Nov 23 - Christ the King Sunday

  • Christ the King - worship images based around "Worthy is the Lamb" 
    • "Revelation Song" 
    • Worthy is the Lamb 
    • Liturgical images 
    • Christ the Victor 
    • Christ the King 


Oct 26 "Hand-Crafted Discipleship: Blessed are the Beggars”

Oct 26 “Blessed are the Beggars”

Matt 5:1-3; 20:29-34


Crouching Beggar

words written down on a scrap of paper that Luther had in his pocket on his deathbed: “We are beggars; this is true.” 

[Reformation Sunday]



Oct 12 "Hand-Crafted Discipleship: Hanging Out w/God”

Oct 12 “Hanging Out w/God”

Psalm 27:8
Your Face, O Lord, I will seek… 

Lk 5:12-16
Jesus prays in lonely places 

Relationships grow by investing time 
[Bible presentations Sunday]



Oct 5 "Hand-Crafted Discipleship: Sharing the Journey”

Oct 5 “Sharing the Journey”

John 1:35-39; 43-50

Come & see… 

Traveling with others toward Jesus rather than crossing In/Out boundary lines, REACH OUT

There is “In and Out” of the Kingdom, but we can’t ultimately see it or judge it; our job is the invitation, “Come and see.” 


Sep 28 "Hand-Crafted Discipleship: Personal Discipleship”

Sep 28 “Personal Discipleship”

Matthew 28:16-20

Great commission - Not assembly line widgets but personal, life on life Discipleship, REACH IN

Main idea: we tend to try and “mass produce” disciples because we think it is more efficient. Real discipleship is more of a journey, it’s messy and it takes time.

Development: Metaphor of Assembly Line vs Metaphor of Journey
Evoke the Source, Map to the Target, Test the Limits, See through a New Lens

Law: we tend to streamline discipleship in a way that damages the faith of real people.
Gospel: Jesus invites us to a personal, hand-crafted journey of faith. 

intro evoke the Source 1: ASSEMBLY LINE MANUFACTURING
By 1913, the Ford plant in Highland Park, Michigan was producing a Model T every 3 minutes. The revolutionary manufacturing model called an “assembly line” worked so efficiently and so well, there was only one paint color that would dry fast enough to keep up with production. As Henry Ford himself would quip: “Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants, so long as it is black!”

What was revolutionary in 1913 is commonplace today; an assembly line, mass-production mentality is a common part of our everyday lives. Just think about it! We interact almost exclusively with mass-produced merchandise—from cars, to clothes, to computers, to Whataburgers.  When was the last time you drove, wore, or consumed something that was crafted, sewn, or cooked individually, by hand, from scratch? 

oops When Jesus says, “Go and MAKE disciples [out] of all nations,” we automatically, unconsciously, and tragically hear that command as “create a mass discipleship product out of the raw materials of the nations.” (map to the target 1: DISCIPLING THE NATIONS)

Mass production is an ordinary part of our ordinary lives, so much so that when Jesus says, “go therefore and MAKE disciples out of all nations . . . and I am with you always,”—we who know almost nothing but mass-production, hear Jesus say, “go therefore and mass-produce disciple widgets out of the raw materials of the nations, and I will be your foreman, to the very end of the age.” I’m not saying we try to hear Jesus that way; I am saying that without trying, you and I as products of our culture will hear the command to “make disciples” and naturally assume an assembly line behind the Great Commission.  

When that happens—when we hear “make disciple widgets”—some of the most important aspects of Christ’s mission through His Church to His world gets lost. You know how an assembly line works in real life! In an assembly line, the focus in on how fast you can produce the exact same product again and again. In order to minimize mistakes and maximize efficiency, everything is standardized, everything is done the exact same way, over and over and over again, every time. 

ugh Look at the natural inferences that flow from understanding discipleship as a kind of assembly line: (see through a new lens 1, DISCIPLING AS WIDGET-PRODUCTION)
I worked at an automotive supply plant off and on for a while in high school, so I know that it is more effective and cost efficient to trash an individual product with a problem than to take the time to go back and get it right. The assembly line—and the foreman in charge of the assembly line!—can’t tolerate any deviation from the norm; that’s why it is so fast and effective!

 —Which also means that the line worker has a very intense but very limited interaction with any individual part. I can tell you from personal experience, I don’t know and I don’t care what happened to all of those spark plugs, air filters, terminal y, and terminal butt splices I unpacked, repacked, stretch wrapped, and shipped out the door! Once my shift was done, I left that all behind for someone else to do whatever else they needed to do. I didn’t know the whole process; I didn’t care about the whole process; I just did my part as fast as I could.

When we hear “make disciples” in our culture, it’s easy for us immediately and automatically to go into a production mode. And because mass-production is the mode we know best, we tend to carry over these same kinds of inferences and values. I don’t think we do it on purpose. But I do think it is hurting the Church.

If “making disciples out of the nations” becomes taking raw materials and producing a disciple widget, then of course the focus will be on how fast you can produce the same product again and again. We tend to want to produce people who look like us, pray like us, confess like us, theologize like us. And in order to minimize theological mistakes and maximize pastoral efficiency, the discipleship process becomes standardized, one size fits all, over and over and over again, every time.

I’m not pointing my finger at your congregation or your new member class—well, actually I am, but I am pointing the finger at my congregation and my new member class, as well. When was the last time you or I sat down and looked at the people who signed up for new member instruction and asked, now how can I tailor a new member experience that will connect with these unique individuals? I wonder if this is going to be an 8 or 9 month process? 

NO! We tend to take whomever we get and run them through basically the same “effective” process we always use, expecting to get the same basic product out the other end! And more and more it seems we don’t have time for 8 or 9 weeks, let alone 8 or 9 months. The new member process across our Church has dwindled to a few weeks, or a weekend, or all day Saturday, or a Sunday afternoon. Because if you are making disciple widgets, the faster the better. 

But what really bothers me, what nags at me in my busyness and pains my heart (when I let it)—what really makes me question our whole approach to this discipleship thing is the fact that it is more effective and cost efficient to trash an individual with a problem than to take the time to go back and get it right. It’s better for the line to just keep the production going. There will always be the ones who almost get connected; who catch a glimpse of discipleship, but falter; who start to know Jesus but then seem to drift off. 

And the assembly line demands I let them go. After all, my relationship to even my best products is transitory at best: I take the raw resource the way I find it, I do my standardized production thing to turn it into the Model D discipleship widget, and I watch it go on down the line, out the door, into a consumer culture where someone, somewhere will buy it; but what do I care? The next lump of raw resources is already on the conveyor belt in front of me; back to work.

aha! Jesus never intended us to mass produce Christian widgets. Inherent in the command, “disciple the nations” is the call, “Follow Me.” (test the limits 1 / evoke the Source 2: JOURNEY)

If you have been mass-producing disciple widgets like that without even realizing it, take heart! That’s not what Jesus meant when He gave us the Great Commission. In fact, that’s not even what He said.  I guess I understand why our most common translations give us “make disciples of all nations.” The problem is, when we 21st century North Americans make something out of something else, we just naturally get into a production line mentality. But disciples aren’t something you make; discipling is something you do. Jesus isn’t commanding us to produce a widget; He is commanding us to engage others on a journey focused on following Him. Jesus said, “Go, disciple the nations…” and when you turn discipling back into an action instead of an end product, it makes all the difference in the world!

