Connect Together

Connect Together

 
I enjoy meeting new people who visit Grace.  There are a number of reasons why people check us out and I’m always interested.  Most people are looking for a place to worship by learning about Scripture or by raising their children – they want them in a safe friendly place or a church where they will be accepted.  I’ve heard many people say that Grace Evangelical Church uses the Scriptures during the messages!  It’s hard to believe that a church would not value and preach God’s Word, but I’m told many churches don’t use much Scripture.  Their teaching may be merely stories or a psychological rendering of people’s problems.
 
Whatever their reason for visiting Grace, I always think, “How I can connect people to help them feel a part of the family at Grace?” That’s part of our Vision Statement:

  • Connecting together to worship God

       ·         Equipping together in grace to be more like Christ

·         Multiplying together with the gospel to reach the world world

My first concern is really the first line of the vision statement.  Let me take a few moments to address that first line.

            The Scott family recently joined Grace.  Steve works on the north side now and Kayce is the co-director of Noah’s Ark.  I loved hearing how they are connecting together to worship at Grace. Kayce was sharing with the new staff of Noah’s Ark and she said, “We love being at Grace, because people here know so much Scripture.  They rattle off verses about what the Bible says to every circumstance of life.  I have not been around that before.  It’s amazing!”  She also commented that connecting to groups is what helps us worship the Lord. Steve and Kayce have connected with the Word Processors.  Kayce said she loves how the group is walking through books of the Bible in a way that they understand.

Connection helps us fulfill God’s way of worship.  When we come together and show both the truth and caring for others, people respond in exalted worship of the Lord. 

Our new Connection Team Ministry is always working on trying to help people see how they might connect in the groups we offer – both fellowship groups and home groups.  The Ministry Fair was put on by the Connection Team and the Communication Team so that we can connect together to worship Godcorporately and work in our community as the Body of Christ.

Yes, connection is extremely important for us to worship God.  The writer to the Hebrews records: And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.1 Whether we are described as a body,2 living stones built up into a spiritual house,3the household of God,4 a holy temple of the Lord,5 or built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit,6 God designed us to worship Him together.  We do that best when connected through a variety of ways – worship service, fellowship groups, home groups and serving together.

 

I pray that you’ll get to know some of our new people so that you’ll connect together to worship God in Spirit and in Truth!

 
1Hebrews 10:24-25; 21 Corinthians 12:12-20; 31 Peter 2:5; 4Ephesians 2:19; 5Ephesians 2:20; 6Ephesians 2:21
 

 

Connect; Equip; Multiply: Vision for Growth

This newsletter article was printed for the August, 2012, Grace and Truth Newsletter.

Connect; Equip; Multiply

August 2012

It’s hard to drive down the road while looking into thick fog.  That’s why clear vision is a key ingredient for forward movement.  A Vision statement needs to be simple, memorable and clear to guide us where we need to go.

Most of us are visually oriented.  Imagine keeping your eyes closed for 24 hours!  A Visionstatement captures the mind to tell people where they are going and guides them along the way.  Visionis the picture that gives people a sense of belonging and community.

Before we continue with Vision, let’s note the mission statement and purpose of Grace.  A Mission states why an organization exists.  Our Mission statement is: “Love God, love others and make disciples to Jesus Christ.”  Purpose defines why the vision and mission statements matter.  Our purpose is found in our constitution and states,

The purpose of Grace Evangelical Church shall be to glorify God by means of teaching and preaching of the Word of God, by fellowshipping with one another, by discipling believers into maturity, by emphasizing spiritually strong families, by providing a weekly time of corporate worship and prayer, and by encouraging believers to share the good news of Christ through life and words in the sphere of the home, community and throughout the world.

If we are clear on our purpose, we must be clear on our Vision.  There are three statements in our Vision:

·         Connecting together to worship God

·         Equipping together in grace to be more like Christ

·         Multiplying together with the gospel to reach the world

Let’s note several thoughts about these statements. First, each statement includes the word “together.”  We are the Bride of Christ together.  We will all one day worship together before His throne:

Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and .the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!”1 

We gather together to honor Him in worship in one purpose of the Bride of Christ.

 

Secondly, each statement is proactive and measures something. Paul writes,

[Communication gifts were given]…for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;  14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head– Christ–  16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.2

You can tell when you are connected – you are in fellowship with people at church and “knit together”, growing to unity of the faith (doctrine).  You can tell when you are equipped – you are in the work of ministry.  You can tell when you are multiplying – you are training and sending your replacement.
Thirdly, each statement focuses attention vertically and horizontally. The horizontal element is seen in the equal standing we have together before God.   The vertical element is seen in “worshipping God,” becoming “more like Christ” and taking the “gospel [good news from heaven]” to reach the world.

Connect, Equip and Multiply.  Those three words will see us through to accomplish God’s purpose for Grace.  I’ll take each word in the next three months to amplify and help us capture the Elder’s vision so you can see where we’re going!

1Revelation 5:11,12; 2Ephesians 4:12-16

MSG: Strategy for Grace – Growing Disciple-Makers

Strategy for Grace –  Growing Disciple-Makers
Matthew 4:18-20
 
Timing is everything in life. It’s a New Year and time to start afresh.  2012 is behind.  2013 is ahead.  Timing is everything.
 In 1976, I was serving on a beach project with a Christian organization at Newport Beach, CA.  Yes, Newport Beach, CA, where the weather is almost perfect, and the surf is often great.  I worked at 601 Lido, a luxury condominium, on the graveyard shift as a security guard.   After sleeping for a few hours I went body surfing before our evening meeting and witnessing on the beach.   
Back at the University the next year, I was in Woody Johnson’s discipleship group and we met every week to go on campus to witness and to discuss discipleship.  I was discipling three guys: Tim, Bill and Brian.  We went to LTC, Leadership Training Class, every Tuesday night for encouragement and additional biblical discipleship insights.  One of the most important concepts Woody taught me was to cast a vision for men to follow.  Show them where you are going and let them decide to follow.  When they choose to follow, under the Holy Spirit, nothing will stop them.
That’s the intention of the State of the Church messages – casting vision for how 80% of the church can be a part of the reproduction process – to multiply disciples.  How do you set up a model whereby 80% of the people see how they can take reasonable steps and reproduce?  We are reproducing, but I want to help 80% spiritually reproduce.  What do you need to make committed disciples?
 
There are two things necessary to make committed disciples.  First, understand what a committed disciple is and secondly, understand the four keys to develop disciple-making.  Let’s look at what a committed disciple is.
 
Understand what a committed disciple is:   What is a disciple?  A basic definition of a disciple is a “Learner, or follower.”  Dr. Dwight Pentecost and Dr. Fruchtenbaum describe three kinds of disciples: the curious, convinced and committed.  (cf. John 1:43-46; 2:1-2; 2:22; Matt 4:18-22)
18 And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. 19 Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  20 They immediately left their nets and followed Him. 21 Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them,  22 and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him. (Mat 4:18-22)
 
This was not the first time Jesus invited the disciples to follow Him.  This time they made a conscious, committed decision.  The text says they immediately followed Jesus.  It sounds like the expression we teach children, “Right away, all the way, with a happy heart.”  We don’t know the disciples said it, but they did with their actions. 
We need to look at Matthew 4:19 to see what a committed disciple is. Matthew 4:19 says, “And He said to them,
“Follow Me,
“and I will make you
“fishers of men.”
 
A committed disciple is:
 
