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Discipleship and Dialogical Preaching

Here’s an article I wrote for the Five Two Network on the new way I’ve been preaching using questions and dialogue to help disciple our people:
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I love preaching. I love talking about Jesus. I love digging up the truths of a certain text and laying it before the people, so that they might marvel at God and his goodness. I love holding the congregation’s attention, and drawing them into the Law and Gospel through a well-crafted message.

However, since we started a worship gathering for our church plant nearly a year and a half ago, my preaching has changed. I preach dialogically now because I believe it’s the best way for a sermon to contribute to the church’s task of making disciples.

While not a new concept, many haven’t heard of dialogical preaching before. Those who are familiar with the term probably have one of a half-dozen preaching techniques or supplements, used within or outside of the sermon time, that often claim the title, “dialogical.” So let me explain to you what I mean when I talk about this preaching method. I’m talking about asking a series of powerful questions interspersed throughout the message and allowing the congregation to answer them, and even ask their own questions, if they arise, during the sermon time.

The Process of Dialogical Preaching

My sermons are now incredibly simple. They consist of asking five questions* about the text or texts of the day to discover the central truths that will foster repentance, faith, and transformation in the hearer’s life.

These are the five questions:

Read More here…

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The Big Story

Check out this great overview of the Story of God?

What do you like about it?

What elements could you use in sharing the story with someone else?

Serving in a Snow Storm

snow-shovel-100208-02

Jesus is a servant.  The way that he serves shows his love for us.  Jesus said his very mission was to serve us and demonstrate God’s love by saying:

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Jesus is the good king who came to serve, who showed his love by serving us to the point of death on a cross (phil 2:6-11). It’s through Jesus service that the lie of Satan (the lie that said God doesn’t love us) is dispelled when we see that God loves us and will do anything to provide for us the very best of life and life to the full in his kingdom.

If Jesus is the Good King who came to serve, and if you are baptized into his name, you are his servants sent into the world to display the truth of God’s love through your actions–to show the world that God loves them through YOUR actions.  So how can you sere in the snow storm?

  1. Check up on the elderly and the infirm.  See if they need anything and then provide what they need.  Offer to drive to get their groceries or medicine if needed. The roads might be driveable but many won’t want to take a chance or might be to unstable to walk in the snow or ice.
  2. Shovel, snow blow, or plow your neighbor’s walk or drive way…even if they could do it themselves.
  3. Make a large pot of soup and bring some containers for the neighbors around you.
  4. Share some of the milk, eggs, and bread you started hoarding the moment you heard we were going to get snow. (Sorry, couldn’t resist).
  5. If you’ve got a good vehicle and confidence in your driving, offer to pick up a coworker or take them home if the roads are bad.

Finally, Ask the Spirit who you can serve and what you can do for them.  Use this as an opportunity to build relationships with neighbors you haven’t seen all winter or haven’t met yet.

Picture found here

Dealing with Pride in Disciple Making

Here’s a great short video from David Platt and Multiply on how pride sneaks into our disciple making.

 

Questions:

  • What suprises you about what he says concerning pride?
  • Can Pride really be an issue when we doubt our own abilities?

How To Disciple Someone Through Reading The Bible

So you’ve built relationships with somebody in your neighborhood or work place.  You’ve gotten to know quite a bit about them and they’re starting to consider you a friend.  You’ve had a chance to share the Gospel Story with them and they want to know more.  Now what?  Where do you go from here? 

You can always invite them to join your Missional Community in a service project to see the Christian life lived out in serving others.  Or you could invite them to join your MC in hearing the Story-Formed Way.  Yet the timing might not be right.  You might feel like this person needs a little more understanding regarding how to read, understand , respond to, or apply God’s Word.  One of the best ways you can help is to start reading the bible with them on a regular basis. Yet where do you begin?

If the person is already coming to your MC weekly, why not invite them to come 30 minutes before your gathering to read scripture with you?  You could also invite them to join you on your lunch break once a week.  Try to integrate the Bible Study into something that you’re already a part of so it doesn’t become an added “burden” to an already tight schedule. 

 

What is the Bible?

  You want to clarify what the bible is and is not.   

  • The Bible is not primarily a book of rules telling you what you should and shouldn’t do, though it does contain some laws and commandments.  The bible isn’t really about you.  It’s about God and about what he has done for you. 
  • The Bible isn’t a book showcasing a number of heroes that you should copy.   The Bible does, at times, present people that we should try to emulate.  Yet at the same time, many of those people aren’t heroes at all.  When you look at their lives, you see that even the best people recorded in the Bible have many problems and make many mistakes, sometimes even on purpose. 
  • The Bible is primarily a story about God and His love.   As Sally Lloyd Jones says, “Every Story Whispers His name”.  It’s all about Jesus and what he’s done for us.  (Luke 24: 25-27, John 5:39)

Method

Before we begin to read the Bible, we want to pray that God would give us His Holy Spirit to understand, trust, and put into practice what the Bible says.  Without His Spirit we cannot understand or believe the truth of God, nor can we put into practice what it says. 

When we read any passage of the bible, maybe the best way of understanding what God is trying to teach you in the passage is to look at the verse, within its context (the surrounding paragraphs, chapters, and even the particular book itself) and ask questions concerning what the text reveals to us about:   

  1. Who is God (His Character and nature)? 
  2. What has He done, or has promised to do (particularly through Christ’s person and work)?
  3. Who are we (both apart from God and as a result of who God is and what he’s done)?
  4. How do we live now (In light of who God is, what he’s done, and who He’s made us to be)?  

 

Additional questions to ask each other might be:  

  1. When was the text written?
  2. By whom and to whom was the text written?
  3. Why was it written?
  4. Does it reveal God’s law, (how we should live) or Gospel, (what God does for us)?
  5. How can this text be applied to me?
  6. What is striking you about this text?
  7. Does anything in this text shock you?
  8. When might we use this passage or retell this story?
  9. What can I thank God for?
  10. What promises of God can I trust in?
  11. How does this text point to Jesus?

 

Things to have with you 

  • A Study Bible
  • Pen/Pencil
  • Highlighter
  • Bookmark
  • Notepad

Resources 

Disciple ?

There is a lot of talk about faith in the bible.  Both Jesus and the disciples call people to look to and believe the Gospel (The good news of God’s love and forgiveness through Jesus).  Yet when Jesus commissions his followers, he doesn’t call them to make believers of the world, but disciples.  Yet what is a disciple?

Watch this short video from the poet and artist, Propaganda:

A disciple is someone who learns from another.  They learn to think like their teacher thinks.  They learn to live like their teacher lives.   When we come to believe and love Jesus, we want to then live for him.  Yet how do we begin?  Yes, we do want to read God’s Story in the Bible.  But, learning to apply it is hard.  Learning to walk in Jesus’ ways in the 21st century is difficult to understand without seeing someone else do it.  That’s why it’s important to be in relationship with other people who’ve been, not only learning about Jesus and his word, but learning how to walk like Jesus did.

Missional Communities are a great way to learn God’s Story.  Yet they are also great places to learn (with the help of other Jesus followers) how to walk as Jesus did.  Life is hard, in-and-of-itself.  Change is hard.  Living a life of Loving God and Loving others is hard.  Learn with the help of others.  Find a family in  a Missional Community at The Exchange Community.

Picture found here

How to Disciple Children for Mission with Paul Tripp

Watch this challenging short video from Paul Tripp about shaping your children into disciples by leading them into thinking through their lives as Mission.

In many ways, Paul Tripp is simply telling us to talk about the faith and its implications with our children.  Yet its also a reminder that everything that God has gifted us with is an opportunity to witness to Christ’s love.  It is a truth we need to learn and live out so that we can teach it to our children and show them how to live for God’s glory.

Questions:

  • What do you do to disciple your children?
  • What can you change to take the first, or next step, to help shape you child in the ways of Jesus?
  • Who else, besides you, needs to hear this message?   How can you share it with them and help each other become more effective at influencing your children for Christ?

Challenges:

  • Make a list of what you own.  Make a separate list of what your children have.  Have a discussion with your spouse and children on how you can use those things for God’s kingdom.
  • Make a list of the people you know  Make a list of the people your children know.  Put a cross next to each person you know are Christian.  Begin to pray, with your kids, each night for all the people who you know are not Christians.  Then discuss how you can show and share the faith with them.

Watch some more great videos from the Verge Network

A Picture of Life Around the Gospel, Community, and Mission

The other night we gathered our two Missional Communities together to do a little training and to celebrate what God has been doing through our Church planting efforts.  At the end, I shared this video from Soma communities because I wanted to remind our MCs what they were working towards, why they were reaching out, why they were sharing and stretching their lives.

Spend a few minutes of watching the video below and dream of what church could be:

  1. Oftentimes there’s a disconnect between what we read about the Church in scriptures and the church as we know it in 21st century America.  How does this video challenge you?  How does it give you hope?
  2. It takes time to plant a church and to share life in a missional community.  Much of what we do is to invite people to share life with us, by inviting them to join us in what we’re already doing throughout the week.  Still, sometimes to add something we need to let go of something.   What is keeps you from having time to share life with members of your MC, or the people you’re trying to reach?  What do you need to give up to give of yourself to this new life in Christ as His Disciple?
  3. Think of all the people in your life.  Think of the people in this town and region.  For whom is God breaking your heart?  How can you start inviting them to share life with you?
  4. Is there someone who has been discontented with the church that you can share this video with and invite them along on the mission?

Missional Training #18 – Preparing to Lead the Story-Formed Way Pt. 2

Two of our Missional Communities are starting the Story-Formed Way this week.  The Story-Formed Way is a 10 week discipleship course  consisting of interactive storytelling and dialogue through the major narratives of Scripture from Creation to Restoration.  Below are some tips on how to prepare to lead the Story.

 Preparation

At the beginning of the lesson, there are big picture points that focus on the gist of what the lesson is leading towards.  That is for your knowledge as the leader.  Read through the Story out loud multiple times.  Learn it.  Ingest it. Meditate on it. Think of the tone in which the characters would be speaking.  You want to story tell, not just read a paper to people.  However, remember that the Story has been crafted to accurately convey the biblical story.  Don’t change the words.  If you misspeak, reiterate what you meant by saying what was written. 

  • To prepare the manuscript I’m telling the story from, I find it helpful to underline and highlight places where I want to emphasize something important that appears in the dialogue. 
  • Look through the questions at the end and try to answer them yourself.  If there are no answers provided for a specific question, make sure you at least think of what that answer could be. 
  • When it comes to the dialogue, I look over the questions before hand and try to answer them myself.  The leaders guide provides answers, but I try to pinpoint the key answers.  If I can think of any others, sometimes I write them down as well.  If the question is difficult or unclear, sometimes I’ll write down an alternative question just in case people don’t understand the question that was written

 Setting the Tone

  • The contents of the bible were originally told, retold, and passed down from person to person, from generation to generation, orally.  Ancient Jews, as well as the church up until the 16th century, all learned the biblical story communally through story telling.  This didn’t just leave them to try to make sense of the bible on their own, but they had a whole community to help interpret the bible and to retain the accuracy of its telling and interpretation.   Two-thirds of the Bible is a narrative.  One of the benefits of learning the narrative is that it opens the door to understand everything else in scripture. 
  • I often relate the Story to being a smorgasbord or a potluck.  If only one or two people bring a dish, it isn’t much fun.  Likewise, every voice is valuable and contributes.  Our discussion is a smorgasbord.  The more variety of voices and perspective, the greater the feast. 
  • Ancient Jewish people would say that there are “70 Facets” to the Bible.  It was like a giant diamond with so many facets that at every turn you get a slightly different perspective and insight into the diamond.  Likewise, One can study the biblical story over a lifetime and still learn new insights.  It’s  like an onion.  You can keep pulling it back and find new layers of meaning.  Each person present is like that facet of a diamond that the Holy Spirit uses to teach us of the beauty within God’s Story. 
  • Relax and have fun.  Make sure that the tone matches the other activities done that night so it seems natural.  We want sharing God’s word and applying the Gospel to each other’s lives to feel natural so when we gather officially to do that, we want it to seem like a very natural thing as well.  
  • After the first week, When you start the lesson, you can ask if someone is willing to review the last lesson or the whole story leading up to the current one.  This reinforces the themes of the greater Story of God so that they are more easily connected to the story you are covering.   Once the full story is remembered, then you go into telling that night’s story.

 

Telling the Story (This should take 2-5 minutes)

  • When telling the story, I find it helpful to have already underlined or highlighted the most important phrases that are brought up in the following dialogue.  This helps me know what is most important, and also helps me keep track of my place so I can look at people when I speak.  I practice the story 3-5 times.  I try to get to the point where I’m not reading the story, but speaking it and using the manuscript to keep me on track.  The Key is to Stick to the Story.
  • Stick to the Narrative.  Don’t interpret on the fly.  Don’t add things from future stories. 

The Dialogue

  • This is where the Story begins to come alive and shape your community.  The purpose of the dialogue is to help draw out the truths from the Story.
  • Remember set up the expectation that all answers given are to come from the night’s narrative or a past narrative in the greater Story.  If someone tries to quote Luther, Calvin, Billy Graham, Buddha, or Deepak Chopra, Joyce Meyer, etc,  say, “I don’t remember them being in the story” or “where did you hear that in the story.”  This is helpful even when someone starts saying, “I don’t think God would do that!” or “I think God is more like this…”  We’re here to learn the biblical story and his truth as the story is interpreted through the individuals of the group. 
  • If you’re leading the dialogue, you’re job is to keep discussion going through asking questions.  It is NOT you duty to answer the questions or to preach.  The Holy Spirit works through hearing the word of God.  The Spirit will work through the people present to lead the group into the truth. 
  • It is not necessary that you ask all the questions.  There’s usually too many questions to focus on.  The questions are meant to spur discussion.  Remember, this isn’t a Q and A session.  The best questions are often, “What did we learn about God in this story?”  “What did we learn about human beings?” 
  • Make sure you spend some time near the end on some life –application questions.  If the group hasn’t already naturally gone there with some of the previous questions, ask questions about how the story parallels their lives, informs their lives, is seen in aspects of their life, etc. 

Also see Preparing to Lead the Story Formed Way Pt. 1

Pictures found herehere.

Missional Training #16 – Listening

The church that we are working with Jesus to plant is pretty void of programs.  We want it to be as incarnational as possible where we are in the lives of others.  We want to demonstrate the person of Christ through our presence and participation for the good in the lives of those around us.   The incarnation is when Jesus took on human flesh, became one of us, and moved into the neighborhood.  We too want to enter the stories of those around us and change them for the good by pointing to the one who changed and redeemed our story.

Listen to this five-minute Verge Network video from Michael Frost entitled, “How to Listen to your neighborhood”:

As we start planting Missional Communities, listening is a very important activity in determining how to reach and bless those we seek to disciple.  As you think of your prospects, Have you listened to them? 

  • What is their story?  
  • What do they take joy in?
  •  What do they struggle with?
  • Where do they need help?
  • What will it take for them to succeed, be happy, keep their family together, feel worthwhile, etc?
  • What do they think they need to have in life and what, if lost, do they feel would free them?

How do you feel you can incarnate their world?  In what ways can we as an MC enter into their story and bless them and show them Jesus?  In what ways can we, as an entire church, do the same?

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