Sunday, October 26, 2008

Discipleship and BMW

A few months ago I was riding in the brand new 7 series BMW of a friend. The minute I got in you just knew this was not your everyday fare of a car. Everything about it was a demonstration of opulence and luxury. The seats, the smell, the sounds, the ride, unbelievable!

When my friend told me how much money he paid for his car it all made sense. You don’t get that kind of luxury for the price of peanuts. In short you don’t get something of value for nothing.

As the title of this blog goes and many of my previous posts have expressed - discipleship is relationship. Christians often say that Christianity is not a religion but a relationship. And this is true. Discipleship is a relationship primarily with God and with the Body of Christ and with the lost world so they can be reconciled to God.

Like my friend's car these valuable relationships don’t come free and the cost is significant and is detailed for us in Matthew 16:24, Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Becoming a disciple is costly. Whether that’s relating with God, His people or reaching out to the world, it requires that we pick up our cross and follow Him. Picking up our crosses simply means letting go of our comforts and conveniences and embracing whatever it takes to follow Jesus, to walk in step with other believers and to reach out to those who still don’t know Him.

Needless to say the cost of discipleship is high. But when you relate the immeasurable value of being God’s friend, the quality of relationships we enjoy with other Christians and the joy of leading others to God, the cost is nothing. It would be like buying my friends BMW for the price of a Kia.

Here’s your discipleship take away: Discipleship will cost you, but the value you get far outweighs whatever price you pay.

Come back here in a few days to link to Steve Murrell's Podcast on: Carrying Your Cross.

Prayer and Laughter

Monday, October 13, 2008

Discipleship and Honda

When Honda was launched in the United States it was an instant hit. The simple secret was they built a quality car backed with world-class service and warranties.

But that’s not the point of this post. Rather this post is about how Honda started the Japanese assault on the luxury car market by introducing the Acura.

Back in the 1960’s Japanese carmakers focused their efforts on building good quality cars that we’re price sensitive (another way of saying cheap). Toyota, Nissan and Honda all succeeded by pursuing this strategy.

After over 20 years of success, Honda decided it was time to take on the luxury car market. In 1986 Honda launched the Acura in the United States designed to compete with American and European luxury cars. It was well received.

In time Toyota and Nissan followed Honda’s footsteps by introducing the Lexus and Infiniti (Toyota’s and Nissan’s version of luxury). Today all three brands are well respected luxury car brands.

Here’s the discipleship is relationship interface with this story. Like these car manufacturers we need to think “and” and not just “or”. How many times have we heard of Christians say things like: “It’s either you do it our denominations way or……” One example is in the way we worship God. Our insistence to worship God with a certain kind of music has prevented us from reaching other segments of society.

Sometimes our own narrow view prevents us from reaching other segments of society because we have insisted on our old proven ways. For instance who says you can’t preach to young people in a bar?

Like Honda we need to excellently do what we have always done while being open to other ways of doing things. Who knows we just might succeed and in so doing inspire other denominations to follow suit?

See also: One Dangerous Prayer

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Discipleship and Volvo

This is a 4th post on a series on discipleship and cars.

The first Volvos were built as far back as 1927. In Europe, however Volvos were not taken seriously by would be car owners.

There are several reasons why, for one Volvos were made in Sweden. And in those early years Sweden was not a country known for cars. Considering the competition – England (Rolls Royce, Jaguar among others), Germany (Mercedes Benz, BMW among others) Italy (Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and others) and even the French had their fair share (Renault, Peugeot and Citroen) Swedish cars were no where near being a contender.

Today Volvos are not only popular but is as respected as it's other European counterparts. What did they do that allowed them to inch closer to their counterparts? For years Volvo focused on just one thing, safety. Here is a short list of Volvo’s string of significant developments to ensure that it is the car of choice when it comes to safety:

Laminated Glass Windshield (1944) to prevent broken glass from injuring passengers.
Padded Dashboards (1956) the first time ever done to cushion the impact in case of collision.
Patented Three-Point Safety Belt (1958) which is today the standard seat belt used by most cars.
Side Impact Protection System (SIPS) (1995) which channeled the force of a side impact away from the doors and into the safety cage.
The Head Protecting Airbag (1998) today a standard in most cars.

These form a short list of Volvo’s attention and commitment to one thing: Safety. Needless to say when someone considers buying a car and safety is a concern – they’ll be looking at Volvos. These small initiatives have not only been approved by regulators but have become the standard for most cars.

Here’s where the discipleship relationship interface is: there is so much detail to deliver the one thing that people expect from us as Jesus' Church. If Volvo’s focus is safety, the Christian Church is called upon to deliver one thing, that is discipleship. The task of teaching people how to be life long followers of Christ.

So the next time you consider doing something new and running around doing new activities, take a seat and write down the many little things that you need to do in order to make disciples. You’ll be amazed at how many things need your attention.

On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts. 1Thessalonians 2:4