Sermon: Beginning with Clarity

Summary: The process of moving people from salvation, to spiritual maturity to
meaningful ministry needs to have clarity, which is the ability of the process to be
communicated and understood by the people. Clarity involves defining not only the 
purpose, but also the process and how each weekly program is a part of the process.

Know: As expressed by metaphors of growth in scripture, spiritual growth in the
church is a process. The implication is that we need to identify, communicate, and 
utilize a commonly understood process of being spiritual formed.

Feel: The excitement of the process being so simple that anyone can do it

Do: Discuss the elements of a simple process of discipleship as demonstrated in

Text: 1 Cor 3:6-13

Scripture Reading: 1 Pet 2:1-5

1.  Class at West Point in class studying time-space relationship later formulated as 
Einstein's Theory of Relativity
	a.  Text several pages long and complex, many students had tough time
	b.  One Cadet committed all the pages to memory
	c.  When he was called on to comment in class, he stood and recited it 
	d.  Teacher, with inquisitive look, asked, "Cadet, do you understand this 
		- Was a bad moment, but answered truthfully, "No sir, I do not"
		- The Cadet braced himself and waited
		- Instructor paused, "Neither do I, section dismissed"
2.  Did Jesus make the Christian life so hard to understand?
	a.  Saw last time that Jesus simplified things
	b.  In order for us to have a simple church, need to begin with clarity
	c.  Need to clarify, have a simple and understood process
3.  Several passages use a building metaphor
	a.  Eph 4:11-12 - God gave leaders for the "building up of the body"
	b.  Col 2:6-7 - Walk in Christ, now that we are being built up in him
	c.  1 Pet 2:5 - We are living stones, being built up as a spiritual house
	d.  It is an ongoing process.
4.  (1 Cor 3:6-13) - Paul used a Building Metaphor referring to the church
	a.  Paul refers to himself as a "master builder"
	b.  What is a "master builder?"
	c.  ILL:  Building - Blueprint, plan, clear instructions on how to build
	d.  Be careful HOW you build, if not, building will not stand
		- You don't build the roof first, but lay the foundation first
		- Hence the need for clarity, a clear plan or process
		- How do you have a clear process? (Common sense 

I.  Define it
	A.  The process for discipleship and spiritual growth needs to be clear
	B.  Biblical examples for clarity
		1.  Jesus said he came to seek and save the lost
			a.  It didn't happen by accident
			b.  (Acts 2:22-24) - Jesus was crucified according to God's 
			c.  (Rom 8:29) - Those God forknew, he predestined to 
			     become conformed to the image of his son
			d.  God had a plan, and brought it to pass
				- The birth, life, crucifixion, Judas, etc. all God's plan
		2.  Paul had a plan for his ministry
			a.  Gal 2:8 - He was apostle to the Gentiles
			b.  Rom 15:20 - Aspire to go where Christ not already named
			c.  Always had trainees, such and Timothy and Titus, and 
		3.  Clarity stems from God's character
			a.  1 Cor 14:33 - God is not a God of confusion/disorder, but 
			b.  Let all things be done properly and in an orderly manner
			c.  Doesn't this apply to more than a worship service?  
		4.  To have a well-defined biblical plan is a godly thing to have
	C.  How to define your process
		1.  You must define you purpose (the what), but that is not enough
		2.  Also need to define the process (the how)
			a.  This tells you how will you meet purpose
			b.  The how is perhaps more important than the what
			b.  The how (Process) is what makes everything work
		3.  ILL:  A Car
			a.  Know purpose of a Car?  To get from point A to B
			b.  But do you know the process?
				- How to turn the key to start, steering wheel
				- Gas pedal, traffic signs, speed, etc.
			c.  If don't know the process, won't work
	D.  Questions to ask
		1.  What kind of disciple do we need to produce?
			a.  Lovers of God, Loving your neighbor, reproducing, etc.
			b.  What does a disciple of Christ to look like?
				- What do they need to know and believe?
				- What virtues do they need to demonstrate?
				- What behaviors do they need to exhibit?
		2.  How can we describe the purpose as a process?
			a.  If purpose statement is also the process, simplifies things
			b.  Examples:  
				- A church's purpose was "Love God, Love others, 
				   Serve the World"
				- Process - 
					1-Get Connected with God, 
					2-Get Connected in Vibrant Relationships, 
					3- Expressing Love by Service
		3.  Decide how each weekly program is a part of the process
			a.  Want them to contribute to the process, not compete
			b.  Example from a church:
				- Love God = Worship Service
				- Love Others = Small Group Ministry
				- Serve the World = Ministry Teams
		4.  Our purpose is stated as - "We are a Christ-Centered Family, 
		      Learning, Sharing and Caring"
			a.  How can this be a "process?"
			b.  What ministries do we need in order to meet it?
			c.  This will be part of our discussion in Life Groups

II.  Illustrate it
	A.  Find some way to express it visually
		1.  Picture is worth 1000 words
		2.  Expressing it visually makes it more memorable
	B.  Some examples of visuals
		1.  Secular Examples
			a.  Photo of Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine.  Overlooking the city, 
			    see golden arches on a building - McDonalds
			b.  Cursive Red and Silver Label in another language - Coke
			c.  The apple symbol - Macintosh
			d.  Multicolored Square - Windows
		2.  Religious Examples
			a.  Cross on a Building - For a Church
			b.  Star of David on a Building - Jewish congregation
			c.  But these really don't represent a "process"
		3.  Examples of Illustrations of a Process
			a.  Todd Miller, Downtown Church of Christ (conveyor belt)
				non-believers-open-converted-spiritually mature
			b.  Rick Warren - Ball Field 
			c.  I thought of one - "G3" - Two greatest commands and the 
			     Great Commission
		4.  Idea is to capture the process in an easy to remember visual
	C.  There is biblical support for the idea of visuals
		1.  Old Testament - Full of Memorials
			a.  Pile of 12 stones at the Jordan
			b.  Succoth (Tabernacles) - Remember 40 yrs in wilderness
			c.  Pesach (Passover) - Commemorate the Exodus
		2.  Jesus appropriated Passover
			a.  Lord's Supper/Communion/Eucharist (thanksgiving)
			b.  Visual Reminder of our deliverance through him
			c.  Visual Reminder of our being united as people to God
		3.  God is a fan of visuals and illustrations
			a.  Bible is full of them
			b.  In Baptism, we die with Christ and Raise to walk a new 
			     life - Both illustration and reality blended together
			c.  We are a Temple / Living Stones / Light of the World
		4.  Well known symbol in Christianity = The Cross of Christ
	D.  Elements of the illustration
		1. Should be reflective of the process - Christ centered, learning, 
		    sharing, and caring
		2. Should show progression
			a.  Should somehow show the progress to make
			b.  Should be some sort of movement
		3. Should help simplify the process
			-  Illustration should not complicate but clarify

III.  Measure it
	A.  Need some way to reflect on whether its working
	B.  Yes, there is Biblical support for this as well
		1.  Several passages that tell us to examine ourselves:
			a.  1 Cor 11:5 - A man must examine himself (communion)
			b.  2 Cor 13:5 - Test yourselves
			c.  James 1:22f - Word of God is like a mirror
		2.  Book of Acts records "numbers" of conversions
		3.  Bible often communicates virtues, behaviors and such in the 
		     form of "lists," which are easily measured and evaluated
			a.  Gal 5:19f - Fruit of the Spirit and Deeds of the Flesh
			b.  Col 3:5f - Characteristics of the Old Self and New Self
			c.  2 Pet 1:5-8 - List of Christian virtues to add
			d.  These "lists" help facilitate measurable goals
	C.  ILL:  If you don't have a measuring process, may be less effective
		1.  Preseason games are boring games, even for fans.
			a.  Sports newscasters barely mention these games
			b.  They will not always play their best players
			c.  They are like practice with referees
			d.  Sports reporters joke about how little they matter
		2.  Why is it this way?  The games are not measured
			a.  No one is keeping score
			b.  The games don't count
		3.  If we are going to take the process seriously, we will need to 
		     evaluate it
		4.  Cliché - "What gets evaluated gets done"
	D.  How?
		1.  Since we are talking about a "process" we are not just talking 
		      about measuring "attendance", but "progression"
		2.  This means viewing numbers horizontally, not vertically
			a.  Each ministry is not a self-contained unit, but part of an 
			     overall ministry process (a "stage" in the process)
				- Similar to schools, or college, there is a progression
				- You don't ask "How many are in 5th grade?"
				- You ask, "How many have passed on to 6th grade? 
			b.  Don't just count attendance at a program, but how many 
			     are moving from one program to the next
				- eg: How many going from worship to small groups
				- eg: How many going from small groups to ministry?

IV.  Personalize it
	A.  The process will not work if it is not communicated regularly
		- Needs to be so regular, that it becomes personalized
	B.  It needs to happen often, and regularly, and often
		1.  It must be discussed frequently at all stages of the process
		2.  Articulate it as a group (when everyone is together)
			a.  Share stories of how it is at work
			b.  Will help eliminate confusion
			c.  Will increase understanding
			d.  When it is understood, can be embraced personally
		3.  Leadership must own and communicate the process regularly
			a.  Need to view everything through the lens of the process
				-  It needs to be a part of every meeting
				-  Need to test each other on it
			b.  Brainstorm new, creative ways to communicate it
		4.  Needs to become part of the DNA - Personalized
	C.  Leaders need to be tour guides, not travel agents
		1.  Do you know the difference between the two?
			a.  Travel agent hand you a ticket and send you on your way
				- Travel agent can give you brochures and info
				- They often will have no "personal" knowledge of it
				- They tell you to have a nice trip
			b.  Tour Guides are different
				- They make the trip and you follow what they do
				- Whether it is a hike on a trail, white-water rafting, 
				   they know the ins and outs
				- They know the dangers and can give instructions 
				   from "personal experience"
				- Tour guide goes WITH YOU on the journey
		2.  Like Jesus, we need to be spiritual tour guides
			a.  We need to model the process
			b.  If we expect certain behaviors, virtues, confession, 
			     change, repentance…we need to be tour guides
			c.  This is where ministry "authority" comes from
				- Talking about "personal" authority
				- If you do and model it, you come from a place of 
				   "personal" authority
				- If you don't, you'll not have any "personal" authority
			d. This is what leadership is all about
		3.  In communicating the process, we need to be tour guides, not 
		     travel agents
	D.  So, we need to communicate everywhere often so it can be 
		1.  If get tired of hearing it, then that is probably about how often 
		     need to communicate it
		2.  In new member orientations, at meetings, on printed material, on 
		     the wall, letterhead, etc.
		3.  Need to get it into our DNA

1.  The next "step" is Life Groups, where we can reflect and share feedback on this
2.  If you are not a Christian, the next step is to hear the Gospel (invitation)
3.  There is a "building" process in the kingdom
	a.  Need to define not just the goal, but also the process
	b.  A SIMPLE, clear blueprint
4.  God has not given us something like Einstein's Theory of Relativity
	a.  God has provided something doable, understandable, measurable
	b.  Human beings have a way of making things complicated
	c.  God is not a God of confusion, but of order
5.  Starts with defining the process, illustrating it, measuring it, and communicating it


Small Group Questions:  Beginning with Clarity

Summary: The process of moving people from salvation, to spiritual maturity to
meaningful ministry needs to have clarity, which is the ability of the process to be
communicated and understood by the people. Clarity involves defining not only the purpose, 
but also the process and how each weekly program is a part of the process.

- What do you find the hardest to understand?


1.  Acts 2:22-24; Rom 8:29; 1 Cor 14:33 - These scriptures indicate that God has a "plan," and 
that God is not a God of confusion, but of peace and order, which served as the rationale for a 
church having an orderly worship service.  What implication does this also have for a church's 
efforts at spiritual growth and discipleship?  

2.  How does the building metaphor for the church (which is so common in the New Testament 
eg: 1 Cor 3:6f; Eph 4:11f; 1 Pet 2:5f) contribute to the first question?


3.  According to our weekly programs, what kind of disciples are we trying to make?

4.  Is there a defined process at our church?  If so, what is it?  How is each of our weekly programs 
used in the process, of there is one?

5.  What is the illustration or metaphor we most often use to describe spiritual growth?

6.  How do we measure success at our church?  What are we looking for?

7.  On a scale of one to ten (with ten being the highest), what is the level of process understanding 
in our church?  Explain your answer.

8.  Are we tour guides or travel agents?  Explain.  How does this affect spiritual growth?

9.  What should we do in response to the things learned in this lesson?