Wednesday, January 12, 2011

People Still Need People

A friend of mine this past week asked me a question which first of all was really a rhetorical question and second of all was a tragic question. In essence he questioned the responsibility of the Elders in regards to the development of individual members. In other words, he was asking is the information presented on Sunday Mornings in sermons and messages enough for the benefit of individual members or do the Elders have responsibilities to individual members outside of Sunday morning.

We all know the answer to this question. Sunday morning is not enough. This would be like wondering  if one well cooked, extremely nutritious, and absolutely delicious meal per week would be enough to maintain a healthy existence. The answer class is... Of course not! Yet many believers are left to this type  of spiritual diet. Granted, believers are to feed themselves during the week. This is why daily devotions are so crucial in the life of a believer. Every day during a special time set apart from any interruption or distraction, believers are to feed themselves with a personal study of the word, prayer, worship, and fellowship with our heavenly Father. A quick word of warning, do not jump on the "performance treadmill." Do not think that merely having a daily devotion is the means by which you will grow or be transformed into the image of Christ. It is not by the mechanical means of a ritualistic appointment that transforms you, it is a person - the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. The appointment and means that you use are the tools by which Christ through the Holy Spirit feeds and nourishes you.

Most believers and so called believers do not have a viable quiet time or daily devotion. Some do not see the value or benefit. They read the bible periodically and usually topically. Others believe they are just too busy to set consistent time aside for such spiritual activities. They are always going to start one day but, well they just don't get around to it. Some start, even see the value, but do not know how to develop and maintain a devotion that is viable, beneficial, and results in a growing spiritual life. They quit. Many of these believers have told me that they didn't get anything out of it, it wasn't working for them, or it was boring.

This is where you come in. People need people. Taking or directing people to gathered worship and fellowship on Sunday is of great value and benefit, but it is not enough. You must work one on one with individuals in order to help them develop the tools and skills needed to feast on the word and enjoy the fellowship of Christ in a personal devotion. Please allow me to illustrate the good but insufficient approach of just Sunday morning verses personal, one on one, people helping people approach. This is my favorite illustration and it is taken from Leroy Eims book, The Lost Art of Disciple Making, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1978), p. 50.

"During one of our moves we bought a new home that had no lawn; the front and back yards were just bare earth. A friend of ours bought some sod for us and at the same time our neighbor bought his sod from the same company. When they were both laid, they looked beautiful (so much so that the landscaping company used our two lawns in some of their promotional advertising.)

Our neighbor decided to water his lawn with an automatic underground sprinkler system, which he installed before the lawn was laid. I chose to buy a hose and turned it over to my wife, Virginia. So I had a blonde out there with a hose watering our lawn while my neighbor would merely turn his controls on or off.

After four years my neighbor's lawn returned to its original state - just bare earth covered with weeds. Our lawn was still green and beautiful. What made the difference? Personal care. Whenever Virginia would see a brown spot on the grass, she would give it special attention and more water. With the mechanical system there was no way to give individual care and attention to the grass; as holes in the sprinklers were clogged by dirt and small stones, certain portions of the lawn received no water. Soon the lawn dried up and was destroyed, while ours remained lush and green.

You cannot turn over a lawn to a mechanical system in a dry climate such as ours and expect success. Each blade of grass needs special care. That is much more true with people. Each of us has specific needs and these can only be met by other people."

This is why the one shot Sunday morning message as good as it is and as needed as it is, is not enough. People need people. They need to be taught by someone how to have a meaningful devotion. Allow me to say once again we are not told to make converts but the great commission is to make disciples.

Who needs you today?  

Who are you working with one on one? 

What believer do you know is showing some "brown-spots" and needs individual attention to turn "green?" 

 Who are you discipling?

Happy 9th Birthday to my grandson Diontre Dupre Paul Gresham IV of Tacoma, WA!

Wednesday - "Developing Disciples" - Steps to Christian Triumph

Join us for articles,  news, and teachings on the subject of discipleship. Come and follow along as we provide the basics for Gospel-driven Disciples. 


welcome to my world of poetry said...

Looking at the number of phone calls, text messages or emails I guess no one needs me today,
But have they wondered if I NEED anyone?
It's always me who have to make the first call and I am getting a bit peeved about it.
The saying "Out Of Sight Out Of Mind" immediately springs to mind.

Enjoyed the read.
Have a lovely day.

Ma ~ said...

Very nice Gregg, I thankfully have built in disciples here:)

JD Curtis said...

A timely and important message Gregg. We need more than just 1 sermon on Sunday.

Trisha said...

Great words of encouragement, Gregg. Like Ma, I'm thankful that I have so many blessings to disciple as well as, hopefully, the treasure of encouraging younger women in a Titus 2 fashion. How essential it is to be IN the Word to be able to then encourage others with the truth of His Word.

Shannon said...

Greg, I completely agree that Sunday Church is a wonderful tool, yet it is not enough to only go on Sunday and then forget about it the rest of the week...a person needs to feed on the word every day to stay strong in the Lord...thanks for posting brother, tell the family hello and I send my love!

Michelle said...

I'm with the other ladies...I have built in disciples! I did, however, just send a message to my sister this morning to check in on her reading time. She set out on the endeavor a few weeks ago and I "checked in" to encourage her not to grow weary.

We do need people. My husband and I did not have a church family for the first 6 years of our marriage! It is so wonderful to know there is a body of believers (and elders) who are there to encourage, support, and even rebuke us when needed.

Scott said...

Good word. And it's not just the organized, sit down and have a Bible study kind of thing. The early disciples were recognized as having "been with Jesus." He wasn't always teaching an organized outline, but He was always teaching in deed as well as word. Often, just spending time with folks, eating lunch and letting folks see you live out your faith in every day situations is also a much needed component. I know I need to often force myself outside the study to just spend time with people in various settings.

Thanks again for the good word.

Kansas Bob said...

Gregg, I resonate with what Yvonne said. I think that many feel that pastors (even retired ones like me) do not need discipling or mentoring but mainly need to disciple/mentor others.

Cathy M. said...

Another great thought provoking post. My husband and I have been given a new opportunity to disciple a person who is very special to us. We are so thankful and pray God will grant much fruit.

Persis said...

LIke the other moms, our disciples are right at hand. However, I'm thankful for a small group and women's group to be help and be helped as well. Sunday AM is not enough.


These days my main focus is on discipling family members. ~Ron