Spiritual Life of the Leader - Lesson 25

Through Movement for Clergy and Laity (Part 1/2)

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.

Stephen Martyn
Spiritual Life of the Leader
Lesson 25
Watching Now
Through Movement for Clergy and Laity (Part 1/2)

Through Movement for Clergy and Laity

I. The Role of the Sermon

II. The Through Movement

A. High commitment covenantal structure

B. First disciples trained by hearing public proclamation and in small groups

C. Example of John Wesley

III. High Bar Standards

A. Intentionality

B. Frequency of meetings

C. Daily Requirements

D. Accountability

E. Number of people may be few at first

IV. Family Atmosphere

A. Close friends for the pastor

B. Discipleship is a process not a program

C. Integrate teaching of scripture into your everyday life

V. Biblical and Theological Grounding

A. Unlikely that a high percentage of a congregation knows and can articulate biblical and theological truths

B. Discipleship formation cannot be reduced to mere technique

C. Know our own story

D. We should intend to make disciples and let converts happen rather than intend to make converts and let disciples happen

All Lessons
Class Resources
  • 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
Through Movement for Clergy and Laity (Part 1/2)
Lesson Transcript


[00:00:00] Welcome back. I want to just give all of you who have any questions about the role of the sermon. I really, really need to speak a word into the said and be very clear is as we move forward into process in the through movement. Look, the sermon is a critical part of discipleship. I do not want to separate sermon from discipleship. If you study the sermons, for instance, of John Wesley, you'll see that there's a fairly large number of sermons that were never preached. He never preached them. But what were they for? They were for the Body of Christ to read so that the body of Christ would get the theology, biblical theology down. So we're talking about a both and process here. The sermon, the upfront teaching, whether you're pastor or not, you may be doing teaching in a local church. We ought to both. And this is the content. You got to get the content of the gospel. All right. So what's going to be this important through movement? And here we're I want to I want to pull. I want to move through six processes, six environments. If you just think in terms of in terms of environments. And some of you may be frustrated is in in the sense of, gosh, I just want. One, two, three, this is what you do. And the danger of that, which is the danger of any boxed system that you pull off a shelf, is is that it's not contextualize this. You have got to contextualize what you're doing to make it appropriate for your setting. I think if I can at least give you environments here that here are the general environments, then then what it will do is it will literally force you to depend upon the Holy Spirit to contextualize these things.


[00:02:30] All right. So without this through processing, we're not going to be able to arrive at a place where genuine discipleship is unfolding in where spiritual leadership is finding its flower. You know, you want as a spiritual leader, whether you're clergy, you you want to know the fulfillment of Christ in your life, and you want to have the joy of seeing others blossoming and an unfolding in that love. There is no greater joy. I mean, and in all of the years that my wife and I spent in pastoral ministry, the greatest joy that came was seeing other people come alive and accept the calling of God that was on their lives and and seeing them take up this whole business of following Jesus. So let's look at environments in and and and talk a bit about those and then get some questions and answers. Let me before we even start now, let me also say I am not boy, I do not want to come across as being arrogant here, so Lord, save me from that. There's no arrogance in this statement, but let me just share. I'm not sharing a theory here. These these are working environments that the Lord enabled to take place in congregations that I led. And these are working environments that we we we can take you places right now where these kinds of environments are unfolding in thriving and lots of life in a good environment. Lots of life. So, Lord, help us now to get a hold of you are environments for discipleship growth and Lord lead us. Even in this part of the discussion we ask in your holy name, Hey man, you know, I. I just don't know how you can accomplish much of anything in business, in any kind of work you do in any kind of endeavor you do if you go low bar, you know, if you have if you have small expectations.


[00:05:02] So the first environment that I, I find that a number of us have found important and and this is a historic environment is where you can you can take it all the way back from the beginning with Christ in his disciples and then those who became apostles and then just move it through is a high commitment, covenantal structure. Now, I want to I'm going to write this down for you and and get them all on the board. So we're talking about high. Commitment. Very high commitment. In the context of covenant High commitment. Covenantal, so high commitment and just complete covenant structure. And what are we after here and what are we what are we talking about? Well, we're we're aiming for maturity in Christ. What we're doing we're aiming for maturity in Christ and any kind of discipleship process that meets its goal of maturity of Christ and participation in the mission of God is going to ask for a high commitment. You know, I get so agitated with some of my own students in things like even taking up offerings. And and so I'm training them and and, you know, you'll hear him say when when they're taking up and offering this, the Lord bless this small portion that we are now returning to. And I said, for heaven's sake, literally don't ever use the word small in a church service, because that's exactly what you get. People would tip God on Sunday. Now, we're not tipping God on Sunday, so we're asking for a high commitment for those entering in. And by necessity, you know, avoiding any kind of minimal commitment. Normally, the people who fight the hardest against this, when we're when we're trying to get these concepts across, will be the pastors themselves.


