Authentic, transformational, lifestyle discipleship is hard to stomach. In fact, many churches I speak in are overcome by the biblical expectations of a disciple of Jesus Christ and under-motivated to create a truly transformational disciple-making ministry. Not so at West Jackson Baptist Church in Jackson, Tennessee.
I had the awesome opportunity to speak there this weekend and I experienced what every Gospel-centered communicator longs for, the forward lean. The forward lean is what happens to the congregation when a pastor is speaking a truth and the audience is embracing it. The listeners lean in toward the communicator slightly.
This weekend Pastor Andy Neely and Education Minister Lonnie Sanders invited me to do a seminar during morning worship. That’s right, during morning worship. In fact, they are so passionate about becoming a disciple making church that they asked their congregation to be at church from 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. – and most of them stayed the entire time.
I unearthed the biblical expectations of a growing disciple of Jesus Christ. First, the list that unveiled the cost of being a biblical disciple, 1) You must love one another as Jesus loves you. 2) You must be willing to not just learn the Word of God but also live its expectations. 3) You must deny yourself and live for Jesus even if you are perceived to be a radical Christian. 4) You must make your primary relational allegiance your allegiance to Jesus even if it costs you some relationships that are dear to you. 5) You must be willing to die for Jesus.
I then went on to tell them what LifeWay Research had learned, the 8 practices of a growing disciple.
- Bible Engagement
- Obeying God and Denying Self
- Serving God and Others
- Sharing Christ
- Exercising Faith
- Seeking God
- Building Relationships
- Unashamed (Transparency)
In many churches, I would’ve lost them after the first point, “You must love another as Jesus loves you.” Not at West Jackson Baptist. Throughout the seminar, people were leaning forward.
Halfway through the talk, I asked those in attendance how many of them would commit to the expectations of a growing disciple. Hands went up throughout the auditorium. I would imagine 60% committed to these outrageous expectations.
If these people follow through, there will not only be a renewal of spirit in the church, they’ll see the Holy Spirit transforming people more and more into Christlikeness which will ultimately lead to a thriving, biblical church.
Thanks to all at West Jackson Baptist Church that committed to being a true disciple of Jesus Christ. You will never be the same and you will, through the power of the Holy Spirit, transform Jackson, Tennessee.