Disciples: An Intentional Product
By Carlton L. Coon
If you don’t know where you are going, any old road will get you there! (Lewis Carroll)
Perhaps you have concluded you do not want to lead an “ostrich” church giving no attention to spiritual newborns. What next? Some of you are chomping at the bit, wanting to “do” something. If you are in a great hurry to get disciple-making in clearer focus, do as some others: ring our office, schedule a visit, or email me at email@example.com. It might even be someone on the HM Team could consult with you about getting focused on disciple-making.
We must awaken to the crisis in discipleship. Some call it, “Closing the back door.” Bill Hull wrote, “Discipleship making is not one of the things a church does. It is what a church does.” Counting the number baptized or how many received the Holy Ghost should not satisfy. It cannot . . . it must not. Disciple-making is the program the only program of the church. Children’s Ministry should make disciples! Youth Ministry should make disciples! Ladies Ministry should make disciples! Men’s Ministry should make disciples!
Weak disciple-making fits into two major categories: flawed goals and defective approaches. An example of a flawed goal is to set a goal for baptisms but never ask how many of the baptized move on to Christian maturity. A defective approach that falls short is to rely on someone’s church attendance as the lone measure of one’s growth. While church attendance is part of the strategy, it is only part of the plan. One can attend church for years and still not be a mature disciple.
Here is where the hard part begins. What are the vital components of a finished product a finished disciple? Automobiles don’t look exactly alike, but some vital components exist in every automobile. Every mature disciple will not be exactly alike, but some things are consistent to every disciple. Recognizing the defining traits of a disciple of Christ may well change our way of doing ministry.
The work product of the church is not good sermons or fine buildings. The work product of the church is not attendees. The work product of the church is not an impressive choir. The work product of the church is not a list of strong programs. One reason Home Missions churches are the most effective action going on is because all energy is focused on the main thing making disciples.
Disciples are the end product of the church all of the other nice things I’ve mentioned are part of the process intended to develop this magnificent end-product. When something intended to be a process becomes an end unto itself “the praise team, the choir, the building” we’ve missed the point.
In a Columbus, Indiana, mall there is an elaborate contraption taking up several hundred square feet and standing two stories tall. It is magnificent. Bearings roll, chains clank, gears engage and a “thing-ama-jig” moves. It has operated for decades. What does it produce? Nothing. When everything gets through moving, it has accomplished absolutely nothing. The elaborate contraption was intended by the designer to do what it does activity without accomplishment. God’s church was not so intended. It has an objective: make disciples.
If the church were a factory, its sole output would be to make disciples. So how are we doing? I’m stirred and convicted. “The crisis at the heart of the church is a crisis of product.” Disciple is the Greek root word matheo. From matheo we also get our English word math. Math is a rather precise science. The best and most precise math to add to the church and then to multiply the church is through discipleship. Discipleship is a long-term investment that can seem boring compared with the measures some use as the gauge of success.
Disciple-making is no more of a casual thing than the manufacture of an automobile. Workers on an assembly line are not surprised at what rolls off the end of the line. Every action has been intentionally focused on exactly that end-product. Labor has been done per the plan. It is an intentional thing with an expected end result.
Disciple makers do things intentionally with a certain result being expected. If that result is not achieved, it is not because we did not give it our best effort.
Non-ostrich churches mothering churches do four things-
1. Identify their end-product.
2. Have a good snapshot of what a disciple looks and acts like.
3. Decide how they plan to move people toward becoming like that snapshot.
4. Establish a setting and appropriate vehicles for developing people.
So what does a disciple of Jesus Christ look like? What are the most outstanding characteristics when one sees the snapshot?
Disciple-making’s Three Vital Objectives
Abide in His Word – John 8:31: “So Jesus said . . ., If you abide in My word, you are truly My disciples” (Amplified).
The word “abide” means to exist in an environment. A plant abides in soil. A fish abides in water. How would a fish do if it was in water three times each week Sunday at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. and Wednesday at 7 P.M.? Quick answer dead fish!
A disciple who abides in Jesus’ Word reads, studies, and works to personally understand. A disciple’s environment for survival is the Word – not just the Word- spoken or words spoken about His Word, but the-Word itself. A disciple outside the Word is like a fish out of water. He cannot survive. Oh, he may survive as church – member or an attendee, but not as a disciple of Jesus.
What does all this mean to one who would be a disciple-maker?
* From the outset, the Bible is held up as The authority. Any question is answered by The Word. In answer to the questions and problems of those first disciples, Jesus quoted the Old Testament 160 times.
