Archive for the Discipleship Category

That you may know…

Posted in Discipleship, Evangelism, Uncategorized on November 19, 2018 by mikekeaton

One of the questions I have had many times in my experience as a Christian is, “Am I sure I will go to heaven?”  A little context might help here…see, I grew up in a Christian home, I’ve been going to church as long as I can remember.  I was ‘saved’ and baptized at an early age, went to Sunday school every week, went to Bible College, Seminary, and have been serving in ministry for over half my life.  Basically, I feel confident that I ‘know’ a lot of stuff about faith, church and the Bible.  Even still, there have been times where I wondered, “Am I sure I will go to heaven?”

I am sure the Devil plants seeds of doubt in all of us and in these times of uncertainty, and since feelings change like the weather, we need to turn to what we ‘know’ to be true.

One of the early followers of Jesus, whose life was dramatically changed because of what he saw, heard, felt and touched, basically ‘knew’, as it pertains to the Lord Jesus Christ, wrote a gospel and 3 letters, which are part of the Bible, for the very reason….“that we may know”! His name was John.

If you were to read his writings, the Gospel of John and the First, Second, and Third Epistles of John, you would notice that he wants us to ‘know’ because he uses that word 2, 3 and 4x as much compared to the other gospel writers and over 30x in his short letters.  He plainly says, ” I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.”

He tells us many ways we can know, such as our abiding in Christ, our walking in the light vs. darkness, the way we love God and others, and many more, which are worthy of our intent study, but one specifically he mentions, is if we ‘keep the commands’ of God, we can know!

So, how is your ‘obedience factor’?  Would you characterize your ‘following of Jesus’ as obedient or disobedient?  Keep in mind there are always areas of our lives that we are growing in obedience.  Just because you disobey and commit a sin, does not mean you are not saved, just like it does not mean that a child who disobeys their parents is no longer their child!  The key is, what is the pattern of your life or what is the overall characteristic?

A mark of a follower of Jesus is obedience!  Jesus himself expectantly asked, “why do you call me Lord and not do what I say?”    Obedience is required as the ‘pattern’ of our lives. so the next time you are tempted to doubt or wonder if you’ll go to heaven, just ask some honest questions about your love for God and others, or your abiding in Christ, or your faithful fight against sin.  Turn to John and read his writings, he wrote them from his own experience as one of the 12 disciples, so that…you, and me, may know!

How to encourage others to “step up” and help you lead your small group!

Posted in Discipleship, Evangelism, Leadership, small group leadership, Uncategorized on November 15, 2018 by mikekeaton

One way to guarantee burnout and discouragement as a Small Group Leader is is to do everything for your small group by yourself without any help.  So, how do you get others to step up and take on some responsibility for the group?  Here are several key ways you can guarantee long term success in developing others:

  1. First, Pray! – I know, I know…sounds very “christian-eze” like and cliche too.  BUT…you simply cannot underestimate the power of prayer.  The Lord says, “we have not because we ask not”.  So, ask the Lord to give you fellow laborers in this disciple making harvest called Small Groups!
  2. Ask someone! -Seems obvious right?!  Here is some clarity – ask someone specifically, face to face!  I heard a leadership talk once where the speaker said, “leaders don’t usually respond to the ‘all-call’, they like to be asked personally”.  When you ask, give them clear guidelines, a timeline, a definitive role, specific tasks, let them know they will not be out there by themselves, but you will walk alongside them to encourage, support, help, and coach.  Be clear.
  3. Start small! – Jesus said, “he who is faithful with little will be rewarded with much”.  Don’t shoot for the moon right away and try to land the next leader for the new group that is going to branch off of yours.  Assign a simple task or responsibility, like prayer time (leading it or just taking down the requests and emailing them out to the group after the meeting), or the opening icebreaker question, or taking attendance, or planning the next fun event, dinner, or service project.  Keep it simple, check on progress, offer to help, and evaluate and give feedback afterward.
  4. Create positions! – Make a position out each of the 5 elements of a healthy small group as seen in this diagram:   5elementsofahealthySGThen, share it with the group, so they can see and understand the different components of a group, then, make the “BIG ASK” of individuals. You can also consider the 5 different purposes of the church as positions, which are closely related: they are as follows: Evangelism, Worship, Fellowship, Discipleship, and Ministry.
  5. Use Giftings! – God has uniquely gifted each person in your group so that the whole benefits and actually grows in God’s love as they use their spiritual gift. Let Holy Spirit work through His Word by planning a study on Ephesians 4:11-16 for your group. Pass out a spiritual gifts test for each person to complete in group or take our online version.  Their spiritual gifting will help you know who could teach, or take care of hospitality, or any other position.
  6. Practice! Practice! – At some point you need to just let someone lead.  To use a sports analogy, ‘you have to let them get some reps’!  They are not going to do it like you would or even prefer, but you have to let them do it.  They will only get better by doing it, you debriefing with them for encouragement and correction, and them trying again.
  7. Consider all! -Sometimes, the best leader is the one you’re not considering! A couple of tried and true grids for identifying potential leaders are the 3 C’s and the F.A.T. acrostic.  Do they have Character, Competency, and Chemistry and are they Faithful, Available, and Teachable?

