Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God

Approximate Notes for Sunday’s Message; September 13, 2015; What does it really mean to “Go Forth and Make Disciples?”

Scriptures for this Sunday: Colossians 3:12-17; Hebrews 10:19-25; Philippians 2:1-11;

You can read these Scriptures here: NIV and ESV

Hymns for Sunday:

TFWS 2196 – We Walk By Faith

UMH 430 – O Master, Let Me Walk With Thee

Hardly a day goes by without me hearing that individual churches want to grow. I hear it from pastors, from laity, from parishioners, and even from people who want nothing to do with an organized religion. I think it has become a nearly universal mantra these days… at least in some circles.

Although most church communities express and verbalize their desire for growth as their need to maintain older buildings and pay bills, I think that the desire to grow is rooted in our relationship with God, in the Holy Spirit’s tugging on our very souls and in our gratitude for the experiences and spiritual fulfillment that all of us share in the context of a Christian community (Buddle). Our desire for numerical growth is rooted in our faith and in the source of our hope – God the Father that understands and forgives us, God the Son that redeemed us by dying on the Cross and coming back to life on Easter morning, and God the Holy Spirit that is leading and guiding our daily lives.

There is a difference between being a member of a church and being a disciple of Jesus. Personally I’d rather see 50 disciples whose hearts are on fire for God than 500 members who come out on Sunday only out of habit.

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Jesus did not call us to go forth and make members; Jesus called us to go forth and make disciples (Matthew 28:19). We want more people in our community because we want to serve others like Jesus, and to love like Jesus. The first step in accomplishing this is to fill our pews with visitors who may join us for worship on a regular basis. The ongoing process is to help those who are not religious or nominally religious to recognize God’s presence in our community and in our lives, encouraging them to develop their own relationship with God, with God’s Creation and with a community of other believers.

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In the past, I have heard Rev. Megan Shitama-West use the illustration of a toddler in the kitchen. We do not bring a toddler into the kitchen because we want to get things done quickly and expediently. We bring a toddler into the kitchen so the child can learn to cook, so that we can enjoy their company, and most importantly to build a lasting relationship.

Our job is to be God’s representative out in the community, and not just inside the church walls. We need to seek the non-religious and nominally religious and we need to reach out to them. We need to build relationships with them, we need to provide opportunities of contact and interaction, and through those relationships show the difference that knowing God has made in our lives. Make the community of Kingswood United Methodist Church a “kitchen” for “spiritual toddlers.” Be there for them, listen to their stories, walk with them on their journeys, so that there is a level of trust and respect without judgment, so we can have frank conversations about God, so that all of us can grow in our relationship with God, so that we can enjoy each other’s company while the church serves God by serving the world in which it lives.

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{Adam Hamilton’s concept of the process of making disciples}

Philippians 2:3-4 NIV2010

3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

Colossians 3:16 NIV2010

16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.

Prayer of St. Richard of Chichester

Thanks be to thee, my Lord Jesus Christ,

For all the benefits thou hast won for me,

For all the pains and insults thou hast borne for me.

O most merciful Redeemer, Friend, and Brother,

May I know thee more clearly,

Love thee more dearly,

And follow thee more nearly:

For ever and ever.

~~ St. Richard Chichester (1197-1253)

{Illustrations from the personal practice of ministry}

Works Cited

Buddle, The Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar. “Bishop Mariann’s Blog.” 17 01 2013. edow.org. 18 01 2013. <http://www.edow.org/bishops_blog/2013/01/17/what-do-we-mean-when-we-say-we-want-to-grow&gt;.

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