MSG: State of the Church – 2014: Eph. 3:8-16

Grace has a great future in 2014. It is building on past leadership and growing new leadership. There is an excitement in the halls that is refreshing and exuberant. There is momentum building for home groups, men’s and women’s ministries and stability in other ministries. There is a growing spirit of unity at Grace in the bond of peace. Continue reading


MSG: Strategy for Grace – Stages of Growth

          This is the third of four messages on the Strategy for Grace Evangelical Church in Indianapolis.  The first two messages were given on December 30, 2012 and January 6, 2013.  I invite you to read through them to understand the sequence and background for this message.  If you desire to listen to them, you can pick them up on  I also invite your comments and questions at the bottom of this post.

Strategy for Grace – Stages of Growth

1 John 2:12-14

January 20, 2013

One of the greatest miracles of life is the conception and birth of a human baby.  God’s infinite wisdom provides the miracle of a body that develops, grows and then reproduces in time.  The body is an amazing creation.  Although many of us have experienced sickness this fall and winter, the body is very resilient to return to health.  We all go through a process of physical growth. 

There are five stages.  There is the twinkle in your father’s eye.  That’s the stage before you were born, when you did not exist as a baby.  The second stage is an infant or baby.  The third stage is a child.  The fourth stage is young adult.  And the fifth stage is being a parent.  Someone offered me a sixth stage, which is the broken down grandpa stage, to which I said, “Amen!” but wouldn’t add it to the list!  Let me describe the last four stages.

The second stage is the infant stage. We start out as helpless babies, the apple of parent’s eyes.  The baby infant cannot provide, defend or do anything for himself when he is born.  Without caregivers, the baby would die, but with loving, nurturing and protecting parents, a baby will survive and thrive. A baby is born with reflex actions like the startle reflex at loud noises, and the grasp reflex when an object is put in the hand.  The infant responds to warm touch, learns by imitating sounds and develops into a thinking, playing, walking and building child.

The third stage is child.  The 3-year-old child learns to balance, to hop, to skip, to catch and to take care of necessary needs.  Slowly by imitation, the child learns to print and write, cut, paste, play ball and his most difficult achievement – to play well with others.  An infant doesn’t know how to play well with others.  We teach a child the world doesn’t revolve around him. The child must be taught to be a young adult or the child will still be living at home dependent on momma at age 25.

The fourth stage is young adult.  The young adult realizes there is a world around him and he needs to adjust to it.  The young adult sees opportunities for education and training and tries those opportunities to see what he’s good at and where he finds success.  The young adult uses his God-given strengths and talents to engage in social conversations, work and refinement of values for living with others.   The young adult learns the importance of behavior, which conforms to social values and that good behavior is maintained by the presence of authority, which is a good thing.  In time, the young adult leaves his parents and cleaves to a God-given partner and they often become parents.

The fifth stage is being a parent. The parent is the person who assumesresponsibility for reproduction and raises one like himself.  Parents die to themselves for the sake of the infant.  They provide unconditional warm touch, constant nurturing and protective care to a helpless infant who needs over a decade of care, protection, instruction and training unto righteousness.

The same is true spiritually.  God has provided spiritual stages of growth for us to grow and develop in His spiritual growth cycle. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone understood what the spiritual stages were and where we each fit?  What is the spiritual growth process of the normal Christian?

The spiritual growth process includes five stages.  These are important to understand, so that we can grow to the next spiritual stage and help others grow in their spiritual journey.  The goal is to become a spiritual parent. 

The first spiritual stage is that of the unbeliever.  Everyone begins as an unbeliever and is spiritually dead before God.

1)      Unbeliever – Spiritually dead                Eph. 2:1-3

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,  2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. (Eph 2:1-3)

  • Ephesians 2:1-3 above describes everyone.  Every single person begins in this stage and everyone begins living as a son of disobedience.  We begin life living in sin and need to trust in the Savior, Jesus Christ, in that He died on the cross for our sins.  When we as sinners trust in Jesus Christ, God accepts us into His family (John 1:12).  We all lived pursuing the desires (lusts) of our flesh and what we thought was right.  We had to learn truth from Scripture from someone who was willing to teach us the truth. 
  • This person does not know Jesus and has not accepted Him as Savior.  He is unbelieving and rebellious.

2)    Spiritual Infant – focus on self             1 Cor. 3:1-3; 1 Pet. 2:2-3

And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ.  2 I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; 3 for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?  (1 Cor. 3:1-3)

As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. (1 Pet. 2:2-3)

  • Paul was writing to believers above in 1 Corinthians 3.  They were babes, because they were focused on themselves and didn’t care what others thought.  They were divisive, envious and full of strife.  They were still living like unbelievers, which is what spiritual infants do.  They were still sucking on milk. 
  • Peter tells those in the Dispersion that they should long for the milk of God’s Word, because that’s how they are going to grow.  Peter acknowledges they hadn’t been discipled and were not growing well.  They had persecution and the milk of the Word would get them through and able to grow stronger.
  • This person has accepted Jesus as His Savior, but is not connected in a relationship environment for the purpose of Biblical Discipleship.  He is ignorant of God’s Word, confused and dependent on others.

3)    Spiritual Child    What can I get?        1 John 2:12; 1 Thes. 2:10-12; Phm 1:8-11

I write to you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for His name’s sake… I write to you, little children, because you have known the Father. (1 John 2:13)

You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe; 11 as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children,12that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory. (1 Thess. 2:10-12)

Therefore, though I might be very bold in Christ to command you what is fitting, 9 yet for love’s sake I rather appeal to you— being such a one as Paul, the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ– 10I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten while in my chains, 11 who once was unprofitable to you, but now is profitable to you and to me. (Philem 1:8-11)

  • John writes to spiritual children that their sins are forgiven.  Why?  In the physical realm, children grow and thrive best in a home where there is stability, security and love expressed in forgiveness.  It’s true also in the spiritual realm.  When people feel oppressed, judged and condemned, they don’t thrive.  They barely make it spiritually, so John makes sure they understand their sins are forgiven and they can keep trying to learn about how great God is, even when we sin.  It’s been said that 85% of people who are committed to mental institutions would be able to walk out the door if they knew they were forgiven.  That’s why the spiritual life is so important to help people grow up from living in sin and living righteous lives.
  • Paul remarks in Thessalonians that he is like a father to children who while they may need comfort, they also need exhortation and  challenge to keep growing and not remain children.  Don’t be that young man dependent on momma at age 25.
  • Then in Paul’s letter to Philemon, we see a beautiful example of Paul’s exhortation to Philemon to forgive the spiritual child Onesimus, who has just become a Christian and he needs a spiritual parent who will take him in and let him eventually prove his spiritual worth.
  • This person recognizes his need for relationships with other Christians and is connected in a relational environment for the purpose of discipleship, but life is all about him.  He is self-centered, prideful, idealistic and has either a high or low view of self often because he lives by pride or emotions.

4)    Spiritual Young Adult – wants to serve         1 John 2:13-14; Gal. 5:13-14

I write to you, young men, because you have overcome the wicked one… I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, And you have overcome the wicked one. (1Jo 2:13b – 14b)

For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Gal 5:13-14)

  • As John writes, the young adult has learned a great deal of God’s word and is applying it.  He is a doer of the word and not merely a hearer.  He overcomes the devil’s and fleshly temptations to focus on self and not serve others.  He is an overcomer!  Why is he an overcomer?  He overcomes, because he is strong from God’s Word.  He continues to depend on it and is now leading others.
  • Paul helps us understand that freedom from self is using Christian liberty in Christ for serving others.  He doesn’t use his Christian liberties for his own purposes, but for the name of Jesus in loving others.
  • He recognizes his part in the body of Christ. This person has moved from self-centeredness to God- and other-centeredness.    He is characterized by service, zeal, mission and spiritual independence. He learns to push on when discouraged.

5)    Spiritual Parent   reproducing            1 John 2:13-14;  2 Tim. 2:2

I write to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning…. 14I have written to you, fathers, because you have known Him who is from the beginning.  ( 1 John 2:13-14)

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)

  • In the 1 John passage, John writes the exact same thing twice, except he writes “I write” in verse 13 and “I have written” in verse 14.  It’s not because he is old or has forgotten.  God is making very clear to us that “Fathers” or spiritual parents are in an intimate relationship with the Lord and are doing His will.  They know about the word and they know about God.  But far more than knowing about the Word or God, they know God.  They understand His character and His will.  They know God.  They are living the Great Commandment (Love God and love others) and they are living the Great Commission (Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations…).
  • In Paul’s letter to Timothy, we see the four generations of biblical discipleship.  Paul is writing to his disciple Timothy.  Paul exhorts Timothy to disciple faithful men who will be willing to disciple others.  That is “knowing” God and being obedient to Him.  The spiritual parent has an ongoing intimate relationship with the Father and is seeking to obey God in the most important commands given to Christians.
  • He has been serving and ministering and now thinks in terms of reproducing.  He can feed himself and intentionally recruits people for personal growth and reproducing disciple-makers on the church team.

