Category: discipleship


How often have you sought the Lord’s will with others?
While many of us have ways we seek God’s guidance in our personal lives, we have little experience doing this with others. I believe this is partially because most of us have grown up in churches where the emphasis is on our personal/individual relationship with Jesus. What is God saying to me? I am not really part of an US that needs to hear from God for US. I find this to be a huge lost opportunity to be the people of God as described in the Bible.
This is particularly unfortunate in cultural contexts with a strong sense of community (like South Africa where I live). Here, the paradigm by which people live – consciously or not – is that I am born into a people. Therefore, when Christianity is understood to be a personal relationship only, it is actually a foreign/western/northern/white concept. How tragic that we are not allowing the communal nature of Christianity to build on our existing understanding of life in a supernatural way. We all long to be part of something/someone – how can we possibly miss the opportunity to share this part of the Good News?
Another reason we struggle to seek God together is that many have never been part of church where the concept of the priesthood of all believers is taken seriously enough to enable (require?) active participation using one’s gifts and discernment as part of the larger congregation. I am not suggesting that we must all take part in every decision or discussion per se. And I recognize that we can all use our gifts and play our unique parts in the body. But what I am saying is that we sometimes use “we all play different roles” as an excuse for either un-Biblical passivity on the one hand or un-Christlike control on the other. IF we believe God speaks through us collectively, how are we actually attempting to hear and discern together?
Finally, in many cases we tragically separate worship/connecting with God from decision-making. When it comes time for business, we put the Bibles away. Now of course we pray to start and may even pull in some Bible verses. But too often we aren’t really even attempting to seek the mind of Christ together. We don’t expect to agree. We fight for our way. We talk to people outside the meeting to get them on our side. We don’t trust God to speak or one another to hear. And until we at least give it a go, we never will.

The grand finale in a short series of questions on what God is stirring related to our faith life with others. You will find the first question of this series here, and the second one here. Please read/think/respond to these before giving your thoughts on today’s questions.

Reminder of the one rule –  you can not use the words “church” or “community” in your response (to avoid other sets of assumptions and to make you think about what you are really wanting to say!)

Question 3:

If there is something/anything of faith life with others you are longing for (your response to Question 1), something different from all of your other friendships (your response to Question 2), why haven’t you found this with an already existing congregation/community in your city? Assuming there are good groupings of people following Jesus together around town, what are you still looking for?

Note: I am not looking for anyone’s complaints about a particular church. In fact, I believe there are lots of gatherings to allow for many different expressions of our following God together. This question is really intended for those who, for whatever reason, have NOT found what they are looking for.

Another note: I am truly asking those who aren’t simply looking for somewhere with bigger music or comfortable and accommodating versions of the Gospel. I am asking those who have a DEEP desire for God and being part of a people who are centering their lives around Jesus and is honestly SEARCHING.

Please answer in only a sentence or two, don’t worry about any sort of proper or all-encompassing definition.

This is question two of a three-question series seeking input on what you are wanting with others also journeying with God. Thanks to everyone who responded to the first post on this blob, on facebook, or via email. You will find the first/previous question of this series here, pretty much necessary to answer before taking on today’s question.

Reminder of the one rule –  you can not use the words “church” or “community” in your response (to avoid other sets of assumptions and to make you think about what you are really wanting to say!)

Question 2:

How does what you are longing for (your response to Question 1) differ from all of your other friendships that also include faith? In other words, what do you need from a specific grouping of people that is different from what you are encountering from all the people you know – Christian or otherwise? Do you need something more or different?

Please answer in only a sentence or two, don’t worry about any sort of proper or all-encompassing definition.

Doing a short three-question series seeking your input. It comes from conversations from our own fledgling little On the Way group and while I need their responses, I am hoping that others who read this blog will also have their say. I am going to post three related questions and would love your thoughts on each 🙂

There is one assumption – that as we journey with God, it is helpful to be connected to others who are also journeying with God.

There is one rule – you can not use the words “church” or “community” in your response (to avoid other sets of assumptions and to make you think about what you are really wanting to say!)

 

Question 1:

Right now, what are you longing for/wanting/needing from others in a shared faith journey?

Please answer in only a sentence or two, don’t worry about any sort of proper or all-encompassing definition.

