Saturday, May 17, 2014

Making disciples

The title of this post is getting pretty ho-hum.  Making disciples.  We all agree we're supposed to do it.  It's in the Great Commission, for crying out loud.  Of course we're supposed to make disciples.

What we've done is cheapen the idea of what it means to "make disciples."  We redefine "disciple" as "well educated Christian" or "Active church member."  We can all agree that we should try to make this kind of disciples.

But what if "making disciples" is about more than just making active church members or well educated Christians?  Two thoughts on this:

First, what if we change our thinking to match Paul's words to Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:2.  Basically Paul tells Timothy to take what he heard from Paul, dispense it to others who will be able to train still others.  So in one verse you've got four generations at least of discipleship.  So what if we took that idea and said (borrowing from Bill Easum) that our job is to "make disciples who make disciples"?  That would change things a bit.  Instead of being satisfied with well educated church members or Christians who stay busy in church we'd have to look at whether they themselves are making disciples, and whether the disciples they make are in turn spawning another generation of Jesus-followers.  The bar just got raised significantly.

Second, what if we contrast "making disciples" with what we usually do -- namely, making church members?  What if we contrast discipleship with membership?  I'm not against church membership per se, but there is (a la Mastercard) an idea that membership includes privilege.  (Look at your church policies -- do members get dibs on wedding dates, or a cut rate on building rental fees for weddings?  I rest my case.)  What if membership is secondary or even neglected, while discipleship is what's valued in the church?  How would that change our practices?

I certainly don't have this all figured out yet, but it's worth pondering.  At length.

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