your-work-your-worship

Your Work, Your Worship

You Were Made for Worship

Work is our form of worship as human beings. Our purpose is to worship God. However, how come when the world was perfect, and sin had not entered the world yet, there was no worship service mentioned? There was no music. What was there for man to do? There was work. 

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 

20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. (Genesis 2:15,20)

Worship is an expression of adoration. Moreover, it reflects how much worth you attribute to someone. When Adam was created, how did he express his adoration for the Lord? What activity was present? There was work. After, God assigned Adam his “Career Mandate” and he worshipped God through his obedience. 

You’re now cutting against the grain of your very existence to not have something to work on. You are meant to serve. You are meant to be challenged. However, you were also created to take breaks from it. The Creator revealed to us your design. Resting is part of your career mandate. Plan, review, complete, and then rest. Then, go back to work. This is your nature. 

It’s Unnatural Not To Work

Sickness occurs when you go against your design. There is a connection between purpose and health. Moreover, you were not designed to be idle. Idleness causes you to abuse your design. 

My (Bishop Malcolm’s) mother worked in the national health service for 30 years as a nurse. When she came to retire, they called her in for counseling, in order to talk through the retirement process. She asked if I would go with her and I said, “Absolutely.” I went with my mother and we sat down. A lovely lady began to talk through the mechanics of retirement, the mechanics of the process, the pensioning, the forms, and all of that. I thought, “Yeah, this is really helpful because it helps you. You know what to do, you know what to expect.” 

Then the woman turned around and said, “So, tell me about yourself. How many children?” she said. “Do you have grandchildren?” 

 “Yes.”  

“That’s really nice.” Then, the woman started to really lighten up. She said, “Are you a member of any club or society or a group?”  

Mother said, “Yes, yes. I’m an active member of my church.”  

“Oh, that’s wonderful. Do you do things in church?”  

“Oh, yes. Yes, I have roles. I run the prayer group, you know. I do all of these things.” 

 “Oh,” and I’m seeing this woman lightening up. She said, “Do you have any other hobbies? Do you garden? Do you have plants?” 

Statistical Proof of Life Expectancy

As my mother was saying stuff, the woman was getting ecstatic. I’m like, “Excuse me. Tell me why are you saying this?” The woman looked at me and she said, “Because we have statistical proof that if you have nothing to do with your life after you retire, you are going to die within the first few years.”  

“What?”  

“They said your life expectancy drops dramatically if you have nothing to do.” Then a phenomenon that I couldn’t explain suddenly made sense. The phenomenon is one that I observed in the sunny island of Jamaica. We would drive through some districts. This was Beverly Hills. This was Hollywood. These were beautiful houses that had been built by people who were working in this country. They sent their money back home to build their dream house in anticipation of retirement. They would build their dream house, retire, go back to Jamaica and within two years, they’re dead and the house is empty.  

Absolutely, it’s a sociological phenomenon. How do you spend your life building for a dream and when you get it, you’re dead? Our bodies are interconnected with our minds. They’re all part of the same system. If your mind loses purpose, the reason is, your body has no reason to continue living. There’s none. You simply start packing up and dying. The whole idea that I’m going to retire one day and spend the rest of my life on a beach is the formula for death because it’s a totally unnatural human state.  

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your-work-your-worship

Small Groups

Impact of Small Groups to the Church

Impact of Small Groups to the Church

The Current Use of Small Group:

In a research survey conducted by Ed Stetzer and Eric Geiger among churchgoers in the United States and Canada. Results revealed that almost 8 out of 10 or 79 percent of those surveyed agreed that small groups are significant in their church. Two-thirds said that their church regularly starts new small groups. It also revealed a widespread agreement but not overall engagement.  

Stetzer notes that small group members comprise only 50 percent of the Sunday morning attendance. Statistically, this is low.  The people who are genuinely involved in the church genuinely involved must also be plugged into the small community. Further, he mentioned that in reality, 70 percent is not an unreachable goal for churches that correctly give importance to small groups. There are even traditional churches with 94 percent involvement in small groups. We can consider this number high but doable. 

Community involvement is vital because relationships within the church body are essential. As we preach the gospel to one another in a tight-knit community. Spiritual growth changes us from the individual level to the church as a whole. This change allows the church to direct an outward focus and encourage gospel transformation to the communities outside the church’s walls.  

There is something uniquely powerful with intimate gatherings, whether in a living room, a classroom, or a dining table, that allows people to think and act differently than with the whole of the church gathering for corporate worship. Within small groups, much of the theology taught in pulpits begins to be fleshed out in conversations and actions.  

