The Missions is Disciples Not Fans

The Mission is Disciples, Not Fans

One of the things that I love about what I get to do in my life is serve, connect, and work alongside people of all different backgrounds, religious beliefs, race, ethnicity, and nationality. I’m on a senior management team at one of the largest youth serving non-profit organizations in my community. I’m also a pastor and itinerant minister. By the end of this year, we will have reached 26 nations around the world ministering and advancing the Gospel message. I love working in the marketplace and growing the bottom line. I also love preaching the gospel, sending mission groups around the world, and building the local church by advancing God’s Kingdom locally and in other nations. I love working with people in the marketplace who do not know Jesus. I also love working with pastors to help build their vision to serve their local community. I guess what you could call me is a Marketplace Pastor. Because of how God has positioned my work to overlap the marketplace and ministry – I have discovered two things about people who I interact with in the marketplace:

  1. People are truly hungry and seeking more out of life
  2. People are religiously confused about who Jesus is

Believe it or not, there are so many people who are hungry for something deeper and who want more out of life. With everything that has happened in our nation over the last decade and even this last year, people are truly open to the Gospel like never before. America is the greatest mission field for harvest. My greatest pulpit is not at any particular church, but it’s my success within the marketplace, which becomes a platform to influence others.  The 2nd point is the most interesting. Because religion works overtime to confuse and misrepresent the purity and simplicity of the Gospel message. There are so many people who are sincerely confused and/or misinformed about the person of Jesus and what it truly means to be a follower of Jesus. If I had to drill it down, people are missing who Jesus is because of four reasons, and when I say people, I’m speaking of people who are far from God or (unchurched) and people who would call themselves Christians (churched):

1. Poor Christian representation – people who have been hurt by other Christians and churches
2. Poor Christian media representation – people who have been turned off by weird Christian TV preachers
3. Other Religious/Cultish views and opinions brought by inaccurate interpretations of the Bible. – People who are very intelligent sometimes miss the simplicity of the Gospel and begin to be influenced by something that is a false religion or false teaching
4. A lack of empowerment on how to grow and disciple people in their faith – What I see right now for the 21st Century American Church is a strong ability of knowing how to build and grow crowds, but a lack of ability on how to build and grow people in their faith and in their purpose. (Another blog on this later.)

This mission of the church is to make disciples in every nation (Matthew 28:18-19). We are not called to make fans of Jesus, but to make disciples of Jesus.

The greatest churches that will be rising up in this next decade will be those that know how to strategically reach new people, grow people, and send people. Right now in America, you are seeing churches that only do 1 of the 3 very well. The church is called to do all three, at the same time, in harmony – reach people, grow people, and send people. A church that doesn’t reach new people, is a club. A church that doesn’t grow their people, doesn’t influence their community. And a church that doesn’t send people, is typically led by an insecure leader.

Wherever God has placed you in this season whether in the marketplace or in full-time ministry – be a person who adds value to others by growing people in their faith and in their purpose. Discipleship always precedes influence. The reason why are mission is to disciple nations is because God wants His church to lead and influence every circle of industry and society.

Influence and lead where you are at and watch God expand your world.

Navigating through Change Resistance

Change is always a unique time for any church. You may be launching a new ministry, adding venues, services, or restructuring an existing area or experiencing leadership turnover. Change is change, no matter how big or small, often times, people naturally resist it. So how do we deal with those who resist this change? We expect everyone (our team, volunteers, and members) to be on board, but in reality it takes some people longer to embrace it, and sadly sometimes we will lose people in the midst of it.

About 10 years ago I worked in retail, and my boss at the time gave me this book (Who Moved My Cheese) and asked me to read it – no explanations. I got very nervous and scared to say the least, but that book and the changes that followed were the beginning of a journey toward flexibility and trust. As I embraced change, God taught me how to navigate through it and be a champion of it.

Being someone who resisted change, I learned as a church leader how to steer people without losing their trust. The goal in casting vision and creating change is trust.

There are 3 kinds of people we will navigate: runners, walkers, and sitters. The runners are with you no matter what new thing is happening, they are on board no questions asked and are ready and willing to make it happen. The walkers are those who evaluate the new thing, ask a lot of questions, then begin running forward as they trust more. The sitters are those who oppose the new thing and vocally let their opinion be known and try to influence others to sit with them.

The runners are your champions and cheerleaders to the walkers. We all know in those early stages of something new the details are not always available, so those who need a lot of information up front will feel very insecure and cautious. You can gain their trust by allowing them to share their questions, concerns, and hesitations. Validate their feelings, ask for their help, and assure them they are valuable to making it all work.

Beyond the natural resistance to change, are people who openly oppose anything new and are intent on keeping things the old way, they are the sitters. The sitters are dealt with privately and quickly – we do not accommodate sitters. Allow them to express their perspective or opinion, then cap it. As a person of influence they must be able to trust you as their leader by letting go of any negative attitude and opposing opinion. If they cannot be won over, and agree to get on board, then you may have to have the difficult conversation of removing them from influence and replacing them with someone who will champion the new.

Negativity causes division and strife and will kill any forward movement. It’s natural for people to hesitate in the midst of change, but they should be able to fully embrace it and stay open to what God is doing. Your leadership team will voice questions, concerns, and other perspectives, but they will champion the forward movement of God’s Kingdom. Surround yourself with those champions (the runners and walkers), and remove any negativity from influential positions.

How are you navigating through upcoming changes?

When Failures Speak the Loudest by Tony Fetchel

As I sat down to check my email, I was amazed to see I had received an email from John.   He was reaching out to me, now living in another country, to forgive me.  He had read my blog and read some things I had to say and was corresponding with me to communicate to me that he no longer had any bitterness in his heart towards me.  It had been almost 5 years since I had seen or heard from him, and the last time we spoke I was his pastor.  He had struggled with homosexuality time and time again throughout his time in my campus ministry and church, and repeatedly I had been very hard on him and ministered to him more than enough times, that he had to get a handle on his sin and that in short, God was grieved with him and his struggles.

