8 Ways To Follow Jesus (An Overview)

Discipleship Training Equips People To Make New Disciples.

Ross Sawyers
Aug 9, 2020    52m
Do you feel comfortable sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with those in your life? Many people do not. This message examines the important need for discipleship training in the church, so that we can fulfill Jesus's command to be disciples who make disciples. Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Ross Sawyers: 00:11 Lord, thank you so much for our opportunity to gather to worship, and we don't ever want to take that for granted. And we're grateful for this day and the opportunity to worship together online, and the opportunity to worship together in person. And we're grateful for who you are, God. And as we just looked in Hebrews a few months ago, and saw it again and again, Jesus, you're better. You're the one who's the most excellent one, and you're better than anything else, and we love opportunity to sing that back to you. And Father. I pray where someone doesn't see that to be a truth for them, I pray that you grab and grip their hearts in a way that they'd be stirred for you, God, and see that the joy and the life that we're after is in you and in you alone. Father, this morning, I pray that your spirit would continue to move among us, Father, through your word today, thank you for the power strength of your word. And then, God, I pray that you'd move our hearts the way you desire to move them today. And I'm praying in Jesus' name. Amen.

Ross Sawyers: 01:23 I just love the words to that song, and the things we're going to talk about today. And really anytime we gather and speak, if that's not true, then really what we talk about and the way we move out of that that relationship with God, it won't probably matter too much to people. But if we do see that Jesus is better than anything else, and that he's the most excellent one, and he's the one to be worshiped and he's the one to be lived for. Then the things we talk about, they ignite our hearts for him because it's out of a love for him.

Ross Sawyers: 02:03 In the coming weeks, we're going to be speaking about the underground church, and all over the world there are Christians, brothers and sisters in Christ, that are being persecuted heavily simply because they follow Jesus. And then a number of those are literally underground, they can't be seen, they meet in secret places. And we see all around the world today, that coming around Christians even more and more. And God put this on our heart months ago, to spend the fall looking at the persecuted and underground church all over the world. I believe that it'll stir our hearts to pray for them, we're a part of that family of Christians all over the world, and we can learn from them. We are increasingly in a day where persecution will amp up for Christians, and this is a day I believe firmly, that we're really going to have to decide, are we in for Jesus or not? It's not going to be a flippant thing, it's not going to be let's knock out our church deal this week, and do that, and get our moral kind of thing, a moral compass, maybe back on pace. The reality is we're going to have to decide for Jesus or not, and there are going to be consequences for that, and for many they've already started seeing those consequences. There may be consequences in your workplace, there'll be consequences in your neighbors, the activities that you're a part of, the conversations that you have, there are going to be consequences for being a follower of Jesus Christ. And we can either wither away in those conversations and shrink back, or we can thrive in the midst of whatever it is that's coming our direction. And I believe God is preparing us even more so this fall, so that we can do well and enjoy him in the midst of whatever trials come our way.

Ross Sawyers: 04:15 Last fall, there were a group of us that took a course called Perspectives. It's a course on global missions, and a phenomenal course, probably one of the best things I've been a part of for learning. And I'd encourage our college student, anybody, that could in the future, if you get that opportunity to take the Perspectives course. And it's about God's global heart, his heart for the nations, of which we're just one of those nations, but God has a heart for peoples everywhere. And part of what we learn in the Perspectives course, is that persecuted Christians all across the world and those in the underground church, they use a method of preparing people called the seven commands of Christ. And they teach the seven commands, they're simple, they're reproducible, they can be passed down easily to the next generation of Christians. It's a way to disciple them, or to help them to know what it is to be followers of Jesus. And as we listened to these seven commands, I thought, okay, if God is leading us to simulate and understand better the underground church, then this'll be a great way for us to teach our church to know how to be followers of Jesus, and then how to help someone else be a follower of Jesus. God never intended what we received to end on us, but to go through us. And I think for so many, we'd be willing to disciple other people, to lead other people, if we had a little more confidence in how to do it. Some of that on if someone actually did that with you or not, and if you have any kind of model for that.

Ross Sawyers: 06:03 But what we want to make sure is, that our church is so prepared that all of us understand what it means to follow Jesus. Here are some ways that we can develop in that relationship, and that they're done in such a way that we can pass them down to another person, and then to another person. I've been so excited, because Eric Estes has led our team that has written these, we've written what we believe fits our context at 121, and in the culture we're in now. And not seven commands, but we're just calling it '8 Ways To Follow Jesus', and that's what we'll look at over the course of the next several weeks, especially in our life groups. T.

Ross Sawyers: 06:44 This has been one of the best times for me with our church in prepping something, because not only has our staff worked to put this together, but we've worked with every life group leader in our church, who's given feedback this. Over a hundred people in our church body have been giving feedback along the way, of how best to do these 8 ways, and to train and lead our church. We've also equipped and trained every life group leader at 121 to be able to turn around and lead in this way. And our goal for this fall is that everybody would be a part of a life group here. Here's the beauty too, right? If you're away and still want to do this, there's so many groups that are meeting virtual by zoom, you can still be a part if you're not even here. But that everybody by December would have fully grasped what it is that we're teaching, so that you'd have the confidence to be able to lead somebody else to live for Jesus Christ, to lead somebody else, to be a disciple, and that they could turn around and lead somebody as well. And we believe that God has given us something that all of us can do, no matter where we are in our faith journey, everybody can do what it is that we're talking about doing. I'm so grateful for all those who've been a part of the prep for these last several months, prayerfully, and then we're looking forward to what God has in store moving ahead.

Ross Sawyers: 08:10 When we think about leading people to live for Jesus Christ, that's our mission, i's been our mission from the get go. This is God's mission, that's why it's our mission, we're just getting it on what God's doing. And that's anchored in Philippians. 1:21, it says, "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." Advantage is death, life is Christ. Everything is in Christ, there's nothing better. And by the way, the things we'll talk about, I want to stress this throughout, if you don't see Jesus as better than everything else, you're not going to probably enjoy or get in on too much of what I'm talking about. This will come from a heart first that loves God, and then does what we're talking about. Otherwise it'll feel legalistic, it'll feel like kind of a beat down, really. I've got to do that, why do I have to do? Like some canned something. No. If we have a love for God, and a treasuring of him, then this is the kind of thing that we'll yearn to learn, to be able to lead others as well.

Ross Sawyers: 09:15 So a young man that grew up in our church, he's going to college this fall, he's going on and playing baseball at college. One of his coaches over the years gave him this glove as he prepared to go off to college, and on that glove on the side is the scripture, Philippians 121, "For to me, to live is Christ to die is gain." Now I played baseball as well, and I don't know if you did or ever did or didn't. But if you have a glove and you're sitting here like this, I was left handed so my glove would be right here, and where that is, that versus there. And when I was playing college ball and high school ball, my temper wasn't always the best, and my glove would sometimes fly. What I was grateful for was the verse I wrote on it, Second Corinthians 2:14, "But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place." And it was harder to throw the glove, knowing that that verse was looking at me and the hope was that would be an aroma of Christ, and not a person who would turn him off, turn people off because of that flying glove. But I love that a coach did that for one of his players.

Ross Sawyers: 10:26 I want to walk through a journey of scriptures if I could, to give us the why for what we're doing, and then to give you a brief look at the how. Once we do this today, our life groups will be doing these 8 ways. Next week, I'll talk about the underground church, so you get a better idea of what that is, anchored in scripture. And then from there, we're going to spend our time in the fall in Jeremiah with that prophet, and that is a prophet who understands what it is to live in a space of time, in a political time, in a geographical time, in a social time, where actually most people didn't want anything to do with what he had to say, and yet he was faithful all the way to the end.

Ross Sawyers: 11:13 Alright, that's where we're headed, but let's take a look today at the why in what Jesus did, and Matthew chapter 4 verse 19 is where I'd like to start. And keep in mind here, Jesus is well attuned to what people do now. We've taught the last few weeks about listening well, one of the reasons we listen well is to understand where someone is coming from, and that helps us bridge into a conversation with the gospel. Now, what does Jesus say? He's talking to a couple of fishermen. So he tells them in Matthew 4:19, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men" Follow me, and I'll make you fishers of men. Now, if you're not a fishermen, that probably wouldn't make a lot of sense, but Jesus was talking to fishermen. He said, "Follow me, and I'll make you fishers of men." What was Jesus saying? Follow me, get in behind me, walk in my steps, walk in my ways. He was inviting these disciples to follow him, to follow him. Follow me, he says, follow the person of Jesus, the God man in the flesh. And then he set the expectations up front for what he would have them do. Do you like it when someone invites you into something and said, Hey, come with me? You don't really know where you're going, you don't really know the expectations, you kind of get into it and you realize, uh oh, this wasn't exactly what I was after.

Ross Sawyers: 12:53 But what does Jesus do? "Follow me, and I'll make you fishers of men." I'm going to tell you upfront what this is, follow me, and then you're going to be fishers of men. My hunch is they didn't really totally understand what he was saying at that point, they got the fishing analogy, but how do you fish for men? What does that look like? Well, Jesus would spend the next three years with them, and they would understand what that meant. But I love that Jesus said something upfront, set the expectation, gave them something that probably dangled around in their minds for a while, and then it started to come clear. Sometimes when you set the expectation, even when someone doesn't fully understand it yet, they'll grow into it. "Follow me, and I'll make you fishers of men." They trusted Jesus, they loved Jesus, they were bewildered by Jesus at times, as we are, when we read what he says and the way he says things, the stories, the twists, the turns. They faltered at times in following after Jesus, they actually betrayed Jesus in his most intense need for them. And then he restored them, he empowered them, and 11 of these 12 would then lay down everything after the resurrection for him, many sacrificing their own lives. Jesus taught them. What did he teach them as they were with him? He told them in Matthew chapter 22, that there were basically two commands, he summed it up. I like how Ravi Zacharias said it, he said Moses had six hundred and thirty laws, and then Jesus summed them up into two. It's love God, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, with all your mind. “This is the great and foremost commandment." verse 39, "The second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself." Jesus said, as they were with him and they watched him, love God and love your neighbor. Love God and love your neighbor. They were with him, they watched him, they listened to him, they asked questions, they tried to do what he said, but they understood that this was about loving God and then loving our neighbor.

Ross Sawyers: 15:26 As he walked with them, he described for them what it meant to be a disciple. What does it actually mean to be a follower of Jesus? Jesus said the kinds of things that don't tend to draw a crowd, and as matter of fact, people would bow out when they would hear these kinds of statements from him. Now, contrast this with, depending on what your background or tradition is, that if you just somewhere along the way, will pray a prayer asking Jesus into your heart, then you've got heaven guaranteed. And then there's actually zero transformation in somebody's life, there's no change, there's no love for Jesus, there's nothing that happens. And yet, we walk around believing that somewhere, as a kid, I prayed this prayer and I'm good with God. Now, I'm not saying that isn't a way that Christ comes into somebody's life, but it is concerning when that's all we have to lean into, and there was nothing that changed. When I read what Jesus said, this is what concerns me about that, is I don't see Jesus saying it quite like that. What I see Jesus saying, and we'll read it together in Luke 9:23, is that "If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me, take up his cross daily and follow me." Jesus said, here's the invitation in, if you want to come after me, then deny yourself, deny yourself will, deny everything we see on the bookshelves in the self-help section, self this, self that, self more of this. We're so full of self it's sickening, and Jesus says, deny yourself, throw those books out, you don't need them. That's not what Jesus is about, it's not about self. He says, deny yourself, deny yourself will, deny what your things are, and take up your cross daily. They understood when they heard take up your cross, that that meant an instrument of rejection, an instrument of torture, of humiliation. And here's Jesus saying, deny yourself, take up your cross daily, be willing to be rejected for my name's sake, now follow me. And by the way, that's not one time, daily, be willing for my name's sake to take up your cross, daily.

Ross Sawyers: 18:31 That's Jesus's invitation in, but that's not all it says. In Luke 14, he speaking, and he says in verse 26, "If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple." Jesus uses hyperbole, we know he says to love God with all of our heart and to love our neighbor. So what he can't mean is that kind of hate when we think of hate, where we think I just violently oppose you? What is he saying, in Matthew chapter 10 verse 37, we see it reframed a little bit. "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me." What Jesus is saying, is that love for him takes precedent over the closest relationship that we could possibly have. That for me to be a follower of Jesus, it means that I'll love Jesus more than I love my wife, Lisa. To be a follower of Jesus, it means that I love Jesus more than I love my sons, Andrew and Barrett. To be a follower of Jesus means that I love Jesus more than my best friends, more than the closest person in my life. And Jesus says, you cannot be my disciple, unless you love me like that.

Ross Sawyers: 20:22 In that same set of verses, in verse 33 it says, "So then none of you can be my disciple who does not give up all his own possessions." You cannot be my disciple, unless you give up all your own possessions. That in my heart. I know that everything that I have, my home, my cars, my clothes, our food, whatever it is that we have, it's not mine, it's God's, and I have open hands for him. He's been kind enough to give me what I have, he might choose to take it away, or in my check, my heart to see is it really is, and them ask me to do certain things with it. This is a disciple, it's a follower of Jesus. Get yourself out of the way, your closest relationships they're secondary to your love for God, your possessions, the stuff you're working so hard for, hold it with a really loose hand. You can't be my disciple, if you don't give that up to me. It looks different for every person before the Lord, but that's what he says to be a disciple.

Ross Sawyers: 22:01 So he's teaching them, this is what it is to follow me. This is what it means, count the cost, but it's a cost that is so worth it. In Matthew chapter 13 verse 44, in a parable, a one verse parable. He says, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field. Which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. " So why is it worth it? Why would I love someone more than my family? Why would I love someone more than my friends? Why would I love someone more than all these things I have, or that I love in this digital world? Why would I love something more than that? Why would I give up taking care of myself for goodness sake? I liked being selfish and taking care of me. Why would I give that up to follow Jesus? Because, there's nothing better than him. There's nothing better than Jesus, he supreme, he's joy, he's life, he's peace, he's love, he's everything, our hearts desire. But in our sin we reject, and look for it in so many other ways. He's our treasure, we treasure him, we value him. In this story, a person, he sold everything to have Jesus. He let everything go to have that treasure. So Jesus is saying, when we talk about the gospel, when we bring the gospel to bear, gospel is good news. And the good news is that Jesus, God in the flesh, lives this perfect life that you and I are incapable of doing. And then he went to this old rugged cross, and on the cross, he himself, bore our sins in his body on that cross so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness by his wounds, we're healed. Then God raised him from the dead on the third day, after he absorbed the full wrath of God, then God raised him. After he took the penalty for my shame, and sin, and guilt, he raised him. And he does that with men and women, and boys and girls, and teenagers today. He takes dead men and women, dead boys and girls, dead teenagers in their sin, Ephesians 2, and he raises them to life just like he raised Jesus to life. That's a treasure worth living for, that's a joy worth living for, that is where life comes. And the reason Jesus says, this is what it means to be my disciple. That when we treasure him, and we find our satisfaction in him, then we'll actually be able to love our spouse the way God wants us to love our spouse. We're incapable of loving our spouse apart from the supernatural love of God to do it. So our spouse comes out much better when we love God more than we love our spouse. Our kids turn out much better when Jesus is our treasure, and not the hours we spend at every activity we're running them off to, but they understand that Jesus is a greatest treasure in our home. And when Jesus is a greatest treasure, then your kids will be loved in ways they could never be loved otherwise. The same with your friendships, the same with your enemies, and mine. That's why Jesus says, supreme loyal to him, satisfaction and joy, nothing better. And that enables us then, Christ in us, to love everyone around us. Pretty good deal.

Ross Sawyers: 25:53 If you don't believe what I just said, then what I'm about to say you'll yawn or you'll do your best to hold it, you'll tune out because you've heard this before. It won't be interesting to you. My prayer is that Jesus is your treasure, and this next part would ignite your heart, just like it does mine. Jesus said, "Follow me, I'll make you fishers of men." We believe what it is that Jesus did for us on the cross, we're following him, it's a joy to follow him, and now we want to be the same kind of disciples that he called the early ones to be in fishers of men. That we're about what he's about, and after Jesus was raised from the dead, that grave is empty now and he's raised. And now he's telling his disciples, one of the last things he's telling them is in Matthew 28, verses 18 through 20, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth." Now, we don't like authority today very much, but it's interesting when Jesus encountered people in authority, people that are in authority, understand others who have authority. And a Centurion, a Roman, more faith than God's own people said, "Jesus, I understand what it is to have authority. If you just say the word and my servant will be healed, you don't even have to come. Because I'm in authority over a certain group of men, and I know how that works, and I know you can do this."