Church on a mission

Stetzer emphasized that for a church to be on a mission, it should be taught from the pulpit, and leaders must equip the members to wrestle with it in their small groups. It may not be easy, but it is fruitful. Community matters are enough to be prioritized and need to be part of the church’s focus.  

There is nothing more important ministry in the life of our church than our small groups. Therefore, Stetzer concludes that whatever the plans or programs the church has for small groups, it should always keep in mind why small groups are good and take advantage of the good they can bring into the church.

Author, Jeremy Linneman, pointed out that there must be a definite goal of small-group ministry. It can be fellowship, friendship, Bible literacy, missional engagement, and neighborhood services. With his more than a decade of leading and overseeing small groups in different contexts, Linneman relates that he is convinced that the single, unifying goal of community ministries should be no other than discipleship.  

Focus on Christ’s Commission

Since Jesus commissioned us to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19), our highest goal for the small groups is not just fellowship or increase. It must be increasing our knowledge of Jesus. It must also be staying in church. Our goal must be to become mature disciples, who are men and women full of the life of Christ. To develop a paradigm for discipleship, start from where true discipleship begins — the earthly life and ministry of Jesus. 

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Small Groups

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! 

1 Samuel 7.1-17

What does the Bible say?

Although God did not institute the gathering at Mizpah, it arose from the Israelites’ desire and recognition that God would deliver them from the Philistines even without a physical king to lead them into battles. Samuel himself resided at Rama, with frequent visits to the various stations that required him to attend to offer judgments.

The manifestations at Mizpah turned what seemed to be a doomed ceremony into a triumphant revelation of God’s will to protect the Israelites. God was watching the progress of the tradition right from heaven, the prayer, the confessions, fasting, and the offering made at the altar at Mizpah.

 There are many celebrations around the world. The United Nations has a roster that schedules every other important day annually, even though various national jurisdictions have ceremonial days declared accordingly.

There are also other globally recognized days that though emanating from Christianity, have unfurled into generic ceremonies. One of them is Christmas day. In the hearts of Christians, it’s a commemoration of the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ. To pagans, it’s a day to make merry as they await the eve of the New Year. It’s a ceremonial moment to recollect and welcome salvation into our hearts in memory of the nativity of Jesus. Most accomplished Christians take time at church and spike that with an act of charity and Merry Christmas.

Celebrating Christ

In the hearts of Christians, it’s a commemoration of the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

When Christ was alive with us, he, too, underscored the place of ceremonies. Mary seemed to have the understanding that Jesus could work miracles. However, Christ appeared to disagree with Mary’s timing. By then, Christ had kept a low profile by just being known as the son of a carpenter, Joseph.

Nevertheless, when he changed the water into wine, the mystery remained with Mary herself since even the master of the ceremony could not discern why the best wine was being served while it was too late into the ceremony. 

According to the guidance that God gave Moses, the Israelites were to live in love with one another, observing the annual ceremonies.

He’d installed among them. In the spirit of being one another’s keeper, the Israelites were to spare some little harvests and leave them deliberately in the fields for strangers and those with no means to fend for themselves.

In the spirit of being one another’s keeper, the Israelites were to spare some little harvests and leave them deliberately in the fields for strangers and those with no means to fend for themselves.

What do we see in the world?

Besides the ordinary festivities, God requested a dedication of all firstborns. That’s why Christ was brought over into the synagogue with a presentation of turtle doves. So above everything, Christ’s spirit to embrace and entrench the Law of Moses is evident right into the festivities in the life of Christ. 

One among the days set aside for God is the Sabbath, to which the Pharisees and the Scribes picked offense with Christ for healing a lame person. A deeper understanding of the nature of the conflict arose from the selfishness of the Pharisees and the Scribes.

We should invoke the presence of God in the many ceremonies that find a way into our lives. In its entirety, finding space for God and giving Him the necessary precedence is not the most challenging thing. We are calling God before and after a journey is as simple as saying a prayer, whether audible or in the silence of the heart.

Even though things may happen in very noisy surroundings, that’s not deterrence enough. God can hear the voice of the heart in terms of requests, praises, and reverence to Him. 

In the busyness of this season, LET’S FIND SPACE TO CELEBRATE JESUS.

Demystifying ceremonies and being able to re-create them into simple tasks is the very essence of Christian living. The very simple prayers are what make a fundamental difference. Let’s make things simple. One doesn’t have to pray for hours continuously.

