Great Commission

Get in the Game, 15 May 2022

Get in the Game!
Series—Alliance Core Values
Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; Ephesians 4:11-12
Series Big Idea: After a 2021 reveal of our First Alliance Core Values, this series is a presentation of the Christian & Missionary Alliance Core Values.


Big Idea: Completing the Great Commission will require the mobilization of every fully-devoted disciple.
How many of you like sports…any sports? There are two types of sports fans…those who watch and those who play. Which do you prefer?
Someone once said football is 22 people on the field who need rest and 22,000 people in the stands who need exercise!”
Tragically, many churches are a single pastor who needs rest and a congregation of people who need to
get in the game! Not only is ministry a team sport, it was designed to involve everyone who claims to be a Christian. It’s not exclusively for professionals. In fact, as we’ve noted previously, it’s the task of the professionals to equip the saints.
Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-12, NLT)
Today we’re continuing our series on the Alliance Core Values, those foundational principles that our Christian & Missionary Alliance family values which we also believe describe Jesus’ values.
We began by saying,
Lost people matter to God. He wants them found.
Last week Pastor Mike reminded us that
Everything we have belongs to God; we are His stewards.
It’s not that ten percent belongs to God. Everything we have belongs to God, including all of our time, talents and treasures. Today’s core value states,
Completing the Great Commission will require the mobilization of every fully-devoted disciple.
There are some churchy words there, so I want to be crystal clear about what this means. Working backward, a
disciple is a student, a follower, a protégé. Therefore, a fully-devoted disciple is someone devoted to following Jesus…what you might call a “real” Christian, not a CINO: Christian in name only.
Are you a disciple of Jesus? If not, I urge you to consider making Jesus the leader of your life. He is wiser, stronger, and loves you more than any celebrity, social media personality, or philosopher. I’m not a perfect disciple, but I’m seeking to build my life around the teachings and leadership of Jesus.
The Great Commission was read earlier in our scripture reading. It’s one of the most famous passages in the Bible. Jesus commissions his followers—his disciples—before ascending into heaven.
Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18, NLT)
The Great Commission will be completed when there are disciples or followers of Jesus of all the nations. Jesus has all authority and he promises us his presence, which is fantastic. The key verbs are
go and make. Make disciples. Reproduce the life of Jesus in others. Jesus passed the baton, to use a sports metaphor, to his disciples who have been passing it for generations to us. We don’t want to be the generation that drops the baton!
The Great Commission is the work involved in sharing good news and seeing men, women, and children of all the nations obey Jesus, follow Jesus…and that includes helping others obey and follow Jesus. This is not a command just for pastors. That would mean only about one percent would be engaged. The enemy would love that! No,
Completing the Great Commission will require the mobilization of every fully-devoted disciple.
If you are a disciple—a follower of Jesus—discipleship is your mission, your commission. It’s what life is all about…knowing God and making Him known. My primary role is to disciple our staff and leaders to disciple the rest of you to disciple others until every person on the planet has been invited to the party, has heard the good news, has been given a chance to follow or reject Jesus, his love, his death and resurrection.
We need you to
get in the game! For too long, too many so-called Christians have been content to watch. Following Jesus is not a spectator sport! We need every fully-devoted disciple making disciples. I hope that means you!
We often talk about a
triangle: Up, In, and Out. A disciple of Jesus has a relationship with God…up. They also have a relationship with others in the Church…in. There’s also an outward relationship with those Jesus called the lost…the unchurched, those who are not yet followers of Jesus. We have the privilege of sharing good news and introducing them to Jesus. Discipleship is helping people develop Up, In, and Out relationships.
The Great Commission is about making disciples…restoring God’s masterpieces. Every person you encounter this week is a broken masterpiece in need of restoration. That’s God’s work, yet we get to be a part of the process.
Jesus said,
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
Let’s work backwards: the
ends of the earth. This is what most people think of when they hear “missions” or “missionaries.” There are many ways to get in the game with global missions. We’ll look at seven today. The most obvious is to
-       Germany video
-       Heather: Germany
       Explore next steps with the Alliance (
       Participate in an overseas trip with Envision (
We’re praying for God to call men and women and children from First Alliance to go. We want to be a sending church. There’s so much more you can do to get in the game with global missions. You can
-       LIFE Conference
       Alliance International Workers
       The Lost
-       Take the course
       Join the Missions Committee
       Subscribe to Alliance Life magazine
       Participate in our Global Missions events
-       Give to the Great Commission Fund
       Give to FAC Missions which includes Faith Missions (our Samaria)
       Support special short-term trips
You can also reach people from around the world without a passport. You can…
-       Befriend an international in Toledo
       Volunteer at Water for Ishmael
       Engage with the Afghan Resettlement Team (ART)
-       Home Missions partners (our Judea)
       We’re excited about sending the Pollocks this fall to launch Visible Church in Toledo.
Jerusalem is here…First Alliance. You can serve in many ways here at First Alliance.
-       Leadership at First Alliance (Elders, Deacons, Deaconesses, Trustees)
       Volunteer with Kids Club United, or Alliance Youth
       Sports & Arts Camp
       Life Groups
       Dinner Church
       Celebrate Recovery
       Worship teams
-       Masterpiece Mentors (NEW!)
- is a free tool to help you discover how you might best best able to serve. Please take it and share the results with us.
I have one final way you can get in the game, participating in the Great Commission.
The Great Commission is all about
relationships. Ministry is all about relationships. God’s mission to seek and save the lost is all about relationships. Although we have a variety of activities at First Alliance, we never want to overload the calendar to prevent you from inviting a neighbor over for a BBQ, meeting a co-worker for coffee, or engaging with others in hobbies. We need to be present with others.
When was the last time you sat across the table with a non-Christian? I didn’t even say share your faith…just had a conversation! Months ago I talked about how Bowling Green Alliance is challenging their congregation to have meals with people…inside or outside of the church…
in or out. It requires intentionality and I know some are more naturally suited to invite people to coffee or lunch, but eating and drinking are wonderful activities for conversation (and survival!). I want to challenge you—and myself—to have one conversation this week with someone over a drink or meal. Invite someone into your home, to Rustbelt or Black Kite Coffee, to grab breakfast at your favorite greasy spoon or even a trip to DQ or Mr. Freeze.
Completing the Great Commission will require the mobilization of every fully-devoted disciple.
It all begins with relationships. Conversations. Words…and deeds.
Be present.
I love First Alliance Church. I love our global family, the Christian & Missionary Alliance. Missionary is our middle name! What is your next step in obeying Jesus, in fulfilling the Great Commission, in making disciples…here and around the world?
Don’t let the professionals have all of the fun! Get out of the stands and get in the game!

