Sheldon liked the fact that he was continually being challenged by three great questions his church was asking over and over again, but he also realized he wasn’t quite sure what he should do with the answers he seemed to be getting.
The leadership team at Sheldon’s church had been asking the Lord for discernment regarding discipleship: What did it look like? How should they define it? And how could they equip the whole church fellowship to become disciple-makers?
As far as they could discern, the Lord had directed them to three characteristics of disciples and to three related questions that could regularly permeate conversations at multiple levels throughout their fellowship.
The characteristics? Jesus’ disciples learn, follow, and love. They learn from Jesus, hungering for his Word. They follow Jesus, seeking to do his will. And they love Jesus, accomplishing his work.
And the questions? They are related to the characteristics:
Learn: What has he been teaching or saying to you [all]? How are you growing?
Follow: What has he asked you [all] to do recently, and have you done it?
Love: How have you [all] experienced or expressed his love recently?
The leadership at Sheldon’s church had noticed that while there is a continuous cycle of growth, the characteristics (and questions) can come in any order. For example, in their regular rhythm of serving together in the community, they had found that expressing God’s love in the world caused believers to learn more about the nature of God and increased their desire to follow him. Discipleship was not a linear process, but much more like the age-old question “Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?!” Each characteristic impacts and flows from the others.
BACK TO SHELDON’S STORY
When Sheldon was asked by one of the members of his small group at church about how he had recently been experiencing God’s love, Sheldon knew the answer almost immediately: He experienced the love of God every time he went to work! An avid aficionado of plants, flowers, and gardening, Sheldon felt truly blessed to be working as a landscaper and tangibly experienced God’s love every time his own hands touched his beautiful creation.
Sheldon also knew that he was sensing the Holy Spirit’s nudge to use his passion to share the love of God. But did this make any sense? How on earth would he do that?
At about the same time, but unbeknownst to Sheldon, a committee had just been formed at the elementary school where Sheldon’s church met for their weekly worship gatherings. Their stated purpose? To clean up and restore the school’s “Hidden Garden” to its former glory. They just had one problem: They needed guidance.
And wouldn’t you know it? One of the women on the committee “just happened” to mention this to another woman who “just happened” to go to Sheldon’s church. And she “just happened” to know about Sheldon’s love for gardening.
Sheldon—a lover of Jesus—is now working directly with a group of people—none of whom know the Lord—all because he’d been asked about how he experienced God’s love and desired to do God’s will when he felt the Holy Spirit’s nudge.
Isn’t it wonderful how God took care of the rest?