Who wants to be Sifted? I know it doesn’t sound like much fun, does it? When we first picked the Sifted theme for the Exponential 2012 Conference, I wasn’t a big fan. I’m more of a big picture and positive sort of guy so thinking about being sifted made me cringe a little. As we continued to develop this theme, I began to realize this is exactly what we need to be talking about. God allows us to be “sifted” (Luke 22:31-32) through trials and temptations to grow us as followers and leaders. How we respond as church leaders not only shapes who we become, but also those who we lead because we reproduce who we are.
“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32) Satan wants to sift (destroy) us because we are disciples and because we are making disciples. But God is allowing us to be sifted so that – as the chaff is separated from sifted wheat – the sin can be removed from our lives (the seeds), resulting in a great harvest. The sifting process develops us into the type of disciples that God wants to reproduce.
The big ideas for each of the main stage sessions are as follows:
Session #1: Sifted
God will use the trials and temptations in our lives as a “sifting” process to grow us as leaders. To make the most of this requires that we do the “hard work”, “home work” and “heart work” necessary to become the followers of Jesus that God wants us to be. As church leaders this becomes even more important because how we respond will be reproduced by others.
Session #2: Calling
The trials and temptations that come during times of “sifting” will cause us to doubt and want to give up on our calling. It is during those times of defeat and loss that we must not quit or give up knowing that we have been called by God to lead his church and that how we respond will be reproduced by others in regards to their own calling.
Session #3: Purity
The temptation of sin is in direct opposition to the holiness and mission of God and is part of the “sifting” process. By God’s grace the resistance of sin and the redemption of our sin can result in a stronger relationship with God and therefore more mature disciples and better leadership. How we respond to sins temptation is important not only in our own lives but also others because how we respond will be reproduced in the lives of others.
Session #4: Relationships
The “sifting” process not only impacts us but also the relationships that we value the most: our family and friends. It is during those times that we must be devoted to our commitments and the hard work of reconciliation not only for the good of our own relationships but also knowing that how we respond will be reproduced by others in their relationships.
Session #5: Movement
God will use the trials and temptations in our lives as “sifting” process to grow us as disciples of Jesus and as leaders of His church. How we respond not only shapes who we become, but also all who follow us. For there to be a movement of reproducing churches that will accomplish the mission of Jesus there must first be leaders who are living lives worthy of being reproduced.
I am now super pumped about the Sifted theme and know there is a ton at stake in creating a reproducing church movement. We reproduce who we are; so as we reproduce (plant more churches, missional communities and campuses) we want to reproduce healthy churches that continue to reproduce.