A writer who has deeply influenced my thinking and practices of being a disciple of Jesus over the past several years is a pastor named Pete Scazzero. Pete is the former pastor of New Life Fellowship Church in Queens, New York. His writing on Emotionally Healthy Spirituality and the effect it can have on churches, leaders and families is something that has profoundly spoken to me and many others in our leadership at Journey.
Recently, Pete addressed the question, “Can transforming discipleship be accomplished in one hour a week primarily through attending a worship gathering?” Here’s some of how he responded:
People are not experiencing deep transformation in our churches. Large numbers of people live off of other people’s spirituality (through worship teams, sermons, Christian radio and podcasts) and do not intentionally cultivate their own personal relationship with Jesus. We now have tens of thousands of believers who are not necessarily disciples. And we continue to work day and night to add to this number. This raises a number of questions:
1. Can a person be a Christian without being a disciple who makes daily, intentional choices to follow Jesus and remain and abide in him?
2. Can a nominal Christian who has a severely undeveloped relationship with Jesus still be a Christian?
3. Can a person whose life reflects the first three soils in the parable of the sower–where Scripture has been choked by the devil, pressures and the desire for other things–be a Christian?
4. Can a Christian who settles for showing up at church without bearing any fruit for Christ still be a Christian? Or are they simply “under-discipled”?
Pete concludes by saying,
Only God knows whether a person has been regenerated by the Holy Spirit and born from above. And thankfully, he will be more gracious in the final judgment, I imagine, than most of us. But I am sure of one thing: The global mission of the church to change the world through the living Jesus cannot be sustained or expanded by nominal Christians.
Our mission at Journey is to make disciples of Jesus who love God, love people and serve the world. That does not happen overnight or at a one-time event. That is a process, or put more rightly: a journey. A journey implies movement. Steps need to be taken on a continual basis to purposefully move us in the direction of somewhere we want to be. That’s why we are increasingly talking about environments like NEXT, and baptism preparation, and serving orientation, and small groups. We always want to see people taking their next steps as they follow Jesus.
Just this week, I was reminded of a Scripture that helps us understand why this is so important. Paul wrote to the Galatian church, Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (Galatians 5:25) The Spirit of God is willing and ready to help you take your next step. That’s why Jesus gave us the Spirit. Let’s keep moving together and forward with Him.
Join us on March 25-26 at both Journey campuses as you consider what’s NEXT for you.
Man Zone – Coming April 5
Speaking of next steps, here’s one especially for guys. I am excited to introduce a new discipleship environment for men called Man Zone: The intersection of real men and real faith.
Man Zone will consist of focused sessions specifically targeted for men. Each session will last 6-8 weeks and have a focused area of spiritual growth.
Man Zone will have two components: the large group teaching time, led primarily by me or Pastor Randy Green, followed by small group discussion/application that will be facilitated by table discussion leaders. Notes for each talk and group will be provided.
The first session of Man Zone will start on Wednesday, April 5, at 6AM and will meet in the Adventureland Theater. Plenty of free coffee will be brewed and waiting on you guys!
The first session’s focus will be learning what the Bible says about what it means to be a real man. Most men have no definition for manhood, and if you can’t define it, you can’t develop it.
Many men at Journey have gone through the Man UP sessions that we offered a few years ago. Naturally you would ask, “Is Man Zone just another version of Man UP?”
The answer is yes and no.
Yes, we will review some of the fundamental lessons we learned in Man UP about being authentic men. Those lessons are timeless and a new wave of men has arrived at Journey since we last offered any kind of men’s focused gathering. They need to hear those important talks.
However, two things will be noticeably different: 1) The length of the large group teaching time will be reduced to allow more small group time. 2) New material will be presented throughout the sessions that will challenge men in deep and fresh ways to live as real men with real faith. For example, one whole series will help men deal with handling conflict, both at home and at work. Another series will focus on being rooted deeper in some of the basics of the Christian faith.
I am excited to start this new season in helping men understand and live out their unique God-given role. You can click here to sign up or just join us bright and early on April 5 at 6AM and prepare to enter the Man Zone!
This weekend in our Life On Mission series, we will talk about the Grow step. The Great Commission of Jesus does not end with, “…baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” Jesus said something is to happen beyond the baptistery. We are to teach people. What do we teach them? To obey what Jesus has commanded. In other words, we are to help them grow. Here’s a preview from Dr. Tim Harlow of how Grow connects with a Life On Mission.