So many times churches see people come to Christ and proceed to celebrate through baptism and maybe even integration into the life of the church, but do they have the foundation needed to really follow, walk, journey with Jesus that they need to experience the life that God has designed for all of us? This next step for our church is not the answer to all of our problems, but it is a step in the right direction!
As Pastor, I have found that we are doing well with challenging people to a life on mission through our speakers, programs, and emphases, but sometimes we are lacking in the practical next steps. We love to champion the theme of being a church that seeks to disciple disciplemakers, but what does that really look like? Is it just a matter of engaging someone in Sunday School and hoping that they sort everything out eventually? I love the fact that our church is growing in the reality of discipleship through doing life together. The relationships that people have forged and are forging (for many new families) are crucial as we read scripture and see the examples of the early churches.
Yet the basic grounding in faith for those who may be unchurched and/or new to the faith must not be overlooked. They need to not only have the zeal of knowing God and serving Him, but they need a foundation in the word that exceeds our current structure. A study is needed that ensures that people are getting the basics of the faith in a cohesive manner that is intentional and understandable. We believe and pray that these studies will do so.
The other angle that no one wants to mention is that there could be "churched" students and adults in our midst who have missed these principles as well. It is a known fact that a large portion of converts to the largest cults (Mormonism and Jehovah's Witnesses) in America are from the Southern Baptist tradition. This simply saddens me as I consider those who have been led astray into all kinds of false teaching. So as we promote this new opportunity, it will be for EVERYONE. We all need a tune up, check up, or inspection of our armor to make sure that there are not chinks (in our armor) that we have overlooked when it comes to our doctrine and the living out of our faith.
In this next series we will seek to unpack the practical side of discipleship that may be inherent in following Christ. We will seek to help people envision what it looks like to take next steps with Christ. Not seeking a magical formula for spiritual growth or the next self-help cure for life's ills, but equipping the saints for the battles that we all face in life. While this is designed as a one year pilgrimage, it may become something more for every individual. We do not want to reduce this to another program for which you can hang a certificate on the wall. (There will be NO certificates, but I might give you a high five and a hug!) The success of this course is not merely in the completion thereof, but in the actual life change that takes place when you live that which you have learned and then...disciple others!
Scary stuff right? Even in October with Halloween around the corner, but that's God's design. Remember 2 Timothy 2:2?
You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others.
If we have great programs, events, worship, missions opportunities, fellowships, etc. yet we are not actively making disciples as challenged to in scripture...we will have missed the boat. This needs to be at our core as a priority for our church not only in word, but in deed as well.
So once again, buckle up Peace Haven! November will be our soft launch in which our leaders will begin training and we will begin studies with core groups hoping to see even more people engage at our hard launch in January. Where and how is God calling you to connect with this adventure? Be sure to be with us over the next few weeks and listen online as we cast the vision for this next step of faith!
(Attached below: the graphic for our new "Follow" series and another video that describes this journey)