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Today we look at the important work of watering the implanted gospel seeds.

Paul, writing in 1 Corinthians 3, provides us with insights into the unique roles he and Apollos shared in the spread of the gospel.

What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered… 1 Corinthians 3:5-6a

What was Apollos’ work of watering? Acts 18 may provide some insight: Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in (the) spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus… he greatly helped those who through grace had believed,  for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.

Apollos’ assignment was the clear proclamation of the gospel, rooted in the scriptures, empowered by the Spirit for the practical help and edification of believers and the defense of the faith to skeptics and doubters.

Q: Why do you think churches long in decline have an issue with transformation from preaching?

A church that has been in decline may have been lacking:

  • Consistent and clear communication of the gospel message
  • Exegetical teaching from God’s word
  • Spirit-empowered preaching
  • Practical application of God’s truth to everyday life
  • A powerful apologetic for Jesus in the culture

The public proclamation and skilled teaching of the gospel are central to the development of a healthy and vibrant church.

Q: What commitments do we need to make to ensure we’re watering the congregation through the ministry of the word?

Replanters and Revitalizers must be fundamentally committed to:

  • Sermon preparation and evaluation
  • The centrality of the Gospel in their teaching
  • The devotion to and reliance upon The Spirit in all of the processes involved in preaching (Prayer, Planning, Preparation and Proclamation)
  • Equipping and challenging the congregation to respond in obedience in everyday life

Q: Okay, let’s say we’re committed to improving our “watering skills” what are some practical steps we can take to improve our preaching?

Sermon Helps

  • Prayer/Personal Devotional life-preaching from the overflow
  • Frequent breaks
  • Improved study resources/methods
  • Listening to others (for inspiration, not copying)
  • Counter Intuitive-less time spent preparing, more time pastoring

JimBo Stewart: [00:00:00] Here we are. Bob, back at the bootcamp. I hope you’re ready for the next episode on the replant bootcamp. As we are now kind of coming into the middle of November, the fall leaves are falling. I actually have fall leaves falling in my front yard. I’ve got, uh, a, a oak tree in my front yard, and they’re actual.

Like brown leaves in my yard right now, which is a pretty rare deal for Florida. it’s the only tree I think like in sight that I can see that has actual brown leaves. But we’re in fall, we’re getting near Thanksgiving, and, which is just a, a great part of the year, and I hope that things are well for you in the st.

Bob Bickford: Yeah, man, it’s beautiful. Uh, it’s been beautiful with lots of colors. It’s not as vibrant because we haven’t had as much rain, but there, there are some nice colors. Now, Jimbo, the, the fall is a mixed blessing for me because my backyard is like a forest, and I will have between, you know, 28 and 48 bags of [00:01:00] leaves.

So if you wanna, you wanna send some people up here to help, with the recovery of those leaves, um, I, I would greatly appreci.

JimBo Stewart: I would help jump in a pile of those leaves,

Bob Bickford: Yeah. Yes. Well, you are all about fun. Jimbo. You are all about fun,

JimBo Stewart: Absolutely. Hey, speaking of fun, the fun of replanting we’ve talked about, we are in a mini series on the stages of replanting. Last week we talked about the, if church planting is like construction, building the trellis for the vine to grow. Church replanting is like farming, and first we’ve gotta plow until the hard soil, and it does get a little more fun after you get the si, the, the, the soil.

Tiled, if I could say those words. if you can, you can plow the ground a little bit and get it ready. it does start to get to be a little more fun as you enter into the next stage. Just as a reminder to our listeners, you can [00:02:00] not only listen to our glorious voices talk about this, but each Monday we will have a blog post going up on the website.

Based on a previous episode sometime in the history and the archives of the Museum of the Bootcamp, in our three years of Rich History. And then every Friday, the blog posts will come out following that week’s podcast episode, giving you more information, in just a different format for different learning styles.

And so if you’ve read the blog, if you’ve listened to last week’s episode, you know. The four stages are plowing, planting, watering, and growing. And so, Bob, talk to a little bit today about what, when you say planting, you obviously don’t mean church planting. so talk to us about what the planting stage looks like in a replant.

Bob Bickford: Yeah, so the planting stage is the work of the pastors. And the leaders to sew the gospel deeply into the soften ground of the church body. So you’ve been, you’ve been plowing, you’ve [00:03:00] been breaking things up. You’ve been, you know, you’ve been, been stopping the well worn patterns. You’ve been introducing a disruptive force to kind of break up the ground.

You’ve been, been working hard, you’ve been staying committed at that, not just, you know, one time or through one sermon, but, but the constant work of plowing the ground now leads you to planting and it’s planting the gospel. Into all of what you’re doing. So, you know, faithfully sowing the, the, or casting the seed of the gospel into lives of the people in your church and the culture of your church is a whole lot more than just clearly communicating the gospel at the end of your sermon.

It’s much more than that. And there’s a couple of resources I think that were helpful for me in really understanding this. One of ’em was the Gospel centered life by a guy named Bob Thon and Will Walker. It’s a great book that they talk about how the gospel transforms us, it saves us, but it also transforms us and continually transforms us.

So let me read this quote. It’s a little bit long [00:04:00] quote, but I think it’s helpful. It so this many Christians live a with a truncated view of the gospel. The gospel is not, is not just the means of our salvation, but the means of our transformation. It’s not simply deliverance from sins penalty, but release from sins power.

The gospel is what makes us right with God, which is justification, and it’s also what frees us to delight in God sanctification. And so we really have to think about the gospel. Is more than just communicating the gospel that leads to salvation. It is, is what continually renews us and transforms us. And I think that’s so important.

And, and the truth is one of the reasons, uh, the, the multiple reasons behind a church’s decline. Are layered and complex. Often Jimbo, they’re, they’re a result of really kind of misunderstanding the gospel, right? That the gospel is only what saves me. So if I just make a commitment to Christ and [00:05:00] I express that to the church by walking down the aisle or sharing it with the pastor, and then I’m baptized, I’m good to go.

Right? And I’m done. And so I think a lot of times in the churches that I attended as a young person, that was the event. Like get saved and then, you know, volunteer in a ministry, give some money and uh, and tell other people get saved, right? So we get that fire insurance, so to speak, but we, we really minimize the transformation and the sanctification, of, of the work of the gospel in our.

JimBo Stewart: Yeah, that’s so key that we have to move. I mean, it’s, it’s not just getting people to pray a prayer, but we’ve gotta move beyond that to, to transformation. I mean, transformation has to be part of the pro. I mean, you can’t follow Jesus and not. Be transformed. that’s just not how that works. I love, the illustration that, Francis Chan uses.

I’ve heard him use what he talks about. He says, What if, what if I showed up late to this event and I was like 20 minutes late? And I [00:06:00] looked just like I look right now, but I said, Oh, I’m so sorry that I’m late. Uh, I got ran over by a semi truck in the parking lot and like, you would immediately be like, Wait, what?

And you wouldn’t believe me. Right? And why would you not believe me? Because there’s no way you could get run over by a semi truck. And still, I mean, like, you would show signs of it. Like you would, it would look like you’ve been run. You would be in the hospital, like it would, that would be a transforming experience.

it to be run over by a semi-truck. And in the same way the, the same Holy Spirit that split the Red Sea, the same Holy Spirit that brings the lost into salvation is the one that resides within us as believers. And so, man, life transformation is inevitable. and we have to emphasize that side. I love Bob Thon.

The way he writes. I always just assumed he was an older man. he’s like a younger guy [00:07:00] and he is like a big, he has this great ar random article on like the history of punk rock on the internet, by the way.

Yeah. I came across it one day and I was like, Is this the same Bob Boon? And it is exactly the same.

He was like on a sabbatical and he decided on sabbatical to. Uses brain in a different way. And he like wrote this whole article in the history of punk rock and I thought it was really fascinating. So we’ll

Bob Bickford: Well, we’re, we’re gonna have to put that in the show notes. That’s gonna be shows. but I, I’ve actually met with Bob th a couple times and, and had several conversations with him. Uh, the church I was a part of before I replanted was involved in a network of churches and he was part of that. And so I got to be around Bob and, hear him talk and have conversation and share meals with him and his, you know, people.

