The Pathway to Fruitfulness

Introduction

It was during the greeting time in worship when he asked me the question, “What’s your plan to reach our community?” He was an evangelist who was visiting the church. He and his wife had attended church for a little over a month. I had been to his house to visit them. We had some good conversations. My answer to him was brief: “In a word,” I said, “discipleship.” He turned away as I went to shake someone’s hand behind him. I never saw him in church again. That night as I was leaving for vacation with my family, I received a message on Facebook where he “rebuked” me. That was his word.

I was disappointed, but not surprised. Discipleship is a word that has come to mean different things for different people. But if there is one thing I have learned in ministry, it is that discipleship has lost its significance as being the foundational ministry of the church. There are many good things a church can do by way of ministry, but if the church is not focusing on discipleship as the focal point of everything it does, then it may very well not be fulfilling the very purpose for which Christ created and commissioned his church.[1] In this paper I will argue that discipleship is the path to fruitfulness for the church. True, lasting transformational growth (both numerically and spiritually) will be most evident when discipleship is the leading vision that defines what the church does. Hence, church growth will be most fruitful when discipleship is the primary ministry of the church.[2]

Understanding the Mission

Any discussion of church growth and the spiritual factors that lead to such growth must begin by considering the purpose for which the church was created. It is the purpose for which Christ created the church that defines its ministry.[3] Ministry that does not take into consideration the reason the church was created may very well work against the reason it exists.

Before Jesus ascended to the Father he gave the fledgling church the mission that was to define its identity. The most comprehensive expression of his instruction are found in Matthew’s gospel where he said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age’” (28:18-20).[4] The main point of his command is that the church was to “Make disciples of all nations.” They were to do this by going, baptizing, and teaching, which would lead to their obedience in following him.[5]

These things (going, baptizing, and teaching) are the pillars in the process of making a person a disciple of Jesus. However, while these things are foundational to the life of a disciple, they are not, by themselves, the purpose of the church. For example, a church that has evangelism as its primary focus may reach many people with the gospel, but if that church does not have a process that clearly leads those people who accept Christ to become disciples themselves, then the church may have a large crowd at worship on Sunday mornings, but it is unlikely that they will be effective in fulfilling the command to make disciples.[6] Indeed, there are scores of churches that have a nice crowd in worship, but of those who attend, very few have ever shared their faith, and even less have attempted to lead another to become a disciple. Hence, by not focusing on the mission to make disciples, those who come to faith by the church’s evangelism efforts cannot, themselves, reach others with the gospel, and they cannot obey Christ’s command to make disciples. In this regard, missionary Nik Ripkin made the prescient observation that, “The Church cannot be the church unless it is going and making disciples.”[7]

It is important to define what it means to be a disciple. First, a disciple is one who actively and obediently follows Christ into a new way of life, in the context of the church, for the purpose of making Christ known amongst the nations. That’s what a disciple is. Second, what a disciple does, as they make Christ known amongst the nations, is to lead others to actively and obediently follow Christ. Hence a disciple is one who seeks to replicate themselves into the life of another.[8] So a disciple is a follower of Christ, who then leads others to follow Christ as well. For the church to be successful in fulfilling the great commission, then, the church must focus on leading people to be disciples who then become disciple makers. Only those who make disciples are fulfilling the command to “Make disciples of all nations.”

When the church was birthed at Pentecost, the apostles, who spent three years learning to follow Christ, were now teaching others to do the same (Acts 2:42). Those who learned from the apostles then went out into the world teaching others to follow Christ as well (Acts 8:4). This practice was so foundational to the life of the church that by the time the church was founded in Antioch almost ten years later, those who were actively following Christ as disciples were called Christians. It’s important to note that Acts 11:26 says that, “The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.”

A disciple is not just a believer in Jesus as Lord and Savior. A disciple is an active follower of Jesus.[9] In John’s gospel, Jesus said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (20:21). Jesus was sent into the world to bear our sins. While no one other that Jesus can be the sin bearer of the world, all believers are sent into the world to make God’s salvation through Christ known. In Acts 1:8 Jesus said that “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” The scope of the command is worldwide. The only way for the church to obey the command is to make as its main purpose the raising up of disciples for the purposes of sending them out. The church is not a gathering organization.[10] The very core of its purpose is to prepare people to be sent out as followers of Jesus who can then lead others to follow as well.

