Start a Fire in Your Heart


In our busy and hectic lives, it is easy to get lost in the problems of our lives. How can we focus on growing in our faith in such a crazy world?

Rochelle Frazier is a small-town Mississippi woman who is focused on lighting fires in the hearts of women who are looking for God. By teaching to seek, love and follow Him, Rochelle empowers women through her speaking, writing and attitude towards life.

Join us as we learn about what Rochelle is doing in the lives of many by helping people in their spiritual growth.  Sit back and listen and Rochelle will teach you how to start a fire in your heart.

Discipleship #003: The Church

As educated Christians, we have often heard that a church is not merely a building. However, when we refer to a “church,” we still point at an ensemble of solid, concrete walls and elevated ceilings with a cross on top. For practical purposes, it is not wrong to do so. But this image is so ingrained into our minds that the practical definition of “church” as a building is more prevalent than the original definition of “church” as a gathering of Disciples.

Consider this: in the past, some churches were but houses of Christians, who offered their place up for worship and prayer. Even now, in different third-world countries, some churches start out as small, plain buildings made out of adobe bricks and bare grounds where Disciples of Christ meet. So what is a church?

A church is neither a building nor us. It is us in Christ. As A.W. Tozer puts it in Man: The Dwelling Place of God, “One hundred religious persons knit into unity by careful organization do not constitute a church any more than eleven dead men make a football team. The first requisite is life, always.” And that Life we know as God.

The purpose of the church is then the purpose of the disciples that conform it: to be a place of discipleship, that is, to be disciples and make disciples together. This is how through the church, Jesus continues to live and give out the good news to the world.

Structure

One of the widely used Bible verses to describe how the structure of a church should look like is Corinthians 12:12-13.

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves[a] or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

Paul used the image of a living body instead of an inanimate machine for a reason. It was to show that a church should function organically, not mechanically. And indeed, in the passage of One Body with Many Member, Paul’s image of the church as the body of Christ deals with living, unique disciples working united in Christ.

But Paul was not the only one who used the image of the human body to show the value of an individual and the strength of togetherness. One of Aesop’s fables tells the story of the belly and the members. And this is how it goes:

One fine day it occurred to the Members of the Body that they were doing all the work and the Belly was having all the food. So they held a meeting, and after a long discussion, decided to strike work till the Belly consented to take its proper share of the work. So for a day or two, the Hands refused to take the food, the Mouth refused to receive it, and the Teeth had no work to do. But after a day or two the Members began to find that they themselves were not in a very active condition: the Hands could hardly move, and the Mouth was all parched and dry, while the Legs were unable to support the rest. So thus they found that even the Belly in its dull quiet way was doing necessary work for the Body, and that all must work together or the Body will go to pieces.

In both Paul’s letter and Aesop’s fable, each part of the human body has a different function in contributing to the health of the whole. They are interdependent and definitely not self-sufficient. The church and its members are no different. As members of the church, we have different gifts we can use for the church, and we need each other to help each other in our brokenness and loneliness.

But in Aesop’s fable, there is no mention of the head. And perhaps it is the exact absence of this character in the story that the strike of the members happens. In the church, every member’s movement is able to become functional and work in harmony thanks to the coordination and guidance of the head, Jesus Christ. Without the head or without obeying the head, we would be as lost as the members of Aesop’s fable before they found out they had to work together.

3 Ways a Church Should Treat Its Disciples

We have said that the church is a place of discipleship. It is up to the church to foment discipleship and maintain a loving community of disciples. But how do we do that? How should we treat our disciples? Here are three great ways to consider:

  • Like Sons and Daughters: Paul was a great example of intimate involvement, and tender and disciplined love. In 1 Thessalonians 2 he writes that he did not only share the gospel but his life (v8), and in a similar fashion, missionaries dedicate themselves in sharing a life with the people of their new home shoulder to shoulder. Like both of them, we are not to act like distant supervisors to each other, but like a gentle “nursing mother caring for her little children” (v7) and “as a father deals with his children” (v11) by constantly encouraging, disciplining, and teaching each other our trades as disciples right next to them.
  • Like Siblings: When Paul writes to the church of Philippi, he addresses them as if they were family, calling them brothers and sisters. He urges them to think the same, love each other, and be united and humble (Philippians 2.1-4). In his commentary Paul for Everyone: The Prison Letters, N.T. Wright writes that even in the midst of theological differences, resentments, variations in worship style, leadership style, and different personalities, Paul promoted a sense of belonging that should be found in the love for Christ and the gospel. Like a family united by blood ties, Paul shows that church members are united by Christ ties.
  • Like Individuals: This is a tricky one. In order to encourage discipleship, churches often engage in different practices such as bible studies, small groups, conferences, retreats, and out-reach programs. However, at one point we have started to rely on them to make disciples, as we would rely on a paper machine to mass produce sheets of papers out of living trees. It becomes all about making people complete tasks rather than the people themselves. It is essential to create programs tailored for intelligent, feeling individuals.  The nail clipper was made for the hand, not the other way around. So Bible studies? Instead of simply selecting a random book to study, let us discuss our spiritual needs and find something matching. Small groups? Let us not end them in answering prescribed questions but get to know each other’s lives through genuine interest. Retreats? Let us focus less on being on schedule and remember to build unity and community more than anything. Outreach? Let us see it less as a program but as an act of love for people.

There many other things to consider when it comes to the church. It is, after all, a complex, living thing. But what we need to remember is this: Without Christ there would be no disciples, and without those disciples there would be no church. In the very beginning and at the very end of it, the church is not really about the church. It is about Christ.

 

Michigan Area Discipleship Survey Results: 7 Things You Need To Know!

Thanks again to all who participated in Michigan Area UMC Discipleship Survey!  The results are in and we’re excited to share them with you.

So, here’s what we found …

1.  Keep it small and manageable.

The average size of small groups is 10 people and each church has an average of 7 small groups it conducts.

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2.  Innovation and Training aren’t just suggestions.

Only 13% of Bible Studies are viewed as being excellent.  Most of us are only moderately satisfied.  Resources used and group leader quality can make or break an experience.  It’s worth it to put in the time to find the best resources for your group and to train leaders to effectively develop discipleship.

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3.  Book studies are the way to go.

Studying a book of the Bible or a certain topic are great, but having a guide book and supplemental resources can heighten the learning and community experience.  Often the accompanying narrative allows readers to find themselves in the story and identify with the discipleship process.

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4.  Keep it regular.

Groups tend to meet weekly for about an hour or hour and a half.  This usually happens in the middle of the week in the evening.  This consistency provides accountability, a chance for in-depth learning and fellowship, and a respect for the hectic schedules we all tend to have.

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5.  Remember to be multi-modal!

The best learning engages multiple senses and is tailored to different learning styles.  The studies that are most preferred are those that come with DVDs and guidebooks.  There’s something here for everyone!

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6.  It’s good to know.

Collaboration with other churches, curriculum experts, and small group leaders allows you to stay up to date and to make educated decisions about which resources to use.

7.  We want you to be in the loop.

We compiled a list of the top resources being used by Michigan area UMC churches right now:

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Thanks for helping us help you.  We’ll be conducting similar surveys for other states and denominations soon!
If you need anything along this journey of discipleship, we’re here for you.  Reach out to us with questions/comments/feedback at  contact@goodberry.net.

 

Jesus Plus Nothing

Andrew Farley serves as the Lead Pastor of Ecclessia: Church Without Religion.  Seems like an oxymoron, right?  Well, not exactly.  You see, Andrew believes that we should keep it simple.  That’s why a mantra he uses is “Jesus plus nothing.”

Andrew has had a rollercoaster of a journey.  In fact, you might not even believe the circumstances he’s been lifted out of.

Be sure to check out the video podcast above to hear more about his story and visit our website to check out Andrew’s books.

 

On Deck:

Be on the lookout for our upcoming episode releases from

Rachel Olsen

Rochelle Frazier

Jenny Simmons

John Eldredge

Eric Samuel Timm

And many more!

Have a guest idea?

Contact us:  ashleigh@goodberry.net

Words Left Behind

Jerry B. Jenkins helped to re-awaken the world to the forthcoming return of Jesus in his Left Behind series.

One thing is for certain, after authoring over 180 books, Jerry has certainly “left behind” a trail of breadcrumbs that points readers toward God.

Join us in discovering the journey, methodology, and passions of Jerry in his work as a best-selling author, Chairman of the board of trustees at Moody Bible Institute, owner at Jenkins Entertainment, and owner of the Christian Writers Guild.

What’s coming up?

Be on the lookout for our upcoming episode releases from:

Andrew Farley

Rachel Olsen

Rochelle Frazier

Jenny Simmons

John Eldredge

And many more!

Have a guest idea?

Contact us:  ashleigh@goodberry.net

Why Generation Y?

We know from our time in ministry that attempting to understand and relate to Generation Y can leave you asking “why”?  Thank goodness for leaders like our guest today!

Brock Morgan, the Youth Pastor at Trinity Church in Greenwich, Connecticut,  has been serving students in various capacities for over twenty-three years.

Brock feels that Generation Y has a faith that can change the world.  Join us in finding out why!

What’s coming up?

Be on the lookout for our upcoming episode releases from:

Jerry B. Jenkins

Attaboy

Andrew Farley

Rachel Olsen

And many more!

 

 

Coming Soon! Meetup Event: Process Design for Ministry

With the New Year right around the corner, we’re thrilled to share that we’re hosting another  Meetup Event!  We hope you’ll join us for a discussion on Process Design in Ministries and Churches.  What gets people in the door?  What does their journey look like from one point to another?  How do you ensure a good experience?  We’ll be covering these questions and many more.

We hope to share best practices for ministry leadership and discuss relevant tools and resources.   All are welcome, so please be sure to come check it out and share your knowledge (and enjoy free refreshments)!

Nice to MEET You.

Yesterday we hosted our second Meetup Event!  Thanks so much to all who were able to join us.  We had a great evening of discussion centered around the topic of Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle – “The naturally occurring pattern that explains how great leaders inspire others” and how to ensure effective leadership within small groups and ministries.

Our mission and passion here at Goodberry is to help Christians be disciples and to outfit churches with resources and tools to help raise disciples.  In addition, we also strive to create a community which allows people to connect, learn, support, and grow with others in a journey of discipleship.  This Meetup Event was a perfect medium to begin establishing a group here in our local community.

Our discussion generated a lot more questions of how we can not only get folks on board with the WHY behind our ministries and organizations, but also HOW.  We’d love for future Meetup Events to focus on effective leadership methodologies. We hope to feature speakers that have embodied the mission of their ministries and providing excellent maps – allowing others to get from point A to point B.

The next Meetup Event will be taking place on January 9th – Be sure to keep an eye out for more details.  We hope to see you there!

The Golden Circle for Ministry

Here at Goodberry, it is our mission to help churches make disciples, and we believe that creating a strong local community is a great step to doing so.  We’re excited to announce that we’ll be sponsoring our second Meetup Event here in Grand Rapids!  Please consider joining us for an evening that promises to deliver all you’re after:  philosophy, people, and of course, (free) Panera!  We hope to share best practices for ministry leadership and discuss relevant tools and resources at each Meetup Event.  The topic this round is Simon Sinek’s “Golden Circle” and it’s application for ministry settings.

You’re Invited: Thursday, December 5th, 2013 at the Goodberry office

Who else will be there?:  Small Group Attendees, Small Group Leaders & Facilitators/Coordinators, Bible Study Leaders/Teachers, Pastors & Church Leaders

Learn more and RSVP at our Facebook event page:  https://www.facebook.com/events/221939714649985/