Spiritual Life of the Leader - Lesson 23

Call to Discipleship

The call of Jesus to, “follow me” is the call to redirect everything in our lives. A disciple is one who seeks to fulfill the will of the father by actively following Jesus the Son while continually depending on the Holy Spirit for guidance and strength. Faith is my trust in Jesus as well as the content of the Gospel. Practice is putting it into play. Catechism is the content of the faith, and catechesis is how you express it. Cheap grace is not biblical because it allows for justification without ensuing discipleship. Primary purposes of the church are to proclaim the Gospel, worship and make disciples. In addition to knowing the content, you must live it out. Clergy need to learn how to make and train disciples. Laity must be fully committed full-time ministers of the body of Christ.

Stephen Martyn
Spiritual Life of the Leader
Lesson 23
Watching Now
Call to Discipleship

Call to Discipleship

I. A Call by Jesus in the Gospels to, “Follow Me”

A. Definition of disciple

B. Faith and practice

C. Catechism and catechesis

D. Bonhoeffer on discipleship

II. Discipleship is a Primary Purpose of the Church

A. Content

B. Practice

III. Few Leaders Can Articulate the Faith

A. Example

B. Thoughts

C. Dallas Willard thoughts

D. Apprenticeship not considered essential

  • Dr. Martyn has surveyed church leaders around the world to understand their responsibilities and pressures. He aims to use his experience to help them develop a model of ministry that encourages spiritual formation, discipleship, and worship in a healthy way. His class is comprehensive on topics such as spiritual formation, discipleship, leadership principles, and worship. Listening to this class could benefit anyone regardless of whether they have an official leadership position or not.
  • Christian activism is Christians seeking to be involved in the issues and needs of the day and time. Wesleyans in the 1700's in England sought to minister to people that others didn’t care about. To be called by Christ is to be called into the body of Christ. A biblical model is that every member is a full-fledged minister of the gospel without distinction between clergy and laity. 

  • Mysticism can be described as the direct communication of your spirit with the Divine Spirit as taught and illustrated in the New Testament as a fundamental part of Christian belief. Receptivity means that I am open to what the Lord is saying to me through the revelation of his word, the magnificence of his son and the voice of his Spirit which is consistent with the written word. The church was emphasizing what they were doing for God rather than on first listening to what God wants us to be and then acting. Union with our Lord must come before any type of donation or work (kenosis) for our Lord. (Download the complete text of the sermon by clicking on the link on this page or under the Downloads heading on the class page.)

  • Which do you love more, the Lord or the projects you are doing for him? Is your goal to exalt the Lord or build a personal kingdom? Essence of anxiety is whether or not you can trust God. The question to ask when you begin having feelings of self-pity is, “Is you life going to be defined by how you think it ought to go?”  The blame-shame mindset is that you are unhappy because there is something wrong with the people around you. When you experience these red flags in your ministry, you should recognize it as time that it’s possible that the Lord may be prompting you to make a change in your life.The Mary in you must rest at the feet of Jesus if the Martha in you is to do her work.

  • Essence is who the Lord has created you to be. Biblically, essence precedes existence as oppose to Sartre's teaching that man is no more than what he makes of himself. God has given us the capacity of reception, to be able to hear God’s voice and follow it. The spiritual life that God calls you to live is based on what you receive from God, not on what you do for God.

  • How do you determine if your motives are right in your efforts to serve God? The more gifts and talents we have, the more susceptible we are to self-deception regarding our motives. Resist the urge to make pleasing people your primary motivation. You will never please everyone and in the process you lose sight of focusing on pleasing God. When people have expectations of you that don’t match what God has called you to do, there are times when you must, “let Lazarus die.”

  • God wants us to be faithful to the kingdom and his son and fruitful according to his metrics. What’s the goal and what condition do our hearts need to be in to understand the goal? The Mary in us needs to rest at the feet of Jesus in order for the Martha in us to do her work. Think about when you experienced renewal and think about when you were blessed. When you have received God’s blessing, how has that resulted in demonstrating his hand of mercy to someone else? How are your activities balanced?

  • A canal simultaneously pours out what it receives. A reservoir waits till it’s filled then discharges water without loss to itself. Today, there are many in God’s church that act like canals. The reservoirs are far too rare. So urgent is the charity of those through whom heavenly doctrine flows that they want to pour it forth to us before they have been filled. They are more ready to speak than to listen, impatient to teach what they have not grasped, and full of presumption to govern others while they know not how to govern themselves. High mountain lakes have one stream out and water level relatively constant throughout the year. How is the water level staying constant in your life? Depletion results in erosion of presence, and results in just going through the motions. 

  • The Lord desires that we live dispositionally. Important elements include loving God, living devotionally, relational strengthening, vocational serving (listening with the intent of following what I hear). Dallas Willard wrote, “If I am a disciple of Jesus, I am with him to learn from him, how to be like him." The primary calling of a pastor is to follow Jesus, within the calling of leading a church. 

  • The eight deadly sins are in the order that Satan uses to try to get us and in the order in which we need redemption. Gormandize means you are overdoing it and being a slave to flesh. Fornication refers to a wandering heart and seeking to devour others. Avarice is the love of money and sometimes is a fear of not having enough. Anger is a rancorous spirit. The spiritual cancer of depreciation is looking at the vast horizon of God’s goodness in his creation and my life and depreciating it, only seeing what’s wrong. Psalm 51:10-12, create in me a clean heart, O God and renew a right spirit within me.

  • When you experience a difficult situation, how do you begin to turn your focus away from the negative and on to what God is doing? How do you respond when you are working closely with people that don't like you? What do you do as a leader when there is a person that is angry with you and disagrees with how you are leading?

  • The sin of acedia is, “I don’t care anymore.” The sin of tristitia is sadness, wrongly processing suffering and loss, allowing the soul to close in on itself and refuse instruction from God. Tristitia is neither a result of other people or of our outward circumstances. Satan wants to get us off the track in stupid presumption or in sinful carelessnenss. God redeems the hurt that evil has done.

  • In the early church passion was seen as something that controlled you and out of control and leading you astray, not a positive motivation. John Cassion described vainglory as passion to take pleasure in our own qualities. The danger is that we take credit for what God is doing. In pursuit of being popular, we often sacrifice who we are at the core. Pride is the original vice from which all others spring. Pride can develop into functioning atheism. The cure for pride is to have the humility of Jesus in our heart. 

  • Is there a sin that's not deadly? To what extent can you worry about something before it becomes a sin? What does it take to overcome gluttony? The minute you make an exception for yourself, you either presume on the grace of God or break a known law of God. Admit what you are feeling and submit it to God to have faith in him in the situation, then do your part.

  • Instead of gluttony, we see temperance. Temperance means living a balanced life. Chaste love is extending love to others, not preying on them. Poverty of spirit rather than greed. Cultivate meekness to deal with anger. You have been forgiven much so you should be willing to forgive others much. Cultivate faith, hope and love to deal with hopelessness. Cultivate humility to deal with vainglory. Evangelism in the first 300 years a result of the quality of the lives of disciples as they lived in a hostile environment. 

  • A transcendent crisis is yearning for the “more than.” “Is life meaningful?” “Is God good?” Can I trust my life to God or have I been abandoned by God? An idolatry crisis happens when you run after a passion rather than pursue God. Each person in your sphere of influence is going through crises in their own lives. God can use a crisis to help something in us die so we can experience and share the light of Christ.

  • To feed the 5,000, the disciples had to rely on Jesus because they didn’t have the resources. Jesus walked out on the water to comfort the disciples with his presence. The disciples thought they were going to die a terrible death. If you choose to think your situation, the church and others are hopeless, it results in ego desperation, or hopelessness. You see what’s wrong, you think you have exhausted your resources and you see no way that it’s going to get fixed. If you allow the crisis to take you into the life of Christ and dependence on him, it will not destroy you. 

  • It's important for us to understand how our relationship with God is affected by being born at a certain period of time and in a certain society. The vital is the physical dimension of the human life. Vitalism is where your physical pleasures become the priority in your life.  Functional is the roles, tasks and responsibilities we take on. It’s a problem when we allow our roles and responsibilities to define us, which is functionalism. Transcendent is the longing for the “more than.” Pneumatic/Ecclesial level is the capacity the Lord has given each of us to hear and respond to the Holy Spirit, God’s voice. When ambition gets separated from the leading of the Spirit, it can become self-promotion. Functional Transcendence is you using the things of God for self-gain.

  • It's important to keep Christ at the center of who you are. Interiority includes memory, intellect, will. Augustine says will is most important.In addition to our personal thoughts, we exist in community with others who are submitting their lives to the will of Christ. The Lord has placed us in a certain place and time and wants you to live a life of obedience in that context every day, not just one day a week. The Father is seeking to form your life into the image of Christ as you were meant to be. Through our experiences, God forms you into a unique person. On the relational side, this results in compassion for others because we love others with the same love we experienced. God gives us confidence that he has given us the gifts and resources we need to live out the calling he has given us. Competence that our ministry will be effective. Our courage comes from trusting in the strength of the Lord. Community, the work of God’s Church is a work done with others. Confirmation comes internally from God and externally from the community of faith. 

  • If you are following Jesus, you have a role as a leader. If a spiritual leader does not understand what their task is according to scripture, then their spiritual life is not going to have the focus the Lord wants them to have.  Worship is a response of the love that has been shown to us. Worship involves our all aspects of us and is enabled by God’s Spirit. We worship God because of who he is. By looking at Jesus, you see who God is.

  • The Church needs you to present what Scripture says, not your own ideas. Worship means to kneel before someone out of respect or honor. We owe it to God as an act of service to sit at his feet and worship him. Spiritual worship is to place our physical bodies at God’s disposal. Are we leading people to worship God, or just providing religious goods and services to them? Solid biblical teaching is important. Structure follows purpose. We are failing to dig down into the revelation of God and let the revelation of God set the compass. If you are not careful, your program sets your agenda.

  • Movements in worship: 1. kneeling in acts of loving worship. Kneeling in submission before God to acknowledge that you are dependent on him. 2. Exalting God by declaring his worthiness 3. Receiving God’s life symbolized by the sacrament of communion. 4. Empowers us and encourages us to go out and serve. We participate in the fellowship and life of the Trinity. We need to immerse ourselves in relationship to God and let that inform and empower what we do so that our worship service is more than creating an experience or transmitting information. Be explicit about your purpose in worship and include prayer.

  • The elders fall before the throne, they worship the Lord and they cast their crowns before him. Falling before the throne represents an acknowledging of God as absolute deity. What is going to happen in the future tells us what we should be doing now. When we fall down before the throne, our heart condition is inward humility and submission to the Lord. Then they raise up and exalt the Lord by proclaiming his worth. Inward love results in proclaiming what is right, good, just and holy. Taking of crowns is an outward expression of placing everything we have under the Lordship of Christ and an inward movement of total abandonment of everything we are to God.

  • The call of Jesus to, “follow me” is the call to redirect everything in our lives. A disciple is one who seeks to fulfill the will of the father by actively following Jesus the Son while continually depending on the Holy Spirit for guidance and strength. Faith is my trust in Jesus as well as the content of the Gospel. Practice is putting it into play. Catechism is the content of the faith, and catechesis is how you express it. Cheap grace is not biblical because it allows for justification without ensuing discipleship. Primary purposes of the church are to proclaim the Gospel, worship and make disciples. In addition to knowing the content, you must live it out. Clergy need to learn how to make and train disciples. Laity must be fully committed full-time ministers of the body of Christ.

  • Movements that are necessary for the church today to fulfill what God is calling them to do. For the clergy, 1. moving from pastor as the primary minister to each believer fulfilling their calling as full-time ministers in their spheres of influence; 2. Moving from preaching only to not only appropriate sermon preparation time but also discipling a core group; 3. Moving from a priority on numbers to staying with a process that results in mature disciples; 4. From solo leadership to team leadership. Discipleship should not be optional. Old Christendom model is breaking down but confusion on who and what we are called to be. “Is my first aim to make disciples, or do I just run an operation?” For the laity, 1. From going to church to being Church; 2. From expecting benefits from Christianity requiring no sustained effort to being intent on being disciples; 3. From being passive observers to full-time ministers. Primary purpose of leader is to equip the people of God to do the work of God.

  • The sermon is a critical part of the discipleship process. The “through” movement is the process of the “from-to” movement. Each of these steps must be contextualized to your situation. We are aiming for maturity in Christ. As a leader, you love the whole but you only disciple the few. Don’t neglect public proclamation but don’t see that as the end of your ministry. Daily pray, read scripture, weekly services, small groups acts of service, fasting, giving. Discipleship is helping people integrate the word of God into their lives.

  • Tozer says we don’t have the right of choosing Jesus as Savior and postponing our obedience. Dispositions are something that’s part of your daily life. Christian disciplines help us to love God and love our neighbor. Encourage people to seek God’s direction for where he wants them to serve. The biblical model is that mature Christians will live as disciplined followers. Make it a goal for pure love to fill your heart and govern your words and actions.

What do you think the priorities should be for a leader in the Church? How do you cultivate your personal spiritual life in a way that keeps you emotionally healthy and helps you avoid choosing sin? What is your measure of success for your church? How does that compare with a biblical measure of success? What is a disciple? What should the process of discipleship look like? What principles can you learn from the way Jesus interacted with his followers that will help you to encourage spiritual formation of the people in your sphere of influence? What are sins that people in leadership have commonly struggled with over the past 2,000 years? How do you recognize them in your own life and what are some practical ways to avoid them or repent and recover from them? What is the essence of worship? How do you live your life so you are worshipping God authentically in everything you do? How do you lead worship in a group setting in a way that encourages others to worship authentically? 

These are a few of the questions that Dr. Martyn poses to begin a conversation regarding the subject of the spiritual life of the leader. As a pastor for more than 20 years, Dr. Martyn asked and answered these questions in the context of loving and serving people personally. As part of his current position of teaching future pastors at Asbury seminary, he and some of his colleagues have conducted extensive surveys of church leaders throughout the North America and the world to get a better understanding of the responsibilities and pressures that church leaders face every day. His goal is to be able to understand biblical principles and use his experience to help leaders develop a model of ministry that helps them develop their personal spiritual life and give them a model to disciple and encourage the people they work with in a way that is healthy and encourages their faith and practice. 

Whether you have an official leadership position or not, you will benefit from listening to this class. It is one of the most comprehensive classes on spiritual formation, discipleship, leadership principles and worship that you will ever hear. If you listen and reflect on each of the lectures from beginning to end, you will be glad you did. 

Dr. Stephen Martyn

Spiritual Life of a Leader


Call to Discipleship

Lesson Transcript


[00:00:00] We're going to continue on in this session on the spiritual life of the leader and pressing of somewhat. Now moving away from the interiority of our spiritual lives to how we express that. But but you're going to see I trust that they're very much connected. Your spiritual life is going to be shaped either positively or negatively by your actual ministry experience and what you're what how you're moving either in fidelity or non fidelity to the Lord. So we need the Lord to be with us to help us in this. And I ask you to join with me in prayer. Father, bless this movement. Now, as we look at how you would have us be about the business of discipleship and how that's a core critical purpose of your church. Speak to a sword in practical ways. Speak to us in awesome, grace filled ways about the call of the church, the purpose of the church, and where we fit in to that purpose. I ask for your life now to be with us, and we ask it in Jesus name. A man over and over in the Gospel. You see an explicit and implicit call. In other words, it's there, boy, it's straight on. And then it comes at you sideways from Jesus. To do what? To follow me. To follow me. It's. It's the. It's the calling to redirect everything about our lives. You know, the minute you compartmentalize anything, that's. That just means I don't want Jesus to have a part that part of my life, and it's going to end up dragging everything back. So, John 143, for instance, you see Jesus approaching Philip, and he issues one of his great imperative commands. Here it is. Follow me. Come on, Philip. Come on behind me.


[00:02:31] So this was a divine directive to Philip. It changed the entire course of his life. It changed everything. Now, in a similar manner, the Holy Spirit, I believe, is summoning the followers, his the followers of Jesus, to follow the Son of God today, to let everything be changed. Now, in the New Testament, there are some prominent words. In any time you hear a prominent word used hundreds of times, even hundreds of times in the Gospels and in the Book of Acts, you think, I really need to pay attention to this? It's this call to be a disciple. Can you imagine? The word disciple itself is used 264 times in the Gospels and in Acts. So that's drawing huge attention to the whole reality of following after Jesus, because that's what a disciple do does. So my own definition is a disciple is one who seeks to fulfill the will of the Father by actively following Jesus the Son, while continually depending upon the Holy Spirit for guidance and strength. VN figured out by now. I love Dallas Willard and I Willard Dallas Willard to mentor me via his works, his writing. He adds further understanding to what it means to follow the Son of God. Now I just listen to this. A disciple is one who intent upon becoming Christ, and so dwelling in his faith and practice. Now hold on to that words term faith and practice. So, disciples one according to Dallas Willard, who's intent on becoming Christ, like he's adding a layer, a depth here. Following means I'm going to take on character natures of Jesus. So the disciples, one who intent upon becoming Christlike, is so dwelling in his faith, in practice systematically and progressively rearranges his affairs to that. And by these decisions and actions, even today, one enrolls in Christ training, becoming his pupil or his disciple.


[00:05:18] Now, in a number of his writings, he'll talk about how we were called to be his apprentices to learn how to do something. Even as I. I was shown videos on how to throw pots and be a potter. I was, I was given books. I watched people do it. But until a master potter taught me how to be a potter, I couldn't. You know, you can watch all the videos. You won't hear all the sermons on pottery making you all. But I needed somebody who could really bring it down to me. All right, Now, listen. Willard's turned faith terms. Faith in practice. This is important. If we're going to get a hold of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus faith. Remember, we've talked about this earlier. You know, faith is both my absolute trust in Jesus, in all things of faith. Also, is is the content can be seen as the content of the gospel. Here's here's what it means to be a Christ follower. So it's a biblical and theological understanding of what it means to follow Christ. So in other words, faith, when Willard's using it, here is comprehension of the specific content of the Christian life. There is a way that truth in the life and it's lined out force and it's lined out for us in the blessed gift of God's word to us. So, for instance, we're told by Jesus to love God and in love who love our neighbor. And this commandments a big part of the Christian faith. And it's intended to both be understood and to be realized in our lives. All right. So loving, God loving neighbor, that's a faith command. You know, that's content of the gospel. But now practice. Remember, Willard said faith in practice.


[00:07:32] So how is it that I then can concretely, realistically and very practically as a leader, take what I read and take what I hear in my heart and and take all of that and put it into practice. So practice therefore allows practical implementation. It's the integration of my life. I'm getting Jesus command and now I'm going to integrate it in my daily life. I'm going to actually seek to live into the reality of that command. Now, now, get get to a point here. Faith and practice are both essential, so I won't even put it up to just double emphasize it. Faith, remember, is the content as Willard's using it here, the content of the gospel. Practice. What is practice? Practice is literally putting it into play. Putting it in to play. Other words, I'm incarnating what the Lord asks me to live out in my daily life. So a disciple of Jesus. In his or her spiritual walk, in his or her spiritual life, he's going to set some pretty, pretty heavy priorities. One of those priorities is to know the content of the gospel. Now, traditionally, some some churches, what really this goes all the way back from the early church. But but you'll hear the term catechism. It's a Greek term and it's this is the content. The catechism is the content of the faith of biblical theological teaching. Then you'll hear the term catechesis. That's how we express the content. It's not enough to have content to know something without putting it into practice. That would be declaring that I love my spouse. And my spouse is, you know, I'm married to my spouse and but I never actually give concrete expression to that love. So listen in throughout much of church history, but definitely in early church, these two things were never separated.


[00:10:30] You don't see a line going through catechesis or catechism. Now, what I mean by that? Well, to know the gospel in the early church was to follow the gospel. You didn't know about it. You threw your life into it. It was not a topic to be studied in an academic manner. It was a life to be embraced completely. We're in classic Christianity. You live out the commands of Christ. Now, in the late 1930s, another one of my heroes of the faith, who was a young man, a young German theologian by the name of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, many of you will know that name. And for those of you who do not know that name, I want to encourage you to get to know at least one work that that he wrote, and I'll talk about that. So he was a Lutheran and we love the Lutheran Church. The Lord Jesus loves the Lutheran Church. He loved the Lutheran church, But the Lutheran church in Germany in that day and time had some major, major issues. They were giving into the culture, literally. And so he was expressing deep concern over his collapse in that denomination in the 1930s. And he used the term cheap grace as his term cheap grace. And he said cheap grace allows for justification. Now, you know what that term means. It's the forgiveness of sins is what Christ does for us with out ensuing discipleship. In other words, they were merely taking the benefits, he said, without really throwing their lives into following him. So after tracing the misunderstandings of Martin Luther's followers, not the misunderstandings of Martin Luther himself, but of some of his followers in this amazing, amazing book that Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote called The Cost of Discipleship. It's a classic work.


[00:13:05] I mean, I think every student of Christ, every apprentice, needs to get a hold of the cost of discipleship. Bonhoeffer made this scathing summary. I'm telling you, it's a summary that can be made is just as relevant today as it was then. And it doesn't just apply to Luther Lutherans. I guarantee it applies to a whole bunch of us today. Here's what he wrote. We confess that although our church is Orthodox now, what Orthodox means that they've got right beliefs. We confess that although our church is Orthodox, as far as her doctrine of grace is concerned, we are no longer sure that we are members of a church which follows its Lord. Goodness. We must therefore attempt to recover a true understanding of the mutual relation between grace and discipleship. See, this is what what we've been talking about. This is that relationship between faith and practice or grace and discipleship of trusting Jesus and then following Jesus. It's a both. And you can't you don't divide these things into both. And now in that classic volume, Bonhoeffer went on to unpack what discipleship means. He says When we are called to follow Christ, he insisted, We are called this. We are summoned to an exclusive attachment to his person. This attachment, wrote Bonhoeffer, must take the form of what discipleship discipleship? He wrote that on page 63 of that famous book, The Cost of Discipleship. Why? Because abstract ideas about Jesus and mere knowledge about Jesus do not in and of themselves make for a Christian. The old farmers where I grew up in Texas had had a saying to listen. Sitting in church on Sunday doesn't make you a Christian any more than sitting in a hen house on Saturday night makes you a chicken.


