Allow me to humbly recommend to you my thoughts from last month’s news-letter. In that article, I discussed a biblical sense of community and fellowship. I’d like to build this month’s thoughts upon this theme. Biblical community is one of three important aspects of discipleship. If someone claims to be a “Christian” but isn’t a committed disciple of Jesus, striving to make further disciples, their Christianity is just that – a claim. Discipleship is not just “a thing” that we do as a church, it is “the thing” for which the Church should be known. Think of it this way: for several decades, churches have viewed discipleship to be an “application” that they run on their device. A more biblical understanding is that discipleship ought to be the device’s operating system, upon which all the “apps” run!
Is discipleship practiced on Sunday mornings in the Sanctuary? Assuming that the Word of God is being faithfully preached, yes, but it is limited. Can we practice discipleship better on Wednesday evenings, or in Sunday School classes? Perhaps, but there are still great limitations as we practice both of these things. The reason there are such limitations is because of a difficulty in working out all three aspects of true discipleship: learning, community, and mission.
Last month, I shared my thoughts about what genuine community should entail. Learning should be rather self-explanatory, but I would make an emphasis on the differences between passive and active learning. Sitting in a pew and listening is the epitome of passive learning. Reading, writing, discussing, and homework are all aspects of active learning. Having a copy of God’s Word in our hands is an essential pre-requisite to having His Word in our hearts. Taking notes of a sermon is good, taking your own notes with your thoughts on a passage, or journaling through your personal prayer life are better. Talking through scripture, or spiritual precepts, is an important part of internalizing and applying God’s Word. I think we might all agree that to know what the bible teaches is good, but to walk in obedience to the truths of scripture is even better. It doesn’t take much thought to recognize the limitations to active learning during a corporate worship service, or even a mid-week bible study or Sunday School class. What can we do to cultivate better opportunities for folks to learn in an active posture? What can you do to be more engaged in active learning?
The third aspect of discipleship is mission. Over-achievers reading this might immediately think of “go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations.” Jesus gave us this Great COMMISSION (Matthew 28:19)! If we aren’t making disciples, then we aren’t obeying the mission. If we aren’t engaged in missions, then we aren’t really being faithful disciples. I don’t really make much of the distinction between discipleship and evangelism, because evangelism is simply pre-discipleship. If we aren’t actively sharing our faith, with brothers/sisters AND unsaved neighbors, then we aren’t as engaged in discipleship we ought to be [don’t be mad at me; I just stepped on my own toes too!]. Again, I assume you read my last article. Are we experiencing in-depth community? Do we need to avail more opportunities to you so that you might experience it more fully? Is there someone in our church family that may not have as much fellowship with others as you? What can you do to draw them in more deeply? Who’s Your One? Whose path do you cross regularly that doesn’t have a church home, or a relationship with Jesus at all?
I am encouraged that our church promotes discipleship, but our heads are in the sand if we think we have no room for improvement. Many high-quality Christian ministries promote one of the three aspects of biblical discipleship. A few healthy churches promote two really well. Few and far between are the churches that have a robust practice of all three aspects, and we want to be one! If any of my above questions have piqued your attention, or caused you to think, PLEASE tell me. If you have an idea of how we can better fulfill the Christ’s commission, or would like to help us come up with ideas, my door is always open to you!
So Spirit come, put strength in every stride, give grace for every hurdle,
that we may run, with faith to win the prize, of a servant good and faithful.
Rev. Andrew J. Reynolds