Please note: These stages are not based on the content of Bible knowledge, but practical implementation.
Now how do you know what stage you are in?  You can tell what stage you are in by your words and by your actions.  Jesus makes this very clear in Luke 6:43-45:

“For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit.  44 “For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush.  45“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:43-45)

            Jesus is saying that if we’re walking with Him, our words and actions will reflect God’s Word and if our words do not reflect God’s word, we should examine ourselves.  We can know, IF we are a genuine Christian, whether we are living according to the flesh or according to the Spirit.  More specifically, what comes out of your mouth and your actions explain well where you are spiritually. 

            The chart below explains fives stages of spiritual growth.  Each of the stages has common expressions that identify them.  Read through the chart and then note the descriptions of the typical beliefs, behaviors and attitudes from the stages in the second chart.  The second chart gives more specifics, which describe why each spiritual stage expresses different kinds of words.

“Phrase” from the Stage

I don’t believe there is a god.
The bible is just a bunch of myths.
I don’t believe in miracles.
Evolution explains away a need for God.
God is just a crutch.
There are many ways to get to God; Jesus is only one way.
I believe in Jesus, but my church is when I’m in the woods.
I don’t have to go to church to be a Christian.
I gave my life to Jesus and I go to church, but I don’t need to be close to other people.
I don’t have time to be in a relationship with other Christians.
My spouse is my accountability partner; I don’t need anyone else.
I pray and read my Bible; that is good enough for me.
I love my small group; don’t add any more people to it.
Who are all these people coming to my Church? Tell them to go somewhere else!
I am not coming to church anymore.  It has become too big; it has too many people.
My small group is not taking care of my needs.
They aren’t teaching what I want to hear, so I’m going to find one that meets my needs better.
I didn’t like the music today.  If only they did it like…”
Young Adult
I think I could lead a group with a little help. I have three friends I have been witnessing to, and this group would be too big for a relational environment.
Randy and Rachel missed group and I called to see if they are okay.  Their kids have the flu, so maybe our group can make meals for them. I’ll start.
In my devotions, I came across something I have a question about.
I noticed that we don’t have a retirement home visitation team. Do you think I could be involved?
I am so exhausted this week. I called all sixty men from men’s breakfast to see how they were.
This guy at work asked me to explain the Bible to him.  Pray for me.
We get to baptize someone from our small group tonight. When is the next Belonging class? I want to get her plugged into ministry somewhere.
Our small group is going on a mission trip and I have given each person a different responsibility.  Where do you think we should go?
I realized discipleship happens at home… will you hold me accountable to disciple my kids
I have a person in my small group who is passionate about children.  Can you have the children’s ministry people call me?

             Each person in the five spiritual stages have the same value.  One stage is not more important than another stage.  However, God wants people to grow spiritually and not remain infants or children (Heb. 5:12-14).  What are other phrases that someone in each stage would say?  If you go to home group this week, you’ll pick up many more examples.

            This second chart gives further descriptions of the typical beliefs, behaviors and attitudes of each stage.  It’s important to understand the differences between the stages, so you as a spiritual young adult or spiritual parent can develop an intentional discipleship model to help the spiritual infant and spiritual child grow.

