Some years ago I had cataract surgery. The effect on my eyesight was astounding. I had forgotten the wonder of clear sight. Once the eye patch was removed from my eyes, I could hardly believe the brilliance of the sky or the colours all around in creation. It reminded me of a spiritual principle. Sometimes our dreams or our sense of purpose in God needs to be renewed. Our personal or church vision can become cloudy and unclear and we may not even realise how much clarity we have lost. The purpose of these three Life Group discussions is give more clarity to our Church’s vision and help us see how we can all be involved. Some of the discussions can also be applied to our personal and vocational dreams and goals. Choose the discussions that will most help you as a Life Group.Discussion One: CityLife Church’s “No Limits” Vision
We see a church who sets “no limits” on what God can do through us. For the four years 2018 to 2021, CityLife Church is seeking to live out this “No Limits” vision. It is a bold vision and a challenging one. We all feel limited. But our confident hope over this time is that God will take away the limits we sometimes impose upon our thinking and give us greater faith, courage and capacity to take some significant steps forward in God.Seasonal Rhythms
To break through to a no-limits future as a church, we have identified four focus areas that will help us live our No Limits vision. They are:
Encountering God’s presence, grace and power
Developing disciples who make disciples
Influencing Communities, Cities and Nations
Creating an environment of faith and a culture of possibilities
The focus areas describe a seasonal rhythm in church life during the year. At different times of the year, we emphasise either encountering Christ, developing disciples, or influencing our world. At all times, we want to be creative in the way we express these seasonal emphases. Month by month we encourage life groups to align their discussions and activities around the current focus areas in different messages series. Then together we can discover creative ways to grow and develop in that area of Christian life.Yearly Emphasis
Year by year there is also a particular focus we want to build and make stronger within the life of the church. In 2018 the progressive focus began with Encountering God, this year it has moved to Developing Disciples, and next year it will be Influencing our World. Then in 2021 we will have a create focus where we bring together all the elements of encounter, develop and influence. Our aim is to multiply disciples, life groups and congregations in new locations. Perhaps the most creative thing in the world is creating new life and multiplying.Starting a Next Steps Conversation
The diagram below captures some practical steps we are taking to build and strengthen each vision focus area year by year. As you examine this table, discuss what next steps you and your Life Group can take to align with our “No Limits” vision in different focus areas. In particular, for this discussion study, focus on the area of encounter as it is foundational to our Christian walk. (The second life group study in the series focuses on the area of develop.) Some questions that could help guide your discussion on Encountering Christ are:
• What are your personal and group rhythms of rest?
• What are your personal and group rhythms of prayer?
• What are your personal and group rhythms of the word?
• How can you strengthen these rhythms?
• How can you help each other develop more healthy rhythms of Christian Life?2018+ Encounter:
Encountering God’s presence, grace and power Next Step Initiatives:
- Decisions for Christ
- Water Baptisms
- Rhythms of Grace
- Bible Reading
Developing Disciples who make Disciples Next Step Initiatives:
- Joining a Life Group
- Joining a Serving Team
- Completing LifeTracks
- Becoming a Leader
- Multiplying Disciples
- Multiply Life Groups
Influencing communities, cities and nations Next Step Initiatives:
- Missional Rhythms
- I.F. (Invite a Friend)
- Bridge Groups
- Community Impact
- Global Missions
Creating an environment of faith and a culture of possibilitiesNext Step Initiatives:
Discussion Two: Developing Disciples who Make Disciples
- Creative Ministry Expressions in all areas
- New Congregation in New Locations
Our vision focus for 2019 is on developing disciples who make disciples. Disciple-making involves a powerful dynamic of spiritual multiplication. It is the same dynamic of organic reproduction that is embedded in biological systems and which ensures the growth and survival of plants and animal communities. Spiritual reproduction requires focus, intentionality and patience. It requires developing a multiplication mindset and a culture of disciple-making in church life and ministry.Jesus’ Pattern of Disciple-Making
Jesus took three years to transform the disciple’s hearts and minds towards a focus on raising others rather simply focusing on their own needs and ministry callings. While walking past two fishermen going about their daily lives, Jesus calls out “Follow me and I will make you fishers of people” (Mt 4:19). Those two disciples along with ten others make a radical decision to leave their familiar lives and instead follow Jesus on a journey that transforms them from fishers of people to disciple-makers. After that initial call, Jesus never again mentions the call to be fishers of people. That was simply a connection point, based on something with which they were familiar. It motivated them to take their next step towards their ultimate purpose.
As the disciples walk with Jesus for three years, he moulds who they are becoming with various life experiences and ministry involvements. As they hear his words and start following his ways, Jesus models to them a life of disciple-making. Then a point comes where they experience a deep crisis of faith as Jesus goes to the cross. Often times of crisis in our Christian journey are deeply formative. After the cross, the disciples’ lives are radically transformed when they encounter their risen Lord. Jesus restores them and renews their vision; but is also a new vision. Where once they were called as fishers of people, he now calls them to make disciples (Matthew 28:19). Dead fish do not multiply, but disciples do. Over a three year journey, Jesus has transformed his disciples’ hearts and thinking. He has birthed in them a vision for multiplying disciples. He challenges them to take on a multiplication mindset that gives strategic impetus to a vision that will literally impact nations.The greatest contribution you can make to the Kingdom of God may not be something you do but someone you develop.Our Develop Focus for 2019
In 2019 we are focusing on developing disciples who make disciples. We see a church where disciples of Jesus Christ are developed, activated and multiplied. Biblically speaking a disciple is “a learner.” Here are three key discipleship questions with suggested answers which you can discuss as a group after reading the notes and scripture passages above.
• What is a disciple?
A disciple is someone who is continuously learning to follow Jesus and his pattern of life whole heartedly
• What does a disciple do?
A disciple loves God, loves people and loves their neighbour in a community of grace that shares moments, meals and lives with others.
• What does a disciple produce?
A disciple makes disciplesA Next Step Conversation on Discipleship
Perhaps the most powerful discipleship question to ask each other is “Who are you discipling?” So as a group also spend some time discussing these questions:
• Who are we discipling in our work-places, our homes and our church?
• How can we be more effective disciple-makers?
• How you can support each other in our journeys of discipleship and disciple-making?Discussion Three: Fruitfulness and Multiplication
In Genesis 1:28 God gives humanity a “No Limits” vision for the future and a strategy for achieving that vision. He says to Adam “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” That vision is renewed after the flood when God repeats the command to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. Filling the earth is an unlimited vision of the future. The vision is possible through a strategy of fruitfulness and repeated multiplication. Fruitfulness implies the singularity of individual growth. Multiplication implies the plurality of increased numbers through reproduction. In a very short phrase, God summarises a powerful dynamic within biological systems that has profound spiritual applications.An Agricultural Example
An agricultural example can help illustrate the limit breaking dynamics of fruitfulness and multiplication in biological systems. In some parts of New Zealand, the soils once did not have high enough pasture growth to support intensive sheep grazing despite adequate rainfall and sunshine. Through creative experimentation, it was discovered that a small but essential micro-nutrient called cobalt was missing in these soils. Once a top dressing of cobalt was added to the soil each year, the limit on grass production was removed, and far more sheep could be grazed in the pasture.Increasing Our Fruitfulness
Similarly there are times in our life when we may feel limited by fear, infirmity, guilt, loss of confidence or insecurity. As we prayerfully identify these limiting factors with the counsel of others, we can develop strategies to overcome our limits and achieve the fruitfulness that God intended. That won’t remove every limit, we all have absolute limits that we need to recognize and live within. But some of our limitations are not from God and we need to renew our mind so we can step into a future with fewer limitations.The Power of Multiplication
There is another strategy for overcoming limits in crop production. A farmer can simply buy or lease another field. Each new field, small or large, increases overall crop production and takes away the limits to growth for an overall integrated farming system. Similarly as Christians, we can overcome our own individual limitations by working together to multiply disciples. As we multiply disciples, and multiply life groups, and even congregations in new locations, we take away the limits. Multiplication is something you can do again and again. There is no limit to multiplication. Every seed has the potential to bear fruit and multiply far beyond the border where it is planted. Spiritually there is no limit to the power of a seed if it can be reproduced many times in multiple hearts and lives.God is a creative God, we are made in his image, and the most creative task God has given us is to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:27-28).A Next Step Conversation on Multiplication
Here are some questions for discussion on these limit breaking principles for increasing fruitfulness and multiplication.
• What are some of the limitations we place on our hearts and minds that prevent us from being fruitful in God?
• What ways have you discovered for overcoming these limits? Share stories and testimonies.
• How can we apply the principle of multiplication to our personal lives?
• How can your Life Group develop a multiplication mindset?
• How can you reproduce the values and vision of Christian living in others?