Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Ongoing thoughts about discipleship

A couple of interesting things from a book I'm currently reading called Growing the church in the power of the Holy Spirit.

People need to be incorporated into the kingdom of God by being born again. The fruit of the Spirit needs to be cultivated so that people are transformed into increasingly Christlike character. Unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God must be nurtured, growing people in their understanding and in their personal relationship with Jesus. And men, women, and children need to be baptized with the Holy Spirit so that they can be empowered to do everything that Christ commands, each playing their unique roles as members of the body of Christ. 

This sums up the early chapters of the book rather well, and the foundational argument of the book as a whole. But it's also an important summary of the fundamentals of church.

Later there is a compass point illustration which is rather helpful:

N: New life (incorporation)
S: Sanctification (transformation)
E: Empowerment
W: We (fellowship)

As I continue to think about discipleship, these things are proving helpful along the way. I was listening to an interview with Bill Hybels the other day and he said something very interesting. The Reveal Study has been on the receiving end of some harsh, and unwarranted criticism, over the years since Willow first shared its findings. But I've often wondered if that is because it revels exactly what we've actually known deep down inside.

People don't tend to grow through a programme, they tend to grow through active personal involvement and engagement. Not that might be over simplifying things, but I've watched and participated in a lot of personal evangelism training and I don't see any great improvement in my ability to share the gospel or in the church's engagement with mission. I've prepared a lot of Bible study notes, but I'm not sure that I've seen much actual spiritual transformation taking place as a result. I've preached a lot of sermons, but I cold count of the fingers of one hand the number of times anyone has accurately reflected the content of a sermon back to me.

Anyway, the thing Bill H said was how he would remind the congregation that they were responsible for their own growth. "We can't read your bible for you, we can't say your prayer for you," is a paraphrase of what he said. That isn't to say that the church as an organisation doesn't have a role to play, but spiritual growth depends on the desire of the individual to grow not on the range of courses offered.

No comments: