Growing old is not only good, but it is essential in the church and in our ministry. Moving from immaturity to maturity, being from milk to meat, those are biblical analogy of growing old, aging well.
I am convince more as I pastor more and grow older, we need more men and women who are willing to grow old. And to not only grow, but to grow old well and not to run from it and model “adulthood” to our younger generations. To become for the church a treasure of maturity and experience of wisdom; to defy a culture that is running away from growing older!
Age defying EVERYTHING is a multi-billion business in our culture today.
The book written recently called, “Death of the Grown Up” by a secular journalist a woman who catalogued the shift in western culture over the last 10 years has come up with fascinating statistics.
- British survey revealed that today Britain 46% adult couples regard their parent’s house as their real home.
- Nearly one out of three 30 years old have not left their parents home.
- One case we see in Italy, young man in his early late 30s successfully sued his father for financial support, not because he lost his job, but because he couldn’t find a job he liked as they viewed him as an adolescent.
- There are more adults today in America according to survey ages 18-49 who watches cartoon network more than they watch CNN.
- The average video gamester in 1990 was 18; today, it’s 35 years old spending 20 hours a week playing.
- National academy of sciences have redefined adolescent (on set of puberty and adulthood) as a time lasting from age 12 till 30 years old.
- McArthur foundation funded a research study that was conducted several years ago argues that male adulthood does not end until age 34 years old in the western world.
This changes everything. It changes how we design ministry, how we view discipleship, how we look at a young man in our churches, in the way incoming seminary students.
Look around, we are surrounded grown ups who have not left childhood! People in their 40s and 50s can no longer be distinguished from their children in their taste, clothing, gaming, pursuit. Western world male age at anytime now is at ease in the baggy sample of eternal summer camp. Why? Because the last thing you want to be is a “Mr.” The last thing we want is to be “older” Our civilization has a religious devotion to perpetual adolescence.
Older Christian doesn’t automatically mean a, “mature” christian. In fact, those who you most likely have problem within your church are those who are older but never grew up. Old age doesn’t make a man more faithful nor more civil.
Here are the Eight ‘Ds’ of Personal Discipleship that allows as Christians to grow into spiritual adulthood.
1. Devote Yourself to Being a Disciple:
A disciple is one who follows Christ and is a fisher of men (Matt. 4:18) We see in the finals words of Christ as well he calls them to, “Go Make Disciples” (Matthew 28:19-20)
A decision must be made daily to devote yourself to the call of making disciples. We are not able to do this however if we don’t have a plan. Ultimately, when it comes down to disciple-making, if you don’t have a plan, you don’t really intend to do anything.
“Well I make disciples! I have Christian friends.” Not all relationships where spiritual conversations takes place are discipling kind of relationships. Discipling relationships are ones where there is an intentional effort on the part of the one person (a disciple maker) to impart spiritual principles into the life of another (a disciple).
This relationship can be very structured or organic, but there is an intentional and transformational process at work. Paul states in 1 Thessalonians 1:8 “I loved you so much that I not only shared the gospel, but my very life as well” This is disciple making at its best.
2. Develop Spiritual Disciplines:
The goal of spiritual discipline is not the transmission of information but the transformation of lives. God gave us the Bible not just to inform our minds, but also to transform our hearts. As D.L. Moody said it well, “The scriptures are given not to increase our knowledge, but to transform our lives.
God’s work of changing a believer into a likeness of Jesus by creating a new identity in Christ and by empowering a lifelong relationship of love, trust and obedience to God.
“Well, I just don’t have enough time!” If you have too much to do, that you are not able to do what clear biblical mandate of God’s command, you can be sure it wasn’t God who gave it to you! This is the truth; the reality of the Gospel is that it’s either 100% true or 100% false. The fact that it’s 100% true should drastically change howe we live.
3. Declare Your identity in Christ:
The gospel calls us to abandon our lives and live and walk into Christ likeness as our identity. There must be a willingness to die to self and live for Christ. It is not about you. It is about Him working in and through you.
