A DISCIPLES PATH
Genesis 37:5-12 (The Message)
Joseph had a dream. When he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more. He said, “Listen to this dream I had. We were all out in the field gathering bundles of wheat. All of a sudden my bundle stood straight up and your bundles circled around it and bowed down to mine.”
His brothers said, “So! You’re going to rule us? You’re going to boss us around?” And they hated him more than ever because of his dreams and the way he talked.
He had another dream and told this one also to his brothers: “I dreamed another dream—the sun and moon and eleven stars bowed down to me!”
When he told it to his father and brothers, his father reprimanded him: “What’s with all this dreaming? Am I and your mother and your brothers all supposed to bow down to you?” Now his brothers were really jealous; but his father brooded over the whole business.
As many of you know --- three years ago ---- I got tired of always watching Nancy run marathon after marathon.
And on my 50th birthday I announced to all of you in worship that I was setting a goal of completing a marathon before my 51st birthday.
I didn't make it --- I actually completed my first marathon 2 weeks after my 51st birthday.
Since my 50th birthday I have completed 2 marathons and 5 half marathons with a sixth in two weeks.
As many of you know --- Last year when I ran the Chicago marathon Nancy and I finished hand in hand together --- it is a highlight of my life!
This past May, Nancy and I ran the Indy Mini together and the day of the race just happened to be our 27th anniversary
We had been training together and I had it in my head how awesome it would be for us to finish together.
We started out pretty good, but at about mile three I had to stop and smell some flowers and I never saw Nancy again.
She finished with her fastest ever half marathon 1:53 minutes
I struggled across the finish line some 18 minutes behind her
Again we trained together every day for our next race
And as we would train Nancy would say to me
"We are running the same pace, we should run together"
We were up in Wine Country Michigan at the end of August and Nancy said to me before the race began --- "If I am running too fast let me know"
We started out at a pretty good pace, but at around the second mile I said to her we were running too fast --- she kind of looked at me and kept on going.
I finished in just under 2:05 minutes --- but a good 6 minutes behind Nancy
As much as I wanted to keep up with her --- I couldn't and she was not willing to slow down and run with me
I think I have done the same to you
I have been running faster than you can keep up
Some of you pointed that out to me this week
And the surprising news ---- I actually listened
So I want to slow down this morning
Try to regroup
Explain why I am preaching this series
One that I believe may be one of the most important that I have shared with you
Almost three years ago we were invited as a church to participate in the Fruitful Congregations Journey.
12 Lay People committed to be a part of a process in which they would meet once a month with a coach and then meet a second time each month with the pastors.
Over the two years we met we read a number of books and prepared to bring in a group of consultants who would evaluate what we were doing and the things that we might improve on.
Last spring we had the consultants come and give us their recommendations.
The recommended 5 areas that we work on.
They suggested that we improve our website
That the Trustees create a task force to look at signage issues
That we develop better lines of communication among the staff and the congregation
We are well on our way to achieving this goal
New website is in development and should be up soon
As far as I know the Trustees have not acted on this recommendation yet
We are trying to do a better job communicating.
Staff Meeting weekly
I meet with most of the staff individually each week
2. CLEAR, SHARED MISSION AND VISION
Do you know what the mission of Ridge Church is?
to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world
Do you know what our vision is?
Offer hope, unconditional love and meaning for life
I try to make sure I life those up in every worship service and we seek to make sure every ministry we engage in is in line with those values
You have been hearing about our Grow One Step stewardship campaign and in the spring of next year we will be conducting a capital campaign to fix the roof and pay off our debt.
The one area that they challenged us in as regards stewardship is they felt we had too many fund raisers. That has not changed.
4. CREATE AN INTENTIONAL PLAN TO DEVELOP, TRAIN, AND DEPLOY STAFF & LEADERS
This is the one area that we have not at all tackled. The Fruitful Team will be taking this up at their meeting next month.
5. DEVELOP AN INTENTIONAL DISCIPLESHIP PATH
The goal is to develop a clear and articulated path to help people who come to RUMC grow into a committed follower of Jesus. This process with be one that persons of all ages and levels of spiritual maturity will have the opportunity to connect, move and grow along this path into a deeper relationship with Jesus.
This path, will seek to help persons grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ by sharing hope, loving unconditionally and helping one another recognize that we all have gifts to share on our journey. We will encourage persons to:
· Develop a transformational relationship with Jesus
· Participate in passionate worship and relevant Bible study
· Connect with the community for support, prayer and accountability
· Sent out to serve others in the community or world
This is what this sermon series has been about.
I am convinced that if we take the five promises we make when we join the church, we will be well on our way to helping all of us grow as disciples.
This is not saying that we are not good disciples already --- the point is we can become better disciples and more intentional in helping others to grow in a love relationship with Jesus.
So for the past three weeks we have looked at the first three promised that we made when we joined the church.
We promised to support the church with our prayers
We promised to support the church with our presence
We promised to support the church with our gifts
But the ultimate question is what is the outcome that we are looking for?
Well clearly, the hope is that you will get intentional in your relationship with Jesus.
That means that we have to become more intentional in our prayer life
Become more intentional in our participation in our spiritual growth
attend church regularly
participate in some type of small group
Grow in your generosity.
But more than that, that we will become more aware of those around us who are new on the Discipleship Path and that we will intentionally help them find their way