SPIRITUAL FORMATION & How Black and White Christians Do Discipleship Differently (& Natasha Sistrunk Robinson’s Analysis of What Every Church Can Learn)

Commentary by Dr  Whitesel: Natasha Sistrunk Robinson is a colleague in the Mosiax network whom I once tried to recruit for Wesley Seminary. I was privileged to endorse her book because it offers great help to the Church regarding how to disciple younger generations. Here she gives an overview into what every church can learn from the immersive manner in which the Black church conducts spiritual formation. I have long been a fan and student of the Black church realizing our too long separated judicatories have left the Church universal not only more fragmented, but also less wise.

Millennials are Leaving the Church, Who Cares?“ by Natasha Sistrunk Robinson, Missio Alliance, March 6, 2017.

…Solution Three: Focus on the Group and not the Individual

This year, Christianity Today published an article titled, “How Black and White Christians Do Discipleship Differently.” In it, they focus on Barna’s recent study regarding “Racial Divides in Spiritual Practices.” Concerning the state of discipleship, Barna reports that “black Christian leaders are more likely to say that ‘deepening one’s faith through education and fellowship’ is a goal of discipleship,” and mentorship as part of a group is a crucial part of fellowship.

This education includes the study of the Bible in a group, memorizing and meditating on Scriptures. Furthermore, they conclude that “Black communities tend toward communal rhythms of spiritual development” and that “one’s personal spiritual life had implication for social justice.” Finally, the report indicates that Black Christians place a higher value on their friends.

In short, the Black church tradition and African American culture in which I was groomed intentionally offers discipleship and mentorship within the context of groups or communities, instead of focusing on one-on-one mentoring or discipleship models.

Several of these articles are consistent when reporting that millennials value relationships and authentic conversation. Because communal relationships are already a high value for communities of color, this is an area where Christian leaders from the majority group can learn from leaders of color.

This survey of the Black church and their discipleship model reveals that discipleship can indeed take place within the context of groups. More specially, discipling and mentoring within groups offers a layered approach to discipleship that includes:

  • Bible reading and study,
  • Cultivation of spiritual disciplines like scripture memorization,
  • Positive peer pressure, peer-to-peer mentoring, and accountability,
  • A holistic Christian ethic that includes the pursuit of biblical justice, and
  • Grooming and training mentees for leadership.

Read more at … http://www.missioalliance.org/millennials-leaving-church-cares/

TRENDS & Millennials are Leaving the Church… But Black Millennials Aren’t. My colleague Natasha Sistrunk Robinson explains why.

“Millennials are Leaving the Church, Who Cares?“ by Natasha Sistrunk Robinson, Missio Alliance, March 6, 2017..

…But Black Millennials Aren’t

In his article titled, “Why Aren’t Black Millennials Leaving the Church,” Bryan T. Calvin drew on the 2012 PEW Research Center to make the case that Black millennials are not leaving the church, and there are specific reasons why they are staying. He writes, “In general, the numbers consistently show that blacks of all ages are more likely to maintain religious affiliation that whites.”

Why is this? He continues, “It seems that blacks are more invested in the practices and rituals associated with church life…Maybe the difference is that whites and blacks view the institution of the Church differently. Historically, the black church has always played an important communal role.”

Calvin continues his piece with another observation, “Talking about Millennials leaving the Church without specifying which Millennials is only half the conversation. And if the American Church is willing to enter into conversation beyond the racial lines that has often been drawn up around it, they may realize that the solution to their ‘problem’ of Millennials leaving is closer than they thought.”

Solution One: Embrace Diversity

Diversity seems like a buzz word and the lack of ethnic diversity in various arenas seems like am ever trending topic these days. I almost hesitated to use the wording here. Yet I persisted because I don’t know if the reality of the lack of ethnic diversity— including the lack of value of diverse voices, diverse experiences, and diversity in leadership— has sunk in to the psyche of the evangelical church.

The millennial generation values diversity while the evangelical church gives diversity lip service. The millennials have observed this hypocrisy and they are voting with their feet. The writing is on the wall. White millennials will not come back to the church unless there is authenticity and drastic change…

Solution Three: Focus on the Group and not the Individual

This year, Christianity Today published an article titled, “How Black and White Christians Do Discipleship Differently.” In it, they focus on Barna’s recent study regarding “Racial Divides in Spiritual Practices.” Concerning the state of discipleship, Barna reports that “black Christian leaders are more likely to say that ‘deepening one’s faith through education and fellowship’ is a goal of discipleship,” and mentorship as part of a group is a crucial part of fellowship.

This education includes the study of the Bible in a group, memorizing and meditating on Scriptures. Furthermore, they conclude that “Black communities tend toward communal rhythms of spiritual development” and that “one’s personal spiritual life had implication for social justice.” Finally, the report indicates that Black Christians place a higher value on their friends.

Read more at … http://www.missioalliance.org/millennials-leaving-church-cares/

ACCOUNTABILTY GROUPS & How Jon Weist Recreates Wesley “Band Meetings” #Exponential #TheWesleyanChurch

by Bob Whitesel D.Min. Ph.D., 4/25/16.

In partnership with the Exponential East conference, The Wesleyan Church holds an “Ignite” pre-conference sponsored by their Department of Church Multiplication and Discipleship.  Here are thoughts gleaned from Jon Wiest (church planter and current church revitalizer):

“We have four congregations plus multiple gatherings (mid-sized group), small groups and accountability groups of 3-4 like Wesley’s band meeting.”

“We have all this information about church organization, but when it comes to discipleship we don’t have a clear answer about ‘How do you do that? What do they do?’ We are changing the way this church thinks about this.  Now they think about these steps:

  1. It starts with the Bible. Everyone reads two chapters a week and then we write down our thoughts. We have a bookmark to remind us about 10-questions (Wesley?) we ask people to answer.
  2. Three people in a group walk through the bookmark and we share one of the journal entries regarding how God spoke to us this week.  Accountability groups recruit individuals to join one of these “discipleship groups.”
  3. Prayer for the unchurched is part of this.  We see discipleship as including evangelism, so that evangelism takes place here.  We formerly did an attractional strategy which forced people down from Sunday attendance downward in this process. Our process is upward instead, where they come into this discipleship group and then get involved in bigger fellowship-orientated small groups and gatherings and our four congregations.

This creates a culture of discipleship throughout the organization.”

DISCIPLESHIP & Michael Breen on Outward Focus of Discipleship #KillerApp

Anglican 1000 – Michael Breen on Outward Focus of Discipleship, by Mike Breen, Dallas, http://www.anglicansunited.com/?p=12543, March 7, 2012

PLANO, TEXAS—One of the marvels of today is anything Apple. Steve Jobs and his killer apps for his Apple operating system. In coding language, GUI= Graphical User Interface. This interface makes the operating system available for the average user.

What is the operating system of Jesus? What is his programming language? The Bible. He was always referring to the Scriptures. “Verily, verily” was a reinforcement of the usual text. This afternoon, I am going to talk about the Scriptures as a programming language written in a binary code. It is the invitation to relationship with God and the responsibility of taking that relationship seriously and productively.

The Operating System is discipleship. How does he do this? He calls people to follow him; come walk with me and be my disciples. He talks about discipleship all the time. His operating system is making disciples. The GUI – graphic interface – is imprinting stories on the minds of those he is teaching, using rabbinical teaching methods.

What is the killer app? The Church.

99% of all clergy in the Ang. Communion have a different operating system. Jesus made disciples first and then got the church.

We try to build the church and then make disciples. It is very hard and not very productive. We are not submitted to the methodology of Christ, the Lordship, yes, but the methodology, no. It is unmistakable. We try to make/build the church first and then made disciples.

A disciple can be described in plain language as a person identified with the character and competency of Christ. But here’s the thing. Our methodology is more defined by the enlightenment than by Scripture. It is important for disciples to have the right information. Tremendously important that having the right information, we give them the freedom to innovate. Have a go at it.

But the means by which we get to innovation is not from information but from imitation. 1 Corinthians 4: 14. “Disciple” as a word disappears from New Testament after Acts 21st chapter. Discipleship is the great commission. No doubt that this is what Jesus wants us to do. And commands us to do it. So, why does word disciple disappear? Why? By the time we get to Galatians, the Church has travelled beyond the cultural heartland of the Holy Land. The picture, the guiding metaphor of rabbi and disciple no longer works. Who is it in Corinth? A foreigner with a n unusual haircut. That’s how they saw the disciple that came to teach and lead them. The Socratic method is familiar, but Paul has to develop a guide for the next generation. The method Paul develops is the method of the parent and the child. The leaders are to function as spiritual parents. Paul describes as non-gender specific language as father-mother and from this metaphor of discipleship, he reinforces what a discipling relationship is. Sosthenese was the synagogue ruler in Corinth. He was seized and beaten by the mob in the presence of Gallio , the Roman governor, when he refused to proceed against Paul at the instigation of the Jews (Acts 18:12-17). This event led him on journey toward Jesus. Comes to Paul for teaching and Paul says, “I am sending you my son, Timothy…”

Read more at … http://www.virtueonline.org/anglican-1000-michael-breen-outward-focus-discipleship

CONVERSION & John Wesley’s view of Conversion #Podcast

http://www.missionaldiscipleship.com/?powerpress_embed=341-podcast&powerpress_player=mediaelement-audio

by @heathmullikin and @jeremysummers, GroundSwell, http://www.missionaldiscipleship.com.

Today’s conversation is with Dr. Bob Whitesel.  He is a founding professor of Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University and current Professor of Missional Leadership.  He has two earned doctorates (D.Min. and Ph.D.) from Fuller Theological Seminary where he was awarded the Donald McGavran Award for “Outstanding Scholarship in Church Growth” by the faculty.  Dr. Whitesel is the  author of 11 books, including the award-winning series on evangelism titled, “Spiritual Waypoints: Helping Others Navigate the Journey”  He is married to his college sweetheart Rebecca and they have four daughters and four grandchildren.  Today, we talk with Dr. Whitesel about John Wesley’s view of conversion and discipleship. We would love your feedback by commenting on the blog, joining our Facebook group, or tweeting us @heathmullikin and @jeremysummers using the hashtag #groundswell. For more information on the Spiritual Formation Department of the Wesleyan Church click here.

Dr. Whitesel’s website at bobwhitesel.com.

Great church resources at churchhealthwiki.com.

Join Dr. Whitesel on wesleytours.com.

DISCIPLESHIP: Why the Missional Church Will Fail w/o Greater Emphasis on Discipleship

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Why the Missional Church Will Fail

by Mike Breen, ChurchLeaders.com

“So what is the engine of the church? Discipleship.

I’ve said it many times: If you make disciples, you will always get the church. But if you try to build the church, you will rarely get disciples.

If you’re good at making disciples, you’ll get more leaders than you’ll know what to do with. If you make disciples like Jesus made them, you’ll see people come to faith who didn’t know Him.

If you disciple people well, you will always get the missional thing. Always.

We took 30 days and examined the Twitter conversations happening. We discovered there are between 100-150 times as many people talking about mission as there are discipleship (to be clear, that’s a 100:1).

We are a group of people addicted to and obsessed with the work of the Kingdom, with little to no idea of how to be with the King…”

Read more at … http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/154332-mike-breen-why-the-missional-movement-will-fail.html#.Ux1GQFRnR-k.email