I bet someone else has used this phrases somewhere else before I have, but it's a term I'm beginning to think about using to describe a pattern of discipleship that prepares us to function within the setting of our everyday lives. I know that all discipleship should do this, but too often our programmes are actually geared to making us better at being followers of Christ in church rather than in the world. Or so it sometimes seems.
From an exercise point of view, we talk about functional fitness to describe exercise that in some way mimics daily tasks and helps us develop appropriate fitness for those tasks. When you go into a gym you might see people using free weights (barbells and dumbbells) or resistance machines to isolate particular muscles. But very few of our daily movements isolate muscles. More often than not they are compound movements involving groups of muscles. Having big biceps and well defined pectoral muscles might look good in the mirror, but it won't help you get out of your chair!
A second principle of exercise that might be helpful when thinking about discipleship is about the core. Our core provides the foundation for all pour movements. A strong core means efficient and smooth movements. A weak core leads to poor posture and inefficient movement that typically involves compensation by recruiting other muscles to help with tasks done by muscles that have grown weak.
So how would this apply to being a follower of Jesus Christ?
First of all we would need to think about what constitutes our core. What drives every movement of the disciple? Are they simply the core disciplines of prayer, bible reading, fellowship and witness, or are there more things that are core, or maybe fewer things or even just different things.
Secondly we need to think about what is needed to help us function properly as followers of Jesus partnering with him in his mission.
I haven't got a prescription for this as yet, maybe you have some thoughts. I guess the thing that floats around the back of my mind is this idea that maybe we don't necessarily need lots of theological teaching in the church in order to ensure we're picking the correct doctrines, we just need to figure out how to live for the gospel. After all, we will have an eternity to discover how wrong our theology is, there are thousands of people around us who don't have that option.