The Church's Purpose to Love God
Is Expressed Through Nurture
Helping People Get to Know God
The Priority of Nurture:
- patterned by Jesus (Matt. 9:35; Jn. 17:6-8, 14, 17, 20) and the Apostles (Acts 2:42; 5:42)
- commanded in Scripture (Matt. 28:19-20)
God places a high priority on the training ministry of the church, and so must we. Resources to help people know and love God more are abundantly available, leaving us without excuse.
The Program for Nurture:
- discipleship (Matt. 28:19 - matheteuo)
- equipping (Eph. 4:11-16 - katartismos)
- teaching (Matt. 28:20 - didasko)
- preaching (2 Tim. 4:2 - kerusso)
- exhorting (1 Tim. 4:13 - paraklesis)
In the New Testament you will find a number of distinct Greek words which could indicate different strategies, or programs, for the nurture of believers. The place, setting, and timing for these programs may vary from church to church, but to yield the greatest results, all of these strategies should be available within the ministry of the church.
The Process for Nurture:
- life-long (Phil. 3:10-16)
- developmental (Heb. 6:1)
- relational -- corporate (1 Tim. 4:13), interpersonal (Col. 3:16), and personal (2 Tim. 2:15)
The process is not instantaneous but rather unending. People will be at different stages and will grow at different paces. This presents challenges for leadership but supports the reason for varying strategies, or programs, for accomplishing this objective.
Both the large and the small group settings are important in the process as well as personal time with the Lord. The dynamic changes in each of these contexts and neither should be a substitute for the other.
The Product of Nurture:
- maturity (Eph. 4:11-13)
- discernment (Eph. 4:14; Heb. 5:14)
- growth (Eph. 4:15; 1 Cor. 3:6-7)
- greater knowledge of and love for God (Col. 1:9-11; Phil. 1:9-11)
- multiplication (2 Tim. 2:2)
When the church takes a committed, consistent, and balanced approach to providing opportunities for people to be nurtured in their knowledge of and love for God, then the church can move into the reproductive stages where those who have been discipled take what they have learned and teach others.