Leaders commission members for service

Confident leaders recognize gifts and abilities in those around them; they coach and encourage them to bring out the best in them, and then they create space and commission them in their fields of expertise.

Look at this helpful video by Theo Burmeister speaking from experience about releasing members into service.

Scripture

Acts 6:1-6

1 Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists [or Greeks] arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables.Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.

Observations and Reflection Questions

  1. Why were these seven deacons set aside and commissioned? [verse 1, 2]
  2. What were the required characteristics for these servants? [verse 3]
  3. Who was present when the members were commissioned for service? [verse 2]
  4. How were these men set aside for service? [verse 6]
    1. Why with laying on of hands?
    2. Why with prayer?
    3. Why publically?

Personal reflection and application

The first Apostles knew that some practical demands related to the expanding church were not their primary concern, and wisely opted to get other capable people to do that. Yet they sought for people that had a good reputation and were full of the Spirit and wisdom, and commissioned them publically.

  1. Consider your leadership style, especially with regards to decision making, task execution and training. How much space do you allow for people to grow beyond their primary tasks and responsibilities in the group?
  2. Consider your primary mandate in leadership.
    1. What are your core responsibility?
    2. What are responsibilities which keep you busy, but which you can entrust to someone else?
  3. Who in your small group/ department/task team have shown themselves faithful and competent to receive more responsibility?
    1. Which responsibilities can you entrust to whom? (sometimes including the group in these decisions is wise, as the Apostles did in the example above).
    2. Discuss these planned delegations with a mentor / overseer/ good Christian friend.
  4. Consider how you will commission these responsibilities to these members:
    1. Plan a frank discussion with each of these members – they must agree to accept these responsibilities.
    2. There must be formal public announcements to the group involved to allow for buy-in
    3. In church setup, the act of laying on hands and prayer, asking for God’s grace (empowerment) is necessary, even if the task is simply “waiting on widow’s tables”. (Why?)

Prayer

Pray to God about your leadership style and those in your group.  How can you make more space for others to grow, and whom can you entrust more responsibility to?

 

 

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Leadership Growth Series: Landing Page

“Leaders are merchants of hope”, said Napoleon. They know of a better place, a better way of life, and as they go there they inspire others to follow and make this hope a reality.  Biblically this is true.  And our world is in dire need of more such leaders!  But where will they come from?

Says Leanard Sweet: “Leaders are neither born nor made.  They are summoned.  They are called into existence by circumstances.  Those that rise to the occasion are leaders.” [i]

This 13-Week Leadership Growth Series aimed to develop and prepare leaders to lead with certainty and skillfulness from the heart. The posts will help you grow to become the type of leader that inspire others to realize these hopes. Look at this introductory video which gives scope to the Leadership Growth Series.

Below is the outline of our 13-week program.  In the introduction we give context to our discussion on leadership by asking: what is the nature of leadership? Then we delve into the core characteristics of leadership within our church context – fist studying it, then considering how to grow in it.  After that we consider the compulsion (the go-get-it attitude) required for strong, confident leadership.  After this we will look at three different sets of competencies (or skills) required in Christian leadership: facilitation and hosting, confrontation and care, then participation and activation within the wider community.  Lastly we consider the charisma or gifts God graces us with, and how to grow in it.

Do you recognize any area where you think you can grow as leader?  Then click on the link to see the introductory video and do the devotional study.

THE LEADERSHIP GROWTH SERIES (Phase 1)
A 13-Week reflective devotional study A Biblical view of Leadership 
Introduction: growing leadership capacity Pathway to leadership growth
Context: What is leadership?
Leading small groups
Charismic (gifts) approach
Character approach
Competence (skills) approach
Compulsion (needs-driven) approach
Character: Growing in the Imitation of Christ
Candid (authentic) How to grow in being Candid
Compassionate (growing in love) How to grow in Compassion
Christlike humility How to grow in Christlike humility
Confident (hopefulness) How to grow in Confidence
Consistent (faithfulness) How to grow in Consistency
Compulsion: Growing in Responsibility
Conscious awareness of opportunities How to grow in Conscious awareness
Considerate to the needs of others How to grow in Consideration
Confident, bold, fearless actions How to grow in Confident actions
Courage, taking risks How to grow in Courage
Charge, ownership of the community How to grow in taking Charge
Competencies of a leader: Growing in Prophetic flow
Crowd (showing hospitality) – AWE How to hosting Crowds
Cause participation How to Cause participation
Charismata (facilitating Spirit-ministry) How grow in Charismatic gifts
Curiosity (asking heart questions) How to grow in Curiosity
Communion with God (Worship,Prayer) How to facilitate Communion with God
Competencies of a leader: Growing in Pastoral care
Care and Comfort the fragile How to Care and Comfort the fragile
Confront in love How to Confront in love
Challenge for growth How to Challenge for growth
Coach next steps How to Coach next steps
Commit responsibilities to others
Competencies of a leader: Growing in Evangelistic outflow
Core vision and values How to cultivate Core vision and values
Compelling communication How to communicate Compellingly
Connect to new people How to Connect new people
Community building How to build Community
Commission members in church How to Commission members
Charisma of a leader: Flowing in the Streams of Grace
Cultivating apostolic grace How to grow in apostolic grace
Cultivating prophetic grace How to grow in prophetic grace
Cultivating pastoral grace How to grow in pastoral grace
Cultivating teaching grace How to grow in teaching grace
Cultivating evangelistic grace How to grow in evangelic grace

Lastly, the cost of leadership is should be considered.

Where can you grow? Jump in today!

The cost and rewards of leadership

“True leadership may or may not involve position and honour, but it always exacts a price” – Dr George Flattery

Scripture

Matthew 22:20-28

20 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came up to him with her sons, and kneeling before him she asked him for something. 21 And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Say that these two sons of mine are to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” 22 Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” 23 He said to them, “You will drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.” 24 And when the ten heard it, they were indignant at the two brothers. 25 But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Observations and reflection Questions

  1. What did this mother ask of Jesus? And why do you think she asked it?
  2. Jesus answered “you do not know what you are asking” – what did he mean with this answer? [consider the rest of the text in your answer]
    1. How may this be true of all aspirations to leadership?
    2. What caution is implied in this answer of Jesus, pertaining to the aspiration of leadership?
  3. Did Jesus condemn the mother (or her disciples) for desiring the office of leadership?
    1. What does this teach us about aspirations to leadership?
  4. In asked “Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink?”
    1. Which “cup” does Jesus refer to? [hint: Matthew 26:39]
    2. What does Jesus imply by asking this question to his disciples?
    3. What does this teach us about the cost of leadership?
  5. Because the other disciples were indignant towards the two brother’s aspirations to leadership, Jesus taught a lesson on the nature of leadership. Rephrase that lesson here in your own words, starting your sentences with these phrases:
    1. (Verse 25) What secular attitude towards leadership is….
    2. (Verses 26-27) The Christian approach to leadership is…
    3. (Verse 28) Jesus example of leadership is…
  6. What was Jesus’ reward for “the cost”/”the cup”? [hint: Philippians 2:5-10 and Hebrews 12:1-2]

Personal Reflection and Application

When two of his disciples asked Jesus for positions of leadership, Jesus did not rebuke or deny them their requests, but he immediately touched on the crucial points: we should think of the cost before we offer ourselves for leadership, and understand that leadership is essentially empowerment for service.

  1. What is leadership NOT? Give three to five thoughtful answers.
  2. What is leadership? Give three to five thoughtful answers.
  3. What does (or will) leadership cost you, even more than those following you – and why? Give three to five thoughtful answers.
  4. What is the reward of leadership? What makes the cost worthwhile? Give three to five thoughtful answers.

Prayer

Prayerfully consider your aspirations of leadership, your attitude towards leadership, the cost of leadership, and the reward of leadership.  Then ask the Lord for more opportunities, greater influence and greater wisdom and empowerment for effective, godly leadership.  May God’s Kingdom come in you and through you!

How leaders deliberately engage their community

Leaders deliberately and strategically engage their communities to bring about the desired transformation and realize the dream.

Don’t miss this short video where Werner Joubert shares on his experience of engaging his sports club community and transform it from the inside.

Scripture

Acts 17:22-31

22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are indeed his offspring.’

29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

Observations and Reflection Questions

Context: Paul skilfully engages the elders of Athens, being brought to the rock of Areopagus (their “court room” outside the city) because he was spreading “strange doctrine” which challenged their culture and faith – something which was punishable by death.