Typical Beliefs, Behaviors and Attitudes of the Stage

Unbelief and rebellion.
Blind to the truth.
Belief in one God, but many ways to get to Him.
Anger toward Christians or the church.
Ignorance and or confusion about God, Jesus and the church.
Misinformed about spiritual/biblical truth; spiritual blindness.
Belief that the answers they are seeking lie in worldly prestige, power, fame and so on.
Disbelief in the supernatural, or belief in many forms of the supernatural (multiple deities, interactions with the dead, superstitions, astrology…)
Ignorance about what they need spiritually and what the Bible says about life
Ignorance about or frustrated toward Christianity and the church
Belief that Christians can make no mistakes (no tolerance of)
Unrealistic expectations of themselves and others
Confusion about the Christian way of life
Mixing Christianity and other religions and not knowing it.
Excitement over having deeper relationships, which they might not have had before
Remember who they were as unbelievers so they appreciate how God has changed them
Understand much of the Christian language     But:
Disillusioned because of their high expectation of others
Belief that feelings are most important, which leads to spiritual highs and low
Comparing themselves to others and competing with them
Lack of wisdom about how to use what they are learning- for example too aggressive when sharing their faith or too legalistic in their approach to dealing with their friends and family
Belief that people are not caring for them enough
Young Adult
Desire to serve for others’ good and the glory of God
Feeling responsible for how others respond to the gospel message
Possible pride if a person accepts the message and possible discouragement if they don’t
Desire to serve but not strategic about how to train others
Naivety about how tell how other believers are doing – they believe that others are on fire for Jesus because one seems to be fine at church
Black and white about what should happen in a church
Has a coach mindset
Wants to see the people they work with mature and become fellow workers who love them but aren’t dependent upon them to complete the mission
Thinks in terms of how to help a younger believer take the next step in his development
Reproduces disciples
Feeds themselves
Values the church team

There is a huge caution with these charts.  If someone looks down on another Christian, because his/her life is characterized by infant or childish characteristics, it is sin.  The higher you grow spiritually, the more you die to yourself and look for opportunities to help a spiritual infant or child to grow without judging or comparison (Matt. 7:1,5; 2 Cor. 10:12).  A spiritual young adult or spiritual parent will look at a spiritual infant or spiritual child with compassion, understanding and a desire to help them grow. You never look down on someone, which is a sign of spiritual immaturity and sin. 

That is the reason for the third chart.  The third chart explains how to come alongside someone in that particular spiritual stage.  It explains what that person needs in his/her spiritual stage of growth.  It provides the basis for loving one another.  In other words, when someone is a spiritual infant, even though he might be 55 years-old, you don’t put expectations on him of a spiritual young adult or parent.  You also don’t give him responsibility he can’t handle.  Scripture says, “Let him first be tested or proven” (1 Tim. 3:10).

If Christians would follow this chart, the church would explode with spiritual growth.


Spiritual Needs of the Stage

Secure relationship with a growing believer.
A picture of the real Jesus in front of them.
Answers, evidences for Christianity.
An explanation of the gospel message.
An invitation to receive Christ.
Individual attention from a spiritual parent.
Protection .
An explanation of truth from God’s Word.
An explanation and modeling of the habits of growing believers.
A spiritual family.
Help for how to start feeding themselves.
Teaching about who they are in Christ.
Teaching about how to have a relationship with Christ.
Teaching about how to have relationships with others (believers).
Teaching about appropriate expectations concerning other believers.
Young Adult
A place to learn to serve.  A place to make mistakes and learn.
A spiritual parent who will debrief them about ministry experiences.
Ongoing relationships that offer encouragement and accountability.
Help for establishing appropriate relationships and actions.
Guidance regarding expectations of people they will serve.
Spiritual skills training.
An ongoing relationship with co-laborers.
A church family.


This is the conclusion of this message:

God calls each of us to become spiritual parents.

(Disciple-makers of all the nations)

Ask yourself these questions:

In what spiritual stage am I?

Do I know how to grow to the next stage?

Am I involved in discipling others?


            The next message will describe the best environment for growing from one stage to the next.  It will describe how anyone coming into Grace Church can see how to reproduce themselves in six months to a year.

            Here’s the message based discussion questions that some of the home groups will be discussing.  I’d encourage you to think through them and maybe join one of the groups.  You can call the church office for more information.
Message Based Discussion Questions

What physical stage of growing up did you enjoy the most? (child, young adult, adult… or did you ever grow up J?)

Digging Deeper:

Based on the charts, what are some other phrases of a child?

What are phrases of a parent?

What are differences between a child and young adult? 

Why is it important to understand the Spiritual needs of each stage?  What are the needs of spiritual infants and children?
Application of the message to life:

What are at least four things you could do to ensure you are growing up spiritually?

If you want to be considered spiritually mature, what needs to be true?

*I want to gratefully acknowledge Jim Putman for great information on the three charts.

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: