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IS IT REPRODUCIBLE?

Follow the Leader

I Thess. 1:6

“And ye became followers of us, and of the Lord,”

Every church’s mission is to carry out the great commission.  Our biblical values cause us to want to be obedient and join Him in His mission.  A great sounding vision statement paints a picture of what we hope our part of the mission will look like.  It is easy to talk about what we should be doing but many are struggling with getting it done.  Without an easily reproducible process of discipleship we will struggle with how to carry out that mission.

Does your church have an easily reproducible and repeatable process of discipleship?  Does it come to your mind right now without going to look or asking someone?  We are not talking about programs and activities but rather a well designed map that shows a believer where they are, where they need to go, and how to get there.  It is a clear concise strategy to move from being a new convert to becoming Christ-like?  If our vision is to make disciples that transform their communities for Christ we must work diligently to develop an uncomplicated strategy of reproduction.

Reproduction has always been a part of God’s plan.  From the very beginning man was told to be fruitful and multiply.  Godly families were to raise godly children who would then raise their own godly children.  When we receive Christ as our Lord we start out as spiritual babes and immediately begin the process of maturing into Christian adults.  Every church has the responsibility to provide their family with a developmental process that shows them where they are and where they need to be.  Making disciples really is all about reproduction.

First, Followers are to be Imitators!

Followers in 1 Thess. 1:6 means imitators.  Followers are to be imitators of other believers and more importantly Jesus Christ.  We are not to be impersonators, trying to be someone else, but rather imitators by focusing on learning the characteristics of the one we are striving to imitate.  Imitation is a fundamental part of discipleship because it is learning from others and using them as guides.  Reproduction occurs when the imitator becomes a model for someone else to imitate but the million dollar question is how does that happen and what does that process look like? 

Second, Can it be Easily Duplicated?

Will Mancini in Church Unique said, “It’s not about what you can do, but what you can duplicate.”  He tells us that 98% of all North American churches are functioning without an easily reproducible process of discipleship and that 50% of the people in our churches have never taken a step beyond the worship service itself.  How many people in your church are moving from the worship service to serving others?  Is there a map in place that a follower of Christ can chart their progress and that shows them how to move to the next step?

Third, Keep it Simple!

The steps and expectations of where a “follower” needs to be must be clarified and simplified.  In Simple Church (in my opinion a must read) Thom S. Rainer and Eric Geiger give us this definition; “A simple church is designed around a straightforward and strategic process that moves people through the stages of spiritual growth.  The leadership and the church are clear about the process (clarity) and are committed to executing it.  The process flows logically (movement) and is implemented in each area of the church (alignment).  The church abandons everything that is not in the process (focus).”

The challenge is to know what kind of disciple you want to produce and how that will occur in your church.  Keep it simple but remember it will not be easy.  Your work is cut out for you as you begin designing a map, a blueprint, that will guide believers to maturity in Christ.  It must be clear, uncomplicated and easily reproducible but it will not come without a lot of effort.  Pray, read, learn from others, find a church with a simple discipleship process, or give me a call; but most of all refuse to settle for anything less than reproducing disciples who reproduce disciples!

DIRECTIONALLY CHALLENGED

Directionally Challenged

Several years ago while traveling with a team in Romania there were six vehicles in our mission trip caravan.  I am pretty good with directions and if I have been there before I can usually find my way back.  I almost feel an affinity to homing pigeons, for whatever reason.  The problem was convincing those driving to follow me and getting them to stay close enough to know when I turned or got on a different road.  Finally, they followed and away we went to the next destination.

 

Some people are not very good at following directions and they must admit that they are directionally challenged.  The same can be said about followers of Christ.  Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”  We must make sure we are on the right road and that we are headed in the right direction.  Discipleship begins with a clear, biblical definition.  What is your definition of a disciple?  Jesus said this in Matthew 4:19, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

 

Jesus is very clear in His definition; a disciple is someone who follows Him!  It is a simple invitation and indicates your acceptance of Jesus as Lord, leader, and master of your life.  Jesus leads, we follow, and it is that simple!  Being a disciple (follower) of Christ means that He is in front and we place ourselves behind Him.  Conversion is only the beginning of the journey and true conversion means a person is committing to following Jesus.  Psalms 37:23 says, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.” 

 

A disciple (follower) of Jesus is someone who knows who Jesus is, knows what He is like, and decides to follow Him.  A disciple (follower) of Jesus does not know the specific route He will take them on or what road of life they will travel but they still follow Him.  Sometimes the road is rough and rocky because Jesus never promised that it would be easy.  As a matter of fact, Jesus said this about following Him, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”

 

The closer you are to Jesus the better you will be able to follow Him.  Here are three observations about being disciples (followers) of Jesus:

 

  1. Get right up on His bumper!  You cannot follow well from a distance.  You must remain up close so you do not get on the wrong road.  You may not understand all that it means to follow Christ when you begin the journey but you have decided to follow Him wherever He leads you.  Remember, if you are following Him, He is in front and you are behind.  You are in a no passing zone!
  2. Get so close you can read His license plate!  James 4:8 says, “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you…”  You cannot get too close!  A disciple (follower) of Jesus understands that He is now the one in charge of guiding and directing their life.  Discipleship is a lifelong learning process.  We do not want to miss anything that He wants to show us or one detour that He wants us to travel.
  3. Trust His GPS!  Being a disciple (follower) of Jesus means that we are making the transition from being self-guided to Christ-guided.  Some have been taught that when you follow Jesus He will fulfill all of the wishes and plans they have for their lives but that is just not the case.  Trusting His GPS means that we have moved from being self-centered to being Christ centered in our journey.

 

Good news!  Even if you are directionally challenged you can follow Jesus!  Get right up on His bumper where you can read His license plate and allow heaven’s GPS to guide you on the path that will glorify Him.  When He stops along the way, wait on Him.  When He accelerates, make sure you stick right on his bumper because you cannot follow well from a distance.  When He goes down a bumpy rocky road, remember that He loves you and He has a purpose for choosing that path.  Jesus said, “Follow me!”  That means that He is out front leading the way!