Over the past few years, I have come to appreciate my pastor’s passion for discipleship. He’s managed to keep the main thing the main thing. And he’s done this in a way so as not to water down or compromise the message of Christ.
Should all community churches look exactly alike? No. Should they all be striving after the main thing? I think, yes. Can our approach to discipleship look different from church to church? Yes.
In a previous post, I talked about the idea of the Christian minimalist. Churches also fall prey to becoming weighted down with many “callings” and “good” intentions.
Some churches want to:
- Bring about social reform or social activism. The hope here is to legislate morality or expect politics to set our society straight.
- Be pragmatic – focus just on what “works” (rather than what’s God honoring)
- Foster self-improvement – help people live fulfilling lives and be all they can be. The “your best life ever” mentality.
- Treat church members as consumers rather than servants. Run things like a corporation.
- Primarily create a learning institution–make everyone a Bible scholar.
- Focus on evangelism – more converts and church members.
- Create a positive-thinking mindset – focus on positive outcomes, avoid controversy.
Several of these are noble activities, and churches should include many of these to a degree. But are we focusing on the main thing Jesus asked us to do?
So why should you believe the statement about discipleship being the main thing of the Church? We see important clues from the life of Christ. During His three-year ministry stint, there were many things He DID do and many things He DIDN’T do.
In the Gospels, we see Jesus’ teachings, and we know He came to die so we might have eternal life. But we also should recognize His model for ministry. He spent three years pouring His life into 12 men. He could have done many other important things–eliminate disease, solve world problems, fix government, advance scientific breakthroughs, create new technology, bring about lasting peace–but He majored on none of these. He used His time to show them discipleship, and He expected them (us) to keep the process going.
Moving from the Gospels into the Book of Acts and the Epistles, we clearly see the Apostles implementing Christ’s teachings and ministry model. New disciples emerged–Paul, Barnabas, Silas, Timothy, Stephen, Titus. Church communities were born; the Gospel message was spread. Once again, the first Church leaders didn’t try to attack the big issues of the day, rather they focused on what Christ had taught and what had been passed down from earlier disciples.
It seems evident that Christ is calling each of us to disciple. Yes, we may all have different talents, gifts or ministry callings, but shouldn’t the heart of our endeavors be the Great Commission? Rather than just convey a message, shouldn’t we also communicate the mission?
Stay with me. In the next few posts, I will be sharing what I’m learning about discipleship. How do we define it? How does evangelism relate to discipleship? What are some practical ways to disciple?
How about you? What are your thoughts on discipleship and how do you see this being played out in your church communities?