Friday, September 30, 2011

Disciple-making

A couple of weeks ago Mike Breen posted the first part of a series of posts about discipleship. It caused a bit of a stir, mostly because it forecasts the failure of the missional church movement and people seemed to have latched onto that. Read the article carefully and you will clearly see that the point is that any model of church without discipleship will fail, not just those who call themselves missional.

Through the series the process of discipleship and its importance is discussed. We cannot ignore the validity of Mike Breen's point. His analysis is surely correct when he states that:

The reason the missional movement may fail is because most people/communities in the Western church are pretty bad at making disciples.

It's not the type of movement, its the basic structure of most Western models. Have we not learnt this lesson form all the studies and reports and analyses we've had over the past 20 or more years? We simply are not making disciples. People are not becoming whole-hearted, fully devoted, followers of Jesus Christ. We are making users more than we are making disciples.

If one was being cynical, you might say users are easy to spot. They are the ones who ask if tithing is really important and did God really mean 10% and is that before or after tax. Users are usually familiar with Bible stories but can't paint a big picture of the biblical narrative. They are, to put it plainly, biblically illiterate. Users are often more interested in what they get out of church than what they put into church. More interested in how their needs can be met than it how God's mission can be implemented. For users discipleship is an inconvenience that disturbs their essentially selfish pattern of life. It is too demanding, too time consuming, too life altering and too costly to comtemplate. "Just give me forgiveness and assurance and let me get on with my life", might be their motto.

That might seem harsh (re-reading it and it does seem quite harsh), but maybe it's time we took a long hard look at the reality. It's time to ask ourselves some tough questions. When was the last time you took stock of your Christian life? When did you last try to answer question like:


  • How is Christ being formed in my life right now?
  • What am I learning about God through my daily interaction with him and his word?
  • How am I partnering with God in his mission to the world he loves?
  • What things are holding me back from full commitment?


None of us really like being asked these kinds of questions, but how are we supposed to grow as disciples if we won't ask the basic questions we need to ask? Have we really reached a point where we actually think that tomorrow we will wake up more committed than today without doing a thing to grow?

It won't happen.

I rant, or appear to rant, simply because I know myself. I know how much I resist asking the tough questions and avoiding the honest answers. Yet if I truly want to grow, if I want to develop the spiritual capacity to walk with Jesus, sensitive to his prompting and obedient to his mission, then I simply cannot afford ignore my discipleship.

1 comment:

Nigel Coles said...

very appropriate response IMO