Daily Post

Discipleship and a Healthy Church


Introduction

The Body of Christ or the Church, which is the bride of Christ, is made up of gatherings of disciples all over the world. The goal of discipleship is replication, and as disciples of Christ are replicated they must be brought into communion with the rest of the Body. Because of this necessity, a goal of discipleship is a healthy church. The church will be healthy if the people in it are healthy.

Purpose Statement

The purpose of this paper is to explain how a healthy church is a goal of discipleship and to examine the ministry, For Hope and Healing, to identify the top three weaknesses that need to be addressed in order to create a healthier Body of Christ. This paper will also discuss initial steps the ministry will take to improve its spiritual health.

Healthy Body, Healthy Church

Our body is made of various parts and systems that all work together in order for us to enjoy a healthy and fruitful life. It is God’s desire for us to have a healthy body, and His goal for His Son’s Body to be full and healthy. As believers, when we confess Christ as our Lord, we become a part of His Body, and we have a particular set of gifting’s that are to be used to keep His Body healthy. “All gifts work together for the overall good of the church, in the same way that the various parts of a human body come together and function as a unit.”[1]

The church body is built up through the encouragement and development of its members. If the members are healthy, then the church will be healthy, if the church is healthy, then the Bod of Christ will be healthy. How is the church and its body of members kept healthy? The pastor’s and cell group leaders, youth directors and worship leaders must all proclaim the Gospel by word and through their actions. New believers must be baptized and learn to surrender and sacrifice for the kingdom. These new believers must be developed and nurtured individually, taught to share their resources, and to follow the commands of Christ. The leaders must view their role as on that equips and empowers. The focus should be on raising people for the kingdom call to go and make more disciples for Christ. The body should be growing in wisdom, discipline, unity and love for one another. Discovery of spiritual gifts and opportunities to use them is paramount. A life of prayer, and Gospel sharing should be the norm, not a weekend practice. All of this should move toward accomplishing Christ’s mission wherever members of His Body go, and new churches should be planted along these paths. “A healthy church is a representation of the people of God coming together to accomplish the mission of God for the glory of God.”[2] Ultimately, health of the Body can only be accomplished through following the commands of Christ. “A church is “healthy” when its values and practices, what it is and does, match the standard of the New Testament.”[3]

For Hope and Healing – OverlandAfrika

For Hope and Healing is an overland ministry throughout Africa. Its goal is to create a web of interconnected churches throughout every country in Africa. Currently, the mission has seven members and is working to engage partners throughout the continent, even as new members join. As members are added, spiritual maturity of the individual must be assessed so that further discipleship can be performed so that no one member becomes stagnant in their person walk with Jesus. The only way that this can be done is to keep Christ the focus, even above the ministry work. Everything must be secondary to Him, and all people must follow Him. If this is not true, then there is no real ministry. In addition, the home churches must also be healthy. “The whole Body must keep itself healthy, if the Hand which reaches out to gather from the ‘regions beyond’ is to be strong for its work. An unspiritual home Church will not long sustain healthy mission work.”[4] There are three areas in which For Hope and Healing can focus in order to foster a healthier environment, time in prayer, specifically together, time in worship, and time in fellowship.

Time in Prayer

We are to pray at all times. Pray is not an event, but a lifestyle that does not cease. “Prayer is the language of spiritual intimacy. In prayer, we open our hearts to God and each other.[5] Every hour we need our Lord, and it is He who makes our paths straight. Prayer together is a part of church history. The early church prayed together with one mind. “They prayed ‘with one mind or purpose or impulse.’ Fervent worship and prayer together is a significant part of church history.”[6]

Time in Worship

When we worship God we give Him glory. In turn, He cleanses us, which brings out love. It also opens the human heart to ministry and discipleship. When we worship God, we become open with others, and willing to share our hearts. “Worshiping together is the most powerful way to bring a personal life into focus. Authentic worship always brings truth to bear on the individual’s life. There is often greater courage and honesty in sharing after a group has worshiped together.”[7] Worship, within the body, does not only include musical praise, but embodies the act of being Christ-like as character. “A healthy church understands that the ultimate form of worship is living for God 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.”[8]

Time Together

Time in fellowship together gives the opportunity to pray and worship together. Included in this even should be the breaking of bread in remembrance of Christ. He said to do it as often as possible. The early church is our example, “[O]n Pentecost, following Peter’s sermon, ‘about 3,000 souls were added’ (Acts 2:41). One thing to notice was the natural course of things that followed. Those 3,000 immediately began to fellowship together, worship together, mutually support each other, and eat together (Acts 2:42). ‘And the Lord was adding to their number day by day’ (Acts 2:47). Acts 2:42–47 implies relationships among people, among friends sharing a common bond.”[9]

Conclusion

The Body of Christ is the functional oneness of all disciples, in every local church in the world. For the Body of Christ to be healthy, the members must be healthy. These members are organized into various local churches in every nation. These churches need to be healthy in order for new and healthy disciples to grow and contribute to the work of the Body. In observing the missional organization, For Hope and Healing, the group can become more aware of Christ’s calling to oneness by praying together, worshipping together, and living in fellowship together.

Application

A move towards increased health takes action and intentionality. If behavior is to become habitual, then it must be practiced regularly, with discipline. Beginning with regular fellowship and prayer amongst couples in the organization, the changes that need to take place will grow from that. Fellowship around the remembrance of Christ leads to prayer and worship. It is the only response to the great mercy of Christ. New believers that have been ministered to must be integrated into the Body immediately and prayer and worship should surround them so that they are saturated in the Gospel truth and the examples of obedience to the commands of Christ lived out in front of them. Practically speaking, the team will meet a minimum of once a week for the purpose of worshipping the Lord, and praying thanksgiving and for guidance. The rest of the week will be spent in continuous prayer, ministry, and fellowship as a family. Through applying these practices as normal life, the Gospel and Christ become the message lived out in each believer. The love of the Lord will grow in us, and as we follow Him, He and the Father will reside with us.

Bibliography

Beyerlein, Ann. “Adoring God: Worship & Prayer.” In Small Group Leaders’ Handbook: The Next Generation. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1995.

Earley, David and Rod Dempsey. Disciple Making Is . . . How to Live the Great Commission with Passion and Confidence. B & H Publishing Group, 2013.

Everett, Gordon L. “Relationships: The Missing Link in Evangelistic Follow-Up.” Bibliotheca Sacra 142 (1985).

Foster, Henry J. I & II Corinthians. The Preacher’s Complete Homiletic Commentary. New York; London; Toronto: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892.

Gasser, William W. “What Is a Healthy Church?” Journal of Ministry and Theology 6 no. 1 (2002).

Keefauver, Larry, and Judy Keefauver. Seventy-Seven Irrefutable Truths of Marriage. Gainesville, FL: Bridge-Logos Publishers, 2002.

Putman, Jim. DiscipleShift – Five Steps That Help Your Church to Make Disciples Who Make Disciples (Exponential Series). Zondervan, 2013.

Webber, Robert. The Ministries of Christian Worship. 1st ed. Vol. 7. The Complete Library of Christian Worship. Nashville, TN: Star Song Pub. Group, 1994.

[1] Jim Putman, DiscipleShift – Five Steps That Help Your Church to Make Disciples Who Make Disciples (Exponential Series) (Zondervan, 2013).

[2] David Earley and Rod Dempsey, Disciple Making Is . . . How to Live the Great Commission with Passion and Confidence (B & H Publishing Group, 2013).

[3] William W. Gasser, “What is a Healthy Church?,” Journal of Ministry and Theology 6, no. 1 (2002): 121.

[4] Henry J. Foster, I & II Corinthians, The Preacher’s Complete Homiletic Commentary (New York; London; Toronto: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1892), 589.

[5] Larry Keefauver and Judy Keefauver, Seventy-Seven Irrefutable Truths of Marriage (Gainesville, FL: Bridge-Logos Publishers, 2002), 67.

[6] Ann Beyerlein, “Adoring God: Worship & Prayer,” in Small Group Leaders’ Handbook: The Next Generation (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1995).

[7] Robert Webber, The Ministries of Christian Worship, 1st ed., vol. 7, The Complete Library of Christian Worship (Nashville, TN: Star Song Pub. Group, 1994), 48.

[8] David Earley and Rod Dempsey, Disciple Making Is . . . How to Live the Great Commission with Passion and Confidence (B & H Publishing Group, 2013).

[9] Gordon L. Everett, “Relationships: The Missing Link in Evangelistic Follow-Up,” Bibliotheca Sacra 142 (1985): 156.

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