Saturday, November 17

Making disciples

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 church-planters-review-subscribe@strategicnetwork.org.

In their latest mail out are the following thoughts about discipleship...

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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!

5 comments:

Burkhalter Ministry said...

This is a great summary of making disciples. It is very simple. However, my limited experience has shown me that making disciples by teaching to obey is difficult...difficult meaning it takes time and effort. I think this "organic" element is often left out of the equation, even in house/simple/organic church structure. What I mean by that is that there is a tendency to "move on" to the next disciple or short circuit the process because we want instant fruit as disciple makers. This instant fruit mentality comes more from the world, in my opinion, than from God.
Travis

GuyMuse said...

Travis,

Good observations. Our own experience shows that disciples tend to weave in and out of periods of obedience and teachability. There are times when they are highly responsive, and others when the cares of the world overtake them for a time. The key in all of this is to "love one another" through the ups and downs of our walk together. The little I know of you, I have the feeling you do this quite well in your own ministry.

Camel rider said...

Great post. We're starting to see a few people come to faith among our people group and we're asking the question, "What is discipleship?" In thinking about this I had to ask my self "Have I ever been discipled?" I've gone through all kinds of studies but I don't think I've ever been discipled.
I love your point that we're called to make disciples, not believers. In other words, making disciples should come naturally, it should be part of who we are. When I worked for Starbucks development and self learning were natural because they were values of the company and they pushed it from day one. The result was everyone was consistently working on their own development plan and helping each other with each others. I think discipleship has the potential to be as intentional and natural, but we need to value it and practice it.
www.camelcrossing.net

Camel rider said...

Great post. We're starting to see a few people come to faith among our people group and we're asking the question, "What is discipleship?" In thinking about this I had to ask my self "Have I ever been discipled?" I've gone through all kinds of studies but I don't think I've ever been discipled.
I love your point that we're called to make disciples, not believers. In other words, making disciples should come naturally, it should be part of who we are. When I worked for Starbucks development and self learning were natural because they were values of the company and they pushed it from day one. The result was everyone was consistently working on their own development plan and helping each other with each others. I think discipleship has the potential to be as intentional and natural, but we need to value it and practice it.
www.camelcrossing.net

GuyMuse said...

camel rider,

Thanks for the comments. On our own team we have come to the conclusion that our job is to "make disciples" and His to "build his church". If we will do our part, He will do his. It really becomes a great simplifier of the task we are asked to do. When we try to take on more than we were asked to do things have a way of complicating themselves. So, for now, our team is concentrating on doing the best job we can at making disciples. We have two "categories" of disciples. The first are new believers. They are discipled in one way--one discipleship path. The other category of disciples are those have been believers for a while. These are discipled along a second discipleship path. Our belief is that eventually we will begin to see the desired results of many new churches being planted. Not through church planting, but through "making disciples."