Family Discipleship — part 1 (by Sam Horowitz)

We love our specialists and experts. When we have a problem, or something needs to be done, we turn to the experts. Over the last several decades, unfortunately, most American churches have taken this to an extreme when it comes to making disciples.

Several years ago, I asked a team of leaders what they would do if their neighbor knocked on their door one morning and shared that they had just become a Christian. After an uncomfortably long period of silence, one tentatively offered up that they would bring this new convert to church — so that they could begin to hear my preaching. Of course attending worship is an important part of being a disciple, but it was clear to me that the men and women in the room — all of whom had been following Jesus for twenty years or more — believed that disciple-making was best left to the experts.

This trend is even clearer when it comes to making disciples of young people. A recent survey of Christian parents revealed that the majority did not feel comfortable or capable of instructing their own children in the faith. That finding was often true, by the way, even among “core” church members and Children’s Sunday School teachers!

When the people of Israel were preparing to enter into the Promised Land, and God was instructing them on the fundamental ways of living that would enable them to keep the covenant they had entered into with him, he told them:

These words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)

If faithful parents want to raise faithful children, we must have the same attitude. There are no shortcuts. First, the hearts and minds of moms and dads must be on Jesus and his teaching. We must be spending time with him and his words daily, and not only on Sundays. We must learn to look at, process, and interact with the world through the lens of the Bible’s story.

And then, we must be continually teaching our children the Gospel and living the Good News out by faith. The pairs “when you sit/when you walk” and “when you lie down/when you rise” are not particular opportunities to be teaching, but are Hebraisms meant to include everything in between two opposites. For most of the church history, this was the way new generations of disciples were raised. Parents shared their lives of faith with their children. The idea that we could outsource this to experts, though pervasive today, is in the grand scheme of things a novelty.

This is not to say that youth and children’s ministry “specialists” have no place in the church, or are unimportant. I write to you today as one with many years of “professional” experience in children’s and youth ministry. But these ministries must be added to daily family patterns of discipleship, in the same way that most people live healthy lives by adding occasional visits to medical professionals to daily healthy practices.

Are you sharing your life with your children (or grandchildren, or the young people of your faith community) in a way that demonstrates the effect of the Gospel in daily living? Are you taking advantage of the opportunities life presents in “all you do” to be “diligently” teaching the ways of Jesus to the young people entrusted to you?

Next week: Practical suggestions for family discipleship

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Family Discipleship — part 1 (by Sam Horowitz)

‘Follow Me’ (By Manik Corea)

It was my first time in Paris. Emerging from a railway station, I struggled to find my bearings with a map. A Frenchman offered to help me get where I needed to go. Unfortunately, I spoke no French—nor he any English. So, we communicated by sign and he gestured in grunts and hand signs where I needed to go. I tried to follow his instructions, but got lost a couple of times further along the way.

This contrasted with my first time in Chicago, where a stranger offered not only to help me find my way to a particular Metro station, but to accompany me on the journey. His ‘follow me’ was much preferable to simply being pointed in the right direction.

Discipleship is first and foremost an invitation to journey with and after Jesus.

Where you get to and what you become in life depends fundamentally on who you’re following and which road you take. Jesus once described life starkly in terms of two roads, one broad that leads many to destruction, and one narrow – on which only a few find life.

We must trust Jesus through His Holy Spirit to be our surest guide on the narrow way to God the Father, because in Jesus, God has come to us. He knows the way because He is the way. It is no accident that the earliest followers of the Christian faith were known as followers of ‘the Way’ (Acts 9:2; 11:26; 22:4).

It is no surprise then that the first and most common phrase Jesus used on prospective disciples was simply ‘Follow me.’[i] It is not clear in the original Greek whether this is a command or a request – perhaps both. But the implications in many of the contexts where Jesus used the phrase is clear – he was calling with some intended force and expectation that those he called would give him their unqualified attention and an obedient response.

It was a call first and foremost to himself.

On the other hand, the Jewish rabbis and the Greek philosophers of His day expected disciples to commit themselves to a specific philosophy or a definite cause – i.e. to their teaching rather than the teacher. The call of Jesus was wholly personal – his disciples were to follow him, to be with him, and to commit themselves wholeheartedly to him.