[00:15:30] There are there are some there's some decisions here. There's some actions that are involved in being a true discipleship disciple of Christ, the only true relationship we can have with Jesus. Listen, this is Bonhoeffer talking to us. The only true relationship we can have with Jesus, this one is to follow Him. And I love it. I love it. Well, you look, for instance now in the book, Matthew, at the end, Matthew 28, and we're going to see a primary purpose of the church. And what I'm trying to do is connect this primary purpose of the church into your spiritual leadership, into your daily life, into understanding this is who you're called to be. This is this is what it means to be a Christian. So remember, primary spiritual primary purpose of the church is always to proclaim the gospel. I mean, that's what we do through word and through action. And then we've talked about a primary purpose of the church is to worship. Jesus spent a lot of time on this issue of worship. Well, now we're going to get primary purpose in Matthew 2816 through 20. So the 11, you know, they've gone on to the mountain in which Jesus had directed them to go. And what does this say to them? All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go there for and make disciples this getting our marching orders make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, in the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you and remember I am with you always. To the end of the day, just let it be law. So this is setting our compass here, this business of of making disciples, teaching them to obey.


[00:17:52] Get it? It's not. Go and make decisions. And then let the less the rest. Go wherever you want to go. No, it's go make decisions for Christ. And then you teach him to obey all that I have taught you. So it's a huge issue for us today, and I want to really, really dwell drill down into it. Now, let's just review first, through the help of the Holy Spirit, we're going to teach followers of Christ what he taught his disciples. In other words, we've got to have content here. This is not this is not free wheeling. There is content to the spiritual life and our content. There's got to be biblical theological content, not the opinion of others, but the opinion of the Lord himself for us. So we get the content, the catechism, and then remember, you've got to do both. You've got to get the catechesis in. For instance, how many of you parents out there taught your children how to ride a bicycle by showing them videos? By instructing them verbally? Teaching them, yay! Verily, standing in a pulpit and preaching to the employees. Understand, I am a preacher and I'm not against that. But that's not how you taught a child how to ride a bicycle. You got to get the kid out on the bike and you got to teach him the leap of faith for the child. But if you if you're like, I am, I mean, I've got clear memories about children. I have clear memories of children crashing and burning for the first time. I let them go. They're still one of them still mad at me about them because we lived in Pittsburgh and there's nothing flat in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania at the time. And so I taught her how to ride a bike on a hill and it did not go well.


[00:20:06] But still, there's joy when a little child learns how to ride lift, that's catechesis. We stay with them, too. They can learn how to ride. That's our job. That's our job. It's one and the same coin now. Here's what we're finding in all of all of the this survey that we've been doing over the last several years. It's a little bit alarming to us. In our field. Interviews with pastors, in our interviews with are with the pastors who come back for training. What we're finding is that spiritual leaders, including, you know, the want to be spiritual leaders, when you look at them strikingly, few can articulate the faith. There's not a roadmap. There's not a there's not a schema. It's just not happening. Strikingly, few congregational leaders can clearly and wind simply articulate their core theological doctrines, and they're not preaching and teaching from those core theological doctrines. Now, that's all generalities are wrong in and of themselves, but we've got enough we've got enough interviews under our belt to know that that even though people may have gone to very high powered seminaries and gotten an excellent education and they can tell you about these doctrines and theological truths, they're still not it's not what guides them. And they're not teaching their people the foundational theology of scripture. Let me just give you an example here, because sometimes examples can can tell us. A middle aged man came to seminary and I immediately was drawn to him just because of his loving nature and in his sincere heart. This man was and still is, a very high powered engineer and his name is Tony. And I do have permission to share Tony's story and Tony's example for us. Tony came from one of the greatest congregations in the United States today.


[00:23:06] It is an outstanding congregation and they're doing a lot of good work, a solid congregation. And so he he was part of this for decades. They had a lot of activities going on in this congregation. And Tony first got involved by teaching Children's Sunday School. He had young children coming up and he didn't know the faith like he wanted to. And so he volunteers to teach Sunday school so he can begin to learn the gospel himself. Not necessarily bad, bad way to go. In 2002, he was asked by the leaders within his congregation to pilot in evangelistic ministry called Alpha. Now I've run Alpha. I don't know how many times I've run Alpha, Love, Alpha, love. Nicky Gumbel and each TV, Holy Trinity, Brompton, You know, go. Nicky we're we're we're, we're fans. And so he he taught Alpha and began to to learn and ask such questions. Who is Jesus? Why did Jesus die? Why do we pray and read the Bible? Alpha is a wonderful kind of initial beginning discipleship course. Now, Tony wrote about those days in his life. He said, Burning with the fire of my born again experience, which he did experience under the watchful eye of a pastor. I started both Alpha and experiencing God within that congregation. I was being formed by the Holy Spirit directly and through the heartfelt witness of others, especially by men looking for significance late in their careers. In a couple of guys that were radically delivered from addiction, rhythms of prayer, scripture, reflection in small group time were established in his life. You know, this is like the kind of a lay person a pastor dreams of. Now, Tony followed a very common historic trajectory for those who are awakened in crisis after five plus years of following Christ.


