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

  • This lesson covers the involvement of Christians in societal issues, using historical examples and emphasizing the balance of Christ's work for and in believers, while critiquing modern church practices and advocating for active ministry participation by all members.
  • This lesson teaches the importance of balancing Christian service with receptivity to God's word, using the story of Martha and Mary to illustrate the need for prioritizing spiritual union with Christ over mere activity, emphasizing the consequences of a divided heart and the necessity of both justification and sanctification.
  • Learn to identify red flags in your ministry, distinguish between serving God and personal ambition, and address anxiety, self-pity, and control issues by trusting God and adopting humility.
  • Understand the theological concept that your essence is divinely created and precedes your existence, contrasting this with Sartre's existentialism, and learn the importance of receiving God's guidance over defining your life by accomplishments.
  • Learn to critically evaluate your motives, distinguish between self-serving and God-serving actions, understand the role of community in avoiding self-deception, recognize the significance of Christ's atonement, handle red flags, and balance people's expectations with God's calling.
  • The lesson teaches you to balance spiritual renewal and active ministry by self-reflecting on weekly activities, ensuring you receive God's grace and effectively respond to His directives, thus preventing burnout and sustaining a healthy ministry.
  • Learn to live like a reservoir, receiving spiritual replenishment before giving, through prioritizing key practices like prayer and scripture, and avoiding depletion by maintaining a constant spiritual reservoir and making essential practices an integral part of daily life.
  • This lesson teaches you to live by integrating core Christian principles daily, maintaining foundational practices like loving God, building relationships, serving vocally, and caring for your body, while emphasizing the importance of following Jesus closely and avoiding the pitfalls of church leadership.
  • Learn about the eight deadly sins, their historical and spiritual context, and the importance of overcoming them through spiritual disciplines, while illustrating the consequences of these sins through biblical examples, especially emphasizing the dangers of anger and depreciation of God's goodness.
  • Learn about dealing with inordinate sadness and grief in ministry, understanding the importance of acknowledging suffering, supporting others compassionately, handling difficult relationships with integrity, and addressing unresolved anger constructively.
  • You learn the importance of gratitude, the dangers of sadness and acedia, the need for internal well-being through a relationship with God, and the power of infused hope in overcoming ministry challenges.
  • Gain insights into the dangers of vainglory and pride, the importance of humility, prayer, and community support, and the significance of recognizing God's sovereignty in overcoming self-centeredness and narcissism.
  • Integrating sermon teachings into your heart is crucial, all sins are deadly, and you should submit worries to God, rejoice, and take every thought captive for Christ, using early church wisdom to overcome temptations like gluttony for spiritual growth.
  • This lesson teaches you how to identify and combat the eight deadly sins using virtues like temperance, chaste love, poverty of spirit, meekness, appreciation, infused faith, hope, love, and humility, relying on divine grace to transform these vices into a deeper spiritual life.
  • Understand that crises, whether personal or ministry-related, are opportunities for spiritual growth by seeking God's refuge, understanding forced detachment crises, maintaining healthy life rhythms, and recognizing divine purification amidst challenges.
  • This lesson teaches how crises reveal the light of Christ, illustrating the transformative power of faith through biblical examples and personal experiences, emphasizing reliance on God's resources and presence, and portraying ministry as a pressure cooker demanding quick maturity and resilience.
  • Explore Christian anthropology, understanding God's image in us, and the dimensions of human life, roles, and spiritual longings, emphasizing the balance between physical, functional, and spiritual aspects guided by the Holy Spirit.
  • This lesson continues the study of Christian anthropology through Adrian Von Comm's field theory, emphasizing Christ at the center of interconnected aspects of human existence—interior, relational, here and now, and global life—encouraging balance, cooperation with the Holy Spirit, and harmonious Christian living.
  • Learn that as a leader, worship is central to your role, involving a holistic response to God's love and guidance, emphasizing discipleship, biblical understanding, and aligning with God's purpose through praise and adoration, preventing apathy and enriching your leadership journey.
  • Understand that true worship according to the New Testament is about honoring and serving God alone, avoiding idolatry, and leading a life of genuine service and love toward Him, while recognizing and addressing the major obstacles to authentic worship within contemporary church practices.
  • Understand the importance of genuine worship leadership, personal worship alignment, the significance of historical church traditions, the dangers of overloaded worship services, and the mission to uphold true worship against global falsehoods.
  • Learn about the core aspects of worship in Revelation 4, emphasizing humility, submission, and the connection between future and present worship, encouraging heartfelt adoration and genuine worship practices in church leadership.
  • Learn how a leader's spiritual life impacts their ministry, the necessity of comprehensive discipleship, the integration of gospel content into daily life, and the importance of articulating and practicing core theological doctrines.
  • Explore the dynamic nature of spiritual life and leadership, emphasizing shifts from traditional to transformative ministry, clergy-centered to congregation-empowered roles, and solo to team leadership, advocating mature discipleship and active laity engagement.
  • Learn the importance of integrating sermons into discipleship, focusing on high commitment, contextualization, personal mentoring, and a family-like atmosphere, while emphasizing biblical and theological grounding for a solid foundation.
  • Biblical and theological grounding, genuine discipleship, and the formation of life-giving dispositions are crucial for spiritual growth and active participation in God's mission, leading to personal joy, communal fulfillment, and a global impact.

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. 


Recommended Reading:

Understanding Our Story: The Life’s Work and Legacy of Adrian van Kaam in the Field of Formative Spirituality, Adrian van Kaam

The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard

Soul Keeping: Caring for the Most Important Part of You, John Ortberg

The Contemplative Pastor, Eugene Peterson

Mid-Course Correction: Re-Ordering Your Private World For the Next Part of Your Journey, Gordon MacDonald

Seeking God: The Way of St. Benedict, Esther de Waal and Kathleen Norris

The Monastic Institutes: On the Training of a Monk and Eight Deadly Sins, St. John Cassian

Confessions, by Augustine

The Training of the Twelve, A.B. Bruce

Center Church: Doing Balanced, Gospel-Centered Ministry in Your City, Tim Keller

The Once and Future Church, Loren Mead

Five Challenges for The Once and Future Church, Loren Mead

The Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, Published by Tyndale House, Revelation by Dr. Mulholland

Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis

Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis

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?