Monthly Archives: August 2017

39 posts

Your Congregation as a Church Planting Network

The Holy Spirit blesses church planting movements. While the twelve held council in Jerusalem, a bunch of un-named people planted churches in Cyprus, Cyrene and eventually in Antioch. From Antioch, the Spirit kicked off a church multiplication movement that would sketch the history of Europe and the Mediterranean.

After the Goths and Vandals

After Rome fell a young Englishman held slave to Irish tribesmen broke captivity when Jesus informed him of an escape route in a dream. Back home he converted to Christianity only to sense a call to carry the gospel to his former captors. Years later, Patrick traveled across Ireland, healing the sick and preaching God’s kingdom as he made transit to the village of his former misery. From there he discipled a nation. He did this by planting a movement of monasteries and churches.

Ralph Moore, author of this blog, will be speaking at the National Disciple Making Forum this November. Join him!

This is one of the largest gatherings of disciple makers in North America with 65+ workshops, 30+ speakers, and 10+ tracks. Join us to learn practical ways to make disciples of Jesus this November 9-10. Register for the 2017 National Disciple Making Forum here.

A generation later the Irish monk, Columba, launched a pitiful little boat load of twelve ‘brothers’ into the Irish Sea with no particular destination in mind. They had a goal, but no destination.

Once they reached deep water, they jettisoned oars and sail, trusting the Holy Spirit to take them wherever he could best use them. The sea could have swallowed them. It didn’t. They could have died of dehydration in the middle of the North Atlantic. But they survived. Rocks as sharp as razor blades could have flayed them like Atlantic Cod. Instead they fell ashore on a rare sandy beach on the coast of Scotland. After evangelizing that nation those motivated priests launched underground missionary raids preaching and planting churches across the then post-Roman, post-Christian European continent.[i]

Productive Church Planting Movements

As movements go, the Protestant Reformation comes to mind, as does Puritanism in England and the American Colonies. In turn England and the United States simultaneously birthed the great evangelical movement that we still identify with the worldwide growth of Christianity.

The underground church in China is busy launching their “army of worms” and sending as send secret missionaries into Muslim lands. The Christians in several African nations have strategically placed missionaries in the post-Christian industrial nations of Eastern and Western Europe (and even Japan and the United States). As I write, the church grows faster in Mongolia and Nepal than in most other nations. The Holy Spirit specializes in movements, especially those that plant churches.

So What You & About Your Church?

The sum of all of our goals will fall short of discipling nations. By that, I mean if you could gather the strategic plans of every congregation, every spontaneous movement, even every denomination the total of all their goals would fall short of total saturation evangelism.

Bummer! We should think bigger… We should be more responsible… We should this or that! But we can’t. None of us is responsible for eating the whole watermelon of world evangelism. We can, however, reassess our situation. We could take another look at our disciplemaking processes. We could raise our sights simply by choosing to turn from leading a congregation toward attempting to lead a cluster of them. If I sound a little simplistic, so be it—simple works. This is ultimately a numbers game. If we all multiplied instead of adding we would be farther down the road.

What would it take for you to plant a circle of Microchurches, pastored by “lay-people from your church? They would require no financial support. They could meet in homes or borrowed spaces (no rent). And you could train them (no education costs). And if one or two took off to rival your numbers that would be a good thing.

Your church as a network will draw fire. Some will criticize. Your denomination will feel threatened. Others won’t get their heads around larger goals. Etc., etc., etc. But it could happen—and it should.

Article adapted from How To Multiply Your Church by Ralph Moore

Is this really possible?

What do you think? Have you done it? Am I blowing smoke? Please sound off below…

[i] John Eldridge, Waking The Dead (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Inc, 2003), pp. 201-201.

The Goal of Discipleship

This blog is an excerpt from the free eBook, Invest in a Few: Giving Your Life to What Matters Most. Download it free here.

Before I went to Israel, I had no idea what it would look like. I went with a group of people from our church studying the life of Christ. Our hope was that by walking in the footsteps of Jesus—literally—we would better understand being a disciple of Jesus.

To this day, one site in particular remains clear in my mind as both stunning and significant for disciples of Jesus: Mount Arbel. The sun was bright and the sky clear from the top of this mountain. This was a special mountain to Jesus and to those who followed him. It stands today (like it did over two thousands years ago) as one of the tallest peaks around the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel.

As we stood at the top of Arbel, we could see for miles. To the north was the peak of Mount Herman, the largest mountain in Israel, to the east were the Golan Heights, separating Israel from Jordan, to the south were the fertile farmlands of the Jezreel valley, and to the east were two tall towers of a major electrical plant next to the ancient city of Caesarea Maritima, where the Apostle Paul set sail for Rome as he carried the gospel to the West. From one panoramic view you can literally see the nations. This was precisely why Jesus chose this place to give his followers what we call today, “The Great Commission”.