For Jesus and for the people of His day and culture, the action of being a disciple meant you had a strong and personal relationship with one specific teacher, or master, or rabbi. To do the work of a disciple was literally to walk with, to listen to, to eat, and sleep, and journey with your master so that His words became your words, his understanding of Scripture became your understanding of Scripture, his faith became your faith. It didn’t happen overnight. It didn’t always follow the same routine. The journey could get long, or complicated, or even treacherous, but being a disciple by definition meant sticking to the teacher wherever he went.

whee! I am with you always! Make this a clear experience of the Gospel. (map to the target 2: DISCIPLING AS JOURNEY)
When Jesus says, “Look! I am with you always!” He isn’t promising to be the line foreman making sure you are producing the right kind of disciple widgets at the right pace. No, Jesus is reaffirming an ongoing disciple relationship that means you are invited to keep following him, learning from him, eating with him, being molded and shaped by him so His words more and more become your words, His understanding of Scripture more and more becomes your understanding of Scripture, His faith more and more, day by day, step by step becomes your faith.

That’s how Jesus started this whole discipleship business in the first place, by walking up to some pretty ordinary Joes and saying, “Come, follow me.” I love how even after Peter’s denial, the risen Lord takes Peter back to the beginning: “Don’t worry about my plans for that guy, John: YOU follow ME!” Again in the Great Commission, again to you tonight, Jesus reaffirms the essential aspect of your discipleship journey: the presence of your rabbi, the presence of Jesus. “Look! I am with you always, to the very end of the age!” Jesus says, “ YOU follow ME!”

Jesus recommits Himself to be present in your very own personal, hand-crafted, tailor-made discipleship journey. You aren’t a widget. And Jesus doesn’t want you to produce widgets. Not once did Jesus say, “Anybody can make a disciple of any color he wants, as long as it’s white.” Instead, Jesus gives you the command: disciple the nations. All of them. Make my Church look like Revelation: every tribe, people, nation, language group. Don’t go make a thousand identical disciple widgets. Disciple the nations. 
yeah! As we image what that looks like in our week, both being a disciple and discipling others gets messy.  (see through a new lens 2)

Find one or two, or eight or twelve, and journey with them. Listen to them. Talk to them. Eat with them. The journey could get long, or complicated, or even treacherous, but your job is to keep pointing them to Jesus; He is the one who is with you and with them to the very end of the age, every step of the way.

Now I’m not sure it would work very well for the pastor to become drinking buddies with each new member, so we might actually have to imagine a community on a journey, a community committed to following Jesus together, a community that wasn’t too busy or too focused on efficiency or results to go out of their way to walk with the ones who don’t fit the mold, who take extra effort, who would otherwise end up on the production line floor. 

In the end, that kind of messy, confusing, loving, sinful, forgiven kind of community is going to be a whole lot more fun to be around then a group of line workers who can’t wait to finish their shift and get on with their day. I think that’s the kind of messy, confusing, loving, sinful, forgiven, fun kind of community Jesus wants His Church, His disciples, His followers to be.

I was born about an hour from where the Ford Motor company put the idea of the assembly line into practical use. But I was also reborn into a pilgrim community that is on an ongoing journey of faith. Whatever else we do as we go to disciple the nations, baptizing and teaching, whatever else we do we can’t not do this: point people to Jesus and teach them what it means to follow Him today, and tomorrow, and the next day too, for He is with us always, to the very end of the age.  Amen.


Sep 21 "Hand-Crafted Discipleship: Shaped by Jesus”

Sep 21 “Shaped by Jesus” 

Isaiah 64:8 
Jeremiah 18:1-11  
Psalm 138:8 
Romans 9:20 
Isaiah 29:16 
Romans 8:28-29 
Matthew 4:19 

Potter and Clay; the “process of being conformed to the image of Christ for the sake of others.”


Mid-Sep / Oct 2014 - "Hand-Crafted Discipleship"

Discipleship Series St. Luke Lutheran Church Multi-Site, Fall 2014

Formation Goal: To shape disciples who are aware of their passive and active roles in discipleship; actively receiving, engaged but not in control, seeking and being found, intentional reception of God’s promised gifts.