·         Committed to following Jesus. 
o   A great passage on this is Luke 9:23, “Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.”  A committed disciple will say Jesus is my Master, my Lord, my Head.  I willingly submit to His control in my life.  He died for me.  I want to serve Him.  I am and have nothing apart from His work in my life.  Without Him, at best I have the glitter of the world, at best I can find temporary happiness;  at worst I’m headed to the Lake of Fire.  It’s His plan, His authority, His direction and His life that I live to be His disciple.  I’m sold out for Jesus Christ. 
o   Two other great passages are Gal. 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” And one other great passage on commitment to following Jesus is Phil. 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
o   The second truth about a committed disciple is:
·         Committed to being changed by Jesus.
o   God is already in the process of changing His children. Paul writes, “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.” Rom. 8:29.  God is working to bring us into conformity to Jesus Christ.  The question is “Will you be committed to His change in your life?” He said He will conform me to His image, so I must be committed to that change.  I trust Him and you can too.  If you have accepted Jesus, He gave you His righteousness and is on your side.  Will you commit yourself to the change He wants?  When you understand His character and He is your hope, you will be committed to His change.
o   A committed disciple will say, “I am no longer content just coming to church and warming a pew. I don’t want to be a spiritual child anymore concerned only with myself.  I’m concerned about others.  I’m growing up, so I can become a spiritual parent to disciple others.  I trusted Jesus for salvation; I will trust Him for whatever change He thinks is necessary. I care more about others than my own agenda. I want Him to help me become winsome to reach others.”
o   Your response can be what Paul said in Romans 12:1-2, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”
o   The third truth about a committed disciple is:
·         Committed to the mission: growing disciples who are making disciples.  
o   We studied this in the previous message when Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen. Matt. 28:19-20  The committed disciple says,  “I have a mission.  I’m on it. A fisher of men.”
o   This is not like the expression, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” That is a great principle for discipleship, but not the mission Jesus was teaching.
o   This is catching men, who will be able to catch other men.  I’m on a mission. 
o   I love that about the military.  You train for a mission.  You rehearse tactically using a sandbox to lay out the terrain features and walk through the proposed mission.  Then you have each commander and staff run through it over and over to ensure you have the comms (communication), personnel, logistics and the right sequence of events including decision points, fire and movement, avenues of approach, advancement, suppression, recon patrols, overwatch, etc., etc.
 
·         A Committed Disciple is one who is:
o   Committed to following Jesus
o   Committed to being changed by Jesus
o   Committed to the mission: growing disciples who are making disciples.
 
Last week we asked the question:
Who is called to be a disciple-maker?  Do you remember the answer that you provided?  Yes, it was “Everyone.”  Well now we need to briefly understand four keys to develop Disciple-making.
 
There are four keys to develop Disciple-making:
 
1)      Biblical Foundation –Your understanding of the Lord Jesus Christ will deepen your desire to please Him and fulfill His will to make disciples who make disciples. Matt. 7:24-27; 2 Tim. 3:16-17
n  We have this!
 
2)      Intentional Discipleship– This takes the accidental out of discipleship Eph. 4:11-13.  Jesus had intentional actions  Matt 14:15-18, 27-31; Luke 10: 1; 22:7-13; John 6:5-6
n  How are we intentionally raising up 80% to be committed disciples? 
n  Does our present plan help 80% reproduce disciples?
 
3)      Relational Environment– it must be small enough for open communication and trust. There must be transparency and authenticity 1 Cor. 12:25   Must spend time with the people Deut. 6:7-9  in real teaching to establish a biblical worldview John 17:17; Matt. 4:4; Ps. 119:105.   Jesus demonstrated a relational environment to help the disciples out of their comfort zone.
n  Are you in a relational environment for discipleship?
 
4)       Reproducible Process – we must develop a process to reproduce or all we will do is add. 
n   Do we have a process whereby new people can understand how they can begin reproducing within six months to a year?
 
Let’s make sure we hold fast to this principle:
We must determine how to maintain the past while adding reproduction to the future.
 
So, what is our plan to grow disciples who will disciple those who can disciple others?  What would the model look like?  Whatever the model is:
·         It has to deal with fear factors – failure; fool; fake (intimidation of growing up spiritually)
·         It has to deal with trust in relationships
·         It has to deal with talking with others (people don’t want to be wrong in a group setting, so they’ll be quiet instead)
·         It has to provide OJT because we learn by doing
·         It has to amply provide encouragement with accountability
 
The model that I will present deals with all of these.  So let’s summarize this message:
 
Jesus calls you to be His committed disciple. 
 
How? The Holy Spirit’s power: Acts 1:8, 6-11
 
·         Discipleship is a flexible step by step process. Disciples are shown how to take each step.  Everyone learns by trial and error.  You need an environment whereby you can make mistakes.  You need someone to pick you up and encourage you to get back in the battle. Luke 9:1-3
·         Disciples are those committed to Jesus, who will change them.  However, He will change you only as you humbly request His change and put into practice what you are learning.  Change will not happen by only listening Jam. 1:22
·         Discipleship occurs in an intentional, relational environment.  Relationships that keep picking you up and helping you become fishers of men.  Matt 4:18-22
 
Let’s say this prayer together:
 
“Lord, I want to please You.  I want to be a committed disciple to Your will.  Help me take one lesson at a time that I might listen to understand how I can be a part of Your miracle of multiplication at Grace.” 
 
 
Now is your time to see God’s miracles in your life.  The next message presents one more aspect of this vision – spiritual growth characteristics.
 
 
 
 

MSG: State of the Church – Vision – Part 2

The following is the second half of the message “State of the Church – Vision” 
given on December 30, 2012 at Grace Evangelical Church.

The third concept is Multiplying:

Multiplying disciples – Matt. 28:18-20.  This has been my challenge.  I’ve been convicted that while I like the principle, I wasn’t sure this was being accomplished well 

Do I just want to increase numbers or get rid of the debt?  No. It is obedience to the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…”

I remember fishing with my father-in-law in June of 1983.  We caught a female bluegill, which we realized during the cleaning process back on shore.  She was loaded.  That is she was loaded with hundreds of eggs.  If fertilized, she would have produced hundreds of other bluegills for many more fish fries.  God has a great plan of multiplying fish.  Do you know what the gestation period of a rabbit is?  31 days.  How about an elephant?  600 days.  Both rabbits and elephants multiply, but at entirely different rates.   

I began thinking, “What are we producing at Grace?”  I praise the Lord for young people who have gone on to the pastoral and mission field like Nate Davis, Michael Kramer, Sara Sparks Detig, Kim Hillebrand, Suzanne Paschal Varghese, Kristen Horn He and others in our church.  But I became more and more convicted that we really need to focus on the 80% of the congregation.  How do I help the 80% to catch the excitement of reproducing?

Here are some passages on multiplying:

Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth (Gen 1:28)

So God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them: “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. (Gen 9:1)

And as for you, be fruitful and multiply; Bring forth abundantly in the earth And multiply in it.” (Gen 9:7)

“blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiplyyour descendants as the stars of the heaven. (Gen 22:17)  

“in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the LORD your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess. (Deut 30:16)

Here are a few more:   Gen 26:24; 28:3; 35:11; Ex. 32:13; Lev. 26:9; Deut. 6:3; 7:13; 8:1, 13; 28:63; 30:5; Acts 6:1,7; 12:24; Heb. 6:13-14

Yet, there are few other specific passages in the NT.  So does that mean multiplying people is not important?

Let’s consider this: Where are most passages for parenting? Dealing with money? Courting?   
We learn from the Old Testatment (Rom. 15:4) and through progressive revelation, we apply truths for our spiritual lives today: Matt. 28:19-20; 2 Tim. 2:2.

 And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (2 Tim. 2:2)

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. (John 14:12)

Read: Acts 1:6-11.  We can reproduce, because of the power of the Holy Spirit.

Everyone of us are here because of parents.  You may not have grown up with your parents, but two people under God’s sovereign plan gave you life.  Parents are supposed to know what to do, so that they will teach their children how to prepare for life.  No one needs to feed parents, tell parents to brush their teeth, floss, take a shower, get along with others, they just do.  No one tells parents to do their laundry or clean their room, they just do.   

Most normal parents want their children to be successful, i.e. able to fit into society, have a job and get along.  Most really want their children to be successful-“to get a job”- in order to provide so they can have a family and there can be grandchildren and great grandchildren.  That’s called growing a family or multiplication in the human race.  

Who is called to be a disciple-maker? Everyone is commanded to make disciples.  Does Grace have a model to facilitate that?               

 

Jesus is my model for everything.  He was single.  If He was single, then you can reproduce disciples if you are single.  That is important for singles to understand.
 
So let’s get specific.

How were you Connected?  Note Jesus’ model:   Luke 6:12-13

If Jesus is your model, ask yourself the following  question:

·         How am I currently reaching or connecting others?              