This is from Craig Ethredege’s eBook, Invest in a FewDownload the eBook here in your favorite format at no cost.

Jesus’ Mountain

How can we be sure, though, that Jesus stood on Mount Arbel and not another mountain around Galilee? Various clues point to this conclusion: the mountain stands along the well-traveled route called “The Valley of Doves” connecting the Sea of Galilee and Nazareth. Since Jesus lived in Nazareth most of his growing up years, he must of traveled this way many times. Another piece of evidence is that Arbel is the tallest mountain in Galilee. Matthew’s Gospel tells us that after Jesus’ resurrection, he gave instructions for his disciples to go “to the mountain” in Galilee (Matthew 28:16). While he didn’t specify which one, the disciples certainly knew the place. It was, in a sense, their mountain because they had been there many times before. While we have no archeological evidence that Jesus delivered the Great Commission on this mountain, it makes the most sense if Jesus was making an important point about evangelism. If Arbel isn’t the mountain, then I’m not sure which one it would be.

So go there with me: imagine that the wind is blowing in your face as you look down the mountain to the land below. Your feet are standing at the exact place where the disciples stood. Jesus’ words cut through the air:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).

Big Vision

What was Jesus’ goal by doing this? He was casting the vision of a global movement of multiplication. Just days before, they had seen him crucified at the hands of the brutal Romans, hung on a rugged cross, and despised by the religious leaders. They saw his body taken down and placed in a tomb. Three days later they saw Jesus rise from the dead, his body now transfigured yet still bearing scares from the cross.

All of this was in preparation for their new mission in life. Now he was challenging them and commissioning them to invest their lives in a movement that would change the course of human history and alter the eternal trajectory of millions.

It was a big vision then. It is still a big vision today.

Written by Craig Etheredge

A gifted communicator, author, and Bible teacher and the Lead Pastor at First Colleyville, a thriving church in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, Craig Etheredge is the host of Morning Thrive, a radio program that covers central Texas. He is Founder and President of discipleFIRST ministries and a regular speaker at the FlashPoint Conference across the United States. Craig is also Adjunct Professor of Discipleship at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas and is actively involved in his local community serving on various boards.

Photo by Chris Gallimore on Unsplash

The Importance of Attention to Details

This blog is an excerpt from the free eBook, Stay the Course: Seven Essential Practices for Disciple Making Churches. Download it free here.

To close out this book and tie together the seven principles of this book, let me tell you about the importance of paying attention to the details. I was reminded of how important this is several years ago when I took a guy, whom I will call “Joe,” elk hunting. Another friend asked me as a favor to take him hunting. I called Joe before the trip, and we agreed on a place to meet and the location we were going to hunt, just like normal. I learned some great life lessons later from the assumptions I had made about Joe by this point.

This is from Brandon’s eBook, Stay the CourseDownload the eBook here in your favorite format at no cost.

Joe and I met at 3:30 a.m. at a nearby gas station and we set out to hunt elk. We chit chatted on the way and he told me of his previous hunting exploits. He used words and phrases that raised some red flags for an experienced hunter like me. I was beginning to think that he had no idea how to hunt, but there was no turning back now.

When we arrived and began to unload I noticed that several things were wrong with his gear. Especially concerning was his bowstring, which was very frayed, and his quiver, which looked broken and in poor condition. I also noticed the cheap tennis shoes he was wearing. This alarmed me, because I knew the chance of rain was high that day and North Idaho Mountains, plus rain, plus hiking, plus cheap tennis shoes equals a bad day!

Within a few hours, elk had come around us, and Joe had a perfect chance for a shot. I called the elk in close, but he was unprepared. When he finally drew his bow, a portion of his string broke, causing his equipment as a whole to fail. As a result, the elk ran and my blood pressure went high enough to cause me a stroke. Joe’s poor attention to some important details, his lack of preparation, and his improper care for gear caused a failure of a hunt. I made a mental note to do everything in my power to avoid any hunt like this in the future.

Our day just got worse from there. The rain began to pour and we had to hike a mile out in mud. Joe slipped and fell more times than I can count! In the process of falling several times, he finished off his half broken quiver, breaking it completely into pieces. I bet the pieces of it are still on that hillside today!

Details in hunts matter, even small details like the condition of your bowstring or the soundness of your quiver. In the same way, paying attention to the details of the guardrail principles can keep us on the road to making disciples. Unless we are intentional about putting them in place we can find ourselves drifting quickly off the road. As Christians, disciple making must be a way of life, it must be intentional and always in the forefront of our minds.

Mastering hunting or any skill in life requires continued focus on the little things and doing what it takes to be successful. Ask any golfer, parent, preacher, teacher, mechanic, engineer, or entrepreneur about what it takes to be successful. For all these pursuits, we have to do the appropriate little things that will, we hope, one day lead to success.

In your walk with Christ, whether you are the lead pastor, an elder, or a lay leader, you are called to be a disciple maker. We live in a world that is full of distractions. The church itself often holds onto older ways of doing things or sets up new structures of doing things—both of which can keep us from the very calling we have been given—to make disciples of Jesus. It’s easy to drift or to get on the wrong road. So remember that it takes intentionality and effort.

I frequently remind the guys on my leadership team that discipleship is a grind. It’s hard work, it’s often messy, and it requires time, priority, and attention to the details. Even though it’s difficult, we don’t give up. We keep on the narrow path of discipleship because that’s what Jesus commanded us to do.

My challenge to those reading this book is that you to begin putting in place these guardrail principles in your church and in your personal life. They are for your protection, to keep you on the right road. Commit to them and I know from experience that your focus will begin to shift toward the right measure of success—growing disciples who know how to disciple others! My prayer for you is that you find your God-given road and that you stay the course.

by Brandon Guindon

This blog is part of the free eBook, Stay the Course: Seven Essential Practices for Disciple Making Churches.

You can down it by clicking here.

Brandon Guindon has over 15 years experience leading churches to become disciple-making bodies of Christ. Brandon holds a Bachelor of Science in Health Science from Linfield College and a Master of Arts Church Leadership and New Testament Theology from Hope International University. He was ordained at Real Life Ministries in Post Falls, ID. He is a published author and a member of the Board of Directors for the Relational Discipleship Network. The Guindons (Brandon and Amber, Emma, Olivia, Grady, and Garrett) moved to Houston in 2013 from their home state of Idaho.

Why I Wrote the eBook, Invest in a Few

This blog is an excerpt from the free eBook, Invest in a Few: Giving Your Life to What Matters Most. Download it free here.

My Spiritual Journey of Investment

The content of this book comes from how God used various disciple makers to invest in me. I am amazed at how God has brought great people to spiritually invest in me over the years, including my parents who first spoke the gospel over me and helped me come to faith in Jesus. I had youth pastors who poured their lives into mine and spent endless hours answering my questions and teaching me to read and love God’s Word. In college, a retired businessman reached out to me and welcomed me into his home, where—along with other college students—I learned what it meant to follow Jesus on a secular college campus.

This is from Craig Ethredege’s eBook, Invest in a FewDownload the eBook here in your favorite format at no cost.

While in seminary, God brought an older man that stood about 5 feet 2 inches named Cecil, who taught me how to pray. Then, there was a former Olympic wrestler named Dave, who gave me a passion for disciple making. While pastoring my first church, God planted three professional executives in my life who taught me how to share the gospel and train businessmen to walk with God. Then, later God brought strategists like Bill Hull and Dann Spader into my life—each of whom instilled in me a passion and a vision for making disciples the way Jesus did through the local church.

Thinking about these men, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude. Each one shaped my life and their influence continues to impact me to this day. I’m convinced that life change happens when one believer invests in another person to help them walk with God, reach their world, and invest in a few. I’m sure that when you reflect on your spiritual journey, you could list people who have had an incredible impact on your life, too. That’s how God works—he works through one life touching another life, and that life touching yet another. That’s God’s plan to change the world, that’s investing in a few.

Over the years I’ve noticed that many Christ followers have a desire to make a spiritual investment in others, but they don’t take action to do that. Many simply don’t know what to do, and others aren’t sure they are really qualified to make such an investment. For some others, they simply don’t believe that God could use them in such a significant way. If those describe you at all, I want you to read this next sentence slowly and think about its meaning for you: God has already given you everything you need to begin a movement that can change the world.

Do you find that hard to believe? Then, keep reading. This reveals Jesus’ call to make disciples. By reading this book, you will learn the secret to making a lasting impact on the lives of others who will in turn do the same. You will discover some “field tested” principles and practices to help you make disciples to the ends of the world. It is my hope that this book inspires you to fulfill Jesus’ great commission in your lifetime. Let’s get started.

Written by Craig Etheredge

A gifted communicator, author, and Bible teacher and the Lead Pastor at First Colleyville, a thriving church in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, Craig Etheredge is the host of Morning Thrive, a radio program that covers central Texas. He is Founder and President of discipleFIRST ministries and a regular speaker at the FlashPoint Conference across the United States. Craig is also Adjunct Professor of Discipleship at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas and is actively involved in his local community serving on various boards.