Before my sermon this past Sunday, I took a moment to share a little bit of my vision for this church – particularly a vision for how Mississippi Avenue Baptist Church makes disciples. As really my first opportunity to share vision, I want to emphasize the discipleship ministry because it is so crucial to the life of a church. If a church isn’t making disciples, it isn’t fulfilling the command of Jesus, in the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19-20.
Part of my history is working in discipleship and church education – meaning that I have a bit of experience and a great interest in how our church will make disciples of Christ. So yes, I am a bit biased towards disciple-making, but as one passionate for missions, it fits there too. After all, we are not called to make converts, we are called & commanded to make disciples.
My vision for MABC is for discipleship to occur on three different levels:
One on Many
One on Few
One on One.
Now, in case it isn’t obvious, God is the One. He is the great disciple-maker. Richard Foster, in Celebration of Discipline, explains, the “needed change within us is God’s work, not ours . . . we cannot attain or earn this righteousness of the kingdom of God; it is a grace that is given.” Thus, discipleship is really just placing ourselves in a position for God to transform us into the likeness of his Son.
Now that we understand that God is the One – the great discipler – let’s explore the first part of the vision for making disciples at MABC: One on Many.
When we gather as a community of Christians each Sunday morning in the worship service, we are experiencing the discipleship of One on Many. As we worship God through song, through tithe, and through word, God is making us more like his son.
This is why we are called to not neglect the gathering of the body – for if we neglect to participate in a worship service, we neglect to be discipled in the level of the One on Many. And if we consistently neglect it, we will miss out on an important means to become more like Christ.
I’m going to skip One on Few for a moment.
The third level is One on One. 70 Days in the Books of John, a Bible reading plan and devotional that MABC is currently following, is a great example of One on One discipleship. As we, individually, meet with God on a one-on-one basis, God makes us into his disciples.
I’ve said before, and will say many times more, I believe that the pastor or the church shouldn’t just tell you what to do – we should also equip you to do it and hold each other accountable.
In 70 Days, we are asking you (telling you, really) to read God’s Word, equipping you to read his Word through a reading plan and devotional, and gently holding you accountable by reminding where we are in the worship service each Sunday. We are almost half-way through 70 Days, and as we get closer to the finish line, I will share with you plans for the next One on One endeavor.
Now, back to One on Few for a moment.
It is important to understand that in order for us to follow Christ – to be one of his disciples – that we can’t neglect any one of these three levels.
One on Few is the Sunday School ministry of this church. This is a (at least) weekly gathering with a small group of people your age or your life stage. The goal of this group is to become your closest group of friends in the church – you will, obviously, also be encouraged to invite friends, neighbors, colleagues, classmates, etc. who don’t go to church to be a part of this group.
As you gather as friends, you will open God’s Word. The One on Few or Sunday School ministry of this church is crucial in helping each of us grow into Christ-likeness. This group will help you in time of need – they will encourage you when you are at your lowest – and celebrate with you when you are at your best.
If you are not a part of a Sunday School class, let me encourage you with the strongest encouragement I can to become part of one. You may join this church because you like the worship service, or the location, or the Kids ministry – or whatever. But you will stay because of the friendship you build in the One on Few ministries of this church.
To this end – because the One on Few ministry is so important – we need someone on staff who is responsible for it. Since I arrived in late July, I have been responsible for this ministry – this is because sadly, the minister responsible for it – moved away in May.
I need someone who is directly responsible for it – someone who can help the leaders of our church encourage the building of relationships, the study of God’s word, the gathering of small groups in Sunday School.
In case you don’t receive the weekly On the Avenue e-newsletter – you can subscribe here – the Personnel committee and I have been meeting and will be ready, Lord-willing – to present a candidate who will be responsible for the education and administration ministries of this church. And because I prefer the short and simple to the long and complicated – rather than call this person the Pastor of Education and Administration, we will give him the title of Executive Pastor.
I ask you to join with us in prayer for this person – the candidate we have is the perfect fit for the ministry and for our church. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at the church office or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
God is at work at MABC and it is exciting to be a part of it. If you are interested in joining a church that puts us in a place to become more like Christ, let me invite you to join us at Mississippi Avenue Baptist Church.