So he’s, he’s a good guy. I would’ve. . Imagine him doing an article on the history of punk

rock. Pretty

JimBo Stewart: Yeah, man. Well, you gotta reach out to him. He needs to be a guest on the podcast and we can, we can have it and well, [00:08:00] here’s what we’ll do. We’ll have him on the podcast and we’ll just ask him about the history of punk rock

Bob Bickford: Yeah, He would love that. I think maybe he wouldn’t, I don’t know. We’ll see. You know, the, this idea of planting the gospel and everything is really something that, that you have captured in the, one of the characteristics of a re planter, which is gospel orientation. Can you break that down for us and, and just explain how that looks and, and what that looks like?

Cause I think that’s what we’re talking about.

JimBo Stewart: Yeah, I mean, gospel orientation is when you’re aligning everything that you do, around the gospel, it becomes the filter, right? And one of the ways you can think about this is, if you read. Business books or you’ve been in business like, you know, like they’ll say like, oh, like a vision statement or a core value, you know, is something through which you filter everything that you do.

at least it’s what, it’s a way that’s supposed to operate. well, I mean, the gospel is our. That’s our thing. That’s, that’s the whole, this [00:09:00] whole thing is about the gospel, and so making sure that we’re asking that question and filtering how we handle conflict resolution, like how we think about children’s ministry, how we think about our security ministry, how we think about first impressions, all of those things are ways that like we have to think about.

How does the, how do we filter this through the gospel and the gospel? Not just being, like you said, that which saves us justification, but also that which transforms us sanctification. and, and so how are we making disciples? Are, are we doing these things because we’ve done these events for forever or, or is this in some way serving for the purpose of glorifying God and making disciples?

And if not, then why are we.

Bob Bickford: Yeah. It makes me think of a, in our small group this week at the church I attend, um, we were talking about prayer and mission and, and just this idea that, that the transformation in us [00:10:00] leads us. To engage mission joyfully. And as we engage mission joyfully, the joy that we have in Jesus because of what he’s done for us that we didn’t deserve should inform the way we do ministry.

And so it reminded me of a, of a revitalization church that I was doing some consultation with. And um, the pastor was fairly new and this was a long established, you know, historic church. And they were, You know, smaller group, primarily older folks, and they ran a food pantry ministry out of a gas station that somehow the church had come to own.

I think they bought the, you know, it was like a, an empty gas station. So you, you roll in there Jimbo, and it’s like, You know, this, this old style kind of quick stop gas station and the, the whole garage area was cleaned out and it was like food and clothes and all this kind of stuff. Well, this particular part of town had a lot of folks with mental illness and drug addiction and homelessness, and so the pastor was, was, uh, Pointing to it and he said, Yeah, I’m gonna have to shut this down for a while.

And I’m like, [00:11:00] Really? Why? Why are you gonna have to shut this down? He goes, Well, because our church people are yelling and screaming at the people who are coming for food and clothes. I was like, What? He goes, Yeah. He goes, They’re really angry at ’em and they’re expecting them. You know, get in line and, you know, not be disorderly and disruptive and all this kinda stuff. He goes, it’s, they’re not friendly at all. They’re like angry and screaming at the people,

and so I’m gonna have to sh I’m gonna have to shut this down.

Well, Jimbo, I, I’m not a smart man, but I’m guessing that the gospel was not, sewn into their response and how they were living out that

that ministry

JimBo Stewart: No, it doesn’t sound like, it sounds like they wrote, they, they maybe read the wrong Bob Thon article.

Bob Bickford: Yeah.

Yeah. Maybe about a mosh pit or something, but man, it was, it’s just crazy. So think about that, like your finance team, right. Do have, have you sewn the gospel into the finance team? Be because God has been generous with [00:12:00] us. How can we be generous with others, particularly, and I’ve, you’ve seen this and I’ve seen this.

Existing churches have sometimes these large accounts of, of resources that they never

tap and they never touch. It could be used for gospel ministry, right. Chains across the parking lot. Right? And you’re next door to a school , right? Well, you don’t want those people walking in or, or driving in on your parking lot.

Well, why not? The Lord’s been generous with you. Be generous with your facilities. We could go on and on and

JimBo Stewart: I think one of my, one of my favorites is our boss. Mark Clifton always says, when he sees the signs that say no coffee allowed in the worship center or in the sanctuary, I love his response. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a cup of coffee walk into a worship center, not attached to a person. And, and so, and that person needs the gospel.

And so yeah, I mean, we, we have to think through, all, I, I think I may have shared this story before either in person, I don’t know if [00:13:00] I’ve done on the podcast, just a real quick story on talk about the finance team. We had a person on our finance team that. when we did a block party at that time in our neighborhood, there were signs, spinners, you know, like to have the signs that stand in front of, like at a lot of stores in our neighborhood.

At that time, there’s not as much anymore, but at that season there were, uh, like every block had some sign spinner, and so we hired a sign spinner for our block party because it was. Because it was contextual fit into our neighborhood, and it would was in particular, I can tell you the guy’s name. and we had been sharing the gospel with him.

We had been, we’d built a relationship with this sign spinner and we’re trying to share the gospel with him. And so we hired him for like 10 bucks an hour, something like 12 bucks an hour for a couple hours. So not much money to help people see. Block party and come get free food. And one of our finance team members was just appalled that, not that we would spend the money on a sign spinner, but like [00:14:00] in, in their mind it was embarrassing to have a sign spinner in front of our church.

And I was like, Well just look down the road. I mean there’s like one on every other block. This is our neighborhood. And we had to have a gospel orientation conversation about, Hey cuz they said this is irresponsible use of money and. And so just talking through like this is not about, are, are we looking embarrassing, but we have to think contextually.

We have to think missionally. We have to think through how the gospel should be the filter for everything that we do.

Bob Bickford: Yeah. So much of, of what we have, seen in decline churches is it’s more about the. Right , like, like, do these things. Don’t do these things. We, we used to have a sign at the, at the back of our, our property, for the athletic fields. And it was like all about don’t do this, don’t do that, don’t do this, don’t do that.

And so what was it communicating? It’s like communicating. Like if you come here, we’re gonna give you a list [00:15:00] of things that you can’t do. We’re not gonna welcome and invite you in. And, and it’s, I get the, but I get the un you know, kind of the mentality behind it. It’s like you’ve got these resources, you’ve got these facilities, you don’t want people to mess them up.

But, the gospel informing that, recognize that the Lord is giving you that resource. He’s given you the opportunity to share those resources in a way that could lead to someone feeling welcomed and wanted and then having a conversation about the gospel. So, so one of the really good books, it’s a really, um, helpful book that also talks about gospel orientation as it relates to ministry is a book called Creature of the Word, written by Eric Ge, Gmet Chandler and I think Josh Patterson.

And here’s what they say in that book, it says this because church program. Communicate. We must consciously bring the gospel to bear on them. Perhaps in analyzing your programs, you’ll discover that your scheduled activities or programs that you scheduled activities or programs because of guilty [00:16:00] obligation.

The gospel, on the other hand, frees us from feverish attempts to appease God with religious activities. The gospel frees us to say no and to rest from our work because we trust his finish. Right, so, So think about the list of activities and meetings and things that churches keep on their books cuz they don’t want to cut anything back.

Why don’t they cut anything back? Well, they think maybe it’s demonstrating that they’re not faithful or that they’re not dedicated or those sorts of things. Now there’s something to be said about frequency of gathering points. In the life of a church. And I think we’ve seen perhaps Jimbo in some ways the, the trend of cutting everything to like, to bare bones may have limited our ability to disciple people just in terms of frequency of connection.

Right? So, I’m not saying that, that we haven’t aired in that way. Perhaps we have. But if we’re just doing things out of obligation and we’re doing things because we think [00:17:00] God will approve of us more, right? Then, that’s not a gospel informed kind of thought. And so your, their chances are that there are programs and activities and even policies at your church that are not informed by the gospel.

And so sowing the gospel into the fact, the, the, the, uh, receptive ground involves this idea of saying how if Jesus was running. Part of our church and this ministry, what would, what might he say about what we’re doing? What might he say about these policies? Like looking at how he related to people who were non-Christian.

Right. They, they didn’t believe in him. Right? At that point. He was in the process of helping them understand who he was, how, how would he respond. So I think you, you just from top to bottom sewing the gospel is communicating it clearly on Sunday morning, but also thinking about how does the gospel inform everything that you do from the way you welcome guests to the financial policies, to the way you do community


JimBo Stewart: I wouldn’t say, [00:18:00] not even just how does it inform it, but understanding that our dependence is on the power of the gospel. We, we can depend on nostalgia and just hope that if we keep doing things the same way, That some point we’ll get the results we used to get, or we can flip too far the other way and we will depend on our cleverness in our creativity and ability to innovate and come up with whatever and, and, and try to be as strategic as as possible.

And forget that the powers in the gospel. There’s a great diagnostic question in, uh, the book Wisdom and Leadership by Craig Hamilton that we’ve referred to in some other episodes where he says, If people were to look at your programs or your events or your one to one ministry, would they be able to tell that you trust the gospel as God’s power to save, or would they conclude that you’re trusting in something else?[00:19:00]

Bob Bickford: Mm, That’s big. And we tend to do, we tend to trust in a lot of things besides the gospel, right? And the power of God. Um, our, our ingenuity, our cleverness, those sorts of things. Well, let me get to some practical things. How do, how do you sow the gospel in, in a replay? Here, here are a couple of thoughts.

One is, we’ve already talked about this, but faithfully proclaiming the gospel from God’s word. We, we mentioned this on an episode or two, uh ago. Um, it’s easy for us to, to say the word the gospel as a kind of a noun. Or an adjective or, uh, you know, part of our regular sermon delivery, but we really have to explain what the gospel is and proclaim it, uh, from, from our, our messages from God’s word.

Um, the other thing is dedicating time and energy to disciple making via personal relationships, right? I think you so the gospel into the lives of others as you help them understand what the gospel means. Uh, in their life. It doesn’t [00:20:00] just save them, but it continues working for their sanctification and it guides them, brings ’em joy.

Um, examining and evaluating all aspects of church life in light of the gospel is an important one. Like, look at everything, uh, through the lens of the gospel as you mentioned. And then here’s an important one, and this really is, is so vitally important to a church that’s lost its connection with the community, is extend the gospel message beyond the walls of the.

Through empowering your members and attenders to love and serve their community by doing two things. One is demonstrating the gospel in acts of service and kindness, and then also declaring the hope that you have in Christ. Right. So it’s not only just show up and, and be like Jesus and be the hands and feet of Jesus, but actually communicate the gospel of Jesus in terms of its actual transmission.

What is the gospel of Jesus? What’s good news that those of us, uh, all of us who’ve been separated from God by [00:21:00] our sin, can be renewed, redeemed, and restored to God who loves us, And that’s why he sent Jesus to die for on the

JimBo Stewart: Hmm.

Bob Bickford: So you have to,

JimBo Stewart: Yeah. Yeah. Um. Where do we go from here? Uh, oh, actually, let me ask this. I asked it in the last episode with plowing, if you gave a average timeframe on planting. So we go from plowing, we’re tilling the hard soil to now we’re doing the work of, uh, sowing the gospel deeply into the. Softened and tiled ground of the church body.

Uh, and then we’re gonna move on next week to watering. What, do you have a timeframe you would give to this season?

Bob Bickford: Man, it’s hard to think about that in, in just a linear progression because I, I think if. If I hear that question, my mind jumps to well, okay, well do I do that after I think the ground is sufficiently plant [00:22:00] plowed, and then do I ever plant the gospel again? Well, I think you’re continually planting the gospel, right?

So maybe you’re doing the crop rotation, right? So, so it’s like you plowed up the field, you planted the gospel, you’re plow up this field and you’re planning the gospel. I don’t think you ever stop planting it

JimBo Stewart: That’s good. That’s, that’s good to realize that what we’re talking about here is not, it’s not a linear process in,

but this is, this is, it’s kind of a circular, This is, we’re always working this, It’s the always reforming, always replanting in a, in a sense that, We’re always having to find those hard soil parts of even our own soul and our own heart, and till that soil and plant the gospel into it.

And, and then next week come back and we’re gonna talk about how to water that soil.

gospel orientation, stages in a replant

Jimbo Stewart

Replant Bootcamp Co-Host

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