You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast

You can watch this video and others at the First Alliance Church Video Library

Authority, 21 March 2021

Series—Mark: The Real Jesus
Mark 11:27-33

Series Big Idea:
Mark’s gospel is the most concise biography of Jesus.

Big Idea: Jesus has been given all authority in heaven and on earth…and he has given it to us for God’s glory.

When one of our children was little, they were given a time-out for poor behavior. Not long after, my wife discovered they had gotten up with plans to return to playtime. Heather said, “Who told you to get up from your time-out?” They replied, “God!”

While I doubt God really did that, it’s a perfect introduction to today’s topic: authority.

When I think back to my own childhood, I can remember asking, “Who gave you permission?” to do something. Maybe you’ve said, “Who put you in charge?” or even, “Who made you God?”

As we’ve been looking at the life and teachings of Jesus—our example, the one we follow, the whole purpose of First Alliance Church—we’re blessed to be able to eavesdrop on some of his conversations. As we saw last week, they’re not always cordial! When he finds the sacred temple in Jerusalem turned into something of a shopping mall, he expresses his anger—without sinning—in words and deeds. Although he addressed inappropriate behavior, he was especially confronting the wicked hearts of the religious leaders who—consequently—wanted to have him killed. The crucifixion on Good Friday was no accident. It was all part of God’s plan to seek and save humanity.

Before we look at today’s text in Mark chapter eleven, I want to declare

Jesus was the smartest man who ever lived. He studied and knew the Jewish Bible, amazed the religious teachers when he was only twelve years old (Luke 2:47), and the first chapter of this gospel or “good news” of Mark told us

The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. (Mark 1:22)

Ouch…for the teachers of the law!
Jesus possessed authority. Not only were his words filled with truth and wisdom, they came with authority.
If you have truth but no authority, you’re like a little boy trying to direct traffic at a busy intersection. Good luck!

If you have authority with no truth, you’re likely to be corrupt and act unjustly.

Truth and authority, however, is a powerful combination that can lead to transformation.

We need authority in our world. Without it, we’d have chaos. Imagine if drivers were allowed to drive as fast and reckless as they desired without any threat from police (or speed cameras!). How could we have March Madness without a little authority from the refs in the striped shirts? What would happen in the home or school if children did as they pleased? Imagine a workplace with no boss to enforce the employee handbook. It would be anarchy before long.

There’s a popular saying in our culture from Rich Remender which says, “There is no authority but yourself.” How long can civilization survive with that mantra?

We’re told in the book of Romans,

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. (Romans 13:1)

God is the ultimate authority. Jesus is God. Therefore, Jesus has the ultimate authority. This word, authority, in the original Greek is exousia (ex-oo-see-ah). It means jurisdiction, liberty, power, right, strength, …authority.

Let’s look at our text for today in Mark chapter eleven.

They arrived again in Jerusalem, and while Jesus was walking in the temple courts, the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders came to him. “By what authority are you doing these things?” they asked. “And who gave you authority to do this?” (Mark 11:27-28)

They’re challenging Jesus. We learned last week they were afraid of Jesus because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching. They wanted to do anything possible to discredit him…including killing him. In modern terms, they were probably saying, “Who do you think you are, God or something?”

One of Jesus’ favorite tools was to respond to a question with a question.

Jesus replied,
“I will ask you one question. Answer me, and I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things. (Mark 11:29)

One question. That’s reasonable, right?

John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or of human origin? Tell me!”
(Mark 11:30)

Zinger! If you don’t understand the question, don’t worry. Mark explains.

They discussed it among themselves and said, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will ask, ‘Then why didn’t you believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin’ …” (They feared the people, for everyone held that John really was a prophet.) (Mark 11:31-32)

Jesus set them up. Remember, he’s the smartest man who ever lived! More than an intellectual argument, he was really concerned about their hearts. He knew they were up to no good.

So they answered Jesus, “We don’t know.”
(Mark 11:33a)

At least they were honest!

Jesus said,
“Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.” (Mark 11:33b)

Jesus sounds a little snarky, doesn’t he? That’s not very nice, Jesus. But perhaps it was necessary to get their attention…or get them even more riled up to kill him!

Jesus possessed authority in heaven and on earth.

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. (Matthew 28:16-18)   

Followers of King Jesus are under his authority.

This might be the primary difference between the world and Christians. The world will always act like the world. They’ll do what they want…or what they can get away with.

Followers of Jesus submit…to God’s authority. Paul wrote,

You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. (1 Corinthians 6:19b-20)

You don’t have to like everything in the Bible, but by definition, followers obey. We are told to pick up our cross daily and follow Christ. In other words, we die to ourselves, our agendas, our sin and seek first God’s Kingdom, His will, His ways.

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. (Matthew 28:18)   

We are under the authority of King Jesus who then said,

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.” (Matthew 28:19-20)   

We call this the Great Commission because they are the instructions Jesus gave to his followers before leaving earth, ascending into heaven. It’s our mandate, our purpose, our mission.

John records these powerful words from Jesus:

“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” (John 14:15-21)

Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”
(John 14:22)

Jesus replied,
“Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me. (John 14:23-24)

In this passage, Jesus declares his authority comes from the Father. He also repeatedly states love equals obedience.

If you love me, keep my commands.
Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me.
Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching.

Do you love Jesus? Do you really love Jesus? If so, we need to obey his commands. While the two greatest are general—love God and love your neighbor as yourself—the Great Commission brings some clarity, some specificity.

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.” (Matthew 28:19-20)   

This is the assignment. Jesus has the authority—all authority—and this is what he does with it. He tells us to go and make disciples of all nations.

What does that mean? Ultimately, it means
we are to become followers of Jesus who help others become followers of Jesus. We are to live like Jesus, become like Jesus, and guide others to Jesus.

There are two parts to this idea of discipleship. First, we are to live like Jesus. It begins with surrender. There are no shortcuts. It’s a daily rhythm of dying to yourself and seeking first God’s Kingdom. This is especially hard in our culture where we’re bombarded by messages from social media, billboards, and nearly omnipresent advertising about how it’s all about us. But it’s not! The way of Jesus is the way of the cross. It’s not about our desires, our rights, our pleasure. I’m not saying self care is wrong, but self-worship is!

Satanism is a real thing. Its essence is not the worship of satan as some believe, but the worship of self. Here’s a quote from a website about Satanism:

“…instead of relying on some moral code meant for those who belong to religion, the Satanist is free to choose who they will love or who deserves their punishment. This places the satanist at the center of their own world, their own universe with the self being the most important aspect of all.” (

Our culture is obsessed with self worship. It’s as old as satan himself, the prideful one who began his tempting spree with Eve and Adam in the Garden. He told Eve,

“For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5)

It’s the top two commandments again: no other gods, no idols (Exodus 20). Who’s the leader of your life? Who’s in charge? What drives your decisions? What inspires your words, your budget, your social media activity, your calendar? Most people do what they want to do with little regard for others and less regard for God. That’s why any talk of restraint, self-control, obedience, submission, or discipline is met with horror and disdain. We all want to be gods! We all want it our way! Tragically, I don’t think people inside the church are often all that different from the world. We just follow what everyone else is doing to “keep up with the Joneses” and fit in.

But that’s not the way of Jesus. That’s not discipleship. That’s not what it means to live under God’s authority. I know this sounds harsh. I know sounds radical. It is! While it may make you feel uncomfortable, I will make you a promise:
you will ultimately not regret following Jesus.

Jesus is the smartest human ever. You’re not. Sorry!
Jesus is the wisest human ever. Not even Solomon can claim that.
Jesus is the most powerful human ever. He has all authority. Our president doesn’t.

is God. He didn’t try to self-actualize or evolve into a god. He is God. Capital G!

And he is good. His ways are good. His life is good. His teachings are good. His love is good. He is the only one worth following in this world.

In our current culture, authenticity is the new authority. The constant message is let your emotions dictate your actions. Do what feels right. Get what you want. It’s all about you. Be true to yourself. You do you. Speak your truth. Tragically, we often do what we think others want, what will get the most likes on social media, what is trending. Popularity won’t last! Following your momentary emotions and desires will not lead you to lasting happiness.

Your authentic self is who you were
created to become. You were made by God, for God, and for God’s glory. God was not made by you for your glory!

We all need an external guide in order to experience human flourishing. We need something to build our lives upon. We need the rock of Jesus Christ, the one true authority who loves us, proved it, the way, the truth, and the life who will lead us into all truth, all peace, all joy. We need Jesus!

You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.

You can watch this video and others at the First Alliance Church Video Library

Send the Light, 11 August 2019

Send the Light
Series—The Power of the Gospel
Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:6-11; Romans 10:8-17

Series Big Idea:
The gospel—“good news”—is powerful and transformative.

Big Idea:
Proclaiming the gospel is a joy because we love God and people.

Words are powerful. They’re loaded with meaning; sometimes multiple meanings. This is why we are sometimes misunderstood. One simple word can trigger thoughts and feelings instantaneously.

I’m not going to yell it in a public building, but if someone were to yell f-i-r-e, a very important message would be conveyed. Perhaps no word seizes your attention more than your name.

This morning I want to talk about a word that is frightening to many. It’s not “change.” It’s not “evil.” The word is…evangelism.

We’re in the middle of series entitled “The Power of the Gospel.” Last week we noted the Greek word
euangelion means “good news,” a word we often translate “gospel.” We said the gospel is all about…Jesus. It’s more than personal salvation or going to heaven when you die. The gospel—according to Paul in 1 Corinthians 15 and in seven sermons in the book of Acts and 2 Timothy 2:8 and Romans 1 and other places in the Bible—is Jesus.

Although the word “evangelism” does not appear in most English translations of the Bible, the Greek word “euangelistes” or evangelist shows up in Acts 21:8, Ephesians 4:11, and 2 Timothy 4:5 and it simply means one who announces glad tidings. Evangelism, then, is simply proclaiming the gospel, proclaiming good news. That’s not so scary, is it? Actually, I would think proclaiming bad news would be far more difficult.
I hope today you’ll be encouraged and equipped to proclaim the gospel, to introduce people to Jesus, to make disciples…who make disciples.

Jesus famously took the 613 laws of Moses and boiled them down to two commands:

Love God.
Love others as you love yourself.

- Matthew 22:37-40
- Mark 12:29-31

I want to offer you two simple reasons why we proclaim the gospel, why we invite people to follow Jesus.

We proclaim the gospel because we love Jesus.

Jesus said,

“If you love me, keep my commands.” (John 14:15)

What did he command? During his final hours on earth before ascending into heaven, Jesus gathered his friends together.

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.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

We’ve looked at this text many times, and we will continue to do so. This is known as the Great Commission. It’s what Jesus told them to do under his authority. This is not a suggestion. It’s not an option. It’s not just for pastors or professional Christians.

Go. The word is a participle. It means “going” or “as you go.” There’s no mention of sitting, status quo, indifference, or being passive. This is an action word. It’s a word in Greek, poreuo, that is sometimes translated “to pursue after, be devoted to, to go after.”

Make disciples. In a word, reproduce. Disciples follow Jesus and help others follow Jesus. This alone is good news! Imagine a world filled with people who act like Jesus. Yes, please! This is the heart of the command: make disciples.

Part of the process of becoming a disciple and making disciples is being baptized. A Jesus-follower who hasn’t been baptized—publicly declaring their faith in Jesus—is like a person who has a secret wedding, ashamed to announce their marriage. It’s also disobedient! Disciples are to be baptized. They are also to be taught to obey. That’s the mark of spiritual maturity: obedience. It’s not religious activity. It’s disciple-making. It’s action. It’s helping others become like Jesus. It’s love. The hallmark of our faith is love for others. Therefore,

We proclaim the gospel because we love people.

Jesus said to do two things:

Love God.
Love others as you love yourself.

Love is others-centered. It’s caring for another person. It’s looking out for their best interests. If you truly love someone, there’s no greater gift you can give them than an introduction to Jesus.

Think for a moment about what you do for those you love. Maybe you speak kind words to them. Perhaps you buy or make them gifts. You might spend quality time with them. I like to tell them about good deals I find (bargains is one of my love languages!). You can let them know about opportunities that could enrich their lives.

But there’s not opportunity, no person, nothing that can add more value to them than Jesus.

It’s not your job to convert anybody. You’re not selling anything. There’s no force, no pressure, nothing weird. You don’t need a megaphone or photos of fire or scary movies. If you love Jesus and you love people, network! Bring them together. Introduce people to Jesus.

Matchmaking is one of my favorite things to do. I don’t mean romantic matchmaking—though that can be fun…and risky! I mean connecting good people with employers who are searching for quality talent. Although I’ve never received a finder’s fee, I’ve been delighted to make introductions which led to career opportunities.

I love introducing people to Jesus, too. I love talking about Jesus. I’m not especially good at it—and I often struggle to meet unchurched people working in a church office—but when I get the opportunity, I love to talk about my faith and how it’s all about Jesus, not a religion or a bunch of rules.

It is both a responsibility and joy to proclaim the gospel.

Jesus commands it. He commissioned us to make disciples who make disciples…assuming we are disciples, we are following Jesus, the one who “
came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10b), the one who was called a friend of sinners (Matthew 11:19; Luke 7:34).

I love roller coasters. I love the thrill, the energy, the speed, the excitement…yet seeing someone seek after God is even greater. Watching someone meet and surrender to Jesus is exhilarating. Sure, the birth of my kids and my grandbaby were beyond words, but the spiritual birth of a person—and playing a role in it—is such a joy.

My favorite days on our church calendar are the International Easter Dinner, baptisms, and Dinner Church. All three are opportunities to proclaim the gospel, for people to meet Jesus.

We are to proclaim the gospel in deed and word.

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

You don’t have to be a genius to know organized religion is in decline in our country…and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’m glad people are finally holding church leaders accountable for their bad behavior.

I’m certainly not a perfect example, but I’m a living example of someone trying to follow Jesus. I’m accountable to our elders and our District Superintendent, Rev. Thomas George. My desperate prayer is for wisdom. I know I’m inadequate to re-present Jesus. Fortunately, God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualified the called. And that includes you.

I believe actions speak louder than words. Years ago, I attended a conference where a well-respected Christian leader said, “The greatest obstacle to people coming to Jesus is the church.” I wanted to throw my chair at the guy, but he was right! Our reputation in our society is not good. We’re known not for our love—according to researchers—but for our hatred of people. Many believe we love our politics more than our faith, judging rather than extending grace, talking rather than listening, and converting rather than caring.

The medium is the message. If we aren’t loving, our message of love—our God of love—will never be heard. Please don’t give God—or the church—a bad name. And don’t expect non-Christians to act like Christians!

Send the Light

Jesus said,

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:14-16)

Why don’t we send the light? Why don’t we shine? Why don’t we proclaim the gospel and introduce people to Jesus? I think the primary reason is fear. We fear rejection. We fear embarrassment. Perhaps most of all, we fear failure. What if I introduce someone to Jesus and they reject him?

It’s not your job to convert people! Just like a matchmaker isn’t responsible for a couple falling in love and getting married, your job is just to make the introduction. You don’t have the power to change a human heart from their selfish pride to surrender…but the Holy Spirit does! If we do our part, He’ll do His!

Right before Jesus departed our planet, Luke writes,

Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6)

They thought Jesus came to restore a physical kingdom in Israel, but the Kingdom of God is global.

He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:7-8)

The Alliance has really focused on Acts 1:8.

The Holy Spirit does the word. We are to be God’s witnesses—even martyrs—in Jerusalem (Toledo), and in all Judea and Samaria (Ohio and the unwanted and outcasts…the widows, strangers, refugees, immigrants, orphans, disabled, poor, …), and to the ends of the earth.

Most of us like the ends of the earth. It’s exciting to hear what spiritual heroes are doing in other countries. It’s easy for many of us to write checks to support their work. We may even pray for our International Workers, but that’s not the only way we fulfil the Great Commission. Jesus wants everyone involved, including you! We’re all called to be missionaries…in Toledo or Timbuktu! Every Sunday is a missions conference where we get equipped to live out the mission of God…to seek and save the lost, to make disciples, to love God and to love others as we love ourselves.

Why Wait?

Billy Graham said, “The evangelistic harvest is always urgent. The destiny of men and of nations is always being decided. Every generation is strategic. We are not responsible for the past generation, and we cannot bear the responsibility for the next one; but we do have our generation. God will hold us responsible as to how well we fulfill our responsibilities to this age and take advantage of our opportunities."

Family, people are dying because of gun violence and random shooting. They are committing suicide (the suicide hotline is
800.273.TALK). Our tomorrow is not guaranteed, nor is it certain for those around us. What are you waiting for?

Next Steps

I know, it can be difficult to talk about Jesus. Some of you feel like you don’t have enough knowledge, which didn’t stop the woman at the well from telling those in her town about her encounter with Jesus on the same day she met him (John 4). Share your story! Why do you love Jesus? If you can’t share it, maybe you don’t have one!

Get out. Go! The light shines brightest in the darkness. It’s great to gather together on Sunday mornings, but the rest of the week is for scattering. We need to love our neighbor. Don’t worry about slick presentations. Build friendships. Join a club. Take a co-worker out for coffee. Every person you see this week is a broken masterpiece for whom Jesus died. Do they know how loved they are by God? By you? Take a risk. Introverts, use social media, if desired. Starts some conversations. If all of your friends are Christians, you might not be one! Jesus was a friend of sinners. Followers of Jesus go, they get out, they do not become of the world, but they go into it. They love and serve the people in it. I’m not a perfect example, but I’m thrilled to say in recent days I have been having some great conversations with spiritual seekers.

Here are a few simple next-steps you can take to connect with non-Christians:

- Dinner Church
- Coffee or a meal
- English conversation partners through Water for Ishmael
- Volunteer to tutor at Rosa Parks Elementary with you this fall
- Volunteer at the After School Klub (ASK) this fall

Don’t forget two essential tools:

Prayer. It’s not about our eloquence or knowledge, but the Holy Spirit’s power.

If you spent your entire life rooting for the Michigan Wolverines, do you think a five-minute conversation will cause you to change your allegiances to that team down south? I can tell you the answer; no! It takes time for seeds to produce fruit, even when there’s plenty of rain, fertilizer, and sunshine. It takes some people years—even decades—to get off the throne of their lives and submit to Jesus as LORD.

If you were raised in the church, faith might be second-nature to you. For adults who have lived their entire lives doing things their own way, it takes time to see the wisdom and value of surrendering control to Jesus.

In conclusion, Paul wrote,

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
(Romans 10:14-15)

Proclaiming the gospel is a joy because we love God and people. Let’s demonstrate that love this week as we engage in spiritual conversations and introduce people to Jesus.

One more thing…

Jesus never said to make converts. He said to make disciples. Evangelism is the front end of the discipleship process. It’s not the end. The goal isn’t getting people to pray a prayer. It’s to become like Jesus and help others become like Jesus.

Additional Resources

What about those who never hear the gospel? (we don’t know for sure!) (simple 3 circles evangelism tool)

The main reasons Christians do not evangelize—according to Thom Rainer—are:
  1. 1. Christians have no sense of urgency to reach lost people.
  2. 2. Many Christians and church members do not befriend and spend time with lost persons.
  3. 3. Many Christians and church members are lazy and apathetic.
  4. 4. We are more known for what we are against than what we are for.
  5. 5. Our churches have an ineffective evangelistic strategy of “you come” rather than “we go.”
  6. 6. Many church members think that evangelism is the role of the pastor and paid staff.
  7. 7. Church membership today is more about getting my needs met rather than reaching the lost.
  8. 8. Church members are in a retreat mode as culture becomes more worldly and unbiblical.
  9. 9. Many church members don’t really believe that Christ is the only way of salvation.
  10. 10. Our churches are no longer houses of prayer equipped to reach the lost.
  11. 11. Churches have lost their focus on making disciples who will thus be equipped and motivated to reach the lost.
  12. 12. Christians do not want to share the truth of the gospel for fear they will offend others. Political correctness is too commonplace even among Christians.
  13. 13. Most churches have unregenerate members who have not received Christ themselves.
  14. 14. Our churches have too many activities; they are too busy to do the things that really matter.
Credits: series outline from D6.

  • You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.
  • Reflections from Africa, 23 June 2019

    Reflections from Africa
    Kirk & Heather Schneemann

    Big Idea:
    God is on the move…here and all over the world.

    There’s no place like home!

    I love First Alliance Church. I love our tribe, the Christian & Missionary Alliance. We both have a rich history of more than thirteen decades of serving not only this country, but nations around the globe. In fact, about 90% of our Alliance family is outside of the USA. Missionary is our middle name!

    But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

    I love how we have a multi-faceted focus. Jesus instructed us to care not only for our city—our Jerusalem, not only our region—our Judea, not only the outcasts, strangers, widows, and orphans—our Samaria, but also the ends of the earth—the whole world.

    Another thing I love about First Alliance Church is its growing diversity. I’ve marveled at how God has continued to bless us with people from so many different zip codes, educational backgrounds, ethnicities, and income brackets. This past week at Sports & Arts Camp, I was thrilled to be in a group with white, African-American, and Asian kids. My love for diversity is not related to political correctness or cultural trendiness. It’s the heart of God! If you don’t like variety in this life, you’ll hate what follows!

    After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.

    And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9-10)

    They cried out in a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to
    our God.”

    People from every nation were claiming God as theirs.
    People from every tribe were claiming God as theirs.
    People from every language were claiming God as theirs.

    And you thought Christianity was an American thing! Ha!
    If you’ve never traveled abroad, I encourage you to make at least one trip. It will change your life. This past week I sent a note to last year’s Envision Dominican Republic team, encouraging them to reflect upon our week together in Santiago. It’s a week I thought of often while we were in Burundi.

    is a small, landlocked country in central Africa about the size of Massachusetts. Although it is loaded with natural beauty, it is one of the poorest countries in the world as a result of many years of bloodshed and genocide. Many are familiar with the horrific conflicts in Rwanda between the Hutus and the Tutsis. The same tribes live in neighboring Burundi and have had numerous civil wars resulting in massive deaths and widespread devastation. Virtually every person in Burundi has experienced severe trauma.

    In 1993, David N. was a pastor training eleven men to be pastors, a mixed group of Hutus and Tutsis. One day while David was teaching, troops ran out of the forest, ambushing the campus, lining his students up and killing them with their bayonets. David fled to a nearby garage where he hid in the oil change bay beneath a car for many hours, listening to the soldiers outside, praying his life might be spared. Miraculously, it was, but later he was involved in the burial of 25 bodies, including 8 of his 11 students.

    Needless to say, David was filled with trauma and grief. “God, why is this? Where are you? Why did I not die with them? Is God even real?”

    Later, David encountered the man who ordered the soldiers to kill his students. He didn’t plan to do it, but he went to the man and said, “I know you are the one. I want you to know I have forgiven you.” He then realized why his own life was spared: to promote forgiveness in the process of creating healing and peace.

    God wastes nothing. He is a master at redemption. What the enemy intends for harm, God can use for good, and David’s horrible ordeal lead him to start THARS: Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Services. They say,

    The seeds of tomorrow’s wars grow in the soil of today’s unhealed traumas.
    The seeds of tomorrow’s peace grow in the soil of today’s healing and reconciliation.

    About a decade ago, our friends, Chris & Kim, started talking about Africa. Chris loves to travel, and Kim had been invited to participate in a THARS conference in Burundi, a training for counselors who have little education by our standards, yet deal with trauma every day, both personally and with their clients. A group of Christian counselors from the state of Delaware went to Burundi in 2011, returned in 2013, and had a planned trip cancelled in 2015 due to unrest in the country.

    In 2017, David N. wanted to not only train counselors, but also offer a conference for pastors and a leadership training for young adults. He had requested a pastor and someone with experience in drama and working with children to join the regular team from Delaware, and Heather and I knew it was time to go to Africa!

    Our trip two years ago was amazing, training young leaders and pastors. Most of you know about my souvenir from that trip—Malaria—yet when we were invited to return to Burundi this year, we both had a clear sense that God wanted us to return. We now know why!

    Investing in the next generation.

    Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. (1 Timothy 4:12)

    • - Servant leadership

    Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45)

    • - Equipping pastors to equip others

    So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-13)

    • - Make disciples

    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.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

    • - Sustainability and reproduction

    And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. (2 Timothy 2:2)

    So What?

    • - Thank you for the prayers (health, fruit)
    • - Please pray for Burundi, its pastors, its youth, its government (election in 2020)
    • - Ask God to show you how you are to be making disciples
    You can listen to this message and others at the First Alliance Church podcast here.

    Vision Sunday, 5 March 2017

    Vision Sunday
    Matthew 28:18-20

    Big Idea: God has an exciting mission for us to (continue to) pursue.

    Those words, often called the Great Commission, are our mission. They are why we exist as a church. They are our mandate, our calling…make disciples.

    My name is Kirk and about eighteen months ago I was invited to move to Toledo and serve as your lead pastor. It was a humbling opportunity. Heather and I continue to thank God for calling us here.

    Several people have asked about our future, our vision. I dedicated my first year to listening—to you, our city, and most of all our Senior Pastor, Jesus. I came with no agenda. I came with little understanding of Toledo or First Alliance and its rich history.

    I’m excited to say things are beginning to get clear. I’m starting to get the pulse of our church and neighborhood. I don’t have a 20-year strategic plan to share with you today or announcements of ten new initiatives, but after many discussions with our staff and elders, I believe things are slowly coming into focus and I want to share with you glimpses of our future.

    Before we talk about First Alliance, I want to reflect upon our scripture text for today. To set the scene, we need to back up a bit. Matthew tells us about the resurrection of Jesus at the beginning of chapter 28. This, of course, is the great climax of Lent, arguably the greatest day in the history of the world.

    By the way, I want to encourage all of you to join me in this season of Lent, the journey toward the Cross…and resurrection. It’s not just a Catholic thing! These forty days remind us of Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness. We still have some devotionals if you didn’t get one last week, available at the Information Center in the lobby. Next week we begin a Lent series called, “A Love That Never Dies” to help us prepare for Holy Week.

    Matthew, one of four biographers of Jesus Christ, tells us the resurrection and then says…

    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.” (Matthew 28:16-20)

    These are Matthew’s final words in his gospel or “good news.” The mission—the commission—is simple:
    make disciples. Great! What’s a disciple? A simple definition would be a student or apprentice of another person. The goal of a disciple is to become like their master. When Jesus says make disciples, he is telling his followers to invest in followers who will become Christ-like.

    A disciple is not someone who just has the knowledge of the master.
    A disciple is someone who acts like the master.

    You may be a master chef and spend years showing me how to cook, but the test of my discipleship is not what’s in my head, but rather what I put on the dinner plate.

    You may be a master plumber and spend years showing me how to fix a leaky faucet, but the test of my discipleship is not what I know about plumbing, it’s whether or not I know how to keep the floor dry!

    Tragically, the focus of many churches has been attendance, getting people to go to a church service or small group. For some it is information, stuffing people with Bible knowledge. There’s nothing wrong with those things, but they don’t truly measure discipleship.

    The measure of discipleship is how much you look and act like Jesus. He said, “Follow me.”

    I have heard countless times people respect Jesus but they don’t like the church. That’s a discipleship issue, friends. If you are a Christian—or “little Christ”—your life should resemble Jesus. Obviously, none of us have arrived—we’re all imperfect sinners—but our goal, our example should be Jesus. If you need a more specific description of a disciple of Jesus, consider the fruit of the Spirit:

    But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

    How do you make disciples? First, be a disciple. Are you a disciple of Jesus? How does your life reflect the fruit of the Spirit?

    It should be noted Jesus never commanded us to start churches, go on mission trips, engage in Bible studies, attend prayer meetings, or even listen to a sermon every Sunday. Again, none of those are bad, but they are not the goal. Our mission is to make disciples, people who look like Jesus, people who love God and others. Make disciples is the Great Commission. Jesus also gave the great commandments:

    One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” (Mark 12:28)

    “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:29-31)

    Have you heard this before? You’ll hear it again, I promise, because at the end of the day, Jesus told us the entire Bible is summed up in two commandments:

    Love God
    Love your neighbor

    And he has given us one mission

    Make Disciples

    Simple? Yes.
    Easy? No.

    The reality is, we can’t love God and our neighbor and make disciples on our own. We need the Holy Spirit. Thomas George spoke about the Holy Spirit a few weeks ago. If you weren’t here, you can download the message for free on iTunes or our smartphone app. In a sentence, he said we need to let go and let God, surrendering ourselves to allow the Holy Spirit to fill us in order for us to bear fruit.

    So make disciples. But how? Actually, the command is go and make disciples. What does it mean to love God and love others? Let’s take a look at our church’s mission statement. It says

    The mission – make disciples - fully devoted followers of Christ. We define discipleship at First Alliance as someone who is: Connecting to God (worship), others (growing in community), and the world (missions – here and around the world)

    As our logo says, we’re about connecting to God, others, and the world.

    Are you still with me?

    The elders have been working on bringing more clarity to our mission. It’s biblical, but very broad. Any church could/should help people connect to God, others, and the world. I don’t have a revised mission statement for you—though we’ve been discussing one—but I want to suggest two details I cannot avoid:

    1. Toledo

    I know, this isn’t exactly rocket science, but Toledo is our “Jerusalem,” our home mission field. I’m sure there was a day when Toledo was filled with followers of Jesus, but like most any city in the west, it is becoming increasingly secular or non-Christian. We probably have more atheists, agnostics, and people of other faiths in our city than ever before, to say nothing of lukewarm Christians.

    If God called you to be a missionary in west Africa as he did last week’s guests Doug and Karen Conkle, you would live among the people, learn the language, study the culture, develop relationships, and invite people to follow Jesus, right?

    Most of you have been called by God to be missionaries in Toledo. This is our mission field. We need to live among the people, learn the language, study the culture, develop relationships, and invite people to follow Jesus.

    Let me briefly share a few reasons why I believe we need to focus on Toledo:

    1. We’re here!
    2. We’ve been here for 129 years
    3. We chose to stay here when the old building burned down
    4. Toledo has many needs we can address
    5. We’ve been given some wonderful opportunities to pursue
    6. We can be a part of the city’s growth and renaissance
    7. God is on the move in Toledo, not only at First Alliance but in the dozens of churches who are praying, serving, and worshiping together

    This morning I want to declare my personal commitment to this city. For as long as God has me here at First Alliance, I want to live, work, shop, and play in Toledo. Heather and I really have done better in Toledo and we’re excited about the future.

    2. The Next Generation

    No, I’m not talking about Star Trek. Actually, the next generation can be interpreted in a number of different ways—the next generation in US history (the Millennials) or the one that follows (GenZ), the next generation of members at First Alliance, the next generation of followers of Jesus…but it’s not me. It’s not many of you. Obviously we’re not going to go crazy, hang a disco ball from the ceiling, and sing Lady Gaga songs, but many of us have had our day. People served and sacrificed so we could encounter Jesus. We must make space for our children and grandchildren and great grandchildren. If you know Jesus, it’s critical to help the next generation know him. You saw some of them earlier waving ribbons. Others spoke last Sunday about their trip to the Avalanche youth retreat. They are our future…they are our present!

    We’ve always been about the next generation. We were involved in starting Toledo Christian Schools. We have an After School Klub. We run an annual sports and arts camp. We have possibly the best children’s director in the state of Ohio (Sue Trumbull) who is leading one hundred volunteer workers!

    Jesus told this great parable (story) in the 13
    th chapter of Matthew. He said seed was scattered in soil. Some was eaten by birds. Some fell on rocky ground and died. Some was choked by thorns. Some fell on good soil and produced a great crop. Jesus explained the story by saying…

    When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path.
    The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. (Matthew 13:19-22)

    But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
    (Matthew 13:23)

    After being so impressed by my first year at sports and arts camp last summer, I told Sue we did a great job scattering seed for a week, but what about the next 51 weeks? We need to cultivate the seeds, making sure they receive sun, rain, and fertilizer, keeping away the thorns, rocks, and birds.

    We are starting to do just that, through Toledo Urban Impact, the new van pickup each Sunday, new students from the neighborhood coming on Wednesday nights to girls club, boys club, and youth group, and our growing relationship with Rosa Parks Elementary School two miles away. We’re certainly not done, but we’re in the process of developing a birth to college pipeline of discipleship.

    Our involvement at Rosa Parks began largely through an invitation from Dr. Durant, the TPS superintendent, to be present in the school with the students and staff—before, during, and after school! He is a God-fearing man who is unashamed of his faith and we accepted his invitation. I wrote him this past week to say I was thrilled to read his contract was extended three years. Rosa Parks Elementary is a huge part of our mission field, people we are called to love, serve, and bless.

    Do you want to know my dream? It is to put Dan Rogers at Cherry Street Mission out of a job! Seriously! He would love that!

    He would love to see homelessness end with the next generation because people like you and me invested in their lives, helping them to experience graduation, a career, and most of all Jesus Christ.

    He would love to see poverty end with the next generation because people like you and me invested in their lives, helping them to develop a career.

    He would love to see crime and teen pregnancy end with the next generation because people like you and me invested in their lives, helping them to encounter Jesus Christ.