Likewise, we as disciples are called to make Him the singular focus of our lives; to a way of life that is entirely in keeping with His character, saving work, and kingly reign. We are called to an all-consuming love for Him. In that sense, Christian discipleship is predicated on the claim of total devotion by Christ.

‘Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.’ (Matthew 10:38; cf Luke 14:27, Matthew 16:24-28; John 10:27; 12:25-26).

In fact, he can brook neither rivals nor competition, nor accept even reasonable requests for deference or delay (Matthew 19:21-22, Luke 9:57-62).

Discipleship is the all-life response we are called to make to God’s gracious free gift of salvation in Christ Jesus. This demand, as John Stott said, is as total as the offer is free.

We either follow Him with our all, or we are not following him at all.

Are you truly following Him today?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[i] See for example Matthew 4:19; 8:22; 9:9; 19:21; John 1:43; 1:44; 21:19; 21:22.

‘Follow Me’ (By Manik Corea)

Partnering with NAMS (by Manik Corea)

Our weekly blogs, like this one, are read across the world by numerous NAMS companions, supporters, intercessors and friends. We are grateful for every one of you wherever you are reading this from. We pray that what we write and share would not only be an encouragement, but make a positive different to the quality of your walk as a disciple and follower of Jesus.

Please will you also continue to pray for us, that we would stay faithful to the work God has called us to as NAMS companions?

What exactly is that work, some may ask?

Our primary goal and work is to help plant and multiply disciple-making communities/churches through the intentional making of disciples and raising up of disciple-making leaders.

We believe that God raised NAMS up for such a time as this. We, along with faithful like-minded Christians, churches, organizations, networks and movements around the world, are calling and equipping Christians and churches to obey the final commandment that Jesus gave to his apostles and by extension, to all His Church everywhere through the ages (see Matthew 28:19-20).

We do this by being and making disciples that do the three things Jesus said his ‘made’ disciples would:

1) they will be missionary followers, whether to their neighbours or to the nations (i.e., they go where they are sent);

2) they will be plunged into the fullness of relationship and community with our Triune God and his people (i.e., they are baptized into the triune God), and

3) they will be taught to do all that Christ asks (i.e., they obey all of Jesus’ commands).

Believing this to be a serious call, we have banded together as NAMS – a working company of brothers and sisters around the world living under and accountable to a common rule and order – in order to work together for the spread God’s kingdom to all people.

But we cannot do this work alone.

By definition, the Church is the body of Christ, and so wholly dependent not only on Christ our head, but on each part of the body. For ‘we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.’ (Romans 12:5, ESV).

Therefore, we seek friends of NAMS who will pray with us and for us, and who will give to the work we are called by God to do.

If you would like to pray regularly for NAMS work in these and many other places, please write to our Global Prayer/Intercession Co-ordinator, Mary Garrison-Ruiz at mary.garrison@namsnetwork,com.

If you would like to learn how to be a friend of NAMS or would like to learn how to be a part of NAMS, write to info@namsnetwork.com.

If you would like to be a NAMS Global Apprentice, are young or young-at-heart and would like to spend a year or two in one of our NAMS base communities learning to be a disciple-making leader, go to www.namsgap.com.

If you would like to partner with NAMS in an active way locally, you can become a NAMS Centurion. Find out more at www.namscenturion.com.

Finally, if you would like to give a one-time or regular gift to NAMS, go to this page of our website to do it on-line (or, contact us if you are in the USA and wish to do a direct bank transfer or send in a cheque): http://www.namsnetwork.com/be-involved.html (click on ‘Donate now!’) at the bottom of the page.

May the words of Galatians 6:9 be an encouragement to us all today to continue the work God has begun in us: ‘Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.’

Partnering with NAMS (by Manik Corea)

DmD Steps: One, Two & Three.

The beginning of any new path in life starts with a decision. I will walk this way, and not that way. So it is with becoming a disciple-making disciple. We must decide that we want to learn this way of Jesus, and begin to walk in it.

Step One: I ask the Lord Jesus to teach me to be a disciple who can make another disciple.

This must become my heart’s desire. I must pray this with sincerity. I must write this down on paper, and most of all in my heart. I must get serious that I will not stop praying this prayer until I know the Lord’s favor has been granted to me, and I am living the new life of a discipler. I will pray this every day.