But you see, that was before my own personal sin had become public.  You see, I myself was in an ongoing affair with another woman, for two years.  In the middle of his failure and struggle to live clean of his sin, I was in the middle of my sin, living a lie: and I was his pastor.  But here he was, much younger, having never been a pastor, ministering to me the love and forgiveness of Christ.  Despite my deep failure, here he was showing me more Christ-like love, than I ever had shown him.

Before my very public and very humiliating failure, I was very demanding and exacting towards my students, staff, and church members.  Though lost in my own sin and shame, I was driven towards ministering to young people a very “man centered gospel.”  We had built our ministry and our discipleship program around man, and man’s leadership, rather than Christ.   I was fortunate to have so many precious young people following me and looking up to me and holding me in such regard, that I was destined for failure.  I blame no one. I blame myself.  I was too caught up in the affirmation of man, and my affair partner, than Christ.  I was in love with the attention and being needed, more than I was in love with Christ and his grace.  The problem was that I was fueled with a very subtle, but fierce, pride.  Sure you may have seen a little pride back then, but really, I masked it with words like “discipleship,” and “spiritual family” and helped corrupt the true gospel of Christ with statements of absurdity and heresy.  The problem was, none of us knew any different.  We were great at marginalizing the weak, or those who struggled with addictions or sinful habits.   We were great at excluding those who didn’t fit the mold.  We labeled people who needed a lot of ministry as “needy,” and continued to give less and less of ourselves to them as we didn’t perceive them to be leaders. Now, 5 years post affair and failure, the gospel I have found is a very Christ centered gospel.  A gospel filled with grace, and love than I ever thought possible.  I shutter sometimes at some of the things I preached and ministered to people.  It’s not uncommon that I often find myself repenting for the heresy I communicated to so many, under the banner of discipleship, leadership, and spiritual family.

Anytime we preach a man centered gospel, we are destined to see eventual failure and compromise.  For the simple fact that our gospel was never meant to be centered upon any man, except Jesus Christ.   When we elevate man, or man’s principles to an equal level of Christ and his word, we blow it, and we blow it huge.   Now, five years later, God has shown me more of his love and his forgiveness and his grace than I ever knew existed.  I had no idea how forgiving, loving and kind God can be.  And it took me losing everything but my wife and three children to show me his grace, redemption and restoration.

Friends, it’s in our failures that often times Christ can speak to us the loudest and clearest.  I wish it wasn’t so, but God is a master at using our shortcomings and our failures (however public or private they may be) to not only save us, but to redeem us, restore us, and ultimately change us more into the image of Christ.

Your Thoughts?

Tony Fetchel’s greatest joy is his restored and redeemed marriage to his wife Jodi and their three kids, Nathan, Macy, and Zackary.  Tony currently writes a blog for Affair Recovery Center, and is the young adult pastor at Shoreline Christian Center in Austin Texas.  Tony is now slowly reentering ministry as a valued speaker, writer and consultant for several mediums and ministries.  You can follow him on Twiter @fecciello. His blog is Tony is available for speaking.

Leadership Lessons I’ve Learned from Jack Bauer

Tonight on May 24, 2010, the whole world stood still and watched the series finale of 24. I’ve followed this series these last 8 years and wanted to highlight some leadership lessons I’ve learned from watching Jack Bauer.

  • Jack never quits on his mission. Why should you quit on yours?
  • Jack is trustworthy. Do people trust you? Are you dependable?
  • Jack is loyal to his friends. How strong is your loyalty? How far will you go to help a friend?
  • Jack stands for justice, not convenience. Do you stand for what’s right or with whatever is convenient at the moment?
  • Jack perseveres. Do you push through obstacles and/or political barriers or do you get intimidated by them?
  • Jack always out smarts his enemies because he knows their weaknesses. How well do you know your enemy? Do you know your weaknesses?
  • Jack is not afraid to look evil in the eye and deal with it. Do you deal with it or does it deal with you?
  • Jack hates cover-up’s and scandals. What are you covering-up that needs to be brought into the light?
  • Jack would give his life for his family. Would you give your life for yours?
  • Jack never got caught up in the politics or side dramas around him, he always stayed focused on his mission. What’s your life mission? What is distracting you from accomplishing it?

What are some other leadership lessons you have learned from Jack Bauer these last 8 years? Comment and share them with us!

24 News: Release Date for Season 8 and Complete Series on DVD and Blu-ray.

What They Don’t Talk About In Seminary with Ed Young, Jr. and Ed Young, Sr.

Video interview from the C3 Creative Church Conference 2010 at Fellowship Church in Grapevine, TX. Ed Young, Jr. interviews his Father, Ed Young, Sr., pastor of Second Baptist Church in Houston, TX as they discuss different leadership issues that we never talk about in seminary.

The Church, The Brand & Perception – Pt. 5

Some churches know how to advertise great sermon series campaigns. A few come to mind. Well, these are my recommended favorites, but you are welcome to suggest others:

  • Ed Young / Fellowship Church
  • Perry Noble / New Spring
  • Steven Furtick / Elevation Church
  • Andy Stanley / North Point Community Church
  • Craig Groeschel/

How do these guys know how to promote a well engaged sermon series? A few things come into play:

  • Rich/depth sermon content
  • A dynamic creative team
  • An innovative technical team
  • A strategic marketing team

Here is one of my personal favorite sermon series promotional videos from Elevation Church led by Steven Furtick in Indian Trail, NC.  See Below! It’s awesome!