The #ReimagineFORUM @ Discipleship.Network

Equipping Your Reimagine Journey

I'm looking for feedback from my fellow Discipleship Network friends on how you have encouraged, challenged and spurred others on to a more pro-active form of discipelship.  So many people are content to sit in the pew and observe their faith rather than rolling up their sleeves and serving.  What are some of the obstacles you've faced and how have you tackled them?  What has worked, and what hasn't?

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My issue is that people in my church are really into the social (fellowship) and the social gospel aspects of our faith. They just do not seem to care to learn more from the Word, to disciple themselves or others, and are terrified of evangelistic efforts. They do "Jazz Church," host interfaith meetings, etc. But, there is almost nothing for growth in the faith. Like Ann, I would love to hear what others are dealing with, doing, thinking.
Yes there are many pew warmers but are they all really doing only that. I have found that often these people are going about their daily lives very in tune with God. They struggle with their weaknesses, they strive to show love to those around them to be a picture of God's love. They are involved with non church activities to be a light in the darkness, at scouts, at the gym, in activities with fellow workers. What work do we count as God's work only things done by church approval. Much of our service is just busy work to keep us from really reaching out to those around us.
Get to know the pew warmers find out who they care about and how they are reaching out to them.
I'm not talking about the type of person you described. I know who they are in my church and quite often they serve in some small way because of the things they do outside of the church. That is not my intention. I am talking about folks who do not contribute anything to the church because they feel it exists to do something for them. How do we move a person from that selfish perspective to the "one another" perspective of the true Christian community?


shary hauber said:
Yes there are many pew warmers but are they all really doing only that. I have found that often these people are going about their daily lives very in tune with God. They struggle with their weaknesses, they strive to show love to those around them to be a picture of God's love. They are involved with non church activities to be a light in the darkness, at scouts, at the gym, in activities with fellow workers. What work do we count as God's work only things done by church approval. Much of our service is just busy work to keep us from really reaching out to those around us.
Get to know the pew warmers find out who they care about and how they are reaching out to them.
Although it has met with some resistence, my church has recently incorporated "equipping classes" rather than traditional adult Sunday school classes. They are six weeks in duration and several are offered at the same time beginning on the same date. By offering very attractive topics, we have had people who have only attended worship now willing to attend a class. I've personally led a class on Creation, Spiritual Warfare, Biblical Perspective on Current Issues (think hot topics like abortion, war, etc.). Other classes offered include areas of marriage, raising children, reaching the lost, etc. It's always challenging but knowing the commitment time is set has, I think, helped people to be willing to attend. Growth has to start somewhere and if you start with something that interests people, hopefully that will get their own interest growing so they read the Bible for themselves and be inclined to put it in to practice!
Discipleship is following Jesus. Jesus gave us the instructions (The Bible) and the Guide (the Holy Spirit). There are no magic formulas, types of worship services, or Christian books that can manufacture what only the Spirit can do. I have a crazy theory. I believe that people who are truly saved (that comes through the work of the Holy Spirit in repentance and faith in Jesus Christ) will want to serve. Many of the people who choose to remain a receiver (pew warmer) not a giver (a servant) have no desire to follow Christ. These are playing a fatal game with religion (Matthew 7:21). I do, however, believe that there are true Christians who have let the busyness of life crowd out the possibilities of service for the cause of Christ. Romans 12 gives the pattern. We are called to be transformed. As we are transformed, we will serve, because we are a part of the body (spiritually gifted to bond together in mutual edification in order to bring glory to God and unity to the Church). Transformation occurs when the will of a person is broken and conformed to that of Holy Spirit. Classes help those who already want God's Will. Biblically-based preaching and teaching (pulpit or Sunday School) offers the foundation for those who are willing to apply it. Having a great process for new members is wonderful for those who want to get involved. Until the Body of Christ chooses to confront those who place the things of this world over the call of Christ, our churches will continue to make very little difference in the culture. How do we do this? The Biblical pattern, including the method of our Lord, was one-to-one, personal conversations that spoke the truth in love, humility, and respect. I am a pastor, and I see very few pastors willing to confront anyone about anything. One last idea: I do not believe that people can "observe their faith" and choose to neglect their spiritual gifts. In the life of a Christian, faith and deeds are inseparable.
Wow, so glad I stumbled on to your question. This is a burning question among the leadership of my church. Sorry, I don't have an answer for you, yet. The only sure things I know will work are prayer -- consistent, fervent prayer that God will stir his people -- and a move of the Holy Spirit. You would think, knowing that, that we would have moved past this block. But there has been division, jealosies, bitterness and other "acceptable sins" running rampant within our congregation (and, alas, our leadership from time to time). Right now we are going through a wilderness time, I believe; moving from what we were to our new destination.
May God bless both our groups and stir us up to move in love.
Thanks for your input Dorothy. The Sunday School structure sounds very appealing. It's an idea that I'm going to keep in the back of mind. Right now, Sunday School exists only during our 1st hr. I'd like to bring it back during the 2nd hr. and this might be a very good way to encourgage attendance.

