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Posted on October 15, 2018 10:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Disciple-making
     How people learn is important. How they progress toward belief and action is more important. 

     A white-haired man was introduced to me after preaching. He was starting a church in the next town over, but his comment startled me. “Mark, I appreciated what you said about new believers knowing more lost people. In all my years of ministry, I never thought about training up a new believer to share their faith. And I wanted you to know I’ll be going out with them to share Jesus with their family and friends. I’m headed out right now to start that in my ministry.” You could see the determination in his eyes. It wasn’t too late for him to learn and act.

     There’s a social phenomenon that God instilled in each of us. We respond to innovations that bring change at different rates. When I was studying marketing, I was fascinated by the work of Everett M. Rogers, an Iowa farmer’s kid-turned-scholar. His father was reluctant to use a hybrid corn until a drought proved its worth.

     Rogers identified segments of society that would adopt new ideas and tools. Innovators (2.5%), Early Adopters (13.5%), Early Majority (34%), Late Majority (34%), and Laggards (16%). If you plot this on a graph, it makes a nice bell curve. Those in authority tend to be Laggards while those with the most education and income tend to be Innovators. But Innovators can be fickle although they’ll try practically anything new.

     James F. Engel picked up on this and while teaching at Wheaton College and proposed a numerical scale from -8 (lost) to 0 (conversion) to +3 (discipleship). The Engel Scale provides a way of tracking evangelism-discipleship spiritual progress.

    Jesus was way ahead of Rogers and Engel when He taught in the parable of the sower (Mark 4:1-20) that people are like different soils. Each of us interacts with the seeds of the gospel in different ways. The same is true with evangelistic disciple-making. In that parable, Jesus stressed the importance of being like the good soil, receiving the Word, and bearing fruit for the kingdom.

     Southwestern Ohio is saturated in a sensual world that is 3D. It moves and engages them. It provides community experiences, even if it’s avatars interacting online. Most churches in CABA provide evangelism and discipleship that relies totally on “sit and get” methodology. Come to the class. Come hear the preacher. Watch this performance. Are we relegating believers to be spectators? Kyle Idleman was spot-on with his book, Not a Fan. The book is a call to get out of the stands and onto the playing field.

     Different people take more or less time to believe in Christ and eventually act to make a decision. When we share Christ and our faith with those who are lost, they may be closer to a decision than we may expect. Bill Fey who developed Share Jesus Without Fear likes to say that it takes about seven exposures to the gospel message before a person will surrender their heart to Jesus.

     And the same goes for us who are believers. Are we growing in our faith? Are we willing to make significant changes to the glory of God? It’s easy to say, “I’m sticking with what got me here. If I change it’ll destroy my credibility. Those in my church will think I was wrong all this time and I’ll lose my job.”

     Living out the faith is important for others who are watching our lives and how it benefits them. It can’t be done inside church walls and cocooning in our homes. Bringing the lost into our lives requires lifelong learning leading to a verbalization of our faith. As we interact, we watch them grow in their faith until Jesus is Lord. And then seamlessly, we walk with them into newness of life, encouraging them to bear spiritual fruit to the glory of God.

     One of the key aspects of the No Place Left training is smoothly moving from evangelism to studying the Bible. I'd love to see you Nov. 2-3 at the NPL event at New Hope, Loveland, Ohio. It's free for everyone in your church. Here's more details and info on how to register: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/no-place-left-cincinnati-touch-3-tickets-49916692170

--Mark Snowden is CABA's director of missional leadership.

Posted on September 19, 2018 8:00 AM by Mark Snowden
When I led a Sunday School class for our church’s college students, I was astounded one Sunday when one long-time Christian and faithful attender blurted out, “Just tell us what to believe.”
 
My Baby Boomer generation grew up doubting the Establishment with its political corruption, humiliated tele-evangelists, rampant inflation, and unethical business practices. The Baby Boomer mantra was lifted straight from Karl Marx, “Question everything.”
 
This was unique to me. I belonged to a youth group at church, but went to public schools, participated in the student council, and played sports. I started looking at these college kids more closely. Over time I realized that it is possible for young adult followers of Jesus to live in a parallel universe that does not intersect with the larger society. Many Millennials that profess Christ were raised, schooled, dated, got jobs, married, and began the cycle all over again raising kids within a Christian bubble.
 
