This is a guest blog from my friend Ben Sternke – His blog is my favorite on the the entire world wide web!
One of the most important lessons we’ve learned through being involved with 3DM is that imitation is a vital component of discipleship. It’s not enough to give people the right information and then send them straight out from there to try to implement it. There is a necessary experience of imitation in an apprenticeship environment that must take place.
When I first heard this, I instantly realized I was really good at giving people the information, but I was not very consistent in providing people with an example to imitate. I realized that people couldn’t imitate my intentions, they can only imitate my actions, which meant I had to lead by example or I was never going to make a disciple.
So we’ve slowly been developing new rhythms in our life that we can invite others into, so they can “imitate us as we imitate Christ.” My friend Jason Smith asked me awhile ago about what these rhythms looked like, and I promised him a blog post on it! Here we go.
The rule of life we follow shapes our lives and our community around three relational priorities:
- UP – with God, expressed in passionate spirituality.
- IN – with the church, expressed in radical community.
- OUT – with others, expressed in missional zeal.
I’ve organized the specific rhythms under these three categories. These rhythms are flexible, and obviously some have changed temporarily to aid the process of grafting together with another church in our city, but this gives you a general picture of what we’ve been doing for the past year or so in our Missional Community.
Passionate Spirituality (UP)
- Family prayer, morning and evening. Not too many people join us for this one, of course, but simply having a time of prayer with our family twice a day provides tons of fresh stories to tell others about how Deb and I are seeking to disciple our children. And sometimes people do get to join us, which is always lots of fun. Sometimes it goes well, other times it’s a struggle, but the fruit comes from the consistency of the discipline over time.
- Community worship and prayer, Sundays. Every Sunday we gather with our Missional Community for a time of worship, Scripture and prayer together. Sometimes we gather in a worship celebration with other MCs in our network, other times we gather as a MC in a home or around a fire, but once a week we are intentionally engaging in communal worship, Scripture reading, and prayer for one another.
- Prayer furnace, once a month. Once a month we gather on a Friday evening to spend an extended time in worship and prayer together, allowing our faith to rise from the needs within our MC to the needs of our city. We pray kingdom-oriented prayer for our city and region, inviting anyone in who wants to join us. Sometimes we have 5 people, other times 50, but again it’s about the consistency of the discipline over time.
Radical Community (IN)
- Eating with others, at least once a week. We try to have someone over to eat with us at least once a week. Some weeks we eat with others a lot more, but we try to make sure it happens at least once a week.
- Intentional proximity. This is more of a long-term thing, but it is something we take seriously. One of the families from our community recently moved into our neighborhood, and we’ve found an exponential increase in our ability to really be in community with them, simply because of their geographical proximity. It’s worth prioritizing when thinking of where to live.
- Economic sharing when possible. We had some friends move in down the street from us, and we’ve been trying to be intentional about sharing resources together. For example, we share a lawn mower. We are looking forward to more of this kind of sharing in the future.
- Parties, once a month or so. We try to make sure there is some kind of “fun” happening once a month that we can invite others into. Sometimes it’s a bonfire, sometimes it’s movie night, sometimes it’s guys’ night out, sometimes it’s girls’ night out, etc. Informal time for people to connect.
Missional Zeal (OUT)
- Intentional mission, once a month. Our MC plans at least one explicitly mission-oriented activity per month. Sometimes it’s a prayer walk, other times it’s a game night at a homeless shelter for women and children, other times it’s kickball in the park to invite neighbors to… the important thing is keeping a foot on the “mission gas pedal” because our overwhelming tendency is to turn inward.
- OUT focus at MC gatherings. We try to constantly bring our focus back to an outward posture in our MC gatherings, whether it’s by training people practically in evangelism or recognizing “people of peace,” or by going for a quick prayer walk around the neighborhood, or by simply having a brief time of explicitly outward-focused prayer, or by having people share stories of breakthrough in evangelism or loving their neighbors.
Those are the basic rhythms it seems we’ve attempted to create. I’d love to hear from you, though:
What are the rhythms that you have sought to implement in your disciple making?
Ben + Deb Sternke live in Fort Wayne, Indiana with their kids Ethan, Raina, Ella, and Sydney. The Sternkes direct spiritual formation and discipleship efforts at a church called Grace Gathering, which is beginning to function as a network of mid-sized missional communities in the Fort Wayne area. They also coach church leaders from all over the U.S. through 3DM, and have a background in church planting and worship ministry.