What is Missional Living ?

In my opinion, if you want to understand what it means to truly live “missionally” you have to understand what it means to live with “Gospel intentionality.” Here are some quick thoughts on trying to mesh together the concept of “Missional Living” with the concept of “Gospel intentionality.”

When it comes to defining missional living, I’d say it is something like this:

Missional living is loving others by meeting needs and building relationships with Gospel intentionality.

“Meeting Needs”

The church that knows the Gospel actively seeks to meet the various and practical needs of the community around us. Whether it’s feeding the hungry, showing compassion to the outcast, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless, loving the orphan, or any other number of issues, the natural overflow of the Gospel at work in our lives is that it produces a desire to be practically meeting real needs in our communities.

By doing this, we are taking the message of the Gospel and making it real to people. The Church, as a new humanity of people who are being transformed by the Gospel, has a chance to be a tangible preview of the good news of Jesus to the city. For example, we can talk all day long about how God is compassionate to the outcast, but when the church backs up that message by accepting the outcast without judgment in our services, programs, and community life, the Gospel becomes incarnate. It goes from being an obscure message from the stage into a very real and very powerful reality in the lives of not only the outcast, but the people who met the needs of the outcast to begin with.

Loving others missionally is more than just a message to be talked about from the stage. It begins by needing to understand the real needs of the community around us, and taking tangible and practical steps to help with the needs of the people in our city.

“Building Relationships”

However, it isn’t enough to simply show up and meet the immediate needs of those in our city. We are called to build relationships with those who are far from Christ.  This is because by nature we are relational. We can have our immediate needs for food and acceptance met in a program, but at the end of the day, our hearts yearn for relationships with other people because our hearts long to be restored back to the relationship we had in the beginning with God.

That is what the Gospel is ultimately about. It’s about bringing God glory through restored relationships between Him and His children. As a result, the church is first and foremost always going to be relational. We bring people the Gospel when we not only feed them food when they’re hungry, but also engage them in a deeper relationship with us so that they can see in our daily lives the reality of the Gospel being lived out.

In this way, our missional strategy as a church should be geared to give us opportunities to build relationships and friendships with our neighbors and those who are far from Christ in our city.

“With Gospel Intentionality”

However, meeting needs and building relationships doesn’t automatically mean that we are living missionally. It is only when we are meeting needs and building relationships with Gospel intentionality that we are truly missional.

So what does it mean to love others with Gospel intentionality? It means that in everything you are actively looking for ways to display the truth of the Gospel in both word and deed.

Gospel Intentionality in “Deed”

It is critical that our actions match our message. In other words, we can talk all day about how much God loves us and accepts us without condition because of Christ’s atoning work on the cross. But if we then go and show favoritism, or judge those who are different than us, or act racist, then our message is lost. We confuse people because the truth of the Gospel is not tangibly being lived out in a way that others can relate to. This is why Jesus said that the primary way people will see a picture of who God is and turn and worship Him is through the good deeds of the church (Matthew 5:14-16).

You can show Gospel intentionality through you deeds in any number of ways. For example, by helping your neighbor fix his car without any strings attached, you are taking the free gift of the Gospel that you’ve received, and extending it to your neighbor by offering him something for free. In this way, your neighbor not only gets his needs met because his car is fixed, but he also has to wrestle with the idea that you were willing to help him because you’ve received so much from God in the Gospel that you were happy to help.

It doesn’t only have to be deeds done for free to people who have needs. What is it about the Gospel that is changing your life? How can you continue to display that truth to people in deed? To the extent that you can answer that question, you’ll have an infinite number of ways and ideas on how to have Gospel intentionality in every relationship you are involved in. This is the essence of learning how to live missionally – to come to understand how you can put the Gospel on display in every facet of everyday life.

[Quick caveat… it’s also the reason why you need community in your life. Without community constantly reorienting you to the Gospel and helping you deepen in your understanding of the implications of the Gospel in your life, it will continue to be difficult to know exactly how to live with Gospel intentionality in all your relationships.]

Gospel Intentionality in “Word”

But we can’t stop at just deeds. If we never talk about the Gospel, then our actions will not make any sense. It is critical that if we are going to love others with Gospel intentionality that we aren’t just doing it in deed, but with our words too. This is evident by the fact that throughout the New Testament the apostles were constantly preaching the Gospel to people with words (the word “preach” is used over 90 times in the New Testament).

It would make sense that if you’ve engaged your neighbor relationally, that over time he would hear you talk about your relationship with Christ. He would hear in natural conversation with you how God is changing your life, how He’s moving in you, how He’s helping you further understand the Gospel more.

That’s the way close relationships normally work. For example, if you hang around me and get to know me at all, it will become evident pretty quickly that I genuinely enjoy spending a lot of time with my family, that I love baseball, and that I love to read. It’s not like I need to sit you down and say, “Can I talk to you about an important part of my life?  Here’s the thing… I really love the Houston Astros and I thought you needed to know about them too.” There is nothing formal about me sharing my love of the Astros. It just seeps out of me naturally because it is part of who I am.

How much more should that be the case with our faith in Christ! If you’re around me for fifteen minutes, you’ll hear me talking about something about Jesus, His church, His message, His Word, His character, or fill in the blank. It’s the quintessential factor of my identity, and therefore, just being in relationship with me means you’ll hear about Christ in my words.

To live misisonally by loving others with Gospel intentionality means that we need to share Christ with people in word, but it doesn’t mean that has to happen formally all the time (though there are formal times that are appropriate and often effective) or even most of the time. It means we simply need to be so overflowing in our passion for Jesus that our words are naturally laced with more and more of Gospel.

This isn’t me trying to dumb down the responsibility and command we’ve been given to preach the Gospel. This is me actually raising the bar and saying anyone can learn to take someone through a formal presentation of the Gospel, but only those who truly know Christ have the Gospel dripping out of them in the normal day in and day out moments of their life. This is why deepening in our passion for Jesus is the most important way for us to grow in understanding how to speak about the Gospel to others.

Conclusion

As members of the body of Christ, we want to be a people who are united and mobilized around our mission to make disciples. As our lives are transformed by the Gospel, we become people who are serious about living our lives missionally in any way possible. Rather than just talking about some ethereal concept called “missional living”, if we continually learn what it means to approach every aspect of our lives with Gospel intentionality, I think we will be better at tangibly accomplishing our mission of glorifying God by making disciples who help restore the City through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Bill Magsig is the Lead Pastor of Berean Bible Church.

“Loving others missionally is more than just a message to be talked about from the stage.” 

A Change is Gonna Come

Lately, I have been feeling like the victim of change. It reminds me of a song I like.

My wife and I have been fans of a cappella music for many years and have even sung in several different a cappella groups (which is really a lot of fun).  Consequently, we have a number of albums by various groups such as The Nylons, The Bobs, Chanticleer, Take 6, and lots of barbershop.  On one of The Nylons’ albums there is a Sam Cooke cover called, “A Change is Gonna Come.”

The song was written in the ‘60s as a part of the civil rights movement speaking to the need for change in our society, and it has one of those bluesy, minor-key melodies that will just grab you by the throat.  The lyrics combine both a sense of helplessness in the face of destiny as well as a longing to make something happen to change it.  I think this is a struggle that many people can relate to.

The idea of change is an interesting dichotomy; we seem to be both the victims as well as the agents of change.  We all sense that nothing is static – good times or bad, and usually sooner than we expect or want, change inevitably comes.  If we think the changes are for our good, then we tend to welcome them and adapt ourselves to them.  If we think the changes won’t help us, we tend to resent and resist them, pushing back against the tide to try to keep it from overwhelming us.

So are we victims of change or agents of change?

1. “Victims of Change”

Many people believe change is a fateful destiny in which we are helpless victims. James McAvoy once said, “The minute you start to strategize too much, the more you start to think you’re in control of your own fate.  And you’re not, really.”

