Jesus Sends Me… As He was Sent.

Are you ready and willing to be a living exhibition of what life with God is like? Jesus invites you to join him in this adventure. Connecting in our World is the contact of the eternal with the mundane—and it can be a transforming adventure that we unwrap everyday.

“Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” —Matthew 28:18-20 

The command here is to “make disciples.” The context expects us to be out in our world accomplishing this ultimate priority. While going, we are to multiply ourselves by making new disciples, baptizing them and guiding them until they are living out these truths in their own lives—making disciples themselves! Jesus demonstrated his own commitment to “going” by his birth and life among us. He identified with those he loved as he sought to make disciples. I wonder if instead of following Jesus’ example, we practice a “Great Omission” today—we post a sign or run an ad and wait for the lost to find their own way to us. As shepherds, let’s go meet the sheep where they are. 

Scriptures emphasize going. John 15 focuses on going and bearing fruit. In Mark 16 Christ says, “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation.” In John 20:21, Jesus says, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” Yet we often say, “Come, come, come. Come to our ___________ program. Come to our beautiful facility. Come to our activity.” We even have it turned around so that we find ourselves getting mad, disgusted and discouraged with our friends because they don’t come—yet Jesus told us to go. We have no right to expect others to draw close until we have been faithful in going. 

HUNGER FOR GOD

The Bible teaches that our lives are “letters” read by those people around us (2 Cor. 3:2). The disciplemaker must take time to cultivate the spiritual disciplines of Bible study, prayer, evangelism and spiritual breathing (confession of sin and complete yielding to the Spirit). We should be able to say, as Paul said to the Corinthians, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). Students can sense the intensity of my relationship with God when they spend time with me. My personal time with Christ spills over and affects people around me more than any other time investment I make—students know when my quiet time is going well, and they can tell when it isn’t. 

COMPASSION FOR PEOPLE

Jesus lived in a world of hurting and needy people. Matthew 8:14-15 describes an instance when Jesus was at Peter’s house, and he saw Peter’s mother-in-law sick in bed with fever. Jesus touched her hand and the fever left her. The teen years are hard. The challenges students face are only intensified by struggles with self-image, acceptance and meaning in life. We must compassionately understand the basic needs students have if we intend to minister to them. In Five Cries of Youth, Merton Strommen details these basic needs and how we as disciplemakers and even youth workers can deal with them.

Strommen surveyed more than seven thousand teenagers about their values, beliefs, opinions and concerns about themselves, their friends, their world, and their God. He writes, “If you listen, you can hear cries, rising out of the data with compelling insistence: sobs, angry shouts, hurrahs, protests and jeers.” Our love for hurting students should come from an overflow of our personal relationship with Christ.

Mark 1:40-45 refers to this principle: “A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees… Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man.” 

Likewise, we need to let compassion come alive in us as we interact with students. 

Leaders must be prepared to confront the questions students are facing: Who am I? Why am I here? Where am I going? In Leadership, Barry St. Clair describes a leader’s role in the lives of students:

Webster defines leadership as the ‘ability to show the way or guide the course of action of another by going before or going beside.’ As you examine that definition, one thing becomes apparent about being a leader. You can’t show someone else the way to go unless you have been there (or are going there) yourself. In other words, the quality of your life will determine the quantity of your influence. As you minister to students, you must catch hold of the concept that, ‘If I take care of the depth of my spiritual life, then God will take care of the breadth of my disciplemaking adventure.’ Simply stated, leadership is a life-style. God can use you to influence others, but your influence will be in proportion to the type of lifestyle that you lead. 

My connecting skills are only valuable when they are supported by a meaningful relationship with God. 

