Stepping Up. This past April the men of White Oak were invited to attend a Men’s Conference held at our Ross Twp. Campus entitled Stepping Up. Nearly 70 men of all ages came together for a one-day event that challenged us to step up to courageous manhood. We discussed topics such as the importance of moving from boyhood to adolescence and from adolescence to manhood and mentor. This not only challenged us to consider our own journeys, but also how we reach back behind us to lead other men or find others with whom we may journey.
Following this conference, we were given the opportunity to join a six-week follow-up life group. These groups would connect men together in community to continue studying the Stepping Up material. I decided to lead a group.
There were four men (five including me) who met for six weeks in a group. We met at a coffee shop in Ross on Monday mornings before we all parted ways and headed to work. Though I’m not the type who enjoys engaging the brain at 6:30am, this group of men inspired and ministered to me. I very much was blessed by our time together. As we worked through the material, watched the corresponding videos, and then shared together, I found myself challenged deeply in my own character. How was I parenting my children toward a deeper faith? How was I being a more faithful and devoted husband? What legacy was I leaving for my family and other men to learn from? How was I aiming my heart and the heart of others to Jesus?
Each time I have gathered with a group at White Oak, I find myself blessed and moved in ways I didn’t expect. A group my wife, Denise, and I led recently was made up of people from different backgrounds, stages of life, and at varying places along their faith journeys. I learned so much from them (they probably have no idea)! Almost two years ago, I began leading a Huddle Group at White Oak. This group, made up of myself and four other men, spent 30 weeks reading through the New Testament and studying ways in which we can expand our abilities to multiply faith in others and lead them to deeper places of trust. Those 30 weeks were eye-opening to me as Scriptures I’ve read dozens of times before brought new life and new learnings to me. I also bonded with other men who want to see Jesus bring new things out of their lives as well!
Here's my point. In Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus leaves his disciples with a commission. Go and make disciples. He tells us to evangelize, baptize, and teach others how to obey. Over the years I believe God has been teaching me valuable lessons about how that most often plays out. My own growth in faith is inseparable from evangelism. My own deeper steps of learning and surrender are one in the same as multiplying disciples. Each time I have set out to lead a group or to disciple others I find that my own faith is challenged and stretched. When I aim my life at walking the faith journey with others, I grow. When I reach back behind me to lead others to deeper places of trust and obedience, I go deeper.
I wonder if that’s not how Jesus intended it all along. Discipleship isn’t about more Bible study, Sunday morning worship practices, or more theologically riveting sermons. Disciples grow deeper as we walk alongside others in faith. Evangelism begets discipleship. And discipleship begets evangelism. They are two sides of the same coin. You cannot have one without the other. As I teach, lead, and minister to others it’s then that I find myself growing and challenged to obedience and new places of surrender.
Who are you leading? Who are you journeying with? Who are you teaching or mentoring?
I’m asking myself these same questions.
Leading with you,
White Oak Christian Church