The Christian Church: Clueless – Go Make Disciples – Marketplace Discipleship – The Equipping Church – How can we equip our People for God’s Work in the Marketplace? Part 12 of 12

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Subject – The Christian Church: Clueless – Go Make Disciples – Marketplace Discipleship – The Equipping Church – How can we equip our People for God’s Work in the Marketplace? Part 12 of 12

Round the clock discipleship - Discipleship in the marketplace
Round the clock discipleship – Discipleship in the marketplace

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Sunday, 4th of August 2019

Blog link: https://www.otakada.org/

Nuggets of Wisdom

“Without the Holy Spirit, Christian discipleship would be inconceivable, even impossible. There can be no life without the life-giver, no understanding without the Spirit of truth, no fellowship without the unity of the Spirit, no Christlikeness of character apart from His fruit, and no effective witness without His power. As a body without breath is a corpse, so the church without the Spirit is dead.”

  • John Stott

“Discipleship is the art and science of helping people find, follow and fully become like Jesus. Discipleship happens as God’s people show love, share truth and live life with one another, making new disciples along the way.” – Brandon Cox

“The pursuit of God is not a part-time, weekend exercise. If it is, chances are you will experience a part-time, weekend freedom. Abiding requires a kind of staying power. The pursuit is relentless. It hungers and thirsts. It pants as the deer after the mountain brook. It takes the kingdom by storm…The pursuit of God is a pursuit of passion. Indifference will not do. To abide in the Word is to hang on tenaciously. A weak grip will soon slip away. Discipleship requires staying power. We sign up for duration. We do not graduate until heaven.” – R. C. Sproul

Key verses for Today:

Matthew 28:18-20 Amplified Bible (AMP)

18 Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority (all power of absolute rule) in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations [help the people to learn of Me, believe in Me, and obey My words], baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always [remaining with you perpetually—regardless of circumstance, and on every occasion], even to the end of the age.”

Ephesians 6:5-9 The Message (MSG)

5-8 Servants, respectfully obey your earthly masters but always with an eye to obeying the real master, Christ. Don’t just do what you have to do to get by, but work heartily, as Christ’s servants doing what God wants you to do. And work with a smile on your face, always keeping in mind that no matter who happens to be giving the orders, you’re really serving God. Good work will get you good pay from the Master, regardless of whether you are slave or free.

Masters, it’s the same with you. No abuse, please, and no threats. You and your servants are both under the same Master in heaven. He makes no distinction between you and them.

1 Timothy 2:4

[God] desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Introduction

Dear brethren, welcome to the twelfth series on the Christian church – Go make disciples. Today, we exploring how the church can deliberately equip members in the world of work to be more effective in the discipleship effort at the workplace – We will look at churches already doing this and how church and marketplace activities are integrated seamlessly –  

WE ARE CALLED TO BELONG TO CHRIST AND PARTICIPATE IN HIS REDEMPTIVE WORK IN THE WORLD –  Our life at the workplace and at the church should not be compartmentalized. How can a well-rounded equipping church achieve this noble objective of equipping the saints for the work of ministry in the marketplace?

Your life, my life and everything and everyone around us are our mission fields. Don’t ever settle to the mindset that when you are out of your immediate environment, then mission field happens. Mission field is right in your home, your immediate environment, your work place, your trip to places you have been and seen, our struggle and victories through lives up and downs and how we are able to keep our heads above water, through it all by His grace. Mission field is essentially borderless….

The Equipping Church

How can a church become more effective at equipping its people? The need for a reorientation outward and embarking on a journey in mission has already been identified—so has the need for an understanding of our Christian vocation and calling that includes a new appreciation of the role our daily work can play in the mission of God. It’s also helpful to ask, what does it look like in practice for a church to operate in a way that reflects these changed perspectives and priorities? Churches that have embarked on this journey demonstrate a number of common characteristics.

Equipping churches:

  • have a vision of God at work where their people work
  • actively hunt for examples and resources
  • connect daily work to worship
  • address the opportunities and challenges their people face at work
  • invest resources in equipping people for daily work
  • create structures to sustain this ministry
  • empower and collaborate with people in the congregation to lead the ministry
  • release and support their people for work outside the church
  • encourage everyone to take responsibility
  • include daily work as part of youth ministry and compassion/outreach/service ministries

Perhaps this list can provide a useful benchmark against which you can measure, evaluate and envision developments in your own church setting. We will examine some of the issues surrounding each of these developments.

