GoingFullCircleBlog

Growing Worshiping Disciples on Mission for Christ


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How to Grow 14 Billion Disciplemakers in 70 years

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Jesus went out and saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the tax office,

and He said to him, “Follow Me!” So, leaving everything behind,

he got up and began to follow Him.

Luke 5:27–28, HCSB

Have you ever heard of the Bible-Storying Method of Discipleship? It’s an ancient-future approach to teaching the Bible and growing disciple-makers and it is sweeping the world in many different forms.  The goal is to grow spiritual dynamos who are fully invested in going full circle with God.  One of the forms this movement is taking is the Real Life Ministries approach.

Real Life Ministries (RLM) is a non-denominational Evangelical Christian church in Post Falls, Idaho. Planted in 1998, the church has grown to an average weekend attendance of more than 7,000. The unique characteristic of Real Life is a Bible study methodology called storying that grew out of a partnership with Avery Willis. Willis who served as president of an Indonesian seminary, wrote MasterLife discipleship plan, served as executive strategist for 5,500 missionaries with the International Mission Board, and ended his career with the International Orality Network.

After several years of discussion with Willis, Real Life decided to introduce Bible-storying into their small groups. The experiment was so successful that they trained all their pastors, community pastors, and small group leaders in the method. They found that the storying method:

  1. Helps people learn the Bible,
  2. Makes it easier to recruit small group leaders,
  3. Facilitates real learning,
  4. Equips members for ministry,
  5. Empowers parents to disciple their kids,
  6. Helps small group leaders understand the spiritual needs of those they are discipling,
  7. Keeps small groups from becoming boring, and
  8. Encourages transparency and real relationships.

Real Life identifies three major keys to making disciples according to God’s plan:

1. An intentional leader,

2. A relational environment,

3. A reproducible process.

The Real Life Discipleship Training Manual presents the mathematical process of kingdom multiplication:

  1. One disciple makes three disciple-makers every five years.
  2. If those three disciple-makers do the same every five years, in ten years there will be almost 180,000 disciple-makers.

  3. If they continue… in seventy years (less than the average life span), there are potentially fourteen billion disciple-makers. That is twice the number of people currently occupying our planet.

SO WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR?  LET’S DO THIS!  Email me at markpowers@scbaptist.org and I’ll send you a Bible Storying method called “Discipleship TRIOS” that can help you make this happen. And next week in our next blog, I’ll share more details of what Bible-Storying is and how it can work for you. See you then.  — Mark Powers

 

*Putnam, Willis, Guindon, Krause. Real-Life Discipleship Training Manual: Equipping Disciples Who Make Disciples.

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“Rabbi” or “Lord”… What is Jesus to you?

Businessman Balancing SomethingWhile they were eating, He said, “I assure you: One of you will betray Me.”

Deeply distressed, each one began to say to Him, “Surely not I, Lord.” . . .

Then Judas, His betrayer, replied, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” “You have said it,” He told him.

Matthew 26:20-22,25-26, HCSB

Disciple or betrayer, the difference is found in one small word. The disciples called Jesus “Lord,” but Judas called him “Rabbi,” which means “teacher.” Many in the world know information about Jesus. But knowledge alone does not make a disciple. When Jesus is our Lord, he is our master, our spiritual boss, our authority. “To Judas, Jesus was a rabbi he respected, spent time with, and learned from, but Jesus was not lord of his life. Judas never surrendered his will to Jesus. He was informed but never transformed.”1 A disciple’s life is the expression of deep love for our Lord and Savior who transforms us daily through his power.

In previous blog posts, we studied the transformation process Jesus outlined in the Beatitudes. There we discovered how God transforms believers into disciples. How can we partner with God to develop a plan which will lead worship teams through transformation? How can we provide experiences to grow worship teams into missionaries?

Across the next three weeks, I will present a three-step plan to transform your worship team into a missional worship team.

Step One: The Missional Life Retreat.

Step Two: Missional Moments in Rehearsals.

Step Three: Full Circle Groups

Don’t miss it!  I’ll see you here next week.  — Mark Powers

1. Geiger, Kelley, Nation, Transformational Discipleship, 19.


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Jesus’ Secret for Leading Through Change

Jesus5 Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion?

Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.

I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it.

Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.

I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me. You’ll learn to live freely and lightly.

Matthew 11:28–30, The Message

Dictionary.com defines change as: “1. to make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of something different from what it is, or from what it would be if left alone; 2. to transform or convert.”

An unknown writer said: “I cannot say whether things will get better if we change; what I can say is that they must change if they are to get better.”

