Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Discipleship and Gillette

One more time for things you find at Walmart.

Gillette is the world’s undisputed leader in men’s shaving and there is a good reason why – focus. When you mention the name Gillette there is no mistaking what you are talking about, from the people who work at the company to its suppliers, distributors and customers Gillette means one thing - shaving.

This clarity has allowed the company to develop the best products for shaving for over 100 years. Focusing on the reason for its existence has allowed Gillette to develop, evolve and in some ways “perfect” its product.

And it is this same focus that has made Gillette the most trusted name in safety razors.
What people don’t realize is that it has taken over a hundred years to perfect the kind of metal Gillette’s blades are made of. Not to mention the product’s ever evolving design, plastic casing, packaging, the lubricant strip on its tip and it’s manufacturing processes.

Here is where discipleship and Gillette interface:

1. Like Gillette, churches need to know what their real business is and focus on it. By doing so every member of the church knows what their job is - make disciples.

2. Like Gillette we need to evolve our discipleship practices, materials and strategies. Some churches are still doing what was being done 100 years ago. No wonder they don't work and nobody is impressed.

Discipleship is the reason why churches exist – we need to master the craft of making disciples. Like Gillette what it will take is to focus and move with the times by "perfecting" our methods and materials without deviating from the real business which is making disciples.

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:12-14

Read Also: Prayer and Vitamin D

Friday, June 22, 2007

Discipleship and Tylenol

Still on stuff you find at Walmart:

In the autumn of 1982 McNeil Healthcare owners of Tylenol experienced a crisis. Seven people in the Chicago area were found dead after taking Extra Strength Tylenol. The reason was because the tablets were laced with cyanide poison.

While the perpetrators were never caught, Johnson and Johnson the parent company of McNeil responded decisively that averted a disaster. When senior officers of the company were told of the situation their immediate response was to voluntarily recall all its products at a cost in excess of one hundred million dollars.

What precipitated that decision was simple, Johnson and Johnson had formed its values long before the tragic crisis – they believed that their primary responsibility was to provide the best healthcare for their customers.

What we can learn from the Tylenol incident:

Our values determine our course of action. Values set us up for future behavior. It is here that Tylenol and discipleship connect. Is discipleship a key value with you personally and with your church?

Is it the priority that takes up the time and resources of the church? Or is it just another program that is mentioned but can be overridden by another activity?

Is it central to what you are doing? Or is it buried under numerous religious activities that keep people busy without hitting the target?

If discipleship is to happen it must be valued and repeatedly communicated to everyone that it is, regardless of the cost.

"Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:31-33

Read also: Prayer and Vitamin C

Friday, June 15, 2007

Discipleship and Scotch-Brite

Still on items found at Walmart.

Growing up my parents taught me how to help with housework. The most common chore was doing the dishes.

In those days washing dishes meant using “steel wool” and a sponge. Steel wool was made of strands of steel that were matted together into a ball and was used as an abrasive. The sponge was used to apply the detergent and absorb excess water as the dishes were rinsed.

I never liked steel wool. It felt strange and when it grated on ceramic or porcelain it had a feel and sound that resembled the scratching of a blackboard with ones fingernails. Not good.

Then one day the 3M Company came up with Scotch-Brite. It was unique because it had one side that was abrasive and the other side was a sponge.

Discipleship is like Scotch-Brite on several counts:

1. People are like sponges. They can only take a certain amount. When sponges have absorbed water nothing else can be absorbed. So it is with teaching others about life and the scriptures. People can only take so much. Too much means saying a lot but not being absorbed. Fact is mentoring and training takes days, weeks, months and even years. Slow is fast.

2. As disciple makers we need to be like sponges that absorb and give to others. We need a soft side that help people willingly open up so their hearts may be cleansed.

3. Like Scotch-Brite life requires an abrasive side. The side that confronts and deals with deep hard to remove dirt. When people realize that our motives are simply to see the best of life for them they will allow us to be the other side that feels like “steel wool” in their lives. Get a hint the soft spongee side is much thicker than the abrassive side. Conversely, life is not just all about soft sponges.

4. Unlike steel wool that scratches and scrapes and sometimes grates on surfaces, Scotch-Brite was designed to deal with dirt and grime without harming surfaces. Confronting others is designed to deal with life’s real issues, but not at the expense of harming others but with the intent of bringing them to the next level of life.

Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God. 1 Corinthians 4:5

When God deals with issues in our life his intent is not simply to expose us. Rather to reveal the motives of our hearts so we can deal with them to allow us to move on to the next level of life. As we do, His goal is to praise us as we fulfill the destiny that He has for our lives.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Discipleship and Campbell's Soup

Campbell’s Soup is one of the most recognizable brands of Americana. To many Campbell’s represents comfort food. Now more than 100 years later Campbell’s Soup remains a staple product used in millions of homes worldwide.

The success of Campbell’s rests on one simple idea, eliminating the water in the soup. This allowed the product to have a longer shelf life which can be packed, shipped and stored at a very nominal cost.

More significantly it allowed people to enjoy farm produce that may not be in season to be enjoyed any time of the year right in the convenience of their homes wherever that may be.

We can learn some discipleship lessons from Campbell’s Soup. It is true that discipleship is relationship. As such there is no one pattern or formula which we can use to reach out and disciple others. After all every person and situation is unique.

While that is true there are ingredients in discipleship that can be canned so it can be enjoyed by anyone, anywhere, anytime. This is the reason why I highly recommend the use of Bible teaching materials that have been designed to be used and reused. These materials enable us to provide the necessary ingredients that have been prepared by someone else so we can offer it to those we are trying to reach out to.

Like Campbell’s Soup we can carry these materials and open them up when the situation requires it. Like canned soup we can add the amount of water that best suits those whom we are feeding.

Also, like Campbell’s Soup these materials allow us to duplicate the discipleship process over and over again with the same quality and nutritional value anytime, anywhere to anyone.

What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you-guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us. 2 Timothy 1:13-14

So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. 2Thessalonians 2:15

See also: Prayer and Boracay

Monday, June 4, 2007

Discipleship and Listerine

While I’m on a Walmart thread I think I’ll do a few posts on stuff you can find in their stores.

Listerine is the by far the world’s largest selling mouthwash. Named after 19th century English doctor Joseph Lister, the original formula of Listerine was famous for its effective germ killing ability and its terrible taste. Despite its bad taste Listerine dominated the market because of its efficacy and reliability.

In time the consumer products giant Procter and Gamble came up with a competing brand called Scope. Its claim to fame was simply the “good tasting’ mouthwash. Overnight the market took note of the difference between the 2 products.

Listerine could do nothing if only because their product did taste horrible. Instead of skirting the issue Listerine faced it head on. They responded to the threat with an advertising campaign that said: “The taste you hate twice a day.”

Not only did they admit the product’s weakness in taste, they admitted people hated it. The result was it set them up to say that’s why the product kills more germs. Instead of migrating to Scope people stayed loyal to Listerine.

Like Listerine disciple makers are not perfect. Fact is there is no such thing as a perfect product (or person). When we are confronted by our weaknesses and failures our response should not be to be defensive. Rather to openly admit that we do have weaknesses in our lives, but that’s precisely why we need the grace that God provides.

Today Listerine has several different flavors that all taste much better than it used to. By admitting its bad taste it allowed them to keep their relationships with their customers and gave them time to make the changes.

This is similar to our discipleship relationships. By admitting our weaknesses and failures we become trustworthy and real and this allows us to keep our relationships. In time we will transform into the person God intended us to be.

See also my other post:
Prayer & Turning 50