Venting = Gossip?

I was in a meeting recently where we were discussing gossip and how sinful it is and how destructive it is to relationships and communities. One person in the meetings asked this question:

Doesn't every person need a safe place to vent?

I realized something. Every time I hear the word "venting," my spirit has a negative reaction. Always have. I have even used it and not liked it when it came out of my mouth. Why? Because almost every single time someone "vents" they gossip. It just seems like a pretty way of masking the sin of gossip.

Vent literally means "to give free expression to strong emotion".

After the question about venting was asked, another voice perks up and says:

Isn't that what a quiet time is for?

And it hit me! Yes! This is how it should work. Rather than take the risk of gossip by "venting", turn to Jesus and dump it all!

And then today, I encountered these verses:

Psalm 62:8, "Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge."

Psalm 142:1-2, "I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the LORD for mercy. I pour out my complaint before him; before him I tell my trouble."

So, I wonder....shouldn't Jesus be enough for us to get out all of our venting? Or are we worried that he may not agree with us and tell us what we want to hear?

Discipleship Roundtable, August 5

I love discipleship. I love church. I love leaders. I love Jesus. And I love to talk. ;-) So, I am setting aside a day when I am stateside for a roundtable gathering to facilitate some sharing and conversation around...

"Becoming a disciple-making leader and a leading a disciple-making church." 

I am inviting any Pastors, leaders, elders, ministry leaders, small group leaders, missions-hearted people....anyone that loves discipleship and church and Jesus!!! You are welcome.

Come!  Join me. Let's talk. I will be happy to share what we are learning, what we are trying, where we are winning and where we are failing.

When? Tuesday, August 5 from 9am until 3pm. (Lunch is provided.)

Where? Capital Christian Fellowship. 10411 Greenbelt Road, Lanham, Maryland.

Come and bring a few leaders with you. I would love to spend the day with you.

Please RSVP if you plan to attend by emailing me at noah dot ccf at gmail dot com.  Please let me know before August 1.

The Selfless Disciple

I am passionate about discipleship! And I am continually fascinated to learn new things about being a disciple myself and making disciples of others. Here's a reality of discipleship that has been growing in my heart. Discipleship is by very nature, selfless. That is what makes it so beautiful. And so unlike most things we know. Check this out...

A disciple loves God deeply- and this is all about GOD and not themselves.

A disciple of Jesus loves other people sacrificially - about others!

A disciple loves the lost and works tirelessly to see their lives changed - all about people far from God, not themselves.

Discipleship is intentional relationship with others-- so their lives are changed.

Disciples know the value of self discovery that it is not ME that has to tell you everything.

Discipleship is obedience based...about God and his desires, not mine.

A good disciple knows that local trusted leaders are the best leaders and they train and rely on others, rather than build things around their gifts and skills.

Discipleship is emptying my cup into yours.  It's all about the other.

I love the selfless nature of discipleship.

Top 10 Discipling Values

DiscipleshipTitleWe are in the midst of a global discipleship crisis. We have many Christians around the world, see many conversions to faith, but we witness the evidence of too few disciples following after Jesus with their lives. We are committed to discipleship as the key road to fruit that lasts. Following are what we would consider 10 of the most critical values or aspects of discipleship.

1. Jesus builds the church. Disciples make disciples. (Matthew 16 & 28)

2. A Disciple is a knower, lover, follower and obeyer of Jesus Christ. We must be discipled by Jesus like Jesus was discipled by the Father. Jesus is the best discipler and model for us (John 17).

3. We can only reproduce who we are. Discipleship is reproduction. 2 Tim 2:2

4. Self Discovery is far more lasting and powerful than teaching discovery. We must let people discover Jesus in the word and through the church.

5. Discipleship is obedience-based, not knowledge-based. Discipleship is about obedience to Jesus not knowledge about Jesus. (Luke 8:15, 18 & 21, Deuteronomy 6 & 28, Matthew 7, John 14)

6. Discipleship starts before conversion. Starts with those far from God. We disciple people toward faith, not after they come to faith. God speaks to and calls pre-believers! (Examples include Samuel in 1 Samuel 3:1-19, Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3. Paul in Acts 9:1–9 and The disciples in John 1:35 - 50.

7. Discipleship = intentional relationship for Jesus. 1 Thess 2:8 // Who are you discipling? Who is discipling you?

8. Discipleship can happen in small (1 on 1), medium (several people) and large environments (worship gatherings and teachings). Discipleship can happen ALL THE TIME-- Public and Private.

9. Discipleship is a journey, not a destination. There is no box to be in or finish line to cross. You're never in, out, or done. Every disciple starts with bad doctrine and moves toward right doctrine. Your posture matters more than your proximity.

10. Discipleship is costly. Luke 9:23. There will be suffering and sacrifice as part of the journey.

My Advice to Small Group Leaders

Small GroupHere is a very simple list of advice that I shared with a group of Small Group Leaders I was invited to speak to. I thought I would share it with you too.  Maybe you are in a church that has some form of these groups.  I like them! Believe in them. I just wish that churches actually called them churches and released them as such. Sadly, I think most churches just see them as unofficial groups that could not possibly be the full expression of church. Anyway, that is for another discussion. Here is some council for small group leaders:

  • Meet as often as possible. The more the deeper. The more the closer. Weekly plus.
  • Bring people far from God to your group. If at all possible, do not meet without lost people present.
  • Everyone talks. No one gets the luxury of hiding.
  • No one dominates. If someone talks way more than the rest of the group. they need to be lovingly asked not to. (including the "leader")
  • Bible is central to any healthy group. Center on scripture.
  • Interact around tellable stories, not complex topics.
  • Stay in one place In bible. Do not allow anyone to verse hop from place to place. It is often done haughtily and it makes lost people feel marginalized and unqualified from the start.
  • Draw people out. They are deep wells. Especially quiet people. They often have deep things to say.
  • Allow for long awkward silences in the gathering. Often, what God does just after periods of silence is the most meaningful portion of the gathering.
  • Include pre-beleivers in your group.
  • When the discussion gets off track, point back to passage of the meeting.  Bible re-aligns.
  • Push everyone in the group toward one on one discipling relationships.
  • Ask the more vocal people to take a risk and talk less.
  • Ask the more quiet people to take a risk and talk more.
  • Invite people far from God to join you. Or did I say that already? A few times? Oh, sorry.
  • I Caution against DVD studies or topical book studies. I feel strongly that we need to cultivate the Word of God as the main source of our content, at least until we start to repair some of the drifting we have done as the church.
  • Look for leaders- train and coach them towards starting a new group.
  • Keep all you do super simple and the same so you can reproduce easily.
  • Actually, Reproduce!
  • If your group is all Christians, please invite and bring people far from God to join you.
  • Oh, and reproduce!
  • Oh, and invite people far from God
  • Oh, and keep the Bible at the core as final authority.

Hope this helps. Remember, any group of people gathering to love God, love each other and love those that do not yet know God are CHURCH!  Regardless of title.

Who should change?

This morning I was in a prayer time with CPx Students (we kicked off this week with a GREAT group!) and one of the gals prayed a profound prayer.  She prayed:

Lord, grant us the humility to accept others and change ourselves.  And forgive us for trying so hard to change others, while (often blindly) accepting ourselves.

Wow! I had to grab my journal and write that one. And I wanted to share it with you. Isn't it amazing how easily we default to seeing others so clearly and ourselves so dimly. May Jesus continue to grant us that imperative leadership quality of self-awareness.

Awkwardness in Mission

Over the last several weeks, as I have visited with folks in America and interacted myself with many people. And I have started to see something... Awkwardness is one of the biggest hindrances to mission in the USA. Weirdness. It seems as though there are all these unwritten rules of the culture that are steering people:

  • Faith is personal. Don't get into their personal life. 
  • This person will not like me anymore if I bring up God.
  • People will think I am a weirdo and this will mess up any chance of real friendship.
  • It is culturally inappropriate to evangelize.
  • I am not perfect yet and they know I probably ought not talk about anything too spiritual. They see me screw up on the regular.
  • If they wanted this, they would have asked me already. They know I "go to church."
  • I do not even know what to say or where to start, anyway.
  • And on and on....

First of all, most of the above are not true. They are enemy lies against your assignment and you have chosen to believe them. Second, even if they are true, most people have convinced themselves that the awkward or weird outcomes are not a price they are willing to pay for the gospel to take root in the people around them. Seriously?  Many believers have given their very lives in death for the sake of the cross and we won't suffer some awkwardness and break through a little bit of fear. God, help us!

Can I encourage you that the Lamb of God is worthy of the suffering and sacrifice that is due Him!! He is worthy of our lives and certainly our sense of ease or comfort.

Can I encourage you in that there are many, many people in your sphere who are desperate for Jesus and probably do not even know it! And they need you to be courageous enough to risk some weirdness for the sake of their future!

And here is a simple little piece of advice: The only thing worse than awkwardness is awkwardness that is not addressed and removed. If it feels hard or weird to bring up God, it probably is. So start there. Name it. Reveal it. Break into it. Something like this, maybe:

This is kinda hard to bring up and feels weird or scary because I know you may think I am a spiritual nut trying to force my faith on you, but.....I have encountered Jesus in so many ways that have changed my whole life that I cannot NOT tell you what knowing him and encountering him might do you for you too. There is actually nothing in the world more meaningful to me than Jesus and I would be stupid not to take the risk and tell you about my relationship with him, regardless of how awkward it may feel or how weird you think I am.


Many people worry about their safety and security. We happen to live and serve in South Africa, a country bound by fear and crime and loaded with gates, locks and alarms. But we also serve in a missional community where many people are preparing to go to hostile places around the world where the gospel has not yet reached. So, danger is a very real thing for many of our friends who are counting the cost of giving their lives. Last week, I was listening to Floyd (our leader here) teach on values and he started talking about danger in a way that stirred my heart.

  • Living in constant disobedience to Jesus...that is dangerous.
  • When our greatest goal is to work 70 hours a week for 35 years so we can have a nice house and a pension...that is dangerous.
  • When a Mom and Dad compromise the will of God while their kids watch on...that is dangerous.
  • When you are more interested in insuring your life on this earth (70 years if you're lucky) while you do nothing to insure your life for all eternity....that is dangerous.
  • Wanna hear something else dangerous? Dangerous is when you install gates, alarms and locks all around you and your family while you open your doors wide to the father of lies, the great destroyer and accuser, satan.

Perhaps it would do us all some good to consider the differences between danger in the world and danger in the Kingdom.

Please Pray for John

John Machava is from Mozambique originally, but has lived in Masiphumelele for about 8 years. He is a dear friend and disciple of mine. John is a powerful leader and gifted gatherer. I saw that in him the day I met him in April of 2011. For over a year he has been the glue that holds a group of new Jesus followers together. I have been to John's home in Mozambique (read this). You can read another amazing story about John by CLICKING HERE.

Many of you have heard me speak of John before. The road for him has not always been an easy one. He has faced struggles and worked hard to surrender all of himself over to Jesus.

For the last five months, John has become increasingly sick. He is now very, very ill. He is only in his late 20s. He can barely walk. Barely talk. Barely eat. He is weak and basically bedridden. This means that he cannot even work to provide for his family. Today we were able to get him out to join the church gathering for us to pray. Several of the guys anointed John with oil. We cried out to God for His healing and spoke God's heart over him.

I asked him if I could share the need for prayer with you. He was keen to have as many people as possible praying for his healing.

Would you pray for John? For his healing and strength. And for his family. Pray also that he would hear God loud and clear. It is my sense that there is a major calling on John's life in the Kingdom and there are many great reasons that the enemy would want to destroy him. Let's pray!!

Thank you! I look forward to telling you of his healing some day soon!

More Love

Last week, my friend Viktor walked into my house and said:

I have some really huge news! There is nothing at all that you can do to make God love you any more than he does right now!

There were several of us in the room and we just kinda nodded in agreement. Amen, dude. Amen.

Then we talked about that idea a bit. And then it hit me! We just don't get it! We do not really understand that concept. Almost every Christian would say amen to this idea that there is nothing we can do to earn more of God's love. But, deep down, we do not really believe it and we certainly do not live like it.

I will go out on a limb and say that 95% of Christians would agree to this statement even though they do not really believe it. We only believe something when we stand on it. You do not really believe that a lake is truly frozen until you stand on it.

We spend our days trying to earn more of God's love. We strive. We work. We minister. We try. We wake up early. We read the Bible. We worship. We know God is proud when we do. And disappointed when we don't. Deep, deep down, we actually believe that God loves us a little more when we are acting "right" and a little less when we are acting "wrong." Be honest with yourself.

Now for the crazy part. The love Jesus has for your was fulfilled at the cross. Father's love for you is fully complete....lacking nothing. He has held nothing back from you....ever. So there is absolutely nothing you can do to open up his love valve a little more. It is on full blast already.

This can almost seem like bad news. If this is really true, how can me and the Lord fall any deeper in love?

This is where you come in. Strive! Work! Minister! Arise! Read! Worship! Press in! Why? So YOU can love HIM more. So YOU can know HIM more. We are the ones that have held so much of our love back from him. He died to purchase us. And he still has not received it. It is like buying a car and never getting to drive it. Jesus died to save you and welcome you into a love relationship with Him. He is waiting on you to give him what he longs for.

Bottom line: It is time for ME to love HIM more and realize that he loves me full on, and is waiting for me. 

Be with Jesus

Let me encourage you this last day of 2012 with something the Lord has spoken to my heart over the last week. In Acts 4 Peter and John are hauled in before the Sanhedrin and grilled for preaching the right gospel. They are in trouble for healing a lame beggar. Peter responds to them in strong confidence and anointing and basically says....we did it!! And we did in the name and power of Jesus! Jesus is the one who heals and saves.

Then, Acts 4:13 says these words:

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

Been with Jesus.

Been with Jesus. 

Be with Jesus.

That is my prayer for this coming year.  I want to be with Jesus. It all starts from and flows from there.

Is there any better new years resolution? Any better life goal?

Jesus, I look forward to getting to know you even more in 2013. I look forward to being with you

JDx training this weekend...register now!

We are getting super excited about JDx happening this weekend in the DC area!  We just learned that there are even people flying in from Michigan to join us...people that are connected to our work in Kenya! So neat how the Lord networks people for his purposes. Hey-- registration is still open.  Just shoot an email to today and you are all set. All the times, cost and details are on the PDF below. Just click on it.

Spread the word. Come join us! This Friday and Saturday. Lanham, MD.

JDx at CCF Dec 2012

JDx coming to Maryland!

Tricia and I are excited to announce that we will we be leading a JDx (Jesus Discipleship Experience) training at Capital Christian Fellowship in Lanham, Maryland on November 30 and December 1. Click on the image or PDF below for more info. Spread the word. Especially to church leaders you know (though it is for all people who want to make Disciples).

JDx at CCF Dec 2012

Reproduction or Death. Your Call.

If a species of animals stops mating and reproducing, it becomes extinct. If everyone in your family line stops making babies, your family tree will not expand anymore.

This is a natural and inarguable fact of life. Non-reproduction ends in non-growth and ultimately death.

