A Fresh Look at the “Great Commandment’s” Contribution to Discipleship

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40)

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.” (John 15:12-17)

This is the well known “Great Commandment” of Jesus, and a companion “love” text from Jesus’ Farewell Discourse in John. These “love” texts are foundational in almost every church’s mission and/or vision statement, along with Jesus’ “Great Commission” in Matthew 28:18-20 to “make disciples of all nations.” From the Great Commandment we build a theology of love. It is typically from the Great Commission that we inspire the resulting action — discipleship.

Vital Signs

A Fresh Look at the “Great Commandment’s” Contribution to Discipleship

But, not often talked about is the Great Commandment’s (to love, like Jesus) contribution to discipleship.

Our small group leaders are working through the excellent book Small Group Vital Signs, by Michael Mack, together over the next year.

In our opening monthly session this March, “A Healthy Group is a Discipleship Environment,” our leaders discussed two wonderfully insightful pages of Mack’s book regarding Jesus’ counter-cultural nature as a Teacher/Rabbi/Disciplemaker. However, not in relation to the Great Commission, as one might expect; but in relation to the Great Commandment’s “love” emphasis.

I would like to share these two pages here, for your edification.

In our session, the small group leaders discussed each bullet point below in relation to our ministry of leading a small group. It led to excellent personal discoveries of ministering out of love, just like Jesus did. You can do the same based on your ministry, whether it be parenting, mentoring, teaching, leading, serving – whatever it is, as you seek to follow the methods of our Lord, Jesus.

From Michael Mack’s Small Group Vital Signs, p. 139-140: 

A Disciple’s Definition of Discipleship

If you could ask Jesus’ original disciples to describe discipleship, they would talk about a rabbi. In their context, a disciple was someone who was totally committed to a particular rabbi. Usually, disciples literally lived with their rabbi and followed him everywhere he went. Communal living was absolutely necessary for living as a true disciple. Teaching happened more by example than by words as you lived with the person each day. The purpose was to become “like the teacher” (Luke 6:40).

Rabbis taught in yeshivas, groups of disciples who would have passionate discussions over some aspect of life and what the Hebrew Scriptures said about it. They would wrestle with the texts together in order to understand God’s view on how they should conduct their lives. Most Jewish boys had memorized large amounts of Scripture by the time they were thirteen in preparation for their Bar Mitzvahs, so they did not need to study what God’s Word said as much as how to apply it to life.

Rabbis used no written curriculum or agenda for their multi-year discipling experience. Their curriculum was life itself. The rabbi observed the daily life of his disciples and then asked probing questions to initiate discussion about observed behaviors. A disciple could also initiate conversations by raising an issue regarding his observation of the rabbi’s life or some life issue or question.

Jesus adopted the rabbinic style of discipling his followers, but he altered it quite a bit from how it was normally carried out. John 15:12-17 [read at top of page] illustrates seven ways Jesus was counter cultural as a rabbi. As you look through this list, consider how his pattern for discipling applies to your small group. 

  • Rabbis trained their disciples in the law. Jesus’ discipleship was based on grace: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you” (v. 12).
  • Rabbis required a short-term commitment. Jesus called his disciples to total surrender of their lives: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (v. 13).
  • Rabbis required their disciples to serve them in practical ways (think, “wax on, wax off…” from The Karate Kid). Jesus treated his disciples as friends: “You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants” (vv. 14,15).
  • Rabbis did not call their disciples. A potential disciple would ask a rabbi if he could follow him. It was up to the rabbi to say yes or no. But Jesus called his disciples: “You did not choose me, but I chose you…” (v. 16).
  • Rabbis focused on head knowledge so that their disciples could eventually train others in the Jewish religion. Jesus called his disciples to actually do something: “I … appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last” (v. 16).
  • Rabbis taught their followers to be dependent on them. Jesus taught his disciples to be dependent on God:  “Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name” (v. 16).
  • Rabbis used a top-down approach to discipleship. While his methods were based on his authority, Jesus taught his disciples from a mutual-discipleship model:  “This is my command: Love each other” (v. 17).

