Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Pass It On

No, not the end-of-season flu. Pass on a mature relationship with Jesus. Help others encounter Jesus, so they grow.
Jesus approached them and told them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore, as you go, disciple people in all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. And remember, I am with you each and every dayl until the end of the age.” Matt 28:18-20 ISV.
For the past two years, I've mentored (some Christians call this 'discipled') a handful of Christian women leaders on two campuses. This is hardly "all nations." But I'm convinced that one-on-one mentoring brings the news of Jesus farthest. This is called exponential growth... and it requires that the mentee becomes the mentor, that the disciple becomes the discipler. 2x2, and 4x4 grows exponentially. As someone else says, there is no Plan B to discipleship.

Early on, two years ago, I did not really understand how vital it is for these young women leaders to catch that Matthew 28 vision from Jesus. I mean, I could recite this memorized verse, point to people on my faith journey who encouraged me or who grew together with me, and our church vision statement... The past 6 months, Jesus has shown me how many different ways discipleship can happen.

Helping others grow to maturity in Jesus looks like:
Email check ins
Coffee once a month
Skyping
Playdates for kids, while adults talk
Reading a book together
Texting thoughts and prayers
Making a goal to interact with new people, and holding each other accountable
Blogging and inviting to guest post
And so many more ways for college students, young professionals, parents, kids, and anyone of any age. The key is being available, and making time to encourage faith in others as you live your life.

photo from http://exponential.ly/about/
Currently, the women leaders have struggled for about 5 weeks to identify, invite, and get something going with a younger member of their college ministry group. Add to the story that these women are seniors who will graduate in, oh, 3 months, and the urgency to pass it on grows. These women have really struggled to start a mentoring relationship.

How did it come to be, that senior leaders made it through 4 years without anyone teaching them how to make disciples as they go about living? They readily look forward to meeting with me... how do they look forward to helping a freshmen or sophomore emerging leader?

But wait, there's an added layer here. A college ministry generation typically lasts 4 years. A high school generation lasts 4 years. A middle school generation lasts 3-4 years. But for the young adult, age 22+, time stretches out and loses elasticity. We go through so many career, relationship, and life stage transitions that our vision frequently grows inward: we crave community and connections, we long for stability. The urgency to mentor someone's faith in Jesus disappears as we buy homes and settle for 5, 10, 15 years. I'm feeling the urgency at almost 29 years old, as we prepare to buy a house and as we reach year 5 of being in this local church. 5 years is like a generation (please don't tell me '30' is the cut-off, yikes). And I'm prayerfully sifting through memories with God, asking Him to show me where I've had opportunities to mentor someone in faith, to help grow young leadership, and yet not taken the opportunity.

Nick has younger connections at church than I, and he has recently started mentoring 2 leaders who will launch a small group Bible study for college students and young professionals at our church. Something happened in one generation (5 years), where those of us who were there moved on to another life stage or never multiplied our groups and left a leadership void. We've talked a lot about how we can partner together to equip (and then get out of the way!) this new group. We've prayed a lot about whether our current small group is ready to multiply. We've regained urgency to make disciples as we go about life, especially disciples who make disciples.
Where has someone in this local church invited you into leadership in the last 5 years? 
Where have you taken leadership risks, the kind of risks where you have to depend on the power of the Holy Spirit? 
Where has Jesus offered you an invitation to become more like him, to hang out intentionally with people more like he did?

Reading 1 Thessalonians 1 has helped me see that discipleship need not occur face-to-face, the basic requirements are prayer and the Spirit's help. Paul only spent a tiny amount of time in this Macedonian city, and he had to leave. It was the Spirit who transformed the Thessalonians, as Paul continued to write, pray, and hear reports of their faith. Knowing and imitating Jesus (and Paul) led them to reproduce disciples.

Who comes to mind as you read?

Where are you passionate to reproduce disciples of Jesus?

We always thank God for all of you when we mention you in our prayers. 3In the presence of our God and Father, we constantly remember how your faith is active,e your love is hard at work,f and your hope in our Lord Jesus the Messiahg is enduring.h4Brothers whom God loves, we know that he has chosen you, 5for the gospel we broughti did not come to you in words only, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit, and with deep conviction. Indeed,j you know what kind of people we proved to be while we were with you, acting on your behalf. 6You became imitators of us and of the Lord. In spite of a great deal of suffering, you welcomed the word with the joy that the Holy Spirit produces.k 7As a result, you became a model for all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8From you the word of the Lord has spread out not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place where your faith in God has become known. As a result, we do not need to say anything about it. 9For peoplel keep telling us what kind of welcome you gave us and how you turned away from idols to serve a living and true God 10and to wait for his Son whom he raised from the dead to come backm from heaven. This Jesus is the one who rescues us from the coming wrath. 1 Thess 1, ISV.

Matthew 28 and 1 Thessalonians aren't enough? Psst, pray.
And here are some other thoughts on making disciples.
Rhythms of Missional Discipleship
12 Indicators that Leadership is Lacking
No Conflict = No Discipleship
There is No Plan B to Discipleship

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