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Book Review: Cultivating a Life for God - Neil Cole Wednesday, December 27, 2006 |

I just finished a book by Neil Cole called Cultivating a Life for God. It was a short read with a ton of great insights. Cole has a way of turning a phrase, as well as restating the basics of Christianity in a way that is fresh and insightful. The subtitle of this book is this: Multiplying Disciples Through Life Transformation Groups. He basically lays out a vision and strategy for discipleship that is simple, reproducible and transferable. It focuses on multiplication without being overbearing, as well as helps instill a value for the greatness of God's word without being legalistic. I would whole-heartedly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a simple and effective tool for making disciples that reproduce.

Here are a few of the more memorable parts of the book:

- We cannot cause the growth, only release it. (p. 23)

- Strong disciples make a strong church. Growing disciples make a growing church. (p. 28)

- If disciple-making and multiplying is essential for all, we must find a way to make it available to all so that it can be passed from generation to generation. (p. 33)

- Not all Christians are meant to be leaders, but all are meant to be reproducing disciple-makers. (p. 33)

- When we approach disciple-making, wanting to pass the baton on to succeeding generations, we must refine the process so that it is simple and transferable. (p. 35)

- By combining discipleship with leadership development we eliminate a good percentage of Christians from participation in the Great Commission. (p. 36)

- The church is suffering from a bottleneck of teaching without obedience. (p. 36)

- A second logistical advantage to a group of two or three is that they can meet almost anywhere. (p. 51)

- If we cannot see multiplication at this level (groups of two and three), we will not see it at higher, more complex levels of church life. (p. 51)

- ...I could not find a single verse in all the Bible which commands us to plant and multiply churches. It's just not there! The command that God gave us was to make and multiply disciples, not cell groups or churches. Jesus does want to build His kingdom through church planting and multiplication, but His plan is to do so by multiplying disciples. (p. 52)

- Because the system (of groups of 2 or 3) is simple enough to pass on with one easy description the flame spreads unhindered. Ordinary Christians are empowered to do the most important work any of us can do. (p. 94)

- It is true the the Life Transformation Group system has a high commitment level for a ground floor entry point to the church. Many, if not most, church growth philosophies today try to lower the level of commitment up front so as to attract more people and hopefully woo them into Christianity gradually... When Jesus spoke of an entry point unto salvation and the kingdom of God, He didn't attempt to lower the standard so that more could enter in, He did the very opposite. He said, "If anyone wishes to come after Me let him deny himself, pick up his cross and follow me. He who wishes to save his life shall lose it, and he who is willing to lose his life for my sake, and for the gospel's sake shall keep it." (p. 97)

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reading and community Sunday, December 17, 2006 |

I've been reading like a dog lately trying to get my head around community, groups, small groups, cell groups, house churches, cell churches, and every other type of missional community that is out there. I think the phrase missional community is the best way that I can lump all the iterations of the before-mentioned groups. So, feel free to peruse the newly minted list of books on your right - just scroll down near the bottom and you'll see the first couple of lists under the "current reading" section.

Any books or resources you would recommend on "missional community" (as I call it) would be greatly appreciated.

Is there anything not on the list that you think is a must-read? (C'mon, I know that there are a few "experts" on community out there - you seminary profs and students, missionaries, practitioners, and pastors are out there... tell me your ideas and suggestions...)

a good laugh... Thursday, December 07, 2006 |

This picture of my kiddos just makes me laugh...

What kind of mentor are you? Wednesday, December 06, 2006 |

What kind of mentor are you?

We all mentor... at all times. Sometimes we are intentional. Sometimes not. But at all times we are mentoring, passing on to others our values, passions, knowledge, skills and resources. In moving from unintentional mentoring to intentional mentoring it is so important to understand and develop the kind of mentor God has created us to be.

Look at this list and see which mentor type* you are:

:: Active Mentoring ::

- Dicipler: enabler in the basic of following Christ (i.e. prayer, the Word, community, ministry, doctrines, etc.)

- Spiritual Guide: provides accountability, drection and insight for decision making; deals with inner-growth issues, appraises a person's spirituality, seeks to create internal spiritual motivation, desires to deepen the believer's spiritual maturity level

- Coach: provides motivation, skills, and application needed to meet a task; guides a skill-focused relationship, shares specific areas of expertise, focuses on obedience and responsibility

:: Occasional Mentoring ::

- Counselor: offers timely advice on viewing self, others, circumstances and ministry; provides perspective for emerging leaders, provides stimulus towards potential

- Teacher: knowledge and understanding of a particular subject; provides motivation towards learning, focuses on integration of theory and practice

- Sponsor: provides career guidance and development within an organization; influences others, advocates for the mentoree, networks resources to facilitate development, desire to accelerate leadership development of mentoree

:: Passive Mentoring ::

- Contemporary Model: a living, personal model who inspires emulation

- Historical Model: a past life that teaches dynamic principles

- Divine Contact: a timely and divine intervention of guidance or discernment

So which one are you? Comment below and let me know...

*adapted from Bobby Clinton's 9 types of mentoring relationships in the book, Spiritual Mentoring by Anderson and Reese

Matt Carter blog Saturday, December 02, 2006 |

My friend, partner-in-crime, and lead pastor at the Austin Stone, Matt Carter, is blogging. His sermons are also being podcast. Check it out...