There’s no shortage of conferences in the evangelical world today. Over the past couple of years, I forced myself to limit the number of conferences I attend to be more effective on the ground, and the decision-making process developed into a grid that filtered out the conferences that are fun (and enjoyable) but not necessary. Today, I want to share with you a conference I personally find necessary, and I hope you do too.

My good friend Johnny Grimes leads a great organization called Altar 84, which is dedicated to orphan care through the local church. On March 7th & 8th, they are hosting a conference at The Church at Brook Hills called Know More Orphans.” Here is a summary of the conference theme:

The Church has always been God’s plan for building his kingdom, and this includes securing justice for the poor and most vulnerable. Altar 84 desires to work intimately with the Body of Christ to care for the least of these, the orphan. On Friday, March 7th and Saturday March 8th, 2014, Altar84’s kNOw More Orphans Conference will seek to unite the church community for the call to care for orphans and vulnerable children – right here and around the world. The conference will provide AWARENESS of God’s Word and his command to take ACTION.

If you are a church leader interested in leading your church to care for orphans and build a culture of adoption, I encourage you to take advantage of this conference. Perhaps some of you may be interested in local foster care or adopting orphans internationally, I believe you will be blessed by the main sessions and helped with the practicality of the breakout sessions. Speakers at this conference include David Platt, Russell Moore, Tony Merida, and more.

Early bird registration ends one week from today (Jan. 17th), so take advantage of the special rate and register soon! I will be going and representing The Haiti Collective, along with some of our team. It should be a great time channeling our resources and leverage our lives for the sake of orphans here and around the world. Hope to see you there!

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So often when we introduce ourselves to other people, we describe our lives by what we do, not who we are. “Hi, my name is Tim Brister, and I serve as a pastor at Grace Baptist Church.” What we do has become the default way of defining our lives. This also plays into how or whether a person commits to making disciples.

As I mentioned in my previous post, every person needs a plan, but at the center of that plan needs to be the understanding that identity comes first. Who you are as a Christian defines what you do, not the other way around. If what you do defines who you are, you have the cart before the horse. Let’s face it: It is very easy to get so focused on making disciples (what you do) that you forget that you ARE a disciple of Jesus yourself.

In gospel-centered terminology, the indicative (state of being) always precedes the imperative (call to action). I believe the reason we have defaulted to defining our lives by what we do is because we have assumed who we are, or at least failed to acknowledge that reality. The most effective disciple-makers I know are those who are defined by who they are in Christ and live out those implications in what they do for the cause of Christ (make disciples). Paul was careful to make this point throughout his writing and ministry. In Ephesians, he spent 3 chapters telling believers who they are (identity) in Christ (gospel indicative). Immediately following was 3 more chapters telling believers how they should live out their identity (missional imperative) in the world.

When we fail to place our identity in Christ first and center our lives on who Jesus is and what He has done to make us who we are, we are in danger of turning disciple-making into an idolatrous act. It is not about us. It is not even about the people we are discipling (ultimately). It is about what God is doing by His Spirit to magnify Jesus as we become like Him and call others to believe in Him. Assuming our identity puts an inordinate amountsof pressure and weight upon us that we were never intended to carry, and so we as disciple-makers lack the motivation and means ti persevere in the mission. By failing to put our identity in Christ first, we find ourselves on dangerous grounds where we evaluate our worth in the kingdom by how successful we are in making disciples rather than Jesus’ successful work in making us His own. Our worth is defined by His work, not our own!

So what is my identity? It is who I am in Christ. I am a child of God adopted into the family of God. I am a liberated servant joyfully seeking to please my Master and Lord. I am a worshipper who delights in the treasure of knowing and being known by God. I am a representative of King Jesus, entrusted with His mission and message. I am who I am because of what Jesus Christ has done for me, is doing in me, and promises to do through me.

When you embark upon a plan to be a disciple-maker, keep front and center your identity in Christ. The gospel indicative is the fuel for the missional imperative. It is the safeguard from missional idolatry. It is the measure of missional faithfulness. It is the mark of missional fruitfulness. Before you make disciples, remember you are a disciple. And as you remember, be renewed again and again as you rediscover the beauty and majesty of the great and glorious Savior that is Jesus Christ our Lord.

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The Immanuel Mantra

Tim Brister —  January 6, 2014 — 2 Comments

I love this. So simple and clear. Also helpful for creating a gospel-centered culture in the church.

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One of the joys I have experienced through blogging is seeing a community of people embrace a challenge. In 2008, it was the Puritan Reading Challenge. In 2011, it was the Philippians Memory Moleskine. 2013 has been a year of reorientation around the mission of making disciples. I’ve always emphasized it in my teaching and preaching. It’s always been something I’ve enjoyed reading about and speaking on. But I came to the sobering realization that I wasn’t doing much as a disciple-making practitioner. Things had to change.

Making Disciples Is Hard

Making disciples is the call of every believer in Jesus Christ. Yet, I dare say for most of us, it has been permitted to accept a version of Christianity both personally and corporately where disciple-making is virtually non-existent. Disciple-making Christians should not be considered the “hard core” version of Christians or the “elite forces” of the church militant. The fact that such attributions exist reveal how non-normative disciple-making has become.

For many of us, it could be that we are simply not well taught or well trained in the words and ways of Jesus. No doubt, that is an issue. But for all of us, disciple-making is just plain hard. It’s hard because we have years of non-disciple-making habits in us like inertia that need to be moved by Christ’s call of living on mission. It’s hard because we have rarely seen it modeled well before us and therefore disciple-making is turned into a program or function rather than a way of life. It’s hard because we have to evaluate our lives in light of the mission and make disciple-making a priority, and that can be a very painful and challenging process.

Continue Reading…

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