Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Discipleship as the Key to Growth

As a new Christian, I was completely blessed by one-on-one discipleship.  In fact, as I was a growing young believer, I was completely blessed by one-on-one discipleship.  In double fact, as I have grown, I have been completely blessed and advanced in my faith when, as a "mature" believer, I have taken time to engage in discipleship with others.

So what exactly is discipleship?

In my Christian infancy, discipleship was illustrated as spending intentional time with another.  What do I mean by intentional?  Time with the purpose of talking about God, about how to walk with God, about how life interacts with my relationship with God, and about how ministry and action flow out of authentic relationship with Jesus.

So, while engaging with others spending intentional time with me, I learned how to pray, how to study and understand the Bible, how to talk to others about Jesus, how to engage in Christian community, and how to live my life, with all its questions and problems, in a Christian manner.  Without this guidance, I do not know what my Christian life would look like today!

What was the most important element of discipleship in my life?

People spent intentional time with me.  It was friendship, but also more.  It was two people learning how to follow Jesus together.  It was beautiful in its simplicity.  It was natural.  It also helped me grow deeper in the faith than I would have imagined.

So, why does the Church at large not make discipleship our priority?

We prefer planned and scheduled Bible study classes.  We prefer fancy and attractive worship services. We prefer putting people to work within the Church and in building the Kingdom through occupations.  

All of these are great ways to grow.  The problem is that by themselves they are lacking the individual attention and application that all of us need.  Our lives, our questions, our needs are so diverse that we need guidance to grow in our understanding of the gospel and its implications for all of life.

Good discipleship will teach us how to pray, how to interpret and apply the Bible to life, how to engage in the Church, how to be in proper relationship with others that encourages spiritual growth.  It will also challenge us to live for the Kingdom by promoting consistent worship, active service to others, and the use of our time, treasures, and talents for building the Kingdom.

These traits are learned by watching and experiencing more than by just talking about them.

Why does the Church at large not make discipleship a priority?

I think the process of discipleship is too messy for most folks.  It takes time.  By definition, it takes concentrated time.  It means radical honesty.  It means a reordering of our priorities to make others more important than ourselves.  

By and large, none of these traits mark our current Church culture.  We are not good at radical honesty.  We prefer to pretend like we have it all together or to talk in generalities about our struggles instead of allowing others to see our real issues.  As a result, we are consumed by taking care of ourselves and "our growth."  We think we are not yet ready to point others to Jesus.

In other words, we do not really understand and live out the gospel.  We have not allowed the radical grace and love of God to force us into humble honesty.  We have not discovered how giving our lives for others transforms us and helps us grow.

May the Lord develop communities full of folks like you and I who want to grow in the grace of the gospel.  May He bring revival.

No comments:

Post a Comment