Day 8: G = God’s Global Plan

By Church Planting, Evangelism, Gospel, Great Commission, Missions, WILD

God’s intention for Israel as a people was always clear. He told Abraham that he’d be the father of a nation through which all other nations would be blessed (Genesis 12:3). Later, He told Moses that through Israel He’d demonstrate His power to the surrounding nations (Exodus 34:10). They were intended to be His witnesses (Isaiah 43:10). To demonstrate the incredible blessing of having access to God’s Word (Deut. 4:6,33).

Although Israel failed, God wanted His people to be a light and a witness, to communicate His blessing to others. It was part of who they were as a people, whether they recognized it or not.... read more

We mentioned in Wednesay’s post about identity and purpose being closely linked together. What was true of God’s people under the Old Covenant is also true for those in the New Covenant. The command and commission these New Covenant believers received was directly from Him and they were to pass it on to others, to go out, and to be His witnesses everywhere.

The pattern He described was of His people moving out with Truth from a local base and then out to the nations. From its beginning on the day of Pentecost, God’s Spirit empowered the early Church to move out geographically, but also across boundaries of language, culture, worldview, and ethnicity.

The Narrative of the early Church and in the centuries that followed was one of spreading out, of taking God’s Truth into new areas, both locally and globally.

Day 7: N = Nurture

By Church Planting, Discipleship, Gospel, Great Commission, WILD

Someone who is learning to make use of God’s Word is able to feed themselves; they are in a position of being able to find nourishment from the Word. We know that God wants us to move beyond being only fed by others. Peter used the image of a baby craving milk (1 Peter 2:2).

Paul puts the responsibility on the Colossians (Colossians 1:23) to continue to believe the Good News they’ve been taught and to stand firmly in it. To let their “roots grow down into Christ” and for their “lives to be built in Him” (Colossians 2:7).... read more

A clear sign of growing to maturity is when individuals within the Body are learning to use God’s Word for their own nourishment and growth. But most plants or trees don’t grow in a laboratory, or even a greenhouse. They’re trying to make it out in the real world where they’re vulnerable to the extremes of weather and attacks from disease and pests.

Most healthy plants don’t grow indoors, but are able to handle heat, cold, insect infestation, cold weather etc. But even healthy plants often need some protection from bugs and weather. Careful farmers are aware of what is most likely to harm their crops and take measures to protect it. God wants His people to be able to find their own protection and to be able to feed themselves and also to protect against attack.

Paul used two pictures to teach this to the church in Ephesus. The first, pictures immature believers as small boats without a rudder, on a stormy ocean, being pushed around by strong winds (Ephesians 4:14). Paul tells them that they don’t need to be like that. They can apply Truth to everyday life, in conversations, in relationships, when faced by temptation.

Another picture Paul gives the Ephesians is to describe believers as defending themselves in warfare (Ephesians 6:10-17). We use these weapons as we share Truth in the Body, but every believer is told to put the armour on, to pick up the shield, to know how to wield the sword. No one can hope to stay safe for too long if they always have to hide behind someone else’s shield and sword and never join the battle themselves.

We’ll talk more about the Nurture of God’s people at our upcoming workshop on Saturday, 10 October. Please “Save The Date” if you haven’t already.

Day 6: I = Identity

By Church Planting, Culture, Discipleship, Equipping, Gospel, Missions, Vocation, WILD

The book of Acts in many ways is a story of identity. It starts out with a small group of people, mostly from a Jewish background, who lived in Galilee. But this small group saw themselves as followers of a Teacher, who they were sure was the long-awaited Messiah, the Son of God.

After His return to Heaven, this small band stayed on in Jerusalem, as He’d instructed. Galilean, together with Judean followers, these followers did have some sense of common identity, but it wasn’t until after the Holy Spirit arrived on the day of the Pentecost that they really began to have a presence in the community as a distinct group.... read more

They are immediately forced to deal with the reality of being a minority group within a larger unbelieving and increasingly hostile community. As they continued to think about their new identity, God continued to reveal Truth and unfold His Story for them. As Jesus promised, the Holy Spirit was with each of them, and with them as a Group, a Church.

Just as the writings of Moses and the prophets defined God’s people under the Old Covenant, access to the Apostles teaching, defined the Church at its beginning. God, through the Apostles teaching, made very specific declarations to these believers about who they are.

We’ll discuss this more during our upcoming workshop, but Identity is strongly linked to Purpose. The purpose of living and working in partnership with His Son, Jesus Christ. To the Ephesians, the Apostle writes that they are members of the Body of Christ with the goal of reaching maturity (Ephesians 4:13-16).

As we saw yesterday, the early churches are told they are God’s temple, a place for His Spirit to live on earth. The Church is a living letter from God through which He communicates to the community. They are witnesses, light, salt, living sacrifices. There’s also a future part to their identity and purpose as well. They are the Bride of God’s Son, made to be His perfect companion, to give glory to their Redeemer and Lord for all eternity.

