What’s the most influential book you’ve read?

On the path of following Jesus there are lots of resources that can be helpful.  So we’re wondering, which book has influenced your discipleship the most.  Narrowing it down to just one book can be really tough, but for the sake of this exercise take a shot at it!  Also throw in a paragraph or so explaining why it has been so influential in your life.  What were the most important things you took away from it?

Oh, and don’t put the Bible.  Hopefully that is the most influential book in your discipleship, but what else?

Measuring Success 2

Well, I got a few responses to how to measure success on Facebook.  They basically fell into two categories.  1) A church is successful when they make new people feel very welcome.  This was best put by someone who said you make them feel like you’ve been waiting for them.  2) Sarcastic comments about measuring based on how big a church is.  I kind of did this in the initial post, so they fell along the same lines.

My sense is that most people understand that measuring the success of a church based purely on numbers isn’t a good way to go about it.  Pastors and leaders get drawn into the trap of doing this because it’s easy to quantify.  I don’t think most pastors really think success is about numbers, but try quantifying discipleship in ten seconds or less.

There are no end to legitimate ways to go about measuring the success of a church because there are quite a few angles from which you can look at discipleship–hours spent serving the community, people studying the Bible, life transformation–and even then there are so many ways to approach each of these things.

When we talk about measuring the success of a church we need to first clarify that we are talking about success in the eyes of God.  Sometimes success in the eyes of our culture and the eyes of God are different things.  If we’re not after success in God’s eyes that’s a separate problem.  But assuming we’re after success in God’s eyes there are some things we can look for.  I want to propose what I call: the marks of a great church (in God’s eyes).  There are X of these and in the next few weeks I’ll take a look at each and include a metric you can use to measure these things in your church.  The marks of a great church are…

  1. A great church is devoted to prayer.
  2. A great church moves with God.
  3. A great church invests in the kingdom of God.
  4. A great church lives sent.
  5. A great church loves each other.
  6. A great church is unified.
  7. A great church grows in transforming knowledge.

Measuring Success

It’s been interesting in the past five years or so to see more and more people wondering about how to measure the success of a church beyond buildings, bodies, and bucks.  The conversation has been a good one as none of those three things in necessarily a sign of the kind of success God is looking for.

If God has called us to make disciples of Jesus then to a large extent our measures of success should revolve around the extent to which that is happening.  The problem with that is that the measures of discipleship are notoriously hard to measure.  How do you really know if people are growing in their display of the fruit of the Spirit?  How do you really know if people are growing in obedience to the commands of Jesus?

I’ll follow up on this with some thoughts, but I’d ask, how do you measure success in your church or even your life?

[Re]Defining Discipleship

The following is an excerpt from the Unique Conformity’s first curriculum.

One of the reasons we need to [re]define discipleship is that we all have different perspectives and paradigms on what it is.  This makes it very difficult for Christians (and even people in the same church or small group) to communicate with each other effectively about discipleship.

Let me illustrate this from my relationship with my wife, Michelle.  Ever since we had kids it is extremely common for us to plop down on the couch with some popcorn and watch a movie on Friday nights.  When Michelle heads to the movie store she often asks me which movie I’d like her to get (and vice versa).  Unless there is something out I really want to see, I will simply respond, “Whatever, just get something good.”  Aside from the veiled inference that she would try to pick a horrible movie, the problem with this statement is that our ideas of a “good movie” are vastly different.  We do not share the same paradigm of what makes a good movie.  So if she comes home with a sappy romantic movie and I say, “I said you should get something good!”  She might very well respond, “I did get something good.”  If we end up with a movie we can both enjoy it is because Michelle and I understand each other’s views on movies and take that into consideration when we choose.

Figure out if you and the people you know are on the same page.  Get the Unique Conformity discipleship experience (featured on ChristianBibleStudies.com).

Check out the Unique Conformity website.

Why unique conformity?

When I tell people about Unique Conformity I don’t usually get far past the name without some kind of reaction.  Some people look confused, some have been intrigued, and a few have been downright excited.  In the midst of all those different reactions lie the reasons I chose to name our organization Unique Conformity.

It gets people’s attention. One way or another the name tends to get people’s attention.  Whether they get it right away or not this is an opportunity to go into more detail about why we began Unique Conformity and what we hope to accomplish with God for His kingdom.  There are plenty of organizations out there with names that are either so common you don’t think twice about them or so obscure you have no idea what they might mean.  The tension expressed in the name Unique Conformity parallels the tension that exists in learning to follow Jesus in so many different ways.

It can be a paradigm-shifter. I truly believe that in these two words the potential exists for the explanation of a paradigm on discipleship that can change the way many people in our churches and our culture view it.  I have already had conversations with quite a few people who have felt enlightened and empowered by this concept in relation to what it looks like for them to follow Jesus.  The truth of Scripture and what Jesus meant by telling us to make disciples doesn’t change, but the lens we use to understand it can.  Unique Conformity is a concept God can use to clarify what it means to be a disciple of Jesus and to unleash people and churches to make a unique impact in the kingdom of God.

[Still wondering why we’re named Unique Conformity?  The short version is that we are all created by God and gifted by the Spirit to play a unique role in His kingdom.  Simultaneously if we claim to be disciples of Jesus we are called to conform to His example and way of living.  For the long version check out our website or go through our first curriculum.]