Jesus’ rabbinic style of discipleship is not just attending a weekend church service and meeting in a once-a-week small group; it is 24-7 living. It happens in your quiet time, work time, family time, and play time…every day.

The greatest joy, and fruit, in making disciples occurs not in events or classes, but in actual discipleship relationships – walking with people, through Scripture, prayer and life, to become more like Jesus, together. May these relationships permeate our entire church family.

Vital Signs Session 2 – Coming Sunday, April 7

Session 2 – “A Healthy Group Ministers Together” – is coming up, on Sunday, April 7, during 2nd service (10:50-12:10PM), in the Gym. Everyone is welcome to come, and to bring anyone they are discipling. Plenty of snacks and materials will be available.

Blessings on our homes,

Pastor Reg

How Important is Leadership? Part 3 – Ideas for Leading Jesus’ Mission

“Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” – Jesus, Luke 6:46

Mission is when we use our lives to make a difference in the life of someone who’s NOT here. Community is when we use our lives to make a difference in the life of someone who IS here.” – Bill Clem

“When serving together in a mission, your small group will experience community like never before!”  – Reg Overstreet

People want to make a difference as part of their small group experience, and they need their leaders to open the way! This third post in the “How Important is Leadership?” series contains, as promised in Part 2 – “Leading Jesus’ Mission: with Kony2012, A Test Case for Leading Mission,” the “most comprehensive, insightful and inspiring collection of ideas and means for small groups to accomplish Jesus’ mission that I have ever produced.” 

Before get into the list, look with me at this great contrast in stories, in which Reggie McNeal, in his thought provoking book, The Present Future, reveals one vital factor that causes our outreach projects to be either successes or failures.

Story One

The first story involved McNeal’s wife, Cathy, went to Ground Zero in November 2001, about two months after the terrorist attacks, with a disaster relief team on a mission to clean apartments of people who had been displaced by the collapse of the World Trade Center. The apartments she cleaned had faced the Twin Towers. All the windows had been blown out when the towers collapsed. These people had watched people jump. They had found telephones, briefcases, jewelry in their apartments, all blown in when the towers came crashing down. These residents were paying commercial firms thousands of dollars to get their apartments cleaned. The team did it for nothing, even leaving gifts behind.

At that time Ground Zero was still a police state. People could come and go only with appropriate identification. Cathy and her team had to wear their disaster relief uniforms so they could get into the area to do their work. These outfits were conspicuous and grabbed people’s attention wherever they went. All over Manhattan people stopped them and repeatedly asked 3 questions: Where are you from? What are you doing? Why? Cathy tells me that by the time they answered the first two questions, “We are from South Carolina, here to clean people’s apartments for people displaced by the terrorist attacks,” they could have said anything in response to the ‘why’ question and received a hearing. Even if people didn’t understand their answer or disagreed with some point of their convictions they were willing to hear them out. Do you know why? They listened because the New Yorkers were persuaded that Cathy and her fellow cleaners believed something so strongly that it had caused them to inconvenience themselves in compassionate service to people.

Story Two

The second story involved McNeal’s wife and daughters’ mission trip to Manhattan in 2002 to help a group plant a church. One of their assignments was to help raise awareness for the new church by distributing free stuff to people on the streets and in parks. Predictably, people were suspicious of this approach. “What’s the hook?” was the question on people’s mind. As a result, very few people wanted to have any conversations about the church or Jesus…It seems in the New Testament that Paul’s strategy was to preach the gospel. He formed a church as a result of the harvest.

Contrast this response to the girls in Story Two to the response Cathy’s team received in Story One. What’s the difference? Easy. The summer mission group was positioned as marketers, introducing a product with a marketing ploy similar to food vendors giving out free samples at Sam’s. There was no dirt on the kids’ faces. No smell of cleaning solution. No sacrifice of service.
———————-

We learn an important lesson from this comparison. We are not called to market the church. We are called to make disciples of Jesus. His mission, to seek and save the lost (Lk. 19:10), is therefore our mission. His approach, to serve and not be served (Mk. 10:45) is therefore our approach. His goal, to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19-20), is therefore our goal.