[00:07:48] And the pastors will say, oh, my people won't do that. They're too busy. You can't get them to make that kind of commitment. Basically, I just kind of step back. I take a breath, I look them straight in the face and I say nonsense. The real issue is you don't want to do that. You don't want to commit yourself to having that kind of high bar discipleship. Lord have mercy on us. Jesus asks for nothing less than the totality of our lives. So we want to move in that way. Think about what a Bruce said. Abe Bruce has been mentioned earlier, but he wrote the 1871 classic text called The Training of the 12. Here's what he wrote. Those on whom so much depended, it plainly behooved to possess very extraordinary qualifications. Stay with him. The mirrors must be finely polished that are designed to reflect the image of Christ. Yet, as we know, Bruce wrote, The humble Fisherman of Galilee had much to learn before they could satisfy these high requirements, so much that the time of their apprenticeship for their apostolic work seems all too short. But then he went on. Here's what he said. So both from his words, from the words of Jesus and from his actions, we can say that he attached supreme importance to that part of his work. In other words, training the 12. This is not a casual thing. This is not a low bar thing. Now, here's a concept that's hard to get a hold of, but important to get a hold of. In his great love, Christ loved all people. You know, you just see he he ministered to the crowds big time. He healed people in the crowds He he shared. You know, he would go to meals sometimes with smaller groups from people coming to him out of the crowd.


[00:10:13] But he loved people enough to spend time with with huge numbers. But in truth, he only disabled a few. So here's here's part of the concept that I think those of us in spiritual leadership need to get a hold of. You love the whole. This God loves the whole. But you only disciple the few. With my students from Japan, and I've had very few students from Japan. It doesn't take me one hand to name all of them, to list all of the students I've had from Japan, but I remember what one of them recently told me. She said in her discipleship process, in her discipleship understanding, she says, our basic understanding in Japan in search of a culture that is so very difficult for the Christian faith to live, is that we have an understanding of one fruit. And I say, What do you mean by one fruit? She said, To see one conversion in a lifetime is something to rejoice over for us. You know, hard to imagine that kind of culture. But the point being. We are called to intensely pour our lives into a few. Into a few. Because that's all. That's all you can do. Anyway, when it comes down to the two, to the more one on one personal, we don't neglect the crowds. We go with Jesus. We preach to the crowds on the Sermon on the Mount, but then we seek to integrate it behind the scenes with the disciples. He loves the hole, but he only trained the few. Now I find that we really don't emulate this example. Well, I mean, for hundreds of years we have been captivated by the allure of public ministry, namely the talking head, one person transferring knowledge to a large body of people.


[00:12:43] Now, again, keep keep it in mind. A good proclamation of the gospel will indeed do that. But it's when you just stop there. When you stop. At that point, we really do not simply care much for the patient behind the scenes, a slow process of growing disciples the way the Jesus grew them. All right. So there's a call in here. I believe there's a call in not to neglect public proclamation, but not to see. That is the end of my ministry. We're asking the church here, and I think the invitation from the Lord of the church is to take on the full example of the head of the church. He's the great pastor. You know, he's the shepherd. And I want to follow his his leadership. I want to be like Jesus when he shares the joys of the kingdom with the crowd on the Sermon on the Mount. And I'll I also want to be like Jesus when he shares the application of the sermon with the 12. After they come off of the sermon of the Sermon on the Mount. I want to be with Jesus when he meets with Mary and Martha in their home. You know, I want to be with Jesus in his resurrection life on the road after his resurrection, with the disciples enlightening them. But, you know, he's just he's doing a few here, a few there. So the early band of apostles and disciples who were trained by Jesus both through public proclamation and by one on one and by the small group presentation. Listen, you see the same things showing up in some of some of the great movements of Christianity in history. And one of those is the Wesleyan Movement. Wesley preached and taught the Gospels wherever he could find an open door.


