MB Seminary provides leadership development and ministry training through MinistryLift so leaders and churches can increase their capacity to love God more deeply and serve others more effectively. MinistryLift builds capacity through workshops, training videos, and a variety of ministry resources. Learn more about MinistryLift here

The Power of Disciple-Making Action

  • 26 September 2017
  • MinistryLift blogger

The Celtic Way was a form of Christian faith that flourished among the people of Ireland during the Middle Ages. The Celtic Church saw much of Ireland converted to Christianity in a very short period and then they sent missionaries throughout Europe.

The Celtic Way has given us a model on how to disciple people from even before they start to believe. These unbelievers were invited into their community to belong (to see, experience, participate), which helped them later to believe. I think it would be fair to say that they saw and experienced the Christian life being lived out before they heard it explained to them.  

I think we have mistakenly put too much emphasis on making disciples primarily through cognitive methods. From my experience, most people think making disciples and a Bible study are synonymous. 

If we continue to make disciples by predominantly teaching a system of beliefs through lectures or Bible studies, we will only perpetuate the problem that we have in our churches today—many religious people who adhere to a set of beliefs, instead of disciples who truly follow Jesus as a lifestyle and are transformed in the process.

Moving people from understanding a set of beliefs to practicing them is a huge hurdle for us today. The method we use to teach beliefs needs to be re-examined.

Jesus taught with words but he also showed them by living it so they could see it and not only hear it.

Paul got that. Here are a few of his words that show how he was intentional to use his life, not just his words, to teach people.

1 Thess 1:5 - "You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord."  

Notice how effective this was. They became like Jesus. If it were one of us writing this today, we would perhaps more honestly have to say: "You know how we taught among you for your sake. You listened to us and followed our doctrine.”

Phil 4:9 - "Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me (words are our standard method of discipleship), or seen in me (imitation or example is another pattern of discipleship), put into practice." 

Phil 3:17 - "Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you." 

5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Leading a Small Group

  • 15 September 2017
  • Keith Reed

Deep thoughtIt's hard to multiply small groups if you don’t have small group leaders. And when churches are flooded with people who want to join a group, the logical solution is to launch new groups—even if there isn't anyone to lead them. This is a "problem" well worth solving because groups carry the potential to be excellent incubators of spiritual growth. But it comes with two obvious challenges: 

1. How to find suitable leaders for new groups (most people don't want to lead small groups)  
2. How to train new leaders before their groups begin 

What should you do?

There are many ways to locate and discern new leaders (here are 10 strategies for recruiting volunteers), so I will focus here on the second challenge: how to train new leaders.

Leadership training is critical to ministry success and an effective way to equip new leaders is by sending them resources that they can access on their own time. Our small groups ministry page is designed with this in mind

However, there might be an occasion when there simply isn't enough time for new leaders to be trained before their first meeting. And even for those who have been adequately trained, the experience of leading a small group will prompt new experiences and questions. After all, no two groups are the same.   

I asked followers of our MinistryLift Facebook page to give their advice to first-time small group leaders. They delivered some wise comments that you can view here (please add to the ongoing conversation).

Here are 5 things I wish I knew before I led a small group for the first time: 

Personal Handpicked Provision

  • 13 September 2017
  • MinistryLift blogger

Many of us search for ways to better hear the voice of God's Spirit in our lives. It's no different if you are an experienced leader or a stay-at-home mom. That's been my experience as I look over the landscape of my prayer life as an experienced leader and as a stay-at-home mom. Recently I had opportunity to lead my daughter in hearing the counsel of God's Spirit. This is her story, my distraction, and our Father's faithful provision for both of us. 

It was Monday morning and my 12-year-old daughter awoke in tears. We had lots of Monday mornings all summer but this one was different. This was the Monday before the Friday she was scheduled to have surgery. Neither of us wanted this to happen, but the closer Friday came the sharper in focus was this reality. Those Monday morning tears now make perfect sense to me. 

I wanted to comfort her, but I felt my skills and resources were too limited. I wanted to whisk her away from all the turmoil maybe even more than she wanted to be delivered from the pending surgery. I knew this was a perfectly shaped set of circumstances for God's Spirit to speak to her in ways that only He knew how.

We took time to remind ourselves of some very important truths—Jesus is always with us, the Holy Spirit is our comfort and our counsel, and how wonderfully loved we are by our Heavenly Father. I didn't recognize it at the time, but these truths were for me too. From there I invited her to share her heart with Jesus—her fears, her disappointments, her questions—and invite Him to speak to her as she listened. This is what many call listening prayer. Whatever the label, I knew my daughter needed to hear for herself the words of life that only He authors.

We often do this listening and sharing on the "outside"—talking and responding to one another as we discern the Spirit's presence and counsel and then process the message together. Today, she would listen on the “inside”—just her and Jesus. This is a double-edged discipline for me. On the one hand, I'm free to patiently wait for the results of my daughter's listening. But on the other hand, I have no opportunity to be tracking the twists and turns. This was a faith exercise as much for me at it was for her.

Her inside listening lasted a long time. Longer than I was comfortable with. I thought maybe she had fallen back to sleep. But she was listening and God's Spirit was speaking. Finally, she shared with me. Mom, I have a thought. The nurse who was supposed to be in the ward to check me in won't be available and then (our good friend who is a nurse) would be there!

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