To revisit this week’s conversation centered on the idea of the church flowing out of the mission (rather than the mission from the church), I would like to draw from a book I have been reading at the beach titled, “Building a Discipling Culture” (co-written by Mike Breen and Steve Cockram).
The authors suggest, “As we look around as Christendom is crumbling and the landscape of the church is forever changed, a stark revelation emerges: Most of us have been trained and educated for a world that no longer exists…If you make disciples, you always get the church, but if you make a church, you rarely get disciples…Effective discipleship builds the church, not the other way around. We need to understand the church as the effect of discipleship, and not the cause” (85-86).
They go on to propose, “We don’t have a “missional” problem. We have a discipleship problem…Jesus has not called you to build his church…Our job, our only job and the last instructions he gave us, was to make disciples” (114).
Breen and Cockram write, “Fundamentally, effective leadership is based upon an invitation to relationship and a challenge to change. A gifted discipler is someone who invites people into a covenantal relationship with him or her, but challenges that person to live into his or her true identity in very direct yet graceful ways” (197).
The Bible reads, “Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul. For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom” (Matthew 16:24-25, ESV).
Jesus was all about high invitation (grace) and high challenge (transformation). He wanted everyone to follow him – but following him was not easy. Does that sound like your church? Or are your small groups more “cozy” (high invitation but low challenge)? Or does your discipleship methods foster an apathetic culture (low in challenge AND invitation)? Or worse yet, do you find your church in a discouraged state (high challenge but low invitation)?
What does it mean to REALLY learn? Discipleship must include all three of the following elements:
1) Information: I will tell you how to do it
2) Imitation: I will show you how to do it
3) Innovation: I will trust you in doing it
Finally, consider that “teaching and theology were ways of describing reality, and then [Christ] showed his disciples how to live in that reality” (451). Does that describe your leadership style? Your church? The mission?