Socrates said: “Let him who would change the world first change himself.”

The Bible talks about change, too. Most Scriptures using the word “change” are assurances that God’s nature will remain unchanged throughout eternity. The remaining Scriptures mentioning change are commands to change our lives to align with God. Though God’s nature never changes, the world he created is ever-changing. Change is a naturally occurring result of a dynamic universe made by a creative God. So we must learn to lead through change because change is always going to be a part of life.

The Scripture above is the secret to unlock Jesus’ plan for leading through change: God is the real leader, and we are following him.

Henry and Richard Blackaby, in their book, Spiritual Leadership: Moving People on to God’s Agenda, wrote: “The key to spiritual leadership is for leaders to understand God’s will for them and their organizations. They then move people away from their own agendas and on to God’s.”

The Scripture in Matthew 11 tells us to “walk, work, and watch” in God, so we will “learn the unforced rhythms of grace.” A leader must stay so close to God that we hear his whisper and walk in his shadow. There is no guarantee that this level of trust and obedience will bring success in worldly terms. Jesus lived like this, and it took him to the cross. Yet we trust in the power of the resurrection regardless of the sacrifice it takes to get there.

GO walk every step with God, and be the leader HE has called you and gifted you to be!  — Mark Powers

 


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A Summer Meditation for Worship Leaders: “Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed”

cross01 If you desire to be a leader of disciples, you must beware. “Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it” (Gen. 4:7, NIV) The biggest challenge we face as leaders is the mastery of our private self. What am I when no one is looking?

Alas, and did my Savior bleed and did my Sovereign die?

Would He devote that sacred head for sinners such as I?

Was it for crimes that I had done, he groaned upon the tree?

Amazing pity, grace unknown, and love beyond degree!

I shudder to think of the whip on Jesus’ back. I do not want to imagine the cat-of-nine-tails bruising and cutting him for me. Yet I persist in my sin, heaping pain on him. Are you too weak to embrace the pain of rejecting secret sin when he took the whip and nails for you? By his stripes we are healed. They are his gift to you. Allow the image of his stripes to overpower private sin. That is your gift to him. Our choice is to either be healed or hold the whip.

Well might the sun in darkness hide, and shut His glories in,

When Christ the mighty Maker died for man, the creature’s sin.

But drops of grief can ne’er repay the debt of love I owe

Here, Lord, I give myself away, ‘Tis all that I can do.

Watts, “Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed,” Public Domain.

— Mark Powers


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Singing Churchmen Mission Trip to Cleveland: Amazing Works of God!

 Cleveland 2016 - street singing 2 Twenty eight members of the 60 voice SC Baptist Singing Churchmen were on mission in Cleveland Ohio from last Saturday, April 30 through today Saturday, May 7.  God used us in amazing ways to share the good news of Christ!

Every time we sang we included a simple straightforward presentation of the gospel. But even better… from Sunday through Friday, we recorded 219 one-on-one conversations in which we presented the gospel in a personal and non-threatening way. Something like this: “Hi, did you enjoy our singing? We’re here telling people how much God loves them and wants to have a relationship with them through Jesus.  Are you a Jesus-follower or have you experienced that relationship with God?”

From these conversations we gleaned 22 contacts which were turned over to Jay Schroder to give to Cleveland Church Planters for follow up.

DURING THE FIVE DAYS IN CLEVELAND we sang  TWENTY TIMES in every imaginable setting. Here is a list of the places we sang:

Sunday, May 1:

  • Morning Worship at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church where the Holy Spirit moved mightily.  After our songs, Pastor Dwayne Simmons abandoned his sermon and communion service plans and preached on prayer and led us into an hour long time of praise and prayer for chains to be broken in the congregation and the city.
  • Evening Worship with the Chinese Church in Hudson Ohio followed by Q&A about worship and music ministry then dinner with the church members and guests.

Monday, May 2:

  • Concert at Tower City Mall in downtown Cleveland at lunch hour which led to many spiritual conversations.
  • Singing in four locations on the downtown streets of Cleveland. Fun time!
  • Concert at the Cleveland VA Hospital, one of the largest VA hospitals in the U.S.

Tuesday, May 3:

  • Concerts in three Assisted Living Centers where NAMB church planter Dave Wible has started discipleship groups.  (Dave has started over 70 discipleship groups in the past three years in the Cleveland area.)
  • Flash Mob twice at local mall food court… many great conversations!
  • Two concerts during evening feeding shifts at Lakeside Lutheran Men’s Shelter.  Amazing experience!

Wednesday, May 4:

  • Concert at the Medina OH town square gazebo for Brunswick Community Church then lunch at cafes all around the square to talk to those who had seen and heard us. Pastor Buck Wilford, former Special Forces officer, was meeting and talking to those passing with great energy and a huge smile.
  • Flash Mob at the historic Westside Market in West Cleveland, a huge inside market featuring bakeries and delis and butcher shops.
  • Concert for Liberty Hill Baptist Church, an African American congregation that loved us and provided for us in their dormitory style rooms where many mission groups stay each year and let us use their full kitchen for our meals.

Thursday, May 5:

  • Participated in and sang for the Cleveland National Day of Prayer Event in Wade Oval Park, a powerful four hour prayer and praise fest with Christians from across the city.
  • Concert of kids songs and gospel magic for Laura’s Home, shelter for abused mothers and children.  One of the real highpoints of the trip… watching our group “dance” and sing motion songs with the kids.  Jim Diehl, Director of Missions for Aiken Baptist Association, presented the gospel through kid-friendly magic, too.

Friday, May 6:

  • Traveled halfway home and presented an evening concert at Ansted Baptist Church in West Virginia for a packed house pastored by Randy Spurgeon who is the former Worship & Music Director for WV but was called to pastor this church last fall.  This church is a major force for the gospel, running around 200 in worship in a small town of only 2,000 residents. What a great way to end our trip!

THIS IS GOING FULL CIRCLE… WORSHIP THAT LEADS TO DISCIPLESHIP AND MISSIONS!  And YOU can do it, too.  GO!  — Mark Powers


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Missional Thinking: Church Planting 101 for Worship Leaders

GFC iconThey said, “Cornelius, a centurion, an upright and God-fearing man,

who has a good reputation with the whole Jewish nation, was divinely directed by a holy angel

to call you to his house and to hear a message from you.” The following day he (Peter) entered Caesarea.

Now Cornelius was expecting them and had called together his relatives and close friends.

Acts 10:22, 24, HCSB

Here is the goal of missions: That a year from now, there would be more people who know Christ as Savior, as a percentage of the population of a specific people group, than right now. Based on that specific goal, we must “develop a contextual process to reach, disciple, congregationalize (gather), mobilize, and reproduce believers among specific ethnic, lifestyle and life-stage groups,” a definition of missional strategy that Curt Watke teaches in his missional training.

Across America and the world, new strategies are springing up almost daily to accomplish this goal. My purpose is not to recommend one or the other, but rather to encourage us to explore the variety of ways God is moving to win people. The establishment of missional communities is one such strategy sweeping our world. Reggie McNeal accurately chronicles these in his book Missional Communities: The Rise of the Post-Congregational Church. McNeal is careful to say that missional communities can exist alongside our congregational churches as an alternative church life form. And both can and must learn from each other. The term “missional community” embraces a wide variety of groups. In general they are groups of between ten and seventy people collaborating together to fulfill a mission strategy. Sometimes, a missional community is formed by smaller cluster groups such as discipleship groups, etc. Members of missional communities worship, study, grow and do missions together in formal and informal ways. 3DM Ministries, founded by Mike Breen, facilitates missional communities to model the three dimensions of Up-In-Out. This is a close correlation to the full circle of worship-discipleship-mission. I highly recommend Launching Missional Communities: A Field Guide by Mike Breen and Alex Absalom for excellent insight into missional communities and how they function. This resource is based on more than 20 years of developing a practical nuts-and-bolts approach to starting highly effective missional communities.

The house church is one prevalent form of missional community. Since New Testament days, the house church has been a powerful seed in church planting. The house church movement is alive and well across the world, moving under the radar of institutional awareness and control. House churches are the engine fueling the rapid growth of Christianity in China, India, Brazil, and many other parts of the world. Lessons from the house church movement—both good and bad—can give excellent insight into leading your worship ministry to become a missional community. You can read more about the house church network at http://housechurch.org/about.html.

Meanwhile, institutional churches are being revitalized by the “mission outpost” strategy. An outpost mission team is called out and trained in the five-fingered-approach specifically to start mission outposts to become new churches under the guidance of the sponsoring church. The mission outpost process is very simple: form and train a mission team, target a people group in your community, place the team at a home or public setting to do missions, form a home discipleship group from contacts made there, and then grow the discipleship group into a house church to reach indigenous people around them.

These strategies and many more are predicated upon finding the “person of peace” and his/her household. In Luke 10:5–7 (NIV), Jesus sent his disciples on mission with this instruction: “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.”

God shows us where he is about to visit by the presence of one or more people of peace. In the Scripture above we see Cornelius, the person of peace who reached out to Peter and opened his household. God instructs us to look for a person of peace in a target people group and connect with that person and his/her household. If there is no person of peace there, then we simply move on. God may prepare the most unlikely people to be your “person(s) of peace,” so be open to everyone. Finding and building a relationship with the person(s) of peace is the key to connecting with their households—their relational networks. It is imperative to involve persons of peace in our Missional communities as quickly as possible so they embrace the gospel and join God’s mission. This will equip them to be leaders as our outpost grows into an indigenous church or missional community on its own.

So here is the circle of missional strategy:

1. Churches present local mission events;

2. From those events, mission outposts are established to meet people at their point of need on a regular basis in your community through ongoing mission projects;

3. Persons of peace are discovered from the mission outposts and enlisted to host Bible storying groups in their home or another community setting;

4. As people in the group accept Jesus as Savior, the outposts become indigenous house churches;

5. House churches link together to become a constituted church or missional community;

6. These present local mission events . . . and the missional strategy keeps going full circle.

New Testament churches were basically missional communities worshiping, discipling, and doing missions. They reached out to persons of peace in their own communities and established new missional communities household to household. Using this model, Christianity grew exponentially in three centuries from about 1,000 believers in 40 A.D. to 33.8 million by 350 A.D. Would you agree that the strategy worked? Can the strategy work today?

WORSHIP LEADERS – I am challenging YOU to do ongoing Mission projects in and through your worship ministry, discovering persons of peace in YOUR neighborhoods, then discipling them to establish mission outposts for the sharing of the gospel of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. WHO WILL GO? — Mark Powers

  • Watke, “M3 lectures.” South Carolina Baptist Convention, 2012–2013, used with permission.


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Missions 101: Our Missional Message – Jesus is the Only Way to God!

Jesus5 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation,

a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him

who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

1 Peter 2:9, NIV

A 2012 study by LifeWay Research asked Protestant pastors and church members to respond to the statement: “If a person is sincerely seeking God, he/she can obtain eternal life through religions other than Christianity.” The alarming statistic is that 12 percent of Protestant pastors actually agreed with the statement. This means that more than 1 in 10 of the responding pastors does not believe that Jesus is the only way to eternal life. Statistics for adults who attend Protestant churches are far more alarming. A startling 26 percent agreed with the statement. That’s more than 1 in 4 Protestant church members polled who don’t believe Jesus is the only way to God.5

The Scriptures call Christians to be a distinctive people. But many Christians today want to look and act like the world to increase our acceptance by the world. Distinctiveness is not something we seem to value as Christians these days. Let’s consider this issue in two parts.

First, the message of the gospel calls Christians to a distinctive belief. Without a distinct message, it is almost impossible for the church to call unbelievers into relationship with God. When we believe that other religions lead to eternal life, the message of Christ and the call to God’s mission of reconciliation go out the window. Any talk-show host or positive-thinking guru can piece together a message from world religions that makes us feel good. American society tells us, “Co-exist! Live, and let live. Lifestyles are in, religion is out. Everybody has a right to embrace their own belief system. There is no right and wrong as long as you don’t hurt someone or their things.”

But God calls his people to boldly proclaim Christ as God’s singular means of reconciliation. Will we listen to our God or to our world?

Jesus said himself, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6, NIV). Mohammed specifically says in the Koran that Jesus is not God. Jewish faith says that the Son of God, the Messiah, has not yet come. Buddhism says that there is no God. Hinduism says there are many gods. These religions are mutually exclusive. You can’t get around that fact. We must offer the world the only thing that will make a difference. Offer them the real truth of God. God designed us to be incomplete without him. He completes us for eternal life exclusively through his only son Jesus. There is no other way to God.

Second, the message of the gospel calls Christians to a distinctive lifestyle. Without a distinctive lifestyle, it is almost impossible for the church to call unbelievers to relationship with God. If our behavior is no different from those around us, how can we tell them that Christ will make a difference in their lives? As discussed previously in this blog, God expects his followers to consistently exhibit the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. If these qualities do not signify our lives, how can we be significant in pointing others to God? Our distinctive lifestyle must be a bright beacon to our neighbors, co-workers, and friends. And our lives must point to Jesus – the only way to God!  — Mark Powers

Roach, “Pastors Uphold Christian Exclusivity Poll Finds,” http://www.lifeway.com.

BLOG READERS… please join me in this May-June class online at Missional University:

>>Click here for an engaging video about my online class “Growing Worshiping Disciples on Mission”: https://vimeo.com/161573899

>>Get info and register here for this class BY APRIL 18: http://missional.university/index.php/swl