WHAT DO YOU MEASURE?

I was taught many years ago that we measure what we value. What do you measure?

Shortly after I was made Rector (Senior Pastor) of a large American congregation years ago, the senior lay leader came by my office on a Tuesday morning. He asked me what the attendance was on Sunday and I did not know. He was shocked, and asked what I did measure from the weekend. I had measured nothing, but was basking in the memory of what seemed to me a wonderful morning of worship and teaching. He was not pleased, and told me that if he was the senior leader he would want the staff to place on his desk on Monday morning three numbers: How many people attended; How much money was placed in the offering; and how many visitors were present? From that week, we measured all three.

The congregation grew during all the years I was the leader, and I came in time to believe part of the reason for our growth was that we measured what was happening. When attendance fell we asked why? And made adjustments if we could discern a reason. Similarly when giving was down we asked the same questions. So also with those who were coming to visit for the first time, so we could follow up quickly and invite them to return.

What do you measure?

After being a senior leader in that congregation for some years, I decided on a new set of measurements to add to the first three. I began to ask how many people were participating in a small intentional discipling group? I began to also track those learning to lead such groups, and especially tried to find a way to measure those who were actively discipling other people to be followers of Jesus. And we began to also measure the number of congregants that were actively bringing others into the life of the church. These measurements helped us to pay close attention to what our Lord Jesus clearly expects of the community of faith. Who is coming to faith? Who is being discipled? Who is stepping up to the leadership tasks that ensure that “names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20)? How many are learning to “catch men” (Luke 5:10)?

What do you measure?

Near the end of our Lord’s earthly ministry he told his closest disciples that he expected them to bear much fruit (John 15:8). He was not talking about their interior character, but about those men and women who were being added to the kingdom of God because they were cooperating with the Shepherd who yearns for his lost ones to come home. A good shepherd keeps track of his sheep. A leader in the church of the Lord should measure what matters to the Lord of the church.

What do you measure?

 

— Rev. Jon Shuler
NAMS Servant General

 

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WHAT DO YOU MEASURE?

Disciples who make disciples – a NAMS story

“Do you ever meet with guys to talk about God?”

The question was joy to this disciple-maker’s heart. “Of course I do. When can we meet?”

I began to meet with two young men, Rion and Jamie, in September of 2015. We set a pattern of meeting on Tuesdays for a sack lunch, bibles in our laps, for an hour and a quarter.

I began to share with them the central things God has taught me about making disciples who make disciples. I required these things of them:

  • You spend quality time in the Word of God every day.
  • You memorize twelve scripture passages.*
  • You meet with me every week for six months.
  • We re-evaluate at the end of that time.

We always started and ended with prayer—usually me to start and one of them to end. We discussed whatever had come up in the preceding week, relating it always to Scripture (with particular focus on Jesus’ teaching about discipleship). Are you abiding in the word of Jesus?

After six months, they wanted to continue. I invited them to a men’s retreat focused on disciple-making, and they came. After a year I challenged them to begin to multiply. They formed a small men’s group, with unbelievers and believers. They began to re-evaluate their other commitments and use of time. They are becoming fruitful.

We continue to meet most Tuesdays. They have both grown in their walk with the Lord. Rion is now Senior Warden of his parish, and Jamie oversees the Youth Ministry in his parish. Both have interiorized the principles of being disciple-making men. Both are seriously engaging with other men about being disciple-making men. Both are re-prioritizing their use of time, seeking God’s will for them in a new way.

As we have grown together as disciple-making friends they have also come to understand NAMS’ ministry to the nations, and to pray with and for us. They are learning about their part in Jesus’ Final Command. Finally, both of them have become familiar with the NAMS Centurion Project, and have signed up as Centurions.

This is an example of elementary disciple-making, as I have learned to live it.

* Matthew 4:19, 6:33, 28:19; Luke 14:26,27,33; John 8:31-32, 13:34-35, 15:7-8

— Rev. Jon C. Shuler
NAMS Servant General

Disciples who make disciples – a NAMS story

The First Call and the Final Command (by Manik Corea)

At the end of our global Novena gathering in April, a few of NAMS’ executive leaders debriefed in an air-conditioned room in Bangkok. We reflected on the all-encompassing nature of global mission given to Christians everywhere, for which NAMS as a missionary order was founded to serve and work towards.

