While it may seem unimpressive to those looking for high-powered and attractive programs, getting involved in church is really just a matter of simple, yet intentional relationships. It’s not that we are against having good solid programs – LBC has several programs that provide opportunities for you to help facilitate ministry on a weekly basis.
But if you’re committed to embracing a biblical view of church, then you have to recognize that it is very possible to stay busy facilitating a church program and not ever really get involved in church.It is very possible for you to stay busy facilitating a church program and not ever really get involved in church. Click To Tweet
This is why we are seeking to encourage each member of Lebanon Baptist Church to evaluate their relational commitments within the church on a couple of different levels:
The great thing about these concepts is that you don’t have to sign up or get permission before loving others this way! And, we don’t want to be a church where this stuff only happens when the staff schedules or runs it … that’s unhealthy!
So, you want to get involved in church? Initiate and accept a discipling relationship.
What is discipling?
We’ve tried to describe it in this way:
Helping others follow Jesus by prayerfully ministering the Word in the context of loving relationships
The biblical norm for any church family is that the members are actively engaged in helping each other follow Jesus. Just take note of a few of the New Testament passages that speak of this way of living.
- You yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another. (Rom. 15:14)
- Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Gal. 6:1-2)
- Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ. (Eph. 4:15)
- Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing … And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. (1 Thess. 5:11, 14).
- But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (Heb. 3:13).
- Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. (Heb. 12:12-13)
- But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God. (Jude 20-21)
There is no set program for this kind of life. You just need to move from being a church attender to a church member – one who is committed to the health and growth of the other members of the body! In fact, the most significant contribution you have to offer this congregation is not your abilities and talents, but your willingness to leverage all that you have to simply help others know, love, and obey Jesus more.
What can a discipling relationship look like?
- Arrive early and stay late on Sundays to pray with others and/or discuss the sermon.
- Meet every other week with another member for 1-to-1 Bible reading.
- Routinely meet with another member to discuss a Christian book from the seasonal recommended reading.
- Ladies, offer to accompany young mothers as they run errands and discuss what God has been doing in your lives.
- Senior adults, invite a younger member to meet with you each week and pray for each other.
- Younger men, offer to help older men with projects and ask them for counsel.
- Visit a shut-in to sing hymns, read the Bible, and pray for them.
- Moms, schedule “play dates” for your kids while you discuss a recent sermon.
- Invite another member to attend a LifeStage Class with you so can learn and apply the material together.
Examples abound. Venues are flexible. Creativity is good.
In all of this, we need to realize that discipling others is not an issue of adding extra stuff to an already busy schedule; it’s deciding what you are not going to do so you can prioritize discipling relationships. Be intentional about loving other members enough to help them follow Jesus.Discipling others is not an issue of adding extra stuff to an already busy schedule; it's deciding what you are not going to do so you can prioritize discipling relationships. Click To Tweet
How do you begin establishing a discipling relationship in LBC?
Again, no sign-up or permission is necessary! The important thing is that you not wait for someone to approach you or for someone else to organize something. You as a member are free to initiate these types of relationships with others on your own.
Here are some simple ideas to help you begin moving in that direction:
- Be present and engaged when the church gathers … mornings, evenings, special fellowship, member’s meetings, special studies, etc! Relationships are built on frequency, consistency, and commitment. If you are just attending a service on Sunday mornings showing up late and/or leaving early, you’ll find it difficult to establish deeper relationships in the church.
- Offer and accept hospitality. Invite people into your life and start getting to know others. Over time you will find it grow into deeper discipling relationships.
- Commit to a LifeStage Class and go out to lunch with others in the class to discuss the application of the lesson.
- Join a small group. Connect with others more openly in a smaller more relaxed atmosphere. Some of these are our Growth Groups that meet in homes. Some are Bible study groups that meet weekly in coffee shops. Others meet periodically in a church classroom. These groups are a great opportunity for discipling relationships to begin.
- Contact the office. Because of schedules, geography, travel, etc. there are those who find it difficult to connect with others. In those cases, our staff would be glad to help get you connected with someone.
Whatever you do – be intentional. You’ll find yourself developing spiritual muscles that will not only help you but also this church for years to come! And, as we grow in purposefully helping each other faithfully follow Jesus, a depth of relational love will shape this church for the glory of God.
Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:15-16)
Concepts for this post were inspired by chapter 7 of The Compelling Community: Where God’s Power Makes a Church Attractive, by Jamie Dunlop and Mark Dever.