Millennials are an age grouping that includes the oldest members born in the early 1980s, now in their mid-30s, and it goes down in ages to those born 17 or 18 years ago. But when I look around churches where I teach and preach, I don’t see significant numbers of Millennials beyond those in the most vibrant youth groups. Just look at the 2010 census counts to see the majority of Millennials are unengaged.
 
And I’m convinced it’s not always the crowd that “loves Jesus, but hates the church” described in Steven Crainie’s book. Tom Gilson, in a review of the book unchristian by David Kinnaman, points fingers at our churches, “This book robbed me of sleep, revealing, as it does, how badly the church is disconnected from younger Americans, and how negatively we are viewed. The source of the disconnect, I’m convinced, is that our discipleship has been weak, sloganistic, not very thoughtful, not loving enough, shallow. Though 29% of Americans say they are highly committed to Jesus Christ, only 3% espouse a Biblical worldview, defined for research purposes as adhering to eight basic doctrines of Christian religion.”
 
Leaders of Bible studies using Bible Storying methods likely have the best chance of effective disciple-making among Millennials. However, I believe two groups of Millennials may have to be evangelized and discipled as if they were two different people groups. Those with a strong evangelical background may need to be challenged more to be evangelistic than those who are from the “lost” ranks. Those with a nominal Christian background are biblically illiterate. An active witness cannot assume those Millennials that they encounter with the gospel know any Bible stories, not to mention basic Christian doctrine. Bible verses used in tracts will be from an unknown context and use words unfamiliar with the lost. Millennials raised in the Christian bubble will have just as difficult time and will likely need cross-cultural training to gain significant relevance among their own peers. Believers need reproducible methods and tools that Storying provides.
 
Bible stories and Storying methodology provide vital tools for advancing the gospel among those in the next generation to the glory of God. Using Bible stories or proverbs as illustrative points in a conversation can flow naturally and planting seeds for future conversations. Being a friend that cares is one thing. Being involved in an important community project that they’re invited to be alongside you is probably even more important. Sharing life together provides a witness when it is verbalized in a relevant but moving story from God’s Word.
 
If an oral approach is ignored, I’m afraid that Millennials will keep considering Christ is no different than considering, well, Karl Marx.
 
Mark Snowden is Director of Missional Leadership for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association.
Posted on August 6, 2018 9:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making
“If you are content to live without revival, you will.” 
 
The quote above is from Byron Paulus, the president of Life Action Ministries and it has been difficult to get it out of my mind.  “Revival,” in the dictionary, has several meanings.  One of my favorites is, “restoring to usefulness.”  I’ve always admired how a person can take an old car out of the junkyard and restore it to its original beauty.  As we experience revival in our own lives, we are restored spiritually to a place of closeness with God and usefulness in His kingdom’s work.
 
When the topic of revival comes up in a church, we have a tendency to think of revival meetings of days gone by.  We would invite a guest speaker to spend a week or two preaching to us each night.  We might have special, outside musicians come in as well; and maybe, we’d throw in some special meals along the way and a free pizza a dinner for youth night!  The goal was to get the lost and the backslidden to come to church as we would pray for real revival in our own hearts and theirs.  We knew that we could not manufacture real revival, but our hope was that God would respond to our sincere prayers and He would bless with salvations and restoration in the lives of the people we invited.
 
Such revival meetings don’t seem to attract the people they once did.  With more and more school activities and the busy schedules of the average American family, such meetings seem almost impossible.  I wonder, however, if the lack of revival isn’t deeper than just living in a fast-paced world.  A friend of mine is fond of saying, “corporate revival always follows personal revival.”  In other words, the church can’t experience revival until individual Christians in the church experience revival for themselves.  Only God can bring revival to a person or a church or a nation, but we also have a responsibility to seek it.  How do we do that, though?
 
It begins of course with our relationship with God.  The closeness of that relationship depends on our regular communion with God.  Bill Elliff, in his book, The Presence Centered Church says it like this, “Your personal experience of God must be your highest priority.  Nothing must get in the way.  Everything must be built around this passion” (pg. 35).  The spiritual discipline of meeting with God and growing deeper in relationship with Him trumps all the other disciplines of the Christians life.  Our personal devotion time with God is essential for personal renewal.
 
