Monthly Archives: May 2016

Addition vs. Intention

Over the past several weeks I’ve been offering a series of blog posts on the issue the Church is facing in discipleship. Looking at what the problem is and how we can address it. You can find the previous posts by following these links:

  1. We Have a Problem
  2. Why We Aren’t Making Disciples
  3. Relationships Are at the Heart of Discipleship
  4. The Need for Imitation

As I’ve shared previously, one of the common issues we run into in terms of discipleship is that we try to fit discipleship into a one or two hour window each week. This mode of operation has taken many forms over time including Sunday School, Bible studies, and small groups. While the format and content may vary for each style of discipleship group, there can be a prevailing theme of gathering and departing at specific times. Though there is no issue in meeting for an hour at a time – the reality is that discipleship takes a lot more interaction throughout a week. The more time we spend together, the greater opportunity there is to take steps forward. I think there are two dichotomies that are helpful to consider in gaining more time together with those we’re leading in discipleship.

The first is organized vs. organic. When we think of discipleship groups that meet together, as mentioned above, we typically think in terms of organized gathering times. This group meets at this time, on this day, for this long. These are the gatherings that are planned out with specific content and a consistent format. But they’re not enough. There also needs to be gatherings that are informal and unplanned. These are times that build relationships and allow the life-on-life aspect of discipleship to thrive. You need both organized and organic time in discipleship. The hardest part, and biggest complaint that I’ve heard, is finding time to add the organic stuff to your schedule. We can give an hour or two a week, but do we really have time to add five or more hours each week? This leads us to the second dichotomy: addition vs. intention.

If we only think of the organic part of discipleship as adding new things Man and woman shopping for produce in supermarketto our already busy scheduled, we’ll never do it. Instead, we need to consider the things we’re already doing and do them with an intentionality towards discipleship. Having dinner tonight? Good news! Most people are going to have dinner too, so why not have it together? Going grocery shopping? There’s probably other people you know that are going to go grocery shopping too, so invite them along. Are you heading to pick your kid up from school? See if there’s another parent that you can carpool with and chat with them along the way. Don’t add to your schedule, take your schedule and use it for discipleship.

Does your discipleship include both organized and organic elements?

What in your schedule can you intentionally use for discipleship?

The Need For Imitation

Currently, I’m offering a series of blog posts on the issue the Church is facing in discipleship. Looking at what the problem is and how we can address it. You can find the previous posts by following these links:

  1. We Have a Problem
  2. Why We Aren’t Making Disciples
  3. Relationships Are at the Heart of Discipleship

Today, we’ll be looking at another reason why we aren’t making disciples: imitation. The problem we face in the Church is that we assume that we can replicate ourselves through information transfer alone. Perhaps this is the result of the Enlightenment and the growth of Academia, but reproducing disciples cannot happen by information alone. However, it takes imitation as well.

Group of surgeons working in operating theatre

Of course, I’m not saying that we lose the teaching component and forget passing on information. Instead, I’m offering that we need to balance information with imitation. And, frankly, this is how a lot of trades already operate in the world. You wouldn’t want a doctor operating on you if they’ve only studied surgery in a classroom. You would want someone who has practiced under the guidance and supervision of a seasoned and experienced surgeon. Similarly, you can’t become a teacher unless you go through student teaching under the guidance of a cooperative teacher. You can’t become a licensed plumber unless you’ve spent time as an apprentice to someone who is already licensed.

It should be the same in the Church. Discipleship doesn’t happen simply because you’ve passed on information through Bible studies, membership classes, and sermons. There needs to be a process of imitation whereby someone who is a little farther ahead on their spiritual journey walks alongside someone who is a little farther back. This is why Paul says “imitate me as I imitate Christ”.

It’s important to recognize that this isn’t a call to live a perfect life. Quite the contrary, you need to show how an imperfect and fallen person is redeemed ever day through the power of Jesus Christ. You need to be a living example. Follow me as I follow Christ – watch what I do as I try to figure out how to align my life with Christ. And it’s through that process of imitation that discipleship really takes place. It’s in imitation that we can see what we need to be.

Who are you imitating in your life as a disciple?

Who are you allowing to imitate you as you follow after Christ?