Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Discipleship Is Relationship

Have you ever known something that you didn’t know you knew until somebody taught it to you and you had that moment when you thought, “I knew that!”?  Since 2009 I have been reading, studying, and involved with trying to understand how to create a disciple making culture within the context of the church. I thought I knew how to make disciples, I mean I grew up in the Church. The way I was taught to make disciples was to gather them all up in a big room, sit them in rows, teach them deep theological concepts and practical application, sing some songs that reinforced the theology, practice good liturgy, and then dismiss them to go into the world and live the Christian life. For the truly committed you might even have the opportunity to gather them in groups of eight to eighteen for weekly teaching, provide more information, then inspire them to live out what they knew where they lived. Essentially I was convinced that Information + Inspiration = Transformation. Then I read the Gospels and saw how Jesus made disciples and I realized that I was wrong.

Sure, Jesus spent time with “the crowds.” He taught great truths, he even had a fish sandwich buffet after worship, but the crowds weren’t “the disciples.” The real disciples, the ones who stuck around with times got tough, the ones that He would challenge remain faithful after He was crucified, dead and buried, were those closest to Him. Jesus essentially said, “watch what I do, then do that.” As a matter of fact Jesus’ last words before the ascension were not, “hey, get a bunch of folks together, sit them in rows and lecture them into submission,” they were “go, make disciples…”

That’s when it hit me. That is the moment when I realized I knew what I knew that I didn’t realize I knew. You see the most important moments in my spiritual life have mostly been in conversations and interactions with people I was doing life with who taught me how to live like a disciple in the midst of the mess of my life. The day I saw the Discipling Triangle above I cringed a little because I realized it meant that to really make disciples I had to live out a life of discipleship that would be worth imitating. Since I have been in ministry there have been those who advocated keeping a “pastoral distance” from everyone in your congregation, but if you think about it, that is exactly the opposite of what Jesus did. He did life, daily eating, sleeping, and relationship life, with His disciples. They got to see Him interact with his mom, his family, others who needed healing, and those who challenged and criticized Him. That’s when I fully realized that discipleship is relationship. That the equation for making disciples is actually Information X Imitation X Innovation (adapting to your local culture) = Transformation. Does it mean I always get it right? By no means but it does mean that when I get it wrong, I strive to live an authentic and vulnerable Christian life, deal with my failings and then grow and learn from them. So, if discipleship is relationship its time to spend more time doing life together with the people we serve than in front of them. I remain:

Consumed by the Call,

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