Everyday Discipleship Every Day: Episode 5-Megan Hill Interview

Show Transcript:

Terrie (00:38):

Welcome to “Everyday Discipleship, Every Day,” where we discuss discipleship in the 21st century, guided by biblical discipleship, a Christian worldview, and individual needs while focusing on discipling our children as well. I’m your host, Terrie Hellard-Brown, and I’ve been releasing my discipleship book on my blog, and you can access that anytime. It’s for free on terriehellardbrown.com. And today, I’m so excited to share with you, we have a wonderful guest. Megan Hill is with us today, and we’re going to spend some time talking about discipleship in the 21st century, but also talking about the church and how we can encourage one another through the church, but also to be a part of the church and to be a part of the ministry. It is a part of being a follower of Christ that we join together as a group of believers and that we fellowship together, we spur each other on to good works. All of the “one anothers” we cannot do without being in a group of Christians on a regular basis and enjoying that fellowship, so we talk about that quite a bit, and I hope it will encourage you today, and please, if you have any questions, feel free to post in the comments. We always answer your questions, but we’re pretty excited about the conversation today and the wonderful resources she shares with us today, and so I think you’ll really be blessed. Thank you for joining us today.

Terrie (02:06):

Well, Megan, thank you for joining us today for this conversation on discipleship and the church.

Megan (02:12):

Thanks so much for having me, Terrie. It’s great to be here.

Terrie (02:16):

Well, how long have you been in ministry? I know you were a pastor’s daughter, but how long have you actually been a pastor’s wife?

Megan (02:22):

So my husband and I have–I’ve been a pastor’s wife for 19 and a half years now.

Terrie (02:27):

Okay, that’s awesome, and with COVID and all that’s gone on in our culture in recent years, I think we need to revisit the importance of church and why it is important in discipling people and helping them to understand why it’s so important and vital in the life of a Christian, so can you start by talking about that a little bit?

Megan (02:51):

Yeah, sure. I think we see, you know, in scripture that there’s this pattern of God calling people to Himself and then adding them to His people, and so in the Old Testament, we see Him adding people to families, adding people to a nation. In the New Testament, of course, we see Him calling people to Himself and adding them to the church, and that is the pattern of scripture that’s laid out for us. I also think, you know, the New Testament is fundamentally a collection of texts for the church. You know, when we think about those epistles that Paul wrote, Galatians, and Ephesians, and Philippians, and Colossians and the books, the Corinthians, and you know, just going down the line, those were books that were written to congregations, and so the assumption was that you were part of a church and that God was speaking to you as a part of a church, and then of course the commands, the encouragement that we have in those books, you know, those one another commands to love one another and forgive one another and serve one another. Those come to us in the context of the church, and we can’t do them apart from the church. We can’t bear one another’s burdens if we’re not in a place where we’re hearing other’s burdens and where we’re sharing in those burdens.

Terrie (04:06):

I agree so, so much, and you know, I think too many times we think church is all about the sermon, and church is really all about the growing together in our faith and walking together as a group of people who are ministering to each other, serving the Lord, and ministering to our community, and I think sometimes that gets lost, especially since we’ve gotten used to watching sermons on video and all of that, so I love that, and it is true. How can we do the “one anothers” if we’re not together? We can’t really do that via zoom. So, I think that’s really important.

Megan (04:43):

And even with the sermon, there’s something to hearing it in the company of other people who are going to hold us accountable to that, who are going to encourage us in that, who are going to say to us, you know, “He preached about this grace, and I see this grace in your life, and I’m praising God for that.” Or, “Hey, I need to confess this into you because now it’s just come up in the sermon, and it’s reminding me that I need to come to you and confess and ask forgiveness.” You know that the preaching of the word unites us, but then it also stirs us up together.

Terrie (05:15):

I hadn’t thought of that. That’s a good point. You mention a lot in your writings about learning to love church and helping our children to love church, and so as we’re discipling our children, what are some ways that we can really encourage them in their walk as well, to feel a part of the church and to understand its importance? Because you also mentioned about, you know, the frustrations. So, first let’s start with that. I love where you talk about the practical ways that we can help our children love church because sometimes it’s not really about church, it’s other issues that are going on. So let’s start with that and then we’ll move on to some other things.

