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Thursday, March 30, 2017

More Discipleship Hows and Whys

For those of you who were absent a couple of Sundays ago when we studied Exo 18:13-27, the main application of the message was that we are called to grow spiritually and to be involved in the spiritual growth of others.  A way of doing this is to get together with another believer to read the Scriptures together and talk about it.  In another post, I’ve suggested a method of Bible reading for long-term retention – this method can be used with another believer to facilitate the kind of one-anothering prescribed in Eph 4:12-16. 

I’ve been so encouraged by the number of people who have told me that they have pursued this kind of relationship since that message.  (Some folks were already doing it! Awesome.)  But I’ve gotten some questions since then that I’d like to answer here for the benefit of all.  I’d also like to share a couple of exhortations for the purpose of perpetuating this new movement at Providence.

In the message on Exodus 18:13-27, I shared a series of questions that can be used to generate discussion when reading the Scriptures with another person.  If you are both reading the same portion of Scripture in the manner prescribed in the above mentioned post, these questions may not be necessary, since you will likely have plenty to talk about without them.  But since I mentioned the questions very quickly in that message, some folks did not have the opportunity to write them down, so here they are:

1) What is one thing that you did not understand in the text read?

2) What is one thing that you had never noticed before?

3) What is one thing that you found particularly moving/convicting/helpful?

To these questions I would add a fourth:

4) How does this passage point us to the Lord Jesus?

If we use Hebrews 10:24-25 as a guide for these meetings, we will approach them with a view toward stirring one another up to love and good works.  So along with the above questions about the text, we should give thought to how we can use the passage to encourage our reading partner to (1) greater affection for the Lord and the church and (2) greater striving for holiness.

I also mentioned in the message that ideally we would do this with a couple of people, one believer who is more mature who can challenge us and another believer who is less mature whom we can help along.  I received a good question about this: does this mean having two one-on-one meetings or one meeting of a group of three?  I had in mind two one-on-one meetings, so that you are able to focus on a different purpose for engaging with the two different people.  That being said, it wouldn’t be a violation of any “rule” to do a group of three.  If you have a group of three excited to get together, do it!

There are two kinds of people that may be slow to pursue this kind of relationship.  The first is people who are introverted.  This is a generality, not a universal truth.  Consider that this is really a matter of obedience to the Scriptures.  You don’t have to engage in this exact mechanism of being involved with other believers, but to be a faithful, participating member of the body, you do need to be having meaningful interaction with other believers in some capacity.  Sunday morning worship simply is not conducive to this kind of interaction.  If our only meaningful conversations about the Lord take place during the greeting time and before and after the service, can we really say that we are stirring one another up and encouraging one another as we’re commanded to do?  Are we really speaking the truth in love as we’re told?  Again, these are not commands given to some elite strata of believers.  They are given to all of us, and the body will not grow as it is designed if we are not all functioning properly. 

The other group of people who may be slow to pursue this kind of relationship is men.  Pretty broad, huh?  Again, a generality, not a universal truth.  The typical reason we give for not doing it is that we’re “too busy.”  This is somewhat comical to me given that a large number of our members already engaging in these kinds of relationships are mothers of small children.  I’ve never been a mother of small children, but I’ve been married to one.  I’m betting that all of us “too busy” men are able to carve out a good ten to twenty minutes here and there to at least close the bathroom door and read.  If the typical mother of small children ever experienced ten uninterrupted minutes alone in any room, she would assume her children had died because it never happens.  If these mothers can meet together, so can the men.  We’re not too busy.  We make time for what’s important to us.  And those of us who went through the Men’s Boot Camp in 2015 know better than to try to go it alone. 

There is wave of Christ&Church affection and good works swelling at Providence.  It has everything to do with the fact that people are taking seriously their responsibility to be involved with one another, pointing each other to Jesus.  If you’re not involved in this, jump in.  If you don’t know who to ask, ask one of the elders and we’ll get you connected to someone.

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