Step Two: I look up and memorize the passages in Holy Scripture where Jesus tells me what a disciple looks like.

It is a surprise to some to discover that Jesus not only modeled this behavior in his earthly ministry, but he also explicitly taught about it. There are in fact six passages of scripture, and only six, where Jesus specifically says either “my disciple” or “my disciples” and then gives clarity to the meaning of the phrase as he uses it. Let Jesus be your teacher.

I recommend you begin with the three that are found in the Gospel of Luke. There we are told that the challenge of becoming a disciple of Jesus requires the surrender of our whole life into his hands. The place to look is Luke 14:26,27, and 33. This section is often referred to as “the cost of discipleship” passage.

There are three distinct teaching statements here, but they can all be summed up in the famous dictum of Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”

These hard sayings of Jesus that Luke records for us are not for graduate level Christians. They are for anyone who says: “Jesus is Lord.” This teaching is not the wrapping paper on a present, but the present itself. In effect our Lord says: “If you want to follow after me, your life becomes mine. You no longer are in control of it. It belongs to me. Nothing else comes before me. The will of my Father for you must become your will. For this to be so, you will experience it as death, but you will find that it leads to life.”

Memorize these three scriptures and meditate on them often.

Step Three: I find someone who understands being a disciple of Jesus to help me put this into practice.

None of us can become a disciple of Jesus without the help of someone who already is one. Find that person. Men, find a man. Women, find a woman.

DmD Steps: One, Two & Three.

Will You Join the “24/12/6/3” Challenge?

When someone asks what I want for NAMS in the New Year, I have been answering: “Faithful disciples who will help us further the calling of Christ Jesus through our mission and ministry.” We are helping the whole Church of Jesus be faithful to the Final Command, but we need more friends, intercessors, and supporters. Might you be one of them? I would like to challenge you to be become one, by helping us in one of four categories. Especially if you are reading this in North America.

First, we are praying for 24 new Supporting Congregations.

The new Anglican movement in North America is said to number about 1000 congregations at the present time. We are praying that 24 of them would add giving to NAMS to their budget in the coming year. Can you influence your congregation to do this? Is your congregation giving to global mission in a significant way? Can some portion be directed to NAMS?

Second, we are praying for 12 new Centurion Cohorts.

A Centurion Cohort is a group of disciples, in the local church, that has taken a simple covenant to be part of obeying the Final Command of Jesus right where they now live. They serve their parish, they learn to be disciple-making disciples, they pray for the global mission of the gospel, they give monthly for that purpose, and they pray to add one new Centurion each year, by their own efforts. Centurions are the building blocks of our global network. Could you be called to this in your town or city?

Third, we are praying to establish 6 new Base Communities.

A Base Community is a small group of men and women praying and working actively, in partnership with NAMS, to build a community that will regularly and consistently incubate, train, and release church planting disciples to spread the kingdom of God, and always in obedience to the Final Command of Jesus. Are you called to this?

Fourth, we are praying for each NAMS Companion to raise up 3 new Companions.

NAMS Companions are members of our Society who have covenanted to share a common calling and ministry in submission to our Lord Jesus within the framework of our Rule & Order. Not all Christians are called to be pioneering missionaries, but some are. And not all pioneering missionaries are called to join a religious order like NAMS, but some are. Could this be you?

Well, will you take the challenge? Will you help us? Will you pray for these things to be accomplished? Will you give yourself to being part of the answer to your prayers?

— Jon Shuler

Will You Join the “24/12/6/3” Challenge?

Global Mission Stories (I) — Mission to Orissa State, INDIA.

“Do you know Jesus?” Pranab asked the man on the bus. When he said he didn’t, Pranab told him about Jesus. That day, God also began to open Pranab’s eyes to the millions in his home state of Orissa, India, who were just like this stranger on the bus.

Soon after, Pranab began a missionary organization called New Life for India, seeking to mobilize church planters to take the Gospel to his state and beyond. That was 1997. By 2000, he had a network of about 11 pastors and evangelists visiting unreached villages in their region.