 

Because I have people in my life at all stages of faith journeys, I’ve been considering how we relate to one another’s walks. Now that a young man in our church has decided to follow Jesus, who is meant to help him? And that mom who is pretty busy all the time but would love to be a little more intentional about her faith, what about her? And the woman who comes around every now and again that is curious about religion – is she all on her own? Whose responsibility is discipleship? Who is supposed to help me, you, and others to follow Jesus?

Some would suggest it is the job of a trained/ordained priest or pastor. Or perhaps you know a “super discipler” who seems to single-handedly walk anyone and everyone close to Christlikeness? Maybe it’s you! Do you think of yourself as responsible for helping everyone become the person they were created to be? The problem in every one of these examples is that they rely on one person to do all the work. Scripture – and history – and logic! – say something different.

It is the COMMUNITY of God’s people that is responsible for making disciples. Why?

1.We need communities to make disciples because God does not hold me responsible for your growth. He DOES hold me responsible for bringing to your life what He wants me to bring. God calls us to help one another, encourage one another, etc. We are actually created to walk with one another in the journey toward forever with God. It could even be that in most cases, people are critical in one another’s salvation. But there is an individual responsibility we all must take on our own discipleship and can’t put on anyone else.

2. We need communities to make disciples because I am limited. I don’t know everything. I can’t do everything. In short, I am not God… and neither are you. I will help you know and follow Jesus, but I can’t and shouldn’t cover everything. There will be times that someone else needs to cry with you or advise you. You will want other people to also pray with you, teach you the Bible, tell you to stop doing that. Because I am limited, we all are. You and I need lots of people helping us along the way.

3. We need communities to make disciples because the goal is not making you a copy of me. The goal is you becoming the person God has designed you to be in Christ. I guarantee, if I am the only person helping you know Jesus, you will look more like me, or like me following Jesus, than YOU following Jesus. You will pray like me, serve like me, worship like me. Yuck! We need a community helping us be disciples so that we get the best from all, and don’t need to replicate any. Sure, we will model and share how we live. But we share that as an example.

4. We need communities to make disciples because I bring my gifts. You bring your gifts. I bring my experiences. You bring your experiences. We need them all. You want a teacher teaching you. You want a pastor shepherding you. You want an encourager encouraging you. That’s what I want anyway. And I am not all those things. You are not all those things. We get all things in a community of disciples.

I hope you can see that in all this, I/you must take my own discipleship seriously. How am I giving God more room in my life? Am I being a disciple myself? And very importantly, PART OF MY OWN DISCIPLESHIP IS DISCIPLING OTHERS. Did you know that? Part of being a disciple, part of learning to follow Jesus, is helping others do the same! Too often, we think we will be disciples, then reach some magic point, then we will disciple others. When does that day arrive? When I know everything? When I’ve done everything? NO! It’s now. We disciple from where we are now. God does not ask us to have all the answers. He asks us to share what we do know and He will do the rest. If you think back to people who have helped you along the Way, I suspect they were memorable because they were prayerful and faithful lovers of God. And we’ve all had many people help.

We need all of us to be living this way because of the points above. You see, in saying that a community is best suited to make disciples, it does not absolve me of responsibility. I can not therefore count on “the community/church” doing it. Why? Because there is no community without me(s) participating. Yes, we play different roles. But we ALL play roles. It is NOT the role of leadership to make disciples. It is the role of a leader to help US make disciples – setting the environment, connecting the right people, providing opportunities. I do believe we all are gifted in different ways and each of us will play different parts in the spiritual lives of one another. That’s ok – we have a community to help. Each of us needs to be asking what God would have us give to whom, and talk about that with one another to serve together.

I’ll save “what does a community making disciples together look like?” for another post. I think that it can actually differ dramatically depending on time, place, and situation. But the question I want to leave you with is: how do you see your community making disciples? What has been your experience? What has been your participation?

followers of Jesus = disciples of Jesus = being like Jesus = living the lives we were created to live

Sound good? That’s what we as the Church are meant to be about!
Are we?
(pause to reflect…. if not, why not???)

What do you consider critical to being a disciple of Jesus?

I ask because it’s one of those things we sometimes take for granted, yet it’s an essential question. And really, it’s a question we should be asking God, ourselves, and one another, right?