By Brandon Lemons
Friedens Church was transformed in 2012. The same could be said of other years in the church’s long history, but I look at 2012 as a pivotal year because of God’s work through Not a Fan in that year and beyond. Not a Fan began as a book by pastor Kyle Idleman, and it became an engaging video-based curriculum for small groups. In 2012, we at Friedens embarked on a six-week Not a Fan experience that combined a Not a Fan sermon series with Not a Fan small groups.
In short, the phrase “not a fan” means, “I’m not a fan of Jesus; instead, I am a fully-committed follower of Jesus.” Kyle Idleman defines a “fan” as an “enthusiastic admirer.” A fan of Jesus might call themselves a Christian, attend church activities regularly, wear a cross necklace, and get excited about Jesus at a conference or retreat. But Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). This is a call to follow Jesus wholeheartedly, not just to get excited about Jesus when it’s easy or enjoyable or popular.
The reason I say that Friedens was transformed by Not a Fan is multi-faceted. On the individual level, many people’s lives were impacted, including people coming to faith in Christ for the first time and others deepening their commitment to Jesus. It’s said that if 10% of a group is transformed, it will have an impact on the direction and culture of the entire group; that is what Friedens experienced, because well over 10% of the church family was inspired to follow Jesus more deeply. Having over 100 people in small groups that were studying the same Not a Fan theme also increased the togetherness of the church family, which was valuable since the congregation had gone through a lot of change in the prior years, and there were many newer people in the church. On top of this, Not a Fan increased the intentionality of Friedens’ leaders in shaping the church’s ministries to make dedicated disciples of Jesus.
So God worked powerfully through Not a Fan to shape the direction and spiritual vitality of the church.
In January 2023, we are launching another six-week Not a Fan experience. The heart behind this is to help the Friedens Family grow as dedicated followers of Christ. There are so many factors that can pull us away from Jesus, that can cause us to live as fans of Jesus. In the years since 2012, I think of how busyness is pulling people away from Jesus more than ever before, and I think of the ways in which politics and media and popular opinion are skewing people’s view of what it means to be a Christian. I also think of the factors that have always been there, compromising people’s commitment to Jesus. Not a Fan helps us re-focus on Jesus’ call to follow Him in spirit and in truth.
I love Not a Fan as a discipleship experience. It includes sermons, videos with an engaging storyline, Bible study, and relationships. This is a powerful combination that engages a variety of learning styles from multiple angles!
Starting in early January, you will be able to sign up for a Not a Fan small group; most current small groups will be joining this Not a Fan study, and we will be adding small groups as well. In the meantime, please be praying for God to prepare people’s hearts to grow as fully-devoted followers of Jesus.