Hence, in contrast to how the church is commonly understood today, the church was not created to be an institution, but was created by Jesus to be a movement in the world. Institutions gather and organize people. A movement sends people with the intent of changing the world. An institution needs formal rules to govern its existence. A movement needs people who passionately believe in the cause. Few rules are needed to guide a heart passionate about what it believes.[11] Jesus transforms people’s relationship with God.[12] It is their new established relationship with the author of life that drives their desire to follow Jesus into the world so others can hear, believe, be saved from judgement, and enter, themselves, into this new life with God. No institution ever created a movement. The Great Commission is not the establishment of an institution, but the beginning of a worldwide movement that will not end until Christ returns.

For the church to obey the Great Commission’s call to make disciples of all nations, then it must ask itself the question: how do we get this movement going? In other words, how do we reach people, train them, and send them out with the good news, so they can reach others, train them, and send them out with the good news? To ask the question is to answer it. To be a part of the movement that Jesus began, the church must do those very things: reach them, train them, and send them out. This is the mission Christ has for the church.

For the church to faithfully fulfill the command, it needs to understand that the church is the impetus of the movement.[13] Christ created the church to be the engine that keeps the movement going. If the church loses sight of its purpose, the movement will slow, if not stop altogether. Of course we know the movement begun by Christ cannot stop, because he promised to build his church – and he cannot fail.[14] But, for any particular church that loses sight of its purpose, it can see their part in the movement come to an end.[15]

Spiritual Factors for Fruitful Ministry

For the church to be a part of the movement Christ began, and to be fruitful, a few things are needed. We will discuss each in turn. First, the church must commit to the vision Christ gave his church through the Great Commission. Second, the church must encourage believers to surrender to God’s will as communicated in the vision. Third, they must be intentional about spiritual growth. Only when one grows in Christ can he/she be a part of Christ’s mission in the world. Fourth, once they grow-up in Christ, and understand how they are called to contribute to the mission, they are expected by Christ to participate in the mission to make disciples of all nations. Fifth, as they participate, they are to help others grow in their walk with Christ. As they come alongside others, they are to help equip them to participate in the mission too. In short, when believers grow in Christ, they become disciples who then actively disciple others.

These steps contain two assumptions. First, individual spiritual development and growth leads to active participation in the Great Commission. Second, those who are active in the mission of the church will be effective and fruitful in fulfilling the Great Commission – which, in turn, will lead to numerical growth within the church itself. The only way for believers not to be fruitful, is by not seeking spiritual growth and development in their life, which, in turn, will prevent them from participating in the Great Commission. However, spiritual growth always leads to obedience and fruitfulness. Jesus said, “I will build my church.” And through the Great Commission he has revealed that he builds his church through the active obedience of his people. Fruitfulness will always be the result of obedience. Hence, believers who seek to grow will become disciples that reach and equip others.

Commit to the Vision

I remember a conversation I had with my dad several years ago. He was a tool-and-die maker for over forty years. Concerning my job as a pastor he once said, “It must be frustrating to not see a finished product.” In his job, raw materials came into the shop, and after a long process a finished product left the shop to a customer. After thinking about his statement, it occurred to me that the church, in seeking to fulfill the Great Commission, was not that much different. We just have different materials and a different finished product.

Using that analogy, I realized that the finished product of the church is a fully functioning disciple who actively obeys Christ by being a disciple-maker. And like any product, the life of a disciple, must begin with raw material. The raw material that comes into the church is the newly minted believer who has just responded to the gospel. When this person enters the church, he/she comes with a lot of baggage. New believers enter the church with wrong ideas about God, sin, the church, and life in general. Most enter with sin in tow. And when they begin their life as a believer they are not yet equipped to follow Christ. It is the church’s job to equip these new believers so they can effectively follow.[16]

Unfortunately many churches believe that when they lead someone to Christ, they have reached the finish line – work accomplished, move on to the next prospect. The Bible, however, reveals that leading someone to Christ is not the finish line, but the starting line. It’s not the end of the journey, but only the beginning of one. In that respect I began to think of the church as an assembly line. That’s not the greatest analogy, I know. But, the point is to see the raw material coming into the church, then seeing that material shaped and formed, then exiting the church as a finished product. That product is not a pew sitter! It’s a person who has repented from sin, embraced the vision Christ has for his/her life, and has committed to learn to follow Christ as he/she seeks to become obedient to him.