  1. Note how Paul, an outsider, engages this community. Record the references above where Paul engages the community based on their culture and beliefs.
  2. How did Paul strive to build a good rapport with this community in the text quoted above?
  3. Paul quotes two phrases from Athenian poets in his defence of the gospel. Why would that help?
  4. Athenians believed that the Greeks originated from the gods, but other races came up from the earth. Looking at the text above, how did Paul challenge their belief but engaged their cultural narrative?

Application and prayer

In the video above Werner shared an example in how he used principles from Bill Hybels’ book Walk Across The Room which he and his friends used to engage and transform the culture of their local rugby club (Develop a relationship | Discover the stories | Determine next steps).

Consider one community you are engaged in and wish to see Godly transformation in (i.e. family, work, your kid’s school, church, drama or hockey club, neighbourhood watch…)

  1. DISCOVER THE STORY: Describe the culture of this community – what is good and what should change? What do they celebrate and what do they value? Where does this legacy come from? Pray and ask God to give you understanding.
  2. DEVELOP RELATIONSHIP: Think creatively how you can engage that community more deliberately, purposefully. Who would you start to engage?
  3. DETRMINE NEXT STEPS: Prayerfully decide what is your next logical step in achieving the desired community change. What should you do next? Should you pray with a friend, address the leaders, send a letter or make an announcement, or just start a tradition? What about hosting an event to propagate the desired values?

How leaders create opportunity to connect to people

Leaders connect with people, inviting them to share in the passion and vision of the vision of the leader.  The sincerity and depth of connection determines the commitment to the shared vision.

Look at this short inspirational video by Werner Joubert (pastor of Shofar Christian Church in Secunda, South Africa) on how to deliberately and progressively connect with people.

Scripture

John 1:40-41, 45-46

40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ). 41 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Peter.”

45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”

John 12:20-22

20 Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. 21 So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus.

Observations and reflection questions

Context: Philip and Andrew were of the first disciples who responded to Jesus’ invitation to discipleship.

  1. The three portions of Scriptures above relate three accounts where people were connected to Jesus.
    1. What progressions do you notice? [hint: note the relationships, and who asks who about Jesus?]
    2. What was the “primary strategy” to connect people to Jesus?

Application and Prayer

Philip and Andrew were two of the first disciples of Jesus Whom invited them into their lives.  From this they apparently learned that, to connect people to Jesus, they simply had to invite people into their lives.

In the video above Werner relayed three progressive steps in connecting with people (from Bill Hybels’ Walk across the Room):

    • Develop a friendship (get involved in their world…)
    • Discover their stories (ask questions…)
    • Determine next steps (perhaps invitation to coffee or dinner or church?)
  1. Write down three people whom you cross paths with regularly (co-worker, teacher or parent at your kid’s school, neighbour, someone at your gym, etc).
  2. For each one consider which step above is most applicable in that relationship now.
  3. Pray for God’s blessing on each of these three people intelligibly, considering what you know about each one.  Pray that God would connect your hearts for his goodness in their lives, and make yourself available for his purpose in their lives. Ask for wisdom and grace to love these people well.
  4. Then make deliberate effort in this week to develop these three relationships!

How to grow in Compelling Communication

Skilled leaders share messages which the audience can identify with, speaking into their need, with images that move listeners to dream and long about places that are more desirable, and even possible.

In this video Kobus Meyer shares how to grow in compelling communication.

Scripture

Exodus 3:13-17

13 Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” 15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations. 16 Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, “I have observed you and what has been done to you in Egypt, 17 and I promise that I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, a land flowing with milk and honey.”’

Observations and reflection

Context: Moses finds himself shepherding his father-in-law’s sheep in the Wilderness when God appears in a burning bush giving him this compelling command.

  1. State the message God gave Moses to relay to His people as concise as possible.
    1. Why did God not communicate in that way to his people?
    2. What are the benefits of communicating in this way?
  2. Study HOW God communicated. What elements do you see that moved the people to faith and action?
  3. Where in this message can you identify God using
  • personal experience
  • identification with need
  • rich imagery
  • hope / desires
  • certainty / faith
  • emotions / feelings
  1. What do each of the above add to the reception of and response to message?

Personal reflection and application

Communication is moving when the hearer identifies with the speaker or writer, and when the story speaks into their desires and stirs their imagination, followed by a simple invitation to join him or her in action.

