I’ve been teaching a class at Blanchard Warrenville based on Ajith Fernando’s Jesus Driven Ministry, over the last month. And I’ve been challenged all over again to consider my core commitments to Christ as His follower, as a campus pastor at Blanchard Alliance Church. Fernando, like his mentor Robert Coleman (The Master Plan of Evangelism), is dedicated to keeping Christ followership profoundly uncomplicated. As the apostle John challenged the early Church in 1 John 2:6,
Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.
Pretty simple, eh? And yet I’m baffled as I look at the modern Church, at how rare it is that we actually aspire or make it our ultimate priority to fulfill this command. The ancient writer of Ecclesiastes once wrote that “There is nothing new under the sun.”
Yet, curiously, we bounce from one commitment to the next, seeking to emulate the “hottest trends” in church growth–when the road map hasn’t changed in 2000 years! You want the Church to grow?
Walk as Jesus walked.
Clearly it’s easier said than done. I know that in my own life. Yet when the inevitable temptation comes to try something new, it’s a call to remember that there’s nothing new–despite what the Christian publishing marketing machine would tell you! I’ll be eternally grateful for a Spirit-empowered professor in grad school who challenged his students as our core assignment to articulate a 25-page Philosophy of Ministry paper. You could try writing one for yourself by
- Reviewing the “non-negotiables” of your Christian faith and doctrine (Evaluate for yourself: could you write them down in 5-8 bullet points in 3-5 minutes with Scripture references?). The great illusion we feed in the Church is that this knowledge really only matters for those in leadership. Wrong. This is nothing new. We, together as Spirit-filled, gifted ones, are all called to make disciples, pastor or not. You could look at the Nicene Creed to refresh your memory of the Church’s core doctrine. The Christian and Missionary Alliance doctrinal statement is a great one, too.
- Owning the responsibility of not only being a disciple of Christ, but to be a purposeful disciplemaker–actually initiating a meeting with someone else from Blanchard (or a neighbor?) to help them define their non-negotiables, too. Try applying Robert Coleman’s 8 simple disciple-making steps in your new discipling relationship. (Buy yourself a copy of The Master Plan of Evangelism) Not only is this disciplemaking but it’s leadership development at the same time, because the best indicator of your effectiveness will be your mentee applying it in another discipling relationship, too…
- Add a daily seeking for the empowerment and filling of the Holy Spirit and its associated disciplines (like retreating, fasting, Sabbath, solitude, listening to God’s Word, prayer)
Let’s just imagine what would happen if we ruthlessly commit to nothing new as a church? For instance, not waiting for a pastor like me (or John or Ron or James or Laura or Mary Ellen…) to disciple you, but praying for everyone throughout Blanchard to step up and into this redundant, old-school, terribly old-fashioned version of “walking like Jesus did”?