January 9, 2020
Dear MLEPC Family,
Last year, I was blessed to be able to attend a conference sponsored by Lifeway Ministries entitled "ETCH" (Equipping the Church and Home). Brant Toulouse, Ashley Gardner, and Kim Hansen all attended as well. Besides having the opportunity to eat "hot chicken" and listen to Nashville's finest music, the time was work intensive, and we all left pondering serious questions regarding not only the survival of local churches in the twenty-first century, but the thriving of those churches. The purpose of ETCH is to teach church leaders and volunteers how to both make disciples and equip parents, grandparents, neighbors and community leaders to allow the principles of discipleship to permeate every home, regardless of the make-up of that home or the demographics of it. Granted, there is an emphasis on children and youth discipleship, simply because without children and youth, churches will go extinct. But there is an equal emphasis at ETCH on the importance of intergenerational exposure and relationship building. In his own discipleship process, Jesus was all about building relationships. He approached the twelve disciples and built long lasting friendships with them. He ate with them, shared common life experiences, equipped them, prayed and worshipped with them, and eventually, he did ministry with them.
There are three aspects of disciple making, all of which are exemplified in Jesus' great commission to the church in Matthew 28:16-20. It reads this way:
"Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.
And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
First, there is evangelism. We can have no discipleship without reaching out to those who do not know Jesus. This world is hungry for authentic and fulfilling life. Jesus provides it. We conduct evangelism through serving people, building relationships with people, and sharing the story of Christ. Second, there is a sacramental component. Both worship and baptism are mentioned in Matthew 28. We cannot think that we are the ones making disciples. Instead, it is an act of God, through and through. God is worshipped, and the Holy Spirit does the baptizing. Third, we are called to teach others. This is where ETCH comes in. In a specific seminar that Brant and I attended, we learned about "replication." The idea here is to take one or two people under our wings at all times and model for them the ways of Christ, the ways of service, the ways of relationship building, and the ways of leadership. Without this step, the church may have fresh disciples, but they won't be growing disciples.
Your church staff and pastoral staff is dedicated to modeling the faith. Pastor Carolyn is currently working on a D. Min degree. She is reading countless books on ecclesiology-the study of the church and how we can disciple others in new ways as the church. Pastor Linda is thoroughly dedicated to adult discipleship. She researches and writes consistently so that we may grow deeper in Christ in our small groups. I consider my role as a support and servant-leader. I plug in every chance I can to model biblical and theologically informed growth in Christ, in both worship and evangelism. Our worship staff, support staff, kids' ministry, youth ministry, building and grounds ministry, senior ministry, men's ministry, women's ministry, Kenya missions, Deacons, and countless others are dedicated to seeing disciples being made and grown at MLEPC and beyond.
We need to do this "modeling of the faith" in a community oriented, relationship centered, intergenerational way. What that means is that we need you. It is Jesus Christ (not me!) who requires of you that you build relationships with those you do not know well (both outside and inside the church) and model the faith that you have learned. This holds especially true for the needs of the younger generations. They are counting on us, and as I said before, without that generation coming into God's sphere of influence and growing deeper in Christ, local churches go extinct.
Starting on Sunday, January 12th, we will begin a seven-week series entitled "Generation to Generation: Making Disciples Across the Ages." On January 12th, we will host Dan Dupee as our preacher, to kick off the series. Dan is an expert in the process of disciple-making, an ordained EPC elder, and the author of a newer book entitled "It's Not Too Late: The Essential Part You Play in Shaping Your Teen's Faith" (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2016). We were blessed beyond measure to have Dan as our keynote speaker at this past year's All Church Retreat.
Please join us as we delve into what it means to be and make disciples, and we encourage you to join one of our many small groups dedicated to not only studying this important topic but living it out in community. Please get in touch with Pastor Linda, Elder Andy Hromoko or Adult Ministry Team Chair Kay Atman to see where one of our groups might fit into your schedule. We encourage you to pick up a sermon series/small group study guide in the Narthex or drive-through lobby for group or personal study.
News and Notes
- Sundays, January 12 and 19, Deacons will be in the lobby to sign up people to both donate and deliver sanctuary flowers for 2020.
- Middle School Club is Wednesday, January 15 from 3:45-4:45 p.m. Bring a friend!
- Family Fired-Up Friday is January 17, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Pre-register your family at www.mlepc.org.
- Sunday January 26, SINGLE UNIFIED SERVICE AT 10:00 A.M., followed by Annual Congregational Meeting and a Fellowship Meal of soups, salad, bread and cookies.
- SAVE THE DATE! Our All-Church Retreat will be Friday - Sunday, March 13-15, at Laurelville Mennonite Church Center in Mt. Pleasant, PA. Kenyan Pastor Job Simiyu will be our speaker!