Developing disciple-making leaders takes time, dont get discouraged and dont give up.  Keep the mission in focus and in front of your group members.  Cast the vision that your group is not a ‘holy huddle’, but a mission driven environment to grow groups, people, and leaders for God’s Kingdom and His Church!

How to facilitate meaningful small group discussions.

Posted in Discipleship, Leadership, small group leadership on October 16, 2018 by mikekeaton

Every small group leader wants to lead a great group discussion and every small group leader has experienced the discussion that didn’t go so well!  So, how do you lead or facilitate a meaningful discussion?

Before getting into the specifics, here are two basic ‘rules of thumb’ to keep in mind…

*think facilitate not lead – its a discussion not a lecture

*the larger the group, the more difficult the discussion, or, the smaller the group the better the discussion.

Lets compare leading a meaningful discussion to a airplane flight!  There is the pre-flight, take-off, climbing to altitude, cruising speed, final descent, and landing the plane.

Pre-Flight

During pre-flight a lot is happening but most of it is related to ‘preparation’. To the small group leader ‘preparing a plan’ is key to a meaningful discussion. How does a small group leader prepare a plan?    Pray, study, and pray…in that order!

Take-Off

The take off can be the most exciting and the most nerve wracking few minutes at the same time.  For the small group leader a good start sets the pace for the rest of the time. A good start involves using a good ‘ice-breaker’.  The goal is to loosen-em up by getting them laughing and talking.

Climbing, Cruising, and the Descent

The climb, cruising, and descent parts of the flight are all about the ‘lesson’. The lesson has an intro, body, and conclusion. The intro is about connecting to their heart with motivation, the body is about connecting to the head with information, and the conclusion is about connecting to their hands with application.

*Motivate them with some praise, scripture, and worship. (Read a Psalm and ask for ‘popcorn praises’ then open with prayer)

*Inform them with a Bible discussion not a bible study.  Involve them in the discussion by asking great questions.  Ask ‘why’ and ‘how’, use ‘explain’, ‘discuss’, and ‘share’, say ‘tell us about’ instead of ‘what’ or ‘yes/no’ kinds of questions. If you’re using a lesson guide with questions, look for segways in the conversation to ‘facilitate’ from one point to the next and DO NOT just read the questions one after the other!

*Apply the lesson to them by helping them know what to do with it. Help them define their “I will”.  “Because of the lesson, this week, I will ________________!”

Landing

Everybody likes a smooth landing.  End your group with varied prayer experiences.  For example: 1) share needs and then ask who will pray for John’s request, and then ask who will pray for Sarah’s request, etc., then have them pray outloud in the same order then you close, 2) pass out cards and have everyone write down their requests (saves time in a large group), put them in a hat or basket then have each draw a card and that’s their prayer focus for the week, 3) subdivide the group by men and women for prayer, 4) ask for one volunteer to pray to close (could be a clue to a potential leader).  There is no shortage to ideas of how to use varied prayer experiences for a smooth end to your great group discussion-be creative!

Each of these parts of the small group discussion are skills that take time to develop but with intentionality, patience, and perseverance.  You can become a facilitator of great discussions that will make them want to come back!!

Share your ideas of something I left out or, share your best practice to facilitate a great group discussion?

…see what I did there? 😉

 

Daniel Fast 2014

Posted in 21 Day Fast, Discipleship with tags , , , , on January 10, 2014 by mikekeaton

Tomorrow kicks off our church‘s Daniel Fast.  We’ve tried, as a church, to seek the Lord together through prayer and fasting by way of the Daniel Fast now for 3-4 years.  So, we’ve selected these last 21 days of January to seek the Lord together through prayer and fasting.

The big idea is just to draw near to our Lord, to grow closer to Him, to discipline our selves for spiritual growth.  Spiritual discipline is essential for spiritual growth!  I have always loved practicing the disciplines in my own life.  I can remember back even as a young man, even as a pre-teen, doing what I could do to draw near.  If the spiritual disciplines are new to you, then I suggest some reading…maybe Whitney’s, “Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life”, or Foster’s, “Celebration of the Disciplines“.

So, what is the Daniel Fast?  That is a big question!  I won’t answer it fully here in this post, but I encourage you to do some searching online.  Simply, just google Daniel Fast, and you will get many results that provide a wealth of information.  The simple idea is taken from the book of Daniel, the prophet in the Bible.  It is found here in this citation from the Scriptures:  parenthesis mine

Daniel 10:2-3
2 When this vision came to me, I, Daniel, had been in mourning (fasting) for three whole weeks.
3 All that time I had eaten no rich food. No meat or wine crossed my lips, and I used no fragrant lotions      until those three weeks had passed. -NLT

Other translations use the word “savory” for rich.  So, the idea is basically, a fruit and vegetables fast, no meat,  alcohol, or other “savory/rich” delights! 🙂

I am not a legalist, so I have told our church to pray and ask the Lord how He would lead them to fast.  I suggested other things than food, like, fasting from social media, TV, Internet, or certain foods like sugar & sweets.  Truthfully, the sky is the limit.  If one is to follow the Daniel Fast to the “T”, then they will only eat bland foods, primarily fruits and veggies.  Otherwise, they can just fast from things.

We don’t need to get caught up in the details and mechanics of it so much that we forget its purpose.  We are trying by Ascetism to draw near to our Lord and Savior.  We desire to fulfill 1 Timothy 4:7 in the Bible, which says, “discipline yourself for godliness”. When someone is fasting from food, the idea is clear, you will get hungry or have cravings…so, instead of satisfying those cravings, go to the Lord in prayer and read scripture…seek Him for the needs in your life.  When someone is fasting from things, the idea is when you would normally spend that time doing that thing, replace it with prayer and scripture reading, drawing near to God.

I am praying for all of us as a church to experience the mighty hand of the Lord in each of our lives over these next 21 days!!

blessings…

Mike

P.S.- almost forgot…I recommend keeping a journal during this time of seeking the Lord so, find a notebook or go to the store and get something to write down what God says to you and how God reveals Himself to you. 🙂

True Discipling

Posted in Discipleship with tags , , on November 7, 2013 by mikekeaton

The other day I read an article about what is the measure of true discipleship?  check it out here

For the record I use the word ‘discipling’ for discipleship. I feel there are many views on discipleship and it might be just me but I feel the word discipling is unique and may convey the idea that is in my heart and minds eye.

Anyway, back to true discipling.  What is true discipling?  That’s a huge question.  I do think that discipleship is “THE” mission of the local church.  We should always be asking, “are we making disciples?” How do we know we are making true disciples?  The article referenced above suggests, when that disciple begins to make other disciples…in other words, when reproduction occurs.

That might be the measurement for the outcome or result and there could be others.  But how do I know when I am truly discipling?   Well, for me this question is being fleshed out in front of me right now.  The church where I am privileged to serve has experienced many changes.  There are many people that I have had the blessing to disciple that have moved on to other missions, churches, and cities.  Many of those individuals, in fact all of them, were quality people and great leaders.

