Mission, Discipleship and Fellowship: Life Reproducing Life

Last Friday was a holiday here in the United States, and Marianne and I opened our home, yard and pool for a day of family, friends and fellowship.

plantingFortunately, following my heart operation and extended hospital stay two weeks ago, several brothers in a couple of fellowships we relate to stepped forward and organized things – including a great cookout.

Afterwards, Marianne and I both said that this was one of the nicest days we’ve had in years – not because the past few years have been bad (they’ve been challenging due to some of my health issues, but not “bad”!), but because we’re seeing solid maturity arise among those we’ve been pouring our lives into.

Although we’ve always loved them deeply, now it’s actually fun to spend time with them!

In addition, we now have the profound pleasure of watching them reproduce their life in Christ among others.

As they step forward and do the work of mission, discipleship and strengthening our various fellowships, it seems more and more that God’s role for Marianne and me is to step back and serve through simple hospitality, unassuming encouragement and quiet mentoring.

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A Simple Cure for a Terminal Condition

Is it any wonder that a generation raised to believe it’s all about them has a hard time grasping that it’s all about God?snake-oil-salesman

They are easy prey for those peddling God’s amazing grace, love and acceptance, while rejecting repentance, truth and change.

The greatest deceptions, however, involve half truths.

Unfortunately, there’s just too much of this going around these days, and it’s terminal when it comes to healthy believers and healthy ekklesia.

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Leadership Shift

“For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers.”
1 Cor. 4:15

These days, we are inundated with aspirational books and blogs by articulate but unproven advocates for this and that movement, pet doctrine or agenda …

Become_a_Mentor… while there are too few spiritual moms and dads, quietly laboring without name or fame in committed local fellowships to build strong believers.

Fortunately, God is changing this dynamic.

While some want to instruct and inspire the masses with lofty ideas that have not yet been proven or matured in their own lives …

… effective leaders are content to reproduce in just a few what God has truly taught them.

We all would do well to listen to the latter, and be cautious of the former.

~ Jim Wright

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Intentional Discipleship and Sound Doctrine

Among the fellowships relating together here in Virginia, we’re seeing a deep hunger for mature discipleship, in-depth training and sound doctrine.many_pieces

That hunger was reinforced earlier this year, when Miguel Labrador visited several of those fellowships. Miguel, with his wife Claudia, has been a catalyst for the rapid spread of the gospel in Ecuador – where they’ve helped birth many generations of new believers and fellowships over a relatively short time.

Like us, they have a “go and sow” approach – where we go and sow the gospel in existing communities, thus allowing local fellowships, believers and leadership to emerge indigenously within those communities.

This stands in stark contrast to the more common “come and gather” approach, which urges people to organize around a single church with its central building, programs and pastor.

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Roots

The last several years have been a wonderful journey of seeing folks come to the Lord and fellowships emerge in highly improbable places. In my own life, the roots for this go back to my dad and mom, Bob and Mary Jane Wright.

tree_rootsIn the 1970s and 80’s, the Lord used them as pioneers in what we’d now call “organic” church – before that term became popular (even though today it unfortunately can mean nearly anything).

Forty years ago, they helped birth a regional network of open, participatory fellowships in Maryland, where people could find and express the vibrant life of Christ in dynamic gatherings as everyone ministered one to another – rather than having directed, hierarchical meetings.

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Intentional Ministry

Last night was the second week in a semester-long class Marianne and I are teaching, through Nathan’s Voice and our fellowships, on pastoral counseling. We had a full house (literally!).

counseling-picture

The Art of Pastoral Counseling

We previously taught this two years ago, and many are now ministering grace and healing in our county to those trapped in the bondage of addictions, past abuse, and controlling emotional wounds.

About half of the class comes from our fellowships, and the rest from other churches in the area.

But this morning, I’m tired…

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Authentic Discipleship

A newly-wed couple in our fellowship invited Marianne and me to a Super Bowl party at their apartment last night.

True Discipleship!

True Discipleship!

Marianne couldn’t make it because she needed to finish her lesson plans for the week (she’s an elementary school teacher), so I went.

When I showed up, I was blessed to see some old friends – including guys I knew from the surrounding woods. That evening, we enjoyed lots of good food and good times as we hung out and watched the game together.

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Discipleship

Marianne and I have the greatest privilege in the world. God allows us to introduce Him to those who have reached the end of themselves, and then allows us to walk with them towards healing and wholeness.

We have the privilege of then seeing those who some consider the discards of society grow in the Lord to become mighty men and women in His Kingdom.

But the highest privilege of all is this: To call them friends.

This is the story of so many when we first met. Listen, and may the Lord move your heart to compassion.

I Believe…

I believe in the future, and in God’s sovereign ability to redeem history, nations and cultures.

I believe, because right now there is a fellow believer…

In the hospital quietly holding the hand of a friend recovering from life-saving surgery.

In grad school, heeding God’s call to basic research which will lead to new therapies that save countless lives.

Trudging through the woods, visiting tents, and checking on the well being of homeless women who “fell through the cracks”.

Standing outside an abortion clinic, ministering love and hope to a woman who knows neither.

Experiencing the first blush of lace and the joy of total intimacy on his wedding night, undefiled by the world.

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