Summary: This sermon explores three essentials to Christian discipleship: BELIEVING, BELONGING, and BECOMING.


Date: April 13, 2007

Main idea: Biblical discipleship means believing in Christ, belonging to His church, and becoming more like Him every day.

“Making disciples: how are we doing in America?”

•Percent of churches growing: 15%

• Percent growing by conversion: 2.2%

• U.S. population who attend church regularly: 45%

• Americans who don’t attend church: DOUBLED in the past 15 years.

• Of the 100 million unchurched Americans, 11-20% claim to be born again.

• Percentage of churchgoers who attend some kind of Christian training: 20%

• Evangelicals who donate to their church? 85%

• Percentage of evangelicals who “tithe”: 9%

• Only 20-25% read their Bible consistently, 59% attend church weekly, 16% listen to Christian radio, 7% watch Christian TV, and 11% are held accountable to someone.

• Those who say the Bible is totally accurate: Less than 50%

Main point? The current trend in America is ‘powerless Christianity’ – makes no real difference in our lives.

ILLUS: Dennis Kinlaw grew up in the south of the United States. His family lived on a farm, and it was part of Dennis's task when the pigs were slaughtered to be involved in the curing of ham. He took course grain salt, and after the pig was slaughtered had to rub it in to the ham. It was an arduous task, and he didn't like it, and sometimes he felt as though it was his hand that was being cured rather than the ham. One particular day he went with his mother out into the barn. They had special guests, and they were taking the largest ham from the high rafters where they used to hang down. His mother had a knife and she cut through the sacking, and as she did so, Dennis didn't need to look down to know that something was desperately wrong. Because the stink of rotting meat came up and hit him in the face. As Dennis looked down and saw the meat, teeming with crawling maggots, his mother made but one comment to young Dennis. "Not enough salt, Dennis, not enough salt." I wonder if that’s not the problem with our church today – not enough salt. Not enough preservative. Not enough discipleship.

TRANS: Can Lakewood be different? Can our families be different? Can I be different? Yes! If we commit ourselves to scriptural discipleship.

Discipleship – a working definition:

• “Discipleship is the process of becoming more like Christ in character and behavior as we live out our faith in community.”

•A list of characteristics: Matthew 5, Galatians 5, Wesleys’s Character of a Methodist -

What’s the key to making this a reality in our church? No simply formula…no one program or strategy….but definite principles and models found in Scripture.

One of the best models is Paul himself – Paul the Disciple

“Be imitators of me, just as I am of Christ.” (1 Cor. 1:11)

Three ‘building blocks’ from the life of Paul –

1. Discipleship means BELIEVING.

Paul’s beginning? Acts 9:3-6 (NKJV) As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven. 4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” 5 And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.” 6 So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

Two questions: who is Christ? What does He want from me? BELIEF is the correct response to both of these questions…..a cognitive and a relational dimension.

• Not just mental/intellectual assent….but a conviction leading to action

• Not just aware of theological truths, but experiencing Truth himself.

Anytime we see the word ‘believe’ in the Bible…’s this kind of belief. John 3:16, Christ calls us to a deeper belief that says, “I’ll believe…and I’ll follow.”


2. Discipleship means BELONGING

For Paul? The next logical step after this paradigm shift was to surround himself with like-minded people.

Associate/joined with - “kollosthai” – akin to marital union

Main idea? It isn’t enough simply to encounter God, to assert belief, to make a profession of faith….God has wired you to be in relationship with other people.

Proximity vs. relationship – can be ‘with’ others, and still not be in relationship

ILLUS: Meg and I riding horses last week….tendency of the horses to ‘stick together’

ILLUS: Horse whisper Monty Roberts - During a 60 Minutes episode, Monty Roberts taught the world the secret of his horse whispering. It involves his getting into the corral with the untamed mustangs and staying as far away from the animal as possible, without leaving the enclosure. He also refuses to allow any eye contact between him and the horse. By moving slowly, but surely, away from the horse, and by keeping his eyes averted from the animal’s gaze, Monty slowly draws the horse to himself. Even though the beast is pounding the earth with his foot, and snorting and circling with great speed, Monty keeps steadily moving away from the horse. He won’t look at it. He won’t approach it. As astounding as it sounds, Monty can have a wild mustang saddled and carrying a rider quite happily. When asked his secret, he says, “The animals need to be with others so much, they would rather befriend the enemy than be left alone.”

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