In the Huddle.
Discipleship through Intentional Community
In the 1990’s, the Promise Keeper Movement entered the Christian community, purposed to train men to take more active roles in their homes, churches, and community. Our mere presence there was not enough. PK challenged us to become a Christian influence, and a Christ like leader.
At that time, I was a father with young children with whom I had a hard time connecting. After all, I was charged with conquering my corner of the world, and bringing home resources for my wife and our little crumb crunchers. My place was to compete, and win in the world’s playing field. My wife was tasked with the nurturing care of emotional and personal needs of our kids, myself and anyone else who wandered into our lives. Right?
I heard the message a number of times that men needed accountability and community, and we should be vulnerable servants as we lead our homes. Yet not until the 3rd or 4th PK event did I get it. The speaker was a former chaplain for the NFL. While I don’t remember his name, I will never forget the message.
When a player retired, the chaplain followed up, and part of his conversations included this question. “What did you miss most about leaving the NFL field of battle?”
The roar of the crowd, a hard fought win, a championship – that’s what I expected to hear. After all, we’re warriors, right? The chaplain’s answer caught me by surprise like a pulling guard leading an end around. The answer he heard most often was that the former players missed the huddle.
Between the crashing blows on the scrimmage line and the roar of the crowd, when the action stopped, the players huddled - checking with each other. How was it going? Do we need to make adjustments? They gave encouragement for a well executed assignment – or a kick in the pants when needed. The adulation from the anonymous crowd faded quickly for the retired gridiron warrior. But the loss of fellowship in the huddle created the biggest emotional hole. In the huddle, they could regroup, draw from the strength of brotherhood, and rise to the task at hand. The speaker then said the words that transformed my outlook on following Christ.
“We all need a Huddle!”
We need a place where the walls are lowered, and we allow others to walk the journey with us. We will at some time fall, and need friends to help us up. Other times your strengths provide a vital support for another fellow warrior. We need a huddle. We need each other if we are to carry Christ’s call from our end of the field past Heaven’s distant goal posts. Our goal isn’t to amass points for personal success. Our responsibility is to love and serve like Christ, and to bring as many others with us as we can. We are to know God and make him known. (See John 17.3)
As believers, Jesus last words are a charge to become transformational. This work includes preaching, baptizing, planning, preaching, teaching, (and the items on your planner’s to do list.) But when was the last time you wrote into your planner to spend time “Making Jim / Mary into a better disciple of Christ.” Is the assumption we have been working under that when we do ministry stuff, disciples are the result? If so, it’s time we question our assumption.
Jesus spent 3 years building 12 disciples. They ‘did life together.’ Jesus taught, preached, baptized . . . He accomplished all the ‘ministry stuff.’ Yet I believe that in the quiet moments, after the crowds left that Jesus transformed farmers, fisherman, and outcasts into disciples.
When the day had ended, the disciples could see that Jesus wasn’t about the big meetings, but about healing hearts. In Luke 9, Jesus sent the disciples out to minister and announce the kingdom. When they returned, he didn’t send them back out on the wave of their emotional and spiritual high. He “took them, and went aside into a desert place” (Luke 9.10) where they could drop their defenses, and build life transforming relationships
Christ followers who want to be transformational leaders are called to imitate Christ. In a small group, or intentional community we can become vulnerable, honest and transparent. When we ‘do life together’ in a small groups, friends make it possible to acquire wisdom, confess our sins, gain encouragement, overcome issues that may otherwise hinder us from wholeheartedly serving Christ. Face to face, with our brother and with our God, we are transformed and we become the transformational agents God intended. (See 2 Cor. 5.17-19)
In summary, the purpose of this column is to dig into and unpack 2 key strategies which are essential for creating transformational Christians who in turn build transformational churches.
1. How to, the real need and the benefits of engaging men in intentional community.
2. The effects small group ministry model can have in the local church
3. How to become transformational leaders, fruitful and faithful stewards.
I don’t want to be misunderstood; I am not suggesting that his ministry model is “The One Missing Key” to effective church growth. Rather, this column will investigate how small group ministry will create measurable, transformational growth in Christ followers and in your organization. Over the next few months, this column will look at small group ministry from a full 360 degrees. At times we will study the Bible. Other months will uncover testimonies of those whose lives have changed as the result of intentional Christian community. The purpose is that we become a transformational influence in a fallen world and move in strength to fulfill Jesus Great Commission.
Doing life together by building relationships through intentional small group communities is the cornerstone to successfully creating disciples who will continue to be faithful and fruitful Christ followers.
On a scale of 1-10, how would you rank your acceptance of this concept? Do you see the value of small group ministry? Would you be willing to implement a small group ministry approach to discipleship in your organization / church? What would that look like in your organization?
The Next Step:
Next month we will look at Paul’s missionary trip to Thessalonica to flesh out the picture of what intentional community looks like. Between now and then, write down one step you will take toward making intentional relationships a priority as you follow Christ. Some suggestions are:
• Buy and read a book on small group ministry.
• Select a friend to meet with on a regular basis as an accountability partner - an intentional partner on the journey.
• Meet with another pastor or minister in your area that is known for this style of ministry, and tap his or her wisdom.
• You fill in the blank.______________________________________________
You can find Mr. Burns via email, his blogs or web site.
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