By Michael C. Mack
Welcome to our “faith” issue! Our purpose is not unlike that of the Bible’s faith chapter, Hebrews 11. The articles in this issue are designed to illustrate what faith is through the examples of faithful people in our churches. Stories of faith, old and new, remind us to trust God even through pain, hardships, and loss; they can reassure or restore our faith amid challenges and doubts; encourage us toward bold, loving action; motivate us toward extreme forgiveness; and propel us to obey God even when it’s tough.
As Christ followers, we need stories like these. We need to hear them from Scripture and retell them to others. We need to sit in circles and listen to one another tell current stories of living by faith in God. I believe sharing faith stories is part of how God works in and through our Christ-centered communities to transform and mature us.
Our stories of faith are part of our evangelism and spiritual formation strategies.
Fate Hagood is a pastor-teacher at Metropolitan Church of Christ in Carson, California, and brother to Rudy, our Intentional column cowriter. Fate wrote on Facebook a while back, “There’s a call to discipleship in Scripture. Not radical discipleship. Not crazy discipleship. Not sold-out discipleship. Just plain old discipleship. The thing is, being radical, crazy, and sold out is pretty much what a disciple is anyway. . . . So, just be a disciple. A real one. The radical, crazy, and sold-out part will just happen.”
So, what’s it look like to be a “real” disciple and how can the church make and mature more of them?
This issue includes several articles about biblical ways to share our faith with others, help people grow in their faith, and reproduce disciples. We’re talking about how to fulfill Christ’s commission: “Wherever you go, make disciples of all nations: Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to do everything I have commanded you. And remember that I am always with you until the end of time” (Matthew 28:19-20, God’s Word). I chose this Bible version because of the first three words, “Wherever you go.” (The International Standard Version translates it, “As you go” and the Disciples’ Literal New Testament interprets it as “Having gone.”) I believe these renderings are closer to the original meaning in the Greek.
Warren Wiersbe commented on these verses, “No matter where we are, we should be witnesses for Jesus Christ and seek to win others to Him.” It should not be extraordinary or unusual or radical for a real disciple to make other disciples. We do so as we go, wherever we go. It’s a lifestyle for a disciple of Jesus.
We are living in a time when people—especially many young people—are hungry for more of God, more of his presence, peace, and power. They are hungry and thirsty for a revival of faith in our schools, churches, families, cities, and country. I believe the best thing we can do is to get out of God’s way! And I think we may need to relearn how to do that. We may need to surrender our own plans and programs, our own intelligence and ideas to God. We may need to part with what we’ve been taught and the way we’ve always done it and allow God’s Spirit to be in control.
We can learn this best by watching Jesus.
Jesus, in the nature he embodied as a servant and in human likeness, never got in God’s way! He modeled the proper flow of ministry for us. He said, “The Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does” (John 5:19). The principle is repeated again and again; see John 5:30; 6:38; 7:16; and 8:28; as well as 1 Corinthians 2:1-13. It’s repeated because it’s an indispensable precept for Christian leadership. We are to do nothing without hearing from God first.
When I visited Asbury University in February, during what many people have called revival, a leader from the school remarked that they were simply trying to steward well what God was doing. What if that described our ministries . . . simply stewarding well what God is doing?
That should not be radical or crazy . . . just plain old discipleship.
Free Bible Lessons: In this issue, Bobby Harrington discusses disciple-making movements. A feature of these movements is the use of “Discovery Bible Study” (DBS) a simple method of studying Scripture as a group in a way that is replicable. This method is beneficial for groups to reach more people for Christ and give those new believers opportunities, in turn, to reach their friends and neighbors. The idea is to keep the questions simple, easy to ask, and consistent from week to week, making it possible for almost anyone to gather a group of friends and use the questions.
Our “Discovery” questions, which I write, are a hybrid of DBS and are part of our weekly lesson plans, called The Lookout. These lessons also include study material by Mark Scott and an application column by Dave Faust. Using The Lookout materials in your groups has many benefits, but one of the best is that it’s free! Click here to sign up to receive The Lookout lesson materials each month.