Our small groups, in functioning as “the church scattered from house to house,” do not exist to serve themselves alone, but also to accomplish the mission Jesus began on earth. And, what is the blessing to our small group community for obedience? It is proven time and time again as groups serve on mission together: When serving together in mission, you will experience community like never before!

So, to help you lead your group to choose the right project or two, I present this, my most comprehensive list of ministry/mission project ideas to date. Several have contact information, but I can also be contacted to help get started with any of them.

AND NOW, THE COMPREHENSIVE LIST OF MISSION PROJECT IDEAS

Instructions:

  • Pray
  • Then, read this list and select the 2-5 which grab your attention the most. (There is a reason those grabbed your attention!)  
  • Submit these 2-5 to your group. 
  • Pray as a group. 
  • Choose one or more and begin!

I. Highlighted Opportunities

1.  Faith In Action, 2012 – LCCC’s third F.I.A. weekend is coming up on July 21. Co-directors Jeremy Evarts and Peter Johnson are going out on a small group tour. Have them visit your group for 10 minutes to cast the vision for how you could be involved in our biggest all-church outreach day of the year! Email Jeremy Evarts for info.

2.  YFCTillicum Drop In Center – Several of our groups have partnered with Youth For Christ in Tillicum in the past. They could use more right now. Our small group leader Nate Duriga is our point person. He says this: 

“We can have people come to the center, hear Jason [the new director] describe the ministry at the center and the programming changes we’ve made this year, and get a list of ways their small group could get involved in what happens with our teens. We can set dates for projects then, or take time to look things over with their group and set something up at a later date.”

3.  Fundraising for Bankes – Have a heart to see our missionaries, the Banke family, make it back to Niger on time in July?  They need funds to make it happen.  We are kicking around some ideas.  Contact me ASAP to join the team!

4.  SummerFEST – Two years ago, about 30 volunteers ran one of the best booths at SummerFEST, Lakewood’s biggest community event. We’ve been asked to come back. It is a great way to make a big impact on our community, but it will take two or three small groups to do it.  Event is June 30-July1, but paperwork needs to be submitted very soon. Again, contact me ASAP if interested!

II. “Loving One Another” = Building up the Church

Things Groups Can Do Inside the Home

  • First, don’t neglect caring for each other’s special times of needs, play dates or babysitting, helping move or clean the house, discipling each other, etc.
  • Care for widows and orphans (James1:27) as a group by hosting a dinner for widows/widowers (Randy and Beckie Madson’s group is hosting a series of these), or running an event for underprivileged or orphaned children.
  • All Group members be accountable to each other to serving in some kind of ministry at the church; praying for each other, and trading stories of your experiences.
  • Write out a large box of cards as a group, to people serving God, in need of encouragement, sick in the hospital, or who may not yet know the Lord or the love of God.

Things Groups Can Do Outside the Home

  • Are you a generally “mobile” group? Become an “Emergency Response Group” – to be on call for immediate, unplanned service needs that arise at any given time in a church, from visitation and meal delivery to yard clean up, etc.
  • Contact a specific LCCC ministry leader to ask if you could volunteer as a group to for anything from transportation to mentoring young people. (AWANA, Children’s Ministry, Youth and Young Adult Groups, Family Ministries, Prime Timers, Library, etc.)  Most needed, currently:
    • Promiseland teachers and helpers (Contact Niki Oury)
    • Food Bank Childcare. In 2 hour shifts, on Thursdays, from 1-5PM (Contact Phaedra King)
  • Help the Church Office by asking for their big projects you can help with, such as mailings, data entry, a phone call project, preparing crafts for children’s ministries, etc.
  • Visit shut-ins who have little or no other contact with people. These can be anyone from church seniors to total strangers. One stat says that 50-60% of people in convalescent centers will not receive another visitor before they die.