The first step in the spiritual development of a person is to lead them to see Christ’s vision for the church, and then lead them to take ownership of that vision for their life. Failure to help a new believer understand that Christ has a world-wide mission he expects his people to be a part of, results in mission failure for that new believer and for the church that believer has joined.[17] Of course, before the church can communicate the vision, it must also embrace the vision itself.

To echo captain obvious, I don’t think it was an accident that Jesus gave the Great Commission at the beginning of the church’s life. It is the vision for the church; and it defines the identity and activity of the church throughout all time. To deviate from it is to chart a course different from the one he gave. The church was created by virtue of the great commission, not despite it. If Christ had commissioned his church to pick pickled peppers, then his followers would travel the country side picking pickled peppers. But, he commission his church to “Make disciples of all nations.” Either the church is doing that, or it has chosen to do something else.

And, as mentioned above, the church is not an institution. The Greek word translated “church” in our Bibles literally means, “The assembled ones.” Thus, the church is an assembly of believers who are called to follow Christ in the world-wide movement he began. When new people enter the church they must be taught the vision Christ has for his church. Only as they begin to understand his vision can they begin to understand what the church is, what he expects of them as members, and how they can contribute to the mission.

This vision casting is accomplished in two ways. First, it begins with the teaching ministry of the church.[18] The leaders of the church are called to effectively communicate Christ’s vision. Second, mature believers must come alongside new believers. If the finished product is a fully functioning disciple, then it is expected that that disciple is equipped to invest in the life of other new believers. Indeed, it is the fully functioning disciple who is, in effect, the assembly line worker. As the raw material comes into the church, the worker helps shape the new believer until they are, themselves, a fully functional disciple. Once they come off the line, then, they too are expected to work on the line as new material continually flows into the church. Hence, the process continues and repeats itself as mature believers continually invest in the lives of new believers with the intent of aiding their spiritual growth and development.

The language of an assembly line is highly impersonal and can be misleading. But, the process of making disciples is very personal. As mature believers come alongside new believers, they are called to invest their lives in them. Therefore, discipleship, if it is to be effective, must be relational in nature. The problem some churches face is that while they can communicate the vision, they fail to encourage life-on-life discipleship. The teaching ministry, if it is going to succeed, must be supplemented with one-on-one relationships. New believers will not grow into mature believers without this element. This is because so many of the truths of scripture require more than intellectual assent. They require a response in obedience – a response that often entails some form of accountability.

One-on-one relationships provide three important parts of implementing the vision in the life of a new believer. First, the mature believer leads by example. They show the new believer what obedience looks like in the trenches of daily life. Second, they come alongside and help the new believer get over the obstacles that are always in the path of obedience. Third, as they come alongside the new believer, they provide encouragement to persevere – even in the face of failure. Children do not learn to walk without someone first holding their hands, and picking them up when they fall. Jesus did not give a lecture to a group of would be disciples and then send them into the world. He lived with them for three years, and modeled what living for the Father’s will looked like. He then came alongside them and encouraged them, as he challenged them to do things they would never have tried on their own.

For vision casting to be successful then, the church must teach the vision, and it must have people who can come alongside new believers and demonstrate what that vision looks like in the life of a believer.

Surrender to God’s Will

This next step may go without saying, but for an individual to grow in Christ, they will need to surrender to the vision. A person may sit under the teaching ministry for a long time without actually entering into the discipleship process. Knowing the vision is not the same as surrendering to God’s will concerning the vision. To surrender means one gets off the pew and puts into daily practice what God commands. Unfortunately, there are many church members who have been sitting in pews for years and have yet to enter the process of becoming a disciple. As such they are not fulfilling God’s will for their life.

Therefore it is necessary that three things happen when a new believer enters the church. First, they must hear the vision God has for his church – and they must understand that it is God’s will for them to be a part of his mission. Second, it is important the new believer witness the vision lived out in the life of the church through mature believers. And third, they should be invited by a mature believer to enter the discipleship process. In short, they should be called upon to surrender to God’s will and commit to being a disciple. This assumes, of course, that the one doing the inviting is committing himself/herself to investing in the life of the new believer. To be effective, the invitation should include some standards of commitment – for example, laying out expectations for meeting times, worship attendance, witnessing encounters etc. But the point is to communicate the vision and then ask the new believer to be a part of it. How many believers have had their spiritual growth stunted because no one in the church ever offered to invest in them, and sought to walk alongside them?

This is in keeping with the relational nature of discipleship. When Christ called his disciples, he went to each one and personally gave them the invitation to “become fishers of men.” Had he told them to be fishers of men, but never invested in their life and showed them what that looked like, I suspect church history would be very different – and short lived. Yet this is exactly what many churches do. They lead a person to Christ, show them a pew and expect them to grow simply because they sit in the pew once a week. A person sitting in a pew may want to do God’s will, and may hear sermons on how to, but until someone takes them and shows them, it is very likely they will have a hard time actually doing those things. For a Church to be healthy, and to growth, I believe this component of extending a personal invitation should be reclaimed by the church.[19]

Be Intentional About Spiritual Growth

After a new believer enters into a discipleship relationship with a capable mentor, the process of being intentional about spiritual growth begins. It is important to note that the things which lead to spiritual growth are not different from what most churches do: Bible study, sermons, worship, prayer, witnessing, fellowship, etc. What is different in the discipleship process, and is often not found in churches, is that these things are both expected, and the new believer seeking to grow, is held accountable by someone who is actively doing these things themselves.

In many churches spiritual growth is expected, but since there is no intentional process via life-on-life discipleship, any growth that occurs is done more by osmosis than by an intentional effort to grow. In other words, growth is passive in many churches. When people grow in the things of Christ, it is almost by accident. And, tragically, there are many sincere believers who are still infants in Christ because they have never been expected to be intentional about spiritual growth.

This is where discipleship offers the biblical component of accountability.[20] There are two types of accountability. One is confrontational, and it occurs after someone has sinned. Most people refer to this type of accountability as church discipline. Church discipline has its place in the church; but the accountability that is offered via discipleship is positive in nature. It is not confrontational. Instead of confronting, it seeks to shape, guide, and lead. It involves, as mentioned above, an investment from the one offering the accountability. By way of analogy, think of the one leading the discipleship process as a coach.[21] A coach’s job is to get you to do what you don’t want to do, so you can become who you want to be.[22] No one expects their coach to be soft on the team. They expect them to push. They also expect there will be pain involved in the process. For example, a member of a team wanting to compete for a national title expects that the training will be hard. Jesus said that “the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”[23] For a long time that verse disturbed me. And it should disturb any believer who is serious about their faith. It comes into focus, however, when one understands that true, biblical, Christ-honoring faith, which expresses itself in obedience to God’s will, is formed in the crucible of discipleship.

Discipleship is hard because it calls believers to do things in the Spirit that are contrary to the flesh.[24] Left to ourselves we are unlikely to be intentional about putting off the former man, and putting on the new man who walks in righteousness and truth.[25] We are not likely to take spiritual disciplines seriously, where we are intentional about drawing closer to Christ through worship, Bible study, prayer, fasting etc. We are not likely to be intentional about sharing the gospel with people, because we have not been trained to, or expected to. We are not likely to walk in faith when everything in front of us tells us to do otherwise.

Enter right stage a mature believer who has been trained by a good coach. He knows the excuses. He knows we are prone to self-righteousness and selfishness. He knows we are lovers of idols instead of lovers of God. He knows that mortifying the flesh is hard and painful. But, he also knows that the Spirit of Christ that led him to grow will also lead the new believer to grow as he/she is challenged, held accountable to obey God’s word, and is held accountable to be intentional about those things that will lead the believer to become a real live, Spirit filled, faith saturated, God loving believer who lives a life of victory as he/she joyfully fulfills God’s will.

What are the things a new believer should be challenged to be intentional about? The scope of this paper does not allow a detailed list. There are many resources available that will aid in the discipleship process. And it should be expected that any good resource will take time to complete. And, as a side note, it must be understood that the process of discipleship cannot be defined by any particular timeframe. Some people will grow faster than others, and that’s okay.  But, as far as the content, at a bare minimum, a disciple must be challenged to be serious about three main areas of growth. First, relationships: they should be led to grow in their relationship with God and other believers. This would be expressed, at a bare minimum, through worship, prayer, and fellowship. Second, obedience to the Word: they should be led to grow in their understanding of biblical truth and their willingness to obey what they learn. Third, service: they should be led to learn how to serve Christ within the body through their spiritual gifts. As they learn how God has equipped them to serve in the body of Christ, they should be encouraged to contribute to the mission of the church. In addition, the new believer must learn to walk by faith and not by sight, which undergirds everything a believer does.

For our purposes, the point is not to define the specifics of what a disciple should learn, but that the new believer understands that spiritual growth happens only when one is intentional, and when one is held accountable for their growth.

Be a Part of the Mission

As the new believer is engaged in the discipleship process, it becomes only a matter of time when he/she begins to be a part of the church’s mission to “Make disciples of all nations.” However, just as a believer must be intentional about spiritual growth, he/she must also be intentional about cooperating in the fulfillment of making Christ known. I have met many Christians who have never shared their faith, even after being a member for several years. The church must take the leadership role of making opportunities available to teach members how to share.

In addition to teaching believers to share their faith, it is important the church empower believers to engage in ministry. The Bible is clear that the church body is made up of several members, and each member is gifted by the Spirit to serve in specific ways.[26] As a person begins to learn how the Holy Spirit has equipped them to serve in the body, the church must allow room for believers to engage ministry from the position of their spiritual gifts.[27] Unfortunately, in many churches, spiritual gifts are not emphasized, and ministries that exist are not determined by the gifts God gives the body. Instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to lead people into ministry, many churches have opted for nominating committees to decide who fills what role within the church.

However, when people are encouraged to follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit, the church may discover that God is leading people into ministries that the church may not have considered. In Acts 10 Peter was given a vision with a sheet that had unclean food on it. After the Lord told Peter not to call anything unclean that God had declared clean, he was greeted by visitors from Cornelius’ household asking Peter to go to a gentile home. God was expanding the scope of his reach. The gospel was now being sent to the gentiles. Had Peter listened to the local nominating committee, Cornelius might still be waiting for Peter to come share the gospel.

The point is that every believer is both called by Christ, and equipped by Christ, to reach certain people. As such, as people are taught to learn how Christ has spiritually enabled them, they also need to be encouraged to follow were Christ is leading them to serve. People will eagerly participate when they are given the freedom to follow the Lord’s leadership.

Help Others Grow

Finally, when a believer has grown in Christ and is actively serving Christ within the body, he/she must be encouraged to invest in the lives of other believers. The Lord may have called that person to serve in a specific way; but he has also called that person to become a mentor so he/she can train, equip, shape, and model for a new believer what active obedience and ministry looks like. And while the new believer may be called to pursue a different avenue of ministry as they grow, it is not until they grow that they can even discern such a call. But, as they are mentored, they will be encouraged to be actively engaged in the process whereby they learn how to follow Christ. And in learning to follow, they set themselves up to be fruitful in the days and years ahead.

Practical Incorporation

Incorporating discipleship as the leading vision of the church can be a messy proposition, depending on the history of the church. My experience is that when discipleship is presented as the main emphasis of the Great Commission, including the fact that Christ expects his people to become active disciples, it can cause consternation for those who have always been told that if you simply believe in Jesus all is well. Of course, we are saved by grace through faith alone. We do not save ourselves, and being a disciple is not a path to earning salvation. However, some will misconstrue the call to be a disciple with a call to earn your salvation. Nothing could be further from the truth. However, because many churches have not emphasized discipleship, or have, at a minimum, reduced the call to be disciples to a preference that one can either take or leave, caution must be taken in leading the church to reformulate their understanding of the Great Commission. I say this as one who bears the scars of moving too fast in this direction.

When seeking to establish discipleship as the primary engine of the church, three things are needed: First, be patient with the membership of the church. To reformulate the vision of the church will mean the church will need to develop a new culture. This will take time to inculcate. Second, present the vision with grace, and often. Demonstrate through scripture how this vision drove the early church. A sermon series through the book of Acts would be helpful in this regard. Third, chose a few people with leadership ability and begin investing in their life, with the aim of teaching them to be disciples who can then become disciple-makers. This will begin a movement within the church that will grow over time.

