Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Blog Moving

I've decided to move the blog from Blogger to Wordpress. Blogger have looked after me very well over the last few years but I think that he features at Wordpress may suit me better. The view on an IPad is particularly pleasing.


New site

Don't forget to update your google reader if you follow from there.

More Making Disciples

I had a few more thoughts on discipleship that I wanted to get down on paper before they flittered away out of my sieve like brain.

Firstly, who makes disciples?
Perhaps the classic answer to this in some circles would be pastors or those in full time leadership with some theological training. I may be overstating the case there but there can be a tendency even in non-conformist churches to see the leaders as the sole "doers" in the church. That can mean that discipleship is left to only a few people. The Apostle Paul seems to take a different view:

2 Timothy 2:2
and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

There seems to be a model here of teaching and training others who can then pass it on. In other words we don't keep it to ourselves but pass on the good news of the gospel to others to pass on too. A good description of discipling I think. The idea seems to be that we don't have a model where one person does all the discipling but rather disciples who make disciples who make disciples and so on.

Secondly, to whom, or how many?
This is a slightly difficult question to answer because to a large degree I guess this will depend a bit on who God sends our way. But here is my thought: what if instead of quantity with discipleship we think quality? What I mean by that is rather than thinking of the maximum number of people we can disciple perhaps we should concentrate on a few people each over a longer period. The reasoning that got me to this tentative position is that both Jesus and Paul seemed to concentrate on just a few people even though they could have done more. Jesus, God the Son, only trains twelve, he deliberately only chooses twelve and then invests a huge amount of time on those twelve. Paul seems to spend a considerable amount of time on Timothy and Titus. Again there were others he spent time with but in terms of discipling and mentoring it is only a few.

I understand there seem to be two categories here; disciples and apprentices but when Jesus talks about going and making disciples he is speaking to the ones he has discipled which at least suggests that discipling is not a lesser category than apprenticing.

So here is the challenge:
Think of a person or a small group of people God has brought you into contact with and think about ways you could pass on the great things you have learnt about Jesus and communicate some of the joy of walking with him. The original twelve turned the world upside down.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Making Disciples

This morning, while on holiday in rural Lincolnshire, we were treated to a sermon on discipleship. This got me thinking a bit about what it means to disciple people and what I've seen work both in my own experience and while watching others.

It seems clear to me that Jesus expects his disciples to make more disciples.

Matthew 28
18 And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

Two things seem to be key here; baptising and teaching. I guess the baptism is the call to repentance and public identification with Christ and then the teaching is the ongoing business of growing in our understanding and application of all that Jesus said.
So discipleship is then first of all leaving an old life and following Jesus and making disciples is about calling people to do that and then teaching them how to live for Jesus. Nothing too radical there so far, although I wonder if in some circles we are good at the first and hesitant in the second.

But here is where my own experience and observation factor in. It seems to me that the people who have had the most influence in discipling me and the people I have seen discipling most successfully are those who commit themselves to time with people. That is to say, discipleship is more than the presentation of facts but involves sharing a life that is already marked by discipleship itself.

Perhaps this is part of the reason why we are slightly reluctant to get involved in discipling people: we are reluctant to commit the time and we feel our own inadequacies. We perhaps wonder if someone else would be better and fear that our busy schedules won't allow it.

Jesus was a busy man but he committed himself to sharing his life with the twelve men who travelled around with him for three years (as well as the women who travelled too) and in so doing discipled them with words and more.

In the quest to find the perfect discipleship course perhaps we might be overlooking the simple fact that discipleship is not achieved in a ten week programme but rather in a lifelong commitment to share and talk and pray together. This is not to decry discipleship courses but rather to encourage more.