Walk by faith

Walk by faith, not by sight… easier said that done, right? God recently called me to move by faith halfway across the country. He called me to move away from all I knew to be familiar, all I was comfortable with, and all that I loved. Moving by faith is when you don’t know exactly what God is saying, but you know he is saying “Start walking… and I’ll show you on the way.”

To walk by faith and not by sight means there will be times when God won’t tell you exactly what he wants you to do, which requires a great deal of trust. God wants us to be willing to trust him enough to move forward without knowing all the details. God is not always going to give you the specific directions as to where he is taking you. Sometimes God will just say “start walking.”

In Genesis 12, God told Abraham to walk away from family and friends to a new land that he wanted to show him. God said, “If you leave your family I will bless you; I will make you a blessing; I will cause others to bless you.” Can’t you just imagine Abraham saying, “Wait a minute, where am I going God?” And God responding, “I’ll tell you on the way!” Abraham’s options were to leave behind all he ever knew or remain in the comforts of predictability.

Another example is found in Exodus. Egypt was a place of bondage. However, the Israelites did have a place to sleep and were guaranteed three meals a day. Then God calls his people to move out of Egypt: to leave bondage and take a chance. Step out on faith and follow God… that was the call. For the Israelites, the call of God is both an exciting adventure and a scary proposition.

It’s often the same of us. Up ahead is uncertainty, behind is predictability, and faith realizes the only certain thing at any given moment is God. In my recent move I dealt with the same thought patterns as the children of Israel coming out of Egypt. Behind me is comfort, yet also the bondage of predictability, routine, and status quo. Ahead of me is uncertainty, but that’s where God is waiting.

Most people miss their exodus (exit/way out), because they think about themselves physically leaving. Physically leaving is not the hard part, the struggle is to bring our minds with us (remember, you are what you think). Leaving physically was not the issue with the Israelites, nor is it our issue. Instead, the real issue is changing how we think.

Moving by faith requires changing the way we think, and if we’re not careful we will get stuck in a pattern of thinking that will keep us trapped for life. Believe God and move by faith when he says, “Start walking… and I’ll show you on the way.”


(Sources: Graham Cooke; Kraig Pullam)

christwashing

The quality of a church’s leadership is directly linked to the quality of a church’s discipleship. If we fail in making Christ-like disciples, we should not be surprised if we fail to make effective leaders. Anyone who makes a commitment to follow Jesus must also be willing to invest in making more disciples that impact the world in significant ways.

The Early Church started as a micro-movement and grew from about 25,000 in 100AD to approximately 20,000,000 just before Constantine recognized the church as “an official institution” around 310AD. The Church developed from a small movement to a powerful force within the first 200 years of its existence. Then almost immediately, the focus shifted from discipleship to membership. This was a mistake. It’s not that taking in new members is wrong; it just shouldn’t be the focus of what we do.

One measurement of success that almost every church leader uses is “attendance.” When I meet a pastor, within the first five minutes they usually ask, “What’s the attendance at your church?” They ask that and use it as a measurement of the effectiveness of my ministry. I decided that I was not going to ask fellow pastors that question anymore. Some churches grow because of their location, others because of their effectiveness, others for various other reasons. It’s not my job to judge a fellow laborer; it’s my job to encourage them to make disciples.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe that healthy churches grow. They raise up new leaders and send leaders out into the harvest. Living organisms produce new cells. However, I believe attendance can be a deceptive measuring stick. The real question is this: How many people attending our church are becoming transformed disciples of Jesus Christ? How many of our members actually live and reflect the values, priorities, and lifestyles of the Kingdom of God? The true measure of our church’s effectiveness is the ratio between the number of people attending, and the number of people active in the mission of the church.

John Wesley instructed people called Methodists to practice daily “methods” or “disciplines.” He saw how people could quickly become converted through enthusiastic preaching and just as quickly fall away if they were not committed to daily practices and accountability groups. The church I belong to is part of the Wesleyan-holiness tradition. It is in our DNA to be implementing effective discipleship strategies. We should all be involved in training others and being trained by others for the work of the ministry in the world. John Wesley reminds us, “The world is our Parrish.”

More and more people sitting in the pews are trying to bring Jesus into their worldview instead of being transformed into his. Please understand, I believe that the church needs to grow and reach new people. There is a lost world that needs to be saved. However, growth is not the primary measuring stick… Jesus calls us to make disciples – not members. Let’s take that seriously.