This past month, four of us from our church were messengers to the Colorado Baptist state convention held at First Baptist Church of Black Forest. I’m grateful to all who organized and participated in this. All of us left encouraged and challenged.
Many of you know that we have a new state executive director for our convention (an executive director is the official name for the guy at the top of the chain of command). His name is Nathan Lorick. He issued a new vision for our convention that was based around five paradigm shifts:
- From a convention to a network
- From program-driven convention to process-driven convention
- From reactive to proactive
- From expert to hero-makers
- From conventional formal to relational
His talk will be made available soon and in some avenue we will make it available to you. But while we can certainly dissect each of these, they have one strain in common: moving forward intentionally to connect and serve people and churches (both pastors and lay-people). It’s about relationships.
I’m thankful for this. But I often am reminded of this when it comes to leading people: change moving forward is not always an indictment on the past. Things change. And it’s tough. And change in our culture (no matter what aspect of culture) is happening at breakneck speed. And it happens in churches.
I grew up with a pastor who was seen as the ‘sage on the stage.’ He was the expert. He went to seminary, was on the mission field, and had the title of pastor. But I know that’s not the mindset of many now—and am I ever thankful.
I want to be the ‘guide on the side.’ Meaning, I want to go along this journey with you. Granted, God has called me and placed me at this season as your lead pastor, that is, your undershepherd. Scripture reminds me that I must preach, lead, equip, and love from Scripture. According to Hebrews 13:17, I as your lead pastor will have to give an account for how I shepherded you from the Word. But understand, God has blessed us with Christ, His Church, His Spirit, and His Word for us to grow in our worship, connect with others, serve others in Jesus name, and go into our spheres of influence Monday through Saturday. And I promise to lead, influence, and equip from these things to help you move forward to plant those acorns and kernels of the gospel so that mighty oak trees and a great harvest will abound.
November is the month of thankfulness. I’m thankful for what I’ve seen in Hebrews 13:20-21:
Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.
In Jesus, God will equip us with all we need to do all He commands.
In Kevin Vanhoozer’s book The Drama of Doctrine, he insightfully shares how the doctrine of the Trinity is not mere “abstract speculation,” but necessary to the gospel itself.
The church fathers soon came to realize that the integrity of the gospel is fatally compromised if either the Son or the Spirit is not fully God. If the Son were not God, he could neither reveal the Father nor atone for our sin. If the Spirit were not God, he could unite us to neither the Father and Son nor one another. The gospel, then, requires a triune God. The God of the gospel reveals and redeems precisely as Father, Son, and Spirit (43).
No wonder the early church Fathers spent so much time trying to understand the Trinity. If any of the members of the Trinity (1) did not exist, or if they existed (2) were not part of the Godhead, then the Good News of what we preach about Jesus in His death, burial, and resurrection are for naught.
Discipleship leans into the Trinity. As we preach the gospel to ourselves every single day, we do this based upon the roles of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit working in union together to secure our forgiveness.
Do any of you wonder why Jesus, at the end of His Great Commission, closes with, “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b)? It’s because as Christians go and make disciples, they will find out one thing: It’s hard! Living under His authority, immersing ourselves in the Triune God, teaching them to observe everything He commanded–this is a supernatural activity that Satan deplores and attacks in varied and subtle ways, supplying excuses and emotional reactions from anger to anxiety to apathy. But knowing Jesus is with us every step of the way what we need to remember to accomplish His Commission.
When it comes to making disciples, you are not alone. When it comes to going through the peaks and valleys of the Christian walk, you’re not alone. Even, as Psalm 23 says, “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not fear [why?] for you are with me.”
You see, the idea of recognizing Christ’s authority in all things, being commissioned as disciple-makers to be immersed as well as immerse others from all nations into the Triune God, to teach them everything Christ commanded you–this is one tall, seemingly overwhelming task. In fact, many times we struggle and think, “I’ll just take care of my own life.” But Scripture reminds us that “You are not your own, but you were bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19). We do not belong only to ourselves. When Christ rescued us, we are now His. And while that may cut against the grain of our culture in the “You Be You” framework in which many live, we are His by His grace.
- He is with us in His Word. Have an intentional plan for encountering Christ in His Word. Whether it’s a 90-day Bible reading plan or reading a chapter a day, engage the Scriptures to encounter Christ’s person and plan. The key word is ‘intentional.’
- He is with us by the Spirit. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you a disciple-being, disciple-making antenna in your Monday through Saturday life. It’s one thing to talk about and acknowledge Christ’s Commission to disciple, but the Spirit is there to change your heart to be an intentional disciple who intentionally makes disciples of Jesus. When you ask the Spirit to make your aware, He will. Be ready.
- He is with us in prayer. Don’t pray in order for God to be on your side in a matter. Don’t pray with an arrogance of you being better than another. Pray because you want to know who Jesus is, what He’s done, and what He aims to do through you. Pray until you pray!
- He is with us with our Church! As Christ builds His church, surrender your ideas about church to His plan and purpose. Before we make our plans for church, we must engage with His plans for His church and make our plans prayerfully and carefully in accordance with Christ’s plan. Otherwise, the church will simply be a man-made, philanthropic, non-profit organization rather that a Christ-exalting, Spirit-soaked organism from which the organization is spawned.