I almost titled this blog “Your Mission, Should You Choose To Accept it.” Then I erased the second part because if you chose to follow Christ, this is your mission. Today I’m going to re-examine the great commission, because I think we may have limited it; our perception might be off. (Many thoughts in this blog were inspired by content in Alan and Deb Hirsch’s book, “Untamed”).
First let me provide this visual of the “Engels Scale.” It acknowledges a process people undergo in coming to faith and growing in Christ (don’t get caught in the details, the point is that there is a PROCESS):
-6 Awareness of supreme being
-5 Initial awareness of gospel
-4 Positive attitude toward gospel
-3 Personal problem recognition
-2 Decision to act
-1 Repentance and faith in Christ
*NEW BIRTH IN CHRIST*
+1 Post-decision evaluation
+2 Incorporation into Body
+3 Growth in Jesus
+4 Communion with God
Our mission comes directly from Jesus. Summarized, our mission is to make disciples. In other words, our mission is to help people along towards a +6.
I think we err when we consider discipleship (or the Great Commission) as only getting the unsaved to Christ; getting people to a “0” on the scale.
I also think we err when we consider discipleship as only what occurs after we receive Christ. I think discipleship is the full process from -6 to +6. I am arguing that we have two types of discipleship: (1) Pre-Christian Discipleship and (2) Post-Christian Discipleship. This is our mission; and what Jesus modeled with his disciples.
So what’s that mean for us?
1) I think we should be discipling everyone we come in contact with; truly living out the Great Commission every day and in every place. We should be discipling people even without them knowing; showing God’s love in every situation.
2) I think we need to recognize the value in our “neighbors” moving from a -5 to a -4 without being disappointed that they didn’t make the jump all the way to “0” after one conversation.
3) I think we need to live and think like we are on a mission. Because we are. Living with this perspective is really kinda exciting! What will God do with people who are willingly ready to disciple?
My Uncle Mike is amazing. He’s probably the most brilliant mentor ever. He has forgotten more about Worship Arts Ministry than I know. Several times I have asked him for advice about a certain situation, wanting to tap into his seemingly infinite knowledge. Each time I fully expected him to say, “Adam, the solution is simple. You need to _____.”
But he never has done that. He’ll start by saying something like, “What do you think?” or “What do your instincts tell you to do?” I hate it when he asked that! It would be so much easier if he just told me how to think. But he never did that. He continued to ask question after question until I solved my own problem.
As time went on, I found myself contacting my Uncle Mike for advice less and less. Every time I encountered a potential problem I started to intuitively ask MYSELF, “Adam, what do your instincts tell you to do in this situation?” If my Uncle Mike told me how to think, then I would be an Uncle Mike Junior (not that that would be all bad, I mean he’s pretty cool). But instead, my Uncle Mike helped develop me into my own person with my own leadership “guts.” Would it have been faster and easier for him to just tell me what to do? Sure, but not better.
I wrote this down on paper last February (I don’t remember why):
“A disciple-maker/mentor must regularly check his motives. The disciple-maker’s goal is to develop his proteges into devoted followers of Christ, in the context of their giftings, Calling (with a capital C), and personal vision.”
By the way, if you consider yourself a devoted follower of Christ and you’re not mentoring someone else, well, Jesus told us to go and make disciples… so get going. You don’t have to be a super-Christian. You just need to be honest. I wrote about that in 2006 right here.
I am “for” mentoring through relationship. I qualified the mentoring with the phrase “through relationship” because I’ve seen a lot of people try to mentor without a relationship. This works — I just don’t think it works very well. 🙂 Without relationship — the mentor’s challenges will be ignored. Without relationship — corrections have no sting. Without relationship, there will be little to no transfer of “life knowledge.”
I tend to think of mentoring as allowing a mentee into your life; not just getting into theirs. I heard of one adult mentor who was meeting with his teenage mentee at his home when the mentor and his wife got into a fight. The mentee was going to leave to give them privacy, but the mentor (with the wife’s consent) encouraged his mentee to stay and observe how he and his wife worked out their problems. That’s mentoring through relationship and allowing the mentee into his life. That’s a mentoring relationship. Teaching is not effective mentoring, in my opinion.