Out of our communion with God comes the blessing of repentance.  Yes, I said, “blessing” of repentance.  It is a real blessing to have the Holy Spirit convict us of sin so that we can experience repentance.  God invites us, through this ministry of the Holy Spirit, to experience renewal.  We should welcome his close examination of our lives.  We should rejoice in it.  It is God loving us and longing for communion with us.  When He convicts, we must not excuse or blame.  We must be willing to follow through with restitution and clearing our conscience with others when that is needed.  Although repentance is a struggle, it is a wonderful blessing.  Without it, revival cannot occur.  With it, comes all the potential of a life on fire for Christ.
 
As we obey God in the prayer closet, we can obey Him outside of it.  Through surrendered obedience, we don’t just know God, we experience God.  As we experience God, revival becomes a reality in our hearts and has the potential of spilling over in the church.  May we never be content without it!
Posted on July 2, 2018 9:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making, General
I value vacations.  I would rather sit in a comforter than on a wooden bench.  I like the feel of pulsating steams of water massaging my tired back in a hot sauna.  Ah, yes, comfort can be a very good thing.  Yet, comfort can also be a very dangerous thing.  In the work of God, we can love our comfort a little too much if we are not careful.  The result is a neglect of the Great Commission.  A complacency about discipleship.  An apathy toward worship.
 
The dangers of being spiritually, too comfortable are many.  We can miss opportunities to experience God at work in and through our lives, if we get too comfortable.  We can choose the easy, softer choices of life and neglect God’s invitation to grow in our faith.  Being too comfortable can cause us to overlook the lost and disregard a brother or sister in need.  The 39-year-old man maybe comfortable living in his parent’s basement playing video games all day, but if he wants to live a meaningful life of purpose, he needs to leave that comfort to embrace the challenges of life.  In a similar way, we need to be challenged to leave the comfort of our current level of spiritual growth and usefulness, to begin pursuing the next.
 
Churches can also become too comfortable.  We can get accustomed to the comfort of being a certain size as a church and forget that God has placed us in the middle of a real mission field of people who need to be reached.  We would never put out a sign saying, “No New People Welcome Here,” but churches can still communicate that message in many subtle ways if they are too comfortable.  Even in a Sunday School class or small group, we can delight in the people we have, to the neglect of the people we need to reach.  After all, we have a nice comfortable feel to our class as it is.  Why work on reaching someone new?
 
To overcome comfortableness, we need to remember that spiritual growth flourishes in discomfort.  Discomfort caused Abraham to leave Ur and Moses to go back to Egypt.  Discomfort allowed Joshua to face the challenges of Ai and Joseph to become the leader he needed to become to “save many people alive.”  We need our discomfort to motivate us to strive for more.
 
We must remember that our purpose in life is to know and love God with all our being and to love people as Jesus loved people.  That challenges us to dive deeper into His Word and prayer.  That keeps us moving out of our comfort zone to touch lives we have never touched.  The potential of our lives and the impact we can make by God’s grace will be diminished if we remain in a state of continual spiritual ease.
 
We must be reminded of the brevity of life if we are to overcome our comfortableness.  All of us want to make a difference in this life.  We want to leave a positive, spiritual mark on our family, our friends and our neighbors.  No Christian wants to look back on their lives one day and see a series of wasted opportunities to influence others for Christ and grow closer to Him.  Psalm 90 reminds us “to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”  Becoming too comfortable can be very unwise.
 
There is nothing wrong with having a lemonade under an umbrella on a beautiful beach.  We all need time to pause, reflect and meditate.  Times of rest are essential, but we also know that relaxation won’t pay the bills and advance us in life.  Likewise, in our walk with God, we need to enjoy our seasons of blessings, but remember that life is too short to be comfortable in our complacency.
Posted on June 18, 2018 9:52 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Disciple-making
A local church invited me to be the “storyteller” at an evangelistic block party in a rural town. I had four sessions. In the first one, I cut out a golden calf from gold foil wrapping paper and was good to go. Well, I asked what an idol was and explained that God didn’t like idols. And then I told the Golden Calf story from Exodus 32. Now, there were 20 in the place listening to me, 15 of which were under the age of seven or eight years old. I gave it all I had, but stuck to the story. I had their rapt attention!

