Discipleship

How can a pastor best care for the members of his congregation who are physically ill?

9Marks
Pray for them personally. See James 5:14. Pray for them publicly. Be discerning here. Be careful that your church’s public prayers don’t become (if they aren’t already!) a mere recital of who’s got what. Perhaps consider praying in general for those who are ill in one of your pastoral prayers. Visit them if you’re able.

How can a preacher train his congregation to make the most of expositional preaching?

9Marks
Preach at a level that’s high enough to make them stretch, but not so high that the sermon flies over their heads. Apply the text to their lives specifically. Provide cards that list all the upcoming sermons, a blog post, or something similar that will inform the congregation of what biblical texts the preacher will cover in coming weeks. Encourage the church to study the biblical texts during the week before the sermon.

What are some important lessons for parents to learn about their children?

9Marks
Little kids need the strength of your youth; older kids need your wisdom (so have children while you’re young!). Pack in truth while your children are little and trust the Lord to unpack it in his time. Study your children. Know their “love language.” Consistent, loving, faithful discipline brings peace to the home. Inconsistency brings chaos.

What are some important lessons for parents to learn about themselves?

9Marks
To be a faithful steward of your children you must abide in Christ (John 15:5). Trickle-down theory: Mom’s daily devotions naturally trickle down to encouragement and instruction in the Lord for the children. Not listening to your children causes you to misjudge them (James 1:19-20). Our task list is not as important as our children’s thought life. Preach the gospel of grace, not self-discipline. Being parented is defining; parenting is refining.

What should I avoid in parenting?

9Marks

The one sentence answer is that parents should avoid wrongly provoking their children: “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged” (Col. 3:21). Again, “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4).

Here are ten ways to wrongly provoke your children:

What are some common temptations parents and families face?

9Marks
Sunday morning struggles. It seems that Satan often comes into our homes on Sunday mornings in order to make the Lord's Day a day of struggle. So pray, rise early, and be patient. Pressure from other people (other church members, Christian grandparents, etc.) to baptize your children. Resist such outward pressure. Instead, look for and test for a credible profession of faith in your child (Prov. 22:15).

What’s wrong with the therapeutic model of counseling?

9Marks
In short, “the therapeutic” borrows a wonderful metaphor from medicine—“healing”—but reduces counseling problems to one aspect of a more complicated problem. Just as doctors aim to heal people, counselors speak of counseling in the same terms. But the problems which enter the counseling office are more complicated than that, involving not just the physical aspects of a person, but the mental, emotional, and spiritual. More importantly, the spiritual is always primary.

What are the advantages of church-based counseling?

9Marks
Church-based counseling places the counseling process into the context of leaders and people who are already responsible before God to watch over your soul. If you have a choice between (i) seeing someone who knows nothing about you and has no obligation to you outside of counseling or (ii) seeing someone who will give an account to God for how well he has watched over your soul (e.g. Heb. 13:17), who would you choose?

How is church-based counseling different from typical Christian counseling?

9Marks
It’s more community-driven than individualistic. Most Christian counseling is purely individualistic. One counselor counsels one counselee. Most Christian counselors talk about relationships but remain wholly disconnected from the other person’s life apart from scheduled, one-on-one meetings in the counselor’s office. On the other hand, church-based counseling is a team effort (Prov. 11:14, 21:26).

What is church-based counseling?

9Marks
Church-based counseling is an attempt to draw “counseling” into the general discipling work of the local church. It’s practicing counseling by equipping members and leaders to meet one another’s counseling needs rather than referring people “out” to experts.

How can I as a church leader help cultivate a culture of discipleship?

9Marks
Structure your own weekly schedule to include time with younger Christians (breakfasts and lunches, running errands, regular sermon reviews, etc.). If you lead a literate congregation, ask the church for a pastoral budget for book giveaways. Have a stack of books in your office ready for spontaneous giveaways. Encourage people to read them and then call you to schedule a time to discuss the book.

Why should a local church cultivate a culture of discipleship?

9Marks

The members of a local church should cultivate a culture of discipleship because they want to:

Should churches primarily view discipleship as a “program” or a “lifestyle”?

9Marks

Church should not primarily view discipleship as special event or a flashy program. Discipleship is not something that’s occasional or out of the ordinary, something that can be sealed off from the rest of our Christian lives. To be a Christian is to be a disciple of Christ. And being a disciple of Christ means

In practice, how can I disciple other Christians?

9Marks
Join a church. Arrive early at church gatherings and stay late. Practice hospitality with members of your church. Ask God for strategic friendships. If possible, include a line-item in your family or pastoral budget for weekly time with fellow Christians. Discuss this matter with your spouse. If possible, provide such a budget line for your spouse as well.

In principle, how does discipleship work?

9Marks

Discipleship works most essentially through instruction and imitation. Discipleship works best through love. As we lovingly instruct younger believers in the way of godliness and live commendable lives, they grow in Christlikeness by imitating our life and doctrine (see 1 Tim. 4:16).