Category Archives: wholeness

We Know Better, Part 8: More wisdom from Life in 5-D

Last week we shared a vision of wholeness in Christ and hope you are encouraged to pursue God more deeply and buy our forthcoming book! In this essay, I want to offer some biblical foundations and practical wisdom so that we can jump-start progress in both our personal relationship with the Lord and in our local churches being more effective in equipping healthy believers. Here is an excerpt from the Introduction of our forthcoming book, Life in 5-D:

Our starting point was a simple question: “What does a healthy disciple look like?” Another way of saying this is, “What are the outcomes of a Christ-centered life under the kingdom of God?” One leader was blunt, “What does life look like when Christ is Lord of all?”

The Bible itself contains several summaries of what God expects of His followers. In the Old Testament, The Ten Commandments (Exod 20 and Deut 5) are imperatives for the people of God, outlining a life of gratitude rooted in God’s election, deliverance, and covenant-love (Exodus 4-20). Micah 6:8, in poetic fashion, summarizes a whole-life commitment of justice, mercy, and devotion.

Jesus shared the foundational attributes of Kingdom life in the Beatitudes (Matt 5) and His blessings (Luke 6) from the sermons on the mount and plain. Jesus told His followers that the commands to love God with one’s whole being and love one’s neighbor as oneself are the foundation and fruit of all of God’s ways (Matt 22:37-40).

Paul the Apostle, in the great love chapter of 1 Cor 13, unveils attitudes and actions that are the fruit of a life devoted to Christ. The fruit of the Spirit and the virtues of divine life are outlined in Gal 5:22-23. Peter offers another list of beautiful virtues in 2 Pet 1:1-10.

In the Book, we summarize the application of these beautiful passages in 5 Dimensions and 35 Outcomes.  In visual form, here is a new picture of wholeness:

“Wow! That is so much to grasp!” yes – and we have an adventurous lifetime with the Lord to understand and grow in this wholeness.

If we are serious about a flourishing life, here is another passage from the book to encourage us forward:

Here are three insights that will help us be victors and not victims as we move forward:

One: Our life will include both joy and suffering, unexplainable difficulties, and unbelievable delights. We are always walking in both, “the power of his [Christ’s] resurrection and participation in his sufferings” (Phil 3:10). When we embrace this paradoxical power of Christ, we will find greater endurance and discover fresh wisdom as we reflect on how God is at work for our good in all circumstances (Rom 8:15-39). For those of us who love theology, this is an integration of a theology of the Cross and a theology of glory.

Two: Satan has no weapon against humility. This is why both James and Peter exhort believers to humble themselves and then see the enemy flee as they resist his temptations (Jas 4; 1 Pet 5). When we aim for God’s glory and the good of others, eschew power-seeking for service, and celebrate others more than ourselves, we are filled with peace, trusted with divine power, and fulfilling God’s will in all we do (Mark 10:45).

Three: Expect an inner battle in addition to circumstantial challenges. As we embrace the 5 Dimensions and 35 Outcomes of our life in Christ, all kinds of distractions, distortions, and even depressing thoughts will fill our minds: “Nothing ever changes.” “These ideas are fine for some people, but not for me.” “This is too complex.” “I am not important.” In addition to these thoughts, we must also guard against spiritual pride as we embark on this journey.

With hearts full of faith, Let’s decide that today’s discipline is tomorrow’s destiny and that with God’s help, we can see real progress!

We Know Better, Part 7: Helping People Become Whole

Wisdom from our forthcoming book:

Life in 5-D: A New Vision of Discipleship

Dr. Charlie Self
with Dr. Johan Mostert, and Jamie Bolds, Ph.D. (c)
Foreword by Tom Nelson
Afterword by Scott A. Hagan

This fall, hopefully in October, our new Book, Life in 5-D will be available. We are excited to present the fruit of more than a decade of field research, listening to hundreds of leaders and learning from thousands of thoughtful people. We asked a simple and complex question, “What does a healthy follower of Jesus look like?” What are the OUTCOMES of a life devoted to Christ?

The revolution behind this question is seeing Christian formation as more than duties and programs. Discipline and organization are helpful, but they are the means to the biblical end: the very life of Jesus Christ being experienced and expressed through each follower of Jesus.

The Bible is clear about love for God and love for neighbor as the foundation of pleasing God and becoming more like Christ. But what do these twin commands look like in everyday life and who can we know we are making progress? The Great Commission that animates Church missionary activity is rooted in, “making disciples of all nations.” Since the mission is making disciples and making disciples in the mission, a picture of wholeness that in rooted in Scripture and empirically measurable will help us.

Over the past decade the authors have learned from many. The result is the first and only comprehensive assessment of wholeness that is both biblical and scientifically validated: the Discipleship Dynamics Assessment (DDA)™. You can find this amazing vision and tool here: It gives the person an accurate snapshot of how she is doing in 5 Dimensions and 35 Outcomes. If a leader creates a group (from a small group to a whole congregation), he receives a Dashboard on the group as a whole, while the individual results remain confidential. We hope you will enjoy this resource!

Our new book has been in formation since 2011 and we are excited to offer insights on these dimensions and outcomes, along with testimonies and practical helps for growth. Here are some of the endorsements we have received:

“Western Christianity is facing a crisis of authentic benchmarks. Our spiritual compass is spinning like fan blades as true north is constantly being redefined by new trends and temporary movements. Life in 5-D is an invitation to stop the madness and do a hard reset of Biblical standards that restore life, health, and balance.” (Gene Roncone, Superintendent, Rocky Mountain Ministry Network of the Assemblies of God)

Life in 5-D is a look at discipleship with a special focus on where we spend most of our productive week, what we do Monday through Friday. This integration of faith and work is often missing in our reflection about our walk and faith. So, this book not only causes us to reflect on what goes into discipleship but what that looks like in settings we usually do not think about when thinking about our spiritual growth and maturity before God. (Darrell Bock, Executive Director of Cultural Engagement at The Hendricks Center and Senior Research Professor of New Testament studies at Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas)

“What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus? At one level, the answer is simple–learning to obey everything that Jesus commanded and modeled, in reliance on the Holy Spirit. And yet, we have a sense that we have lost our way, with too much attention on programs, and not enough attention on pursuing outcomes that align with the way of Jesus. Life in 5-D offers a much-needed correction, calling us back to a clear vision of the goal–being transformed into the likeness of Christ in every dimension of our lives.” (Matt Rusten, Executive Director, Made to Flourish)

We covet your prayers as we go to publication. As we were creating the assessment and book, a Children’s Pastor of a local church the Dimensions and said that he could teach them to 8-year-olds and 88-year-olds! Inspired by his hopefulness, here are five questions that bring together wholeness in Christ. We hope you are inspired to use this way of thinking as you go forward in life:

  • How am I doing in my walk with God? Am I enjoying God and experiencing both comfort and conviction? (Spiritual formation)
  • Am I overcoming my painful history and growing in hope? Am I allowing the Lord to help me manage my emotion and enjoy a clean conscience? (Personal wholeness)
  • Are all my relationships becoming healthy? From marriage to ministry, personal and professional, am I learning to love others wisely? (Healthy relationships)
  • Do I have a clear sense of calling or purpose that is more than my current job? Am I offering my gifts in service to God and the world? (Vocational clarity)
  • Do I see the importance of economic wisdom and my daily work? (One child said, “I am doing my chores for Jesus!” – we like this!) Do I know that all my tasks are holy? (Economics and work)

I (Charlie) hope will be inspired to use these questions in your daily life of prayer and thoughtfulness. Let’s become part of a coming awakening that transforms individuals and communities, neighborhoods and nations.

A Peaceful Revolution in Discipleship: Living in 5-D

Praying for a peaceful revolution in Christian discipleship, with millions of “ordinary” believers awakening to God’s presence and power in the midst of daily life. It is possible to enjoy God, become more whole, have healthy relationships, live with purpose, and do today’s tasks as worship. We have more resources than ever before for growth, but often see believers living emaciated lives. We need a fresh vision of “normal” that can inspire hope and propel institutional and personal transformation. Thank God for all our fine pastors and good resources. But there is an “Aha!” moment that must capture our imaginations for real progress.

Here is the revolutionary key: reconceiving the Christian life in terms of dimensions and outcomes instead of categories and classes is the key to fruitfulness. Sermons and Sunday schools, Bible studies and small groups, online and print programs: all of these are the means to a desired end, not the end in themselves! Check out this special Assessment for further understanding:

Life is dimensional and integrated, not just a “to do list” of boxes to be checked (yes, it is good to order our day’s activities!). The challenge for each person is understanding what “there” looks like. In other words, what are we aiming for, in principled and practical terms? Hebrews 13:7 offers this advice: “Consider the outcome of their (spiritual leaders) way of life and imitate their faith (both belief and action).” The next verse says, “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.”

Being a follower of Christ means imitation Jesus’ attitudes and actions, dispositions and disciplines, with a desire to love God, love our neighbor and make more disciples from every culture. What does this look like in real life? There are five dimensions to our lives that are all part of God’s plan and therefore they are all “spiritual” there is no sacred/secular divide, no separation of Sunday ecstasies and Monday’s ethics. Here are the five dimensions:

  • Loving God with all our being: enjoying and growing in intimacy with the Trinity. This is true spiritual formation and includes all the classical disciples of prayer and Bible study, church attendance and Sabbath-rest, etc.
  • Personal wholeness is an organic fruit of true intimacy with God. We lean to overcome our painful history with hope, manage our negative emotions, see ourselves as loved by God, forgive others and discover inner peace.
  • Healthy relationships are the implication of “loving our neighbor as ourselves.” This include healthy boundaries, sexual purity, good friendships and much more…think of all the great “one another” texts of the Bible.
  • Vocational clarity is the fulfillment of Ephesians 2:10: we are designed for a purpose and we are always more than our current job. Knowing our natural and spiritual gifts, the dignity of our labor and serving with humility should inform our lives daily.
  • All of these dimensions are worked out as we live in a world of economics and work each day! Whether paid or unpaid, labor or leadership, private or public, almost everyone spends their waking hours actively doing something. This is not our secular life nor are our activities merely a means to an end…our work matters to God.

Imagine millions of God-fearing friends awakening to the fullness of God’s intentions and offering all daily activity as worship to God. Imagine seamless integration of evangelism and compassion, for-profit and non-profit efforts, and prayer and the pursuit of justice. A peaceful and powerful revolution indeed.