The people that are here now, which include some who have hung around and many new ones, are the new crop of disciples that need to be discipled.  So the measure for me and true discipling is whether or not I am going to roll up my sleeves and get to work on developing them into who God wants them to become.  Actually, that is my calling, to make disciples.  I am guessing if I do my job and get others to join me in this calling, then in about 8-10 years, we will send those out and then there will be another brand new crop.

So, for me, the measurement of whether I am a true discipler is based on my faithfulness to the call and the mission of the church, no matter who is in front of me.

what’s your thoughts?

Why you should read your Bible

Posted in Discipleship with tags , , , , on February 22, 2013 by mikekeaton

Proverbs 22:17-21
17 “Listen” to the words of the wise; “apply” your heart to my instruction.  18 For it is good to “keep” these sayings in your heart and always “ready” on your lips.  19 I am teaching you today—yes, you— so you will trust in the Lord.  20 I have written thirty sayings for you, filled with advice and knowledge.  21 In this way, you may “know” the truth and take an accurate report to those who sent you. (Holy Bible, New Living Translation)

I have been troubled lately at how many people do not read their Bibles.  I don’t know if I have too high of an expectation or if I am being judgmental (I hope neither), but I just think that if someone says they are a believer…a Christian, then they should read their Bible.

I know some people don’t know how, or where to begin because maybe they are a fairly new Christian and they need some guidance.  Others probably have been a Christian for a longer time but never really had any help either.  So, for them, I would be more understanding and give them a pass.  But, for those who have been a Christian for a while, or a long time, then, honestly, I just don’t get it.

I was reading in Proverbs 22 today and the above verses stood out to me.  There are many reasons why anyone should read the Bible but these verses clearly showed me something that is soooooooo beneficial to me and all others from intaking the Word of God-the Bible:

Advice, Knowledge, Trust and Truth!

Some very important and needed things for me and others everyday!  Advice, Knowledge, Trust and Truth.  Here’s the idea…”Listen to these words”, “apply my instruction”, “keep these sayings ready in your hearts and on your lips”…

“so you will Trust in the Lord”, “so you may know the truth”, “filled with Advice and knowledge”

We all need more faith and to trust more in the Lord, in who He is and what He can and will do in us and for us.

We all need to know what actually is “the” truth, so we can discern all the errors, fakes, counterfeits and deceptions that the world throws at us everyday.

We all need advice and knowledge on how to live each day.

The Bible tells us, if we will listen to it, keep it, apply it, then we can have all these things…but we must “INTAKE” the bible!!

READ YOUR BIBLE TODAY!  You’ll be glad you did!  God’s Word is Good!!!! 🙂

Advent Readings – (a 2nd option)

Posted in Advent, Discipleship, Spiritual Intake with tags on December 3, 2012 by mikekeaton

I hope you are off to a good start celebrating and observing Advent!!  if not, then its not too late to start!!  Saturday night I posted some daily Advent readings, but here is a 2nd option of readings in case you want to expand or just like these better…

Blessings…

First Week of Advent

Sunday Romans 13:11-14

Monday 1 Corinthians 1:3-9

Tuesday Mark 13:33-37

Wednesday John 1:1-5

Thursday John 1:6-9

Friday Jeremiah 33:14-16

Saturday Isaiah 6

 

Second Week of Advent

Sunday Romans 15:4-13

Monday Psalms 43:3-6

Tuesday Psalms 27:1-4

Wednesday Psalms 119:105-106

Thursday John 12:35-36

Friday Ephesians 5:6-14

Saturday 1 Peter 2:5-9

Third Week of Advent

Sunday Isaiah 60:1-3

Monday 2 Corinthians 4:3-6

Tuesday 1 John 1:4-7

Wednesday John 3:16-21

Thursday Isaiah 40:1-11

Friday John 9:1-7

Saturday Luke 3:1-6

Fourth Week of Advent

Sunday Isaiah 11:1-10

Monday Zephaniah 3:14-17

Tuesday Matthew 1:18-25

Wednesday Luke 2:8-20

Thursday Matthew 4:14-16

Friday Isaiah 2:1-5

Saturday Luke 2:25-33