[00:14:58] He was ejected and barred from preaching within most Anglican churches in the United Kingdom at the time. So he's preaching out in city squares, in fields, in coal pits, Before he had his own preaching houses, but he did not try to accomplish the sacred, sacred work of discipleship by preaching alone. Now, his buddy George Whitfield was actually probably a far better and more effective preacher than Wesley was. But at the end of his life, you know, George Whitfield looks back and he says, gosh, all of this preaching, all these gathering of people is that they just turn into nothing other than a rope of sand. And he realized that Westley at that point had the better way by putting people in societies which were large groups of people seeking to to follow the way of Christ. And then in each society, they were broken down into smaller groups of people. But from the beginning, for these smaller groups of people, there were very high bar standards. Okay, so what do we mean by high bar standards? Let's get them. Let's. Let's get it going here. Intentionality first. We've got to go and we're going to intensely work toward that goal. So not only intentionality here, but there's going to be frequency of meetings. You don't do discipleship casually. Oh, whenever we can meet next. No. These meetings were set times and people were expected to be with them. You said, Well, you can't do that in this day and age. I said, Oh, what are you saying? I've seen hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people go through high bar discipleship meetings where they would meet at a set time every week, meeting on a regular basis and meeting over a long period of time.


[00:17:24] At what point? Let me ask a critical question Do we graduate out of the discipleship process? Anyone care to offer a word here? At what point do we graduate out of the discipleship process? When we die? Yeah. Never. When we. Yeah. And there will be growth in heaven. So, you know. Yeah. Never. In this side of things, when we died, there were daily requirements as well. Now, these requirements all revolved around what are called the means of grace. So we've covered those earlier in our in our sessions. But just a quick review. You know, they were expected to pray daily and to be in a whole disposition and lifestyle of prayer. They were expected to be in the word daily. They were required to not only be in attendance at a service on Sunday and partake in receive Holy Communion on Sunday every Sunday. But they were also required to be in these small groups. They were required to have all things fasts every week. They were required to do works of service or works of mercy to others within their scope of living. They were required to for a minimum amount of giving as well. The ties. It was just simply a requirement and there were other requirements. But these are some of the basic beginning requirements for these people. So not only their daily requirements, but there was accountability. And by accountability, that means someone would ask him. Well, Steve, let me ask, how did your prayer life go this week? And tell me about your times in the world. It really does help me say to if you're running one of these small groups in leading one of these small groups to have everybody on the same page of scripture every day, it's amazing how the Holy Spirit will speak words of encouragement and enlightenment when everybody's on the same page and you share what insights the Lord give you this week.


[00:20:18] The accountability was to ask about them. When we ask about things, then that shows that we really do think they are important. And what I found is that people do not take it in a condemnatory sense, but they're thankful that somebody loves them enough to care about how they're doing in these areas. And then when they didn't fulfill the covenant in that all of this is under a covenant, we're going to ask people ahead of time, say, here's our covenant of how we're going to live and work together and all wraps around what you've already covered earlier devotional living, relational strengthening, vocational serving in temple nurturing. All of that's built into this covenant. Then you help people, you work them through processes, you help them. Now, what has happened today? We've settled in the church today for an incomplete mode of discipleship. We're merely coming to a service has become our default discipleship approach. Now we want people, we want them to come to church. We want them to come to a service. And certainly God is sovereign and more than capable, capable of growing disciples through mere church attendance. But he gave us his son to show us the full path of discipleship. And if making disciples was one of the most important works of Jesus, then I too need to learn how to be a disciple and how to share that process and bring others into the discipleship process as well. Now let me share with you that you will not have people standing in line to go through high powered discipleship processes. Well, that's alright. Just get God's Kingdom metrics. So Jesus himself, the Lord of the Universe, starts out with 12, ends up with 11, and the world was transformed because of that.


