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Thursday, January 19, 2012

"LOL!" Best Medicine for the Church

Last year we launched 6 Initiatives at our church. This was an effort to move from a broad, general vision "Love God. Love People." to a much more specific and measurable mission. Will Mancini's free ebook summary to Church Unique was a great help here, as well as, the Cypress Project. (thanks Neal!) 


The top initiative flows from this idea that God calls us to multiply. He calls people to multiply (physically and spiritually) and He calls churches to multiply. Jesus movements are just that-movements where people "catch" and then "sneeze" something life-changing (like a virus but in a positive way). (Outbreak, Greg Stier) Growth doubles and then increases from there. And by growth, I'm thinking more than numerical growth. I'm also thinking growth in depth of faith and character.


Another initiative is to plant churches. I spent a lot of time last year with the Cypress Project learning about church planting and re-missioning the Church. In this process, I realized that, as a church, we knew we were to make disciples of all nations (at least we were nodding our heads) but we weren't really doing it...at least, not completely.


So, here was my conundrum: Do we really want to plant a church if we're not functioning as a healthy church? Now, like the churches in Revelation, we are doing many things right. And we are growing. But also like those churches, we have our gaps. One large gap is our ineffectiveness of making disciples who make disciples.


What do I mean when I say make disciples? I mean that we teach/learn (disciple = learner) the ways and commands of Jesus to others...who will teach others...who will teach others...who will teach others. (1 Tim 2:1-2) This is more than discipleship training classes. So much more. This is truth taught relationally


I recently read, I think in Mike Breen's Building a Discipling Culture, that we learn in at least three ways: Classroom (information download), apprenticing, and immersion. All three are necessary. But his point was that in the Church we've over-emphasized the classroom method. As a result, we're not really making disciples who make disciples. We simply educating people.


So, we felt like we needed to move our church in the direction of building a culture of disciple-making before we planted any new churches. Otherwise, we'd just be reproducing more poor disciple-making churches. Said another way, we can build a church that doesn't make disciples, but if we make disciples, we WILL build the church. (Mike Breen, Building a Discipling Culture)


One simple way we're teaching our people how to become disciple-makers is using Wayne Cordeiro's S.O.A.P. method. In his book, Divine Mentor, Cordeiro makes the case that growth and leadership development are both fueled by a commitment to teaching your people how to hear the voice of God (through His "divine mentors"), put what those mentors teach us into practice, and then lead others to do the same. I've been doing this for eight months and it's not only transformed my time alone with God--it's transformed others. I'm seeing real fruit in our people!


So from this fruit and momentum, I'm teaching that each of us needs to "LOL!"


"LOL!" is common shorthand now for "Laugh out loud." This kind of slang is getting so common that teenagers are even speaking it. I heard a teen the other day say, "JK" instead of "Just kidding."


Acronyms are great mnemonic memory devices. I'd like to use this one to serve us here.




LOL = Listen. Obey. Lead.


Listen


We need more of God plain and simple. That's our solution to _______________. Either we believe God is fully sufficient for our every need or we don't. 


So we need to listen...to God. We hear from God in several ways. But the key way (and most reliable) is through His word--the Bible. 


We know this. But we don't live as if we really believe this. Otherwise, we'd feast on it instead of nibble at it. We need to listen and hear the voice of God spoken to our heart. 


Cordeiro's S.O.A.P. method is one of many great ways to do this. I encourage you to pick a plan and roll with it for the next year. Here's the Bible plan I'm using this year: Divine Mentor Bible Reading Plan


Obey


This may seem obvious. But it's not easy. It moves our faith from the intellect to the will. We surrender our agenda and desires to God's. When God speaks, our only right response is to obey. Delayed obedience is still disobedience. Incomplete obedience is also disobedience. Read the Bible with a mindset of submission, humility, and a posture to obey it.


Lead


This is where the Church is really struggling, I believe. Many do the first two above. They read and study their Bible. Many of those actually obey what they read. But for some reason, we don't feel compelled to lead others to do this too. The few that do teach a class or small group. That's a good start but remember that's mostly information transfer. Where's the apprenticing? Where's the immersion into a relationship where the nuances of following Jesus can be caught? This is essential for any Jesus movement to occur. Multiplication will not happen unless we are willing to not only receive but give our time to disciple others. Start with your family and move our from there. Disciple Christians and not-yet Christians. Just start.


So LOL! Yes, laugh out loud! That just feels good! After all, "laughter IS the best medicine." But Listen, Obey and Lead too. Not only will you be effective at sharing your faith (Philemon 1:6) but your joy will grow. Hey, maybe these two LOLs have more in common than I thought!


P.S. I'm sure that my recent readings in Church 3.0 and Organic Leadership have shaped this post as well. Both are by Neil Cole. I'm also reading through Launching Missional Communities by Mike Breen & Alex Absalom right now.