My last post described three key starting places for "planting churches" which is really about planting Kingdom seed into the lives of people:
- Take responsibility for my own spiritual life.
- Carry others in intercession.
- Care for and disciple others.
I would like to say a bit more about this last point.
I am, again, suggesting that we are not planting churches, but rather, caring for people. As we care for people, God builds His church. Our part is to be intentional about loving, lifting, and discipling others (go into the world and make disciples).
But we must be careful to make "discipleship" about relationship. Jesus didn't just teach his disciples, he related to them, loved them, spent time with them, modelled life to them, and thrust them into ministry situations. That is discipleship.
Discipleship begins with good, basic, simple, caring for others... caring about others... relating to others... and being available to others... over a period of time. It's just not that complicated. I'm talking about the basics: listening, really listening, paying attention to what's going on in their lives, staying connected, following up on what's going on, checking in... I'm not trying to program this, it's just that we, in our isolated cultures, often miss the simple, basic human caring that is vital. Many, many people simply do not do this. Even though we are around people day after day or week after week, there is no interest given to another person's life. We must care for people by simply being interested... by caring about the things that they care about enough to be in touch with those things.
Then, we can begin to look at ways to draw them out to the next level in their spiritual lives. This is about people, not programs. Where are they in their spiritual life and where is God moving them to as a next step? We help facilitate this process, we don't make it happen. We point to resources that might be helpful, then we watch to see if it's the right resource.
One of the best ways to help people in their growth, by the way, is to encourage them to help someone else in their growth. Jesus wasted very little time before involving his disciples in hands-on ministry. Virtually every person has something to offer others and will grow more by being thrust into ministry then by learning on their own. Whatever resources we use to help people in their growth, it's great to encourage them to turn around and give away what they are receiving as soon as possible.
Even though we are talking about "church planting" this is what it is really about: shepherding (loving) and relationally discipling people. This is what Jesus told us to go and do. When this is our focus, we will begin to be surrounded by people who need a time and place for simple, powerful worship and fellowship... and, voila, churches begin to spring up.