The Day My Quiet Time Died

by Jan Johnson I used to have dazzling quiet times. I sat on my bed, holding my four-part prayer notebook as if it were a cherished artifact. Pulling back the tab marked “adoration,” I peered at a list of forty words that described God and picked three to praise God for. Moving on to the tab marked “confession,” I mulled over another forty-word list of faults, especially those I’d underlined in red: laziness and grouchiness. Racing on to “thanksgiving,” I skimmed a list of twenty items I felt thankful for, including friends, relatives, books, and—to be especially spiritual—God Himself. At… Read moreThe Day My Quiet Time Died

It’s so easy to lose focus and miss what is in front of you

Then the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question.  “Teacher,” they said, “Moses wrote for us that if a man’s brother dies and leaves a wife but no children, the man must marry the widow and raise up offspring for his brother.  Now there were seven brothers. The first one married and died without leaving any children. The second one married the widow, but he also died, leaving no child. It was the same with the third.  In fact, none of the seven left any children. Last of all, the woman died too.  At… Read moreIt’s so easy to lose focus and miss what is in front of you

What It Takes to Die to Self

by Ephrem Smith Dying to the things of this world that contaminate our hearts begins with realizing that we don’t have it in our own power to love the way God desires us to love. We must live daily in the reality of God’s steadfast love for us. God showers us daily with an amazing love and grace that we don’t deserve. It is out of the overflow of God’s love upon us that we are empowered to love other people. When we experience God’s reconciliation in our hearts, we die to the ways of the world and begin to… Read moreWhat It Takes to Die to Self

Pressing into Discipleship

I find myself talking a lot about discipleship these days. It is my passion. A lot of my time revolves around growing in the direction of Jesus and watching others grow. Here are a few threads from my book Guardrails; Six Principles for a Multiplying Church that I explain in more depth here. Movement thinking is key to discipleship. Multiplication runs on a different operating system from addition. I often experience this as a pastor. At times I am tempted to just “do church” or to do things myself instead of raising up the people God has put in front… Read morePressing into Discipleship

I Don’t Need Another Vision Statement

by Michael Frost Most church vision and mission statements sound great. They usually include clear biblical values and are crafted to be interesting and memorable. But what difference do they actually make? Recent research suggests that rather than value statements shaping our behavior, our actions can actually shape our values. Aristotle once said, “We are what we repeatedly do.” And the apostle James says, “Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds” (Jas. 2:18). Faith, then, is not an act or even a belief system; it is a habit. French philosopher Pierre… Read moreI Don’t Need Another Vision Statement

State of Discipleship

What are we doing? How well is it working? With the help of the Barna Group, The Navigators uncovered key insights into questions disciplers must ask on a regular basis. Here some of their findings: The research examined the language and terminology surrounding discipleship. They asked a random sample of Christians—including practicing and non-practicing Christians—what words or phrases they use to describe “the process of growing spiritually.” The most preferred term was “becoming more Christ-like” (selected by 43% of respondents), followed by “spiritual growth” (31%), and “spiritual journey” (28%). The term “discipleship” ranked fourth on the list and was only… Read moreState of Discipleship

The Authority to Make Disciples

by Chris Matthisen — When I encourage disciples to take up the challenge to disciple another, I get one of two responses. The first response goes something like this; “But I don’t have the knowledge or maturity to disciple another person!” and the second is “Who am I to assume that I can spiritually invest in another person to help them grow!?” assuming that if they did decide to invest in another person they would be committing the sin of pride. After hearing their objections I lead them through a brief Bible study of six key passages. Matthew 28:18-20; 2… Read moreThe Authority to Make Disciples

Faith Your Fears

An effective disciple is someone who truly understands that they are loved by God. Without such knowledge we lack courage along with the relational strength to be obedient to the Word of God. In her book The Fear Cure, Lisa Rankin says that we need courage to deal with our fear and that, “Courage is not about being fearless it’s aboutletting fear transform you . . .”[1] (xxix) If I may change the wording on this just a little and apply Christian truth to it I would say that as a Christian we let God transform us in the midst… Read moreFaith Your Fears

When We Neglect the Mission

by Chris Matthisen “I’m not able to experience God’s presence”, or “I’m failing to find purpose in my life”, are two of the most common statements I hear from disciples as they struggle to make sense of their faith. Although the answers may vary, I have found one answer to trump them all. They fail to experience God’s comforting presence and lack purpose in life because they are not engaged in the mission of their faith. Of course there are other reasons but I would say the majority of the time it boils down to a lack of obedience to… Read moreWhen We Neglect the Mission