Posts Tagged purpose

Questions on Our Journey toward Christlikeness

By Paul Wilkinson, Adult Minister–Groups Associate

If a disciple is one who naturally exhibits the words and deeds of Jesus where they live, work, and play, and if we understand disciple making to be a process, then what are some of the major “road signs” to move us along our way? Today I want to introduce you to four key questions that we as group leaders must be answering for our group members or, in the very least, putting our group members in a position to answer these questions for themselves.

    • Identity – Who am I? A major question that every believer must answer is the identity question. As we move from old life to new life by justification and then progress towards glorification through our sanctification, we must remain vigilant to self-critique. One of the major attacks of the spirit of the age is to attempt to define our identities for us. We, as group leaders, must be faithful to the Word to demonstrate people’s identity in Christ: you are an adopted child (Ephesians 1:5), you are co-heir of the kingdom (Romans 8:17), you are salt and light (5:14-16) . . . . Through your teaching, shepherding, and living of the Christian life before your group, you will be affirming and confirming their identity for them.
    • Purpose – Why am I here? We must also demonstrate to our groups their purpose in this world. I think that the first response to the Westminster Shorter Catechism sums it well: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever. How do we do that? First, we glorify God in our worship; and, we understand worship as a lifestyle. We never want to devalue corporate worship on certain days of the week, but we must mature to the point where our lifestyles themselves during the other 167 hours of the week are celebratory worship. As Paul wrote, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for God’s glory.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) And we glorify God by thanking Him and delighting in Him as we enjoy His good gifts. The other dynamic of the Westminster response is to love God forever. That, to me, implies evangelism. Are we expanding the kingdom such that we will have more adopted children and co-heirs to live with God eternally? So, we glorify God through perpetual worship and evangelism.
    • Location and Destination – Where am I? If we are regenerate and we do seek to glorify God in all that we do, then how are we going about doing it? Where am I currently on my sanctification (spiritual maturity) process? Am I radically dependent on a weekly group leader to feed me the Word and answer all of my questions, whether theological, biblical, or ethical? Am I like Peter during the night of Jesus’ persecution or am I like Peter at Pentecost? Our obligation as group leaders is two-fold: help our members understand where they are in their maturity and then to paint the picture for who Christ intends them to be. A general spectrum could go something like this: totally inward focused as they are coming to terms with their faith; a shift toward an outward focus where they are doing service projects, charity, and general evangelism; a further shift toward leading others in such projects, Bible study, and group worship; and an even further shift toward making disciples who can then go reproduce themselves as disciples who make disciples. God has called us to be their spiritual guide on that journey!
    • Significance – What are my next steps? If my destination is to be a reproducing disciple and I know that I am currently not such a disciple, then how do I become that? We must provide on-ramps for our group members to begin understanding themselves as disciples and then as disciplers of others. We need to apprentice someone. We need to be investing in a sub-group of 3-4 people who can then start their own sub-groups of 3-4 people. We need to be challenging them to love God, which means that they are keeping God’s commandments. (1 John 5:3) This part, group leaders, is the hard work. Here is where we must labor, life-on-life, just as Jesus did with Peter, James, and John, to produce transformed people. And while this work takes much effort; please know that this work is delightful!

Setting Goals for Your LIFE Group

By Jay Fennell

You probably have a lot of experience setting goals in your life. Professional goals, financial goals, spiritual goals, relationship goals…but have you ever, as a LIFE group leader, thought about establishing goals for your LIFE group? Have you ever stopped to consider what God might want to accomplish through your LIFE group this year? Goals are important. They give us direction and purpose. As we wind down the calendar year and prepare for the New Year, it’s a great time to begin praying and thinking about goals for your LIFE group.
Some of you might be thinking…is goal setting unspiritual? I’ve heard some leaders say, “I just allow the Holy Spirit to do what He wants to do in my group, so I don’t make any plans like that.” I agree that we should not simply make our own plans, but instead should be receptive to God-centered, God-sized plans. And that takes diligent prayer to discover how God wants to work and what He wants to accomplish in your group. After all, the group you lead belongs to Him. The people in your group are His, and you are simply a steward of the group at the moment.
But Jesus was a planner. When he called his followers he told them, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” This little statement contains both Jesus’ goal and his three-year plan for his disciples. The Goal: for them to become fishers of men. The Plan: to follow Him. In Acts 1:8, Jesus said to the disciples, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth.” The Goal: for the gospel to reach Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the whole earth. The Plan: To be his witnesses through the Holy Spirit’s power. It’s okay to set goals, but they must be the goals that God wants for your group.
So what does that look like in your group at Brentwood Baptist? Well, you know that our groups are defined by 4 functions expressed by the acronym L.I.F.E.

  • L stands for Loving one another.
  • I stands for Involving ourselves in community.
  • F stands for Focusing on God’s Word.
  • And E stands for Engaging the World.

So what would it look like, in the New Year, to establish one goal under each one of these functions? For example, under Loving one another, you might want to notice that you have group members who have fallen away, people you haven’t seen in a while. And you notice that there isn’t a mechanism to follow up with people that have fallen away. Maybe a goal that could be established is to develop a system or appoint a person who will take the lead in reaching out to group members who have fallen away. Maybe the goal is to reach out to group members who have missed 3 times in a row.  If you could accomplish this goal, your group would improve the way they are loving one another. I encourage you to do this with each one of the functions of a LIFE Group, to establish goals that will help your group become healthier and more effective in helping people move toward Christlikeness.
You’ve probably heard it said before, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” Take some time now to pray and ask yourself the question, “What does God want to accomplish in my LIFE group this year?”