No. Say a five minutes prayer before heading out for the day. Thank God for the cup of tea and toast before taking it for lunch and dinner. When done repeatedly, we can shed off the ceremonial bits and become part of daily habits that build in you the passion for praying as believers. Merry Christmas to all! 

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Merry Christmas

Discipleship

D1-6: A Discipleship Model

D1-6: A Discipleship Model

Joel Comiskey, the founding pastor of a cell-based church in Southern California, has the same stand by noting that Jesus wants us to become like him.

He pointed out that the Scripture tells us that we are called to be “conformed to the likeness of his Son” (Romans 8:29).

He discussed the next step in small group ministry by maturing the believers, moving them forward, and helping them depend on Jesus. In Comiskey’s book, Making Disciples in the 21 Century Church, he emphasized how small or cell groups are instrumental in helping God’s people become more like Jesus. He developed a paradigm that is practical in building disciples through small groups. He called this process of discipleship “D1-6.” 

D-1

The first step is that of a “D-1 disciple”, a person who participates in a cell group,uses gifts, and takes the equipping class for discipleship. In this step, an individual attends the service to hear God’s Word and worship with other believers. Next, in this process, an individual is baptized. They are taught to obey all the things that Christ has commanded (Matthew 28:18-20). Finally, the essential components in the training process of a “D-1 disciple” include doctrinal teaching and holiness. It also included baptism, evangelism, and preparation to minister to others.  

D-2

The next step is that of a “D-2 disciple”, a person who lives out in practice what they learn and serves as part of the leadership team. Moreover, the disciple plays a significant role in the small group. Also prepares to launch and participate in a new group. 

D-3

Next is the “D-3 disciple”, a person who is the point leader of a group. In this step, a disciple gathers people together and leads a small group. Also, they have graduated from the training track provided by the church.

D-4

This is followed by a “D-4 disciple”, an already coaching or mentoring someone else. In this stage, a disciple has developed another disciple is also leading their cell group. Comiskey considered a “D-4 disciple” as a multiplication leader. 

Moreover, Comiskey’s discipleship paradigm does not stop with a “D-4 disciple”.

D-5

He further notes that some disciples will become staff of the church or the “D-5 disciples.” Also, others will even go and plant new churches, which he calls the “D-6 disciples”.

D-6 

This paradigm of discipleship is intended to help a believer through a clearly defined equipping process. In this light, the vision of the small group system is to help members take the next step and level up in their discipleship walk. The practical goal of Comiskey’s small group paradigm is to make mature disciples in taking the next step in ministry and ultimately grow more like Jesus.

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Discipleship

Five Ideas for Establishing Discipleship in Small Groups

Kate Allred presented these five ideas for how you can make sure discipleship occurs in the small group setting:

The first is to Identify and Build the Spiritual Gifts of Each Member

Since there is a more personal relationship among the group, it would be easier to identify each member’s unique gifts and talents and help them nurture these gifts. God does not randomly give spiritual gifts, and He has given us gifts to be used for His glory. Small groups can be an environment to identify and grow God-given abilities. 

The second is to Get Personal.

Small group members are encouraged to meet outside of group meetings, aside from studying the Word together and praying for one another. They can also be present in each other’s personal events such as attending children’s birthday parties and the like. Through these interpersonal relationships, members will develop the connection needed to encourage and challenge each other. This is why leaders are to encourage these kinds of personal meetings and events wherever and whenever possible.  

The third is to Focus Outward.

Many leaders tend to concentrate only on the inward aspects of their small groups. However, a certain amount of outward focus is also needed for the group. Leaders must observe a balance between forming tight bonds within the small group and participating as followers of Jesus to the larger community. Allred recommends that small groups consider adopting a community or create a group service project that will keep some outward focus as they continue building stronger relationships. 

Fourth on Allred’s list is to Hold Each Other Accountable.

Accountability is one of the most important aspects of discipleship. To hold oneself and the other members of the small group accountable should not have to be uncomfortable. Accountability must be initiated and kept within the group through a pleasant and loving approach. Small group leaders can encourage members to grow as disciples as they gently hold them accountable and help them overcome their challenges. 

Lastly, Choose Curriculum Carefully.

The curriculum that the small groups are using should be tailored to the members’ level of faith and knowledge. The material should be easy to grasp band challenging because it requires intense discussion to fully understand and apply it in our daily lives. Discipleship is a process of growth as much as it is a state of being, but this growth cannot happen without challenging and pushing oneself. 

Allred further emphasized that discipleship is one of the most important factors in the success of small groups. A group focused on discipleship will form meaningful relationships. They can grow together in Christ to become a positive force in the church and community.

