A Christian must surrender to the lordship of Christ – part 6

Surrendering to the Lordship of Jesus requires doing life together

The third pillar, according to Acts 2:42, is doing life together (the breaking of bread).  This pillar reminds me of two guys that are very close to me, Dave and Jeff.  I met Dave in 2001; he worked at another church in our community.  I met Jeff in 2003 at a community youth ministry event.  Soon after I met Jeff, the three of us decided to go on a journey together.  We met at a local restaurant every Wednesday morning for the next three years.  We assigned Scripture for each other to memorize.  We asked each other several questions.  We prayed for one another.  Those two guys dug into my life deeper than any other person previously was able.  I have been shaped in extraordinary ways because of these two guys.  As seasons of ministry have passed, we moved to different states.  Technology has allowed our friendship to remain active, even across the country.  Neil Cole wrote in his book, “Cultivating a Life for God”, that “an LTG is made up of two to three people, all of the same gender, who meet weekly for personal accountability in the areas of spiritual growth and development.”[1] According to Cole’s definition, we were a Life Transformation Group.  In those early years of ministry, I needed this type of group in my life.  As I look back at my LTG experience, these guys filled a void.  It has been eight years since I have engaged a relationship of this type and I feel the void in my life.  I think every person has this type of void, but may not recognize what it is or how to fill it.

The LTG concept is transformational because any individual can take part.  The format is simple; “a steady diet of Scripture, confession of sin and prayer for others who need Christ.”[2]  As an LTG begins, the group decides what Scripture they would like to read and how many chapters they will read that week.  The group remains in the same section of Scripture until the entire group has completed the reading assignment.  From there, the group asks each other several accountability questions.  Wisdom always asks the final question regarding 100% honesty among the group members.  Finally, each person has two or three people as evangelistic priorities.[3]  The group prays specifically for each of the names.  This would be such a blessing to go through an experience like this again.  One of the goals of an LTG is to split and form two groups when a fourth person joins.  Individuals surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and bring others on the journey with them.  It has the potential of a never-ending cycle of disciple-making.

Another way that “doing life together” works well is the conversation triangle.  I remember a pastor telling me that if I want to have an in-depth conversation with another person to put something in front of them to focus on.  As a new guy to vocational ministry, I listened to any input offered, including the bad information.  After several years of ministry, I find myself having meetings in coffee shops and restaurants because of this principle; do life together.

As years have passed, I have learned better ways to engage guys in a “doing life together” relationship.  I am often asked why meetings were not in my office, and I always talk about what I called a “triangular conversation.”  I knew that I needed to change the focus of our meeting.  When our conversation was not the focus of our meeting, the meeting seemed to be more efficient.

Recently, I read a blog about this very topic.  The author, Lee White, described the three pillars that support conversation.  The Social Object is the subject of the conversation. It is the thing that makes people want to keep conversing.  The Connection is the mechanism of how people converse. Trust determines how much people are willing to share.[4].

As church leaders, who strive to model spiritual community and doing life together, we would be wise to embrace the conversation triangle.  The concept of men’s ministry is beneficial, but churches may design these ministries to fail before they even begin.  We sit guys at a table for relational community and expect them to go deeper than superficial conversation.  In contrast, I have a pastor friend that hosts a poker small group.  Every Monday night, he invites a handful of guys to his house to play cards, and they talk about how Jesus is showing up in their lives.  This group has been successful for almost ten years.  Men love the conversation because playing cards takes the awkwardness out of the situation.  As church leaders, we have the responsibility to creatively find commonalities and allow people to have spiritual conversations within those boundaries.  It is not just men’s ministry, but also applies within the scope of other ministries.  If we are going to be Christians who surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, we must learn to do life with one another.

Titus provides a foundation for the type of relationship that I am describing.  Titus 2:2-8 – “Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be.  Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.”

These verses are often used to define what a biblical relationship looks like.  I have made the mistake of using this passage by instructing guys to seek out another man that is at least one step ahead of his spiritual journey.  During some language study on this passage, I understand this pertains to life wisdom and life experience.  Titus 2 instructs “older men” and “older women” to teach those who are younger.  The transliteration of “older” is presbyteros that is used as an adjective for age order of people.[5]

As already stated, LTG’s were a remarkable experience for me.  Small groups that have a conversation triangle have also been successful.  A third type of doing life together is a simple mentoring relationship.  I have never had this kind of non-academic relationship.  I know as I finish a degree program and transition into senior leadership, I need to seek this out.

A mentoring relationship would have helped me parent young children.  A mentoring relationship would have helped me become a better husband at a faster pace.  A mentoring relationship would have helped me stay away from debt accumulation early in our marriage.  A mentoring relationship would have been very fruitful in my life.  I can only imagine how this type of relationship with men and women will make families and church leadership structures stronger and more stable in the future.  We will explore families and church leaders later.

For now, there are many ways Christians can incorporate the “doing life together” principles.  It is important to choose a starting point and run with it.  An individual can begin an LTG with a few other guys.  An individual can grab some guys and talk about Jesus while working on a car.  An individual can glean the wisdom and experience from a man who is in the next season of life and beyond.  The point is if we are to surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, we need these types of relationship in our lives.  We need Proverbs 27:17, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.”  We must take the initiative to make sure we are sharpened and transformed as we completely surrender our lives to Jesus Christ.  No other person is going to do it for us.

[1] Cole, page 54.

[2] Cole, page 54.

[3] Cole, page 59.

[4] https://insideconversation.wordpress.com/2011/09/08/the-conversation-triangle/

[5] http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?strongs=G4245&t=KJV