Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Intentional Disciple Making

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Fall is here, and with it, the launch of a new ministry year at First Baptist Church. I am excited about this ministry year. We will be completing a three year long journey through the book of Mark and holding a marriage class in January and February. There will be small group Bible studies for both men and women on Wednesday nights, starting on the 19th of September. The women will study the Gospel of John, while the men will be looking at some of the names of God in the fall, and studying  the book of Ephesians in the spring. We hope to complete the By-law revision this year, as we look to make our leadership structure more streamline and in line with scripture. 

But what I am even more excited about is that this year we are going to be working to implement something that the deacons and I spent a fair amount of time thinking about. An intentional disciple making process. Everything we do at First Baptist should serve this process, moving people to deeper levels of discipleship by doing one of 5 things; connect  to the gospel (and the church). grow in the gospel, serve from the gospel, share the gospel, and be changed by the gospel, as we work to accomplish the mission of, faithfully proclaiming the gospel to Medfield and beyond as we seek to glorify God and build a great community through gospel proclamation, personal conversion, deep disciple making, and faithful service to one another and the world around us.

Why do this? Simple. Since I have arrived we have needed an intentional process to connect people to the church and grow them toward maturity as disciples of Christ. As people have begun to attend, they have not had a clear answer as to what the next step is. By making the expectation clear, we hope to move each and every person to deeper levels of discipleship, rather than expecting them to just drift along and figure out what’s next on their own. We want them to know our hope. They will connect to the gospel; become a Christian and part of the community of Christ followers. It’s not enough to attend. We want those who begin to attend, to meet Christ (or, those that have drifted from Christ to reconnect with Christ). Then, we want each person to grow, to begin to mature in their faith in Christ. That’s the Bible studies, its conferences (One that I will be attending, and I hope you do too, is the Gospel Coalitions Boston Conference on October 19-20), it’s reading,  listening to the sermons, studying God’s word on your own, and committing yourself to really live as a disciple of Christ. Then, as a person grows and matures into a deepening disciple, we hope to move them to service. Serving the community, the church, and each other, all out of the gospel foundation that shapes our lives. This serving leads to opportunities to share the gospel, and to build gospel centered relationships, all of which leads to change in our lives, and in the lives of those who we are walking alongside and sharing the gospel with, and it leads to deeper connection with Christ and the church. Connect, grow, serve, share, change; all centered around and flowing from the gospel.

Everything we do should relate to this in some way. So for example, for a long time, we have had fellowship dinners. Great fun. Great fellowship with the family of Christ. But we would like to turn them into something more; a chance to connect with other believers and a chance to connect non-Christians friends with the church. So we are going to make them dinner with a movie, or a band, or make it a progressive supper, and encourage you to invite your friends and seek to build bridges connecting them to the church, and eventually, the gospel.

Or take the yard sale -we want to completely repurpose it. Lets make it what we are will call a “Freesale”, and serve the community by gifting the items to those that need them or could use them.

Here’s another one. Over the summer, allot of work was done overhauling the library. Putting great books in there for you to use to seek to grow spiritually, and to think more critically and biblically. Books to help you study God’s word. Why? Because we want you to grow, and be equipped as you seek to serve and share and be changed by the gospel.

Also, Medfield Day and Rally Day are two days with great opportunities to connect people to First Baptist, and, we pray, into the process of knowing Christ. Medfield Day is the 15th of September. We will be giving out bags with the churches name on it, lemonade and limeade, and hopefully, we will beginning many great reationships that lead to people connecting to the Gospel. Rally Day is the 16th. Worship moves back to 10:30. Sunday school launches, and we will have entertainment and lunch after the service. It’s a great day to invite friends to join you in worship, and to seek to move them into the process of connecting to the church, and we pray, to the gospel. 

I believe that God has great things in store for us, that this will be an important year, as the work of God at First Baptist Church continues, and as we seek to be far more intentional in moving people into the life of the church, and more importantly, into deeper and deeper levels of discipleship as followers of Christ. 

As we come to this ministry year, I have two requests. First, pray for the church. Pray that God will use it to connect people to the gospel, to grow in the gospel, to serve from the gospel, to share the gospel, and to be changed by the gospel; leading to a deeper and deeper connection to the gospel. Second, invite friends to different connection points, i.e. to events like Rally Day, or a dinner and a movie, and then as we build relationships and connect to God through the gospel, be prepared to help them grow, and to grow yourself.

Note: This post previously appeared in the Messenger, the newsletter of the church I pastor, First Baptist Church of Medfield.

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