 

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Discipleship

Small is Big (Part 2)

Small is Big (Part 2)

The personal and flexible nature of the discipleship method modeled by Jesus Christ is so compelling. Jesus delivered brilliant messages among crowds, but he also gathered around him a core group of believers. He demonstrated how necessary it is to grow and sustain the message he delivered. Nevertheless, he maintained its impact and the intimacy within his disciples.

During his earthly ministry, Jesus initiated small groups of people. He sent them to reach out to others and establish their groups.  

And Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and heal.

After this, the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by to, into every town and place where he was about to go. And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

The scripture is clear to tell us that the 12 disciples and the other 72 who were sent by twos were very successful in advancing the ministry of Jesus. This is why small groups or cellular organizations are similarly essential to communicate messages and build support. When an organization or movement is growing, it is crucial not to choose size over substance.  

Instead, it is better to find ways that create smaller, individualized communities that can nurture themselves and the larger group. Everyone in the cell or small group is encouraged to be involved. When their units become large, they break them into smaller units that can better foster relationships, accountability, and trust.

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Small is Big

Involvement of Small Group Members

Why Is Small the New Big? 

One way to keep discipleship simple is by looking at small discipleship groups as one significant, impactful movement. Jesus closely mentored 12 men, who later became world changers. Twelve is a small number, but the impact it created in advancing God’s kingdom is significant.  

Malcolm Gladwell notes that churches, like any sizeable voluntary organization, are not spared from internal contradiction. To attract newcomers, the church must have minimal barriers to allow entry. They must be unintimidating, friendly, and culturally adaptive. To retain their members, they need to have one identity different from where they came from. They need to give their members a sense of community. However, having a community or a sense of a new identity and exclusivity is an inevitable casualty of growth. 

 If the barriers to entry become too low and the relationship among members becomes weak, then a church becomes more vulnerable as it grows bigger. This has been a common problem with growing organizations. At first, people are moved by a message, but it will not be enough to keep them.  

They need to be part of a community that accounts for them to apply the message in their lives. As an organization increases, the people within can become less connected, and their dedication to the cause and the group decreases. The movement grows in number but becomes less effective.  

To Grow or Not to Grow

To cope with these growing pains, Gladwell mentions that one solution is not to grow. Historically, churches have sacrificed size for the community. But there is also another approach: creating a church of many networks of small discipleship cells or groups that is exclusive and tightly knit for six to seven members, who regularly meet during the week to fellowship, worship, and pray with one another.  

When megachurches became the instrument of the evangelical movement and started to adopt the cellular model, they found out that the small group was an extraordinary vehicle of commitment, for it was personal, flexible, cost-efficient, and convenient. Moreover, every member was able to find a small group that matched their interests.

In the next post, we’ll talk more about how Jesus modeled “small is big.”

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Small

What Does Discipleship “Look” Like?

Our immediate concern should not know how to build a disciple but to first have a clear picture of how disciple looks like, do, or are. As we consider the question about what a disciple is.

The answers we could have in mind are about becoming like Jesus, obeying everything in Scripture, becoming completely committed to a lifetime of growth, devotion, and learning.  

Once we are sure of what a disciple is, we can now proceed into questions like these:

  • What should be the absolute basic knowledge required for someone to become a good follower of Jesus?
  • What would be the essential characteristics (passion, heart, desire, commitments) of those same people?

Growing as a disciple requires movement. As people come to our churches and enter into a discipleship pathway, we desire them to grow more and more like Jesus.  

Delivery System for the Discipleship Model

There are three ways to approach discipleship. Three ways to comprehensively approach discipleship can either be through  the following:

  1. Program Driven Church
  2. Missional Group Church
  3. Discipleship Modeling Church.  

Program Driven Church

A Program Driven Church is a close-knit church with a congregation who loves to spend time together, i.e., playgroups, coffee groups, Saturday breakfasts, hockey day, etc.

In this delivery system, the church assures that everyone who walks through their doors has a place and feels welcomed.  

Missional Group Church

Secondly, the Missional Group Church prioritizes time with those who do not know Christ.

Missional Church members are eager to know their neighbors to invite these people into their homes and church and join their small group.

This church is very externally driven and is passionate about sharing Jesus with the people around them.  

Discipleship Modeling Church

Finally, the Discipleship Modeling Church refers to the church that focuses on the growth and development of each member of their church.

This mission is integrated through Sunday services, fellowships, mentoring, and even online discipleship programs.