Ross Sawyers: 27:28 Here's Jesus saying, all authority has been given me, I've got authority over heaven and earth. There's nothing happening today, I love how someone said to me the other day, there's nothing happening today that God has not signed off on. There's nothing outside of his control today, all authority has been given to him in heaven on and on earth. And this is what he said, "Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Now he gave this to his disciples, and this has to be passed on so that this is for all of us. This isn't just for those 11 that he was speaking to you on that mountain, or depending on how many you think were with him on that day. But here's what he says, this is what I want you do, as you're going make disciples, that's the command. This is to make people that will follow Jesus, would be another way to say it, make disciples, this is for every one of us. Once they become a disciple, baptize them and then teach them and notice what he says, teach them to observe, teach them to obey. Don't teach them so that they can have a head full of information and do nothing with it, teach them to observe it, obey it. Jesus is about obedience, but not an obedience where it's a whip where we do the obedience so that we might earn something with God, or we might have his favor, or it just doesn't make our life miserable. No, when we obey God, it's out of a love for him and a gratitude for him, and a recognition that he knows what's absolutely the very best. So it's a obedience based teaching he speaking of, and that's the kind of teaching we want to be about, that we have been about, and want to continue to emphasize.

Ross Sawyers: 29:26 Acts 1:8 he says, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” Aren't you glad that at the outset in Israel, that the plan is to send people out so that it got to us, and then we get to be a part of the plan. There's two things in these verses that are crucial to give each of us confidence, his presence, he's not sending us out by our self, so all of us can do this. And his power, if you know Jesus, you have the same Holy Spirit that the early disciples had. We have both his presence and his power, the power of the Holy Spirit, so we can go in confidence. This is what he's asking us to do, make disciples, it doesn't end on us, it doesn't terminate on us, it moves through us to other people.

Ross Sawyers: 30:30 Now, how do we make disciples? I'm going to tell you these 8 ways for just a minute, but want to give you a picture? What I noticed in the area that we all live, is that when someone loves something, now, sometimes parents put it on a kid to love something, and then we figure out they don't actually love it. Like I had our sons in soccer and we played select soccer, my older son didn't like it in the first year. I said, well, I bet if we start winning, you're going to like it more. And I'll never forget him sitting on the driveway as an 11 year old with me on a basketball, after we were playing basketball, and he sits there and he goes, dad, you remember how you told me I would enjoy this more if we started winning? I don't. I said, okay, well, we'll be done with this. He didn't love it. But those things that we love, we'll learn. And how many people are taking and paying for lessons so that I can hit better. And how many people are taking lessons, so that I can play piano better. And how many people are doing whatever, so we can Excel at something. And for many, they actually love it. They're not being pushed to do it, they love it, so they learn it. So if I love Jesus and I don't know how to really be a follower of Jesus, or I don't know how to actually, maybe I know how to be a follower of Jesus. I don't know how to pass that on to somebody else. Some people can play the game and can't coach it. You're not going to hire somebody, they might've been an excellent player, but you're not going to hire them to teach your kid, they don't know how to instruct a 12 year old. You're looking for somebody that understands a 12 year old, and can teach them. But if you love something, you'll learn it. You might not even get anybody to help you, you'll just spend hours on your own figuring it out. So when we think about making disciples, I'd like to throw this out. if I'm not interested in doing this, it's more a question of love for God than it is ability to do something. If I love God, this is what God is about. So there's something amiss in the love relationship with God, if this is not what I'm about, or if this doesn't stir my heart to be about it.

Ross Sawyers: 33:01 The underground church, I mentioned, they're doing these seven commands. We've rewritten them to be 8 Ways To Follow Jesus, and these are really 8 ways that show us how to love God, love our neighbor. They are things Jesus talked about, that’s all it is. And we've made them in a way that they're reproducible, and easily passed down, so that any of us can do it and we can pass it down. And one of the challenges in this, in our churches, a number of people would know how to disciple someone. What our goal is, is by December, that everyone will know this is a way to do it, so we just have a way that we pass down through our church body.

Ross Sawyers: 33:47 There's a reason for this, in the underground church, everybody has to be prepared to lead. Why? Because they never know when they're going to get a knock on the door, and when they're headed to prison, or where they're simply going to be taken out now. Please know I'm not digging back and finding stories from communist Soviet Union, this is happening right now as we speak, all over the world. And everybody gets trained and equipped to be a disciple and follower, who can turn around and disciple somebody else, because you never know who has to step in next to be the leader. Each of us can do this.

Ross Sawyers: 34:48 So we've laid it out, here's the 8 ways. And again, these are ways that Jesus talked about, to love him and love others. Make disciples, that's the first one, that's the big picture. Repent and believe, for person to be a disciple, we enter in by repenting and believing. And we have one pagers on each of these, that are easily reproduced.

Ross Sawyers: 35:11 After we repent and believe, we're baptized. The word abide means to remain, and that's talking about how to remain in Christ in his word. And we have a Bible study method that we've learned, they're using all over the world, that anybody can take their Bible and use this method.

Ross Sawyers: 35:26 Pray, that's how we develop the intimacy in our relationship with God.

Ross Sawyers: 35:32 Out of that relationship with God and loving others, we serve others. Now we're not serving others because somebody in our culture mandates it, manipulates us, guilt us, or forces us, that's not why we serve, it's not why we love. It's out of our love for God, obedience to him, that we get inside the things he wants us to be a part of, to serve other people.

Ross Sawyers: 35:59 Give, God has called us to be radically generous givers. That's the essence of being a Christian, that's what Jesus did on the cross for us. For, you know, the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor. So that you, through his poverty, might become rich. So it's radical of givers.

Ross Sawyers: 36:24 And then taking the Lord's Supper. A reminder of what it is, what Jesus did for us, on that old rugged cross. And everybody by December, we believe we'll be able to know this, and turn around and lead people to do this. Followers of Jesus, fishers of men, or whatever works best in an analogy or metaphor for you in your world.

Ross Sawyers: 36:54 We have a website that we've created, It'll be a help to everybody. And on that website are these 8 ways, and then a list of frequently asked questions. I had a number of questions come up over the last few months as we worked this with our different leaders, and we've tried to answer those, so that we just have an easy tool for everyone to be able to go to and to utilize. And there's a method that we'll use that imitates what Jesus did, and we're calling it the S.A.L.T. Method. And what did Jesus tells us to do, he told us to be salt in the world.

Ross Sawyers: 37:28 And in the S.A.L.T. Method, you can see it. S is for show, and in that I show them how to do it, so you'll have somebody that's been equipped and trained already to show you how to do what we're doing. So somebody will show you.

Ross Sawyers: 37:42 Assist, That's the A, they practice it as I watch and assist. So in your group, for example, then watch you do it, and be a help until you're comfortable with it.

Ross Sawyers: 37:54 And then we send people out, and you lead, you lead someone through it. Now it's easy to panic on this and say, what in the world does he want me to do with that? This can be leading someone in your family, it can be leading a friend. And you're just saying, hey, our pastor's asking us to do this, and I just wanted to see how I would do if I shared this with you. We start with this somewhere where it's comfortable, and whatever works for you in that way.

Ross Sawyers: 38:20 So we lead someone, and then come back and talk about it. That's exactly what Jesus did. He would show his disciples. He would help them, answer questions, and then he'd send them out. And then they come back, and they talk about it. And he'd say, okay, this is...Why'd you do this?

Ross Sawyers: 38:37 I don't know if anybody's familiar with chaplaincy. But in a chaplain program, if you had anybody in the hospital at all, and you've ever encountered a chaplain at the hospital, their training is just, it's ridiculous what they do. They spend years training. And then what they have to do before they can get certified or accredited, I don't know what the right language is, but they'll go into hospital rooms and they'll have a conversation with somebody, and then they have to come back and write it down verbatim. Like the first time I ever heard this, I knew I would never be a chaplain. I wouldn't remember from the time I left the room, til I got back to the office to write. He said this, and she said that, and I said this, and he said this, and she said this, well, I said this. And then the one that's supervising says, why did you say that? What were you thinking? Could you tell in their body language, that was a little bit not helpful, so let's talk about how we would do it different the next time. Well, that's all this is saying, why did we say this? Why did we do that in that moment? What happened? And then all kinds of grace, that's how we grow, we grow by failing. Sometimes we think we have to have all this perfect. And really the only way we're going to do any of this is to go fail a lot, and say the wrong thing. And then recover and realize, oh gosh, or I didn't know that, like I thought I did. This, how we'll go at it.

