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Summary: Making Disciples; Making a Difference Characteristics of Relational Environments for Making Disciples, part 6

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Making Disciples; Making a Difference

Characteristics of Relational Environments for Making Disciples, part 6

We started the series seeing that Jesus tells us the win for us is making disciples. Then we saw that a disciple is someone who follows Christ; a disciple is being changed by Christ; and a disciple is committed to the mission of Christ. Then we compared a disciples’ stages of growth with the stages of human development. Then we looked at the three keys to making disciples, Intentional Leaders + Relational Environtment + Reproducible Process = Multiplying Disciples. Now we are looking at those in more depth. We looked at intentional leadership, this week we will look at relational environments and next week, the reproducible process.

We have three sizes of meetings that you have the opportunity to be involved in. Sunday celebration services are our largest setting and is for teaching and vision. We have mid sized settings for training and equipping. An example of those is our adult Sunday School class (NT Survey) and last weeks prophetic conference with Clem last week (CD available). But making disciples is more than verbal teaching, it is also involves informal teaching, modeling, and mentoring. So we also have small group settings, Life Groups, where we gather in groups of eight to twelve for sharing, caring, and shepherding.

1. Relational Environments Are Small (Heb 10:23-25)

Life Groups are small communities of eight to twelve individuals who gather to share their lives with one another, to care for one another, and shepherd one another. Life groups are critical for us as disciples because life change happens best in relationships and Life Groups are fertile ground for germinating meaningful relationships that you cannot build on a Sunday morning. We can say hi, have casual conversations, maybe open up with someone for prayer after the service but to develop meaningful and honest relationships you need to be connected in a smaller setting.

I think that is one reason why Jesus chose twelve disciples. He ministered to the crowds but he shared his life, he cared for, and he shepherded the twelve. Developing a relational environment takes time and work. You have to be intentional about creating a safe place that will be fertile ground for people to open up and share. That is why we discourage Life Groups away from straight teaching. Discussions help people get to know one another. Attempting to disciple people with straight teaching is like trying to feed babies by going into the nursery downstairs and spraying them all with milk. Are you in a Life Group? If not, why? If this is your church family we expect you to be in a Life Group. If you do not want to make this your church home then let me encourage you to find a church body that can become family. How relational is your your group? How well do you know the individuals in your group? If it is not to the depth that facilitates life change then what can you do to increase the relational component.

2. Relational Environments have transparency (James 5:16)

You and I are hard wired or predisposed to do wrong when all the conditions are right. Just read Genesis, the first book of the bible, and you will see everyone mentioned is predisposed to do wrong. It is because all of us have habits we cannot control, past deeds we cannot undo, and flaws we cannot correct. Bottom line, all of us are weird, warped, play off key. This predisposition to do wrong is what theologians call depravity. This is such a fundamental insight that you might want to share this insight with the person next to you. We lie to save a few dollars (honestly office my speedometer must be broke). We steal and justify it (down loading music, make copies at work without paying for it; or cheat on our taxes). To compensate we all partake in what John Ortberg calls depravity management. We pretend to be more normal, healthier, kinder, purer, than we really are. Then we are surprised when we read about it. Transparency is when we stop pretending everything is ok, we stop pretending we are morally better than we really are. Being transparent is saying this is who I really am; will you accept me? This is what I am really struggling with right now. It is safe to be transparent when we realize that we are sinners too and no better than the next person so we do not look down on them when they share their struggles or confess their sins. Does anyone know your deepest darkest secrets and sins. Transparency requires accountability.

3. Relational Environments have Accountability (Heb 3:12-13)

Accountability means being held to account or responsible. It means that someone is going to hold our feet to the ground. When you want to change bad enough you will open yourself up to accountability Change happens best in the context of relationships that have transparency, open and honest, and that hold us accountable to change. Do you want to change? Are you open accuntability? Do you have someone that knows you and can confront you with your sin. If people know you care then you earn right to speak into their lives.

Takeaways . . .

• What can I do to make my Life Group more relational?

 Am I transparent with my Life Group, with anyone?

 Am I accountable to others?

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