series I preach, True North or Bearing Fruit series, we are taking texts every week and we are camping out on those texts and we are letting the text speak. We are not using 110 different texts in order to prove a point, which would be more of a topical message. But you can do topical expository preaching, but it is just harder to do. So for those who wanted to hear that, that is that clarifying response to what expository preaching is. This message hopefully will be expository in nature, but it will be topical in a sense of helping you with your discipleship journey.So the marc we are going to talk about today is the marc of being missional. Missional. How do you gauge effectiveness in your discipleship group.If you will look on the back of your handout, you will notice the marcs of a discipleship group. And if you turn it over, you will see the discipleship pathway.Now at Brainerd Baptist, we have been talking about the Discipleship Pathway for years. We have called it the three-step process for expediential growth. We have just solidified the term “pathway” because we think it is easier for you to digest and it is a lot easier for you to walk on, because everyone likes to walk on a pathway. And so, I want to encourage you at Brainerd Baptist to look at this pathway and to ask yourself the question, what step are you on? Because everybody, I think, needs to be a part of the corporate gathering of worship. If you haven’t committed in your mind to come weekly to gather with the saints of God, to worship Jesus, to be edified and encouraged by other believers, that is the first stop on the pathway.But it doesn’t stop there. You will notice the second stop on the pathway is not just the corporate gathering or the worship gathering, but it is the congregational gathering of the community. So the first one is congregation or corporate. And the second one is community. We call these the Life Groups at Brainerd Baptist. Some churches may call them Sunday Bible Study. We used to call it that. Some churches may call it Sunday School. It is a gathering together of teaching, it is a gathering together of fellowship. It is for evangelism as well. It is for replication as well. And so if you are not involved in a Life Group, that is the next step for you. You have been coming week in and week out to the service. Thank God for your coming. But the next step for you would be a Life Group.And then if you are already in a Life Group, then the final step on the Discipleship Journey is for you to be involved in what we call the Core relationship. All of these relationships Jesus had, right? He preached to the crowd. Jesus preached to the committed, the 72 and the 120 that followed Him. Jesus had a community group of 12 guys, but it didn’t stop there. He took out of that 12 three guys, Peter, James and John, for a core group of discipleship. I think every believer, every member at Brainerd Baptist should be in all of these groups, right? Right? Your goal is to grow closer to the Lord. And as you are growing closer to the Lord, you are constantly taking steps toward Him in your spiritual growth. At Brainerd Baptist, what you will know, and if you are explaining our church to people – people say, what is different about your church? One of the things we try to keep paramount here at our church is the spiritual development of our people. We realize at Brainerd that if we can grow you deep, then our church will grow wide, not just numerically but spiritually, emotionally, theologically. And so what we are trying to do here is go against the grain of an amusement based, low commitment culture that we live in where people are being judged by how big their churches are and how large their budgets are. And sadly, as you and I look at the New Testament, we realize that is not biblical. Dallas Willard said, “Instead of counting Christians, why don’t we start weighing Christians? Lets not determine how many people are coming, lets see how mature the people that are coming really are, right?”Pastor Eugene Peterson said, “Pastors of America are preoccupied with shopkeepers concerns: how to keep the customers happy, how to lure more customers away from the competitors down the street, how to package goods so that customers lay out their money. Some of them are very good shopkeepers. They attract a lot of customers. They pull in great sums of money and develop splendid reputations in town. Yet it is still shop keeping. Religious shop keeping to be sure, but shop keeping all the same. The marketing strategies of fast food franchises occupy the waking minds of these entrepreneurs while asleep, they dream of all kinds of successes that will get the attention of journalists.” What a great indictment on the church.You see, pastors are graded today by their people by how big their congregations are and not how by how mature their people are. And sadly, what has happened is, we have used business metrics to grow a church and not biblical methods to grow people, to grow disciples.Mike Bream said this, which is a great challenge for us: If you seek to build a church, you rarely produce disciples. But if you seek to make disciples, you always get the church. You always get the church.Now, you and I know that it is difficult to make disciples. It is easier said than done. It is hard to grow a disciple. It takes time to grow a disciple. It takes work to grow a disciple. In my discipleship group that I just launched out this December, at the end of the year we get to about November or December and we start praying about potential discipleship group participants for the next year. We put their names on the board and we will begin to pray about them and then I launch these guys out. And so in our final meeting in December, where they are now discipling or about to disciple guys, one of the guys asked me a question. He said, Okay, Robby, we have seen discipleship. We have experienced discipleship with you. But are there some spiritual markers for growth. How do we gauge success? What are some goals that we could shoot for to determine if our people are growing? And I thought that was a great question. Little did he know that I was about to preach on this series. But I gave to him what I am about to give you: The marks of a healthy disciple in a discipleship group.So these are the categories by which you can judge effectiveness or success, although I hate to use that word, in your disciple making journey. Let me give them to you. I will take each one in depth over the next five weeks.The first one is Missional. The M is for Missional. Write it down. The A is for Accountable. The R is Reproducible. The C is Communal. And the S is Scriptural. Communal…I mean, Missional, Accountable, Reproducible, Communal and Scriptural.Lets take the first Mark. A healthy discipleship group is producing missionally minded disciples. Now when I say missional, your mind may automatically run to missionary where you think of a man who garners a passport, leaves the comforts of this world and travels to a foreign land to share the gospel. And that is partly true. You may even think of those who have gone on short-term mission trips or long-term mission trips like some of you have. You would be encouraged to know that in 2014, Brainerd Baptist Church, your church, mobilized 34 teams to 20 different countries to share the gospel. Let me say that again. Your church…we mobilized 34 mission teams to 20 countries in 52 weeks. Praise the Lord for that. Amen? Praise the Lord for that.You know, if you have been on any of those trips, when you are on mission, whether you are here in the country or overseas, you think differently, right? You act differently. You are aware of things differently. You speak differently. You are aware of how people look at you, right? You share the gospel more intently. And the question I want to ask you today is, why does it take you packing your bags, gathering your passport and boarding a plane to think like a missionary? Why can’t we live that way here today? You see, missionaries are not for super Christians, missionaries are every day believers in a familiar land who are intentional to look for two things: divine appointments and teachable moments. That is what a missional minded believer does. They are always looking intentionally, write this down, for divine appointments and teachable moments. And the cool thing about God is, if you free up your schedule, He will load it up with divine appointments scheduled by Him. Amen? And so I want to talk to you today about what it means to be missional. Now being missional is not just being evangelistic. You can be evangelistic and not be missional because sadly, what happens when we think of evangelism at times, we think of an event, or we think of a place, or we think of a service or we think of a pitch. I am going to be evangelistic today. And so what we do is, we compartmentalize evangelism in a particular sermon or speech that we give to people. But missional living is, it is every day living, that when your feet hit the floor, you realize that you are on mission with God. And it doesn’t matter if you are in full-time ministry or you are a full-time employee or you are a stay-at-home mom, we are all on mission, right? We are all missional. We may not be full-time missionaries, although we are all missionaries, because our citizenship is not on this earth, it is in heaven, right? So in a sense, we are all missionaries. But missional is not just a place, it is a priority of your life, that you are always intentional and you are always looking to share the gospel. When Jesus left His disciples, He gave them this challenge. And the challenge was not just to be missionaries but to live missionally and it was to be planted where Jesus had sent them. It is in Acts Chapter 1 Verse 8. If you have your Bibles, and I hope you do, turn with me to Acts Chapter 1 and Verse 8. When you get there, say “word.” Acts gives us just a parting comment in Verse 3. We will pick up the context here of what Jesus did over the 40 days He was with the disciples. Look at that last phrase there. He was speaking to them about what? Verse 3. Audience participation part. “Speaking about the kingdom of God.” For 40 days he is talking about them…talking to them about the kingdom. And so naturally in Verse 6, they say, “Lord, at this time are you restoring the kingdom of Israel?” We want to know if you are coming back. Is this it? I mean, is this the time of restoring Israel? Are we going to have seats at the table? I want to be on the right, John wants to be on the left. Can I be on the stage? Can I be on the platform? And Jesus says to them, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”What Jesus shows us in this text is two interesting insights about missional living. And the first one is this: Missional living, (write it down) requires a supernatural power. Missional living requires a supernatural power. He says, “You will receive power when the (what? When the who?) Holy Spirit has come upon you.” So what Jesus is doing here is saying, the Holy Spirit or power are synonymous with one another. Now that word “power” is the Greek word “dunamis.” And I have to admit to you, church, I have wrongly translated this word in the past, probably like you have and I came to this reading this week about the root of this word. Dunamis is the word for power, but it is also the word for “miracle.” But a lot of preachers will say that it is the word for what? Dynamite, right? I have even said it myself. Dynamite. It is dynamite power. And that is a great sermon illustration, but the question we have to ask ourselves is this: Is that what Jesus had in mind when He penned these words, You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. Dynamite. Or the better question is: Is that what Paul had in mind when he said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power or dynamite of God for everyone who believes, first for the Jew and then the Gentile. Is that what he had in mind? I don’t think so and here is why. There are two reasons why.Here is the obvious one. I don’t know why I didn’t see this one. But first of all, dynamite wasn’t invented until 1866. That is kind of a problem there, if you can imagine. And so they would have never understood dynamite the way we do today. So what I am showing you is, when you are interpreting the passages of scripture, particularly the language to today’s language, you cannot reverse apply a word of what it means today back then. Right? You have to take the text back then and let that shape how you view it today. So the first problem is, they didn’t have dynamite back then.But the second problem is, in the very explanation of the word “dynamite.” Dynamite is a word that means to rip apart. It means to gouge out the ground. It means to blow a hole in something. It means to tear something. Is that what Jesus meant when He said the Holy Spirit and power. I don’t think so.D. A. Carson talks about this in his book, “Exegetical Fallacies.” And he says these words, which are helpful. “Dynamite blows things up, tears things down, rips out rocks and destroys things. The power of God concerning which Paul speaks about often is identified with the power that raised Jesus from the dead, aiming for wholeness and completion in salvation.”So dynamite rips apart and tears down. But the power that God is talking about and Jesus is talking about here is the power that raised Jesus from the dead and brings wholeness or completion to things. He is not tearing things apart, He is making things whole, right? So regardless, it is power. It may not be dynamite power, but it is amazing power.Now, Mark the gospel writer, was trying to communicate this to us in his gospel. He wanted to show us early on when he started to pen the words of that gospel, that Jesus Christ has all power and authority synonymous with God. In essence, what he is showing us in a Hebraic way, that Jesus is God. Now he is not coming out and saying it, overtly he is doing it Hebraically. Let me show you in the text.Turn with me to Mark Chapter 1 and we are going to take a quick journey through the book of Mark. And I want to show you what Mark is trying to say to us Hebraically. Mark Chapter 1 Verse 13. When you are there, say “word.” “Jesus was in the wilderness for 40 days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals.” Write down first of all, Jesus had authority over the animals. He has power over the animals. Now, if you and I would venture into the woods with wild animals, it would be very risky for us. Why? Because they may literally rip us to shreds. But in the language of the New Testament Greek, that word “with” there (you can circle it) gives us the idea that Jesus is not just hanging with the animals, He is in harmony with the animals. Jesus has authority over the animals.But then he drops down and shows us that Jesus has authority even over the angels. Look at Verse 13. “And the angels began to serve Him.” I love that translation. The ESV says “ministering to Him,” but I think “serve Him” gives us a better picture here.From Hebrews Chapter 2 Verse 7, you will know that it says, “God created man a little lower than the angels.” So man, in essence, is lower than the angels. However, Jesus, as the God-man, is not serving the angels but the angels, the text says, are what? Serving Him, to show us that there is only One whom the angels serve and that is God. Jesus has authority over the angels.Jesus has authority to teach. Drop down. Chapter 1 Verse 22. “They were astonished at His teaching because, unlike the scribes, Jesus taught them as one having (what?) authority.”You know, in the Old Testament days and particularly in the New Testament, what would happen is, in order for a scribe to prove or to gain respect or to have authority, he would quote rabbis from years past. So he would say, I am going to tell you something that Rabbi Akiva said, but Rabbi Akiva was quoting Rabbi Gamliel. And he would do that to garner respect and authority.Now, Jesus comes on the scene and He doesn’t do any of that. Jesus just speaks to the Word of God. Why? Because He is the Word of God. And so they notice, wow, this guy is different. He speaks as one having authority. He has authority to teach. He also has authority to heal. Look at Verse 34. “And He healed many who were sick with various diseases.” He has authority over nature, to heal. But He also has authority over the demons, the devil. “And drove out many demons. But He would not even permit the demons to speak, because they knew Him.” Who has authority to bind the devil? God does. And one day he will be bound for eternity. Read Revelation.Go to Chapter 2 Verse 9 of Mark. Jesus has authority to forgive sins. Only something God can do. The four men take their paralytic friend to see Jesus. “Which is easier: Jesus said to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your bed or your mat, and walk’? But so you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins, He told the paralytic, ‘I tell you: get up, pick up your mat, and go home.’” Jesus has authority to forgive sins. Jesus also has authority over the Sabbath. Look at Chapter 2 Verse 27. “He told them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore, the Son of Man is even Lord over the (what?).” There is only one person who could be Lord over the Sabbath. He who created it.And then finally, Jesus has authority to give authority. Chapter 3. He gathers His disciples together, Verse 15. He names them one by one and He sends them out to cast out demons. Look at Verse 15, “And to have authority to drive out the devil.” The list goes on. Jesus has authority over nature. He walked on water. He has authority over nature. He calmed the storms of the sea. Jesus on one occasion gave Peter the authority to go take his fishing pole, cast his line into the sea. The first fish that he caught, he reeled it in and the fish had change in its mouth, not only for Jesus but for Peter to pay the Temple tax.What are you getting at here, Robby? Jesus is showing us time and time again that He is God. And if we are serving the Lord Jesus Christ, the Bible says, “If Jesus is for us, who can be against us?” Right? It should motivate us to be fearless in sharing the gospel which is why (come in real close) when Jesus says these final words to His disciples in Matthew 28:18-20, this is why the Great Commission is so great. He doesn’t just say go make disciples of all nations because they would have said, well, how would we ever do that? What does He say at the beginning? “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go…” Do you know what Jesus is saying? You cannot lose this thing. You can’t do it. We get that. But I can. And I want you to see something here. Why in the world would Jesus choose these 12 guys? Because if you and I were picking a spiritual team for the special Olympics…of the spiritual Olympics…special Olympics…it could be special Olympics with these guys, but spiritual Olympics, we would have never picked these guys. Wouldn’t you agree? Never. Andrew was an introvert. Peter had a foot-shaped mouth. James and John didn’t like people very much. In fact, on one occasion they wanted to call fire from heaven down on the Samaritans, right? I mean, think of Judas. You know what happened to him. Matthew was an IRS Agent. Simon the Zealot was a card-carrying tea party member. These were not the guys we would choose for the spiritual Olympics, right? And yet Jesus hand selected these guys and then He entrusted them with the message of taking the gospel to the nations. Why in the world would He pick these 12 guys, 11 to be exact? The same reason He picked you. It is the same reason He picked you. Because He knows and you know that apart from Him, we can’t do anything, right? But with Him, we are capable to do all things. We are powerless in our own strength, but we are powerful by His Spirit. And friends, one of the fears we hear from people so often in making disciples is this. They say, Robby, I would love to make disciples, but I can’t lead a group. I can’t facilitate a group because I don’t know enough and I am fearful of what may happen and someone may ask me a question I don’t know. Those are valid excuses…actually they are valid reasons, but not excuses. Why? Because, Friends, don’t miss this…don’t you ever underestimate the impact of the Word of God and the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells within you. Friends, the only textbook you need to make disciples is this Book right here. Are we glad for other books that will help us along the way, spiritual disciplines books, Growing Up and some others. Praise God for books like that. But that is not what you need to make disciples. This is the textbook for making disciples. And the power, the supernatural power to make disciples is the Holy Spirit of God. Don’t ever underestimate that.And so what Jesus shows the disciples is, you can’t do it. I get that. But I can. And so missional living requires us to have a dependence upon the Holy Spirit of God.But secondly, missional living forces us, requires us to have a single-minded purpose or plan. A single-minded purpose or plan. Go back to Acts 1. “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”When you read this text, you have to hear the undertone of Matthew 28. There is just a synonymous connection here between Jesus saying, “Go make disciples of all nations.” Let me explain to you what the nations are: Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth.Now this challenge, if you will, this charge was off the heels of a question that the disciples asked Jesus. They said, Jesus, you have talked for 40 days about setting up the kingdom. When is it going to happen? We are ready. We have our chairs ready. We have name tags. We have got placards. We have got stickers. We are ready to take seats. We are ready to usher in the kingdom, right? And Jesus almost doesn’t even acknowledge the question…He acknowledges it but He doesn’t address it. He says, those things are not for you to understand. But, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be My witnesses.” What is interesting is this: Jesus tells them, don’t worry about when I am coming back. Worry about what you are going to do until I come back. Do you know, folks, we have a lot of Christians who are so concerned about the day and hour of the Second Coming of Christ and they will neglect the first command…the last command of Jesus before He left to make disciples, and I promise you, you will regret that. We know He is coming back. Okay? We have got that. We have read how this story ends. Lets not waste our life trying to chart the hour and day and miss the final command to make disciples who make disciples. Amen? It is fine to try and think about when Jesus is coming back, but Jesus never told us the day He was coming back. He just said, do this until I come back. And so don’t miss this chance we have in the short period of time we are in to make disciples who make disciples for the glory of God.Jesus is showing us in this text that the kingdom is not just a future event, it is a here and now. That you and I have the privilege of ushering in the kingdom of God as we serve and work for the Lord. Well, how do we do that? We do that through being a witness. They key word in this entire text is “witness.” That word “witness” in the language of the New Testament is a reflection of something. It is a picture of something.Let me give you two real-world examples to help you think through this. A witness is a mirror and a witness is a billboard. You see, a mirror reflects the image that is projected or projected and then it is reflected. No one picks up a mirror and says, I am so thankful for this piece of machine-cut glass here. It is amazing. And the plastic coating around it is extraordinary. Nobody says that. You pick up that piece of glass and you say or you look in that glass and you say, thank God that I can see what is being reflected from it, right? That is what you say. No one drives by a billboard and says, wow, look at the machine work on that vinyl piece right there. That is amazing. The print work is amazing on that thing. Nobody says that! You look at the billboard and you see the image that is being projected from it, right? Don’t you think we should be the same as Christians? You see, a witness is not drawing attention to themselves. A witness reflects something else. So as a witness for the Lord Jesus Christ, what we should be is reflections of Christ. You should never say, well, I don’t think I am smart enough or I don’t think I am intellectual enough. I don’t think I am doctrinally sound enough. I don’t read the Bible enough. I don’t think I am ready enough. You should never say that as a Christian. The question you should ask yourself is, can I be a witness? Can I get a witness? Amen? So, can I be a witness, right? Can I be a reflection of God? When people see me, do they see Christ? That is what missional living is.Missional living is not for the super extraordinary Christian. It is for the everyday Christian in a familiar town. Not just to go overseas, but to start in your own town. Notice Jesus starts in Jerusalem. He starts at the epicenter of Jewish life, Jerusalem, right? And then He goes out from there. Friends, don’t neglect your neighbors across the street by traveling across the country to people you don’t know.Dawson Troutman was interviewing people to go on the mission field. And he tells the story about how he interviewed about 25 or 30 different couples who were preparing for the mission field. And he went through the normal questions about their integrity and character and spiritual understanding. And the final question he asked them was this: Tell me how many people you have personally shared the gospel with and who have come to faith in Jesus Christ in the last twelve months. You personally, how have you done that and tell me about it. I can’t remember exactly what it was but I think it was one or two couples out of the 25 or 30 said that they have done that in the last twelve months. And Troutman looked at them and said, “What makes you think going overseas to a different environment where you know no one is going to make it any easier?” Friends, the greatest mission field that God has given us is the one we live in right now. Right? That is the greatest mission field. So let me give you three ways to be missional. Three way to have a missional mindset. Here are the practical application points for the message. These are the walking points.The first one is this. Write out your testimony, if you haven’t done that already and be prepared to share it. I know this is going to take some work and I know you are out of school, but this is your assignment for the week. You can do it tonight if you want