Ross Sawyers: 40:05 Here's another danger with these things. So many in our church, you're so strong in your faith and you may think, well, I already know all that, give it a chance. And as a staff, when we started doing this, we flopped regularly because we thought we knew it too. And when you turn around and you're trying to help someone else understand it to where they can help someone understand it, that's a different ballgame. It's not just a, you get it conceptually, it's do you get it in a way that you can pass it on, and they can pass it on. And we anchored that in Second, Timothy chapter 2 verses and 2 says, "Therefore, you, my son be strong in the grace that's in Christ. Jesus. I'm strong in God's grace, and now the things which you've heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also." So Paul did this, and what did he do? He told Timothy, it's four generations, Paul to Timothy, Timothy to faithful men. He said, find some faithful people, pass this on, and then they find some more faithful people. Four generations that had to go, and that's when things start to move, when it starts moving through generations. We're passing it on, reproducible, pass it on, it's not just to end on us, we move it on.

Ross Sawyers: 41:31 Second Corinthians 1:24, Paul said, "I'm working with you together, for your joy." We have the greatest treasure, the greatest joy in Christ, now we're working together to help other people have that same joy. With the end goal being Colossians 1:28-29, "We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ." For life group leaders, here's what I want to say out loud to everybody. We've been trying to shift over the last two or three years, a mindset, I'm going to make that shift complete today. You're not a facilitator, you're not just a guide, God has entrusted you with a small group of people, whether it's kids, students, or adults, and you get the privilege and the honor to lead them. So that one day we might present them complete in Christ, more mature in Christ, you're part of that process of what God's doing. I know you don't have it all together, nor do I, but we're given a certain group of people and we're responsible for these people in this season that they will be more and more like Jesus in character and in his ways, what a privilege.

Ross Sawyers: 42:53 And in First Thessalonians 2:19 and 20, I was at a conference a few years ago, and that made this verse come so alive. This is what Paul is writing to the Thessalonians, "For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming? For you are our glory and joy." At this conference, an African man came up to me and he had his iPad, and he started showing me pictures of young men. Picture after picture, and he tied it to this verse, he said, these are my glory and joy. Paul's writing and saying, every person that knows Christ is growing in Christ, they're my glory and joy. And at the coming of Jesus, he says, when I'm standing there with Jesus, all these people that are saying yes and shaping up like Jesus, you're my glory and joy. What a privilege that all of us can have people in our lives, that will be able to stand with Jesus and say, this is my glory and this is my joy. Thank you for letting me be a part of this.

Ross Sawyers: 44:10 This is why I've had people, over the last few weeks or a few months now that I've trained. And there are some men that have led other people, and they themselves have turned around and took this home and they did what I taught them with their wife. Can you imagine over the next few months, if in our homes, husbands, if the only thing you did was lead your wife in this? There are wives in our church that would weep over their husbands now leading in their home spiritually, and we can help you do it. That could be one of the coolest outcomes of what happens. And we've had ones do this, turn around and do it with their ten-year-old or with their college age student. Can you imagine how life changing that is in a home if, as a parent, you have more of the tools, you're more confident, to lead your children spiritually in your home. They may not say thank you for a few years, but they will one day. Imagine having a spiritual conversation with a best friend, that the only thing you talk about is the latest news, and whatever's happening at the PGA tournament this weekend or whatever. Hey, best friend, could I do this thing that our church is doing right now? I'd love to be able to do this. Imagine the conversations that'll stir up at a whole new level that you never had before. Those people you're sitting in the stands with, you can really make good use of the time of all those hours of practices. God's put people in your life. Imagine as your [inaudible] hey, what if, while we have this hour and a half, two hour practice, we peeled off over here for a little bit? Could I do this with you? Maybe someone is not a believer, and they're curious, what a cool opportunity.

Ross Sawyers: 46:31 Well the way to get going in this, if you're not already, is to be part of a life group. And we'll give you a picture of one group that started just a few months ago, and hopefully this will Kindle an interest for you.

Ann Bridgeman: 46:46 I'm Ann Bridgeman, and this is my husband, Jim, and we started a life group in the middle of COVID. When I was younger, and we had kids in church, we were really involved in teaching and all their activities. But once your kids are out of the house, you get pretty comfortable just doing your own thing, and it's very easy to just be a spectator and a consumer at church. Not only is that not good, but it's feels really empty very quickly, so we felt it was really important to get in the life group. And as we started contemplating that, we just felt like God was really calling us to start one around this concept of people who kids have flown the nest. Right around February, we found our first couple and we got excited that we were going to actually do this and have a life group, and then COVID hit. And we said, you know what, we have meetings all day long on Zoom, there's no reason we can't start a life group that way.

