Next Generation Sunday Notes

By August 26, 2018Sermon Notes

Take some time to do two things – 1) Cast vision for ongoing investment in next generation (discipleship) – 2) Give some principles to help make vision a reality


2 Tim. 2:1-2, “You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.”

Apostle Paul writing to ministry coworker and beloved protégé, Timothy – Timothy had accompanied Paul extensively during Paul’s missionary endeavor – Paul hands-on engaged in ministry – Timothy right by his side, also hands-on engaged in ministry – As they went, together, in hands-on ministry, Paul invested in Timothy – Taught him, encouraged him, challenged him, served him, delegated to him – Context for discipleship

At time of writing, Paul and Timothy had separated – Paul likely in prison in Rome, awaiting execution – Timothy out ministering among churches Paul had planted – Paul, knowing his death is likely, gives final charge to Timothy

Paul’s interest, here, is to see cycle of discipleship develop – “the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others.” –Look closely, four spiritual generations – Paul, Timothy, reliable people to whom Timothy will entrust Paul’s teaching, people those people will teach

Point: Paul had vision that extended far beyond himself – Vision extended beyond himself and Timothy, to third and fourth generations – Hopefully, if we know Christ, our vision for life extends beyond ourselves to our spouses, children, neighbors, coworkers, maybe younger person in faith

But what is intriguing about Paul’s vision is that it not only extends to Timothy but to the people Timothy will influence with the Gospel and the people those people will influence with the Gospel – It is a vision to see church thrive, not just survive – Vision for multiplication – Vision to see Gospel go to times and places Paul could not go, through faithfulness of Timothy – Vision for the “others also”

And this wasn’t a personal vision Paul made up – Mimicking Jesus – In John 17, Jesus, like Paul was when he wrote to Timothy, was facing imminent death – He was soon to be arrested and crucified – And He’s praying to Father – Verses 6-19, prays for apostles, immediate 12 whom He’d chosen – Verse 20, He transitions

20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

As Jesus is facing death, His heart is to pray not only for apostles, but for the “others also” – Those who do not yet even believe but will come to believe through the apostles – And, of course, Jesus gave explicit commands to give our lives for the “others also”: Great Commission – Jesus’ envisioned a “to the ends of the earth, until the end of the age” discipleship movement

If Jesus is our Lord, then His vision should be becoming, more and more, our vision – His vision not only for apostles – Not only for church leaders – Not only for believers who have spare time – Not only for believers with a special gift or personality type – Vision and calling for all his followers – To join in the “to the ends of the earth, until the end of the age” discipleship movement

Our individual role and response to the calling will be unique, but none of us can escape general call to entrust the Gospel to others, to teach them to walk in the words and way of Jesus – Calling is to be a way of life – Calling is not a task we do on Monday mornings at Panera – Organizing principle for way we live

Exciting vision – But it can be difficult to actually translate vision into effective discipleship and investment – Often ask myself, “How do I actually entrust the Gospel to others in such a way that they can and want to entrust it to the ‘others also’?” – Can easily become overwhelming question without some guiding principles


So let’s talk practical – Five principles – Briefly – Not exhaustive – How do we do this?

1) We don’t. God does. We join Him.

Discipleship occurs in a tension – God is only one who can change hearts, but we are responsible to make disciples – Mysterious, but biblical – In some discipleship-driven cultures there is a pressure to produce – Take formula, input X/Y/Z, output = disciples – If output ≠ disciples, either you failed or you inputted the wrong data – Too simplistic

I like systems/processes – I like order/structure – But systems and processes have to leave room for sovereignty of God and work of Spirit – The church, the Kingdom, evangelism, discipleship, were all His idea/desire – He’s God, we are not – We can’t force outcomes

Our success in making disciples who make disciples is measured by faithful obedience to the task, not the outcome – That means your investment is never wasted and your reward never diminished – If you faithfully invest and your spiritual protégé/small group member/child doesn’t grow in knowing and loving God, you’re still successful – Our responsibility is faithfulness and obedience, not changing hearts – Gives us freedom and courage to invest

