Allistair Begg writes: “In January of 1981, he invited me to speak at the Londonderry Young People’s Convention. Just what a man in his late seventies was doing as the chairman of such a gathering, you might well ask. The answer had to do with a particular ministry of his. He was the founder and leader of a boys’ Bible class called Crusaders, a weekly duty he fulfilled for fifty years. His mission statement was clear. He wanted every boy that came to class to have: A Bible in his hand, A Savior in his heart, and A Purpose in his life. Many boys had come to faith in Christ through the years as a result of his ministry, and not on account of T.S.’s athletic ability or dress sense or knowledge of contemporary music. He was devoid of all of that.
When I stayed as his guest for the week during which I spoke, I was introduced to what he referred to as his ‘rogues’ gallery.’ His sitting room had large windows, extremely high ceilings, and a central fireplace he kept stocked with coal. The furniture was plain and comfortable, and a large table over by the window was stacked with books and correspondence. And everywhere, pictures of his ‘rogues.’ Some were by this time successful surgeons. It had been one of “his boys” who had performed open-heart surgery on T.S. some years before. Others were schoolteachers, others in banking and commerce, a significant number in pastoral ministry, and all of them regularly in his prayers. Prior to my visit and certainly afterward, he had written to me and never failed to remind me that he remembered me ‘regularly at the best place.’
T.S. lived alone and had a housekeeper who came in regularly to take care of his domestic affairs. When she arrived on this particular morning, she was not met by the normal cheery smile and bright eyes. She found T.S. sprawled across his bed. He was fully dressed and had obviously begun his day as usual, because when others were called to help and they moved his body, they discovered that he had fallen on top of his prayer list. He had gone to heaven praying for his “rogues.” He could never have died that way had he not lived in such discipline. It is a matter of great concern to me that the varied opportunities of my life can be an excuse for neglecting the kind of routine that is clearly necessary for the maintenance of a meaningful walk with God.”
Begg, Alistair, Made For His Pleasure: Ten Benchmarks of a Vital Faith (Kindle Locations 583-603). (Chicago,IL: Moody Publishers, 2005). Kindle Edition.
Here are four simple ways to start pursuing community:
- Meet at least one person once a month for coffee or lunch.
- Set up a monthly phone call with a friend or colleague.
- Send a message to a small facebook group of trusted friends and colleagues just checking in and sharing what you’re working on or struggling with. Create a private Facebook group to discuss prayer and spiritual growth.
- Ask a friend to disciple at church or offer to pray for a friend in need.
2 Timothy 2:1-2 “And the things you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
I made a deep commitment early in my Christian life to invest my life into faithful men, who would do the same. I challenged men to seek four generations of men to be raised up from at least one man they had invested their life in. God has raised up a number of faithful men over the last three decades, who are active in this ministry.
Life on life missional discipleship is the most strategic and fulfilling ministry that I have ever been a part of. Meeting “grandchildren” in the Lord through a few “sons” can be very rewarding, especially when high standards for evangelism, prayer, scripture memory, and true fellowship are practiced.
A Vision for Multiplication of faithful men and women, however, is never enough. Even a consistent practice of it, where the Gospel and identity-in-Christ are assumed, is always one generation from loosing the strength needed to sustain a multiplication movement of four generations or so.
Why? The dangers of legalism hang around this kind of movement. People can easily fall into seeking a righteousness of their own, while denying the righteousness of Christ by which alone a Christian is accepted by God. Without a constant reminder of the grace of Jesus, people attempt to fulfill a vision of spiritual multiplication in their own strength.
What are some signs of legalism in a life on life missional discipleship movement?
Five Warning Signs:
- When the activity of discipleship is greater than the reasons for it.
- When discipleship tools are more important than the Gospel.
- When numbers and spiritual disciplines are valued more than Christian maturity and godly character.
- When a good practice is made into a biblical mandate.
- When high standards of Christian practice have no underlying grace to motivate.
All the beauty of the strategic vision in verse two is dependent upon verse one – “Be strengthened by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 2:1).” Without being strengthened by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the life on life process of discipleship quickly looses its luster and ability to continue. Gutting out the fulfillment of the multiplication vision in verse two will only breed self-righteousness, unless there is daily strengthening of God’s grace in verse one. In fact, the whole point of spiritual disciplines is to be strengthened by God’s grace.