and get ahead of the students or you can prepare it all week. I don’t care how you do it, but I want you to do it this week. I want you to write it out and I want you to be prepared to share it. And what is going to blow you away is the moment you have it ready to be shared, God is going to bring people in your life to share it with. Now, it doesn’t have to be a long process. It is a five minute explanation of your life. Now here is the three-fold strategy for doing it. First of all, a testimony consists of “This is my life before coming to Christ.” You guys have heard mine long enough to know what my life was before Christ. Right? Not very glamorous. It is something I am ashamed of. However, there was a definitive moment in my life when I went from life to death. So you talk about what happened in the past. Who you were before Christ. What happened when you came to Christ. Somebody shared the gospel with me. I was in the service. God warmed my heart. John Wesley. Charles Finney, I walked out into the woods. Whatever. This is what happened to me when I came to Christ. And then here is the final aspect of your testimony. This is what happened after or since I gave my life to Jesus Christ. And that could change because God will move you in different places and different seasons of your life.It is a five minute explanation of what God has done in your life. And we need to be able to share that. You know, so often Christians use the cop-out of St. Francis of Assisi, which he supposedly said, “Go into the world and preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words.” Right? Unfortunately, that is not from St. Francis of Assisi. Scholars just found that out. And secondly, it is not biblical. Because what the saying should say is, Go into the world and preach the gospel and since it is necessary, use words.Paul didn’t say faith comes by seeing and seeing the Word of God. He could have said that. He chose the word “hear.” Faith comes by hearing and hearing the Word of God. And he goes into that long chain where he says, “How will they hear unless someone is sent, or someone preaches and how can someone preach unless they are sent.” And so you have to have some form of speaking or sharing the gospel.One of my family members used to tell me all the time, well, Robby, I don’t need to tell people at work that I am a Christian. I am a good person. I live with integrity. They should know that. They can see that. And I push back on them and I say, You know what? They may know you are a good person, but they don’t know why you are good person unless you tell them. My life was radically changed by Jesus.And somebody in our Life Group class said, “Well, I might get in trouble in the work place for sharing the gospel.” Friends, if you get in trouble in the work place for telling people about your testimony, you might need to get a new job. Don’t take that to the bank, but that is what I would do. If I can’t tell people about my testimony of what God did in my life, then we are in a bad place. We may not be there in America, I don’t know. But we need to be able to share our testimony. Why? Because you can’t argue with a changed life. You know, people can debate scripture. They can debate a lot of things. But you can’t argue with a changed life.And I want you to see something here when you share the gospel. Success in evangelism is not in the saving. God does that. It is in the sharing. Don’t miss this. Success for you living missionally is not in seeing people saved. God does that. It is sharing the gospel. And what you are trying to do is this. You are trying to help someone with your life and lips move one step closer to Jesus in a 10,000 step journey to Him. That is what you are doing, with an encouraging word, with an edifying comment, with a scriptural insight, with an email or a text message or a smile on your face for the glory of God. You are moving people one step closer on this 10,000 step journey.The second challenge for you to be missionally minded and that is, we need to begin to foster intentional friendships. Lets begin to foster intentional friendships. Intentional friendships that lead to lifestyle evangelism. Do you know where the greatest mission field where God has planted you is? It is your neighborhood. You don’t have to go anywhere. People have come to you, right? And the second greatest could be equal to. The second greatest mission field you have is your work place. Do you know how cool God is? You don’t have to go anywhere and every single week, He brings lost people to you. You just go to your desk and they are there. I don’t know about you, but I know a lot of people work with lost people. Hopefully at Brainerd, we don’t work with lost people here, just for the record. Hopefully. But you work with lost people.Now I want you to begin to befriend people. And not befriend people as projects because that is the wrong mentality. They are not projects for you to try to overcome or checks on a box for you to put a spiritual mark on your belt. These are precious souls for whom Christ died. And you genuinely befriend them. You may never share the gospel with them initially, but you befriend them. You know what you want to do to change your friendship, start listening to people and start talking less. It is a radical idea.Tim Coogle said…he is the former CEO of Yahoo…he said, You will do more in the next two weeks, showing a sincere interest in other people than you will over the next two years trying to get people interested in you. You will do more in the next two weeks to show a sincere interest…hey, how are you doing? Tell me about your life? How was your Christmas? How was your New Year’s. Tell me what happened over the holidays. Showing a sincere interest in other people. Listening and hearing them than you will over the next two years trying to get people to like you.Lets start loving people the way Jesus loved people. Lets begin to pray for them. Hey, you know what a cool way to open a door spiritually? Hey, can I pray for you for anything? Do you know people, even unbelievers, want prayer because their life falls apart just like ours. They want prayer. Pray for them. Pray for God to open a door for them. Don’t ever look at them as projects, but as precious souls for whom Christ died.Here is the final one and probably the most important one. Make room in your schedule for divine appointments. Make room in your schedule for divine appointments.I want to submit to you that the reason you are not seeing more of God in your life is because you are too busy for Him. Can I get a witness on that one? Because I know you and because I know me. You see, we don’t have any time for God to work. God is trying to schedule things in your calendar and your life but we have no time. What I realize about my calendar is, either I manage the calendar or the calendar manages me. And we don’t have any time for divine appointments that God is putting people in our life. And what we realize is that we are always on mission for God because we are always the church. So God is always putting people in our life to be missionally minded toward and to share the gospel, but we are too busy.I love what Reggie McNeil said in his book, “The Missional Renaissance.” He said, “Missional followers of Jesus don’t belong to the church.” This is really insightful. Listen to this. “they are the church. Wherever they are, the church is present.” Think about that this week. “Church is not something outside of themselves that they go to or join or support, it is something they are. We are the church. The missional church is not a what but a who. When we think of a church in the what mode, we focus on something that exists apart from people, something out there that people join and attend and support. We try then to build great big churches believing that this is God’s plan to engage the world. Inevitably, this preoccupation leads to discussions of how we can do church better.” I have heard that before. How can we do church better? But he said, what has happened is, we have missed what Jesus said biblically that the church is a who mode focus and it means that the people of God are the church. We are the church. The central task then is developing great followers of Jesus. And I would say developing disciples of Christ who make disciples. That is what he is saying. Believing that God has created people to demonstrate His redemptive intentions to the world in and through their lives.”Do you know what the greatest hermeneutic we have to a lost world as to who Jesus is and why Jesus is alive? Do you know what that is? It is you. You know the greatest evangelism strategy we have at Brainerd Baptist Church? It is you. Now I have been in churches before where you do these big revivals and these big crusades and you do these one time events. And I am not against those because I have done those before. But what I have realized about those one time events is everybody gets excited. You see people you have never seen before and you never see them again. Friends, you are the greatest evangelistic strategy we have because you know people that I don’t know and I know people that you don’t know. And imagine if we all lived on mission in this community. And there is no difference in your life between the secular and the sacred. You don’t just turn off missions. We are always on mission, right? We are always living intentionally for the glory of God. Everybody is a missionary, I would submit to you. Some are good. Most are bad. Most of us are bad missionaries because we are so busy. And if we aren’t careful, we miss these divine opportunities.So here is the deal. The next time you go to Wal-Mart, look for those divine appointments. The next time you go to the gas station, the next time you are at the coffee shop, be aware of those divine appointments. And I will submit this to you, if you pray over the next five days, you can take this to the bank, that God would put someone in your path to share the gospel with or to share your testimony with, or give you a divine appointment, I guarantee, you will stop me next Sunday and say, You are never going to believe..which I will believe…but you are never going to believe what God did in my life this week. So be careful what you pray for because you just might get it. So pray this week that God would put someone in your life.What that means is you may have to linger longer in the driveway. You see, what I do when I get home from work is, because I have got so many things to do, right? I am in a hurry to go nowhere. I am trying to get out of the car and make a dash for the garage and see how fast I can hit that garage door to close it so no one sees me, right? Did he see me? Maybe I will have