November 2013

Creating a disciple-making culture

November 18 2013 by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer

If you attended the Annual Meeting a few weeks ago in Greensboro you are aware that our meeting included an emphasis on creating a disciple-making culture as a means to strengthen existing churches and reach the lost with the gospel. The new five-year strategy, “Impacting lostness through disciple-making,” is about pushing back spiritual darkness and reaching more than 5.8 million people in our state who do not know Jesus. We cannot impact lostness if we are not effectively making disciples. To be obedient to Acts 1:8 we must make disciples in our Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth.
 
Disciples recognize that their purpose in life is to glorify God and help others come to know Him. When we talk about creating a disciple-making culture we are referring to an environment, such as your church, Sunday School class, small group meetings or even one-on-one dialogue where believers are challenged and equipped to focus their lives on their call to love God and to love others – which then results in more followers of Christ.
 
Do you know the difference between converts and disciples? Would you like to learn more about changing converts into disciples? One resource I recommend for learning how your church can become a disciple-making church is the book entitled DiscipleShift. It is written by Jim Putnam and Bob Harrington and published by Zondervan.
 
A video resource on our website (www.ncbaptist.org) helps explain this in more detail. We call it the “Great Commandment Matrix.”
 
This tool helps us understand that if we say we love God, but do not express that in love toward others, our lives are probably focused more on religion than on love. It is possible to do a lot of good for people by helping meet physical needs, yet often overlook the opportunity to share the gospel – which is why we are compelled to serve others.
 
Another resource we use to help explain disciple-making is “Looking at Your Church in 3D.” This is a Christ-centered process to help you discover where you are in your efforts to make disciples, where God is leading your church, and the strategy and resources necessary to help you implement that strategy. Your convention staff is willing and ready to walk with your church through the entire “3D” process as you pray about how you can become more intentional in making disciples.
 
I also encourage you to read a column on the strategy page of our website (www.ncbaptist.org/strategy) from staff member Brian Upshaw about disciple-making. Brian encourages us not to view disciple-making as “merely religious activity” or just busy activity that fills our calendars. Brian’s question is a good one for us all to consider: “Are you busy investing in others for the sake of the gospel or are you just busy?”
 
Making disciples begins by building relationships and investing in the lives of people in your neighborhood and community. Who do you know who needs to know Jesus?
 
And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19)
11/18/2013 3:02:13 PM by Milton A. Hollifield Jr., BSC executive director-treasurer | with 0 comments



Giving thanks for spiritual blessings

November 4 2013 by Milton A. Hollifield Sr., BSC executive director-treasurer

The Thanksgiving holiday is coming up in just a few weeks and I hope you are able to spend time with family and friends. I pray that you will enjoy making new memories as you celebrate all God has done in our lives this year.
 
During Thanksgiving we should not only express gratitude to God for His blessings on Earth – the physical, tangible gifts – but also His spiritual gifts. Through faith in Jesus Christ, God has blessed us more than we could ever imagine.
 
For example, we are blessed to know God as our Father (Romans 8:15).
 
We are His children, and our Heavenly Father cares for His children as He loves, protects and provides.
In Isaiah 9:6 we see Jesus called the Prince of Peace. In our world today, with all the strife and continued acts of hatred and violence, how we desperately need peace that passes all understanding; peace that only comes in knowing Jesus.
 
I am thankful that despite the sinful condition of this world, Jesus remains the High Priest (Hebrews 4:15) who is always interceding for His people.
 
As Jesus is the High Priest, He is also our Redeemer (Colossians 1:14).
 
He desires to remove all our sin and clothe us with His righteousness and holiness. In this role we truly see the steadfast, unconditional love and forgiveness of our Savior. His mercy and grace still overwhelm me, even after a lifetime of serving Him and walking with Him.
 
We are blessed in Christ to be able to know and understand His Word. From beginning to end, the Bible points to Jesus as the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). I am thankful for the gift of the scriptures, as we learn in God’s Word about His perfect plans and purposes.
 
To me, one of the most beautiful passages in scripture is Ephesians 1:3-14. Paul writes that God has “blessed us with all spiritual blessings in the heavenly places in Christ.” This text describes how God loved us before the foundation of the world, granted us redemption in His Son and sealed us with His Holy Spirit.
 
How amazing to live every day knowing that we are sealed with God’s Spirit! To live in light of the truth that we are forgiven and redeemed by the Creator of this world is an incredible promise.
 
North Carolina Baptists, I wonder if we are really living in this truth? I wonder if we sometimes let the distractions, cares, burdens and trials of this life weigh us down so much that we forget about these spiritual blessings?
 
I pray that in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving we will focus our hearts on the depths of the treasures that belong to those who know Jesus Christ.
 
“In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” Ephesians 1:7
11/4/2013 2:05:01 PM by Milton A. Hollifield Sr., BSC executive director-treasurer | with 0 comments