Posted tagged ‘Revisiting Discipleship’

Revisiting Discipleship (No Plan B)

May 31, 2012

I encourage you to watch this video as though you were hearing about Jesus’ life and ministry for the first time. Kevin Peck nails it, and the method of Jesus is truly staggering and encouraging. It is also counter-intuitive and cuts across the incredible pressure of novelty, trendiness, and superficial measureables of temporary “successes.”

Indeed, there is no plan B to the Great Commission. Let’s make disciples.

HT: Verge Network

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Revisiting Discipleship (Definitions Matter)

May 21, 2012

It is commonly said that if aim at nothing you will hit it every time. The aim of biblical discipleship begins with understanding the nature of a disciple. What is a disciple of Jesus Christ? How do you define that? Without definition, there cannot be direction; without direction, there cannot be devotion.

So last Saturday night, I pitched the question on Twitter, asking people to define a disciple of Jesus by answering the question “What is a disciple of Jesus?” in 140 characters or less. To give you an idea of why definitions matter, let me provide you a sampling of some of the responses:

A slave.

Someone who has turned away from sin, and trusted in Jesus. And who keeps doing so.

Sitting at His Feet and eating His Word and living your life for Christ!

Life touching life.

[Someone who] follows Jesus, being changed by Jesus, committed to the mission Jesus.

A disciple of Jesus Christ is one loved by Jesus, bought by Jesus, taught of Jesus, dying to self and living by faith in Jesus.

One who is affected by the saving Cross of Christ in such a way as to strive to emulate the character of Christ in faith+works.

One who seeks to see from gods perspective, be in his presence and live out his purposes.

Bought by His blood so I glorify God with my mind and body to spread the fame of His Name that others may know the same gift.

5 Solas saved sinner: Joyfully submitted, faithfully obedient, content & thankful 2b dead 2 self & alive in Christ.

One who reads their Bible and does what it says.

Someone who is listening, learning, and leading others to the Word of God, the Son.

Someone who has been born into the kingdom by way of the gospel & who now loves, learns from, and leads others to the king.

One who now has the story of the gospel written in pencil, waiting for that day for it to be written in stone.

One who delights in and finds his deepest joy in Jesus Causing him to devote his life to pursuing that joy, living in community & on mission.

There are some common threads to this list of definitions, but there’s a lot of differences too. Granted, you can’t say everything you want to say in 140 characters on Twitter, but there is a value in being able to define your aim in a short and succinct statement.

At the very heart of the church’s mission is to make disciples. Do we know what we are making? Are we clear on what we are developing? How we are growing people? Without a clear definition, there won’t be clear direction. Could it be that a major reason a majority of churches today are not disciple-making powerhouses is because we don’t really know what we are doing? Could it be that a simple place to start in revitalizing churches today is to get back to the fundamental question of “What is a disciple of Jesus?” and set about implementing the biblical answer to that question as the governing filter of all that we do?

Revisiting Discipleship (As You Yourselves Know)

May 18, 2012

I’ve been hanging out in 1 Thessalonians this week for devotional meditations, and one of the things that surfaced after multiple readings is how often Paul employs the phrase “as you yourselves know” or simply “you know.”  When you take a look through his letters, I believe it can be argued that the majority of the content is not new information. It is truths or practices they already know but are being called to remember, be faithful, and work it out in gospel-fueled obedience.

I wonder how much of a role “remembering” has played in our discipleship process. How often do we tell people we are investing in “as you yourselves know . . .”? Take a look at this short letter to the Thessalonians how many times Paul does this:

because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.
1 Thess. 1:5

For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict.
1 Thess. 2:1-2

For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness.
1 Thess. 2:5

For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.
1 Thess. 2:9

For you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.
1 Thess. 2:11-12

Therefore when we could bear it no longer, we were willing to be left behind at Athens alone, 2 and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker1 in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith, 3 that no one be moved by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this. 4 For when we were with you, we kept telling you beforehand that we were to suffer affliction, just as it has come to pass, and just as you know.
1 Thess. 3:1-4

For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.
1 Thess. 4:2

Compiling those verses like that, it sounds like Paul is a broken record! But then again, perhaps Paul is keenly aware of our natural tendencies to forget, to wander, to lose our focus. I think Paul’s letters are instructive to us when it comes to discipling others because we discover patterns of gospel transfer from the portrait of Paul’s life and ministry.

As you yourselves probably know this already.

Revisiting Discipleship (The Three I’s)

May 14, 2012

Revisiting discipleship, I have found three “I’s” that shape the methodological convictions of a robust commitment to disciple-making. Let me explain them briefly.

Intentional

The goal for every Christian is Christ-likeness. Therefore everything we do in the church corporately and in our investments individually should intentionally be driven with that purpose/goal in mind. In Galatians, Paul tells his disciples that he wants “Christ formed in you” (Gal. 4:19). In Ephesians, he tells his disciples that the goal is “mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13). In Colossians, Paul’s goal is to present every man “mature in Christ” (Col. 1:28). All of his efforts from personal visits to writing letters to training up leaders was so that every believer would grow up in Christ-likeness. He was intentional about it, and so should we.  That means our systems, processes, programs, etc. should be have this as a governor on them – how are we maturing people to know and love Christ, serving and giving themselves in the mission of making other disciples?

Interactive

Disciple-making should not be relegated to a classroom experience or curriculum.  The sphere of discipleship is all of life.  Discipleship should be relational, so that their “manner of life would be worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Phil. 1:27). It should be practical, so that the knowledge is met with experience, understanding with application. To the Philippians Paul wrote, “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me–practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:9). And it should also be missional, so that the maturity of the Christian is intrinsically connected to the growth of the church. As Jesus put it, an invitation to follow (discipleship) is a promise to make you fishers of men (mission). The two should never be divorced. Biblical discipleship begets missional Christians because, inherent to the Great Commission is the sending thrust of the word “go.”

Integrated

Evangelical tribes tend to focus on one aspect of discipleship more than the others. The Reformed evangelical tribe tends to emphasize truth and doctrine (head), and rightly so. We need to have a refocused understanding and growth in truth. The Pietistic or revivalistic evangelical tribe tends to emphasize experience and motivation (heart), and rightly so. We need to have our motivations rewired and have our affections stirred to know, love, and experience God. The missional evangelical tribe tends to emphasize social justice, mercy ministry, and serving the needs of the community (hands), and rightly so. We need to have our lives reoriented away from self and toward others in sacrificial service. However, when one is emphasized to the exclusion of others, discipleship is disintegrated. He need to balance head, heart, and hands. We need growth in truth (understanding), growth in experience (affections), and growth in service (mission).

So, methodologically speaking, I believe that discipleship should be intentionally pursuing Christ-likeness, interactive in engaging the relational, practical, and missional dynamics, and integrated so that our head, heart, and hands are all transformed in the process.

What do you think?