RELATIONAL ABILITIES OF A DISCIPLEMAKER 

Because of the significance of the connecting intentionality, we realize that disciplemakers need to develop several convictions: 

WILLINGNESS TO SPEND TIME WITH PEOPLE (for example as Youth Workers with Students) 

Many students today lack significant relationships with adults due to the breakdown of the family, economic pressures requiring both parents and teens to work, and the development of a youth subculture that tends to breed mistrust and misunderstanding between generations. If people only see us on Sundays, and we are “phantom” Christians the rest of the week, they may easily conclude that we don’t really care about them as individuals. We must earn the right to be heard and show our concern for them by learning about their interests and becoming involved in their lives. 

SENSITIVITY TO PEOPLES’ DEVELOPING IDENTITIES (for example as Youth Workers with Students)

Like many of us, students are people in transition. As disciplemakers and youth leaders, we need to be aware of the emotional, mental, physical and spiritual makeup of our students (and our friends & neighbors) and their various stages of development. Be careful not to stereotype or categorize others—each deserves individual attention and care. This individual love means accepting students even with their imperfections. It’s common to know students, family and friends who are struggling to form their unique identity—and to see them undergo personality changes and try new fads. We must strive to accept each individual as God’s creation rather than condemn or judge their self-worth.

Our sensitivity should include speaking the truth in love when a student’s new individuality infringes upon the rights of others. Remember that discipleship and discipline are as closely related as they sound. 

A DOSE OF AGGRESSIVENESS 

Growing up, my mom and I used to go fishing. We never just sat in the boat waiting for fish to jump in. Of course not! We aggressively went after them, making an effort to find out where the fish were, and then caught them. “When he [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest field.’” —Matthew 9:36-38

Jesus called us to join him in fishing for men, not waiting for fish to swim up to us. We must aggressively, but lovingly and tactfully, go after them. In John 4, Jesus said, “Lift up your eyes. Look into the fields. See that they are white unto harvest.” Often we are so busy planning our own programs and looking at our own problems that we fail to see how ripe the harvest is. That’s why Jesus urged us to look around and see how ready the harvest really is. Compassion should lead us to vigorously pursue Christ’s example and commission. 

WILLINGNESS TO IDENTIFY WITH THE ANOTHER’S WORLD

For example, Teenagers can easily develop a dichotomy in their minds—the church world, and the “real” world. What goes on in the church world is good and valuable; but it doesn’t relate, in their minds, to the real world. When we penetrate the real world that students live in by going on their turf, the dichotomy breaks down. Our teaching has new value as they realize that a daily walk with Christ does relate to them. A side benefit of entering the world of students is that we gain a better understanding of what life is like for them. Too often we teach from theory or old personal experiences rather than dealing with the real issues this generation is facing this month. 

CONSISTENCY IN CONNECTING

We must have the conviction that connecting is as important two years into our friendships and ministries as it is during the initial months of our friendships. We must guard against the “sigh of relief” syndrome that says, “I used to do that, but thankfully, I’m past that stage.” Connecting is a continual process that expresses the value we place on people. Threats to consistency: 

Connecting takes time and effort. Building relationships and penetrating circles of friends does not come naturally. If we fail to take the time or encourage other leaders and students to make intentional contacts, we soon will become an ingrown group without any non-Christian friends or fringe students close enough to impact. 

Connecting takes courage and boldness.

A problem that we face in maintaining a connecting intentionality is what Pat Hurley refers to as the stomach problem—visiting a high school campus, students’s homes, local hangouts, etc. all require a certain amount of guts. 

Perhaps this is what Paul was experiencing when he wrote to the Corinthians: “I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling” (1 Cor. 2:3). Fear is a natural response as we leave our own spiritual and peer comfort zone to “cross-culturally” contact teens. But if we are afraid to go to them, isn’t it easy to see why they would be terrified to come to a church or church-based group? Remember Christ’s promise: “I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). 

Results may come slowly. We must face the possibility that we will not see the impact of our connecting intentionality for a long time. I remember my first contacts well. Not only was I nervous, but I felt awkward and out of place; yet I was always praying and asking God to help me know what to say. I wanted students to know that I was truly interested in their lives and cared enough to spend time with them. Connecting is slow and often discouraging, but trust develops over time. 

Remember the wisdom of Galatians 6:9: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” 

—by Dave & Rennie Garda, Cadre Missionaries, dave@cadremissionaries.com

 

APATHY

Preface to Email From Hell

Dear Christian Students,

E-mail is truly an amazing and funny thing. For example, somehow I “accidentally” received this e-mail memo from . . . HELL! It is from a high-ranking general in Satan’s evil army—a demonic warrior named Ichabod—and is written to the demons who have been strategically assigned to Christian students like YOU! I’m not sure how this message ended up on my computer—except for the fact that maybe one of God’s angels intercepted it and somehow sent it my way so I could share it with you in this Bible study booklet! I wouldn’t be surprised if I start getting these e-mail memos on a regular basis! If I do, you can count on the fact that I will inform you of the enemy’s tactics—so that you will not be ignorant of his plans to make you spiritually ineffective (II Corinthians 11:3). When you are finished reading, please share it with EVERY student and disciplemaker you know—so they, too, will be on guard against the attacks of the evil one (Ephesians 6:10).

Your partner in Christ for your generation, Bill Allison


Apathy: Try to Put Their Spiritual Fire Out Slowly! 

To: All of my young demons of destruction!

From: Ichabod Ebenezer Beelzebub, General of Sector 666

RE: Our Greatest Threat: Christian Students

As your superior in evil, I must confess that nothing makes me tremble more than THOUSANDS of students praying! I HATE THAT! The thought of the damage done to our side as a result of this makes my scales crawl! It may be months before we recover the lost ground— but recover the lost ground we must!

So, instead of direct attacks on the Enemy from the outside (which has only hurt us and rallied them), I think it is time for a not-so-new, sneakier strategy. I propose a return to the strategy of making student ministries crumble from the inside out! Since each of you has been assigned to tempt, discourage, and frustrate Christian students in youth groups all over the world, I want to encourage you to influence them to do various “innocent” acts of destruction—with the hope that we can actually get Christian students to hurt the work of God for us! For the next several months, I will guide you with specific pieces of advice about how to help Christian students ruin their lives and youth groups.

Lesson #1: Apathy is a Demon’s Best Friend! 

One of the most important and effective weapons we have in the battle with Christian students—especially those Christian students who have grown up in Christian homes—is apathy. That is, some Christian students don’t REALLY care about God or building His kingdom! As a lord of Satan himself, I rejoice in EVERY Christian student who is lukewarm! Anything that makes the Enemy vomit must be good for our side (see Revelation 3:16)! However, a growing number of Christian students are becoming radicals! They love God and are actively working to tell other students about God’s love. THIS MUST BE STOPPED! Somehow, we must work to take the edge off these radicals and lead them down the slippery slope of apathy!

This is why the Enemy has so many of His volunteer and full-time workers in what He calls “youth ministry.” He knows youth ministry is the most strategic mission field in America! This 85 percent is a frightening statistic indeed—and frankly, this is something the big boys in Hell have been working on for years—but with very little success! Furthermore, around 44 percent of all people who trust Christ as their Savior do so because of the witness of a close friend or relative! So, if Christian students ever get serious about impacting their non-Christian friends for Christ—we are most certainly doomed! Why? Because non-Christian students are receptive to the gospel—especially when it is presented by a trusted Christian friend! YIKES! This should have you more than a little concerned! At ALL costs, don’t let students catch a vision for reaching other students!

Apathy Generator: Busyness! 

How can you stop the radical Christ-following students? Let me offer the following apathy-tactics that we are currently using with some success. Once students reach the junior high/middle school years, encourage them to get overly BUSY doing things that are good—but not necessarily what is BEST! The goal here is to get them busy doing anything except that which is eternally important! You know the old saying, “If the Devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy!” Remember: we work for the Devil—so let’s bury those students in busyness. (It’s working quite well with adults these days!) Get younger students focused on themselves, being popular and cool, and involved in the zillions of good activities that demand all of their time and attention. Good is the worst enemy of best—and if students get so caught up in good things—they will never have time to do that which is eternally best! For older students, focus their attention solely on buying cars, working at McDonalds, and making money for college—all “good” things that can be used to choke their spiritual fruitfulness (see Mark 4:19). Help Christian high school students forget the fact that they only have so many years to be in a youth ministry—lest they make the most of those years!

Note: Getting older students over-involved in work is only effective if they work on Wednesday nights and/or Sundays so they will have to miss Bible studies and youth group meetings! BIG CAUTION: IF students prioritize their involvement in youth ministry activities, the whole busyness approach could backfire on us! Think about it. Students stay connected to a strong, healthy youth ministry—never missing a Bible study. Then they start telling other students they know from all the activities they are involved in outside of the youth ministry about their “AWESOME” youth group. This makes me sick to think of the damage that could be done! So if you choose to lure Christian students into the busyness trap, make sure they get so busy that they cut themselves off from their church’s youth ministry!

When All Else Fails: Romantic Diversions 

If busyness doesn’t make Christian students apathetic about God and their church youth ministries, pull out the big guns and hit them where it really hurts— romantic relationships! When trying to pull radical Christian students out of the life of a vibrant youth ministry, I have found only a few tactics more successful than sending non-Christian girlfriends or boyfriends into their lives! Get a spiritual dynamo guy interested in an open-minded non-Christian knockout of a babe! How many Christian guys can resist this? HA! I love this job! Get that missionary wanna-be of a young woman to date the beer-drinking star of the football team—even just one time! Sometimes it only takes one date—and you’ve got them! HA! I REALLY love this job! Pull them from the fire of other Christians SLOWLY so they cool off just a little bit. Don’t try to take them from hot to cold in one day! Just try to SLOWLY cool them down degree by degree and before they know it—they are spiritual popsicles! This starts by taking them out of the influence of youth ministry—and away from adult youth workers and other radical Christ-following students who really love them. Before long, they stop reading the Bible, praying, and sharing their faith. From there, it is a fast moving ski-ride down to spiritual Iceland.

I have so much more to teach you, my little demons of SLOW destruction, but these suggestions will get you started in the art of creating apathy in Christian students! Slowly and steadily take the spiritual fire of Christian students down—one little degree at a time. Remember: spiritual destruction via apathy is a slow steady leak—not a one time blow out!


Don’t Just Sit There—Do Something About It! 

It is my hope that the articles in these lessons stimulate you to serious thinking and action! The best way to use this booklet is in a group discussion situation. So each chapter will be accompanied by thought provoking Bible study questions you can use for self or group studies.

1. It is important to note that we can’t blame the Devil for the bad choices we make! Think about someone you know who was once a radical Christ-follower but is now apathetic about spiritual things. Perhaps this person is YOU! What are some choices that Christian students make that SLOWLY take away their passion for Christ? How does the slippery slope away from Jesus get started?

2. What can Christian students do to keep their passion for Christ stoked hot and burning bright? Be specific.

3. What do the following verses teach us about how our enemy will try to keep us from living passionately for Jesus?

II Corinthians 11:3 Ephesians 6:10-18

4. What do the above verses teach us about how to fight our enemy?

5. Why might Christian students be more of a threat to Satan’s kingdom?

6. “If the Devil can’t make you bad, he’ll try to make you busy.” Is this statement in any way true in your life? Be specific.

7. In YOUR life, how might GOOD be the worst enemy of BEST?

8. Read Mark 4:1-20. What is choking your spiritual fruitfulness?

9. What “big guns” does the enemy tempt you with? What temptations do you struggle with the most? What is the area of your greatest weakness? Who can you talk to about this?

10. If you were the enemy, how would you plan to attack YOU?


If you’re wanting to prevail against apathy we invite you to enjoy the dramatic audio and share this experience with friends, family time or in your small groups.

Download your FREE copy of the APATHY Email and Study Questions as a printable tool: efh-apathy-handout

 

Want to learn more ways to fight the enemy? We offer two printed volumes (Email from Hell, More Email from Hell) or 10 stand-alone Dramatic Audio editions with companion PDF Training.


© 2017 Cadre Missionaries, Training Article. CadreBlog, Dramatized Email From Hell Audio, All rights reserved. 

How to choose your next best curriculum

People often ask me for curriculum recommendations. Since Cadre writes, publishes and offers a lot of training, people sometimes think we do curriculum.

But…we don’t.

I get why people ask. Choosing what to teach is a pressing, felt need many of us have as we plan to teach week-to-week…to week…to week.

lightstock_97579_medium_david

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-curriculum. But Cadre doesn’t write it because we believe disciplemaking is a way of life, and that’s our focus—helping you, as our in-real-life friends, follow Jesus with the people in your life, living sent to make disciples who make disciples. Disciplemaking isn’t meant to be a topic for us to teach for 8 weeks every other year as part of our Christian education rotation.

But wait, don’t close out the window yet!

We can still help.

The truth is, there are many great kinds of studies and resources you can use to cultivate disciplemaking values in your ministy. This is the best one. And I’ll share a few more at the bottom.

But let’s back up for a minute.

While I can share a few resources with you, I’d much rather equip you to choose your own curriculum well. In fact, this won’t be my only post on the topic. But today, I simply want to challenge you to think about the big picture.

Instead of picking a curriculum based on how well it’s designed, how easy it is to teach without much prep, or how many of your friends use it…stop and ask:

  • What does a disciple who makes disciples look like?
  • What head, hands and heart understanding do we want to help develop in people as we seek to make disciples?
  • What are our goals as we aim to make disciples who make disciples?

There are plenty of good studies out there. But unless you have clearly defined goals, you’re probably going to fumble around looking for “the next best thing” to teach every 3-6 months.

Here are some sample “exit goals” to show you what I mean.

By the time children finish Kindergarten, they should…

  • Know the Bible is God’s Word
  • Be able to pray a simple prayer

By the time kids finish 5th grade, they should…

  • Know God helps us overcome our fears
  • Be able to name the books of the Bible in order

By the time students finish high school, they should…

  • Understand God’s design for us to live in biblical community with one another
  • Be able to choose personal priorities based on their relationship with Jesus.

Once adults have experienced this class or group, they should…

  • Know how to lead someone to Christ
  • Be able to live out the one another verses with family and friends

Note that these are just EXAMPLES—they’re NOT mean to be exhaustive. You can view a more extensive list of goals and find practical help as you teach for disciplemaking in Cadre’s Teaching Genius of Jesus.

teaching-genius

If the ministry you’re a part of isn’t ready to come up with goals for all ages, spend some time prayerfully identifying a few simple goals for the group you’re teaching or leading.

Once you know what you’re aiming for, you can find studies that will help people grow as disciples in the areas you’ve identified.

But if you’re still looking for Cadre-style “curriculum,” start here…

  • You can break down our Equip middle school training into weekly bite sizes and plan a lesson around it. There are lots of ideas and creative ways to engage, but there’s no script. You’ll have to be willing to study and share the Scripture together with those you’re teaching.
    equip-logo-2013-b

And finally, since I told you I would, here are a handful of additional resources I’ve found helpful in cultivating a disciplemaking way of life:

For kids:

Discover 4 Yourself Inductive Bible studies

The Jesus Storybook Bible (and curriculum)

252 Basics

For students:

Dare 2 Share’s Field Guide to Sharing Your Faith

Sticky Faith: 10 Lessons to Nurture Faith Beyond High School

For adults:

Let’s Read the Bible Together YouVersion plans

Prayer that Makes a Difference by Martin Sanders

A Righteous Brood by Hugh Halter

Middle schoolers lead the way in disciplemaking

So often in middle school ministry, we don’t get much beyond games and general early adolescent craziness.

Why?

I contend it’s because we don’t expect much out of middle schoolers. And guess what happens? We get exactly what we expect…not much.