Sometimes I feel like that’s where I am right now.  Many of the things happening in my life are completely beyond my control and my options to respond are pretty limited.

Yet I also have come to realize that whether I like it or not, change is needed in my life. C.S. Lewis said, “It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg.  We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg.  We must be hatched or go bad.”

2. “Agents of Change”

So on the one hand, many people see themselves as victims of change. Yet the opposite is often true of our view of change. Mahatma Gandhi once famously said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” It often seems change in the world starts with a change in me.  In other words, often I must change myself if change is to occur.

It comes as no surprise that this is a popular view in our culture. We are all taught from childhood on up that, according to the American doctrine of self-reliance, “If it is to be, it is up to me.”  Personal responsibility and self-actualization are dogmas of the church of the American Way. We are taught that you are the primary agent of change in your world.

Personally, this philosophy appeals to me in my life these days. It often feels like the proper response to my sense of victimization and helplessness over the changes I’m going through.  I ought to do something about it!

But just how Biblical are these two ideas?

3. A Gospel approach towards change

We’ve all heard people say, “God helps those who help themselves,” but where does Scripture tell us that?  I’ve heard this phrase jokingly attributed to Hezekiah 1:1.  Of course, while Hezekiah was a King in the Old Testament, and actually one of the good ones, there is no book in the Bible that bears his name! In reality, this statement is not found anywhere in the Bible even though so many people think it sounds so spiritual.

So what does the Bible say about the “vagaries of chance” and the “winds of change”?  Are we their victims or perhaps their agents?  Do random things happen to us by chance or do we cause the events that occur in our lives?

Actually, neither is the case.

We are not victims of haphazard events but are in truth the beneficiaries, the receivers of specific blessing from God even when we don’t understand His ways.  Nor are we the agents of change but rather the tools in the hands of the One who governs all events and guides all of history.  Scripture is clear that God is in charge and that He is loving, kind, and gracious to His children for the sake of His own glory. Understanding and trusting that God is sovereign can sustain us through even the most difficult periods of change in our lives. So where do we see God’s sovereignty?

The sovereignty of God is an essential part of His person and is a subject addressed by the Bible from beginning to end.  While we can’t do an exhaustive discussion of the subject in this article, here are a few examples that have helped me lately have a better understanding of this truth.

One of the most encouraging passages to a disciple of Jesus about the sovereignty of God comes from Romans 8:28 which says,

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (emphasis added).

This is an incredible statement!  What Paul is saying is that by virtue of His limitless power, God is able to arrange everything for the good His children, even those things that look bad to us.

This tells me that one thing I need to understand is that my perception is flawed.  I cannot see things from God’s perspective and I do not have the capacity to understand His ways (1 Corinthians 3:19; “For the wisdom of this world is folly with God.”). Yet the purpose of God is clearly identified as the foundation of His work. He calls us to fulfill His purpose and in so doing blesses us with every good thing.  How do we know He will provide for us even when we don’t understand His ways?

A few verses later in Romans 8:32 Paul says explicitly,

“He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”

In this verse, Paul reminds us that the Gospel is the foundation for our trust in God’s provision. The Gospel shows us that the fullest expression of the grace of God was the voluntary sacrifice of His only Son, Jesus, for His glory and to reconcile us to Himself.

In fact, the mercy of God is one of the greatest mysteries I know.  As a sinner both by birth and by choice I know that I deserve only God’s judgment and wrath.  Yet the Gospel says that because of His great love for us, God sent His only son, Jesus, to go up onto the cross and take on the wrath that we deserved. And through His sacrifice, by the grace of God, we are now reconciled back to God through Jesus’ sacrifice. That He should choose to love me, show mercy on me and redeem me to Himself is truly the greatest of all miracles!

So Paul picks up the implications of this Gospel, and essentially says that if God has already made the ultimate sacrifice on our behalf, why should we be surprised that He will continue to bless us or that everything that comes from Him is a blessing?

