Cultivating A Life For God E-Book

Cultivating A Life For God Cover

Cultivating A Life For God CoverThe classic work by Neil Cole on discipleship, Cultivating A Life For God, has just been released in an E-Book form on Kindle and coming soon on Nook and other e-book formats.

The new version is sporting a new cover designed by Neil Cole himself.

This book has sold thousands copies and still has a potent message to leaders and churches about making and multiplying disciples. Life Transformation Groups are being used fruitfully to make and multiply disciples all over the world!

We are pleased that CMA Resources could bring this important book into the electronic medium.

“In my years of ministry, I have not found any method that produces such powerful results in fulfilling the Great Commission. I personally plan on using this system for the rest of my life to make as many disciples of the kingdom as I can before Christ calls me home!” – Neil Cole (page 89)

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Added May 12, 2012

Now available on the Barnes & Noble’s NOOK also.

Our Role & God’s Role in Disciple Making by Gavin Duerson

Can you cause a person to grow spiritually?  When it comes to disciple making, what is our responsibility?  At a Greenhouse Training event hosted by CMA Resources, we examined the following text from Mark 4:

26 He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how.28 All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. 29 As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”

 

 

 

From the text, we see that a farmer can cultivate the ground and plant seeds, and even put the sickle to the plant once mature, but can do nothing to cause a seed to grow!  In simple/organic church planting, the church planter (or disciplemaker) cultivates and plants, but realized that Kingdom growth is God’s work.

When we plant good seed in good soil, growth and multiplication naturally happen as they receive rain and sunlight.  This is true of plants and it’s true of the Kingdom as well.  The only thing that can stop this natural process is failure to sow good seed generously on good soil or farming in such as way to impede the natural process that God has in place.

At the Greenhouse training, the leaders made the following comparison between an organic/simple church approach and a traditional church approach to sowing, growing, and harvesting.

  Cultivating Sowing Growing Tending Harvesting
Institutional Approach Passive Passive Active Active Passive
Organic Approach Active Active Passive Passive Active

 

Do you agree that the traditional church focuses most of its energies on growing and tending the garden (flock) while being passive with regards to sowing and harvesting?  What would it look like for you to cultivate and sow good seed more generously? What does it mean for us to be actively involved in the harvesting—putting a sickle to the “ripe plant?”

Enjoy this great video that was at the greenhouse training event to illustrate the teaching on the Kingdom.

6 I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. – 1 Corinthians 3:6

To learn more about attending a Greenhouse Training event visit www.cmaresources.org/greenhouse

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Originally posted on Kentucky Simple Church Alliancehere

Are You A Christ Follower? by Phil Helfer

It has become commonplace to hear believers refer to themselves as Christ-followers. What does following Christ actually entail? For many, following Christ means following those they see as His designated leaders. It’s as though Christ has delegated His authority to others and all one must do to follow Him is follow the direction these other leaders provide. Since Jesus made it clear that His kingdom doesn’t operate that way, why do we let people go on thinking this is right?  To be a Christ-follower, one must follow Christ. Seems simple enough doesn’t it?  But simple it is not.

Scriptures & Jesus Many understand following Jesus to be synonymous with knowing His Word. In many churches the one who knows the most about theology is considered to be the best disciple. The knowledge of the scriptures is a necessary ingredient in the discipleship process but to equate knowledge with discipleship is a huge mistake. When we do this, we forget that Jesus did not command us to teach them all He has commanded us but to teach them to obey all that He has commanded us. Most dedicated Christians are educated way beyond their obedience. Any form of discipleship that doesn’t focus on helping others to live out their faith in real terms is not discipleship at all. Even those who seem to understand this truth, sometimes fall into the trap of acquiring the requisite obedience by using outside pressure. This too results in producing an anemic follower of Jesus.

The temptation is to teach people to look to the scriptures for instructions on how to live a good life. The Bible is the truth, the inerrant and infallible word of God, but when people search the scriptures for rules to live by they settle for a life that is much less than it could be.

It’s clear from the gospel accounts that Jesus lived His life for the will of His Father. You will find Him saying things like, “I only do the things I see the Father doing” and “For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak… the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.”  And again, “I have come down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of Him who sent me.”  Jesus lived His life in constant connection with His Father. “I and the Father are one.”  He was perpetually obedient, even to the point of death on a cross. Jesus came to fulfill a specific mission. How is it that we seem to think that a life of generic good works is all God wants from us?

1 Corinthians 12 further supports this thinking. “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. And each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”  Isn’t it obvious that this infinite variety of gifts, ministries, and results is indicative of an infinite variety of works God intends to accomplish through His children?  Leaders often take it upon themselves to prescribe the work to be done by each individual and most individuals are happy to let them?  Jesus is the Head of His Body and He must be allowed to direct each member as He sees fit.

The scriptures have much to say about God, life, and the principles they contain. When these principles are observed and practiced can be of infinite value. But to substitute a relationship with the Bible for a relationship with Jesus is a fatal mistake. Paul makes it clear in his letter to the churches of Galatia that to live by an outside standard or set of rules is to seek a gospel other than the grace of Christ. Jesus, in a comment to the religious leaders of His day agrees, “You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life but it’s these that testify of me.” The scriptures are meant to bring us to Jesus so that He can write His words on our hearts.

The essence of discipleship is a vital personal relationship with Christ. This personal ongoing encounter with the Creator is the cornerstone of what it means to be a Christ-follower. Commit yourself to following Jesus and helping others to do the same. If you make this the cornerstone of your life, you will find that God will use you to further the fulfillment of the great commission.

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©2012 Phil Helfer

Originally posted in the February 2012 edition of The Messenger Newsletter for Los Altos Grace Brethren Church (Long Beach, CA)
On Twitter @PhilHelfer
Used with permission. All Scripture quotes from the New American Standard Bible (NASB).

How do we screen people doctrinally? by Neil Cole

Excerpt from a longer article “The Threat of Heresy in the Organic Church

How do we screen people doctrinally?

This raises a question of whether or not we should screen people over doctrines. In our movement it is what we consider the DNA of Christ’s body that is the code that dictates life, health and fertility. The DNA is Divine Truth, Nurturing Relationships and Apostolic Mission. We want to see the DNA evident in every cell of the Body. It is what holds together our movement. That said, Divine Truth is crucial for health and unity in the church and in our own unique movement. So holding firmly to God’s Word is of the utmost importance. Currently (in 2003) our movement consists of church planting that is associated with over 15 denominations (from Reformed to Vineyard) and five parachurch ministries. Now the question is which beliefs are important and which are not as crucial. Is there a point when we exclude fellowship with certain people over doctrine?

One of the ways that we keep unity among our diverse movements is to run people through what we call the “bullet test.” We ask, “If someone held a gun to your head and said, ‘Renounce this doctrine or I will shoot’, if you say, ‘pull the trigger’ then it is a bullet doctrine. We must agree on bullet doctrines. We can hold to doctrines that are not bullet doctrines, and even teach them with conviction, but we don’t exclude or attack brothers and sisters over non-bullet doctrines. They are secondary doctrines that are enlightening but not worth dying over and certainly not worth killing over.

For us, the bullet doctrines have consistently been the following:

We believe in

  • One true God in three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
  • The deity and incarnate humanity of Jesus and his redemptive work evident in His death, burial, resurrection, ascension and imminent return.
  • Salvation is by grace through faith and not ever the results of our own works.
  • The inspiration and power of God’s written Word in all of its revelation, without error in its original manuscripts.
  • All believers are redeemed to be significant in the cause of God’s kingdom and granted the empowerment necessary to do so.
TruthQuest
Our Doctrinal Learning System for Leaders in the Organic Church Movement

Of course, this is not meant to be a fixed and static screening process. It is only a beginning to a relationship that will grow over time built on much more than cognitive assent to a set of stated beliefs.

We understand that this is also not a fool-proof method of screening out heresy. There were over nine hundred people in 1978 in Guyana who took a “Kool-Aid test” over the wrong doctrines and gave their lives for false teaching. History is littered with people who have given their lives for a lie, so this is not considered a mistake-proof method by any means. This is just a starting point for those who have the Spirit of God and listen to His voice and join together over uncompromising truth.

     >>Read the rest of the article The Threat of Heresy in the Organic Church by Neil Cole

Micro Discipleship article in a Denominational Magazine by CMA church planter

Posted in ONE MAGAZINE

Big impact, small group…

Micro Discipleship

By Scott Cheatham

How successful is the discipleship program of your church? While many churches offer a Sunday School or small group format, attendance in these classes has been declining for some time. Even small groups are suffering, and a large percentage of those who attend church do not participate in these groups. The reality is that our culture is overscheduled. If you live in an urban area as I do, the opportunities for activities are numerous, and families are stretched thin.

In 2011, in response to this problem, we changed our discipleship focus. While I didn’t want to do away with the Sunday School program, I also saw the need for implementing new ideas in order to bring about valuable changes in the lives of my congregation. Our desire at Rangeview Free Will Baptist Church was to increase commitment while deepening real spiritual growth.

So, we instituted IOU. The initials are known well enough, but for our families, they stand for the three relationships to which God has called us. Those relationships are Inward, Outward, and Upward. Inward in that we need to always cultivate our spiritual growth, outward in that we should always be trying to serve others just as Jesus did, and upward as we worship and praise God each day for all He has done and continues to do for us.

To better cultivate these relationships, we started micro groups of three or fewer people of the same gender who gather weekly to read Scripture, confess sin, and pray. The goal is to encourage members to read 20-30 chapters of Scripture each week, discuss things with which they struggle, and talk about what they have learned from their weekly bible reading, and then close by praying for others outside the church.

Each person identifies at least two people outside the church for whom to pray—six people per group. The goal is to get those people involved in a micro group and ultimately in the church. When a group adds another person (four people), we ask them to split into two groups of two, and each group add another person.

The primary benefit to micro-groups is that it is much easier to increase participation because there are only three schedules to coordinate. In a small group, someone is almost always missing each week due to a conflict. We have encouraged the teens to create similar groups with a little help. A micro group is a natural setting for the average teen, and many teens will not share a lot in a larger group. Because serious discipleship takes place at the micro groups, large group gatherings can focus more on cultural subjects and a bit of fun.

I would like to share more about micro groups beyond this quick overview. Please feel free to contact me at 720-296-1719 if you would like to talk more about this exciting new way to disciple new believers.

About the Writer: Home missionary Scott Cheatham and his family are planting a new in northern Denver, Colorado. Find the church on Facebook.

Prisoners coming to Christ through Life Change Groups

12/30/2011

Just wanted to give you a quick update on what God is doing at the Wynne Unit in Huntsville, Texas:

The training of missionaries who will be serving as a catalyst in starting house churches officially starts on Feb. 1, 2012.

Life Change GroupWarden Pittman has taken some of these men (those that will be trained as missionaries) and has begun using them to do a one-on-one Life Change Group among offenders in Administrative Segregation (Ad Seg). The offenders that are housed in Ad Seg are either the most violent and disruptive offenders or belong to certain gangs that are the most dangerous to both the offender population and security staff, and thus, are housed in Ad Seg for safety reasons. Some of the men (missionaries) that you have met in your tour of the Wynne Unit are being used by Warden Pittman to bring about transformation in Ad Seg.

REMEMBER that because of security, there are no religious programs offered to Ad Seg offenders other than one on one ministry done by select religious volunteers. This is the darkest area of all of the prison system. A bright light is shining in the darkness. In the last several weeks, two Ad Seg offenders have accepted Christ and been baptized. A third accepted Christ this past week. Over one hundred men in Ad Seg have requested to be part of this Life Change Group process. Leadership from TDCJ (Texas Department of Criminal Justice) witness the last baptism and was literally blown away in regard to the process and the transformation. Recently, because of what God is doing, the Vice Chair of the Texas Board of Criminal Justice visited the Wynne Unit. I’ve been asked to give a report to this board in February.

I want to thank you for your prayers and support. God Bless!

David Valentine
Covenant Fellowship
Huntsville, Texas

P.S. One of our volunteers, Eddie Harmon just called to inform me that they are baptizing the third Ad Seg offender along with twenty-four other offenders (non-Ad Seg) next week. One of the twenty-four is a muslim at the Wynne Unit. This will be the second muslim that we will have baptized because of Life Change Groups.

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