New Horizons Ministries International is a non-denominational mission dedicated to the planting of churches amongst unreached people groups. All interested can subscribe to their "Church Planters Review" mailings firstname.lastname@example.org.
In their latest mail out are the following thoughts about discipleship...
However, we need to examine the word DISCIPLE a little further... Firstly, it is important to note that we are to MAKE disciples. If this is so, it means that at one stage a person is NOT a disciple and is then MADE into a disciple. This is very different from our traditional view of discipleship as a process or course. Here are some points to note:
a) Disciples are to be made in the World – we are to go out to where people are to make disciples. The target are non-believers.
b) A Disciple is one who follows. Therefore a disciple is made when the person becomes a Follower. This FOLLOWERSHIP is lifelong.
c) They are to become Disciples of Christ – followers of Christ. In the traditional concept of discipleship, we have a disciple-ER and a disciple. In the biblical context – we present people with the “Good News” and they decide whether or not they wish to Follow Christ – or become Disciples. They follow Christ as the Holy Spirit leads them.
d) We are to teach the Disciples to Follow Christ – this is “tested” through their OBEDIENCE to the Commands of Christ (incidentally there are only 9 or 10 commands of Christ – and they are SO simple!).
e) As they Follow Christ, all the other “compartments” of Church life are filled out! There is no need to choose between emphasizing the Great Commandment over the Great Commission, because as Disciples we are to OBEY all!
This is a far more correct view of the Christian life because it is holistic. It recognises the centrality of Discipleship (we are to make DISCIPLEs not Christians!) and also acknowledges that there is an organic PROCESS that takes place.
Let us compare this with what we traditionally practice. We present the gospel – people make DECISIONS to become CHRISTIANS. Discipleship is optional, not central. These new Christians can choose to pick up whatever area of ministry they choose. (Apparently they can also choose the “flavour” of their Christianity that takes their fancy, as well as their level of commitment that their threshold of pain will allow!). This short circuits the whole process. If discipleship is FOUNDATONAL, then we will miss that which can only come as a result of being disciples! The result of Discipleship is FRUITFULNESS – Changed lives and Ministry – which together, will impact, and change our world!