Sunday, October 28, 2007

Discipleship and African Elephants

(7th post on Discipleship and Zoo thread)

Some weeks ago I wrote about Discipleship and Indian Elephants. I am writing yet another post on elephants – this time from Africa.

The German theologian, church planting/growth researcher and conference speaker Christian Schwarz wrote in his book Natural Church Development a true story about African elephants.

He wrote about a time when a breed of elephants in Africa were threatened with extinction. They were either being hunted down or their grazing grounds were being over logged they had no food to eat.

To solve the problem zoological technocrats conceived of a plan to save them. They gathered the remaining elephants and placed them in a reserve full of trees and ensured that they would be protected.

After several years the elephants began to thrive and give birth. As the population of elephants grew they began to eat all the vegetation in the reserve. The result was all the vegetation was exhausted and the elephants had no food to eat.

Slowly the elephants started to die of starvation. Only this time there were no longer trees. The simple lesson of this story is you cannot solve problems using short-term programs. These solutions are not sustainable.

Here is where discipleship relationship connects to this story. Programs run by churches are not sustainable. We need to train people to build a lasting relationship with God and with the body of Christ and not rely on programs. Relationships are the only things that last and that are sustainable.

See Also: Prayer and Muscles

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Discipleship and Eagles

I’m back from my 3 week break first to visit a church in California and then to celebrate my 25th Wedding Anniversary.

This post is the 6th in my thread on Discipleship and the Zoo.

In his book Confessions of a Reformission Rev - Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle writes about what eagles are:

“Eagles are skilled leaders who are being developed within the church with the express kingdom purpose of leaving the proverbial nest and leading a ministry elsewhere, such as mission work and church planting.”

As we go and make disciples we need to be on the look out for young eagles. Some of them will come in very young packages and can be very raw sinners. But within them could be eagles – future leaders in society and in the church even pastors and missionaries.

I’ve had the privilege of meeting eagles in various shapes and sizes. Some came in the form of businessmen, entrepreneurs, artists, youth and even plain old sinners. In time through discipleship some of these men have become successful business people, doctors, chefs, pastors and even missionaries.

Here’s a quick thought about discipleship and eagles: It is God who brings and/or sends eagles our way.

‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Exodus 19:4

Because young leaders have strong personalities it is easy to dismiss them as stubborn and tend to have an independent spirit. These characteristics may cause us to disdain them because they cannot be controlled. It is here that we need to realize that our job is not to control them. Rather it is to build a relationship with them.  

Relationships that may start with us but must ultimately end up with God. Raising eagles can be challenging. As such we need to connect them to others (Discipleship and Velcro) who can also give them input.  Raising leaders is best done in a team setting.  In time they will gravitate to other eagles who can take them to the next level of life as a disciple.

Long after these eagles have flown away to their God given destiny we can look from the distance as they soar and realize that we were in one form or another a part of helping them be who they are supposed to be.

See Also: Prayer and Endurance