Now you could easily pass this off as being something for only certain individuals. I think I can actually hear some of you thinking, “Eh, I’m not the ‘big brother’ type of person.” Phooey on that thought! (Yes, I did just say “phooey”). You are the best in the world at connecting with certain people. Maybe that’s children at your church’s sunday school. Maybe its your boss or co-worker. Our lives are surrounded by opportunities to mentor through relationship. It’s easy to be a teacher without relationship. It is very difficult to be an effective mentor without relationship. Read more about this in a previous post of mine where I described how mentoring through relationship is God’s plan for the Church. I am “for” mentoring through relationship.
This past weekend was a great service at New Hope. We were very blessed to have singer Jeoffrey Benward (of Aaron*Jeoffrey) ministering with us. He had come up for a special appreciation dinner of Gilbert Dilley, an older gentleman who served years as a pastor and evangelist. (Gilbert Dilley had a profound impact on many young people in the 70s during the Jesus Movement. He led many people towards the baptism in the Holy Spirit during late night prayer meetings in his house – among the group were both of my parents and Jeoff. We owe a great deal of gratitude to people such as Gilbert Dilley who influenced the lives of the people who are influencing us! Seeing the legacy that Gilbert Dilley has already left made me think – what kind of legacy am I leaving? Will the people who I am influencing influence others? I can only pray and trust God that my influence will be lasting.)
During the special time of appreciating Gilbert, Jeoffrey was saying a few words. I had never seen the prophet side of Jeoffrey Benward – but it was definitely there. He was speaking to Gilbert directly when he said words we should never forget, “You will never loose your relevancy when you are working with the Spirit.”
How true is this! The push among many young Christian leaders today is to remain “relevant.” Many of them say that to be relevant you must use proper technology, use special words to develop branding, advertise a certain way, and wear blue jeans on the stage. I’m not speaking against these things — but being “relevant” without working in the Spirit of God is wrong. We can never loose our relevancy when we are being led by the Spirit of God.
My fear (and what I have observed) is that while young Christians have a desire to remain “relevant” — they listen to U2, but they’ve stopped listening to God. U2 doesn’t bring relevance to your ministry (although their sound is really tight!) – the Spirit of God has stood the test of relevancy. That’s relevant.
“I believe in God and all that Christianity stands for — I believe it. I’ve asked Jesus in my heart several times. I’ve followed Christ, I’ve fallen away, I’ve rededicated my life — but I’ve never felt any different. Nothing has ever changed. I followed Christian thought for years – but anymore I’m not really even interested in searching for God.” -A friend of mine.
What encouragement might you have for my friend?
I was walking into Wal-Mart today. As I was, I observed a father with two children in his shopping cart walk right past the Salvation Army donation bucket. There was no attendant at the bucket; no bell ringer. I heard the child say something. The father promptly stopped, backed back up several steps to the donation bucket, and told his small child, “You’re right! You’re absolutely right! We do need to put something in here.” He pulled out a few bills from his wallet. As he did, I heard him continue to teach his children, “Do you know why we need to do this? . . . ”
At that point I had entered the store and couldn’t have watched any more of the interaction without being rude. But I can only imagine that the father taught his children a valuable message about caring for others in need.
Those who God has blessed are blessed with the purpose of being a blessing to everyone else. Our blessings from God are for everyone else. It’s our job to take the blessing we have received and give it to those who have not. I’m not just speaking about money.
If you are a great swimmer – teach someone how to swim.
If you are blessed with a musical gift – use it at church.
If you have great thoughts – blog.
If you have the ability to smile – do it more often.
We are blessed to be a blessing!
I was thinking the other day about Jesus and how when he was here on earth, if he was thinking about 2006. I think he must have been. I mean he had 3 years of ministry on the earth, and he had to make those 3 years of ministry so impactful that the shock waves lasted over 2000 years after he left. Jesus had to have been an expert strategist. What was Jesus’ strategy for changing the world?
People. He invested his life into 12 people.
I think we should adopt Jesus’ strategy here. Everyone on this planet has SOMEBODY that looks up to them or they can help. We need to be about developing relationships and mentoring someone. It’s God’s plan. You don’t have to be an old fart to mentor somebody, either. I was in elementary school the first time I mentored someone. Regardless of personality or age, we can all find someone to pour ourselves into.
Addition: One great way to impact others is to volunteer in a children’s program, such as at a church. My Church, New Hope Christian Center, has plenty of opportunities for you to influence lives of others; the boy and girl scout programs are just two.