Gospel Saturated Prayer

This Gospel Saturated prayer is from Gaining by Losing and other Greear books.  He wrote about it HERE
The gospel prayer has four parts. The 1st two parts lead us inward, helping us to renew our minds in God’s acceptance of us and the value of that acceptance to us: (1) “In Christ, there is nothing I can do that would make You love me more, and nothing I have done, or could do, that would make You love me less.” (2) “Your presence and approval are all I need today for everlasting joy.” Part 3 of the prayer has us consider what responding to the grace of the gospel looks like. Understanding God’s generosity toward us should lead us to radical generosity toward others. (3) “As You have been to me, so I will be to others.” Part 4 of the prayer helps us see our world through the lens of the gospel. If the cross really does reveal God’s compassion for sinners and His resurrection His power to save them, then our prayers on their behalf should be audacious and bold: (4) “As I pray, I’ll measure Your compassion by the cross and Your power the by the resurrection.” I’ve prayed this prayer every day now for the last few years. You know what? It’s finally starting to sink in. I hope you have some way, if not this, of saturating your mind in the revolutionary, turn-religion-upside-down, fight-the-latent-idolatry-and-works-righteousness-within-you truth of the gospel.


An Honest, Hard Evaluation of Soul Care

O.K. about a year and a half ago I read a bookGaining by Losing by J.D. Greear.  I posted about it a couple of times on our church blog.  You can read these posts at www.emmanuelbaptist.com/tag/gaining-by-losing/

This past week Pastor Duke let me know that he wanted to encourage the church to read this book especially because Missions Emphasis Month.  The subtitle of the book reflects a great Missions theme Why the Future Belongs to Churches That Send. So over the last two days I have been rereading sections of this book and getting knocked around by the Holy Spirit because of some things Greear wrote in this challenging book.   

Here is one specific thing I have been thinking/processing through....
An Honest, Hard Evaluation of EBC's Soul Care Ministry.
I want to share some incomplete thoughts with you to help us improve the disciple-making work of Emmanuel

One of the quotes that really challenged my thinking about Soul Care is
"Maybe the worst failure for a church is success in things that aren't producing reproducing disciples."  (139)  

Here is a specific question Greear asks in relationship to this quote.
"Are our small group ministries raising up new leaders to plant new groups?"

Now here comes the processing part for me.  Please read through to the end

In many ways, I feel like Soul Care has been successful.
  • This year, I believe we have over 225 people in groups.
  • Over the 5 +  years we have been doing Soul Care, attendance has either remained steady or slightly grown.  I have spoken with a couple of people who said they thought the small group ministry would lose enthusiasm or die after awhile.  
  • Many people are connecting in a deeper way with others in the church.  I have seen this in my own groups. This includes deeper prayer requests and talking about real life personal problems
At the same time, I think of the Greear quote and question above and cannot help but think our Soul Care ministry has not been as fruitful as I would like (Note the use of the word fruitful not successful here).
  • While it has maintained, it has not grown.
    • I want to be very clear that I am not saying we need to have hundreds of people in groups.  I believe the FIRST and primary mark of a healthy small group is CHRIST-CENTEREDNESS.  However, the growth I am talking about is growth in the number of leaders and growth in the ways people engage with others outside of their current group. 
  • We still have about the same number of groups.  In years when we have had growth, the average number of people in a group has grown.
    • This addresses the first growth issue: the number of leaders.
  • As I think about and evaluate the ministry I am not sure how well we are doing at "producing reproducing disciples."  
    • This addresses the second growth issue:  the ways people engage with others outside of their current group.
This is not a "poor Pastor Dave" post, so please know 
I don't need encouragement, pats on the back and "You are doing a great job.  I wouldn't change anything" statements.

I do need your prayers, just like all of our pastors, and help in equipping disciples to be disciple makers.  This help could be in the form of suggestions and even more so in each and every one of us evaluating our own lives in light of the Great Commission.

One of the Plumb lines in the book is "Prayer Doesn't Fuel the Ministry.  Prayer is the Ministry."  You can read more about this Plumb line at www.jdgreear.com/my_weblog/2016/09/prayer-doesnt-prepare-for-ministry-prayer-is-the-ministry.html

I would appreciate your thoughts/responses to this post.  You can either comment below for everyone, which would be best, or email me at soulcare@emmanuelbaptist.com. 

Gaining By Losing

Transformation is this year's theme for EBC and our Missions Emphasis Month. Are you desiring to be transformed personally? Are we, as a church, desiring to be transformed as a church? J.D. Greear, who is the pastor you watched the first two weeks in the Gospel at Work class, has written a book entitled Gaining By Losing:  Why the Future Belongs to Churches That Send.  that will make you think about evangelism, the Great Commission, and the church. Here is the Amazon summary of the book.
When Jesus gave the Great Commission, he revealed that the key for reaching the world with the gospel is found in sending, not gathering. Many churches focus time and energy on attracting people and counting numbers–while the real mission of the church is about training up disciples and then sending them out. It’s about sending capacity, not seating capacity! In Gaining By Losing, J.D. Greear unpacks ten kingdom principles—plumb lines—that you can use to realign your church’s priorities around God’s mission to reach a lost world. To see ministry multiply, we must release the seeds God has placed in our hands. The good news is that you don’t need to choose between gathering or sending. Effective churches can, and must, do both
You can purchase a copy of this purchase at amazon.com or at Lifeway, who will match online prices.  Before you purchase the book check out these twenty quotes that will help you understand what the book is about.
  1. Jesus did not say come and grow but come and die. (17)
  2. We live by losing. We gain by giving away. What we achieve by building our personal platform will never be as great as what God achieves through what we give away in faith. (18)
  3. Study after study shows that most Christians have never even shared their faith—most indicating that somewhere 90 percent of evangelicals have never shared their faith with anyone outside of their family. (22)
  4. The church is now Jesus’ vehicle for the completion of his mission. Jesus finished the purchase of our salvation, paying the full price for our sin on the cross and shattering the powers of death in the resurrection, but the mission of salvation is not yet complete. (31)
  5. Blessing the community might certainly include growing a big church, but it would also mean giving away some of our resources. (42)
  6. A “sending” ministry always starts with a heart exam. Sending out people and giving away your resources, you see, will most often compete with your church’s “bottom line,” not benefit it. (44)
  7. Ask yourself, “Are there mission fields in our backyards that could contribute to the global spread of the gospel that we have overlooked because they don’t enhance the bottom line of our church? (46)
  8. The question is no longer if we are called, only where and how. The call to follow him is the call to be sent and to send. (49)
  9. The cross of Christ provided Paul with the motive for sacrifice, a measure for his sacrifice, and a mission in his sacrifice (2 Cor. 5:14–21). Paul wanted to see others reconciled to God as he had been reconciled. (62)
  10. This intensity to do comes only from being soaked in the message of what God has done. (63)
  11. It is neither guilt over what you are not doing nor excitement over how God might bless you that produces true, lifelong generosity. It is deep gratitude for what Christ has already done for you. Remembering the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ does more to compel generosity than a hundred sermons that pummel you with guilt. (66)
  12. Serving Jesus at work is about far more than giving a Christian theme to your business or staging awkward conversations about Jesus. It is about doing your work for the glory of God and the benefit of his creation and leveraging appropriate opportunities to make disciples as you go through life. (81)
  13. Amazement led to attraction; attraction led to observation; observation led to confrontation and worship. (96)
  14. Get this: Of the 40 miracles recorded in Acts, 39 happen outside the church walls. (105)
  15. For those of us in the Western church, I think we are at a crucial decision point. I love seeing big audiences gathered to hear the gospel, but if we want to reach the next generation, we are going to have to equip our people to reach them outside the church. (107)
  16. What Jesus did on earth for his thirty-three years was only what he began to do and teach. The book of Acts is about what he continued to do and teach—no longer through his incarnated body, but through his Spirit in the church. (116)
  17. If you want to be a “sending” church, you have to develop a process for producing leaders. Without a process, it is unlikely you will move the leadership needle much in your church. As the old saying goes, insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting different results. (125)
  18. God calls his leaders, not to a platform to build a great ministry for themselves, but to an altar where they die unto themselves. This means sending out our best with abandon. (131)
  19. Let me be clear: The church’s primary objective is to preach the gospel, not to beautify the city, care for the poor, or renovate the ghettos. That’s because the gospel testifies to what God has done to save the world, not what we can do. The gospel is an announcement about Christ’s finished work. (138)
  20. In the Bible, we find no gap between the call to follow Jesus and the call to engage in mission. (172)


Large Small Group and Crazy Hair.

Here is a recent attempt at intergenerational teaching

Here are some pictures from our Soul Care group last night!   
We had 26 people there.
Let me explain why we had this many people and moved it to the church.
 Our Wednesday group has several families who have middle schoolers.  Well, last night the high winds knocked the electricity out at the school and our youth building.  So we had to think fast.
We moved our meeting place from our house to the church and planned an evening of brief sermon discussion, prayer, and family interaction.
Now here is where it gets fun.  Enjoy the following dress up pictures then read the explanation of what we did.

After reading the passage of scripture from this past week's message we played two games that connected with the Soul Care notes.

The first was a "put on and put off" game.  You saw the pictures above.  

Even one of the younger kids
got in on the fun.

The second activity was different mixed groups had to pick which one of six pictures they liked the most and liked the least.

After these two games, we discussed the "Put On and Put Off" passage and the Colossians 3:12 - 17 and talked about things we need to "put off" and "put on" especially as it relates to love.

We also talked about what we need to love more and love less.

Then we prayed. 
I asked one person to pray for George Collins, GAP (Global Access Partners) and the Akha Baptist Church.  
I asked another person to pray for our missionary family in general.
Then, I closed our prayer time.
We started at 6:45 ended around 7:50.

People stuck around, talked and played games until about 8:30.  It was a great night.