Jose Cummings: Progression

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jose Cummings( 2 Peter 1:5-8)

Peter was passionate about progress.

It is not hard to speculate on where this passion might have come from. The gospels tell the story of a man whose need for progress was displayed for all to see; sinking as he started to walk on water, rebuked with “Get behind me Satan…”, falling asleep in Gethsemane, cutting of Malchus’ ear, disowning Jesus.

These experiences might have caused him to give up, hold back, slow down, hide away and yet for Peter they served not simply to highlight his limitations but more significantly to reveal Christ’s character – powerful, authoritative, devoted, compassionate, miraculous, and full of grace and truth. The combination of these chastening ‘failures’ in Peter’s life and inspirational example of Jesus, served to spur Peter on to understand that progress is central to the life of a disciple.

And yet, this cannot be taken for granted. He was one of the first disciples, one of the three, the Rock, the leader of the early church, the spokesman at Pentecost. He could easily have felt he had arrived, the job was done.

But as a follower of Jesus, Peter recognised that he, and we, never reach the destination; because the destination is to be like Christ. Not simply to believe in Christ or to have a thought or an action like Christ but  to reflect His will and His ways, day in day out.

Progression is about increasing devotion, increasing worship, increasing sacrifice and increasing fruitfulness. Seeking progression in our own lives pushes us toward humility, toward dependence, toward vulnerability and towards openness. As disciple makers, striving for growth gives us clear purpose, a clear sense of direction and intention and the opportunity to see God’s ongoing transformation in the lives of those we lead and serve.

Rob Trenchman: Progression

Sometimes, small shifts change everything.

I was neck deep in student ministry. Monday nights, I discipled a small group of guys in the Word. Tuesdays, I mentored young leaders. Wednesday nights was basketball, then youth group. Thursday and Friday were busy prepping for summer camps, or a short-term mission trip. Sunday usually meant time in the Word with the High School group, plus an afternoon mission team meeting. Summers were full of camps, interns, and student leadership teams.

Much seemed to be going well. New students came to Christ. Young people grew and matured in their love for Jesus and His Word. Adults from the church were deeply invested in the lives of youth. There was much to celebrate.

But one thing puzzled me. Students were becoming disciples, but they weren’t become disciple-makers. They weren’t turning around and investing their lives in others with the same intentionality and focus that we were investing in them. What was the problem?

Sometimes, small shifts change everything.

We get a glimpse of a shift in Mark 1, when Jesus encounters Simon, Andrew, James and John beside the Sea of Galilee. You probably remember His famous invitation: “Come, follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”

Their response is amazing! They drop their nets. They leave their dad in the boat. They turn the family business over to hired hands and follow Jesus. We wonder, What could prompt this type of radical, dramatic, faith-filled response? And then, How can I get my students to respond like this?

The truth is less dramatic but far more significant. Jesus has known these guys for over a year-and-a-half. (Mark gives us hint when he tells us this happens after John the Baptist was put in prison.) John 1-5 has already happened. These disciples know who Jesus is. They’ve responded to invitations to “Come and See”, “Repent and Believe”, and “Follow Me.” Each of these were steps on their journey to becoming disciples of Jesus.

It started with simple relationship—pre-evangelism (“Come and See”). Then they gave their lives to Jesus through repentance and faith (“Repent and Believe”). As new believers, He invited them to follow Him—to grow in Him by learning to be like Him (“Follow Me”). Now, in Mark 1, Jesus specifically challenges them to take the next step—to move from followers to followers who fish. It’s no longer enough for them to simply grow in Jesus. It’s time for them to make disciples of others.

 Come and See–>Repent and Believe–>Follow Me–>Follow Me and I’ll Make You Fisher’s of Men–>I’m Sending You

Jesus showed up at the Sea of Galilee that day and did something simple and profound. He told His disciples where they were at, and where they needed to go next. He issued a challenge. He declared the next steps of the journey. And it changed their lives.

This raises two significant questions for us, as we work with young people:

1.     Does your ministry include the whole disciple-making process? Do you have opportunities for lost people to get found? (Come and See, Repent and Believe) Are new believers cared for and rooted in the faith? (Follow Me) Are believers being trained and equipped to disciple others? (Fisher’s of Men) Too often, we find it easy to focus on just one of these areas. But true disciple-making involves the whole process.

2.     Are you specifically inviting and challenging people to take the next step?

This was the little shift that brought big results for me. I realized that we had disciple-making opportunities for each part of the process, but I wasn’t specifically challenging students to move. So I sat down, grabbed a pen and paper, and wrote down the names of students that were in each of these areas. Then I met with them and encouraged them to take the next step. For some of them, it changed their lives. They started making disciples. They began mentoring younger believers. Some of them have even given their lives to working with young people. And all it took was a simple, specific conversation. Sort of like the conversation Jesus had with his disciples.

Sometimes, small shifts change everything.