Our Journey to Becoming a Christ-centered Church . . .
The Engaged Church Initiative started in 1996 in the heart of a pastor.
The question he wrestled with was: "what is spiritual maturity, and how do we equip people to become who God has called them to become?"
After years of reading, searching, praying, and programming, he concluded that he had exhausted his every effort in an attempt to design a discipleship program that could keep up with the growing number of people who were attending his Sunday services and church programs—but could also equip people to move beyond mere church involvement and behavior modification.
It was only when he had exhausted his every possibility that he concluded that Jesus was actually not asking him (or any other pastor) to design a "new" or "better" discipleship program. In fact, if Jesus truly has invited us to follow Him, then He must have left us with His method for making disciples and guiding people toward spiritual maturity. In fact, the pastor concluded that if Jesus didn't communicate His principles and process for making disciples in a way that was easy to identify and understand, then He was simply being mean, because implicit in His invitation to follow Him was the promise that He would make his followers to be "fishers of men." In other words, Jesus himself is the one who promises to do the transformation.
The implications for pastors, church leaders, and disciple-makers is simple:
That is when things changed.
As God faithfully revealed Himself through His word, the church made significant changes. First in the life of the leader, then in the lives of the leadership team, then ultimately in the life of the church as a whole. As Christ's process for discipleship was identified, it began to be clearly communicated, and as the principles were implemented, transformation in the lives of individuals and families began to happen in unexpected ways. Initially, the goal was to identify Christ's process for discipleship in order to effectively disciple increasing numbers of new believers, but as God continued to work, the church also began to see long-time members mature and grow in their relationships with Christ.
As God continued to work, opportunities to share what God was doing and discover how the principles were applied across geographic and cultural lines began to open up—first locally, then regionally, and now globally. Now, through The Engaged Churches Initiative we have the opportunity to share what we have learned with those whose hearts God has prepared to hear this message. Every time we speak at a pastors conference or train a church leadership team we hear the same type of response:
Be warned... There is not a program. This is not a quick fix. This is not a magical formula. But there are answers. If you have been clinging to your calling while searching for answers that you know must exist somewhere, and if you have been looking for ways to break out of the insane cycles of conventional wisdom and are longing to discover Christ's principles for yourself, then perhaps this is the answer to prayer that you have been waiting for.