If you are not living in such, you are believing in the false gospel. The true biblical christianity (the gospel) you believe determines the kind of disciple you become. Believe a false gospel, become a false disciple.
4. Display Christ-like Character:
If you had to be honest with me just for a moment, a lot of stuff that we see in our behavior sometimes don’t match up with our belief system. How is this possible? It is easy for one to say they believe something simply because they think of it from time to time. People live in a false dichotomy of false illusion by thinking how they respond in the thought is how they behave (lifestyle). Ultimately, your true beliefs will be expressed in what you do; whether you want to admit it or not. The question is, “Do you display Christ-likeness?”
Your behaviors are shaped by your past, your present and your future. One must look at all three “views” (past, current, and future) to more fully and accurately characterize their disciple making practice and potential.
“Well Jonathan, I’ve always just been this way” If you always been what you’ve always been then you need to ask if you’ve ever really met Jesus. Meeting Jesus changes everything.
5. Defend Your Faith:
“Well that’s not my style! I’m just going to love” In the book of Peter it says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Peter 3:15-16)
God really isn’t interested in making your life comfortable, but He is greatly interested in making your life meaningful. Begin to share His story & share Your story. Being discipline/disciple-maker is not something we program (Project/monologue) but it becomes a lifestyle (Person/dialogue).
6. Deploy Your Gifts in Missional Ministry:
Discipleship too often is misunderstood as a program (classroom setting). According to Jesus way, discipleship is not a program we launch. It is a lifestyle that one embraces. Discipleship to Jesus is defined more by obedience than by knowledge.
Christianity detached from mission leads to either lifeless moralism or joyless legalism.
So what is holding you back? For us refusing to embrace a biblical mandate of making discipleship through mission is a heart issue, not a head issue – a lack of passion, not a lack of knowledge.
7. Disciple Others:
As a church we must be careful of teaching the right kind of discipleship. When we teach a form of discipleship that does not result in reproduction, we miss the mark. People cannot grow up in their faith when they’re not in an environment where they can be discipled. If you make disciples and they do not make disciples, you did not make disciples!
Let’s just look back at history for a second; If Jesus had died on the cross but hadn’t made disciples to deliver the message, none of us would’ve heard the good news. We will be doomed! Men are God’s method. The church is looking for better methods: God is looking for better men.
“Well I’m not good enough!” Yeah, the disciples weren’t the greatest and the brightest either! Robert Coleman from his book, Master Plan of Discipleship said it well, “Jesus followers were not required to be smart, but they had to be loyal.”
See, if you make disciples, you will always get a church. But if you try to build the church, you will rarely get disciples.
8. Depend on the Holy Spirit:
God works in various ways to bring people into salvation in Jesus Christ. It all begins when God calls us by His Holy Spirit. It is only by the Holy Spirit that calls a person by awakening their heart, mind, and soul to their personal need of salvation.
As the The Westminster Confession describes it in the following way, “This effectual call is of God’s free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man, who is altogether passive therein, until, being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit, he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it.” It is only then that a person can truly accept and respond to the grace of God through faith.
“I believe that by my own reason or strength I cannot believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to him, but the Holy Spirit has called me through the Gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, and sanctified and preserved me in the true faith.” -Martin Luther
Radical Discipleship: Costly Commitment, A Call For All.
In this fallen world even people in a very complex, postmodern world are desperately hungry to hear the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Well that’s too hard. We will continue on with what we got” When we say of a biblical command, “I don’t THINK that will work” what we have done is elevate our reason above God’s Word. We should think twice before we open our mouth and speak.
So who is God calling to do this task? It’s YOU!
The problem in our church is that we have way too many people who are full of themselves and not Christ. Until you admit you don’t know everything, you can’t learn anything. A disciple must be teachable. This is not much at all.
We need to step it up. We need to toughen up and take this job seriously. We need to be ready to suffer for the gospel. We need to be motivated by this stewardship that we have been entrusted. We are to run this race well.