  1. Adapt the simple invitation “You should come with me to church” using the following elements in communication to make it more likely for a person to accompany to church in Sunday. [Then invite two people and see their response!]
    1. personal experience
    2. identification with need
    3. rich imagery
    4. hope / desires
    5. certainty / faith
    6. emotions / feelings

Prayer

Sincerely pray to God to communicate better with the people he has intrusted to you, to lead them better into the future the Lord has prepared for them.

How leaders can grow leading people into vision and values

Shared values cultivate unity around a central purpose and help individuals to make good, godly life decisions.

Look at this short video where Werner Joubert, pastor of Shofar Christian Church Secunda, South Africa, gives practical help to small group leaders to cultivate the vision and values of their local church in their discipleship relationships.

Scripture

Romans 14:2-5, 10-17

One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind…

10 Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God; 11 for it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” 12 So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.

13 Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. 14 I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. 15 For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.16 So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. 17 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. 18 Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. 19 So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.

Observations and reflection questions

Context: There were different factions in the congregations of Rome arguing about a Christian’s diet religious observances of feasts days. 

  1. According to Paul, why is arguing about what is right and wrong (in terms of religious observations) wrong? [hint: verses 3-4]
  2. Paul gives two “tests” by which to judge what is acceptable or right in terms of religious observances. What are these two “tests”? [hint: verses 12, 17]
  3. What do understand under the phrase “the kingdom of God is … of righteousness andpeace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” [verse 17]
  4. How would agreement to the priority of “the kingdom of God is … of righteousness andpeace and joy in the Holy Spirit” help these believers to maintain unity and agreement in their service of Christ?

Application and prayer

As the church in Rome grew in number, so did the opinions of what is right and what is wrong, leading to factions and infighting within the church.  Paul obviously had his convictions, but he was wise enough not to impose his own convictions on others; rather, he brought the whole conversation back to the core of the Gospel: to establish the reign of God in each life and community, and from there he laid the well-established pillars (or values) of the Kingdom of God: “what promotes righteousness, peace and joy in God? Do this!”

  1. If someone who works with you were to compile your core values based on what they hear you talk about, what would that list contain? Try to honestly write this down.
  2. Such core values are very useful in directing a life or community in what is most important, as it strives to emulate what it desires to produce. As an exercise, prayerfully compile a list of core values (3-5) that could act as guideline to navigate
    1. your personal life
    2. the fellowship group or work department which you lead
  3. How would you make these values “workable”? Prayerfully consider which practices/ habits would transfer these guiding values from the paper to the heart of the group/ community.

Leaders commission members for service

Confident leaders recognize gifts and abilities in those around them; they coach and encourage them to bring out the best in them, and then they create space and commission them in their fields of greatness.

Look at this helpful video by Theo Burmeister speaking from experience about releasing members into service.

Scripture

Acts 6:1-6

1 Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists [or Greeks] arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables.Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.

Observations and Reflection Questions

  1. Why were these seven deacons set aside and commissioned? [verse 1, 2]
  2. What were the required characteristics for these servants? [verse 3]
  3. Who was present when the members were commissioned for service? [verse 2]
  4. How were these men set aside for service? [verse 6]
    1. Why with laying on of hands?
    2. Why with prayer?
    3. Why publically?

Personal reflection and application

The first Apostles knew that some practical demands related to the expanding church were not their primary concern, and wisely opted to get other capable people to do that. Yet they sought for people that had a good reputation and were full of the Spirit and wisdom, and commissioned them publically.

  1. Consider your leadership style, especially with regards to decision making, task execution and training. How much space do you allow for people to grow beyond their primary tasks and responsibilities in the group?
  2. Consider your primary mandate in leadership.
    1. What are your core responsibility?
    2. What are responsibilities which keep you busy, but which you can entrust to someone else?
  3. Who in your small group/ department/task team have shown themselves faithful and competent to receive more responsibility?
    1. Which responsibilities can you entrust to whom? (sometimes including the group in these decisions is wise, as the Apostles did in the example above).
    2. Discuss these planned delegations with a mentor / overseer/ good Christian friend.
  4. Consider how you will commission these responsibilities to these members:
    1. Plan a frank discussion with each of these members – they must agree to accept these responsibilities.
    2. There must be formal public announcements to the group involved to allow for buy-in
    3. In church setup, the act of laying on hands and prayer, asking for God’s grace (empowerment) is necessary, even if the task is simply “waiting on widow’s tables”. (Why?)