    We’re not giving up on adults, but something like 80% of Christians trust Christ before they turn 18. We can share the gospel with adults, but it’s a lot harder. We can rehabilitate the 55 year-old addict, but it’s a lot harder.

    And do I need to tell you the kids of Toledo need hope? They need help? They need Jesus.

    Last week Toledo’s 9
    th teen was shot dead.

    The current graduation rate for TPS is less than 65%.

    Teen moms are not just 16 and 17. Some are 12 and 13 years old in junior high.

    So What?

    Toledo needs Jesus. Not religion. Not programs. Jesus.

    The next generation needs Jesus.

    Where is Jesus on earth? We are to be his hands and feet, loving and serving and inviting people to come and see the one who loves them, who died for them, who never shames or pressures or manipulates, but simply says, “Follow me.”

    Discipleship is praying for our city and next generation.
    Discipleship is serving our city and next generation.
    Discipleship is loving our city and next generation.

    Will you join me?

  • You can listen to messages at the First Alliance Church podcast here.
  • Make Disciples, Family Rules, 22 February 2015

    Big Idea: A healthy church family reproduces by making disciples.


    I’m not a big fan of hospitals. For years it was because I would routinely pass out in them, even if it was in the gift shop! It’s some psychological thing inherited from my mom! The worst experience occurred on our first Christmas Eve as husband and wife. Heather made hot cider for our family party in our home, poured it into a crystal bowl until it shattered, leaving her screaming with second and third degree burns on her legs. In the ER as I faithfully stood beside my new bride, offering my steady support and encouragement one of the workers yelled, “Get another gurney…for the husband!”

    Unfortunately I’ve had a lot of experience in hospitals during our marriage…too much! I feel as if I know every square inch of U-M, St Joe’s, and Cleveland Clinic. Despite my issues with hospitals there’s one place that’s wonderful—the maternity ward!

    There are few celebrations like that of a new baby. It’s such a big deal, in fact, that we celebrate the anniversary of their birth each year they are alive—and sometimes even longer! This past week, in fact, I celebrated my birth-day (though the hospital where I was born no longer exists!)!

    Imagine a world without maternity wards; a world without babies. It would be quieter, but it would only be a matter of time until the world would experience true and total silence. The survival of our species requires new births…and the maturation of those babies into reproducing adults who co-create more babies.

    Believe it or not, this is an alarming issue for some cultures today. We’re all familiar with endangered species in the animal kingdom, often the result of uncontrolled hunting.

    In Japan, for instance, there are only 8.07 births per 1000 persons*, a number that is not sustainable, according to the experts. If there are more deaths than births, eventually a culture will cease to exist.

    *Note: as a basis of comparision,

    Monaco, 6.72 (lowest)
    Niger, 46.12 (highest)
    USA, 13.42

    Couples in the world’s five biggest developed economies — the United States, Japan, Germany, France and Britain — had 350,000 fewer babies in 2012 than in 2008, a drop of nearly 5 percent. The United Nations forecasts that women in those countries will have an average of 1.7 children in their lifetimes. Demographers say the fertility rate needs to reach 2.1 just to keep populations constant.

    In Japan, sales of adult diapers will exceed sales of baby diapers this year, according to Euromonitor International, a marketing research firm. In South Korea, where births have fallen 11 percent in a decade, 121 primary schools had no new students last year.
    And in China, where the working-age population is set to shrink next year, the government is relaxing a policy that had limited many families to one child. It might not help much. Chinese are choosing to stick to one on their own.

    It has been said that the church is one generation away from extinction. What is Scio’s future? What is the future of the Church of Jesus Christ on our planet?

    We’re nearing the end of our series
    Family Rules, a double entendre. We’ve said

    • know thyself
    • be real
    • welcome strangers
    • resolve conflict
    • serve together
    • celebrate diversity

    Today’s rule is make disciples.

    Before we look to the future, I want to ask a common question about the present: why are you here?

    Why are you here? These were my first words spoken here as your pastor. We need to return to this question from time to time to remember why we do the things we do. What is our mission? What is our purpose?

    Does your family have a mission statement? Here’s an example:

    Our mission is to be a contagious family of faith, hope, and love.

    I recently found a list of “honest” church mission statements. They’re not written anywhere, but they describe why some churches exist.

    Our mission is to grow worship service attendance by attracting the “have-it-together”  people in our community who will then invite other “have-it-together” people in our community.

    Our mission is to be ready for 1950 in case that decade rolls around again.

    Our mission is never-ending, double-digit, transfer growth in our relevant worship services by franchising our church across our region.

    Our mission is to be the only genuine church in our city because we don’t need church buildings and refuse to let our children be influenced by the public
    school system.

    Our mission is to feel good that we are Spirit-filled and to help others feel good through our Spirit-filled worship services where God’s presence feels good.

    Our mission is to keep the elders happy, bills paid and staff employed.

    Our mission is to have a gospel-centered mission statement that will help a gospel-centered people do anything we want as long as it is gospel-centered.

    At Scio, our mission looks a bit different. Quite a bit different!

    We exist to fulfill the Great Commission and follow the Great Commandment by 
    • serving our communities
    • sharing our story
    • sending disciples to bless the nations

    so that God is glorified.
    This is our family’s mission. It’s why we exist. In many ways it parallels the Christian & Missionary Alliance commitment to be a Christ-centered, Acts 1:8 family.
    But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

    Jesus said to love God and love others, the Great Commandment, and arguably the best way to do both is to obey what we call the Great Commission:

    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.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

    That’s it: love God, love others, go and make disciples, baptizing and teaching them.

    Jesus said nothing about building buildings, having potlucks, style of music, wearing robes, reading from the King James Version, or creating a website. Those may be part of the process, but we must never mistaken the process for the purpose.

    Love God, love others, go and make disciples. These are commands, not suggestions!

    What’s a disciple? Simply, it’s a follower or student of a teacher. It’s an apprentice. A protege.

    Parents, this is what you do every day, whether you realize it or not. Children model the behavior of their parents. Decades ago Harry Chapin’s song
    Cat’s in the Cradle described this natural process beautifully. The final two lines reflect the father’s observation:

    And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me, he'd grown up just like me.
    My boy was just like me.

    I believe the vision Jesus had for His followers as He stood on the Mount of Olives outside the gates of Jerusalem was they they would be just like Him…and they would reproduce their lives into others who would become just like them…and the next generation would pass the baton to the next and the next.

    One of my favorite verses in the entire Bible is 2 Timothy 2:2 (it’s also a fun address!). Paul writes to His disciple, Timothy, and says

    And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable people who will also be qualified to teach others. (2 Timothy 2:2)

    Notice there are four generations in this one verse:

    • Paul
    • Timothy
    • reliable people
    • others

    I stand before you as Mr. Schneemann because of my dad, Mr. Schneemann, and his dad, Mr. Schneemann, and his dad, Mr. Schneemann who came to the USA on a boat from Europe.

    I stand before you as a disciple of my dad who was a disciple of his dad who was a disciple of his dad (all men of faith) who encountered a disciple of Jesus as a bouncer in a bar.

    Do you see how it works? Here’s the thing: we can be passive or intentional. We can live like everyone else and train future generations to live like everyone else or we can buck the status quo, live radical lives like Jesus—not without great cost and possibly our very lives—and watch His mission continue far beyond us.

    I don’t know about you, but that’s the legacy I want to leave. I want my children and grandchildren and great grandchildren—both biologically and spiritually—to be known as men and women of faith, hope and love; men and women filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. I want people to confuse my offspring with Jesus!

    “Great,” you say, “but how?”

    I’m so glad you asked!

    First and foremost, before we can make disciples we must become disciples ourselves. We can teach what we know but we reproduce who we are.

    All of us have mentors. There are people who have influenced us. This includes family, obviously, but authors, teachers, and friends. Some may have been carefully chosen while others may have somewhat randomly entered our lives.

    I remember my dad asking me, once, who was mentoring me. Who’s disciple are you?

    Since they were little, I’ve told my kids, “You are your friends.” Choose wisely.

    Last summer I was working with our son and he said, “Dad, I love tattoos…but I don’t know why.” I asked if any of his friends had any tattoos. He said, “All of them.” Boom!

    Again, you have subconscious mentors like friends or family members. You also have the opportunity to consciously choose mentors or teachers or disciplers to follow. They may be distant mentors like A.W. Tozer or A.B. Simpson, dead men who were prolific in their writing, speaking, and influence. You might approach someone and say, “I admire you and your life. Would you be willing to invest in mine?”

    Perhaps the greatest discipler among our Scio family has been Mary Aleksoff. Her life has influenced so many, particularly women. In some instances she may have approached younger women and in others perhaps younger women sought her out. Regardless, she has been reproducing her Jesus-like self in so many.

    Keep in mind she is not a perfect example but a living example.

    Paul said to the people of Corinth simply:

    Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1)

    Who is discipling you? Who would you like to disciple you? Ask them! Many of you are discipled each week by your Life Group leader. Our Life Group leaders are some of the most important people at Scio as we seek to not only make disciples but then send them to bless the nations.

    Who are you discipling? “I can’t disciple!” you might say. Yes you can…and you do. People are watching you, whether you realize it or not. College students, there are high schools who look up to you. High schoolers, there are middle school students who model your behavior, faith, and attitudes.

    You don’t have to be a perfect example, just a living example.

    In fact, mentoring is about what you offer someone through your wisdom and experience. Discipleship is about what Jesus can offer someone through His wisdom and presence. We are not called to produce living water so much as be conduits through which the power of God can flow to others. We are not the baton, but rather we carry the baton of faith, so to speak, and pass it on to others.

    For the past several years I have invited young men into a discipleship relationship. Like Jesus, I chose them after seeing potential for them to become reproducing disciples. I have given them access to my life, we meet together as a group for a Huddle, and seek ways we can live out the mission of Scio…the mission of Jesus. They are all challenged to prepare to launch their own Huddle soon. Mike Breen and 3D Movements have created some of the best discipleship tools I’ve ever seen. Mike’s book
    Building A Discipling Culture is recommended reading for anyone seeking to become and make disciples.

    This is not something I do as a pastor or professional Christian. It’s something we are all called to do as disciples—reproduce! Many of the most influential disciplers in my life were not pastors. They simply lived lives worth following. Again, some were formal and some I’ve never met because they’re distant or dead.

    Discipleship is not easy. It requires an investment of our very lives.

    Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? (Luke 9:23-25)

    As disciples of Jesus, our lives do not belong to us. They belong to Him!

    Two More Things

    The command of Jesus is to make disciples of all nations. This follows last week’s theme of celebrate diversity. It beautifully fits our county where there are people living in our community from more than 100 nations. It also reinforces one of the purposes of The Santiago Experience. We are going to the Dominican Republic to make disciples of not only USAmericans but also Dominicans. Whether it’s befriending someone in your neighborhood, school or workplace or connecting with someone from another country online or getting your passport stamped we are called to make disciples of all nations.

    Ultimately we are not merely disciples of Paul or Tozer or Simpson or Mary Aleksoff…we are to be disciples of Jesus. It simply helps to see “Jesus with skin on” and see what it really looks like to follow Christ in our day. We must spend time with disciplers, but also with Jesus. If we are to love and follow King Jesus we must spend time with Him, we must study His teachings, we must follow His example, we must listen and learn through prayer and solitude.


    I have a dream. Yes, I have many, but I have a dream that Scio would be a family known for making disciples. That’s a huge part of why we exist.

    Our Scio nursery has been empty for quite some time. We’ve been praying that it would be filled and later this year there will be at least one or two babies, which is exciting! Babies are exciting! They can be loud and messy but very exciting! Of course the excitement of babies is not merely the present but the future potential they embody.

    In the same way I’m praying for the spiritual nursery of Scio to filled. I am praying that our baptistry is filled throughout this year as we join with the angels in rejoicing when souls are saved. Of course that’s not the end of the journey but merely an important step in the process of discipleship. If you’ve been baptized, you have a God-given responsibility and privilege to help others experience Jesus, surrender to Him, and make their faith public…and then grow and help others to do the same.

    Who is discipling you?
    Who are you discipling?

    It’s the circle of life! It’s why we exist. It’s God’s mission for every man, woman and child…and it’s a joy to play a small role in His mission.

    To God be the glory for the great things He has done!!!

    LORD, may Your Kingdom come and Your will be done in Scio, in Ann Arbor, in southeastern Michigan, on earth as it is in heaven. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

    You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.

    Great Commission Sunday, 22 June 2014

    Big Idea: We are all called to make disciples.

    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.” (Matthew 28:16-20)

    We are on a mission. The church doesn’t have a mission. The mission has a church! The mission includes a commission—a command, an order, an assignment.

    We exist to fulfill the Great Commission and follow the Great Commandment by 
    • serving our communities
    • sharing our story
    • sending disciples to bless the nations

    so that God is glorified.

    To learn more about Great Commission Sunday including two videos and how to give, click here.

    We are all called to make disciples. How? Time, talents and treasures.

    Time: pray, build relationships online and in person, serve our global missionaries
    Talents: go overseas short-term or long-term, study, serve in and through Scio & C&MA
    Treasures: give financially (offering later)

    Please pray for recent Global Missions Conference guests:

    - the Volstads
    - the Hanscomes
    - The Careys

    Please also pray for the Burns family, transitioning from an overseas assignment to a domestic one.

    You can listen to this message and others at the Scio podcast here. You can also subscribe to our podcast here.