How are you being Equipped?   Note Jesus’ model: Luke 9:1-10

If Jesus is your model, ask yourself the following question:

·         How am I helping to build up others?                       
·         How am I equipping others for ministry? (for outreach, service, discipling) 

How are you Multiplying, so more will follow?  Note Jesus’ model: Luke 10:1,17-21

If Jesus is your model, ask yourself the following question:

·         How am I helping others to grow deeper?    
 

Jesus commanded each of you to make disciples.
How? Acts 1:8, 6-11

·         Does our model facilitate 80% of the church reproducing? 
·         How are we developing disciple-makers?
·         Will you humbly ask the Lord what His next step is for you?
 

Make this your prayer:

“Lord, I want to please You.  I want to be committed to Your will.  Help me take one lesson at a time that I might listen to understand how I can be a part of Your miracle of multiplication at Grace.” 

MSG: State of the Church: Vision – Part 1

The following are some of the notes given for
the State of the Church message given on Dec. 30, 2012.

State of the Church: Vision
Matthew 28:18-20

           

While I was in college, I joined a Christian organization where I was discipled in the Christian way of life.  I had a discipleship group leader with whom I did Bible studies, learned how to give my testimony as went witnessing on campus. Then I led Discovery Bible studies on campus at Coffman Memorial Union.  It was the first time I had ever led a group of people in a Bible study.  I had prepared material and I merely facilitated the discussion.  Later that year, I led my own discipleship group.  I enjoyed the process, because it helped me get out of my comfort zones and helped me grow up.

After college and my military service, I went to seminary and planted a church in Minnesota.  I thought my role as pastor was to study and teach.  If people were hungry, they would come and listen.  I was blessed to be called to serve at Grace Evangelical Church and God has challenged my thinking in many ways here.  One of the challenges was how important reaching out to people in an outside the church, not just teaching God’s Word.  A half dozen years ago, I knew something was missing from my ministry.  In June, 2008, I realized what it was and it went back to my spiritual roots of discipleship.  In July, 2008, I accepted, as pastor, I needed to set the model for discipling other men.  I began the Hungry Hunters on Wednesday night and I also started discipling two groups of men.  After launching one group of me,  I’m still working with two groups of men.

Over time, God  has continued to refine my thinking and to present that thinking by way of vision to the Elders and to you. It was back in the 90s that we established the Mission of Grace as “Love God, love others and make disciples of Jesus Christ.”  That comes from Matthew 22 and 28, the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.  The Great Commandment is “Love God and love others” and the Great Commission is “Make disciples of all the nations.” 

In May of 2012, the Elders approved the following Vision Statement.

Connecting together to worship God                                  1 Cor. 12:19-25

Equipping together in grace to be more like Christ           Eph. 4:11-14

Multiplying together with the gospel to reach the world  Matt 28:18-20

 

Let’s look at each of these three concepts:

The first concept is Connecting:

Connecting – 1 Cor. 12:19-25.We are addressing Connectingin our Outreach Team, Welcome Team and Connection Team.  We’re improving our connecting so we can reach people in our community, reach those who visit and reach those who attend to identify with and belong to Grace as their church home.  Our purpose is to worship the Lord in all that we do, even corporately.  We studied John 17:20-26 as Jesus’ purpose for us to be one. That’s what parents do in a family, they help children understand: our family, you belong.

The second concept is Equipping:

Equipping – Eph. 4:11-14.  We are Equipping, through church services, Fellowship Groups Sunday morning and Home Groups.  We also have extra equipping ministries like Men’s and Women’s Ministries and special classes like the Belonging, Financial and In-depth Discipleship Classes.  We will continue to refine equipping so we, in grace, can be more like Christ, equippedto do the work of ministry. Note how the body equips in the body in Eph. 4:14-16.  Parents equip children to go to the bathroom, tie their shoes and pick up their room.  In the same way, spiritual parents teach new believers how to confess sins, share the good news and organize their life.

The third concept is Multiplying:

Multiplying disciples – Matt. 28:18-20.  This has been my challenge.  I’ve been convicted that while I like the principle, I wasn’t sure this was being accomplished well. Who is called to be a disciple-maker? 

Do I just want to increase numbers or get rid of the debt?  No. It is obedience to the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19-20, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…”
 
The next segment has the second half of the message: