Tag: Discipleship

GCD.com Coming Soon!

After writing Fight Clubs: Gospel-Centered Discipleship a couple of years ago, the need for reliable gospel-centered resources on all things discipleship became apparent. While making disciples over the past fifteen years, and training many pastors all over the world, I continue to see and hear the need for more Christ-centered wisdom in discipleship. Various questions arise for which there are few gospel-centered answers, at least in writing.

  • How do I make disciples in a context where people don’t believe in truth or God?
  • When and how should I address ethical issues in discipleship (i.e. greed, racial prejudice, homosexuality, cohabitation).
  • How can I make disciples without being programmatic?
  • What is the difference between evangelism and discipleship?
  • How can the church make disciples that teach everything Christ commanded?
  • What does discipleship look like in everyday life?

How Will Gospel Centered Discipleship.com Help You?

Unfortunately, no single book or series of books can sufficiently address all these kinds of questions. Meanwhile, new questions continue to arise from the unique challenges of being a disciple and making disciples in context. The vision of Gospel Centered Discipleship.com (GCD) is to meet many of these needs by making discipleship resources available at one site. The values that shape our resources include:

  • Culture-sensitive
  • Practitioner-tested
  • Gospel-centered
  • Community-shaped
  • Mission-focused

GCD.com is a long form resource site that will electronically distribute Articles, eBooks, and Curriculum on a host of discipleship issues, all from a gospel or grace centered perspective. Contributions come from a collective of proven gospel-centered practioners addressing a myriad of discipleship issues. It’s been great to see excellent content come in. The site launches Summer 2011.

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More to come…

3 Objections to Making Disciples

When we’re told to make disciples, to share our lives and the gospel with other people, very often objections spring to mind. Here are three possible objections, along with brief responses to why you might not be making disciples.

Objection #1: I don’t have time.

To this objection, Jesus would say: “How can you not have time?” This is why I gave you the gospel, to multiply disciples. Remember the Great Commission? Go therefore and make disciples? We all have time to disciple others. The problem isn’t time; it is value. If we are resisting discipleship, then its because we simply value something else more. We value our free time, our comfort, our work. Also, the value of discipleship is easily worked into things we already do—Celebrating, Recreating, Eating, Serving. It’s not that you don’t have time; its that you don’t have the value.

Objection #2: I don’t know enough.

That simply isn’t true. Most Americans have more theological education than most Christians in the world, and yet African and Asian Christians are multiplying disciples like crazy. Discipleship isn’t knowledge-based; it’s gospel and life based. Don’t put your faith in knowledge; put your faith in the gospel, which bears fruit when we share it and share our lives. It’s putting others first and encouraging, exhorting, and charging them to make disciples. There are people in your neighborhood, workplace, and church that need you. It’s not that you don’t know enough; if you know Jesus then you know more than enough!

Objection #3: I don’t want to.

Two brief responses. First, your wants need to change. You are too easily satisfied. Second, you need to boast more or you need more to boast in. Paul writes: “But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face…For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy” (2:17–20).

Why did Paul make disciples? Hope, joy, and pride. Notice that his motivation comes from looking to the future and to the present. He has a hope for when he stands before the Lord Jesus at his coming. What is his hope? His hope is his joy and crown. He’s looking forward to the day he stands before Christ, and hoping to say to Jesus: “Here’s what I have for you—my joy and my crown—my disciples, Lord. They are my “pride and joy.” The best of the best I can give.

What’s your pride and joy? A book, record, or movie collection, your dog, your house, your bikes, clothes? Is that really what you want to parade before King Jesus when he comes back? “Look I was faithful, I have a great DVD collection.” And is your collection going to motivate you to make disciples? Paul had found a deeper motivation than duty in making disciples. The reason he made disciples is because they were his pride and joy.

Watching my daughter take her first breath was amazing, and so is watching others take their first spiritual breath. They bring you joy before the Lord. Watching my children grow into walking, talking, drawing, reasoning, dancing, loving people brings me so much joy, and so is watching disciples grow into the image of Christ. Pride and joy? Certainly. There’s no such thing as disinterested, joyless boasting. When someone boasts in their collection or children, they take joy in it, show it off. Pride and joy. Paul says of his disciples: “you are my glory and my joy.” Why should you want to make disciples? Because they can be your deep pride and joy before the Lord Jesus.

Environmental Discipleship (Pt 1)

In an age of global warming, Kyoto debate, and environmental policy, many Christians find themselves unsure how to respond. Who is telling the truth about the effect of carbon emissions, deforestation, and so on? What is the environmental responsibility of a disciple of Jesus?

Authentic Christian faith requires ecological obedience.

Ecological Obedience

Steven Bouma-Prediger tackles this topic in For the Beauty of the Earth: a Christian vision for creation care. His central thesis is that authentic Christian faith requires ecological obedience. What is our ecology? Working through various words (environment, nature, creation), he settles on the term “earth” to designate the realm that God has created and that man is responsible for.

We care for only what we love. We love only what we know. We truly know only what we experience.

We Love What We Know

He explores various spheres of earthly responsibility–lakes, mountains, forests–noting in striking detail the sheer creativity of God. The Blue Creek National Park in Belize contains over 3,300 different species of birds! In Costa Rica alone there are 550 species of butterflies. Lavish! But do we care? He notes: “We care for only what we love. We love only what we know. We truly know only what we experience.” So true. So here’s some knowledge for you:

  • Deforestation rates equal the elimination of one state of Indiana a year.
  • The hungry of our world fit 18 times around the equator.
  • 11% of birds and mammals are threatened by extinction.
  • Only 53% of the global population has potable water.
  • The hottest 14 years of recent history have been since 1980.

Scientific debate is not over whether or not the earth is warming up, but how much and how fast it will accelerate and what the consequences will be. Add to this population boom, waste production, loss of biodiversity, energy misuse, and water scarcity and we have a problem. The earth is not being cared for adequately. It is groaning.

An Interview on Discipleship

Joe Thorn was kind enough to interview me on the topic of discipleship. I’ve included an excerpt from one of the questions below.

What is the biggest mistake the church is making when working to make disciples?

I can’t answer that question definitively. However, the dearth of suffering, the absence of hope, the trivialization of the Spirit, and the lack of mission among disciples of Jesus is terribly concerning. We have tried to minimize suffering through convenience, eliminate hope through self-made retirement, reduce Jesus to redeemer of the past, and surrendered any sense of discipleship as a call to die to ourselves that others may live. Instead, discipleship has been reduced to having a good marriage, handling finances well, raising good children, securing a future, and knowing your Bible. Our mission is very different than Jesus’ mission, our lives very different than Jesus’ life. This should scare us.

Read the rest of the Interview