Saturday, January 11, 2014

Soma School Notes 6 | What Are the 4 Gs? How Do They Help Us Grow in Our Faith in Jesus and How We Lead Others with Jesus?

Soma School Phoenix 2013 Notes 6 Missio Dei Communities 4 Gs


2013 SOMA SCHOOL PHOENIX – WHAT ARE THE 4 Gs? HOW DO THEY HELP US GROW in Our FAITh in Jesus and How We Lead Others With Jesus? | Pastor Chris Gonzalez, Deacon Mark Durben, and Pastor Brent Thomas


This is the final post of a 6-part series reflecting on sessions taught by Jeff Vanderstelt from Soma TacomaChris Gonzalez and Mark Durben from Missio Dei CommunitiesBrent Thomas from Church of the Cross, and Michael Goheen from the Newbigin House and the Surge Network at Soma School Phoenix in 2013. 
Here are the links to the previous posts:

In discussing the 4 Gs and Gospel Shepherding, Chris Gonzalez, Mark Durben, and Brent Thomas often mentioned the words "Gospel Fluency." If you would like to delve deeper into how the good news of Jesus shapes every area of life, check out the five video links with Jeff Vanderstelt below provided by the Austin Stone Institute:


If you want to hear more details about what I thought, feel free to drop me a line.


Chris Gonzalez, Mark Durben, and Brent Thomas | Friday, November 8
Psalm 145; Ephesians 4; 1 Timothy 3:1-13 – What Are the 4 Gs? How Do They Help Us Grow in Our Faith in Jesus and How We Lead Others with Jesus?

 

I know. The title I've chosen for this final post is ridiculously long. But I'm not sure I can summarize it any other way. Ah, well, join me anyways and let's take the plunge into these deep waters.

The 4 Gs of God


What are the 4 Gs of God? They are all mentioned in Psalm 145:

  • God is great: "Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable. ... They shall speak of the might of Your awesome deeds, and I will declare Your greatness." (Vs. 3, 6).  
Because God is great, we can rest in His sovereign control and not feel like we need to be in control. He truly is the sovereign King, so we don't have to manipulate people or our circumstances to feel secure. For example, even on the cross when everything is seemingly out of control, God the Father is making everything go exactly according to plan.
Watch the video Mark's Story | God is Great (3:26 minutes)
  • God is glorious: "On the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and on Your wondrous works, I will meditate. ... They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom and tell of Your power, to make known to the children of man Your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of Your kingdom" (Vs. 5, 11-12). 
Because God is glorious, we can be most attentive to His glory which will make us less concerned about our glory. With this focus, we won't seek or fear the lack of approval of others because we already have the approval of King Jesus and are part of His Kingdom. Proverbs 29:29 says, "The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe." and Acts 9:31 says, "So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied." Walking in the fear of the Lord and seeking His glory above our own is where we find safety, peace and comfort.
Watch the video Megan's Story | God is Glorious (3:35 minutes)
  • God is good: "They shall pour forth the fame of Your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of Your righteousness. ... The Lord is good to all, and His mercy is over all that He has made. ... You open Your hand; You satisfy the desire of every living thing" (Vs. 7, 9, 16). 
Because God is good, we don't have to look anywhere else for our joy, contentment, security, and ultimately, our satisfaction. Only God, from His abundant and overflowing goodness, can satisfy the desire of every living thing He has created, including you. So we don't need to resort to our idols of food, sex, games, drugs, or laziness because idols can't give us what we need. We realize that anything besides God requires something of us, but God is good and merciful and gives to us. This also means we do not need to play the god-like role of determining what is good in our life from His hand if everything that comes from His hand is ultimately good for us.
Watch the video Stacy's Story | God is Good (3:52 minutes)
  • God is gracious: "The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. ... The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down. ... The Lord is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His works. The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear Him; He also hears their cry and saves them" (Vs. 8, 14, 17-19). 
Because God is gracious, we don't have to prove ourselves anymore. Flannery O'Connor wrote in her novel Wise Blood that "The best way to avoid Jesus is to avoid sin." Because we are human, we can try to be good and like god without God, but in the end we are sinning because we're replacing His grace to prove our worth and instead running to what we've done to make us worthy. We will sin. We will need to repent. And His gracious loving arms will welcome us, hold us, and restore us every time.
Watch the video Greg's Story | God is Gracious (3:55 minutes)

These characteristics of God help shape our character and keep us from believing the lies we feed ourselves daily. But we need to invite others to help us with this. And it will be painful, especially at the beginning. Even in wanting to change, we'd rather that we just discovered on our own the lies we daily live in and believe and then change on our own. But that desire could be based on not believing that God is glorious and desires to make His church glorious as a body together. He has given us each other because we need each other, to keep us honest and accountable, and so we can see how His mercy is poured out through His body. 

We need others to know and remind us again and again of God's grace in the midst of the exposure of our hearts. The heart is the control center of the mind and the biggest lie we can believe is that the truth only leads to hurt and that that is the worst thing that can happen us. But actually the worst thing that can happen is that we avoid the truth, don't repent, and don't experience God's ready and waiting gracious approval of us in Jesus. 


So you don't have to control others and your circumstances God is great and in control of your life. You don't to have to avoid confrontation God is glorious and His glory shines when we are humble with Him and others. You don't have to work hard to make life easier or more comfortable God is good and can satisfy you. And you don't have to avoid admitting when you were wrong God is gracious and welcomes all the people who do wrong and admit they're wrong, who instead choose to rest in Christ's work on their behalf so they can enjoy life with Him and each other.