When we see the sovereignty of God in light of the Gospel, then we can dispel the notion that we are the victims of a capricious or malicious fate. We have a God who did everything for us, and even though we might not understand His ways, we can know He will continue to provide everything for us.

But what about the idea that we may be able to control our destiny by the choices we make – that we are the primary agents of change in our lives?

If this is true then it is a heavy burden to bear!  If I am solely responsible for whatever happens to me, then knowing my own weakness and fallibility, I am left with grave doubts and great insecurities.  If I recognize the true character of God – His complete righteousness compared to my utter sinfulness – then I have absolutely no hope of ever positively influencing any event on the strength of my character or abilities.

But Scripture once again offers a remedy to this dilemma.  In Philippians 2:13 Paul writes,

“For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

Yet again when we look to the Gospel, we see God at work from beginning to end. In this passage, God continues to work in us and through us, accomplishing His sovereign will. In our salvation, God is the one who did everything for us through Christ, and even now, He is the agent of change, and His desire is to use us as the tools in His hands.

What a relief! If He is the one who saves me, changes me, and He is the one who chooses to work through me, then as I allow Him to use me I don’t have to be personally responsible for the results.

Conclusion

So where does this leave me with my feelings of victimization?  To be honest, even knowing what the Bible says, I still struggle. But I’m growing! I have to keep reminding myself that it’s not about me and that my human perceptions are not reliable. As I look to the Gospel, I see that God is truly in charge and He is truly wise, good, and merciful. No matter what it looks like to me, from God’s perspective it’s all working together for my good and for His glory.

Far from being a victim, I am being blessed by the perfect plans of the omniscient God and I don’t have to worry about being in charge of anything because as He has shown us through the Gospel, in the end, He rules over all.

Mark Vile serves as the Chairman of the Board of Elders at Berean Bible Church.

“Lately I’ve been feeling like a victim of change. The idea of change is an interesting dichotomy; we seem to be both the victims as well as the agents of change. But just how Biblical are these ideas?”

Gospel-Centered Baptism

I was talking to a guy the other day who told me a story about his experience of getting baptized. As he sat there smoking his cigarette, he smiled a little and started into the story. He was a teenager in a little church in town, and found himself stepping into a tank of water while a wild-eyed, old and obnoxious pastor was screaming at the congregation about this guy’s sins and his need to be “washed in the blood of the Lamb.” The excited pastor then grabbed this guy’s head and shoved it under the water. He held him under for a few seconds and then whipped him out of the water while people were cheering in the audience and the pastor was jumping up and down and hugging him.

I asked my new friend about the experience. He smiled, breathed out a puff of smoke, and said, “At first I wanted to punch the guy. But mostly, it was just weird, man.”

It was a great conversation because I think many people can relate to this guy’s experience. For many, baptism may have meant something significant to religious people at some point in the past, but in today’s society, at best it often seems like it’s a hopelessly irrelevant tradition that few understand, or at worst, it is a weird polarizing ritual done by religious fanatics.

But I’ve come to believe that if you can put aside the pop-cultural perception of baptism, and instead look at the Gospel first, then you’ll begin to see that baptism isn’t another empty tradition of the church. It can be a beautiful and powerful act that draws people into a deep and life transforming relationship with God Himself.

So how is this possible? I think it starts with really redefining our definition of baptism in light of the Gospel.

1. What is baptism?

It is common for people to think of baptism as a religious ceremony where people of all ages are sprinkled with or dunked under water by some kind of religious official. But it’s important to understand that this ritual, that has been in practice since the first day of the Christian Church’s existence, is born out of some deep symbolism surrounding the historic understanding of “baptism.”

During the days of the Bible, baptism was a concept that most people would have understood outside the context of church or religion. Basically, to “baptize” something meant to get something to be completely identified with something else. The word “baptism” comes from a Greek word that literally means “to dip or immerse” with the goal of changing the very nature and identity of the object. For example, it was common to take a plain white piece of fabric and “baptize” it into purple dye. Having been immersed in the dye, the fabric was no longer white but instead was completely identified with something new – the color purple. No matter what else happened, the fabric would never truly be white again. It had been made new. It had been baptized and was now completely identified with the color purple.

With that in mind, it becomes a little easier to see why Jesus instructed the church to pick up this common understanding of baptism and apply it to their lives. In Matthew 28:19, Jesus says the church is to “make disciples” and then one of ways he describes how we are supposed to do that is by “baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” What Jesus is saying is that a major piece of what it means to be a disciple of His is to be baptized – to completely identify your life with Him.

If we first understand baptism to be a call to completely identify ourselves with Jesus, then the actual ritual of being baptized takes on a whole new meaning.

From the earliest days of the Church’s existence, the act of baptizing people has been a powerful and symbolic visual demonstration of a person’s new identity and union with Christ through the Gospel.

Understanding the Gospel becomes critical to understanding the beauty of baptism. In the Bible, the Gospel shows us we were dead in our sin but made alive through Christ (see Ephesians 2). So in the act of baptism, someone who has trusted in Christ for their salvation is saying they not only believe the Gospel, but they want to publically show people that the Gospel has completely and utterly transformed them.

So we get in the water, and the symbolism of baptism begins. By being lowered into the water, we symbolize that we were dead in and completely identified with sin. The water then becomes a symbol that we are being immersed into the “dye” of the Gospel (in some circles, the water becomes symbolic of Christ’s blood that was shed for us on the cross – thus “washed in the blood”). When we are raised up, we are raised up no longer as someone completely identified with our sin, but someone now completely identified with the Gospel – with Jesus Himself. We are raised into a new life in Christ! The old has gone, and the new has come!

Are you seeing how amazing this symbolic act is? Do you see how with this as the foundation, the ritual of baptism takes on a whole new meaning? This is why people cheer in a church when a baptism is being authentically done. It is a visual and powerful reminder that the God of the Gospel is real, and is moving in our midst!

 2. Who should be baptized?

If the Gospel is the foundation of baptism, then it seems logical that the Gospel should also help us answer the question of who should be baptized. In short, the Gospel is the good news that we are accepted and identified with God not through our performance but through Jesus’ performance for us on the cross. But the Gospel goes further. Jesus didn’t go up onto the cross for the religious elite, or for the morally upright, or the socially powerful alone. The Bible is clear what Jesus did on the cross is offered to everyone as a free gift based on sheer grace alone. So there is no distinction between us. The offer of the Gospel is an offer to each of us regardless of our background, morality, race, economic status, or religious upbringing (or lack thereof).

So if the Gospel is a free gift offered to everyone through sheer grace alone, then baptism is for anybody who has put their trust and faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ for their salvation.

3. Why should you be baptized?

Again, the Gospel helps us answer this question. First, while it is true that Jesus commands His disciples to be baptized, the Gospel shows us you shouldn’t get baptized because you feel obligated. If the Gospel is clear that your salvation is secured by Christ’s work on the cross and not through your works, then you don’t need to go through the act of baptism in order to be saved or as a way to somehow secure God’s favor, approval, and love in your life.

Rather, the Gospel shows us you should get baptized because you have a deep desire to show others the glory of God. When we turn and truly see the Gospel, and how the Gospel displays the glory of God and the beauty of what He accomplished for us, then we have a new motivation for baptism. Rather than getting baptized as a means to try to “earn” our salvation or God’s favor, instead we are motivated to get baptized because it is a chance to show our gratitude to God and to symbolically show others how amazing He is.

So you should get baptized because it is a powerful way to glorify God by celebrating His ongoing work of transforming people’s lives through the Gospel.