III. “Loving the World” = Reaching Out with the Gospel

Things Groups Can Do Inside the Home

  • Bring in a guest speaker on missions: a missionary on small group tour; a missions team leader; a visiting missionary; a rep from a local mission with whom you might partner, etc.
  • Everyone in the group prepares and shares their own spiritual journey/salvation story to the group (1 Peter3:15). Has been a huge blessing for groups who’ve done it.
  • Help teach each others’ kids within your small group how to share the gospel.
  • Throw a Block Party or BBQ in your host home’s front yard for the entire street this summer. Hand out invitations early. Plan games, mixers and food! Let them know it’s being hosted by a LCCC small group.
  • Make an Outreach Prayer List – List each others’ family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues. Pray for them and for each others’ opportunities to share their faith with them.
  • Adopt a Missionary – Each small group should have a LCCC missionary to pray for, encourage and support, which will strengthen the Great Commission directly. 
  • Adopt a Military Family – Contact the leader of this existing LCCC ministry to sign up as a group.
  • Adopt a Family in need or crisis – Ask a pastor for suggestions.
  • Support LCCC’s Adopted People Group, the Tam*jaq of Niger, by praying, supporting our long-term families there, supporting one of our short-term teams, etc.

Things Groups Can Do Outside the Home, in Local Mission

  • Start an ongoing missional presence somewhere as a group. This would become a major part of your group’s identity.  Some groups are ready for this! Ideas include:
    • Adopt the neighboring streets of either your host home;ALLyour host homes (if you rotate); or the LCCC campus, by cleaning the streets; hosting BBQ’s and holiday parties; passing out church invitations, VBS flyers, etc.; Christmas caroling; serving; and more)
    • Adopt a section of an area of Tillicum or McChord gate
    • College Campus outreach
    • Partner with any local school, offering to meet any type of ongoing need they have, with no strings attached.
    • Partner with the Police or Fire Departments to offer any kind of services they might be able to use, or know of who does. We have several members of these, including an LPD chaplain, in our church.
    • Move some or all of your regular meetings to a local restaurant or business, where you will engage with other customers.
  • Volunteer with the LCCC Food Bank – Opportunities include:
    • Food pickup throughout the week
    • Set up each Thursday morning
    • Distributing food or building relationships during open business hours, Thursdays1-5PM
    • Childcare, Thursdays1-5PM
    • Security, Thursdays1-5PM
    • Shutdown team each Thursday from5:00-6:00PM
    • Run aFood Driveat nearby grocery stores
    • Deep clean of the facilities
    • Find, buy, or raise money for most needed items like toilet paper and cereal
    • Become a prayer partner
    • And more! Contact Foodbank Director, Wanda Hayes.
  • Visit or partner with any one of our local missionaries. For example, the Hewitt group is throwing a BBQ for the DeyArmins’ new church inVesta,WA!
  • Parachurch organizations like Youth For Christ and Young Life regularly need event volunteers or mentors for kids. 
  • Local agencies like Care Net, Love INC., Tacoma Rescue Mission, etc always need volunteers for their great community ministries.

Things Groups Can Do Outside the Home, in Global Mission  

  • Have a truly cross-cultural experience without leaving the area.
    • Partner with World Relief through Jon Banke to serve and reach the large Somali refuge population living right here among us. Read this Small Groups_Bookmark for more information.
    • Partner with Mark and Monika Kozakowski with involvement in the regular Christian meetings among the Puyallup Tribe and the Rising Above Conference needs this summer.

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

Our job is to Tell

‎As we mobilize to go out, always remember that our primary goal in “Leading in Jesus’Mission” is to communicate the gospel.

Memorize this great line; to tell to the people you serve: “I am a disciple of Jesus. I am serving Him by serving you, because that’s what He came to do.” (Pastor Cho)

Include Your Families

Small groups should be both church-family and natural-family driven.

Just do it! Don’t become victim to the paralysis of analysis.  

Whoever you are, you can lead in Jesus’ mission. You can do a lot with the influence you already have. And WE can do even more together, as partners in this mission.

Blessings on your homes and mission,

Pastor Reg

SHARE YOUR IDEAS: Comprehensive does not mean exhaustive. Even as long of a list as this leaves out many many good opportunities. What more can you add from your ideas or experiences?

