Why church matters: a lesson in weology

 It’s theologically incorrect to say, “All you need is God.” When we say this, we’re forgetting our weology.

What’s weology?

In the perfect world God created before sin, God saw one man surrounded by flawless paradise on all sides and said, “It’s not good for man to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18)

What? How can that be?

God was in community with himself (the Father, Son and Holy Spirit). But at this point in the narrative, Adam was not in community with another human being as God designed. Yes, Adam had an intimate relationship with God. It was unhindered by sin at this point, and undoubtedly he enjoyed God’s awesome creation. But he didn’t have another human being “suitable” with whom he could live in community. So God declared it was “not good.”

Then God made Adam a friend, a partner, and, yes, a lover.

But don’t check out yet.

This post is NOT about marriage.

A photo by Sidharth Bhatia. unsplash.com/photos/YbRd8Qqem_Y

It’s about our God-given need for human community. (Think about it. It’s possible to be married and not live in real community with each other. It’s also possible to be single and enjoy living in true community with others.)

I believe the first two chapters of the Bible show us clearly that God craves for us to be in community with him and with each other.

God himself doesn’t think that we only need him.

This is why I contend that it’s theologically incorrect to say, “All you need is God.” The biblical truth is: We need God and each other. Good theology is weology.

And that’s just one reason why church matters.

Want to turn your friendships into disciplemaking friendships?

Becoming a safe place

[Psst, here’s a secret: Middle schoolers are some of our favorite people. This post is part of our Batteries Included collection just for people who invest in this awkward, amazing age group. f you’re a youth leader, parent or teacher who spends time with middle schoolers, this is for you. If you’re not—share it with a friend who is!]

I often challenge our middle school students to make our group their safe place. They get cut-down and kicked around enough everywhere else. As people of God, we’re called to be different—to be full of the grace and truth of Jesus. This is a brand new concept for most middle schoolers.

Following Jesus isn’t “safe”—it’s full of risk and adventure. But fostering an accepting, loving environment gives students the courage to trust the dangerous message of Christ.

(Actually, I think this is the same for adults.)

And if we’re going to follow Jesus together, we need to build an environment of trust and kindness—the kind that flows out of mutual community.

I know, I know, this all sounds good…except that I mentioned this is middle schoolers we’re talking about, right???

You might think it’s impossible for middle schoolers to be nice to each other.

It’s not!

Pulling students in from the fringe

It does, however, take a lot of prayer, patience and intentionality on your part. The prayer and patience are easy enough to understand. So how can we be purposeful about helping students feel safe in our midst?

  1. Introduce students to each other. You may know all of them, but do they know each other? Don’t assume. Play name games. Show core students how to walk over and introduce themselves to new students by doing it with them.
  2. Play games that build bonds rather than break them. We seldom use elimination games that quickly disengage half the group. It’s not because I no longer believe in competition—it’s because students get bored when you cut them out of the game. Instead of eliminating, you can give students “disabilities” like using only one foot, running backwards or being blindfolded to penalize but keep them participating. Competition can build great bonds, especially if teams are working together toward a shared goal.
  3. Model words of kindness, encouragement and hope, and help your other leaders guard their sarcasm. When you hear students tearing each other down, challenge them on it! Cut-downs are second nature for many middle schoolers. They need help recognizing what’s not okay to say to each other. Just be careful that the way you challenge them still models the compassion you want them to have!

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8

equip sign, middle school

Want to Equip your middle schoolers to help create a safe place for following Jesus together? Find out how!

Turning your friendships into disciplemaking friendships

When I went back to college later in life, I was told that I had a “math deficiency.” I ended up having to buy an introductory mathematics book and re-teaching myself some basics.

Every day I worked through a portion of that pitifully boring math book—alone.

However, once a week I met with a tutor who monitored my progress (or lack thereof) and tried to answer my many questions. (“Why would anyone plant a garden in the form of a triangle and then use the Pythagorean Theorem to measure the hypotenuse?”)

One day I asked my tutor, “Help me understand integers”—and I pronounced it exactly like it’s spelled: “in-TEG-ers.” My tutor smiled and said, “You mean, integers”—and she pronounced it “IN-ti-jers.” Sensing my embarrassment, she said, “It’s okay. You couldn’t have known this simply by working through the book by yourself.”

Right then and there I realized this: Solo book learning is a good start, but a fuller, deeper learning happens in community.

In my math community—with a tutor and few other struggling students—I learned to correctly pronounce mathematical terms I’ll probably never need, such as “integer.” (My math is up to speed these days, but you may have noticed that I still have a significant math deficiency in my attitude.)

In Jesus’ day, this fuller, deeper, communal learning was known as havering. And as it turns out, haver learning is a critically important part of the disciplemaking genius of Jesus. Why? Because you will never fully come to know and experience Jesus or disciplemaking by simply working through the Book by yourself.

(From the introduction to the Disciplemaker’s Living Guide.)

Announcing the Disciplemaker’s Living Guide

This Disciplemaker’s Living Guide is a tool for transforming friendships into disciplemaking friendships. It’s great for families, students, small groups, discipleship groups, Sunday school classes, elder’s meetings, staff meetings, disciplemaking learning communities, mission trip teams, and even improving your marriage.

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What’s New?

  • A refreshed size and design.
  • A helpful introduction on why and how to use it as a dialogue rather than merely a devotional guide.
  • The Disciplemaker’s Prayer and a challenge to pray it daily.
  • Language that clearly ties this resource to the disciplemaking priorities and practices spelled out in the Disciplemaking Is Relationships training.

5 Ways to Use this Living Guide

  1. With Volunteers and Students:
    Use the Disciplemaker’s Living Guide to help your adult staff and student leaders grasp and own the value of disciplemaking friendships as the conduit for gospel ministry.
  2. In Small Groups:
    Once your team-adults and students-understands and starts living the values, bring it to your entire ministry. This is a great series for small groups.
  3. For Retreats:
    This living guides is a great summer camp or fall or winter retreat experience. Cadre offers a four-session training called Disciplemaking Is Relationships.
  4. Family Discussions:
    Consider doing a family night using this living guide to explore what it looks like to live a disciplemaking way of life together. Invite other families to share this living guide experience.
  5. Starting Meetings:
    Instead of just starting meetings in prayer, take 15 minutes to have people get into pairs and work through one of the 25 disciplemaking studies/adventures. This will drip essential disciplemaking values into your elder, staff, and team meetings throughout the year.

How might God transform your friendships into disciplemaking friendships?

I dare you to find out.