Thursday, July 19, 2012

DiscipleShift: Exponential 2013


Each year, the Exponential conference focuses on a theme and explores that theme at the conference and throughout the year leading up to it. They recently announced that the theme for the 2013 conference is DiscipleShift focusing on five crucial shifts the church must lead to make and deploy biblical disciples. Here's a summary of the shifts:

Shift 1: From Reaching to Making
We need to shift to a clear definition of “disciple,” and then ask if our church is making that kind of person. It’s not enough to reach people if we are not making biblical disciples.

Shift 2: From Teaching to Modeling
Discipleship begins with pastors and church leaders shifting their view of discipleship from classes toward a discipleship lifestyle. As leaders, we must intentionally model what it looks like to follow Jesus and lead others to do the same.

Shift 3: From Attending to Participating
Discipleship cannot simply be a program or a ministry we offer and people attend. We have to shift discipleship back to the center of our churches, making it the purpose of everything we do and let people know that discipleship is dependent on participating in the endless process of following Christ.

Shift 4: From Connecting to Transforming
Beyond just classes and sermons, discipleship must be based on friendship and time together. To cultivate the kind of disciples Jesus did, we have to shift our paradigm from activity and surface connections to deep, accountable relationships.

Shift 5: From Attracting to Deploying
Jesus was much more concerned with the 12 men He invested in than the thousands He taught. Shifting our scorecard from how many people we gather to how many disciples we deploy is essential.

This year, Exponential is April 22-25. If you're thinking about or planning to attend the conference, the deadline is coming up to get the best rate possible--$99 registrant/$29 spouse. After July 20, the rate goes up. So you might want to register in the next week or so. Go here to register.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Who's It All About Anyway?

Today is my birthday. It's the first time I've ever worked on my birthday. In a society where "Birthday Week" celebrations are common, I'm a rarity. (I also don't own a smart phone or tablet and don't have cable tv among others things but I guess that's another post altogether.) 

Now hear me out, I don't think celebrating birthdays is wrong or sinful. Celebrations are a Biblical concept that we don't observe enough in the church. But I know that as American Christians we often do things without questioning them.

I once knew a Pastor who celebrated his birthday every year by calling his mom and saying "Thank You." That was it. Plain and simple. Have you ever though to thank your mom for your birth outside of the obligatory Mother's Day card? Just a thought.

What I'm really trying to get to hear is the sin in my heart that I often discover around my birthday and Christmas. A sin of entitlement. Of self-centeredness. If I want to be completely honest, I make myself an idol on my birthday.

Yuck. I feel gross just typing those words. We often think of idols in terms of more tangible things like food, sex, money, etc. But to worship yourself. That's a whole other level of idolatry. And it makes me wonder? Am I the only one. Take a look at the words of this once popular 'worship' song:

"Crucified, laid behind the stone
You lived to die, rejected and alone
Like a rose, trampled on the ground
You took the fall, and thought of me
Above all"

Have you really thought about those words before? A gifted theologian could spend all day poking holes in the theology of that song but I just want to focus on one line: "thought of me above all." Do you really believe that? I mean sure God died to save you and me from our sins but is that all? The Bible is clear that God does things for His glory and His glory alone. He is sovereign. And if you look if you look at the verses in the rest of the song it continues to elevate humans to an idolatrous position...

So tonight I'll probably eat some kind of special dinner and on Saturday there will be a cake and maybe some gifts. But I don't deserve any of that. I'm not owed it. And my birthday is not all about me. I owe everything in my life including life itself to the Creator of all things.

Do you have any suggestions for keeping a Christ centered focus on your birthday and all days? I really liked these ideas. Maybe next year...