* From day one, new believers are encouraged, challenged, and taught to read the Bible for themselves. God has magnified His word above His name (Psalm 138:2). It is not what I say about His word that is magnified. His Word is magnified.
Occasionally Nona Freeman asks those who’ve read the Bible through in the past year to stand.
Almost always, those who read the Bible through are a tiny percentage of the audience. If the lone criteria for being determined to be a disciple of Jesus were time spent abiding in the Word, how would our converts (or our entire congregation) fare?
It is mundane and simplistic, but you can’t build a skyscraper without a foundation. Jesus’ words are the foundation for having an effective life. Do we need to rethink some of this? You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink. You can salt his hay. Our sermons and Bible studies can become the salt motivating people to drink from God’s Word. Let’s incite new converts to abide in God’s word. Some ideas you might put to use-
Give a new convert a simple pattern to read the Bible at their level of spiritual commitment. A new believer may not read five chapters a day. Provide a guide for reading one chapter or even one paragraph. Direct them to books or passages of particular relevance to a spiritual baby. 1 John was the first book I had them read then on to Acts. Establishing a discipline for getting into the Word of God is the main thing.
* Give the convert a pattern for thinking through what has been read and finding points of relevance for themselves. Warning: this will add to your work. New converts who read the Bible develop questions.
* At the weekly Bible lesson, give your audience a handout. It could include some recommendations for follow-up reading.
* One Home Missionary uses his Sunday message as a basis for developing the discussion items for the small group meetings of the following week. In order to pull this off, the pastor can’t be developing his Sunday message on Saturday evening.
* God’s Word should be a basis for meditation. One picks up the flavor of that in which they mentally marinate. “Think on these things” promotes a Biblical perspective of life. Could we provide our people a passage of the day on which to meditate?
* For the cyber-savvy the pastor could have a blog where he provided a paragraph of commentary about the passage of the day.
* Make the Bible a primary part of church. The Psalms are praise and worship passages read aloud they bring prominence to the scripture. Old Testament readings are a key part of worship at any synagogue.
* Perhaps I need to evaluate how much Bible I really preach. Do I preach His Word or my opinions about His Word? Is there a thimble full of Bible, a thimble full of Zig Ziglar, a sprinkling of Chesterton, a dash of Louis L’Amour, and a gallon of me? In my last ten messages, how many seconds or minutes of Bible was actually in those sermons?
God’s word is the environment for disciple life. It is the pastor’s responsibility to get a new convert immersed into an environment where the Word is the thing. Preaching is an important step in disciple-making, but it’s not enough. As we connect people with God’s Word, we equip them to compare God’s Word to the world’s values.
Love One Another – John 13:35: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
In two verses Jesus gave three points of emphasis
* The object to be loved one another.
* The measure of that love like Jesus loved.
* The purpose of the love that others see and know you to be my disciples.
Disciple-making includes community. Christianity is not at its best in isolation. A vertical relationship with Jesus is always the basis for healthy horizontal relationships. Richard Foster wrote, “The Christian life comes not by gritting our teeth but by falling in love.” We are to fall in love with Him and fall in love with one another. What does that mean is it some warm fuzzy feeling? No love is a behavior. New believers need the opportunity to connect with other people in their new church. I mean the good, bad, and ugly of the church. Realizing the love expressed to those who hurt and those who have damaged themselves becomes the basis for their becoming loving themselves.
Jesus’ teaching goes beyond, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” He tells His disciples to love as He has loved. Jesus had just demonstrated His love to the disciples by washing their dusty dirty feet. I doubt the disciple’s feet inspired any warm fuzzy feelings. He loved the twelve not because they were so loveable, but because they were in need of so much love.
If there was ever a group that didn’t measure up, it was the twelve. Instead of expecting them to conform to some unattainable expectation, Jesus created an environment that brought out the best in the twelve and helped them grow. Four traits dominated His loving them. These are patterns for a disciple-making church-
2. Openness questions were welcomed and answered.
3. Teamwork they all worked together toward a common cause.
4. Accountability and an expectation of growth.
Making disciples places a priority on bringing people into relationships, not an invitation to a program. Relationships grow while programs run their course. Do we equip new converts to act in a loving way?
Bearing Fruit – John 15:8: “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.”
Fruit contains the seed of reproduction. Paul describes the fruit of the spirit in Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” Where the fruit of the spirit resides, there is reproductive power. Reproduction is not complete in the process of fruit. Fruit is the necessary step from fruit fall seed . . . from a seed springs another tree. Fruit bearing is never ended simply by the existence of fruit. Put our work into perspective: “The work of evangelism is never complete until the evangelized becomes the evangelizer” (Herschel H. Hobbs). How many of those who received the Holy Ghost three years ago are now teaching Home Bible Studies? How many of them are involved in winning others to Jesus Christ. Barnhouse put it, “Activity is no substitute for fruit bearing!”
How do we get people to be fruitful?
Immediately involve a new convert in a Home Bible Study not toward the end of teaching them, but toward them teaching others. New believers need to be encouraged to get involved with bus routes and child evangelism. Provide them with opportunities to be fruitful and multiply.
Pastor, if you want to renew the focus on disciple-making, four things must happen-
1. Realize disciple-making as your mission and mandate.
2. Understand Jesus’ snapshot of a disciple.
3. Draw leaders in your church into similar levels of understanding. Get the Children’s Ministry director thinking about how to disciple children and the youth workers thinking about whether they are converting young people or discipling them. Lead them to adjust their program to match the mission.
4. Establish a beachhead of doing a fresh thing with a group of brand new people. You can change a culture if you can affect a next generation. Some old staid churches could be forever changed if the pastor decided to quietly but intentionally began investing himself in making disciples of the new converts. Be intentional and stay focused. Pastor, it will be easy to backslide into the old way of doing things. Disciple-making is hard work but it is The work.
News and Views- March/April 2008
Christmas for Christ 2007 Update Preliminary numbers were starting to come in as this Communiqu was being developed. CFC 2007 has the potential to be at or slightly above last year’s offering. If you have not yet sent your church’s offering, please do so. We have more CFC applicants than in recent history.
Spanish Leadership Training The last Tuesday of each month HM is now providing Leadership Training in Spanish. This is a language and cultural adaptation of the English version. Errin Bryant is doing the adaptation.
Intra-Cultural Missionary Evangelist (Spanish) Update The Collin’s family is now in their fourth month of deputation travel. Thank you for supporting this ministry by raising 1 /3rd of our budget thus far.
Direction ’08 This combination of Home Missions Training Seminar, Evangelist Training Seminar and Spanish Training Institute is May 20-23 in St. Louis. Registration is available online at www.HomeMissionsDivision.com. Speakers include Kenneth Haney, Nathan Scoggins, Jerry Jones, Don Hanscom, Travis Miller, Errin Bryant, Sergio Vitanza, Rex Deckard, Albert Foster, Santos Sosa, Mike Williams, Jeffery Ralston, David Tipton, Sonny Nugent, Aubrey Jayroe and others.
Board of Directors The mid-year Board of Directors meeting is March 12-14, 2008 in St. Louis. These hard-working leaders represent each district and many of the over 40 ministries under the oversight of Home Missions. I’m grateful for their service. Grass-root leaders make much of the difference in presenting the Home Missions cause. Somewhere along the way take time to say “thank you” to your district Home Missions Director.
Church Missions Conferences Resources A number of churches include Home Missions and Home Missionaries in their World Missions Conference. Pastor Robert Henson (South Flint, Michigan) recently hosted such a meeting. If you would like to schedule a Home Missionary or someone from HMD to be part of your Missions Conference, contact David Tipton at DTipton@upci.org.
HomeMissionsDivision.com The Home Missions website is in the first phase of a major remake. Take a look and tell us how to improve what we are doing. Our web coordinator Tom Harding can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. It is our goal for HomeMissionsDivision.com to become more than promotional with Leadership Training, Church Planting U., Global Impact, Church Growth, and Multi-cultural Ministry resources, etc.
Prison Ministry Testimony Twenty years ago, Oregon was the state that stood in great opposition to a United Pentecostal Church chaplain having access to inmates. The resulting lawsuit opened the door for Christian Prison Fellowship. General Chaplain Mike Rickenbaker preached a Chaplain commissioning service, an Oregon State prison chaplain appealed for the United Pentecostal Church’s participation in ministering to inmates and helping with their transition back into society. What a change. If your church has a jail or prison service, we would like to know about it. Often we receive requests from a family or friend about someone in a particular area making contact with an inmate. If we don’t know about your efforts, we can’t communicate this opportunity to you. If you would like information on starting a jail or prison ministry, contact Stacey Gervich at email@example.com or Chaplain Mike Rickenbaker at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Home Missions Administrative Committee The HMAC met in mid-February. My respect and appreciation for these good men continues to increase. The Home Missions Administrative Committee is made up of the Home Missions Executive Team, regional representatives Kent Elliott, Northeast; Roy Barnhill, Southeast; Chuck Welch, North-Central; Jim Lumpkin, South-Central; and Ted Wagner Canada; Honorary members Joe Fiorino and Kenneth Mendenhall; Pastoral Advisor Mike Williams; General Board Representative Randy Keyes, Alonzo Terry Black Evangelism Ministry and Sergio Vitanza Spanish Evangelism Ministry. These men spend several days interviewing applicants, updating policy and allocating Christmas for Christ funds.
Home Missions Administrative Committee Changes Art Hodges who served on the HMAC for twelve years has been elected the District Superintendent of Southern California. Jerry Holt who was our most recent appointment to the HMAC has been elected to serve as Idaho’s Superintendent. My appreciation to these men and God’s blessing in their new role of service.
Upcoming Church In a Day projects Two projects will soon be completed. Jarrell, TX on Feb. 29-March 1 and Nederland, TX on March 14-15. Please make your skilled men (and women) available to the Church In a Day ministry. Contact O.D. Crabtree at email@example.com or Albert Skaggs at firstname.lastname@example.org to connect yourself and/or your people with these or other CIAD projects.
GlobalTracts.com Our first response to the new website was, “I am thrilled to see the Global Tracts site up and running. This is a wonderful use of technology and missions vision. Our cities continue to grow with people from around the world pouring in every day. Reaching them is all-important, but we need tools and vehicles for the task at hand. Thank you! Thank You Jesus!” The respondent included the following tract request: Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, Hindi, and Hebrew. Globaltracts.com is Home Missions scanning in Foreign Missions resources. Part of the funding to launch Globaltracts. com came from a Ladies Ministry allocation. Divisions working together!
Multicultural Ministries Events Several Multicultural Ministries events happen during the next two months. Amish-Mennonite Evangelism Conference, March 27-29 in Massillon, OH. Middle Eastern Evangelism Conference, April 4-5 in Mays Landing, NJ. Chinese Evangelism Conference and April 17-19 in Toronto, Ontario Canada.
Global Impact Resources Youth, Sunday School, Stewardship and Home Missions have combined to develop a Pastor ‘s Resource for Local Impact. This includes diagnostic, Cross Culture Evangelism, Church Planting, and Daughter Church Planting resources. For more information on these resources go to our newly designed website www.HomeMissionsDivision.com.
Internet Conference on Multicultural Ministries Eye on the Future internet seminar will be May 10, 2008 at 11 AM Central Time. Go to www.HomeMissionsDivision.com. Speakers include Andrew Dillon, Jesse Fortaleza, Don Hanscom, Paul Graham, Elias Limones, and Arthur Naylor.
Christian Prison Fellowship Conference and Workshop The CPF Conference will be April 18-19 at Bethel Pentecostal Church in St. Peters, MO with host pastor Jonathan Urshan. Pre-registration is $10/person and $15/person at the door. For more information contact Stacey Gervich at 314-837-7300 ext. 364 or email@example.com.
People of the Mission
March April 2008
Home Missionary Jim Woodruff in one of our Northern-most works (Yellowknife, Northwest Territories) had 150 first-time visitors in 2007. Basil Wilber, Jr. in Sun Prairie, WI, had over 50 in attendance with 13 first-time guests in December. One received the Holy Ghost. Robert Snipes (Denmark, SC) had 4 repent, 4 baptized, and one receive the Holy Ghost with 6 visitors from their Sunday morning radio show. Missionary Anthony Harper (Livonia, MI) had 70 for their Christmas Vision service. This HM church is starting a satellite work in South Lyon, MI, in 2008. Living Water Pentecostal Church in Bacliff, TX, (Ricky Kennon) recently had 1 baptized and 2 repent. In Perry, FL, Missionary John Johns had four received the Holy Ghost at their anniversary service. Dale Lewallen (Payson, AZ) reports the miraculous healing of a first-time visitor who had chronic back problems; her doctor wants the church’s information so he can send patients to them. Payson also had a puppet outreach with 17 first-time guests. Former Louisiana HM Secretary Cecil Perry is now pastoring in Crittenden, KY the church has progressed from 11 to 50 with a booming youth group. Missionary Allen Achterberg arrived in Stilwell, OK, with no contacts or building. The church has grown to capacity, with an active youth group and a Spanish outreach. Both of the Achterberg children have received the Holy Ghost in the Stillwell Home Mission church. Pentecostal Worship Center in Sullivan, MO, (Gerald Milstead) set new attendance records and nearly doubled children’s and youth ministries in the last month. Two received the Holy Ghost, including a Baptist deacon-in-training. Former UPCI Youth President Todd Gaddy has relocated to Towson, MD to start a new church. He and Sis. Gaddy are networking the community. Mark and Belynda Boyd (Mountain Grove, Missouri) started a jail ministry. The sheriff is excited and making special accommodations for them. Veteran Home Missionary Curtis Johnstone (Union Gap-Yakima, WA) is taking on a Metro Missionary. Scott Breedlove (Jefferson City, MO) has an average monthly attendance of 43 and 22 first-time visitors.
J. J. Olivera of Aposento Alto (a Spanish Home Missionary in Las Vegas, NV) baptized 10 in January and averages 50-55 on Sunday. Pastor Tom Dibble from Waterbury, CT, reports that a lady is teaching “English as a Second Language” classes to several Hispanics, using Word Aflame’s Primary class literature as a curriculum. In the Spanish outreach the Crystal Lake, IL HM church started (Jason Beardsley), 4 were baptized and received the Holy Ghost. Plans are underway to launch another daughter church this year.
Metro Missionaries Jerry and Linda Staten (Washington, D.C.) had 98 in combined services during the holidays there were 15 first-guests for December. They have established 11 preaching points in the city. Metro Missionary Scott Sistrunk (Detroit, MI) and the work in Dearborn purchased a prime building in late January. This building includes a house which will be used for office space and as an apartment to train interns for Metro Evangelism. Bro. Sistrunk also continues his work in the inner city renting space from the city. In Salt Lake City, Missionary Franklin Bounds is purchasing a building only a few blocks from the Mormon Tabernacle. Missionary Kevin Howard (Boston, MA) has recently satisfied the city’s requirements regarding building code. This was accomplished through the kind and generous help of Church-in-a-Day coordinator O.D. Crabtree and the “on the ground” help of Charley Hurst our Church-in-a-Day quadrant coordinator for the Northeast region.
Missionaries Shane and April Brown in Flowood, MS, who’ve had 3 repent, one filled with the Holy Ghost, and a Sunday average of 70 will be in a new building within a month. The Central Canadian District (Home Missions Director Jesse Forteleza, District Superintendent Richard Wittmeir) is assisting the HM work in Morris, MB (Pastor Derwin Derkson) with purchasing a church. Home Missionary David Turley has made a down payment on a building in Jay, OK. This is with the help of the OK District. Pastor Myrick Johnson (Humble, TX) shares a testimony of over $150,000 of supplies and furnishings donated for their church.
Church in a Day (CIAD)
Gerald Sharp (Westport, IN) is thankful for Church in a Day and-reports that since the building was put up in May, the church has been averaging 55 with 18 baptisms. Since moving into their new CIAD building in October, Home Missionary Daryl Freeman (Greenville, AL) has baptized 9, 6 have received the Holy Ghost. Six Bible studies are currently in progress.
We congratulate Evangelist Luke and Amy Levine as they celebrate the birth of their new baby, Zion. Evangelist Tim Downs had 99 first-time guests in service at Spring, TX (Pastor Russell Hepner) and baptized 29.
Needs and Prayer Requests
Derwin Derkson in Morris, Manitoba, has severe bilateral carpal tunnel and sleep apnea and needs prayer. Living Water Pentecostal Church in Bacliff, TX, needs a larger building. With their upcoming purchase, Metro Missionaries Frank and Debbie Bounds (St. Lake City, UT) are in their seventh building and need church furniture including 200 folding chairs, 200 seats, podium, baptistery, steeple with cross, carpet, and a church sign.
March 6-8 Arizona HM Retreat and Minister’s Training (c/o P. Conner) Phoenix, AZ
March 9 AM Pentecostals of Nederland Nederland, TX
(c/o Home Missionary Darrel McCoy)
March 11 Multi-Cultural Ministry Coordinators Meeting St. Louis, MO
March 12-14 Home Missions Board of Directors St. Louis, MO
March 16 AM Abundant Life UPC (c/o Home Missionary Andrew Clarke) LaSalle, QC
March 16 PM Saint Laurent UPC (c/o Paul Graham) Montreal, QC
March 18 Quebec District Conference (c/o W. Price) Montreal, QC
March 28-29 Iowa District Training Seminar (c/o Rick Streeter) Des Moines, IA
March 30 PM New Life Tabernacle (c/o S. Graham) Washington, IA
April 8 11 Executive Global Council (c/o Ken Burgess) Buenos Aires
April 11 13 Spanish Council (c/o John Hopkins) Buenos Aires
April 17-18 Texas District Conference (c/o Danny Russo) Beaumont, TX
April 20 AM First UPC (c/o Jeff Ralston) Lake Charles, La
April 20 PM Eastwood Pentecostal Church (c/o Murrell Ewing) Lake Charles, La
April 22 HM Team Training on Customer Service St. Louis, MO
April 27-31 Out of the Office
This article Disciples an Intentional Product written by Carlton Coon is excerpted from the Home Missions Division Director s Communiqu a March/April 2008 edition.