LCCC UPDATES — Christmas Offering, Family Survey, Events


Each one of these updates requires some kind of a response/action this time. It’s all great stuff, so enjoy! And blessings on your homes and ministries,

-Reg

·

CHRISTMAS OFFERING

Hopefully you received Pastor Jim’s Christmas offering letter in the mail last week, which presents (no pun intended) an opportunity to further LCCC’s Kingdom work and our personal growth through sacrificial giving.  This offering will go towards three very special ministry areas, and is devoted to nothing less than the glory of God. “…so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God” (2 Cor. 4:15).

The pastors and elders have agreed to lead the way in sacrificial giving; we know we’ll be blessed.  We want to ask you to lead that way with us; and join in the blessings from sacrifice. (Matt 19:29) And, will you pass that challenge on to your small group? Lead your group in one of the most Christlike actions – giving.  (Phil. 2:6-11(2 Cor. 8 & 9)

FAMILY SURVEY

If you haven’t taken LCCC’s family survey yet, please take just a few minutes to do so.   Your input will greatly assist the developments in family ministry at LCCC!  Take the survey at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/RB6KLJQ

JBC CONFERENCE TRIP

Pastor Jim tries to take a group from LCCC to this conference every year. This year we are paying for the small group leaders and assistants to come – a great investment in our church.  And a fun time for all who go!  We would LOVE if you could come.  Find the details on our online community website’s home page.  The deadline for hotel reservations is January 3. Please let me know very soon if you’re considering it? In fact, shoot me an email right now if you’re at least considering, at: reg.overstreet@lc3.com.

AHS CHALLENGE for TILLICUM

Several of you are aware of the national competition for a community renewal grant from AHA and Habitat for Humanity.  http://www.ahschallenge.com/ Our own Tillicum is in a dramatic battle to win, and we can help by clicking some buttons! There is screaming pressure coming from the Columbus, Ohio project!  Many in the LCCC family are already voting daily, but we need more!  Catch the fever and vote daily here  http://www.ahschallenge.com/Participants.aspx (Sort by # of votes – we should be on top.) Only 45 days left!

GREAT COMMISSION-FOCUSED WINTER

By the providence of God, LCCC will experience a number of exciting Great Commission oriented moments this winter, making disciples by every means possible. Here is a bullet point list of what to expect and plan with your small groups.

  • December 26 – Commissioning of Bobbi Bails on a 6 month mission to tour with a Ugandan Children’s Choir
  • January 1/2 – Commissioning our Moscow Stuff-a-Stocking Team
  • January 8/9 – Small Group Leader Training; and Guest SIM Missionary Kendrick Lau and family will be giving a brief update on Niger, and speaking to our children and youth and possibly any interested small groups.
  • January 15/16 – Small Group Connection event; and official Winter/Spring Semester Small Group Kick Off!
  • January 17-19 – JBC Prayer Conference Trip!
  • January 28-29 – David and Kelli Pritchard Marriage Conference; the Pritchards are also leading two Sunday morning parenting workshops in January, dates still TBD. These are GREAT opportunities for the parents and families of your small groups whom you are discipling.
  • January 22/23 – New Leader Orientation; heavy promotion of Howie Brant Missions Weekend (Feb 12/13)
  • February 4 – MOPS  Auction
  • February 12/13 – “40 Years of Purpose” Missions Weekend with Howie and Jo Brant. Starts Saturday with Morning Manna in the morning, and Family Missions Presentation and dinner or dessert on Saturday night.  Continues Sunday with various events.  Also, commissioning of Niger Mission Team this weekend.
  • February 19 – Membership 101 Class; …also, Ministry Class 301 is being scheduled for either February or March
  • March – Concert of Prayer with full report from Moscow and Niger Missions Teams, date TBD

Whew, so many opportunities to grow our small groups in discipleship of every kind. And I’m sure I missed something, but thanks for taking the time to begin praying and planning. God bless you as you do.  MERRY CHRISTMAS!!