Posts Tagged culture

The Invitation-Challenge Matrix

By Paul Wilkinson

How do these quadrants play out in group life?

  • A Bored Culture full of apathetic people would be a group with no challenge from the Word, little concern for reaching the lost, and no intuitive to carry one another’s burdens. These groups would not exhibit L or I or F or E.
  • A Stressed Culture full of overworked people usually takes the shape of a group leader doing everything himself or herself. As group leaders, we must empower our members to fulfill their gifts and calling within the body. Thus, we need to be perpetually handing leadership away: allow someone to teach for you once every eight weeks, empower someone to champion hospitality (inreach and outreach, welcoming and follow-up), empower someone to champion a service cause in the community, etc. From the non-group leader side, this sort of group simply shows now grace when people “screw up.” We certainly want to offer correctives, but we want to do so with compassion.
  • A Cozy Culture full of consumers would be a group that focuses only upon L and I. A group like this would meet one another’s needs, as we should, but they would not challenge group members to embrace the kingdom through deep Bible study and evangelistic outreach. It would lack conviction.
  • A Discipling Culture full of empowered group members would be one in which L, I, F, and E are exhibited and championed by the group membership. This group would be reproducing itself by launching new groups, passionate about reaching the lost and serving the community, and desperate to deploy group members to instances of transparent space discipleship.

I’ve been working through a book called Building a Discipling Culture by Mike Breen, and I wanted to share some of the content with you over the next few weeks. The book presents numerous models to aid the discipler and disciple to progress toward Christlikeness and to see more readily biblical principles played out in one’s life. This first shape is called the Invitation-Challenge Matrix, pulling from Matthew 16:15-23 with John 1:17 as a supplement used by some who teach this.
In Matthew 16:15-17, we see a marvelous invitation given to Peter based on his confession that Jesus is Messiah. Jesus paints a vision for Peter of being the rock on which the church will be built, so strong that Hades cannot defeat it. And, Peter will be given the keys to the kingdom . . . how wonderful! Three sentences later, Jesus says to this same Peter, “Get behind me Satan! You are an offense to Me because you’re not thinking about God’s concerns, but man’s.” So we go from a high invitation setting to a high challenge setting in only a few lines of Scripture. What can we make of this?
First, we must paint a vision for our group members of what it means to live in the kingdom of God. The kingdom has been inaugurated, so how should kingdom people look? Answer that question for your group through unpacking the Scripture and modeling the kingdom life. That’s our invitation, same as Jesus: be children of God, be co-heirs of the kingdom, be perfect as your Father is perfect, mock death with Christ, and take that news to people who don’t know it yet! Invite them to that life.
Second, when they fall short of that vision after agreeing that it is, in fact, how we are designed and called to live, challenge them to face up to it. We don’t revel, as leaders, in pointing out flaws for the sake of matching a system, rather we faithfully point out shortcomings in the kingdom life of our members because God wants so much more for them. We challenge them to embrace that potential and live the kingdom life boldly.
How did it work with Peter? He was invited to be the rock of the church because he was willing to stand behind the claim of Jesus’ messiahship. However, when he said that Jesus would not suffer, die, and be raised, he was focused on what he thought Messiah should be like as opposed to the kingdom that Jesus was inaugurating. He immediately fell short of the invitation by focusing upon what was significant to him rather than what Jesus told him should be significant to him. As group leaders, we must keep our minds on the things that Jesus tells us are significant. May we continue to point our group members toward the kingdom life.

Storeroom of the Heart

When we found out that Brentwood Baptist was starting a new “Multicultural LIFE Group,” we knew it would be a perfect fit for us. When we found out, about a year later, that God was asking us to lead in the group, I thought maybe that fit wasn’t quite as perfect. Here’s a bit of that story and what God is teaching us through our new position.
About 18 months ago, Brentwood Baptist began a new Multicultural LIFE Group. At its center, the group was created for families just like ours. Families where one or more members come from a background that is different from the majority of American culture. In our case, my wife is from Hainan, China, and I’m from Murfreesboro, Tennessee. We had been awkwardly splitting our time between the Chinese congregation and the regular church activities. We wanted to get plugged in to a small group but, because of our somewhat unique family situation, one of us always felt a bit like an outsider.
We got involved in the new Multicultural group and found an ideal fit. Not only were there other couples like us who had faced and dealt with life in the same way we were – we also gained group members who were 2nd generation immigrants and immigrant families raising children here in America, a culture and lifestyle very different from what they had known before. All together, we began to look at following Christ and understanding Scripture in a more practical way, separating it from whatever cultural norms or viewpoints we each brought with us.
Then in May, I was asked to think about taking leadership in the group… not what I was expecting! I felt inadequate, unprepared, and afraid to take on that responsibility. I had never had a leadership position in the church other than helping in children’s Sunday school or planning games in VBS. The thought of teaching adults, many who have been Christians as long as I’ve been alive, was a bit daunting. Then, on the other hand, many of our group had brought a variety of beliefs, practices, and thought processes from their background – almost treating Christianity as one more subject in their study of American culture. And then we always have a few who are skeptical seekers, not convinced that Christianity is the truth and not afraid to state where they disagree. Needless to say, I was overanalyzing the makeup of our group and doubting that I’d be the person who could handle it all.
As I talked with Jay Fennell, and over the last 4 or 5 months that I’ve been leading, one principle has stood out, becoming very clear and real to me. One morning in the Connection Center, Jay talked to me about living and leading out of the overflow of what Christ was doing in my heart. He told me that if God wasn’t working and leading in my own life, I’d never be able to work or lead in the life of our group members. Luke 6:45 says, “A good man produces good out of the storeroom of his heart. An evil man produces evil out of the evil storeroom, for his mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.”
I know that I am still growing into the amount of love, knowledge, and leadership needed to guide our class purely out of my spiritual overflow. However, I wanted to encourage the new leaders and old veteran leaders alike with what I’ve been realizing over the last few months: we have to first be looking in our own hearts and lives to see God’s working before we can ever truly be there for others in the way God intends. As we are filled to overflowing with the knowledge and presence of God, we can then pour out more for those God has given to our care. Those weeks when I know that I haven’t done my part to be filled, I easily feel “drained” because there’s not enough to give! It’s a simple concept that perhaps many of you had already grasped but, for me, it’s been a welcome realization. As group leaders, we must be constantly insuring that the “storeroom of our heart” is filled to overflowing and adequately stocked for the task at hand—loving, leading, and serving.

Written by Tyler Browning, F Leader of the Multicultural LIFE Group at the Brentwood campus. He and his wife LiYing have been attending Brentwood Baptist since their marriage in 2012. They met in a house church in Hainan, China, where Tyler lived and worked for 2 years. They are thankful and excited to be a part of God’s plan for reaching unengaged families in the multicultural community.