By Dan Vis
April 09, 2018

One of my favorite verses is Mark 3:14And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him, and that he might send them forth to preach,. It tells how Jesus called twelve men to be "with him", with the plan of eventually sending them forth "to preach". It reminds me how Jesus is relational and wants to engage with us closely, and personally. But it also shows that He is purposeful and strategic. It shows intentionality.

Actually, Jesus had made His plans clear from the very beginning. When first calling His disciples months earlier, He made them a promise: "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men" (Matthew 4:19And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.). It was the same basic strategy: by following Christ and spending time with Him, these men would be transformed into powerful preachers, effective fishers of men.

And Jesus stuck to the strategy. He invested three and a half years of intense personal time with those chosen men, and then concluded His training with a clear call to mission:

"Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all nations." "Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature." "Ye shall be witnesses unto me . . . unto the uttermost part of the earth." "As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you."

The instructions were clear: We've spent time together. You have followed me closely. The time has come for you to go forth and preach. It is time for you to become fishers of men.

It's time to repeat the process...

The Results

The results, of course, were powerful. Three thousand were baptized in a day (Acts 2:41Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.). And additional members continued pouring in (Acts 2:47Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.). Soon the number had swollen to thousands of families and Jerusalem was saturated with the Gospel (Acts 4:4Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand., Acts 5:28Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us.).

And they replicated the intentionality of Jesus. From their base in Jerusalem, they kept their focus on training future leaders, and equipping them for service. These workers soon scattered everywhere (Acts 8:4Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.), planting new churches throughout the ancient world. And those churches, in turn, grew, raised up leaders, and sent them out further still. Within a generation, they had turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also;).

As long as they remained intentional about raising up new workers through personal association, the church prospered.

Churches Today

Unfortunately, few churches are growing like this today. Rather, most mainline denominations are experiencing steady decline. The fastest growing denomination in the United States is barely keeping up with the population! Something is wrong.

Is it because we are not spending time with Jesus? Because we are not following Him? In some situations, this could be the issue. Is it because we are not aware of the mission? Not clear on our call to ministry? Perhaps in some cases. But I suspect the most common problem is simply that we are not intentional about following Christ's strategy.

Few churches have a focused plan that involves leadership investing extended time with carefully selected members of the congregation for the purpose of facilitating deep life transformation. And when we do commit to investing in another person, we rarely have a well-designed process that moves a person to evangelism, nor do we maintain our commitment long enough to ensure success.

What's needed today, is more of the exact process Jesus used. We should lay out our purpose openly, carefully select those hungry to grow, follow through on a focused training curriculum, and then empower and unleash those we train to a life of service. We need intentionality.

It's Not Easy

It's not easy to be intentional. It requires a clear vision. Rock solid conviction. A willingness to say no to things that might otherwise be good, but which fail to accomplish our purpose. It requires stedfastness and determination. And lots of prayer!

But if we are serious about the great commission, we need intentionality.

To help you cultivate intentionality, we're currently offering our Life Focus System class for FREE through the month of April. It teaches how to organize your days, weeks, months, and years to maximize planning, prioritization, and purpose. It gives you a carefully organized system to keep our life on track. To help you become more focused. More intentional.

To get back to the effectiveness of the New Testament church, we will need some tool to help us live more intentional lives. We pray this class can help!

Life Focus System

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