The discipleship leaders in a Discipleship Modeling Church are intentional in establishing and empowering future discipleship leaders.

They spend time developing relationships and modeling leadership. In the same vein, they have a clear path for the discipleship journey and have created a culture where church members are excited to grow in their relationship with Christ.

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The DNA of the Small Groups

The DNA of the Small Groups:

Instead of asking for new small group strategies that are working well, a discipleship pastor or leader should first determine the DNA of the small groups in their church.

Rather than going for effective discipleship curriculums, a pastor or any leader must be first grounded. Pastors must align themselves to God’s calling for their church’s small groups.  

Small group leaders take shortcuts to successful small groups, and they copy and apply another church’s model for discipleship. The problem with this is that they do not take into account their own church’s unique fundamentals.

Every church is different, and this is okay. We should celebrate this difference since other churches can do different things to reach different people.

The discipleship system of simplicity is firmly grounded with the basics and the fundamentals of discipleship.

Sometimes, even the most basic question, “What is a Disciple?” becomes a complicated question to answer. It’s about creating a simple, duplicable discipleship pathway for the church community. 

In whatever language we have, discipleship remains the core designated task for the church, as we call it the Great Commission.  

And Jesus came and said to them,

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

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The DNA of the Small Groups

Back to Basics Part 2

In the last post, you read about going back to basics and being straightforward in your discipleship system, and keeping accurate to the model Jesus exhibited. What are other tips we can follow?

The fourth principle of Fuhs is, “Don’t blend the genders.” There will be concerns about the individual lives of the group members that they will not be comfortable sharing or confessing in the presence of the opposite sex. Lastly, “Content Matters.” Fuhs noted that while all scripture is God-breathed, not all scripture will have equal weight in transforming lives and multiplying disciples. What we teach in our small groups is what they will teach in their small groups.

There are countless principles that we can memorize and apply in our discipleship groups. There are also numerous discipleship models and frameworks that we can copy and utilize. However, just like how Jesus and the first disciples did it before, we need not complicate things. Problems arise when we get too strategic that we go beyond and forget the basics. 

Senior Pastor of New Life Bible Church Oklahoma, Alan Danielson, shared in an article, “The right way to do small groups,” the lessons he learned from years of small group consulting. He emphasized that some discipleship models do work but are not effective for others. Danielson noticed that some discipleship pastors and leaders are more focused on the process while overlooking their small group’s fundamentals.  

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Back to Basics Part 2

Simon Peter: Commitment to Action

Prophetic commitment is something that exists in language, and it is only by speaking and listening that you can have access to it. We all make commitments. Even self-confessed procrastinators at some point will realize that they are committed to avoid decisions.

One account in the Bible that depicts prophetic commitment to action which resulted in a new possibility is the conversation between Jesus and Simon Peter while in a boat when he walked on water (Mt. 14:22-33).

It happened again after Jesus died and resurrected from the dead.

Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off. (John 21:3-8)

Everything seemed ironic. It was a time when the odds were against Simon Peter. They had all night to catch fish, but not a single one was caught. Then Jesus, a carpenter’s son, instructed him, a seasoned fisherman, to let down the nets. It was just like a kindergarten teacher coaching a rocket scientist about his job. Despite the unreasonableness and the fact that it was against any fisherman’s professional judgment, Peter committed to do as the Lord said. He faithfully let down the net as told.

Because of that faith and commitment, the result was spectacular. The nets were overflowing with too much fish that they were already about to tear. Even the boat, because of too much weight it was carrying, was almost to the point of sinking. This is what prophetic commitment does.

When we are committed to that possibility of change, we will do it despite the unreasonableness. And once we do, that possibility is realized.

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What is the Lord challenging you to commit to right now, despite the impossibility you are facing?

CHOOSE LIFE

A person gets lost in what other people think about him. Operating in the flesh, this person is concerned with image. He allows tasks, rules, standards, and the urgency and scope of being in the realities of this world rule his ways of being. Needless to say, these things take hold of choices for possibilities.

Martin Heidegger calls this invisible pressure from other people to conform the “they.”  The “they” has concealed the way it has silently robbed the individual of the choice between “yes” or “no.” It becomes unclear who is really choosing what.

When you allow the “they” to rob you of your choices, you get caught up with inauthenticity. Therefore, when you have an inauthentic existence, your behavior and everything in your being is out of integrity. This is because who you know yourself to be is different from who you are being. Note that the process to integrity and authenticity can only be experienced once again when you take your existence back from the “they”.

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Who/what are the “they’s” in your life right now that are robbing you of your choices?