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Facts of the Matter

A weekly letter of encouragement and challenge to business and professional men and women

Archive for October, 2012

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

PRACTICAL QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON LEADING A DISCIPLESHIP GROUP (Part 3 of 3)

Question: Do you have a format that you use to set the groundwork for the relationship?

Answer: As I look back, what seems to have been the pattern for me was that I would start meeting with a man, just loving him and encouraging him, and helping him as issues came up. Bit by bit I would teach him the basics (quiet time, etc.).  I would have several men like this with whom I was meeting scattered around the city. At some point it would become obvious to me that of the men I was informally meeting with here and there that several of them shared a lot in common (mutual interests, were at the same place in business or in their professions, families, etc.), or perhaps it was just an educated guess on my part that there would be chemistry between them if they met each other. I would individually tell those men that I believed it would benefit them to meet these other men; that there is a potential of our growing spiritually as a group. Because they had grown to trust me, they consented to meet the other men.  Then in a very low key fashion, I would lay out a simple experiment (code word for plan) of what we could do, for say the next six meetings (be it every week or every other week, or monthly, etc.). I cant remember when men have said no to my invitation. They knew that I cared for them; that I was already helping them, and they were drawn in. This same approach would apply to couples.

Question: Do you start with a particular book of the Bible or have a set number of questions you ask? 

Answer: I have found that we need to start with relatively simple question and answer Bibles studies. NavPress has wonderful material such as the Design for Discipleship series or their Deepening Your Roots series. Greg Ogdens book, Discipleship Essentials (Intervarsity Press) is an excellent discipling tool.  There are many excellent Bible study materials.  Always look for the studies that are Biblically sound and strongly stress application. InterVarisy Press, Campus Crusade, NavPress, and many other publishers have outstanding material.

Once we get started, we are in no rush to complete the studies.  Keep in mind that processing the material at their pace is infinitely more important than filling in the blanks or racing to complete a study unit. Once they have completed a question and answer a series of studies, we move them on to the inductive Bible study method. The Navigators publish The Navigator Bible Study Handbook which lays out in a simple format the principles of inductive Bible study, starting with a very  simple approach, and then matriculating to increasingly in depth studies.  This inductive method of study is a must for people who are serious about mastering the Scriptures and growing deep.

Question: How often do you suggest you meet with this group as a whole?

Answer: I have found that every other week, or even once a month works well.  With the pressure, pace, and complexity of peoples lives these days, I find that folks are more likely to burn out if it is every week.  I also break for summer and Christmas.

This week, may you experience His grace, peace, and protection.

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

PRACTICAL QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON LEADING A DISCIPLESHIP GROUP (Part 2 of 3)

Question:  Do you think it best to have people in similar situations (kids, work, age, etc.)?

Answer: I have observed a couple of things.  For men at the top tier of the business and professional world (CEOs, entrepreneurs, etc.) they generally want to be shielded from people whom they feel could benefit off of having contact with them.  But for most of us, it seems to work fine for people of varying backgrounds to mix it up. I would avoid including obnoxious, un-teachable, or domineering types in the group.  With people truly hungry to learn, the diversity can be a plus.

Question:  Do you recommend starting with family discipling or man-to-man discipling?

Answer:  When we have had couples in Bible study, I would meet personally with some of the key men and Ruth with some of the wives.  We have found that if the women are not brought along with their men in the maturation process, you will produce a male laborer with a wife who is not with him relative to discipling. So there is great advantage in having couples growing together.  The down side is that women in mixed groups tend to talk more than do the men. The men often react by pulling back. In a mixed group men tend not to share at a deep, vulnerable level.  Mens groups will get down and dirty about real issues, if you, the leader set the pace on being personally vulnerable. (Jms. 5:16)

Question:  Regarding material to use for the study, do you suggest (at least for the majority of the times), avoiding books and staying in the Scripture?  Or do you think a book every now and again is good to go through?

Answer:  Personally I have never been that high on studying books.  The important thing is that we get people studying the Scriptures.  Generally I start people off on question and answer Bible studies, and then matriculate into inductive level Bible studies.  Inductive Bible study is an approach that analyzes a book of the Bible in its entirety, utilizing certain principles of study.  Very deep and powerful.

Question:  How long do you think such a discipling relationship should go?

Answer:  I have found that you dont get much done in a year or two.  It is easily a 3 or 4 year process to get people solidly equipped and established in their walk with God. I choose not to put a time limit on the process.  Most people have so many marriage and personal issues, bad habits, bondages, etc., that it takes  an unrushed period of time for them to build healthy patterns into their lives.  I have found that the training is so transforming that in time most will be compelled to help others as they have been helped. This unpressurized approach is way more effective than legislating that they reproduce after a certain period of time.

This week, may you experience His grace, peace, and protection.

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

PRACTICAL QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON LEADING A DISCIPLESHIP GROUP (Part 1 of 3)

Recently I received a letter from a friend whom I have been discipling over the phone, and whom I have been encouraging to get engaged in discipling others.  The other day I received an email with a series of questions he wanted answered regarding discipleship. Following are my attempts at responding to his questions: 

Question:  How do you decide (outside of prayer) which people are ready for discipleship?

Answer:  I look for patterns of faithfulness, and I bait them.  That is, I give them something to do, like have a quiet time (personal devotions), or I ask them to do a study on a subject such as The Grace of God, or I ask them to memorize a Scripture verse or passage. I carefully observe how they respond. The hungry, faithful ones come through. The others tend to eliminate themselves. The faithful, responsive ones are the kind I select for a discipling group. (Pro. 20:6; 25:19; 2 Tim. 2:2)

Question:  What do you look for in them?

Answer:  Hunger, a teachable spirit, faithfulness, a desire to live a spiritually significant life; a desire to count for God.  (Ps. 40:8; 42:1,2;112:1; Pro. 23:26)

Question:  What would you recommend on how to the approach someone whom you believe may be interested in joining a discipleship group?

Answer:  I will tell them that life is tough, families are disintegrating, and the Country is in serious decline. Ruth and I can help them on how in a practical way to live victorious, God-honoring lives in todays chaotic world. We can help them build a biblical foundation for their lives that will withstand the ravages of time (Matt. 7:24 27); that we are interested in helping them develop spiritually to their fullest potential for God (Eph. 4:11-16). By that we mean we can help them know God intimately, and that involves spiritual disciplines like mastery of the Scripture through in depth Bible study, a solid, regular time with God, and other disciplines (I Cor. 9:24-27; 1 Tim. 4:7; 2 Tim. 2:15). Not only do we want to help them know God, but we want to equip them in the word of God so that they can be effective instruments He can use in the lives of others.  (2 Tim. 3:16, 17)

This week, may you experience His grace, peace, and protection.

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

ARE YOU A WARRIOR OR WHIMP?

Today, we are living in a wilderness of humanistic ideas and ideologies. By that I mean that you have become the designer and authority of whatever you choose to believe. Sadly, many professed followers of Christ are caught up in this confusing mishmash of relativistic ideas and authorities. Let me ask you a question:  Do you want to be able to effectively rescue people out of these demonically controlled ideological strongholds into the freedom of Jesus Christ?  If so, read on!

St. Paul stated, We are human, but we dont wage war as humans do.  We use Gods mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments.  We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ (2 Cor. 10:3-5 NLT).

God uses spiritual weapons to engage us in this war of destroying spiritual strongholds. To win the war against Satans iron grip, it wont be done in the conventional manner in which wars are fought. These strongholds are referring to all humanistic, godless belief systems. Lots of folks buy into these false ideas and are taken captive spiritually, unless they hear and respond to the truth.  By destroying these obstacles, we are delivering people from their captivity to false religions, opinions, etc., into the freedom and dominion of Christ. Today we are in a pitched battle for the minds of people who are held captive to deceitful, demonic belief systems that are exalted in opposition to Scriptural truth. (See I Cor. 3:20)  

There is only one weapon that can expose and correct these false belief systems, and that is the truth: The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Eph. 6:17).  Spiritual warfare is an ideological conflict fought in the mind by assaulting the proud fortresses of ideas that sinners erect against the truth. 1 By using the truth of Gods word, we knock down enemy fortresses, release the prisoners from Satans domain, and bring them into obedient subjection to the Lordship of Christ. (See Eph. 6:10-18)

QUESTION: The key to successful warfare is proficiency in wielding the word of God against the lies of the Enemy who masquerades as truth.  Just how badly do you desire to be Gods instrument of liberation to the lost? Are you willing to pay the price in terms of sustained, disciplined, and informed study of the Scriptures in order to be equipped as His instrument?  Because that is exactly what it will take.  It is here that the men are separated from the boys; the warriors from the whimps. Which do you choose to be?

This week, may you experience His grace, peace, and protection.

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

SIX APPROACHES TO EVANGELISM (Part 3 of 3)

In the last two Facts we have discussed Confrontational, Intellectual, Testimonial, and Relational approaches to evangelism.

#5 Invitational: In the account of Jesus engaging the Samaritan woman at the well, there are two powerful illustrations of inviting others to Jesus:

(1) Jesus leaves Judea for Galilee, arriving in Sychar of Samaria.  He asks a Samaritan woman at the well for water.  As the conversation develops, Jesus says to the woman, If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water," to which the woman replies, "Sir, give me this water so that I won't get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water" (Jn. 4:10, 15b).

 (2) After further conversation, the woman runs into the city proclaiming, "Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ? Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, He told me everything I ever did.They said to the woman, We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world" (Jn. 4:29, 39, 42). (See Jn. 1:40-42)

#6 Serving  Evangelism: Jesus powerfully stated, Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven (Matt. 5:16b). Paul reminds us, We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Eph. 2:10). (See Col. 1:10; I Tim. 5:9, 10; Tit. 2:14; 3:8) Dorcas serves as a beautiful example of one who lived out Jesus and Pauls injunctions. (See Act. 9:36-42)

Doubtless there are other creative ways to share the Gospel and win the lost.  After all, St. Paul stated, I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some (I Cor.9:22b).

CHALLENGE: Lets keep in mind Jesus statement, "Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven (Matt. 10:32, 33).  And Pauls,  Work at telling others the good news (2 Tim. 4:5- NLT). Have you determined in your heart that you will faithfully obey those solemn injunctions to share the Good News?

This week, may you experience His grace, peace, and protection.

R. Dwight Hill