Equipping Churches Have a Vision of God at Work Where Their People Work

Equipping churches see their people’s daily work as part of the church’s ministry. These churches have begun to ask, ‘Where are our people during the week?’ They have started to develop ways of identifying where their people are and what they are doing during the week. This may be identified as pins on a map, or a photo board, or a PowerPoint presentation of people at work, or a booklet listing people’s jobs and interests. These churches give the people of God a sense that they have been strategically placed by God in their working worlds to make a difference there.

There is no single model or simple formula. This is about each church embarking on its own journey towards resourcing Christians to serve God in their daily work. Each church must start with the people God has already given it and the places and types of work that already occupy their lives. This is not about heaping extra expectations and obligations on people already struggling to make time for church involvement. These churches affirm that teaching school children how to write is godly work, that excellence in making beds gives glory to Christ, that managing a company budget is good stewardship of God’s creation. Equipping churches offer encouragement and help to add a new sense of purpose to people in their existing weekday lives. It is about churches helping people to hold pressured lives together by better integrating faith and work and family and all of life.

Example 1: Prayer for Workers

A teacher said, “I spend 45 minutes a week teaching Sunday School and they call me up the front of the church to pray for me. The rest of the week I am a full-time teacher and the church has never prayed for me.”

In contrast, another church is praying for a different group of workers in the marketplace each month. They have gone right through their church list with the aim to include everybody in special prayer for their daily work at the marketplace at least once a year.

Example 2: This Time Tomorrow

The Imagine Church Project in London encourages churches to invite a different person each week to answer three questions about This Time Tomorrow (TTT) in their worship services. Questions like – What will you be doing this time tomorrow at the workplace? What opportunities or challenges will you face? How can we pray for you?

Example 3:  Ask Probing Questions

When asked, ‘If there was only one thing you could do to change the culture of a congregation to support Christians at work, what would you do?’

R. Paul Stevens says ‘Give me three minutes and four questions in a service every Sunday for a year. I would get a different person up in front of the congregation each week and ask them: 1. Tell us about the work you do? 2. What are some of the issues you face in your work? 3. Does your faith make a difference to how you deal with these issues? 4. How would you like us to pray for you and your ministry in the workplace? Then we would pray for them.’

Equipping Churches Actively Hunt for Examples and Resources

Leaders and people together are attempting to learn what they can from the examples of other churches engaged in this process elsewhere. They are actively on the hunt for good theological and practical resources for personal and group studies and worship.

From his study of a number of American churches that have embarked on the faith-at-work journey, Stuart Dugan drew four important conclusions:

  1. There is no single model for marketplace ministry that fits all churches or communities.
  2. Large churches are able to draw from more internal resources than small churches. Churches in business communities have a different orientation from those situated in labour or agricultural settings. Affluent churches are often better able to make a wider impact than those whose people are struggling just to make ends meet.
  3. Churches that adopt another church’s model without due consideration of its own ministry context, level of spiritual maturity, or regional need will most likely become frustrated. In other words, any church wishing to embark on this journey must discern its own path and follow the Spirit in its own congregation.
  4. No single model is adequate in and of itself even within a single congregation.

Successful churches never limit themselves to a single approach. Instead, they assess, re-evaluate, adjust and innovate to gather the strengths from different modes of operation, and they selectively adopt those best suited for their own needs. The church has much to learn from this entrepreneurial spirit that quickly adapts to changing market circumstances. Just as businesses must be highly adaptive in order to stay competitive in an ever-changing market, so too the church needs to respond flexibly and quickly in order to best serve the ever-changing needs of its people and community.

One key to the success of these efforts is the concept of permission-giving. Men and women who are already successful in their professions outside the church need to be given permission to convert their skills, contacts and passions into Kingdom-enhancing ventures. Traditional clergy-led churches often have the mindset that the pastor knows best and that the most effective approaches and programs come out of seminaries and Christian publishing houses. However, experience is teaching us that even greater things can be done by granting people who are already successful in businesses the permission to be successful in ministry beyond the congregation.

There is a wealth of creativity still to be tapped, and innovative models to be developed that will far outpace what is currently being done.

When given permission and adequate support, innovators in the field of faith-at-work ministry will likely accomplish what has not yet even been imagined. In the current age of ever-changing technology and workplace dynamics, including the impact of the global informational age, the types of marketplace ministry needs will be changing constantly and in need of new innovation. Robert Lewis, pastor-at-large at Fellowship Bible Church says it clearly, Underneath the fabric of American Christianity are people who are crying out for a personal, hands-on experience for being difference makers, not serving difference makers. They come to the church to be cared for and challenged, but there needs to be a point of ultimate destination – a hands-on ministry of their own. Helping them find this opportunity should be our greatest passion’.

Strategies for helping churches become better equippers need to be worked on thoughtfully over the long term.  It requires changing the congregation’s expectations and culture. A broad spectrum of participants from across the church is needed to accomplish so much change effectively and sustainably.

Another approach to implementing this sort of process has been adopted by churches involved in the Imagine Church Project that Neil Hudson is heading up for the London Institute of Contemporary Christianity. The process they follow is circular and continuing as churches are encouraged to revisit and reinforce changes that have been made previously. The six steps they picture moving clockwise around the circle include:

  1. Cast a vision – the vision of becoming a whole-life disciple-making church.
  2. Focus on the frontline – those contexts for mission where people already spend time in the world outside the church.
  3. Grow a core team – a group of personally engaged people to communicate the vision, encourage initiatives and pilot the change process.
  4. Make one-degree shifts – promote small but effective changes that act as levers reinforcing each other towards an overall change of culture.
  5. Share stories – celebrate small and everyday signs of growth and change, listen for the stories that are told in conversations that can be shared to encourage and bless others.
  6. Redefine the church contract – a change of focus as leaders and members learn to see church not primarily as a place to receive pastoral care but primarily as a place to develop vocational capability.

Example 4: Bridging the Sunday-Monday Gap

A Christian group in Sydney that has adopted a pattern for its community life that includes talk about work as part of their regular sending function. A Christian lawyer is invited to talk about his job, what he enjoys, what he struggles with, and how his faith influences his approach to work. People also ask him some other questions. He is then asked what he would appreciate prayer for and the community gather around to pray for him. A different person is invited to talk about their daily work each week.

Example 5: A Megachurch Approach

Saddleback Community Church provides resources every week for small groups that serve some 4000 Christians who meet regularly to discuss biblical perspectives on faith and work issues. These are in addition to Saddleback’s hundreds of regular home groups. One church member is contracted part-time to prepare studies for these groups. They also run a website and send out weekly Workplace Wisdom emails for encouragement and to stimulate reflection.

Example 6: Professional Groups

At Redeemer Church in New York there are at least 18 major professional groups, e, g. Arts, Education, Entrepreneurs, Finance, Legal, IT, Marketing etc. (plus a variety of other sub-groups) whose members meet once a month, usually around a meal and then in small groups, with the aim ‘to equip, connect, and mobilize professionals towards gospel-centered transformation for the common good’. Redeemer also runs a 9 month Gotham Fellowship internship program based on set readings, discussions and seminars to encourage spiritual growth and methodical reflection as interns continue to work. Redeemer also runs an annual competition for entrepreneurs.

Smaller churches may work together, perhaps in partnership with a seminary or other organization, to form a larger pool of workers so that most occupations can have their own group.

Example 7 Workplace Visits

British Baptist Pastor David Coffey says, ‘In my time as a Pastor I made a regular pattern to visit church members in their place of work, whenever this was appropriate. I have sat with the defence lawyer in a court room; I have watched a farmer assist in the birth of a calf; I have spent time with a cancer consultant in his hospital; I have walked the floor of a chemical factory and sat in the office of a manager who runs a large bookshop. I have driven a tank and spent time with some senior military officers; I have shared the tears and joys of family life with homemakers; I have visited a London hostel for the homeless and walked round a regional prison with a Governor. The purpose of such visits is primarily to encourage and disciple a church member in that place where God has called them to be a worker.’[25]

Bible scholar Dale Bruner reports, ‘The revered Presbyterian preacher, George Buttrick, told a preaching class that the reason he gave a considerable amount of his workweek to visiting his parishioners in their homes and offices in downtown New York City was a passage from John’s Gospel: ‘the sheep will not listen to the voice of strangers’ (John 10:4-5).  I could believe that much of Dr. Buttrick’s effectiveness as a preacher was this care for and time with his parishioners’

Conclusion and prayer.

In our Christian race, the call to discipleship or disciple making is the core of the matter. Everything else rises and falls to the level of our commitment to discipleship or disciple making. That is the last command to us by Christ Jesus and we must of necessity make it of utmost priority. The way to be committed to disciple making is to make one.!

God has placed us where we are for a reason, for a purpose and for a time such as this. Are we ready to partner with Him to reach souls for Him or are we ready to focus on me, myself and I?  May He find us faithful and commitment to the work of discipleship in the marketplace.

Thank you Lord for helping us by Your grace to make disciples as you have commanded. Help us to be willing as You provide the needed grace and opportunities for discipleship in the marketplace in Jesus name, amen

Shalom!

Monday Ogwuojo Ogbe – E-discipleship @

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