4. When should you be baptized?

In short, the Gospel shows us our salvation has already been accomplished through Christ. It is a one-time-done-deal. Therefore, since baptism symbolizes the Gospel, you only need to be baptized one time. If you are constantly getting baptized, then you would show people that your salvation hasn’t already been accomplished!

But the other thing we see is that because our salvation has already been accomplished through Christ, then the act of baptism can happen anytime someone puts their faith in Him. In Acts, many people were baptized the very day they heard the message of the Gospel and turned to Jesus. If you’ve trusted in Christ, there’s no reason to wait to be baptized!

At Berean Bible Church, we prefer to do baptism services four times a year. We do this for two major reasons. First, by doing quarterly services, we are able to offer baptism classes prior to the services where people can come and have a safe place to ask questions so that when they get baptized, they feel like they truly understand what they’re doing. This is important in a city like New Orleans where many people have religious experiences with baptism that were empty rituals lacking any Gospel-centered foundation to them.

Second, we believe by doing quarterly services, they take on greater meaning to us. In other words, we can focus directly on baptism and help others understand the depth of baptism more. Again, in a city where many people’s experiences with baptism have simply been an empty routine carried out by the church, we believe it’s critical that we specifically teach on baptism through a Gospel-centered lens.

Conclusion

So in the end, baptism is a beautiful symbol of the Gospel and therefore something that we believe is a critical aspect of our life and mission as a church. If you are interested in getting baptized at Berean Bible Church, or have any questions, you can contact me at billm@bereannola.com. We also periodically offer baptism classes that you are welcome to attend and ask questions. At the time of this writing, our next Baptism class will be Sunday, July 27 at 12:30. We’d love for you to join us!

Bill Magsig is the husband of Mindy, the dad of Luke and Levi, and has been the Lead Pastor of Berean Bible Church since October of 2013.

“I’ve come to believe that if you can put aside the pop-cultural perception of baptism, and instead look at the Gospel first, then baptism can become a beautiful and powerful act that draws people into a deep and life transforming relationship with God Himself.”

Understanding Biblical Discipleship

I recently completed a required seminary course entitled “Discipleship Strategies.” My assumption was I would take the course and walk away with an academic understanding of the ways and means to make disciples. To my surprise I came away with so much more.

What is a disciple and what is “discipleship”? I’ve asked myself that question for a long time. And it seems like the answers you get when you ask that question are as varied as the people who ask it. There were several principles I learned as I took the class, and as we try to define discipleship, I’m learning that the following three principles on discipleship are critical:

1. Discipleship is far more relational than most people realize.

 If you ask people to define discipleship, you often get a lot of different types of answers. For some, discipleship is about studying the Bible more, or being more obedient, or growing spiritually, or learning to serve more sacrificially. But while each of these things are important, what’s interesting is that in the Bible, the common thread that ties them all together is that discipleship is about deep relationships.

This thread of deep relationships in discipleship shouldn’t be a surprise to the Christian since the initiator and object of the discipleship process is the Triune God we worship; three persons in one, who have been in relationship with one another since eternity past.  But the Bible is also full of other examples of how discipleship is far more relational than most realize.

For example, the call of Abram in Genesis 12 helps show how discipleship is first and foremost relational. God speaks to Abram and tells him to leave all that is familiar to him and go to a place He will show him. But God also promises Abram that He will enter into a deep and personal relationship with him. God will provide, protect, and in a real sense “disciple” him every step of the way.  Abram responds positively to the call, and God fulfills His promise. God disciples Abram his entire life through the context of a deep relationship with him.

Or take Exodus 3 which shows us discipleship doesn’t just happen in a classroom. Through deep relationships, discipleship goes into the everyday moments of our lives. In the opening verse of chapter 3, Moses is keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro. At first glance you might say, “So what, that’s what they did in those days.” While this is true, I doubt that Moses’ education in the house of Pharaoh included Tending the Flock 101.  The only way Moses would ever know how to take care of the flock is if he acquired these skills from Jethro. Their relationship with one another ran deep. Jethro wasn’t just a father-in-law to Moses, but later, he becomes a confidant, a counselor, and a friend to Moses when he provided heartfelt and wise counsel to him during the Israelite’s wondering in the wilderness. Discipleship in Moses’ life happened in the context of deep relationships.