At that point, reference was made to Genesis 12:1-3 – God’s purpose and promise made known to his servant, then still called Abram. We saw that morning that within the ‘first call’ to Abraham were already clear indications of God’s desire for the spread of his tent to cover all ‘families of the earth’.

God called Abraham to a walk of faith that would involve loss of family, and journey to a new unfamiliar land of both opportunity and challenge – some would curse him. Ultimately, God was going to bless him greatly, and that blessing was going to be contagious.

The blessing on the obedience of Abraham would be earth-sized – all families of the earth, all peoples – would be touched by his personal journey and obedience.

We see this in the strategic location of the promised land God gave to him in Canaan, which lies at the crossroads of three continents – Europe, Asia and Africa, a narrow but fertile land bridge between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, bounded by arid desert. The nations would certainly pass through! And so the Israelites, the physical descendants of Abraham, were called to be a ‘kingdom of priests’ so that God might ultimately be known among the nations (Exodus 19:6; 2 Chronicles 6:32, 33; Psalm 22:27; Habakkuk 2:14, etc.)

In many ways, the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19-20 – what we at NAMS call the ‘Final Command’ – mirrors the same themes of God’s desire for obedience in His people and for global blessing through them. Only now, in the full revelation of God in Christ, it requires a response of repentance and faith to the Gospel of Jesus and the being and making of faithful disciples.

Then, as now, it was meant to go from there to everywhere.

Therefore, of all peoples, Christians cannot afford to be ethno-centric in our thinking and focus – or worse, in our prejudices. We must see as God sees, so that we do as He wants.

Indeed, in the words of the late John Stott, ‘we must be global Christians with a global vision because we serve a global God.’ God’s desire from the start was that his family would be made up of people from all families of the earth. The Apostle John saw this in his end-time heavenly vision (Revelation 7:9). He saw a truly global worship service at the foot of God’s throne, for which – surely – all our other worship times on earth ought to be dress-rehearsals for.

Therefore, NAMS Companions are called not only to work and make disciples wherever God places them, but also to pray, work and give towards the global work of NAMS and other ministries as God blesses them. This should be true, too, of all true Christians.

After all, God told Israel through the prophet Isaiah that it was too small a thing that he should only restore Israel, since his desire was that they would be a light to the Gentiles (all other peoples) that ‘my salvation may reach the ends of the earth.’ (Isaiah 49:6).

We live in days when God’s promise to Abraham is being fulfilled like never before in world history. It is too small a thing then that we should not likewise be passionately concerned to pray, give and work for the same?

— Rev. Manik Corea
NAMS Global Executive Officer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The First Call and the Final Command (by Manik Corea)

Church Planting in France

Those true Christians who have ever traveled in Europe will know that the evidence of past Christian faith is everywhere. Place names, existing buildings, and ruins—once symbolic of a lived faith, and used in direct support of that faith—are scattered all over the continent, but the living communities that built and named them are gone.

Here in France, about 1% of the population will attend a Christian service this Sunday, and only God know what percentage of that small number are truly his. To rekindle the faith in this land is a daunting challenge.

To this challenge, Matt & Katie Riley have given themselves. They are living, and raising their four children, in one of the most difficult places on the face of the earth to be boldly follow and serve Christ Jesus. Why?

The short answer is simple: they believe God has called them to do it. They would serve him wherever they lived, but they believe their Lord wants and needs them in France. He has work there for them to walk in. After nearly six years, they are well integrated into French life, are very fluent in the language, and have just taken possession of a new home in their assigned village. How do they do their work?

First, they build relationships with their neighbors. They are constantly open to the possibility that the next person may be a “person of peace.” They are building webs of relational connectivity – at the grocery store, the bank, the hardware store, and on the playground.

Second, they make opportunities to break bread with those they meet. Tomorrow night there is a concert in the square behind their home, and they are cooking out with a few of their newest acquaintances. They are trying to honestly and lovingly get to know them as people.

Third, they have established a simple entry path for those interested in exploring the Christian faith. They call it Discovery Bible Study. What does the bible really teach about God, about human beings, about the purpose and meaning of life? No one has to believe to participate, but the prayer of the Rileys is that—in time—some will.

Fourth, Katie has specifically begun to meet with other young mothers, to share the joys and challenges of motherhood. She is the gospel leaven in the lump.

To this date Matt has not begun regular public Sunday worship in Pontivy. That will be added when the time is right. But there is daily prayer that the kingdom will come in Pontivy, as it is in heaven.

Will you join them as intercessors for the arrival of that glorious day?

— Rev. Jon Shuler
NAMS Servant General

 

Church Planting in France

Why Do We Disobey God?

Why Do We Disobey God?

“But I do not”, you might be saying. But I dare to challenge you.

As I write, Cynthia and I are just settling in to a small farmhouse in the Brittany peninsula of France. We have come for two months to help Matt & Katie Riley with their new work church planting in Pontivy. I will be directly working with Matt, and Cynthia will be painting – of course. We will also have a most needed and wonderful respite from the pace of life in the USA. Already, after only two days in France we are slowing down. There is a sublime quiet here, near the little town of Bannalec, which is intoxicating to us. We are anticipating daily times of silence with the Lord, regular bible study, regular sabbath, and the rhythm of occasional retreat. By God’s grace we hope to reclaim this pattern so we can reintroduce it to our life in the States. In the last year it has slipped away from us a bit.

I have often pondered the Sabbath command, and wondered at its beauty. From sundown on Friday till sundown on Saturday. Twenty-four hours with no work. And then, the evening of Saturday and another night’s rest. If we stopped work at 6:00 pm on Friday we would have 36 straight hours of rest and time with the Lord. If we subtract sleeping hours, 20 hours of undistracted time for God, our family, and our community of faith, as well as our own physical rest. How many of us are setting that much time apart in any given week? Why is it so easy for us to break the Sabbath? Is it different than the other nine commandments?

The early church clearly believed that the Sabbath command could now be moved to Sunday, because of the Resurrection. In the centuries of faith, the Christian community honored the Lord of the Sabbath with serious purpose and obedience. When and how did we decide that we were exempt in the 21st century? Is it alright to murder? To steal? To commit adultery? God forbid!

As an ordained clergyman, I know how easily the work of the church can become a seven-day tyranny. It ought not to be so. If we model breaking the commands of God, why should our people be any different?

The Sabbath was also to be given to those who labored for the People of God. All were to observe the day. Have you ever felt a twinge of guilt going out to eat after services on Sunday, and seeing all those who must work on the Lord’s Day so you can be served?

Might it be time for all of us to reconsider how we came to be caught up in a 24/7 cycle of life and work? How we have allowed the cares and concerns of this world to choke out of us time needed for the fruit bearing call of Jesus to be deeply planted in our hearts and lives?

Are we disobeying God?

— Rev. Jon Shuler
NAMS Servant General

Why Do We Disobey God?

NAMS Novena 2017 Report – ‘If you say go…’

It was the launch of a new chapter for NAMS; a glorious deepening of bonds between global companions old, new and unfamiliar; a new exciting phase in the global work that God has called us to; a time that will live long in our memories….

NAMS Novena

There are many ways we can describe the NAMS Novena that took place from 19-26 April 2017 in Bangkok, Thailand. What is certain was that it was a significant moment in our collective history, marked by laughter, joy and anointed times of worship, sharing, testimony and fellowship around tables and the Table of the Lord.

We were active participants, along with the congregation that met at Khlong Toey Church on 21st April evening, to the passing of the baton from founder/Servant General Jon Shuler to Manik Corea, the new NAMS Global Executive, and his team.

With one voice, 25 Companions and Spousal Companions, including 2 serving bishops, committed as to live and hold each other accountable to the NAMS Rule and Order, to work to fulfill Jesus’ final command (Matthew 28:19-20) by making disciples who make disciples, raising disciple-making leaders and planting disciple-making churches.

The retreat on the weekend of 22nd April, attended by 28 of us, was an exciting time of clarifying and agreeing to a revised Rule and Order, which outlines the principles governing our global order and their practical outworking around the world. We also had wonderful times of prayer, worship and fellowship over delicious Thai food. We were blessed by the serenity and beauty of the Garden of Gospel Peace, run by Franciscan Friars who looked after us with great care. Surrounded as we were by idyllic rice fields and fish ponds, we felt the sure presence of God’s Spirit calling us to venture further on to greater exploits, working with His faithful Church, till the earth is covered with the knowledge of the glory of God (Habakkuk 2:14) .

All in all, 13 different nations represented by NAMS companions, spousal companions, 3 bishops, aspirants and friends as far afield as Chile, Congo DRC, Egypt, India, Taiwan and England were present. A number of our other companions and spousal companions were not able to be there and we dearly felt their absence. Still we look forward to the next one in 4 years or so.

We were grateful most of all for the prayers of our Global Prayer/Intercessory Team led by Mary Garisson-Ruiz, and by many of you reading this who thought and prayed for us during those days. We certainly felt their and your prayers.

If there was one song that captured the thrust of the Novena, it was the song ‘If you say go’ – taught to us by our worship leaders – companion Pete Matthews and our new NAMS friend, Susheel John (Manik’s cousin from Singapore). There words are an apt summary of what we pray God will help us do following this Novena:

‘If You say go, we will go.
If You say wait, we will wait.
If You say step out on the water,
And they say it can’t be done;

NAMS Novena sessions

NAMS Novena 2017 Report – ‘If you say go…’

Developing Holy Habits – Part 1 (by Manik Corea)

Discipleship is a life-long journey of becoming like Jesus in every way.

A clear outcome of discipleship is the forming of holy habits, which are means of grace by which the Spirit of God brings inner transformation of hearts and minds. These habits must become like well-trodden pathways in our walk with Christ.

What are some of these holy habits, and how can we grow in them while seeking to encourage and share the same with those we are discipling?

Before I continue, let me first provide a disclaimer: the life of faith and these habits are not a matter of religious performances in order to win something from God, but a response to undeserved riches bestowed upon us in Christ. We work, not to be saved, but because we are saved. Our work and holy living follows on completely from what God has done in us, the consequences of the finished work of Christ in saving and redeeming us on the cross. Nevertheless, the rhythms and habits of our outward lives can affect our inward lives.

And because He did, we can do. Consequently, we work out what God works into us with obedience, diligence, and not a little fear of God (as Paul exhorts us in Philippians 2:12-13). We do the works that have been prepared for us to walk in (Ephesians 2:10).

In teaching holy habits in the life of discipleship, we expect that their regular practice will help us stay connected to or abide daily in Christ, and to walk with one another as God’s holy people in mission to a lost world.

I have found it immensely helpful to use the acronym PROMISE to capture the main seven habits that I believe we must practice before and teach to those we are discipling. And so we will look at briefly each of them in this series of blogs.

I like the word ‘promise’ because a promise requires trust and commitment. At baptism and confirmation, we make promises to God to reject the way of the world, the devil and sin, and to submit to Jesus as Lord and Savior. And if the Christian life is to bear fruit in the promises we have made, then it must show forth consistently in the particular things we say and do, to the glory of God.

The first habit that we must nurture in ourselves and the disciples we make by teaching and modeling is:

P – prayer. What a gift this holy habit is! Because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we have access by faith to the very presence of God, ushered in as we are by His unmerited grace and favor. Prayer is more than mere talking to God, but real relationship with Him.

It has been said that ‘Prayer is like breathing – people who don’t are dead!’ And like breathing, it needs to be an automatic, regular and moment by moment feature of the life of discipleship. How often do we pray, in private and with other believers?

Jesus modeled a life of constant prayer (Mark 1:25, Luke 5:16, Matthew 14:23). He taught that He only did what He saw His Father doing and spoke what He heard His Father saying (John 5:19 & 8:28).

In this, as in the other habits, we have a lot to learn from our master disciple, Jesus, who showed and taught often on the importance of all aspects of prayer. For example:

1) prayer as effectual: Mathew 7:7-11; Matthew 21:22; Mark 11:24; John 14:13-14, 15:16, 16:23-24;

2) prayer as secret and private: Matt. 6:6; Mark 1:35; Matt. 14:23; Luke 5:16; Luke 6:12, 9:18; 22:39-41;

3) prayer as communal: Matt. 18:19; Luke 9:28; Matt. 17:1; Mark 9:2; and

4) prayer as intercession for others: John 17:9-26.

The model prayer that Jesus left us, the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), teaches us to bring the ingredients of worship, confession, petition, and requests as necessary ingredients of our daily conversation with God, recognizing first and foremost that because of Jesus, we can call him ‘our Father’. Prayer is the language of intimacy in God’s family.

As a baby grows up, she learns both to listen and to speak. So, we who are born again into God’s family, must grow and learn the holy habit of speaking and listening to God daily.

 

 

Developing Holy Habits – Part 1 (by Manik Corea)