But there is a better way.

Consider the Equip training experience. It’s 2-3 days of encouraging and equipping middle school students to make disciples who make more disciples.

Yes, I said middle school students and disciplemaking in the same sentence.

I know, right?

For some unfortunate reason, middle school students are often regarded as the ugly step-child of youth ministry.

I couldn’t disagree more.

When it comes to disciplemaking like Jesus, I think middle school students can lead the way for high school students and adults.

(Yeah…you’ll probably need to reread that sentence again.) I’ve seen it with my own two eyes. And it thrills my soul.

Okay, let me just say it: After 35 years of youth ministry in a wide variety of settings, I can honestly say Equip is the best disciplemaking training experience I’ve ever seen for middle schoolers.

You and the middle school students in your ministry are missing something very significant if they don’t experience Equip.

equip group middle schoolers

Click here to find out more about giving your middle schoolers an Equip experience.

Why our identity matters

[This post is part of our Spiritual Caffeine collection, geared toward encouraging students to grow as disciplemakers.]

I used to be a janitor at a local high school. One night when I was emptying the feminine hygiene boxes in the girls’ bathroom, I came across the wrappings of someone’s lunch: orange juice, container of raspberries, foil wrapper from a sandwich. Seeing this, I stopped and prayed. I also found myself asking: “What would cause someone to hide in the restroom and eat a meal?”

Identity: A look back to Israel’s Exodus from Egypt

God had made a covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Their descendants were now slaves in Egypt, and God was about to free them in a miraculous way. God speaks to Moses and gives him a message for His people:

“I am Yahweh, and I will deliver you from the forced labor of the Egyptians and free you from slavery to them. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and great acts of judgment. I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. You will know that I am Yahweh your God, who delivered you from the forced labor of the Egyptians. I will bring you to the land that I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you as a possession. I am Yahweh.” Moses told this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their broken spirit and hard labor. (Exodus 6:9)

A promise

Do you see the statement “I will take you as My people, and I will be your God”? God is promising his people that their identity will be anchored to his character—in his identity. Verse nine, however, tells us that they were so broken and with so little hope, they couldn’t even imagine their identity being attached to God himself. But he does it. God is faithful to his promise. He gives these Egyptian slaves a new identity. They are now the people of God.

Processed with VSCOcam with c5 preset

Forgetting who they are

Fast forward to the golden calf. It’s a bone-headed move. The Israelites have quickly forgotten the God who loves them and have run into the arms of something else. God has delivered his people, just like he had promised. He is even going to keep his promise of giving them the land of Canaan. But, he tells Moses, “I will not travel among you, for you are a stubborn and rebellious people.” (Ex. 33:3) Remember the promise… “I will take you as My people, and I will be your God.” This is too much for Moses to bear. The promise of God’s presence is more precious than anything else. Having an identity that is anchored in the character of God is too important.

“Then Moses said, ‘If you don’t personally go with us, don’t make us leave this place. How will anyone know that you look favorably on me – on me and on your people – if you don’t go with us? For your presence among us sets your people and me apart from all other people on the earth. (Ex. 33:15-16)

Finding out who we really are

Just like it was for Moses and the Israelites in the desert of Sinai, God’s presence is what gives us our identity. Our identity is found in the immovable unchangeable character of Christ and the forgiveness he gives. That identity gives us hope when we find ourselves in broken in spirit.

shoreline

It is in the deliverance, freedom, and redemption of Christ that we find our identity—our hope. In the midst of pressure and pain, that hope—that identity will not disappoint. It is anchored in the love of God and sealed with is presence—the Holy Spirit.

“And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” (Rom. 5:4-5)

That night standing in a bathroom stall, my prayer was for hope. I was asking God to help this young woman discover the hope of an identity anchored in the forgiveness of Christ.

My prayer today is for your identity too:

“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Rom. 15:13)

God, help us to embrace the hope found in an identity anchored with you and then overflows with hope in all circumstances.