Day 5: T = Temple

By Church Planting, Discipleship, Gospel, WILD

One of the descriptions, (or pictures) God uses in His Narrative to describe His Church is that of a building. More specifically, it is a temple that is being built.

This of course ties into the enormously important Narrative threads from the Old Covenant with its Tabernacle, and later Temple, in Jerusalem. When Jesus came to the earth and died and rose again, the Old Covenant with its priesthood, sacrifices and temple, was fulfilled … something the book of Hebrews makes clear. Now the Spirit of God is living in His people.... read more

In the first of Paul’s letters to the believers in the southern Greek city of Corinth, he challenges the church in Corinth to live in light of the reality that they are God’s temple (1 Corinthians 3:10-17). A few years later he uses the image of “temple” again when he writes to the believers in Ephesus, famous for its temple to the goddess Artemis (Ephesians 2:20-22).

He says that all believers are God’s house, a holy temple for the Lord and a dwelling place where God lives by His Spirit. Picture a builder carefully choosing, shaping and then placing individual blocks into a building, Paul says that we are each being added into God’s temple like that.

When we think about God’s people by using biblical motifs like temple, we must be careful not to think of God as just some kind of Architect, not really involved in the building project. During our upcoming webinar and workshop we will look at other pictures to help us understand His relationship with His Church, including Bride, Body and Head.

Day 4: N = Narrative

By Church Planting, Culture, Discipleship, Evangelism, Gospel, Great Commission, Meta-Narrative, Missions, Uncategorized, WILD

If you have had the opportunity to be part of a friends journey of faith, you would recognise that it takes some wisdom to help anyone to do this well. In the Bible, wisdom is strongly correlated with order, and an orderly approach to how we use God’s Word is crucial to effective Church Planting & Discipleship.

Think about your own experience, either discipling others or being discipled yourself. Think how well prepared you or a fellow disciple would be if there had already been exposure and some understanding to God’s Word as His complete Narrative, or Story.... read more

What if we had a clear understanding of how and why God created the universe, the world and man and woman? Imagine if you had been able to stand alongside your friend and observe together how God related, from the beginning, to his created human beings that He had made.

If together, or as a group, you’d learned together how Adam and Eve listened to Satan and then saw God’s interaction with them and His response. And what if you’d been able to teach or learn together how through history, you saw the highlights of God’s record of the way he has relationship with human beings.

And then, if your friend or friends hadn’t yet decided to follow Jesus, you’d been able to introduce them to the promised Messiah, the Rescuer. And most importantly, if you’d taught and learned together how all the threads of who God is, what He’s shown us about Himself, how that comes together in His Son, and how we understand that most clearly in His death, burial, and resurrection.

Even if you have not been able to guide an individual, or a group, through God’s Story, I’m sure you can appreciate what a great foundation of Truth you would be working with as you try to help and encourage others.

If the path to faith for anyone we are sharing Truth with involves getting to know God, themselves, their enemy Satan and eventually Jesus the Saviour, through God’s Narrative, then there will be many important areas of Truth we will be able to help them with.

It’s going to be great to discuss these ideas further during our upcoming webinar and workshop.

Day 3: A = Authority

By Church Planting, Discipleship, Gospel, Great Commission, Missions, WILD

As we countdown towards our Church Planting Webinar on Saturday, we reach the letter A in P.L.A.N.T.I.N.G. A for Authority. God’s Word has authority! Right? Absolutely! Maybe?

If we were to play word association with Authority, many would respond with Power. Authority can have power, but as we think about Discipleship and Church Planting, we should consider whether someone comes under that authority.... read more

In a situation where a person or group of people are hearing Truth shared, are we seeing them putting themselves under the authority of that Truth, and the One who spoke it, the One who IS Truth? Maybe they are recognising it as having some authority – “Yes, it’s important. Yes, it’s right to listen to the Bible. Yes, I can see that I benefit from hearing what’s shared. I want what this teaching offers … but on the whole it is only one of the “voices” I listen to. Is it changing the things that are valued … loosening the fingers that are holding tight to the existing worldview?

If we are going to share Truth effectively, we must recognise the seriousness of the spiritual battle that is going on between Truth and Lies. There is another authority, Satan, who is hostile to God’s rule in this world, who has blinded the minds of many people (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). He has effectively created a web of lies that is in direct opposition to God’s authority.

When we share truth with an individual or group still under Satan’s control, we are joining in the battle that is going on for control of their hearts and minds.  We are contributing to God calling them “out of the darkness into His wonderful light”. This is a rescue mission as God uses His Truth to rescue people out of The Kingdom of Darkness and under the loving rule of the Lord Jesus (Colossians 1:13), who thankfully holds all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18).