Now, let me shift to the gospel and the mission of God. We are asked to go and make disciples. We know that God wants his church to go everywhere! And he wants every single person and nation to meet him and love him.

THIS WILL NOT HAPPEN WITHOUT REPRODUCTION! Another word for reproduction is multiplication.

A leader is not a leader unless he is making other leaders.

A prophet is not a prophet unless he is making other prophets.

An apostle is not an apostle if he is not making other apostles.

A disciple is not a disciples if he is not making other disciples.

A church is not a church if it is not making other churches.

Success in the kingdom = Reproduction and Multiplication.

20,000 people in a church is not success. Replication of leaders and churches is. Who cares that you have 500 or 50,000 people in your church if it is not reproducing. Give me 10 people that treasure and live reproduction and they will leave that group of 50,000 in the dust.

I was in a meeting recently with David Watson and he said this: "I will not disciple anyone who is not discipling others.  Reproduction is a value and I will not violate it. If you are not reproducing, you do not get my time." //WOW!

Reproduction is one of the main reasons that my heart has become so attracted to simple church structures and relational disciple making.  IT IS REPRODUCIBLE!

This really has me thinking.  What do you think? How are you doing at multiplication in your church and life?

Change the Question

Here's another post inspired by my day with David Watson last week... For far too long, far too many of us have exported our ways of doing church and acted like it works. It doesn't. My way of doing church only reaches the people in my church. We CANNOT and WILL NOT see movements to Jesus by just recreating and shipping out our brand of church. It hasn't happened and it's not going to happen. As long as you want to recreate your church instead of making disciples for Jesus, we will remain as effective as we have been. And denominational loyalty is one of the biggest barriers to this issue.

Watson said this "A true Apostle cannot have loyalty to a single church or denomination."  He went on to make a brilliant point. He said, We have to change the driving question we are asking. Instead of asking "What can we do to reach our city?", we must ask "What is it going to take to disciple this city? And will it take to disciple this nation? Every nation?"

When we ask these type of questions, we quickly realize that we simply come to the table with a part of the meal, not the whole thing. Then, we submit in humility and join in Kingdom collaboration to reach our city with the rest of the Body of Christ.

We will not disciple nations alone.

And we need to change the question.

Watch Me

Three times in the last month, I have heard people share about how they have modeled their quiet time with the Lord to people they are discipling.  At first I thought it as it draws attention to ourselves and our piety. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought: "Man, I wish someone would have shown me how to spend time with Jesus on a regular basis." Today, one of the guys that I disciple spent the day with our family and I asked him if he would like to watch me spend my daily time with the Lord.  He was keen to do so. So, we went into a room where there would be no distractions.  I told him that he was welcome to just watch and listen, but that he was also welcome to contribute and share as well if he wanted to. So, I proceeded to do my normal thing:

  • Worship.  Expressing to God how deeply I love him.
  • Needs. Praying into things that the are in my heart or that the Holy Spirit reminds me of.
  • Journal what I am sensing and hearing from Jesus during prayer.
  • Scripture. We read 3 chapters in Genesis and 1 chapter in Matthew.
  • Journal again what I heard from Jesus in the Bible passages I read.
  • Obedience: Is there anything specific that Jesus is asking me to do today? Write it.

This is how I do it.  It is how I spend my time with Jesus. Everyone is different.

But, today, my friend watched me. He had never seen this before.

Yes, I modeled devotions to someone staring at me.

Was it awkward? Sure. A little.

Was it worth it? Yes! You better believe it.

"I can do this" he said, as we concluded our time.

Have you ever noticed how sometimes we neglect teaching the most important things?

12 Principles of Discovery Discipleship

Floyd McClung, Founder and Director of All Nations, lifelong Jesus-loving missional leader, who also happens to be our leader and our friend here in Cape Town posted this on his blog the other day.  I think it's brilliant and I wanted to share it with you. ________________

DISCOVERY DISCIPLESHIP seeks to empower emerging leaders to bring about sustainable transformation in society and to ignite self-sustaining, reproducing movements of Jesus’ disciples making more disciples, and through that, to build healthy reconciled communities and nations. Discovery discipleship is based on Biblical principles of personal and community obedience to Jesus Christ.

