Move in the Direction of Jesus

What if we could significantly increase our effectiveness at making disciples by making a few small shifts in our behavior? Over the next five months, I’d like to take the opportunity to unpack one at a time the five “micro shifts” that Daniel Im lifts up in his book No Silver Bullets: Five Small Shifts That Will Transform Your Ministry. I believe that we have much to learn from this book as we seek greater effectiveness as we make disciples not only among our members, but most importantly with those who’ve yet to believe in our communities.
The first shift is to move from focusing our spiritual maturation from destination to direction. Often times we think of spiritual maturity as a destination to be arrived at. We ask “What does a spiritually mature person look like?” Once we can check all the boxes then that means we are spiritually mature. Some large churches even organize their adult education courses around this idea of growing in faith to higher level classes. Others will measure spiritual maturity by counting how many progress from being worship attenders to small group participants to serving ministers to leaders. All of this points to thinking about discipleship as a destination.
Daniel Im in his book suggests that a directional approach would be a more faithful and fruitful discipleship posture. He goes on to explain that discipleship is a journey of following Jesus and the key question we need to ask is: Are we moving in the direction of Jesus… or are we moving away from him? The one who may be proximate to Jesus but stagnate in their faith life is not growing as a disciple. The greater value is the one who is growing toward Jesus, no matter how far away he or she may be at any given moment.
Defining discipleship directionally is by no means new or unique to the author of this book. Many others have done so before (perhaps most famous is Eugene Peterson defining discipleship as “a long obedience in the same direction”). Daniel Im rather is pointing out how easy it is for us to fall into destination patterns that are culturally normative and suggests that we need to be intentional in moving to a directional discipleship.
So what is your church doing to help encourage lifelong journeys of spiritual growth in the direction of Jesus? What can you do to help fight against spiritual stagnation in your church? And how can you use this directional posture to help reach new people with an invitation to take their first step towards Jesus? Just imagine what God could do in and through your church if this posture of directional discipleship became normative!
Pastor Bryce Formwalt is the Director of Mission Growth for the LCMC Texas District. Residing in Georgetown, Pastor Bryce is available to coach congregations on mission. Feel free to contact him with any questions or comments: 512-942-7776 or
© 2018 Bryce J. Formwalt, All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.
August 2018

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