The list of stories goes on and on. Moses invests 40 years into Joshua, Jesus spends most of his time with His 12 disciples, Paul invests his life into men like Timothy and Titus. Story after story of discipleship throughout the Bible shows us that the quintessential element for discipleship to take place is deep relationships.

 2. Discipleship is about being a learner as much as it is about being a follower.

 Many people with church experience have been taught that the word “disciple” just means “a follower.” But that’s only part of the picture of a disciple.

In the New Testament, the Greek word for disciple means “one who learns,” and it is used 260 times in the Gospels and the Book of Acts. The word was used to depict a student, pupil, or follower of a particular teacher or school of thought. Today, it would be like saying Sean Payton is a disciple of Bill Parcells. In other words, Payton learned the art of coaching by following Parcells. As a result, Payton’s approach towards coaching is really just an extension of the Parcell’s “school of thought” on how to run a football team. When it comes to being a disciple, the idea of learning is every bit as important as the idea of following.

This approach is seen throughout Jesus’ life. His method of discipleship wasn’t just to look for followers, but to utilize men with a teachable spirit. In fact, the Bible records that there were many who were considered followers. But from this larger group, Jesus narrows his focus and selects twelve to become His primary “learners” or disciples. In this small group context, these men didn’t just follow Jesus around. They became HIs apprentices. He invested deeply in them, his life became a comprehensive lesson on what it meant to be a disciple, and they never stopped learning.

Have you stopped learning? To be a disciple is to be a learner.

3. Discipleship is a lifestyle, not a program in the church.

Finally, for many people, discipleship is simply another program or department in the church. But when we look at how Jesus dealt with His twelve disciples, we see a model of discipleship that is intentional, intense, and intimate. Jesus didn’t just call His twelve to participate in a new church program. He called His disciples into a whole new way of life.

No matter where you look in the Bible, those who are following Christ have found in that the Gospel goes into every area of their lives. So to be a disciple is to live a completely new life in Christ. Our approach towards discipleship in the church must seek to model this deep view of discipleship.

The best modern context where this kind of discipleship can take place is in small group community. When properly done, small groups can be powerful vehicles for individual spiritual growth and depth of community. The difficulty is that small groups require their members to be open and trusting of one another. They require commitment to accountability and non-judgment by the members. They require a significant commitment of time and energy and resources. In other words, they require a commitment to discipleship as a lifestyle, not simply another program in our church.

But this commitment is worth it. The disciples tapped into a powerful faith that was shaping every aspect of their lives, and I believe we can know that same power today. When we reject the shallow notion that discipleship is simply another program, and instead commit ourselves to a lifestyle of discipleship, I believe we will see God move powerfully in our midst.

Conclusion

Why does any of this matter? The concept of discipleship is a core component of the mission of Berean Bible Church. Our mission statement says, “We exist to glorify God by making disciples who help restore the City through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” We need to continually be willing to ask and answer the question, “How can we, in this time and place, make disciples that glorify God?” I believe the answer is found in a clear understanding and consistent application of the biblical view of disciples and discipleship. Specifically, as I’m growing in my understanding of discipleship, I’m seeing that discipleship is much more relational than most people realize, it’s about becoming a life-long learner even as we follow Jesus, and in the end, it’s a lifestyle to be pursued rather than a program to attend.

You should join us in this pursuit to make disciples who glorify God! If you are interested in joining a small group at Berean, contact us at office@bereannola.com.

Steve Arabie serves in many capacities at Berean Bible Church including the Men’s Discipleship Intensive and as the Frontlines Team Coordinator. After a career in business, he is currently pursuing his Master’s degree at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

Many people with church experience have been taught that the word disciple just means a follower. But that’s only part of the picture…”