Conclusion

Dr. Thom Rainer, president of Lifeway, recently reported that 65% of churches are in decline.[28] He cites several reasons for that sad fact. But the most shocking statistic he gave was that, “Somewhere between 7,000 and 10,000 churches in America will close their doors in the next year.”[29] That’s a lot of dying churches! The opposite of the fruitful church is a church on the road to death. However, behind the doors of every such church are believers who really love God, but who don’t know how to build his church. They work hard, try new things, but, they can’t seem to turn the ship around.

The churches that are dying are not filled with bad people, I believe they have simply failed to embraced discipleship as the primary purpose of believers. As a result, they never began a gospel movement where new believers were encouraged and empowered to grow into mature believers, who then were trained to invest in others with the intent of replicating themselves through life-on-life discipleship. In short, they never really sought to “Make disciples of all nations.” As a result, most, if not all of those churches that close their doors every year are filled with old believers who are still as new as the day they accepted Christ as their Savior.

For churches to grow, both numerically and spiritually, they must embrace the simple mission Christ gave the church, which is to “Make disciples of all nations.” Only through this process he gave can we effectively fulfill the purpose for which he created his church, causing the church to experience a fruitful harvest until he returns.

 

[1] Hull, Bill. Conversion & discipleship: You can’t have one without the other. Grand Rapids, (Michigan: Zondervan. 2016), 31

[2] Berg, Jim. Changed into his Image: God’s plan for transforming your life. (Greenville, SC: Bob Jones University Press. 2000), 13 – “Without a passion to disciple believers to Christ likeness through the ministries of the church, the church will focus merely on perpetuating its programs, and the sheep will grow sickly and unfruitful.”

[3] Stetzer, Ed, and Mike Dodson. Comeback churches: How 300 churches turned around and yours can too. (Nashville, Tenn: B & H Pub. Group. 2007), 4, 6-7

[4] Unless otherwise noted, all biblical passages referenced are in the English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008).

[5] McIntosh, Gary. Biblical church growth: How you can work with God to build a faithful church. (Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Books, 2003), 68

[6] Rainer, Thom S., and Eric Geiger. Simple church: Returning to God’s process for making disciples. (Updated. Nashville, Tenn: B & H Pub. Group, 2011), 20-26.

[7] Ripken, Nik. The Insanity of Obedience: Walking with Jesus in Tough Places. (Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2014), 1

[8] Platt, David. Follow me: A call to die. A call to live. (Carol Stream, Ill: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), 68-69

[9] Hall, 27

[10] Platt, David. Radical: Taking back your faith from the American dream. First ed. Colorado Springs, Colo: Multnomah Books. 2010. pp 90-91.

[11] McIntosh, 45

[12] John 17:3

[13] McIntosh, pp 75

[14] Matthew 16:18

[15] Blackaby, Henry T., and Richard Blackaby. Spiritual leadership: Moving People on to God’s Agenda. (Revised & expanded. Nashville, Tenn: B & H Pub. Group, 2011), 69

[16] Ephesians 4:11-12

[17] Stanley, Andy. Visioneering. (Multnomah Publishers, 1999), 99 – Stanley rightly points out that, “All divinely inspirited visions are in some way tied to God’s master plan.”

[18] Dever, Mark. The church: The gospel made visible. (Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2012), 70, 75

[19] Humphries, Kent.Equipping the Saints: A View from the other side of the Pulpit (Ephesians 4:11-12),” Faith & Mission. Vol 19. No. 1 Fall 2001. Pp 59

[20] Berg, pp 30-31

[21] Putman, Jim. Church Is a Team Sport: A Championship Strategy for Doing Ministry Together. (Baker Publishing Group, 2009), 54

[22] A Quote attributed to Tom Landry, coach of the Dallas Cowboys

[23] Matthew 7:14

[24] Galatians 5:16-17

[25] Ephesians 4:20-24

[26] 1 Corinthians chapter 12 and Romans chapter 12

[27] Putman, 34

[28] Rainer, Thom. “Dispelling the 80 Percent Myth of Declining Churches.” Internet. Available from http://thomrainer.com/2017/06/dispelling-80-percent-myth-declining-churches. June 28, 2017.

[29] Rainer, Thom. “Six Stages of a Dying Church.” Internet. Available from http://thomrainer.com/2017/06/six-stages-dying-church. June 12, 2017.

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