to talk to him for God’s sake. I am trying to get in and go in the house. I know that never happens to you. It happens to me, right? Linger longer in the driveway.Here is a radical idea. Go ask your neighbor or go allow your neighbor to borrow something. Better yet, go serve your neighbor, right? Hey, you need any help with something? What a great way to be missional. In addition to that, some other ways, just hang out with lost friends in the break room. Don’t get fired over this. Don’t linger longer in the break room and get fired. The pastor told me to do this and I got fired. No, I am not saying that. Linger longer in the break room for discussions, for divine appointments from God. Invite lost friends over for dinner. No strings attached. We are just going to hang out. Not hey, we are going to eat dinner and by the way, if you died today, do you know you are heading to hell? Pass the rolls, please. None of that. Just loving people with no strings attached.Serve in a local homeless shelter. Start tutoring after school. There are kids who desperately need help and we have opportunities for you to do that. Go to the prisons to serve with Dave Wiley, our community outreach director. Go in the inner city. We have tons of opportunities for you to do that. Hey, serve at the BX. WE have hundreds of people that come to our campus every single day. You can be intentional in the weight room, you can be intentional at the desk and share and share the love of Christ.You know, when I go overseas, I think differently. And I have thought about this recently coming back from Africa. Why is it that we do think differently when we are on a mission trip? We all do. We all do. We are dependent upon the Lord more. We hear His voice a little better. We are in the Word a little more passionately and intently. We share the gospel more openly. And why is that? And I want to challenge you to think about your own life. Why do you have to pack a bag, flash a passport and board a plane to missional? You don’t. And so I want us to begin to think about our own life. And I want to give you two words to marinate on this week, to chew on this week. In order to be missional, you have to do two things. You have to be more intentional (watch this…you can write it down) intentional and you have to be more available. Intentional and available.So when your feet hit the ground tomorrow morning, I want you to jump out of bed and I want you to view your home as a mission field. Now hopefully your spouse is saved, but if they are not, that could be another mission field. But a mission field in the sense of you are discipling your family, you are investing in your wife, you re investing in your husband, you are discipling your kids. It is a mission field for you, that you are equipping the saints for the work of ministry. Then when you get in that car and you are driving to the office, I want you to pray that God would open doors for you to be missional, share the gospel. And when you step foot in that office, I want you to see that as your mission field. That is your mission field, right? Lost coworkers and saved coworkers because sometimes they need Jesus, too, right? And when you come home, I want you to linger in the neighborhood a little longer. I want you to go the same restaurants, at the same time, to see the same people and to show the love of Christ with your life and your lips. I think if we live this way, we would make a serious impact upon the community of Chattanooga, Tennessee. Don’t you agree? And I think the only way this is going to happen long term is through a discipleship group. You see, because all of us are excited now. We are ready to charge hell with a water pistol. Every one of us should be. If not, you can go back and listen to the sermon again. Hopefully you will get it the next time. But, hopefully you are excited like I am.I wrote on Twitter last night, after the sermon I preached, I preached my own self into conviction. Okay? It happens sometimes, right? Convicted myself. But I want you to see, you can get excited for a season, but the only way you are going to be missional long-term is through discipleship. Why? Because you need someone to look you eyeball to eyeball and hold you accountable. Are you sharing the gospel? Are you loving your wife as Christ loved the church? Are you accountable to do these things? Next week we will talk about accountability.And so I want to encourage you, if you are not in a discipleship group, the best time to start or to be engaged in one is now. Last year we did the Growing Up Challenge. We have 767 participate. Some of you, many of you have done that. Pastor, I have already done that. I have checked that box. Great. Find three or four more people and do it again because there are many of you who haven’t done it and haven’t participated in it. And so I want to challenge you to do it again. And so find a group of people. We have a lot of resources in our handouts and on our website to help you with the process. And so I want to encourage you to be a part of this process as you take the next step in your spiritual journey.

The John Ankerberg Show

The John Ankerberg Show

Founder and president of The John Ankerberg Show, the most-watched Christian worldview show in America.
The John Ankerberg Show
The John Ankerberg Show

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