New Release from Bill Mills: A Gospel Worthy of Your Life: Orienting Every Resource, Attitude and Passion Around the Cross

LRI Founder and teacher Bill Mills recently released a new book titled A Gospel Worthy of Your Life: Orienting Every Resource, Attitude and Passion Around the Cross


A Gospel Worthy of Your Life - ebook coverHow do you disciple a church to give themselves wholly to the gospel? As we walk through the book of Philippians, we will hear the Apostle Paul teaching this beloved church what it means to partner together in the gospel. This Bible study is designed as a resource for churches, small groups and classes as they grow with one another in evangelism, missions and worship. Consider it a strong and encouraging personal devotional tool as well.

IN THIS BOOK YOU WILL LEARN HOW…

  • God has been building in your life a unique platform for the gospel
  • God has designed suffering as His means of carrying the gospel to the world
  • Our great enemy seeks to distract you and your church from the gospel
  • You can be set free from the past so that you can give yourself to the gospel

Available in Paperback and for Kindle

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bill Mills and his wife Karen are the founders of Leadership Resources International, a global mission based in Chicago, Illinois. Bill’s career has been focused on encouraging churches in the West and equipping pastoral leaders in the developing world. Bill also serves as a staff pastor in his home church.

The Vine Project: Shaping Your Ministry Culture Around Disciple-Making | Book Review

This review originally ran on The Gospel Coalition.


vine_project_250_394_90It’s been seven years since a book on ministry from an Australian publisher took the evangelical world by storm. The success of The Trellis and the Vine: The Ministry Mind-Shift that Changes Everything (2009) surprised authors and Colin Marshall (CEO of Vinegrowers ministry) and Tony Payne (CEO of of Matthias Media), who described it (with typical Aussie humility) “as an unexciting little book that consisted mostly of the blindingly obvious” (14).

As is often the case, the “blindingly obvious” is where we most need clarity, especially when it comes to a biblical vision of ministry and discipleship. As the title suggests, The Trellis and the Vine is built on a metaphor: the “vine” representing spiritual growth by Word-centered disciple-making activities (teaching, training, prayer, one-to-one Bible reading), and the “trellis” representing the structural side of ministry (administration, organization, running programs, etc.). Churches need to structure their ministry around growing people, not programs, and letting trellis work support, not overtake, vine work.

The initial success of The Trellis and the Vine sparked countless conversations and caused many to rethink their approach to ministry. It also unearthed serious struggles. Though many were gripped by the book’s compelling, biblical vision for disciple-making communities, they had trouble actually changing their church’s culture. A new sermon series or one-to-one Bible reading campaign isn’t enough to “change everything” (in the words of the subtitle).

Without a more comprehensive and strategic plan to foster the right trellis dynamics for vine growth, changing a church culture is like “trying to turn around an ocean liner with a few strokes of an oar” (30). Marshall and Payne’s new sequel, The Vine Project: Shaping Your Ministry Culture Around Disciple-Making, is their roadmap toward a comprehensive and strategic plan that will help slowly turn the ship toward a culture of disciple-making disciples.

Phases for Changing Culture 

Changing culture begins by changing deeply held convictions that underpin culture and your activities, practices, and structures that express those beliefs (32). Naturally, phase one (“Sharpen Your Convictions”) presents a theology of the why, what, how, who, and where of making disciples (or, as the authors call it, “learning Christ”). It lays a compelling and biblical foundation to build on in the next four phases.

The 100 pages of phase one should be required reading for every Christian because of the simple yet glorious vision of discipleship founded on the four P’s of Ministry: (1) proclamation of the Word in multiple ways, (2) prayerful dependence on the Spirit, (3) people as God’s fellow workers, and (4) perseverance in the task (83).

Phase two briefly seeks to sow these biblical convictions of discipleship into the heart of the reader to reform his or her personal culture. Leaders must exemplify the change they seek to foster.

Phase three—on “loving, honest evaluation”—strategically guides leaders in how to do a whole-church disciple-making audit to understand current dynamics and diagnose roadblocks. This is where the hard work of implementing The Vine Project for culture change begins.