Megan (05:56):

Yeah. So you have a kid who says “I don’t want to go to church.” You know, whether that’s a really young kid or whether that’s a teenager. You know, I have, I have both. I have three that are in high school. I have a 6-year-old. I myself was a church kid. So, you know, it can run the whole spectrum of ages, but you have a kid who says, you know, “I don’t wanna go to church today. I don’t– I don’t feel like– I don’t like church. I don’t like going.” Well, that’s your opportunity, right? To explore that a little bit more. Why, why do- why do- what’s hard about church? And I think even our opportunity to empathize with our kids, you know, church is not always easy for us either. Whether it’s, you know, I don’t feel like putting on makeup and, you know, brushing my hair this morning or whether it’s man, there’s that woman and she just rubs me the wrong way. And I see her every week and she always rubs me the wrong way. You know?

Megan (06:49):

Or it could be something even more significant, you know, you know, there’s upheaval with the pastor or the elders or, you know, and it just feels really hard to go to church, and so I think when our kids say, I don’t like church, you know, we can use that as an opportunity to go tell me more about that, and also to say, you know, mom doesn’t always like church either, and sometimes it’s really hard for me too, and so I get that, but then, you know, we don’t stay there, then we get to go, but you wanna know the reason that I keep going back? You know, all these 40 years, I keep going back. You know, the reason that I keep going back is because God says it’s what’s good for me.

Megan (07:30):

And so I’m trusting that when I go, the Lord’s gonna have good for me in it ’cause He’s the one that made us, and He’s the one who says that this is good for us, you know? And then of course with an older kid, you can get into some of the, you know, where in scripture do we see the importance of church? And how did Jesus Himself demonstrate the importance of the church? You know, the gospels tell us that on the Sabbath it was His habit to go to the synagogue, you know, He made it His habit, and so we can talk, you know, as they, the older they get, the more in depth we can get about that, but we can certainly start with hearing them out, acknowledging that it can be hard, but then saying, but the Lord does have good for us in it, and we’re gonna trust Him in that.

Terrie (08:10):

That’s good. And then you’ve mentioned how we as a church can encourage children to know that they’re a part, and we talked about that in our other podcast, but I’d love for you to talk about it here as well.

Megan (08:24):

Yeah. I think it’s so important. I think that, you know, sometimes when you, if you don’t have children or you’re a teen, you’re an older teenager or you’ve, you know, sort of gotten out of the stage of having children, I think it’s really easy to forget how important adults and older teenagers are to kids, and how much of a difference you can make. Even just justify something as simple as saying, “Hi,” you know, or “Hey, tell me about- tell me about school this week.” Or “Hey, I hear you’re playing basketball. Tell me about how that’s going.” Or, you know, just somebody who sees them and takes an interest in them. It is a huge, huge deal to kids, and then I think the other thing that’s really meaningful to kids, and we talked about this on the other podcast as well, but is just giving them opportunities to serve in church.

Megan (09:15):

And there are loads of things that even little kids can do. “Hey, Can you go pick up the communing cups, you know, that are in the pew?” Or, “Hey, can you just go through and pick up all the bulletins people left behind?” Or hold this door? ’cause Mrs. so-and-so in her wheelchair’s coming through, so can you hold it so she can come through?” You know, any little job that we can give them just says, I see you and actually you’re valuable and necessary here and we want you to be here, and I mean, kids love work, you know, especially little kids. They love being put to work. It makes them feel like I’ve got a part in this thing and I think it’s so good for them.

Terrie (09:50):

That’s great. I love that. I wanna address one issue that I’ve seen, and I know you haven’t really written about this, but I’d like to hear what you say about it since COVID and also since some of the terrible things that have happened in some churches. I know some of the young moms are almost afraid to go to church. They’re afraid to take their children to church, they’re afraid of contagion, they’re afraid of violence or some problem in the church. How do we address that when we’re discipling young moms and when we’re helping the young families understand that they still need to be a part, and how do we address that fear?

Megan (10:30):

Yeah, I think that’s, I think it’s a real thing. I mean, I think church can be a really hard place and hard things can happen in the church, and in fact, I have a book that’s coming out in the spring that is Meditations For When Church Hurts, and I love that, you know, scripture again and again gives us stories of people who had really hard things that happened to them in the company of God’s people, and one of the places that I often turn is just the example of the Apostle Paul. If you think about the life of the Apostle Paul, you realize, you know, that he had some really hard things that happened to him in the church.

Megan (11:11):

There were all the time there were false teachers that were accusing him, there were people in the church who thought that he was just a preacher for the money; he was just doing it for the money. There were, of course, he was, you know, persecuted by people from outside, but even within the church, you know, in his last letter, which is Timothy II, the last thing that we have that he wrote in almost the last chapter or the last verses of the last letter that he wrote, he talks about how he had this court appointment before Rome, he was in prison, he was going to court, and he says, at my first defense, no one came and stood by me, all deserted me. So here’s Paul. He’s planted all these churches, he has to go to court, he’s being persecuted for his faith, and there was not a single Christian who went to court with him. Nobody came to support him, to encourage him to walk into that courtroom next to him. Nobody. And I think that, and yet, right, Paul was all the time writing to the churches, telling them that he loved them, expressing his commitment to them.

Megan (12:18):

You know, the Corinthians were arguably a hot mess, they had fighting, and incest, and all kinds of sexual sin, and they were like going and getting drunk at the Lord’s supper and stealing food from people, and I mean, they were a mess, and yet Paul calls them the saints in his letter. He doesn’t ignore that they were a mess. He addresses the fact that they’re a mess, but he also says that they’re saints, that they were beloved as the Lord, that they were his holy ones, and so I encourage myself, at least on days when church is hard, by remembering his example, that Paul could hold both things. That church is hard, but also that church is good because God made it and because God designed it and because it’s His body and because it’s His people and because He is making them holy and He promises He’s making them holy, even though on this side of eternity, they’re pretty imperfect, and so that’s one, one place that I turn for encouragement when church is hard.

Terrie (13:16):

Yeah. I think that’s so vital, and understanding that we are obeying God and we are doing what He wants us to do and He expects us to do, can help us some, and I think talking about it too, that seems to help my- my cousin was really concerned after there was a shooting in a church near them about going back to church and they had security in her church, but she said, I just can’t get past it, and being able to talk about that fear and pray about it together, I think can really go a long way as well, because we do live in a very fallen world and sometimes things are dangerous, and I am so moved by the Christians I’ve seen around the world who live in a much more dangerous situation than we do, and how faithful they are to meet and to continue to worship together.

Terrie (14:12):

And so I look at them, I look at what they’re doing, and I kind of feel like that scripture that says we haven’t yet suffered to the point of bloodshed because yeah, we’ve had some rough times and some hard times in church, but we’ve never been where we know we could die the next week just because we follow Christ, and I think it was really heartbreaking to realize in some of the persecution that’s happening, it actually was Christians betraying each other because their group was getting bigger, and so they would tell the authorities about this little house, church over here, ’cause they were jealous of their size, and when you see that kind of stuff, you realize, “Wow, we have similar problems, just a different setting and a different level of what we’re facing,” but we just deal with sin a lot, and pride and all of those things creep in and it’s just, we’re all kind of a hot mess when you think about it that way, but the joy of fellowship and coming together and like you were saying, when we can talk about the scriptures and confess our sins to one another, how that helps us grow so much closer to God outweighs all the other stuff, and helping this generation to understand that, I think, is a challenge, but I hope that we can really express the joy we have in fellowshipping together. You also have some great books about prayer and contentment and patience, all those hard things, contentment and patience. My goodness.

Megan (15:47):

I write books about stuff that I need to learn. So that’s basically it.

Terrie (15:51):

I love that. So can you talk a little bit about that and the importance of these things in our walk with God and in following Christ?

Megan (16:00):

Yeah, I do think those things are related. So I do write a lot about the church, but then as you said, you know, I have a book on contentment and I have a book on patience, and I think those are needed graces that we need to have as we rock along with imperfect people in the local church who are going to sin against us in a variety of ways. It’s gonna be uncomfortable to be in this society with them, and yet the Lord has good for us in it, and even some of the good that He has for us is teaching us things like patience. You know, they always say “Don’t pray for patience, cause the Lord will give you opportunities to learn it,” but the truth is, we do want to grow in patience because that’s a Christ-like virtue. We want to grow in contentment cause that’s what Christ had, and, if everything was always easy and natural and fine and went your way, you could never learn those graces, and the church is a really great place that things don’t always go easy and they don’t always go your way, and you have an opportunity to learn these graces in a way that you couldn’t just kind of doing your own thing.

Terrie (17:10):

That’s true, and how do we learn to be content? That has been a tough one for me in my walk with God, because I’m always striving and learning to just rest and be content where God has me and what He’s given me in that moment, in that time, that’s been a struggle for me. How do we master that?

Megan (17:34):

Yeah. I think one part of it is knowing God more, you know? That the more that we learn of who God is, the more we realize that He’s trustworthy and that He’s loving and that He’s in control, and it’s, you know, when- so one of my children, well, two of my children are adopted, and then two of them are biological children, but one that was adopted, he was adopted when he was three, and it took him a very long time to trust us as his parents, which I totally get. Like, how would you, you know, why would I trust these people? Right? And trust that they have good things for me and not bad things and trust that they’re not gonna abandon me, but the longer that he was in our home, and the more he knew us, then, you know, he’s a teenager now and he’s able to go, “Yep. You know, even I don’t necessarily like what you’re deciding, mom, cause I’m a teenager, but I know that you’ve never done me wrong and that, that you want what’s good for me,” and so, okay, I can go with that, and I think something similar happens in our relationship with the Lord, that the more we read His word, the more we get to know Him, the more we pray and are around His people, then we realize that He is fundamentally trustworthy, and so then when something hard comes, or when we have to wait or when something happens, that’s not what we wanted that that we can fall back on that, but I know that you’re trustworthy. I know that you’ve never done me wrong, Lord, and so I’m, I’m willing to rest in that sort of… For me, like practically the single best thing that I do related to the best thing I do related to contentment.

Megan (19:17):

Every morning when I pray, I say to the Lord, whatever comes today comes, I’m trusting you that it’s from your hand, and I receive that, and even just setting off my morning going, I don’t know what today holds, but Lord, you know what today holds and I’m already in a posture of being ready to receive it because I trust you. Now does that mean I don’t grumble when the thing happens? No, but I’ve set myself up at least to think, “Nope, this is from the Lord, He is trustworthy and I’ve already said I’m going to receive it from Him, so I’m going to receive it,” you know? And so I can kind of catch myself in that way.

Terrie (19:55):

That’s beautiful actually. I love that, and I also find gratitude for me is really important too. When I’m thankful for where I am and for what He’s doing, even in the hard times, that changes my whole attitude. So, yeah, that’s wonderful. And you have a book about… That’s an encouragement for minister’s wives and elders wives. Tell us a little bit about that book and maybe how we can encourage those who are in the ministry around us and what we can do to be a blessing to them.

Megan (20:28):

Yeah. So the book is called Partners of the Gospel, and it’s 50 meditations for pastors and elders wives. It’s a devotional, so it goes through different text of scripture and then has like a one page meditation and then some quiet reflection questions and prayers to pray, and it goes through basically sort of the challenges and the joys of life in ministry, and it goes through the challenges and joys for your own heart, for your family, for your church, and then for in the wider community as well as you do ministry, and just trying to identify some of the common things that we can rejoice in and some of the common things that can be struggles, and I think, you know, for all of us, of course, the best thing that we can do for one another in ministry, or if you’re not in, you know, vocational ministry, the thing that you can do for your friends who are, is to pray for them is to give them to the Lord and ask the Lord to help them.

Megan (21:24):

And then I think it’s so encouraging too when you tell people, “Hey, I’m praying for you. I prayed for you this morning, you know, I’m remembering you before the throne.” I think that’s super encouraging. And then, you know, to encourage one another with the things of the Lord, you know? I see you growing in His grace. I see that you did this thing that nobody noticed, thank you for doing that. That, you know, that encourages me. Thank you for, you know, teaching the kids every Wednesday night when they’re completely sugared up on Valentine’s Day and hooligans, you know, thank you for doing that; I saw that. You know, I think that’s really encouraging because a lot of what happens in ministry is people come when they have complaints, when they don’t like something that’s true, but they’re maybe not so quick to come when you know everything’s fine, and so taking that opportunity to go, this is going great, thanks so much is always really encouraging.

Terrie (22:15):

That’s awesome. Yeah. Okay, I wanna ask what you think, I mean, discipleship has been going on since Jesus and I say it’s our one job that He gave us, and we’re not doing a great job at it sometimes, but how does discipleship look different in the 21st century, do you think?

Megan (22:35):

Yeah, I think that, I mean, I think just sort of generally, if you look at research and trends, I think people, they give less credence to authority and institution, and so they are less likely to take the word of someone who is an authority or to submit to an institution, and so what that means is that I think discipleship in the church is shifting in a way to be less sort of, well, because the pastor said, you know, or because the church said then, then I’m going to accept this as, as how I should live my life, and so I think that’s sort of a unique opportunity for the church. I think it’s an opportunity in two ways. I think one, it’s never been just because the pastor said, or just because the church said it’s because it’s what the Lord said in His word.

Megan (23:34):

I mean, but I think it’s a reminder to us that we need to make that clear to people that we don’t say anything on our own authority, and so if you don’t trust me because I’m a pastor’s wife, that’s fine. Or if you don’t trust me, cause I’m your mom, that’s fine. Let’s see what the Bible says. Like I’m trying to tell you what God in His word says, and that’s the authority that we’re continually going back to. I also think it’s an opportunity for us just one-on-one to have relations, discipling relationships with people. So this is, it’s not just the pastor’s job to disciple people, it’s all of our jobs to be looking out for those people who are a step behind us in the faith, whether they’re younger, whether they haven’t been Christian as long or whatever, and to be looking for ways to encourage them and to bring them along and to pour into them, and so I think we have this opportunity where people do highly value authenticity and in-person relationships, which are, you know, less curated than what you see on Instagram, and it’s an opportunity for just everyone in the church to step into that and to be doing the disciple making work.

Terrie (24:47):

Yes. Amen. I love, love, love that, and I think too, so many times people think they have to have been a Christian a really long time, they’ve had to have some sort of seminary or something to even be qualified to disciple someone, and I think that’s such a mistake. I don’t know how we’ve taught that or propagated that. I don’t know, but that’s not the model in the Bible, and that shouldn’t be the model in our church. If you have a testimony then, and you have faith in Christ, you can be a discipler because we grow together as we’re discipling each other anyway. I mean, I know as I disciple people, I always have God revealing, you know, you’ve been wrong here, you’ve been deceived here or whatever, and I can confess that and it improves my walk with God as I’m discipling other people, and I think that’s something we really need to start talking about, that everyone can be discipling someone and should be discipling someone and we need to start early right after they’re a new Christian, and yeah, you know, you have someone who’s over you who’s discipling you, and so if you have a question, you don’t understand a scripture, you can certainly go ask someone else, and we have that kind of, it’s not really a hierarchy, it’s more a family nurturing the next generation kind of feel to it, and so if we’re not sure, we can always check with someone else and make sure that we are rightly teaching scripture, but I think someone needs to jump in right away, right after they’ve started their walk with Christ to start bringing others along with them and helping them to grow as well. Would you agree with that or do you have concerns? What would you say to that?

Megan (26:41):

Yeah, discipleship also doesn’t have to be super complicated. So, you know, if you’re a new Christian, you may not be equipped to sit down and teach a book of the Bible to somebody else, but you’re certainly equipped to pray for them, right? You’re certainly equipped to reach out to them and say, “Hey, how can I pray for you? Hey, here’s what the Lord’s been teaching me. Let’s talk about this,” you know? I say that, you know, I have three teenagers, three boys that are in high school, and I mean, the younger kids in the church just think they hung the moon. I mean, they just think they hung the moon, and it’s not, it’s not complicated for them to say, “Hi, what’s going on? How can I pray for you?” You know, but that makes a really big difference in the lives of those younger kids, and so I think similarly with adults, you know, you don’t have to be a theologian to say to somebody, “Hi, what’s going on? How can I pray for you? Do you wanna get together this week and pray? You know, I think it can be really valuable.

Terrie (27:44):

Amen. Yeah, I love that. Okay, I want you to tell us again the book that’s coming out. I’m so excited about that, cause I didn’t know about this new book so that we can watch for it. So tell us again about that one.

