Monthly Archives: December 2017

13 posts

Know the Spirit’s Role in 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.


Ignace Jan Paderewski (1860-1941) was a prodigy pianist and composer. He took piano lessons from the age of six. He entered the Warsaw Conservatory at the age of twelve and by eighteen, he was appointed as professor. He was a master piano composer and performer, mesmerizing audiences across Europe and America.

As the story goes, the Great Paderewski was preparing to play a concert in a certain city. The stage was set. A beautiful ebony grand piano sat strategically placed on center stage. A mother brought her son to the concert in hopes of renewing his interest in playing the piano. As the audience settled into their seats, the young mother noticed that her son was missing. Then, in horror, she watched her young boy walk onto the stage, climb on the piano seat, and begin playing “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star”. The audience gasped as Paderewski appeared. He placed his arms around the child and—to the audience’s surprise—began to play “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star” with him. Together, they made a beautiful arrangement of melodies, counter melodies, and harmonies. All the while, the great composer whispered in the boy’s ears, “Don’t quit—you are doing great. Keep going!” That night the small child and the master composer made beautiful music together. When the song was over the audience burst into applause.


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


This story illustrates what happens when we partner with the Spirit of God to make disciples. In many ways, we are like that young boy. We can’t do much, but with the Spirit’s power, God can do amazing things through us. It’s important that as you invest in people, you are clear what your job is and what the Spirit’s job is. Let’s first look at the Spirit’s role in making disciples.

The Spirit’s Role

The Holy Spirit is the one who causes spiritual growth to happen. Without him, you can’t make someone grow any more than a farmer can make a crop grow. Spiritual maturity is a divine work of God and a miracle to watch. What does the Spirit do in the lives of people that affects their growth? First, the Spirit gives new life in Jesus. He is the one who opens our minds and hearts to hear and respond to the gospel (1 Corinthians 2:12-13). As he brings God’s Word to the heart of a wayward person, he also brings conviction of sin, righteous, and judgment (John 16:8-11). He is the one that draws us to Christ, causes us to be born again, makes us new on the inside, and places us into God’s family (John 6:44; 3:5-8; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Corinthians 12:13). From beginning to end, the Spirit draws us and brings us into a relationship with Christ.

Once a person is a believer, the Spirit’s job is not over; in fact, he’s just getting started. The Spirit lives in every follower of Jesus (Romans 8:9-11). He actually takes us residence in our lives (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). He leads us, teaches us, comforts us, and grows us to look more and more like Christ (Romans 8:4; John 14:26; John 14:16; Titus 3:5-7). He helps us in our weaknesses, guides us into truth, empowers us to serve God, gives us courage to tell others about Christ, and produces lasting change in our lives (Micah 3:8; Romans 8:26; John 16:13; Acts 1:8; Galatians 5:22-23). As we abide in Christ and keep in step with the Spirit, he works through us to produce lasting spiritual fruit that will remain forever (John 15:4-5; Galatians 5:25; John 15:8). In reality, it is the Spirit who does the work of growing every believer toward maturity and fruitful living. You may ask, “If that’s the case, then why don’t we see more people fully mature and following Jesus?” The answer to that question lies in our part of the spiritual growth process.

Our Role

While the Spirit does the work of growth on the inside of us, we must participate with him. Paul told the believers in Philippi, “Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him” (Philippians 2:12-13, NLT) The Spirit is the one who gives us the power and the desire to please God; it is our job to work hard to obey God and revere him in everything we do. The Spirit does his work, but we have work to do, too. So what’s our role?

First, we must live under the control of the Holy Spirit day-by-day and moment-by-moment. Paul called this “walking in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16). We need to keep in step with him and walk at his pace along the path he has for us. Imagine walking with a good friend along a well-worn path. As you walk together there is fellowship, you talk about what’s on each other’s heart, you share openly and freely, and you are both headed in the same direction. That is what God wants with us. He wants to walk with us step-by-step through each day in constant fellowship, leading us and directing our lives through his Spirit. Unfortunately, many people don’t walk in fellowship with the Spirit like this, but everyone who has the Spirit living in them has the choice to live in step with the Spirit.

Why? Some resist the Spirit’s direction. When the Spirit prompts them to speak, they stay silent. When the Spirit prompts them to forgive, they hold on to the offense. When the Spirit prompts them to act, they stay still. Disobeying the Spirit’s leading is called “quenching” the Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19). Just as you quench a fire by pouring water on it, many people quench the Spirit’s influence in their lives simply by disobeying him.

Another reason some fail to walk in the Spirit is by doing the things the Spirit warns them not to do. If you begin to veer off road from God’s will, the Spirit will warn you, convict you, and challenge you. But if you ignore the Spirit’s warnings and persist, you “grieve” the Spirit (Ephesians 4:29-30).

Now imagine you have a friend who loves you and only wants God’s best for your life. What would happen to that friendship if you constantly offended them and ignored their loving direction in your life? That friendship would become distant. You wouldn’t know the personal fellowship you had at first. That is what you are doing when you willfully refuse to disobey God. Repeatedly quenching and grieving the Spirit virtually brings all spiritual growth to a screeching halt. This is why so may never grow and never produce spiritual fruit in their life.

So our job is to keep in step with the Spirit and follow his lead and obey his promptings (Galatians 5:25). In order to be used by him, we have to abide in Christ through prayer and God’s Word, seek to obey all that Jesus has taught us in every part of our lives, and be busy making disciples that make disciples (John 15:4; John 8:31; Matthew 28:18-20). It’s a beautiful thing to watch the Spirit of God work with the people of God. That’s what I’ve tried to describe here. When we do our part, we know that God always does his part, so what are we waiting for? Let’s do this!

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 Clark Young on Unsplash

Multiply Your Life by Making Disciples

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


When you decide to make disciples, you make the choice to multiply your life. You’re deciding to think beyond our own interests to look at the bigger picture of God. It is the choice to participate in the great movement in the history of the world. Steve Addison in his book, Movements That Change the World, gives an insightful definition of movements and how they are born. He writes

Movements are characterized by discontent, vision and action. Discontent unfreezes people from their commitment to the way things are. Movements emerge when people feel something needs to change. If the vacuum created by discontent is filled with a vision of a different future and action to bring change then a movement is born. Movements change people, and changed people change the world.[4]


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


Movements are hard to define. You can recognize one when you see it, but pinning down a definition is challenging. That is why I love this quote here because Addison clarifies and expresses the basic elements, the foundational principles behind any sweeping movement. Movements are born in a vacuum of discontent, he says, and brought to life through the actions of people who are committed to a common cause. This perfectly describes the movement Jesus created.

People who knew they were far from God and in desperate need of a Savior felt the vacuum of discontent. Jesus—through his death, burial, and resurrection—demonstrated that he alone could fill that vacuum—that aching hole for a relationship with God in each of us. Then, Jesus cast a compelling vision to his disciples: “Go make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:18-20). And those disciples, empowered by the Holy Spirit, did exactly what Jesus had commanded them to do. They saturated Jerusalem with the message of the gospel. They spilled out in the regions of Judea and Samaria declaring that hope of salvation is in Christ alone. They took that message to the nations and made disciples as they went. They were people of action, committed to the common cause of the Great Commission and empowered by the Holy Spirit. The movement Jesus started is still moving forward, still growing, and ever expanding. How can you join this movement?

The answer is simple: multiply your life by making disciples.

Imagine the Impact

Think about it this way. If 10,000 churches reached even 1,000 people every year for Christ, that would be amazing, right? Imagine your church leading 1,000 people to Christ every year! As great as that sounds, it would take 700 years to reach the more than seven billion people on the planet at that rate. That’s way too long, because that’s the rate of addition. There is a better way, the way of multiplication.

What if you lead one person to Christ and trained them for one year to walk with God, share the gospel, and invest in others. In the first year, there would just be the two of you. In the second year, there would be four. In the third year, you would have eight on your team. And by the fourth year, you would have sixteen. Not a whole lot? Imagine, though, if you continued that process over time, by year 33 you would have 8.5 billion reproducing disciples! That’s more than the population on planet earth. This was Jesus’ strategy. It was quite simple—every disciple makes disciples. Every Christ follower invests in a few.

This is what Paul instructed young Timothy to do with his life: “What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). Paul told Timothy, “Hey, find yourself some faithful men. Teach them what I’ve taught you, and then challenge them to do the same.” In this way, Paul was challenging Timothy to multiply his life! I can hear his now, “Timothy! Hey, don’t waste your life. Multiply it for the cause of Christ to the third and fourth generation!” This is what God has called each one of us to do—multiply our lives.

Ignite a Movement

Are you multiplying your life? Paul could see a movement behind him four generation deep: from Timothy to his faithful men and the others they discipled. Jesus also saw a movement behind him four generations deep: Jesus, the twelve apostles, the seventy-two, and those they led to Christ (Luke 10:1). And when Jesus heard that the movement has reached the fourth generation, the Scriptures say he was “filled with joy” (Luke 10:21, NLT). Why was he so joyful? Because he knew that the movement was now four generations deep… it was unstoppable! You can ignite a movement to the third and fourth generation, too!

One day you could look over your shoulder and see the people into whom you have invested multiplying their lives into others and those they invested into are multiplying their lives into others, too. One day, by God’s grace, you could see a movement spread from your influence that could literally change the globe and impact the nations in a way that continues until Jesus returns—that can actually happen!

You must first decide to multiply your life. The hope of the world rests on a few people who, by the grace and power of God, are willing to multiply their lives into others. The whole kingdom of God rests on the shoulders of men and women who are willing to multiply their lives. I can’t think of anything more important. There’s nothing I would rather give my life to than being apart of this movement of God.

Will you join me and invest in a few?

Written by Craig Etheredge

[4] (InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove, 2009) 29.


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 Dayne Topkin on Unsplash

S05 Episode 07: Building Core Competencies – Craig Etheredge of discipleFIRST

Download “Invest in a Few,” a free eBook written by Craig Etheredge, the Founder and President of discipleFIRST. Visit http://discipleship.org/disciplefirst to get your free copy of this eBook in PDF, Mobi and ePub formats.

 

The following audio comes from the National Disciple Making Forum by Discipleship.org. The theme for this year was “Disciple Maker,” and an organization called discipleFIRST hosted a track called “Invest in a Few: How to Raise Up Reproducing Disciple Makers.” That’s where audio for today’s episode was recorded.

 

Connect with Discipleship.org:

https://www.facebook.com/discipleshipforum

 

Connect with discipleFIRST:

https://disciplefirst.com/

https://soundcloud.com/disciplefirst

https://www.instagram.com/disciple1st/

We Can’t Be Like Jesus If We’re Not Making Disciples

This blog is an excerpt from the free eBook, Becoming a Disciple Maker. Download it free here.

At the beginning of my junior year of college, a guy from the apartment across the hall shared with me (Greg) what a new life in Christ would look life if I were willing to trust God with my life. As I confessed my sin and began a new life in faith, the Christian campus group I went to very naturally expected me to be part of a small group of three to four guys who were also new and growing in their faith. I immediately became a part of this group, which was healthy, fun and life-giving.

Another expectation of this campus group was that I would share my new faith with those closest to me. I didn’t understand it at the time, but the motivation was twofold: those closest to me would see a difference in my life; and others would know of the transforming power of Christ and be open to hearing about it. During the next few weeks, three individuals I shared my experience with crossed that line of faith. Just as Jesus expected His followers to share their faith, this campus organization expected the same thing from me—to help others grow into their faith as I grew spiritually and personally.

So I was barely three weeks old in my walk with Christ, and now I was responsible for these new babes in Christ, which translated into me leading a similar small group or Bible study with these three guys. I was only three weeks ahead of these guys in their growth, but it didn’t really matter. It also didn’t matter that a couple of them were much smarter than me. I was there to coach them in their growth. So for the next eighteen months, I was in my group and also leading a group. Both were simply expectations—a normal part of the disciple-making continuum.


This is from Bobby Harrington and Greg Wien’s free eBook, Becoming a Disciple MakerDownload the eBook here in your favorite format at no cost.


Just as people heard and saw Jesus teach and model disciple making, they also knew they needed to intentionally invest their lives in those who would do the same with others. This is simply what the early church understood a disciple to be. In most churches today, that approach wouldn’t pass theological or practical standards. Think whatever you want to, but when I graduated in 1976 with an engineering degree from the University of Michigan, my on-campus experience birthed in me an expectation that post-college, I would be involved in a church where I could continue being a disciple and making disciples.

Somehow in the West, we have adopted a model of ministry that precludes making disciples. I experienced this personally when I left the engineering field to become a pastor so that I could have more time to make disciples. I went to seminary and found that I wasn’t expected to make disciples. Instead, I was expected to be there for the sick and their families, preach sermons, counsel troubled marriages, manage the budget, sit on endless committees, run programs, and make copies of Sunday’s bulletin. As the lead pastor, I tried to work with several churches to change this perspective. But to no avail, I failed. I just couldn’t change the congregation’s expectations of the pastor’s role. Eventually, I started my own church but continued to struggle with the pastoral expectations that most churches have.


The authors of this blog intended readers of this content to take The Disciple Maker Assessment.

Take the Disciple Maker Assessment here at no cost.


This irony of this is that Ephesians 4 is very clear about the role of leaders and pastors—to equip (disciple) others to do the things needed in ministry. The role of apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers (APEST) is to make heroes of others, not be your own hero. My gifts were more centered in the apostle range, so I didn’t fit the expectation of a shepherd or teacher common to pastors in the previous generation. As I read this passage in Paul’s letter to the Ephesus church, it’s clear that God gave us these gifts to equip the body and make it mature, healthy, vibrant and multiplying.

Most church staff are not modeling disciple making. Ironically, that’s not expected anywhere else in the church either. By eliminating both the call to and practice of making disciples, we have essentially neutered the Church in the West. Visit any continent in the world other than Europe, North America and Australia, and Christianity is flourishing. In these churches, leaders and followers are not only expected to make disciples, they also naturally do it an intentional rhythm of their existence. Christianity is the fastest-growing religion in the world because in all of the other places in the world, the Church is freed up from ministry models devoid of disciple making.

*Stay tuned for the next part of Becoming a Disciple Maker by continuing to visit our blog.

 

Written by Bobby Harrington and Greg Wiens


Bobby Harrington is the Executive Director of Discipleship.org, a national platform, conference, and ministry that advocates for Jesus’ style of disciple making. He is the founding and lead pastor of Harpeth Christian Church (by the Harpeth River, just outside of Nashville, TN). He has a Doctor of Ministry degree in consulting and has spent years as a coach to church planters and senior pastors. He is the author of several books on discipleship, including DiscipleShift (with Jim Putman and Robert Coleman) and The Disciple Maker’s Handbook (with Josh Patrick).

Greg Wiens has been assessing leaders and organizations for over 35 years. He has worked with a gamut of organizations ranging in size and interest from Fortune 100 companies and public schools, to small non-profits and churches. He has pastored and planted churches as well as founded a number of organizations. He currently leads two missionally focused organizations: Healthy Growing Churches and Healthy Growing Leaders committed to engaging churches and leaders to multiply. Greg has co-authored two books: Dying to Restart and Daring to Disciple.

7 Essential Strategies Discussion Guide

…we went to scripture and outlined together what concepts we could constantly measure in our church that would make sure ideas led to action. We knew that only as we remained in Christ would we have the heart and power to do ministry, so abiding in Christ had to be first. We then walked through our understanding of the “Share, Connect, Ministry, and Disciple” process that Jesus modeled. In other words, Jesus shared who he was, and then for those who accepted him, he connected with them in relationship where he taught them the truth. From there he began to train his disciples for ministry, and finally sent them out to reproduce what they had seen him do with them (disciple). – Jim Putman

1. Abiding in Christ. Every step toward making true disciples must be rooted in our personal walk with the Lord.

2. Reaching the Lost. Many in the Church believe that reaching the lost is the end goal, but with discipleship as our focus, helping the world meet Jesus is the beginning of the journey, not the end.

3. Connecting the Unconnected. Believers must first be connected to God in a deeper way and then connected to other believers in authentic relationships.

4. Chase the Strays. It is our responsibility as ministers to go after those who have pulled away from the body of Christ and to draw them close to help them grow and connect.

5. Shepherd toward Spiritual Maturity. We must guide believers into a place of maturity in Christ, not leaving them to remain stagnant or struggling.

6. Release Leaders. Helping believers discover and develop their potential in Christ and releasing them to use their gifting for the Kingdom of God is vital for healthy disciple making.

7. Function as Team. The greatest tool we have as a church is unity.

More about these strategies can be found in the ebook,”Stay the Course.”

S05 Episode 06: The Call to Follow – Craig Etheredge of discipleFIRST

Download “Invest in a Few,” a free eBook written by Craig Etheredge, the Founder and President of discipleFIRST. Visit http://discipleship.org/disciplefirst to get your free copy of this eBook in PDF, Mobi and ePub formats.

 

The following audio comes from the National Disciple Making Forum by Discipleship.org. The theme for this year was “Disciple Maker,” and an organization called discipleFIRST hosted a track called “Invest in a Few: How to Raise Up Reproducing Disciple Makers.” That’s where audio for today’s episode was recorded.

 

Connect with Discipleship.org:

https://www.facebook.com/discipleshipforum

 

Connect with discipleFIRST:

https://disciplefirst.com/

https://soundcloud.com/disciplefirst

https://www.instagram.com/disciple1st/