Phase four (“Innovate and Implement”) is a detailed and immensely practical phase composing about a third of the book’s 340 pages. This section will strategically lay out a plan to slowly rebuild what phase three deconstructed, and will likely prove to be the book’s most helpful and heavily referenced portion as leaders seek to refine their Sunday gatherings, think through pathways for disciple growth (the four E’s of engage, evangelize, establish, equip), and change how they communicate.

The approach for change is both top-down (ensuring the leadership team properly structures their activities and communication), and bottom up (working with lay leaders and individuals so they know how to adopt the 4P ministry mentality for making disciples).

Phase five focuses on maintaining momentum and understanding the long-term dynamics of implementing The Vine Project, and teaches practical skills to keep your church moving toward a discipleship-based culture.

Faithful Roadmap 

The Vine Project isn’t a book to read through once and put back on the shelf; it’s a guide for a project, a self-described roadmap for a journey toward a healthier disciple-making culture. Building on their biblical compelling theology of discipleship, Marshall and Payne deftly apply business-world wisdom on changing organizational culture to the ministry context.

Pastors and leaders will value the recommended resources, exercises, discussion questions, and insightful interviews with ministry leaders who have seen progress in their ministries.

The Vine Project sharpens, clarifies, and builds on the principles of The Trellis and the Vine in a cohesive way aimed at implementation. It’s one sequel you don’t need to have read the original to appreciate.

I suspect this book, like its predecessor, will be a game-changer for churches looking to cultivate a culture of disciple-making and gospel growth. I also suspect it will leave many frustrated—not because of what the book lacks, but because of the slow nature of both discipleship and change. Consider the words of one ministry leader interviewed:

The best way to manage change, in my opinion, is to acknowledge that change for the sake of the mission makes things harder, not easier—and that is okay; it is what God uses to do his work. Allowing people to acknowledge the mess is what keeps the mess from taking momentum away. In fact, I find excitement when the change creates a mess. It shows we are walking the pattern of Scripture. (336)

The pattern of Scripture is often the slow, hard, and messy road. Reading and implementing The Vine Project will remind you that God meets us on that hard and messy road when we, as God’s people, prayerfully and patiently proclaim his good Word to others.


Colin Marshall and Tony Payne. The Vine Project: Shaping Your Ministry Culture Around Disciple-Making. Sydney, Australia: Matthias Media, 2016. 355 pp. $19.99. 


Watch our interview with author Colin Marshall about The Vine Project:

Ignite a Movement of the Word by Partnering with Leadership Resources

Ignite a Movement of the Word with LRI Blog Graphic

Every kingdom-minded church and individual yearns for long-term impact in their ministries and missions programs.

Leadership Resources offers an opportunity for lasting impact to ignite movements of God’s Word by investing in the pulpits of the nations through pastoral training.

Our ministry thrives on faithful partners who support our training venue through prayer, finances, and sometimes traveling to train alongside us.

Several partnership opportunities exist for training groups in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. For more information on partnering with our work training pastors to preach God’s Word with God’s heart, please email Melanie Lachick or call 800-980-2226.

Current Partnership Opportunities Include

480px-Asia_(orthographic_projection).svgCreative Access Asian Country

This training will further develop a number of our gifted students (Mentor Trainers) from our Training National Trainers (TNT) program. They have been passing on their training in biblical exposition and hermeneutics to other ministry leaders in their large network of over 400 churches in some of the world’s largest metropolitan areas. Our hope is that these trainers, along with other Mentor Trainers in the country, would help spread a movement of God’s Word across the whole country to win many to Christ and build up the existing church.

Learn more


Missions in CubaCuba

Our training in Cuba will consist of two groups.

The first group’s training will be done in conjunction with brothers we have trained from a large church in Atibaia, Brazil. We hope their faithful example will encourage our Cuban brothers to not only be transformed by God’s Word, but to think in terms of a movement of the Word of God in their country.

Our second group will work with MOCLAM (Moore College in Latin America) to train ten pastors and church leaders. This group’s advantage is having already received biblical training from Moore and passing on training to others in their networks. Lord willing, this will make passing on their training with us in biblical exposition second nature and fruitful for the strengthening of pulpit ministries in Cuba.

Learn more


India_(orthographic_projection).svgIndia

Our work in India is spread across three different locations in different stages of development.

  • In Northeast India, we will continue to invest in key men we have trained (Mentor Trainers) who are now expanding our training in and around one of India’s fastest growing metropolitan areas. Three of these men have been appointed by denominational leaders to head up ongoing training using TNT for pastors, church planters, and missionaries in their denominations (Churches of Northern India, First Evangelical Church Association of India, and Asian Outreach Ministry). Training has already expanded outside of India into a creative-access country.
  • In Northwest India, we will start a training group in October 2016, drawing from five potential states. Pray for this group to have God’s Word grip their hearts and fuel a desire for Word-driven preaching, training, and discipleship.
  • In North Central India, we have begun discussions with leaders about training. Pray for fruitful discussions, a desire for training, and a logistical ability to see it happen.

Learn more


MyanmarMissions in Myanmar

After four years of successfully training 21 Burmese pastors, professors, and Bible translators in the Training National Trainers (TNT) program, we will begin phase two of our work and further develop eight of the most gifted men (Mentor Trainers) to spread our training in exposition throughout Myanmar.

Many have already taken the training to remote locations in Myanmar (sometimes a five-day journey away) to train remote tribes in TNT.Because of the gospel and our training, ethnic and ecclesiological barriers have been broken down. A sampling of our Mentor Trainer group shows just that: three professors at Reformed Theological College of Myanmar, a Church of Christ denominational trainer, and a pastor from the Pentecostal Church of Myanmar all are working together for the gospel’s advance.

Our hope and prayer is that God continues to use this group of trainers to equip and encourage many for faithful expository ministry in Myanmar.

Learn more


Missions in RussiaRussia

Our St. Petersburg cohort consists of twenty-five evangelical Baptist pastors; some of whom have received no formal Bible training, and others serve as regional Bishops for the Russian Baptist Union. This range of education and experience has created wonderful dynamics in the group. The senior ministers have shown Christ-like humility and have taken it upon themselves to encourage the younger ministers. One Russian pastor commented that before the training began, he found himself bored with preaching and the Scriptures, until the training awakened a new desire to study and preach the Word.

With our expanded training opportunities in Russia and Central Asia, we desire faithful partnerships with churches who can support our training financially and by traveling to train with us.

Learn more


Location_Tanzania_AU_Africa.svgTanzania

Since beginning training in Tanzania several years ago, we have trained twenty men who have passed training on to over six hundred pastors and church leaders. Of those twenty, five men of the highest caliber will receive advanced training in Word Work (to sharpen exposition skills) and Program Work (to provide necessary training in administration and strategic planning).

Our goal in training these five “Mentor Trainers” is to empower them to take ownership and leadership of all future TNT training in the country and create a sustainable movement of God’s Word in Tanzania. Several of these five pastors are closely affiliated with Bible schools and are working to integrate the Training National Trainers process into the larger curriculum and educational paradigm.

We estimate these five men will lead six to twelve training groups of 15-20 Tanzanian pastors each and develop more “Mentor Trainer” movement leaders in Tanzania. Investing in these men will build upon the existing groundwork increase the spread of God’s Word among Tanzanian pastors and churches.

Learn more


Learn More about Igniting a movement of the Word

For more information on this opportunity, please contact Melanie Lachick. Email Melanie or call 800-980-2226. Melanie can also tell you about the ways that we’d love to serve your church.

The Word, the Spirit, and How God Speaks to Us (John Woodhouse)

Leadership Resources’ ministry is built upon the fact that God speaks through His Spirit-carried Word.

Understanding the dynamics of this can be a bit tricky. Consider the following thoughts:

Evangelicals seem to spend a lot of time talking about ‘the word of God’. It is one of our catchcries. Are we mistaken in having this emphasis? What is the place of experience and the Spirit? Does ‘the word of God’ equal ‘the Bible’?

We have been greatly helped by the work of John Woodhouse, former principal of Moore Theological College.

Woodhouse’s work on the Word and Spirit is available in three formats:

1. Read articles from The Briefing (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3).

2. Buy the Brief Book from Matthias Media or on Amazon.

3. Listen to the conference audio below or download from The Proclamation Trust.



Description from Matthias Media:

“Evangelicals seem to spend a lot of time talking about ‘the word of God’. It is one of our catchcries. Are we mistaken in having this emphasis? What is the place of experience and the Spirit? Does ‘the word of God’ equal ‘the Bible’? In this stimulating Brief Book, John Woodhouse offers some fresh insights into what ‘God’s Word’ is, and what it means for the modern Christian.”

Summary: Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome

lightstock_169198_medium_kevin_halloran

In his early life as a pastor, Kent Hughes faced a personal crisis. He seemed to be doing everything right in ministry, but his church wasn’t growing—at least not compared to the church across town. This lack of ‘success’ ate at him and made his efforts seem worthless. What else do I need to do to be successful?

Many—if not all—pastors face a similar crisis. Is this just part of the grind of ministry, or is there a better perspective?

Kent and Barbara Hughes sought God for answers from the Scriptures for their dilemma and what they found make the backbone of their important book Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome.

The Hughes’ tell their story of liberation from the success syndrome of ministry by sharing rich examples from biblical characters, powerful illustrations, and God’s eternal perspective that will energize and refocus readers. Instead of measuring success with worldly standards, the authors share seven biblical definitions of ministry success, which we share below in the form of a quote summary.

“…the miserable yoke of worldly success is so crushing because it is a burden that God’s servants were never meant to bear.” (106)


Seven Biblical Definitions of Ministry Success

1. Success is faithfulness.

“As Barbara and I searched the Scriptures, we found no place where it says that God’s servants are called to be successful. Rather, we discovered our call is to be faithful.” (35)

“So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:1–2).” (35)

Using the episode from Numbers 20 when Moses struck the rock to provide water for Israel instead of speaking to it, Hughes explains that, “one can be regarded as hugely successful in the ministry and yet be a failure.” (36) Moses was not faithful to God’s word and faced the consequence for it: not being able to enter the Promised Land.

Two Essential Elements of Faithfulness:

1. Obedience

“Obedience (knowing and explicitly doing God’s Word) is the key to true success.” (38)

2. Hard work

“No one keeps track of a pastor’s time…if a man is not a self-starter, it is so easy to come in late and go home early. It is also very easy to let prayer and sermon preparation slip, and, generally, to imagine that extraneous interests are ‘ministry.’ There is more sloth in the pastoral ministry than we would like to admit.” (42)

[Commenting on the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14–20]:
“The Lord has nothing good to say about lazy servants; they are unfaithful.” (42)

2. Success is Serving.

“Whenever we may be on the path of servanthood, there is one thing we all must do if we are to be servants, and that is to look to the cross. It is the crowning event of Christ’s servant life, just as Jesus had said, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45)…So here’s one secret of successful ministry: When we keep our eyes upon the cross, we want to serve. Friends and co-workers, if we have been chafing under our ministerial burdens, possibly wondering if we have followed our own fancies, we need to envision Christ washing the feet of rough, unlettered fishermen. We need to see Christ on the cross washing our sins away as the Ultimate Servant. And then we need to whisper, “Lord, you washed their feet; you washed away my sins. I will serve you and your church. Amen.”” (50–51)

Three Essential forms of service:

  1. Preaching. “So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God” (1 Corinthians 4:1), tell us that a primary avenue of servanthood is preaching the truths of the gospel.” “Faithfulness in the pulpit requires a vast investment of time and energy and is a great service to Christ and his church, whether recognized by the church or not. Those who would honor God in the pulpit must be servants.” (51)
  2. Administering. “Do we see our executive duties as opportunities to serve Christ? If we do, we will be encouraged to give our very best to him in loving, efficient administration.” (52)
  3. Counseling. “Paul charges us, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). Here the pastoral ministry provides vast opportunity for servanthood because we are very often the ones to whom people turn to unburden themselves…pastoral counseling compels us to serve others much in the way the Lord would if he were still here on earth.” (52)

3. Success is Loving.

“Before all things, even service to God, we must love God with all our hearts. It is the highest priority in life! It is the first question for every theologian, every pastor, every missionary. It is the quintessential question for everyone who wants to please God.” (58)

“What appears at first glance to be success, is not necessarily success in God’s economy.” (58)

Love liberates us in four ways (59–60):

  1. It places our lives and ministries beyond the fallible, oppressive judgment of the quantifiers—the statistic keepers.
  2. It liberates us from the destructive tendency to compare ourselves with others.
  3. It frees and motivates us to live our life’s highest priority [loving God].
  4. It is freeing to the whole church, regardless of status, because loving God is something equally open to all.

3 Ways to Cultivate More Love for God (60–61):

  1. Be honest in examining yourself and your current love for him.
  2. Cultivate earnestly the conscious inner ability to love him while we serve him.
  3. Spend special time with him.

Part two shares four more biblical elements of ministry success.

Seven Biblical Definitions of Ministry Success (Part Two)

lightstock_169198_medium_kevin_halloran

Continued from Part One.


4. Success is Believing.

“For me [this truth] points to one of the great needs of Christians—which is not to believe more and better things, but to believe what we already believe. During my bout with success, my faith had slipped so miserably that I was not believing the things I actually did believe.” (63)

“Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6 (63)

“Whether these great people of faith [from Hebrews 11] were called to focus their belief on God’s rewards in history or in eternity, they all believed that God was actively working in them and through them and for them, and would reward them even though they could not always see or understand how.” (64)

Hughes proceeds to offer an extended meditation on the implications of Colossians 1:15–18 on our lives and ministries. How does believing Christ as Creator of everything, Sustainer of the universe, the Goal of all creation, and the Lover of our souls change our outlook on ministry?

Gauge your belief by answering these three questions truthfully (70):
1. Am I believing that God can take care of me?
2. Am I believing he loves me?
3. Am I believing that he rewards, that he is morally active on the part of those who seek him?

5. Success is Prayer.

Like a lumberjack’s work would be less effective with a dull axe, “God’s servants fail in their appointed tasks because they do not take time to sharpen their lives in prayer.” (71–72)

“Prayer is surrender—surrender to the will of God and cooperation with that will. If I throw out a boathook from the boat and catch hold of the shore and pull, do I pull the shore to me, or do I pull myself to the shore? Prayer is not pulling God to my will, but the aligning of my will to the will of God.” E. Stanley Jones (73)

We must pray because (72–77):
1. …of what prayer does to us.
2. …of what prayer does in the church. “Prayer brings power to the church and to ministry.”
3. …Jesus prayed.

“Fellow servants, we know that the Holy Spirit prompts us to pray, even making intercession for us, but we also know that there is our part, which is discipline. Surely we can do nothing in our own power; nevertheless we are called to be fellow workers with God.” (81)

Hughes also drew from Ephesians 6:18–20:
“…praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.”

6. Success is Holiness.

“The logic of Scripture is unavoidable: God calls his people to be holy (Leviticus 19:2). Holiness is foundational to true success. No one can be regarded a success who pursues a life contrary to God’s will. Therefore, we come to this irony: there are untold numbers of successful pastors and Christian workers who are abysmal failures.” (84)

“I have known Christ-professing, Bible carrying men and women in Christian ministry who were adulterous, even incestuous, and saw no contradiction in their lives. I have known Christian workers who have led a secret pornographic existence: fundamentalists at church and X-rated cable voyeurs at home. Even more tragic, their delusion is so deep that they admit no inconsistency in their behavior.” (87)

“Lay this maxim to heart: when lust takes control, God is quite unreal to us…When we are in the grip of lust, the reality of God fades. The longer King David gazed [at Bathsheba bathing in 2 Samuel 11], the less real God became. Not only was his awareness of God diminished, but in the growing darkness he lost awareness of who David was—his holy call, his frailty, and the sure consequences of sin.” (89)