Prayer

Pray to God about your leadership style and those in your group.  How can you make more space for others to grow, and whom can you entrust more responsibility to?

 

 

Leaders engage their communities

Leaders embody their vision – they don’t only steer a project or manage a group.  Leaders lead their cause wherever they are, in every community they engage.

In this short video clip Werner Joubert shares on engaging your community and growing in awareness of the values and culture of the communities you find yourself in.

Scripture

Colossians 1:9-12

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. 11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.

Observations and Reflection Questions

Context: Paul tells the church in Colossi what he prays for them.  The Colossi church lived in an extremely immoral city known for its perversion, debauchery and public indecency – mostly associated with the pagan worship in the city.

  1. In your own words list the things Paul prays for the church in Colossi.
  2. Can you see a logical progression in his prayer? Write down what you see.
  3. Looking at his prayer, why does Paul pray for “knowledge of his will… spiritual wisdom and understanding…”? [hint: verse 10]
  4. Let’s consider the context of this congregation. Why would Paul pray this specific prayer for this congregation?

Personal reflection

Let’s do a visual reflective exercise to help growing in awareness of the community around you:

Community - My World

  1. In the middle of a page write down your name.
  2. Around it start drawing consecutive circles representing the communities whom you engage with regularly (i.e. family, work, your kid’s school, church, hobbies…)
  3. In each circle write down a few names of people you most frequently engage in that specific community.
  4. For each circle write down the core cultural characteristics for that community (ie. What does that community value, promote; is it uplifting? What is its morality and ethics? Who would you become is you were to become like that community?)
  5. As you engage each of these communities this week, consider how you are perceived and what your reputation in each of these groups.

Prayer

Personalize Colossians 1:9-12 and pray it for yourself today, considering the communities you engage as a representative of Christ.

Leaders create opportunities to Connect People

Leaders connect with people where they are at, inviting them to share in the passion and vision of the vision of the leader.  The sincerity and depth of connection determines the commitment to the shared vision.

Look at this short inspirational video by Werner Joubert (pastor of Shofar Christian Church in Secunda, South Africa) on why and how to create platforms to connect with people.

 

Scripture

Luke 5:27-29

27 After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” 28 And leaving everything, he rose and followed him. 29 And Levi made him a great feast in his house, and there was a large company of tax collectors and others reclining at table with them. 30 And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” 31 And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

Observations and reflection questions

Context: Especially Jewish tax collectors were despised by the Jewish community who felt betrayed and oppressed by their extortion and disgusted by their notoriously immoral lifestyles.

  1. Why would it be strange that Jesus would invite a notorious sinner such as Levi saying “follow me”? What did the invitation imply?
  2. Why would the Pharisees and scribes grumble at Jesus’ attendance of Levi’s feast?
  3. What do you think was Levi’s motive for holding a feast “with tax collectors and sinners”, shortly after leaving all and following Jesus (in discipleship)?
  4. Why, in your own words, did Jesus attend the feast? (verses 31-32)

Personal Reflection and Application

Levi was a chief tax collector employed by the Romans to tax his own oppressed people.  Therefore, he and his fellow tax collectors were despised and ostracized from his countrymen, cut off from the God of his fathers.  Until the Jesus invited him to become his disciple.  So the first thing he did was to hold a feast where all his fellow “tax collectors and sinners” can meet Jesus, the Rabi who was not intimidated by their sinful ways, and who would gladly associate and minister to them.

  1. Do you feel uncomfortable around “sinners”? If yes – why?
  2. What is the difference before God between yourself and a “sinner” a.k.a. “bad person”? [or what makes a “sinner” bad in the eyes of God, and what makes you good in the eyes of God?]
  3. Pray that God will remove any form of self-righteousness and judgment from your heart.
  1. In which way can you set up a platform (such as Matthew’s Feast) to create a space where people can connect with God or God’s people in a non-threatening, sincere way? Discuss this with your accountability partner or mature Christian Friend.
  2. Pray that God will help you think of practical, non-threatening ways to engage and connect with people around you with the sincerity and love of Christ.

Consider this testimony by Bill Hybels as an example of connecting with people, so that you may share the love of Christ with them.