The Power of Presence by Jay Stiegelmeyer

The Church Has Left the Building

I think the best way I can talk about the “Power of Presence” is to share a story from my own journey. Let me tell you about my Life Transformation Group and how the Power of Presence has allowed us to plant kingdom seeds in people’s lives.

In the summer of 2011, my friend David led my friend Harry (both part of this group) to Christ at a table in a Chipotle restaurant close to our neighborhood. Since that night, a group of guys has been meeting every single week in that same Chipotle. We bring our Bibles and simply talk about what we’ve read that week and what’s going on in our lives. We don’t come with a hard agenda and we aren’t particularly flamboyant. What we are is consistent. We are there every single week.

The Church Has Left the BuildingOver the months, we’ve gotten to know many of the staff and even developed friendships with some of them. It’s been fun to watch the relationships grow. I remember the first time I realized that they had taken note of our consistent presence. It was Christmas Eve, and I strolled in there by myself to get my wife and I some lunch to go. One of the people there asked if our group was meeting early that day because of the holiday. Then, she stopped herself, and said “Oh, wait, it’s not a Thursday.” I knew then that they had come to expect us at that same time on that same night every single week.

Fast forward a few months to early spring time. There is another young staff member that works there named Alona. We’d gotten to know her and she’d started routinely giving us free drinks/chips (another benefit of the Power of Presence!). Anyway, she slowly moved from friendly chit-chat to actually asking us questions and showing interest in what our purpose is for being there every week. I could talk a lot more about Alona, but, suffice to say, she now has a Bible and has agreed to read the gospel of John with us. Please pray with us that God would speak to her heart and she would make a decision to surrender her life to Jesus, the Messiah!

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago. There is another middle-aged woman who works there named Shelby. We haven’t been able to get to know her as easily, but she’s definitely come to notice our consistently being there. A couple of weeks ago, she took her break outside at a table close to where Harry and I sat. I didn’t think anything about it really, but I do remember wondering what she must be thinking as we sat there talking about the Bible and things in our lives. Well, that brings us to this week’s meeting. She made a comment to Harry as he was going through the line that she was sorry for eavesdropping but that she couldn’t help but listen in and be encouraged by the incredible conversation that night a couple of weeks ago. Harry told her that she was always welcome to join in the conversation any time.

Well, sure enough, an hour later she came and sat down close by our table for her break and wasted no time in sharing her story with us. I know we’ve only scratched the surface of her story, but she shared about the addictions that she’s been able to overcome, about her father who is dying of cancer, about her criminal background, and about her dreams and aspirations. In her 15 minute break, we got her to title her autobiography for us (literally – it was the word written on her first hit of heroine).

Anyway, I could go on and on about this…and obviously this story is far from over. But, I believe in the Power of Presence. It directly led to Alona being drawn to the Lord and to His Word. It led directly to Shelby feeling comfortable enough to share her story with a couple of guys willing to sit and listen. And I didn’t even tell you about Aaron, the high-schooler who started meeting with us after seeing us in Chipotle one night as he ate with his friends. Who knows what God will be able to do with our group as we continue to show up and be obedient?

(c) 2012  Jay Stiegelmeyer

Jay Tweets @buffal0nickel

Used by permission

 

 

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)

___

Added May 12, 2012

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

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.

Ohio LTG Story

12/27/2011

Life Transformation Group…I have, currently, over 25 LTG’s running and planning on having a few more!! I appreciate all that you are doing and the tools you provide so that my ministry here in Ohio can be an even great influence in our community. God bless and Happy New Year.

Rev. Jason Everidge

More about Life Transformation Groups / LTGs here

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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