Jim Bridgeman: 47:45 And starting a life group in the middle of COVID, and using Zoom, it was a little intimidating. We asked people what they really wanted to get out of life, and two things came out of it. Number one, is we're beginning COVID, and everybody was really angsting to have more time together. How do you do that? Well, we figured out we could do that through the Zoom. But we also, everybody also said we wanted to make sure this was going to have a strong biblical foundation, that this wasn't going to be just a community group, that it was going to be something more than that.

Ann Bridgeman: 48:14 So even with all the fun parts built in, what was really special is that we got to connect with other Christians in a time when we weren't seeing them in church every week. And we weren't able to do our normal things. So just connecting with them either virtually or in person and being able to talk the talk that we talk with each other and tell about what God's been doing in our lives has really been special and really hit the spot in a time where there really, really wasn't anywhere else to get that.

Jim Bridgeman: 48:44 After a few months of doing Zoom calls, we finally decided we were going to have our first face to face meeting with everybody. And we set up a lunch after church, it was bring your own lunch, it was set up in a park. As people sat down and started interacting, immediately we knew who everybody was, and we already had relationships built. It was really interesting.

Ann Bridgeman: 49:03 It kind of felt like a family reunion. Some may wonder what we're getting out of this now, and honestly, it's kind of too soon to tell. I feel like our group is still getting to know each other right now, we're building friendships, and we're getting to pray with other believers. And it's so great when we see each other in person, it's like it is, it's like a reunion. But I am excited to see where God takes this, I don't know exactly what this group is going to be for each other yet, but I know that God has a purpose and a plan for it. And all we have to do is just say yes, and I'm getting to just see how He works through this group, and it's wonderful.

Ross Sawyers: 49:47 It takes time to build community, and to build these kinds of relationships, and what a gift that God gives us in doing that. When I was leaving my house this morning my wife and I were laughing, because I kind of looked like a NASCAR driver. I got T shirt that says in or out, are you in or out? That's really what it's about today? Are you in or out? That's the kind of questions Jesus was asking, this is what it is to be in, or are you out, in or out? And then I've got a persecuted church bracelet I've been wearing for a while, just a reminder to pray for those brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world. And then I've got a bracelet, it's a fishers of men bracelet that my brother would wear. This kind, and he would just give them away when he was talking with you, and it was another way to share the gospel. And it's Philippians 4:13, it was to honor my mom when she passed away a year ago. And then here's our active kids whatever things, so I just needed a hat and I'd have been all set today with something.

Ross Sawyers: 50:49 But really regardless of the deal, God has called us to lead people to live for him. And I'm excited to be about a church that's been about that. And my prayer is, that it will only strengthened in the days ahead, and that every person, whether you're worshipping online or you're right here, we'll jump in and go for it no matter where you are in your walk with the Lord, and we look forward to graciously walking with one another.

Ross Sawyers: 51:14 Why don't we pray together. Father, thank you for the opportunity today. And we're grateful, just the strength of your word, the calling of it, the courage that you give us in these days. And Father, we're glad to be about a lot of things. And even the last few weeks, as we've talked about justice and different kinds of things, all that we know you're about. And God, apart from this, it's a miss, we're only creating a little bit of comfort for now in an eternal discomfort for someone. So God will you give us the courage and the boldness and the humility to step in, and to go for it, with what your desires are for us. And then to just enjoy what it is to be yours, and then the boldness to be a part of what you're doing. So thank you for inviting us in, and Lord, I pray that you'll stir each person the way you desire, and that they'll walk in obedience to that out of a love for you. And I pray that in Jesus' name.

Ross Sawyers: 52:16 If we could, let's be quiet for just a moment. And if there's one or two things, maybe God's been speaking to you this morning, or something specific, this is a good chance just to pray that back to him and allow it to just stick as you move out of this day,

Recorded in Grapevine, Texas.
Read More
121 Community Church
2701 Ira E Woods Ave.
Grapevine, Texas 76051