[00:22:38] Then maybe he'll give you three. Four. Maybe he'll give you many more. That's up to him. But the slow pouring of your life and the slow shepherding of others, because it takes about two years, takes about two years to get someone set in the way of being a person of prayer, being a person of the word. These things don't just. You don't just go to a weekend and get all of this set. It does not happen that way too long. Years of encouragement, of encouragement, of loving, of moving them forward. Second. Second. Climate that we're going to try and develop. Second environment that we're going to try and and have. And that is that this is going to be in the context of a family or we ought to have a family atmosphere. In other words, we're thinking this is like a family moving toward this. One of the great tragedies you'll see in congregational leadership in the life of the leader today is when you go in and ask a pastor how many friends they have. And what I have found is just heartbreaking. When I when I do when I do clergy conferences where I'm just dealing with clergy. I know now I have to really easily work into this question, but I'll simply ask them, how many close friends do you have right now in your ministry right now around you? Now, I don't know if anybody in this audience here today would like to take a guess at what is by far and away from from dealing with hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of clergy and leading conferences for them. By far and away. What do you think is the answer I'm receiving in this? For those of you not in North America, this is a North American response.


[00:25:03] I do not get these same responses when I go outside of the United States. But in the United States, what would you think would be the major response that I receive? Yeah, I'm seeing the word and it's the exact correct word. Zero zero. Close friends. Now, dear leaders, the body of Christ, the spiritual life is going to lead you into tight, long lasting, strong relationships with at least a few others. And this business of solo leadership just sets you up to be picked off by the evil one. Easy prey for the evil one. This business is a wee, not a me. And so what we're going to do is is put people together in a family like group where we're going to encourage them, we're going to love them, we're going to have them encourage others. We're going to bless them. You know, the band. The disciples ministered together with Jesus they traveled with in the eight with him. You know, they debated various detractors along the way with him. And they. Who knows how many one on one discussions they had or three on one or 12 on one discussions, nearly three years of that. You know, he was available to them. He interacted with them. Now, very clearly, he spent substantive amounts of time with a small group of people who were in close relationship with him and with one another. Let me tell you, one of the greatest gifts you can give someone in your local congregation is to give them the gift of friends, to move them in with other to to allow them to to have an environment where they're able to develop true friendship. People who pray for one another, they do life together. And let me suggest that discipleship is best done today the way it was done 2000 years ago, where people learn how to do life together in a committed, covenantal community.


[00:27:34] And this dear ones, is a big reason why discipleship is a process, not a program. Programs have start have ended. They've got one, two, three, four points. Not that we're against programs, but discipleship has got to transcend any kind of programmatic approach. We need the living body of Christ to actually be present to us. Many people have never experienced someone praying for them. Know many people, never experience what it means to have someone who who truly they can. They can call in in times both joy and in need to share their life. Let me suggest that the leader's main job in such a setting like this is not to impart information, not in these small groups. Your didactic teaching through sermons, teaching times. That's when that's done. But your main job here now is not to teach, but to help these people integrate the Gospel into their everyday, mundane lives, into their relationships. So what does it mean to live out the gospel in your family? What does it mean to live out the gospel in your business and in your work, in your neighborhood? Listen, the winners. There's a winsome nurse and an attractive power to the Christian faith that emerges when people with in the community of Christ followers actually demonstrate the love of the Lord to one another. Right now, our eldest child is a part of a mega church. I've never been in a church as large as what our oldest daughter Robyn is in. It's in Dallas, Texas, and it's an awesome church. I mean, absolutely awesome sound teaching in this church. But here's the deal. The author of I have no idea how many thousands upon thousands are a part of this congregation in Dallas, Texas. But, Robin, in my hour, Robin is a part of a community group.


[00:30:11] And so she's got people who also have children that are raising you know, there's other couples in this group and they meet. They meet they they they faithfully meet together to work out the implications of the gospel in their own lives. So. So that's how you can do it in a in a small in a true discipleship way, regardless of the size of the church. Listen, discipleship that unfolds in the context of a small community of people where leaders help set the atmosphere by truly focusing on the spiritual flourishing of those people in that group. This is going to draw. This is going to have a drawing all of its own. It may not be tens of thousands. May only be a few. But how many does it take to change the world anyway? And here's another thing. How do you change the whole culture where you've got where you know that the entire culture of this local congregation really needs to be transformed? Well, you don't go in with guns blazing and and force all sorts of change, you know. In West Texas, we got a saying, the minute you force feed somebody something, they're going to throw up on you. You know? So you can't force it. How do you do this? You do it through trance, through allowing the Holy Spirit to transform. Just a few. Just a few genuine, winsome, attractive transformation in their lives. They attract others in terms in turn. And before you know it, you really can change the culture of a church through the few. Through the few. Now let's go to the third through process. Which we're not going to spend as much time on here because I'm going to assume that you are accessing other parts of biblical training, the organization, biblical training, or that you are that you yourself as a leader are allowing yourself to be grounded.


