Thursday, November 01, 2007

Gospel Growth Conference: Day III, Session I

Session I: Tony Payne "Gospel Growth Day By Day"
[11/1/07 9:00am]

Tony started by saying that to focus on growth or, “making my church bigger,” is the wrong focus. It’s a false goal that drives us motivates us and gives us a wrong expectation. He said that we are to prayerfully proclaim the truth to eachother and to other people in the three ways discussed yesterday:
(1) Proclamation
(2) Pray
(3) People

These are the three foundational things that biblically we are to do to grow the church. What then is the fruit that comes from these foundations?

Some people respond and are converted. This is what happened in Colossians, and what is happening today. What does the personal incremental day by day growth look like in a Christian life? Are they growing and bearing fruit, or are they faltering? Are people really growing, becoming more like Jesus. Are they growing in maturity?

Colossians 1:9-14

I. What is it that Paul is praying for?
First, in verse 9 he is praying that they would be filled with spiritual wisdom and understanding. The key word here is "understanding". This is the same word that is used earlier in verse 6. To, "understand the word of truth". He prayed that they would be filled with wisdom and understanding, and for God's the grace of God in truth will fill them.

Then he went to Paul’s prayer in Ephesians which is similar (Eph 1:15). The idea is the same here…Paul is not praying for people to read their Bibles more everyday. He’s praying that they would come to a more deep understanding of God’s Word. For us to get it to understand and be filled with the gospel.

It is the work of God’s Spirit that we would walk in a manner worthy of the Lord. He talked about how the more people know others the more they want to please them. He talked about how he loved the television show Westwing he watched all seven seasons! He reiterated then that the more we understand an know God then we can really grasp what His plans are, then the more that we want to walk in a manner that would please him.

II. What does this gospel growth look like? He gave three participles that exegete what it is to walk in a manner that is worthy of the Lord.
(1) Col 1:10 "bearing fruit and growing in the knowledge of God" (same words as verse 6) good works that spring from knowledge of God.
(2) "In all power they would be empowered to walk in endurance and patience" Col 1:11…in all power endure, be patient, and don’t give up. For people like us endurance and not giving up is a bright marker of gospel growth. That they are patient, they endure, they don’t give up, they don’t wander off, they are still here in 10 years time.
(3) They wait patiently for the inheritance with joyful thanksgiving Col. 1:12…"not grumbling, and they have a heart of thankfulness."

III. Is this gospel growth happening in your own life?
If it isn’t and you don’t see your life marked by good works…etc. then you have to speak the Word of God into your own heart that we might grow in godliness first. Patience, endurance, good works, and thankfulness.

VII. What does gospel growth look like in your congregation?
In hard spots have thankfulness and joy. Gospel growth looks like this. It looks like increasing fruit born in our lives. In Galatians there is also the fruit of the spirit. The knowledge of the truth in accord with godliness, it says at the beginning of Titus.

IX. There are 3 Final implications of biblical gospel growth
(1) Growth comes by sticking with Christ. Not a new program, not a new Jesus, etc. Col 2 is a good representation of this. Don’t be seduced by the latest ministry philosophy.

(2) Biblical gospel growth is long term and it is slow. It’s a process and takes place over time. It’s a long slow marathon…a process of growth. How can you spur someone to progress to become more mature in the future? Thinking about each person in your congregation and thinking about how you can help “this person grow over time to be more like Jesus.” Gospel growth is more than two Bible studies and patting the disciplee on the head giving them tracts to hand out...this is not “follow-up”. Outreach, Follow-Up, Growth, and Training are the different categories of materials they produce. These processes are what drives gospel growth. Equip and train your people to speak the truth to one-another. To admonish one another (Colossians 3). How many people are equipped and trained to help train other people in your congregation? Who is being trained to speak Word of God in a Bible study?

(3) It is a work of God. Without prayer and dependence on the work of God’s Spirit it’s like a hot dog without mustard if we aren’t dependent on the Spirit. We actually must pray for the work of the gospel as we preach it.

X. Matthias Media's resources are not a trick, or a new technique.
They are simple resources to help with this sort of ministry. It is longterm slow work and they are designed to help in this work.

XI. Identify train and support people who have potential in being a leader in ministry.
The phrase that they like to use about potential disciplees is “blokes worth watching”. These are the kind of folks that will one day become fulltime ministers. They will train more that will train others. Gospel growth happens when there are more people that are out there preaching the gospel to others. This is the idea behind what they call the Ministry Training Strategy center. This is a two year apprenticeship to test gifts then then go off to seminary training “it’s about passing the baton to the next generation.”

Give yourselves to gospel growth, and pray for it as Paul does in Colossians.

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