When it comes down to the bare essentials, there are three types of identities people choose to live their lives from:

  • Irreligious Identity: I obey myself because it pleases me and then I accept myself
  • Religious Identity: I obey another because it pleases (insert god or religion) and then I am accepted
  • Gospel Identity: I am accepted, therefore I can walk with Jesus and others in grace-filled faith and obedience

We want to be consistently challenging and encouraging people to live in the good news that who they are is an accepted and valued child of God because of Jesus. This good news will shape how they can live life with His Spirit in joy, peace, and contentment regardless of circumstances.

Gospel Shepherds of the Church Live and Love in Light of Their Gospel Identity


People in the church who begin to live their life shaped by who God is (4 Gs) and who they are (in a family as a missionary servant) understanding how He welcomes them and others through Jesus will not only grow in their faith and obedience in becoming more like Jesus, they will grow in the ability to lead and shepherd others. 

As humble servants and disciples who continue to learn from God's Word and God's Spirit amongst God's body, they will be recognized as potential leaders by how they walk with God in all the rhythms of life: eat, listen, story, bless, celebrate, recreate, and will be able to help others do the same.

As these shepherds spend time with others, they will also learn to begin with prayer, listening to God's heart first and asking the Spirit for wisdom. Then they will know how to best listen to others' stories with the Spirit so they can discover others' hearts and their places in God's story. They will listen for emotional words and where God does or doesn't come into the story. They will listen for what is included and what is not. They will listen for what the person is struggling to believe. A gospel shepherd, by listening, will begin to hear and see the alternative themes of creation (identity), fall (problem), redemption (solution), and restoration/recreation (hope) that others are living out of and will be able to thoughtfully and patiently know when to speak about how the good news of Jesus is the answer. 

"If people don't get and see Jesus in everything they're doing and understanding, then they'll be led away from Jesus. We elders, deacons, missional community leaders, apprentices, lay leaders, disciples  need to move each other from unconscious incompetence to conscious incompetence, and then from conscious competence to unconscious competence so we all are becoming strengthened in walking with Jesus in faith and obedience. What is our hope? Immanuel, Jesus in us and with us." Jeff Vanderstelt

What are the character traits and abilities of a person who is like this? Paul provides a great description in 1 Timothy 3:
 
Character Qualities
  • be teachable and able to learn from others (Vs. 2, 9)
  • be well-thought-of by people in the church and the city without anyone bringing a true condemning accusation (Vs. 2, 7)
  • be faithful to spouse and family (Vs. 2)
  • be humble, self-controlled, and calm (Vs. 2)
  • live wisely (Vs. 2)
  • be accessible (Vs. 2)
  • enjoys food and drink and other goods, but not addicted to or needy of any (Vs. 3, 8)
  • be gentle and not violent (Vs. 3)
  • doesn't enjoy or isn't prone to starting picky arguments or disagreements (Vs. 3)
  • doesn't love money and isn't dishonest about it (Vs. 3, 8)
  • isn't a new follower of Jesus (Vs. 6)

Abilities
  • able to teach the gospel to and disciple whoever comes into the church or the home (Vs. 2)
  • able to welcome strangers and enjoys having guests in the home (Vs. 2)
  • able to manage the needs of the people in the church and the home and gains their respect, treating the family of God like a family should be treated (Vs. 4-5)
  • able to commit to learning and believing the deep mysteries of the gospel (Vs. 9)

Shepherds' character traits shape the abilities they are to have. Without them, they can become too soft or too harsh. We need shepherds who are disciples with character (heart), knowledge (head), and practice (hands) who have grown into becoming mature and healthy disciples.  

Otherwise they may be:

  • An Immature Disciple
    Character + Practice - Knowledge
    In + Out - Up

    Gospel Community + Gospel Mission - Gospel Word

    Servant + Missionary - Family
    Son + Spirit - Father

  • A Stubborn Disciple
    Character + Knowledge - Practice
    In + Up - Out
    Gospel Community + Gospel Word - Gospel Mission
    Servant + Family - Missionary
    Son + Father - Spirit

  • A Hypocritical Disciple
    Practice + Knowledge - Character
    Out + Up - In
    Gospel Mission + Gospel Word - Gospel Community
    Missionary + Family - Servant
    Spirit + Father - Son

Soma Missional Community Leaders Qualities Character Knowledge Practice


Strong and generous leaders have learned how to follow before leading. They have, in humility, been influenced so they know how to influence others humbly. That's why every missional community has a leader and at least one apprentice. 

A leader and apprentice(s) go through the process of:

  • I teach and do. You watch. We talk.
  • I teach and do. You help. We talk.
  • You teach and do. I help. We talk.
  • You teach and do. I watch. We talk.
  • You teach and do. Someone else watches.

When servant leaders rise to the role of pastors/elders, they will excel at being over, amongst, and under. A pastor/elder in a missional community-based church will be:

  • Over: Shepherding 4 missional community leaders and their communities (70 - 80 people)
  • Amongst: Doing what you're calling people to do in a missional community (ex. teaching and leading a healthy and growing missional community)
  • Under: Using gifts and capacities to serve others in the body

As Jesus said, if you want to become like Him, you must become servant of all. Who are we serving? Him, His church, and the lost children of God we are living among as a family of missionary servants. Why? He commanded us to so that we grow to become more like Him by helping each other grow more and more like Him in every way.

"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. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of His body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. ... let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. And don’t sin by letting anger control you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, for anger gives a foothold to the devil. If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, He has identified you as His own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you." – Saint Paul (Ephesians 4:11-16, 23-32)

Next post: Soma School Notes Bonus | Case Study: The Austin Stone's Transition from Community Groups to Missional Communities  

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