Megan (27:56):

Yeah, so it’s called Sighing on Sunday: 40 meditations for When Church Hurts, and it will be coming out in May or June, I think May, and PNR publishers is publishing it, and it’s a book that you can read yourself, you can give to somebody that you know, who is feeling hurt in the church, and I go through just a variety of different hurts that we see that in scripture, even examples of that happen in the church, whether it’s being neglected, whether it’s being sinned against, whether it’s being mistreated by church leaders, whether it’s just that things in your personal life are hard and that makes it hard to go to church. You know, if your spouse is not a believer or your kids are rebellious, you know, sometimes the hard things in church aren’t even because of the church per se, sometimes it’s just stuff that’s going on in our own lives that makes it hard.

Megan (28:50):

You know, sometimes it’s that things have changed in the church and it’s just not, you know, the programs that we invested in; they’ve fallen by the wayside, or there’s been a pastoral change and it just doesn’t feel the same, you know? And all of those things actually are things that we see acknowledged in scripture and that people in the Bible experience too, and so I sort of show those stories, the fact that the Lord sees those things that He cares about them, that He has compassion on us when those happen. He recorded them in the scriptures even, and so they’re precious to Him, and then I go through just different encouragement that we have from scripture. When those things happen to us, where can we turn and where is our hope? And then also just some practical instruction. What do we do?

Megan (29:37):

What can we do next then when this hard thing has happened, and what wisdom does the scripture give us about how to proceed when we’re feeling hurt in church? So I’m really hopeful that it will be helpful to readers. I feel like there’s hardly anyone who hasn’t experienced some hard time or some hurt in the church and a varying kinds and varying degrees, but as always, our hope is in Christ and in His word, and I think He provides a lot of balm and encouragement in His word for being hurt in the church, and so I’m hopeful that’ll be helpful.

Terrie (30:13):

Alright. I can’t wait to see it, and then I know you’re very involved with the Gospel Coalition, and I have that as one of the resources I talk to people about going to in growing in their faith, and tell us about this organization and what you do with it.

Megan (30:29):

Yeah, sure. So I’m the managing editor for the Gospel Coalition, and we are an organization that seeks to provide resources to the church, to church leaders, not just pastors, but anyone who’s leading a Bible study or discipling their kids in the home or homeschooling families or you know, anyone who’s doing sort of the work of discipleship, providing resources for them. So we have a website and we have articles, we have podcasts, we have conferences, and all of these things are us trying to get into the hands of people who are discipling other people, the information, and the things that they need to know about.

Terrie (31:12):

Yeah, there are so many wonderful free resources on that website, and then of course, I love your books and we’ve talked about on the other podcast, your picture book about Meg is Not Alone, and I just love that, and that whole series of children’s books are wonderful, so you can see those on that website as well, and I just, I go there often. I find that there are so many good books and so many good articles and podcasts there that I find it to be a really encouraging resource. So we will have the link to that in the show notes as well, so people can just link right over to it. So, well, Meg, I’ve really enjoyed this conversation and I think you’ve had a lot of good wisdom that you’ve shared, and I hope people will check out your books and find encouragement from them in their walk with Christ, and that we can all take seriously the command of God to join together, to be together in fellowship with one another. That church is not really an option, it is a command, and we need to be in fellowship with other believers. Well, thank you so much for sharing with us today.

Megan (32:23):

Thanks so much for having me, Terrie. This is great.

Terrie (32:26):

So I hope you were blessed and challenged by the conversation today, and that you found some resources that will help you in your walk with God and also in discipling others, and I wanna encourage you to heed the words that she’s shared about how we can encourage children, and one of the themes I think that hit me is that we need to be heard. We need to be seen and in our churches, that is so important that people feel heard, that people feel seen and appreciated, and to understand that they are an important part of the church, as she says, the church society, the society that God has given us as believers, and so I wanna keep that in mind. I wanna challenge each of us to keep that in mind as we go through our week and as we go to worship each week. We’re so glad you joined us today, and I hope you were challenged, that you were blessed by the conversation. We would love to have you join in the conversation as well through the comments on the blog post on my website. We would love to hear from you. Our prayer is that we can obey Jesus’ command to make disciples as we reach and equip this generation of believers to reach and equip the next generation of believers with everyday discipleship every day.

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https://terriehellardbrown.com/

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