The church has never had more Christian discipleship resources for spiritual growth…and yet leaders everywhere are concerned about the real spiritual depth and breadth of their congregants. From ancient texts to modern authors, we are drowning in content and yet strangely superficial as crises rock of faith of many and failures of the institutional church cause some to question the Gospel itself.
Spiritual formation includes the great disciplines of biblical study, prayer, contemplation, solitude, congregational worship, generous giving and more. The problem is that many believers still have distinct categories for the dimensions of their lives, separating sacred and secular, spiritual and practical, and creating lists of priorities (God, family, church, work, etc.). Read more …
As we endure through and emerge from this pandemic, there are some practical steps leaders can implement so that their people are ready for a world that has changed forever. Pastors and spiritual leaders (elders, deacons, staff, volunteer leaders and so many others): Thank you for your love, sacrificial service, and tireless concern for your congregations and communities. These thoughts are intended to relieve burdens, not add to them! Here are four first steps in forging a new future.
Take care of yourselves. Self-care is not selfish; it is a vital starting point for having capacity to care for others. Nourishing intimacy with God, receiving healing in our hearts, physical exercise and rest, and relational wholeness are all part of being prepared for service. Jesus’ great invitation of Matthew 11:27-30 is an offer of pacing and rest we can embrace.
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The current pandemic is bringing untold suffering – and an unprecedented opportunity for re-calibrating discipleship and mission. In this two-part series, I want to offer some insights how we can refine and even transform how we see the equipping of God’s people.
No one knows the future of our global and local economies. “V-shaped” (fairly rapid); “U-Shaped” (slower) and “check-shaped” (quick descent, slow ascent) visuals are all presented, but only time will tell the full effects of the pandemic.
The case for integrating faith, work, and economic wisdom for human flourishing, church vitality, and community thriving is now stronger than ever, and few are arguing for any sacred/secular divides. This said, the need for wisdom is paramount as spiritual leaders empower their congregants for a new economic world.
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This moment of coronavirus crisis is a great opportunity to re-calibrate our discipleship efforts, thinking more about outcomes than programs, and more about resourcing one another than having meetings.
There is much discussion on the best ways to make disciples and see true maturity, stability, and vitality in believers. All leaders are emphasizing both relationships and sound doctrine, practical disciplines and inner transformation.
What is missing is a clear vision of flourishing, of health in all dimensions of life. The Discipleship Dynamics Assessment offers this vision and the ability to measure progress. As the Lord is leading your community in making disciples, consider offering clarity about what health looks like! Read more …
When we were creating the Discipleship Dynamics Assessment (DDA), we listened to the insights of hundreds of leaders in all fields of work who were committed to discipleship. We found that everyone was on board for assessing spiritual, emotional, and relational dimensions.
What makes the DDA revolutionary in the INTEGRATION of Vocational Clarity (calling and purpose beyond today’s daily work) and Economics and Work (ALL daily tasks and the fact we are part of various economies) with the spiritual life!
There is no “secular” employment for the people of God – only God’s work in us and through us in everything we do! It is TODAY’s discipline that is tomorrow’s destiny. Yes, there is much injustice and toil in our work – but it is the place where God’s purposes are lived out. Read more …
The recent Paris Summit on Climate Change attracted hundreds of leaders, all concerned about the effects of human activity on global weather patterns and the environment. Phrases such as “immanent crisis” and “the survival of humanity” were frequently used.
Humankind does “leave a footprint” on the earth. The image of God in us unleashes creativity and innovation as we fashion new products and services from our imaginations and natural resources. Alas, our sinful nature is also manifest in our abuse of the environment and poor stewardship of our Father’s beautiful world.
It is possible to integrate concern for our planet with care for people and making profits in our enterprises. Several recent global studies demonstrate the harmony of care for the environment with creativity and innovation and participation in the global and local economy. Regardless of our particular opinions on climate change, Christians are called to Creation care.
This is why the Discipleship Dynamics Assessment includes Outcomes that focus not only on economics and work, but also on caring for the environment. Without any ideological or political partisanship, we believe that disciples of Jesus Christ should be the best stewards of God’s gifts and diligently labor for the common good.
While the world debates, we can be “doers of the Word” – caring for the marginalized and working for the common good as we thoughtfully carry out our callings.
Millions of hours and billions of dollars are spent on (often much needed) personal therapy as women and men grapple with their past. Our assessments of our past and our aspirations for the future stimulate our presence actions. If we have serious hurts and regrets in our history and little hope for the future, our current decisions may be defective or destructive.
Jesus Christ came into history to change our personal histories and give us radically new hopes. Jesus carried our sins, sicknesses, sorrows and unanswered questions on the cross (2 Cor. 5:21). Though our memories remain, we can now “tag” our past sins as forgiven. Our wounds are being healed. The rejections that traumatized our identity are being replaced by divine acceptance declaring we are the brothers and sisters of Jesus (Rom. 8; Hebrews 2-5)!
Jesus’ resurrection is a preview of our future (Rom. 8) and the indwelling Holy Spirit is God’s “down payment” guaranteeing an embodied eternity of amazing fulfillment in God’s presence (Eph. 1). The Cross and Resurrection change everything and we are now a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).
Personal wholeness and healthy relationships begin with peace in our hearts. As we embrace Christ’s love and forgiveness, release our past [mis] perceptions and mistakes, we are liberated toward a new future now and forever. These dimensions of discipleship that include healthy self-worth and positive contributions to others now become a delight instead of drudgery.
We are liberated from the limitations of our past into the limitless possibilities of God’s reign (Eph. 3:20-21). Let’s allow God to redeem our history and restore our hope. There are brothers and sisters in our local church ready to help us build a fine future together.
In 2008 my wife Kathleen Self completed the San Diego Rock ‘n Roll Marathon with Team in Training, raising funds for the Leukemia/Lymphoma Society. Our lives had been touched by dear friends succumbing and surviving this disease, so Kathy embarked on a brand new journey. Though she lives an active life, Kathy had never run long distances or attempted anything like this.
Kathy joined a group called Team In Training and for six months prepared for the big day. She was immediately enveloped by caring, committed people all sharing her passion. Experts counseled on nutrition, stetching, pacing and proper hydration and rest. Coaches led the new participants on a graduated journey, increasing the challenges without our undue stress or risk of injury. Kathy still comments on the lifelong friends she made and the esprit de corps shared by the group.
When the day came, Kathy was ready. She prepared for a walk/run style of race, not an Olympic event. Seven hours later, she crossed the finish line, with family and friends cheering and over $3,000 raised for research. No blisters, no cramps, no pain other that the expected exhaustion fueled by the exhilaration of finishing well.
Christian discipleship is a marathon. Hebrews 12 reminds us to run our race faithfully, with our eyes fixed on Jesus, the One who completed the race and now by His Spirit empowers our journey as well. UNLIKE worldly races, our efforts are not pursued in isolation. God has placed us in the Body of Christ (Romans 12l I Corinthians 12) and has an entire team prepared so we can run and finish well. Biblical stories, the fidelity of believers in history and our current pastors, leaders and friends are all cheering us on.
The Discipleship Dynamics Assessment is a great tool for knowing what areas of training need help and the ones that are strong. Defining where we are leads us to Discovering the resources we need, thus allowing accuracy as we are discipled and Disciple others. There is no “failure” or “perfection” in the scores and descriptions we offer. We are all in the race. As long as we keep moving, all the resources of heaven are available to help us go forward.
I (Charlie Self) recently joined my 31-year-old son and some of his peers for a lively evening of basketball. While I did not embarrass myself, the next morning I “discovered” some new aches and evidence of muscles unused! If I was going to play again, I needed to alter my workouts (I am in the gym often) and prepare wisely.
Whether you are brand new in your Christian journey, renewing your faith, or a seasoned veteran, the Assessment can help focus your whole-life “workouts” and propel you ahead. I am so proud of Kathy – but it took a team. God’s team is ready for you…and you are part of his team for others. Let’s get moving forward together!