Maturity = Reproducing

Christian maturity isn’t marked by more information – it’s evidenced by reproducing.

We live in a time with great access to information. We have Bible apps and internet search engines. We have study Bibles and on-line theology courses. All of these are good and benefit the Kingdom.

But if we’re not careful we will focus on gaining more information about God and lose our ability to be obedient to his work in our lives. When this happens, we hazard a neglect of our primary call: to make disciples…to reproduce more for the Kingdom. You know…the important stuff.

I think the mark of maturity is our ability to reproduce the Jesus mission.

So what does reproducing look like? It varies, depending on your context.

There are big ways to reproduce

  • Starting a new service
  • Planting a new church or campus
  • Starting a new network

And there are small ways to reproduce

  • Making more disciples
  • Apprenticing a new leader
  • Starting a new small groups

Whatever the level of reproducing, know that these are the metrics that demonstrate Christian maturity.

Why?

Mission trumps everything. Jesus gave his followers a mission and therefore started a movement. You and I as believers have a role to play in that movement.

We must be careful that we hold ourselves accountable to that mission. Ours is a life of faith in action (see the Book of James). Knowledge is good and helpful. But mission supersedes it.

So let me ask you – as I ask myself – who have you reproduced lately? What have you reproduced?

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It’s Going to Be Risky, Get Used to It

Planting a church is good. Planting several churches is even better. But planting a movement is best.

It won’t be easy to plant a movement. (But you knew that.) One thing I do know is that to plant a movement you will need to take risks…lots of them.

Yet, we tend to avoid risk. We take the safe route. We take the tried and true route. We avoid betting big. (I wonder what this indicates about out trust in God but that’s another story.)

I really believe the bigger your dream the better the likelihood in achieving some of it.

Yes, you might fail, but why not fail BIG?

World changers know that to achieve BIG results will require BIG RISK. I once read Mark Zuckerberg (you know the guy who started Facebook) saying:

The biggest risk is not taking any risk… In a world that changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.

To start any thing new is going to entail a certain amount of risk. Get comfortable with it.

What is the risk you need to take today to impact tomorrow?

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To Change the Culture, First Submit to the Culture

My friend is now working at a very large megachurch. He’s tasked with starting new things in this very big church, a church with a unique culture.

This is a big change for him. He has planted churches and started Gospel communities. He’s gone from culture creator to culture steward and that’s been a BIG shift. He sees great opportunity in his new role but also realizes it’s a very different culture and isn’t sure how to navigate some of the change we wants to make. Oldnew

This is a questions I hear from leaders all of the time.

Every organization has a culture. A culture is how organizations do things. (There are other definitions but let this suffice for our purposes.)

Sometimes we get opportunities to enter a new church or environment and change things. Wanting to change things to get better results is great — this is what leaders do. Often times, to see better results you need to change the culture.

But to change the culture you must first submit to the culture. Change requires credibility.

It’s a mistake to enter a new culture and start critiquing it and changing things before you understand the values, narrative and behaviors of the culture. You can’t change what you don’t understand. And to properly understand the culture you must first submit to it.

I am not sure how long this needs to be for you? It could be several months. It could be a year. The point is it will take a little time to submit…but not too long.

So how do you submit to the culture?

  • Understand the real values of the culture. (Not the stated values for sometimes there is a BIG difference.)
  • Listen during meetings without offering opinion.
  • Read/consume all of the communication of the culture (email blasts, website, social media etc.).
  • Endeavor to understand how things REALLY work.
  • Don’t try to ‘fix’ anything.
  • Don’t compare to what you once did somewhere else.
  • Talk to the culture creators (leaders and managers).
  • Talk to people who live and work in the culture.
  • Understand the stories of the culture (the narrative).
  • Understand the behaviors of the culture. (Do they align with the values.)

Great and lasting change comes from within the culture, not outside of it.

Change requires credibility. To change the culture, first submit to the culture.

What about your? Do you have any advice for my friend?

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Answer These Questions When Starting Something New

If you’re starting something new and find yourself stuck, ensure you’ve answered these questions.

  1. Why does this need to done?
  2. What is it you’re trying to do?
  3. When do you want to do it?
  4. Where will it be done?
  5. Who will be helped?
  6. How will all of this happen?

The better your answers to these questions, the easier it will be to keep going.

What questions do you have about this? 

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Go Ahead, Have That Spiritual Conversation

I spoke to a friend the other day. We haven’t talked in a long time. It was good to catch-up; to share some memories.

After catching up, my friend admitted she wanted to talk to me about spiritual things.

We spent the next hour talking about God. She wanted to know my story.  I told her my story of how Jesus got hold of my life and how I learned about grace and how it changed everything. It’s a crazy story but it’s mine. I am good with it.

I did my best to answer her questions about Jesus and what His life means for all of us.

It was a powerful conversation. I sensed the presence of God in it. At the end of our call she said I’d helped her…that I’d given her some thing to think about.

I really admired my friends courage. She took a risk to reach out to me; took a risk to have a spiritual conversation with me.

I think most people want to have spiritual conversations: Is there a God? Does he care about my life? Are things like love, justice and beauty absolute truths of the universe? Who is Jesus…should I even care? What’s my purpose? Where am I going?

The culture works hard to suppress these kinds of conversations. No, there’s no formal persecution, at least in the Western context. (There is in other parts of the world.)

Yet, the culture overwhelmingly works to keep this conversation to our private lives. (Never talk about politics nor religion…right.) It’s dangerous and leaves many people isolated and alone as they wrestle with these great questions.

We shouldn’t be afraid to have spiritual conversations. There’s nothing to fear. So when someone I know steps out and wants to have them, well, it’s kind of cool.

I know there are a host of you out there who long to have the kinds of spiritual conversations my friend and I had. Go ahead, find some to talk to. Ask the important questions.

All it takes is a little courage to have them.

What conversations do you need to start having? With whom? When? 

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