What changes can you make to be more effective at making and releasing disciples?
Are we making disciples surrendered to Christ and His Lordship? Though very few concrete statistics on our overall effectiveness currently exist, it’s difficult to argue in the affirmative.
What then can we do to get better at the Great Commission? Based on his considerable experience with starting churches from disciple-making small groups, Real Life Ministries founder Jim Putman has identified five paradigm shifts church leaders can make to become better at accomplishing the mission of the church. We asked him and Dave Ferguson, who also leads the church-planting network NewThing, and Community Christian Church in Chicago, to help unpack each shift and its potential impact.
Concerning the election results, I was right and I was wrong in what I thought would be the outcome, and, at the Lord's behest, chose to remain silent rather than issue a prophetic statement about who would win. In the aftermath of Election Day, the nature of that mix of right and wrong became clear and significant.
On Sept. 29 as I prayed for the outcome of the presidential election the Lord said to me, "He isn't the man I chose, but I will elect him. Close by a two point margin." In my intense desire not to see Barack Obama get another four years, I supplied the name "Mitt Romney" as the one the Lord referred to. Intense emotion and strong desire tend to distort what we hear from God. Out of the storehouse of our flesh, we fill in the blanks according to what we want to hear or what our emotions predispose us to hear. This explains the many false prophetic pronouncements so many of us have seen and read, even from leading voices.
Having learned this principle the hard way, I sensed the Father's hand of restraint, respected the nagging doubt I felt, and chose not to publish what I believed I heard.
When I shared what I thought it meant with a few others in private settings, I qualified it by saying that because of my intense emotional involvement in the issue, I could not be certain that God really spoke what I thought I heard and I made it clear that I was not, therefore, speaking prophetically. It appears, however, that I did hear accurately, but was confused concerning which candidate it applied to.
For many decades, Spanish-speaking Assemblies of God churches could typically be described as predominately Mexican and Mexican-American churches where all services were held in Spanish. Today, some see Hispanic churches as resembling close-knit families who share a similar heritage and culture. For many generations, those descriptions and assumptions would have been mostly correct.
Yet now, to the surprise of even some Hispanic churches, the “melting pot” that is the United States is making itself known and providing a “culture shock” for some Hispanic churches that goes beyond the nearly inevitable clash of generations.
“Just like most churches, Hispanic churches typically minister to several generations within their congregations,” says Efraim Espinoza, director of AG Office of Hispanic Relations. “So, they have the expected generational differences to work through.”
This is going to all Popes, Apostles, Prophets, Bishops, Priests, and Pastors and any other leader who has influence over people. God relates with you directly, and does not need you to get between his relationships with others, as He desires to relate with them directly.
You are called to point people to God and not to yourself or any other system or agenda. When you command that they look at you, serve you, get answers from you, you begin to minimize, dilute, and most times get in the way of their ability to hear Gods voice on their own.
You are called to lead as a servant. You are called to humility. You are called to communicate that everything they need is within them for Christ Himself; the hope of glory is within them. The people you serve are not called to serve your agenda, and you are called only to serve Fathers agenda for their lives, which may not have anything to do with your agenda.
God does not need middle management as He has all the management He needs by the power and revelation of His Holy Spirit on earth. Get out of His way, and serve only in His way. All Priest-craft must go, “apostle-craft, prophet-craft, and pastor-craft included,” and they all must surrender to the Master-craft of all creation, Jesus our Lord. Ungodly hierarchy has no place in the Kingdom of God. Leaders are called to serve. The greatest of leaders becomes the servant of all.
I am not writing this letter to accuse but rather to advance understanding. And even though I am white, I am not writing as an outsider but as a fellow evangelical, part of the same spiritual family. May I pose some candid questions?
Are you guilty, on any level, of blind allegiance to the Democratic party? And, on Election Day, did any of you compromise your convictions out of racial solidarity?
I have been very open in my criticism of white evangelicals, pointing out how we often put our trust in the Republican party and how we look to the latest candidate as some kind of political savior, only to be disappointed time and time again, complaining that the Republicans wanted our votes but did not stand up for our values. “We won’t get fooled again,” we say, only to repeat the same cycle four years later.
On Election Day morning, I posted an article entitled “A Warning to Moral Conservatives,” raising concerns that if Mitt Romney was elected, we would be making a grave mistake in looking to him to advance our moral and social agenda. I even wrote an article in June entitled “Mitt Romney Is Not the Answer,” and I often told my evangelical radio listeners that I would not argue with them if they could not vote for Romney because he was a Mormon. So, I do understand black Christian reticence towards Romney (for these reasons, among others).