Being & Building Followers & Friends of Jesus
Why does the Church?
Why do Pastors ... Church Leaders ...
Small Group Directors ... Youth/Children Workers ... ?
need to reimagine discipleship?
My response to that important question is found in the blog post "How Big is Our God?"
I see three reasons that we absolutely MUST reimagine discipleship -- in America and around the world:
1. Our neighbors need it.
Example: Two of the top three causes of death among teens in the USA demonstrate
their need for a nourishing relationship with God: homicide and suicide.
(Cf. National Center for Health Statistics)
2. Our church and parachurch ministries are not discipling well enough.
Example: Despite the number of people attending churches across America,
most non-Christian neighbors see little or no difference between their Christian and
their non-Christian neighbors. (Cf. Barna Research)
3 Our heavenly Father commands that we disciple others acceptably and effectively. Are we perhaps doing one or the other -- or neither?
References: Deuteronomy 4:9; 6:5-7; Matthew 5:14-16; Romans 12:1-2;
Ephesians 4:1-3; Hebrews 12:28; Revelation 2:2-5
The definition of discipling within most congregational settings has been:
1) A new member's class called "Discipleship" with a syllabus having blanks to fill in (but practicing not part of the curriculum)
2) A service where discipleship is mentioned, even quoted as being commanded by Jesus (but not discussed or encouraged)
3) A time of honoring the pastors, deacons, attendees, graduates, and funding (but not discipleship)
4) All those of your headlined question know the correct answer (but do not practice discipleship)
Discipleship by definition is relational, one helping another in areas of the physical AND spiritual life. Jesus exampled this when He met the food and health needs of those who gathered around Him. When Nicodemus spoke with Jesus and Jesus spoke with the woman at the well, the spiritual life was the topic of conversation; but these were casual relationships. The training of the twelve was the main focus of Jesus, from calling them to sending them out, from them watching Him pray to Him asking them to pray with Him; all He did with them was culminated in the command of Matt 28:19 "Go make disciples." If I may put words in Jesus' mouth, "As I have done with you, go and do."
I recently asked a man my age (68) what he knew about discipleship. He replied correctly: "It is a command of Jesus, what every Christian is commanded to do." When I asked him who he is discipling, he looked at me like of a deer caught in headlights. The obvious answer was "no one" and, as we've been meeting together, I've discovered he does not focus on making disciples but on peripheral items.
There are items of importance to those of your headlined question, their positions demand attention; but what is important to our Father as expressed through Jesus, are not those same things. Jesus replaced Himself with His disciples; He didn't call a "brother" to take over while He was away, He didn't beg for a substitute - He left His disciples in charge. Doing the same in today's congregational environment is done by few.
"Re-imagining Discipleship" will cost something. If I am unwilling to trust Jesus with those I've been training, then the price I've paid has already left me wanting.
I believe that the command Jesus gave to his disciples to disciple the nations is central to God's purpose for the Church, for every person in leadership in local churches and in "Christian" organizations, and for every person who claims Jesus as Lord of their life.
We need to think and act differently since it is clear that many (or most) of the people who call themselves Christians are not engaged in discipling others. Some are engaged solely in social activities and others are engaged intellectually, but not personally.
Those who have not been discipled have a difficult time understanding how to disciple another person so they feel inadequate and even if they desire to disciple another person, they don't know where to begin. I also believe other activities crowd out relationships in which discipling can happen.
If we are not willing to humble ourselves and learn from and follow Jesus, we will continue to lose influence individually and corporately. If we can stop measuring things in ways that feed our need for significance and meaning or security, and start measuring different activities which are Kingdom centered, we can begin to develop new forms and activities which will stimulate discipling and generations of disciples.
Dependence on God and mutual interdependence with each other is the only way forward. Environments of grace and truth can be developed in which people can understand and apply the Bible to their lives, and their characters can grow in the areas of humility, integrity, and vulnerability.
Every follower of Jesus can be involved in discipling...there are no degrees, training, or certificates needed.
The need to reimagine is critical.
Cultural is crushing us. American society but also the ineffective traditions of the American Church.
Paraphrasing and applying Romans 12:2 . . .
Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture [of Church tradition],
but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think [about how to pray].
[Transformed praying] will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes.
[Romans 12:2 • My augmented version of the Passion Translation]
To biblically reimagine discipleship, the leadership of the Church must pursue a Spirit-led, Scripture-fed, worship-bred, corporate-said, approach to praying.
Substance, not style. Loud or quiet.
Listing that proceeds from listening.
When the Church learns to pray the heart of God by discerning the mind of Christ by surrendering to the filling and leading of the Holy Spirit, all heaven breaks loose. Churches are transformed to bring authentic, sustainable change to the community.
Our present state of prayer is woefully in adequate.
And many of our leaders, pastors, are either not aware or interested.
The Church needs to reimagine discipleship because the old ways are not working with modern men. As Mr. Spock would say, "It's not logical."