The principles of discovery discipleship are as follows:

1. Obedience to a few simple truths that a person discovers from the teachings of Jesus is a more powerful form of transformation than seeking ever increasing knowledge about the Bible or Christianity as a “religion”.

2. Investing in a few obedient followers of Jesus is a more powerful form of transformation than seeking to influence multitudes of non-obedient Christian spectators.

3. “Insiders” make the best leaders: “outsiders” are to invest in insiders, those inside the culture or business a network of relationships that God wants to use to bring about transformation.

4. Self-discovery of the life-transforming truths Jesus taught is more powerful than being told what to believe.

5. The Holy Spirit is the best teacher; the role of mentors is to facilitate opportunity for new followers of Jesus to hear the Holy Spirit speak directly to them from the Bible, without being told what to believe.

6. The teachings of Jesus in the Bible are the greatest source of wisdom for transforming a nation.

7. Every person has the resources within them through faith in Christ to be a leader in their community; the greatest obstacle to being a transformational leader is not poverty of circumstances, but poverty of mind and spirit.

8 God has prepared persons of peace inside every culture, business, government, neighborhood and sphere of society who are the key persons to bring about transformation. Such persons are not just “networkers”, or “gatekeepers”, but persons ready to obey Jesus, to change their mind and behavior about sinful, selfish choices that are destructive to themselves and their community.

9. Discipleship is intentional relationship. Transformational discipleship is intentionally investing in someone so they might have the opportunity to experience the life-transforming power of knowing and obeying Jesus Christ and as a result, bringing transformation to their community.

10. Jesus invited people who did not yet know him to be his disciples; he discipled people to convert them, he did not convert them to disciple them.

11. Belonging leads to believing, not just believing to belonging. In other words, Jesus modeled inviting people to be part of his spiritual family as a way of bringing them to obedient faith – he did not wait for them to believe in order to invite them to belong. If they did not grow to obedient faith, he did not kick them out, but at the same time, he gave attention to those most serious about obeying him.

12. Discovery discipleship happens best in small discovery Bible studies that provide opportunity for accountability and practice of the above mentioned principles. These discovery groups are capable of growing into simple churches that can multiply and bring transformation every sphere of society.

From Communism to the Hood

I received this message the other day. It deeply encouraged me. And it reminded me that there are disciple makers at work more than we see... (I've removed name and country to protect the identity of the lady that sent me this- and share what I do with her blessing.)

"I see you've been hanging out with sinners too...My friends are deep hood folk, dancers, drunks, and drug addicts. They look to me as a white girl with flavor. Someone said I'm moving the mountains in the hood. I don't drink, don't smoke, and I keep my clothes on, but they like what I have to say... I break it down! I am just a Sister on a mission...and God is up to something good! They know I am church-going. But they don't see what I see. They don't see their purpose and calling. And sadly most of these men and women have never touched a white person in their lives. And here I am-- a communist raised woman from _________ - touching their souls. God is really up to something!!"

Two Awkward, But Urgent Questions

As I have yearned more and more for discipleship, I have learned more and more about it. And I have taught it and shared it every chance I get. After many conversations about discipleship, I have discovered two very, very awkward questions.  They are awkward because people squirm and do not know how to answer them.  But they are vital questions....urgent even. They can make or break your faith journey. These two questions are extremely serious. They indicate whether you are living obediently to Jesus's mission. Here they are:

  1. Who is discipling you?
  2. Who are you discipling?

That's it. I know, I know. You were expecting something a little more crazy.

Well, here is a challenge for you. Start asking people these two questions. And watch what happens. Watch how few people can answer you.