One of the lessons Jesus lived-out with his disciples was the importance of relationships. Inside the band of disciples the relationships were deeper. There was John; then Peter and James; then the other nine. Outside the band of disciples were a wide assortment of people Jesus related to ranging from religious to non-religious people, far from God. The lesson Jesus taught his disciples was to live in both worlds.
In my last blog I presented the habit: Missional Values. I explained what I mean by missional values:
- Missional = disciples making disciples into the 3rd & 4th generation
- Values = principles that drive missional behaviors
Simply put, Missional Values guide people who are making disciples into the 3rd & 4th generation.
This may seem so basic, but if followers of Jesus focused on Active Prayer (Habit #1) and Missional Values (Habit #2) we might see an upward tick in the calibre of disciples being made. What do you think?
The goal of this exercise is to arrive at the essential support, resources or training a disciple needs – to make disciples, that make disciples.
Now let’s take a look at two areas of focus under RELATIONAL CONNECTIONS:
- Relationships with non-Christians
- Relationships with Christians
It is challenging to live in the tension of developing relationships with people near to God (insiders) and with other people who far from God (outsiders). It is challenging but this is the way Jesus lived and the way he trained his disciples In my life it is easy to make excuses and end up not doing either well. How about you?
Research tells us that after a relatively short period of time (the most conservative estimate is 2 years but some say 3-6 months is more accurate) new Christians lose contact with their non-Christian friends. My earliest memories of connecting with outsiders goes back to when I was in elementary school and I felt the compulsion to invite my neighbor to church. I did eventually give an invitation and I thought that was a major accomplishment. I also remember my mom hosting a VBS in our backyard (to my introverted self it felt like an intrusion on my privacy) forcing me to put my faith “out there”. My dad took a bold step and invited all 300+ employees from his plant to an outreach event at our church during the holiday called the Living Christmas Tree. Together they led a vibrant ministry to singles and singles-again through our home church. There were fits and starts through my college years as I attempted to connect with outsiders. In my estimation the lineage of disciplemaking is more of a squiggly line than an upward trajectory. And perhaps that is a good insight to capture here – disciplemaking is hard work, with little reward (at least in the here and now).
I honestly believe people like my mom and dad have an amazing lineage of people who are now celebrating with their Lord and Savior in heaven. You may be that kind of person. In this habit I want to encourage you to take a honest look and see yourself as God created you. And take on the challenge to develop relationships with both insiders and outsiders to make disciples. I have 30+ years of experience, coaching amazing leaders I’ve had the privilege of working with that have soul-crushing stories of how God has used them to empower others to connect with insiders and outsiders through starting and reproducing healthy churches.
You might be wired more like an introvert than an extrovert. That does not give you an excuse. It does suggest that you will build different kinds of relationships than your extrovert friends. You may be an extrovert and you have an amazing ability to connect with people. But developing connections in and of itself is not the mission – making disciples is; therefore, be certain that you have a path to help others follow you, as you follow Jesus.
That leads us to the following habit which we will cover next time – STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIPS.