Pastor John Braland
Copy write 2014
Jesus gave his disciples a Great Commission. This commission is to make disciples. This is what he said: “19Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).
The question is; how do we make disciples? Does it mean that you need to lead someone to Christ? Yes. Does it mean that you need to help them grow in their faith? Yes. What does this look like? This is where it gets cloudy. In a perfect world, once someone comes to Christ they start growing and never stop. But how? Is this even possible? How does a person move from exploring Christ to living a Christ centered life? Who is responsible for them? Does anyone need to be? It is possible to help people grow deeper in their faith so they can make more disciples and it happens by intention.
Social media is an incredible tool that should be leveraged by pastors. Leaders should leverage social media to build relationships, connect with their community, and learn from others. I am going to guess that most of you have a Facebook account, but if you don’t have a Twitter account, get one. I suggest signing up for an Instagram and Snapchat account as well. You don’t need to post all the time, but you can use them when you need to. Most people under 25 already use Instagram and Snapchat so Pastors should be familiar with it as well.
A system is a set of interacting or interdependent components, detailed methods, procedures, and routines created to carry out a specific activity, perform a duty or solve a problem. These components and methods continually influence one another directly or indirectly. Houses and public building have systems such as: An electrical system, plumbing system, HVAC system, and computer network system. Systems generally underlie every phenomenon and are all part of a larger system. A house may be located in a neighborhood which is part of a city nestled in a metro area. (http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/system.html)
A system can also refer to a set of rules that governs structure and/or behavior in society and in organizations. For example, the US government has a legislative system, judicial system, and executive system.
I have been a pastor for a long time. Over the years, I have worked with many other pastors and volunteers on a myriad of projects. My pastoral co-workers at Freshwater are a huge blessing because they are passionately dedicated to their work. It never ceases to amaze me how many staff and volunteers give so much for the cause of Christ. But here is my beef. I need to admit that I loathe pastors who have lost touch with the workload their volunteers deal with daily. Let me explain.
The Apostle Paul encourages us to be people builders. Romans 15:2 says, “We should consider the good of our neighbor and build up his character.” Everyone needs encouragement, and if you are a leader, you are responsible to give it. So how do you encourage others?
Rick Warren is a pastor who believes in building people up. I read an article that he wrote several years ago, and he listed four ways that he builds people up; and I try to keep this list close because I want to be a people building person. I hope you do to. I took his list and made my own comments. My intention in sharing it with you is to help you become a people builder. Here are four ways to build others up.
Some people inspire me by just being who they are. Such is the case with my friend Arthur. Arthur had lived in the streets for 28 years; he ate out of dumpsters and slept where he could. After he came to Christ, Arthur’s life changed. I met Arthur about 6 years ago at the Salvation Army while I was there serving and he was staying in one of their housing units. A team from Freshwater was there serving food in the cafeteria while different people took turns singing and leading worship. When Arthur started singing, I stopped what I was doing and just listened; with his right hand raised to heaven and his left hand clasping the mic, Arthur sang with passion and joy. He gave all glory and honor to God and I was inspired. When he was finished, I approached him and he shared his story with me and ever since that night he and I have been friends. I am drawn to his infectious smile and transparent heart; he is the kind of person that makes you smile just because of who he is.
There are some things that I am really bad at. I have a tough time learning foreign languages; I took Spanish 1 for two years and the highest grade I received was a B-. I still can’t speak Spanish. I volunteered to help out where needed at the grade school carnival; and it turns out, they needed someone to do face painting so I agreed to draw rainbows and footballs on happy children’s faces. I was surprised how many parents took pictures of my work, not because it was so good, but because it was really, really bad. My art was so bad that rainbows and footballs were indistinguishable from one another. It was two of the longest hours in my life. If you think about it, there are some things you are bad at too and all of us try to avoid doing them.
On the other hand, there are a lot of other things that I am good at. I’m good at painting houses, fixing cars, and straightening the chairs at our campuses. I’m good at playing catch and playing hockey, and I’m also good at counseling, working with metal, and driving long distances. The truth is, I am good at a lot of things and so are you.
The term “sabbatical” comes from the Hebrew word “shabbat” meaning “ceasing from labor.” A sabbatical taken by a professor might be used to write a book or complete a research project. In a secular setting a sabbatical could be taken to travel or for personal reasons. In religious circles a sabbatical is granted for rest and study.
Traditionally, pastors are granted a three month Sabbatical by their church every seven years. But Freshwater is not a traditional church and I am not a traditional pastor. I would not expect to be able to take three month off every seven years and am not sure I would even like it. I have a short attention span and find pleasure in what I do. Even though I have never taken more than three weeks in a row off in my 18 years of ministry, I have found that taking a brief time off over the summer has been incredibly beneficial to me and to Freshwater.
Back when sailing ships ruled the seas, sailors feared the Doldrums more than anything else. This was the most dreadful situation of all. The Doldrums refers to those parts of the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean affected by the Intertropical Convergence Zone, a low-pressure area around the equator where the prevailing winds are calm. If a ship was slightly off-course, or the Doldrums slightly shifted, a ship would sail into a dead zone where the winds simply stopped blowing. And when the winds stopped blowing, the ship stopped sailing, rendering it helpless. Sometimes ships would be stuck in the Doldrums for days and even weeks. Sailors would get depressed while floating in the middle of the ocean in a hot muggy climate. Many crews consumed their entire provisions and went on to starve to death waiting for winds that never came. If you were caught in the Doldrums and lived to tell about it, you were fortunate because many sailors never made it out alive.
Part 6 of 6
Freshwater is one church with multiple locations committed to making disciples in a healthy church environment. This blog is the sixth entry in a series of blogs focused on clarifying the vision culture at Freshwater. My goal is to bring absolute clarity to who Freshwater is, why we exist, where we are going, and how we are going to get there. If you missed any blogs in this series, go back and read the parts you missed.
Freshwater’s vision culture stems from six different sources that are aligned to support the goal of making disciples. These sources stem from the following questions: