By Derick Sherfey | Director of Content Strategy
This year my family- along with a couple dozen others- made the thousand+ mile trek West to the Rocky Mountains to begin our journey of planting churches in the beautiful, but broken urban core of Denver, Colorado. Entering into a new city as a leadership team necessitates a lot of skills in these early formative days as we seek to enjoy Jesus and live for the joy of others. We set out mapping our neighborhood, exegeting culture, engaging tribes, and looking for people of peace using tools like the Tradecraft Workbook and First 30 Daze.
These are exciting days filled with dependence on the Spirit and watching God answer audacious, specific prayers, but throughout this year's experience of starting over as missionaries in a new context, we've continually had to come face-to-face with a daunting reality:
Dreaming and doing are two very different things.
"Umm, Duh!", you may be saying. I agree, but I wish I was past having "duh" moments in my attempts at following Jesus and helping lead his church on mission. There's grace for our failures, and there's grace to free us to ask really honest questions about our obedience and, by his grace, do something about it.
I've had to be honest with myself: sometimes I dream/strategize/whiteboard mission as "spiritual novocaine" to numb my soul from actually stepping out in mission. I'm tempted to love the idea of "neighboring" but rarely find time to actually walk across the street. I'm all for the idea of engaging the nations God has brought into our backyard or to be a church among the poor, but often my dinner table is filled with people who are a lot like me. My heart is compelled by the way of Jesus- to see the church caught up in the holistic vision of the kingdom of God breaking through in every nook & cranny (you can take the boy out of the South, but you can't take the South out of the boy...) of culture, but we're fighting the drift to settle for structures of 'doing church' in ways that are comfortable, manageable, and safe.
It would do us all well to slow down from time to time and 'evaluate' our pursuits. Are we being faithful to do what Jesus has told us to do? Are we still growing in listening to God and his call on our lives for the next season? What are our metrics of success? How will we know if we're doing it?
Below is Part One of a three part mini-series of a personal discipleship diagnostic flowing out of 10 convictions of a balanced pursuit of apprenticeship to the way of Jesus we've developed at The Oaks Church that's meant to be worked out in the context of community.
Maybe spend a half day away working through some of these questions and ask the Spirit to deepen us in faithful obedience as His Church on His mission in the world.
WORSHIP || We give ourselves away in enjoyment of God
- Is my current view of God consistent with the way He has revealed Himself in Scripture? What lies about the character of God am I believing? Am I genuinely enjoying Him right now? Why or why not?
- What characteristics of God in particular am I experiencing and enjoying during this current season of life? What are some evidences of gifts of God’s grace for which I should express thanksgiving and gratitude?
- What doubts, anger, frustrations, or questions against God do I need to identify and be honest before Him?
- Am I cultivating my enjoyment of God by doing what stirs my affections for Jesus? What are these things? Am I living with a constant God-centeredness in every moment? What needs to change?
GOSPEL || We are being reshaped by Jesus in the way we think, what we love, and how we live
- Am I finding my identity, worth, and significance more in who I am and how I am doing? Or in who Jesus is and what Jesus has done? Am I truly believing there is nothing I can do to make God love me more and nothing I have done (or won’t do) that will make God love me any less than He does right now? Am I believing that I have everything I need for everlasting joy?
- What lies am I believing in this season of life about who God says I am? Am I consistently and accurately preaching the Gospel to my soul? What do I need to believe about Jesus and what He has done? How does that change who I am and what I should do?
- What sins have been the hardest for me lately? What is filling/emptying my tank right now? Is this good or bad? What idols has my heart been prone to recently? What/who am I looking to as a functional savior replacing Jesus in my greatest affections? How is Jesus better?
- Has the good news been the epicenter of my relationships and mission? Have I been faithful to join God in what He is doing in my daily interactions by opening my mouth and weaving threads of the Gospel story into every moment possible? Am I being bold and inviting people to respond to Jesus’ news? Or have I been too timid, ashamed, or abrasive in the way I talk about Jesus? What are the names of the people far from God I am praying for and speaking the gospel to? How can I deepen these relationships in this coming season?
TRUTH || We submit ourselves to the bible as our ultimate authority
- Have I prioritized intentional and focused time immersed in the reading, study, and intake (sermons, books, etc.) of Scripture? What needs to grow in my continual pursuit of God through time with Him in His Word? What is my plan for this next season of life?
- What are the main themes of what God is saying to me in His Word? What am I learning about God and about myself right now?
- Am I saturating my mind with truth? How am I doing at strategically memorizing Scripture? Am I disciplined to meditate on truth throughout my day? Am I taking God’s Word seriously and constantly asking what obedience looks like? Am I seeking, by His Spirit, to obey? What do I need to do/stop doing?
- Have I been merely consuming the Word without reproducing it into the lives of others? How can I take what I am learning and what I have been given to teach someone else?
MULTIPLICATION || We prioritize empowering people to follow Jesus
- Am I being obedient during this season of life to intentionally invest into the lives of others to help them take their next step in worshipping Jesus, becoming like Jesus, and obeying Jesus in all of life? Is my discipleship of others the main priority of how I spend my time and creative energy right now?
- Who specifically am I personally committed to helping continually take their next step in holistically following Jesus? Am I praying for their joy and growth? How can I ask the Spirit to give me wisdom in how I can be used in specific areas in their life where God is at work? How can I encourage them by how I see the gospel producing fruit in their lives? Are these people multiplying into others? What should these relationships look like in this next season of life? If married/a parent, am I prioritizing the discipleship of my family over all else?
- Am I being open with my life? Am I modeling worship, obedience, repentance, and mission? What needs to change so discipleship is real life with others and not merely “talk”?
- Have I received God’s grace of discipleship myself recently? Am I being humble, teachable, and eager to grow? Am I pouring out at an unhealthy rate compared to what I am receiving from others? What needs to change? What are my biggest areas of growth people have identified in me recently? What are others saying are my biggest areas of weakness and need for sanctification?