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Church Talk: Discipleship, Community, & Equipping Part 2

What does all this have to do with higher expectations? I think we need to not only help people find their jobs, their callings, and their gifts but I think we need to expect them to use them.

I think we, as churches, need to be providing better discipleship and more opportunities for people to use their gifts. We need to break down our bodies not just into small groups but into small groups in which people are held accountable to lead, to teach, to help.

The culture we have created makes it too easy for people to not do anything. Our staffed pastors organize the classes and prepare the curriculum. Our "safe" workbooks keep us focused and on task. We have become dependent on "church leadership." (Again not bashing or blaming since I fall in that category.)What about the person in that small group whose gift is to lead, that has a deep God given desire to get the group together? What about the young man called to teach sitting there reciting someone else's words and someone else's questions?

Are we robbing them of their opportunity to practice their gifts? Could we be doing a better job of equipping every saint to do the work of The Lord?

I think maybe so.

Let me illustrate. If you are in the military you have a commanding officer over a small group of people. Within that group everyone has assignments and the each person has to do their job for their unit to function. Not everyone's job is the same and not everyone is equal within the unit, but everyone has a place. The people in each unit know each other and their lives depend on each other. Imagine this: You have one commander over thousands of people and almost no one under them empowered to do much of anything. The commander is desperately trying to get people to do their jobs and everyone hears and understands that the jobs need to be done but no one is sure what they might be good at or where they could be the most helpful. Do you imagine much would get done under the second model? I doubt it.

Human nature proves very consistent in that if we think someone else will do it, we won't; furthermore we will usually assume someone else will do it better than us making us feel we just aren't good for much. The result? Loneliness.

Back to expectations. God created each and every single person in the Body of Christ to have a purpose therein. Not just the leaders or the super volunteers. Why did He do so? I suspect because God knew us well enough to know that purpose in us creates personal investment.

Can you imagine a church in which each person is personally invested in creating disciples? Personally invested in the people around them on a daily basis?

When people find purpose they lose loneliness and then they can help others do the same.

I don't want you to think this is a rant against big churches. It's not. I do know for a fact that smaller groups are more likely to create mentors, more likely to have people volunteer, more likely to have members that feel part of a community and always give more generously. That said I think the more believers we can be connected to the better. However I know of very few churches, big or small, who aren't doing small groups. We know they're important. So back to the main question: How can we do better?

How can we in our churches, big or small, better utilize our small groups to disciple, to equip, to help people find their purpose?

I have some ideas, but first I want to hear yours. Don't forget our rules!

Ready. Go!

Church Talk: Discipleship, Community, & Equipping

So remember how I wanted to talk about church? It turns out that is really hard to do. Because it's fallible human people trying to serve God together. It will never be perfect. At least not till Jesus comes back to take care of this business.

So I know in my heart we can't possibly focus on what we are doing "bad" because we are a bunch of sinners and even as we are sanctified that's not likely to stop anytime soon. We must shift our focus to what we can do better.

In what ways can we be more like Jesus? In what ways are we willing to let the Holy Spirit do a radical work in our bodies? I've said it before just as our human bodies and lives are being sanctified we should also make sure that is happening in the Body of Christ!

So with that very long disclaimer lets talk about something I hear a lot in churches I go to, from all manner of believers and denominations.

"I'm lonely"

The truth is we live in a lonely world. We live in a world that so values independence and self sufficiency that we seem to have lost sight of why dependency and community can be so very important.

Here is where I'm going to suggest the first thing we I think we can do better: I think we need to have higher expectations of believers.

Yeah. Weird huh?

At least not what you were expecting me to say.

I think we slipped into a culture of "Rock Star Preachers" somewhere along the way, and lest you think I'm about to blame the Francis Chan's and Beth Moore's of the spiritual world, let me quickly say it isn't their fault. We did it. We flock to our churches in which our gifted teachers and preachers teach thousands of people each week and we stock up on their books and curriculum for our small groups, Sunday schools classes, and Bible studies and really in itself there isn't a darn thing wrong with that. In fact, often there is a lot of good to be had in those thing and those people. I myself sit under a "Rock Star Pastor" in this town so know that there is no condemnation.

What's my problem then? We got complacent. Maybe we had that crippling pride of insecurity overcome us, or maybe the trap of business overcame us. I'm sure we all have our own reasons for putting all the pressure, all the learning, all the equipping into the hands of those as we see as "more gifted." We came up with a mentality of "that's their job."

It is their job. It is their calling. It is their gift. You have a job. You have a calling. You have a gift. You are to use it for the body of Christ.

What does this all have to do with having higher expectations?