Friday, April 15, 2005

I think I'm getting this preaching thing!

In my homiletics (preaching) class, we finally got to preach on our own topic instead of being assigned a text or topic. Therefore, I preached on something I really felt passionate about.

A quarter of my sermon grade is dependent on the evaluations of my classmates, so I was pretty happy when two of my classmates gave me a perfect score on this sermon. I had never gotten a perfect score in my previous four sermons.

I preached for twenty-two minutes when we're only supposed to preach for fifteen minutes max, so I'm still struggling to stay within the time limit.

Anyways, here's the outline. Enjoy.


Who here wants to pastor a healthy growing church?

Here's what you need to have that healthy growing church.
  • You need church members that are devoted to God.
  • You need church members who are studying the Bible everyday.
  • You need members who are praying everyday.
  • You need church members who are building supportive friendships with each other.
  • You need members who are witnessing in their neighborhood and in their workplace.
  • You need members who are serving in the community
But does the average Adventist church member do these things? Unfortunately, the answer is no.

So, you got a problem as a pastor.
Your church members most likely will not be reading their Bible, praying, or witnessing.
How will you affect those lifestyle changes in your members' lives?
What will you do to influence your members to change their lives?

Well, I'll preach on
  • daily Bible study
  • prayer
  • fellowship
  • evangelism
  • service

And... is that it?

Yes, you must preach practical sermons on daily practical Christian living.
But if you think that preaching alone should be the method for influencing your members to change, then you've missed the boat for what it means to be a Christian leader.
You're operating on a false principle. You're operating on a non-Biblical principle.
There must be something more than just preaching.

It's funny. You don't hear too much about discipleship.

Today's ministries
  • Preaching ministry
  • Healing ministry
  • Music ministry
  • Prayer ministry
  • Spiritual warfare ministry

You hear people say I have a ___________ ministry, but have you ever heard of anyone who has a discipleship ministry. Do you have a discipleship ministry?

Today I want to show you the reason you need to have a discipleship ministry, the principles behind discipleship, and illustrations of what a discipleship ministry might look like in this generation.

WHY? (you need to have a discipleship ministry)

So important. It's in the Great Commission.
Matt. 28:19-20
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Only one imperative in this awesome passage. Only one command.
"has been given" = not imperative
"go" = really a participle in the Greek
"baptizing" = participle
"teaching" = participle
"am" = not imperative

The only command, the only imperative is "make disciples." In Greek, it's one word, matheteusate. And the heart of this passage is that one word, a command to make disciples.

Why have a discipleship ministry?
Because in the Great Commission, Jesus commands us to make disciples.

PRINCIPLES (behind discipleship)

Principle #1. You must be a disciple.

To whom was the Great Commission given? Who did Christ command to make disciples? [Read Matt. 28:16-19]. Notice in verse 16 that Jesus gave this command to disciples. He did not give this command to non-disciples. And also when we get to Principle #2, you will see that it makes no sense to attempt to make disciples if you are not a disciple of Christ.

So, what does it mean to become a disciple?

The Bible says many things about being a disciple of Christ, but due to the lack of time, I just want to concentrate on one fundamental characteristic of a disciple of Christ.

Luke 14:27
And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.

If you write in your Bible, circle the word "follow."
A disciple follows Jesus.

[Tailgating illustration]
My old youth group - nights into town
Hey, follow that car!
To follow simply meant to tailgate the car and go where ever that car went

Think about the 12 disciples.
The word “follow” is to the twelve disciples was not a theoretical word. They took action to follow Jesus. They went where he went. They were beside him wherever he witnessed and did miracles. They had a front seat wherever he preached. Ralph W. Neighbour, Jr. in his book Where Do We Go From Here observes that “[Jesus and his disciples] took trips, went fishing, visited Jerusalem, had cookouts by the sea. They camped in the mountains. They shared a common purse.”
The disciples were close to Jesus - both in proximity and in relationship.
Wherever Jesus was, they were there, too.
Like a chronic tailgater, the disciples followed Jesus closely.

Today, are we following Jesus closely, are we tailgating Jesus by
  • reading the Bible every day? (This book helps you draw near to Christ).
  • praying every day? (Ellen White wrote, "Unceasing prayer is the unbroken union of the soul with God"). .
  • building authentic relationships with other believers? Matt. 18:20 says, “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”
  • witnessing to unbelievers? Luke 15:4 says that Jesus is out in the world seeking His lost sheep. He's left the ninety-nine for the one lost sheep.
  • serving in the community especially the down-and-out and the suffering? Jesus said in Matt. 25:40, "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." If you've served suffering humanity, you have indeed drawn close to Christ and followed him.

See, a disciple wants to stick close to Christ like white on rice. A disciple continually follows Christ. Are you where Christ wants you to be? Are you continually following Christ?

Principle #2. You must draw close to others.

Notice Mark 3:14-15, “He [Jesus] appointed twelve–designating them apostles–that they might be with him...”
If you write in your Bible, circle those three words "be with him."
The Bible says in Mark 3:14 that Jesus appointed the twelve disciples that they might be with him.
Not that they might be taught by him.
Not that they might sit in pews and listen to sermons all day long.
But that they might be with him.
Jesus did not have a once-a-week discipleship class to train his disciples on witnessing.
He did not have a semester-long course on how to preach and heal the sick.
He did not give the disciples resources and books on prayer and Bible study.
Of course, Jesus taught them and preached to them.
But the most important thing was that he was with them.
The most important thing was that he was living in close relationship with them.

What’s the Biblical principle here? The Biblical principle is this.
Jesus’ life was the curriculum.
  • Jesus’ life was the best class you could ever take on witnessing.
  • Jesus’ life was the best book on evangelism ever written.
  • Jesus’ life was the best sermon on service you will ever hear.
  • Jesus' life was the best prayer seminar you could ever go to.
  • Jesus' life was the total, complete curriculum for true Christian living.
See, if you hung out with Jesus long enough, his life would make such an impact on you that you would begin to become more and more like him.

Consequently, if we are truly following Christ, if we are truly his disciple, our life becomes the best sermon we could ever preach. Our life becomes the best Christian living seminar we could ever teach. Our life literally becomes the best agent to influence our church members.

But like Jesus, we must draw close to others. As Jesus had close relationships with the 12 disciples, we too must have close relationships with our members. We must draw close to them.

Discipleship happens when the disciple's life collides with someone else's life.
Discipleship happens when the disciple’s life collides with someone else's life.

In discipleship paradigm, this is how you teach...
  • prayer (have seasons of prayer at your home)
  • Bible study (meet with members to memorize Scripture weekly)
  • service (take some of your members to prison ministry, take your members to feed the homeless)
  • fellowship (take elders with you whenever you visit the other members, mingle with the members at potluck, invite your members to supper at your home during the week)
  • evangelism (meet your members' co-workers and share your testimony, ask a church member to be with you as you give a Bible study to your unchurched neighbor

Do you see the discipleship principle of drawing close to others?
When members hang out with you and see you, their pastor, memorizing Scripture, praying, serving others, evangelizing, and fellowshipping, they will receive an education and a motivation that will be more effective than the best sermon you could ever preach.

In closing, let me read to you from The Ministry of Healing, page 143 and 144,
"Christ's method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Saviour mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, 'Follow Me.'

There is need of coming close to the people by personal effort. If less time were given to sermonizing, and more time were spent in personal ministry, greater results would be seen. The poor are to be relieved, the sick cared for, the sorrowing and the bereaved comforted, the ignorant instructed, the inexperienced counseled. We are to weep with those that weep, and rejoice with those that rejoice. Accompanied by the power of persuasion, the power of prayer, the power of the love of God, this work will not, cannot, be without fruit."

This year we've been evaluating many sermons.
But today, I want you to evaluate the sermon of your life.
Is your life a Biblical sermon?
Is your life a Christ-centered sermon?
And are you drawing close enough to people so that they can hear the sermon of your life?

My friends,
Be a disciple of Christ
Make disciples through the example of your life.


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