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Last Friday we concluded our first of three Director Team meetings for 2014. We talk weekly by phone but meet in person three times per year to go deeper in our times together in the Word, do planning, and process issues and projects that work best when we’re together. Here are a few highlights from the meeting.

Each day began in the Word as we shared from our recent times with God. We experience the Word together—not merely as individuals—to guide and direct, feed us and fuel us, and give us wisdom and direction. One day Sam shared from Romans, John, and 2 Corinthians on the profile of a disciple, and that the transformation that happens is expressed by faith, hope, and love. The last day Roy shared from Nehemiah 13 and the need for each of us to be sure we’ve cleaned out anything displeasing to God and replaced it with the right things.

We spent significant time working through revisions and simplifications to the Intentional Disciplemaking Church (IDC) Process materials in light of our work with the North American Lutheran Church, and to make it simpler for staff teams to lead churches through the process. Bill Mowry joined us by phone to add valuable insights, since the NALC pastors he is leading are furthest along in the process. We began development of a new version of the Growth Stage Assessment. This has been such a key tool in helping churches to understand where they are in terms of a disciplemaking culture. This new delivery system is being shaped significantly by CDM staff who have given us helpful feedback over the last several years. God’s provision and blessing of so many churches—including CDM Director Teamhe NALC—has been the impetus we needed to drive the necessary updating, revising, and changes to the delivery system. We can’t wait to talk with you more about this at our staff conference in Orlando!

We also discussed a revised workbook for coaching, incorporating the Sexual Health and Wholeness (SHAW) work into the workbook’s Health Account as a natural way to introduce this critical subject to pastors and churches. CDM’s coaching initiative is growing and influencing an increasing number of churches God is opening to us.

Our conversations ended with a look to the future—succession planning for all of us, and a desire for our Regional Leaders to examine this in each region. We wrapped up with a review of our Thematic Goal, evaluating where we are in accomplishing it, tweaking where necessary, and planning for its completion. It is a great privilege for each of us to be in these positions of guiding this mission, and we appreciate your prayers and trust as we lead into the future.

We can’t wait to see all who are able to join us in Orlando for the CDM “More Than Ordinary” conference! Blessings to you!

From Cedric Brown, Mid-Atlantic Regional Leader

More than 400 people, including students from 16 colleges and universities, attended the AFAM National Congress on Discipleship in Cleveland last month. CDM sponsored a workshop track featuring Troy Hassell of Southampton, Bermuda, who vividly shared his journey of becoming a disciplemaking pastor and helping his church in becoming a disciplemaking church. He shared about the highs and lows he has experienced in shifting the direction and focus of the church toward discipleship and less on programs. He mentioned that more than anything he’s learned discipleship is a process. Many in the audience asked pointed questions with a desire of wanting to get something started back in their own churches.

We also experienced good interaction with students who came to a CDM workshop on how to get connected with the local church once they graduate. Tips were given to help them make a smooth transition back to their home churches, with a view on how they could help their churches move more toward developing stronger cultures of discipleship. For more on the AFAM National Congress, click here.

From John & Tracy Radcliffe, Elizabethtown, Pa.

At a small local church near us, I (John) have worked with the pastor to help create a desire for discipleship among his people. Last spring I challenged Mel to go deeper in his personal time with God. He’s found a meaningful discipline that has taken him deeper in his walk. Then last fall I led a workshop to challenge his leaders to do the same. One application of the workshop was to meet with someone else regularly to share what God is showing one another in the Word. Many times, doing this very naturally leads into discipling relationships.

Two weeks ago I met with Mel and his friend Tom, another man from the church, to have a devotional time. I asked Mel where he was in his own devotions, and he said he was in Leviticus. The passage had some of the kinds of regulations of the law you would expect in Leviticus. But it also had two verses about consecrating ourselves to the Lord. We had a rich time of hearing from the Lord. Afterward, Mel asked me to hold him accountable for doing the same thing with five other church leaders over the next five weeks. Indeed, God is on the move!

News You Can Use

New Barna Study on the Church: “What, if anything, helps Americans grow in their faith? When the Barna Group asked, people offered a variety of answers—prayer, family or friends, reading the Bible, having children—but church did not even crack the top-10 list.” Read more here: ”Americans Divided on the Importance of Church.”

Nav 2:7 Series ”Making a Difference”: Our CDM office recently received an encouraging letter from Pastor Jerry in Kokomo, Indiana. Pastor Jerry’s church is using the Nav 2:7 Series as part of their intentional disciplemaking ministry. He writes: “I just wanted you to know how encouraged we are with the material. We have 14 people in two small groups who are learning to be future leaders for the next generation of growth groups. They are learning how to share their testimony and the Gospel using the Bridge. They have been encouraged with the material and where God is leading us through it. We are looking forward to what God will do with us at our church. I just wanted to let you know . . . that you are making a difference in the world.”