Dorothy Compton said:
Although it has met with some resistence, my church has recently incorporated "equipping classes" rather than traditional adult Sunday school classes. They are six weeks in duration and several are offered at the same time beginning on the same date. By offering very attractive topics, we have had people who have only attended worship now willing to attend a class. I've personally led a class on Creation, Spiritual Warfare, Biblical Perspective on Current Issues (think hot topics like abortion, war, etc.). Other classes offered include areas of marriage, raising children, reaching the lost, etc. It's always challenging but knowing the commitment time is set has, I think, helped people to be willing to attend. Growth has to start somewhere and if you start with something that interests people, hopefully that will get their own interest growing so they read the Bible for themselves and be inclined to put it in to practice!
Jeremy, Thank you for your thoughtful and perceptive reply. I agree with so much of what you have to say. Yes, I recognize that there really is no formula that guarantees a person's walk with Jesus will blossom into the kind of servanthood like that of Jesus Himself. I don't know if I would go so far to say that those who sit in the pew more rather than serve are truly saved or not (but I'd be inclined to think that measuring stick could be true) but I would definitely say they match some of the seeds in the Parable of the Sower. They certainly aren't producing any kind of fruit (or harvest) and so they are not the productive seeds they could or should be. Transformation should take place and I think you have correctly identified the different tools which the Lord can use to bring about that change (if we allow Him to). Like the seeds that spring up too fast, fall on rocky soil, or become choked out by the weeds, we will not be transformed if we allow our culture to influence us rather than the Holy Spirit. Your final comment reminded me of James (who is so often misunderstood) when he admonished us to put our faith into our actions, thus proving we truly believe in the One who is concerned about widows and orphans. Faith is not only a belief in the mind, it is an action of the heart. So thanks again for the timely reminder that it is often the one-on-one investment in a person's life, especially by a leader that is willing to take a risk and lovingly challenge a person's behavior and loyalties in order to cultivate the growth that takes place when a person does move from the pew into servanthood. Your Sister in Christ, Ann

Jeremy Amick said:
Discipleship is following Jesus. Jesus gave us the instructions (The Bible) and the Guide (the Holy Spirit). There are no magic formulas, types of worship services, or Christian books that can manufacture what only the Spirit can do. I have a crazy theory. I believe that people who are truly saved (that comes through the work of the Holy Spirit in repentance and faith in Jesus Christ) will want to serve. Many of the people who choose to remain a receiver (pew warmer) not a giver (a servant) have no desire to follow Christ. These are playing a fatal game with religion (Matthew 7:21). I do, however, believe that there are true Christians who have let the busyness of life crowd out the possibilities of service for the cause of Christ. Romans 12 gives the pattern. We are called to be transformed. As we are transformed, we will serve, because we are a part of the body (spiritually gifted to bond together in mutual edification in order to bring glory to God and unity to the Church). Transformation occurs when the will of a person is broken and conformed to that of Holy Spirit. Classes help those who already want God's Will. Biblically-based preaching and teaching (pulpit or Sunday School) offers the foundation for those who are willing to apply it. Having a great process for new members is wonderful for those who want to get involved. Until the Body of Christ chooses to confront those who place the things of this world over the call of Christ, our churches will continue to make very little difference in the culture. How do we do this? The Biblical pattern, including the method of our Lord, was one-to-one, personal conversations that spoke the truth in love, humility, and respect. I am a pastor, and I see very few pastors willing to confront anyone about anything. One last idea: I do not believe that people can "observe their faith" and choose to neglect their spiritual gifts. In the life of a Christian, faith and deeds are inseparable.
Teressa, Thank you for your note. It is difficult when leadership struggles in the same manner as those they are trying to lead. I know it will take time for all of you to work these sin issues out, but I do believe God will hear your sincere prayers and answer. I would encourage you to read Jeremy's comments; they are excellent and reminded me of my responsibility in the "process". Discipleship is no quick fix. If it was, the original 12 would have been spectacular and unstoppable. However, God worked through them (and their weaknesses) proving He can even work through me! I am thankful that He has placed me where I am to serve. I am also thankful that I am aware that I am prone to weaknesses just like those I hope to inspire to grow. If I am transparent, and willing to invest in others, the Holy Spirit will do His part to bring them to maturity. I hope and pray that your leadership will be able to put aside their differences and disagreements so that the whole body will be built up in Christ. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Ann

Teressa Weaver said:
Wow, so glad I stumbled on to your question. This is a burning question among the leadership of my church. Sorry, I don't have an answer for you, yet. The only sure things I know will work are prayer -- consistent, fervent prayer that God will stir his people -- and a move of the Holy Spirit. You would think, knowing that, that we would have moved past this block. But there has been division, jealosies, bitterness and other "acceptable sins" running rampant within our congregation (and, alas, our leadership from time to time). Right now we are going through a wilderness time, I believe; moving from what we were to our new destination.
May God bless both our groups and stir us up to move in love.

Thank you for your comments Jerry. There are some in my church that are drawn to the fellowship aspects of this congregation, but I sense in a lot of our congregants that they are ready to grow, but not sure how. Some are satisfied to sit on the sidelines (in the pew), but others are using it as an excuse because they are not sure of their spiritual gifts, are afraid they will "mess up" if they try to share their faith and don't know "all the answers", and such. As Jeremy noted in his response, personal interest and investment in someone's faith walk is possibly the best way to produce growth. I am also trying some simple things that may prove helpful as well. First, I've started writing a short insert for our bulletins called "Ready for the Road Ahead" which features personal insights and thoughts on all aspects of discipleship. For example, the first one talked about how Jesus can help us with life's directions since He has been where we are and knows the way we should go. I also want to include personal testimonies in our services once in a while where folks share things they've learned as they have grown in their faith. Sometimes, all it takes is knowing someone else is going (or has gone) through the same things you are to make a difference and help. As our new "director of discipleship", I'm trying to find multiple ways to encourage multiple generations, so I'm always on the look out for good ideas. I hope some of the responses are beneficial to you. They have been for me. Ann
Jerry Linnins said:
My issue is that people in my church are really into the social (fellowship) and the social gospel aspects of our faith. They just do not seem to care to learn more from the Word, to disciple themselves or others, and are terrified of evangelistic efforts. They do "Jazz Church," host interfaith meetings, etc. But, there is almost nothing for growth in the faith. Like Ann, I would love to hear what others are dealing with, doing, thinking.

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