Approaching All Relationships With Discipleship In View

Jesus called his disciples not just to do a bunch of powerful stuff, but to be with Him.

Peter and John weren’t just noted as men who did some powerful stuff, they were noted as men who had been with Jesus.

These are two principles that were brought out in last Sunday evening’s volunteer training.

What followed that evening were several specific thoughts about relationships as we seek to make disciples. Here’s what stood out most to me: flexibility.

The question took the form that went something like this:

Are you willing to meet people where they are, or are you frustrated because people you meet aren’t where you are?

This is a statement that will stick with me for a while. Let me give three practical examples in church life.

1. Kids and families in programs.

If you run a program, it is very easy to focus on running the program.  I ran programs for 10 years in youth ministry, and they were important times. They teach discipline, structure, and have great opportunities for formal instruction and relationship building.

But, many times there are people who are new to the structure.  Praise God for that.  What is wrong is to expect everyone to assimilate quickly into the structure and to emphasize the structure over the relationship.  Consider the background, situation, and the set of difficulties any child may have. Consider the family’s relationship with the church and Jesus. Have they ever been told of this glorious Jesus we meet? God forbid our commitment to structure and outward form is a hindrance to sharing the precious truth of salvation!

A “flexible” program worker and leader will be challenged to show a lot of love as we meet kids and families where they are.

2. Total strangers.

Sometimes total strangers attend worship or come up to us while we’re around the building.  We shouldn’t be freaked out when this happens. We should do whatever we can do to try to understand where they’re coming from and show them love.  We should try to do our best in these situations with the time we have. We should not be frustrated that someone has need.  We should love them, show them respect, and keep in mind practical things like safety and basic discernment.

If our attitude is to get strangers to “go away”, then we fail to help on every level.  Discipleship meets people where they are, just like Jesus did.  Discipleship also desires the best for people, so being able to speak the truth in love is something we should always ask God for the grace to do. Let’s pray that these encounters can open doors for relationships!

3. Long time Christians.

If you are a Christian who’s believed for a number of years, this is difficult.  Why? Because the gap is bigger between where you are and where you were.  You’ve been in Christ and enjoying His benefits for a longer period of time.  Times of trouble, need, chaos, etc. are either far behind you or were never present in your life. The flexibility to meet someone where they are is something you MUST ask God for, knowing that He alone can provide that.

Summing Up . . . 

If we develop this flexibility as a local church, people WILL feel welcomed and not judged.  After all, that is the goal.  We want people to feel welcome.  We want the truth to be told.  Telling the truth without welcoming people can be disastrous.

God, make us more flexible servants, ready to respond and show love in ways that challenge us and glorify you!

In Christ,

Pastor Kevin

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