In true Bible Storying style and unlike most storytellers, I tested for comprehension. After telling the story, I began the listening task by asking one very simple question.

“What did you like best about the story?”

“The golden calf!”

Uh-oh! All the kids said they liked the golden calf the best. After one said it, they all nodded in agreement. Smiles came from the adults. My wife rolled her eyes. When I asked what they learned about God, one little girl said, “God loves calves!”

It was a crash and burn moment. Note to self—avoid Golden Calf story in a farming community where the kids love their cows!

There is an important moral to that story. The small group leader can do all he can do to select and tell the story, but unless he asks questions he never knows what people–especially kids—are really thinking. Oh, and yes, I switched to another Bible story with better results in the other three storytelling times.

Asking questions or lecturing is as different as hooks and clubs. A club is intended with a different purpose than a hook. What implement did a shepherd carry? A shepherd’s staff is universally depicted as a long, hooked rod that could pull the sheep in the right direction. If smacked with a club, a startled lamb could dart in any direction. A club is like an exclamation mark (!) where a hook is like a question mark (?). Let that stand as a reminder that disciple-makers need to use questions to guide the “lambs” in a small group to explore biblical truths as the Holy Spirit leads.

A small group leader committed to disciple-making will want to use questions to guide the dialogue about the Bible story. The teacher turns into a facilitator who draws out Truth in alignment with the Holy Spirit’s prompting.
Bible Storying methods encourage the small group leader to know the spiritual condition of each person in the group. He uses three different types of questions:

1.    Head questions are used to get the facts right. Did they understand the story? Discipleship is more than just facts, but this is the place to focus on biblical accuracy. Sometimes participants want you to speculate, but simply (and kindly) ask, “Well, what does the Bible say?”
2.    Heart questions probe at intent and choices made in the story. What do they need to change? I find that it really helps to bow your head and lead the group in a prayer for the Holy Spirit to speak to each person in alignment with John 16:13. The standard four questions to ask include: What do you like? What don’t you like? What did you learn about God? What did you learn about mankind? So what? What changes do you need to make because of this story?
3.    Hand questions are for personal application. Questions are geared toward others and their needs. Who do you know that needs this story? Who will tell this story? And then hold volunteers accountable for doing what they promised to do from one meeting time to another.

Making disciple-makers requires knowing the spiritual development progress of each believer. You never know, they might be off chasing golden calves.
 
Mark Snowden is the Director of Missional Leadership for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association. The idea of hooks and clubs in Bible Storying is adapted from the book he wrote with the late Avery Willis titled Truth That Sticks: How to Communicate Velcro Truths in a Teflon World (NavPress 2010).
Posted on June 5, 2018 7:00 AM by David Frasure
I remember thinking that being a pastor involved preaching and caring for people—period.  I was convinced that if I became a scholar of the Bible, I would know everything there is to know about being in ministry.  After working through building projects and insurance claims, promoting events and dealing with local zoning regulations, setting meeting agendas and preparing church budgets, I began to realize that there was a lot more to ministry than praying a lot and knowing your Bible. 
 
Perhaps you have noticed that leading your Sunday School class or heading up a ministry requires skills other than studying and praying.  You must organize people to do any kind of ministry or outreach as a class.  It takes some administrative abilities to plan a trip to a nursing home or organize a class fellowship.  You have to figure out how to enlist people for ministry, keep up with birthdays, keep accurate records for attendance, etc.  You need to develop some administrative skills to do get the job done!
 
If you are like me, administration and organization is not an area of strength.  There is a spiritual gift of administration, sometimes translated organization or leading (Romans 12:8).  God did not give me that spiritual gift!  It doesn't come easily for me.  Certainly, it is wise to have someone with that spiritual giftedness to serve along side you, but it is clear, that if I am called upon to lead a class or ministry, I need to learn how to be organized and prepared to lead the people God has given me to serve.  So how does a non-organizer learn to organize?  Here are a few thoughts.
 
Use a planning calendar.  I prefer to use a notebook style planner.  It never crashes like a computerized planner can.  It may be bulky by today’s standards, but my information is always there in the notebook.  It helps me to take control of my schedule—at least in part.  It keeps me from forgetting something I must do next month, and it helps me not to make the same mistake next year.  I find that great ideas do no one any good unless they are funded, and they get on the calendar.  Otherwise, they become lofty daydreams that never impact anyone’s life.
 
Use a “to do list.”  I divide my weekly "to do list" into three sections.  I have a column for things related to teaching and preaching, a column for caring ministry such as outreach and ministry to individuals under my care and a column for administration items.  I put each task into a time slot for each work day.  Some weeks it works like a dream and other times the unexpected messes it all up, but I will accomplish much more if a start my week off with such a list.  It also helps to organize your list by priorities and do the most important tasks first.
 
Delegate.  I know I am not the greatest at delegating.  It is difficult to know when a person can be trusted to follow through with an assignment or do it with excellence, and sometimes it just seems easier to do it yourself.  That attitude, however, robs people of the joy of serving and never challenges them to grow.  When I’m organizing an event, I make a list of tasks that need to be done.  We may need flyers printed, or materials sorted, or food purchased.  I then try to match the right person to the right task and make the contact to ask for their help.  If I don’t enlist people ahead of time and explain their assignment, I frustrate them and give them a bad experience in ministry.  They may not want to serve next time, because of my poor leadership and organization.  My job is to help them have success with the task and hopefully have an enjoyable experience, in the process.
 
Good leadership requires administration and I’m sure I should have a few more details for this article, but my lack of organizational skills requires me to stop here.  Ugh!
Posted on May 28, 2018 9:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Disciple-making
Congratulations and praise God that someone new has accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior. Now what? Give them a quarterly and plop them in a Sunday School class? Invite them to a one-hour lunch where you run down the ministries that could use their help? Provide a walkthrough so they know your church’s schedule and facilities?
 
Jesus said that we were to make disciples of all people. How’s that working for you? Here are five proven methods to encourage those who follow-up with new believers. It helps if they consider them to be like someone who will be the next Apostle Paul, leading many others to follow Jesus:

1.    Go to meet them in person. At the arranged time, listen to them tell their story (testimony). Affirm their decision by reviewing what it means to come to salvation.
2.    Pray with them about their decision and what it means for them in the days ahead. Ask them if this means any changes in their lifestyle as they walk with Jesus “in the newness of life.”
3.    Ask them who they know that needs to hear the gospel message. This could be a family member, co-worker, or friend. Pray with them about their concern. Offer to go with them or have the new believer invite those they know to a special place to hear the gospel message. Set a meeting time before leaving in which you can meet with this new believer, explain the gospel message to those in their circle of influence, and follow-up with those who make a decision.
4.    Invite them to your church. Alert a Sunday School teacher or small group leader to take them to lunch or meet with them after church. (Offer to reimburse the meal costs.)
5.    Begin an intentional five-week disciple-making effort, equipping them as witnesses who can reproduce this process in the lives of others that they know. Here's a simple guide, free in a PDF file titled "New Believers Following Jesus."

When traveling for the IMB into a people group totaling three million, it was a joy to encounter a missionary who had spent months developing evangelism projects. When reviewing his printed plans, I innocently looked up and asked, “Where are your follow-up plans for new converts?” The missionary swallowed hard and mumbled something about looking into it. About two months later, I received an email stating that within a week of finishing their disciple-making plans, God honored them by having their first converts come to faith in Christ. I have often wondered if God was waiting for the missionary to get ready because His new children deserved quality attention!
Invest time with new believers. And get to know those in their circle of influence, too. They will likely know more lost people than those who have been saved. If there are godly followers of Jesus that they know, meet them to so they can become part of your follow-up plans. Build a network around them!  

It may be that you’ll need to start a special class, using a partnering teacher to lead a series of basic discipleship classes on understanding the Bible, what it means to have a daily devotion, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, understanding worship including learning a few Scripture songs, how to share your faith with others, the importance of church membership, having fellowship, and ministering to others. If this is a cross-cultural experience it may require possibly a small group that can become a new church. A three-month course for those who came to Christ in the previous six month or so is available called “Catching Fire: New Believers” from Snowden Ministries Int’l (snowdenministries@gmail.com).