[00:32:36] But here it is, biblical. And theological. Grounding. Now what I've had to come to realize and and never, never take for granted is that in the group, in the denomination where I've worked and spent most of my time very quickly, I had to come to the realization that I cannot assume that the people I am serving know much at all about the Word of God. In fact, it's it's it's pretty much given that the majority of people that I worked with as a pastor, you know, really did not have theological grounding or biblical grounding at all. Now, discipleship formation can never be reduced to mere technique here and now. Follow me here. This is this the technique is the how we live the Christian life, which is important. That's the formation side. But you can't you don't want to start there. You don't you don't want the you don't want the hell or the technique or the integrating structure to lead it. You want the why? Why do we do this? The why is what the Word of God says and what Jesus came to reveal to us. We want to know the way, the truth and the life that is Jesus. And quite frankly, this is why the whole spiritual formation movement today has gotten such a bad rap. It deserves its in in places. Because in spiritual formation circles, you'll see people diving into disciplines first or diving into, you know, technique or whatever to the neglect of biblical foundations. So the content or the Hwy is, is what sets everything going is what directs it. So here I just, I just want to make sure with family what we want to say is that we are loved along this way and encouraged along this way.


[00:35:18] With biblical theological grounding. We just want we want people to know. God's Word and what the Lord has to say to us. Critical issue for us today. You know, here, here's how you can sum it up. God's people. It's a well-documented problem here. God's people. We don't know our own story. So that's another way to know God's word. It's another way we can put this in. We want to know. Our own story. Why? Well, because the culture would be glad to give us plenty of stories to direct us in terms of how we should live. Goodness gracious. We want to we want to articulate the great narrative of redemption. Think about it. We're to hand down to others what we first received. Or if you're going to hand anything on, you've got to first receive it, right? I mean, do what Paul said handed on. But you know what he said first, what we have received from the Lord. And then he tells Timothy Gard the good treasure that was entrusted to him. And second, Timothy 114 Guard the Gospel How By knowing, loving, living and teaching the way of Christ. Well. You wish we didn't have to cover that today. But you cannot assume that these things are covered. You just cannot assume. Now, here's an. Here's an important word. I want to I want to throw in here. Again, it comes from Dallas Willard and it's a little bit confronting but profit to do that. Hear what Dallas Willard had to say. He wrote this thing in the last part of the 20th century, but he describes a process he said we would intend to design. We would intend to make disciples, he said, and let converts happen. Rather than intending to make converts and letting disciples happen.


[00:38:01] Now, let me give you a living illustration. For instance, in the great Wesleyan Revival that went through England in the late in the mid to late 1700s, the John Wesley ever have an altar call? No. Now, he had calls. He had all he had calls. And there's nothing wrong with having altar calls today. I had many alter calls. What did Wesley call people to? He said, I want you to come and be a part of a discipleship small group. And so the conversions happened within these discipleship small groups. It was suggested. I mean, it was a substantial conversion. It was the real deal. So this is what Willard Willard wasn't pointing toward Wesley at that time. He was just saying, let's get the priorities right. When you make disciples, then then conversions going to take place, people are going to accept Christ. They're going to be deep in the Lord. We would intend to make disciples and let converts happen, he said. Rather than intending to make converts and letting disciples happen, he said, Put your emphasis. Willard was saying, Put your emphasis on the discipleship process when calling people to Christ. Put your emphasis there. Listen, before Wesley instructed followers in the disciplines of the faith, he grounded them in the word and in theology, and he put them in small groups. But today we've in large measure found we've failed the ground people in biblical faith. And the result has been a lack of clarity regarding core Christian doctrine and then an alarming malaise in large segments of the church, a malaise that allows the culture to set the agenda rather than the word of God. And what we're seeing is a steady rise of agnosticism to outright atheism, even in church members.


[00:40:24] We need to repent of our poor stewardship of biblical theology and get right back in to this. Now, I think I'd like to ask you to take a break at this point. And and let us let let let let's let's let's assimilate some of this through movement and ask yourself, how are you doing on setting atmospheres in your local in your local congregation?