In the first century, people were so much less knowledgeable about things. We now think that we are far more knowledgeable about many more things.
Which touts its Sophisticy,
Trusts more in humanity
Than it does in Divinity;
It bids the Almighty
To leave the vicinity.
Modern man "knows" so much, that he is not afraid of God, while the ancients feared Him. Many modern men do not even know to which meaning of the word fear that pertains. Thus man uses his own logical powers to run his life and others. He has little or no use for bricks and mortar churches, and doesn't think he needs to understand the Universal Church.
I pray that the Universal Church, in thinking outside of the bricks and mortar box, will consider if one of God's new Ways to Reach us is through our human logic. Once I got this through my thick head, His Path to my heart opened.
Heaven is Perfect. We are not. A sports team that has lost even one game, cannot make its own 'record' perfect without an appeal to the League Commissioner. We cannot make our own 'record' perfect. Christ is the only one, who on appeal, provides us with an unblemished life. Show me another religion, belief system or cult that does that.
Christ is the Logical Choice. That is in His Army's Arsenal as well. Let's start using that weapon!
The Enemy of our souls is a deceiver. He has sold a false definition and model of disciple making and the Western church has embraced the fallacy.
Jesus said to Peter, "Follow me" both at the beginning of their relationship and at the end just before Christ's ascension. There it is: relationship and modeling.
Why Do Pastors Need To Reimagine Discipleship?
Have you ever noticed how you tend to remember things that happened twenty years ago, but you can't remember what you had for lunch last week? Well, maybe you don't have that challenge (yet), but I know there are others, besides me, if we're honest. I believe this is true for the way we view discipleship as well. For those of us who have been in the church for several decades, there is a "memory" of discipleship that we keep remembering. And not all those memories are bad, but some of them need to be reimagined. What would that look like? Well, here are three ways to consider:
1. Discipleship needs to be reimagined as a life-long journey. For many of us our initial discipleship experience was a class with a workbook. I learned a lot in those classrooms, but everything seem to end at week twelve. Thankfully I had men in my life that invited me into a discipling relationship, and that allowed my journey to continue. Some of those men aren't in my life any longer, but God has been faithful to provide other men so that I can continue on this life-long discipleship journey.
2. Discipleship needs to be reimagined as something that is for every believer. As I think back to those discipleship classes that I participated in, there were usually the same people in all of them. Occasionally someone new would join, but in most cases only about twenty-five percent of the church was participating. There are always legitimate reasons why some people couldn't be there, but what about the rest of the people? What would it take to disciple every believer? Imagine a disciple-making group that meets in the local coffee shop? Maybe another at a fast food restaurant on Tuesday morning? To get more people involved we may need to reimagine the methods we use to make disciples.
3. Discipleship needs to be reimagined as something we share with others. In Mathew 28:19 the Scriptures tell us to "Go and make disciples". In the past, my picture of discipleship was something that I was supposed to do [period]. But as I grew to understand the Great Commission better, I realized that I was commissioned to become a disciple-maker, and that meant that I needed to be sharing my faith and discipling others. Imagine if every believer was a disciple-maker?
What memories do you have of discipleship? Are there some things that you need to reimagine?
Some further sharing from prayer. Maybe Evangelism needs to be separated from Discipleship.
The most noted from of Discipleship in America is Evangelism. The repudiation of that method should be honestly evaluated. What do doubting Americans think about Evangelists? What images come to their minds based certain publicized past and recent performances? What to they recall from portrayals on TV? www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPLk6nfcEtg
Jesus initially Discipled individually. When He began to Evangelize to the multitudes, He did so in poverty. When He Sent the 12 to preach repentance they did so from poverty (Mark 6:7-13).
Perhaps Evangelism can't be effective and wealthy. Maybe Discipleship should be practiced individually until Evangelism returns to poverty.
My hope is for evangelism to be considered a component and a result of discipleship...a lifestyle that centers on and emanates from the life of Christ...a life of making-disciples who make-disciples.
From Sammy Tippit:
I don't know if you are interested in this, but here is the greatest movement of discipleship/evangelism that I've come across. We are planning a major discipleship/evangelism outreach in 2020. Here is a link of a video that I've made about it.
AMEN! But, the logical side of discipleship wonders if those "not yet aware that they are Found" (a #Reimagining of "The Lost") stumble over the perception of Evangelism in our current CULTure.
The Evangelism of Jesus emanates from poverty.
A friend of ours once asked me to fill the role of Pontius Pilate in a church presentation. The direction he gave me was to play the part arrogantly. You may remember the Inspired way that role was portrayed. Our friend got what he asked for. At our last meeting in September 2018, he mentioned that he still remembered that characterization. I believe the exact quote was, "I'll never forget your Pontius Pilate."
The direction given on these Websites is to "reimagine discipleship." I trust you will tell me if I am overacting.
By the way, it was intended that the first word in the second line of the second paragraph in initial post in this thread be "reputation." Perhaps, my intentions did not match His Intentions.