Pranab first heard about NAMS at a 2013 global mission gathering in Bangkok, Thailand. He instantly felt a connection to our vision and strategy. A friendship in the Gospel was formed. Two years later, at a regional NAMS gathering, also in Bangkok, he asked if he could work under NAMS for India and the South Asia region.

In December 2015, two of our NAMS regional team leaders visited him at his home, and met his wife and young son, as well as the village church that Pranab also leads.

pranab-and-family

He has now entered into our training system and is being discipled by one of our leaders. He has become one of our NAMS Companions and is giving leadership throughout his nation. Now after two years, NAMS Southeast Asia region leader Manik Corea is mounting a five day mission trip to Orissa, with the support of two leaders from our NAMS Himalyan/Tibetan base.

What will we teach and do? We will love them in Christ Jesus. We will share with them all that God has been teaching us about discipling the nations. We will listen carefully to their stories and find ways to partner with them for the spread of God’s kingdom. The gospel will be preached. Rising leaders will be identified and helped. The possibility of new works to spread the kingdom will be prayed over. A deepening bond in the mission of Jesus Christ will be sealed. From this mission, the work of spreading the gospel throughout the region will be strengthened. NAMS leadership from three different nations will be yoked in partnership.

This is what NAMS does. We pioneer with those the Lord sends to us. We preach and teach Jesus Christ and him crucified. We plant new churches wherever the Lord opens the doors. We obey the Holy Spirit. We live in conformity to the Holy Scriptures.

NAMS will never subsidize men like Pastor Pranab in such a way as to undermine them, but we do partner with men like him so that the gospel mission of Jesus can be carried forward throughout the world. The Lord God has always used some of those to whom much has been given to help those to whom little has been given.

Will you help us to help men like Pranab? Can you make a monthly gift to help us spread the kingdom of God to every nation?

Global Mission Stories (I) — Mission to Orissa State, INDIA.

“Thank You” NAMS Co-workers

Many of our readers will be very aware that the great Apostle constantly recognizes and thanks the many men and women who joined him in his ministry to the nations. Almost every epistle begins and ends with their names. Some are famous in the history of the faith, and some are now known – other than by their name recorded in Scripture – only to God. But these co-workers constituted the apostolic teams that took the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ to the nations surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. Without them, it is difficult to imagine the impact of the first generation of witnesses that went out to change the world. Careless reading of the New Testament can leave us aware of only a few names, but careful attention shows us dozens upon dozens.

What was true for the first generation of pioneering servants of Jesus has been proved true for the ministry of NAMS as well. Almost from the day we began, God has given us co-workers who have assisted us in the challenge of bringing the great Final Command of Jesus back to the center of the church’s life. Some of those co-workers have gone home to the Lord. Some have served with us only briefly. And some, God be praised, are serving with us still.

We pray daily at 10:02 a.m. from Luke 10:2—for “the Lord of the Harvest to raise up laborers to go into the harvest.” We pray that some of them will join the community called NAMS. Neither the Lord nor NAMS mean only “laborers” who will “sell all” and go to foreign lands. God needs “laborers” to be raised up right where each of us lives. There is no place on the face of the earth that has too many servants of the Lord. Nowhere!

What constitutes a “laborer” for the harvest? It is very simple, really: a man or woman who is ready to obey, right where they are. God needs disciple-making disciples everywhere, and there are too few. These are the laborers for the harvest.

For most of us, the journey to even wanting to be a disciple-making disciple, let alone learning to really be one, began very simply and has taken much time. But over and over the beginning has a similar set of steps. We met someone giving their obedience to Jesus and we wanted to be like them. We started to learn how to worship faithfully and serve where we lived. Then we learned that we must grow to take our part in the work, the prayer, and the giving which help spread the kingdom of God.

Co-workers with NAMS have folded fliers, answered phones, created PowerPoint presentations, cared for the children, cooked dinners, picked up the mail, shopped for the food needed on retreat, picked up people at the airport, met for prayer, led worship at training events, licked stamps, designed stationery, and prayed for us when we were sick, discouraged, or almost broken. A few have gone to the ends of the earth with us.

How we thank God for every NAMS co-worker, and how we pray you might become one of them! Will you pray about it? Will you go online today and join us?

— Jon Shuler
15 Nov 2016

“Thank You” NAMS Co-workers