2) Be Intentional

Time is essential to making disciples – But time is not enough to make disciples –Your time must have intent, which usually means it has to have some type of form or shape – Remember: tension we live in – Form (because we are responsible) and flexibility (because God changes hearts) – Without intent or form, can spend a lot of time with someone and never build a meaningful relationship

I can “spend time” with my son while I scroll on my phone and he lays on the floor and shakes a rattle – Or I can put down my phone and engage with him – Not every interaction has to be theological or structured but some of them will need to be – A lot of times I just roll around on the floor and make faces at him – But sometimes we pray – Be intentional

3) Simple & Reproducible

The form you choose should be simple and reproducible – In other words, person you are investing in should be able to pick up on what you are doing and go do it with others – Crucial step in moving from investing in one to investing in “others also”

I haven’t played organized basketball in decade and I was never very good when I did play – But I could teach any one of you how to shoot a jump shot – BEEF – Bend knees, elbow in, eyes on basket, follow through – My JV coach taught me that 12 years ago – Not only do I remember it, I can still do it and teach it – Simple, reproducible – Our method for discipleship should be like that

Whether form is Bible study, prayer, confession, evangelism, or simply sharing what you’ve been learning in devotional time, do it in such a way that person you are investing in can go do it with someone else – You don’t have to be scholar or a pastor or a seminary graduate to make disciples – Keep it simple and reproducible

At most basic level, get to these two questions: 1) What is God teaching you? 2) What are you going to do about it? – Ladies, think of less direct way of saying it – If other person is consistently walking with God, you are going to have many different conversations that revolve around what God is already doing in their life, not what you think they need to know – Point: if you consistently help someone hear from God and respond in obedience, you are making a disciple

4) Bi-directional

May be one of the most underrated aspects of discipleship – One mode of discipleship is: “I’m the one investing in you, so I spend most of the time talking and teaching you spiritual stuff.” – Another mode of discipleship is: “I’m the one investing in you, so I ask you a battery of questions and then try to solve your problems.” – Teaching, asking questions, problem solving are important parts of discipleship – But another important part of discipleship is part where you honestly share about the good and hard things that God is teaching you with person you are investing in – Paul, in his letters, was not above asking churches to pray for him in his need

Some major perspective shifts in my walk with God did not come from someone saying, “You need to do this/say this/be this” but from watching and listening to people wrestle with and obey the convictions God has placed on their hearts – Purpose was not to “teach” me a lesson; may not have even known I was watching or listening but they didn’t care – Humbly and honestly living out obedience in community – Influential – Discipleship is bi-directional

5) Person-specific

This flexibility to go with form – Opportunity to go to Super Summer with youth – On the bus: Sam and I talked about video games, Caleb and I talked about Marvel movies – Malachi and I talked about football – Hudson and I talked about hunting – Four guys made by God, in His image, with different interests/personalities/communication styles

And if I was going to invest in any one of them, it would look different than if I invested in the other – Form with flexibility – If one form works for Sam but not Malachi, then I’ll adjust form for Malachi, to help him learn and grow – Might take trial, error, ongoing communication – Might mean you have learn about Xbox One X or Star Lord or nose tackles or bow hunting – Be learner – Paul: “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” – Be flexible, be a learner, be person-specific


Possible you don’t have much of a vision for investing Gospel into lives of others – If so, start praying and asking Jesus to make His vision your vision – And remember, if Jesus has called you to Himself, He’s called you to invest and make disciples – We are responsible to be faithful and obedient – Our job is not to decide “if” but to discover “how” within the specific calling God has given us in life

Possible you have a vision for investing in others but you’ve not known how or where to start – If that’s the case, then know that there are plenty of opportunities to plug in here at River and invest in the kids/youth/college students/adults – We’ll help you find where to start – And you can take these principles and learn as you go – May be most difficult part of all of it, getting started – Worth it

Possible you have vision and are investing – But sometimes get overwhelmed by needs – Or discouraged because it doesn’t seem like you are making a difference – If that’s you, remember that God changes hearts – Your success is measured by faithful obedience to the task, not the outcome – Your investment is never wasted and your reward never diminished – And transformation doesn’t happen overnight – Trust God and persevere

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