And be sure to follow-up THIS WEEK!
 
Mark Snowden is the Director for Missional Leadership (DOM) for the Cincinnati Area Baptist Association.
Posted on May 21, 2018 9:00 AM by David Frasure
The online Wikipedia encyclopedia says, “A disciple is a dedicated follower of Jesus.  A disciple is a follower of a teacher.  It is not the same as being a student in the modern sense.  A disciple in the ancient biblical world actively imitated both the life and teaching of the master.  It was a deliberate apprenticeship which made the fully formed disciple a living copy of the master.”  We all know that the Great Commission tells us to make disciples of Jesus Christ.  It is the task of every Christians to be influencing others to move closer to Jesus, so they in turn, can help others move closer to Jesus.
 
For some, it is children or grandchildren who are being discipled day by day.  Others lead a Sunday School class or small group to become devoted followers of Christ.  Others use a one-on-one mentoring approach to disciple a friend.  No matter how you teach or who it is you are discipling, there are three big things to keep in mind.
 
First, we need to think of discipleship as a direction we are leading others to follow.  Discipleship is not the study of material, but the pursuit of a Person.  Discipleship is not a leap in maturity, but a series of small steps in the right direction.  Discipleship is not about a destination, but the direction in which a person is going.  Second Corinthians 3:18 reminds us that we as Christians are “being transformed into the same image from glory to glory…”  It is a step by step process of moving toward Christlikeness. 
 
We often think of discipleship in terms of book studies or courses we have completed.  Certainly, materials can be useful, but a person may do several studies and still not be a follower of Jesus.  If you are simply moving a person closer to Christ, you are a successful discipler!
 
Second, think of discipleship as an intentional friendship that takes you on a mission-focused journey.  Discipleship happens in the context of building a relationship with other persons and then helping them become devoted followers of Jesus through your example as well as your instruction.  Jesus discipled in the context of relationships.  He went out to be on mission with His disciples.  We see that the apostles followed the same kind of pattern.  The “one anothers” of the New Testament require that we have a relationship with fellow disciples.  Relationships require deliberate investment of time and effort.  We never disciple accidentally.
 
Third, think of discipleship as a course of action that is different for each person.  Any parent knows that the way you train one child, may be completely different with another child.  The same is true in the way we disciple others.  People learn in different ways—some by seeing, others by hearing.  Some learn best by reading or writing, others by doing.  People respond to teaching that touches them in a personal way.  To guide another person on the discipleship journey, we must understand the person’s hurts and felt needs.  To make a disciple, the mentor must first study and understand the mentee.  A discipler isn’t required to become an expert on discipling, but to have success, he needs to become an expert on the one being discipled.
 
As the world grows colder and harsher toward Christians, the need for enlisting and equipping disciples is more and more evident.  Who in your closest circle of influence needs a mentor like you?  Can you begin testing the waters for a new discipling relationship?  Who can become your apprentice as you partner together for the kingdom?  The church needs teachers, but even more, the church needs disciplers who are making disciples who are “living copies of the Master.” 
Posted on May 15, 2018 9:00 AM by Mark Snowden
Categories: Disciple-making
In a consultation with a church as they were developing their evangelism strategy, it dawned on me that if their church had been in a community that had not grown numerically, they easily could have closed their doors. If they lost two families out the back door, there are many others walking in the front door. However there are churches in the Cincinnati Area that would be in trouble if two families walked out the back door.

An influx of people into your community used to mean a more transient group of people. However, when the housing market crashed in 2008 and companies stopped hiring and increased lay-offs, many communities “hunkered down.” Those who moved in were trapped in apartments, condominiums, starter homes, and places known for immigrants.

When we talk about “closing the back door,” we mean discipling members to the point that they don’t leave the church unless moving away from the community. Many churches have big front doors, meaning that there are many people in the community who are looking for a new church home. According to Aubrey Mauphurs, 85% of churches in America have stopped growing and of those experiencing some type of growth, 14% can be attributed to transfer growth; church-hopping.  

A pastor once asked me for suggestions for holding his church members accountable for spiritual growth without it becoming a time-consuming task. I don’t think a pastor is capable of personally discipling every member of his church. Small groups leaders should do that. There should be accountability drilled into them and they report weekly to the Sunday School superintendent or some other person who can counsel them and hold them accountable. This means replacing whomever doesn’t take spiritual development seriously but insists on just teaching the lesson week after week without tracking spiritual growth. And it means restricting the size of every group to 20 people or fewer. You should be intentionally developing new leaders to become small group leaders. Yes, this means a new paradigm of small group discipleship.

If you’re not holding your small group leaders accountable, then that’s an area to pray about improving. Pray out a leader! Even if you have a Sunday School superintendent, he should be reporting to the pastor what his teachers are doing. The teachers should be reporting to him what their participants are doing, including children. Jesus gave us the Great Commission to make disciples. If you’ve got a bedrock commitment to make disciples, then even worship and preaching feed that priority.

In working through dozens of interviews for the book Truth That Sticks that I wrote with Avery Willis, I identified four keys to small groups success:

1.    Relational – this is why small groups have less than 20 people.
2.    Supportive – participants do life together; they actually hang out in the week.
3.    Transparent – vulnerability breaks down barriers and keeps things genuine.
4.    Accountable – new small groups are leader-mills so that your church can start new groups, very possibly every six months.

These four keys not only close, but padlock the back door.
Posted on May 15, 2018 9:00 AM by David Frasure
Categories: Disciple-making, General
Every once in a while, someone will make a statement about the Old Testament as if it is old news, implying that Christians don’t really need to get too excited about its content.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  It may be a little tougher to dig into the history of the Old Testament (OT) and understand the culture of that day, but the insights into life are worth the effort.  There are several reasons why the study of the “Hebrew Bible” is valuable to the New Testament Believer.
 
The Old Testament was the Bible Jesus and the Apostles used.  Jesus saw the OT as God’s inspired Word.  He and the Apostles both quoted from it in their speaking ministries and read and studied it in their personal lives.  If Jesus and the Apostles studied the OT, certainly that is enough reason for us to do the same.
 
The Old Testament is our heritage as God’s people.  The New Testament is grounded in the Old.  The OT gives us the prophecies of the first and second coming of Christ.  In fact, it could be argued, that the topic of the OT really is Christ Himself.  The flow of OT history is the completion of God’s plan of redemption, fulfilled by the Lord Jesus Christ.  The OT helps us understand the New.  It gives us insight into the blood sacrifice and what it really means that Jesus Christ is our “great High Priest.”  Without the OT, we would understand very little about covenants and the real significance of the cross.  It helps us to know who we really are in Christ.
 
The New Testament refers to the importance of the Old Testament.  First Corinthians 10 reminds us that the events of the OT were given to us as an example of God’s dealings with His people.  So, when we read of God’s judgments upon Israel, it helps us see how He deals with our nation.  The OT teaches us how to live the Christian life.  We learn what endurance looks like from Job.  We see what faithfulness really is when we study the life of Daniel.  We learn more about obedience when we read of the life of Abraham.  Our lives are enriched by the events and examples we find throughout the OT.
 
The New Testament Christian is blessed by the study of the Old Testament.  We use the Psalms extensively in our worship songs and our devotional lives.  Who is not blessed by a better understanding of Psalm 23?  How would we know about creation without Genesis?  The wisdom of Proverbs would not be able to challenge and shape our thinking today were it not for the OT.  The OT makes up the bulk of God’s inspired Word.  Without it, we would miss many blessings.
 
Studying the Old Testament helps us to witness to people who know little about the New Testament.  Chuck Swindoll challenged me one time on his radio program by asking this question, “Could you share Christ with a person using only the Old Testament?”  There are many unsaved people in our own communities that have a deep respect for the OT.  If we could help them see Jesus portrayed in the OT, they would be much more receptive to our message.
 
Yes, I am a New Testament believer.  I am not under the old covenant and I know Jesus has fulfilled all the law and has become the perfect sacrifice and High Priest of my soul.  But God speaks to us through the pages of His Word regardless of which book of the Bible we are reading from.  The study of the OT does have its challenges, but how inspiring is its poetry, how rich is its history, how precious are its insights.  I love the Old Testament because it edifies my soul and points me to Jesus.
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