Like most pastors, I desperately want to see every person connected with our church being transformed into the likeness of Jesus. Unfortunately, I found that most of our approaches to discipleship led to being informed, but not transformed. Most of what I read, and most of the people that I listened to seemed to believe that information would lead to transformation. So everything we did when it came to training was about teaching people and hoping they would apply the lessons that we taught.
A few people would apply the truths that we shared, however most of our people remained spectators, and understood the life of Jesus, but failed to live it. We came to the conclusion that discipleship needed to be not just informational, but must also include healthy lifestyle rhythms that we would hold each other accountable to walk in.
One particular book that was helpful as we tried to process healthy rhythms for discipleship was Surprise the World by Michael Frost. Because it’s rarely a wise move to copy and paste rhythm‘s for discipleship from one context to another we thought through the contents of the book and then came up with some of our own rhythms that we knew would be helpful to our people. We use these rhythms in huddles of 2 to 4 people of the same sex and allow them to shape dialogue over coffee or lunch and hold each other accountable to living this way of life. Here’s what we came up with:
We use the acronym REACH.
REST – I am going to slow down and rest with God today through prayer and listening/meditation on truth. What is God saying to me? How is he calling me to live into His words?
EAT/ENGAGE – I will eat with and engage people relationally this week. Who am I eating/hanging out with? Does this include people from outside of the church? This could be a meal, cup of coffee, golfing, watching a sporting event, etc. anything that builds relationships.
ACT OF LOVE – I will bless others/be a blessing to others this week by doing something loving. Am I blessing people within my community? Am I blessing people outside of our community?
CONFESS – I will confess to someone this week some area in my life where I feel like I fell short, screwed up, or am frustrated with myself. Humility bonds us.
HOME – We will grow as a family this week (This could include your family, roommate, or close friends). Here are some ways to grow as a family: learn something together, bless someone together, have a family fun night, have a date night, ditch the technology, eat at the dinner table.
We have found that these types of meaningful conversations in smaller huddles of people creates an energy around living a dynamic sort of life that is entirely shaped around imitating the lifestyle of Jesus.
For the past four years we’ve hosted a training (Missional Action Group School) to help individuals and churches think strategically and intentionally about discipleship and mission. This is not just a training, but also an experience. We enjoy creating an atmosphere where we can dialogue around these topics, eat good food, and allow people to connect relationally.
MAG School is not only an opportunity for a one-time training, but an invitation to a longer journey as friends who are attempting to make disciples and reach people who don’t know Jesus. We provide coaching for anyone who is attempting to be more effective in their local mission field.
Mark Fesmire had this to say about our coaching, “Any paradigm shift requires intentional focus. After hearing 3 different presentations on missional living and small groups I was very motivated to create a missional group. But I didn’t manage to create a group that was missional. When I asked to be coached, the steady conversations helped peal back the layers of my old paradigm allowing me to look at what I am doing now with fresh eyes. I keep learning in each conversation. I would say from my experience that without consistent coaching it is impossible to break entrenched patterns. I firmly believe in the coaching process for anyone attempting to lead a missional small group or trying to help numerous small groups form.”
If you are interested in being a part of our MAG School this year on April 13-14 please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. The cost includes the training and most of your food, but we don’t want cost to be a reason you can’t make it, so let me know if that is prohibiting you from attending and we’ll see what we can work out!
Mike Jarrell was a youth director in the Philadelphia area for a few years and loves teens. He left youth ministry convinced that the best way to impact teens is to reach families. Mike then became the senior lead pastor at Cornerstone Christian Church in Duncannon PA. After about 5 years at Cornerstone, Mike and his family followed God to start a missional church in Enola, PA. The Narrow Road Church has been around for 3 years. NRC is a movement of missional communities that follow Jesus on mission and grow in community.