I. Cultural situation
A. Marketing Jesus -- Dr. Jan Hettinga: How is the Gospel presented?
B. The sinner's prayer and the law of unintended consequences
C. Discipleship: organization or organism?
D. Measures of success in ministry: Bucks, bodies, buildings, and buzz
E. Every indication is that harder times are coming.
II. Biblical Response
A. Count the cost. (John 6:66-71, Luke 14:28-33)
B. Many have a false sense of security. (Matthew 7:21-23)
C. The Gospel is powerful and so is disbelief. (Luke 4:4-15)
D. We actively participate in the working out of our salvation as God enables that response.
A. Have you ever really responded to the Gospel Jesus preached?
B. Are you willing to follow Christ even if it's costly? Christians, brace yourselves for the coming waves.
C. Confess unbelief, and cry out, "I believe! Help me with my unbelief!"
D. Do your part as God enables you to.
1) How was the gospel presented to you? Was the "sinner's prayer" a big deal in your religious background? If someone has no idea what the sinner's prayer means, how would you explain it?
2) Why do you suppose the sinner's prayer is such a big deal? Should we place so much confidence in that specific prayer? Is salvation a moment-in-time event or is it a process? Why do you think that? What other alternatives are there?
3) When you think of discipleship, what comes to mind? How do you know when you have been discipled? Is discipleship a discrete, clear, sequential and repeatable process, or does the term describe a lifelong pursuit of Jesus? Which has it been to you? In the West we are dominated by the scientific method and repeatable processes; how has that affected our understanding of discipleship? How does the process of "following Jesus" relate to taking discipleship classes?
4) How do you measure growth in yourself? How do you know if you are doing well spiritually? Is that subjective or are there specific data points you can look at? How do you know if your church is a good church? Is a "good" church defined as having what you want? Is it possible that a church could be good by God's definition but not by ours?
5) What do you make of the recent news of governments cracking down on churches? Do you see days coming when churches will be forced to perform weddings they don't sanction? Do you see the time coming when 501(c) will be used as a lever to make churches comply with regulations they morally object to? Is this conspiracy theory stuff, or is it understanding our times?
6) Why did Jesus emphasize counting the cost and even try to talk people out of believing? Is that the way we present the Gospel? Should we be warning people more? Or would that scare them off? Did Jesus scare people off on purpose in John 6:66-71? Was that the loving thing to do?
7) What gives you assurance that when you stand before Christ, He will accept you? Why do you think Jesus warned his disciples about having a false sense of security in Matthew 7:21-23? What would be in our list today? What do people take pride in today as giving them religious security?
8) Why did Jesus put so much emphasis on the condition of the heart when we as evangelicals put more emphasis on the technique used to evangelize? Why wasn't Jesus more process-driven? Or was he more process-driven than it appears? Consult Luke 4:4-15 for your conversation.
9) What does it mean for us to participate as God works in us? What is our part? What is God's part? What happens when we don't do our part? How do you understand the phrase "let go and let God"? How does that fit with Philippians 2:12b-13?
10) What would Calvary look like if things got bad? What would happen if the church building were seized? Or if we lost our 501c status? How would you respond?
11) What percentage of American "Christians" would simply walk away if things got really tough? Why do you think what you think? What are you doing right now to prepare yourself for costly discipleship?