[00:25:33] The fire started to wane in his own life. It started to wane. So in the small group Bible study, he had established four dads with young children. You know, he saw that all of them began to wonder. They're wondering about what they called the so what of their faith? So what does this mean for us when we go to work on Monday morning? You know, how do we live this out? And they were struggling with the direct application of their faith to their families and to their work lives. How do I and I bring this into my family in my work life? Tony laments that after going to church services on Sunday, that he really wasn't able to engage spiritually much past lunch time on Monday. So convinced that he's unable to effectively live out the Christian life. Tony spent the next seven years at his work building a team based approach that was modeled on Christian values. This is a major engineering firm, international firm. So when people walked into his office, he asked the Lord to help him be truly present to them and to their deepest needs. He implemented a no cursing rule within his team and he insert inserted specific Christian ways of behaving. When they were in contract negotiations and when they were doing conflict resolution. You know, how thankful are we for Christian businessmen in business, women who actually employ the gospel? So during this time, you know, this is a full in disciple, Tony, still struggling with all of this. He knew that Jesus died on the cross for his sins and that God spoke through Scripture. But now listen to his language here. His language. But he couldn't tell a doctrine from a theology, from a tradition.


[00:27:51] He says he lacked a firm footing for applying thoughts about the Trinity. And how do you imply how do you apply the incarnation of Jesus into your own life and into the lives of those around you? And what does the atonement of Christ mean for his everyday life at home, work at home and at work? And here's what he said he saw no, and he saw no structure or system for living out his faith. Yet he was deeply convinced. I mean, he was convinced by his church community that the gospel was meant for anyone to receive it as a gift and to live it out with joy. But some of that just wasn't in his life and questions started growing on him, said, Man, do I have to go to seminary to figure all this out? And that's when I met Tony for the first time. He came up to seminary and I got to sit down and talk with him about it. Should he come to seminary or should he not? Well, the Lord actually led him to lay down a very high powered position to walk away from it. And he came to seminary, told your thoughts on that before making a judgment. I'm going to make a judgment on it in just a couple of minutes. Now, his own local church had been truly helpful in launching him into the Christian faith. But he didn't have. A firm grasp on the faith side. Nor did he have a firm grasp on the formation side. How do you live it out? What is it to begin with and how do you live it out? He'd experience Christ. He'd even thought about it. But he didn't have that foundation. Let me suggest to you.


[00:29:50] Wherever you're hearing this less than ideal, we tend to think that Africa Christianity has it right. For instance, by the sheer numbers of people coming to Christ and me. And I love my African students and they love me, my African students. No, I'm in my older years and so they are insistent. They always carry my books in a suitcase or whatever I have. They carry it around. I had to learn how to let them do that. But anyway, they've they've told me over and over they know we don't have it right necessarily. Right either. We've got huge numbers. But in terms of understanding, you know, what's the core continent and how do I get this into everyday life? They're struggling as well. So this is a global issue with the Christian faith right now. This is a global issue. So after Tony began attending seminary, what happened? He realized that what was missing in his Christian life was discipleship. You know, he was missing basic Christian doctrine and foundational spiritual formation. And in addition, Tony says he didn't know the whole narrative of the story. You know, there's there's salvation. There's a story of salvation that starts from the beginning in Genesis, starts with a marriage between a man and a woman in the beginning in Genesis. And guess what? He ends with a marriage in Revelation between the body of Christ and Christ himself. Man. It's a glorious story. He didn't know all of this. While he rejoiced in his awakened faith and in the smorgasbord of service opportunities that his local congregation had offered him and was thankful for the vibrant missional outreach that went all over the globe and was there right in that community. He knew that he had not been standing on solid ground.


[00:31:58] He had struggled as a lay person for 15 years to know and live the Christian faith. You know, Tony loved his pastors and he thinks God for them because he wouldn't been he would not be a Christian without the pastoral leadership that was in that congregation. He has nothing but appreciation for his pastors. But I'm telling you, when you walk for 15 years in the Christian faith. And you don't you can't even define basic terms such as justification and the new birth, such as sanctification. Huh? Wow. We just kind of sit back and take a deep breath. He needed the theological landscape spelled out, and he needed the connection between both basic doctrines of the faith and the formation of practices of the faith. Now, here's my thought about the whole thing. Tony should not have had to come to seminary. That's my basic thought. He should not have had to come to seminary to get the basics of the Christian faith. Now, Christian leaders, let me tell you, now I'm speaking indirectly. I'm trying to speak into your spiritual life here. Is your spiritual life founded on the primary doctrines of classic, historic, consensual orthodox Christianity? By consensual, I mean this stuff was hammered out in major councils where the whole church, the representatives of the whole church in the early church came together and says, this is this is what the revelation is saying. This is who we are. Listen. Spiritual life. It's got to stand on the rock. Who is Christ? And there is substance in the rock. Who is Christ? And then spiritual leaders. I'm coming in again. You know, if if your spiritual life is going to be effective for the kingdom. So we not only know what the content is, but we know we know how to get people on the bicycle and how to get them balanced and how to get them equipped and get the right gear on.


[00:34:32] And when we get them on their own, we're equipping the saints. We're doing that. Listen, Dallas Willard, in his 1998 classic The Divine Conspiracy, it ought to be on everybody's bookshelf, Rediscovering our Hidden Life. And God says this non discipleship is the elephant in the church. It is not the much discussed moral failures, financial abuses, or the amazing general similarity between Christians and non-Christians. You know, that was well, Willard was a gentle, gracious man from Missouri. Love Dallas Willard. Grace is a loving man. But when he took up the sword of the Spirit, it was a sharpened sword and he used it well. These are only effects of the underlying problem. The fundamental negative reality among Christian believers now is their failure to be constantly learning how to live their lives in the kingdom among us as the Kingdom of God. This is on page 301 of the Divine Conspiracy, and it is an accepted reality. This is the prophet speaking non what he's saying non discipleship is an accepted reality. Goodness gracious. How can it be the division of professing Christians in those for whom it is a matter of whole life? Devotion to God and those who maintain a consumer or client relationship to the church has now been an accepted reality for over 1500 years. When did it start? This really started when the church became the official. It was officially recognized by the state. We're talking in the early three hundreds when this thing started. That's a lot of years of misunderstanding. What is the primary purpose of the church? And where are we to be in that? Just like Bonhoeffer before him, Willard describes this elephant as nothing less than cheap grace, which avoids living as a whole hearted follower of Jesus and denies that discipleship to Jesus is the very heart of the Gospel and that we're called to order our lives as his apprentice in kingdom, living, not just as a consumer of his merits.


[00:37:18] You hear what I'm saying? It's not just taking a hold of what Christ does for us, which we do. We accept that grace, but we allow Christ to work with and us in wholehearted discipleship. And that's Christianity. And you water that down and you get something that's not Christianity, something that's not classic historic Christianity. And so our job, spiritual leaders, is to train people in Christ like us. And you're going to have the faith side of this, the content side of this, and you're going to have the living side of this. And they go hand in hand, literally hand in hand. What feeds the elephant? Willard wrote and keeps it strong is the absence of effectual programs of training that enable God's people to do what Jesus said in a regular and efficient manner. It's my thought that the Prophet's voice. The Prophet. Dallas. Dallas. Willard. It's my thought that his voice has gone largely unheard. Well. Or the Prophet's voice. Voices. Ever heard by that many to begin with? No, I don't think so. So where are we today? We're at a point where actual discipleship or apprenticeship to Jesus is in our day no longer thought of as in any way essential to faith in him. How could we arrive there, Grace? There's no curriculum for Christ's likeness that Willard wrote about. No curriculum for Christ's likeness. So let me just say, when we talk about the spiritual life of a Christian leader. That this is going to be concrete stuff and it's got to work itself out into the way we are actually doing ministry and the way we perceive ministry, or we've got some kind of dichotomy between me and Jesus, little private relationship here. But in terms of how I work professionally in his church, they're not connected.


[00:39:50] And that, of course, is a division that we cannot afford, that the church cannot afford. So we've got to recover this primary purpose of discipleship. This is going to mean that both clergy leaders and lay leaders are going to need to completely rethink their understanding of how church is to be led. Clergy are going to need to learn the ancient discipline of disciple making, and laity are going to have to make a major move from passive, non engaged, mere participants to fully committed full time ministers of the Gospel of Christ. You end up with something other than Christianity. And to do this, we're going to have to do a from through end to movement. Now, I want to take a little break here for you, and I want you to kind of soak in this prophetic call. And then we're going to start looking at what we have, what we've got to move from and where it's got to end up. And then after that, we're going to look it through, soak it in now for just a couple of minutes.