“Understand, servants of God, that some of life’s choices, especially those that have to do with sensuality, have irreversible consequences. You may be making that choice now. For your sake and for God’s sake, do not take the fatal step!” (91)

“During our difficult time in learning about success, Barbara and I were encouraged as we came to see that holiness is foundational to true success. We were also heartened. Although holiness is not easy, the fact that God demands it means that he helps those who seek it.” (93)

7. Success is Attitude.

“In Christian ministry it is no exaggeration to say (with some common-sense qualifications, of course) that attitude is everything. There are two attitudes that particularly characterize ministry failures: negativism and jealousy.” (96)

[Paul’s response to suffering in prison:] “But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice” (Philippians 1:18).” (98)

“Next to our free salvation in Christ, our attitude is the most important thing we possess. Attitude is more important than circumstances, the past, money, successes, failures, our gifts, other’s opinions, even the ‘facts.'” (99)

“Jealous, envious hearts are unhappy, for there is a miserable pathology to jealousy. The Bible unforgettably commemorates this in the case of the prodigal’s older brother. His jealous heart makes it impossible for him to share in his family’s joy. In fact, he misses the party of his life! (Luke 14:25–30). Then, unable to share in the things that please his father, he suffers further estrangement…He is miserable. A heart subject to such pathology can never be successful, regardless of its outward performance.” (101)

“Those who have negative attitudes in the ministry never truly know success, regardless of their accomplishments. Their negativism sours the proper sweetness of their desserts…They are unable to enjoy the pleasant things that come their way, for they always manage to dwell on what might have been and fear the worst in what is to come.” (103)

“Through the example of Paul and others, Barbara and I became aware of how important a role in our mind-set played in our ministry. We had learned that a positive attitude and an encouraging attitude are foundational to a truly successful life.” (104)


*Page numbers taken from the 1988 edition of Liberating Ministry from the Success Syndrome by Kent and Barbara Hughes.

Should Every Sermon End With Christ?

Should Every Sermon End With Christ?

The Bible is one book with one story focusing on God’s work through Jesus Christ.

In the video below, Peter Adam, Andrew Reid, and Mike Raiter talk about biblical theology and preaching Christ. You will hear their thoughts on preaching Christ, ending sermons with Christ, and sharing the gospel.

A panel discussion on Christ-centred preaching, featuring Peter Adam, Andrew Reid and Mike Raiter. From the Centre for Biblical Preaching.

Free Bible Overview Video Course: God’s Big Picture by Vaughan Roberts

God's Big Picture - Bible Overview Course

One of the books we recommend on biblical theology is God’s Big Picture: Tracing the Storyline of the Bible by Vaughan Roberts.

Our friends at Clayton.TV have released a free video study tool that walks through each of the nine units of the book. Each unit features a video of 10-12 minutes and a study guide. This is an ideal resource for churches and any Christian wanting to dig deeper in understanding the Bible’s overarching story.


Click to download the whole course (all videos and printable material). At average download speed (10Mbps) this could take up to half an hour.

Click to download a short printable ‘How To Use God’s Big Picture’ guide.

Watch the series trailer:


Summary of God’s Big Picture Video Study (via Clayton.TV)

UNIT 1: THE PATTERN OF THE KINGDOM

The Bible isn’t just a random collection of books but one connected story and it is vital to understand it in that context. This first video explains that the Bible has one author: God, one subject: Jesus Christ and one overarching theme: God’s plan to save the world through his son Jesus Christ.

We begin to look at this unfolding story in Genesis, the first book of the Bible, which sets up the pattern of God’s kingdom that we will trace through the rest of the units. We see that in God’s perfect created order, God’s People, Adam and Eve, live in God’s Place, the Garden of Eden, and enjoy his Rule and Blessing. In this creation the relationships between God & man, man & woman and mankind & creation are perfect, just as they were supposed to be. But it doesn’t last long…

UNIT 2: THE PERISHED KINGDOM

God’s perfect creation is all too quickly ruined. In this episode we consider the question of evil, the tactics of the Devil who wants people to distrust and disobey God and the sinfulness of human hearts.

As we read more of Genesis we see that God’s people, Adam and Eve, disobey God, reject his rule and suffer the dire consequences. Once they have turned their back on God he must turn his back on them. Relationships are broken and God’s people suffer the just curses of a fallen world. Sin and death infect the whole of creation. God’s people deserve judgment but in God’s grace this isn’t where the story ends…

UNIT 3: THE PROMISED KINGDOM

It looks like it’s all gone wrong but in unit 3 we learn that God has an eternal plan to save his people and restore his perfect creation. Reading on in Genesis we see that God, in his amazing grace, is going to send a saviour to rescue his fallen people. He then makes a foundational covenant or promise with one man, Abraham, which has implications for the rest of history. God promises to make himself a people through Abraham, to bring his people to a place and to bless them. As we see more of human sin and weakness we also see more and more of God’s grace and we realise God’s people cannot save themselves. Only God can save.

But questions abound… How will he make a people from an elderly, barren couple? Where is this land? And how can he restore the perfect relationships of creation?

UNIT 4: THE PARTIAL KINGDOM- People, Rule, and Blessing

God’s covenant promises of unit 3 are beginning to be worked out. In Genesis 12 – Exodus 18 we see how God begins to make a people for himself by miraculously granting Abraham and Sarah children and then many descendants. We see again and again that evil, unworthy persons become God’s people and it becomes clear that it is God who saves and that no man can boast.

We see how God rescues his people from slavery in Egypt by substitution, by conquest and by defeating their enemies. Once freed from slavery God begins to bless his people by giving them his law and by living amongst them. Things are beginning to look up, but there is much more to be fulfilled.

UNIT 5: THE PARTIAL KINGDOM- Place and King

Having seen the ‘people’ and ‘blessing’ promises partially fulfilled we’re now looking out for the promise of ‘land’ to be fulfilled. But, because of further disobedience, we read in the book of Numbers that God’s people are delayed forty years in getting into the land he has promised them. Once in the land things don’t get much better: the nation descends into a cycle of sin, judgment and grace. God provides judges to rule his people.

Perhaps God’s people would do better if they had a king to rule over them? In 1 Samuel – 2 Chronicles God’s promise of a king is seemingly fulfilled by Saul, David and then Solomon. The last two kings bring great periods of peace and prosperity to Israel, but ultimately each one fails to bring the everlasting peace and kingdom that God has promised. We conclude that these partially fulfilled promises must be pointing to something greater.

UNIT 6: THE PROPHESIED KINGDOM

Israel’s history takes a downward turn as the people continue to disobey. They are exiled from the promised land, they become a scattered fragmented people and are left facing God’s judgment rather than blessing. But in his grace God sends prophets to speak his word to his people and enforce his covenant.

This unit maps the various prophets found in the Old Testament, all bringing a message of judgment and hope. Speaking God’s words and not their own, the prophets stress that God’s people will face judgment if they continue to disobey, but the prophets also bring a wonderful message of hope: God will keep his promise to bless his people. Most excitingly they prophesy of a new hope and a glorious, perfect King who will rule God’s people forever – that is of course, Jesus Christ. We’re left at the end of this unit eagerly looking for the arrival of true God’s King.

UNIT 7: THE PRESENT KINGDOM

Finally all of God’s promises are fulfilled! Here we truly see how the whole of the Bible fits together. God’s promised king arrives to save God’s people – Jesus is born. This unit shows how each of the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) give complementary accounts of Jesus’ life and teachings, each concluding that Jesus is the Messiah, the saviour of God’s people and the fulfillment of all the Old Testament promises. We see how Jesus is God’s people, place, rule and blessing and what each of these promises means for the believer.

Most importantly this unit describes the way in which Jesus saves God’s people through substitution, by taking the punishment they deserve, so that God’s people can be restored to perfect relationship with him. There is a tension that remains however because the presence of sin remains…

UNIT 8: THE PROCLAIMED KINGDOM

Jesus’ kingdom is both ‘now’ and ‘not yet’. This unit explains that we live in the ‘last days’ between Jesus’ first and second comings. God is patiently waiting for more people to come into his kingdom before he sends Jesus back to wrap everything up. As we move on to the book of Acts we see that to accomplish the task of making a great people for himself God sends his Holy Spirit into Christians so they can tell others of Jesus.

We learn that the Holy Spirit brings about new birth, he equips believers to serve Christ and he produces holiness. Though believers have been wonderfully saved God does not promise an easy life now, rather suffering is to be expected. Believers are to persevere in holiness and in spreading the gospel, by looking forward to the glorious, eternal future when sin and death will be no more.

UNIT 9: THE PERFECTED KINGDOM

The end of evil and the beginning of eternity: the final book of the Bible, Revelation, is a series of visions given to the apostle John which conveys a message through symbols to strengthen believers.

There is a vision of a lamb on a throne in Heaven which encourages believers to know that though this world is full of evil there is someone in charge, Jesus, who gave his life for his people. Next there is a series of visions of seals, trumpets, and bowls which depict the warmongering, economic instability and death that will mark every age until Christ returns. Then there is the final judgment when all evil and opposition to God will be totally and finally destroyed. And finally, there is the glorious picture of the new creation; God’s perfect kingdom where there will be no sin, or sadness or death.

We see how God’s promise to Abraham is fully and finally fulfilled: God’s people from all nations will live in God’s place, the new creation, and enjoy his rule and the blessing of his presence eternally. So we pray ‘Come Lord Jesus’ and while we wait ask for ‘the grace of the Lord be with God’s people Amen’.

“The Kingdom of God is God’s people in God’s place under God’s rule and blessing.”

For more articles and resources, connect with us: Facebook | Twitter | Subscribe to Our Blog


Related Resources: 

Measuring Impact – Video of Webinar with Craig Parro

How should non-profits and missions organizations measure impact?

The challenging (and sometimes ambiguous) nature of measuring impact may deter some from even trying, but LRI President Craig Parro says measuring impact is crucial.

In the webinar Craig Parro hosted with the Barnabas Group in Chicago, IL, Craig unpacks the why and the how of measuring impact. Since every organization is so different, Craig bases much of his talk on how Leadership Resources measures impact training pastors in biblical exposition in the Training National Trainers program.

Download PDF of slides

“Why is it that everyone loves learning, but nobody loves being evaluated?” – Craig Parro

One-to-One Bible Reading Video Seminar with David Helm

One-to-One Bible Reading Video Seminar - Pastor David Helm

Leadership Resources champions expositional Word ministry of any kind because the Word of God alone has the power to bring life and transform. For that reason, we love recommending believers to read the Bible one-to-one with others; it is indeed a simple way to fulfill the Great Commission.

David Helm, pastor and author of One-to-One Bible Reading and friend of LRI, presented the following seminar at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The seminar is courtesy of Matthias Media and Reading121.org.


OVERVIEW: HOW THE COURSE WORKS
This online course is a way to share the idea of One-to-One Bible Reading with a group, to encourage others to get started with it. The course consists of four lessons that may be enjoyed by groups of any age or size. It’s for adult Sunday school classes, home groups, youth groups, or just a few friends who want to give themselves to reading the Bible. It can be used by churches to promote the idea at a half-day seminar. Or it can be used by Christians anywhere to simply share the idea informally.

Each lesson consists of three parts: Watch, Discuss, and Interact. You can use all the parts or only one or two. However you want to make use of the materials, each lesson is designed to be used in a 45-60 minute time slot. But, with discussion, it can certainly be expanded. To watch the videos and access the discussion PDFs, click on the lessons below to be directed to Reading121.org.

Lesson 1: What is it? Why do it?

Lesson 2: Who is it for?

Lesson 3: How can I get started? (Part 1)

Lesson 4: How can I get started? (Part 2)


For a shorter introduction to the what, why, and how of one-to-one Bible reading, listen to this interview with LRI’s Program Director of Europe Sean Martin (or read transcript):

Bonus Resources: