If you haven’t read my previous post on Invitation and Challenge, it’s not mandatory reading for today’s post to make sense, but this is going to be another batch of thoughts on the same subject. I’ve recently been reading Kingdom and Covenant by Mike Breen, and though it’s a different type of read than Building a Discipling Culture, I’ve been getting quite a lot out of it. Later on in the book, where I’m currently at, the subject of how Jesus used invitation and challenge in the life of his disciples has come up again, and as is the case whenever I have “aha” moments, I’m now sitting here blogging about it.
For a primer on it, Breen says this about the grid below and building leadership culture in your fellowship setting:
“The goal is to build a church that is high invitation and challenge. This produces leaders who are well placed to be fruitful and multiply the Kingdom into the lives of others. This is because the leaders are honored and loved for who they are, while also having clear goals and challenges at which to aim. They don’t settle for second best and will be significant contributors to the Kingdom of God.” ((p. 63, Building a Discipling Culture.))
But the thought that got my mind racing around this stuff again was based on the following quote:
“Jesus gave an invitation to Covenant relationship and a challenge to take responsibility for Kingdom representation.”
It looks like this, briefly: Jesus, on the one hand, had a knack for inviting these young rough men from several different walks of life, into a covenant relationship with Him (and the Father), but also gave them the challenge to live out and manifest the kingdom of the Father. He had a balance as demonstrated by the chart below which I’ve used on occasion before as well, but in case you aren’t familiar with it, it goes like this:
I encourage you to click on the picture to read a blog post about properly calibrating invitation and challenge. For now, suffice it to say, the challenge given was commensurate with the level of invitation the disciples had received. Jesus had invited individuals, such as Peter among His inner 3, to relate on a very deep level, and thus, the challenge was equally deep when He’d turn around after a profound revelation Peter had, but then told him “get behind me, Satan!”. The level of correction–and out of necessity, rebuke–you can speak successfully into someone’s life is directly related to the type of relationship you have with them.
Recently I was walking on the street our ministry leader lives on, and saw a couple of the young ladies in my home cell group smoking cigarettes. The thought crossed my mind that this is obviously not something they were scared of me seeing, and if they were trying to hide it, they wouldn’t have been out in the open where I, or anybody else in the ministry, could run into them. In fact, it seemed they didn’t care I noticed and waved when they saw me.
As a result, the thought went through my mind something like this “Oh, sisters so and so smoke“, and that was it. My old self would have immediately pounced on them and said something cute like “you know there’s no ash trays in heaven, right?” or “smoking doesn’t send you to hell, but just makes you smell like you’ve already been there.” But when I saw them, the thought went through my mind that my relationship with them is so new, and they are relatively “baby Christians”, I would actually accomplish nothing good if I bothered. They need grace and space to grow. I don’t quite have the right to speak thus to them, even if my facts and convictions are right, the lack of relationship ruins any positive results I expect to accomplish other than discouraging them.
I’m working on adding more bread to my ‘praise sandwich’ as it is in my normal interaction with all in my life. For the uninitiated, a praise sandwich merely means that the meat of it is the correction or challenge and the bread or bun is the encouragement and invitation. I’ve been a lot better at offering correction instead of encouragement, and as a result, I’m working way more at finding how to encourage someone into hearing what I might have to say that I’d like to challenge them on. Different people will be more adept at one or the other, but we must learn to calibrate invitation and challenge to make our own disciples. Paul did instruct Timothy to rebuke AND encourage (2 Tim 4:2).
Before firing off a diatribe on someone you think needs correction, ask yourself–are you encouraging them enough that they would even bother listening to your rebuke or correction? Community doesn’t come about simply by having hard, intimate conversations. Having hard, intimate conversations is part of what is possible when people are already opening up their day-to-day lives to one another.
Questions To Ponder
On the grid above, where would you pinpoint the way you interact with people you’re trying to disciple?
If you’re not making disciples (why not?), then how do you interact with your friends and others in your life — is there a good balance of invitation and challenge?
We Are 3DM official site
Check out recent podcasts with Mark Burgess on this subject.