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"Discipleship," A Play on Words... Redefining, Reiterating, Re-learning and Re-clarifying

Act I:  Why kill a movement when you can kill the idea which powers it? Create a drama about its inception by redefining, reiterating or re-clarifying the words which caused the movement in the first place.

Act II: 2011 was, for me at least, was fascinating etymologicallyspeaking.  In the world ofecclesiology, some words were new, others redefined, reiterated, or re-learned.  Some were made malleable.  MissionalIncarnationalOrganic, and others came to the forefront as the church seeks to reshape, regroup, and reassign its place in the world.  This is not new for the Church as whole, because the battle for words has existed since its birth.


Act III: One word in particular, "Discipleship," and all of its derivations has gotten a lot of attention in 2011.  Making Disciples, Discipling, Discipler, Discipleship, and Make Disciples, all come from what some call "The Great Commission." Jesus, promised his disciples to make them Fishers of Men, and then spent years with them showing them how.  He culminates his training with his apprentices on a mountain in Galilee saying,  “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Act IV: Seems pretty straight forward to me.  The nature of the command is necessarily multi-generational or spanning across future generations by the inescapable logic that if disciples are to make disciples who learn to obey ALL the commands of Christ, then this command too is included.  Some have thought to bring discredit to the term "Making Disciples," by equating it with Amway or other annoying multi-level marketing schemes or attaching it to some other distasteful concept like they do with "sub­si­dized health­care."  Others simply by continue arguing what the "original" Greek REALLY says.  Some attack it on other levels by citing its conceptual absence  in the rest of the New Testament after the commission was given (Not True).  Others, simply create straw-man arguments and attach all of the "bad stuff" that has happened as a result of trying to make disciples.

Intermission:  Perhaps it's time not to redefine, reiterate, or relearn, but to re-clarify this set of words centered around their original root word, "Make Disciples."

Act V: μαθητεύσατε, see, I just threw in some fancy Greek, mathēteusate, is mention only once in scripture, that being found in Matthew 28:19,20.  Its meaning?  to disciple, i.e. helping someone to progressively learn of God to become a matured, growing disciple (literally, "a learner," a true Christ-follower); to train (develop) in the truths of Scripture and the lifestyle required, i.e. helping a believer learn to be a disciple of Christ in belief and practice.

Act V, Scene I:  I think most of us could agree on the above meaning, but then again that's the intent of this post.  To question whether or not we need to redefine this word and its cousins and concepts.  A couple of weeks ago, I tweeted,  "The best way to learn a new language is by immersion. The best way to learn the language of Making Disciples...the same."

Final Scene: But perhaps it's not that we need to learn, but to re-learn the rules of this language or maybe not relearn, but re-clarify and yes, even re-define.

Challenge:  What words related to "Make Disciples," and their respective definitions have you found wanting?  Which cousinal (new word) words have been defined incorrectly?  Why are these made up words even needed?  And finally how would you define Making Disciples, Discipleship, Discipling, Discipler, and the rest of the related & flagellated family?

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